Together We Will Take the Road

Author: Azalais

Nominator: Dwimordene

2011 Award Category: Fixed-Length Ficlets: Immortals - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet Series

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Together We Will Take the Road that Leads Into the West: or, Gimli And Legolas Go To Valinor. A drabble series (every chapter a 100-word true drabble) written for Back To Middle-Earth Month 2011, following the daily B2MEM prompts; Gimli and Legolas setting out for Valinor, a snapshot or two of the journey and arrival, and some of what happens to them there.(33 x 100 words; competing with ficlets because of series length)

Read the Story

Reviewed by: ziggy  ✧  Score: 10

This is drabbling in its highest form; piquant and subtle, it dances over the moments that define the friendship of Legolas and Gimli from the end of the book, and brushes lightly over Thranduil's eventual decision to sail. It explores the welcome, or not in some cases, the elves give to a dwarf, no matter the great deeds he has done, and looks ahead, but does not deal with, the inevitable ending of the Fellowship. It tells a long story succinctly and not a word is wasted, lightly painting scenes of rich emotional depth. This is an accomplished piece of writing adn it does indeed plunge us into some angsty moments as the sail to Valinor and the Valar debate whether or not to allow them entry, and Galadriel rewards her most devoted admirer with paying for his entry to Valinor with the story of friendship between enemies who become friends. The cameo appearance of Oropher is great- with Legolas favouring him more than Thranduil ,and his appeal to his grandson tojoin him further south - it is Legolas' answer that he may join him later that is typical of this story's light references to the inevitable end, and I am glad it ended where it did, with Thradnuil's arrival rather than Gimli's death because it owuld be melodramatic and this is subtle and light, seasoned with a bit of nostaligia and anticipated grief.

Author response: Thank you so much for such a detailed review, ziggy! I did love writing the series, even if trying to do a drabble-a-day for a month to prompts I didn't know in advance got a bit hair-raising at times. One of the things I like about drabbling is trying to do a lot in a little space - as a normally very wordy writer I think it's good for me to have to pare things right down! - so I'm delighted that you felt I managed to get emotion and plot across. I enjoyed the cameos too, I must admit. I'm really pleased you liked it so much.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

An outstanding drabble series that uses all the 2010 B2MeM prompts in a gorgeous, evocative tapestry chronicling Legolas and Gimli's journey to Valinor. Azalais takes the Dwarf and Elf, and the readers, on a wonderful odyssey of bittersweet hope, decision, danger and discovery; from Legolas' persuading Gimli to leave Middle-earth with him, until, years after Gimli's death, Thranduil's arrival in the West. The series is imbued with a combination of legendary power and intimate revelation of emotion that makes for a great reading experience. My favorite two of the drabbles are those detailing Gimli's meeting, in Valinor, of the legendary, and curious, Celebrimbor; and the last drabble of all, the exultant reunion of Legolas and the father he left behind centuries ago in Middle-earth. But all of the drabbles are beautifully crafted; and can be enjoyed individually or as a thread in a larger tapestry. The characters, from Galadriel to Celebrimbor and the nervous young harbor-master and the mighty Valar, all shine; particularly Gimli and Legolas themselves. The Dwarf and the Elf interact with the authority of years of friendship; Azalais conveys this backstory of shared experience and mutual friendship effortlessly. One of the best Legolas/Gimli friendship epics I have ever read, short and sweet as each installment is...

Author response: Thank you so much for such a glowing review, Raksha - I'm honoured that you think so highly of the series. Writing it to the B2MEM prompts was a bit seat-of-the-pants at times - but I've had the general idea mulling about in the back of my mind for years, so it was good to get it out! I'm glad you enjoyed Celebrimbor - I was pleased with that drabble, though I had no idea he was going to turn up and I'm sure he wouldn't have done but for that prompt. And given how long I've spent writing That Elf and That Dwarf over the years, it's very pleasing that you think their relationship rings true. I'm delighted you enjoyed it so much.

Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 10

I read along with this series as it was posted, prompt by prompt, on LJ during B2MEM earlier this year and enjoyed it a great deal. It is very good now to be reading the drabbles together in chronological order, with a few additions from other challenges. Amazing how Azalais manages to construct a coherent story from very disparate prompts, firmly centered on the friendship of Gimli and Legolas, but affording lovely glimpses of a number of canon characters (some expected ones, such as Thranduil and Galadriel, and some much less expected ones!). There are also sketches of a number of original characters, which are skilfully drawn with only a few brush strokes, such as the Telerin harbour master and the former member of the Gwaith-i-Mirdain. For some drabbles, Azalais has used some less usual source material (and backed it up with notes), so the series can also be recommended to Silmarillion fans and the HoME experts. About Legolas and Gimli's friendship it almost seems there could be nothing new to say, but Azalais uses the prompts to throw light on the harmony-in-difference between them from unexpected angles. It is a gentle, very moving story, written not without the occasional touch of humour and a small dig at Elven racism here and there. The titles are also a great touch. Every single one seems to be a Tolkien quotation, and they are put to brilliant use in sometimes surprising contexts.

Author response: Thank you so much for such a lengthy and detailed review - I'm so glad you enjoyed the series, both when they were posted and now they're in order. Believe me, some of the characters who turned up were just as unexpected to me (where did Celebrimbor spring from?!) I'm glad you feel Sil fans would also enjoy it, since I'm normally very much an LoTR writer and did go back and do a lot of Sil re-reading to get all the Aman detail. It's also very gratifying that you liked the titles, since titling fics does often take me nearly as long as writing the blessed things - longer in the case of drabbles!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 8

I followed Azalais's Gimli-and-Legolas-go-to-Valinor series throughout Back to Middle-earth Month, and loved watching her weave together a coherent set of stories. She kept to her idea despite the non-linear story-telling that this kind of challenge almost inevitably produces, which speaks to the intensity of the story: it's usually hard to keep up thirty days' of prompt-based drabbles, all dedicated to one story idea, if the idea itself isn't both fruitful and very firmly lodged in the author's forebrain! Believe me, I know! So my hat is off to Az for her work here. She writes some fantastic atmosphere for the long, uncertain voyage across the Sundering Seas, and spans the emotional continuum, from grief to joy, hilarity and bittersweet anxiety. Who the two companions meet in Valinor, and how, the uproar over their arrival, the pain and pleasure of reunions both anticipated and unexpected, and the sadness of final partings - it's all here, packed into about 3000 words of carefully-wrought snapshots. Well done, Az! Fans of Legolas and Gimli should definitely give this a read.

Author response: Thank you, both for the nomination and for the review - you're quite right about the story having been firmly lodged in my brain (for years, I suspect) so it was good to get it out, even if trying to write to the B2MEM prompts got a bit hair-raising at times. It probably helped that I didn't have too many specific incidents already mentally written, so to some extent I could go with the prompts (hence the likes of Celebrimbor showing up out of nowhere!) I'm glad you feel the end result was coherent - everyone who's reviewed the series for the MEFAs seems to have enjoyed it, which is great.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 8

["Come with me, Gimli." "To – Valinor? Your Undying Lands? Even assuming I could get there – which you must admit is a stretch in itself – what in Mahal's name would I do? I doubt there's much opportunity for Dwarven crafts!" "Oh, I don't know. Lady Galadriel is renowned for her love of smith-work, after all...." "You'd only fall overboard on your own watching gulls, or something. I'll come."] On that note of sly humor Azailas begins this sequence of no less than 33 drabbles about Legolas and Gimli, from their journey over the sea to their arrival in Valinor, and what follows. It is more than their story, though - it is also that of Thranduil, the father Legolas has left behind, of Galadriel, who submits herself to the Ring of Doom on Gimli's behalf, of the thoroughly bemused Elves encountering this odd couple for the first time, and many other characters. Surprising meetings abound: suffice it to say that Gimli does not have to worry about boredom or a lack of opportunity in Elf-land. I like the way that Azalais invites us into the decision-making process behind these stories: each drabble comes with the prompt that inspired it and it is interesting to see how Azalais fulfills them. For those who might find that sort of thing distracting, though, never fear: the prefatory prompts are easy enough to skip in pursuit of the story itself. This series tells a cohesive and substantive narrative, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant, but definitely one for readers to take their time and enjoy.

Author response: Thank you so much for such a detailed review! Writing these to the B2MEM prompts and then assembling them afterwards got a bit hair-raising at times, so it's a great relief to hear that they add up to a "cohesive and substantive narrative" in the end. I was quite surprised myself at the gallery of supporting characters who managed to show up in response to the prompts - all in all the writing was great fun so it's lovely that the series has garnered so many positive MEFA reviews.

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 6

I well remember reading these day by day, as they were written, and enjoying each as an individual drabble as well as part of the longer story that was growing episode by episode. As someone who does the same thing, sometimes, with drabbles written for prompts (fitting prompts to episodes and leaving gaps in the hope that another prompt will fill it) I was eagerly awaiting the time when they would all be completed and ready to fit together. When that last drabble was written and the pieces of the puzzle all put together I was certainly not disappointed. Following Legolas and Gimli as they plan their journey to the Undying Lands, reading of the welcome they received there and who they met there, to the final, perfect, line was a great pleasure then, and a great pleasure again, now, when I come back to reread for review. Well worth your time to visit this, I promise.

Author response: Thank you! I enjoyed writing them, as you know, although I can't pretend the month didn't have its stressful moments both in terms of trying to work out what to do with some prompts, and figuring out how to shoehorn certain characters and events in (*ahem*meetingAule*ahem*...) It was a relief to see at the end that the finished product did (more or less!) hang together, and it's lovely that it's garnered so many positive MEFA reviews...

Reviewed by: Levade  ✧  Score: 6

This is absolutely gorgeous, sad, hilarious and all together wonderful. To fill all the prompts of B2ME 2011 was work enough, but to do so with a series of drabbles that not only illustrate the tale of Gimli and Legolas, but Thranduil, Oropher and Galadriel, is a true piece of art. And not only illustrated. We're given some truly beautiful moments, such as when Gimli is taken to meet Aule. Or Galadriel kneeling in the Mahanaxar, to cast aside her pride and plead the case of a Dwarf who most certainly deserves to be admitted to Aman. There's humour as well, after all it is Legolas and Gimli. There is deft writing and images to fill your mind. It is a journey I'm very happy I found! An amazing use of the prompts, I definitely recommend these drabbles and look forward to seeing more of Azalais work.

Author response: Thank you so much for such a lovely review, Levade! I did enjoy writing the series (although trying to keep up with all the B2MEM prompts without knowing what was coming next got a bit hair-raising, at times!) and to hear that you found it "all together wonderful", and enjoyed both the humour and the poignant moments, is incredibly gratifying. I couldn't have asked for a better recommendation for other readers.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 4

I'm not a big fan of Legolas and Gimli but I greatly enjoyed this drabble series, which Azalais wrote for the Back to Middle -earth month challenge prompts. It was a superb achievement to fit thirty plus very diverse prompts into a linked series of drabbles. Some of these drabbles are touching, others amusing, but I looked forward to each one as they were written. A most enjoyable read after which the reader feels they know Legolas and Gimli far better than before.

Author response: Thank you, Linda! I'm glad you enjoyed them, especially as not a major L&G fan.

Reviewed by: Altariel  ✧  Score: 4

A dazzling set of drabbles that follow the course taken by Gimli and Legolas into the West. It's amazing to think that these drabbles were written out of sequence, mostly in answer to the B2MEM challenge, but put into order add up to a wonderful whole. I'd also like to commend Azalais' ability to write all the beings of Middle-earth: Elves (in all their variety), Dwarves, Hobbits, Men - and Valar. This description of Aule is simply marvellous: ["they both bow low as a towering figure emerges, tools resting easy in vast hands, and the Smith and Maker calls them in"]. (But I promise, Az, that I don't suspect you of secret smithery.)

Author response: Thank you so much - "dazzling" is a lovely description! Writing them out of sequence to the B2MEM prompts did get a bit hair-raising; there were specific moments I knew I wanted to work in however I had to twist the prompts, and others I had no idea were going to turn up (Celebrimbor, ahem...) so it was something of a relief that the whole thing cohered in the end!

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 3

What a wonderful series! I loved this saga. Each scene was so unique and different, yet added to the whole in a way that created a rich tapestry. I was especially fond of Azalais's titles—they were truly excellent.

Author response: I loved writing these to the B2MEM prompts, so I'm very pleased you liked the result. And since titles are a bit of an obsession of mine - sometimes, with drabbles, taking longer than writing the piece itself - I'm delighted you enjoyed those.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

Using a variety of prompts over the course of Back to Middle-earth Month, Azalais constructed this lovely drabble series about the friendship of Legolas and Gimli and how it played out when they sailed away over the Sundering Sea. I've read a number of stories on this theme-- this is one of the dearest and most lyrical and moving.

Author response: Thank you! I'm so glad the series moved you - I really enjoyed writing it.

Reviewed by: Sandra S  ✧  Score: 2

To say much with few words is sometimes harder than saying little with many. Here the first one was thoroughly accomplished.

Author response: Thank you! I did enjoy the challenge of trying to do the whole thing in drabble form...

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 2

The travels of Legolas and Gimli begin and end -- but always with valuable lessons to learn and to teach to themselves and to others.

Author response: Various people learnt a lot during that series, I think - including me! Thanks for reviewing.