The White Tower

Author: Anna Wing

Nominator: dkpalaska

2007 Award Category: Races: Elves - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Medium Length

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Amrod and Amras, sons of Feanor, reborn in Valinor, come calling on Elwing again to ask for the Silmaril. Elwing must resolve her own ambivalence about the Jewel and decide what her response will be.(N/A)

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Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 10

There are so many things to praise in ["The White Tower"] that I'm not quite sure where to start... What strikes me first and perhaps hardest is the brilliant and unusual world-building. It is complex, subtle, and as carefully crafted as any art of the Eldar. Anna Wing has constructed a fantastic and fantastical setting for her characters. Her Blessed Realm is not a static place, not some sterile Elven "heaven" (as Tolkien sometimes seems to have left it), but a changing, developing, technologically advanced country. The author's vision unfolds as the story goes along, using precise details and language to reflect a society that is intrinsically Elvish, one at harmony with the world even as they alter it; and each part is firmly grounded in canon or plausibly extrapolated from it. It is wonderfully creative, and has become the definitive image of post-book Aman for me. Set against this backdrop are stunning characters, both canonical and OC. They too are carefully constructed and fleshed out, given specific characteristics and roles to play. Their various interactions and relationships with Elwing (even when involving off-screen individuals like Elrond) are well thought-out and believable. And such diversity! Young Elves born in Aman, others who died for Elwing and remained loyal on rebirth, refugees from Beleriand, ancients who have seen the Trees, Sindar, Teleri, Noldor, Vanyar... Even briefly mentioned Elves (Finrod, Thingol, Eol) seem extensions of their canonical selves, true to Tolkien's writings. But the masterpiece is, of course, strong and capable Elwing, Lady and leader of the people of Hanstovanen - closely followed by her mate Earendil and the Kinslayer twins. Marvellously textured and unique, they provide the foundation upon which rests the crux of the story. We find that Elwing does not necessarily know Earendil so well as she believes (when she asserts that he will not give up the Silmaril, for example, or only now questions the effect her long-ago choice has had on him); and more critically, she does not completely know herself, as she discovers the depth of the Silmaril's hold on her. The resolution of the quandary - Is the lone remaining Silmaril to be offered to the Kinslayers, or not? - is moving, graceful and utterly fitting. Underlying it is the theme that I found most insightful of all: a startling and blunt look at the true nature of the Silmaril... Cold, for all its radiant beauty; a weight that drags upon the soul of the one holding it. Earendil's burden is painfully and artfully explored, as is Elwing's new understanding of it. I am left wondering, indeed, at the nature of what is captured within. Is the jewel's ["merciless light"] a result of its containment, of it being "possessable"? Or was the Light of the Trees always so? An all-around incredible story, which has taken its well-earned place in my personal top-tier favorites.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 9

Evocative, graceful and elegant descriptions that bring the landscape and the lively community that has sprung up around Elwing's Tower immediately to life. I have always found it odd and regrettable that Elwing should live so alone and remote in a far-off Tower, and you have "remedied" this situation very nicely. I liked the "reunion" of Teleri and Sindar in this community, and also the different customs of the Elves, depending on race and age, and the little references to known Elves that have been reborn in the meantime. The choice before Elwing and Eärendil, and the questions that come with it are explored in compelling, thought-provoking ways. And the way you resolved the dilemma had me holding my breath. It was fascinating to see how this part of Valinor had developed since the First Age, and the Elves' progress in science and technology. I especially enjoyed how you have incorporated things like submarines and airplanes, and as contrast to that, prehistoric creatures, in ways that feel creative, yet canon-compliant. The Silmarils as ["merciless light"] and possessing ["terrible sanctity"] is an extraordinarily profound and appropriate description.

Reviewed by: Rhapsody  ✧  Score: 6

Ah, this is such a fabulous story! I really like the way how the author wove in futuristic inventions, mentioning of new weapons and such in such a elegant and non-jarring way. It just simply fits and it has a special flair to it. The sidenotes to elves reborn, like Thingol, for example are natural and fitting, in character even. There are a few uncanon things in this story that I simply ignored because it fits so well in this verse: Everything matches and balances out. The twist is well executed, the author alludes the reader almost with a possible fight ahead, but leave it up to the Feanorians to bring in that twist. Somehow I think Eërendil knew it all along, perhaps having more faith in people than Elwing has. I love this story a lot, for some reason I just wish there are more Elwing stories written by the author set in this 'universe'.

Reviewed by: NeumeIndil  ✧  Score: 5

It has taken me several weeks to review this story. It left me that speechless. Even now, I'm not sure what to say aside from Wow. I don't think I've yet seen a stronger portrayal of the youngest sons of Feanor, nor one in which they are penitent and willing to own up to their fate. I think this is also the first characterization of Elwing that I've been able to read all the way through. I generally hold less esteem for female characters who lack guts; your Elwing lacks nothing. What surprised and pleased me most, though, were the details of ships and such that you used to set the scene. It was, I think, very Tolkienian; creative, unexpected, highly original and yet still within the bounds of canon. I am highly impressed.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 5

Definitely one of the best post-Silmarillion Valinor stories I can remember reading, and one of Anna Wing's best tales as well. Elwing is written excellently; as woman and elf; she is not sitting idly by pining for Earendil to come home from his star-bearing routine. She rules a domain, and rules it well. The embassy of the reborn Feanorian twins troubles the peace of her domain and her own peace of mind; and thereby hangs the tale. I loved the details about the Valinorean Elven technological progress; the sky-ships and submarine. Earendil is also characterised very well; and the resolution was quite moving and believable.