Battle Strategy

Author: Dawn Felagund

Nominator: Rhapsody

2011 Award Category: First Age and Prior: General - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Finwë teaches chess to his young sons. A double drabble.(Double drabble (200 words))

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Reviewed by: Rhapsody  ✧  Score: 10

This short piece is such an exquisite read. Not only does it meet the challenge issued, but it also shows the best intentions of Finwë and how he hopes to fortify the bond between two brothers. Implicitly, or at least to me, it tells me that Finwë wants to prepare his second son to live in the shadow of the eldest. Yet those two characters are so far apart from another that a game intended to show how rulers can collaborate to achieve the same goal will end up reaching the absolute opposite goal. It now shows us the distinct differences between them. Fëanor the free fought rebel and the orderly Fingolfin. The most chilling part to me is when Feänor has stormed off and how Finwë observes how Fingolfin puts the pieces back ([One black piece had fallen in with the white.], neatly sorting them by category as foreshadowing of what is to come in the future. This ficlet shows Dawn at what she is so good at: mingling the present and also showing how the current impact of events will play out in the future simply because the way her characters have developed (and grow into their power in the future since both brothers are young men in this piece) as masters of their own fate. What a marvellous piece!

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 7

You nailed Finwe in this piece. He is such an optimist. I don't necessarily buy that we have to believe that Feanor is always 100 percent to blame for everything either. I prefer to parcel out the blame between Finwe and Serinde, leaving a nice chunk of it for Indis. Hey, that's me. Feanor did not ask to be born or raised without a mother. The obliviousness which you show in Finwe is the major character flaw in a guy who I love to like in general. He certainly produced all of the most interesting characters in The Silmarillion. I wanted to know the details at the end. I hate being left to write a story myself, but I can see other readers lapping that up as a challenge--we can chalk that down to minor taste question. I thought it was challenging enough throughout that I did not need the mystery at the end for it to make a lasting impression. I could see either one or both of them throwing a fit and turning over the chess board. How can I not love this story which looks beneath the obvious at a few of my favorite characters.

Author response: I agree that Feanor is not to blame for how he turned out. He certainly didn't ask for what was done to him, both in his mother's death and in the Valar's unprecedented allowance of a second marriage for Finwe. Perhaps that is what attracts me to Feanor: that he is a child of messed-up parents! Oh yeah, and he's a genius and a hot one at that ... that helps too, I suppose. ;) Anyway, yes, I could definitely make this a longer story. The challenge was to fit it into 200 words, so I had to leave the ending hanging. (And I had to fit it to 200 words as I didn't have the time to write anything longer! There we go with that again ... :D) Thank you again for reading and commenting. Your reviews mean a lot to me, coming from an author I respect as much as you. :)

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 5

Dear Dawn Felagund, I have read several fanfiction stories dealing with chess in different fandoms like Middle-earth or Discworld and while I am no chess player myself, I have always found them interesting in one way or another. This one is no exception. I like how you characterise it as a game mimicking battle strategy in an entertaining but ultimately pointless way. The real battle is in the clash of two minds, and we see that here in the clash of the two brothers. While you don’t say, we can easily imagine what happened, and the foreshadowing fits very well. This is a clever and well thought-out double drabble which I read with interest.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 5

Finwë's observational narrative was very effective here; rather than projecting his own emotions upon the audience, he relays his feelings upon chess, but then describes the behavior of his sons without bias. I liked this, as it made Finwë seem almost like an outsider, not completely comprehending the actions of his sons. Additionally, the author's subtle foreshadowing of the tensions that would arise in the future was very well played here. I enjoyed the way it wasn't explicitly stated or connected in an obvious way.

Reviewed by: elfscribe  ✧  Score: 5

This ficlet portrays a situation that I think all parents can sympathize with -- a well-intentioned effort to get two siblings to cooperate that goes awry. Dawn beautifully shows us in a short space Finwë’s point of view (which appears overly optimistic) as well as a snapshot of both the hot-tempered Fëanáro and his even-tempered brother Nolofinwë dutifully on his knees[“returning the carven pieces to their correct compartments.”] Dawn writes Finwë’s voice so clearly. And I loved the symbolism of the last line.

Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 4

Such dark irony--the useless, purposeless game that cannot serve the purpose that Finwe tries to impose on it, but is far more applicable to the future of his sons than he dreams! And Finwe thinks the Noldor cannot be ruled by devoting afternoons to the play of children? Eventually he is going to find that they cannot be ruled by not doing so either, isn't he? Poor Nolofinwe--whatever exactly went wrong during that chess lesson, those quavering fingers pluck at my heart strings.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

This story is a good description both of chess and of personalities. I can well imagine Feanor being a sore loser. A succinct tale that still has all the elements of a good story. Well written.

Reviewed by: agape4gondor  ✧  Score: 2

A dark and telling tale. I love that the game was 'created' by Tulkas. Seems a perfect choice for creating chess. The actions between the siblings was perfect. Sadly. Well done.