FimFiction Link - Short ID: 215890/forbidden-melodies
Published: Sep '14
'Forbidden Melodies' is a nine thousand and nine hundred-word oneshot. An original copy of Equestria's anthem is found and Octavia is delighted to play it. Celestia forbids her.
What a beautiful little story! Let's be honest, not a single reader will be stumped what the "great secret" of the original anthem is and why Sunhorse is so against playing it, once it is revealed that it was created not too long after Luna's banishment. But, of course, this isn't a dig against the author. Though the "mystery" is no mystery at all, this is a story about how the characters deal with revelations the reader already knows. Characters who are depicted in a very loving way. I really like how the author wrote Octavia. Her seeming coolness contrasts her excitement in a way I can only describe as cute. And despite OCs being generally frowned upon, especially in OCxCanon stories, her batpony husband is also a very likable character. It's a common trope that a character who's brilliant in their field is also a bumbling goof in day to day life, but it's done well here, so I cannot complain. Also, though the main revelation of the story is already known to the reader, I really liked how Celestia's character is reinterpreted by Octavia as she herself realizes what's going on. Even if the reader is "in on the joke" from the get go, it still feels tragic and almost unexpected.
The story combines a bit of humor, the playful bickering of a young couple, and some SoL downtime to punctuate the underlying drama of the duo realizing just why exactly the Princess is so apprehensive about playing this particular song and falling into despair themselves, before the story turns the whole thing on its head and ends in a bombastic and deeply warm way.
While the story itself is already very nice, the prose just elevates things further. I really liked the little wordplays and vivid descriptions of how each character felt at the moment. I have to explicitly mention how nicely the author portrays music in this story. I admit, aside from a few lessons in middle school, I have absolutely no knowledge about the deeper mechanics of music, but I could still follow and almost imagine how the various movements might sound like.
The only thing I find just a bit questionable is Luna's naivety. I know she's been through a lot, but it feels weird that, of all ponies, she can't connect the dots that an anthem written after her banishment might contain less than savory things about her and that this is why Celestia might be so unwilling to even remember it. It definitely doesn't ruin the story, but to me it felt just a bit too convenient, compared to how nicely everything else slots into the story.
Overall: 8/10 This is a beautiful and creative rendition of simple and well-known story archetype, approached from a unique angle. While the plot itself is nothing new, the execution carries the narrative to great lengths. Can recommend.