The Valley is Jolly
2010 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Later Age Elves
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Novel
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: This story is rated "Teen" for combat violence, implied invasive medical proceedures, allegations of a suggestive nature, and for a child's involvement in unsettling situations.
Summary: When Thorin and Company arrived in Rivendell enroute to the Lonely Mountain, Elrond Halfelven did not offer aid in their endevours until their last night in his house. Why? Simply put, he was occupied with more pressing matters: 2941 was a very hard year. Beginning with the arrival of Gandalf's pack of treasure hunters, this story follows Elrond and his family through the events of "The Hobbit"
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 10
Well, there goes my Saturday - late start, late to chores, and then the rest of the day on the couch with this story. It was a lovely day! The Valley of Imladris is not nearly so jolly as the songs of woodland Elves might make it. Canafinwe plunges us into familial crisis and fears of dark arts abroad to assail the minds and bodies of those least able to defend themselves, namely one Estel. Estel's struggles to survive, and then to endure the horrifying visions, and the terrible, insidious voice of despair that are the legacies of his brush with the Necromancer's arts form nexus of an emotional maelstrom that pulls in all the other members of his family and sets the stage for a key turning point in his mother's life in Imladris. Canafinwe keeps us moving: from the battle to save Estel's life, to the trouble with Dwarven guests and secrecy, to the difficult relationship between Elrond and Gilraen that hits its nadir, to fraternal relations among the twins and Estel, with wizards, dwarves, hobbits, and unfortunate Rangers drifting in and out the Valley, to the machinations and gatherings of the Wise as they prepare and then ultimately do confront Sauron on his own turf. All the characters are adroitly handled, and although this could have become chaotic and episodic, the story holds together well as a whole: the preparations for the White Council and driving out of Sauron form the coherent backbone on which the majority of the story's emotional and interpersonal work is stretched. It gives the story its bounds and timeline, helping to order the rest, even though the major concern of the story is the family dramas that revolve around Estel. The battle scenes are fantastic - Elrohir's POV works beautifully, as does Elrond's, and there's that right amount of chaos and cramped perspective to convince you that, in fact, they are fighting for their lives, not surveying the scene leisurely from a bird's-eye view or relating it to a narrator. Saruman provides the occasion to explain one of those niggling canonical details that bothers you: how on earth did he NOT know there was an heir of Isildur still alive? Good gap-filling all around, here. If you've ever wondered about life in Imladris during Aragorn's childhood, or if you wonder what else was going on in Elrond's house around the time Bilbo and the Dwarves passed through, or if the confrontation with the Necromancer is of interest, then [The Valley is Jolly] is not to be missed. It's a grand tale all the way through. Thanks, Canafinwe!
Reviewed by: Fiondil ✧ Score: 9
Most gap fillers that take place in Imladris generally center around Frodo and the other Hobbits as they are recovering from their ordeal in reaching the Last Homely House before they set off again on the Quest. Canafinwe has chosen a more difficult gap filler: that of the time in which thirteen Dwarves and one Hobbit happened to visit the Hidden Valley on their way to the Lonely Mountain. The title is ironic on several levels, for the only ones who seem to be having a jolly time of it are the Dwarves and Mr. Baggins. I like the way in which Canafinwe portrays the various characters. The sons of Elrond, while twins, are not cast from the same mold and we see them with different strengths and weaknesses which make them unique individuals. Glorfindel is... well, Glorfindel and Elrond is well delineated, as are the other characters. Saurman is particularly slimy. Against the background of The Hobbit we see Elrond and the people of Imladris as they struggle through many different kinds of adversities. The year 2941 was indeed a hard year for the Master of Imladris and his family and if you want to find out why, this is the story to read.
Reviewed by: Dreamflower ✧ Score: 8
This story is a very engaging gapfiller for The Hobbit. We have three intertwined storylines going: first of all, there is the visit to the Last Homely House of a wizard, 13 dwarves and a hobbit, second, Elrond's young foster-son Estel is seriously ill, and third, the White Council is about to meet to take action against the Necromancer in Dol Guldur. Each one of these storylines feeds into the other in a completely natural way through the course of the story. I really enjoy Bilbo's characterization in this story, and the serious talks between Elrond and Gandalf which in canon *must* have taken place offstage. The inter-relations of Elrond, Gilraen, Elladan and Elrohir are dynamic. But the heart of the story is young Estel-- the Hope of his family and of his people is suffering, and the tender father/son bond between Elrond and the young mortal is touching and beautiful. I really love some of the explanations for certain things this author came up with, and the plot twists are absorbing and make for a suspenseful read.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 6
The title is intentionally ironic, for with young Estel ill the Master of Rivendell feels anything but light-hearted. The Enemy appears to be broadcasting evil fevers, and it doesn't help that Estel is beginning to dream of many of the disasters experienced by his forebears with little understanding of what it is the dreams show. It's enough to cause distress to anyone trying to play host to thirteen Dwarves, a Hobbit, and an insightful grey Wizard. And with his mother's habitual coolness toward Elrond as well as restrictions against showing himself to the guests within the Last Homely House, Estel is also somewhat frustrated. An exceedingly well told tale of the family life within Rivendell during the trip to the Lonely Mountain. Characterizations are well drawn, and the story flows well. A good page-turner, were it in book form!
Reviewed by: Cairistiona ✧ Score: 5
Such a unique gapfiller, this tale. Superbly written in a vein that echoes Tolkien himself, Canafinwe takes us through a harrowing period in Estel's young life, where dark visions and dreams plague him to the brink of death, and Elrond is driven to his limits to try to save him. It's a side-story to The Hobbit that feels very much like something that could have happened but perhaps was simply outside the scope of The Hobbit's basic premise. That to me is the mark of the best gapfillers--plausible stories that could fit seamlessly within Tolkien's canon. This tale does that, and then some.