Sweet The Sin, Bitter The Taste

Author: Lilith Lessfair

Nominator: Spiced Wine

2011 Award Category: Incomplete: General - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Incomplete  ✧  Length: Ficlet Series

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes

Summary: This piece is part of a series called Revelator, an alternate universe version of Sauron's surrender to Ar-Pharazôn and sojourn in Númenor. It features a female version of Sauron known as Thû. In this section, which takes place shortly after her arrival in Númenor, Thû encounters Tar-Míriel and finds herself discussing her past in Eregion.(This is the second of a total ten planned ficlets. Eight have yet to be completed.)

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Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 10

This is another Sauron as a woman piece and outstanding in a whole series of ways. Beautifully done. A very creepy and complex look at Her relationship with Celebrimbor in particular (or maybe that is me being personally drawn to that part because he is one of my favorite Second Age characters). The last lines of this story are horrifically perfect. Whoa! Dark Fic is really not my thing in general--I'm a wimp. But this one IS my thing. It is just so horrifying and mesmerizing at the same time. [Would your elf be surprised to see what you have become?" "I sacked his home, tortured him to death and carried his body before my army. I think little would surprise him, Tar-Míriel."] And that was someone who I would wager that she loved! I suppose there are a lot of people involved with the MEFAs who would read this story pining to have their itch to read more about Numenor and all those Numenoreans, ancestors of their Gondorian heroes. That is the real center of this portion of her story at least. But I am just the opposite. I loved this story for the terrifying look into her relationship with Celebrimbor. I remembered some stuff that you told me about it that knocked my socks off and it is all reflected in the version that you linked to here. I wrote a character bio of Celebrimbor for the SWG not that long ago and I remember how I shivered when I read of his end at Sauron's hands: [Concerning the Three Rings Sauron could learn nothing from Celebrimbor; and he had him put to death. . . . In black anger he turned back to battle; and bearing as a banner Celebrimbor's body hung upon a pole, shot through with Orc-arrows, he turned upon the forces of Elrond. --from The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power . . . ] This is not a nice lady you are writing about here, but you suck us in and make us care about her perspective despite what we know about the outcome. I am remembering that you said somewhere--I wasted an inordinate amount of time looking for this and cannot find it--that Celebrimbor during the period when they are collaborating has inklings of her history (he is a smart guy); he isn't sure who she is but guesses she was very close to Morgoth at some point, and yet he still is not warned off by that knowledge. I presume two factors are operating with him: 1) the clueless of certain types of brilliant people joined to a particular neurosis of the Feanorians (that of needing redemption so desperately and not really believing they will ever get it). 2) So, Celebrimbor, having a decent core, offers trust and chance for redemption to this dark lady who eventually uses his tortured body as a banner to carry into battle. This takes place after that and yet the creepy part is one still senses the remnants of her one time affection for Celebrimbor under all of this and cares about her as a character. We want to know more. Hope we will.

Author response: Thank you for a very generous review and for your unwavering support of my weird notions. I have to admit I'm really very fond of this piece, strange as that may seem. After all, Mairen's headspace is not a very pleasant one at this time. I too am intrigued by the relationship between Sauron (in all of his incarnations) and Celebrimbor. It's just so deeply unsettling because I cannot see that there were not strong points of identification and attachment between the two and then to have such a deep collaboration rewarded by such a consummate and complete betrayal. But then I do believe that betrayal, at least a betrayal of a very clever and wise person with whom one works very closely, is really only possible if there is a certain degree of strong attachment. It can't simply be playacting in order for it to work; there has to be an element of reality. In other words, in this particular 'verse, Mairen does identify strongly with and care deeply for Celebrimbor (and continues to care for him regardless of what she does to him so that she not only loved him at the time she knew him but does still when speaking to Miriel), and he does suspect some unsavory elements of her past but is willing to believe she has repented. More is on the way.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel  ✧  Score: 4

This is another really fantastic tale of Lilith's 'female Sauron.' In this one, she's already in Numenor at the court of Ar-Pharazon. A conversation with Tar-Miriel provides the opportunity for Mairen to speak of Eregion and Celebrimbor. It gives us an insight into the mind of someone who is perhaps not entirely sane, but oddly rational at the same time. Seen within the context of her own beliefs, Mairen's actions almost make sense, which is all the more frightening.

Author response: Thank you for such a wonderful review. I'm delighted that you felt that Mairen's actions made sense within her own belief system. That, at least, is the core of this section of her story because her actions were not entirely ones of cruelty and of casual malice. She has justified her initial decision to collaborate with Melkor in a very particular way, which becomes essential to her system of beliefs. Her later decisions, even as late as Eregion and Numenor, were based upon that set of beliefs and were seen as necessary and inevitable to her, even though she would admit that they had cost her dearly.