FimFiction Link - Short ID: 413489/daring-do-and-the-hand-of-doom
Published: Jul '18 — Sep '18
Daring Do and the Hand of Doom is a Two hundred and sixty seven thousand three hundred and thirty three word long adventure story.
The hook follows Doctor Caballeron, the name of the archnemesis of Daring Do being ambushed in his crumbling home by some mysterious white pegasi who contract him to find a rare artifact of some ancient pony civilization that everyone agrees never actually existed, and died out entirely following the unification of the three tribes called the Exmoori. Meanwhile a dottering old academic shows off the other half of the rubbings to Daring Do who doesn't seem too interested until a pony wearing armor that is significantly more advanced then pony technology should allow, tries to kill her to stop her from following it. What follows is a grand adventure as both Caballeron and his lovable band of flunkies go up against Daring Do, Rainbow dash and a few other individuals. What follows is a grand mystery as Daring Do and friends travel from Somnambula, to ponyville, then to the crystal empire, Then to "Singapone" where one of the unnamed groups tries to blow up Do and the gang. Its a lovely little cat and mouse where each side slowly shows its hand, and it spends a lot of time building the atmosphere of the world. The story of the titular Hand of Doom is suitably tragic, and the worldbuilding surrounding it is facinating, theres a real sense of scale and loss as the ponies we see in the present are the barest shadows of what they used to be. A trope I usually hate, but here its executed positively enough for me to just sit in for the ride. After Singapone and a heist chapter where a "key" is stolen, Caballleron is supplanted as the lead of his team for his incompetence and is relegated to the general backburner. The tension is building as a mysterious entity made of ravens is stalking both teams. Eventually both sides meet up at Lyksym, a gigantic mountain to the far north that was Hurricanes former home, and its there they find the last clue for where the Hand of Doom is located, a place thousands of miles north of Yakyakistan called Hyperborea, in a facility on the edge of the world. We learn more of the history and philosophy of the Exmoori, the short stocky super fluffy ponies, and the Questlords, which is a secret society of unicorns that are also supposed to be extinct. Both groups were driven to near extinction by Celestia, and the Hand of Doom is how the questlords intend to strike her down. As the mysteries unravel, each character has a fulfilling role to play and nothing feels wasted. our heroes manage to team up with the bad guys against a greater threat.
Lets cover the main characters a bit.
Daring Do, above everything else in this story, is old. She's not quite elderly, but its really clear that shes too old to be doing this job, Her wings are so arthritic that she can't actually preen herself, has a hard time keeping up her stamina and so on. In exchange she fulfills the mother/teacher of the group rather well, especially with Rainbow Dash, who she lets tag along after RD does RD things.
Rainbow Dash on the other hand, is far and away the most impetuous of the group. Daring Do has to frequently reign her in but Rainbow Dash largely doesn't change in this fic, From beginning to end she is 100% the Rainbow Dash that the show portrays, at least for the first few seasons, which is a breath of fresh air for fics like this as many authors go out of their way to change the show charachters to the point of being unrecognizable by the end of it, and its a nice change of pace for that not to happen here.
Bonbon AKA Sweetie Drops. So bonbon gets brought out of retirement by CRUT, and acronym that i forgot what it meant but is effectively a spy/monster hunting/secret police agency working for Celestia after one of their agents was exposed in Caballeron's organization where her face was shoved in with super bees, and Crut is out for revenge.
Bonbon is basically just a Witcher Expy, but unfinished and she is doggedly loyal to Celestia. In one of the confrontations her response to one of the antagonists talking about how she had killed most of their family and has committed great evil acts her response boiled down to "Yeah, that happened, Cry about it." She's never challenged on this, and is the only real complaint i have.
Celestia. Celestia does not appear in this fic. Her impact is felt as she is the stated reason for the fall of the Exmoori, and the entire motivation for our real antagonists to be seeking out the hand of doom, and a lot of time is spent on her alleged crimes. The fact that she doesnt make any appearences at all and the only person defending her is Bonbon feels like a missed oppurtunity.
Flock: a member of Sombra's innter circle, and has been trying to amass relics for his return, and to make sure theres still an Equestria for Sombra to rule. He's a mysterious villainous hero who contributes much to how the protagonists manage to keep up with the Questlords, hes a fun charachter to read and has that special kind of autism that makes him engaging
White: She's a child soldier sent to kill Daring Do and friends. She fails, and gets caught by Do, her fucked up family effectively casts her out and despite bonbon being the worst kind of fed Daring takes her in. A fun little addition and is the mascot of the group.
Next up is Antagonists.
Lastly we have antagonists.
Dr. Caballeron: The first person we are introduced to in the story, and he plays his role as a cartoony villian really well. He has this whole shtick about being a chronic backstabber and watching him get shit on constantly is tons of fun.
Argiope: Cabelleron's pet Changeling, and the most competent of his rogue's galley. Plays the horny changeling who loves the master really well and most of the story she comes across as great comic relief.
Rogue: Plays a minor role but is the most "human" of the villain and does a great job of keeping the PG villiany, well PG.
Zel: A zebra that Caballeron hires in Singapone for the job ahead, Merchant mercenary with a heart of gold, and any time zebra mysticism is brought up he fits in nice.
Order of the Red Thistle: The Questlords in this story they have synthetic ponies as their henchponies and they generally do not fuck around. Their main goal is to remove Celestia from power for her many crimes, and are the main source of threat for much of the latter half of the story. When the Questlords take over Caballeron's operation directly, its when things start getting really serious.
Overall, despite a few of the misgivings about some problems an editor would have been able to catch, my disdain for the "The past is always better" trope and the missed opportunity its a wonderful read, everything is well thought out and consistent. I would unironically read this to my nieces. The story is largely bloodless, and about the worst the profanity gets is "Darn", i think theres a really good argument to be made that it should be rated as Everyone. Overall, 8.5/10 Definitely worth the effort to read out if you have the time. I will be making a physical copy of this book