Halls of Stone

Author: Jael

Nominator: Ignoble Bard

2011 Award Category: Cross-Cultural: Elder Days - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Medium Length

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Mature Language/Themes

Summary: At the end of the Second Age, Thranduil travels to Moria to settle a score with a Dwarven craftsman. Features Thranduil and Original Characters. Rated PG-13 for language and adult concepts.

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Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 10

Dear Jael, this is another story I particularly enjoyed, but then, I enjoy all your stories. What stands out in this one, apart from your usual polished prose and careful development of the story line, is the clever and very convincing manner in which the relationship between the two main characters develops. I liked the idea that this encounter was some kind of political initiation for Thranduil and that he proved himself capable of dealing with it successfully. Another wonderful thing about this story is the detailed description of the craftsmanship (craftdwarfship, I should really say) and technology employed in the making of the necklace. This is the kind of competent realism that truly grounds a story. The description of the necklace itself was very vivid and it felt as if I could almost touch it. Wonderful also the way this story is woven, via foreshadowing, into the wider context of Tolkien’s work and your own. As usual, humour is not missing, and I enjoyed the concept of Thranduil composing this long, boring, pompous speech which, I was glad to hear from you, he did not deliver in the end. And all-round engaging, competent and very memorable story which I greatly enjoyed.

Reviewed by: ziggy  ✧  Score: 10

This is another terrific story in Jael's arc concerning Mirkwood and its king. It draws on wonderful images and delves into both dwarven and elven cultures, but in their differrences, there are also so many similarities, and that is what gives it such depth and richness. The characters are detailed and credible, their motivation is entirely believable. The story links the earlier love stories of Thranduil for his silvan bride and later events in the Hobbit and Thranduil's both distrust and understanding of dwarves. It's a wonderful tale so perfectly told with that lightness Jael does best, completely in the tradition of The Hobbit but so much more complex and contemporary. There is humour too, with Galion's farewell, saying he had enjoyed knowing him. There are also echoes of later when Legolas too vivists Moria and walks that identical bridge, so all th etime you read, there are these wonderful resonances. It establishes Thranduil as a force to be reckoned with, the astute and canny character of The Hobbit. I liked the referenceto Celebrimbor and Narvi, as having tricked Narvi into writing The Black Pit on Moria's doors- and it is little details like this that give the story its credibility.

Reviewed by: Azalais  ✧  Score: 10

This is a thought-provoking and entertaining tale of the relations between the Elves of Eryn Galen and the Dwarves of Moria - and in particular, one rather well-known Elf and one OC Dwarf - in the Second Age. There's a strong sense of how steeped this author is in the cultures and history of Middle-earth, both as Tolkien wrote them, and in her own interpretations of the characters; this feels like a glimpse into a very solid and well-established world. Cultural differences make themselves felt in a score of little details, such as the Dwarves' natural tendency to design and construct in straight lines versus the instinctive Elven tendency to flowing curves. I particularly liked the initial mistrust and antipathy between Thranduil and Dorin, and the mirroring of the painstaking process of reforging the pendant with the equally painstaking and difficult forging of a relationship between the two that ends in, if not friendship, understanding and mutual respect. There's a lot of effortlessly worked-in detail of casting and forging which much have taken a good deal of research! The characters are wonderfully drawn, with the intelligence, courage and above all stubbornness entirely characteristic of Thranduil, and the unexpectedly romantic soul of the Dwarf. There's a great deal of dry humour - especially when the two, predictably, get drunk and start waxing lyrical about their respective loves - but also moments of irony given what we know of a future very different from the one Thranduil currently expects. (And intriguing detail about the inscription on the West-gates - yes, why does it say "Moria" and not "Khazad-dum"?) Much to enjoy for both fans of Thranduil and Dwarf-fic.

Reviewed by: crowdaughter  ✧  Score: 10

This is a wonderful piece of Jael's Story universe and retelling of Thranduil's life. The descriptions of his visit to Khazad-Dûm, long before the Dwarven Kingdom fell to the Balrog, are vivid as always, and it is breathtaking to follow the Elven prince on his errand into the living Dwarven City, of which the reader gets a glimpse almost in passing by Thranduil's astonishment of the brightness and the daily business of this underground kingdom. There are lovely and ironic references to Thranduil's future worked into the tale, particularly when he doubts he could ever live underground and wonders how anyone ever could willingly exchange the safety of living in a cave against the sunlight and birdsong of living above. But even more interesting is the view into the Dwarven society Jael gives here with Dorin's marriage troubles, the way the different ways of creativity between the Dwarves and Elves (Straight lines and geometry against curving and flowing design) are worked in, and how both people could profit of working with each other. Finally there is the humor of the situation - those who follow Jael's story verse continuously will know that Thranduil's tale about that visit in Moria later sounds a lot other than it is told here. All in all, this story is a masterpiece and a delight to read. I also like the outcome, which is funny and revealing in itself. the girl saves the day! Ha! Very enjoyable, and a lovely read. I like!

Reviewed by: Ignoble Bard  ✧  Score: 8

This is a story hinted at in several of Jael’s other stories, the origin of Thranduil’s uneasy relationship with the Dwarves. As always, Jael gives us a fascinating look into the culture of the Elf and Dwarf races as a young but canny Thranduil and a Dwarf of Moria, Dorin (another great OC by the way) wrangle over the necklace Thranduil has commissioned as a betrothal present for his future wife. Weaving the stories of the Elf and Dwarf together is a masterstroke that gives the reader insight into the characters as well as empathy for the cheating Dwarf. The brief relationship between these two starts out quite volatile but develops into one of grudging respect. The two very different men, yet so similar in purpose, is the heart of the story and the reader is right there in the room with them, sharing their hopes and dreams and pulling for both of them in winning their respective ladies hearts. Jael is an expert at bringing out the emotion and depth of characters no matter what the circumstances and this story is just one of the many fine examples of this author’s skill.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 7

Another great Thranduil story from Jael. This one sends Thranduil to the halls of the dwarves in search of redress from a cheating craftsman, and gives the elven prince a lesson in dwarven culture and metallurgy as well as the finer art of dealing with a people both alike and different to his own. Second Age Thranduil is a younger, little more naive, but equally crafty and practical version of the Elf-king we meet in [The Hobbit]. I love the symmetry between the desires of Thranduil and Dorin; both of them in love and unsure that they will get the girl, but equally determined to do everything possible to gain the hand of the ladies they love. Wonderful and richly detailed; I could feel the heat of the forge and marvel at the process of this collaboration between Elf and Dwarf in the making of the necklace. I now wonder whether Jael has elven or dwarf blood; or is just extremely imaginative and good at research. An entertaining, suspenseful and amusing and romantic story that I highly recommend.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 7

I'm sure I've said this before, but it bears repeating: Thranduil was never a character I had much interest in. Jael, however, has an eye for the scions of Eryn Galen and makes you love him like you never thought you would. I love this mismatched pair, each seeking to win his ladylove and willing to go to enormous lengths and a full diplomatic dance of the most unlikely sort to succeed in his courtship. All the fictions of hostility play out in front of others, while behind closed doors, real rough edges start to wear away as Thranduil and Dorin work out a way for both of them to come out of this with a fair shot at satisfying their desires. Dorin's reaction to Thranduil's description of his relationship with Lalaithiel was priceless, and I loved his approval of Lalaithiel's secrecy concerning her true name. The stand-off at the end was great, as are the purely-for-appearances gratuitous insults. Highly recommended to anyone interested in Eryn Galen, or Elf-Dwarf relationships.

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 6

One of my very favorite things about this story is the recreation of the Halls of Moria when they are at the height of the glory and productivity. It is always interesting to see Thranduil during his younger years. Of course, there is never a flat note in your portrayal of the elven King. You have completely created your own strong interpretation of this canon character for which we have too few textual clues. Reading one of your Thranduil stories is like visiting with an old friend. I like the opportunity to see him outside of his own element for a change and to get a look into the workings, attitudes, and culture of one of the other peoples of Middle-earth that I am unlikely with any frequency to seek out if left to my own devices. This story is beautifully crafted as all of your stories are.

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 4

This is a wonderful story. Sometimes it's hard to remember that Thranduil was ever quite so young as he is here -- after all, he wasn't always the Elvenking, though perhaps some would find that hard to believe. Like so many young men, he should have listened more closely to his father when he was talking about the past. And perhaps it's not surprising that Thranduil has a gift for designing jewelry, and for making sure he is treated fairly in any deals with those who specialize in custom work.

Reviewed by: Erulisse  ✧  Score: 4

As a jeweler, I really loved this story. The actions, although compacted in a way that a film would also do, are true, the procedures are reasonable and correct. Having Thranduil go to Moria himself to get this most special of gifts redone properly was perfect, and his interaction with the dwarves as well as his difficult traveling companion were perfect. I can't say enough nice things about this, so I'll leave it with READ THIS, you won't be disappointed.

Reviewed by: goldleaves  ✧  Score: 3

an amazing short story that interweaves the elvish and the dwarvish cultures perfectly and creates a juxtaposition but also a friendship despite their differences through their similarities. I love it!