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Friendship is Card Games: Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell · 12:16pm September 19th

So, to overwhelmingly greater demand than I expected (i.e. any,) I am delving into the official Friendship is Magic novels. There are a staggeringly high number of them, along with journals, mysteries, handbooks (hoofbooks?) and more. I have a newfound respect for G. M. Berrow in terms of her sheer output. In any case, let’s see what the very first one has to offer.

From the very start, we get a curious statement about the equine condition. Everypony’s been celebrating since Cadence and Shining Armor’s wedding… and they’re currently in the Crystal Empire. I suppose it’s like the sun never setting on the British Empire. As long as somepony somewhere is still having fun, the party never stops, even if some of them are busy dealing with Sombra.
That or this is the official Equestrian party line, given the talk of orchards full of apples and creatures large and small scampering in the fields. This is a time of Harmony. Pay no attention to the rumors of raids in the south or a mysterious cloaked figure sighted in Hollow Shades. Everything is fine.

(Also, Berrow spells Mi Amore Cadenza’s preferred name as “Cadance,” which I shall ignore in the rest of the review.)

Oh. We haven’t just been celebrating since the wedding. We’re now after Twilight’s ascendance. So, the Harshwhinny debacle, the Pinkie swarm, Trixie’s Amulet-fueled takeover of Ponyville, we’re ignoring all of that. I suppose in the bigger scheme of things, the Empire’s stumbling reintegration into the world of linear time and Ponyville being Ponyville aren’t that big a deal compared with wider Equestrian prosperity. Or, again, Berrow is one of Equestria’s top propagandists.

Hmm. Apparently rumors of Twilight’s escapades stretch from San Franciscolt to Manehattan, and are approaching the status of legends. Her feats with the Ursa Minor being common knowledge would probably be enough to make Trixie scream in fury… but she’s also getting credit for defeating Chrysalis. Yes, Twilight was instrumental in getting the pieces into place, but Shining and Cadence were the ones who sent her flying. Ah well, they wouldn’t be legends if they were completely accurate.
Meanwhile, Twilight won’t be able to get a cab in “Rarity Takes Manehattan.”

Berrow refers to the various subtypes of pony as “breeds,” and I am not comfortable with that. It feels like there are pony fanciers out there making the best matches for horn length or wingspan. That said, she does acknowledge that alicorns have all the gifts of ponykind, including “the strength of a good, true heart of an Earth Pony.” Vague, but I’ll take it.

Apparently Twilight turned down gobs of jewels and “royal quarters” to stay as Ponyville’s librarian. Not sure how the latter compare to the literal ivory tower she was living in prior to the Summer Sun Celebration.

“Twilight was uncertain how she would feel if she had to leave [Ponyville]. And ruling her own kingdom? That was another story.”
Oh, that did not age well. Still, this is very early in Twilight’s time as royalty. Berrow does acknowledge her nervousness about the expectations ahead of her. Indeed, she’s been going through the entire library for books on how to lead. (Something, something, Macavallo.) And the closest thing she found was… The Princess Bridle.

Yeah, I don’t think Prince Humperdinck will have much to offer in the way of helpful political theory. Nor will Crystal Ball’s Purple Reign, which is apparently all song lyrics. (Presumably by Coloratura’s post-processor.) It’s kind of nice to know the official fiction is also full of cheeky references. :derpytongue2:

Heh. Speaking of which, Spike calls the pace-worn groove in the library the Twilight Zone.

Apparently Daring Do’s biggest fear is fish. Not quite the same as snakes. (Also, there just doesn’t seem to be much nonfiction in Golden Oaks. Not when Berrow’s writing it, anyway.)

I’d say Spike’s drawn-out Daring Do analogy was a bit much, but given that his advice amounted to telling Twilight Sparkle to ask for help, using a book to support his argument was probably the right move.

Twilight is going to seek advice on leading “straight from the horses’ mouths.” And I’m wondering why that’s an idiom in Equestria. Her first choice is Mayor Mare. Sadly, we don’t get to see the mayor’s reaction to the looming threat to her authority that is the local adventurer-turned-demigod/philosopher-queen. We do see that: a. Twilight either doesn’t have or doesn’t use the authority to interrupt a mayoral meeting, and b. Ponyville Town Hall has stationed guards, apparently. This may be one of the most militarized Ponyvilles I’ve seen. Was not expecting that.

Ah. Definitely refusing. And preferring that ponies don’t use the title. That feels right.

Mr. Cake’s walking through town with a cart full of cupcakes as part of an experiment to get more treats in more bellies. The twins are snatching some while their father’s back is turned… and still have full access to flight and telekinesis. I’d hoped they’d grown out of that by now. Raising pony foals must be a truly terrifying experience.

Best Pony cameo noted and appreciated. (She doesn’t do much, just trip a few times and ask for muffins, but I’ll take what I can get in official media.)

“SugarCube Corner” spelled in camel case. Can’t say I like that.

The twins can talk? At the very least, they can say “Giddy-up.” Berrow’s doing a much better job of aging them up than the show. (Which is to say she’s letting them age.)

And Twilight stops for lunch. And her messy eating isn’t just limited to hayburgers. Though I physically cringed at “bad mane-ers.” There is a point where horse puns are unforgivable even for My Little Pony.

Okay, I like the idea of Twilight putting up a banner in the town square telling everypony to treat her normally. Lovely “Do not obey this order” paradox.

So, Twilight doesn’t want to ask Celestia how to be a princess because that would be embarrassing.

I can’t tell if that’s dumb or painfully in character. Possibly both. In any case, Mrs. Cake recommends Shining and Cadence. And Luna feels snubbed without knowing why.

Cadence is explicitly described as Twilight’s “Pegasister-in-law.” I remind you all that this was a request. Also, I’m not sure how much more royal experience they have when compared to Twilight. Yes, Cadence may have some more theoretical training under her saddle—emphasis on “may”—but they’ve only been running the Empire for a couple months at this point.

“And then the young monarch was off the the Crystal Empire to see what made a royal pony tick. Or at least talk.”
On the one hand, that is pretty cute wordplay. On the other, it sounds like Twilight is going to torture her sister-in-law for this information.

The next chapter is entitled “Empire State of Mind.” I was not expecting a Jay-Z reference in a pony novel.

I do like the idea of “cobble-gems,” even if the Empire’s roads seem to be smooth, seamless sheets of crystal.

Certainly an interesting retelling of the events of “The Crystal Empire.” Twilight may not want to brag, but her recollection of the event glosses over the part where she was trapped in the palace and Spike, Shining, and Cadence had to get the Crystal Heart in place.

Some of the crystal ponies are going to the… Crystal Lake. Oh dear. :twilightoops:

“Of course, having Cadance as their princess likely contributed to the warm, fuzzy feelings of the Crystal pony population.”
There’s a fair amount to unpack there, especially depending on how mature you want to take your interpretation.

I’ve seen some people spell Shining’s nickname for his little sister “Twiley.” Here, Berrow uses the correct “Twily.” And yes, I fully acknowledge my hypocrisy when her spelling choices actually align with mine. :rainbowwild:

I do appreciate the explicit mention of bemused onlookers as Twilight and Cadence do their friendship chant/butt wiggle. Excuse me, “secret tailshake.”

Shining has apparently been bragging to all and sundry about Twilight’s achievements. And she is allegedly “famous all across Equestria now.” Reminder that this is between Seasons 3 and 4.

I am somewhat surprised that Twilight doesn’t consider herself good at leading other ponies given all that she and her friends have done, but she’s never been the best at recognizing her own achievements.

Twilight marvels at Cadence’s ability to remember the names of her subjects, and I find myself uncomfortably empathizing with her. Introverts unite, preferably via Discord.

And then Berrow casually drops a far more interesting story than Twilight questioning her fitness as a ruler yet again: Cadence’s origin. To review:

• She was born a pegasus and found in the woods as an infant by earth ponies from a nearby village.
• Her incredible capacity for love and compassion made her beloved in turn by the villagers.
• A nearby “evil pony enchantress,” Prismia, felt nothing but jealousy for everyone… and wore a familiar-sounding necklace that amplified that jealousy.
• She used the necklace to steal the love of the villagers in the hopes of feeling something, leaving them inconsolably depressed.
• Cadence confronted Prismia. The necklace also enhanced Cadence’s own emotional abilities, and her compassion was enough to break through to the other mare. At which point she was sent to the Elemental Plane of Flashbacks seen in “Magical Mystery Cure.” Cue horn and being raised as Celestia’s niece.

Oddly, that strange realm is explicitly described as “a place that nopony except Princess Celestia had ever been!” Do you want Nightmare Moon, Berrow? Because this is how we get Nightmare Moon.
(Alternatively, this could imply that Celestia ascended to alicorn status and Luna didn’t, which has all kinds of interesting implications.)

Cadence did apparently graduate from Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. And her final exam was making “two known rival pony families of Canterlot become best friends for life.” Her time in the capital has apparently acting as one of Celestia’s more drastic tools of social engineering, during which time she “never really experienced love for myself.” So that’s kind of horrifying.

Ah. Twilight’s ending up taking Celestia’s advice by proxy. … And it’s a spell? One that makes “anypony who was destined to lead become the pony they were meant to be.” More than a little concerning.

Apparently there’s an immense crystal fountain/statue of Cadence right next to the Crystal Heart. Also, Twilight is oddly grateful that she doesn’t have to rescue the Heart again. Did… did she think Cadence was going to seal it away?

Okay, so apparently the spell—the titular Crystal Heart Spell, which raises some questions—will appear to Twilight when she “understand what her greatest challenge in leadership will be.” Which is actually a lot less concerning. A good test of worth does wonders there.

“How in the hoof am I supposed to do that?”
I have to read these, you know. I didn’t ask for this.

Cadence unlocked the spell… when she realized she was acting as nothing more than a tool with no will or initiative of her own. Huh. There are definitely layers to this one.
Also her strengths as a leader are “True Love and Tolerance.” I’m just going to leave that there without further comment.

You know, the description plays up the glitz and glamor of that bedroom, but given that they’re in the Crystal Empire, I think the wooden door may be the most expensive thing there.

So… is no one going to ask how Spike got there? I suppose he just took the train and then played on his reputation as the Great and Honorable Spike the Brave and Glorious, but he still jumps back on-stage with no explicit in-story justification.
Also, Equestria apparently has vaudeville… which actually tracks. We heard about Ziegfilly Follies back in Season 1, to say nothing of the Marx Brother sightings.

Twilight is happy to turn down lavish quarters and elaborate regalia in theory, but once Cadence offers them to her, she’s barely paying attention to anything else. Though, to be fair, she may be even more entranced by the magical properties of that necklace than the beauty.

Brilliant plan, Cadence. Give a magical artifact that can amplify doubt and negativity to Twilight Sparkle. No way that could possibly backfire.

Huh. Twilight convenes a council of her friends to figure out the spell and tells Spike to deliver the letters… but he does so in person. Even if his message breath can’t target them, Equestria does have a postal system.

Apparently Twilight didn’t tell any of her friends where she was going, and Applejack was on the verge of rounding up a search posse.

Pinkie literally has a party o’clock ”Just look at the time!” watch. I approve.

Rarity’s been interrupted while working on a large order of… hornaments. Well, Izzy Moonbow’s tennis ball demonstrates that she truly was ahead of her time.

So, this was apparently a secret meeting for… some reason. (Confidential by way of being royalty related?) Also, Gilda is stalking Dash from inside of a cloud and heard about the whole thing. Well, we are pre-Griffonstone, so this was the era of Gilda as a quick and easy antagonist.

And we have a term for the substance of the necklace, and possibly that of the Crystal Heart itself: Cosmic Spectrum. Also, Twilight’s definitely going to regret not listening to Rarity about the danger of the substance.

:pinkiehappy: “You’re planning an undercover hewel-heist mission and you want us all to join ‘Sparkle’s Six’?”
Well. That’s prescient. I should expect nothing less from Pinkie.

Yeah, I wouldn’t trust Pinkie’s Secret Punch either.

Berrow is really doing Rarity dirty here. Yes, she’s working on a deadline, but this is a very whiny take on her. (Also, “Mythica, Neigh York” is apparently a place.)

I know the spell works differently for everyone, and Twilight is terribly anxious about never living up to the expectations set for her as an alicorn, but she’s still trying the exact thing that didn’t work for Cadence. Not sure what she expects here.

Another prescient moment: Fluttershy dreams of instituting a nature reserve. Albeit one specifically for baby animals to play in safety, but still, shades of Sweetfeather Sanctuary.

… Oh, this was all in the library? I suppose that does make sense, but I honestly thought Twilight had been doing research in the Empire this whole time.

And Gilda swoops in purely for the sake of spite and to offer a terrible idea that can heighten the conflict. I’ve seen a lot of headcanons that make Griffonstone pale in comparison, but I’ll take what we actually got over this any day.

Aaaand now Twilight is hearing voices telling her to disregard everypony else and embrace her own selfish desires. That can’t be good.

Again, A+ idea giving that thing to Twilight, Cadence.

For some reason, Dash’s tormentors from Cloudsdale are on the Ponyville weather team. Also, Twilight can fly effortlessly. I know I’ve performed my share of canon hand-waving for the sake of a story, but this still feels odd.

Trixie’s here too? And collaborating with Gilda? This really does feel like a relic of the time in terms of fanfiction trends.

Twilight’s apparently hidden behind trees and in hedges for more field research than just the Pinkie Sense debacle. Unexpected, but I can’t say I’m surprised.

I am surprised that she just sat there and watched Trixie and Gilda empty a barrel of cider, needing to wait for them to announce their plan before intervening.

And Gilda continues to ruin everything. Looking back, this is weirdly nostalgic. Though at least negative-enhanced Twilight just wants to hole up in the biggest library she can think of. That could go a lot worse…

Ah. So the big reveal with the necklace… is exactly what Cadence said earlier. Well, the narration did say Twilight hadn’t been listening at the time.

Twilight’s erected a book fort. Rarely if ever a good sign.

Fortunately, Cadence has some experience dealing with negatively aligned Cosmic Spectrum.

And Trixie is being presented as a scam artist. Yes, she’s still trotting out the Ursa Major story to the naive crowds of the Empire, but exaggeration and ostentation are just part of the show. But instead, the crystal ponies get street theater for free with Gilda blowing up at the rest of the Bearers.

:twilightsmile: “Princess or not—we are equal ponies!”
And a unicorn in the crowd, visiting the Empire in the hopes that they were free of the scourge of cutie marks, had a moment of beautiful, terrible inspiration.

Interesting bit of resonance between the necklace and the Heart. One could do a lot with that.

To be fair, a lot of the others’ proposals for Twilight’s rule don’t really tackle questions like taxes, education, infrastructure investment… but, you know, kids’ novel. No one’s coming into this expecting a dissertation on the domestic policy of the Twilit Era.

And then Twilight Sparkle never doubted her fitness to rule, her purpose as a princess, or whether she should accept her friends' help eeeeever again.
Or not. :derpytongue2:

In all, this was actually not bad, aside from a few true groaners in the wordplay and the bizarre inclusion of Gilda and Trixie as eleventh-hour antagonists. Plus, this is literally the only source of canon background on Cadence, which I will happily take. Plus, I’m always up for Twilight going insane and evil; she can make for a terrifyingly effective antagonist. Hopefully this is the start of something genuinely enjoyable.

Well. That went for longer than usual. Still going to include cards, though. I don’t know about you, but it’s why I’m here.

City Hall Guard WW
Creature — Pony Soldier
Will of the council — At the beginning of combat on your turn, starting with you, each player votes for one of your opponents. This turn, City Hall Guard may attack a player with the most votes or tied for most votes as though it didn’t have defender.

Amulet of Hope 1W
Artifact — Equipment
Equipped creature has “Creatures you control get +1/+1.”
Whenever equipped creature and at least two other creatures attack, untap those creatures.
Equip 1W
Light hearts shine brightest together.
< Equipment 1BB
Amulet of Malice 1BB
Artifact — Equipment
Equipped creature gets +1/+1 for each soul counter on Amulet of Malice and has menace and lifelink.
Equip — Sacrifice a creature, Put a soul counter on Amulet of Malice.
Cosmic Spectrum resonates with whatever lies in its wearer’s heart.
< Equipment 1W

As You Wish 2W
All damage that would be dealt to you this turn is dealt to target creature instead.
Buttercup realized her folly only as the masked stranger tumbled down the ravine.

Griffin Autarch 3WW
Creature — Griffin Noble
Exalted (Whenever a creature you control attacks alone, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)
Whenever a creature you control attacks alone, it gains indestructible until end of turn.

Crystal Resonance 5W
Affinity for artifacts (This spell costs 1 less to cast for each artifact you control.)
Creatures you control get +2/+2 until end of turn. Untap them.
For a brief moment, the Empire was filled with the tangible magic of friendship.

Frantic Pacing 1U
Counter target spell unless its controller mills X cards, where X is the number of cards in that player’s graveyard.
When panicking, Twilight excels at going nowhere fast.

Exaggerated Rumor 2U
Creature — Illusion
You may have Exaggerated Rumor enter the battlefield as a copy of any commander on the battlefield or commander card in the command zone, except it has base power and toughness 1/1 if it’s a creature and its starting loyalty is 1 if it’s a planeswalker.

Paradoxical Decree 2U
Counter target spell unless its controller pays 3. If you’re the monarch, counter that spell instead.
Twilight spent moons trying to order ponies to treat her normally.

Research Blind 2U
You have ward 3 as long as you haven’t cast a spell this turn and Research Blind is untapped. (Whenever you become the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, counter it unless that player pays 3.)
3U, T: Draw a card.

Prestigious Provocateur 3U
Creature — Unicorn Wizard
Partner with Pernicious Pilferer (When this creature enters the battlefield, target player may put Pernicious Pilferer into their hand from their library, then shuffle.)
At the beginning of combat on each opponent’s turn, you may goad target creature that player controls. (Until your next turn, it attacks each combat if able and attacks a player other than you if able.)

Stunt Drencher 3UU
Creature — Pegasus Wizard
When Stunt Drencher enters the battlefield, creatures your opponents control get -2/-0 until end of turn.
“Sure, when Trixie showboats, it’s wrong.”
—Trixie Lulamoon, traveling performer

Love Leech 1B
Creatures target player controls get -1/-1 until end of turn. You gain 1 life for each of those creatures.
The village was left with nothing but sorrow, and all Prismia felt was a fleeting, pleasant warmth.

Griffin Cloud-Skulk 2B
Creature — Griffin Rogue
In ancient days, griffins sprang out of clouds to pounce on unsuspecting pegasi. Now they prey on gossip and wallets.

Machete Maniac 2B
Creature — Zombie
Machete Maniac can’t block.
Dredge 3 (If you would draw a card, you may mill three cards instead. If you do, return this card from your graveyard to your hand.)
Terror never truly dies.

Prismia, Stoneheart Witch 2BB
Legendary Creature — Pony Warlock
If a player would gain life, each of your opponents loses that much life instead.
1B: Target creature gains lifelink until end of turn.
“Would that I were a changeling, so I could at least taste love.”

Dread Captain 3B
Creature — Pony Pirate
At the beginning of combat on your turn, target Pirate you control gains menace and deathtouch until end of turn.
“There will be no survivors.”

Boreal Umbrum 3BB
Snow Creature — Horror
At the beginning of each end step, if a creature died this turn, you may pay S. If you do, create a 2/2 black Zombie snow creature token. (S can be paid with one mana from a snow source.)
Darkness waits for the Crystal Heart to dim once more.

Pernicious Pilferer 4B
Creature — Griffin Rogue
Partner with Prestigious Provocateur
At the beginning of each opponent’s end step, that player loses 1 life for each tapped creature they control.

Cadenza’s Heartfelt Bond 2R
Legendary Sorcery
(You may cast a legendary sorcery only if you control a legendary creature or planeswalker.)
Exile cards from the top of target opponent’s library until you exile a nonland card. You may cast that card without paying its mana cost. If you can’t, repeat this process.
Years ago, a filly opened a heart long closed.

Carefree Chronologist 3R
Creature — Pony Wizard
Exile Carefree Chronologist: Take an extra turn after this one. At the beginning of that turn’s end step, you lose the game.
Avoid paradoxes? Why? Those are half the fun!”

Secret Punch 1G
Scry 3, then reveal the top card of your library. You gain life equal to that card’s mana value.
“The secret ingredient is that they’re all secret ingredients!”
—Pinkie Pie, Bearer of Laughter

Appleoosa Search Party 2G
Creature — Pony Scout
When Appleoosa Search Party enters the battlefield, look at the top X cards of your library, where X is the number of creatures in your herd. You may reveal a creature or land card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order. (Your herd consists of up to one each of Bat, Pegasus, Pony, and Unicorn.)

Worldheart Druid 2G
Creature — Pony Druid
Domain — 5G: Until end of turn, target creature you control gains trample and gets +1/+1 for each basic land type among lands you control.
To oppose an earth pony is to oppose every place they’ve called home.

Nature in Harmony 3G
Search your library for up to three basic land cards, reveal them, put them into your hand, then shuffle.
Coven — If you control three or more creatures with different powers, you may play an additional land this turn.

Rhinestone Hornament 2
Artifact — Equipment
Equipped creature gets +2/+0 and has first strike.
Equip Unicorn 1
Equip 3
“Fashion is a cutthroat industry. Rarely literally, but you never know.”
—Rarity, Bearer of Generosity

Paving Corundum 3
T: Add one mana of any color.
3, T: Target creature gains nonbasic landwalk until end of turn. (It can't be blocked as long as defending player controls a nonbasic land.)
The Crystal Empire would never pave its roads with mere gold.

The Royal Wedding 1WU
Enchantment — Saga
(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — Exile target creature until The Royal Wedding leaves the battlefield.
II — Create a token that’s a copy of the exiled card.
III — You gain life equal to the total power of up to two target creatures.

Cadenza, Beloved Foundling 1UR
Legendary Creature — Pegasus Shaman
Flying, hexproof
When Cadenza, Beloved Foundling enters the battlefield, you may exchange control of two target creatures.
When a creature deals combat damage to its owner, Cadenza’s owner gains control of Cadenza and transforms it.
Cadence, Princess of Love
(UR) Legendary Creature — Shaman Noble
Alicorn (This creature is also a Pony Pegasus Unicorn.)
Flying, hexproof
Creatures you control but don’t own have haste.
At the beginning of combat on your turn, you may exchange control of two target creatures. If you gain control of a creature this way, untap it.

Cadence’s Patronage 2(ur)(ur)
Enchantment — Aura
Enchant creature
When Cadence’s Patronage enters the battlefield, you become the monarch.
Whenever a player becomes the monarch, they gain control of enchanted creature until Cadence’s Patronage leaves the battlefield.

Comments ( 17 )

You just saved me tons of time and money

Thank you

Author Interviewer

Man. I haven't touched an official novel in years, simply because yayponies stopped scanning them. :B Where you gonna get anything past the Fluttershy one?

Berrow spells Mi Amore Cadenza’s preferred name as “Cadance,” which I shall ignore in the rest of the review.

That's actually official and canonical. Mostly because you can't get a trademark for an ordinary, everyday word like "cadence".

As 5584035 said, Cadance is the official spelling. Which I obviously ignore, but if you're writing under Hasbro you can't really do that. (You actually totally can, they don't proofread this stuff anyway and the manga got away with Pinkamina).

Not all books are actually by Berrow. There's a few different writers who worked on them, I think she was just the main one. I haven't actually checked all of them, and reading about some of the things in this book in particular... I'll save what I mean to say for later.

There is a point where horse puns are unforgivable even for My Little Pony.

Clearly you're wrong. No such thing exists.

I usually use tribes as the term to tell ponies apart, but I don't particularly have a problem with breeds.

I do need to get into reading all the books proper. I'll have more free time, hopefully I'll be able to. I can't really currently comment on a lot of things here. But it is nice to have you doing longer than average blogs thanks to them.

And speaking of longer than average, we've got something to look forward to next blog. Surprisingly, this book being the blog right before the movie might turn out to be surprisingly relevant in one specific aspect. But I'll talk about that when we get there.

I think I read all of Berrow's chapter books, but I fell out in a confused state when they started doing novelizations of Equestria Girls with different titles and by other writers and I couldn't keep track of what was what anymore. I mostly found them baffling and incomprehensible (the theme of the Rarity one was "Identity theft is the sincerest form of flattery" so yeah), but mostly in interesting ways. I still have the full stack of them here, maybe it's time I reread them.

And thanks for the reference, I was not expecting to see those two stories get linked today :derpyderp2:

Clearly "bad mane-ers" is when you eat so messy crumbs get in your mane.

Inside Baseball Alert: As You Wish has a name and effect taken directly from The Princess Bride, up to and including the princess' name. It's a shame the author died before he could finish the sequel, because we might have ended up with something we could use for the Appleparents' death.

Stupid Complicated Game Alert: Remembering that she thought he was an enemy at the time, there's nothing saying it has to target one of your creatures. Fog an opponent and kill one of their creatures in the process!

Stupid Complicated Game Alert: With 60 or 100 cards to a library and turns+7 moved elsewhere by default, Frantic Pacing is not typically going to be a real cost. Traumatize them first or have things that care about their graveyard/milling.

Inside Baseball Alert: Crystal Lake is Jason Voorhees' haunt, although I don't remember whether that was literal when the franchise started.

Glad to see you getting to the novels! I've read them all to my kiddo as bedtime stories. All of them.

For what it's worth, this novel was one of the weaker ones. I heartily recommend the Luna novel, the Daring Do trilogy, and the Ponyville Mysteries cycle. They are all excellent.

I understand Red, but is Candace really a Blue pony?

Told you you couldn't hide from them forever.


Your local library.

Perfect Timing! I was just about to re-read this one for Cadance* research, and now I don't have to!

* I really think there are excellent opportunities for dense/dance/dunce wordplay here.

City Hall Guard seems a touch overpowered in a one-on-one game. I know white weenie is a thing, but even green creatures don't get to be that efficient (tarmogoyf is a statistical outlier here).

And Trixie is being presented as a scam artist. Yes, she’s still trotting out the Ursa Major story to the naive crowds of the Empire, but exaggeration and ostentation are just part of the show. But instead, the crystal ponies get street theater for free with Gilda blowing up at the rest of the Bearers.

Hmm... not sure about that - she did try to keep the lie going once the show was over and when a reason to let people know it was part of the act was roaring in her face. Plus, for a good showman, ostentation and exaggeration should only be part of the show when and if they are clearly understood to be fictitious - which is questionable here to say the least - and are enhancing the actual act being performed, in this case the magic act - which it definitely didn't, as it had nothing to do with anything that's happening. Still, that's pretty arguable at the very least and doesn't make her presence here any less bizarre and contrived.

That said, I do find it interesting that you refer to it in terms of fanfic trends, because it kind of raises the question - beyond being officially licensed, what is the difference between this and fanfic? And I don't ask that as an insult or to raise doubt as to its quality and validity... and I realize that asking about the difference apart from being licensed sounds like asking the difference between water and ice apart from one being colder and solid, but my point is that I wonder if there's any material difference or if it's just a question of who's writing the cheque. Or possibly the existence of said cheque.

I've read all the G. M. Berrow books. The first 2 or 3 are very rough (Pinkie's book won't be all that much better than this one), but they get better. I liked the Daring Do trilogy for instance.

Main differences between official material and fanfic are having to adhere to certain rules and tones (can't write an official book where Twilight rips ponies apart for fun, for example) and on the other hand (supposedly, though I'm not sure how much checking was actually there) essentially being given information on the sphere of canon possibilities. What you write isn't necessarily canon to the show and may be contradicted, but being officially approved by Hasbro means it exists within a given set of things that could be canon. So by writing things that need to be approved you are, directly or indirectly, receiving (and sharing with the public) information on what could and couldn't fit into the official vision for the show.

Fair enough, the first point about tone does indeed give a way for some fanfic to be distinct from licensed work, but given that there's no shortage of fanfic that does fit that tone, I don't know if there's a way for licensed work to be observably distinct from fanfic - a way to look at it and say "yes, this has to be officially sanctioned."

And that's the key word: observably. Because the point about being given the sphere of canon possibilities does indeed alter things to whatever degree that happens*, but since only the people involved in some way in making the work know that those possibilities are and aren't, it doesn't really make difference that the reader can observe. It's the old question of "If there's no way to tell the difference, then what, from a practical perspective, is the difference?"

Still, you are right and, well, it's not like I had any real point in the first place, I'm just sort of... ponder-rambling. Sorry about that.

*I don't know what degree it happens and it would generally just provide hard limits as to what could happen rather than dictate what does. Not to mention that, at times, it seems questionable if all the people who control what could and will be canon even agree on it, but that's just vague feelings and speculation.

Ah, FICG finally covering the chapter books. This ought to be an experience.

Actually, this will be genuinely useful to me, because I still to this day have not finished the majority of these things, and learning from your reactions what exactly's in these books will probably be a big help in deciding what to do with them for my secondary canon essay.

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