Dream A Bitter Style
2007 Award Category: Times: First Age and Prior: House of Fingolfin
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Medium Length
Rating: Mature ✧ Reason for Rating: Graphic sexual exploitation and coercion (slash), drug and alcohol use, objectionable language, violence, brutality, and overall mature and very dark subject matter.
Summary: As a servant to Fingon in the court of Eithel Sirion, Glorfindel learns what is expected of him, what he must endure, and how he can turn it to his advantage.
Reviewed by: Jael ✧ Score: 10
I regret that I lack the eloquence to do justice to this wonderful story. So, forgive me while I devolve into incoherent adulation. This story takes the alternate canon scenario begun in 'Never Speak Nor Sing' into darker places, yet there remain beautiful moments of simple joy: Oropher, drunk and naked on a freezing river bank with an equally drunk and naked kitchen wench, while a clueless Glorfindel is left to entertain her friend. Yet you use this incident to illustrate the rather unattractively rigid Vanyarin caste system that makes us sympathetic to your Fingon's revolutionary religious and philosophical beliefs. Sindarin children, squatting over heat vents like [clusters of scruffy, earthen-robed moss, if moss had silvery pale hair] and Oropher sharing the candy he has earned under trying circumstances with them, foreshadowing the king he will someday become. Oropher again, dressed as a deer and dancing among the uninhibited Sindar [in rings around a girl wearing a garland of leaves. He spun his torches while she chased after him. "Balthor!" she cried. "Balthor!"] The symbolism in that scene is very powerful, especially contrasted with the formality of the Noldor and the rigid conservatism of the Vanyar, which are about to collide for Glorfindel that very evening. The 'obligatory' sex scene, in which Fingon finally gains his goal, manages to be both disturbing and erotic, and it is done without any cliche. I am in awe of your skillful handling of this difficult bit. More beautiful symbolism -- a bird hitting a window has chilling spiritual significance for Glorfindel. And, finally, I shivered as Glorfindel accepts and clips on his 'gifts' from Fingon. Your Fingon sees them as a loving gesture, which it no doubt is. But I saw it as the capitulation to servitude. Oh, Glorfindel! It would be easy to hate your Fingon at this point, but you manage to keep him sympathetic. Bravo! This is a superb story in a compelling saga. It leaves me eager for you to write more, so I can see how it all plays out. Thank you!
Reviewed by: Oshun ✧ Score: 10
I hardly know where to start there are so many things to say about a story like this. I guess the beginning is as good a place as any. ["It was a cold fall morning on the brink of winter when Ninnan the kitchen girl finally agreed to take her dress off for Oropher."] How can one not love a story with a first line like that? This is the second in Claudio's ongoing story cycle involving principally Glorfindel and Fingon. (Although, as you might guess, from reading this first line, Oropher has a supporting role in the earlier stories of the series, which definitely add something special.) If you want to read Tolkien fanfiction that follows book canon slavishly and will not threaten any preconceptions of plot or character that you want hold dear, these are not the stories for you. But if you are open to challenges and would like to explore a writer who is, in my opinion, better than most writers who makes a living at fiction, then you absolutely must read Claudio. [Dream a Bitter Style] is one of the darker of the stories in this series, which the author himself characterizes as dark, but even so it is never without its comic relief. The characters of the youthful Oropher and Glorfindel are study in cultural contrasts based solidly in canon: Glorfindel has the arrogance that only a born-in-Aman Vanyar could project, while Oropher has his roots solidly planted in Middle-earth, as the down-to-earth Sinda, with his own particular brand of pride, self-respect and earthy disdain for the self-important newcomers to his world. That is just for starters: the reader will never encounter another Fingon or Fingolfin who is anything like the ones that Claudio has created. I suppose that Claudio is at heart a linguist, but his use of that knowledge is never overbearing or interferes with, but only enriches and enhances, his unique form of storytelling (which for me is what writing fanfiction or any kind of fiction is all about). Not only does he have a profound knowledge of the canon, but is able to take, twist and bend it in order to make the stories he creates total new and fresh. This is in my opinion the highest tribute one can make to the original which has inspired him. He stands alone and this story is a fine example of his style and his unique characteristics as a writer.