FimFiction Link - Short ID: 144701/gladiator
Published: Nov '13 — Sep '14
I can confirm Gladiator is pretty good. It's not nearly as edgy as the description and first couple chapters make it sound. Nothing deep or surprising here, just a nice HiE adventure fic. There isn't even a romance subplot, which I honestly appreciated.
The fic consists of five or so "missions", where the human MC and two or three canon ponies head off somewhere to do something, which inevitably brings them into conflict with changelings and/or Sombra's goons. In other words, the author was smart enough not to try to include the entire M6 in every arc. Between arcs, there's some downtime SoL material in Ponyville.
One thing I particularly liked was Twilight's portrayal in this fic. She's smart and extremely skilled in magic, just like she should be. Twilight and the MC work together on several new magical weapon designs over the course of the fic. And there are a couple memorable scenes where the author does a good job of showing off Twilight's absurdly high level of raw power compared to the average unicorn. (Of course, the bad guys can still give the protagonists a real fight one way or another, but it's still fun to see Twilight demonstrate that she is, in fact, the highest level unicorn.)