Path of Thorns
|Title:||Path of Thorns|
|Author(s):||Mitzi Tick and Felicia Adams|
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
Reactions and Reviews
"Path of Thorns" by Mitzi Tick and Felicia Adams is the centerpiece of the zine-- which is saying a great deal, given the quality of the other stories. It has lots of adventure and SF neepery, but the heart of it is the thorny relationship between Tarrant and Vila. (There's also a brief A/Ta encounter, for you Avon fans.) PGP, Servalan turns Tarrant into a brainwashed sex slave by means of a new, special form of limiter. His friends rescue him, but that's only the beginning, as they then have to turn him back into himself. Highly recommended! 
It's 1999 and the zine is Liberator Fantasies (a very good zine. I agree with Sarah Thompson's review, viz that it has 'something for just about every slash fan, in terms of the variety of pairings and tone of stories. If you're new to the whole concept, it might be a nice way to start, as it's a good sample of what's out there.')
I admit now, I agreed to rec this story without actually reading it (but with the intention of reading it pre-rec, obviously), because my friend wellharkather assured me it was good and I believed her, and I thought 'it'd be nice to rec some pairings that aren't just B/A'. I have now read 'Path of Thorns' and I can tell you that even though V/T is not my pairing at all (or is it?), even though the Avon in this story is aggressively straight (for plot, I think), and even though Blake is entirely absent, 'Path of Thorns' is, in my opinion, one of the best Blake's 7 stories ever. Fanlore tells me that it lost out in the 1999 Stiffies to 'Divide and Conquer' and... I love D&C a lot, so I am OK with this, but... I would have been OK with things going the other way. And D&C is a beautiful, awkward and funny B/A epic by one of my favourite writers. So - what I'm saying is PoT is one of the best Blake's stories ever.
It manages this through a combination of 1) fantastic, multilayered and gripping characterisation (more of this later), 2) an exciting adventure plot that makes use of all the characters, and forces most of them to have emotions and emotional crises... and blow things up and pretend to be important business men, AND 3) ... a ludicrous crack premise that is nevertheless 100% based in the show. Last rec I talked about how the show just casually introduced brainwashing. Well, in series 4 it also casually introduced the idea of sexy slavery (in the sense that if Servalan had managed to buy Avon she would have put him to sexy use).
So, in this fic... Del Tarrant (dashing young space pilot - arrogant and slightly annoying, but deeply loyal and I would say good-hearted) gets brainwashed and forced into sex slavery, and the others bitch and moan about whether they even want him back and then stage a massive series of rescues. Then Tarrant gets his memory back but is still forced to have sex every 48 hours by a limiter (much like Gan's non-violence limiter! Thanks, canon) and also has to deal with the fact that Avon saw him in a skimpy skirt while going through horrible, actual trauma etc (there's lols and terrible pain and sadness).
As an ensemble fic, it is excellent and heartwarming without ever being twee (all the affection is hidden beneath insults - the true B7 way). As a fic about these individual characters, it is a masterpiece of sympathetic and complex characterisation (the things Vila is willing to be brave about and the things that are so terrifying that he behaves terribly are brilliantly represented - just for example).
And as a Vila/Tarrant fic, it is astonishingly convincing. The show doesn't exactly sell this as a reasonable ship, but... in the context of this fic... well, I'm beginning to think it doesn't not sell it either. 'Path of Thorns' (which is a PGP fic) very cleverly backdates the relationship - but very late in they day (i.e. after Warlord, which is plausible, and V and T don't really interact in 'Blake' so there's no way of checking up on it). It also draws convincingly on the resentment Vila feels as a result of Tarrant pushing him around and not treating him like a person, and Tarrant's anger and resentment over what he's been forced to do/at Vila's anger at him to create an effective and interestingly relationship of antagonists (fanbait, I'm afraid, to a B/A shipper like myself). Over the course of the fic's many, many pages, it thoroughly convinced me that this was a convincing place for the V/T relationship to go, and by the time we got to the lovely ending (of insults and lust and affection), I was so happy for those crazy kids.As well as being delighted to learn that all the Scoprio crew care about each other, even and especially Avon, whatever he says.