The Case of the Silver Letters

Author: Altariel

Nominator: Dwimordene

2011 Award Category: Mystery: General

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Medium Length

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: If you have ever longed to read a Holmes pastiche set in Ithilien after the Ring War - you can now.

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Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

Isabeau has been saying for years she wanted to write an Amrothos Holmes tribute story, but there's always room for one more in that category of cross-fandom pastiche! I won't give away the particular Holmes story that she's riffing, since mystery fans usually hate to be spoiled. But the story opens onto a vision of Middle-earth's past that makes excellent use of Tolkien's fondness for the Atlantis story. Altariel knows how to draw a scene sparely, and the atmosphere of some of this story is terrific - think Fourth Age interrupted by steampunk, which fits nicely with the nod to everyone's favorite Victorian-era detective and also suggests the direction of Middle-earth's history. Magic has become, and is becoming, technology (again), and greed of the average human variety is able to flex its muscle a bit. This sense of transition that the Fourth Age/steampunk vibe sets up makes the choice to use Faramir's eldest daughter as the pair of eyes through which to observe the game that's afoot especially welcome. Not only because Middle-earth needs a few good women, but because Morwen is at that phase of life where she's beginning to enter the grown-up world. She, too, is in transition, right along with Middle-earth, and this is her story as much as it is her father's or Amrothos's, with all the childhood concerns that frame her participation in the quest to unravel the puzzle that a scheming soul has unwittingly placed before the Steward and his family. A very enjoyable tribute to both Doyle and Tolkien, stylistically sharp (as is everything I've ever read by Altariel - jealousy knows no bounds!), light-hearted despite the mystery, and sure to please fans of the Steward's family!

Author response: Thank you for a great review, Dwim. I agree that there's space in the world for plenty more Amrothos Holmes! This one was a huge amount of fun to write, and I'm so glad you enjoyed it, glimpses of Techno-Numenor and all!

Reviewed by: Starlight  ✧  Score: 6

I absolutely loved this story! The world Altariel (together with Isabeu and Dwimordene) have created for this generation of Tolkien characters is so amazingly vivid and poignant that I do not doubt its truth, and this story is just one such story that brings all characters involved to life in such a unique way! The plot itself is entirely engrossing; the historical element (and by that I, of course, mean historical in relation to the dúnedain's númenórean past) is fascinating and thought-provoking; but, my favorite element is all the wonderful characterization and the relationships between all characters involved. It is a touching, intriguing, fascinating story. Well done, Altariel!

Author response: Thank you so much, Starlight! I had enormous fun with this one, particularly with Morwen's voice, and giving Faramir and Amrothos the adventure that they should have had as boys!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 5

This was a delightful story! The author called it a Holmes pastiche, and while I can see the Holmesian influences, it actually reminds me more of Lord Peter Wimsey, that delightful aristocratic sleuth. Prince Amrothos fits the role perfectly. I particularly like the character of the young OFC Morwen who narrates the story. She seems very like the sort of daughter Faramir and Eowyn would have: precocious, intelligent, curious as a Took, and more daring than is strictly proper for a young noble lady. She lends a very special POV to the whole adventure. The mystery is intriguing as well, and the solution clever. I love the way it was a children's game which was the first clue. A really good read!

Author response: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it! I think you might be right that there's just a dash of Peter Wimsey in there. (In the family that I've made up for Faramir and Eowyn in my fics, I tend to write their little boy Leof as a Wimsey-in-the-making). Delighted too that you liked Morwen, she is a hoot to write!

Reviewed by: Fiondil  ✧  Score: 5

For those who’ve always enjoyed reading the Holmes stories, this is a delightful little tale, based very loosely on “The Musgrave Ritual” which has always been one of my favorite Holmes stories. I loved Amrothos in this, as well as the glimpse we get of the technology that the Numenoreans might have had, technology that would be far above anything known to the inhabitants of Middle-earth in the Third Age, technology that is lost to time and misfortune. The viewpoint of a daughter of Faramir and Eowyn works very well here. Highly recommended.

Author response: Thank you for this lovely review! Very glad you enjoyed the story!

Reviewed by: Levade  ✧  Score: 4

This is a fun romp and a treat for all Sherlock fans who also love Tolkien. It's clever and the characters are as familiar as picking up a favourite well-read book. Morwen especially is engaging as a child at the cusp of becoming more adult, but one who still gloats in having an adventure of her own over her brother. The mystery was fun, and kept me reading to see what happened. Amrothos in the shoes of Holmes was perfect, and Faramir shone through as the lovely character Tolkien meant him to be. All in all a wonderful read!

Author response: Thank you, Levade! A "good read" was exactly what I wanted to produce! So glad you enjoyed it!

Reviewed by: DrummerWench  ✧  Score: 4

What an appealing and entertaining tale! A Holmes pastiche, with a touch of Comedy of Manners (another favorite of mine), a drop of horror, and Tolkien's subtle magic all combine for a compelling foray into mystery and danger. Altariel has given us a short story with terrific original and canon characters and steadily mounting suspense; it's well-written and a pleasure to read.

Author response: Thank you! I had huge fun writing this, and it's great to know that you enjoyed reading it too!