The Elemental Chess Trilogy

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Fanfiction
Title: The Elemental Chess Trilogy
Author(s): Lady Norbert
Date(s): March 2011-March 2012
Length: approximately 200,000 words in total
Genre: gen, het
Fandom: Fullmetal Alchemist
External Links: Flowers of Antimony

Brilliancy The Game of Three Generals Triumvirate (prequel)

Notes From the Grandmaster (side stories)

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The Elemental Chess Trilogy is a series of Fullmetal Alchemist fan fictions, begun in the spring of 2011. They take place in the story universe of the FMA manga/Brotherhood anime.

The three main installments were all published within a four-month period; these begin two years after the conclusion of the canon series. Because they take place post-canon, they naturally contain spoilers for the end of FMA itself.

The fourth story, "Triumvirate," was published in March 2012 as part of the 2011-2012 FMA Big Bang event on LiveJournal. This is a prequel story set before the events of the FMA canon.

The fifth portion, "Notes From the Grandmaster," is a collection of one-shot side stories set in the universe of the series.

Summaries

"Flowers of Antimony," the original story in the series, is best summarized with a quote from Roy Mustang: "Fullmetal, you're the only guy I know who can turn getting married into an international incident." Edward Elric's wedding to Winry Rockbell gets turned somewhat upside down when mysterious forces attack Central City in the days prior to the ceremony.

"Brilliancy," the second story, begins almost a year after the conclusion of "Flowers of Antimony" and moves the action to Ishval, where Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye - now newlyweds themselves - are still working to revitalize the region. Their old unit joins them there, summoned by a strange coded letter hinting at danger in the desert. As they try to unmask their unseen opponent, things threaten to go horribly wrong when Riza turns up missing and Roy falls deathly ill.

"The Game of Three Generals" picks up the story a few months after "Brilliancy." Fuhrer Grumman and the loyal allies of Team Mustang are determined to thwart the man who has been tormenting them for months. But everything explodes on them, rather literally, and it becomes a race against the clock to save more than one life.

"Triumvirate" finishes out the series by taking the reader back to the Ishvalan War of Extermination. A very young Roy Mustang, Riza Hawkeye, and Maes Hughes forge an alliance that will carry them through the horrors of war and beyond.

"Notes From the Grandmaster" is, as noted above, a collection of one-shot side stories, all of which take place during or after the timeline of the main trilogy. These all, at least to date, were originally composed as entries in the weekly FMA fic writing competitions at the FMA Fic Contest community on LiveJournal.

Themes and Points of View

The entire series employs a rotating protagonist point of view. Each chapter is written in the present tense and told from the view of a different character. While Edward Elric, Roy Mustang, and Riza Hawkeye (later Mustang) are the principal protagonists, the rotation allows several minor characters to enjoy some 'screen time.' It also allows the reader to see events happening in different locations to different characters.

Each of the four stories was based around a theme, which is reflected in the story title and the title of each chapter:

  • In "Flowers of Antimony," the story title and all chapter titles are alchemical terms and compounds.
  • In "Brilliancy," the story title and all chapter titles are chess terms.
  • In "The Game of Three Generals," the story title and all chapter titles are terms from shogi (Japanese chess).
  • In "Triumvirate," the story title and all chapter titles are terms related to military and war.

"Notes From the Grandmaster" averts the thematic titling, as the individual stories were written separately. The overarching title of the document is, of course, a chess reference, with the author tongue-in-cheekly calling herself the 'Grandmaster' in question.

Reactions and Reviews

Reader reception of the series was and continues to be largely positive. Although the main series was completed in 2012, it continues to appear on many recommended reading lists for the fandom and attracts new readers continually. Many reviewers maintain that the stories fit well into the world crafted by Hiromu Arakawa; a few even questioned whether the author actually was Arakawa using a fake name.

"So, I basically just plowed through this story nonstop in about 5 hours, and I don't regret a second of it. You write absolutely beautifully; the language is so vivid and everyone's so true to character. It makes me want to read more, and I fully intend to go through the next two stories as soon as I possibly can."[1]
"...one does not come across such stories like yours. I was so drawn into the way you laid down Roy and Riza's story, kept them in character that there are times when I re-watch Brotherhood, I end up integrating bits of your story into what I'm watching. I forget that it's (fan)fiction, and that it didn't really happen, and then I become disappointed that it didn't - because your story is so real, and in character and is exactly what I would have wanted to happen during the show/manga."[2]
"This is, without a doubt, the most completely awesome FMA series I have ever read. I really am not surprised that some people actually mistook you for Hiromu Arakawa. ...Also, thank you for providing the Q&A section at the end of the story. It actually cleared up a lot, and I always find it really interesting to find out what was going through author's heads when they wrote certain things, or what they thought of other things. You are a completely amazing human being, and words can not express how much I'm fangirling over your series right now. Seriously, if you had said that you really were Arakawa, I probably would have believed you."[3]
"I'm new to this section in fanfiction, but you are hands down the best author I've run into so far. I love the way you portray these characters, somehow adding much more depth to them than some do. Your writing is also very easy to read and just sink yourself into. Thank you very much for sharing with us!"[4]

References

  1. From a review of "Flowers of Antimony," May 2011[1]
  2. From a review of "Brilliancy," April 2011[2]
  3. From a review of "The Game of Three Generals," December 2012[3]
  4. From a review of "Triumvirate," June 2012