Today’s story makes some daring choices.
Sunset Shimmer and the Last Trial of Daring Do
[Dark] [Adventure] [Alternate Universe] • 49,536 words
[Note: This story contains sexual themes.]
Trapped in the memories of her past adventures, bringing nightmares and dreams she does not want, she can’t stay home.
There is only one creature in all of Equestria who can help her. Make her good and nice again, but how far will Sunset have to go to find her?
FROM THE CURATORS: There’s something about great villains which keeps us coming back to their stories — especially when you set them on a collision course with one of Equestria’s greatest heroes. “This is Sunset’s fall from good intentions, and it hurts to read her picking up a number of formative experiences and wrongly learned lessons that will shape her into the terror of Canterlot High,” FanOfMostEverything said in his nomination. “The age-old conflict she stumbles into is fascinating to watch, especially as we learn the finer details. And this is easily the best Ahuizotl I’ve ever read.” On that point, we were unanimous: “I’ve never seen anything like the Ahuizotl-as-deity that frames this story,” Horizon said. “That by itself would have been featureworthy, but then the author also threw in one of the most dynamic, compelling OC villains I’ve encountered, and made Sunset a breathtaking character in her own right.”
Indeed, it was the character work which kept our eyes glued to the page. “if this story has a big thing right — and I’d say it has a few — it’s the depiction of Sunset’s PTSD,” Present Perfect said. “It’s her motivation for falling down this path in the first place, for placing herself into grave, mortal danger of the kind that leaves her vulnerable to a predator like Green Glow. Watching that relationship spiral into abuse, then something that molds Sunset into the pony who stole Twilight’s crown, was exquisitely painful.” And it certainly didn’t hurt that that exemplary writing was set amid a thrilling, well-realized adventure. “As a Daring Do story from the perspective of her opponents, it fires on all cylinders,” Horizon said. “Then they reach the penultimate fight, and it cranks the story up to 11, and then they reach the final fight and the dial breaks as it impossibly goes even further. It’s never anything less than epic and mythical.”
That was another compliment that came up repeatedly in our discussion. “If there’s another thing this story does well, it’s gravitas,” Present Perfect said. “Hardly a chapter goes by without some big, flashy or otherwise memorable scene: Ahuizotl defeating the hydra, Green Glow torturing the informant, Sunset fighting Daring Do, you name it, they’re all exciting. But more than that, everything that happens in this story has weight to it. The importance of details like hospitality are the stuff of epic fantasy quests. I love how just invoking the words of an ancient oath can literally shake a city to its foundations.” And that, we decided, made the story worthwhile whether you’ve read its prequel or not. “Aside from a few flashbacks, the previous story — in which Sunset Shimmer goes to Narnia, befriends Prince Caspian, and almost ruins everything — doesn’t really factor into this one,” FanOfMostEverything noted. “This is by no means a happy story, but it’s a very compelling one.”
Read on for our author interview, in which ChudoJogurt discusses teenage miracles, book attributes, and immortal princes.
Give us the standard biography.
I’m an almost-thirty-year-old nerd. I was the nerd in the school, did all the requisite nerd things in college so that I could study all sorts of maths in university, and now I get to nerd for a living as a Data Scientist. It’s a pretty sweet gig, all things considered.
I turned to writing when I ran out of things to watch and read, and decided I have to write the stories that I’d like to read.
How did you come up with your handle/penname?
When I was a teen, I was going by very cliche angsty handles, but then one day I tried to register on a very popular website (I think it was DestinySphere) where all the tween cliche handles my teenage brain could come up with were already taken. So I took the name using the first thing that I could see on my desk: a Chudo-Yoghurt (“Miracle Yoghurt”) brand yoghurt from Russia. Which I also misspelt when transcribing.
Since then it has stayed with me for almost two decades, and I’ve yet to come to a situation where it is taken and I have to think of another one.
Who’s your favorite pony?
I suppose it’s Rainbow Dash. Though I am a socially inept awkward bookworm, I am also a big fan of napping, tooting your own horn, and being awesome.
What’s your favorite episode?
The very first one — that’s the one that got me into the show. The story of the Nightmare Moon and her design, the Elements of Harmony, the character of Twilight Sparkle — I knew that this was a great show and that I was excited to have whole two seasons already aired to binge through. And since then — all the big season finales (like the Tirek episode or the movie) where we get more bits of mythology and epic adventure.
What do you get from the show?
I love the worldbuilding, with the grand fantasy world that we get the glimpse of. And it also makes me happy — a feeling which sometimes can be in short supply.
What do you want from life?
That’s … a big question. Build a house, plant a tree, raise a child or three. Be happy. Write a book — a big, proper book, that will have all the attributes of a book even if it won’t ever be printed.
Why do you write?
Because I ran out of things to read. Because I love stories and every sort of speculative fiction. Because I want to learn to write and tell stories, and writing is the best way to learn to do it.
But mostly because I cannot not write: The stories, once they grip me, stay in my head and occupy my dreams and my imagination until and unless I put them to the page. And if I am to write I might as well do it well.
What advice do you have for the authors out there?
There is a lot of great advice, so I think my two cents would be — put in the effort. Writing is a craft like any other, it can and should be learned. Don’t neglect the boring things — learning the language, grammar and writing advice, studying the genre and its rules and its tropes. Learn the source material and the fandom and — last, but by far not the least — edit. A lot.
I’ve seen a lot of great stories and even more good ideas destroyed by the desire to type it out and publish, without putting in the proper foundations for the work before they sat down and pushed the coveted “Publish” button.
What inspired “Sunset Shimmer and the Last Trial of Daring Do” and the series of stories it’s part of?
The idea itself, the story of Sunset Shimmer prequels, is personal. The stories, especially the Trial and the next two stories I have planned, is a sort of story that I think would have happened to me. If, at a certain junction in my life, I had been a little smarter and a little more stubborn, I would probably have wrapped myself into exactly that sort of miserable monster.
The genre — the fantasy, the epic, the powers clad in mortal flesh and the ancient artifacts, the mystic oaths and the eternal foes — is an homage to the great authors that made me fall in love with fantasy as a genre, first and foremost Zelazny and his Princes of Amber series.
How did you come up with this incredible take on the relationship between Ahuizotl and Daring Do?
I don’t think they’re that incredible, to be honest. They’re archnemeses, so he respects her and she (and other Daring Dos before her) thwart his villainous schemes. It’s a classic, tried-and-true dynamic. All I had to do was to write it as best as I can.
The idea of the immortal Ahuizotl came up when I learned that there was an Aztec king by that name in real-life history. This lead me to think of Ahuizotl as a Prince, and thus perhaps as immortal and powerful as Celestia and Luna.
On the other hand, if Ahuizotl was immortal and always seeking to destroy a conquer the world, then someone had to keep stopping him through the ages, and who better than the implacable, the unstoppable, the daring Daring Do?
What do you see happening to the seapony city?
I suppose that now that they don’t have Ahuizotl’s coin giving them a pocket of air to breathe and have fires (and forges, cooked foods, and all the other things for which water is not very helpful) they may have to raise it back to the surface. Or perhaps after a millennium of hoarding power and magic, they may actually manage without it, protecting their city with the power of the Mother Pearl.
I have not decided yet, but either way, what Sunset did will diminish their city for ages to come.
How do the lessons Sunset learned from Green Glow fit in with her human-world redemption?
When I get to after-EQG stories I think the main focus will be Sunset’s struggle and the constant choice between being victorious, being efficient, destroying her enemies and hearing the lamentation of their women, or doing things that actually make her happy.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I am incredibly honoured that my fic was considered for a feature in the RCL. I think I still have ways and ways to go before I can consider myself anywhere near equal most of the other people featured here, and I am very happy that my modest effort was rated so highly.
I would also very much like to thank all the people without whom this would have never been possible, my pre-readers and editors, whose advice and patience with me were without equal — Feather Book and Kai Creech.
Also, I will be visiting Wondercon and Babscon this year (in just a month!) so I really hope to see some of you there in person.
You can read Sunset Shimmer and the Last Trial of Daring Do at FIMFiction.net. Read more interviews right here at the Royal Canterlot Library, or suggest stories for us to feature at our Fimfiction group.