FimFiction Link - Short ID: 498024/sunrise
Published: Aug '21 — Sep '21
It's an AU-Hearth's Warming Eve story where a unicorn Celestia and Luna works for the authoritarian regime of pre-unification Unicornia. They are on the Sun- and Moon control team respectively, and life could be decent enough for them, if not for Celestia getting a task that basically amounts to setting up genocide.
From here, events take a turn as Clover the Clever secretly recruits them to overthrow the regime, by -guess what- taking over the Sun and Moon.
This fic, although tagged as adventure, could easily be tagged as a political thriller as well. The machinations the Sisters get into during the course of the story get deeper and deeper, and the more they know, the more they realize they might be just pawns in a much bigger game thanthemselves. But they go along with Clover's plan anyway, because they prioritize the greater good, that is having a pony realm where all kinds of ponies are free and equal.
There are two things that I found weird in this fic, narratively speaking. The first, is that Luna is depicted as a lesbian, and although it serves as a basis for some conflict in the first 1/3rd of the fic, it is swiftly resolved, then doesn't really get brought up, despite the attention it got early on. I didn't find it too jarring, because I got what thematically the author wanted with this, but it felt like a B-plot that didn't go anywhere ultimately.
The other thing is, the Sisters' ascension. Yes, they obviously become alicorns during the course of the story, but it gets one chapter, then it gets somewhat glossed over. Characters around them often go like "Oh, you're alicorns now? Ok." This one could be justified by the political events intensifying when this happens in the fic, and therefore a less important thing for the characters involved, but even Celestia and Luna ignores it, somewhat.
Overall, the characterizations in the fic are solid, and it was nice to see a young Celestia and Luna who aren't kids, but young and inexperienced enough that they don't see through everything that's going on, but they still opt to do the right thing, even if it could lead to uncertain outcomes for them personally. Besides, the fic shows events mostly from Celestia's POW, and she works excellently as a "third person limited" narration tool, with her idealism, care for her sister, and whatnot.
Lastly, I will mention the fic's length. It clocks in just under 100k words, so it's a decent read, but doesn't overstay its welcome, and indeed, I never felt it dragging on, or having too much filler. The author's work ethic is also commendable, as he's prewritten the whole thing, and published it over a roughly 2 month period. I just point this out because a good fic is good, but it's even better when finished.
I'm not into giving a score, instead I'll say if you like the Sisters, I'd recommend this for you, even if you're a newcomer to Fimfics.
About the first half of this story is awesome. I really enjoyed the sisters interactions, and the interpretations on the HWE characters. Clover the Clever was especially fun to read, and the aesops were well integrated into the setting.
Unfortunately, part of made the pace of the story so engaging early on worked very strongly against it when it started hitting bumps and then flew completely off the rails. The story supposedly covers a lot events from HWE from the perspective of the sisters - the downfall of the segregated pony societies and migration to Equestria proper - and does this at a blistering pace, being under 100k words.
For me, a warning signs came when among other high profile magical mishaps, the sisters experimentally seize control of the sun and... nothing happens to Clover, the chief mage.
Within a few more chapters, the story devolves into a "smash the $authority_figure and do the obvious thing" fantasy and I dropped it when Celestia executes her old boss because the ends justify the means. I get it, but the author forgot to make it fun, like in, say, The Immortal Game. The pegacorn Storm Gray and story elements relating to her were also impressively horrible.
Don't let yourself get baited into reading this fic. I repeat, do not read this fic.
Why? It's a one-way trip towards a disaster that cannot be averted.
The story starts out really well. You have excellent young Celestia and Luna (as well as other great characters), an interesting pre-HWE world, and an enticing grand plot -- all in a very competently written story. You WILL like it.
And then the cracks will start to show. Very subtly at first, stealthily growing like a tumor on everything this fic tempted you with earlier. You probably won't notice it happening until it's way too late and the story is already unsalvageable. This 'tumor' comes with three distinct symptoms. The first (and the worst) is political intrigue. It influences the fic from its earliest chapters, but you don't learn that until later. It makes ponies act very non-pony, and brings about the second symptom -- the deterioration of the characters. The further you go, the less you'll find of the Tia&Luna interactions that made the fic good in the first place. Instead, you'll get cynicism, extremely OOC characters, and a setting that reveals itself as an unmarked AU. But there's yet more. The plot rots off and shows an ugly stub in its place. The reveals in the last three chapters will constantly make you think "it can't get any worse now", but it will. A lot worse, in fact.
The fic is a trap, and a very well-concealed one at that. Some people didn't mind the shift and liked the fic in its entirety, but you can't know if that will be (You). I do not recommend it, and I'd give it a 4/10, with the caveat that no part of the fic is a "4"; the opening is like an 8, but it falls off the cliff and becomes a total catastrophe near the end.