Spring Cleaning

Author: Russandol

Nominator: elfscribe

2011 Award Category: Humor: General - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: One day during the Noontide of the Blessed Realm, Manwë and Varda get ready for a celebration at Ilmarin, their halls upon the peak of Taniquetil. Written for B2MeM 2011, Day 31: Valinor. "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain." Friedrich Schiller

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Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 10

This is a delightful piece of writing. The author’s humorous take on what could have been an extremely serious situation was perfect for the scene, and it was consistent and entertaining throughout; the idea was carried on perfectly throughout the piece. The more light-hearted and comical presentation of the Valar made by the author was a departure from "traditional" portrayals, and though I was surprised (and perhaps a bit confused) in the beginning, I found that I enjoyed it very much, perhaps because of its uniqueness. To further cement to comedic aspect of the piece, the author chose a more modern vocabulary, and I thought it contributed very well to the piece’s less-serious style and tone; in addition, the present-day vocabulary made for a very wonderful characterization of the Valar, which though unique and different, did not seem to be at odds with anything Tolkien stated implicitly. Personally, I loved this interpretation of characters and personality, as it felt more real, and perhaps brought to light certain things I had never considered before. Like gods in many a mythology, the characters were blissfully unaware of anything but their own intents and purposes, completely uncaring of the impact their actions would have on anyone else. That, more than anything else, was what I enjoyed so much about this piece.

Author response: Thank you for your review, Adonnen Estenniel, I'm glad you enjoyed this unconventional view of the Valar. You're spot on, it's their blissful ignorance about their well-meaning actions, taken to the extreme of parody, that I wanted to highlight with this story. I didn't consciously go for very modern vocabulary, but it's good to know it didn't jar. Thanks again!

Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 9

Hilarious and wildly imaginative, but with a darker and more serious side to it. The Valar are trying hard, too hard even, but unfortunately that still doesn't mean they've got the hang of how to deal with elves. Between the understandable temptation to experiment and not quite knowing where to stop, between the casual exercise of huge powers and their lack of insight into others' physical limitations, Manwe and Varda may be poetically inspiring but they are also endearingly naive, unintentionally irresponsible, and extremely hazardous to be around. Manwe's honoured dinner guests get caught up in their host's vigorous attempt at spring-cleaning and almost fail to make it to their dinner alive. There are numerous details I love in this story, among them in particular the idea of Varda's new gown (truly astronomical in every way!) and of Manwe's superb paper glider collection, nobly sacrificed for the great social occasion. The story was written for the B2MeM prompts: "against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" and "Valinor" and has filled them perfectly while turning the original intention of the Schiller quotation on its head.

Author response: The B2BeM prompt made me rub my hands with glee. It was practically telling me to write about this couple in their lofty mansion. Maybe stupidity is too harsh a word for them, perhaps naivety would be more accurate, made worse by powers too great for us poor mortals to imagine. I'm glad you enjoyed Manwë's glider collection. Don't worry, he'll build better models next time. Thanks, Himring!

Reviewed by: Lyra  ✧  Score: 7

I'll shamelessly admit that I've always thought Manwë can't have been much brighter than Tulkas, so the daftness he shows in this funny short story amused me quite a bit. I also enjoyed how the Valar were at the same time portrayed as pretty human - what with Varda's obsession with her dress, or Manwë's paper glider collection - and yet as utterly different - considering that ["tomorrow at dusk"] would be considered ["plenty of time"] to make a whole new set of mithril crockery, or that Manwë's efforts to clear the path of snow would cause a mighty avalanche. On the whole, the Valar appear just as petty and chaotic as the Greek or Roman pantheon... The communication between the Powers reads smooth and effortless and at the same time quite hilarious - and even in such a funny story and with such a short appearance, Námo manages to be scary. A good laugh for reading between the heavier pieces!

Author response: What?! You dare call the Lord of the Breath of Arda "daft" and haven't been blasted by lightning or eaten by eagles? I am shocked. Seriously, writing this type of parody is so much fun. I've got two identities for each of these characters in my mind, the comedy and the drama versions, and the comical ones just seem to act silly without prompting them. Of course, Námo is always scary, being the Doomsman and all that (talk about the Necromancer, Mandos' job is worse). Thanks a lot!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 6

One of the best, and funniest stories about the Valar that it has ever been my pleasure to read. Manwe is a henpecked husband, Varda a rather vain and detail-oriented lady who is the real brains in the marriage, Namo has a wicked sense of humor; but the characterization is also overlaid with a real sense of the tremendous power that these beings wield. There's a disconnnect between their true selves, that they occasionally clothe in flesh and fabric, and the mortal, even near-immortal lives of the Elven "Children" that share the Blessed Realm with the Valar; which rings true to the Silmarillion. When they have things to do, some of the Valar, at least, are not as circumspect as we might wish with the material substances of the physical earth. Hence Manwe's method of clearing the snow from the doorstep of Ilmarin. And I loved the bit about Manwe's hobby of making paper gliders!

Author response: I've always wondered at the role of the Valar in Arda. Several of their decisions following key events were seemingly made without truly understanding the motivations or reasoning behind the actions of the peoples under their guardianship, or not realising the huge power they were capable of wielding, even if they meant well. This little parody is all about this disconnect, which in my view caused grief that might have been averted. Thank you for your review, I'm very happy that you found the story and my take on the Valar funny!

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 6

Ah, the feast for the new spring is almost prepared, and the Lord and Lady of Taniquetl are going through their task list, making certain all is prepared for the arrival of their guests. This time all should be both right and proper: guest chambers cleaned and warm; no crystals from the chandeliers destroyed; Manwe’s paper glider fleet no longer cluttering up the place. And Manwe has cleared away all of the snow of his brother Melkor’s manufacture, blowing it off the mountain top and watching it roll down the slopes in great avalanches…. Well, it seemed a good thought at the time. Now, to dig out the guests who had been advancing to the feast! A delightful laugh of a piece, and just what I needed this morning! What a wonderful response to the prompt!

Author response: Unfortunately, sometimes even good intentions are not enough. I''m so glad it made you laugh. Thanks for reviewing, Larner!

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 6

This is a wonderful story with very believable domestic scenes between Varda and Manwë as they prepare their home for the arrival of the Children (Elves) for the spring feast. Unsurprisingly, Manwë doesn't seem to realize just how necessary a set of mithril crockery is, though he soon realizes his mistake. While they are expecting the Children to arrive, Manwë is given the task of clearing the roads. ["You should have seen the avalanches, they were awesome!] Somehow, "oopsie" is not going to work going to work for an excuse. A quick check with Námo leads Manwë to call on Oromë and Tulkas for a rescue party [‘A crisis that sounds like hunting? Perfect! We are on our way,’ and ‘I am dying for a good fight!’] is not exactly reassuring and leads one to hope the rescue is not going to be too traumatic for the poor Children.

Author response: No, I can't understand why Manwë is puzzled about the urgency of getting that mithril set. Every Ainurin household should have one, don't you think? As for the elves, well, we know they survived, but just. I'm happy you enjoyed my little domestic catastrophe. Thanks a lot for reviewing!

Reviewed by: pandemonium_213  ✧  Score: 6

Russandol has shown herself time and time again as a versatile writer who not only gives Tolkien fan fic readership monumental works like [Chasing Mirages] but also comedic gems like [The Coimas War] and [Kinslayer], both of which nabbed MEFA 2010 awards. In [Spring Cleaning], like [Kinslayer], the Valar are once again ripe for the comedy picking. This time, we find Varda and Manwë preparing to fete the kings of the Eldar and their families who are on their way up the slopes of Taniquetil. It is a scene worthy of a situation comedy, but Ainur-style, with Russa riffing off the peculiarities of the Valar and their lack of comprehension of their power in relationship to the mere humans under their sway. The collection of paper airplanes is an especially nice touch, as is Námo's characteristic irascibility.

Author response: I'm pleased the comedy factor worked for you. Manwë has displayed an unusual Noldorin trait in the design of gliders, hasn't he? Thanks, Pandë!

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 5

Dear Russandol, I knew I would be in for a laugh with another one of your Valar stories, and I did indeed have a jolly god chuckle. The dialogue is so wonderfully snappy and silly. Manwe’s collection of paper gliders, hahaha, and the rather generous number of stars sewn on the gown, that was lovely. And then, oh crowning glory, that little ooops moment when he realises that in his eagerness to clear the path and the whole mountain off snow he has also pretty effectively cleared it off the approaching guests. Varda really has a lot to put up with! This is a beautifully ridiculous and thoroughly grin-inducing story which I really enjoyed.

Author response: He, he, I'm happy it made you chuckle. It's always great fun to make Manwe look silly. Thanks for reviewing!

Reviewed by: elfscribe  ✧  Score: 5

This story illustrates the Back to Middle-earth month prompt, "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain," and features a bumbling Manwë's attempts to placate his exacting wife. It opens with Varda grilling Manwë about his preparations to host a delegation of elves who are climbing Taniquetil to visit. We learn about his paper airplane collection, the former complaints by Finwë about how cold it is ["frozen brass balls"], Varda's elaborate star gown, and Manwë's extra effort to make his guests comfortable that goes horribly awry. This little fic is filled with Russandol's characteristic wit and gave this reviewer a smile.

Author response: I'm happy it gave you a smile. It's so much fun to write these little bits of silliness from time to time! Thanks for helping me tweak it better at the time, and for your comment here, too.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 3

A delightfully witty, amusing and unusual story. The Valar are portrayed in a similar manner to the ancient Greek deities, but are more inept even than that ancient bunch. I loved the way they were unused to corporeal forms. I cannot say I would enjoy dinner with them, not least because they might envelop me in an avalanche!

Author response: Hi Linda, I agree it would be hazardous to trek up to Taniquetil when Manwë does his "breath of Arda" trick. I'm glad you found the little glimpse into their domestic life amusing. No elves were harmed in the writing despite all that ineptitude, I promise! Thanks for your review!

Reviewed by: Caunedhiel  ✧  Score: 3

heehee I love little gems like this :) Always so funny, they really brighten up the day! I loved your Manwe and Varda, especially her checklist. She sounds a little obsessive, but in a good way ;) Manwe was brilliant as well, especially the part about the snow :) Thanks for sharing

Author response: Yes, Varda is a bit of a controlling wife, poor Manwë. I'm so glad my story brightened your day. Thanks very much for the review!

Reviewed by: agape4gondor  ✧  Score: 2

A fun story especially in the midst of holiday preparations. The Valar were splendid. The humor was perfect. And the little twist at the end was fun. Delightful reading.

Author response: Oh, I'm so happy you enjoyed it! Yes, it's easy to see Varda with a checklist while running around trying to sort out Christmas and making the house impeccable for her guests. Thank you very much for your review!