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Msg# 9535

MEFA Reviews for Saturday, November 8, 2008 (Part Two) Posted by annmarwalk November 08, 2008 - 20:53:42 Topic ID# 9535
Title: Celebrity Author: Bodkin Races: Men: Minas Tirith ID: 635
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 18:28:17
Spoilers!
I love how Bodkin has managed to stitch together Aragorn's Rangering
past and his present lofty position as King of the Reunited Realms
together through a pair of chance encounters. It's true that the valet
and the maid probably have a very different view of the man they serve
than most others who live at more of a distance from him. Given
Aragorn's past, someone who, as a young lad on the road, shared a
wagon, the road, and stories with Aragorn and an injured Halbarad
would undoubtedly also have a very different view of the king of
Gondor - enough to know that you can always bait this king with curiosity!

I love the fact that Aragorn doesn't back down from the challenge, and
watching him run through all the possible ways of narrowing down when
in Middle-earth (and where) he might have met the man confronting him
was very entertaining. And while thumbing one's nose at pretension
with some well-applied elvish as cover is one way of taking a distance
from circumstance, it can be cynical; it can also be self-deceptive -
that he responds to Pelion as he does, however, shows that the Ranger
who remembers life on the road remains and is valued still in true.
There is a real difference between Aragorn and the image of the king
that so many have.

Nicely done, Bodkin!

Title: Before You Go Author: Nancy Brooke Races: Men: Minas Tirith
ID: 506
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 18:47:57
Spoilers!
Elegant and pointed, yet also filled with the anxiety of a father
hoisted on his own petard. I love the way that Denethor in defeat
nevertheless, underneath the apparently genteel nonchalance of this
conversation, is basically forcing Boromir to taste his victory as a
kind of loss by refusing to give a blessing to this venture, even if
he accepts that it must go forth. Win the argument, lose the
father-councilor: win independence, taste its bitter loneliness. Love,
undoubtedly, is the motivation, but also pain and fear, and likely
also the action of a man who has made a habit of victory where
argument is concerned.

The last three lines are perfect: there's always the temptation, if
one writes Denethor in a combative mood, to try to pull a very
traditional, clear expression of affection out of Denethor in the end,
as proof of his affections; it never works well. That his affection
for Boromir should be expressed in the last twist of the 'argument',
in a final 'distancing' that doesn't push Boromir back so much as time
itself, followed by, I imagine, a quick exit before Boromir can
respond, is just terrific. Great job, Nancy!

Title: In Passing Author: Altariel Races: Men ID: 104
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 19:01:26
Spoilers!
Altariel's Faramir is always splendid - wise, witty, passionate when
needed, and shrewd out of habit and heritage. He also spontaneously
alliterates when the story calls for it, as does the author herself.
The language is evocative, but also crisp - Altariel has the gift of
precision.

The idea of passing in its several meanings plays itself out in this
story: in passing - a chance encounter of great-grandfather and
great-grandson, and the history of chance encounters (the White Queen
who sweeps in from nowhere to change everything); the passing of time
in an irreversible direction, and the passing of stories and histories
in various forms; the passing on and bequeathing of wishes and dreams.
The passing of gifts unlooked for. Faramir and Beren negotiate all of
these passages and passings beautifully, in an interesting
demonstration that history, though inescapable, can give birth to
happy chances and newness just because of the relation to the past. I
loved the genealogy, and the fact that Faramir chooses to write back
to life his own father, and his grandfather, back to Turin in a long
line of wishes and hopes bequeathed to future (now present) generations.

Beautiful as always, Altariel - anyone who loves Gondor and especially
Faramir will enjoy this brief tale.

Title: Things as they were in all the days of my life Author:
Tanaqui Races: Men: Pre-Ring War Fixed-Length Ficlets ID: 393
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 19:22:44
Spoilers!
I think I love best Hurin's view of Denethor, and the steady descent
into Denethor's more mischievous youth. These cast a new light on him
and give him a wit and a liveliness that could rival Thorongil's.
Interesting to see that this sort of fire, when met with Thorongil's
perfectly [sanguine] temperament, is frustrated. That fits with a
certain kind of mischievous temperament, that likes to push people for
a reaction, and can't fathom or bear getting none.

Entertaining, witty, tragic in places - thanks, Tanaqui!

Title: A Fitting Occupation Author: Radbooks Races: Men: Pre-Ring
War Fixed-Length Ficlets ID: 601
Reviewer: Imhiriel 2008-11-08 20:47:21
A charming story, with very likeable characters and a good set-up. I
thought that Radbooks sketched a very credible picture of Bard and his
family, extrapolating from the few widely-scattered hints we have in
canon to show them as an unconvential royal family.

The story flows smoothly from drabble to drabble, making a cohesive
whole. I liked the alternating PoVs.

Title: There and Back Author: Dana Races: Cross-Cultural:
Fixed-Length Ficlets ID: 89
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 21:55:50
Spoilers!
Nice paired drabble, and using a pair of friends who don't get as much
attention as they deserve. Pippin and Beregond aren't paralleled, here
- rather, Beregond's view of Pippin's hardiness on the way back from
the Black Gate contrasts interestingly with Pippin's worried
perspective on the way to the Gate. One comes out of the pair of
drabbles wondering whose view is more in tune with reality at any
given moment, but glad of both.

As always, Dana gives her characters a wonderful immediacy - the prose
is streamlined and the present tense puts you right up close to the
characters so that we can feel their emotions, yet they remain
tactfully understated.

Thanks, Dana!

Title: A Little Misunderstanding Author: Radbooks Races:
Cross-Cultural: Elves and Men ID: 275
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 22:14:43
Spoilers!
Anything with Halbarad in it is usually enough to get my attention.
Writing the character at this age makes for an interesting change when
it comes to dealing with Elladan and Elrohir: the close relationship
between Aragorn and Halbarad is already in place, though of course, it
is a child's relationship, viewed through a child's eyes. And when one
little boy suddenly disappears with some Elves, Halbarad's reaction to
those same Elves is all too believable.

It's a sweet story, between grief and relief - well done!

Title: A Meeting in the Tower Hills Author: Imhiriel Races:
Cross-Cultural: Fixed-Length Ficlets ID: 374
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 22:18:43
Spoilers!
There's something delicious in the idea that the first real
breakthrough in communication between the Numenoreans and the Men of
Middle-earth should be halting renditions of spooky stories that,
instead of terrifying the listeners, make them laugh this time with
wonder instead!



Title: Parting Gifts Author: Fiondil Races: Cross-Cultural:
Post-Ring War ID: 452
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 22:30:49
Spoilers!
[Parting Gifts] brings elven-mortal friendships right to their most
poignant point: the death of one, while the other lives on. Gimli's
matter-of-factness and grace in the face of death, and his sense of
humor set him clearly apart from Legolas, who for once is at a loss -
Gimli's parting gift to him is clearly needed.

Balancing grief with humor, pain with joy is difficult, but Fiondil
manages the feat. The afterlife scenes are amusing, but also
reassuring for readers that friendships do not end in death. Not in
Middle-earth, at least.



Title: Seas of Fate Author: Thundera Tiger Races: Cross-Cultural:
Elves and Men ID: 487
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 22:40:34
Spoilers!
Thundera Tiger has always had her eye on elven sea-longing, and it has
played and continues to play a role in her development of Legolas's
character during the Fourth Age. Usually, however, she writes him with
Gimli or Aragorn or one of the Fellowship, any of whom have good
reason to try to steer him away from the sea. Imrahil is just
disinterested enough, and just akin enough for a mortal Man, to be
able to recognize necessity when he sees it and to respond when it
asks a favor of him, and trust that Legolas can learn to [ride the
waves] of his life.

In a way, that's really the heart of the story for me: the sea-fate
analogy provides the problem, but the solution in some sense is trust
and discernment. That Legolas turns to Imrahil says a lot about his
friendships elsewhere, and that Imrahil can do what perhaps those
other friends cannot, says much of him as well, and his ability to
respond to needs both like and unlike his own.

Fans of Elves and Men, and especially of Legolas and Imrahil, should
enjoy this.

Title: Fit for a King Author: Imhiriel Times: Fourth Age and
Beyond: Fixed-Length Ficlets ID: 217
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 22:49:35
Spoilers!
Oh dear! Aragorn, meet Indiana Jones: [You are named after the dog?!]
Granted, it's not quite the same, but the fact that Shadowfax's
last-sired son should have decided on this particular name over all
others...?

Short, sweet, and packs a good chortle at Aragorn's expense!

Title: Old Friends Author: Marta Times: Fourth Age and Beyond:
Fixed-Length Ficlets ID: 651
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 22:54:40
Spoilers!
Whenever Gimli arrives in Valinor, it's always an event - canonically
and fanonically. Marta gives us a view that takes up that event as a
sort of rejuvenation: that sprint at the end is so very telling, and
it says more than perhaps anything else could have that the long years
of labor in Middle-earth, subject to death and the whim of time, have
had an effect on Gandalf.

Thanks, Marta!

Title: Forfeit Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn) Times: Late Third
Age: Gondor Drabbles ID: 401
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 23:05:18
Spoilers!
I can't resist something that screams [Crito] this loudly. We see so
few children in Middle-earth - really, only one, and that one is
hardly in a position any child should be in. He would, of course, be
the one child whose father had to go and fall afoul of the law in such
a way as to earn the death penalty.

Beregond's position is absolutely unenviable: caught between the law
and what he believes is right, he cannot make a choice that will not
hugely impact his son. In some sense, he is between Bergil and
Faramir, and he has to choose Faramir.

Here we see him with another choice: and while on the one hand, it may
seem as though Beregond is acting to preserve his honor, there's also
a sense, thanks to that last line, that he is also thinking of Bergil
when he makes his decision. Is it the case that Bergil's opinion is
one of those rarest of things: a good opinion worth preserving, rather
than one of the many that can be set aside?

Those who like side-views into characters' heads, and who find
themselves wishing that Tolkien had written more about Beregond and
Bergil will want to give this drabble a reading.

Title: What Goes Up Author: Dana Times: Late Third Age: Gondor
Drabbles ID: 683
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 23:11:29
I love the juxtaposition of lofty aspirations (literally) and high
questions about the direction of life and fate, and the feeling of
distance, with the very simple solution. Great comic timing in just
one hundred words, and even funnier when one has the image of Pippin's
double-take from the film firmly in mind.

Title: Horse Sense Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn) Genres: Humor:
Elven Lands ID: 22
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 23:19:23
Spoilers!
An unusual 'cross-cultural' interaction: it appears that ponies at
least are within the scope of Gimli's affections and trust! Bill's
reactions to his new companions are amusing and horsey, and his
eye-roll is perfectly timed to get a laugh from the reader.

Well done!

Title: The Game of Kings Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn) Genres:
Humor ID: 28
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 23:25:05
Spoilers!
Branwyn's depiction of the intense chess matches at the Pony opens a
whole world - one that even Barliman Butterbur isn't sure he quite
understands.

I love the way the Ranger chess games bring all Barliman's guests
together, despite different rules for the game and different names for
the pieces. Each of these variations reveals something about the
different cultures, all of them brought together in an isolated
townstead over a game held in common.

The off-and-on again matches, taken up again just as abruptly as they
are set aside by their vagabond players, take on a nicely ironic twist
when it comes to the Rangers' name for chess: [the game of kings],
which yields the priceless last line.

Ranger fans and those who like seeing an underused character get the
observer POV should definitely give this one a read!

Title: Loudwater Author: Adaneth Times: Late Third Age: General
Fixed-Length Ficlets ID: 63
Reviewer: Dwimordene 2008-11-08 23:35:38
Imhiriel's request for unusual perspectives certainly brought some
fantastic drabbles to light! Adaneth writes the long winding journey
of a river from its own perspective, which is stretched out from the
first drift to the last bend around the Fords.

I love the mention of Bruinen's Master, and of the river's sensing the
concern of Ulmo, which [clots and clogs my current] in a lovely fit of
stuttering alliteration that perfectly fits the idea being conveyed.

Adaneth in her other fics has always shown herself to be a master at
capturing the landscape and infusing it with atmosphere: here, she
does it in just a hundred words that put us in the perspective of
Bruinen itself. Thanks for a great drabble!