Flow through a mythological epic with today’s story.
Through the Well of Pirene
[Adventure] [Human] • 369,088 words
As a child, Daphne knew of a world where magic lived, where an immortal princess reigned over a beautiful kingdom, and longed to journey there beside Leit Motif, the filly she’d grown to love in the woods behind her home. But one day, when she needed her most, Leit Motif was gone, and she never came back to show her the way. As she grew, she put aside her childish dreams, and taught herself to believe the lie.
When forces beyond her knowing take her sister Amelia, though, she discovers that her childhood fancies were entirely too real, and is thrust into a journey that will take her back to that land she longed for, back to the childhood friend she’d abandoned, and to worlds she’d only dreamed of.
FROM THE CURATORS: Today’s feature shatters our length record for a featured story, doubling the size of the previous record-holder (and clocking in at 8/10ths the size of the entire Lord of the Rings series). But Through the Well of Pirene justified that wordcount. “It’s always got something interesting to do,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “The slower parts allow for character revelations, lush imagery and world-building, or just doling out fascinating headcanons.”
And there was one element of that which quickly stood out as exemplary. “If there’s any one thing I think you folks will enjoy, it’s the world-building and the plethora of mythologies,” Present Perfect said to solid agreement. “The mythology here is remarkably Gaimanesque, and I say that as a compliment because the man writes some damn good faeries,” Horizon noted, while Soge praised its breadth: “I’m a sucker for fics that mix Equestrian lore with human history and myth, and this delivers that in spades, going well beyond its obvious Greek influences.”
But for the most part, that wasn’t we talked about in one of our group’s longest discussion threads — which often touched on the character work. “I love The Morgwyn so much,” Horizon said. “Trying to figure out his long game is keeping me remarkably engaged as the protagonists’ knowledge of the world around them deepens. Everything about the goblin castle Amelia was taken to is great. I can’t stand most of the (ex-)human characters, but it is very much to this story’s credit that, despite that, I’ve been so consistently engaged.” Present Perfect acknowledged that “the characters, especially the main ones, take some getting used to,” but noted that “they grow and change over the course of the book in natural, if frequently staggering, ways.” Horizon quickly agreed: “Amelia is the clear standout, and the story’s at its strongest when it examines her slow descent into villainy and the all-too-understandable motives that continue to drive her to fix things even when she’s crossed a line,” he said. “But the moral struggles of characters like Maille and Flash keep the story powerful when the focus shifts.” Those side characters were part of a greater richness, Soge noted: “It’s full of little details which show just how much the author cared about this world and its story, such as the differences in lingo between the Goblin factions.”
And while there was some curator ambivalence as the scope of the story expanded — “just about everything I liked was balanced by something I didn’t,” AugieDog said — the ultimate consensus was that it did the important things powerfully. “It was the fact that it delivered on its promise of epic that kept me looking forward to the reading,” Horizon said. “This also always wrote with an eye toward theme, and so in hindsight what I remember is the story’s big statements, which is exactly what I should be remembering.” AugieDog had similar praise: “I love how the scope here is intensely epic and intensely personal at the same time, and with the fate of the entire multiverse hinging on two sisters not getting along, well, you can’t get any more My Little Pony than that.” That added up to a story that met its high ambitions, Present Perfect said: “This is the best HiE I’ve ever read — though it’s certainly far more than that — and it comes by that status honestly.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Ether Echoes discusses executive meddling, puréed myths, and punishing children.