Goldilocks and the Three Balrogs

Author: Clodia

Nominator: Virtuella

2010 Award Category: Genres: Character Study: The Silmarillion - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Medium Length

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Non-graphic violence.

Summary: Ca. 1000 TA, Glorfindel finds himself unexpectedly alive and on a ship to Middle-earth in the company of five not-quite-Men. Where next? Imladris, of course -- in the company of one grey Istar and two highly idiosyncratic guides...

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Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 10

All of Clodia's Silmarillion stories feature compelling characters, exquisite prose and unusual, often delightfully whimsical plot lines. This charming story is no exception. The way she describes Glorfindel's return to life, very much like a physical shock, is touching and profound and yet the high pathos that permeates parts of the story is married harmonically with the fine irony and dry wit which are among the hallmarks of Clodia's style. The insights she offers into the mind of both Saruman and Gandalf compel the readers to reflect, but don't stop them from squeeing with delight the moment Melinna appears on the scene. Of all Clodia's achievements (and they are many) I deem the creation of Melinna the finest. She is convincingly Elvish, but without any of the blandness that often affects Elven characters, she is very much herself without overshadowing the other charcters, she has amazing dialogue and a sense of humour that is simply enchanting. The story has many memorable scenes and motifs, but the one that struck me most was the painted stone. Its link with Gondolin gives is depth and melancholy significance, and at the same time Clodia uses it to make us smile. Well, then, is it a paper weight or a door stop? We really, really need to know!

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 10

Being an undead Gondolindrim Elf-lord sucks. Snatched back from the Halls of Mandos into the world of the living, a bewildered Glorfindel is unceremoniously shuffled onto a boat bound for Middle-earth. For Glorfindel, his death and the violence that preceded it feel all too recent, but like Rip Van Winkle or some hapless time traveler, he is told that two Ages of the world have passed since his untimely death. It doesn’t get much better from then out. He spends much of the time bewildered or frustrated, given little space to come to terms with what happened to him or to properly grieve the city and the people for whom he died. This story depicts his journey – both a physical journey and one in understanding – and provides an explanation for how he came to the Last Homely House. Others have commented on the humorous Erestor and Melinna, appointed by Cirdan as guides for Glorfindel and his companion, an as yet unnamed Mithrandir (oh, and we get to see how he arrives by his name as well!) The couple are certainly idiosyncratic and groove through life in a way that maddens Glorfidel. On the other hand, we can also see their practicality, and an interesting conversation about a certain doorstop at tale’s end sheds further light on their purposes. Lovely writing, as is Clodia’s hallmark, but after a ripping first line like [He afterwards remembered the Halls of Mandos only as a metaphor], can we expect anything less?

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

I was introduced to Clodia's version of Erestor and Melinna last year during MEFAs, so I was all set to read this story, and even happier when they showed up again. Clodia's story of Glorfindel's return to Middle-earth and journey to Rivendell is superbly told on all levels. Her characterisation is fantastic, her rendering of Erestor and Melinna as uncannily natural are an excellent example of "faer-y" that Glorfindel's traumatized perspective allows to stand out, even though he himself is incapable of appreciating this point. The Istari appear with their characteristic personalities intact, and one gets a sense of their strangeness without that strangeness being simply copied from one to the others. The journey itself is well-told and serves the primary focus, which is depicting the devastating effect that loss and death have had on Glorfindel, and his struggle to live again. The pacing is good. Events take the time they need to take, without taking *too* long. The motif of Glorfindel's struggle with different Balrogs - his demons: the one that killed him, the one that threatens to overwhelm him in his new life, and the one that has, perhaps, become "just right" in the stories of children - is intriguing and appropriate. But what I really loved, and what made all the above work so very well, was the prose. This is an author who understands how language works, how words fit together in strange but perfectly "natural" ways to convey feeling and experience that otherwise are very difficult to bring to light. There is no "functionality" to her language - it isn't used like a tool that one "adds" to a "prosaic" description, it's an optics in its own right that cannot be reduced to an additional or decorative flourish. For example, Clodia's opening chapter has some of the best descriptions I've seen of what death is - and what it isn't. It's anchored in Glorfindel's perspective, in the awareness of the absolute necessity of metaphor because there is no direct description possible. In one stroke, in that singular recognition of the centrality of metaphor to certain kinds of experiences, we have the elimination of any "hinterworldly" depictions, which gives her handling of Glorfindel's memories a vivid vagueness and disjointedness that is both beautiful and powerful for its capacity to convey a certain beyond that is not another world or time. In so doing, Clodia's Glorfindel shows us a character wrestling with death as utterly different and unassimilable to his life, and that allows of a depth of meaning that one rarely sees in print, in my opinion. So what am I saying? Basically: read the story. It doesn't matter what your interest is, "Goldilocks and the Three Balrogs" is told in a style that is both playful and profound, and the story it tells is profoundly satisfying. Thank you, Clodia for an excellent read!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

I'm searching and searching for a way to describe this story, and I'm coming up blank. It seems to encompass just about anything that could possibly go into a story about elves. There's a quirky sense of humor that demands smiles and giggles throughout, there's an epic tragedy unfolding, there's some action and adventure, there's a Glorfindel who just can't seem to get his bearings, there's a cagey Cirdan who is taking full advantage of an unusual opportunity while also taking precautions should the gamble go horribly awry, there's a pair of traveling companions whom I absolutely adore, and there's a group of wizards just barely getting their feet wet. It makes for one of the most unusual and expansive stories I've ever read, covering everything from moments of hilarity to Age-old loss and heartache. I think part of what makes this work are the contrasts in the characters. First up we have Erestor and Melinna, who seem to embody the devil-may-care attitude during the road trip. I particularly enjoyed their musings on Amroth and Nimrodel, the latter of whom looks [very pretty languishing beside her waterfall]. But despite their apparent carefree attitude, they're almost hyper-alert (love the troll baiting), and they keep looking out for Glorfindel's best interests. Then there's Glorfindel, who would like to be hyper-alert but who keeps getting lost in where he is and where he was and how much the world has changed during the interim. His shifts in mood, from rage to almost manic humor, really kept the story moving and felt so natural for one just torn away from Mandos. But he also has a quirky view of the world. I absolutely loved his musings as he left for Middle-earth, particularly this phrase: [Lady Idril, Tuor and their son Eärendil were all currently residing (for a given definition of 'residence') in Aman]. In the end, it's their similarities that bring the story full circle and give Glorfindel a place to ground himself. Beautifully done! And as a sidenote, I have to say that I love the protrayal of the wizards, particularly Saruman and Gandalf. I can see the seeds of their future paths laid out all through the piece.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

Clodia is an enchanting Elven writer; with a gift for humor, characterization, and language. Here, she serves up all of the above, plus a good plot about the journey of the Istari and the newly re-embodied Glorfindel from the shores of Aman to Middle-earth, and, in the case of Glorfindel and an unnamed grey wanderer, to Imladris. And of course, Clodia's wonderful Elven OFC, Melinna turns up with hubby Erestor to guide the travelers to Imladris. Clodia has written extensive and credible background for this pair; parts of which emerge slowly and delightfully in the story (which is from Glorfindel's point of view) - the final irony is that they actually are among the few Elves left in Middle-earth (well, that we or Glorfindel know of) who are older than the Balrog-slayer. The strength, the meat of this story, is Glorfindel's characterization. Clodia brilliantly shows his confusion at his sudden recall to life; and how his mind and heart linger in lost Gondolin, split between memories of the glorious white city he helped to build and the city's sudden and terrible destruction by Morgoth's forces. Glorfindel is a First Age Elf suddenly pulled into a world and time that he does not understand, or, in his first days in it, barely wishes to understand. He vacillates between nostalgia, confusion and a very understandable and rather poignant (and slightly comic) spurt of arrogance; and slowly, as they travel to and then reach the stronghold of the son of the child Earendil he remembers, begins to remake himself into a denizen of a strange land and time. (the scene with Glorfindel finding the doorstop stone that his father had made and that Glorfindel himself had last seen in the House of the Golden Flower in Gondolin, and tearing up over the memories it evokes, is beautifully done, and sad; and also a point in common with Erestor and Melinna, who still remember and mourn for Menegroth) Gandalf, as he will eventually be called (and the way he gets his elven-name of Mithrander is a Neat Bit), is relegated by necessity to the background, but is excellently written (as are Radagast-Aiwendil and of course, the suave and pushy Saruman-Curumo). When their ship nears the shore of Middle-earth and the passengers must prepare to disembark, Glorfindel still has no idea of why he is there and where he should go, and asks for advice. Curumo rebuffs him; and Gandalf, though he cannot tell Glorfindel what the Elf should do, offers companionship as they both search for knowledge of and in Middle-earth - it's a quiet bit of compassion that is very Gandalf.... A treat to read through and through!

Reviewed by: crowdaughter  ✧  Score: 10

This story is breathtaking and funny and wise and enticing all at once. The view of the newly reembodied Glorfindel, bewildered by his sudden return from Death, haunted by the memories of the fallen Gondolin which, to him, has just been happening mere weeks ago, and thrown into a changed world without proper time to adjust - that part is tragic and intense indeed. The way he is more or less manhandled onto the ship to Middle Earth without any consideration speaks volumes of the way the Powers in this story universe seems to treat the Elves (and men, and Maia) in their care. The matter-of-fact way the different Istari treat the newly reembodied Elf show their character nicely,. and accurately forecast the role they will later play in Middle earth. I absolutely loved the way Aiwendil was portrayed, by the way. Then there are Erestor and Melinna and their very different and distanced view of all these powerful and important Noldor - which gives a funny, but also a very striking contrast. To watch Glorfindel get slowly out of his shell and also get disabused of both his trauma and his former Noldorin arrogance is a sight to be seen. And the end and solution of the piece is very fitting, too. And woven into all of this is a wry sense of humor, that still never makes fun of the trauma the protagonist of the story has experienced. Marvellously done! This is a great read, and a wonderfully woven story, and I am delighted to see it nominated for the MEFAS, so that it can get the praise it deserves. Applause! :)

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 9

He returns to life naked, finding himself standing on a beach in Aman, drawn aboard a ship lying nearby for a voyage east, back to Middle Earth. He travels with what appear to be five Men, three of whom communicate with him on occasion; they come ashore not at the quays of Mithlond but in a shallow bay out of site of the Elven city. Why has he been sent here, and what reason is there for Cirdan to send him to Imladris, to the home of the grandson of the lady Idril and her mortal husband? He lives more in the memories of the realm he helped build in the secret places of the Encircling Mountains than he does along the Road as he and his companions travel eastward to the roots of the Misty Mountains. A fascinating look at Clodia's rendition of Erestor and his wife Melinna as the two shepherd a most distracted Glorfindel and an unnamed grey wizard to Elrond's home. The inability of Glorfindel to pay attention to the present as he deals with the reality of his death and reembodiment is particularly poignant and immediate, and seems very real. And the pragmatism of Erestor and Melinna is, as always, fascinating, humorous, and oh, SO practical. Definitely recommended.

Reviewed by: Fiondil  ✧  Score: 7

Being Glorfindel is no fun: dying, and then spending an unknown period of time in Mandos and then without any warning finding yourself standing naked on some beach without a clue about anything. Such is the opening premise of Clodia’s fun story about an out-of-his-time Elf trying to deal with a whole new world where nothing and no one makes sense. Watching Glorfindel struggle with his new life, yet still haunted by a past that is more real to him than the present, you really have to feel sorry for the poor Elf. Clodia does a marvelous job of depicting Glorfindel’s dilemma of trying to fit into a world that is no longer his when all he wants is to return to a Gondolin that no longer exists. Her characterizations of the Istari and of Cirdan, Erestor and Melinna are superb and one can truly sense Glorfindel’s confusion when dealing with the lot of them. There were times when I could have cheerfully helped Glorfindel throttled them all. I really enjoyed this tale from beginning to end. Well done!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 7

Poor Glorfindel finds himself released from the realm of Lord Namo with neither clothes nor time to draw breath before he is thrust onto a ship bound East... with a stomach in rebellion and a party of not-quite men as companions. He finds it hard to cope with the way in which time has passed and, at first, is as much in his memory as he is in the present. When he finds he has Erestor and Melinna as escorts for his onward journey with the grey haired ex-shipmate he is not thrilled... Even less thrilled when he realises that they were chosen to ensure he was who he said he was. And yet it is in the company of the two that he finds that there is some peace in Imladris; that it is, perhaps, where he is meant to be. All in all this is a very satisfying story of a possible way in which Glorfindel found himself in the household of Elrond. And if you want to know more of the tale the children knew, of Glorfindel and the three Balrogs, you may find it in Clodia's 'A Beleriand Treasury of Childish Tales'...

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 6

This is a great Glorfindel-returns-to-Middle-earth story. The description of his confusion and disorientation seems very realistic. It must be strange to think only a few weeks have gone by, but in reality it is several thousand years. His detachment and the passage of time come to the forefront when he deals with Elrond's children, supposedly already adults, but for him they seem so immature. I like the subtle changes in Mithrandir after they left Cirdan. Erestor and Melina are delightfully strange. I can understand Elrond's exasperation. Luckily he has more counselors. I have one question though. What has the title to do with the story? I couldn't make the connection, and it nearly kept me from reading. Although that would have been my loss.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

Hilarious and irreverent look at Glorfindel's return to Middle-earth! I really like Clodia's version of Erestor, and his OFC wife Melinna. Glorfindel's crankiness at finding himself with two such unpredictable guides and in company with the strange Istari clad in grey is too funny.