The West Wind Quartet

Author: Himring

Nominator: Angelica

2011 Award Category: Elves: House of Finwë - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Medium Length

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes,Mature Language/Themes,Violence

Summary: Emlinn, a Sinda, becomes Maglor's student and experiences the end of the Siege of Angband and the Battle of Sudden Flame - and finally ends up at Rivendell. Coming-of-age story of an artist, also character study of Maedhros and Maglor--in turns dramatic, reflective, humorous and sad. Contains a battle scene (not graphic) including a dragon. One explicit reference to a hypothetical sexual act.

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Reviewed by: Angelica  ✧  Score: 10

In this novella Himring deals mostly with a place (Maglor's Gap and then the eponymous castle of Himring) and a time (the Dagor Bragollach and the subsequent siege of Himring) that are not among the most popular in fanfiction. She does it from the point of view of Emlynn, an itinerant Sindarin singer and performer (a wonderfully realized original character) who does not fall into the usual stereotypes: she's (more or less) happily married to a carpenter and she doesn't fall in love with any participating Feanorian - at least not romantically (what musician wouldn't fall in love with Maglor?). As such she ends up being Maglor's only student while the peace lasts and then the one who would carry his legacy down the ages. She doesn't find Maedhros beautiful and irresistible but forbidding and remote although impeccably polite and totally heroic. The story moves on to less glorious times and ends in Imladris under Elrond's rule where Emlynn finally finds the chance to play the West Wind Quartet that had been composed during the Siege and never performed before. The role of art and the inspiration for artists, the importance of teachers, love, loyalty and understanding: everything finds a place in this beautiful story.

Author response: Thank you very much for this kind and thoughtful review, Angelica! I'm very glad you liked my Sindarin singer. I was a bit nervous about her reception, as she was insisting on talking about the role of art and inspiration for artists in the middle of a life-threatening siege in the depths of an icy winter. I felt that might not be everyone's cup of tea, and so I'm very happy that it seems to have appealed to you!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 10

What a wonderful piece of writing this is! This story shows us Maglor and Maedhros through the eyes of Emmlin, who is but a jobbing musician at the beginning, although much more than that by the end. We travel with her from her shock and awe at meeting first one then the other, through battle, dragon strike, and siege; and as she learns so much not only from, but of, Maglor we begin, as she does, to see them both as real people. Himring brings us such full portraits of the brothers that I feel as if I know them so much better now. She shows us the love between them (those moments in the siege where Maglor ties his brother's hair back for him, in passing, will stay with me for a long time), yet we are made to face the knowledge that, despite their love of music, words, each other, they will kill and kill again because they are oath-bound, They are truly complex characters. I like to think of Emmlin keeping Maglor's musical heritage alive throughout the ages, Like her I would like to think that, somewhere, he sometimes came across his own work, reinterpreted, and knew that she remembered him, and his brother, still as something so much more than monsters whose names were used to frighten children. I would recommend this story to anyone who likes to read or write about not only these early ages, but also about Elrond and his family, through to the Fourth Age. I think I might understand him better too, if I think of his foster fathers as they are in this story.

Author response: Thank you very much for the wonderful review and the recommendation! I am so glad you found my portrayal of Maedhros and Maglor convincing and rewarding to read! As you know, I also see Maedhros and Maglor's influence at work in Elrond's later career and have written more explicitly about that in another story, but I am happy to hear that you see the connection here as well.

Reviewed by: elfscribe  ✧  Score: 10

This is the story of a Sindarin musician named Emlinn, who becomes Maglor's pupil. Emlinn is a clear-eyed, down-to-earth individual, humble about her own abilities, although clearly she is a skilled musician. She is thrilled when Maglor chooses to tutor her, telling us that even though a Noldo he is arguably the greatest musician in Middle-earth. (The Noldor/Sindar factionalism is well portrayed.) Even though Emlinn's feelings about Maglor's character are tempered by his actions at Doriath and the Havens, she is able to see him in his entire tragic complexity and is responsible for later popularizing his music. I love the logic of this, because of course how would his music have become widely known without an elf like Emlinn to promote it? Something unusual in fanfic and an aspect I liked is that Emlinn is married, and that her relationship with Maglor and Maedhros is not romantic in a sexual sense. Nevertheless, it is a love story of devotion and loyalty to a gifted teacher. The minute I started reading this, I realized I was in a storyteller’s capable hands. First and foremost there is Emlinn’s strong voice. ["As a solo player, I’m a good harpist and a decent singer, no more, but I’m an excellent accompanist, even if I say so myself, and an experienced teacher. I learned with the best. For a time I was a student of Maglor Feanorion. You would prefer me to say that it was Daeron who was the best, not Maglor, because he was one of ours? But to compare Daeron and Maglor is to compare a pomegranate with a bunch of grapes."] Secondly, there are so many vivid and wonderful scenes: Emlinn’s first meeting with Maglor; the terrifying encounter with Glaurung; the marvelous portrait of Maglor and Maedhros’ relationship, exemplified by Maglor’s musical accompaniment of Maedhros’ martial exercise -- a magical moment. Emlinn's unique perspective allows us to see the two brothers in all their majestic power and heartbreaking “humanity.” In the best fanfic tradition, this story gave me a view of them that I didn't have before and I thank Himring for that. Himring’s prose is clear and artful and enhances her story without calling attention to itself or getting in the story’s way. Even the author notes and character descriptions are engaging -- written in a gently humorous manner. I especially loved the quotes from her “actors” Emlinn, Maglor,and Maedhros, grumbling about Himring’s rendition of their story. [Maglor: “You do realize that I'm considering sueing you for defamation of character, just as soon as I've finished charging you for all the extra hours of overtime? Not to mention the copyright issues.”] All in all, Himring is a marvelous storyteller and this is a fantastic story.

Author response: I've already told you elsewhere how deeply grateful I am for this review, which manages to be so flattering and so perceptive at the same time! Thank you so much for all your wonderful comments, especially for saying that I succeeded in giving you a view of Maedhros and Maglor that you didn't have before. I was also very glad to hear that I succeeded in making that martial exercise a "magical moment" in your eyes--that was the effect I was hoping to achieve, of course, but I was afraid I might be being overambitious!

Reviewed by: Caunedhiel  ✧  Score: 5

I'm quite a fan of the eldest son's of Feanor, so I did a little jump for joy when I saw this. The main character was wonderful and entertaining, I liked reading about her experiences throughout the first age, and her interactions with the son's of Feanor, which were superb. Especially with Maedhros, I enjoyed seeing a new side to him rather than just the stern unyielding warrior. I also enjoyed the way you blended the music into this, that was the most beautiful part! The way you brought Maglor out and explained his complex personality was fascinating. Definitely a thumbs up from me :)

Author response: Thank you very much! I'm glad to hear you found my POV character entertaining and that you liked seeing Maedhros as a scholar as well as a warrior. And, of course, the main thing: that the way music, especially Maglor's, comes into this story worked well for you!

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 4

This is a truly exquisite story that shows the lives of Maglor and Maedhros by a musician of the Sindar. Maglor discovers her playing at an inn near Maglor's Gap and takes her as a student. Later, when they are forced to flee to the safety of Himring, she eventually rises from student status to that of journeymann and becomes close not only to Maglor but Maedhros as well. When she and her husband are finally forced to leave Himring, it is Maedhros who entrusts Maglor's last musical to her keeping.

Author response: Thank you, Liadan, I'm glad you liked this!