Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Ponyfic Roundup 136: Farewell to The Royal Guard Edition

Read it Later story count: 491 (-4)

Ah, EQD commenters, never change. :P Anyway, since The Royal Guard have recently disbanded, I thought I might do a small edition of stories that have been featured by them over the last few years. I've already reviewed a number of TRG-inducted stories here on PR, but I picked out a hoof-ful more for today's post. Five stories reviewed this week, and here's the list:

Dr. Rainbow Dash, MD, PhD, etc. by FrontSevens
Bitter-Sweetie by Inquisitor M
Gravity by Avox
A Drop of Sunlight: The Becoming of Sun Brandisher by Autumn Wind
The Evolution of Harmony by Thornwing

★: 0 | ★★: 1 | ★★★: 2 | ★★★★: 2 | ★★★★★: 0

Dr. Rainbow Dash, MD, PhD, etc. by FrontSevens
Rainbow Dash, Twilight and OC
Comedy/Dark/Random/Tragedy; 5k words; May 2015; Everyone
Rainbow Dash has an unusual way of learning, and Twilight’s determined to take advantage of it. Before she knows it, Rainbow’s life unravels before her eyes as she becomes the smartest pony alive.
Obviously inspired by "Testing Testing 1, 2, 3", this gets us off to a solid start. Twilight's increasingly obsessive determination to make Rainbow super-smart ratchets up at an entertaining pace, and there's a grim amusement for the reader in what Dash has become by the end. I have no clue what a "Troan bust" is, though. Gets into the four-star bracket partly for making that very unpromising combination of genre tags work! ★★★★

Bitter-Sweetie by Inquisitor M
Twilight and Celestia
Slice of Life; 7k words; Jan 2013; Teen
With her final breaths, Twilight discovers some unexpected truths, and that some friendships will last forever.
Inquisitor M's fics can be quite tough going, but this one isn't as hard work as, say, Pride (PR 25). Apart from being as well written as you'd expect, it provides an insight into Celestia's character that I haven't seen anywhere else – not to mention doing the "dying Twilight" thing in an interesting way. At one point, I thought I knew why Sweetie Belle was in the story; I was wrong. A part with Cadance feels slightly tacked-on, but for the most part this is very satisfying. A highish four, and recommended. ★★★★

Gravity by Avox
Twilight and Other [Moondancer]
Slice of Life; 3k words; Aug 2014; Everyone
While digging around the Royal Canterlot Library, Princess Twilight stumbles across an old friend.
A pre-"Amending Fences" take on Twilight's reunion with Moondancer. You'll need to get past Moondancer's personality, which is very different from that M. A. Larson gave her – in some ways she's closer to canon Minuette – but if you can do that, you'll find a rather charming tale here. There are a few odd details: someone is a radio host, it's still "Pony Joe", etc. Regardless, this is a cute alternative reality. The disconnect with modern canon is too uncomfortable for me to give it a really high mark, but if you find the premise intriguing it's worth a look. ★★★

A Drop of Sunlight: The Becoming of Sun Brandisher by Autumn Wind
Adventure; 4k words; Apr 2012; Everyone
In the prehistory of Equestria, one pony is about to make an amazing discovery.
I was fascinated by the setup here: set in the prehistoric "Age of Grazing", this is the tale of one of the key steps in the evolution of modern ponies. A striking difference is that, back then, ponies did not have a spoken language. This unfortunately makes the fic a little wordy and dense, and indeed its technical quality isn't really up to usual TRG standards; I guess that publication date has something to do with this. The best parts come at the end, and as a fable it's quite nicely done. It's just a shame that you really do have to wade through it. ★★

The Evolution of Harmony by Thornwing
Mane Six, Celestia, Luna and Other [and OCs]
Adventure; 42k words; Jul 2014; Everyone
Far in the west, an old evil has awoken. Twilight must discover the truth about the past in order to save what remains of her future.
I'm usually up for epic Mane Six adventure in unknown lands, and so I was looking forward to this. There's plenty of imagination at work here, including a new take on the Tree of Harmony's origins and some clever integration of G1 storylines. (Knowledge of G1 adds a layer of enjoyment but isn't necessary.) Celestia and Luna have bit parts, but are nevertheless important to the underlying plot. On the downside, the characterisation is a bit one-dimensional: Pinkie is silly, Fluttershy is timid, etc. There are also a few annoying writerly tics, such as Twilight beginning about eight million speeches to her friends with the word "girls". The best stuff here is in the last few chapters, so have patience. A central part of the plot has been overtaken by canon, and it's more like a (good) 2012 fic than a 2014 one in feel, so you'll probably enjoy this most if you're into "traditional" pony adventures. ★★★

Next time on Ponyfic Roundup: Spoons: Hard Mode. It's happening!


  1. "Next time on Ponyfic Roundup: Spoons: Hard Mode. It's happening!"

    Oh my..