In Time, Stronger than Silima

Author: Himring

Nominator: Elleth

2011 Award Category: Cross-Cultural: Elder Days - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Mature  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes,Mature Language/Themes

Summary: In Mandos, the Vala Namo wrestles with the temptation to cast the fea of Maedhros into the Outer Darkness. With a vignette of Finrod and Celegorm (also in Mandos) and a couple of thoughts on Luthien's encounter with Namo. High levels of angst.

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Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

Writing Valar is hard, and I have to say, as much as I wish I could get a Námo plot bunny to go with Vairë... sometimes I think I'm lucky not to get one. Himring's Námo finds that foresight is totally inadequate preparation for his post in Middle-earth: [the first of the Children turned up on his doorstep, hurt, bewildered and inarticulate in their anger. Quendi! Before they had even learned to speak properly, they were already learning how to die, in terror and in pain] The Feänorians are among the worst, inarticulate and closed in on themselves, [Namo, the mighty Ainu, who entered Ea on a one-way ticket, on a contract without escape clause, who cannot resign his job, cannot leave, cannot get out] finds himself at the point of despair, where it is unclear to him what would be more unbearable - that there is a [Project] that justifies all of this, or that there is none. Námo's ambivalence - which is really too mild a word for how he feels about it - is very familiar, and we understand the reasons for it. Even the Valar are flying blind, and have to face the trial of will: can they make themselves continue in their tasks on the promise that there is a substantial good to be gained by them? It's a very mortal, very human question, and I like the way Himring resolves it. Things just do go on, in a sense. And sometimes, it might take a nearer view, one that lacks some, at least, of the length of Námo's - and which lacks also his patience - to get the job of healing the hopeless done. I loved the end of this, which in a way suggests that cures are always untimely, but sometimes they are untimely in that they happen within the world.

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 10

Himring's [In Time, Stronger than Silima] is almost a collection of snapshots of the Feanorians in Mandos, especially of Maedhros-the-recalcitrant who is unable to let go of his anguish and consquently appears as a destructive pillar of whirling flames that not even Mandos can break through or hope to approach in a reasonable way. Interspersed with acute observations that made me nod along and could easily be part of my personal headcanon, like the influence Fingon excerts on Maedhros (even if it is minuscule and perhaps non-existent here), the self-devised punishment of the Feanorians, but especially Celegorm, and the very human truth behind Luthien's ability to move Mandos to regard his emotions and acknowledge the pity and (understandable) doubt he possesses toward the Children of Eru, and that may yet prove the solution to the riddle of Maedhros' healing. I am not entirely sure where to file this story - whether as character study of Maedhros, of Mandos, both, a mood piece or a fairly philosophical treatment that echoes some ideas about Greek myth (namely, the aforementioned humanity of a god or godlike persona) and others of Tolkien's and the author's own devising - or all of the above - but the story defying categorization may be a merit of its own. It definitely isn't a drawback and still makes for a fascinating reading experience, and does not lack the usual, engaging quality of Himring's writing.

Author response: Thank you very much for this wonderful review! Good to hear that you find yourself agreeing with me on some of these things! As for the influence of Fingon on Maedhros here, that is meant to be one of the paradoxes at the heart of this text, I guess. On the one hand, Fingon cannot exert any influence on Maedhros, because Maedhros cannot remember him or even his own identity in this state. On the other hand, in so far as he is Maedhros at all, he is so essentially defined by the influence of Fingon that "influence" is too weak a word. I don't know whether that makes sense... I wouldn't know how to categorize the piece either! It is closely linked with other stories in the series because it explains to some extent what happened between Maedhros's suicide and his release from Mandos, but in itself that doesn't put it into any category, I think.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 4

Namo of the Valar, a.k.a. Mandos, finds himself in the exasperating position of being obligated to help and instruct someone who does not want his help, and who is impervious to instruction. Maedhros, as well as his brothers and father, is so wrapped up in his own pain that it imprisons him--and possibly, has come to define him as well. The implication is that not only are Maedhros and the others in a hell of their own making, but that the even a Vala can become frustrated by circumstances. Thought-provoking.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 3

An interesting story about the frustrations of being Mandos and having to deal with suffering souls in general and recalcitrant Feanorians in particular. Namo's characterization is excellent; and that's no easy thing, to convincingly write an eons-old Vala.

Author response: Thank you--it is a very risky attempt to write an eons-old Vala and I am glad you think I succeeded!

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 3

This is a very thoughtful and insightful story. In some ways, forgiveness is easy. The real difficulty often lies in having the one who is forgiven into believing that it is genuine and perhaps most importantly, being able to accept it.

Author response: Thank you! Yes, accepting forgiveness can be very difficult and sometimes the more we need that forgiveness, the more difficult it is.