Nightingales and Starlight

Author: Clodia

Nominator: Ithilwen

2009 Award Category: Genres: Character Study: The Silmarillion - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: For many years, Thingol's minstrel Daeron made lament for Lúthien Tinúviel beside dark waters... but not forever. A look at love, loss and the Lay of Leithian.

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Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

Really an enchanting story from a very talented writer. Much of Elf-centric Tolkien fanfiction focusses on Legolas, Thranduil, or the fiery Feanor and his seven sons. Luthien, the central heroine of Tolkien's legends and his own heart, is neglected; understandably, since so powerful and beautiful a character is hard to portray and sometimes hard to like. In this story, Clodia tackles Luthien and her legacy through a back-door; by writing of Tinuviel's lovelorn and disappointed friend Daeron the minstrel, a few hundred years after Luthien's final departure from Middle-earth. Daeron gives us fractured images of his beloved Luthien; he is ravaged by his loss and cannot stop both idolizing her or attempting to sing about her. Clodia brings two Elves who are perhaps almost as old as Daeron - Erestor and his OFC wife Melinna - who, though they grieve for the lost greatness of Doriath and the horrors they have witnesed - are younger and stronger in their hearts, able to live in the world that Luthien left but also helped to shape. Gradually, without lectures or preaching, Erestor and Melinna help Daeron heal and face both past and future, and create the Lay of Luthien in the process. Great art is often born of great pain; and Daeron's creative process is very Elven. Erestor and Melinna are written very well; they may be more flexible than Daeron, but they too have been emotionally scarred by the destruction of the beauty and culture and people of Doriath; and Daeron's song brings a certain measure of catharsis; a token of the redemptive power of art. And I couldn't help but giggle over Daeron's opinions of Tom Bombadil!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

This story works on so many levels that I'm not sure where to begin my review. I suppose I'll start at the most logical place: the beginning. The fascination with words and their meanings and drawing metaphors from objects that carry with them their own meanings was a wonderful addition to this tale. And it fits Daeron's personality perfectly. He would spend forever wondering how to describe Luthien and mulling over different incarnations of the word ["gray"]. But it adds a layer to this story and reveals how the composition of the Lay of Leithian was brought about. And it reveals how much care and thought went into it, painting a clear picture of Daeron. I also love the addition of Erestor and Bombadil to this tale. The former has that slightly irreverent wit that prompted the ["fool's hope"] comment at the Council of Elrond, only here, it's explored and expanded to fill an entire story, painting a wonderfully complete picture of Erestor. As for Bombadil, I'm with Daeron on this one. I never could quite get my head around his nonsense songs, and I love that Daeron echoes my own thoughts so well regarding this strange character. But finally, I love the growth that Daeron undergoes in this story. His attitude regarding Beren provides some great conflict for all involved, and his attempt to resolve his feelings on the matter doesn't seem to fully come to fruition. At best, it feels like a compromise, and I think that fits the story perfectly. Excellent attention to detail all around. A very worthy bit of writing and a perfect close to Daeron's tale.

Reviewed by: Lissa  ✧  Score: 9

Clodia, your stories were among the first to be put in my wishlist, but will be the last to be reviewed. The reason is quite embarrassing, but very simple: I knew I could not possibly do your writing justice with my limited reviewing skills. You are among the very best wordsmiths in Tolkien fandom today; the lyrical quality of your work, the detailed background and the well-drawn characters - all combine to create pure jewels of stories. One issue in this story particularly caught my interest because it reminded me of something I've often thought about Elves: how their long lives permit them to heal from nearly any hurt. Daeron, who has grieved for his lost love for centuries--grieved to the extent that he hardly remembered to eat or seek shelter and would have perished if not kind eyes had watched over him--is gently coaxed out of his traumatized state, and through composing his lament for Lúthien he is led onto the path towards healing. There is still hope for him. *** I highly recommend this story, and in fact all of Clodia's works, and I sincerely hope they will receive their the recognition they deserve in the MEFAs.

Reviewed by: Ignoble Bard  ✧  Score: 8

This story begins with a beautifully structured chiasmus with Daeron contemplating various shades of grey, as a true poet would. Later we discover the meaning behind his ponderings, but it’s the journey that is the treat here as Daeron, hiding out in a cave, shut off from the world, gets by with a little help from his friends and finishes the Lay of Luthien he has been working on for a very long time. The concept of this story is fresh and different, with fun cameos by Tom Bombadil and Goldberry. The humor and serious parts are well balanced and I especially enjoyed the interplay between Daeron, Erestor, and Melinna over whether Beren should be included in Daeron’s opus. Erestor and his wife, a well written OFC, give the moping minstrel both the inspiration and kick in the pants he needs to finish his song and to go out and face the world again. The author does a good job of showing the gravity behind their lighthearted banter and it’s good to see Daeron is able, in the end, to come to terms with his feelings for the elusive daughter of Melian.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 7

The style of this story draws me in - something about the sense of timeless living, and the ability to go from light-hearted to dead serious in the space of a heartbeat puts this firmly within an Elvish perspective. These are Elves I can believe would be merry like children, but also absolutely deadly and dangerously truthful - [go not to the Elves], because they might actually tell you exactly what they think, Melinna especially. The catharsis for Daeron works beautifully, and I loved the way Clodia described his experience of being caught up in his art: being in a labyrinth made of music and out of this world. It's as good a description as I can imagine. Her handling of his slow reconciliation with Lúthien's choice, his own complicity, and his song-penance-tribute was utterly convincing, and one feels tired with Daeron, exhausted by a world he no longer belongs to when he finally lays his ghosts to rest. Truly, a beautiful story - Silm fans, do not miss this one!

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 7

Beautiful, lyrical prose, that uses things like rythm and word placement to amplify its impact; very fitting for Daeron as the protagonist. The story conveys brilliantly the wonder and enchantment of Lúthien, and Menegroth, and the dark under the stars. And I like that touch of whimsy in the language that captures the "elvishness" of its protagonists. The way the history of the fall of Beleriand is told (and received) in this story gives it a unique, intriguiging spin. Likewise, the way fragments of songs about Lúthien compare to the reality of events, and particularly the way Daeron deals with the subject of Beren, Lúthien's choices and Daeron's betrayal of her. I like the way Daeron finds closure through the composure and actual completion of his song - and the companionship of friends willing to listen and cajole and offer support - so that in the end, he is ready to embark for Valinor. Tantalising allusions (such as the mystery of the harp) left open by the story's end beg for more stories!

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 6

What an enchanting story this is! A very convincing proposal for how the Lay of Luthien came to be. Once again you show how seamlessly you can weave together the poetic and the comical, the hope and the sorrow, the sublime and the absurd. Tom Bombadil’s verses must be s sore trial indeed for an accomplished minstrel - no wonder Daeron keeps his distance! I loved the conversation about the hats, very amusing. Melinna and Erestor are just as delightful as ever, and I like the way they challenge Daeron’s views. But the most enchanting thing about this story is, to my mind, the tone, with its wonderful ambivalence. Beautiful, how you use all the stock phrases and motifs and yet make them into something fresh and inspiring. Did Daeron need another way to describe her? Probably not. The one way, done with passion and delicacy, should be enough, quite enough.

Reviewed by: Robinka  ✧  Score: 5

A-ha! This is a must read for every Silmarillion aficionado, especially for the ones that like the Sindarin side of the whole story. Here we have a delightful and thoughtful take on Daeron's life after Luthien's departure from Middle Earth, and how he coped with his loss and grief. It is also a story that deals with the destruction of Doriath and how some of the survivors might perceive their loss and grief. Clodia's writing is engaging and beautiful in every aspect. Excellent portrayal of Daeron and a lovely, compelling story. I will agree on 'the Tom Bombadil issue', though ;) Great stuff!

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 5

Daeron the Minstrel had but two loves in his life--his music, and Luthien Tinuviel, who chose a different love and a different fate. In her memory he composed the Lay of Leithien. This tells of the actual composition and how it came to be shared with those Elves remaining within Middle Earth. Prompted by Clodia's Erestor and Melinna, and in the end the final composition witnessed by Iarwain and his lady, Daeron finishes his task and begs a ship. One can feel Daeron's obsession with his lost lady and his grief that in his jealousy he failed her. Lyrical.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 4

"The Lay of Luthien" is important in both "The Simarillion" and LOTR,but who within the story wrote it? This clever and well told story suggests that it was told by one of Luthien's rejected suitors who did not like Beren at all! Many a reader has wondered why Luthien is described in rather over the top terms at times, so what more perfect explanation than that the author was in love with her?

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 4

If you ever wondered how the Lay of Luthien came to be written you need wonder no more - the answer is in this tale. A tale told with such beautiful use of language. The writing is lyrical, positively musical, yet with a quirkish sense of humour showing through just enough - an underpinning, if you will, to the sadness, and sad deeds and deaths, told of throughout. Thoroughly enjoyable - thank you.

Reviewed by: Erfan Starled  ✧  Score: 4

In the first chapter, the opening line and the last line of this story are ones I like very much indeed. There is another line which has a cadence and alliteration whose flow I enjoyed, too; I found it charming: [‘Fairest of the fair, our nightingale who danced among the umbels wild in Doriath’s hallowed halls.’] Another moment which appealed to me, was Daeron’s reflections on his feelings for Beren. The two sentences balance in short succession which had an impact. (This is where he speaks of never loving him, and of hate.)

Reviewed by: Narya  ✧  Score: 2

I remember reading this on lotrff...a fantastic look at a much-neglected character, packed with emotion and beautifully written. Gorgeous work :)