To Light the Way
2007 Award Category: Races: Elves: With Mirkwood Elves - First Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: While there is no outright violence, the danger and loss in their world is alluded to.
Summary: Elladan and Elrohir are sent on an errand to Mirkwood - and find more than wood-elves.
Reviewed by: Bodkin ✧ Score: 10
I think Elladan must have his own share of crazy Wood-elf heritage to risk telling Thranduil - Thranduil!! - that his people have any resemblance to men whatsoever. And then to carry it off! Maybe he does have some of Elrond's blood running through his veins after all. Although I can quite see why his family freeze whenever he says he has been thinking - clearly thought from Elladan is likely to risk the necks of all around him. I love young(ish) Legolas and his interaction with the two rather older and more widely-experienced Elrondionnath. And the way the brothers play off each other. And the symbolism of light in darkness. And spitting in the face of the enemy. (Thranduil is just such a hero. Only he could possibly have held Mirkwood together just by sheer strength of character.) And the final passing reference to 'hope', which is obviously meaningful to the sons of Elrond. And the acknowledgement that Mithrandir is playing them all like violins and they find themselves doing his bidding without wondering why - and then find he manipulated them for an entirely different reason. And ... well, just about everything really. I just wish you indulged us with more stories, because I love your style and characterisation and would like to read more.
Reviewed by: Imhiriel ✧ Score: 8
Vivid and convincing characterisations; I especially liked your Thranduil. Good descriptions of the environment. The interaction between him and the twins was very interesting, a thoroughly believable middle way between the hostility on the one hand, and close alliance on the other, often posited in fanfiction between Rivendell and Mirkwood. The differences between the twins and Mirkwood's Wood-Elves were conveyed by action and dialogue, rather than merely stated - a fine case of "show, don't tell". It is evident that Celebrían's fate still weighed heavily on her sons, but it was not belaboured overlong, it was "just" one facet of their preoccupations at this point in time, even if an important one. You also gave a sense of what else is occupying their thoughts with brief allusions to Gandalf and Aragorn. Their thoughts about the Mirkwood denizens feasting and dancing in the gathering Darkness were understandable, yet I think that celebrating and taking joy out of every moment possible is also part of "fighting the long defeat", and defying despair and beleaguerment.
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 7
This piece runs on a risky tension that could have descended into sentimentality if handled by a less skilled writer, or simply cancelled each other out and left the reader feeling "blah". On the one hand, there is the high energy of the Mirkwood elves and even at times the twins. This is well developed and even through their melancholy we see moments that calls to mind the ["pretty fair nonsense"] of the Rivendell Elves in _The Hobbit_. But there is also the darker undertones of the weariness and the general grief the elves have had to suffer, and the hopelessness of their general situation. It reminds me a bit of Eowyn's hopelessness of finding a death worthy of song, only without the hopelessness. Because the elven (or perhaps Sindarin/Avarin) joviality wins through, giving us a glimpse of a people that are too buoyant to be held down. It's a remarkably effective way of characterizing a people, and it works marvellously well here.
Reviewed by: elliska ✧ Score: 6
There is so much to love in this story. First, Dot captures perfectly, in my mind, the personality of the Silvan elves--their merrymaking in the face of the Shadow that shocks Elladan so greatly. And having Elladan and Elrohir be the POV characters, particularly at this point in their lives, to this merrymaking is another aspect of the story that I love. Their perspective on the Silvan and what they learn from what they see is great! A wonderfully captured moment of change/learning for them. And of course I love Thranduil in this. He comes across as so wise, recognizing Elladan and Elrohir's pain and trying to help them see through it. And the humour that is woven into this story is really hilarious, especially the ending, but many other lines throughout too. An absolutely wonderful story!
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 6
Admittedly, Mirkwood is not my favorite locale, but this is a well-told story, with a point that no doubt Tolkien would agree with. I have certainly had many a conversation with a fandom friend who * is * a Mirkwood maniac about the very topic of the relationship between war under the Shadow of Dol Guldur and the festive, if also somewhat secretive, revels and merry-making of the Mirkwood elves that we see in ["The Hobbit"]. Dot draws in Elladan and Elrohir to make the point that celebration is a necessary renewal of spirit, and so also of hope in times when whole peoples were powerless to do more than hold the line (and slowly lose it) against Sauron's forces. Elladan's comparison of the Mirkwood Elves with Men was met with amusing reactions, but the point is not without merit. Fans of the twins and of Mirkwood Elves in general should enjoy this.
Reviewed by: Jay of Lasgalen ✧ Score: 5
I really like the teasing between the twins. Moments like this say so much about their closeness: [I have been foolish, brother, Elladan said once they were alone. Elrohir grinned at him. I can well believe it. Elladan slapped him lightly. Try not to discourage me from my moment of self-discovery, please, Elrohir. Those moments are few enough. ] I like the differences between them too - Elladan is so much more impatient than Elrohir. You can feel his tension and exasperation with the wood-elves, and their apparent obliviousness to the encroaching shadow. Thranduil is right, though - he can do no more at this time than to offer hope, but it is so vital. If his people despair, they will never win the battle. I liked the twins' realisation of this at the end. This line made me laugh out loud: ['Elrohir spat his mouthful of cider back into his cup as discreetly as possible. Choking could be an ill-advised move.'] Poor Elrohir - there is nothing worse than suddenly laughing in the middle of drinking something!!
Reviewed by: fantasyfan ✧ Score: 5
Elves take the long view of things. And so in this story, having spent so many years fighting the long war against evil, Elladan and Elrohir are filled with the long defeat, with seeing too much evil, with a sneaking suspicion that they may never see a resolution to constant struggle. It is good to see them learning to appreciate the good in simple things. The restoration of hope is such a theme for Tolkien, and I like how it is explored here through the characters of ancient elves who have no real, tangible reason to hope, yet find a way to do so anyway.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 3
At first the invitation to join Thranduil's Elves in an evening of feasting and dancing appeared frivolous; but as they join in the apparent celebration Elladan and Elrohir recognize there is something more at work here as the Wood Elves defy the darkness about them. Excellent reminder we need balance and purpose in our lives.
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 3
Intriguing story about the Peredhil twins' visit to Mirkwood and Thranduil's halls. I really liked the comparisons of Elves and men, and the wood-elves' lively spirits during times that some would call very bleak. Thranduil is well-written.