FimFiction Link - Short ID: 514068/northern-stars
Published: Mar '22 — Apr '22
Northern Start is a 39k G5 adventure fic. After the return of magic at the end of the A New Generation movie, King Sombra comes back from the dead (again) with the intention to take over Equestria.
Jokes aside, the story is not as generic as that premise made it sound. Following Sombra around as he tries to make sense of the situation he's found himself in was more interesting than I expected it to be. First person present tense narration from Sombrero's perspective gets edgy and very smug at times, but not to the point it'd be annoying. Having a non-obnoxious Sombra in a Sombra fic is great, especially with how often other authors do it wrong.*
The fic is not just about Sombra, the perspective shifts to some of the G5 ponies during a few important scenes. I can't tell if this was a good idea or not. On one hand, it helps flesh out the story and give /some/ character to the supporting cast; on the other hand, it detracts from what I thought was supposed to be the main plot of the fic. The Sprout scene is especially egregious. Look, maybe it's my fault for not caring about the G5 ponies enough, but dumping like a thousand words of some random nopony's backstory right after the resolution of the main story felt really bad, even despite it very obviously setting up the ending.
About that, the pacing is strange. I think I get what the author was going for regarding Sombra's arc but the result feels to me like putting the big plot resolution halfway through the fic. Not to say that the second part of the fic drags on, it just feels like an ending to a much longer story. Sombra's choice is set up well but then immediately resolves into what feels like a lengthy epilogue. To me the conflict lacks some meat, some adventure.**
The non-Sombra characters were alright. I liked Izzy but the fic's length removed her from the story before she had the time to shine. Sunny and the townsponies suffered from the low wordcount, too – they experience radical mood swings as the plot pushes them forward. The pacing makes them act too melodramatic.
The writing is adequate. It was evidently proofread and edited, that's good. What's less good is the slightly awkward style. It's rarely if ever *wrong* but every once in a while you'll run into a sentence that reads off. I find it very hard to put my finger on what exactly is the problem here – especially since I'm struggling with the exact same issue myself – but you'll most commonly see the symptoms in questionable comma placement, strange order of clauses, slightly atypical word choices, repetition of words or sentence 'templates'.
All in all, there are some interesting ideas here and – G5 aside – it doesn't have anything that would really sour the story. I have some gripes with the fic but reading it wasn't a bad experience. That's pretty much a definition of a 5/10. Maybe a 6/10 if you care about G5 more than I do.