/mlp/ Fanfic Reviews

The Architects of Fear

FimFiction Link - Short ID: 506770/the-architects-of-fear

Published: Dec '21

Review in No. 37937162
'The Architects of Fear' is a six thousand and one hundred-word G5 oneshot. Through a ritual Sunny holds communion with the alicorns of the past, who tell her the fate of their world and the devastating choice she must make to bring about Harmony.
I really-really want to like this fic. It has nice, flowing prose and the speech of the characters is entertaining and unique. I really liked Luna's passive-aggressive snark, but Cadence's scene with Flurry was quite touching as well. The way this story ties G4 to G5 is also interesting. I like how the author tries to answer questions many fans had, like where did the Windigos disappear or where are all the other sentient creatures. I even enjoyed the whole "the outcome is already determined, you just have to choose the path to get there" narrative. In some ways, this is the very best G5 fic I've read yet.
And yet, while I wouldn't say it's all for naught, the narrative nearly completely collapses into itself by the end. Twilight insists that the history of ponies is a cycle and that they must fear something, which drives them to unite and work together. The author puts great emphasis on the positive effects of fear and after all of the alicorns unanimously pledge their support for its effectiveness Sunny is implied to be convinced by them and sets out with her friends to the frozen north to let the Windigos out. In a vacuum this could be a great and tragic ending, except for the fact that the death of almost every alicorn and the collapse of Equestria came from the very same fear they're advocating for now. I mean, seriously, Cadence and Twilight directly, while Celestia and Luna indirectly died due to someone being afraid of something, yet they do not even consider this in their speech.
It would've been so easy to give this story a very satisfying ending: Have Sunny realize the princesses' folly and reject both approaches. Let her declare that she will not be the puppet of the old powers that failed to uphold harmony and that she will find a third way that will bring prosperity without the need of the death her friends or tens of thousands and without repeating the cycle. It then could still be implied that her hopes are unrealistic and that her victory will come through sacrifice, but unlike acting with the constitution of a wet noodle, Sunny could have displayed strength of character and acted with the hope and perseverance the show always held as pivotal concepts. And before you think I'm asking for characters without flaws, that's absolutely not the case, I just feel like the princesses are ignoring an issue in their logic that's way too blatant for beings who are supposed to be wise and deeply experienced.
Overall: 6/10 I was genuinely hoping this will be the G5 fic that goes against the norm and really nails everything. In terms of prose the fic delivers well, but the logical backflip at the end really soured my experience.