Carving a Bond

Author: Finch

Nominator: Eärillë (Virodeil)

2011 Award Category: Elves: House of Finwë

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: A young Sindarin stonecutter from Doriath meets the Noldor during the construction of Nargothrond, with rather far-reaching results.

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Reviewed by: Maeve Riannon  ✧  Score: 10

This is one of those few stories of yours that I´ve never read, and even if it´s 10 years later, I thank the MEFA nomination for making me do it! It is truly different, not only from your other stories but also from most fanfics I´ve read. I´m not embarrassed to admit that you completely had me there, and that I wasn´t expecting Ereglas to be a she. I also didn´t recognize Orodreth, is Arothir his canonical Quenya name in any of the HoME volumes? I did recognize Finrod from the outset, as he is such a distinctive character in all your stories, so as a result I spent quite a while puzzling over his family tree until I found out. I really enjoyed the POV approach and how you milked it for all that was worth. Since the beginning, Ereglas´voice provided a cheeky but quite incomplete knowledge of her surroundings (no omniscient narrator in disguise here). There was irony and humour to it: the reader is at first lured to believe that (s)he knows more than Ereglas does, but at the same time we are cheated of really crucial information that Ereglas knows but doesn´t believe important enough to mention. Am I right in believing that she does enjoy being a boy? Or at least finds it convenient to pretend that she is one. After that we are met with a second contrast, as you pull the rug for the second time and we realize that the tale lies inside another tale, and that this almost comedic sketch of misunderstandings and people who turn out to be other people is set against the sobering backdrop of the tragic history of the Noldor. That Ereglas finds it in herself to tell it after all the others have died gives an interesting insight on Elven memory: for once it´s not about mourning wanderers who keep on singing and remembering each and every one of their misfortunes to the last detail, but about someone who recalls the good times as vividly as a human who had been through the same probably wouldn´t be able to. A fascinating insight. Last, but not least, I loved all the little details that made the story and the characters come alive for me, the comment about getting angry with the Noldor only resulting in them getting angrier back (LOL), the jabs at Thingol, the flower carved from a carrot, and, my favourite, the idea that Finrod could have asked Ereglas to carve those leaves to check if she had boobs! All in all, a charming little story that turns out to be more complex than what it seems, packed, in spite of its short length, with surprises, and as likely to entertain as to offer new insights about areas that even today remains relatively unexplored.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 10

This is a nice short story about two young Elves of the First Age, Ereglas and Arothir, and how they first met each other. Ereglas is an entertaining character, with a pleasingly flip way of telling the tale. There are some funny, and some very opposite-of-funny, revelations, but on the whole it is pretty upbeat, which surprises Ereglas' son at the end: ["How can you write such a light-hearted story ... knowing all that befell since?"] Ereglas' response is a reminder to us all that, in and around the monumental events chronicled by historians, the ordinary business of living goes on. ["It's because I know all that befell since that I wanted to preserve some pleasant memories. Or the later-born will end up thinking the First Age knew nothing but tragedy."] The story focuses on Ereglas and Arothir, but it can also be read in the context of Finch's larger Finrod Felagund cycle. It is Part 2, and once I was able to FIND Part 1 ("Saying Farewell," if anyone else was wondering) I actually read them all through. In this context [Carving a Bond] becomes another lens on Finrod, and, largely because of Ereglas' outlook, it does something to temper the more sober tone of the larger cycle. Finrod carving a carrot is an endearing detail that others have rightfully remarked on; I also appreciated his advice of forbearance and patience to Ereglas and Arothir. We know he speaks from personal experience, and his wise words make possible a better happiness for the two youngsters later on. I'll pause to say that Ereglas' dad and Finrod come off as some pretty hip and broad-minded adults in this story. Maegrist is a mite peeved toward the end, but hey, he gets over it.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 6

Maegrist hoped to find employment under Finrod, helping to shape the cavernous realm Finrod was excavating in Nargothrond. When his only child Ereglas insisted on going with him as his apprentice at last he and his wife agreed, and the two of them set off in company with several Dwarves intent on the same goal. Little did Ereglas suspect that the obviously master carver encountered in one room under construction was Lord Finrod himself, nor that the companionship of Finrod’s nephew Arothir would become so close as would occur, once Ereglas’s secret became known to Arothir and his uncle. But the Noldor themselves had secrets they were holding close, for after all the abandonment of Valinor by the Noldor was not anywhere as innocent as many of the Sindar had believed. A most interesting tale, nicely and neatly told, and worth the time to read.

Reviewed by: Caunedhiel  ✧  Score: 4

I like this very much! It's nice to see some great female characters being included in Tolkien works, more often than not they're a bit cringe-worthy or mary-sueish. I very much loved Ereglas, her character was well-written and interesting in herself. I could imagine her as a believable first age elf. I often choose to stick with what was written in the Sil with regards to the parentage of Gil-galad but I like it here, and the way Ereglas remembered the tale was lovely :)

Reviewed by: goldleaves  ✧  Score: 2

A beautiful short story ... It captures the personality of these characters beautifully.