Another Man's Cage

Author: Dawn Felagund

Nominator: Rhapsody

2006 Award Category: Genres: Drama - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Other Fiction  ✧  Length: Epic

Rating: R  ✧  Reason for Rating: sexuality, violence, disturbing thematic content

Summary: In the days of peace before Melkor's release and the Noldorin exile, Feanor's young family lives an ordinary year of their lives, during which the conflicts and motivations that will shape their later history begin to be revealed.

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Reviewed by: Rhapsody  ✧  Score: 10

This is one of my favourite epic stories featuring the house of Finwe. Over a year Dawn Fegalund kept her readers glued to the screen by posting a weekly chapter – received a lot of mutterings when she missed a week and hugs when she posted an extra chapter. This story covers a full year within the household of Fëanor. It starts with a character most Tolkien fans will dislike, but I can completely imagine that when you read the epilogue, like me you will embrace this character fully. Well, that happened to me! In this story you witness the growth of the characters closely, but what is also amazing is how you see a – fairly unknown fandom writer – grows into writing as well. I know the author planned re-writes, but as a reader you are simply swept away by her magnificent storytelling. So what can happen in one year in this family? What do you learn about the members of the house of Finwe? What is it like to be a son of Feanor, to be part of such a big family where every member has their unique talents? What is life in Tirion or Formenos like? What can one year do to a Fëanor and his family? I can wholeheartedly advise you to put up your feet and become a fellow reader who will be swept away the first paragraph you read. I am glad I discovered this author and this writer. Since I started to read this, I wanted to read more of this author. This story is a journey full of discoveries about a time period in Tolkien’s universe, his characters, and the world they live in. Vivid descriptions, excellent characterisations, flowing dialogue and loads of moments where you will sit on the edge of your seat wanting to know what will happen next… it’s all there for you.

Reviewed by: digdigil  ✧  Score: 10

This is an epic story of over 350,000 words. I have read every one of them and would recommend this book to everyone, even people who are not familiar with Tolkien. It is the saga of one year in the life of a complicated family. It takes the reader through the ins and outs of their daily lives and their interactions with each other, while tying in with the story of Feanor and his sons that Tolkien had laid out in The Silmarillion. The characterizations are wonderful. Each person in this story is a unique and fully-realized individual. The characters live, love, cry and celebrate the happenings in their lives realistically and with great enthusiasm. The author creates the people and situations with great skill, involving the reader fully in their lives and making him or her care deeply for these characters. The story is full of beautiful descriptions. It does not stay in one geographical place, but moves over several areas, going from city to town to countryside—and each place is lovingly and vividly described so that the reader is given a good sense of where the action is taking place. The structure of the story is very well laid out, with each chapter told from the point of view of a different character, appropriate to the place and the situation of each episode, as the story moves along to its inevitable conclusion. There is so much more to the story that I haven’t touched on: wonderful peripheral characters, great depth of knowledge of different occupations: metal-working and other arts of craft, medicine, music, sword-play, horseback-riding, hiking, exploring, cooking, inn-keeping, and it goes on and on. This story is truly awe-inspiring and ambitious and is among the best I have ever read in fan fiction.

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 10

This is a hauntingly beautiful epic of a year in the life of Fëanor and his growing family is a truly compelling work. It is a character-driven novel, which with meticulous care and compassion draws a vibrant portrait of Fëanor, Nerdanel, and each of their first four sons. It is simultaneously wonderfully hilarious and warm, and yet always pendant with tragic foreshadowing. Chapter by chapter the story is relentlessly suspenseful despite the fact that we all know the end. The descriptions of the boys, often pictured with wild hair, bare feet, and grubby work clothes, spark with testosterone and their unique reflections of the manic, unconventional genius of their father. The complex characterization of Fëanor, excessive in his loves and hates, manipulative and selfish, and yet ever passionate and heated in his love and attachment to his wife and children, symbolizes nearly all that is wrong and most of what is right about this family. One cannot help but fall in love with the handsome, brilliant, Nelyo/Maitimo (Maedhros), apparently the nearly perfect son and brother, who is revealed to be both troubled and frustrated by the intensity of his attachment to and love for his father and the knowledge that he can never fully meet Fëanor’s expectations of him. The stunningly gifted Macalaurë (Maglor) initially rendered as yearning and sensitive is, no less than his brothers, a creature of contradictions. Just when one has begun to believe he barely fits in this family, one realizes that perhaps in his single-minded obsession with his music and gradually defined steely core may even be the one who is most similar to his father. The fights between Nerdanel and Fëanor, and the sons’ reaction to those, are so authentic that they hurtle me right back into my own childhood. Example from the POV of Carnistir (Caranthir): [“Amil uses profanity against Atar that Nelyo and Macalaurë would have been punished for saying aloud. Atar calls her names lower than those given to creatures that squirm in the mud. Obstinate bitch! he says. I feel Nelyo wince, like he's been burned.”] The scenes of Nerdanel and Fëanor making love are equally genuine and convincing in their heated eroticism. One is simultaneously envious of Nerdanel’s relationship with Fëanor and alarmed by it—oh, to be loved like that—but at what a terrible cost. And the same ambivalence overcomes one with a protective anxiety for these boys who get [“a thousand kind words and a hundred kisses a day”] and yet will never satisfy the perfectionism of their father. Tirion, Formenos and Alqualondë are exquisitely depicted. The descriptions of culture differences among Teleri, Vanyar, and Noldor are priceless. So many funny moments: The boys making up humorous curses against the Varda, which horrify their mother and amuse their father; adorable, little, mysterious, dark Carnistir biting instead of kissing in affection and his atrocious table manners; the tender/bittersweet/comical/sad accounts of adolescent Nelyo’s and Macalaurë’s romantic encounters; the nervous jockeying between big-for-his-age, roughneck, yet loveable, Tyelkormo (Celegorm) and his smaller, insecure cousin Findekáno (Fingon) for the attention of Nelyo; Macalaurë’s horrible kitchen disasters. It will make you laugh, cry and shudder with foreboding, and finally understand in heartbreaking sorrow how inevitable is their fate.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 7

Evocative, rich and well-told (although I have a few quibbles, e.g. regarding modernisms); intense and moving. Very strong characterisations - each of the characters is distinct, three-dimensional and vividly realised. Lovingly detailed descriptions of the various settings that bring them vividly to life in the readers' imagination. You show convincingly how the Fëanorians are more than just this collective, how each one has his own individual strengths, faults, obsessions, fears and dreams. How hard and awkward it can be with the constant pressure of living up to the example of Fëanor and the competition among the brothers. You skilfully show where the faultlines are starting to appear within the immediate family as well as in relation to others (the half-family, the Valar) that will be so fateful later on. The little hints of foreshadowing are a clever touch that add to the slightly uneasy, tense atmosphere.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 5

This is a stupefyingly ambitious effort, and deserves credit for its scope alone - some 350,000 words devoted to a year in the life of Feanor and Nerdanel and five of their seven sons, in Valinor, back before all the trouble began. I would prefer some trimming, but the texture is undeniably rich and the use of language is excellent, as is the writer's ability to portray the daily lives of probably the most famous family in Elvenhome. I liked the occasional interaction of the Feanorians with the Valar; and the portrayal of Rumil was fascinating.

Reviewed by: juno_magic  ✧  Score: 5

This is an epic that details the early years of the House of Feanor. The prose is voluptuous, the metaphors, similes and figures of speech sometimes daring, often brilliant. The stylistic technique of dramatic present tense is demanding, but usually handled adroitly. The charaters are perceived in astonishing depth. The setting in Aman remains always Elvish, never loses that special touch of otherworldliness, yet at the same time always remains utterly believable and realistic. Definitely one of the classical masterpieces of Tolkien fanfiction.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

This is fascinating--Feanor's family before the Oath, still not overtaken by that madness that drove them across the Sea. I had never before thought of them as young children. I like the author's style. She has a very skillful and firm grasp on first-person POV, making it very intimate. Well done.