The Apology of Elrond

Author: Canafinwe

Nominator: Inzilbeth

2010 Award Category: Genres: Character Study: Family - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Estel asks an inevitable question. Elrond shares his unique perspective on the nature of filial love.

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Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 10

This is a loving exegesis on the origins of love. It takes its title from the Greek apologia: ("[an oration or dissertation in defence, justification or explanation of a cause or doctrine]"), but that is not the only classical influence for the story. Elrond teaches (and more importantly convinces) the young Estel of his love and the logic behind it by means of the Socratic Method: prompting Estel to question and answer himself about the reasons behind his own love for others. Estel is not the only one who learns from the exchange. Both of these characters are sons whose biological fathers were taken from them when they were young children and who grew up as the fosterlings of others; in Elrond’s case, he and his brother were raised by Maglor, an enemy and a Kinslayer. In explaining his love for Maglor to Estel, and realizing the extent of Estel’s love for him, Elrond also comes to a deeper understanding of what his love meant to Maglor. Not only, then, does this story defend and explain love, but it justifies it by demonstrating its transformational qualities in the lives of those who love and are loved. The psychology of 14-year-old Estel is believably handled as insecurity manifests itself in teenage truculence, to be tempered by Elrond’s gentle probing and Estel’s precocious insights. I was also glad to see Elrond’s Spockish demeanor soften over the course of the narrative as he finds his own heart's ease closer to home than expected.

Reviewed by: Mirach  ✧  Score: 10

The whole setting of the scene is peferct - the spring rain, and Elrond's nostalgic mood... Then the title that Estel gives him announces the unevitable question - not Atarinya, but Master... I admire Elrond's wisdom or empathy to wait for the true question, that lies deep under others. And I just loved the part about Elrond's childhood, and his explanaition that ["I did not give Maglor the love I owed my father, but the love that I owed Maglor"]. Perfect! And the end of the story, the moment that will become a shared memory that will give them both strength in the years to come... there was such profound beauty in that paragraph that it almost brought tears to my eyes. But I must stop writing now, because Eärendil is impatient to say something too... So I'll let him speak now. "Thank you Mirach, I thought you'll never end..." Uh, sorry, I just wanted to say how I loved the story... Ah, ok. Yes, right. I'm quiet now. *nods* "My son... I'm so proud of you! I listened to your words today, and they brought peace to my soul... When Gil-Estel rose for the first time, I was anxious... anxious at what I will see. There were many sights below me, and a fresh wonder of sailing the skies, but I didn't marvel in those sights, and in the feeling of flight, because I sought you, my little sons that I left on this shore. I didn't know if you live, I feared what I will see. But I saw you, healthy and well, and that was all that mattered to me in that time. And I saw him - Maglor. He was the one that cared for you, the one that dispersed my fears for your life. In that moment, I was just thankful to him, thankful for your well-being. Just later, when I had to watch you every day, I came to feel a pang of jealusy on him, and anger on myself. He was on my place, and yet it was a place that I myself left, knowing that I will never return. You loved him as your father... It was painful for me to watch, and yet, somewhere deep in my heart, I have ever been thankful to him. And now, in the face of years, the thankfulness is all that stayed. Your words were true, my son. You gave him not the love that should be mine. You gave him the love that was his, and that he deserved. I just hope that once we meet again, and I can give you the love that you deserve from me... And maybe, in some distant shore of the river of time, we will meet all tree: me, you, and Maglor, and I'll be able to thank him... and we all will be family again..."

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 8

Elrond is a hard character to write. He's an even harder character to write well. Canafinwe manages it, though, in a thoughtful and brilliant exploration of Estel beginning to ask difficult questions and Elrond finding that he has answers to not only Estel's queries but his own queries from childhood. Canafinwe makes the most of the parallels between Elrond and Estel. Both lost their parents (or one parent, in Estel's case) and both were taken in by distant relatives. The common quandary is whether or not love owed to the lost guardian(s) is cheapened or dishonored if turned to another. Elrond proves himself a master teacher by doing what all good mentors do: allowing the student to teach himself. His questions highlight the road, and Estel shows himself to be an apt pupil by following and coming up with his own insights. The story starts with a cool tone as Elrond struggles with memories on a rainy day, but by the time the story finishes, the scene is warm and welcoming and the clouds begin to lift. A wonderful atmosphere to emphasize the message, and wonderful characterizations to go along.

Reviewed by: Marethiel  ✧  Score: 8

I have always enjoyed the work of this author, and this story does much to solidify why. Carafinwe's characterization of Elrond, Master of Rivendell, is superb. The wisdom, and deep caring; his own doubts and feelings of "less than," for whatever reasons, are dynamically presented here. His depth of understanding of the situation in which young Estel finds himself, and how he correlates it to his own experience and history, offers a wonderful insight to this author's view of the character as well. For example: ["Great heroes, many of them: still songs were sung of their deeds, even among Men, but to Elrond they were the people he had known, the people he had loved, the people he had lost."] Such wonderful use of repetition; each time "people" is uttered, we gain a new layer of definition to the term as far as Elrond is concerned with these particular individuals. And layers is truly the word to use. Elrond the Teacher and Elrond the Father merge so seamlessly to help Aragorn learn something very profound... and to teach himself something as well. Canafinwe's depiction of an adolescent Estel is great; not turning him into some of 20th-century sitcom spoiled brat, but keeping him very ... human... in his responses. Truly, I just loved this piece. Well done!

Reviewed by: Aeärwen  ✧  Score: 7

Elrond is a complex character, with so much backstory that it can be hard to really pin him down and make his voice sing clearly. This story explores some of that, and brings into clear view a parallel between Elrond's childhood and that of Estel that has always struck me as a very important part of the Lord of the Rings. Tolkien probably knew it, but he left it to be noodled out by those who read other works that told Elrond's tale. The situation in which Elrond himself gives voice to this parallel is one that could so easily have happened. I would imagine that every adopted child goes through much the same angst, and asks the same kind of questions. It's also good to see a half-grown Estel here, no longer a child but not yet a man. His potential is just beginning to make itself plain, and yet he still has the insecurities and needs for love and approval that a child has. You've drawn him well and made him believable. I thoroughly enjoyed this very thoughtful piece. Thank you.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 6

How is it that we come to love those we love, those who are often foreign to us but who in the end become dear to us? Canafinwe has explored this question as young Estel questions Elrond as to the nature of his birth father, and ending with a paean to the nature of love, and how in the end the love of a foster or stepfather fails to undo the love one has for he who engendered oneself, but instead is the love that is merely mete to the one one loves. Beautiful and sensitive. As one who lost my own father when I was still a baby and who came to alternately despair of and honor the one my mother took as her second husband, as well as one who has been a stepparent, foster parent, adoptive parent, surrogate parent, and teacher to many, I found that this tale spoke to the heart of me.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 5

A really lovely Young Estel story. I so enjoyed that this glimpse of the teenaged Aragorn showed a moody adolescent; the kid is still very recognizable as the future King-of-the-West, but is written wonderfully as a youngster who is confused about his own feelings towards the only father he can remember, and so a bit wary and trying to be dignified and grown-up. Great characterization of Elrond as well; he really is written like a wise and ancient being, albeit one who is feeling a bit down. His relationship with Estel in the story is believable and poignant; and I loved the ending.

Reviewed by: Gandalfs apprentice  ✧  Score: 5

Oh, this is gorgeous! It's just the way it had to have happened. I can see both of them so clearly, and you wove the story and the feelings together beautifully. This is just how they would have talked to each other. It adds so much poignancy as well to the Elrond-Arwen-Aragorn triangle. Canafinwe writes wonderful Aragorn stories with the full range of that character's experiences, emotions and adventures. I'm so happy to have recently discovered her work. I highly recommend her stories to anyone who cherishes intelligent, well-crafted fan fiction.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 4

Aw, wonderful story. Canafinwe perfectly describes the two characters: young Aragorn, troubled by serious questions about love, family and life, and Elrond who comforts him with wise words. But Elrond's words are not a mere comfort; he prompts Aragorn to think and find answers by himself, which is even more important. A reader can truly feel the bond and strength of their love. Perfectly, beautifully done.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 4

This is such a beautiful, quiet story, as Elrond draws for young Estel the parallels between them, and explains the nature of parental love. I think my favorite part was when he helped Estel to realize that it was no betrayal of his biological father to love his foster father, and I had a dual image in my mind of two young boys, Elrond, and Estel, and their love for their foster fathers.

Reviewed by: Inzilbeth  ✧  Score: 3

This story deals with two of my favourite characters, namely Aragorn and Elrond. Canafinwe captures the nature of the relationship between them perfectly. Like all Canafinwe's stories, it is beautifully written and pays very close attention to canon.

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 3

I liked this story very much. I liked Estel in it and Elrond was very much like I would imagine him to be. Loved the description of Estel's affection for Erestor, and his self-confidence that his affection was returned.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 3

This is a very thoughtful "Apology" from Elrond. I never realized Elrond and Elros were that young when they lost their parents. All the more reason for Elrond to take in the fatherless child. I love the way Elrond can read his foster son and handles the tricky question without hurting the dignity of a fourteen year old. The end is very touching. Well done.