Beneath a Gibbous Moon

Author: Bodkin

Nominator: elliska

2007 Award Category: Races: Cross-Cultural - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: A man and an elf converse on a dark night as the world comes close to ending. As three ages draw to their close, the heirs of two families find their lives intertwined.

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Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

These conversational vignettes link together nicely over generations, as Man and Elf ponder similar questions of hope and acceptance of fate, of faith and necessity. The first one, between Elros and Oropher is in many ways the most interesting to me: Elros's sense of his place in the world, and of the relationship between all bodily beings and the Valar is dead on the money, I think, and it is interesting that youth and mortality should teach something to elven age and immortality. Yet I think it is exactly the sort of lesson that a mortal creature can, potentially, understand far better than one for whom death is an unnatural fate. By the time we reach Legolas, the general flow of advice goes in the other direction, from Legolas to Aragorn, although the there is a common sense of trying to come to terms with what may come, with the chances of fate and possibly of divine intervention. The middle episode marks an interesting interlude in that it seems to me at least that both Man and Elf share a common self-confidence, in many ways, or a trust in the wisdom and abilities of one's * own * species or abilities that marks both Isildur and Thranduil, and which sets that set of interactions apart from the other two, where, despite the fact that lessons are learned, there is a greater sense of the universality of the struggle and frustration with fate. An interesting set of vignettes, all told.

Reviewed by: geek_chick  ✧  Score: 10

[Contains Spoilers] This is an amazing story! Showing encounters between Elros and Oropher and their heirs is a unique idea and could easily be done poorly, but in your story each encounter seems very believable and the characters are fitting to what we know of them in canon. The first chapter had such a bittersweet tone, with Oropher’s depression of the destruction of Beleriand, and Elros’s hope of beginning a new life in Numenor. Elrond’s reaction to his brother’s choice is also believable. I especially enjoyed the second chapter, but perhaps that’s because I find Isildur to be a very interesting character. I like how you switched the roles of Elf and Man in this chapter, and the elf is the one who is more hopeful. Thranduil’s more light-hearted personality was a little unexpected to me but is convincing, it seems fitting for a wood-elf but the light tone is not overdone so we can still take his words seriously. The third chapter is not so original when taken by itself (conversations between Aragorn and Legolas have certainly been done before!), but when taken with the rest of the story it offers a very fitting conclusion. Several lines in this chapter hearken back to the first two which really ties the story together. I like Legolas’s analysis on Isildur’s character and how he was the last of the Numenoreans -- and how Aragorn is different. The three chapters already form a coherent whole due to the lineage of the main characters and the theme of the night before the end of an age. However, the additional theme of the spirits and mists ties the story together even better, and the spirits of the dead seem to emphasize the cross-generational / ancestral themes in this story. Overall, an excellent story!

Reviewed by: Rhapsody  ✧  Score: 8

These stories are beautifully interconnected with each other, from generation upon generation the line of Elros meets one of the line of Mirkwood, where the other witnessed utter loss, the other embraces the future with optimism. The execution is flawless and the characters are written intensely, giving them all a distinctive voice in this piece. This all combined at the backdrop of ME’s history. What I really liked in this piece is how Bodkin weaves in several themes in the vignette that either serves as foreshadowing or conflict in the other vignettes. For example Bodkin approaches the question why Oropher had sought to create a second Doriath and continued Thingol’s policy of almost isolation from the outside world. [Doriath would remain as long as those who loved it held it in their hearts – and he would not forget. Neither forget nor forgive.] This line uttered by Oropher comes across bitter, but it also reflects Thranduil’s attitude towards his own neighbours in Mirkwood, the change comes with Legolas. Then of course there is Elros [I think you should go,’ Elros told him. ‘This is not the place for you.’ He looked out across the darkening water. ‘And the sea does not sing in your blood. Not yet.’] Moreover, in a way, Bodkin there foreshadows of what becomes of Legolas, who features in the third vignette. This is very thoughtfully written.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 8

Atmospheric descriptions of the setting, conveying the look of the environment as well as the mood of the characters. I like the constant shift between thoughtful and resonating ideas, and the mundane details of the moment. It was a very original idea to show scenes between the House of Oropher and Eärendil's descendents at three pivotal points of history. The first two (between Oropher & Elros and Thranduil & Isildur) were encounters that I have never before seen in a story, yet it seems entirely possible that they might have happened. Their respectively so different outlooks, experiences and motivations give the dialogues a fascinating tension; especially as the readers also can take into account the facts of what happened *after* these encounters. I particularly liked the first chapter; the dialogue between Elros and Oropher was fascinating, the latter's conflict about Elros, his mixed heritage, the War of Wrath and its consequences, the past and what future to build from it, was conveyed in a very believable and moving way.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 7

A beautiful tapestry of a story; woven of the meetings of three generations of Elves with many more generations of one line of Men, each one in the late night and early morning between momentuous events - Oropher's conversation with Elros, Thranduil's talk with Isildur, and of course, in a pleasing symmetry - Legolas and Aragorn awaiting victory or death in the last hours before the last battle in March 3019. I think my favorite chapter is the first; mostly because the meeting of Elros and Oropher is, I believe, unprecedented in Tolkien fanfic; and Bodkin writes them both with such authority and skill. Elros rings very true here; a young but already wise and perceptive fellow, choosing to be a Man and a future King. He is definitely drawn with elements of both kindreds; the vigor and restlessness of the Edain, and the ancient wisdom of the Eldar; and his Noldor streak is most definitely recognizable. And I love Oropher's description of drowned Menegroth and Doriath - the language there is exquisite.

Reviewed by: elliska  ✧  Score: 6

Several thing amaze me about this story. The first is how much about the characters that Bodkin can build into just dialogue. Bodkin has a real gift for dialogue, as she demonstrates in many of her stories, but this particular is fascinating because the characters reveal so much about themselves and some of what they reveal is all the more poignant because the reader knows what lies before them. The second thing I love about this story, like all Bodkin's stories, is the imagery. She throws in a few lines and with them paints a very beautiful picture in the reader's mind. Lastly, I like the surpirses in this (being made to guess who the speakers are until the end and, of course, we could assume several pairs). And of course I love the characters, so this is, for me, a perfect story. I love it!

Reviewed by: Jay of Lasgalen  ✧  Score: 6

Wow - this was brilliant, Bodkin - perhaps your best yet. I'd come to the conclusion that it *couldn't* be Legolas and Aragorn, or you wouldn't have been so vague - but I never guessed Thranduil and Isildur. That gives the story a whole new layer of sadness for them both, because we know what happens. Very, very well done. A tomorrow built on Hope as well. Poor Aragorn is so despondent - knowing there is such a very slim chance of any of them surviving, and knowing that he brought them all here. He's right, it takes a special kind of courage to face almost certain death against such odds. Legolas is very elvish here - so calm and accepting, at peace with whatever will happen despite his regrets and might-have beens. It would be good to have someone like that at your side, I think.

Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 5

Well-written and very well thought-out. Each chapter can stand on its own, but the shared parallels are striking and highlight the continuities between these two great lines of descendants, making the sum greater than its very considerable parts. The settings are carefully chosen for maximum impact, and the characterizations are each distinct even as certain similarities are drawn. (Of them all, I think I love Thranduil the intemperate Wood-elf and Elros the wise half-elf the most.) The interactions are are handled extremely well, and have a nice blend of humor and deep philosophy. And I have to say, I adore this quote: ["like eagles trying to raise squirrel kits"]. I don't think I've seen a more entertaining description of Ainur/Eruhini relations...

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 4

Long before Aragorn and Legolas found themselves friends and allies, there were Isildur and Thranduil, having many of the same kinds of discussions and considerations as they looked to one another for support against the Enemy. This from my favorite writer of Elves, and very powerful it is. To know that Aragorn and Legolas have managed to come full circle from their forebears is fascinating, and well, well done. The cooperation is there as it has been for three thousand years, if moved to a younger generation. Wonderful.

Reviewed by: Linda hoyland  ✧  Score: 3

A beautifully atmospheric story which crossed the ages of friendship between Men and Elves. I loved the imagery of the moon and stars and the way Man and Elf support and encourage each other. Very well written.