FimFiction Link - Short ID: 132698/promised-land
Published: Nov '13
'Promised Land' is a seven-thousand word oneshot about a pilgrimage. I have to admit, when I first read the story's description and saw the words "Twilight Sparkle" and "he" in one sentence, I was about to click off. I wasn't gonna read some fetishist's fantasy, but the end of the description begging us to first read the story before judging made me give it the benefit of the doubt. And am I glad that I did!
It is an unspecified time in the future after a successful Canterlot-invasion caused ponykind to flee Equestria. The only thing they left behind being nothing more than their capital city, now regarded by the Changelings, who deify their former inhabitants, as the city of the gods. As cliche as it might sound, the descriptions the author gives about Canterlot kind of remind me of Dark Souls' Anor Londo, both being pristine, seemingly more perfect than perfect, yet eerily dead.
With no ponies and thus no love around, the Changelings' days are numbered. In this bleak world, a single Changeling decided to brave the long trek to the city in hopes of not saving the world, but at least dying in a place he reveres. On his journey he eventually stumbles upon another of his kind from a different hive and the two reminisce while sharing their own personal philosophies. While the protagonist acts with blind reverence and believes in trusting the "gods," the other copes with bitter nihilism, considering their worship a fruitless endeavor. Their different ideologies form the main conflict of the story emphasized by the apocalyptic-backdrop. I can't really say anything more about the story without delving into spoilers, so here are my spoiler-free thoughts: Drop this review for now and read the story. It's not perfect, but if experienced blindly, it really packs a punch and despite its unique divergence from FIM, I feel like it really resonates with the show's messages. The only major problem it has is how pretentiously the characters speak, but even that can be largely forgiven.
Now for spoilers, I was ready to accept this story as a tragedy-fic. One that concerns itself with the end of the world, not the roaring kind, but the one where it is like a candle being snuffed out. After all, until the twist happens, both Changeling-Twilight and Changeling-AJ present two very believable ways to deal with the inevitable and there really doesn't seem to be any hope left... and then the ending happened and I did not see it coming. The finale single-handedly turned this story from an already pretty good eulogy into an great story about hope and perseverance even in the face of annihilation and nihilism.
Overall: 7/10 While this story had a slightly lesser impact than 'A Perfect World' (>>37337252) has had on me and the characters' speech was a bit grating, it is still an excellent drama with an ending truly worth reading. I highly recommend this story.