Dance in the Moonlight

Author: KyMahalei

Nominator: nau_tika

2010 Award Category: Races: Cross-Cultural: Friendship - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: There are hidden things in Mirkwood that few Men have ever seen.

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Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

Not only was I completely unprepared for the journey this story embraced, but I was completely unprepared for the themes it explored and the depths it uncovered. Stories about Aragorn encountering Mirkwood for the first time are not difficult to find, but it can be difficult to find a new and refreshing take on this encounter. The story is framed almost as a flashback as Aragorn remembers his first trip to Mirkwood. There's some nice interplay of humor and a few quick quips to lighten the mood, but then the story plunges into the depths of what it means to be an elf. A wood-elf, specifically, and here I have to sing the story's praises. Stark, clear lines are drawn between the Noldor and those who inhabit Mirkwood, be they Silvan or Sindarin. The idea that Legolas wanted Aragorn along partly to avoid guilt and partly to show him a completely different aspect of the elves (one that wouldn't leave him wanting but would rather turn him inward to his strengths) is fascinating, and the ritual of Mereth Echuir is absolutely breathtaking. KyMahalei develops a rich and varied culture to showcase, and seen through Aragorn's eyes, it highlights just who these elves and what it is they treasure. As for that treasure, I won't spoil it by giving it away, but it speaks deeply of why Legolas's people protect Mirkwood and of the philosophies and motivations that govern their lives. An engrossing and enriching read. Beautifully done!

Reviewed by: Eärillë (AiedailWing)  ✧  Score: 8

The mandane life of the Elves of Mirkwood is seldom portrayed, but here KyMahalei did it quite well. The Silvan Elves’ Spring Festival depicted in the second part of this three-shot was both so mandane in its activities and so other-worldly in their enactment. Reading how the Wood-Elves celebrated their Spring Festival here, one would be pulled into and captured in a fay world with its instinctive and primal beauty uncomprehending to mortals. KyMahalei managed to execute the sense of unreality through Aragorn (Estel, in this story) and his opinions on what he experienced during the festival. There was also the underlying cross-cultural clash between the Noldor and the Silvan throughout the story, especially in the first part, but all were wrapped in humor and made lighter – but nonetheless serious – by it. So secretive and detached were the Mirkwood Elves from the usual norms of the Noldor, one would not guess what treasure what Thranduil would sacrifice everything for! (And that is what I love the best from this story.) – Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Azalais  ✧  Score: 5

I'm normally sceptical of fics that posit Legolas and Aragorn having known each other well before FoTR (because I think the canon evidence is against it - why, in that case, for example, does Legolas seem to know Lothlorien only as a place of legend?) but this fic is so fascinating and so beautifully realised that I was prepared to forgo my usual grumpy disbelief. In particular, I love the deep sense of Wood-Elven culture here, and of its profound difference from Noldorin Rivendell (which is a cultural difference I *do* wholeheartedly subscribe to); [“When I brought you to Mirkwood you had been so immersed in Noldorian elf lore that you thought the only way to make music was with instruments, the only way to learn history was from books, and the only way to dance was to follow the formula."]. And the easy banter between the later Legolas and Aragorn is that of familiar friends who have seen and done so much together. Really enjoyable piece.

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 4

KyMahalei assesses the difference between Noldorin and Silvan cultures and pinpoints the core idea: Noldor plan for the future, Silvans appreciate the moment. The story is not concerned with declaring either of these philosophies superior to the other, rather it focusses on how Aragorn, who grew up in the one, begins to understand the other. Beautiful and atmospheric description illustrate this point.

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 4

What a lovely piece. I, too, love the idea of the Sindarin and Silvan elves of Mirkwood dancing to drums, and that King Thranduil's people still had elflings born in the dark times. I have to admit that I'm rather glad that my story, with those same themes running through it, was posted before I read this so that I know that I used my own ideas and not yours! Your story is so well written - I can picture it as Aragorn saw it, your use of imagery is so good. A very good read.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 4

I have read many Aragorn/Legolas stories, but none, I think, that shows the Wood Elves to their best light better than this one. In fact, I suspect strongly that had Tolkien himself written such a story, it would most resemble this one. To see the spring festival as portrayed here, watching it with Estel in his maple tree, was a delight, particularly to watch the Warrior's Dance with him with its three movements. Truly an honor to read, and I do not believe I can recommend it highly enough!

Reviewed by: nau_tika  ✧  Score: 3

I originally read this story some time ago.The author's descriptions of the events and emotions in the story are outstanding. That's what I think of when I think back on that reading.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 3

An interesting story that I like most for the contrast it invokes between the Noldorin/Imladris culture and that of the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood. KyMahalei narrates the actual dance effectively, no easy task, and the revelation of the Mirkwood Elves' greatest [treasure] is a surprise, but makes a lot of sense.