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Friendship is Card Games: The Journal of the Two Sisters · 1:36pm January 2nd

This is the main reason why I decided to skip over the comics a few weeks ago. I like the idea of the first card blog of 2022 using one of the oldest in-universe documents we have for source material. Let’s see what the diarchs thought of their first days on the throne.

On the one hand, I appreciate how this is the “Abridged Edition,” implying that there’s been some editorial manipulation of the original manuscript beyond translating it from Early Modern Ponish. on the other, I do wish it said something like “compiled by Amy Keating Rogers” rather than directly giving her the author credit, just to maintain the conceit.
(Or maybe there’s a physically extant unabridged edition that I don’t know about…)

I do appreciate how on the very first page, Celestia has a Twilight-esque moment of panic over how her reign could end up being the worst in recorded history. The seeds of anxiety were already in the student, but the teacher does appear to have cultivated them. Still, it appears that Celestia already knows some calming breathing exercises.

:trollestia: “You’re going to work hard like you always do. And as long as you work hard, you’re going to be just fine.”
That’s… a dangerous attitude. No wonder Celestia was so eager to hand over the throne if she went through more than a millennium with an unceasing, snout-to-the-grindstone work ethic.

Interesting to note that Star Swirl is explicitly described as unusual in his appearance. Apparently wizard hats and bell-lined cloaks weren’t common fashion at the time. (Though Celestia did recognize his hat as wizardly.) Also, his beard was brown when he first met the sisters.

He came to the sisters (with the more level-headed founders in tow, including his apprentice, who probably wanted to know where he was during the whole Fimbulwinter/Exodus/windigo debacle) in the hopes of maintaining the peace in the newly established Equestria. Alicorns symbolize all of Equestria’s founding principles, and their tribal synthesis means they’ll approach the concerns of all their citizens in the same unbiased manner. Who better?

Which is all well and good, but Celestia didn’t exactly wake up this morning expecting to rule a country. This explains her approach with Twilight in the “The Beginning of the End” so well…
(Still, it’s nice to get confirmation that alicorns are indeed part-earth pony. Whatever that may entail.)

That said, the sisters talk the founders down to making them the nation’s guardians rather than its rulers. Given that we have no idea what they were doing or came from before Star Swirl approached them, I’d say this is wholly understandable.

Lovely touch with Luna’s first section. She begins in both cursive and the royal “we” before shfiting to messier hornwriting than Celestia and using first-person singular. Apparently the Royal Canterlot Voice is as much about archaic pronouns as it is about sheer volume, and while Luna enjoys speaking in it, writing is another matter.
Curious to see that the other alicorns—and yes, the sisters lived with other alicorns—felt the Voice was an important part of their education. Celestia might not be the only prophet.

Also, the sisters “ran and flew in the hills of Canterlot” while they played, which indireclty answers one of the more interesting questions about the three tribes’ exodus to Equestria: Who was already living there?

Luna more readily embraces the title of princess, possibly because she doesn’t appreciate the full ramifications of actually ruling over ponies rather than just playing at it. Or Celestia’s being too much of a worrywart. Or both.

“I’m going to write about the good stuff, the bad stuff, and hopefully some really awesome magic stuff, which will probably fall under good, bad, and awesome.”
Ah. There’s a touch of Rainbow Dash in the previous Bearer of Loyalty. That makes a frankly terrifying amount of sense.

Ah. Luna is nervous as well, but she’s also looking forward to getting to know her subjects, Star Swirl in particular. (Also, she uses the word “fun,” which definitely suggests a degree of Watsonian translation between the original text and the final product.)

The diarchs’ coronation went much more smoothly than Twilight’s. Interesting to note that they’d played at this themselves. And that the Canterlot hills were so rife with gems that the fillies could just find them lying about to turn into tiaras while playing.

Ah, and the old unicorn sun- and moon-moving teams, with Star Swirl pulling double duty. That’s not going to end well…

:trollestia: “I don’t know what I was so worried about. Everything and everypony was perfect!”
:twilightangry2: “Must be nice.”

Heh. Luna devotes a whole page to an illuminated proclamation of her own royalty in the Royal Canterlot Cursive.

One of the more interesting details: Alicorns age at a slower rate than other tribes, and so neither sister has her cutie mark yet. This both implies some rough times ahead for Flurry Heart and suggests that prior to her, Luna was the last born alicorn. Ever.

Luna calling Celestia “Celie” feels… off. I don’t know, out of all possible nicknames, that one just doesn’t click for me.

Where to put the sisters’ castle is uncertain, with ponies in every corner of the nation trying to present their part of it as the best choice. Then they find the Everfree, which Luna loves at first sight. Apparently it was already taking care of itself even now… and the Tree of Harmony was already grown.
Yeah, slight contradiction there given that Star Swirl is still here. Though knowing him, he might have hopped back a few centuries to work with the other Pillars, though that doesn’t quite mesh with things like Legends of Magic. Best to go with the multiple worldlines theory. It’s not a contradiction; it’s just a different part of probability space.

Also, going by Luna’s visual aids in this bit, either she’s one heck of an artist or Star Swirl snuck in a camera from a millennium in the future.

:trollestia: “I totally flipped! I mean, I literally flipped in the air. Luna snorted at me and rolled her eyes because I’m such a dork.”
We got a few hints of this side of Celestia in the later parts of the show. I wish we could’ve gone a bit more. (Also, this fully convinces me we’re getting a modernized rendition.)

Huh. The Tree of Harmony is well known in legends by this point. Both interesting and a bit bizarre. It also already has the sun, moon, and star marks etched in its trunk. We’ve already seen its peculiar relationship with causality. This just supports that.

Luna’s the one who insisted on the castle’s assorted traps and secret passages, including an emergency escape route built into her own throne. Now I kind of wish Nightmare Moon had used her knowledge of the ruined castle to harry the Bearers rather than just teleporting Twilight and the Elements. There are definitely ideas to explore here…

To drive home the parallels between teacher and student, Luna sells Celestia on the idea by offering to make her a secret reading room in the library. Also, Celestia’s been collecting books for years. I have to wonder where she found them and where she’s been keeping them.

Weeks into castle construction, the Everfree claims its first victims. Or, at the very least, the first supply crew goes missing. Luna wants to fly off immediately, but Celestia convinces her that they need to make a plan first. (Again, shades of Rainbow Dash.) We also see the first hint at the eventual divide between the two; Luna heads off to investigate, having explored the woods in her free time, while Celestia stays to keep the workers calm. Even Luna acknowledges Celestia’s the better diplomat. But years of working unseen while her sister walks among the adoring masses…
Well, that’s still a long way off.

In this case, the workers were getting supplies from a new part of the forest… that happened to be a manticore’s territory. Luna fights for her life until Celestia and Star Swirl arrive. The three of them bind the manticore… and it turns out that Luna can communicate with him. That certainly explains why he chose to imprison the workers rather than chase them away or, you know, eat them. Really, the poor thing’s lucky that Star Swirl hadn’t banished it to another world already.
And then, after the sisters repair the manticore’s home, he actually helps build the castle. Dang. I did not see that one coming. Or that the manticore would be named Melvin.

Luna goes full Fluttershy in recruiting other Everfree locals, including cragadiles. No idea how she pulled that one off.

And we get the bit of the journal that Twilight read in “Castle-Mania.” I can only assume that Luna enjoys the fright she gets in the Hall of Hooves, given that it was her idea to begin with.

Ah. An entire page devoted the Celestia saying that she and her sister were meant to rule together. Dramatic irony can be nasty at times.

Meanwhile, Luna enjoys acting as quality assurance for all of the castle’s tricks and traps. Nice way to lighten the mood.

We’re introduced to the unicorn king Bullion, and Celestia sends some mixed messages. On the one hand, she says that she and Luna are “now taking over, so to speak.” But at the same time, they made sure to assure the rulers of the pre-Exodus nations that they weren’t trying to usurp anypony. Under the circumstances, I can understand Princess Platinum being a touch defensive. That said, echoing Diamond Tiara at her worst is more than a bit much. I’d expect better from her after the first Hearth’s Warming.
Also, both sisters are apparently far older than Platinum, which raises questions for all three.

Luna’s verbal evisceration of Platinum is actually well-founded. Mouthing off to the lady protectors of the nation is beneath the royal station, after all. The manticore and trap door might have been going overboard, but it did turn out well in the end.

Platinum apparently designed both the castle’s tapestries and the official seal of the Equestrian flag. I’m not a fan of making the founders such direct analogues to the Bearers who portrayed them, but I do like the implication of direct descent. Rarity being more noble than Blueblood would be delightful.

:facehoof: Unfortunately, Luna learned the wrong lessons from the audience with Platinum, and proceeds to try to spook other founders while they’re discussing governmental matters with Celestia. And going by how high Pansy jumped, Luna may have triggered some PTSD.
Also, Clover is explicitly referred to as a mare here. I maintain that years as Star Swirl’s apprentice left Clover not so much gender-fluid as sex-fluid. (cf. Saotome, Ranma)

Apparently the success of the coronation led to greater sanity in Chancellor Puddinghead and some degree of restraint in Commander Hurricane. Meanwhile, Clover makes no mention of Bullion or Platinum in the ongoing state of magical development. Bit of a divide in the culture there.

Again, not big on direct connections between founder and Bearer, but there’s already plenty of evidence for Puddinghead hiding a frightening degree of cunning behind a silly facade. And reincarnation is a possible option…

Star Swirl’s library… Well, for one, it exists, which raises questions about where and how if it had been stored in the old unicorn country before. It may be extradimensional in nature, which would be fitting. Also, it has information on the Alicorn Amulet, which also exists at this point in time. Celestia is proving herself quite the arcane scholar, though again, I have to wonder where she got her teaching materials before now. Still, it does seem that the School for Gifted Unicorns was as much a passion project as it was an attempt to cultivate a new Bearer of Magic.
Luna, meanwhile, is happy to learn more magic, but would rather learn by example than devour a thousand scrolls.

Ah, hints of things to come. Star Swirl isn’t just working on his unfinished masterpiece, but also a spell that would allow him to freely travel through time and space. And without any convenient holographic coffee tables to use as a focus, it’s proving very challenging.

And somehow, there’s a hidden zebra village deep in the Everfree. Credit to AKR, her zebra dialogue is more rhythmically sound than most of what I encounter. This still raises a number of questions. As does how they mistake Luna for a manticore when they first see her.
Through magic, alchemical and otherwise, the zebras were able to fend off the manticores who threatening to hunt them to extinction. But that still doesn’t explain how they got to the Everfree in the first place. I’m reminded of Lauren Faust’s headcanon that Zecora was originally a zebra from Earth who ended up in the forest, unexpectedly endowed with sapience.

Telling Luna something is forbidden will only make her want to investigate it more. I’m sure that won’t lead anywhere unpleasant.

Celestia is understandably concerned when Luna disappeared without telling anypony where she was going. This leads to a tearful confrontation/hug right in the middle of the zebra village. Great first impression, Tia.

Star Swirl wants Luna to learn how move the stars, a spell that’s too much even for him. It doesn’t work for her either, but they agree to start her off with the moon and work up from there.

“[Star Swirl’s] such a great friend, and I’m glad he has so much confidence in me.”
That’s a stark departure from Legends of Magic. The old stallion was far less tolerant of different learning styles there.

Star Swirl creates a working, multicastable time travel spell… with an unfortunate side effect. Not only does he move through time, time moves through him. By the time he emerges to declare his success, he barely has any beard left!

Interesting data: Celestia also loves high-speed flight, Commander Hurricane is male… and the new princesses mean that the griffins feel emboldened to resume the border disputes that they and the pegasi had resolved prior to now. Indicated in this case by one pouncing on Celestia midflight. Quite the declaration of intent.

Yup. The griffin leader, Gregor—and this may mark the beginning of the show’s trend of all griffins having “G” names—insists that the treaty was with the pegasi, not this new nation. And he refuses to draft a new treaty without a fight. Oh boy…

Melvin offers unexpected insight on the griffin condition, including their secret, shameful sweet teeth.
He also performs a bit of espionage—yes, apparently griffins take no issue with a manticore joining in for a bit—and finds Gregor’s favorite, eclairs. As luck would have it, Star Swirl can prepare an exquisite batch of them. Luna combines this peace offering with a show of force… by making a proclamation in rhyme. Which apparently freaks out manticores and may well do the same to griffins.
No, I am not making any of this up.

Star Swirl makes continued forays into the future, and I am so glad that those are at least semi-canon. It certainly explains a number of things about him.

Interesting insight into the Crystal Empire. Apparently Princess Amore is the first and (at time of Luna writing this entry) only ruler of the Empire. And the crystal ponies (who already existed) just happened to find the Heart in the Arctic wilderness, at which point Amore (a unicorn) attuned to it and projected her positive emotional energy across what would become the Empire.
… Yeah, I’m going to ignore this. For all that I support multiple timelines, this one just doesn’t mesh with the Three Tribes Era, to say nothing of an entire group of ponies apparently roaming the frozen waste for no apparent reason.

Oh, and a dragon stole the Heart, which makes some modicum of sense.

Ah. That helps explain matters. The dragon had claimed the entire Crystalline Mountain and everything on it as his hoard, but had been sleeping for so long that the crystal ponies thought he was just an old story when they started mining the mountain. Still doesn’t explain why they were there, though maybe it was a nicer place prior to windigo-induced climate change.

Luna’s going in armed for bear. While Celestia plans on negotiating with the dragon, Luna’s coming in with Melvin, a squad each of pegasi and griffons, and a much higher-power subdual spell prepared by Star Swirl.

Negotiations go… less than well. Especially once the dragon makes it clear that he doesn’t care about the Heart that much, even given the theft. He’s more holding onto it out of spite.

At which point Celestia all but bursts into flames, hammering the dragon with an unquestionable demand to hand over the Heart. The dragon surrenders it out of sheer terror, and I can’t help but think that if he’d still refused, Daybreaker would’ve reduced the entire mountain to molten slag.

“[Celestia] didn’t quite remember everything that had happened, but we all agreed that we should never make her angry.”
… Yeah, that only supports my suspicion.

Hmm. Looking at the text, no mention is actually made of the frigid conditions surrounding the Empire. This raises a number of further questions.

“Fortunately, now that the dragon is no longer a threat, [the Empire is] safe, and nopony else will ever harm this perfectly peaceful community.”
Yup. Nopony ever again. Ever. Definitely not.

And now we get to the part covered in “Horse Play.” Apparently nopony had ever told the sisters about ten unicorns forever sacrificing their magic every day to keep the sun and moon going, nor that they had completely run out of unicorns who weren’t yet burnt out. Which presumably includes Clover, Platinum, and Bullion. Only Star Swirl had the endurance to keep it up, and after trying to set the moon himself, his beard’s gone gray.

:trollestia: “Why didn’t Star Swirl come to us sooner? Why didn’t he tell us this was happening to the Unicorns? And what could we do to help?”
Note that Star Swirl only ever answers the third question: Alicorns should not only be able to pull this off, moving the heavens should actually empower them,

:trollestia; “Luna looked nervously at Star Swirl. He’d never taught her how to lower the moon, and now that he had no magic, he couldn’t! Again, he smiled. He hadn’t taught her because he knew she didn’t need any lessons.”
Not sure why he’d never told her that, but we’re not getting an answer there either.

The sisters, of course, get their cutie marks after bringing the day. Furthermore, they recognize them as two of the three marks on the Tree of Harmony. Star Swirl refuses to explain who has the star, but Celestia is patient.
Also, interesting to note how Luna gets completely snubbed in the school play. No wonder she was so peeved about Celestia using the actual sun as a prop.

Luna confirms that yes, every unicorn was drained. But the cosmic feedback gave her and Celestia enough power to restore their magic. For all of them.
You know, this really does underscore how little these two manage to accomplish in modern times.

“Now I can’t wait until it’s time to raise [the moon] again so that I can enjoy the night. And to think that I get to do this every day and night for as long as I’m the princess of Equestria!”

We end on Celestia anticipating further exciting adventures and reaffirming the pair’s dedication to guiding and protecting all of ponykind. Poor thing.

In all, this gets surreal at times, raising more questions than it answers, especially when contrasted against later developments. It’s fun, yes, but doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of the setting. It does still offers some intriguing possibilities. And really, I can only expect so much history and trenchant geopolitical analysis from two girls who got plopped on thrones with no real warning or say in the matter.

That said, let’s see what I can get out of the journal:

Mystic Binding W
Enchantment — Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature can’t attack or block.
At the beginning of the end step of enchanted creature’s controller, if that creature’s power is 5 or greater, sacrifice Mystic Binding.

Bullion, King of Plenty 1WW
Legendary Creature — Unicorn Noble
Whenever an opponent casts a spell other than their first spell each turn, create a Treasure token. (It’s an artifact with “T, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color.”)
No unicorn kingdom has ever gone bankrupt.

Griffin Ambusher 2W
Creature — Griffin Soldier
Flying, first strike
When Griffin Ambusher enters the battlefield, it gets +2/+0 until end of turn.
The declaration of war arrived at near the speed of sound.

Platinum’s Weavers 2W
Creature — Unicorn Artificer
Ensoul 3 (You may pair this creature with an unpaired artifact when either enters the battlefield. As long as you control both of them, they remain paired and that artifact becomes a 3/3 artifact creature.)
As long as Platinum’s Weavers is paired with another creature, you can’t lose the game and your opponents can’t win the game.

Celestia, Shining Scholar 3W
Legendary Creature — Noble Wizard
Alicorn (This card is also a Pony Pegasus Unicorn.)
Flying, lifelink
Whenever you gain life, you may have two or more target players each draw a card.
“Alone, we’re mighty. Together, we can protect our ponies from anything.”
< Rogue 3BB
Luna, Shadowed Sneak 3BB
Legendary Creature — Noble Rogue
Flying, menace
Whenever an opponent draws a card, that player mills a card.
Whenever Luna deals combat damage to a player, you gain 1 life for each card type among cards in that player’s graveyard.
< Wizard 3W

Time Slip 1UU
Return half the permanents you control to their owners’ hands, rounded up. Take an extra turn after this one.
As Star Swirl freely traveled through time, he found time was also traveling through him.

Clever Counter 3U
Affinity for Wizards (This spell costs 1 less to cast for each Wizard you control.)
Counter target spell.
After her apprenticeship, Clover was ready for anything the world could throw at her.

Shape the Stars 3U
Scry X, where X is the number of enchantments you control, then draw two cards.
“Luna will astound us all one day, I’m sure of it.”
—Star Swirl’s journal

Amore’s Crystal Attunement 4U
Legendary Sorcery
(You may cast a legendary sorcery only if you control a legendary creature or planeswalker.)
Search your hand and library for an artifact card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle. That artifact gains hexproof until your next turn.
Centuries ago, one mare’s lucky find birthed an empire.

Dark Curiosity 1(bp)(bp)
((bp) can be paid with either B or 2 life.)
Target player draws two cards and loses 2 life.
In Luna’s eagerness to learn forbidden knowledge, she never wondered why it was forbidden to begin with.

Incantation of Dread 2B
Creatures you control gain menace until end of turn.
Spell mastery — If there are two or more instant and/or sorcery cards in your graveyard, whenever a creature blocks this turn, it gets -1/-1 until end of turn.
Luna found a novel negotiation strategy.

Unsustainable Splendor 2B
When Unsustainable Splendor enters the battlefield, create three 1/1 blue Unicorn creature tokens.
Unicorns you control get +2/+0 and have indestructible.
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a Unicorn. If you can’t, sacrifice Unsustainable Splendor.

Celestia, Queen of Rot 3BB
Legendary Creature — Zombie Noble
At the beginning of each end step, if a creature died this turn, create a 2/2 black Zombie creature token with decayed. (It can’t block. When it attacks, sacrifice it at end of combat.)

Usurpation Trap 4B
Instant — Trap
If an opponent became the monarch this turn, you may pay B rather than pay this spell’s mana cost.
You become the monarch.
“Those who would claim my throne will struggle to keep it.”
—Princess Luna

Puddinghead’s Insight 1R
Exile the top card of each player’s library. This turn, you may cast nonland cards from among them and may spend mana as though it were mana of any type to cast those spells. If no nonland cards were exiled this way, return Puddinghead’s Insight to its owner’s hand.

Spitehoarder Dragon 4RR
Creature — Dragon
Flying, haste
Whenever Spitehoarder Dragon attacks, choose target artifact defending player controls. For as long as you control Spitehoarder Dragon, gain control of that artifact, it loses all abilities, and it can’t attack or block.

Vengeful Manticore 5RR
Creature — Manticore
This spell costs 1 less to cast for each land card in your graveyard.
Flying, menace
When a manticore finds its territory disrupted, it’s quick to return the favor.

Canterhorn Scurry 1G
Create two 1/1 green Squirrel creature tokens. If you’re the monarch, create four of those tokens instead.
The sisters played at rulership with woodland creatures, unaware of the reality to come.

Secluded Zebra 2G
Creature — Zebra Shaman
Whenever Secluded Zebra becomes the target of a spell or ability you don’t control, put a +1/+1 counter on Secluded Zebra.
The Everfree zebras went unnoticed for centuries, just as they wanted.

Construction Cragadile 2GG
Creature — Elemental Crocodile
When Construction Cragadile enters the battlefield, return target noncreature permanent card from your graveyard to your hand.
Once Luna won Melvin’s approval, the rest of the Everfree emerged to help with the castle.

Predestined Petroglyphs 3G
You may look at the top card of your library any time.
You may cast creature spells from the top of your library.
Each creature you cast from anywhere other than your hand enters the battlefield with an additional +1/+1 counter on it.

Celestia’s Sanctum 1WU
Whenever another player casts their second spell each turn, you draw a card.
Twilight took after her mentor in more ways than she ever knew, like delighting in others' scholastic achivements.

Lost in the Everfree 2(gu)
If G was spent to cast this spell, destroy up to one target artifact or enchantment. If U was spent to cast this spell, return up to one target creature to its owner’s hand. (Do both if GU was spent.)
The woods take much and return rumors.

Amore, First and Only 2WU
Legendary Creature — Unicorn Noble
Other creatures you control have ward X, where X is the number of artifacts you control. (Whenever one of them becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, counter it unless that player pays X.)
Tap three untapped artifacts and/or creatures you control: Amore, First and Only gains hexproof until end of turn.

Primeval Wilderness 2RG
You can’t cast noncreature spells.
Creatures you control get +2/+2.
RG, Discard a noncreature, nonland card: Draw a card.
The Everfree has never needed help to flourish.

Gregor, Griffin General 2RW
Legendary Creature — Griffin Soldier
Other Griffins you control get +1/+1 and have skirmish 2(rw). (Whenever another Griffin you control attacks, you may pay 2(rw). If you do, create a token copy of that Griffin that’s tapped and attacking. Exile the token at end of combat.)

Celestia’s Fury XRW
Celestia’s Fury deals X damage divided as you choose among any number of targets. If a permanent dealt damage this way would die this turn, exile it instead. When a player is dealt damage this way, exile up to that many target cards from their graveyard.

Everfree Citadel
When Everfree Citadel enters the battlefield, you gain 1 life.
T: Add C.
1, T: Add W, B, or G.
A symbol of the everlasting bond between sisters and nation.

Comments ( 19 )

Interesting to note that Star Swirl is explicitly described as unusual in his appearance. Apparently wizard hats and bell-lined cloaks weren’t common fashion at the time.

Well, considering that wizardry and scholarly pursuits would likely be reserved for the elite (the lower ranks having to only be strong enough to serve as sacrifice), it makes sense, really.

A powerful wizard would want to conceal his power, after all: if you have a flame on your cutie mark, you can bet your haunches whoever comes at you in the night will do so ready with a bucket of ice water and Cone of Cold prepared. Look at the other ponies we've seen wearing capes: Stygian, Sunburst, Chancellor Neighsay (we still don't know what his cutie mark is)... I think in Stygian's case it'd count more as shame, though.

As for the bells: pointed this out before, but it must be a story by now. Those bells are a matter of practicality. If a Unicorn is walking around reading a book, they can't see where they are going. Wearing bells alerts everyone around you: hey, I'm coming your way, maybe check if I'm not going to bump into you. Because fireballs may be involved if I am startled. Gripping literature, you know, and all that jazz.

Still, it’s nice to get confirmation that alicorns are indeed part-earth pony. Whatever that may entail.

Once again, bat ponies get the shaft. And not the nice sort of shaft they can build a home in, either.

All the rest? I don't know. Seems like they made Star Swirl into Disney's Merlin without the chaotic fun elements of the character. At least that guy got to do an awesome shapeshifter duel.

Bat ponies are easily interpreted as a subset of pegasi, considering they already have vaguely hand-like wings and the fact that Rainbow Dash was almost fully turned into one in the Nightmare Moon timeline.

This explains her approach with Twilight in the “The Beginning of the End” so well…

Twilight: "Wait, you're dropping the responsibility of ruling an entire nation two days before it happens?!"

Celestia: "Sucks, don't it?"

Again, not big on direct connections between founder and Bearer, but there’ already plenty of evidence for Puddinghead hiding a frightening degree of cunning behind a silly facade.

You know how there are characters like the Doctor or Columbo, who purposefully act silly and childish to hide their intellect? Well, I always liked the idea that Pinkieis very much like that, except she genuinely has no idea she's doing it. Either because her world view is so obvious in her mind that she assumes other ponies get it, or what I like to believe, because she actually is kind of oblivious to how intelligent she is.

I always had a soft spot for this book, even if none of it survived the appearance of the Pillars.

I also note that the earliest pages make it clear there's an entire tribe of alicorns that Celestia and Luna spring from, about which we never learn anything and whose very existence seems highly tenuous in light of, oh, literally every other piece of Equestrian world history. This timeline was never meant to carry this weight :unsuresweetie:

(Or maybe there’s a physically extant unabridged edition that I don’t know about…)

Strange, my copy doesn't say "abridged" anywhere that I can see. I wonder if there are any differences. The story seems to be the same.

I do wish it said something like “compiled by Amy Keating Rogers” rather than directly giving her the author credit, just to maintain the conceit.

The Daring Do books are appropriately listed as "By A.K. Yearling, with G.M. Berrow". I guess those came later.

It’s been a few months since I read this (for the first time), so I’m not confident enough to debate any of the finer details. I will say, though, that whatever it raises almost as many questions as it answers, I generally found it more consistent and enjoyable then the great majority of canon and quasi-canon material on the past of the Two Sisters.

Especially once we account for many of the inconsistencies coming from the later part of the show, and mostly “Shadow Play”, rendering this incompatible ten times over, all for giving an unwanted origin to the Tree of Harmony. And then, the same show staff cared so little about the canon they’d established that they didn’t even notice a poor newbie writer using this book as backstory basis for “Horse Play”, conflicting with their own from just a season prior. :facehoof: Josh Haber and Nicole Dubuc, everybody! :moustache:

Unlike the Cadence backstory in the first Twilight book, the most interesting part in a sea of trivial fluff, this is always interesting, even when it’s odd, and of all the just-prose books I’ve read (this and the first six chapter books), it’s the only one I’d consider essential reading. Though I have heard great things about some of the later chapter books. :pinkiehappy:

Course, it helps when you’re written by one of the show’s best writers with over a decade’s experience in writing for kids’ shows that can hold adult interest even when not indulging in references or adult humour, rather then a newbie who later graduated to writing for the show, story editing a wacky spinoff, and co-writing a feature film script, all while never quite shaking off the “aiming only to the young and simple” style to her work.
…okay, G. M. Berrow, that was actually too harsh. True, but harsh. My apologies. :twilightsheepish: And you did give us “The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows”.

Anyway, FoME, looking forward to the next few chapter books! I recall the Fluttershy and Applejack ones being, it still problematic, less severely so then what we’ve seen thus far. Just one ghost’s opinion, of course. :rainbowwild:

I am aware of that. I am also, however, aware of mentions in the books that stated bat ponies were a separate tribe that lived in the mountains, and were rescued/adopted by Princess Luna.

Besides that, there's enough shapeshifting magic and curse implications to go around to make that Rainbow Dash connection moot. And even if we're ignoring all that, there's still the issue that bat ponies existed on-screen in the first place, yet never got any development on-screen. And that's a missed opportunity in and of itself.

So, basically: whether they were a separate tribe or not, they got shafted on development regardless.

Also, the sisters “ran and flew in the hills of Canterlot” while they played, which indireclty answers one of the more interesting questions about the three tribes’ exodus to Equestria: Who was already living there?

At the cost of directly contradicting the best way to reconcile this story with their later claim that an alicorn birth has never been seen in Equestria. :ajbemused:

Luna goes full Fluttershy in recruiting other Everfree locals, including cragadiles. No idea how she pulled that one off.

Gummy suggests that they are in fact highly intelligent. Not out loud, given that he's too busy being philosophical, but y'know.

We got a few hints of this side of Celestia in the later parts of the show. I wish we could’ve gone a bit more.

Celestia also loves high-speed flight

I like to bring up the question of how the Sonic Rainboom became an old mare's tale in the first place. Read the bits I quoted again, with that in mind. :trollestia:

this may mark the beginning of the show’s trend of all griffins having “G” names

Gustave le Grande would like a word, to which the correct response is that all that is interesting comes in threes.

Yup. Nopony ever again. Ever. Definitely not.

This was a quite severe case of Most Writers Are Mortal; with how long they're clearly capable of living, they should know better than to believe in eternity.

A common headcanon, reinforced by Moonbow Dash, is that bat ponies don't actually exist unless Luna wants a pegasus to look scarier. That is a shaft, and not the fun kind.

That said, let’s see what I can get out of the journal:

Inside Baseball Alert: MtG associates platinum with immortality, so FoME associating Platinum with it as well... :ajbemused:

Stupid Complicated Game Alert: You can't cast something if it doesn't have a mana cost; your land drop bypasses this rule by "playing" without casting. Also something of a Protection From Editors Alert, as real cards in the vein of Puddinghead's Insight will specify "nonland" solely so that new players don't try rather than because it makes any actual difference in mechanics... Oh crap, Omniscience exists to bypass the lack of costs and be a legitimately avoided headache here. (Dream Halls usually won't work because lands are colorless, but that's just another hilarious thing you can do with Painter's Servant.)

When it comes to the backstory and lore of FiM, I like to take the Marvel Cinematic Universe approach: Adapt the best parts and leave out all the chaff. Or, just toss out bits that don't make sense.

Personally, I like that there are so many different interpretations of how Equestria's founding was done. Even in our own history, we keep finding and interpreting details that contradict each other. Perhaps some of it's true. Maybe none of it is true. However it happened, we got the pony world we live in today.

Time slip seems completely busted with any archaeomancer variant and/or the usual cheerios crew.
Even just the landfall triggers seems a bit stronk.
Unsustainable Splendor also suspicious, especially multiples.
Favorites of the bunch are Usurpation Trap and the Shining Scholar/Shadowed Sneak.

Luna goes full Fluttershy in recruiting other Everfree locals, including cragadiles. No idea how she pulled that one off.

IIRC Mistmane LOM issue used that. Nice continuity.

Stupid Complicated Game Alert: Note the lack of "nonland" on Time Slip; you'd need at least 6 zero-cost artifacts on the board in order to pull off that loop, plus whatever your win condition is (there are several that turns that loop into damage). With those kinds of resources, you were probably already going to win.

Very interesting to finally see you tackle this one, FOME. Journal of the Two Sisters wasn't exactly a good story in my opinion, but it was one of the first real official attempts at deep diving into the lore of Equestria, and even for all its faults, apparent contradictions, and hanging questions, it still had some fascinating ideas. It was also a very important foundational work for my own writing and world-building. Quite a lot of my story concepts and essays (especially my History series) were an attempt to take the lore of JOTTS and hammer it into a shape that gelled with the rest of the world (e.g. the Crystaltown backstory, to explain how the Crystal Empire was founded within a generation of Equestria, while also squaring it with the umbrum lore from the IDW comics). So in a weird way, you could say that JOTTS was one of my biggest creative inspirations as a writer.

It's part of why the later seasons of the show frustrated me so much, especially the Pillars and the revised Tree of Harmony backstory. As you observe:

It’s fun, yes, but doesn’t quite mesh with the rest of the setting.

Which is true. But that's really a fault of the later seasons, not of JOTTS. It's why I kind of took the opposite approach in my writing and disregarded everything after season six instead. JOTTS to me just has so many more interesting ideas to play with.


Wow, you make a lot of good points about the later part of the show. You should be a reviewer or something.:trollestia:


I am also, however, aware of mentions in the books that stated bat ponies were a separate tribe that lived in the mountains, and were rescued/adopted by Princess Luna.

That backstory for the bats came from a tweet from Lauren Faust, not from any official published source (at least as far as I know; Berrow or some other writer might have since picked it up and officially incorporated it into canon without my knowledge, but that's not where the concept originated from).

Took me some digging, but someone put the quote up somewhere and it stuck for me, so okay, let's see.

G.M. Berrow, Princess Luna and the Festival of the Winter Moon, Chapter 4. Here's a reading of it, relevant section starts at the 3-minute mark, thereabouts.

So... yeah. Sticking to my original statements. I said it was book canon, it is book canon. Bat ponies lived in the Western Caves, had a conflict with dragons, Luna solved it.

I even found the original quote that I was thinking of, turns out. Relevant section starts at 02:10, ish. Luna's bat pony chariot pullers have names and a history.

I've checked the wiki in relation to your clarification, but all I can find is a show creator on Twitter responding in the affirmative that bat ponies were a separate tribe, and Faust saying she saw it like that, too. Couldn't find the mention of the cave-dwelling, mountain region, dragon issues, or Luna's intercession, all of which was what I was referring to, though I only remembered the rescue and adoption part. I think the only thing I remembered completely wrong was the idea that the whole tribe was getting rescued and relocated after they swore fealty, when it only mentions those two stallions on paper.

I'd be interested to see the conversation that shows Faust's influence on it, though. Background things, aside from just confirming again that they are and were a separate tribe, I mean.


G.M. Berrow, Princess Luna and the Festival of the Winter Moon

Oh cool. So Berrow did incorporate that into canon. I genuinely did not know that. My mistake.

I also didn't know there were live readings/audiobooks available, so thanks for that. This might be just what I needed to finally get through the Berrow books myself.

I've checked the wiki in relation to your clarification, but all I can find is a show creator on Twitter responding in the affirmative that bat ponies were a separate tribe, and Faust saying she saw it like that, too.

You had the right tweet thread. The screenshot you found probably just cut it off a bit early:


The "dragon issues" or Luna rescuing them were definitely not mentioned by Faust, though. That sounds like an original Berrow invention.


Wow, you make a lot of good points about the later part of the show. You should be a reviewer or something.:trollestia:

Never let it be said that a good ghost doesn't know when to be inspired by takes he agrees with. :moustache:

But in all seriousness, as I'd said before, you'd put into words so many bits which I could not, it was a no brainer to cite that issue. Notwithstanding that the lore here, as you note, is so much more interesting then the brain fart we got in canon circa 2017-19.

I also did not know there were some audio readings of some of the books! This does, at least give me avenues to cross off the Luna, Celestia and Lyra/Bon Bon chapter books (I've only read the first six and JOTTS thus far). Pity that YouTuber stopped a few chapters into one of the Daring Do books, that leaves it, the two others and basically all the ones in the last few years of the show uncovered. :applecry: Oh well.


There was a real missed opportunity in the way that Hasbro (or at least the triumvirate) threw all the old book and comic continuity out the window in the final seasons; it made me finally understand how hardcore Star Wars must have felt after the Disney buyout.

Oh, absolutely. And I say this as someone who flitted between a casual and hardcore Star Wars fan for years.

AND THEN, they had the audacity to reference a Tirek comic that not only had most of the fandom not read, the triumvirate absolutely had not read and probably just grabbed that name from the wiki (at least when Kaita Mpambara did the same in his episode, it looks like it was coming from a honest place). In two Seasons overflowing with infuriating things on their part, that cheeky fan bait may be among the worst. Or at least those that most annoy me. No, you do NOT get to have your "ignoring the comics/other EU material" cake and eat it for fandom pandering too.

But let's not dwell there, eh? :twilightsmile:


My live reaction in chat to that line, just for you.

DannyJ – 13/10/2019
"King Vorak."
Oh, fuck off.
NOW they want to reference the comics?
Fucking NOW?!
After they've been ignoring and retconning them for the past four seasons?
This should please me, but it just pisses me off more.

It doesn't help that it all just draws further attention to the fact that Discord was somehow present there without actually explaining it. (My own headcanon is to integrate the issue where it was shown he can time travel and say that was, like, post-"reform" Discord or something. That's mostly my own foibles saying that addition is better than subtraction, though)

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