The Thorn Gate

Author: Jael

Nominator: Ignoble Bard

2011 Award Category: Humor: Mirkwood Elves - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: A twisted little tale for Halloween. A visitor from Rivendell experiences the fabled hospitality of the Silvan Elves. Erestor; Thranduil; Galion; Legolas. Warning: Flagrant disregard for canon. Egregious librarian abuse. Plagiarism -- both alone and with someone else. (1) Rated PG

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Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 10

Dear Jael, what a delicious little gem this story is. It quite measures up to the polished elegance of Saki’s original, and while I don’t see him referring to a character’s “behind,” the marble bench/log bench sentence is otherwise very convincingly worded. Of course, being a claustrophobe myself, I totally sympathise with Erestor here, though I hope I would have been a little more suspicious of the tale Galion told – mind you, probably only because I know the Saki story. The canon characters are used to good effect here, a little whacky, as you would expect in a parody, and yet still plausible. I loved Legolas’s line that people don’t normally respond with screaming to seeing him appear – unless, of course, we want to point out the screeching of the fangirls. The prospect of a war breaking out over the loss of a librarian was very amusing. The whole story was really delightfully done and made me grin. So, what Saki parody is next? I’d love to see one on “Tobermory” with a wicked cat spilling the beans of all Elrond’s or perhaps Galadriel’s secrets. Pretty please...?

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

Oh, this is the best kind of humor - wicked and delightful and utterly brilliant! Jael always is, but in this little ficlet, I think the usual writing excellence has found new heights. The beauty is in the sheer innocence of everyone except Galion, who is much more devious than I ever gave him credit for being. His ability to anticipate the needs and actions of those around him (Thranduil's impending request for wine, Legolas's imminent arrival complete with fish, Galion's nervous but silent wonderings about large spider webs) gives him all he needs to set up Erestor for one of the best practical jokes I've seen written into Tolkien fanfiction. Timing is everything in humor, and Jael has this timed to perfect. In addition to Erestor's swift escape, I laughed hard at the reactions of Legolas and Thranduil, who appear completely bewildered by the entire thing but recover quickly enough. This is Mirkwood, after all. I'm certain this isn't the strangest thing they've seen there, and those Rivendell elves are an odd lot. Characterization also sells this story, and I love the little hints we get of how Thranduil is a little too controlled, Galion a little too innocent, Erestor a little too flustered, and Legolas a little too indignant over his unusual reception. Masterfully done! I haven't laughed this hard in a while.

Reviewed by: Clodia  ✧  Score: 9

I was absolutely delighted to see that this story of Jael's had been nominated! It is a delicious reworking of a short story ('The Open Window') by one of my favourite authors, Saki (actual name Hector Hugh Munro), and splendidly in the spirit of both that story and that author: the dry humour of the narrative, elegant wit throughout and barely concealed sadism of the characters are perfectly blended at the expense of poor Erestor, here a claustrophobic visitor to King Thranduil's underground library in an uncommonly murky Mirkwood. The king's butler Galion lurks spiderlike at the centre of this web of fanciful tales, recasting the hearty Thranduil as a wounded soul still expecting his dead father Oropher to walk back through the titular Thorn Gate at any moment, Legolas (by implication) as his own grandfather, now unexpectedly returned from [lighting corpse candles in the Dead Marshes], and finally Erestor as an unduly emotional soul with a morbid fear of fish! In summary, 'The Thorn Gate' is a thoroughly enojoyable piece all round. And of course what Galion might have against Master Elrond of Imladris's unfortunate archivist, I hardly dare ask...

Reviewed by: Malinornë  ✧  Score: 7

Ha ha, I enjoyed this little gem a lot! I found it humourous but not silly, and though someone was made fun of, it was done in a warm way without malice (Erestor may not agree, but then he seems to panic easily - although I must say he has courage to run out into the dark forest with those nasty spiders). I'm not familiar with the story it is based on and found the plot a fun and fresh one. That wicked Galion and his love for wine... but it seems his King wasn't too sorry to be rid of his guest, so perhaps the servant is not the only one at fault here. That said, I must add that I do sympathize with poor Erestor regarding uneasiness at having a mountain on top of one's head; visiting mines has precisely that effect on me! I'm sorry for these incorherent strings of words, but I'm just not good at lenghthy reviews. I liked this story, it was a fun read with lots of entertainment value in a small format. And it's always fun to see Thranduil :)

Reviewed by: Ignoble Bard  ✧  Score: 7

Jael wrote this for my birthday a few years ago and it remains a particular favorite. The Halloween stories gifted to me are always strikingly well written and usually creepy or scary. This is a humor piece based on “The Open Window” by Saki and is as bizarre and fun as the original. Poor nervous Erestor is visiting Mirkwood and, as if the threat of spiders and orcs isn’t scary enough, he has to listen to Galion tell a chilling tale of Oropher and the Dead Marshes that ends with a surprise visit from the old guy, coming home from a day of fishing as he did in life, or is that cheery figure whistling his way through the gate someone a bit younger and more innocent of the old butler’s schemes? Jael does a great job of invoking the original story while keeping the action completely grounded in Tolkien’s canon and giving us a very jumpy but still endearing Erestor.

Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 5

Tolkien and Saki--not the most likely of bedfellows but it works! Jael does a Middle-earth version of a Saki story here--and where better to set a humorous horror(?) story like this than in Mirkwood, with a reminder of the Dead Marshes thrown in for good measure? Poor Erestor--claustrophobia and arachnophobia have already taken their toll on him before he even encounters Galion's version of hospitable entertainment--librarian abuse indeed! And there are some sly jabs at movie Imladris and movie Legolas as well. Enjoyably twisted!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 5

Poor Erestor rarely gets a break from fanfiction writers. He rarely gets to be the hero of his own story. Here, Jael employs the occasionally wicked sense of humor of Galion, Thranduil's butler and friend, to make matters worse for Erestor, who is already stressed on a diplomatic mission to Mirkwood. And Galion is very wicked indeed! Lovely cross-cultural barbs, too. And an appearance by a famous member of the royal house of Mirkwood that absolutely does not inspire the usual admiration accorded that particular Elf. I only hope that Thranduil learns some day that Erestor was not truly terrified of fish...

Reviewed by: Keiliss  ✧  Score: 4

Galion, Galion, Galion, you are BAD. And I can't begin to imagine poor Legolas's confusion. I admit to a degree of sympathy for Erestor here. I also tend towards claustrophobia, and would have a hard decision to make if offered a tour of King Thranduil's halls. I do hope someone loaned Erestor a horse before he got too far. It would be a long, long walk home otherwise. This was a lot of fun.

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 4

This is a great story. Thranduil is host to Erestor, who has come to study some antique Doriathrin scrolls kept in Mirkwood. Unfortunately Erestor suffers from a sudden attack of claustrophobia. However Galion, Thranduil's butler, proves himself to be more than capable of handling many situations and potential diplomatic crisis that might possibly arise -- though it does seem a pity that he did not train to become a bard.

Reviewed by: ziggy  ✧  Score: 4

As always, the writer produces a perfectly crafted and witty piece of writing with the delightful Galion the architect of this gorgeous prank based on Saki’s story cleverly translated into Middle Earth but with no intent to deceive or disguise. It’s a lovely idea and laugh out loud funny with Erestor already unsettled by the dreadful rustic woodelves. Anyone who is a fan of the woodelves must love this, the absolute mischievousness of Galion makes this a real joy.

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 4

Well written as Jael's stories always are. I like a lot the idea of Erestor studying ancient Doriathrin scrolls in Mirkwood. (You mean they have books--sorry, in joke known only to me, which revolves around the old trope of Thranduil being a cruel leader of a land of giant spiders and black squirrels only.) I alway loved Galion, Thranduil's butler. Entertaining and filled with subtle humor.

Author response: Yes, Oshun, Erestor was in Thranduil's library reading _the book_. It had tengwar in addition to the pictures and everything! (Sorry -- I couldn't resist!) Thank you for reviewing this little tale.

Reviewed by: Fiondil  ✧  Score: 3

Oh, Valar! But those Silvan Elves are a sneaky bunch, and Galion, dear Galion. I’m sure Lord Namo has a special chamber reserved just for you if you are ever so foolish as to cross over to his domain. Poor Erestor. LOL! He probably refused to ever leave Imadris ever again. This was hysterical and absolutely delightfully wicked. Excellent job, Jael!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 3

Well-played, Jael! Librarian abuse, indeed - Galion clearly needs to have a wine allowance if Thranduil wants to keep him from getting it off the kingdom's hapless guests and envoys. Nice touch, footnoting the plagiarism reference.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 2

This earned a definite chuckle from me. In many ways it makes more sense than anything Tolkien worked out, and it certainly turned puritanical mores on their head. Hilarious!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 2

Oh, this is too funny! It makes me think that Galion would have deserved whatever punishment came his way after the barrel-incident!