Author: Dawn Felagund

Nominator: Lyra

2011 Award Category: Elves: House of Finwë - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Medium Length

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes,Mature Language/Themes,Sexual Content

Summary: Tata was said to be the first of the Noldor to awaken at Cuivienen, yet the histories never speak of him again. Uncomfortable and indecisive as a leader, he nonetheless rejects the summons of the Valar to Valinor, recognizing a fundamental wrong in the ideas they preach. This is the story of his life.

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Reviewed by: Lyra  ✧  Score: 10

Dawn can be trusted to come up with fascinating scenarios and give life to the most obscure characters. In this story, she has taken the time before the Great March of the Elves, telling the story of the Elves in Cuïviénen from the view of the mysterious character of Tata, little more than a footnote in the History of Middle-earth. One is often tempted to take the Silmarillion at face value - even obviously mythological parts like the Ainulindalë. But what if the Valar are just another people who made up their own mythology? It makes sense, at any rate, that the first Elves would initially not share that mythology, and that they would create their own explanations for the existence of the world, their place in it, the meaning of things and so on. Oromë, then, appears as a sort of missionary who, believing to "enlighten" the Quendi, in truth intrudes upon their beliefs and destroys their original culture. That is one of the issues that Dawn tackles in this story. Another is the notion that one Elf-man and one Elf-woman would be made for one another, and that the Elf-women were sort of dependent on their pre-ordained spouses. Like Dawn, I have always seen that notion with a lot of discomfort. Unlike Dawn, I have chosen to ignore it - Dawn instead deconstructs it. Her first Elves have no concept of monogamy, or indeed marriage in the strict sense; Finwë, who in this story is Tatië's son, is not Tata's son as well, but the offspring of some other Elf Tatië loved. The idea that Tatië and Tata (or any other pair of Elves) are a pre-ordained, exclusive couple, is only introduced by Oromë. Another nice touch is that Tatië, not Tata, is the de facto leader of the Noldor; again, Oromë introduces the idea that it should be otherwise. This nicely shows that the Valar do not know everything - and do not understand the Elves whom they seek to protect. In the light of such misconceptions, it is only logical that Tata - and the other Avari - would refuse the invitation to Valinor despite the hardships of life in dark Middle-earth. But this story is not only insightful and dealing creatively (and sometimes brutally) with some problematic issues in Tolkien's writings; it also works wonderfully as a tale. The community and culture of the Quendi in Cuïviénen are well-constructed and believable, with a sense of innocence as well as underlying danger (poor Rúmil!). The characters are as believable as they are strange to us, and even strange to the Elves we know from the later Silmarillion. The protagonist is loveable, and the ending bitter-sweet but consistent. Re-embodied is an intriguing and inspiring tale, shedding some light on a time and culture mostly ignored by canon and fanon alike.

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 10

I wish I had more time to review this story fully and in more detail to give it its due, but at this point I am mainly writing from memory. [Reembodied] is intriguing on several counts. Not only do I adore stories featuring Cuivienen as a setting and love seeing how other writers envision the undocumented beginnings of elven civilization, Dawn Felagund isn't shy of integrating a number of her own ideas to the point of receiving a [Most Delightful Heresy] award on the Silmarillion Writers' Guild, for one thing doing away with Tolkien's vision of the first elven women being bespoke and beholden to their husbands, instead offering a vision of female authority and even the idea of the Creator with female attributes - which, considering the lack of influence by the male-dominated Valar at this early point, makes a great deal of sense and quite possibly even echoes early human societies. Tatie as storyteller (but not the narrator of the story, that is Tata) certainly holds a great deal of influence. With that framework in place, Dawn Felagund somehow makes the placement of the later Silmarillion belief system (of Eru as the Maker and the Valar his acting Powers as well as the later "traditional" marriage and female suppression) seem startling and wrong, and grants the story a powerful message by casting the Avari as the more reasonable Elves for clinging to their way of life, and the so-called Unwilling as just that but with very good reasons, even if it comes with certain sacrifices.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 9

This was a fantastic piece on every front, and I cannot say enough how impressed and happy it made me. The author challenges several 'issues' with Tolkien's writing and creates an alternate point of view that really shines. The presence of a more matriarchal society before the the Summons makes a certain amount of sense, based on popular tribal themes worldwide; in addition, I thought the content was presented skillfully and in good taste, not so terrible as to offend in any way, merely to point out on person's perspective. The actual contrast between 'The Dark One' and 'The Light One' was interesting as well, as, from what I understood, Tata saw both characters as villains, or if not so far as to make them antagonists, they were not portrayed in a good way at all. On a side note, the Dark One's capture of the Quendi was a perfect allusion to Orcs and their creative process. Content and themes aside, the writing itself was very, very good. The author's prose is not overly verbose, but it achieves its purpose elegantly and, at times, lyrically. And while the plot and premise drew me to this story originally, it was Dawn's writing that left me mesmerized.

Reviewed by: Caunedhiel  ✧  Score: 6

I love the time before time. The very first moments of the Elves, it was just glossed over in the Silmarrilion and I absolutely cant get enough of the way you breath live into the Characters. Your Tata is excellent and I find him very interesting - his last few lines were so sad, you can really feel his pain and long suffering! I love your Characters culture, you can see it clearly in this, how it differs from the Elven culture in the later part of the Silmarrilion and The Lord of the Rings. Orome's portrayal was in my opinion brilliant. I liked his arrogance and I immediately disliked him for it (I think that was how you wanted us to see him, was it not?) . This was only confirmed for me when he said this: [Tatië awoke second, as did all of your wives." He swept his arm in a broad circle, encompassing all of us. "That was Eru's intention as well. Thus, the first thing each woman saw was her spouse, and her love for him is her first love; and her love and reverence for the wonders of all else came later."] I also don't like the thought of that - very sexist in my opinion. I definitely enjoyed your story :)

Author response: Thank you for your review, Caunedhiel! This was definitely a fun story to write; something that had been brewing in my mind for a long time before the SWG's fifth birthday challenge gave me an excuse to dislodge it. ;) It just seemed to me that there was so little in the original texts or in fanworks from the perspective of the Avari, but there are a lot of negative things said about them in both places. Looking at the familiar world of Arda from their perspective was both fun and challenging. Thank you again! :)

Reviewed by: crowdaughter  ✧  Score: 6

This is a capturing story of the first Elves, especially as it shows very believably how it must have been for them to discover everything - how to speak, how to feel, how to ear and how to die - and make sense of it on their own, before Orome came. I love the powerful role of Tatie in this, the idea that she, not Tata, is the leader of her people; and also, that they feel and sense that the explanation and preaching of the Vala who comes to them is not the whole truth. I also like the sense of blindness and ignorance that emanates from that 'wise' Vala in this. This is a nice tale against the grain, and it leaves room to doubt if Tatie's view of the world is not far more accurate than Orome's. I also like the end of the story. A great piece of writing!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 5

A very thought-provoking story, turning much of what we think we know about the Elves of Cuivenen on its head. The POV of Tata is a very tight one: not just thoughts and feelings, but feelings that are the parents of thought-- an eloquence to be expected by the one who names the world. We are treated to the sort of world-view that might be expected of a people who awakened fully grown, without any experience of the world in which they find themselves. All must be learned by trial and error, and sensation is the first teacher. The ending of his story is poignant and beautiful.

Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 5

A thought-provoking narrative about the events at Cuivienen, showing how the appearance of Orome disrupts the developing social structures of early elven society--and they are not the only thing that is disrupted. It is an interesting suggestion that is made here--that fading is what elves might be intended for by their nature, and it might be the Halls of Mandos that are the aberration. The story also offers an explanation how it comes that Finwe is the one of the Tatyar (proto-Noldor) who goes to Valinor and not Tata or Tatie and why we do not hear of Tata and Tatie among the Noldor later on.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel  ✧  Score: 3

This was a really fascinating look at the first elves and what their culture might have been like - and at the reasons why some of them may have been unwilling to make the journey to Valinor. I especially liked the prominent role that women seem to have in this primitive society. A really good and thought-provoking read.