Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Light Over the Mountain

Author: pandemonium_213
Nominator: Robinka
2011 Award Category: Incomplete: Drama - Second Place

Story Type: Incomplete : Length: Ficlet Series
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes
Summary: Two short chapters have been written for this WIP. Long before they entered the Circles of Arda, the Guardians, greatest of the Ainur, rescued an unusual group of children from a war-torn land. In this series of vignettes, one of those rescued recounts the terrible events of his childhood that set him on a path to control his destiny and the world around him, a path that would lead to infamy.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 10

How cool is this????!!!! Pandemonium has earned my serious respect for making Ol' Evil-Eye himself, Sauron, into a three-dimensional and compelling character without trying to excuse his villainy. Here, in two ficlets that are part of her fanfiction magnum opus about the life and fate of Mairon Aulendil Annatar Gorthaur Sauron, she gives us an origin story for the Lord of the Rings, long before he ever had rings, or even haunted the dark places of Middle-earth. What's genius about these vignettes is that Pandemonium veers from the Silmarillion origin, or at least gives an origin for Sauron and at least some of the Maiar, that predates the Silmarillion but does not openly contradict it. And it's science-fictional in tone, and darned compelling, all without mentioning the name of the narrator (Sauron himself) or Melkor (who is the first of the Valar to encounter the young Sauron), or the future Eonwe, Saruman, Radagast and Gandalf. Incredibly, but believably, Pandemonium spins a tale of the narrator's distant youth on a distant world, when he and his family and their world were attacked by mysterious enemies. The boy and his sister, members of a shape-changing race, manage to survive by changing their forms, but their parents are killed. The equally mysterious Guardians, evidently the Valar, come to take the children away from their ruined home. How Pandemonium manages to fit all that so succintly but evocatively into two short ficlets is a mystery, but I wish she'd bottle it and give some to me. I particularly loved the way Pandemonium described the four other future Maiar - Eonwe, Saruman, Radagast and Olorin/Gandalf - through their actions and attitudes, without naming them. Of course, it's fairly well implied that they don't yet even bear those names. Melkor is not named directly, but those readers who know the meaning that Tolkien gave of his name - He Who Arises in Might - will recognize him easily. And, in a master-stroke of irony that feels very right, it is Melkor who first refers to the boy who will become Sauron (earliest recorded Ardaverse name "Mairon" - 'Admirable One') as "admirable", for the boy's swift action in saving himself and his sister from the celestial assault. I want more of this story; and hope that Pandemonium will soon oblige.

Reviewed by: Russandol -- Score: 10

This story explores (and maybe shakes) one of the pillars of the Silmarillion creation myth, the Ainur and their nature, and presents us with an even bigger tale than the one Tolkien wrote. The Silmarillion starts by describing the entrance of the Valar and Maiar into Eä after their Music is brought into being by Eru, but we are not really told much about them. Pandemonium_213 gives us an intriguing explanation of their origin, almost sci-fi in its setting of wars between powerful creatures of light. There is an added key ingredient: the Maiar are not of the same race as the Valar, as the Valaquenta implies, but orphans, survivors of worlds destroyed during the conflict. We are given reasons to wonder about why all the adults of this Maiarin race have been destroyed, as though these children have been "harvested" by the Valar to serve a purpose which, in my view, may not be completely wholesome. There is a definitely sinister undertone to the destruction of their world. This is a tantalising glimpse into the past of several well known (and easily recognisable) characters of the later tales of Middle-earth, in the beautiful prose Pandë has got us used to.

Reviewed by: Lilith Lessfair -- Score: 10

This is one of the most fascinating and compelling stories I've read this year. Crafting a tale that is neither canon nor contradicted by canon, Pandemonium provides a possible origin tale for the being that would become Sauron of Mordor and many others of the Maiar. In concise and vivid language (No word is wasted or misused.), she draws upon elements of science fiction, a genre with which Tolkien's creation has a remarkable number elements in common, to depict the Maiar as a shape-shifting people residing upon a world threatened by a conflict among another, more powerful group we recognize later as including the Valar. The situation of this origin story of the Maiar and, indeed, by implication, of Arda itself in this manner illuminates the nature of the Silmarillion as a foundational fiction, a very mythic tale, by envisioning this alternative to it. It is a very powerful alternative (or augmented?) vision in that it is carefully rooted in many aspects of Tolkien's world whether in careful research among his letters and early versions of his manuscripts or in delicate allusions to many other familiar characters from that world. Moreover, it also a highly complex alternative vision. Depicting the Valar as part of a society at war with itself, she offers a possible explanation for the discord of Melkor in that it might well have been rooted, in part, in longstanding disputes within the broader society and/or given the discord a broader context by suggesting that it was part and parcel of a longer history of conflict. Moreover, one becomes increasingly sympathetic towards a character one already knows to be a quite complicated and charismatic fellow from other tales from the Pande!verse, when one learns of the fate of his family and of his people and when one also realizes that neither we the readers nor he the narrator are aware of whether his rescuers were the more beneficent of the two warring parties (or, indeed, if they were that beneficent at all).

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 7

This pair of poignant vignettes describes an event that often is the opening scenario in many science-fiction stories: children orphaned by the obliteration of their world and taken in by an alien race. Even if that were all these were, they would be exceptional for the atmospheric writing, and for the emotional intensity of the protagonist. But then this is not just any story. It's lent context and sub-context merely by the reader's knowledge that this is fanfic, and it is Silmarillion based fanfic. That's the genius of it. All the subtle clues are there for the alert reader to pick up, and to realize who and what these beings are. Add to that any knowledge that one has of the author's other stories, and there is even more subtext. This is subtle writing, using the unique qualities of fanfiction to the utmost. I sincerely hope that over time pandemonium will add more vignettes to this series, filling in more of her Dark Muses' backstory.

Reviewed by: Himring -- Score: 6

In itself, this is a well-written, moving science fiction story about colonialism and inter-planetary war. It becomes even more intriguing and emotionally involving when one reads it as an account of the childhood of Mairon (Sauron) and Olorin (Gandalf), although neither of them bear those names yet. Such an early history would go some way toward explaining later developments--but only some way, for although Mairon and Olorin apparently undergo more or less comparable experiences, their reactions even at this stage are different (in other words, although Sauron according to this story is a victim to begin with like Olorin, they already both have character traits that appear to determine their future responses).

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel -- Score: 5

I think my reaction to this story might be best summarized by saying that it's definitely not canon, but I really loved it. This tale gives a much more science-fictionish flavor to the origins of the Valar and the Maiar than what's presented to us in the Silmarillion - or even in any of the History of Middle-earth volumes. The Valar in this piece are depicted as some sort of super-powerful beings who are at war with one another - the Maiar as survivors of various planets which the Valar have destryed in their conflicts. The observant may notice several canon Maiar through descriptions of their child-selves in the second chapter. A really intriguing read!