Five Bells

Author: Dawn Felagund

Nominator: Lyra

2011 Award Category: First Age and Prior: Feanorians - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes,Mature Language/Themes

Summary: The people of Tirion learn of Miriel's death. Written for the Five Things challenge for the Silmarillion Writers' Guild fifth birthday.

Read the Story  ✧  Backup Story Link

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 10

Two general points: 1) you should write way more fiction than you do; 2) it's a sin that you do not--the hell with the bees and the chickens! (Looking for a bolt of lightning to strike me!} This story is gorgeous. One of your best from an illustrious collection. How can I explain the many ways this store smacked me between the eyes? The bells. I am a serious bell person myself. Love staying places with bells--thinking of several towns in Spain. Also Mexico is big for bells--mourning, warning and celebratory bells. It is a dark story and although I am usually a light story person, I was thinking of it visually while I was reading it. I do love the dark tones of it, the medieval colors of it. It would be such a great little film (damn copyright restrictions! One should be able to make it!). My visual image about filming it would be to use distinct lighting inside and out to reflect the beginning lines of each segment. The inside scenes could exploit a northern European kind of filtered light and the outside ones--radiant, golden light and very Mediterranean or Languedoc-Roussillon. My point is you caught me up in the ambiance and left me breathless as I read. The sections relating to Feanor and Finwe hit me the hardest and the strongest. I'm a hard nut to crack on behalf of Indis during this period (the other woman and all that). I have more sympathy with her much, much later in the whole saga. And, Feanor--oh, wow! He comes across to me as a deliciously creepy little creature in this one--too precocious by half--not his fault, of course.

Author response: Thank you, Oshun! I agree that I should write more, although it's my students keeping me from that at the moment more than my critters. (That reminds me that I need to feed the bees ... see, even they get neglected! :D) This was a very intense story to write, so I'm glad that these strong emotions were communicated to you. I don't see why we couldn't make the video, if we didn't make a profit from it. Let's do it! :D (Ai ... if only I had the time. I would love to learning video editing. Alas.) Thank you again for such a kind comment!

Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 10

Miriel's death is an event that casts a very long shadow in the history of the Elves and, after reading this story, it is easier to believe it could have such as disastrous consequences. Miriel's final moments, as told, are deeply distressing and when Namo ends her life--he probably does not actually smother her with his hand, but almost he seems to--it is truly chilling. The piece is a response to a "five things" challenge and this is made to work organically here; the tolling of the five bells of the title really do become an integral part of the structure of the story, although at first sight the idea might seem artificially imposed as a framework from without. Each scene is told with Dawn's customary impressive skill: the preoccupations of the bell-keeper's children, the strongly physical manifestation of Finwe's intense grief, Feanor's synaesthetic perception of the sound and failure to comprehend what is being lost. Together they create an almost claustrophobic effect. It appears that Dawn had originally not meant to include Indis's reactions as one of the five scenes, but I think it was a good move that she did. I feel including her balances the story out in a way including another citizen of Tirion probably would not have.

Reviewed by: Lyra  ✧  Score: 10

I remember when the prompts for the SWG's 5th birthday celebrations were collected: Someone suggested including the good old "Five Things..." theme because it was always a guarantee for funny stories. "Five Bells" is an answer to that theme - and nicely shows that it can give rise to sad and dark tales as well. In this story, Dawn beautifully describes how different characters - the son of the towerkeeper who gets to ring the bells that announce important news to the Noldor; Finwë; little Fëanor; Indis; and the Maiar attending Míriel - experience the final seconds of Míriels life. Some do not know what the bells mean while others know only to well. The final chapter, set in Lórien, is particularly poignant. The description of Míriel's mental and emotional turmoil, her physical pain but also her brief hesitation are empathetic and convincing, and make her decision to let go of life comprehensible. The individual chapters are very short, but still manage to illustrate the scenes vividly. The element of the pause in everyone's routine, taken back up when the bells reverberate into silence, nicely links the different settings and perspectives together. A very intense and powerful story, beautiful despite its darkness.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 7

This isn't a time period or event I've given much thought to, but of course, it would be a major, and shocking disruption of life as the Eldar know it in Valinor, as the news Indis overheard makes clear. The repeating starting line, with its emphasis on continuity, only makes one more aware of the story unfolding between the bells - sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, with the effect that time seems to be moving unevenly, which seems appropriate. The different perspectives give a kaleidescopic look at all the fears and wonderings and activity that surround Míriel's death. I loved the bell-warden's children best, I think, but Finwë's reaction was very visceral, and the final ficlet chilling - Námo's role is hardly comforting, but then again, neither is Míriel's failing, in-between condition. Great atmosphere, Dawn, and a very sobering story.

Reviewed by: DrummerWench  ✧  Score: 5

Dawn Felagund has given us a lovely, short exploration of reactions to the death of Queen Míriel, that precipitated such tragedy among the Eldar. We circle slowly in, starting with an unnamed boy, ringing the death-tolls on the tower bell, through Finwë's sickened waiting, Fëanáro's childish puzzlement, to Indis' sorrow, and finally Míriel's departure, all told with insight and grace. Though we know what is coming, it is still heart-breaking: maybe it won't happen, this time ...

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

Interesting series about the death of Miriel Serinde - Dawn Felagund uses language and tension very nicely; and the bells, and the event they toll, reverberate across the characters' lives and the readers' minds with different, but always significant, effect. High marks especially for the characterization of the young Feanor, which rang (!) very true to me.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 2

Very poignant, sad story. Dawn's skillful writing brings tears to readers' eyes, especially in the end. Well done!

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 2

What a wonderful grouping of scenes. The author's decision to portray the events from myriad perspectives works well here, and I like the effect it has on readers.

Reviewed by: Independence1776 (Crystal113)  ✧  Score: 2

A wonderful, somewhat chilling, slice-of-life story, set at the telling of Míriel’s death-- something that will change Eldarin life in Valinor forever.

Reviewed by: Sevilodorf  ✧  Score: 1

Five well crafted views of the effects of one event.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel  ✧  Score: 1

This was heartbreakingly, gorgeously sad. Find a box of tissues before reading this!

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 1

The bell tolls for Míriel, and life will never be the same for anyone.