Author: SurgicalSteel

Nominator: pandemonium_213

2011 Award Category: Elves: General

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet

Rating: Mature  ✧  Reason for Rating: Mature Language/Themes

Summary: Mid-Third Age - Haldanar (an OMC Elf of my creation) returns to Rivendell after a very long absence and must atone for the actions which led to his departure.

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Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 8

This story is unique in details and characterization. I really love the concept that surviving Ost-in-edel would have taken a terrible toll on the survivor. Her interesting and complex OC is a chef who lost his life partner and watched his city fall in one of the more spectacularly tragic of all of Tolkien's fallen city scenarios during the years of the Long Defeat that the elves fought in Middle-earth. I truly do believe that elves are human (because Tolkien said so and a half dozen other reasons at least) and, therefore, that horror would beget a whole series of coping mechanisms and possibly also result in failure to perfectly cope on the part of some. The upshot of this particular storyline is that unlike us the Quendi have do have more time to work out resolution and redemption throughout their semi-immortal lives. This is a story of hope and healing, of coming back, of overcoming addiction and beginning to fight the fight to salvage his life and fit back into decent society again. It is plausible, realistic and filled with heart as all SurgicalSteel's stories are.

Author response: Thank you, Oshun, you've made me blush!

Reviewed by: pandemonium_213  ✧  Score: 8

I am a big fan of Surgical Steel's OMC Haldanar, the chief chef of the House of Elrond. Such a memorable character! Steel has been kind enough to lend him to me for my own ficcish hackery. I can only hope I have done him justice. In [Reinstatement], Steel gives us a story reminiscent of the return of the prodigal son. Haldanar had a turbulent history in Rivendell, which caused him to flee the hidden valley and Elrond's household, as Steel shows us in the protagonist's recollections. What I particularly liked about this story is that how she shows, through her OMC, the consequences of a very long life and the resulting burden of memory for a human with a lifespan of indefinite longevity. The dark memories of the fall of Ost-in-Edhil haunt Haldanar, and he seeks solace in a plausible way. With the resilience of the Elves, he has been able to drag himself out of the gutter, as it were, and seeks reinstatement in Elrond's kitchens. I really like how Steel plays Haldanar as brash and cocky, but with profound vulnerability and emotional scarring as well.

Author response: Thank you, Pande, I'm really glad this worked for you. I've got more planned for Haldanar in the not too distant future!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 5

I am a great fan of Surgical Steel's stories set during Aragorn's lifespan (for want of a better way to describe the time-span!), set around the Houses of Healing, Ithilien, Umbar, Bree and so on, as we follow her wonderful battle surgeon through a very, very varied life. The central character of this tale, Haldanar, is there in the kitchens of Imladris when the stories take the characters there - and this glimpse at his life in long years spent elsewhere is both fascinating and welcome. As one might expect from this author, his life has not been all pleasantry and pleasures - and he is not entirely a stranger to sorrow, or snark - which certainly makes him all the more real.

Author response: Thanks, CuriousWombat! Haldanar was one of those characters who just sort of appeared and demanded to have his side of things told. He started out as just someone for Serinde to snarl at in my AU, but somehow grew into much more. I'm hoping to write more about him in the near future, so I'm glad to hear that you think he's an interesting character!

Reviewed by: Russandol  ✧  Score: 5

I love Haldanar. I like the fact that he is not a hero, a warrior or an artist of renown, just an ordinary person with failings like anyone else. So ordinary and un-heroic that he was traumatised during the terrible events in Ost-in-Edhil, and he carried that pain for many years. His fall into addiction and the way he breaks out of it a long time later by realising how badly he can end, are disturbingly plausible. What must it be like, to be immortal and live with such painful memories for so long. And Elrond... he is absolutely magnificent as the lord of Imladris.

Author response: Thank you, Russa - I have more ideas for Haldanar which I'll be trying to write in the not-too-distant future - I'm glad you like him and liked this story!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

An interesting peek into some very human aspects of Elvendom; via the return of an Elf to Imladris who was told by Elrond to leave. Haldanar, an original character, takes the reader into the consequences of great trauma and sorrow on the long experience and memory of an Elf; how even an Elf can lose himself by trying to lose the pain. Excellent dialogue, too; and Elrond is also well-written.

Author response: Thanks, Raksha, I'm glad you liked this!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 4

I really enjoy SurgicalSteel's OMC Haldanar, the Elf who serves as Elrond's chief cook at the end of the Third Age. He's cranky and irascible and a thorough prima donna. He has reason to be so surly; his life's not been easy since the end of the Second Age, but he hopes to be able to turn that around as he returns to Rivendell after a long absence. I love this glimpse into his backstory, as well as a chance to see Elrond exhibit his kindness (and his susceptibility to humor).