In the Hidden Valley

Author: Aeärwen

Nominator: Radbooks

2010 Award Category: Times: Modern Times

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Novel

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: A single glimpse of mysterious buildings in a remote forest brings a grieving woman on a journey to a place she could never have imagined - and an adventure beyond her dreams.

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Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 10

This is another story of a present-day woman meeting with Tolkien’s Elves. Unlike stories where Elves dwell or wander itinerantly among mortals, unrecognized for what they are, Lord Celeborn and his folk dwell apart from the modern world. Imladris still exists, cloaked by wizardly enchantments, in the middle of a large Scottish park, where it is sometimes found by mortals in need. Meg Litten, an American with a dead-end job and no meaningful attachments after her brother’s death, is such a person, but it turns out that she is there for someone else’s sake as much as her own. The story reaches a satisfying ending for the parties concerned, though it left me with a kind of lingering melancholy. The premise is a Brigadoon scenario: you must choose between Imladris and the world of Men, you cannot have both, but in the long run Imladris is not really sustainable. As Radagast tells Meg, its inhabitants were near to fading before her arrival. It may be that we should make allowances for a degree of self-projection here, but it does tie in with my own suspicion that the community’s present course is unhealthily insular, perilously close to stagnating. One hopes that an injection of fresh blood and the promise of a new generation will bring not only new life to Imladris but more engagement with the world outside its borders.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

Not a few authors have tackled the idea that Imladris survived into the modern era, but I think this is the first time I've seen Radagast involved. Which, of course, makes complete sense. Without Elrond or Vilya to protect the valley, someone else would have to. And while Celeborn might be known as the Wise, I'm not sure he would have the ability to replicate what Melian could do. Radagast, on the other hand, might. And as his fate seems uncertain, it makes sense for him to find shelter in Rivendell along with the other elves who just can't bring themselves to abandon Middle-earth. Another thing Aearwen does to make this fic truly an original is the prospect of language barriers. Radagast serves as translator since none of the elves have bothered to learn English and Meg certainly doesn't know Sindarin. This must have also made for difficult writing, since any characterization outside Meg and Radagast couldn't be done through dialog. But Celeborn certainly makes his presence felt, and he helps by proving to be a pretty quick study in languages. The introduction of new technology provides smiles all around, but what struck me most about this story was the sense of wonder. Which is just as it should be given that this is Imladris we're talking about. And it's also nice to see Radagast get a little happiness in the end, too.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 6

This is an unusual encounter between the modern times and the world of Tolkien. For a change the world of Tolkien lingers into modern times, but still removed from the world and only discovered by chance. The characters come to life in this story, and I found Meg's bewilderment and confusion palpable. I like that she took her time to decide what she wanted and did not jump into this new world without thought for what she left behind. In her case, she had a real choice. End her vacation and go home with one of the bizarrest vacation locations in her memory or leave everything and vanish without a trace. Her reactions and emotions to the strange abilities of her new companions ring true. The romance is handled tactfully and plays out very sweet.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 4

This was an unusual twist on the old modern-girl-falls-into-Middle-earth genre. Instead it is more a Middle-earth-falls-into-the-modern-world. When a modern girl manages to find herself in the hidden valley of Imladris, she gets more than she bargained for. I have to say what made it so charming was the choice of romanitic partner. I do not believe I have ever read a romance for Radagast before. His role and character in this story were logical, and this was a lovely idea.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

What a surprise--a story set in modern day, in which we see a most unexpected courtship, that of one many of us have come to love from LOTR, although the master tells us little enough about him. A gift to the faithful servant--and to us as well. May others enjoy this sweet tale as much as I have!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 3

Another story I have enjoyed during the year. This is a well written, well thought out, story of a young woman who stumbles across a group of elves living, hidden from prying eyes, in modern day Europe. I particularly liked the chance for one who so rarely features in stories, let alone as the romantic lead, to shine here, and get the girl!

Reviewed by: Vanime  ✧  Score: 2

A wonderful story, and well written by the author too. I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions of the characters, and wished I was there. Highly Recommended!

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel  ✧  Score: 2

A good read - an interesting look at what Rivendell might be like in modern times, who might still be there, and what a modern woman might experience if she somehow found her way in.