Of Wine and Song
2010 Award Category: Races: Cross-Cultural: Gapfiller
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: griping Nandorin elves
Summary: When a delegation from Doriath visits Vinyamar, Saeros and his embassy are not exactly impressed with the might and grandeur of the Noldor from across the Sea.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 10
Ellie's Saeros gives us a very visceral response to the artifice that mars the art of the Noldorin Exiles. Saeros isn't a figure who often gets much (kind) attention, I don't think, although since my interests are more in LOTR most of the time, I may be missing out on Saeros-centric stories. But in any case, Ellie's take on Saeros is new and very welcome: he gains back dignity in spades, here, and one can certainly understand why he finds the Noldor insulting and pompous, and also rather dangerously disoriented. The whole story seethes with his appalled reaction to Turgon's Vinyamar. The one moment when there might have been an opening for some more fruitful relationship (no pun intended) between Saeros's Nandorin perspective and the Noldorin one, is lost in one of those painful moments of unabashed and in many ways, totally unself-conscious racism. Sometimes - maybe more often than we'd like to think - that's the way such cross-cultural encounters go: the opportunity for something better is simply lost. One wonders how much this one, with Turgon's people, soured Saeros or played to some predisposition to pride, to the point, perhaps, of being of a piece with his later hatred of the Edain, and particularly of Turin. Compellingly written, and a fascinating look into a character and a time period not often delved into, so far as I know.
Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger ✧ Score: 9
I love the stories about culture-clashes between the elves who stayed in the Hither Lands and the elves who returned. I especially love the culture clashes where the Noldor aren't hogging the limelight, because my sympathies have always been with those who remained. As grand and glorious as the sons of Feanor makes themselves out to be, the grit and determination of everyone who remained behind has always impressed me. I love the way Ellie brings that out in this story. There are certainly things about the Noldor that impress, and I like the nod to the science of placing the vineyards so as to improve the harvest. Certainly there are things the Nandor can learn from the Noldor, but there are also many things the Noldor have forgotten and can relearn from the Nandor. The majesty of Nandorin song and understanding (something that permeates their entire lives) serves as a perfect counter to the sweetness of Noldorin wine (something which lasts for only an evening and then is nothing more than a dream). It's a counter aptly alluded to in the title, and I have no doubt but what Saeros will give an amazing performance later to stun both Nandor and Noldor alike.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 6
The Noldor of Turgon have not exactly made a good impression on the Nandor Elves of Beleriand, and Saeros finds them pretentious, ostentatious, artificial, and divorced from the land and its rhythms. The only good thing he has found in them so far is their appreciation for the making of fine wines. When his hosts suggest a sharing of music following the feast to be celebrated for these delegates from Doriath, Saeros agrees, knowing he has something of true worth to show the returnees from Valinor. A sardonic look at relationships between the Elves of Beleriand and the returning Noldor, and the distance between the sensibilities of each group. Ellie has written a sharply-flavored story here, and we tend to come away siding with Saeros, I do believe. Well recommended.
Reviewed by: Fiondil ✧ Score: 6
I keep wanting to call this Of Whine and Song. LOL Ellie does an excellent job of portraying Saeros in a slightly more positive light than we see in the Silmarillion and certainly the Noldor, as typified by the nameless wonder in the story, were an arrogant, supercilious bunch of yahoos looking down their noses at their poor Sindarin and Nandorin cousins, at least some of them (Im excluding people like Finrod, of course ). It must have been a bad case of culture shock for both groups when they first met and, of course, when the Elves of Beleriand learned why the Noldor had really come to these shores, and it wasnt to aid them in their fight against Morgoth, that must have hurt. Ellie breathes life into one of the Silmarillion's more minor characters and makes us care. Well recommended.
Reviewed by: The Lauderdale ✧ Score: 5
The opening lines and the Nando's disgust for an imposition of order over the natural world was not surprising, but a worldview older than the moon and the sun that views THEM as an imposition on the natural world, no less than the world's earliest source of light-pollution, that WAS startling, and terribly clever and deft. Love the way Saeros interprets the movement of the tides as a sign that even the sea cannot stand the Noldor (rather than a natural effect of the moon's gravitational pull.) Love the way that, even as the Noldor come across as a proud and patronizing folk, Saeros own repellent personality oozes from the text in the guise of his smug naturalism.