Roads Not Taken

Author: clotho123

Nominator: Ithilwen

2010 Award Category: Genres: Ficlet: The Silmarillion - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet Series

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: References to violence and implied torture

Summary: These four ficlets are AU's that might have been canon. Each takes an idea conceived but later abandoned by Tolkien and builds a short vignette around it.(Four ficlets of varying length)

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Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

Not being an avid Silm fan, the thicket of possibilities that is HoME in all its guises can render AU!Silm stories rather intimidating. Will the change even be noticed if you don't have your eye on the two to three or more alternate stories Tolkien had buried in his drafts? Clotho takes pity on readers such as myself by offering a brief explanation at the end of each of these short AUs, which helps, but I think she also picked her moments well. Most of these departures register and sets the reader thinking right away about what might happen differently, or how it changes the story that is most familiar to the reader. Sometimes, the displacement of one event onto a different character produces a sadly ironic effect, as in the first AU; other times, it simply opens a new horizon behind a character whose circumstances in the Silm or even LOTR were never clear anyway. This has the effect of giving him a background for the first time. Clotho sometimes gives you the change up front, but other times skillfully delays it, so that by the end, the reader is thinking, 'Okay, what's it going to be this time? Where is she going with this?' It's suspense put to good use. All of these ficlet-length AUs are beautifully written, with no wasted words. I definitely recommend them to readers, and though I am sure that people whose first love is the Silm will appreciate them all the more, I think they're enjoyable for readers of all fannish interests.

Reviewed by: Anna Wing  ✧  Score: 7

An interesting and insightful lookat ways in which the course of events in the War of the Jewels and after could have played out, some baed on ideas tried out but discarded by Tolkien. The Gondolin one was distinctly creepy. The one about Celegorm and Beren is a very nice look at the characters of Celegorm and Curufin, and fits well with a bit in HoME where Curufin meets Eol on the latter's way to Gondolin. Tolkien says in his note on the piece that Curufin could have killed Eol, but did not, because it would have been a dishonourable act; he wanted to show that Curufin was not simply a one-dimensional storybook villain. This complexity to both Curufin and Celegorm comes out very well here. The one on Feanor did not convince me, since surely Feanor would have risen to the challenge. It's not as if he had been prevented from thinking unimaginably deep thoughts by his injury. And Curufin would have been there to do the spadework. Now if it had been a pre-frontal lobotomy, that would have been another thing.

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 5

Marvellous, well-crafted vignettes of the unwritten and only-considered aspects of Tolkien canon, mostly stemming from the History of Middle-earth. Clotho 123 paints astonishing, haunting pictures of a maimed Feanor, Celegorm king of Nargothrond, a Gondolin of ghosts, and Gildor son of Finrod. Each of the stories shines on their own and taunts with the possibilites and might-have-beens that make the exploration of short AUs so extremely effective. Reading this series was unsatisfactory only so far that I would have liked a lot more of all the stories, and that is a testament to the author's skill, not against it.

Reviewed by: mirasaui  ✧  Score: 5

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Clotho123's version of Tolkien's discarded ideas: Gondolin, standing untouched amidst wrack and ruin - hauntingly chilling. Celegorm as Lord of Nargothrond approached by Beren for aid in recovering the Silmaril - excellent dialogue. I can easily picture Celegorm's disbelief at Beren's request. And, Gildor Inglorion as the son of Finrod Felagund, bowing to his "father's" request. My favourite, however, is that of Feanor - doomed to a fate worse than death, told through the eyes of his half-brother, Fingolfin. That one truly hit me in the gut. All are extremely well-written ficlets, ones I would highly recommend any to read. Very well done!

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 5

Ooh, I love this series of alternatives based on Tolkien's own contemplated ideas for what might have happened. If Feanor had not been slain almost on arriving in Ennor, and had he been captured by Morgoth, what might he have undergone? What if it had not been Finrod but instead Celegorm who was saved by Barahir and approached by Beren? Or if Gondolin had not been betrayed and destroyed? Or if Gildor were indeed the son of Finrod? Clotho's tales are superbly written and considered, and the alternatives are chillingly plausible. Definitely well recommended!

Reviewed by: Russandol  ✧  Score: 5

As a Silmarillion lover and a proud owner of the well-read tomes of HoME, these alternative stories are a joy to read. To read about Feanor replacing Maedhros, coming back from Angband broken in body and mind is just an incredible twist or to have Celegorm instead of Finrod points at a disaster mission of Beren to Angband, and opens a universe of possibilities. Strangely, I was caught up with the alternative Gondolin, a stagnant city in a world overriden by darkness. Chilling thought. Clever alternatives, based on what might have become part of the final version of the story. Highly recommended!