Burning Bright: The Road

Author: Keiliss

Nominator: elfscribe

2011 Award Category: Adventure: General - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Novel

Rating: Mature  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes,Sexual Content

Summary: The outbreak of war in Eregion and the hiding of the rings of power as experienced by a musician, a lord with an agenda set beyond the sea, an exiled Noldorin princess and an elf with an uneasy conscience. Cameos by Durin the Deathless, Ereinion Gil-galad, Celebrimbor, and Annatar the Giver of not always welcome Gifts.

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Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 10

This story follows several well-known canon characters on the brink of the war on Eregion. I loved the description of Moria when it was still a stronghold of the dwarves. The dwarven city under the mountain comes to life, and for the first time I could imagine how the dwarves thrived there. Celebrian and Galadriel make a strange mother-daughter team. Galadriel loves her daughter, but she is not the born mother ;-). But Celebrian seems to have the ability to make friends everywhere. A second strand of the story follows Erestor and Lindir. Lindir is not just the brilliant musician. He has more going for him and has some unexpected (at least by me) characteristics. Erestor's encounter with Annatar made shudder. I hadn't expected that. Poor elf. It will take time to get over that. And then there is Glorfindel with an agenda on his own. Sent back to Middle-earth, he tries to fit in and get comfortable again in a changed world. The dream in the last chapter was chilling. How will this dream and canon from what we know of the books fit together in the end? I hope Book two is not long in coming. As a friend of cats, I liked the mentioning of cats in the story. How they help relax Glorfindel, and just casually stroll in and out of scenes.

Author response: Thanks for a lovely and comprehensive review, it's very kind of you. For some reason I always associate Glorfindel with cats, no idea why but it feels right. I'm glad you liked the scenes in Moria, I found them really interesting to write, if a bit scary because I'd never tried to describe a society like that before. I was in two minds about sharing Glorfindel's dream because we all know the Rings remained in Middle-earth, but I figured the 'how' was the important question :P I'm half way through the first draft of Book Two, so I should start posting that quite soon. I'm flattered you're looking forward to it. Thank you :)

Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 10

More Keiliss is a very good thing--and this novel, which began with a NaNoWriMo project, is shaping up to be even longer than her masterpiece Quicker Than Doubt.I believe she is working on the second part of Burning Bright and am crossing my fingers we get to read it soon. Burning Bright features some of Keiliss's familiar characters: Erestor, Gil-galad, Glorfindel, Galadriel, Celeborn, but as, often with Keiliss, they are not quite the same as in others of her stories. She has repeatedly tweaked the back stories and characterization of Erestor and Glorfindel in particular, and she does so again here. It keeps amazing me that she can write these characters convincingly in so many different constellations--each time they are different and each time unmistakably hers--and we fall in love with them all over again. That said, Keiliss is also definitely breaking a lot of new ground here. Not only does the novel feature elven characters we have seen little or nothing of in her work before, such as Celebrian, Celebrimbor and Lindir, we also get dwarves and Avari--and we also get sheer action on an unprecedented scale, as Keiliss sets out to chart the events surrounding the outbreak of war in Eregion, moving her pieces across the board and skilfully interweaving different narrative strands. Keiliss in the past hasn't needed much action to tell an enthralling story, but that doesn't mean that she can't do action and she amply proves it here. There is also a rather darker side to this story, hardly surprising in itself, as Sauron/Annatar is involved, but it does not only involve him and some of it is very unexpected. So far, the most interesting developments have centered on Galadriel and Erestor, but clearly Glorfindel and Elrond are waiting in the wings, so to speak, and I hope we get more Gil-Galad, too.

Author response: BB: The Road went places I never imagined I'd need to follow. I did not plan on writing dwarves, for a start. Or most of Erestor and Lindir's thread :D There were all sorts of things I'd never tried before and part two is shaping up to be as scary to write. There will be more Gil-galad, btw. After spending the whole of part one not wanting to get involved, he wandered back and demanded a POV thread. Typical. Anyhow, back to the business at hand. I'm really thrilled by your kind words here, you left me smiling. It's a very special experience to be reviewed by a writer you really admire. Thank you so much.

Reviewed by: Scarlet10  ✧  Score: 10

Well, I second the first two reviews. Any story by Keiliss is one that I'll read eagerly, and this one was no exception. I too hope to read the 2nd part of it, as soon as it's done :-). It had been an unexpected turn of events all through the first part. There is darkness, which fits the time described, and then some surprising revelations of tenderness and wisdom, from unexpected places during the story. The story feels like its the "ground setting" for the real parts to come, and yet, in itself, it introduces us to characters we know from so many fics, but still, they are fresh and new here. The story takes place on multiple places, which opens to us, readers, a door to inner politics, relations among leading figures, as well as how the "little elf" survive the ego battles among it's leaders. I loved some parts more then the others (and of course I won't let too much here), because every reader has his/her inner worlds which they bring into any fic read. But I was impressed with the characters depicted, even if I liked their behavior less then others. Keiliss, when you read this review please see it for what it is: A thank you review for the wonderful previous story, and a cry/request/demand, for the next part :-)

Author response: What, no 'I like it, but...'? :D I know exactly what this is, it's a gift from someone whose opinions I always find interesting and at times challenging, and I am very, very grateful for it. Thank you, my dear, it's a lovely review and most generous. As you say, there was an element of ground setting in BB: The Road, something I think I was aware of well before the middle. I hope I get where it's meant to be going -- book two is about half way through the first draft so I should start posting fairly soon, and when I do I have an idea there'll be a few other things that'll not make you happy *grins*. Thank you, Scarlet.

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 10

What I love about Keiliss’s stories is that they are always essentially character-driven. She starts with character, personality, motivations, even ethnicity or personal history and moves forward from there. In her shortest pieces, where she does not allow herself the space to provide the reader with all of that incredibly relevant history, the characters always bear the imprint of it nonetheless. Where this method of story-building really soars is in the longer story form. For this reason, I was delighted to find that she had launched another epic novel. (I fell in love with Keiliss’s work in {Even Quicker than Doubt}, which I never miss an opportunity to promote.) In this novel, she picks up two of my favorite characters as she defines them: Galadriel and Erestor. Their parallel story lines make up the bulk of this novel, which apparently is the first of two parts. Her backdrop is the biggest events of the Second Age, those set in Eregion and centered around the fall of Ost-in-Edhel. But once again, the real stories are the people. These characters are vibrantly alive for Keiliss, but unlike some of us, she does not give them one backstory and one single unified plot throughout the body of her work. She likes to throw in a wild card in different stories and see where everyone falls. One always recognizes her Erestor, one of my all-time favorites, but he changes when she alters one or another aspect of his choices or experience. Read this story and fall in love with Erestor—if you already have—enjoy him here again. Extra added treat is Galadriel on-the-move with Celebrian—a wonderful opportunity to see what kind of a mother Keiliss envisions her to have been.

Author response: I can't help it, I have to say this -- I was so impressed you managed to get a promo for Doubt into this review! That is --- I'm laughing, it's just ... *happy* More seriously, I think you summed up how I'm most comfortable writing. Know the character, hear their voice, be clear about where they come from, put them in a situation and then just follow where they go, because once a character has an inner logic, whatever they do or say should make sense. I'd never tried to definie it, but -- yes, I think that's what I do. And no, this isn't the place to discuss writing techniques, I know, lol. Thank you for a lovely long and very flattering review, I appreciate it so much!

Reviewed by: elfscribe  ✧  Score: 10

This is Book One of an ambitious story surrounding the fall of Ost-in-Edhil. The story abounds with politics and Kei's wonderful characters. As always with Kei's work, reading this is to fall completely into a fully envisioned part of Middle-earth in all its wondrous detail. I enjoyed traveling through Eregion with Lindir and Erestor, meeting other characters like the Avari Badger, an elf whose culture seems so different from the others. Galadriel and Celebrian's trip through Kazad-dum was another treat. Many of the characters are ones we've encountered before in Kei's work, wonderfully re-envisioned for this story. Not to mention the incredibly charged erotic scene in the last chapter when we meet Kei's powerful rendition of Annatar, as seen through Erestor's eyes. I particularly loved the opening scene in which Glorfindel is traveling to Middle-earth with the images Kei paints of the sudden drop off of the seas, Glorfindel's swan ship, the birds flocking about telling him land is near, Gil-galad with his hastily tied hair and Glorfindel, tall and golden-haired --all wonderful, reminding me of a pre-Raphaelite painting. This first book felt like players on a chess board all moving into place to get ready for the next part of the action. Looking forward to more.

Author response: Oh my, you managed to find time to finish it? I am so touched by this, really. It was enough of a compliment that you nominated BB on the basis of the first chapter.... Thank you so much love, this is a quite wonderful review, rather unexpected and deeply appreciated. *hugs*

Reviewed by: Levade  ✧  Score: 10

So few people write in the Second Age, and if someone tackles it, it usually centers on one realm during that time. Keiliss has taken on a huge endeavour here, and any reader who takes the time to savour it is in for a real treat! There was so much going on at this time in Tolkien's world. War in Eregion, Dwarves who surprise and delight (I'd *love* to see more), the Rings of Power, politics, love, drama... What more could a reader ask for? And Keiliss delivers. There just isn't any disappointment in this story. If you don't get enough, she's working on a second book! Of course, anyone who reads Kei knows she especially loves Erestor and writes him as a strong, sometimes surprising character. Glorfindel is in here too, but we'll have to wait for book two to see how they meet. Galadriel is another incredibly strong character in this story, as well as a young Celebrian. I found myself wishing for more Galadriel, and that's saying something. Gil-galad is another favourite and Keiliss writes one of the best I've ever read. If you want a plot, politics on a grand scale, richly developed characters who surprise and delight, romance and intrigue, and flashes of humour, you can't go wrong by reading this story. I can't recommend it strongly enough.

Author response: Oh man, that is such a great review you even make me half want to go and read it... then I remember I'll have to soon enough anyhow and I get over it, lol. Seriously, thank you so much for a quite stunning review, it means a lot to me that you've taken the time to write something this comprehensive and so complimentary. How's that for a pathetic 'thank you'? Thanks, dearest *hugs*

Reviewed by: Red Lasbelin  ✧  Score: 10

Oh, this is such a cool story. Kei's writing for me has always been about the characters first, and then the story that's woven with their actions, but this one is a step outside her norm. The story is first and characters are woven through brilliantly. I think even if you don't feel up to reading a long story like this, the prologue and epilogue are genuinely worth a read. Erestor, Lindir, Gil-galad, Glorfindel, Galadriel, Brim (oh Brim, why was history so cruel!), Elrond and Celeborn...the list goes on, old favorites of Kei's, reimagined and some new faces entirely. There's a twist to the story, in particular Erestor's arc, and it's chilling and extremely well done. There's a scene in here of Galadriel and Durin of which that I have never seen the like. I like seeing Celebrian younger and traveling with her mother after the upheaval and tragedy of Eregion. This story does make me wish that an alternate universe of this story exists, where Galadriel and Celebrimbor run off with each other. The chemistry is just palatable. It's a really good, driven ride - if you have any interest in the time period of Annatar the Deceiever, and the Rings of Power, this really is an exceptional story and I'm looking forward to Book 2!

Author response: Replies are getting shorter as the night gets longer --- The scene with Durin is one of my favourites, you know. I worried about the other dwarf scenes, but that one was something I saw and heard first time -- I could hear Durin's voice. Brim and Gladdy - yes, well that would have changed the entire history of Middle-earth because she WOULD have made Brim leave Ost-in-Edhil in time, and they'd have been running off together across Eriador carrying three rings of power and with an angry husband in pursuit..... heh. The point of this wasn't meant to be discussion thoughts on BB, lol. It's to thank you for the long, glowing and very kind review you've left and to promise to try and keep things organised and nicely edited when we resume with book two. Thanks for everything, dear.

Reviewed by: Melusine  ✧  Score: 5

This is a many-layered tale, and this first chapter in this series really builds the tension. There is the background of war with all its uncertainties and fears, and in this setting the characters are portrayed with an insight that makes you think the writer created them herself. I could relate to them all in some way, but especially with Galadriel. We see her not as the Lady of the Golden Wood, but as a wife worried about her husband, and as a mother who's quite sure she could be doing a better job at it. It makes her more approachable and sympathetic to me. I'm looking forward to the follow-up.

Author response: I appreciated your support and encouragement right through BB: The Road, and am equally grateful for this very flattering review. Glad you like the slightly different look at Galadriel, though I can't take credit for anything as she more or less writes herself, lol. I've always thought Tolkien (accidentally) wrote a very modern woman when he created he: a high powered professional, probably can't cook, forgets the little basics other mothers always gets right... Starting to ramble. Sorry *g*. Thank you again!

Reviewed by: Phyncke  ✧  Score: 4

This is a richly textured story about a time not often hit upon in fan fiction. Excellently drawn characters and imagery that will live long in my memory. I followed this story with interest when it was published on livejournal and was very interested in the plot as well as characters. Keiliss masterfully pulls the reader into this very interesting setting and time in Tolkien's verse. I especially enjoyed the Dwarvish segments and the descriptions of Khazaddum. Very well done. The relationships work here and fit the storyline.

Author response: Writing the Dwarvish parts scared me half to death, it was a whole new world. I think the only scene I was totally confident with from the start was the one with Durin, lol. I really appreciated all your encouragement while I was posting BB, and equally am touched by this review, specially as I know how few reviews you had time to write this year. Thank you, hon. Next book, they're going to Numenor. Makes Khazad-dum feel positively neighbourly as writing experiences go :(

Reviewed by: Erulisse  ✧  Score: 4

This epic twisting tale ends with the words "End of Book One" and leaves me, and many others I suspect, waiting anxiously for Book Two. But if you have not read Book One, or if you want to revisit it's virtual pages while awaiting Book Two, who could blame you? It's well worth the journey and repetition only makes the journey sweeter. Keiliss has crafted a classic here, and you owe it to yourself to read it.

Author response: Ha. Book Two is half way and hurting my brain! Thank you so much for the kind words and for making time to review BB: The Road. You've been most kind and I really appreciate it.

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 2

Glorfindel returns to Middle Earth just as war begins in Eregion and the Elven rings need to be hidden for safekeeping.

Author response: Your summary is way better than the one I use, lol. I'm quite jealous, that's a gift. Thank you for the review, I really appreciate it :)