Another Road

Author: KyMahalei

Nominator: elfscribe

2011 Award Category: Elves: Wilderland - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Novel

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: What will become of young Legolas? Immersed in his mother’s village since birth, but later raised in his father’s caverns. Bringing the two worlds together is found by way of another road.

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Reviewed by: elfscribe  ✧  Score: 10

Kymahalei's Another Road is a wonderfully sensitive coming-of-age story in which her bright-spirited Legolas is fostered by the Laegrim elves of Mirkwood. The story opens when, still a child, he discovers that he's actually the son of King Thranduil and must return to the palace to take his rightful place as the prince. Leaving the family he loves and their familiar customs hits Legolas hard and proves difficult both for him and his father, especially since Legolas refuses to discard his Laegrim upbringing. Ky does a good job of showing the Laegrim as a different culture, attuned to their surroundings in the way they hunt by "listening." At the beginning of the story we see Legolas' delight in the custom of climbing a tree and singing to greet the dawn and that idea reappears at various key points, serving as a touchstone so that each time we can see how Legolas has changed and yet has remained himself. When faced with becoming a warrior to defend his homeland, Legolas grows up before our eyes as he uses his head and his heart to find a different way to deal with the orc invasions, an approach that embraces the culture of his foster parents. The process of working through that problem helps him reconcile both his upbringing and his heritage. Thranduil's acknowledgment of what he has accomplished in the last chapter makes for a satisfying conclusion. I enjoyed the world Ky developed within Tolkien's larger framework, including her secondary characters, the descriptions of the forest, and the unique customs of the Laegrim. I'm especially fond of the inspired description of the warriors dancing the uruvae, a dance with knives. I would love to see those scenes in a movie. And finally, I admired the author's discipline. She set out to write and post a chapter a week and kept to that schedule for a year. I tip my hat to her.

Author response: I loved reading this review, the first time you sent it to me, and it's still my favorite. You captured so much of what made the story really work, but it really was your editing that made this story shine. It took first place, against eight other stories. Thank you so much for your help!

Reviewed by: ziggy  ✧  Score: 10

This is one of the best and most in-depth explorations of silvan culture I have ever read. It delves deeply into the psyche of the woodelves, and taps into this immensely rich idea of their special relationship with the Woods. It is brought this together beautifully, and there is too, that sense of danger and threat and horror that exists in the Woods throughout. Lovely writing- light touch but dense images. The narrative opens with a reminiscent Legolas speaking (and it is very much a story- telling oral style) There are beautiful descriptions of the Forest, and a richness in this is never overwhelms or is cloying or cliched. There is too a real sense of Legolas growing up throughout this story, from being a woodland child in the silvan settlements, to becoming a warrior and captain, prince of the realm. Song is an ever present concept and intensely and intrinsically woven into the fabric of hte story telling. It amplifies Tolkien’s world, deepens it and brings a rich new dimension. The bit with the River is really lovely. And there is a them of Listening throughout that makes you think more deeply. The relationships between the character are particularly good- there is such warmth and affection for them in the writing you cannot help but like them and invest in them. Because the story lasts over so many years, there are opportunities ot develop a real relationship with the characters, and there are moments of absolute tenderness of beauty. The developing relationship with Thranduil, again this lovely backdrop of the Song and the Forest, is very believable as the separation that Thranduil thought would be right for his child is healed. The precision of your language and the detail is superb and there is real beauty on the way hr Woodelves world is envisioned.

Author response: what an amazing review! Thank you so much. You are such a great support as I wrote this piece. I have a lot to thank you for. This story won first place against eight other stories!

Reviewed by: Russandol  ✧  Score: 8

This is indeed a road of discovery for a young Legolas, who has to learn to be an adult, a warrior, a prince and even a son to the King of the Greenwood. He finds danger and frienship on the way, while seeking a balance between the Silvan culture he has believed to be his own with the demands of being a Sindarin prince. This also leads to confrontation with his father on a personal level, almost to estrangement. I watched the later chapters of this story take shape in the writing group we share, and admired KyMahalei's commitment to give authenticity to the tale in every detail, even in difficult topics like swordfighting and archery. The Silvan culture KyMahalei has built is fascinating, often in conflict with the ruling Sindar, but Legolas keeps trying to mediate between them. He believes the Silvan afinity with the woods can be applied successfully even to the battle against the darkness, and he will risk his own life to prove it. Finally, the Silvan dances KyMahalei has created are full of drama, passion and rhythm. I haven't encountered the like in the Tolkien fandom.

Author response: Thanks, Russandol, for your kind review. I'm indebted to you for all your support and patience with my endless questions. Writing this was a fun adventure and I was glad to have you on board!

Reviewed by: Erulisse  ✧  Score: 8

It's not often that a story can lead to a friendship, but so was my good fortune when I first fell across "Another Road". This story of the coming of age of the young Prince of Mirkwood is so rich and so filled with the different culture that makes Mirkwood unique in Middle Earth, that after reading this I simply couldn't imagine how anyone could perceive this great forest and its inhabitants differently. Winding its way throughout the story is the Song - that which underlies everything in Middle Earth, that which hearkens back to the original Song that Eru Iluvatar sang when the universe was first constructed. Ky paints a picture here of a young elf who, although uncomfortable with the two aspects of culture that are embodied in him, finally matures into a living bridge between the cultures and a reminder of the value of each. I hope that sometime in the future Ky revisits her Legolas and gives us a look at the mature, self-confident elf who walks by the side of heroes as a member of the Fellowship. Well done, my friend. Very well done!

Author response: Erulisse,what would I do without you? Your support on this project was great, and this review is wonderful. Thanks so much.

Reviewed by: Scarlet10  ✧  Score: 6

What I love most about this story, is KyMahalei's view of the Silvan culture. This story is about conflicts, and growing. It is the conflict between Silvan and Sindar people and culture. Between a king and a "village boy" who happens to be his son, and between pastoral singing/listening versus fighting. I loved KyMahalei's original character "Istuilalf". He is one special elf who represents all that is different between the Sindar and the other subjects of Thranduil. It is also the story of how Legolas grew up, from a child of the village, to a mediator price of stature. A figure to unite the various factions of his people, and make them fully ready to stand up against the coming darkness (well, the darkness was already there, but it got worse).

Author response: Thanks Scarlet for this great review. Writing the story was quite an adventure, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Your efforts helped me win first place against eight other stories. Thank you!

Reviewed by: Alpha Ori  ✧  Score: 6

I read this story some time ago, yet I remember it well. This story is a most original take on the multi-cultural aspect of life in the Greenwood. The relationship between Sindar, Sylvan and Avari is fascinating and realistically broached. I also find your treatment of Legolas, as an infant prince, particularly attractive, not only because it is seldom approached. You show a child that is naturally predisposed to leadership, drawn to his mother's Sylvan heritage, in spite of the social implications involved, and successfully revindicating the Sylvan way by using their skills and knowledge in the betterment of their military efficiency. A fascinating read that shows true imagination, insight, and a wonderfully descriptive narrative that catapults the reader into a magical world of love, hate and hope.

Author response: wow, what a great review! Thanks to your help, I pulled a first place in this year's MEFA.I'm so glad you enjoyed the story so much. It was a lot of fun to write.

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 4

I have not finished this one yet, but followed it's growth and refinement over a long period of time on my writer's group. This is a well-crafted story of Legolas growing up, but the real treat of it is the exploration of various ethnicities among Silvan Elves. Nice combination of imagination and the canon sources and attention to the language and naming questions also. It's on my list of catch-up, but did not want the MEFAs to pass without noting some of its rarer virtues.

Author response: Thanks, Oshun, for your vote of confidence. With your help I won first place against eight other stories! Thanks for reading and responding.

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 3

This is a great story. It provides an exceptionally interesting background for Legolas and how he came to identify with his Silvan mother's family more than that of his father, Thranduil and the royal court.

Author response: thanks for the great review. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.