Stars of the Lesser

Author: Dawn Felagund

Nominator: pandemonium_213

2008 Award Category: Times: First Age and Prior

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: nudity (non-sexual)

Summary: One day, Pengolodh would pen the book we know as The Silmarillion, and Celebrimbor would forge the Rings of Power. But at the start of the First Age, still in their youths, Pengolodh meets his first Fëanorian as Celebrimbor attempts to replicate Fëanor's greatest accomplishment: harnessing light.

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Reviewed by: pandemonium_213  ✧  Score: 10

In the interest of full disclosure [Stars of the Lesser] was written for me as a gift by Dawn. As I noted in a previous review, this story fits me like a pair of hand-knitted mittens, shaped perfectly for the shape of my hands and length of my fingers, and for my rather heretical view of Tolkien's world. So, naturally, I have my biases, and in fact, this story addresses bias. Tolkien created his legendarium with the conceit that it represents an imaginary history written by similarly imaginary historians (Baggins, Pengolodh, Rumil). Any history is subject to interpretation of objective events through the lenses of the historian. A good historian will reach beyond his or her comfort zone to critically analyze events and people. Dawn applies the same to Tolkienian "canon" or history in [Stars of the Lesser.] Here we find a young Pengolodh stepping outside of his comfort zone and even disobeying his parents: sneaking peeks at a "forbidden" book and clambering out among the slippery rocks along the sea near Nevrast. There he meets a young Celebrimbor who is diving in the frigid ocean in search of marine organisms. In the course of their exchange, Pengolodh is challenged to think about what he has been taught in a different way. Using the example of a bioluminescent invertebrate, the inquisitive Fëanorian provides a provocative -- and to Pengolodh, disturbing -- viewpoint of the origins of light and of Arda itself. Couched in "Arda-ized" language and imagery, we hear Pengolodh's challenge to Celebrimbor which subtly reminds one of Wilberforce addressing Huxley. The young Fëanorian advises that there are multiple sides to every story, and how the revelation of history is dependent upon light cast upon it. [Stars of the Lesser] is custom-fit to my love of science, my fascination with and empathy for the Fëanorians and the Noldor, and my inherent skeptical (and irreverent) nature. Nonetheless, this provocative story is well worth reading for any Tolkien fan. Whether one agrees with its underlying themes or not, it is always good to think and turn the facets of history around in the light.

Reviewed by: Alassante  ✧  Score: 10

I really enjoyed this story. Dawn Felagund has always been a great writer but over the last few years has improved even more. As a huge fan of Celebrimbor I was drawn to this story from the summary and it did not disappoint. The idea of a young Celebrimbor trying to recreate light through nature is intriguing and I loved the cockiness he showed toward defending the fact that Feanor had proven the Valar wrong about harnessing light. The innocence of Pengolodh is also very sweet. Even though he was shocked and appalled by what the Feanorians had done, you could sense a little admiration for Celebrimbor yet he still stood up to him (despite knowing his family's history). I am certain that many of the rest of the Noldos wondered about the remaining Feanorians, both feared and interested in their skills and actions. And as one of Turgon people and son of loremasters/historians, Pengolodh would probably have heard more about them than some others. What Celebrimbor said about light and the contridictions of the Valar was both arrogant and accurate. This story reminds me a lot of people being told 'the world is flat' and someone setting out to prove them wrong. If no one ever tries to disprove what we have learned, we will never exceed our past and remain stagnant forever.

Reviewed by: Angelica  ✧  Score: 10

This story is, in my opinion, remarkable on different levels. The characterization is great: two teenage boys, a younger one and the other one almost an adult, who both share a mix of dare and bravado, trying on the one hand to find their own limits but on the other, scared that their fathers might find out. This sea-saw between childhood and adulthood is wonderfully conveyed. Celebrimbor is a well-defined individual full of Feanorian intelligence, self confidence and grace and bearing the weight of his name with pride. Additionally, this story shows a marvelous insight into the clash between two conceptions of learning and life: respect for traditions and obedience to authority versus independence and thirst for new knowledge, regardless of the dangers that this might entail [They] that is, the Valar [ hated him]. Celebrimbor represents the spirit of curiosity and questioning of traditional beliefs and assumptions that his grandfather had most perfectly embodied. Pengolodh is bound to received traditions, looks for reassurance and certainty from the sources that Celebrimbor questions and is startled and unsettled by this apparent lack of respect for the conceptions his parents and society hold unquestioningly. Their confrontation can be seen as an Elvish instance of the conflict between faith and reason. The image of the naked boy trying to capture light by catching shiny jellyfish in the cold winter ocean like his grandfather had caught the light of the Trees in the Silmarils is on its own amazingly beautiful.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

Ah--the first meeting of Pengelodh and Celebrimbor as the former steals time from his studies to play on the rocks of the inlet, and the latter fetches luminous jellyfish in order to study how they produce light. A thought-provoking first encounter and look at how it is history is written and tends to show bias. Well written with a most believable scenario.