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I'll admit, I probably began reading this fic many years after its prime. As of this writing, Season 8 of the actual My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic TV show is ongoing. That said, I think the story aged reasonably well. It's incompatible with current MLP canon, naturally, but the canon characters are still recognizable. I'd dare to say they're very much in-character any time they appear. Of course, it is up for debate exactly how in-character they are compared to how they are in the show even for when it was written, but I do appreciate that Kkat had made an effort to preserve these characters as they were, flaws and all. It was good enough to fool me, at any rate.
The main narrative is no slouch either. Littlepip's journey, in my opinion, is quite a compelling one in and of itself, even without the pre-war investigation she takes us through. I find the characters relatable, even varying degrees of likeable, and I found I actually cared what happened to everyone, both pre-war and post-war. People say the ending was rushed. I'm not so sure I agree, necessarily. That said, I probably wouldn't know a rushed ending if it hit me, my past self, and some stranger in a silly outfit with a giant metal fist.
Now, to address the elephant in the room; if you don't like dark – especially when combined with ponies – this story won't be your cup of tea. I like dark stories pretty much regardless of the form they take; ponies, aliens, super-powered hedgehogs, whatever. I'm verifiably a sucker for that; there is no such thing as "too dark" in my mind, and I love it when a story takes itself as seriously as this one does. What breaks deals for me is horribly inconsistent plots, and from what I can tell, this story doesn't have that; the plot is very well executed, and it's held my attention throughout.
It's definitely not for the faint of heart, but I see why it gets the praise it does. This is a work that had ambition; it and the expanded universe that spawned from it has inspired me to try my hand at writing once again. Though I will admit, the consistent misspelling of "Cloudsdale" as "Cloudsdayle" (I initially wrote it off as Calamity's drawl, but no, that's actually how Kkat spells it throughout the story, even when Calamity's not talking) and various other errors that showed up made me ever so slightly irritated. The story made me sic so many times...
It's a damn good read. Just understand what you're getting into if you're going to read it yourself. These really aren't your regular ponies.
Ah, years later. I suppose my response at this point is a little more measured. Some of my criticisms I think I\'d revise (and I\'d perhaps word them less harshly), but ultimately I still think I stand by my complaints that the story leans too heavily on violence, both in terms of dramatic tension and in terms of themes.
I think that the story suffers from some contradictions in themes, and I personally found myself unable to root for any of the characters. Fundamentally I was just unconvinced by the story\'s premise that Littlepip and her friends were leading the way for a better world.
To be honest, I don\'t see it that way. For the most part, the violence makes sense in context, and that\'s probably why it doesn\'t bother me at all.
As for contradictions in themes, I\'m not sure what themes you think are contradicting eachother.
The biggest example I can think of is the Epilogue, which by its title is trying to go for some sort of forgiveness aesop, which I found wasn't supported by anything the characters actually did in the story - far from demonstrating forgiveness, Littlepip shows herself to be extremely vindictive throughout the entire story.
I also find the treatment of characters as "elements" questionable in some cases, especially with regards to Homage, who despite being the supposed avatar of Honesty is okay with covering up a murder committed by the party because it isn't politically convenient to tell the truth.
Forgiveness...? I'm not sure that's what I got from the epilogue...
As for Homage, well... If you're talking about the murder I think you're talking about, if I recall correctly, she didn't appear to actually know the truth there until weeks after the fact. If the fact that she didn't broadcast it when Littlepip told her the truth is what's bothering you... I'd venture to say she deemed it of little relevance at this point and/or was probably looking at the bigger picture. I don't remember if the perpetrator was alive or dead at this time, though. That said, I'm pretty sure even the canon iterations of the Mane Six weren't perfect paragons of the elements they represented, even for the time this story was written.
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