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The Journal of the Two Sisters

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Sep. 3rd, 2014 | 12:05 am

Well, that didn't take so long; I actually finished the Journal of the Two Sisters today, so I might as well write about it.

Unlike The Elements of Harmony, which it shares its overall design with, this is an in-universe book, written from an in-universe perspective. You won't find anything about the show here; you'll find material from the show, presented in written form. In fact, the book itself is intended to be a real-life edition of the journal that Luna and Celestia kept on the show and that the Mane Six continued writing in throughout S4.

All that I knew, and expected, and indeed looked forward to.

Truth to be told, though, the book's not as good as I'd hoped. It's not a bad book, certainly not, but it's very clearly aimed at children, and this affects both its content and style. The first half of the book, the part written from Celestia's and Luna's perspective, is where this is the most prominent. The sisters are younger and understandably less experienced; yet by their own admission they're also still older than most non-alicorns, so I was dismayed that they often sounded like modern-day teenagers rather than Equestrian princesses. And the adventures they embarked on and the issues they faced lack the depth that has made the show so refreshing; doubly annoying given that already MLP:FiM has already proven that "for children" does not have to mean this.

This isn't to say this part was all bad; there were some interesting origin stories, including the creation of the castle in the Everfree, the first time ponies meet zebras, and more. Star Swirl figured prominently as Celestia's and Luna's tutor as well.

The second half of the book, where the Mane Six write about their own adventures, is a bit better — I chalked this up to it having the show itself to prop it up, the episodes of S4 dictating (in rough terms) what they'd be writing about, and the ponies' characters already having been firmly established. That said, it still didn't quite reach the quality of the show itself.

And that's surprising, really, given that the book is actually written by Amy Keating Rogers, who's also a writer on the show and has quite a few episodes under her proverbial belt, from S1E3 to S4E21. I can only imagine that the higher-ups at Hasbro wanted to have a "childish" book, but why? The huge success that MLP:FiM has seen is due to it not just appealing to kids, after all. And would the kids have minded if the book was a little more like the series it's based on? I don't think so.

Either way, if you've not got this book yet... I'm not recommending against it, but I'm also not recommending for it. Again, it's not a bad book, but neither is it a must-have.

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Comments {6}

The Mystery of the Supranational Rabbit

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from: porsupah
date: Sep. 3rd, 2014 08:00 pm (UTC)
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Hmm. I'm sort of inclined to believe it's either:

(a) MKR not quite having the courage to forge ahead with a more mature style befitting more mature characters (and really, one only need look at the wealth of kid lit to see there's no shortage of excellent writing, as enjoyable by adults as children, such as anything from Roald Dahl, "Jennie" by Paul Gallico, or all of Narnia), or,

(b) TPTB laid down certain specifications for the book, including a younger reading age, removing that discretion from her.

Still, doesn't sound like a bad work, just more of a thing for completists than something everypony should ensure they pick up. Or levitate.

so I was dismayed that they often sounded like modern-day teenagers rather than Equestrian princesses

Equestria: The Frozen Years? =:D

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Sep. 3rd, 2014 08:08 pm (UTC)
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You're right, it's likely one of those — and like the second, since even not knowing anything about Amy at all other than that she wrote a bunch of enjoyable MLP episodes, I'm disinclined to believe she'd lack the moxie to write a book for adults AND kids. (Both of which would've enjoyed a "deeper" book more, undoubtedly.)

If you're looking to collect all the books, then yes, you should certainly pick it up. If not... there's no harm in doing so, but no real harm in missing it, either.

Equestria: The Frozen Years? =:D

*groan* That's not too far off the mark, actually... though it's still a little more childish even than that.


Edited at 2014-09-03 08:08 pm (UTC)

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ungulata

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from: ungulata
date: Sep. 3rd, 2014 11:51 pm (UTC)
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I also bought and read that book a month or so ago. And quickly gave it away. I agree, it was disappointing. We still have no clue as to the princesses origins and the book does not cover some key events such as the Hearth's Warming history, the fall of the Crystal Empire, Discord, or Luna's transformation into Nightmare Moon. I didn't buy the line that Starswirl and the unicorns were burning out from all the heavy sun/moon lifting.

The Friendship Journal half of the book rambled and was hard to read. I think it may have been a bit off from what we saw in-show as well.

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Sep. 4th, 2014 09:58 am (UTC)
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I didn't buy the line that Starswirl and the unicorns were burning out from all the heavy sun/moon lifting.

Oh yeah, that was one of the book's weakest spots.

. Literally every single last unicorn including Star Swirl permanently loses their magic because raising the sun and moon is so arduous, yet they're too polite to even so much as inform the sisters, despite the alicorns possessing vastly more powerful magic? That's just plain unbelievable.

And then after all their magic is gone, the alicorn princesses not just succeed them in their task, but also just restore the unicorns' magic? Hardly great storytelling; essentially it's just "everything was fine again. How? Awizardidit." As that trope's page notes, "this trope is not about magic per se note , but any kind of handwave; it happened because the author wanted it to, end of story</a>", and I think that's exactly the case here, though it may have been TPTB rather than the author.

The Friendship Journal half of the book rambled and was hard to read. I think it may have been a bit off from what we saw in-show as well.

Possibly. I still liked it more than the first part, though; and although the characterizations were not as strong as they could've been, I thought that Pinkie Pie's journal entries were cute. I could see her writing like that, and found it the easiest to read hers in her voice.

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ungulata

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from: ungulata
date: Sep. 5th, 2014 10:12 am (UTC)
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I want so much to like this book. 8^(

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Schneelocke

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from: schnee
date: Sep. 5th, 2014 10:15 am (UTC)
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I know what you mean. I had very high hopes for it myself.

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