Seen in the Halls of Dwarrowdelf

Author: Aruthir

Nominator: Dwimordene

2007 Award Category: Races: Dwarves - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: In the dark of Moria, the dwarves dug too deep...

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Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 7

I read this story on the strength of another reviewer's well-chosen quotations, and felt I had been well-rewarded for following the link. Desire and darkness come together here, and transmute into a kind of obsession that leads to the death of an entire civilization. Aruthir's look into the heart of the Dwarven soul, in its desire to know, to master, and to create is effective, but I especially like the point of view. The poem is a sort of warning from beyond the crypt, the ghosts of Dwarven miners chanting their litany of foolishness, self-reproach, in a sort of sign-post to travelers, as the poem itself says: beware! Sometimes, writers attempt this perspective and it just comes off flat, as if we can see a little too well the pretense; this effort I think works. Perhaps it is in part because it's a little too tempting to apply the lesson to contemporary situations; perhaps it is the poetic stylization, which I quite like. Whatever it is, it works very well to keep this feeling genuinely eerie. Give it a try!

Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 7

Extremely evocative - I could feel the Dwarves' fierce drive to overcome this obstacle to their dreams, and the despair and agony of the writer resonates throughout. The writing style precisely draws out my reaction: Even though events are being recalled from far in the past, the story has an immediacy that brings a reader right into each moment described, as if I'm sitting and listening to the narrator speak his tale. Your word choice and the structure of the story are carefully considered, and there are many wonderful phrases that stuck with me afterwards. The pride and arrogance of the dwarves, the reasons behind their push to uncover this mithril vein, are well described. In particular, I love how we are led up to the actual release of the Balrog: How they had almost given up when the least among them found such slight success; the way the dwarves are singing, so overjoyed to make progress on that (excellently conceived) monolith that they miss every warning sign. I took away several morals for our own times.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 6

Wow. What a marvellously written story, strong, rhythmic, so very appropriate for Dwarves. Powerful imagery and the word structure both strengthen the eeriness and immediacy of the narrative. Effective use of fast pacing and sentence lengths - I could really feel how breathless and precipitous the Dwarves were getting when their goal seemed so near. The readers can sense the sweat and arduousness of labour, just as they can feel the satisfaction and joy the Dwarves find in their common endeavour. And how their desire to go on and on and still achieve *more* turns to obsession, making them blind to warning signs, unable to give up against all reasonable odds. ["Look about you, traveller..."] - this passage reminded me of the epitaph on the Spartans' burial mound at Thermopylae. I don't know if the reference was deliberate; in any case it fits very well, and gives the story an additional fascinating resonance.

Reviewed by: NeumeIndil  ✧  Score: 4

Wow. It even reads dwarf-like: bold, rhythmically, hammering on the point that pride and vanity always go before a fall, strong. Mature, but still a little rash in its sorrow. The images I saw as I read it were very vivid, very colorful, which surprised me considering it's set very very deep underground. My room nearly echoed with the hammers and voices of dwarves. An excellent piece.

Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke  ✧  Score: 4

This piece was full of lovely, rich phrases really enlivening the dwarven tradition full of art and poetry. But I particularly loved how this culture of artisans saw their art not as anything solitary or muse-driven, but part of their larger glory, not personal glory, but racial glory. These dwarves labored not as indivuduals, but as representatives, and so their downfall is all the greater and more tragic.

Reviewed by: Aranel Took  ✧  Score: 4

Very powerful! I like the warning at the beginning: ["Read my words, traveller, and despair."]. I could feel the lust for mithril and the desperation to break through the obsidian wall driving the dwarves in the rhythm of the lines and the repetition of words. The ending was very poignant -- you can't help but feel sorry for the dwarves even though it was their own greed that brought about their destruction.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

As they dug in search of mitrhil, they came upon a wall of black stone. They ought to have realized such an obstacle was purposely erected--they realize it now. Such powerful imagery through use of language. Excellent evocation of mood.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 3

A shivery-good account of the last days of the dwarves of Khazad-dum; with some unique plot elements. The tale reminds me very much of Shelley's poem "Ozymandias" in its evocation of great works built in pride and abandoned in despair.

Reviewed by: White Wolf  ✧  Score: 3

This gave me chills. As the story progressed, I kept saying, 'Don't do it!'. But of course, I knew they would, and I knew what they would find. The imagery and deep feelings of joy, of fear, of greed and of death came through with startling clarity. This is the best story on this subject I've read so far.