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Amber Spark

"Do it with love, do it with passion and never dream small!” - Author, Designer & Creator - Patreon/Ko-Fi

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Let’s Talk about Dangerous Business and Going Outside · 4:36pm May 10th, 2016

Oh and by the way, I plan to make a proper eBook cover for this thing...and a new ePub, because the one on the page is corrupted slightly.

Review/Commentary/Stream-of-Consciousness-Thing for "It's a Dangerous Business, Going Outside Your Door."

As always, a great deal of spoilers follow in this review/commentary/random-thoughts, so read the story before progressing any further!

One of my favorite parts about being fairly new to the FiMFiction scene is that I have a huge range of stories from the entire timeline of the fandom, from the very beginning of the series in 2010 all the way to Season 6. The show we’ve come to know and love has developed tremendously in those years. But more than anything, I think one of the coolest aspects of MLP:FiM is that character development is an important part of the series. But it’s not just one offs (usually). We’ve seen changes in how the characters are portrayed, in everypony from Pinkie Pie to Rarity.

However, one of the key characters for development has been Rainbow Dash, especially considering last week’s episode. We all know how she came across at the beginning (Anyone remember her portrayal in Friendship is Witchcraft?). But what drives me up the wall is when stories portray her as nothing more than that. Rainbow Dash isn’t my favorite character, but she’s a hell of a lot deeper than “Rainbow” and “Dash.” Even modern stories have cast her in this light.

So imagine my joy when I come across “It’s a Dangerous Business, Going Outside Your Door.” Set in Season 1 and dedicated to a full and entirely natural character development of Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow Dash. Now, to be honest, since the latest event mentioned was the Gala, I assumed that it was written in Season 1. I didn’t discover it was written in 2012 until just now when I looked it up. It doesn’t make it any less of an accomplishment though considering how many times I’ve seen Rainbow done wrong though. Yes, there’s the shell of needing to be the best, needing to be cool, but it rapidly falls away. We get a wonderful depth of character from all of them.

Granted, it starts with a “Twilight screws up a spell,” but more magic won’t fix it this time. Hell, having that threat hanging over their heads helped propel the story quite well without feeling forced. The author spent just enough time between the adventure party and short stints with Twilight, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie and Spike. Zecora was a perfect addition to the roster here as well. Especially seeing the deterioration of her condition...it felt very real...and very frightening.

While I know the story is very much a homage to Tolkien, the best homages stand on their own without the reader needing to know the original material. “Dangerous Business” does that and so much more. It takes the base of Tolkien’s material and turns it into something completely unique and completely fitting with the Equestrian universe while revealing fascinating concepts and theories about the history of the world. We get the Riders of Rohan with Gildedale and the Forest Elves (plus a wonderful MLP version of Galadriel) with the Silverwood. (To be honest, I can’t come up with a good match for the Pronghorns).

But more than anything was how we saw the characters develop. Applejack learns about the true heritage of the Earth Pony Way, both its virtues and its flaws (And the hopeless romantic in me loved the little thing she had with Ashtail...especially after Rainbow Dash’s shouted comment at the end). And through behind herself, she discovered that their entire way of life was built on a misconception...and changed their entire world.

Rainbow Dash’s story actually had me in tears. While I know it’s a common (and considered often to be canon) to have Firefly as Rainbow’s mother, I thought it was fascinating to see her as instead the mentor figure she looked up to her entire life, the one who drove her to be the best and the one who drove her to constantly be fighting fear. And her sacrifice to save the city of Cloudsdale...that was beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. I thought the idea of Rainbow’s reckless and impulsive attitude being one of constantly struggling to defeat the fear she felt haunting her...it definitely gave her a great perspective and a great depth. The entire concept of the Dreaming, while I know it’s a concept that’s been explored thousands of other times through thousands of other names (the interconnectivity of life)...it was something I never would have put Rainbow into...but it worked. And I think because it was so different than something we normally associate with Rainbow Dash’s personality is why it worked. Because it happened within the mind and within the heart instead of just externally.

The echos of the famous Babylon 5 question “What Do You Want?” (which was really “Who Are You?” in this case) definitely worked for me too.

And I’ll admit that I seriously burst into tears at Firefly’s reappearance, even though I saw it coming. It was a perfect capstone to that arc, even though it was only introduced a chapter or two beforehand, it felt like a penultimate moment in Rainbow’s life. In my eyes, Rainbow’s arc shined the brightest of all three.

But Rarity’s arc shouldn’t be forgotten. It was amazing. When I first encountered the idea of the deer in the “Revenge of the Everfree” arc in the main MLP comics (Issue 27-28), I loved the concept of them as the MLP equivalent of elves (And that came out almost a year after Dangerous Business!). They had magic, but it was a very different kind of magic. But this magic...the one we see in Silverwood? That was a whole other matter. While Rarity had never shown much interest in magic on her own, always in the shadow of Twilight’s magical prowness, the teleportation spell she learns from Falalauria is just so very fitting for her character. It’s still magic. It’s still teleportation. But it’s not the flashy burst of light...it’s something that suits Rarity’s personality and style so much better...not to mention the revelation of the gifts that those “aligned” with the Elements are rewarded with.

The scene of Falalauria’s struggle to determine the fate of Applejack, Rainbow and Rarity and by extension...Twilight...that was something that came out of the blue. Of course, it goes back to Galadriel’s temptation from the One Ring. But I liked that the author didn’t hide from that. The author knew that the readers would make that connection if they knew it. But it still worked in-character for the lady...as did Rarity’s reaction. If you remember in Lord of the Rings, Frodo didn’t really have much of a reaction to Galadriel’s sudden dark transformation...but Rarity did. She begged for the life of her friend. And that made her so much better. Yes, she went on this journey because she felt responsible and her learning teleportation gave her some measure of peace in regard to that responsibility...but in the end, it was her generousity, her desire to help, that drove her to speak the words that calmed Falalauria. It was a beautiful scene.

Though I knew that Rarity would get something like Applejack’s armor or Rainbow Dash’s new markings (removed by grape jelly...that was SO RANDOM)...I never expected deerish armor, though I should have. And that was perfect.

And so prepared, came the final journey and...the boss fight. And they just had to mention that they hadn’t seen any of the monsters Pinkie Pie mentioned. AJ, you just HAD to say it, didn’t you?

So of course...they get the worst of all possible situations. The bloody world snake. Why’d it have to be snakes?! (What, you didn’t expect me to make that joke?). The impressive thing was that it felt real. It was over the top, but not in a bad way. It was them dealing with THE BIG BAD...and of course, they all needed to use their new special gifts to do it and handle it right. But what made the story impossible to put down was the bouncing back and forth between Twilight’s state and the fight. It drove home the desperation of the moment and gave the combat a very cinematic feel. I’ve actually written scenes just like this. It drove home what they were fighting for...but I think probably one of the best parts is that at no point did they consider turning tail and running. They were going to get that damn thing or die trying...and that’s exactly what they nearly did.

The final scene where they had done the impossible...they had gotten the flower back to Twilight and saved her life...and they knew they were about to die as a result. They looked at each other and confessed that they didn’t regret a thing. Yeah, crying then too.

Dammit. What is it with good stories making me cry? Oh yeah. It’s because they’re good stories.

And no, I didn’t mind Twilight’s last-second save. Thought it worked out perfectly. And the ending? I have to say, I have a story myself that ends in much the same way. “Time enough for one good story…”

In the end, I had only two complaints: the title is too blasted long (seriously, coming up with a good book cover with a title that long is nigh impossible) and that the story ended! (Don’t worry, Besides the Will of Evil is on my list. ^^)

So thank you for a fantastic adventure story. Something truly for the ages and firmly put itself it my top five favorite MLP FanFics of all time. I think it landed at #3, just after the Hard Reset Trilogy (though it gave Hard Reset a serious run for its money!).

Though I know the author is now focusing on other ventures, I’m glad I came across this and I look forward to the day where I can see his work in normal print!

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