A Spring of Joy

Author: daw the minstrel

Nominator: Elena Tiriel

2005 Award Category: Genres: Drama (includes Angst): Mirkwood - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Incomplete  ✧  Length: Novella

Rating: PG  ✧  Reason for Rating: violence

Summary: 2951 TA. Smaug and three-quarters of the Orcs of the north are dead, and the Wood-elves live in a fragile peace that Legolas struggles to preserve as captain of the Home Guard.

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Reviewed by: elliska  ✧  Score: 10

What an ironic title this story has. I have read very few pieces of fiction, regular published books or fanfiction, that made me cry like this one did. I love the canon events in this and the research that went into them--the 'creature' in the wood, Dol Guldur, Mithrandir's appearance (always a sign of trouble to come, I guess). As usual the relationships between the characters are incredible in this--Legolas's easy friendship with Annael and his trust in his scouting and Sinnarn begging his father for the chance to do something by going to Dol Guldur--even better (if you take my meaning) since the outcome is so tragic. Thank heavens for the comedy that we see--Legolas and Beliond in Laketown--there isn't a line in that whole part that isn't perfect and clever. I love it. The people's reactions to elves and Beliond's to the way they smell--too funny. And I love seeing what a leader Legolas is in this story. He truly is Fellowhip Legolas here. But of course in the end it is incredibly tragic. The loss of Sinnarn--a character that you made us really love--was just heartrending. I agree that is is very realistic and true to Tolkien--people made sacrifices and died iin his world and it makes sense that someone in Thranduil's family would too. But you portrayed it so powerfully! I cried my eyes out the first time I read it and again now when I just skimmed it to review. Very well written daw!

Reviewed by: Karenator  ✧  Score: 10

First off, I think this is one of your best. As each chapter progressed, the tension just wound tighter and tighter. By the time we got to the last chapter, the coil was wound so tightly that the tension was almost unbearable. Of course, Tolkien's world is fiction, but I think the plot of the story is so appealing to readers because it's so relevant to the world in his time and in ours now. He created characters who rose above the terror and trials of battling evil by choosing to do the right thing. We have characters who are loyal, brave, self-sacrificing and determined despite overwhelming odds that they will most likely perish. Your story captures the essence of these qualities in your characters. Mirkwood was unique in that it was the only known Elven realm of that time without the protection of a ring of power, and it's people were constantly under assault. In one of your earlier stories you said that Eilian thought that his father kept the shadow from their door simply by his strength of will. In this story, we see that not only was Thranduil's strength of will the barrier that kept his people safe, but the woodland people themselves were possessed of the same kind of determination as their king. We can easily see why Thranduil was considered the greatest of all Elven kings, but we also see that he was supported by people who helped him reach that height. When Legolas realized how much strength Ithilden drew from Alfirin, Ithilden and Alfirin seemed to parallel the relationship of Thranduil and his people. Both relationships are closely bound in mutual support. The loss of peace and the loss of life go hand in hand. My favorite line: There before Legolas stood the king of the Woodland Realm, one who would fight the Shadow for every inch of soil, every

rock, and every tree, and if by some mischance, an enemy overcame him, he would grasp it by the neck to drag it down with him and spit in its face as he did so.
This is a beautiful description of the unmovable determination of the king in the face of such a personal loss. Sinnarn's loss was felt by everyone, and each in their own way held up someone else. Everyone seemed to know that Sinnarn's and Tynd's deaths were symbolic for all the losses that the woodland people had known and would know again in the future. They were markers for the death of peace. Dol Guldur was occupied again, but the people stood firm with resolve. Emmelin and Elowen's leaving didn't seem to be an escape from evil, but a symbolic step toward healing the hurts done to the realm. However, I can't tell you enough how wonderful I thought this story was. You outdid yourself.

Reviewed by: Elena Tiriel  ✧  Score: 8

Eilian and Celuwen are quite happily living in the settlement where Celuwen's parents live, and raising a beautiful daughter, Loriel. Eilian seems to be taking to the settled life rather well for an ex-warrior, but he is still more attuned to the forest than most, and realizes that there is something disturbing the trees. At first it is just a tiny frisson of unease, but as we learn more about it, we know that there is a genuine danger to Loriel. Meanwhile, Legolas is settling in as Captain of the Home Guard. This is the patrol that the young warrior Legolas did not want to be stuck in -- and now he's captain! And the ever-honest and reliable Annael is his right hand. What a team! But this story seems to be as much about misdirection as anything else. We are given something to worry about in the first chapter -- but the most damaging event is only indirectly related to that worry. And I was so emotionally involved with that event that this story left me with tears streaming down my cheeks. And Thranduil's dream of the forest burning is so telling. Well-written, Daw.... and very wrenching.

Reviewed by: Larian Elensar  ✧  Score: 6

Ack! That must have been so difficult to do, I mean, I'm just reading your stories and I love every single one of your OCs, I can't imagine having the will power to do that to two of them!! And it was uplifing in that although they are tired of fighting, even in the face of such grief, they all intended to go on, to make the world safe again. *smart aleck grin* I don't suppose you'll head back to Thranduil's realm *after* the ring war, will you? Let us know what happens to everyone there during the fighting? Which ones of them sail? And of course, who goes to Ithilien with Legolas? Lots more material for you, you know!

Reviewed by: jastaelf  ✧  Score: 3

Here I am cutting and pasting again.... There is always just something refreshing and brilliant about this story for me. I have gone back and read, then re-read, this tale many times. And yes, I will say this about many of the stories that have been nominated this year. The characterizations here are brilliant. daw has a great eye for such details, and she uses language so beautifully... there are no dull thunks in my head when I read her works, no "this doesn't ring true", because she takes (in my mind anyway!) a great deal of time and hard work to craft her stories. Elves are proper Elves, Men are proper Men, Hobbitses are Hobbity, Dwarves are Dwarven... and it all comes together as a lovely whole. I could go on forever. There are so many sparkling examples.
But the part that sticks out is loss of a beloved one... what can one say about the story in which the adorable Sinnarn DIES!?!??? Oh Gods.... I know these things have to happen, but sheesh.... this one hurt, and I would imagine it was tough to write as well.
But it is SO well written... and my thanks for creating a suite of OCs that I love as much as Tolkien's originals, for their own sake as well as for the simple fact that they are true to Tolkien! (grin) Thank you, daw, for this lovely piece of work!