FimFiction Link - Short ID: 512489/solstice-fire
Published: Mar '22
'Solstice Fire' is a one thousand and five hundred-word oneshot. Celestia stumbles upon a remote village during her trip to the Summer Sun Celebration. What she finds there shocks her to her core.
My heart bleeds for this story. It does so much right. The prose is very comfy, the rich descriptions make it easy for the reader to imagine the celebration Celestia stumbles upon and how extremely cold and hostile it becomes after they realize her presence. This is further driven home by the (compared to the fic's length) slow buildup and how unresolved that initial conflict is. There is budding intrigue and a genuine sense of unease that made me look forward to how the story would capitalize on this.
And then it all came tumbling down.
This story simply has no punchline. It honestly feels like the first chapter of a longfic, only there is nothing more to it. Celestia stumbles upon a group of earth pony supremacists, who may or may not be trying to instigate a return to traditions-kind of movement and then the story ends with Sunhorse thinking "oh shit, maybe some of my ponies are actually plotting a revolt."
You may justifiably ask, but didn't I just praise how the initial conflict was also just as unresolved? I sure did, but only with the expectation that, by the end of the story, loose ends will be nicely tied up. I'm absolutely not claiming that all stories must always end in clear, unambiguous ways, but if this fic truly intended to go for an open end, I feel like it didn't do nearly enough to set up the stakes and opposing sides. How fervently does this 'Realm' want to secede? How powerful and dangerous is it really? What caused the resurgence of old traditions? Evidently the citizens of Tall Tale aren't against tribe-mixing, so how would the traditionalists even convince them to join the cause? Which group is bigger in the Realm? How does Celestia intend to proceed from here? All questions which answered that could further generate intrigue and leave the reader craving more, but instead I feel the author tried to hedge their bets on the shock of the whole "nazi pony" revelation (their words, not mine) too hard and it didn't pay off. Without the actual scale of the threat being established, this conflict could be anything from an isolated incident in a tiny backwards part of the world, to a potential full-scale civil war. Without being given even an inkling of how the story may continue, things just feels unconcluded and thus unsatisfying.
Overall: 4/10 It does not feel nice at all to give this fic a score this low. There is a potentially awesome story buried here so tantalizingly close, but the narrative just doesn't do enough to achieve greatness.