Watching the Dance

Author: Lyra

Nominator: Elleth

2011 Award Category: Men: General - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Little Túrin is lost in the woods - and a storm is brewing. Fortunately, a fearless maiden is nearby to teach him not to fear the lightning... A speculative look at how the friendship between Túrin and Nellas may have started.

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Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 10

There are things to be said about the wonderful feeling of receiving a gift ficlet, especially an unlikely one (and featuring unlikely characters), and even more so when the author creates such a wonderful story. Not that I'd expected anything less, given Lyra's skill with words (here sometimes verging on poetry, see the excerpt below) and her substantial knowledge of myth and folktale traditions, but even my expectations and positive bias aside, [Watching the Dance] is a fabulous piece of writing. As the summary states, little Turin gets lost in the woods with a thunderstorm impending, but luckily he has a protectress who quickly does away with his angst and negative thoughts, and instead emphasizes the beauty and wonder to be found in the nature around her. It is, of course, Nellas, and I love Lyra's characterization of her, from the matter-of-fact voice to the riddle-game of her introduction, to her effortless joy and the mythical formulas that she uses to identify and explain the Valar in the storm: [Túrin stared at the dark clouds doubtfully. He had been told that the lady Elbereth was brighter and more beautiful than he could imagine; the lightning was certainly very bright, but nothing else. He said as much. Nellas grinned again, an expression of wild glee in her eyes. "But that is what 'more beautiful than you can imagine' means – beauty that you cannot grasp, cannot even see! Look, there she is again – how fast she can jump!" And she laughed with delight while the tree shook its branches against the gale, and while a sharp, brutal clap of thunder seemed to shake the clouds in reply.] Don't tell me that isn't wonderful. Lyra very much captured the storm in words, and it certainly made me appreciate thunderstorms, as well as the cleansing aftermath, a lot more. I can't decide whether the linguistic end notes are the icing or the cake, but they are certainly as delicious as the rest of it and show the care the author uses to approach Tolkien's world even in a short ficlet. Thank you, Lyra.

Author response: And then there are things to be said about the wonderful feeling of receiving such an eloquent (and flattering) review, even more so when it was no longer expected! As I've told other reviewers, the idea of the Valar in the storm came to me long before I finally found a way of weaving it into a story. Without your interlude with Nellas, I might never have gotten it out. Phew! I'm also thrilled (if a bit embarrassed) that you like the writing so much - my computer ate the first version of this story and I had to rewrite it from memory on the day itself, and was afraid that it would end up inferior and rushed. It seems not! :) So thank you for your generous review, and for enjoying this so much!

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 5

The relationship between Nellas and Túrin is certainly one of the more interesting Tolkien wrote, and I thought the author feasibly portrayed the two characters’ first meeting in this short piece. The light-hearted nature of Nellas was a wonderful contrast with Túrin’s fear of storms. I also liked the analogy brought to the table as an explanation of the thunderstorm. Bringing the Valar into the picture was a good choice, I thought, and the nearly mythological explanation for the storm made a great deal of sense. I found this piece to be very sweet and fresh, and enjoyed reading it very much.

Author response: I had so much fun writing Nellas in this piece (although I had to write it twice *growls at computer*) - I'm glad her character brings joy to others, too! And I'm also glad you liked my interpretation of the thunderstorm. I've been meaning to use this concept for quite a while before finally the idea for this story came along. Thank you for enjoying, and for taking the time to review!

Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 5

I really like this story! Turin is very young and boyish and Nellas is no shrinking maiden here (which is how she sometimes comes across), but someone confident who speaks with the authority of a Sinda who knows more about the woods of Doriath and the world in general than young Turin does. After all, she clearly was older than he was--and I think in this story probably quite a lot older, which is not unlikely in an elf. I also enjoyed Lyra's notes on her speculation on Doriathrin Sindarin--I've never really engaged in Sindarin studies myself and forgotten most of what little I knew, but they appeal to my nerdish side.

Author response: Nellas would probably be a "shrinking maiden" around other grown Elves, and definitely in an environment she didn't feel at home in. She does feel at home out in the woods, though, so she can be competent and reassuring to young Turin out there. Yes, she is no doubt quite a lot older than Turin, albeit young by Elven standards (in my interpretation, that is)! And of course I'm thrilled you enjoyed the linguistic speculation - I'm always half scared that my readers will hate it, but I just can't help myself!

Reviewed by: Caunedhiel  ✧  Score: 4

I love your Turin. Cheeky little chap isn't he? You've made him into a very believable character and I loved his reaction to the storm and Nellas. I genuinely liked him and what he said. I also liked how Nellas made a game out of the thunder. She made it fun instead of frightening, when I was little we used to count how many times you could say elephant in between thunder claps to see how far away the storm was. I loved the ending, very nice. Your story was indeed lovely and I enjoyed reading it very much :) Thanks, Caunedhiel

Author response: Thank you for your review! Yep, Turin is a cheeky (and, no doubt, stubborn) little chap, and it's only going to get worse as he grows ;)

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 2

I love Lyra's description of the forest, storm, Turin and Nellas. It is an interesting idea that the thunders are in fact the dancing of the Valar. Beautiful gapfiller.

Author response: The idea for the dancing Valar was with me long before I finally had the idea for this story - it kind of got stuck in my head and wanted out! Glad that you enjoyed the result. thanks for your review!