Blood and Fire

Author: Clodia

Nominator: elliska

2010 Award Category: Races: Elves - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Medium Length

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Violence and character deaths.

Summary: Fragments of falling Doriath from Oropher's perspective. Dior will not give up the jewel...

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Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

Few fanfiction writers attempt to write seriously of Luthien, and even less attempt to write of her son. Even Tolkien seems to have relegated Dior Eluchil to a footnote in the luminous saga of Beren and Luthien, a mere link in the genetic chain between Luthien and Elwing and Earendil. Clodia steps into this vacuum with a splendid saga that not only gives Dior a long-overdue spotlight, but chronicles the last days of Doriath itself, a casualty not of Morgoth's malice but the implacable determination of the Feanorians to repossess a Silmaril. Clodia is a talented and relatively new writer; and this is one of my favorites of her stories. She can do it all, write heart-wrenching character moments, and battle, and action, death and beautiful description. The story is pervaded by an elegaic homage to the glory that was Doriath, its stone fortress Menegroth and its beautiful princess Luthien. In Clodia's hands, Dior is a living echo of Luthien; and for his sake, the people of Thingol and other Elves, such as the canny wood-Elf Oropher as well as Galadriel and Celeborn, unite to save Menegroth and the Silmaril from the invading Feanorians. The military strategies are convincing, and the battle scenes gripping. I loved the Dior/Celegorm dialogue during their duel; Celegorm is all heat and sharpness, trying his best to goad Dior into clumsiness by insulting the young king's parents; while Dior is coolly purposeful as he demonstrates something of his legendary father's skill at arms. The dramatic apex of the story, at least for me, is one of the most heart-wrenching chapters I've ever read in Tolkien fanfiction - Galadriel, entrusted by Dior with the defense of the remaining women and children, faces the soldiers of Celegorm. She is outnumbered and out-weaponed, and the soldiers are desperate to find the Silmaril and take vengeance for their fallen lord upon the innocent children of Celegorm's slayer. It's a fantastic scene, ripe with brilliant and terrible imagery; a paean to the horrors of war. The courage of the women is heartening, they are not lambs meekly accepting the invaders' brutality - the children's nurse fights hard to protect her young charges, and Galadriel really shows her stuff here, a great lady as smart and charismatic as she is courageous. Clodia's perennial original character Melinna, companion-consort to Erestor, appears here, well-written as usual. Celeborn and Oropher play significant roles in the story. One of my favorite First Age fanfic stories - highly recommended!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

Compelling, beautiful, brilliant, elusive, and heart-wrenching. Not a few authors have attempted to convey the horror of Doriath's final hours, but with swift and convincing characterizations, Clodia manages to capture this event on a level that is at once both personal and epic. Erestor, Melinna, Galadriel, Celeborn, Oropher, Dior, Nimloth, and even the sons of Feanor all come to life. Even Menegroth seems to have a personality, and its bejeweled splendor shines and flickers in the torchlight. I could spend hours extolling everything in this story that, as a writer, makes me green with envy, but there are several things that stand out. Atmosphere. The battle in the caves is broken and fragmented over perspectives and scenes that interrupt one another and flit back and forth. The writing style mirrors the battle itself, giving the impression of many actions overlaying other actions. But Clodia doesn't linger on anything for long, furthering the idea that this battle is fought in fits and starts. It appears briefly and then fades as the Sindar retreat further into the caves. The darkness is almost tangible, and the brief spurts of torchlight are bewildering to the attacking Noldor. Characterization. I don't think I've ever seen Dior given this much character before. He surprised me, and I found myself growing very attached to this young king. His cool poise in the face of Celegorm's wrath was brilliant. The strategies employed by Oropher, Celeborn, and Erestor was equally brilliant, and the way they carefully orchestrated their defeat spoke to their strength and courage. I even found myself like Galadriel, and the juxtaposition of fear and confidence in her did volumes for her character. Tone. Last but not least. This isn't glorified war. There are moments of heroism, but they are overwhelmed by long stretches of horror. This is a tragedy from start to finish, and in the end, there is no victory for the survivors. The bleak winter landscape that concludes this story says much, and the bitterness of what faces those who lived is stark and real. A masterpiece of writing.

Reviewed by: Ignoble Bard  ✧  Score: 10

There are few authors who can transition with ease between lofty descriptions of enchanted, bejeweled caves - complete with glittering fountains and towering pillars carved in the likenesses of trees bedecked with vines, flowers, and wildlife - to the horror and tension of battle as seamlessly as does Clodia in this outstanding tale of the battle of Menegroth and the death of Dior. It’s always interesting to read the various ways people write and interpret canon characters, and the portrayals of Dior and Oropher are particularly memorable here. As is Galadriel who has a nice, albeit brief, scene that shows her in a more down to earth and, dare I say, feminine light than the customary otherworldly depictions of her, which this reader found quite refreshing. Her attempt to prevent the taking of Dior’s sons is especially harrowing. The action of the battle scenes is finely balanced here by the human (or, rather, Elvish) drama, with instances of the larger battle brought down to a personal, individual level in a very real and engaging way. Of course Clodia does not forget Erestor and Melinna (two characters she has made so completely her own Erestor might not even exist in canon) and their presence provides perspective on the futility of Dior’s stand against the sons of Feanor. Flailing is inadequate for a story of this depth so I I’ll simply offer a round of respectful applause.

Reviewed by: crowdaughter  ✧  Score: 10

This story had me at the edge of my seat. It is stunning and horrible and intense, all at once, and also very, very well told and written. The last days of Doriath, the brutal battle of the remaining Sindar Elves there (as well as the Nandor and Dark Elves who pledged themselves to Dior and Nimloth in this tale) are told in such vivid detail and so matter-of-fact that the reader certainly feel to be there. There are no great heroes, here, but also no great cowards. The way that bloody last battle escalates is told so convincingly, from the first foolish view of the attacking Noldor that it will be easy, that there will no great resistance, that a second Kinslaying can be avoided, met by the desperate and deadly resistance of the defenders fighting for their lives, the the final haze of bloodlust and cruelty unleashed by the death of Curufin and Celegorm that brings about the death of Dior and his sons. The bravery and yet naivety of Dior comes across well, and yet the author does not denaunce him as a mere fool - indeed, nobody in this story get denounced, and there is no black and white here. The reasons why Dior decides to keep the Silmaril are as sound as they are, in the end, deadly. And woven into this are elements of sheer horror - the brutal and yet nearly accidental way Dior dies in the end, trampled down by the attackers, the cruelty and bloodlust that leads one of his captains to lead Dior's sons away to die within the forest, the mad and hazy fight in the dark labyrinth of Menegroth's many caves. I also liked the way the few survivors manage to escape. And perhaps one of the greatest assets of the story is that it is told from the perspective of Oropher, a youngish Oropher who yet is far away from being the later king, but still shows some qualities of a leader. This is a great story, told with Clodia's great skill at narration and imagery, and it truly makes these last few days of Doriath come alive. Very well done! Applause!

Reviewed by: pandemonium_213  ✧  Score: 9

Clodia's [Blood and Fire] – the tale of the fall of Doriath, told up close and personal -- is a magnificent novella.First there is the sense of place she conveys with rich descriptive language: I could envision the beauty of the halls of Menegroth in its waning days and then the chaos when it falls. Her action sequences are superlative – intense and very well paced. She expertly ratchets up the tension with each succeeding chapter before the Fëanorians invade to claim the Silmaril and then all hell breaks loose to release [Blood and Fire]. The confrontation between Dior and Celegorm is especially well-executed. The characterizations are excellent. Dior is fleshed out so well, becoming a real person rather than a name in a misty mythology. Likewise, Oropher and Galadriel become real and immediate. Clodia's Erestor and Melinna make an appearance, too. In other stories of Clodia's, I often see Erestor and Melinna as something akin to Nick and Nora Charles with their witty repartee, but here, they are somber. Appropriately so. [Blood and Fire] is a marvelous, stunning achievement and deserves to be placed among the best of Tolkienian flavored fan fiction.

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 8

This aptly named story gives us a detailed, engaging and very convincing account of the sack of Menegroth. On the surface it is a gripping tale of an unexpected attack, of bitter fighting in narrow spaces, of tragic deaths and of a breathtaking escape by a few survivors. Beneath this surface layer lie other issues, questions of loyalty, attachment, responsibility and political wisdom (or lack thereof). What Clodia shows with chilling clarity is that Menegroth, in all its beauty, is effectively a death trap. Having relied on Melian’s Girdle for too long, the Elves of Doriath have failed to consider rationally enough what defence the place can offer them. When the Feanorians attack, it is too late to think better of it. We see the responses of several characters to this scenario, including a moment of weakness even in Melinna, and courage and defiance in Galadriel that is both admirable and deeply touching. The intensity of the story, combined with its polished prose, makes this a very compelling read indeed.

Reviewed by: Jael  ✧  Score: 7

This story tells a familiar tale that has been handled with varying success by other writers, but this version managed to move me the most. It is written with the elegant prose I have come to expect from this author, and Clodia's understanding of psychological interaction is superbly on point. We get to see familiar characters -- Celeborn, Galadriel, Orophe -- all rendered skillfully, along with Clodia's own Erestor and Melinna. The most affecting passage, for me, were the battle in the dark, with the glories of Menegroth seen only in brief flashes, among the casualties a smashed stone thrush. The most haunting image for me was a basket of abandoned toys in a darkened sitting room in the midst of that bloody conflict. One tends to forget the children when writing of the battle. This author does not. I knew from the first word of hers I read that Clodia was a writer to be reckoned with. This story is ample proof of that. I recommend it highly, along with all of her work.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 5

All others can see where Dior the Fair's refusal to hand the Silmaril wrested from Morgoth's iron crown to the sons of Feanor will lead--why not the current King of Doriath himself? Why does he defy sense and insist on keeping the cursed thing? Oropher, Erestor, Erestor's wife--they see all too well that no good can come from such intransigence. All they can do is, when the inevitable tragedy comes, do their best to protect young Elwing and somehow spirit her and the Silmaril out of the ruins of Menegroth to a new life elsewhere. An excellent version of the destruction of Dior's short-lived rule, highlighting the sheer needlessness of the slaughter.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel  ✧  Score: 2

The imagery in this was so intensely written that I could almost see the scenes playing out in front of me, like a movie script!