In 1945, Steve Rogers jumps from a nosediving plane and swims through miles of Arctic Ocean to a frozen shore.
In 1947, Steve Rogers marries Peggy Carter.
In 1966, the New York Times finds the lost letters of Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes.
Today’s review is on the unconventional side but I think it’s just as worthy as any other review I’ve written. Most people know that Captain America is my favorite Avenger and that I became obsessed a few years ago after seeing The Winter Soldier (still my favorite Marvel movie). In Summer 2015, Meg sent me this brilliant fan fic called Not Easily Conquered by dropdeaddream & WhatAreFears. Now I know a fan fic review is a little outside the norm of most book blogs, including mine, but there is a reason I’m highlighting this story today. I never read long fics but I read this 117,000 word fic in 24 hours. My eyeballs hurt and it was so worth it! I read it again last year and it was a 5 star worthy read all over again. Here’s why:
Not Easily Conquered is one of the best pieces of straight up fiction I’ve EVER read; it is a nuanced and gorgeously written alternate Marvel Cinematic Universe. I also loved all the very real historical research woven into the story. Most of all, I loved how the story moved through time and gave Cap this amazing, full, complicated life. It’s the perfect blend of MCU and what if? And the bisexual rep! It’s so good! It is really really well done, fully realized, and nuanced (says the straight girl with some of her bi friends who have also read this entire fic). This is the Steve Rogers we deserve.
I’m telling you, NEC is flipping BRILLIANT. The entire story is broken into 3 sections so you can read it in chunks; the authors weave in (fake) interviews, tweets, articles, etc, from 1947 to present day throughout the story and it seems so believable! They captured the essence of every MCU character perfectly. I would read 500 pages of Bucky Barnes’ letters. They are so unbelievably beautiful and brutal and poignant and romantic, while capturing the horrors of war to a T. I could FEEL the emotion in the story and it broke my heart and made me laugh and smile too.
(Both covers created by starsnshields on tumblr).
I’m telling you, if you are a fan of Marvel or good storytelling at all, don’t discount this just because it’s unofficial. I can’t wait to read it again someday. I honestly think I could read it again right now, happily. I love it so much. You really don’t have to ship Stucky at all to love this fic but I’m pretty sure this is what got me to ship them in the first place.
I also love it because I really really adore Peggy, and Steve with Peggy, and we get that too. And Peggy is fierce, and harsh, and loving, and does what she needs to do for her family and her country (hi, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D!). There are a lot of rough patches with the good moments but that’s what makes her marriage with Steve seem so real. And all the other characters, they just…. ugh they make it work so well. Easter eggs and reimaginings and everything. Natasha, Sam, Howard Stark, Tony Stark. It’s so so sooooooo gooooood. I wish Kathryn Rogers was real. I wish this version was real alongside the MCU.
Thank goodness I have this fic to read whenever I want (it’s downloaded on my kindle). And thanks as always to Meg for originally sending it to me two summers ago. I’ll get you back for this someday *she says as she drowns in a deep pool of Cap feels*. Besides feels, it’s REALLY funny. And the writing is top notch. It’s one of the best things I’ve read in recent years, published books included. Anyway, this is long and no one will read it anyway. But I’ll leave you with some of my favorite parts:
So how long have I loved you for? Womb to tomb, sweetheart. Since before I was even here at all. I get it now, you understand. Your ma was right. It really is a stupid question.
But in the dreams he says it again, quiet like a secret, just in the moment before the frost creeps up his throat and strangles his voice into silence.
“My best girl,” he murmurs into her hair. If there’s one thing Steve’s learned, it’s that the heart is huge and cavernous and big enough for two, and he loves Peggy the way he’s never loved anyone before or since.
Despite this, Barnes’ grasp of the English language is by turns electrifying and anguished; he expresses effortlessly an entire range of human emotion, even with his lack of formal education, his poverty-stricken upbringing, and his age.
15. Drumroll, please, for the final mystery of history: James Barnes’ shortest (and bitchiest) letter. “You piss me off so God damn much. Jesus Roosevelt Christ. I’ve got your number, you reckless f—ing dumbass.”
Only your best friend can talk to you like that. No one’s really sure why Sergeant Barnes was so ticked off, but apparently even Captain America can be annoying. Who knew? (Warren, Cate. “Top Fifteen Mysteries of History.” Buzzfeed. New York, New York, 2012. Web.)
The trust Natasha is offering out between them shakes almost palpably in the still of the night, fragile, like spun glass or a sapling.
“Yeah, hey, watch your fuckin’ language,” Steve says, and Clint huffs a laugh. Steve asks, “What’s wrong with ‘em?”
Peggy smacked him upside the head. “Ow!” Tony yelped, and Peggy told him, “I’ll kick the absolute shite out of you and then I’ll call Mr. Jarvis and tell him, you little bastard.”
The God’s honest truth is that I ain’t ever gonna love again. She’s your true north. I know what that means, because you’re mine.
Barnes, quit peacocking,” Steve says.
“Rogers, quit looking,” Bucky replies. He grins at Steve in the reflection.
Do you ever read fanfiction? Which fandoms? If not, have I convinced you to give this one a chance? 😀