There’s some impressive work behind today’s story.
The Mare Behind the Mare
[Slice of Life] • 9,688 words
What sort of mare would turn down the chance to help a friend? Twilight’s been there for me so many times in the past, but now she’s a princess with all the new obligations and duties that come with that. The transition… hasn’t been an entirely smooth one. Who better to lend her a helping hoof and show her how one deals with nobles, courts, and politics than moi?
I only hope it doesn’t end up costing one of us our sanity along the way.
FROM THE CURATORS: There are some stories so powerful that it’s always a little shocking to see their author featured for anything else. Hard Reset — one of FIMFiction’s top-10 upvoted stories, and a contender in our upcoming “Ponyfic: There Can Be Only One” Bronycon panel — is one of those. But it’s ineligible for RCL refeature due to its Pony Fiction Vault interview, and Eakin has written no shortage of other strong contenders.
What caught our eye about The Mare Behind The Mare was how effortlessly it demonstrated strength in a very different genre from Eakin’s biggest hit. “It is this delightful mix of comedy and political intrigue, with the kind of sharp-witted prose that really manages to elevate the whole thing,” Soge said. It even sparked favorable comparisons to an acknowledged master of that genre: “This was supremely funny,” Present Perfect said, “in precisely the way GhostOfHeraclitus’ Civil Service stories are.” AugieDog felt similarly in his nomination. “It starts from a premise that I’m sure I’ve seen before in Ponyfic: Rarity tutors the new Princess Twilight in the ways of the Royal Court,” he said. “But even though it doesn’t have a Comedy tag on it, its second chapter takes it off in a a delightfully devious little ‘comedy of manners’ direction that’s reminiscent of GhostOfHeraclitus’ Civil Service stories. (Dotted Line even makes a Ghost-approved off-stage cameo.)”
That cameo was virtually the only character not singled out for praise. “It’s a pure pleasure to watch Rarity work here,” AugieDog said. “Twilight’s written a bit naïvely throughout, but she steps up at the end to put together all the pieces Rarity’s laid out for her.” Soge admired the princesses: “It is propped up by some amazing characterization for all involved (I particularly like Celestia hamming it up for the benefit of the court), and a vision of a might-have-been for Twilight getting used to power. Great work all around.” And Present Perfect’s protagonist praise was part of a broader compliment: “Every time I think I fully understand the concept of ‘show, don’t tell,’ a good author like Eakin comes along and shows me how to step up my game,” he said. “The scene with Rarity talking to the disinterested reporter, turning an off-handed comment into an Equestria-wide panic, was a marvelous linchpin for the entire thing.”
But even more than that, we appreciated the tale’s balancing acts. “Stories like this need a very delicate balance of idealism and cynicism, and Eakin pulls it off exactly right,” AugieDog said. Horizon cited another: “The first and second chapters are fantastic in very different ways. While the plotting is indeed tightly written and gorgeous to watch, the extended tea metaphor in Chapter 1 is exquisitely balanced — strong enough to carry the story, but not so strong it drowns out the nuances of the surrounding writing.” Ultimately, all those factors led to no shortage of enthusiasm for the feature. “This was a very good fic,” Present Perfect said. “I love watching a plan come together, and I will heartily support the nomination.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Eakin discusses Platonic alicorns, cooking chickens, and butchered quotes.