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Msg# 9536

MEFA Reviews for Sunday, November 9, 2008 (Part One) Posted by annmarwalk November 09, 2008 - 19:36:58 Topic ID# 9536
Title: The Fire of Hope · Author: Raksha the Demon · Races: Men:
Pre-Ring War Fixed-Length Ficlets · ID: 625
Reviewer: Imhiriel · 2008-11-09 18:32:24
Lovely take on Aragorn as a young Ranger, freshly in love. You can
feel his longing for Arwen, in some ways still innocent but also with
hints of sexual passion. I very much like it that his desire for Arwen
is bound up within a greater context, that of a desire for peace and
home and family, and the expectation and acceptance that he can only
reach these goals by shouldering his duty, with perseverance and
responsibility and determination.

I like it that Aragorn isn't in the least discouraged, neither by the
daunting tasks ahead nor by the fact that Arwen ["had looked upon him
as if he were a clever child when he spoke his admiration"],
particularly as his faith somehow doesn't feel like braggadoccio, but
in faith in himself and in fate.

The descriptions of the surroundings are brief but clear, and the
contrasts between his damp, cheerless, camp, the bustling, innocuous
warmth of the Prancing Pony and its denizens in Aragorn's memories,
and his dreams for the future, play well against each other and with
each other.

Title: Lessons from the Mountain · Author: MithLuin · Races: Elves:
Incomplete · ID: 221
Reviewer: Fiondil · 2008-11-09 18:37:54
The Halls of Mandos... for some a place of rest and refreshment of the
spirit before being re-embodied, for others... for others it is a
prison from which they will never leave while Arda remains. That is
what it is for Maedhros. Yet, the story is less about his imprisonment
and more about his eventual healing as he comes to terms with his
choices during his life and learns the terrible (in the theological
sense of the word) truth about the Oath and its consequences.

With a deft hand, MithLuin creates an intriguing glimpse of a side of
Mandos one rarely sees in other tales of the elven afterlife, one that
is darker and grimmer, yet this is apropos to the entire theme of the
story. Still, the interaction of Maedhros with his brothers as well as
with Namo, Vaire and their Maiar are not devoid of humor either. The
characters are both believable and sympathetic in spite of the fact
that these are kinslayers who committed atrocities against their
fellow elves all for an Oath that should never have been uttered. Namo
and Vaire are also portrayed as three dimensional characters with
depths to them that are only hinted at, making them even more
intriguing as they interact with Maedhros and the other elves under
their care. MithLuin literally keeps you on the edge of your seat
wondering what will happen to Maedhros and the others next and I for
one am looking forward to reading the rest of the story some day.

Title: Tales of the Eldandili · Author: Alassiel · Genres: Drama:
Incomplete · ID: 502
Reviewer: Fiondil · 2008-11-09 18:57:31
Faery... we've all heard of it... read about it... dreamt it... and
how many of us would consider ourselves blessed to find our way to it?
Well, not everyone, as we learn from this wonderful tale about the
coming together after long ages of separation of the Firstborn and the
Secondborn of Iluvatar as they seek to combat the powers of darkness
that continue to plague Middle-earth even into our own times. Alassiel
has begun (and hopefully will continue) a wonderful series of
interwoven stories about humans who discover that they are Eldandili,
elf-friends, and are recruited to help bring the knowledge of the
Valar to an unsuspecting world in preparation for the end-time war
that all know is coming. For all who love tales about the interaction
between humans and their elder kin, this is a worthy series to read.

Title: Vodka · Author: Ford of Bruinen · Times: First Age and Prior:
House of Finwe · ID: 714
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 19:06:09
"Vodka" considers not Maedhros's recovery after Thangorodrim but
Maglor's, as the principal bearer of blame for his house's failure to
attempt rescue. An insightful story that pits Maedhros's practicality
against Maglor's emotions, it connects Maedhros's captivity and his
brothers' (lack of) response with another major Noldorin event in that
age: the Noldolante. This is the first that I've seen these two events
so strongly connected--and beautifully done at that! A skillfully
written and insightful story, it is well worth the read.

Title: The Skills That Keep You Alive · Author: Gwynnyd · Times: Mid
Third Age · ID: 434
Reviewer: Dwimordene · 2008-11-09 20:02:00
I remember getting this prompt for the Alphabet Challenge and drawing
a complete blank. "J" was one of the harder prompts, I think, but
Gwynnyd fortunately found inspiration in it.

Glorfindel's demonstration of juggling with sharp pointy objects as a
way of teaching an impatient young boy a lesson is classic, although
also mixed with some pretty gruesome ideas. Aragorn's youthful
rebellion, and his willingness to use his [helplessness] to play to
the prejudices of age and (probably) being Elvish is just right for a
child his age.

Clearly, the lesson given long ago sinks in, and we get treated to the
opening of a bit of sideshow camp acting one usually doesn't think of
in the same context as the name 'Aragorn.' Great fun, inspired use of
"Fëanor's jewels"!

Title: Lost and Found · Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn) · Times: Mid
Third Age · ID: 23
Reviewer: Dwimordene · 2008-11-09 20:10:30
Branwyn takes what would be a sweetly amusing study of the
relationship of two characters and turns a few allusions that give it
a much more weighty significance in light of the larger story.

A very young Faramir and Gandalf make for great interaction: Faramir's
precociousness and Gandalf's ability to see the worth in whatever
confronts him and be grateful to them for their surprises and lessons
are both at the forefront of the story. I loved this exchange:

[The boy pointed down the aisle. "We must go through Poetry and
Ballistics to get to the lower archive."

"That sounds like a highly dangerous course, but I have great faith in
my guide," the wizard said as he hurried after him.]

Great humor, that is jarred slightly by the uneasy presence of
Denethor, another scholar but one whose interest, though unguessed by
the characters at this time, is far more sinister than a boy's, as
well the reader knows. I liked the paralleling of Denethor and Faramir
that Branwyn creates, making both of them frustrated scholars forced
to fight a war rather than do the more humane work that their talents
best suit them to.

Great fun, Gondor fans and Gandalf fans will certainly enjoy this!

Title: House of Ransom · Author: Robinka · Races: Elves: Drabbles ·
ID: 657
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 20:23:06
Oh, Turin ... I can imagine poor Beleg's frustration! As always,
Robinka gets Beleg spot-on in this drabble.

Title: The War of Wrath · Author: Tanaqui · Races: Elves: Drabbles ·
ID: 120
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 20:26:20
Tanaqui, I am impressed: not only fitting such a scene into 100 words
but doing so in metered, rhymed poetry! Amidst all of this, you also
fit in some lovely imagery (["His shield a field of mirrored gold, /
His sword a stabbing point ablaze"]) in a form that feels very true to
the Vanyar.

Title: I Ain't Got Nobody · Author: Ignoble Bard · Genres: Humor:
Valar & Maiar · ID: 568
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 20:34:44
This is a tremendously funny story in which Glorfindel continues
meeting ridiculous ends, only to require re-embodiment *again* by
Namo. But the premise alone is not what makes this story such a hoot
but the addition of certain charming details, such as ["Námo tossed
the tea towel under him just before his butt hit the naugahyde"] or
Namo's near asphyxiation on a strand of dental floss after being
surprised yet again by dead!Glorfindel. And the nonchalant tone
throughout the whole piece adds to its effectiveness ... as well as
serving as a nice contrast to the usual introspective and ponderous
tone of stories about Mandos and re-embodiment (many of which this
reviewer has authored). This story is one that makes me laugh again
and again, no matter how many times I read it and has definitely
earned its place as one of my favorite Silmarillion humor pieces.

Title: I Married for Love · Author: Ford of Bruinen · Genres: Poetry ·
ID: 661
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 20:40:58
This is a lovely and poignant poem that looks at Indis's marriage to
Finwe from her point of view. As the title says, she married for love,
but as the poem progresses, the tone grows sadder and the reader sees
how she comes to regard that love as largely unrequited; the
repetition shows how Indis's love for husband doesn't change, even as
her understanding of his love for her does. Stanzas like, ["I married
for love / And I cried in silence and hurt and shame / When her son
lifted / His sword against a brother and the father / Left with the
one who wronged"], show a perspective not often seen in Silmfic, where
many writers tend to favor the Feanorians and Indis receives either
disregard or animosity. This poem is not only well crafted but strikes
that emotional chord that good poetry does; it is highly recommended!

Title: The Lowest Circle · Author: Tanaqui · Races: Elves: Drabbles ·
ID: 449
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 20:44:16
Far from the usual physical torments of stories concerned with the
makings of Orcs, this drabble looks at the psychological shifts,
especially as they relate to darkness and light. This is a very nicely
done and insightful--and chilling!--look at one of Tolkien's more
horrific ideas.

Title: The Pillar Perished Is · Author: Imhiriel · Times: First Age
and Prior: House of Finwe · ID: 356
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 20:53:49
In this story, Imhiriel takes the interpretation that Feanor was
primarily motivated in his actions by his love for Finwe--not for the
Silmarils--and builds a moving story around this idea, as Feanor sails
for Middle-earth. Her use of repetition and introspection show very
well the internal anguish Feanor feels, and the sporadic use of lines
from a poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt only intensify what is already a
heart-breaking story.

Title: Pride and Despair: A Defense of Ecthelion's Son · Author: Marta
· Genres: Non-Fiction: Character Studies · ID: 624
Reviewer: Dwimordene · 2008-11-09 20:58:16
You get the Geek Medal of Obsessiveness for this one, Marta!

Marta's Denethor is to me enigmatic - I remember some early postings
on Denethor that she'd made at HA, and disagreeing with them (but then
there was Homework, and I never got a chance to respond), but I've
never tried to sit down with her work, put all the fics with Denethor
in them on my screen, and figure out how she perceives him, how she
reads what Tolkien gives us. And now, I am spared the task, because
she's given us her analysis of Denethor and that gives me a fairly
comprehensive view of how she reads him, and what she thinks are the
strengths and weaknesses of her own reading. Honesty and insight -
what more can you ask for in an essay?

Overall, I find that Marta's reading of Denethor is plausible, if not
totally convincing to me on every point. But the care and the number
of connections and extrapolations she's able to make based on a close
reading of what Tolkien gave us, is impressive and thoughtful. The
family dynamics imputed to him in the [Early Years] section, and how
they might have played into his reaction to Thorongil are excellent
and give me a reason to think it might be worth it to play with the
option of Denethor as not an only child (my default readings of him).
She goes straight into the thicket of misery that is the infamous ["Do
you wish, then, that our places had been exchanged?"] exchange and I
can see her point, especially when she pulls from the annotated drafts
Tolkien left us. I'm still not totally convinced there's not room to
play more on that ["our"] in the above line, but she makes a good case
for drawing back from the horrible notion that Denethor might wish
Faramir dead.

So in the end, this is a good, well-planned, reasonably argued essay.
I don't agree with all of it - there are portions where I'd want to
nitpick some words and see what comes out of them - but it is
insightful and can only help us to get a better idea of who Denethor
was and what our own relationships with him are. Thank you, Marta! A+!

Title: Celevon a Mallen · Author: Tanaqui · Genres: Romance: Other
Fixed-Length Ficlets · ID: 279
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 21:01:08
Across the totality of Galadriel and Celeborn's relationship in
Middle-earth, Tanaqui gives glimpses of important moments in their
lives. More important than her wisdom in selecting these moments is
the skill with which she brings them alive and makes each drabble a
lovely, moving depiction of one of Middle-earth's greatest loves.

Title: Baker's Dozen · Author: Tanaqui · Genres: Drama: General
Fixed-Length Ficlets · ID: 372
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 21:07:53
A very clever series--I am a sucker for stories that don't flinch at
looking at how life on Arda *really* was. Some of these drabbles are
funny, others thought-provoking, but well worth the read!

Title: No Mercy · Author: Tanaqui · Genres: Drama: General Drabbles ·
ID: 443
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 21:10:23
Working with just 100 words, Tanaqui does an admirable job of bringing
this scene to life, contrasting the green fields with the fires
wrought by the Enemy. Nicely done!

Title: Love at First Sight · Author: Gwynnyd · Races: Elves: Other
Fixed-Length Ficlets · ID: 432
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 21:13:17
Although a sweet ficlet (and spot-on with regards to Feanor's
fascination with the light, I think!), this tribble carries with it
darker undertones of what is yet to come to the House of Finwe. The
last line, though, keeps me firmly in this moment of joy.

Title: Miquan Melave · Author: Marta · Genres: Romance · ID: 319
Reviewer: Dwimordene · 2008-11-09 21:28:09
I hadn't had a chance to read this fic until MEFAs - let me
congratulate you for managing to get 'fuck' into the first line of a
story... and in true geek style, fucking with us by forcing us to get
to the actual fucking through its symbolizing of a cultural-linguistic
difference that stirs intellectual curiosity at least as much as
passion in Boromir. Bonus kudos for having the Rohirric verb signify a
connotation the English word tends to lack.

That connotative layering of [fukken] is what gets us into the
ambiguous space of a relationship that Gondor thinks should not exist
- or if it exists, it has to exist without the significance that it
proudly has in Rohan. Sex is ambiguous - is it lust or is it something
more? Boromir seems quite torn between wanting to believe Théodred and
a fascinating retelling of the Mithrellas-Imrazor story, and being
crushed by a culture and a war that reflects back to him no sign of
his own desire, which is rendered opaque on the one hand and on the
other, inadequate to the emotional need of the day, at least as far as
Boromir can [see]. What he feels, however, what he seems nevertheless
to be committed meaningfully to at the end of the day, may be quite
different, as the last line nicely suggests.

Thanks for an interesting read, Marta!

Title: Burdens · Author: Meril · Genres: Drama: General Fixed-Length
Ficlets · ID: 219
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 21:33:28
There is a rather famous piece of original fiction called "The Things
They Carried" that reminds me of Allie's "Burdens." Both stories are
equally successful in showing everything from the characters' pasts to
their hopes and expectations communicated via the items the characters
carry. Allie has done a great job of selecting items that show these
multiple meanings and convey the weight of deeds behind and the hopes
of the future before the Noldor; in fact, she does better with this in
this series than many stories do in more explicit narratives. Also,
Allie doesn't just show the Noldorin perspective but hints at the
Telerin point-of-view as well, giving this series an appreciable
depth. "A Necklace" will always be my favorite: It has that punch that
make ficlets really work for me as a reader. A wonderful series, this
comes most highly recommended!

Title: The Sky Is Over · Author: Robinka · Races: Elves: Drabbles · ID: 83
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 21:36:27
I love the concept of this drabble: showing Finrod's reaction to the
doom-filled words he has himself spoken regarding his future and what
will remain for his heirs. His surprise at the solidity of his fate is
sad to contemplate but very believable. And the last line is simply

Title: Taking Roots · Author: Imhiriel · Genres: Romance: Drabbles ·
ID: 367
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 21:38:52
This drabble is so full of hope ... and it reminds me of my husband's
and my first forays in planting! Galadriel's unease feels entirely
right to me and Celeborn's reassurance is just lovely.

Title: There shall be Mirth at our Meeting · Author: Imhiriel ·
Genres: Humor: Drabbles · ID: 377
Reviewer: Dwimordene · 2008-11-09 21:40:20
I am quite in agreement with Bronwen - what's not to like? And either
he's cunning or he's got a good sense of humor - definitely likable!

Good fun, Imhiriel - thanks for getting that lovely smile and laugh to
a well-deserved center stage.

Title: Old Friends · Author: Marta · Times: Fourth Age and Beyond:
Fixed-Length Ficlets · ID: 651
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 21:42:08
There is such warmth in this drabble: On the shores of the sea, the
sight of old friends nonetheless revitalizes one who is both old and
contemplating his purposes. The drabble is written with Marta's usual
skill and eloquent style. Well done!

Title: Wave-Singer · Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn) · Genres:
Alternate Universe: Drabbles · ID: 33
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 21:45:48
This is a simply wonderful drabble that shows what a skilled writer
can do with just a limited form. Branwyn immediately creates a sense
of character and place using just the dialogue of her narrator. The
structure of the piece allows for implied dialogue that lets her use
the drabble to its fullest form. But what works the best for me is
that final line: I love drabbles that carry a punch in their final
moments, and this one does just that incredibly well. I am glad to
have discovered this and give it my highest recommendation!

Title: Five things that never happened to Nerdanel · Author: Meril ·
Genres: Alternate Universe: Angst/Tragedy · ID: 389
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-09 21:49:48
Allie frequently writes incredibly insightful pieces by using rather
experimental forms, and in showing five things that *did not* happen
to Nerdanel, she shows much about the character and the events that
did. Her passion for Feanor, her strength, her loyalty to what she
believed was right--her fate?--are all underscored by Allie's exercise
in what might have been ... and wasn't. Very nicely done!