See * for disclaimer
Okay, I'm not sure how this is going to work, as doing what I've been doing out of written text rather than video feels a bit odd. However, I'm going to try at least once. I may not do the other novels individually, or at all, depending on how this goes. For those wondering what happened to the comics, I'm going to do them as a batch based on the trade compilations, and the first trade is Volume 1 which contains individual comics published from November 2012 to March 2013, so that's next. I would have put it after One Bad Apple when the first issue was published, but that would make Volume 4 which doesn't have all it's individual issues published yet get really weird. This novel was officially published in April, but a special Scholastic edition was released in February, so this is where I'm placing it.
Also I should probably address the whole 'canon' thing right now while we're on this subject. People who have been in other fandoms like Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, etc. will recognize this, but it may be a new concept to Bronies who don't have experience in other fandoms. Whenever a franchise expands into multiple media; TV, films, books, comics, games, radio-plays, etc. and even when a franchise in it's original media extends past a couple of 'seasons', you will get conflicting canon. That's normal, and expected. Many will deny the 'canon' nature of these alternate media, but I personally don't take it that way. Canon is nonsensical, in truth. Because it's all fictional, whatever the writer puts down is, at that moment in time canon as long as they have the approval of the owner of the IP, which in this case is Hasbro. As long as Hasbro promotes the item in question as canon, it's canon.
But that doesn't mean that any other writer is required to take it into consideration. There is a 'show bible' for MLP:FiM, but it was written by Lauren Faust as part of the pitch to Hasbro, and it is unlikely to have been kept updated since. Because of that, there are no guidelines for continuity unless the writers themselves make it an issue.
So in order to cope with this, most fandoms adopt what I call a 'sliding scale of canon'. There might be a better name, but I haven't run into one myself. Basically everything 'official' is canon unless it contradicts another official source. When two or more sources contradict, one will take priority. In our case broadcast episodes as the original media should trump the comics, which trump the novels in turn as the most derivative media. Plus it's usually accepted that newer episodes/issues trump older ones. A lot of trumping can be worked around as misinterpretations by the characters involved, but there will be enough that cannot be worked around.
So whatever I notice in this book is likely to be trumped by either the comics or the animated series, but I know of at least one thing in the book that has not yet been overruled that is important to worldbuilding. Which is why I'm attempting this.
Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell (Novel, February 2013)
Summary: Twilight Sparkle may be a princess now, but she doesn't feel like it. Now she searches for someone to help her understand how to be a princess.
This is set after Magical Mystery Cure, long enough for the story to circulate throughout Equestria.
Mention of San Franscolt and Manehattan.
The special ability of Earth Ponies is mentioned as being Strength, but not physical strength but instead strength of character. Interesting choice.
The book titles: The Princess Bridle... oh dear. Purple Reign by Crystal Ball... ooooh dear. Heh, the worn path Twilight paces in a circle is 'The Twilight Zone'. Cute. For those too young to remember, The Princess Bride was a 1973 novel by William Goldman turned into a film in 1987. Purple Rain was an film staring Prince and The Revolution in 1984, plus a soundtrack album of the same name, plus the title track of said album. And the Twilight Zone was a sci-fi 'horror' anthology series back in the sixties but was revived several times since.
Another Daring Do book title: Daring Do and the Trek to the Terrifying Tower. And Daring Do's biggest fear is... fish? Really? Okay, fine.
Professor A.B. Ravenhoof being the ponification of Professor Abner Ravenwood from Indiana Jones, a character never actually seen but was mentioned and supposedly intended to be Indy's former mentor. Supposedly he was to be modeled after Professor Challenger, a character from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (and several other stories).
Rainbow Chip cupcakes. They seem to have rainbow *everything* here. It's kinda like old sci-fi films, where they put 'space' in front of everything to make it more futuristic. Space telephones, space guns, space toothpaste. It's just rainbows here.
In the novels at least, everyone seems to recognize Twilight.
And here is the bit that is the biggest worldbuilding point. Cadence was a pegasis originally, an orphan found by Earth Ponies abandoned in a forest.
And a evil enchantress pony, powered by a dangerous artifact, a necklace that twisted her mind. Which is not surprisingly familiar. Except that this necklace supposedly amplified all magic around it, not just the wearer's. Which doesn't match up to the Alicorn Amulet. Either that or Cadence is remembering this section with a lot more bias than stories normally do.
In any case, Cadence's experience mirrors Twilight's bit in the Magical Mystery Cure where she is transported to some astral realm and turned into an alicorn. This had to have taken place when Cadence was still quite young, much younger than what Twilight is being presented as.
Okay, this is a separate necklace to the Alicorn Amulet. The casualness that they treat artefacts capable of mental distortion is criminal, really.
We still have the problem with the time taken travelling between the Crystal Empire and Ponyville, but in the novel it's easier to ignore as the time is being taken between chapters, allowing the reader to assume how long the trip actually is.
And at this time Cloudsdale is directly above Ponyville.
The necklace is made of a special gemstone called 'Cosmic Spectrum' which naturally has the abilities of amplifying emotions, the same as the Crystal Heart.
Sparkle's Six? Reference to Ocean's Eleven, 1960 film remade in 2001.
Mythica, Neigh York. Ithaca is a city in the middle of New York state, known as one of the most liberal places in the United States. This a strange reference, as it's putting a state in play, where Equestria has never used states before in other media.
Twilight's cottage? It's odd describing the library as a cottage.
That's about it for references and notes from the novel. The way they dealt with Gilda and Trixie may it hard to fit into the timeline of the show, and there's some bits that are a bit odd, but all-in-all there wasn't anything worldbreaking.