The Office and the Instrument

Author: Elleth

Nominator: grey_gazania

2011 Award Category: Character Study: House of Finwë

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Mature Language/Themes

Summary: With Maedhros captive in Angband, Curufin and Maglor discuss kingship, politics, and necessary sacrifices. For B2MeM 2011, Day Four: "There would be no one to frighten you if you refused to be afraid." (Ghandi)

Read the Story  ✧  Backup Story Link

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 7

Mm, political agony - in all the senses of that word. Sparely written, and sharp, [The Office and the Instrument] shows that the [damn crown] makes tools of all those it touches. It is not only Maedhros who is its instrument, but Maglor. The worst thing about this situation is that the kingship of the Noldor will force Maglor to make his brother an instrument to his own rule, and condemn him to a fate worse than death - because holding together a people in Middle-earth doesn't seem to allow for an alternative. Curufin, who had not had the training or perhaps the fortitude to face that, learns the hard way from this conversation what it costs to be king. At least he is wise enough to recognize that the crown has made its claim and found an instrument in Maglor strong enough for its ungentle use. Absolutely brutal, Elleth - and I mean that as a compliment. Great characterization of these two characters, who I don't often read about having private conversations with each other. Fans of Feänorian politics should love this!

Reviewed by: grey_gazania  ✧  Score: 6

I’ll admit that I’m a little biased, but I think it’s altogether too rare that we get to see Maglor and Curufin’s relationship explored in fic. Elleth does a wonderful job here, using the contrast in their attitudes and coping mechanisms following the death of their father and capture of their oldest brother as a vehicle to explore how they understand one another. Even better, she does it without tipping the reader to one side or the other; I came away feeling that both Maglor and Curufin had a mix of valid points and weak points – and that both could benefit from considering the other’s view. And even after reading the story multiple times, the line from which the title is drawn still hurts. Very well done!

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 5

The Office and the Instrument is an interesting view into a serious and rather dire situation. The conversation between the characters is tense, yet revealing, and it serves to bare some truths that would have been preferably unspoken. Elleth's writing was very good throughout the piece, an aspect that served to illuminate and bring further notice to the story's premise, which was somber indeed. I thought the prompt was explored quite well in this piece, and that it brought unique insight into these two characters’ personalities and mindsets.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

Heavy lies the head that wears the crown--literally and figuratively. Maglor did not wish to be leader following the loss of his elder brother, but now he is, and he finds himself doing what is necessary, not what is right or fair. A moving story, well-written.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 3

I love the way Elleth depicts the talk between Maglor and Curufin, and especially Maglor's answers to his brother's questions. Perfect match for the challenge entitled "Conquer one's fears".

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 2

After Maedhros is captured, Maglor refuses to officially accept the kingship of the Noldor. But Curufin disagrees with his older brother and tries to change his mind.

Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 2

Convincing dialogue and spot-on characterization. There is nothing comforting or comfortable about this--and there should not be.