The Choices of Spirits

Author: Dawn Felagund

Nominator: digdigil

2006 Award Category: Races: Cross-Cultural

Story Type: Other Fiction  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: R  ✧  Reason for Rating: heterosexual sex, violence, mature themes (including discussion of death)

Summary: Caranthir and Haleth find the most unlikely of loves in each other, but they face the opposition of their people, their duties, and their sundered fates.

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Reviewed by: Rhapsody  ✧  Score: 10

This story is a celebration of love, a love that did not pay heed to races or cultural differences. Dawn pulls us into the world of Caranthir who so falls for Haleth, the leader of the Haladin. Both feel the constraint of their cultures and of what they might say of them once they find out of their love. Caranthir: wanting to settle down, Haleth: placing her how people first before her own happiness. Until death comes and she waits, wills her spirit to wait for Caranthir. Caranthir in his turn struggles not to fall into the claws of madness and grief brought upon him the day Haleth dies. What I find so very striking in how this follows the events of the Fëanorians, the separation of their parents (Nerdanel’s reasoning lays the base for Caranthir to choose his own lot) the utter loss of the Nirnaeth or the second kinslaying where he muses about why they actually felt driven to reclaim the jewel. [Mad…and vengeful. With nothing to lose. Much of our family gone, lost to war, only we remained: seven brothers who were unworthy of a dignified death in battle but must instead die fulfilling our heretic’s oath.] But at the end of all, love remains strongly standing and Caranthir refuses the call to come to Mandos, just as Haleth did. Bound to the lands they once walked upon, this is brought to you with a fantastic written epilogue; they remain united until the end of Arda. This is a stunning story which kept my eyes glued to the paper as I read along.

Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 10

Caranthir gets the usual intensely personal treatment that I've come to expect from Dawn Felagund, with the usual result: A character that I'd previously felt utterly ambivalent about has become familiar and known, and - good grief! - even liked. She handles the (fanfic convention?) romance of Caranthir and Haleth with her usual deft touch. Flashbacks that flesh out the story are woven in beautifully, always providing some important illustration that better illuminates her character's feelings or actions. The characterizations are superb and lovingly rendered. Even the brief glimpses of secondary individuals are well-drawn, plausible and clear. But I truly loved her depiction of Haleth and Caranthir, and their hidden romance and marriage: that it took so long for them to figure it out; that Haleth could not and would not leave her people to another leader, no matter the personal cost; that Caranthir's well-imagined Elvishness failed to mark the passage of time. That last in particular I thought was a crucial understanding - who among us doesn't remark that the years pass more quickly as we age? How much more escalated this must seem to an elf. Finally, I thought the ending was lovely, poignant and true, without descending into sentimentality or sappiness. The determined little girl in the epilogue was an excellent touch, giving us the lovers' final fate in a round-about way.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 5

This is simply astonishingly beautiful. As I mentioned in another review I have only a cursory knowledge of the canon about Caranthir and Haleth, but this author makesme believe here. Their pain, their pride, and most of all their love -- it is all so palpable, I could not bring myself to disagree that things might in fact have happened this way. And the epilogue, with the little girl with the spyglass and that great line, ["But that cannot be! the others will cry and speak diatribes of sundered fates and spirits."], sums up so much about what I love about this story. It seems to fly in the face of those who would point to canonical facts with a tale that transcends those difficulties without completely disregarding them. Very nicely done.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 3

The difficulties of Elf-Man unions are illustrated in this fic, and it's almost banal in some sense--Caranthir just keeps assuming that there's still time. When Haleth dies, it's a shock--what happened to tomorrow? Interesting solution to the separate fates problem.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

This is a wonderful AU, and something that could even possibly have been canon the way the author skillfully handles the circumstances. I found this romance and its consequences thoroughly plausible and it was extremely well-rendered in an intense first-person POV. Very well done!