Good Neighbors

Author: daw the minstrel

Nominator: elliska

2006 Award Category: Genres: Adventure - Third Place

Story Type: Other Fiction  ✧  Length: Novel

Rating: G  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Legolas and Thranduil deal with their Mannish neighbors from Esgaroth and visitors from elsewhere in Middle-earth.

Read the Story

Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 10

Legolas has a perfectly formed and very consistent pre-teen PoV in this story. His interest in and protection of Rodda seemed completely in character. The entire royal family has such a realistic and marvelous set of relationships: complex and occasionally (or chronically) at odds, but overall still loving and affectionate. Great characterization throughout, and the shifts in PoV were handled well - I was never confused, and it gave us a much broader overview than any one single character could have. Ithilden's quiet, background courtship is charming, while the various tussles with the Men of Esgaroth are all well-drawn. I enjoyed Ithilden and Thranduil's interviews of the different visiting Men (mild to fearful intimidation, clear but subtle messages). Often we see Tolkien's Elves being more stand-offish, ethereal and/or refusing to involve themselves in Men's affairs; having Men for such close neighbors and occasional allies, the Wood Elves have correspondingly more "direct" interactions. Finally, Elian's connection with the twins was chilling, although he gained an enormous amount of perspective from their interaction. All these myriad developments seemed to flow naturally during the course of telling the story and were cleverly interwoven. It was especially nice to see Thranduil's deep connection with the forest manifested during the enchantment of the western river.

Reviewed by: Bodkin  ✧  Score: 10

One of the things I like about this story is seeing Legolas with Turgon – and seeing poor parenting as a major cause of Turgon’s character flaws. Whereas, of course, good parenting (and brothering) is an important element of turning Legolas into the kind-hearted generous responsible elf that he became. Protecting poor Rodda was important to him and I’m glad that he was aware that he was in over his head – and just as glad that Thranduil, despite the possible difficulties, was willing to put himself out for the child. And, of course, Legolas’s most generous act of all was handing over his treasured arrows. Without making a big fuss so that everyone knew. Rodda’s predicament helping Elladan and Elrohir understand the need to go home is excellent – and I love Eilian’s discovery that there is such a thing as too focused on killing. And, come to that, Thranduil’s apparent realisation that there are some things that transcend species. Not to mention Legolas's good-heartedness making him shine. Or Ithilden's heart racing at the sight of the healer's daughter. Although, of course, seeing Thranduil invoke the forest’s magic is pretty special, too. He doesn't usually let that side of him show - so, when he does, it's spine-tingling! Great story.

Reviewed by: Perelleth  ✧  Score: 10

I think tis was one of the first fanfics I ever read, and I was so lucky! Daw's Mirkwood Universe is firmly canon based. She draws the time line and much inspiration from the tale of the years, and so there are always pieces of canon floating along the tale to ground it even deeply in Tolkien's universe. In this tale there are a lot of canon details: a visit from Mithranidir, a reference to Celebrían's incident, a visit form the grief-stricken twins...and of course, the enchanting of the Enchanted River and Thranduil's wary attitude towards men. But it was the magic that finally captured me, apart form the well written characters and interactions, the children fostering a lost human child, the wild middle-brother learning that grief may cause grief to others...but above them, Thranduil King of the forest emerges in all his strength. When he casts his spell on the river he is just drawing form his natural connection with the forest, and from all elves' deep atunement to the substance of Arda. It reminded me of that quote from the elves in Lórien, when the hobbits ask if the cloaks they are given are magical and they answer "… the magic of the rocks, the trees the waters, the things that we love..” I think that is more or less what Thranduil does here, and it comes out with a eerie beauty, a very powerful image. All parts of the sotry come perfectly and neatly tied up together in the end, and there are no "winners" at all, only different shades of grey, much as in life.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 7

This is a delightful story about the elves of Mirkwood and their interactions with the men around them. Although the story has only a few canonical characters, the richly drawn, original characters paint a vivid tapestry of what life in King Thranduil's kingdom is. There are several interwoven storylines, starting with young Legolas who rescues a mannish child out of the woods and tries to hide it with the help of his friends,King Thranduil dealing with a greedy human merchant who attacks the elves to get a better price for his wares, to an orc raid on a camp of humans. Elrond's twin sons make an appearance and help Thranduil's son Eilan (one of my favorite original characters in Daw's stories) see how dangerous grief and self-centeredness can be for the people around. All the story lines come together in the end and now we know why the enchanted river is enchanted ;-) I like how the seemingly unrelated story lines come together naturally without the reader feeling that the connection is forced.

Reviewed by: elliska  ✧  Score: 6

This story totally has it all. It is another of my favorites--best of all was the fun of seeing the elves interact with Men, which I love, but particularly enjoyed here because it was young Legolas and a truly engaging young human boy. His story was really compelling, poor thing. But on top of that, Mithrandir and Elrohir and Elladan! I couldn't believe it when I first saw them. I loved how you handled that part of the story and their emotions. And I loved Turgon in this--you really have to feel for the poor little thing, rotten as he could be sometimes, sitting there fletching his arrows all by himself and not finishing them. There was really a lot of sadness in this, which really put emphasis on what a wonderful family Legolas has. Wonderful story!

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 6

Again, you have managed to write a highly original story and at the same time incorporate canonical events that are often no more than a date in the Tale of Years, and make them come to life. Obvious dedication to details add depth and verisimilitude to the narrative (for example all the information on arrows or tracking). It also shows well-done research and the ability to combine it seemingly effortless into the flow of the story. You worked very well with your different perspectives, allowing the reader to know more about particular details sometimes than the current PoV-character. The thoughts and observations regarding the twin's dealing with their grief was particularly poignant for its resonance with Lorellin's death.

Reviewed by: nau_tika  ✧  Score: 5

I have several favorite parts to this story. The one I like best is Thranduil when he tries to remember if his other sons had ever been so protective of their friends. I like that the king took time to go with his son instead of sending Legolas with Itilden. Another interesting point is how Eilien views Elladan and Elrohir...who are actually far too much like him at this point for his liking. It shows growth in Thranduil's middle son that we are all relieved to see. The way the twins respond to him when he is protective of the boy at the end is also another excellent growth point, but this is between Eilien and the twins. Promising his steward will visit to reinforce the king's interest in the boy is a nice touch, too!

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 5

This is a really fun gap to fill, and not one I've seen addressed before. I haven't read many of your other pieces, but this one makes sense on its own, which is not always easy with an author as prodigious as this one; the other stories enhance each other, but don't depend on one another. Politics are interwoven throughout and canon is always just off-stage informing everything tht happens, but it does not overwhelm and so opens up whole new areas of Middle-earth to the reader. People who like gapfillers and the Mirkwood elves want won't to miss this one.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

This author is one of three Elf writers whose work I mightily enjoy, and her conception of Legolas has very greatly colored my own. In this story, the Elves of Mirkwood must learn how to deal with the Men of Laketown. Young Legolas is caught in the middle of a bit of intrigue. A very insightful and enjoyable read.

Reviewed by: Marigold  ✧  Score: 2

I loved all of the characterisations in this, especially Thranduil. The elf magic was awesome, and I thought that it showed a deep connection with Arda.