The Crafting of the Seeing Stones

Author: Larner

Nominator: Raksha the Demon

2011 Award Category: First Age and Prior: General - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Why were the palantiri created, and then why were they given to the Faithful in the Land of Gift?

Read the Story  ✧  Backup Story Link

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

Most mothers, especially mothers of young children, would love to have a way to keep tabs on their offspring. In our era, baby monitors and cellphones can help a mother watch over her children. In Tolkien's Arda, there aren't any cellphones or security cameras. So I got a great surprise, and a great kick out of the idea of this story. Larner sets it up with a weary Nerdanel asking her clever artificer husband to come up with a device that would help her watch her lastborn children, the infant twins, so she can have peace of mind when she's busy at the forge and has to leave the babies at home. And what does Feanor produce in response to his wife's plea? The palantiri, of course! It's sort of humorous, that the mighty, mysterious devices so revered among the Third Age Dunedain, were created as mother's helpers. But it also makes a lot of sense, since Nerdanel also wants a way to communicate with her older sons, and for them to communicate with their brothers. The number of palantiri does correspond to the number of the children of Feanor and Nerdanel. Larner uses the palantiri as a focus for the evolution of Feanor and Nerdanel's relationship. They progress from the loving couple who want to maintain ties with each other and all of their sons to the family sundered by exile, pride, bitterness. The distance created by Feanor's Oath cannot be breached by even the master-stone of Feanor's devising. The end is bittersweet; Nerdanel no longer needing the palantiri, since her husband and all but one of her sons, gone beyond the stones' reach, are in Mandos. Her disposition of the Seeing Stones is very much in-character for the saddened yet still wise Nerdanel.

Author response: Indeed it was precisely baby monitors and cell phones that came to mind when this story first presented itself to me; to find that the humor gave way to the reality of the growing distance between proud Feanor and his wife who refused to share his anger and suspicions toward the Valar rather surprised me; but thus it must have been in the end. It was definitely interesting to consider just how the palantiri might have come to be invented, and then how they came into the hands of the Faithful and thus with them back to Middle Earth. Thank you so for this lovely review of my story, Raksha. It meant a good deal to me!

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 6

Dear Larner, at first I thought this was going to be a humorous story, considering how you are basically saying that the palantiri came into existence as a kind of magical baby monitor. This certainly was and remains a very amusing thought. However, as cute toddlers grow into children, adolescents and eventually men, the tone of the story quite rightly changes form the amusing to the serious. The way you describe it, the fate of the seeing stones becomes a reflection of the fate of Feanor’s family. Nerdanel, as usual, is invested with all the tragedy her story entails. This is a gentle, melancholy tale that highlights the kind of heartbreak women can be subjected to where men are obsessed with power and aggression.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 5

Oh dear - that makes too much sense! Why would Feanor be moved to make palantiri? Larner's answer is hilarious, practical, and eventually explains how they ended up in the hands of the Faithful of Númenor. Seven sons will drive one to innovation, that is certain, particularly in their younger years - unlike in the real world, where previously political and military technology becomes adapted to civilian uses, in Middle-earth, the political and military use of palantiri is an adaptation of the world's first remote baby-tracking system. Too funny - good work, Larner!

Reviewed by: Inzilbeth  ✧  Score: 5

Larner, this is a truly fascinating story and also a highly plausible explanation for how Feanor came to make the seeing stones in Valinor. Now that you've come up with an explanation it seems so obvious! And the further explanation of how they ended up in the hands of the Faithful on Numenor and of course eventually in Gondor and Arnor is equally satisfying. I do applaud you for devising such an original story and for executing it so well even if it is a little amusing that the great Palantir started out as an instrument to keep watch on Feanor's unruly children!

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 3

This is a very interesting story of how the palantiri were made. I like the explanation for the master stone and those two "twins", which explains why the palantir of Emyn Beraid sees only across the sea. And I really really love the sentence ["The nurse curtseyed with relief and fled to her own chamber, leaving master and mistress in charge of the two terrors of her life, vowing secretly that she would herself never give birth—and certainly not to two at once!"]

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

Most readers probably assume that the palantiri were created for lofty reasons concerning the fates of kingdoms. This story suggests that they might have been crafted--albeit by the greatest of all Elven craftsmen, Feanor himself--for a far more mundane reason. The plot is still quite reasonable, and the story is a good one.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 2

A fascinating and well written account of how the palantiri came into being.They seem the sort of thing Feanor might have crafted.HE certainly would have had the skill.

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 2

This is a great story that gives a plausible explanation for who created the palantiri and just why so many of them were needed in the first place.