A Minor Talent

Author: Lyra

Nominator: Himring

2011 Award Category: Elves: House of Finwë - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Young Fingon may not be the greatest harpist around, but when he develops a passion for a certain song, it turns out to have a great impact on his life.

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Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 10

This is a loving portrait of Fingon in three phases of his life, from his youth in Tirion to his quest to save Maedhros from Angband. These three scenes are told from Fingon's point of view, and his voice is a very attractive one--very self-aware in some ways, but not in others (which allows for a bit of occasional humour). Also Lyra shows him changing--and how his involvement with music becomes the touchstone for those changes. In the last scene he is unmistakable more adult and experienced, but also unmistakably still the same very likable person. The story is the history of the song Fingon sang on Thangorodrim--and by singing discovered his cousin hanging from the cliff and so was able to free him. We learn that Fingon originally meant to sing it as a birthday (or rather begetting day) present for Maedhros, but that he never carried out that intention. Yet what a re-birth-day present for his cousin the song turns out to be, in the end! But before we reach that dramatic final moment, we learn much of Fingon's conflicting loyalties, basic honesty, and his very natural resentment of some of the expectations he sees himself confronted with. The first scene features a well-drawn original female character and throws interesting sidelights on Fingon's relationships with his father, his cousin and his uncle. The second scene features Finwe and Fingolfin and a shift in Fingon's attitude to both of these and to his cousin. The third is the famous rescue, or rather the moments leading up to it. I should also mention that we learn quite a lot about the song itself and that in the last chapter we are given a couple of lines from it which lead us right up to a beautiful conclusion to this great story.

Author response: I was somewhat worried about the passage of time, what with the story spanning three very different scenes and all the untold decades that pass in between chapters - Fingon's (narrative) voice has to change quite a bit in between, considering that he'll mature from child to disillusioned adult. So I'm glad you like my depiction of him, change and all! I'm also delighted you enjoyed this stor as a whole - your Fingon and Maedhros are among my favourites, so praise from you where they're concerned means a lot. In short, thanks for reading, thanks for reviewing, and above all thanks for enjoying this!

Reviewed by: Russandol  ✧  Score: 10

You have woven a beautiful background story to one of the events in the Silmarillion that still makes me tearful even after almost 30 years and at least as many reads. The rescue of Maedhros by Fingon never fails to move me but until now I had not paused to think about the song that brought them together. The idea ot spinning Fingon's tale around his memories about that song is very effective to link the three separate scenes. I love how you've portrayed Fingon: his self-deprecating analysis, his youthful obsession to learn his cousin's favourite tune because he idolises him (that dicussion is brilliant, by the way), his clever observations about others (like Fëanor's devious smile), his later stand as the dutiful son against his true wishes. The final scene is particularly poignant, with the way he berates his stupidity in sync with his steps as he walks around with his harp to find an entrance to Angband (but not the front gate!) and the self-mockery about his family's trait of "being decent" that leads them all to trouble. The point at what you ended the story is perfect, though I wonder what the two of them would say about the song after the events. You've given me marvellous insights into Fingon's feelings for Maedhros. Really superb!

Author response: Like so many good (?) ideas, this one caught me completely by surprise as well - I hadn't previously thought about the song, or what it may have meant to either of them, before. I grinned like silly when I wrote the "idolatry" discussion, so I'm excited that you like it, too! In all, your wonderful review leaves me grinning at the screen. So glad you enjoyed this so much! Thank you for letting me know.

Reviewed by: Angelica  ✧  Score: 9

Lyra strikes in this beautiful story right at the heart of the contrast between Fenorians and Fingolfin's family: while the eldest branch shines with works of surpassing beauty and skill (the best smith/loremaster/linguist/you name it, the second best smith, the best musician, a hunter that is Orome's favourite, a skillful politician and diplomat), it is Fingolfin's and Fingon's quiet determination that will save the day: they do the decent thing although it may not be the most outstanding or the one that will earn the greatest fame or recognition - at least in their intention. Fingon is shown through his life since he is a little boy who [idolizes] his eldest cousin (he has this lovely conversation with his uncle Feanaro about the meaning of the word that shows so much of Feanaro in such few words), to the tough times of the fight between the brothers with all the political and family consequences it entails to the final rescue mission. Why does he take a harp? We've all wondered. To sing a goodbye song to his cousin, to challenge Morgoth's desolation and his creatures, to show that his talent - not only musically - is by no means minor.

Author response: Indeed, Fingon could give himself (and the rest of his branch of the family) far more credit than he does. Being there to do the right (or honourable, at least) thing at the right time is a major feat in itself, after all. Thank you for reading this and leaving such a wonderful review!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 8

A well-written story that follows Fingon from his youth to his rescue of Maedhros; via the thread of Fingon's musical training. Lyra uses young Fingon's musical skills as a device to explore Feanorian family dynamics, how the effects of Feanor's anger echo through his extended family. I love the way Fingon's youthful obsession with Maedhros, his determination to learn to play his cousin's favorite song, results in Fingon's being able to find Maedhros on the cliffs of Angand. The last chapter is the best, Fingon's single-minded heroic resolve is extremely poignant here, since it is accompanied by Fingon's own wry comments on Feanorian family traits and his own stupidity. The contrast between the dutiful and honorable ethos of Fingon's side of the family versus the wild flights of genius of the House of Feanor makes a lot of sense; but Fingon is, it seems to me, more Feanorian than he knows as he sings a Quenya song outside Morgoth's citadel as a farewell to his captive cousin; caught up in the urge of the bard to capture feeling and art in a song, no matter what the consequences.

Author response: I'm glad you enjoyed the concept, and Fingon's character as depicted in this story. Yes, Fingon definitely has more than a little of that hot Fëanorian (or more properly, perhaps, Finwëan - Fingolfin seems to have it as well, considering his one-man journey to Angband and duel with Morgoth later on...) blood... Thank you for your review!

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 6

You were kicking in an open door with this story for me. You chose my favorite character to read about: Fingon the Valiant. Although, writing him and having me read it can be a double-edged sword because we all bring our not-so-secret preferences and interpretations to stories about our favorite characters. I liked your Fingon very much. I liked your proud, noble and vulnerable Maedhros also and I loved the idea of an encounter between Feanor and Fingon. This story is based upon a terrific concept well-handled. And the entire story is very enjoyable indeed. It is very short. I could have read a lot more in the same vein. Of course, I can't help but wonder what Fingon will think he finds out that Maedhros did not leave him behind without protest. Thanks for sharing this one with us. There can never be too many stories about Fingon and Maedhros in the world.

Author response: Phew, I'm glad you liked my Fingon! The character(s) in this story are mostly based on my interpretation of them in "The Tempered Steel", though some details are different - so in a way, there is more in this vein. This one, on the other hand, will remain short. Either way, thank you for your review!

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

A fine story, written from Fingon's POV, about his own family and his extended family, including his cousins--especially Maitimo/Maedhros/Russandol. Family quarrels existed even among the Eldar, and this tale demonstrates how they can balloon out of all proportion. This tale also reminds us that love does not dissipate that easily. Well done!

Author response: Glad you liked it! Thank you for your review.

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 3

We often choose favorite things and make important decisions almost in spite of ourselves. Yet those same decisions often prove to be the right ones, even if it does not appear that way at first.

Author response: And they reveal so much of our character, too! Thank you for reading and reviewing. :)

Reviewed by: agape4gondor  ✧  Score: 3

A beautiful piece. I would have read more. I cannot even tell you which chapter was my favorite. Like a beloved song, it does not matter. They are not interdependent. You can read one or all three. Enjoy.

Author response: Thank you so much for this review! I'm thrilled you enjoyed it (and would've read more of it, even).