Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Amid the Powers and Chances of the World

Author: Azalais
Nominator: Altariel
2011 Award Category: Romance: Gondorians - First Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Novel
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Sexual Content,Violence
Summary: This novel-length story travels through Rohan, Rivendell & Gondor, twining in and out of the canon events of LoTR. A mortal woman brought to Rivendell for healing in summer 3018 becomes entangled with both Men and Elves in the War of the Ring; how will destiny and chance play out? Gap-filling, drama, humour, a dash of angst and -eventually- romance between the OFC protagonist and a canon character


Reviewed by: Altariel -- Score: 10

Azalais' long novel follows a romance between Legolas and a mortal woman, Rowanna, during the events of "The Lord of the Rings". Azalais has a strong, graceful, and elegant narrative style, and skilfully manages the inclusion of the details of her extensive research without information ever being given in a forced fashion. All of the canon characters are beautifully handled, and the canon romances of Aragorn and Arwen, and Faramir and Eowyn, are cleverly used to counterpoint and reflect upon the challenges faced by the leads. Both of the main characters also face individual difficulties: Rowanna's independence and strength are at odds with expectations of how she should behave as a woman in a traditional society; Legolas is a Wood-elf for whom the Sea-longing is a world-shattering experience. Rowanna is a clearly defined character, a mature woman who knows her mind, making the romance tender and touching, without melodrama, but with strong emotion. I cried buckets at the end. I also want to pay tribute to Az's handling of the timelines: weaving her own narrative alongside that of the book without it ever feeling unlikely. Particular kudos for seamless additions to the "Lay of Leithian"! It was a great pleasure to watch this story gradually unfold over the years, and it's an even greater pleasure to now be able to read the completed story. Congratulations, Az, on your wonderful achievement!

-- Thank you for such a glowing and detailed review! I was hoping the MEFAs would glean Powers a few new readers, but not much evidence of that sadly - I suspect the sheer length is off-putting when people are trying to read as many MEFA fics as they can. I'm still evilly glad I made you cry buckets :-) and it's great to have P&C finished, even if Rowanna and Legolas do keep inveigling their way back into my head...

Reviewed by: curiouswombat -- Score: 10

I remember sitting down one cold, wet, Sunday afternoon to start reading this story when it was already more than half finished - and only dragging myself away grudgingly, to make coffee and empty my bladder, for many hours. From then onwards I looked forward to each new chapter, and was never disappointed. I know that Azalais set off to write a sensible, acceptable, non-Mary-Sue romance between Legolas and a mortal woman. One in which he would not give up his immortality - because as a full-blooded elf such an option is not open to him, nor would the young woman discover she was immortal, and in which she would, most certainly, not tag along with the members of the Fellowship. This story certainly achieves all those and the heroine, Rowanna, is a powerful, strong character in her own right, who lives her own life and makes her own decisions. The Tolkien characters are all well observed here, all feel 'right' in their interactions with Rowanna, and there was never a moment when I felt pulled out of the story by any inaccuracy of character or place. This is a story for reading and re-reading - and it is with great pleasure that I welcome the wonderful short stories Azalais writes in this same 'verse now that her epic is complete.

-- Thank you so much! I know you enjoy Powers and Chances, and it will be great if it picks up a few new readers as a result of the MEFAs, so thanks for doing your bit to convince others to give it a go. And given how AU some would regard a Legomance-within-LoTR as being, it's good to know that it all feels convincing to you within the Tolkienverse...

Reviewed by: obsidianj -- Score: 10

This is a beautifully written, sometimes heartbreaking romance, which nevertheless pushes all the right buttons. The characters are well drawn, canon and original characters alike. I laughed and cried with the characters and could feel their heartache while they worked through their difficulties. The Legolas in this story is slightly different than in most stories, but the premise is that he didn't know Aragorn before the quest and following this premise, his character falls into place. I loved the way the two main characters Legolas and Rowanna fall in love with each other. It just sneaks up on them (as it is in most cases in my experience). They didn't set out to do it, as some of their friends accuse them of. Once they realize what is happening, they are in trouble. The contrast between the canon couples Aragorn/Arwen and Faramir/Eowyn which also are not the "standard, traditional" Gondorian couples and Legolas/Rowanna is used to highlight the difficulties a love between two such unlikely characters face. There is a lot of wisdom in this fic and it helped me come to terms with some of the difficulties elves have when they get entangled with mortals. I especially liked the use of the effect the sea-longing has on Legolas in the solution to the near insurmountable obstacles for this love.

-- Thank you so much for such a detailed review! I'm very glad you both laughed and cried, and particularly that you found the "just sneaking up on them" nature of the romance convincing, as I was definitely working against the Legolas-falls-madly-in-love-at-first-sight-with-Mary-Sue nature of so much Legolas/mortal OFC fic. I'm delighted you enjoyed it so much.

Reviewed by: ziggy -- Score: 10

This epic length story really is worth the time invested in reading it. It is so far away from any sort of Mary_sue it ought to be read by anyone even contemplating writing anything in that genre. The OFC is plausible and never a mere accessory or burden although she is not imbued with powers or strange beauty etc but very real. And she has flaws and faults which actually draws the reader towards her. The exploration of what it means to love a mortal, and vice versa is very well developed and the unavoidable ending is not shied away from. It actually hurt to read the end but it was something I felt I had to do even though I normally close hte book/story before reaching that point-I like to have the characters live on coward that I am. It details the slow move towards death and parting that actually is inevitable for all us mortals and I found it hit the spot several times, touching on my own fears of separation. In that respect it is more than just a tale of Middle Earth and like the best fan fiction, it transcends that into something else. There is no sentimentality about any of the characters-maybe a little towards the end but that is forgivable I think in the circumstances — but the main tale is a great action adventure with a nice little twist here and there to keep the interest riveted.

-- Thank you for such a glowing review, Ziggy! I'm particularly pleased that you find my OFC real, with all her flaws, since as you know I was determined not to write a Mary-Sue/Legomance cliche if I could avoid it! Working through the inevitable consequences of a mortal and an immortal falling in love was a big part of the motivation for the fic, so it's good that that comes across so strongly. Many thanks again for reading and reviewing.

Reviewed by: Wormwood -- Score: 8

This is an intriguing, and very elegantly written story. It is not, I admit, the kind of story I normally read, but I am really glad I pushed my prejudices aside for this one. For a start, Rowanna is a very well drawn character, one you believe in and care for. And I also found myself believing in this love story, because it is so well told and because it doesn't shy away from the inevitable conclusion. A good love story needs death - my opinion entirely of course. For me Legolas is a difficult character to pull off - I frequently find him dull, but not here. Azalais makes his sea-longing vivid, almost traumatic in places. There is passion and life in this Legolas, not just external beauty. This story gains so much by keeping to the parameters of Tolkien's world. One mortal and one immortal life join and create a space where both can co-exist happily for a while, even if individual time move at different speeds and leave greater physical marks in one than the other. I was really moved by the ending. I have great respect for anyone who completes such a long story, over such a long time and in such a great way.

-- I'm so pleased that you read it - since part of the original reason for embarking on the story was to convince the sceptical that Legolas/OFC romance didn't *have* to be completely implausible and a horrendous insult to canon, I always raise a cheer when *Powers* manages to convince someone who would normally avoid Legomance like the plague! The Legolas in my head is full of "passion and life", so I'm delighted that he comes across that way to you; and also that you appreciated the necessary sadness and loss, since one of my other bugbears in mortal/immmortal romance fic is the airbrushing of those inevitable consequences! It did, indeed, take a long time in the completion, but I'm very happy that you like the result.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 7

I don't actually believe I've ever read Legolas romance before this, though I believe I was previously inclined to dislike it. That being said, I found Amid the Powers and Chances of the World to be an entertaining novel-length saga, with all the proper twists and turns necessary and thankfully not only centered on romance (not to say there wasn't any--there was, but it wasn't the only plot vehicle.) From what I've gathered, the Legolas/OFC pairing is often looked down upon or not taken seriously; I found the pairing to be believable in the context presented, and not corny or sappy or ridiculous. It wasn't a quick-snap attraction, which probably helped things along, as the interaction between the protagonists developed naturally and didn't feel forced. Not once while I was reading this piece did I feel the events the author had written were unbelievable or simply incompatible with Tolkien's writing--it was a very well researched piece of writing. Overall, I enjoyed this very much.

-- Thank you so much, both for reading and reviewing! I'm always particularly pleased when someone who would normally steer clear of "that kind of story" reads *Powers* and enjoys it, since in part it was the torrent of appalling Legomance after the first LoTR movie came out that spurred me to start writing it, and try to prove that my favourite character *could* have a convincing romance - even, maybe, with a mortal woman. The need to make the premise work against the odds did, it's true, require a very slow burn, and ended up taking me in and out of just about every plot twist of LoTR itself, so I'm glad all the research paid off in terms of you finding it canon-compatible! Most of all, I'm grateful you took the time to read a 50-chapter epic during MEFA season, and delighted you enjoyed what you found.

Reviewed by: Erulisse -- Score: 6

I don't recall exactly when I first saw APCW. I suspect it was a chapter posted to HASA, but the where is far less important than the fact that I did and I was hooked on a single chapter. After reading the one, I had to go back and read it from the beginning, and from then on waited for each additional chapter. Her characters, both canon and original, are well-rounded, believable, and experience true emotions. The actions by those characters run the gamut from thoughtful to unbelievably stupid for all the right reasons. Sometimes you want to reach through the screen and shake some sense into them. But after all of the trials and tribulations, life still lies ahead of them and love exists. The author is still writing occasional gap fillers for this uni and I welcome each and every one. Well worth the read and a triumph for Azalais.

-- Thank you for reviewing! As you know I'm really pleased that the story means so much to you; I love the idea that you'd like to "reach through the screen and shake some sense into" the characters, since it sounds as though they've become almost as real to you as they have to me...

Reviewed by: goldleaves -- Score: 5

Amid the Powers and Chances of the world is a beautiful and heartbreaking story about the doomed love between Legolas, a mortal, and Rowanna, a mortal. However despite the fact that they can not be together and many thought that they shouldn't, as well as mistakes they themselves make it is also a hopeful story that shows that despite normal conventions anyone can be together. This story shows how love can exist no matter what. It is written beautifully and the characterizations of Legolas and Rowanna make them believable and real and makes their emotions real to the reader.

-- Thank you so much for reading and reviewing! I'm delighted that you found P&C both heartbreaking and hopeful - it should be both. And given how implausible most readers often find Legolas/OFC romances, one of my aims was to show that it could be done believably, so it's great that you describe them as "believable and real".