Yahoo Forum Archive

This is an archive of the MEFA Yahoo Group, which was shut down by Yahoo in 2019. The archive can be sorted by month and by topic ID. You can use your browser to search by keyword within the month or topic you have open.


Msg# 9594

MEFA Reviews for Sunday, November 30, 2008 (Morning Set, Part Three) Posted by annmarwalk November 30, 2008 - 5:53:02 Topic ID# 9594
Title: The King's Colors · Author: Dwimordene · Genres: Alternate
Universe: Steward's Family · ID: 482
Reviewer: Nancy Brooke · 2008-11-29 14:49:24
This work uses its Alternate Universe to great benefit, changing only
one thing in order to see everything else familiar in a brand new
light. And what we are shown is a wonderfully incisive, character
revealing moment, well imagined and ringing true. I particularly
appreciated how Boromir's character is shown tired, distrusting, and
grieving yet faithful and true, while Aragorn's character is replete
with a little careful power maneuvering, and compassion. To create one
such complicated character is an achievement, two is a feat.

Title: No Man's Land · Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn) · Genres:
Alternate Universe: Drabbles · ID: 726
Reviewer: Dwimordene · 2008-11-29 14:51:21
A sobering possibility - writers like Wilfred Owen remind us by their
work, fortunately saved, that there must have been so many young
artists devoured by war before they could ever give birth to their
creations. We can't even miss them, since we don't know who they were
or what they had in mind.

A thoughtful drabble that makes you think about the fact that you are
here, electronically among others, writing reviews for work that came
of one man's story.

Title: A Dream Come True · Author: Lady Bluejay · Genres: Romance:
Gondor · ID: 162
Reviewer: Nancy Brooke · 2008-11-29 15:06:28
Lovely as always. LBJ's Eomer/Lothiriel romances are always charming,
fun and sweet, but never treacly or cliche.

Title: A Harmony In Autumn · Author: Oshun · Genres: Romance: Elven
Lands · ID: 49
Reviewer: pandemonium_213 · 2008-11-29 15:27:13
[A Harmony in Autumn], the title alluding to a passage in Percy Bysshe
Shelley's poem, [Hymn to Intellectual Beauty], contains all the
hallmarks of what I have come to expect -- and enjoy immensely -- in
Oshun's distinctive approach to Middle-earth and Aman: detailed
settings, rich dialogue, well-rounded characters, heated eroticism,
politics and family dynamics.

Although written for a Slashy Santa exchange, and thereby containing
the requisite erotica, [A Harmony in Autumn] is far more than the
consummation of Glorfindel and
Ecthelion's relationship. This occurs in the backdrop of Turgon's
decision to take his people who are willing to follow him and remove
to the confines of the Encircling Mountains. This situation -- that
Ecthelin, as well as Idril, Glorfindel's kinswoman here, will follow
Turgon -- places Glorfindel at a decision point. And it is a complex
one. Fingon's fireside conversation triggers Glorfindel's memories of
a concert in Tirion, lending Oshun a neat device to take the reader
back to a halcyon time for the Noldor.

Highlights for me were the description of the autumn woods, the
approach to Vinyamar by the ocean, the prickly familial and political
interactions between Turgon and Fingon, the sketch of Ecthelion's back
story and the characters of Ecthelion and Glorfindel and *especially*
the latter's skepticism. Oshun is well aware of my rather embarrassing
fangirlishness (fancrone-ishness) when it comes to Glorfindel, and I
love her portrayal of the character here.

I have to say that Fingon darn near steals the show, but that's hardly
surprising given his personality here and elsewhere in Oshun's work.
[A Harmony in Autumn] is neatly consistent with her other stories.

Title: Spaces in the Heart · Author: Keiliss · Races: Elves: House of
Elrond · ID: 251
Reviewer: pandemonium_213 · 2008-11-29 15:28:14
Continuing this morning with my shameless Glorfindelism, I thoroughly
enjoyed Keiliss' [Spaces in the Heart] which dovetails beautifully
with her excellent novel [Even Quicker Than Doubt]. In [Spaces in the
Heart], the author takes the reader to Glorfindel's first meeting with
Elrond, a meeting that will reverberate through two Ages of Middle-earth.

Kei has a particular talent for interweaving the real (as real as
anything can be in Middle-earth, but I think it feels "real" for many
of us or we wouldn't be writing fan fic) with the uncanny realms of
the otherworldly. she does that here in describing Glorfindel's early
days in Lindon with Círdan, addressing his state after reincarnation
by the Valar and his return (neatly described) to the shores of
Middle-earth. The first two paragraphs of this short story are
stunning in this regard, and her description of the vessel that
Glorfindel is found in is understated but gives an allusion to the
strange nature of the perilous realm of the Valar.

Glorfindel's recollections of Gondolin -- an architectural beauty with
structured gardens -- are very satisfying to this reader, and Kei uses
these to contrast the new environment.

All in all, a good story combined with a fascinating thought exercise
from the viewpoint of one who has died but returned.

Title: An Elf-lord Revealed · Author: Tanaqui · Times: Multi-Age:
Fixed-Length Ficlets · ID: 406
Reviewer: pandemonium_213 · 2008-11-29 15:29:38
Tanaqui crafts her vignettes of Glorfindel as carefully as an
elven-smith might a string of beads on a necklace. Although all are
written well, little stories in and of themselves that offer glimpses
into this canon icon's life, [Fulfillment] -- the piece that describes
Eowyn's interaction with Glorfindel (a meeting that surely must have
happened) and [Comparing Notes] -- Gandalf and Glorfindel's droll
comparison of a fearsome foe -- are my favorites. The implication of a
string of lives within an indefinite lifespan is a neat theme that
comes out here.

Title: I Ain't Got Nobody · Author: Ignoble Bard · Genres: Humor:
Valar & Maiar · ID: 568
Reviewer: pandemonium_213 · 2008-11-29 15:30:20
[I Ain't Got Nobody] is trademark Ignoble Bard humor. IgB riffs off of
Tolkien's writings in the [Peoples of Middle-earth] of Glorfindel's
reincaration. Here Glorfindel's feä returns..and returns and the Laboratory, err, make that *Halls* of Mandos, which
exasperates Námo (hilariously so) to no end. I don't want to spoil the
fun so I'll just say the quips made me laugh out loud, and that
there's a truly hootworthy scene which is a send-up of slashiness and
involves a tapestry. Only Ignoble Bard could come up with that one.

Title: The Importance of Being Bilbo · Author: Dreamflower · Genres:
Non-Fiction: Character Studies · ID: 686
Reviewer: Virtuella · 2008-11-29 15:41:51
What a very interesting essay! You'll know by now that I'm always
looking for what you call the "story-external" and what I call the
"structural" issues, and I was surprised at what you unearthed here in
the way of similarities between The Hobbit and LOTR. Coming to think
of it, there are also similarities in themes, most notably the idea
that the different races of Middle-earth need to overcome their
estrangement in order to overcome evil.
As far as the story-internal side is concerned, I have always thought
it one of the weaknesses of the LOTR plot that the timescales covered
are so little convincing. What I mean is mostly that a whole seventeen
years pass after Bilbo's party, during which Gandals seems to amble
about finding tidbits of information, and then all of a sudden Frodo
leaves basically the minute a Black Rider comes to his doorstep. That
kind of coinicdence seems a bit contrived to me, as does the whole
fact that the hobbits escape at all, particulalry after the events in
Bree. But I'm getting side-tracked. The role of Bilbo as a tutor for
Frodo is certainly a crucial one, and I would like to add that Bilbo
also functions as a link between Elves, Dwarves and Men, which again
nicely connects to the theme I mentioned above.

Title: Like Roses over a Fence · Author: Ellie · Times: First Age and
Prior: House of Finwe · ID: 110
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-29 15:56:25
The wives of the House of Finwe often bear a lot of the blame by fans
for what transpired in their families. Ellie's "Like Roses over a
Fence" takes on the issue directly and has Nerdanel, Indis, and Anaire
ask: to what extent do they bear blame for the fall of the Noldor? The
conversation between them is sadly revealing, but what is most
important is what comes of it. They decide that, in their husbands'
absences, they will work to better and reunite the Eldar in Aman. What
a lovely tribute to three women who often, unfairly, bear the blame
for the impetuosity and irresponsibility of the men in their lives.

Title: Wars of the Valar · Author: Fiondil · Genres: Longer Works · ID: 3
Reviewer: rhyselle · 2008-11-29 15:59:00
Fiondil goes waaaaaaaay back in the history of Arda--even before Arda
exists for this story. It's a history of the physical creation of Ea
by the Valar, but it's no dry retelling of the Ainulindale or the
Valaquenta. The main character is Namo, the Doomsman of the Valar and
the Lord of Mandos, but this is a young Namo, uncertain and unsure of
himself as he faces the immense task of Creation with his brethren
Valar, We see all of them as the forerunners of the personalities that
we find in Elf Interrupted and Fiondil's other Valar stories, and it
is utterly engrossing to see the development and growth of Namo
through the spiritual and physical trials he undergoes as Melkor, who
wishes to take control of Arda and make it his, interferes with the
building of the reality of the Vision of the Themes of Iluvatar.

Fiondil has managed to take the mythic events from the Ainulindale in
the Silmarillion and blend them with physics, astronomy, mathematics,
and wonderful interpretations of the personalities of the Valar to
create a tale that is literally cosmic in scope, and heartfelt in the
intimate way we come to know each of Atar's Children of his Thought.

In particular, the story focuses on Namo, who is eventually destined
to become the Lord of Mandos, keeper of the fëa of the dead, and the
Judge of the Firstborn. But here, he isn't the intimidating Doomsman,
but a young Ayanuz, gradually learning about himself and the callings
he is destined to fulfill as Ea comes into existence.

The opening scene just caught me up, and was a perfect way of showing
the impulsive, youthful Namo, who, were he a mortal teenager would
likely be described as an adrenaline junkie! Riding the shock wave of
a supernova thrills him even as he grieves at the star's destruction.
Unfortunately it also turns out to be a trap, as Melkor--who from the
very beginning of Ea's existence, has sought power and dominion over
not just the slowly growing cosmos, but also over his younger siblings
in the Thought of Ilúvatar--tries to corner him and entice him to
abandon Manwe and Atar to follow him. Much of the first third of this
in progress tale is wrapped up in Melkor's efforts to corrupt the
younger, frequently insecure Namo, and Namo's efforts to hold true to
his love of and loyalty to Atar and the great Vision that the Valar
are building. Some of it is literally heartbreaking, but as gold is
refined in the fire, so Namo is likewise refined through his
suffering, until we can clearly see where he gets his great compassion
for the suffering of others, as well as his ability to rightly judge
those who come to his Halls.

All of the Valar are inexperienced as they enter Ea, although some,
such as Manwe and Varda are older in the Thought of Ilúvatar than the
rest. They are fired by the vision that Eru showed them, but taking a
vision and turning it into reality is a lot more complicated than they
thought it would be, and some truly memorable mistakes are made along
the way—such as Varda's black holes and brown dwarfs. This makes for
many moments of humor amid the seriousness that is the ongoing
conflict of light and dark, good and evil, order and chaos. Fiondil's
placement of these bright moments is always appropriate, breaking just
enough tension to keep the griefs from becoming unbearable, but not
turning it into inappropriate slap stick.

His linguistic expertise is very present in this story, introducing us
to the language of the Valar. Valarin has fewer attested words than
Tolkien left us for Quenya and Sindarin, but Fiondil has used his
knowledge well, even though the Valarin names for Arda and the other
planets of the solar system as well as for the Maiar are amazingly
tongue-twisting. I thank him for his author's notes to remind us of
what Valarin words mean, and for the growing character list at the end
of the ongoing tale.

But universe building aside, my favorite part of Wars of the Valar is
watching the slowly developing romance between Namo and Vaire. When he
finally proposes to her, I wanted to get up and dance and crow along
with him [Atar! She said yes!]

A wonderful story, and as much as I want to see it finished, part of
me wishes that it would go on and on, one delicious chapter after
another. Well done, Fiondil!

Title: Wedding Nerves · Author: Jay of Lasgalen · Times: Late Third
Age: Gondor · ID: 48
Reviewer: Radbooks · 2008-11-29 16:02:01
This is a thoroughly enjoyable little story. I love the idea of a
stressed Aragorn on his wedding day who, after seventy long years,
just wants to get married and yet all of the new courtiers in his life
won't even let him get dressed on his own! It seems a symbol of so
many changes in his life. Leave it to his two brothers to come and
'rescue' him. As in many of Jay's stories, I love the humor and yet
the underlying love that shines through the twins' relationships with
Aragorn. Nicely done!

Title: PROPHECY: Changing the Future · Author: Fiondil · Genres: Humor
· ID: 11
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-29 16:07:20
This story offers a clever possibility for how the many complicated
tales and histories and songs in the HoMe became a neat and tidy (and
sometimes wrong!) Silmarillion, told with Fiondil's usual light touch
where the Valar are concerned. The Second Prophecy of Mandos is one of
my favorite snippets that Tolkien wrote that didn't make it into The
Silmarillion, and I, too, am always intrigued by its meaning. This was
an inventive way to work it into a story! Definitely a fun read.

Title: Nightfall · Author: Jael · Times: Second and Early Third Age ·
ID: 87
Reviewer: Elena Tiriel · 2008-11-29 16:12:45
Jael's story "Nightfall" describes the events surrounding a skirmish
in the Last Alliance, when Thranduil leads two groups of Silvan
archers, disguised as Orcs, on an extremely dangerous mission to the
Morannon to pick off the Orc captains and make the storming of the
gate possible.

The two main characters are Thranduil, made King of Mirkwood after his
father's recent death, and Galion, the butler mentioned in The Hobbit,
who is Thranduil's friend and personal esquire.

I enjoy the pictures that Jael paints with her words. Both the
physical and the emotional landscape seem very bleakly realistic for
such a horrific, long-term siege environment.

Both Thranduil and Galion are three-dimensional characters, who are
struggling to figure out how to act now that one is king. Their
emotions range from grimly humorous to tired but elated to desolate as
the terrible events of this story unfold... but they can still find
comfort in their lifetime friendship.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. Well done!

Title: GOBLINS: The Herald's Summons · Author: Fiondil · Times: First
Age and Prior · ID: 53
Reviewer: Radbooks · 2008-11-29 16:28:47
I really enjoyed this glimpse of what it might have been like for
those fighting at the War of Wrath. How horrible it must have been for
the ones from Aman especially... they had not known war (I\\\'m not
counting the Kin-Slaying!) and they came to Middle-Earth at the behest
of the Valar and it must have been truly horrible for them. Of course,
war is horrible for anyone.

Then there is the whole conversation between Eonwe and the three elves
about the exiles going home after the war and my heart just broke at
Arafinwe\\\'s pain as he learned about Gladriel being banned from
returning to Aman. A horrible thing for a father to hear when his sons
have already died. Not that it was easy for Gladriel, either! I loved
how you portrayed Celeborn here and his oath to Eonwe was nice.

Another very nice story from a wonderful author.

Title: Diamonds For Forever I, II & III · Author: Elen Kortirion ·
Genres: Romance: Other Fixed-Length Ficlets · ID: 515
Reviewer: Elena Tiriel · 2008-11-29 16:33:51
Elen Kortirion's drabble trio, "Diamonds for Forever", is about some
jewels of the state of Gondor, and how they changed as they passed
through different hands.

The descriptions here are evocative. Phrases like [he loved the
silence... the only sound the crunch of his boots breaking the
sparkling snow, sunlit and glinting] set the scene vividly. Each
Steward in the first two drabbles creates jewels that are suited to
his personality and that of his bride, like Ecthelion I's winter-bare
tree branches for a northern bride. Denethor II wanted something
different, but his bride from Dol Amroth like the original, which
reminded her of her home. But Arwen added leaves and flowers, which
remind me of the renewal of the kingdom under Elessar.

There are many layers to these drabbles, and they are creative in
their conception. I enjoyed reading them.

Well done!

Title: The Last Messenger: A Tale of Numenor · Author: Fiondil ·
Times: Second and Early Third Age · ID: 8
Reviewer: rhyselle · 2008-11-29 16:36:49
Set 24 years before the Fall, this story stars Finrod's friend,
Laurendil, from Elf Interrupted, and covers a part of the SILMARILLION
that I have never seen in fanfic before. The canon characters we meet
are fascinating but are actually somewhat peripheral to the real
action--being there mainly as the catalyst for the events that happen
to the main characters. The original characters are well drawn and
most definitely not Mary Sues. I've loved Fiondil's elves, but now
I've come to love Fiondil's interpretations of Men. The island of
Numenor itself is described so well that I can picture every scene
with vividness and wish that I could see it for real. The plotline is
very plausible, and even if a reader has not read the SIL, they will
be able to follow the events easily. Fiondil's language expertise with
Quenya and Sindarin have served him well here.

This tale although set firmly in the SILMARILLION and the last years
before the destruction of Numenor, is very much an original work of
art. Unlike Fiondil's other stories, the main characters are all
original characters of Fiondil's devising, but they seems as if they
are canon as they interact with the family of Isildur to try to rescue
a young man who had followed Isildur in the Faithful's attempt
(fortunately successful) to steal a fruit of Nimloth before the tree
was destroyed by Sauron.

Laurendil, who is life-oath-sworn to Finrod Felagund in the Elf
Interrupted stories, is called by the Valar to take a final message to
Numenor before the Valar cut off all contact with the doomed island
forever. He is reluctant to go, for it was on a trip to Numenor, one
of his dearest friends was lost and is now presumed to be in Mandos,
but obeys. His attitude towards the second born is tainted by his
grief for his friend, but he quickly learns that the young people with
whom he travels truly are Faithful to the Valar, despite their lives
being endangered by their loyalty. It is necessary to rescue the
author's namesake lest the young man betray the stricken Isilidur and
bring down the wrath of Sauron and Ar-Pharazon on the rest of the
Faithful in Romena.

The ongoing tension in the story mounts, although there are deftly
inserted bits of humor to keep the tension at a bearable level. In
particular, the name of a certain black cat comes to mind!

Of course, readers of the SILMARILLION will know that Isildur
recovered and that the Faithful survived those last years to sail on
the nine ships to Middle-earth. But as I read this story, there were
times that I truly wondered how on Arda that could happen, should
Laurendil and his companions be captured.

Like the heroes in all of Fiondil's tales, Laurendil is changed by his
experiences and grows—albeit sometimes painfully—from them. I hated to
see this story end, and I hope that one day Fiondil might go back and
write more about these original characters in their new lives in Aman
and in Middle-earth after Numenor vanishes beneath the waves.

Title: Lothíriel - The Tenth Walker, Book 2 · Author: juno_magic ·
Genres: Alternate Universe: Incomplete · ID: 567
Reviewer: Aranel Took · 2008-11-29 16:47:07
This is a work that proves that "Tenth Walker" stories do not deserve
the general scorn that is often heaped upon them, because in the hands
of a skilled writer a wonderful story can result that is just as good
as (if not better than) any canonical story.

Lothiriel is from our world and was named for the the character from
the book. She takes the place of the fictional Lothiriel in this
Middle-Earth come to life. We follow Lothiriel as she tries to fit
into this strange world. And she will have quite a bit to fit into, as
she has fallen in love with Éomer, the future king of Rohan. Culture
clashes abound, especially in the matter of Lothiriel's romance with
Eomer, which is a focus of this section of the story.

Lothiriel is an easy character to like, capable but not perfect. The
supporting original characters are given as much care and development
as any of the canon characters. The canon characters are also well
written here. Characters that are just mentioned in the Appendices are
given a backstory and a life. And all of the characters come across as
real people.

Where Juno excels is world-building, and she beautifully brings to
life the cultures of Middle-Earth, building on the (sometimes scant)
details Tolkien has already given us. I especially love her
development of Rohirric culture, which has influenced my own writing
about Rohan. There are so many details of everyday life that have
obviously been carefully researched, which helps to bring this world
to life and, more importantly, make it interesting to read.

Title: BRIDGE: Pá Valaraucar ar Námier · Author: Fiondil · Races:
Other Beings · ID: 415
Reviewer: rhyselle · 2008-11-29 16:56:44
I've never seen anyone else deal with what actually happened to
Gandalf in the time between his death and his resurrection in
Middle-earth as Gandalf the White.

Fiondil, by putting this in Olórin's POV, takes the established
routines carried out by Lord Namo in the Halls of Mandos, and shows
us, even as he shows Olorin in his judgment, just where the mistake
that led to Gandalf's death lay. Pride and arrogance are deadly sins
because they lead us to commit other sins and make other mistakes.
While in the guise of Gandalf, Olorin's pride is not the haughtiness
and arrogance displayed by Saruman, but even so, it caused him to
fall, literally and spiritually.

But, as Fiondil has taken pains to point out in all of his works, Eru
brings great good even out of evil, and through Olorin's error in how
he turned his back on the Balrog, from death, Gandalf the White was
born, to the benefit of all in Middle-earth.

And the ongoing joke in Fiondil's fics about being punished by being
promoted gets an airing too!

Title: Dragons In The Trollshaws · Author: Bodkin · Genres: Adventure
· ID: 170
Reviewer: Elena Tiriel · 2008-11-29 16:58:26
Bodkin's story is about the sons of Elrond on a mission to find a nest
of dragons living near Rivendell and posing a danger to the populace.

The brothers are capable warriors, but their grief at Celebrian's
departure makes them reckless. Glorfindel finds out about their quest
and commands a troop of warriors to find them and deal with the
problem properly.

The action is interesting, and seems well-thought-out. I enjoy the
bantering between the brothers, who are serious underneath all the
light-hearted jesting.

The interactions between characters is loving... except for the dragons!

Well done!

Title: The Wedding Gift · Author: annmarwalk · Genres: Romance: Other
Fixed-Length Ficlets · ID: 40
Reviewer: Elena Tiriel · 2008-11-29 17:06:22
Ann Marwalk's "A Wedding Gift" is a delightful glimpse into the love
of a dwarf -- Gloin, father of Gimli -- and his beautiful wife, the
original character Nandi.

I love the essential dwarvishness of this vignette. The crafting of
each bead and the necklace are described in exquisite detail, with the
emphasis on the tools and materials and craft, things that a dwarf
would find important.

And the presentation is so loving, so tender, that we see just how
similar these individuals are to those of other races... while at the
same time, how different.

This is a heart-warming vignette. Very well done!

Title: Spaces in the Heart · Author: Keiliss · Races: Elves: House of
Elrond · ID: 251
Reviewer: Dawn Felagund · 2008-11-29 17:10:39
"Spaces in the Heart" is, in many ways, a preface to the Third Age,
when Glorfindel will do a great deed in Elrond's service that will
allow the world to be rid of Sauron. Keiliss considers not only the
return of Glorfindel but the beginning of his special friendship with
Elrond that will allow for much good in the Third Age. I had not given
much thought to this relationship beyond one of duty, but this story
gives it a new and thoughtful dimension for me.

As usual, Keiliss's writing is simply breaktaking: ["Between the fire
and thunder and soul-dark terror that had been the Balrog, and the few
moments of confused waking when he had been lifted from the small,
other-worldly craft in which he had been sent back, there was simply a
pause, as though he had slept."] The imagery is vivid enough to bring
the story and its characters to life and the style one of easy grace,
almost peaceful, befitting a story about Elves in a way that few
authors can equal.

Title: Loss · Author: SurgicalSteel · Genres: Drama: Hurt/Comfort ·
ID: 196
Reviewer: pandemonium_213 · 2008-11-29 17:14:02
Tolkien allowed his readers to see the day-to-day realities of life in
Middle-earth most often through the denizens of the Shire and Bree,
but largely, as would be expected in a story of a quest, the view is
broader with fewer details of daily life. Yet there must have been
realities, both mundane and grim, in his "world with a green sun."
From his writings, we know few details of the lot of the women of
Middle-earth, whether they were of mortal Men, hobbits, the Firstborn,
or Dwarves (especially the Dwarves!) Save for this passage from
[Aldarion and Erendis] in [Unfinished Tales]:

[And though childbirth had less of ills and peril, Númenor was not an
"earthly paradise," and the weariness of labour or of all making was
not taken away.]

...we know very little of the women of Middle-earth's experience in

In [Loss], Surgical Steel illustrates the gritty reality of giving
birth when Serindë goes into labor early. Halbarard, her husband (an
appealing portrayal of this Dúnadan icon here as well as in her other
writings), must cope with a harrowing situation that escalates.

The pacing of the story is excellent. I tore through it, the build-up
of suspense and tension akin to any good drama revolving around
physicians and healthcare workers in our contemporary world. I
particularly appreciated the stark contrast between Serindë's more
sophisticated knowledge (which she is not in a position to apply
herself during this crisis) versus the local midwife (the unwashed
hands made me cringe). The characters are memorable,too, and I was
especially taken with Halbarad and Serindë's daughter and son.

Not a happy ending, but deeply emotional and satisfying one --
satisfying because Surgical Steel shines an uncompromising light on a
stark reality under the green sun of Tolkien's world.

Title: The Stolen Child · Author: SurgicalSteel · Races: Men · ID: 197
Reviewer: pandemonium_213 · 2008-11-29 17:14:45
[Loss], Surgical Steel's follow-on to [The Stolen Child], portrays the
consequences of Serindë's loss of her child and subsequent near-death.
But more accurately, the story examines the feelings and fears of a
husband who has nearly lost his beloved and yearns for her to return
to him whole. This is a poignant coda to [The Stolen Child] and one
that shows the power of love in healing.

Title: Wind and Fire · Author: elfscribe · Times: First Age and Prior
· ID: 539
Reviewer: pandemonium_213 · 2008-11-29 17:15:08
An elemental clash of titans is [Wind and Fire] and oh, what a clash
it is! Elfscribe's story of the encounter between Fëanor and Manwë is
nothing short of cataclysmic. Just short of 5000 words, this is a far
bigger story than its length would indicate.

Elfscribe's depiction of Manwë enthralled me as she deftly wove the
semi-divine (or whatever the essence of these strange beings is) with
the incarnate. Tolkien wrote at length in his works about the Valar
assuming forms like that of the Children of Iluvatar. He said they put
these on as raiment, like we would don a sweater or a dress or a suit.
However, to my life scientist's mind, assuming an actual *human body*
with its attendant physiology, which invariably links into mind and
behavior, has consequences. Elfscribe addresses this in a most
satisfying manner here as Manwë takes on a human aspect.

I also like Fëanor's portrayal here. As Moreth noted, there's an
appropriate mix of the vulnerable and the arrogant. His digs at Manwë
concerning the Lord of the Wind's egregious oversight with regard to
Morgoth are sharp and to my mind, quite appropriate. The culpability
here did not rest on Fëanor's shoulders alone, and a careful reading
of [The Silmarillion] will reveal that. Elfscribe brings that into
high relief here in [Wind and Fire].

The eroticism is written on a grand scale, fitting nicely with the
larger-than-life tone of the entire piece. Elfscribe's bailiwick is
slash, and she shows her skills here, remaining in the erotic and not
succumbing to the boringly (well, to me at any rate -- I need
something left to the imagination) explicit.

Like the previous reviewers, I more often than not flinch at "ye olde
archaic" speech, but Elfscribe is one of the few who can wield this
effectively and still hold my attention. It flows well, and I was
never jolted by stumbling around awkward usage of this form.

Taken together, Elfscribe's gorgeous prose and the conceptualizations
of these icons provide a short story as rich as a Delacroix painting,
and in fact, that is what I visualized when I read this fic.

Title: The Work of Small Hands · Author: Dawn Felagund · Genres:
Longer Works · ID: 352
Reviewer: pandemonium_213 · 2008-11-29 17:16:02
In the midst of e-mail discussions in which Dawn and I expressed our
mutual desire to read of fully realized female characters within
Tolkien's legendarium, she mentioned that she was working on a novella
in which Eärwen, the wife of Finarfin, was the protagonist and how
this woman became queen of the Noldor who remained in Aman, a radical
feat in a culture of people who apparently practiced agnatic
primogeniture. So I was thrilled when Dawn published [The Work of
Small Hands] on the SWG.

Just as with the history of our primary world, my suspicion is that
the male writers of Aman and Middle-earth's histories overlooked many
women and their power behind the scenes. Dawn's novel rectifies this
unpalatable situation.

Dawn is a skilled writer in every aspect of her work: setting,
gorgeous phraseology, technicality, plot, and characters. In [WSH],
Dawn gives each woman clearly identifiable personalities with just a
few strokes of the digital pen: Indis with quiet restraint, brash
Anairë, Nerdanel – her famous logic now horribly adrift -- and Eärwen,
the reluctant leader designate who must reconcile her beloved
Arafinwë's kind and sunny demeanor with the blood on his hands, and
then care for him and bring him back from a pit of despair after he

On a more analytical level, the thought-exercise behind the darkening
of Valinor is well executed. Dawn places herself in a very grim
"what-if" scenario: the consequences of sword wounds in Alqualondë,
the psychological effects of unremitting darkness, and the increasing
desperation of the Noldor as their food supplies diminish and they
resort to baser behaviors as they approach starvation.

Driven by dire straits, Eärwen goes to Máhanaxar to ask the Valar's
help. This is an extraordinary chapter, and to my mind, one of the
best descriptions of the Valar written. Dawn makes the reader feel
Eärwen's trepidations before these uncanny beings who, although not
gods, are significantly strange and powerful.

I was introduced to Tolkienian fan fiction through Dawn's [Another
Man's Cage] and thus was swept up into this milieu. I loved immersing
myself in Aman with the family of Fëanor in that work and those
characters are engraved in my mind, but it's about time that the women
stepped to the fore and in [The Work of Small Hands], they do.