Your home is where your heart is — and today’s story is waiting for you there after the long, cold journey back.
The Old Country
[Adventure] • 18,673 words
Spike’s fed up of Outer Yakyakistan, a perpetually frigid land of biting wind, blinding snow, and little else. No one actually lives here, not even the yaks themselves. Twilight’s company is the only silver lining, but even she can only lift Spike’s spirits in short bursts. He wants to go home to Ponyville.
But as they clamber up the final mountain in Outer Yakyakistan, the wind changes. Spike becomes sure that he’s been here before. Except … he hasn’t. Not in living memory. So why does it feel like he’s already home?
FROM THE CURATORS: As long-time readers of ponyfic, all of the Library’s curators appreciate when a story tackles a heavily covered topic in a way that brings something truly new to the table — and that’s where this fic shines. “I’ve seen many ‘Spike finds his origins’ stories, and they tend to just slap your average fantasy dragon over the top of him,” Present Perfect said. “But The Old Country keeps in mind what kind of a place Equestria is; the friend aspect of the dragon he finds thus keeps the world-building in line with the greater setting.”
What’s remarkable is that, while we agreed this was feature-worthy, we all loved (and disliked) very different things about the story. “The first half is a slog, the second half does everything right,” Present Perfect said, while AugieDog’s praise was the reverse: “The first two chapters really set things up nicely — Spike comes across as full of ‘teen angst,’ and that serves the story’s purposes quite well.” Chris found elements to like throughout: “The author builds crisp, vivid visuals of windswept tundra, of claustrophobic caverns, and more. This could have just been a travelogue and I’d still have enjoyed it; the descriptions are that strong.” There, Horizon agreed: “The sense of place in this one is amazing.”
Another thing we agreed on was the exemplary work put into the depiction of the story’s supporting characters. “As something of a dragon expert, I can tell you that there’s something unique in Ormr’s portrayal here,” Horizon said. “Everything about it, from its psychology and physiology to the little details like its lack of gendering, make it almost a force of nature at the same time as it’s characterized deeply and effectively.” And Chris found something equally unique in the yaks. “This is the first story I’ve read to date which uses Prince Rutherford and his yaks effectively in an otherwise serious story,” Chris said. “They’re gruff, quick to violence, and as perfection-obsessed as ever, yet they never turn the larger tale into a joke.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Astrarian discusses username faff, immersion-breaking actors, and the ‘wow’ factor of butterflies.