Donna Gentry

Author at Ysone's Fan Fiction
aka Ysone

Heartspeak/Soulspeak (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 13th June 2000
Tags: Novella

This was very good. The perils of misunderstanding, the ambiguity of silence. It even got a bit of tear-pricking in my eyes. Too many angsty stories feel a need to wimpify Blair, but this didn't, and it didn't need to. There's more angst in silent stubborn pain than in a bucketful of tears. And, hey, it got me singing a Beatle's song on the way home from the bus!

This story won the 2000 Cascade Times Awards in the Angst category.

Mark of the Beast (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 23rd June 2000 (7)
Tags: Novella

I'm not sure I buy this premise. It's as if the author bundled up all of Jim's worst traits in Wester, and eliminated them from Jim. I know that all of Jim's better traits that we saw here are truly Jim, but, well, this isn't the Jim (nor the Simon, for that matter) that I saw in Switchman. This one also puts more emphasis on the Sentinel/Guide bond (of the "instant instinct" sort) -- which I personally don't find that plausible either. I didn't really enjoy watching Blair suffering all that abuse, either. One reason I stuck with it was because I'd peeked at the last page and reassured myself that it did actually end happily - something I don't normally do at all!

This story won the 2000 Cascade Times Awards in the "AU story" category.

My Soul To Keep (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 24th March 2002 (5)
Tags: Novel

This was a lovely long read, an alternative universe in which, a century hence, after a devastating war, Sentinels are known and not that rare, but there are no Guides, at all. And then they find one. The premise was interesting and there were some good ideas played out, with some fanony concepts (Sentinel-Guide bond, for example, but that's enjoyable if not canonical, besides, this is AU). I enjoyed watching this Jim and Blair getting to know each other (and the treatment of Simon, however minor, was good too). There was a point at which I could figure out what was likely to happen, but I watched it play out anyway. One thing that did bug me, though, was the culture. It was too similar to modern-day USA. Here they were, a century later, after a devastating war has wiped out civilization, and they still have basketball and cheeseburgers, not to mention that the language hadn't changed that much either. Yes, there were some differences, but not all that many, though the opening was captivating with its hints of huge changes, but all the exciting things I was wondering about didn't materialize. That was rather disappointing for me.

Promissory (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 22nd July 2000 (1)
Tags: Novella

(sniff) This story grew on me. When it started off, I thought it would be average, then it hooked me in, bit by bit. The title is very apt, because it's all about promises, obligations, and hard choices. It could so easily have been smothered in soppiness, but it wasn't.

This story was nominated in the 2000 Cascade Times Awards in the "drama" category.

Addendum: nominated for favourite long story in the 2001 Cascade Times Awards.

Samaritan (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 23rd August 2000 (1)

Ah, I liked this very much. A first-season story set before The Debt. The perceptions we have of other people are filtered through our assumptions; it was sort of angsty to see how they were misunderstanding each other, and both wanting more, but not knowing what the other was thinking. It was refreshing to have no mystical Sentinel/Guide things pushing Jim's actions, just simple, ordinary human concern.

Twice Again (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 15th January 2003 (1)
Tags: Novel

It's interesting to note that the author nearly abandoned this story because others had already been written along a similar theme. It's true that this kind of Sentinel AU -- where Sentinels and Guides are a well-known phenomenon, there is a permanent Sentinel-Guide bond, and Guides are often empaths -- is so popular as to almost form a sub-genre of its own (and maybe we can blame Susan Foster for that, since many writers claim her GDP universe as inspiration to a lesser or greater degree). However, everyone has their own take, and I'm glad Donna decided to go for it after all.

One thing I've noticed with my own reactions to such stories, is that while I don't think a Sentinel-Guide bond is canonical, and find it irritating when it's taken as a given in stories which are set in the canonical or a near-canonical universe, when I read stories which are clearly set out in a parallel universe where the Sentinel-Guide bond can be taken as one of the differences, it doesn't bother me at all, and I quite enjoy it (being a sucker for psi stuff as I am).

So, all that being said, what did I think of this story? I liked it. First of all, a good Jim and Blair, both with traumas in their pasts, brought together by necessity, subject to misunderstandings and pre-emptive self-defence. I liked this variation on the permanent Sentinel-Guide bond, which was more subtle and not so cut-and-dried as in other variations. Likewise I liked the description of Blair as being "a sensitive" which left things open for both more and less than an "empath" would have been.

Also big kudos for the characterisation of Megan, who came forward as a great supporting character, befriending Blair while still spitting sparks with Jim. (One little quibble, though: I don't see why there would naturally be more Sentinels in the USA than in Australia, and I sort of resent this maligning of my country...) I'll add a plus for the Deli owner, he was so nice, as well as different.

There were questions left open and things left unexplained, but that just leaves room for another story, don't it?

Night Eagle

(1) Night Eagle (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 22nd March 2000

What if Blair and Jim had been born in the days of the Wild West? This one is a parallel universe story that works. Jim is a rancher, Blair is a half-breed, brought up as a shaman, but also remembering the days when he lived in the white man's world. This was good. This Blair is both more and less sure of himself, more spiritually focused, but with more reason to expect rejection from Jim's world. Jim is Jim - skeptical, tough, and fair. I like the way that they both had trouble accepting the Guardian-Guide thing. I would like to see more of this universe.

Addendum: this series was nominated in the "favourite alternate universe series" in the 2001 Cascade Times Awards.

(2) Night Eagle: Homecoming (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 23rd April 2001
Tags: Novel

Ah, what a long, juicy story! This is the sequel to the AU (parallel universe) story "Night Eagle" which set Jim and Blair in the time and place of the Wild West. Read that one first. Someone suggested that one should watch a Western before reading this, and I agree, it's a good idea, gets you into the mood. And then settle down for a nice long read. I stayed up until 2am reading this, I just couldn't stop. Yes, there's a touch of fanon (the heartbeat thing). And there are some things that I could see coming a mile off. But there were other parts that were worth following through, like the thing with Rafe (yes, other of our supporting cast are there -- Simon, Daryl, Rafe, Henri... and Steven gets a mention). The youthful curiosity of Daryl was fun. And the thing with Blair and the books (wistful sigh). So many times in this story, people keep on stumbling over their assumptions. Blair, Jim, Simon, Rafe... It was cool how Jim here kept on doing what he thinks is right, and then kept on finding that things aren't that simple.

Addendum: Winner of the 2001 Burton for favourite alternate universe story. (Cascade Times Awards)