We Three Kings

Author: Jael

Nominator: Ignoble Bard

2011 Award Category: Post-Ring War and Beyond: Elves or Dwarves - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Set in the 'Not Fade Away' story-verse, a tale for the holiday season. One night in winter, Thranduil and two companions are forced to take shelter in a stable.

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Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 10

Dear Jael, I am delighted to see this story competing for MEFA this year; it is one of my favourites of your work. For one thing, it is a very original idea that the Three Kings, or more precisely, the Three Wise Men who visit the newborn Jesus should turn out to be Thranduil, Legolas and Galion, and it is also an idea that feels very deeply right. Matthew’s intention for using this motif in his account of Jesus’ birth was probably to emphasise how this was an event of universal importance, and how better could this be expressed than by including elves in the picture? Secondly, you have managed to give the scene a very real feel to it, an imminence of imagery that is very vivid. Furthermore, you succeed in adding touches of humour here and there without spoiling the general thoughtful atmosphere of the story. And as I mentioned before, I was particularly pleased with your rendition of the young man with Down Syndrome and of Legolas’ response to him. I hope that one day you will indeed write that novel about him which you told me about, I think it would be a wonderful and deeply moving book. Until then, I am grateful for this “taster” and I will be sure to be reading it again around Christmastime.

Reviewed by: crowdaughter  ✧  Score: 9

This is such a sweet story! The idea that Thranduil, Legolas and Galion in the Not Fade Away universe might be out traveling during the night of nights in Bethlehem and be mistaken for the three Kings who brought gifts is a lovely one, and working well in Jael's expert hands. As well as all the elements of the christmas story, having a much closer-to-earths and yet well working turn here. We see the "angel" telling to the shepheards that a child has been born, and see them gather in the stable with the holy crib; we see the gifts of gold, Frankincense and Myrrh and how they came about, and see the wonder of the holy night unfold. And while it all happens a little different, it all make sense. Still, we can see the legend being born, and the best part of the story is that all of it still works within the Christmas tale and little Joshua might still be of divine origin in this. Jael never betrays her characters, and never turns the tale into ridicule. I also like the OC character of John, who is the incarnation here of the simple-minded who are to be blessed. Beautifully written, and a perfect Christmas story! I like!

Reviewed by: Ignoble Bard  ✧  Score: 9

The thing I love about Jael’s Not Fade Away universe, with the Mirkwood Elves involved in stories set in various Earth timelines, is the golden opportunities this concept presents to synthesize Tolkien’s Elves with so many familiar genres and other well known tales. This is a great story to celebrate the Christmas season and I find myself rereading it almost every year. In this story Thranduil and company arrive in Bethlehem on a cold winter's night that was so deep. I suppose one could call this the ultimate crossover, mixing as it does the biblical nativity story with that of Thranduil, Legolas, and Galion from Tolkien’s works. And speaking of works, this story does on many levels as the Elves become the "three kings" and arrive in time for the birth of the Christ child. How Jael manages to weave the Elves so seamlessly into the oft told story is both a mystery and a delight. The Round John virgin pun is a hoot, as is Galion pronouncing Melchior as “Melkor”. There are so many great lines here but the story itself is one of hope in the face of darkness and uncertainty and is surely a treasure for any season.

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 8

This is compulsory reading for me at this time of year, ever since I first discovered it. I was really surprised to find it wasn't already a MEFA winner. I love all Jael's stories in her 'Not Fade Away' 'verse, but this is a little different, set as it is not in modern times, from our point of view, but a couple of thousand years ago. But, of course, Thranduil, Legolas, and the ever faithful Galion were around, moving amongst mortals, keeping abreast of the outside world and making sure the elves of the Great Greenwood did not become totally reclusive and fade away, then as now. This encounter with an older man, his very young wife and her newborn son, in a stable in a very crowded, small, and insignificant town in Judea makes for wonderful reading. So much to make me smile, from Thranduil and his recalcitrant camel, to poor Legolas roaming the hillside in search of baby clothes; but moments, too, to bring a lump to the throat. If you do not, already, read this story every Christmas season then I would suggest that you start now. And then, like me, that you come back to it at least annually.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 5

A gentle tale of three wanderers passing through Bethlehem on a fateful night in the first century. Of course, these three travelers are Elves, Thranduil, Galion and Legolas, far from the woods and the rest of their people. Jael eschews religious themes for a tale of hope, hope in the triumph of the best of human nature and of course in Elves of good nature...And I loved Thranduil's cranky camel. Really interesting story of the Sylvan Elves in a place and time that seems so foreign to Third Age Middle-earth, yet is also familiar to the readers.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 5

What a wonderful imaginative story especially for this time of year! I would never have thought of it, yet it made perfect sense in this AU that the three Magi should be Thanduril, Legolas, and Galion. The humour with the camels was delicious, as the shepherds mistaking Legolas for an angel. Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus (Joshua) were just as I imagined them. The toasts while sharing bread and wine were especially moving. I especially enjoyed seeing the Elves gradually become less grumpy and lend their cloaks and their musings that brief mortal lives might have meaning after all. A truly outstanding and must read story.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 5

This seemed like an appropriate story to read today, just to see how Jael would render it. Hardship mixes with humor beautifully here, and the practical impulses behind the elements of the traditional story of Jesus's birth in the manger and visitation by shepherds and wise men/kings from afar get a laugh and also a nod of approval. Possibly drunken shepherds, poor command of Aramaic, and a new mother who doesn't have time to let diapers dry sufficiently before reusing them, ill-tempered camels that match a king's pride - Jael weaves the elements together nicely and even manages to come up with an excuse for giving a baby's mother myrrh as a present. Well done!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 5

This is such a lovely re-telling and re-imagining of the old, old, story; and very appropriate for the season. I do love Jael's Not Fade Away universe. Here we find that three familiar figures are mistaken for three *other* familiar figures. I really like how prosaic it all is, and that unlike in some stories that show an interaction of characters of Arda in this event, Thranduil, Legolas and Galion have no idea at all what a momentous event they have been a part of or what it will come to mean. I like the kindness and warmth that pervades the whole story-- the most important elements of all for this particular story. And I really like "Round John". He made me smile.

Reviewed by: Caunedhiel  ✧  Score: 4

I really do like how you've woven a ancient and important story like the birth of Jesus into something that may have possibly happened if Legolas and Thranduil were actually there. Ha, I love Thranduil's first lines - subtly hinting at Earendil's star. I definitely like how you have layered so many legends into your tale. My favourite line has to be - ["All right," said Thranduil, kicking his reluctant camel into a lope. "You know the drill -- hoods up, hair loose, and speak that misbegotten tongue they call Latin."] Your Thranduil's character is very well written and I enjoyed reading your story.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 4

Now, this was the perfect story to read now, as the Christmas season is upon us and we celebrate advent. What if the three kings who visited a certain stable in Bethlehem and saw there a young woman who had only recently given birth were known to us? A lovely tale of hope, blessings, and a poor translation into Aramaic that has managed to make its way into history! And love the character John, whose condition is all too familiar to me as a special education teacher.

Reviewed by: Lyra  ✧  Score: 4

How fitting that I only got around to reading this in December! I'm always a bit sceptical of stories that mix Middle-earth and the Bible, but this one was cute and very nicely pulled off. How ironic that it took Elves to add a touch of humanity to an otherwise cold and unfriendly night... The uncooperative camel and Legolas the angel made me laugh. Well done! (And I'm glad I'm not the only one who has thought of the Melchior/Melkor pun.)

Reviewed by: agape4gondor  ✧  Score: 3

I could not even begin to imagine Thranduil on a camel. The tale gets better and grows richer with every sentence. Delightful, not to be missed story. Legolas as an angel. Interesting. The ending is profound.

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 2

This is a wonderful explanation of who the Three Kings really were and how they arrived in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. A lovely holiday story.