A Crash Course in History

Author: Himring

Nominator: Angelica

2011 Award Category: Post-Ring War and Beyond: Elves or Dwarves

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Maedhros reads The Lord of the Rings (the Imladris edition, provided by Fingon). Slightly AU, as it presupposes the re-embodiment of both the main characters before the end of Arda in Valinor. Mildly humorous. Fingon/Maedhros (but only by implication and perhaps compatible with a bromance interpretation)

Read the Story  ✧  Backup Story Link

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 9

I enjoyed this story so very, very much and what it not to like about it a gift that pays a tribute to two of one’s most treasured Silmarillion characters. The title and the main point of the story made me smile. Fingon has been out of the Halls of Mandos for a while and is savy enough to know a bit about recent history of Middle-earth, whereas Maedhros has whole swath of history to cover. Fingon has his best friend forever is going to help him cover it. To other people, I wonder, if the degree of fascination that you and I have about the most mundane details of the lives of Maedhros and Fingon might a bit of a bore (inside joke). Of course, it is that shared rapturous interest in all the details large and small that made me fall in love with your pieces about Fingon and Maedhros the first time I ran across them. Not surprisingly, I’ve enjoyed picking up canon from Dawn Felagund that includes Maedhros being somewhat of a history buff himself. Thank you so much for this story! This is so much fun--thinking about Maedhros leaving the halls of Mandos and pursuing the history of the time he missed. Of course, Fingon would have to be there looking after the entire process. Thanks again!

Author response: Thank you very much! Of course, that bit about Maedhros not making do with Valinorean abridgements is meant as a tribute to your principle of going back to the primary sources when you write your character bios! Although, since my version of Maedhros is a bit of a perfectionist under any circumstances, it is entirely in character for him, also. And you are quite right, you know--even in Tolkien fandom to so many, Maedhros seems just to be the guy who hung from a cliff and then jumped into an abyss and spent his spare time in between kin-slaying! They wouldn't want to know his choice of reading-material, certainly! I re-read bits of Another Man's Cage again recently and realized once again how formative an influence Dawn was on me--as on a considerable number of other people...

Reviewed by: Angelica  ✧  Score: 5

In the far future, Maedhros and Fingon have at long last found peace and an approximation of normalcy in their life together: Fingon tries to concentrate doing the accounts while Maedhros reads in the garden catching up with all the history that has passed him by while in Mandos . This small scene of domesticity is full of precise details that take the reader to experience the warm sun, to see Maedhros concentrated in his book flexing his toes, to consider the market for history books in Tirion and the mythical existence of hobbits, everything against the background of the passing of milennia represented by the vine that Fingon had to plant over and over while he waited for his cousin.

Author response: Thank you very much again, both for nominating this story and for reviewing it! In a way, it's really an epilogue to The House that Fingon Built, except at the time of Oshun's birthday, I had not actually managed to write that story yet. I am thrilled to see that those details you mention seem to make this story work on its own for readers, without the context of the longer story!

Reviewed by: Russandol  ✧  Score: 5

The opening lines about the replanted vine tell us beautifully of Fingon's long wait, of his hope, of wishing to be ready for Maedhros, of dreams about when they would be together again. Such a wonderful image, the vine and Maedhros sitting on the bench under its shade. I enjoyed the quiet scene and laughed at the thought of Maedhros being so entranced reading "The Lord of the Rings" in its Valinorean version as I once was, and of his lover being entranced in turn at the sight of his enjoyment. I wonder how many more questions Maedhros would ask.

Author response: Thank you so much! I am glad you like the image of the vine. This piece was conceived as a sort of epilogue to the House that Fingon Built, although it was actually written first (on the occasion of Oshun's birthday). Here is what I ended up saying about the vine there: "Now, as I stand at the gate of my house, our house, watching Findarato walking away from me down the street, you are everywhere. As long as I keep my back turned, you are sitting in that arbour in the front garden, reading one of the books I bought for you, for I chose a bench that would be long enough for your legs and planted a vine so that it would shade your face as you read. When I enter a room, it is always as if you have only just left. My love, I do think I have succeeded in re-colonizing Valinor for both of us." And I'm sure Maedhros would have plenty of other questions about the end of the Third Age, although he might save some of them for later!

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 5

A brief scene and yet another slice-of-life that Himring so excels at, this time with added spice due to the unusual use of second-person narration from Fingon's POV regarding Maedhros. The ficlet reads wonderfully alive due to all the minor but very present details like the replanted vine, Maedhros's toes curling while he reads, and his obvious enjoyment of [The Lord of the Rings]. Yes, [A Crash Course in History] has Maedhros reading LotR, but it is by no means a crack-fic (if a light-hearted one), rather a testament to Maedhros's hunger for knowledge after his return from Mandos. It is an appealing idea, somehow, to see the text surviving, and what's more, an elf engaging with the same book that most all of fandom knows and loves.

Author response: I'm so glad you liked this, Elleth! As you say, part of the idea is that, even though for him LotR is factual history rather than fiction, his enjoyment of it makes Maedhros, in a sense, a fan like us,--or like Oshun, for whose birthday I wrote it. I'm also happy to hear that the second-person narration works well for you!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 4

Himring gives us an unusual scene: Maedhros and Fingon... relaxed. It's a great image of Maedhros, as seen by Fingon, who clearly finds household accounts significantly less interesting than watching his lover sprawled out under a tree, catching up on "ancient history" (which is all primary sources, no [Valinorean abridgement] for Maedhros while Fingon is about!). This is a scenelet where the reader brings the background to the reading; lovingly written - thanks, Himring!

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

Maedhros is back, and Fingon's got him--although this story can be interpreted equally well as close, dedicated friendship between the cousins, or as slash. Essentially a one-shot of the two of them reunited after their AU rebirth, and Maedhros has some catching up to do. Enjoyable, and the last line is the best.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

How is a reborn Noldo elf in the Fourth Age (or later) to react to the history of Middle Earth during the time said Noldo has spent in Mandos’ halls? Here is a thoughtful depiction of just such an event. And the ending line is perfect! A well paced depiction of one seeking to fill in the gaps left by two or more ages of absence!