Blood as Warm as A Bird

Author: Darth Fingon

Nominator: Oshun

2009 Award Category: Times: First Age and Prior: Featuring Maedhros or Maglor - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Teen rating applied for violence and distressing situations.

Summary: At the Havens of Sirion, Elwing must make a choice, Elrond must be brave, and Maglor must keep a promise.

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Reviewed by: Rhapsody  ✧  Score: 10

This story finally fills in the gap and the conundrum the professor left when he presented the third kinslaying in his [Silmarillion]. It has always baffled me as to why a mother would leave two of her children in favour of a jewel, it just never added up to me. This story however presents a more realistic dilemma, at the end of the slaying, Elwing knows by what she can see (no pre-emptive and abandoning her people like that, wow!), whatever she will decide it means death. So yes, she does barter and tries to negotiate. A feeling of relief passes through me when she finally manages to obtain a promise from Maglor and from there the events unfold in a rapid pace. What I so like about this story is how real it feels to me and how the author has stripped away the tall tales surrounding this story, but shows us how it became legend that Elwing flew away like a bird. [She sighed a smile as a cloud of gulls with white feathers shining in the pale winter sun flew up around her, rising as she fell, soaring up to the heavens.] This bit alone is just so stunning, even though she could have fallen to her death; I can imagine that from a child's point of view, such a version could have made it into the lore books, simply because Elrond did not know any better. Besides the gorgeous language, Darth Fingon does not shy away from the gruesome kinslaying and the state of mind of the last two Fëanorians left. To take on a haven with forty men simply states how dire their quest was and that only two of them survived leaves it only to the imagination of the reader what battle must have ensued there. This is such a stunning story and the characterisation of every character there just works and clicks enormously. Just wow!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

The mention, in the Silmarillion, about Maglor fostering the bereft sons of Elwing after he and Maedhros destroy Sirion has always struck me as an especially poignant premise; and one that just begs for fanfiction to fill in the gaps. In this harrowing and sad story, we see the story of Elwing's last stand and Maglor's subsequent taking of her children. Elwing is ably written as a terrified, desperate mother who knows that any choice she makes is the wrong one, and trying to choose the lesser of evils. Her Elven perception telling her that Maedhros, in his battle-heightened rage, will cut her down if she gives him the Silmaril and then despair at his deeds, is especially powerful - showing, not telling, the reader that Maedhros is driven by the Oath to do terrible things, but still not yet such a monster that he does not regret them. And the characterisation of Maglor as an Elf broken by battle and loss, and driven to fill that hollow by saving and sheltering Elwing's little boys, is marvelous. The bit where Maedhros asks Maglor what happened to the 40 elves who came with them, and Maglor doesn't know, is haunting, a reminder of the terrible sacrifices of lives made to Feanor's Oath. The three different points of view - Elwing's, Elrond's and Maglor's, heighten the story's dramatic impact. I found the story very compelling and highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: pandemonium_213  ✧  Score: 10

In my review of Oshun’s biography, [Elwing the White], I offered my characteristically opinionated take on Elwing’s motivations which Tolkien left as a blank. It’s puzzling, given the norms of fundamental human behavior (and Elwing is human), to comprehend this behavior and even more so, as a mother to understand this. However, with [Blood as Warm as a Bird], Darth Fingon provides an excellent story which explains this in a much more satisfying way than the vague view given in the original text where we are expected to admire Elwing without given her motives for throwing herself off the cliff. In the first, riveting scene, the reader finds Elwing caught between a rock and a hard place, or more accurately from a battle-maddened Maedhros and the sea. She foresees that she is damned if she hands over the Silmaril and damned if she doesn’t. So she reaches out to Maglor who gives her a promise, which then allows her to make her choice. This is a choice that a mother can understand, the hope of her child’s survival even at the expense of her own life. The tale changes perspective again, this time to Elrond. Darth is a master of writing a child’s viewpoint. He never dumbs down his young narrators. Young Elrond’s voice is heart-wrenching and true as he seeks and finds his brother, trying to tell him what he saw. Equally heart-rending is the third and final part of the story from Maglor’s point of view. He sees the carnage wrought for nothing, no Silmaril, only death. Rejecting a reprise of the abandonment of Eluréd and Elurín, he takes the Elrond and Elros into his care, the first steps to making good on his promise to Elwing. Darth has written a brilliant and tragic tale which casts a harsh light on the grim toll that the quest for the Silmarilli took on all in Beleriand, but also a soft ray of hope gleams through, too.

Reviewed by: Ignoble Bard  ✧  Score: 10

So many people who have reviewed this story have done so with exactly my feelings so it’s difficult for me to find anything to add. However, I had to review this because it’s probably the best Silmarillion story I’ve ever read (not that I’ve read a lot, but you know…) And it’s the best, most believable explanation I have seen or heard for Elwing’s incomprehensible choice. It seems impossible from our modern perspective to imagine a mother abandoning her children, but to do so with the hope, and only the hope, that her children will be spared as a result of her sacrifice is really the ultimate manifestation of a mother’s love. That you make that choice the credible, the right thing to do, is a tribute to your talent. The desperation of the sons of Feanor, that they would force such a choice, and Maglor’s haunted look, his unspoken promise, is some powerful writing indeed, as is Elrond watching the seagulls with the certainty of his mother's fate. It is also a tribute to your talent that the young Elrond and Elros come off as so real and age appropriate, which is difficult to do with Elf children. I’m not ashamed to admit this story moved me greatly, brought a tear to my eye even, both upon rereading it for the MEFA’s and when I read it for the first time earlier this year.

Reviewed by: Keiliss  ✧  Score: 9

Had I read this elsewhere I would simply have said ‘Thank you for writing this, it’s a version I can finally believe’. This is a well-reasoned look at the slaughter at Sirion that does not excuse the actions of Feanor’s sons and that discards the idea of Elwing as so obsessed with the Silmaril that she values it above her own children’s safety. As a mother I never bought that, and this offers a comprehensive explanation for her actions, and for Maglor taking in her children and raising them as he would have his own. Life had deadened him emotionally, but he was born a prince and his word bound him. Liked the toughness in him, the battle hardened soldier. I’m always confused by the kind, soft Maglor who appears in so many stories – he needed to be very tough to survive the First Age, and in my experience there is nothing soft about your average musician. Elwing’s reasoning is flawless, both when she realises there is no chance Maedhros will leave her alive and when she sees the danger of her son being forced to watch her murder. And – a lot of blood must have flowed at Sirion, refusing to reward the attackers was the right choice for her. I found myself nodding while I read this. It works. It’s right.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 8

Elwing is an enigma. For decades, we have wondered-- why did she abandon her young children in order to save the Silmaril? Many have tried to figure this out, and a number of fics have addressed it. But this one, this story, shows what to me seems the most plausible scenario of all. What if she knew that surrender would not save either her or her children? What if she knew that even giving the Silmaril to her pursuers would still result in their deaths? But what if she was able to take a desperate chance to save her children, and to also save the Silmaril? The wordless promise she is able to extract from Maglor gives her hope that her children will be saved-- Elrond, at least, and perhaps his brother as well. Once she gains that unspoken vow, she distracts Maedhros with her one last desperate act. This is not a mother abandoning her children, but a mother using every bit of guile and leverage she has to save them. Very well thought out. I love her surprise at her sudden transformation. But the story does not end there, as we see Maglor keeping his word to her. Brilliantly thought out!

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 7

This story is wonderful. I don’t know if I ever told you that when I first read it, however, I thought it was all about me. (Oh, yes, I am perfectly capable of doing that!) Probably I was too embarrassed. I had just written a snarly, snippy spoof of a story (nastier than it was funny) about Elwing and the Silmaril and I was just certain that your lovely story was the perfect polemic against mine. Elwing’s story had always been for me the Sophie’s Choice of The Silmarillion, only instead of tragic and heartbreaking, it was for me annoying and incomprehensible. Yours is the first rendition of it that I have ever read that actually made me feel any sympathy at all for her. Not only do you give a plausible explanation for her abandonment of her children, but you write it gorgeously. I always think of you as writing stories that a very adult in nature, but you never fail to engage in the manner in which you are able to get inside of the heads of children. This one is no exception. Great story. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 7

Brilliant! I found this a very intense and touching story. The prose flows so beautifully and without flaw and everything is so simple and clear in front of the mind's eye. Each character appears in a crisp, vivid and convinving way. I can't help reading this as a mother of small children and be gripped by the horror of the whole situation. Children hiding in a burning house, a mother turned into a bird, an unlikely rescuer... This is the stuff that makes an impressive tale that had me fighting with a lump in my throat in much the same way as Maglor. It also is a painful reminder of all the children in the real world who are traumatised by war and violence. My two sleep next door, safe and happy through no merit of their own, while others, through no fault of their own, have to face brutality way beyond the understanding of their little minds. A sad truth, which is insightfully reflected in this fictional tale.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 7

A vivid and emotional look at a crucial turning point. I loved Elwing's observations of Maglor and Maedhros. We gain so much understanding into both of them so that by the time Maglor assumes the POV, he's thoroughly characterized. I loved glimpsing the future that Elwing foresees for both Maglor and Maedhros as she tries to make sense of her impossible situation. They will be driven to guilt and madness for their actions, but at that moment in time, Maedhros can't feel the guilt. And this makes him especially dangerous. But the character who stole my heart was Elrond, who was brave and dutiful and holed up in a burning house with his brother. The end is especially chilling for Elrond, as he reveals just how much he understands of what is taking place. His statement that he's cold hearkens back to memories of his mother and her warnings that if he falls from the cliff, he will always be cold. And even though it was Elwing, not Elrond, who fell, he knows that somehow, he's the one left below.

Reviewed by: Klose  ✧  Score: 6

A heart-rending story where there are no good guys or bad guys: just flawed people who make choices for better or worse, as we all do in life everyday. I've always wondered at Elwing's actions re: the Silmaril, and I find myself very satisfied with the scenario Darth Fingon has presented in this story. It is very sad, for the tale doesn't just recount Elwing's difficult options, but also the tragedy that is the fate of Maedhros and Maglor (spurred by the Oath to undertake some very terrible deeds), and most saddeningly, the orphaning of two young children. I particularly liked the idea of Elwing speaking to Maglor by thought to ask him to take care of Elrond and Elros. All in all, a very good story, and certainly one of the most evocative and insightful depictions of this particular event in the Silmarillion that I have read.

Reviewed by: Jael  ✧  Score: 5

You really did a marvelous job of reconciling the various improbabilities of this problematic incident. Why does a mother abandon her child? Can a woman really turn into a bird? You solved the latter question with a brilliant bit of ambiguity. Everyone is treated realistically and sympathetically, but as usual you shine with the portrayals of the children. They are innocent, sweet, but never cloyingly so. Just like real children. I'm in awe of your writing ability, and I think this is the best handling of the kinslaying at Sirion I have ever seen. Thank you!

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 4

This is simply flawless. While it makes for very unsatisfactory reviewing, this story stunned me into silence. Everything, from the different points of view, to character building, the creation of empathy for Maedhros, Maglor, Elwing and her sons (however much one may or may not agree with their respective decisions) is equally wonderful as all the rest. Bravo, Darth Fingon! Please, more of this caliber!

Reviewed by: Angelica  ✧  Score: 4

I've always found it hard to sympathize with Elwing (probably because of an overdeveloped Feanorian bent) but this story -finally- provides another view of the famous seagull incident that makes her decision -finally- easier to understand or at least sympathize with. The view of battle-crazy Maedhros who will later regret what he's done and of battle-weary Maglor who is beyond caring until he takes in the boys adds to the great characterizations. And the title is truly beautiful.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 4

Elwing read the two facing her well. The forward one was too consumed by battle rage to allow her to live, whether or not she gave him the Silmaril; and the other was already caught in the backwash of horror for what had been done. But could he be trusted with her greatest treasure? The great horrors of senseless war are all too strongly displayed here! Excellently written!

Reviewed by: Cairistiona  ✧  Score: 4

Very poignant and well told. Maglor's despair and battle weariness are palpable, and his compassion, not yet killed by his Oath, still shines in his gentle treatment of Elrond and Elros. Fascinating to see these events through three pairs of eyes--Elrond, Elwing and Maglor. Even Maedhros does not come across as wholly heartless. All in all, this rang true to how I imagine that event would have played out.

Reviewed by: crowdaughter  ✧  Score: 4

What a poignant look at the choice Elwing made this is! The moment of her choice, prompted by her vision of the possible futures, of the outcome given the character of the two sons of Feanor she faced; the horror and madness of the two curse-driven men facing her; and the point of view of the two children, who will find shelter from the least expected source - all this is wrapped expertly in this well-told gapfiller. I think what strikes me most intensely was the well-written POV of the child, here. [Mama is a bird now!] Very well done!

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel  ✧  Score: 3

Oh, my gracious, FINALLY a story about the attack of the Feanorians on the Havens of Sirion which makes me feel some empathy for Elwing! Most of them seem to fall woefully flat in attempting to explain why Elwing quite frankly abandoned her children - but not this one. And excellent read!

Reviewed by: Mysterious Jedi  ✧  Score: 3

I found this story very enjoyable. It engaged my mind and emotions from beginning to end. I liked Elwing's deliberation on her choice, and that she was thinking of the boys, primarily, and not abandoning them for the sake of the silmaril. I also always enjoy seeing Maglor's gentler side.

Reviewed by: NeumeIndil  ✧  Score: 2

This is a great imagining of that scene, heartbreaking but tinged with just a bit of sweetness. Nicely done.

Reviewed by: Robinka  ✧  Score: 1

This is a very emotive and powerful story. Very well written and imaginative. Thank you.