Beyond the Clouded Hills

Author: Bodkin

Nominator: elliska

2009 Award Category: Races: Elves: Featuring Mirkwood Elves - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: On arriving in the Greenwood, Thranduil and a Silvan elf begin to build the bonds that end up in kingship.

Read the Story

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

I love reading these kinds of stories. The acceptance of the Sindar by the Silvan elves into the forest has always intrigued me, and in the hands of a writer like Bodkin, such a story is nothing short of spectacular. One of the things I need to mention first is setting. Bodkin is very aware of this people's history, and that history becomes a part of the tale. This is a weary and bedraggled company who have learned much through hard experience. And they are prepared to learn again, as experience also taught them that they do not wish to imitate the Noldor and disrupt the community into which they are moving. And I love that this aspect of the history unfolds slowly, with tidbits coming up all throughout the story about how Oropher has arranged for his elves to move in to the forest. And then there's the elves themselves. In particular, there's Oropher, Thranduil, Maltheniel (whom I loved immediately), and the native Faroth, whose distrust and suspicion is justified and plausible. I love the way that Thranduil and Maltheneil go about ambushing him, and I love the discussion they have. Thranduil is quite the character, and he very naturally takes the lead here. His patience with Faroth and tolerance/amusement/long-suffering with Maltheneil almost seem to be at odds with his casual dismissal of the trouble he will be in later and his disregard for Oropher's concerns. But in truth, they all speak of his instincts and his determination to follow through with what he deems to be most important. It's a fantastic character portrait, and it pays in the end. But what I loved most was the realization that Faroth came to and how he felt the song of the woods enriched by both Oropher and Thranduil. A wonderful meeting of two cultures, with both cultures respected and their history told.

Reviewed by: elliska  ✧  Score: 10

There are so many things to love about this first meeting between Thranduil and the woodelves that he would one day govern. This meeting is something he would have remembered with some amusement, I imagine, when that governance was particularly difficult, as it must have often been. The idea of Maltheniel's mother so disapproving of the move and demonstrating that by disapproving of Thranduil's friendship with her is very funny. Especially the suggestion that Thranduil is always leading other young people into trouble. That must have annoyed Oropher to hear! And the resulting banter is typical of your consistently wonderful dialogue. But my favorite parts of this story are: First, a simply line where Maltheniel says there is no possibility to simply sit and listen in the crowd that they form. Being a country girl at heart, I often feel that way in the relatively bigger city where I now live, so I can really identify with that comment. And second (and more importantly): how well you capture the hesitancy of Faroth and the 'foreigness' that he feels around the new comers. That is very well done and realistically done. And it is something not often considered in stories about Oropher's arrival in the Greenwood. Great story!

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 9

It is always a joy to read a story written by Bodkin, who singlehandedly led me to appreciate the lives of Elves within Middle Earth and Aman. Certainly I'd paid but scant attention to them before I began reading her tales, preferring to read and write about Hobbits and Men. And this tale of the coming of Oropher's folk to the Greenwood and the reluctant acceptance by their predecessors as figured by Faroth is a good example of what I love of her writing--the excellent characterization, the way the characters surprise one another and end up bringing out the best in one another. Reluctantly Faroth realizes there is something inevitable about the coming of this folk, particularly the coming of Oropher and his son Thranduil, and he admits there is a place that could indeed prove proper to them. And through it all we see the swirl of human nature that is shown among them, each character a distinctly interesting individual, even to the plumy-tailed dog that pauses to inspect young Thranduil and his friend ere they slip off into the wild. I only wish Bodkin had time and energy to gift us with even more stories!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 4

Bodkin is one of my favorite Elf writers. I've long been a fan of her Fourth Age Elves in Valinor, but in this story she takes us back a few Ages, as we follow Oropher with the refugees from Doriath as they seek a new home in the Greenwood. And we see a young Thranduil and a friend, find and make a new one. I love the personalities Bodkin has given these young characters-- brash and daring and impulsive-- but with the seeds of the adults they will grow into.

Reviewed by: Jay of Lasgalen  ✧  Score: 4

I really like Maltheniel! She seems like a girl you wouldn't want to cross - and Thranduil is wise enough to know it. I love likening her to a young hawk who had slipped her jesses and flown her keepers. (It's just a shame about her mother.) I'm not surprised that Faroth assumed Thranduil and Malthaniel were brother and sister from the way they bickered :>) Oropher's ability to hear the trees' song and feed it with his own is just so elfy. Even Faroth feels it. It's no wonder that Thranduil eventually became their greatest king.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 4

The characterisations and dialogues are vivid and engaging, and capture well the youth of the main protagonists, their feeling of being put-upon by their elders, of knowing better etc. It was fun to see how the mutual suspicion, disdain and resentment of the two groups grows into acceptance and perhaps the beginning of a friendship. This is a light-hearted read, but grounded in the more serious context of accomodation between the different Elven groups.

Reviewed by: sindarelleth  ✧  Score: 3

Young Thranduil and his female friend are very humorous in this but I love Oropher's reaction when he comes upon them assuring themselves that they cannot be in too much trouble for acting as diplomats. That was hilarious! Great vignette!

Reviewed by: picara  ✧  Score: 3

Loved seeing young Thranduil come face to face with woodelves--and none too inviting woodelves--for the first time. He handled it really well. Great view of his family's first introductions to the Woodland Realm.