The Ghost in the Garden

Author: Dawn Felagund

Nominator: Marta

2008 Award Category: Races: Elves - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Mature  ✧  Reason for Rating: sexuality, adult themes dealing with death and afterlife

Summary: A frightening experience one night in Doriath leads Galadriel to consider the irreconcilable differences between Sindar and Noldor.

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Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 10

This is really a fabulous story, enjoyable on many levels. One thing that really makes it shine is its characterization, especially of Celeborn. He is passionate in his way, certainly sensual (and talk about luscious writing....), but he is also practical and matter-of-fact. And through him Dawn has developed a really nice look at Sindarin society. I especially liked the way that the Sindarin elves were described as having a court society, and that Celeborn was kept in the proper place someone as young as he would be expected to fill. He might be the king's kinsman, but he is not the star of Doriath. It all felt very natural. That feeling of things progressing naturally also extends to the story's sensuality. Celeborn and Galadriel are engaged, not yet married, and that's important. In this story Dawn has Thingol forbid the two characters to marry for several years, and so Celeborn's and Galadriel's sexuality is informed by obedience to their king. All of which creates a lovely sense of love not defined by eroticism that is not only very enjoyable to a reader, but also allows her to make some very interesting statements about the characters. It's not UST precisely, but something along those lines, and Dawn uses it very affectively. Without spoiling the ending, there is a lovely parallel between the two parts of the story, one focusing on physical intimacy and the other on emotional intimacy. Both Celeborn and Galadriel are very well presented, as young elves with their flaws and strengths and struggles. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea  ✧  Score: 10

I'm always up for Celeborn and Galadriel stories, and this one is an interesting one, for it takes place before their marriage and causes Galadriel to do some serious thinking about the differences between the Noldor and their Sindarin kin. She and Celeborn are depicted in a delightful moment of drunken stupor and license, hardly the grave, serene beings that LOTR depicts them as. Out in the forest, she has an encounter with a Houseless one that very much frightens her. She hesitates to tell Celeborn about it, lest she be thought mad or fey, but when she does, his matter-of-fact acceptance of the spirit and recounting of its history gives her serious pause, because it seems that in matters of life and death and afterlife that she and her beloved differ greatly. There is a great, brief description of Galadriel's childhood and her father explaining to her about life and death and its effect upon her. [--the fëa went into the keeping of Námo, and a new body was made for it. Before that night, she hadn't liked Námo much, with his slippery green eyes and face like carved from stone. But afterward, she bore a grudging admiration for him, he who kept them immortal in totality, spirit and body. And afterward, her courage grew, and she flourished to follow. No longer did she fear high places or whipping storms or the tumultuous sea, not when she knew that there was never truly an ending. For the butterflies, yes. But not for her.] To me, that sums up in a nutshell how many Elves must have felt about their immortality. Celeborn is absolutely delightful here-very much a young man, but also already very wise and insightful. Galadriel leans upon him for the first time in this as she will lean upon him for the rest of their lives together.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 6

As I've come to expect from Dawn's stories, the language is elegant and lyrical, and perfectly tuned to the situation, with a great capacity for evocative metaphors and turns of phrase that both enriches the plot itself as well as the "tapestry" of the wider narrative. The observations and descriptions are sharp and incisive; the dialogue and character interaction smooth and realistic. In this story, the opening paragraph swept me away and plunged me into the "reality" of the story - I could see it, feel it, smell it. I found Galadriel's perspective on the Sindar and what their thoughts might be about Valinor and the Noldor who fled it highly interesting. The uncanny situation is built up very well, increasing mystery and tension likewise. And I admit the description of the apparation sent a chill down my spine... To learn the history of him made it only more haunting and sad.

Reviewed by: mbumpus_99  ✧  Score: 5

This is an exquisite little tale that explores what must be some of the most fundamental differences between two of the most elusive canon characters Tolkien created. For perhaps the first time, we see clearly the differences in thinking between those who were born beneath the light of the Two Trees and those who had always known Arda Marred - and how such perspectives could both confuse and confound. This is an intruiguing exploration of Elven spirituality and beliefs, neatly packaged into an exploration of the character of Galadriel. A satisfying read, I would recommend this highly.

Reviewed by: Beruthiel's Cat  ✧  Score: 5

This tale moved me in so many ways. As an exploration of canon, it portrays the fundamental differences faced by Galadriel and Celeborn, while painting a rich and tragic portrait of the reality of their surrounding circumstances. A startling and disturbing window into the concept referred to as the long defeat, a reminder that immortality is not necessarily the blessing we would like to believe. No happy endings are implied; yet hope remains, even though it will be terribly long in being fulfilled. Brings home the wish that time is not a concept the fallen have to endure. Excellent story, exceedingly well told.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 4

A most interesting foreshadowing of the eventual separation between Galadriel and Celeborn, as he, the Sinda, chose to remain within Middle Earth when she accepted her ability to return to the land of her birth, her task set here finally met. Is that separation similar to that chosen by the ghost she met in the garden who for a moment appeared to have taken her for the love he'd lost to Morgoth's enslavement, perhaps ruined into becoming an orc? The descriptions are vivid, and Galadriel's discomfort palpable. Very compelling story.

Reviewed by: Erviniae  ✧  Score: 3

A very *haunting* (no pun intended!) tale of the questions surrounding the differences between Noldo and Sindar in various ways. I was enraptured by the style of this prose and of the skepticism of one who seems such a strong character. Very well done.

Reviewed by: nancylea  ✧  Score: 1

confusing, baffling