Fair Folk and Foul

Author: Adaneth

Nominator: Gandalfs apprentice

2007 Award Category: Races: Cross-Cultural - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Novel

Rating: Mature  ✧  Reason for Rating: Graphic description of combat; insinuations of sexual conduct.

Summary: Fell fiends still prowl the mountains, and now there is an elven ship offshore. Will Saelon and the remnants of the DĂșnedain of Srathen Brethil find refuge near the sea, or will they be forced to seek vengeance in alliance with the Dwarves, to return to their homes in safety?

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Reviewed by: Gandalfs apprentice  ✧  Score: 10

[spoilers] I like this installment of Adaneth's series even better than the first, perhaps because of the looming danger and threat, or the increase in cultural tensions. We see more canon characters here, too, and their presentation is original and consonant with Adaneth's own Middle-earth. But best of all was the resolution of the identity of the raugs, which she describes just enough to get your heart pounding. Not just Grendel--his mother too! Much better than Angelina Jolie. My heart sang at your portrait of the Elves, Adaneth. Frankly, I find them freaky and rather dull, certainly scary and remote, kind of like having an angel in your kitchen. I'd much rather have tea with Veylin any day. I keep wanting to ask for you to throw your net wider and tell us more about the Northern Dunedain. Tolkien left such a large hole there, it's wonderful to see such talent filling its emptiness. But since your series shows no sign of slowing down, I'll reserve my demands. The romantic in me wants a happy ending after all, but frankly I can't begin to guess. Would it be too much to ask for Gandalf to make an appearance? There's another huge hole there! What were the wizards doing all those years? How did Gandalf get interested in the Blue Mountain Dwarves?

Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 10

Everything that I loved from Rock and Hawk applies to this sequel in abundance. Once again, excellent writing and characterizations, descriptions both beautiful and horrific, well-conceived world-building and compelling plot - all of it bound together into a fantastic whole. Adaneth additionally proves herself capable of enthralling action scenes as we get into the battle against the fiends. I think the Dwarven characterizations and PoVs alone make this story worth reading. Adaneth takes the little bit of Dwarven culture developed by Tolkien and seamlessly extrapolates from it, so believably that it *all* feels as though it must have come from Tolkien's own mind. I enjoyed how some common conceptions are twisted a bit via Saelon's sympathetic, but unusual (for the times) personality: normally the Rangers and Elrond's sons are unequivocally the "good guys", and here I found myself disgruntled and fed up with them on Saelon's behalf. One of the most wrenching moments is at the end, when all the incorrect and preconceived notions that surround Veylin and Saelon's friendship force them into a more distant relationship. They must veer away from a wonderful easy familiarity and stumble their way into something more formal for both their sakes, and I am left eager for the next installment to learn how successfully they manage it...

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

Adaneth continues the saga of the exiles of Srathen Brethil and their chance alliance with a Dwarvish colony that has just established itself nearby. The monsters still lurked as of the end of the last story, and they remain a threat as [Fair Folk and Foul] opens. The intervention of a Ranger squad sent by the Chieftain, Aragorn, who arrives from over the mountains to hunt the beasts is matched by the first stirrings of interest from Lindon - not that the emissary seems particularly friendly! Tension builds as misfortune strikes, depriving Saelon's people of their Chieftain, and halving the number of settlers in the village. At this point, it's time for a motley crew of Dwarves and Men - only one of whom is a Ranger - to take on the creatures. And while I don't recall seeing any leading quotes from [Beowulf], this is essentially a transfiguration of that tale - the repeated, unsuccessful and costly attempts to slay the monsters when they come hunting in the hall, the one companion (Veylin) who manages to lop off a paw, the journey of oath-sworn companions who dare to bait the beast in close quarters, who must finish the job by seeking the monsters in their watery lair, and the revelation of the Grendel-mother all come together in the final chapters of the story. The cultural interactions are very well done - there is a definite shift between the perspective of the Edain and Dunedain and the perspective of Veylin and the Dwarves. Adaneth, as in the previous installment, shows this very well, and the difficulty of forging an alliance across cultures where so much scope for misunderstanding lies. Veylin and Saelon continue to be regarded askance, as a pair of unlikely ally-friends, and individually precisely because everyone wants to know why on earth they seem to get on so well and are willing to fall back on the oldest motive in the book (and the one most likely to cause offense). One would hope the survivors of Srathen Brethil and Veylin's folk would be able to settle down and begin to build an alliance based on more than a desire for vengeance against a mutual foe. But that elven emissary, with his arrogant and foreboding words, remains at large - the Lindon affair hasn't even begun yet, and who knows what twists that will introduce? I look forward to the next installment! Stories like these are some of the reasons I love MEFAs - I find things I had been wanting to read but lost track of, or had not had time for, or simply had not known, and have an excuse to make the time to sit with them. Well done, Adaneth! Both stories in your Dunhebaid cycle I would recommend to anyone with a love of Middle-earth - this is just the sort of tale to help fill in the history of the place with the adventures of war and peace.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 9

As the first part of the series, this, too, is a wonderfully intricate exploration of clashes of opposing, or at least differing, cultures and races: DĂșnedain and Rangers, Elves and Dwarves, women and men etc., amidst a fully-realised and very present landscape. The new element some Rangers bring to this already heady mix gives opportunity for new misunderstandings that for a time threaten the still wary understanding the Dwarves and Saelon's people had reached (and the Elves, too, begin to take an interest in the people settled on their land). It was very poignant that the Dwarves - the strangers - could appreciate Saelon's qualities more than her own people, who either held them in little regard, or took them for granted. You show well the effect of many people circumstances force to live together; as well as how the unlikely friendship between Veylin and Saelon is not or wrongly understood by both races, and thus poisoned by malicious or merely thoughtless insinuations, which force them to self-consciously distance themselves from each other. The hunt, fight and defeat of the mysterious "raug" was plotted well, and had me holding my breath more than once.