Crimson Lies comes to us from Ashbear, the premiere writer of FF8 fan fiction on FF.net. I think the reason she’s so popular is that she knows her romance, and she does this by concentrating on the most redeeming aspect of Final Fantasy 8 — the love story between Squall and Rinoa. The key to making a good fan fiction is by staying true to the characters, and the key to a good love story is by keeping the characters apart. I guess it’s like the equivalent of dread for a horror story. It’s all about elongating the experience.
Crimson Lies takes place after the events of Final Fantasy 8 and no one’s happy. Squall has become the leader of Garden, steeped in politics and bureaucracy. Rinoa has married an abusive plutocrat, and must stay in hiding because she is a Sorceress, the last one. And Sorceresses aren’t too popular since the last few have tried to kill the world. And then everyone else like Irvine, Zell, and Quistis are running the tables, just trying not to be miserable.
But love finds a way, it always finds a way, and it will find a way. But it’s going to take a lot of not-so-fun experiences, some mystery-solving, dramatic scenes, and good characterization. Ashbear starts the story with a warning that it’s a darker look, full of “fate, lies, and betrayal”. Personally, I think it’s just what FF8 needs. The original story has angst, but it’s forced J-Pop teen angst that doesn’t really go anywhere. Crimson Lies takes it to a whole new level, giving us characters that are not only true to the canon, but enhanced. The story is top-notch, full of page-turning events.
Ashbear still writes, and is still active in the FF community. So if you like Final Fantasy 8, definitely give this one a read. It’s a mature story that’s not filled with fluffy love like FF8 was, but that can be a good thing. It’s like a filet mignon, rich and dark. You know you’re eating an animal when you eat filet mignon – you can taste the blood. But it tastes good.