Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Before the Fall

Author: Elleth
Nominator: Lyra
2010 Award Category: Genres: Alternate Universe - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story : Length: Ficlet
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Ficlet was written for the SWG B2MeM ', 2010 'Utopia' prompt, around 560 words. Not all is well in Valinor, and things are not what they seem below the surface. A retelling of the decline of the Blessed Realm, quite possibly AU.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale -- Score: 10

This story is short but remarkable for how much it does. Elleth presents an interpretation of early First Age events in which the gullibility of the Valar, the treachery of Melkor, and the rebellion of the Noldor are completely turned on their heads. Or does she? Nothing in this ficlet contravenes Tolkien's written words: nothing, after all, is done otherwise than it was in the original. Who is to say this wasn't at least one private purpose behind the actions and inactions of the Valar? It argues with nothing but the report of their benevolence…and that, of course, is subjective. As the Elder King says to his sister, when trouble is obviously coming anyway, [“would you not rather find joy in the happiness of a few…?”] It is all monstrously logical, though of course Elleth is sneaky in her own right. She knows the right trick to use by never calling Manwë by his name but by the ominous title of the Elder King. And perhaps, if this is how it indeed went down, he would not have used quite those final words that ring in his siblings' minds: even someone bent on evil generally likes to pretty up his purposes for himself and his followers. (But it IS such an eloquent and chilling piece of dialogue…!) Equal parts brilliant and obscene. Like Elleth says, deconstruction is fun.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 5

Elleth writes a brief, chilling inversion of the exile of the Noldor, and of the rule of the Valar. Inverted theodicies like this play to the uncertainty of the world, and sense of silence where we might most want a response of *some* kind. Here, there's an interesting instability brewing - on the one hand, Melkor must have an office - that of "lies and poison"; on the other, he must speak truth (and Feanor who believes him must also) about the Valar and Eru. Which is his real office, or what is the real relation between truth and lies here? Elleth doesn't resolve this for us, which leaves it to the reader to ponder. Well done!

Reviewed by: Kara's Aunty -- Score: 4

Wow ... aren't the Valar a right old bunch of omnipotent, scheming twats? I got a real sense of them sitting back and watching things unfold exactly as they'd planned, though whether truly for the Children's good, or for some profit of their own, seemed a little ambiguous to me, in the end. But that's as it should be. They're dieties, I'm a mere mortal, so I don't have a proverbial snowball's chance of trying to fathom their great designs. Good stuff!

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 4

It is disturbing to think that the Valar might have engineered the machinations of Melkor and the destruction of the Trees in order to arrange for those who think independently to be led out of Aman by Feanor; but how many tyranies have begun by destroying and expelling the intelligentsia in order to try to engineer a malleable populace? A possible if disgusting and hopefully unlikely possibility!

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland -- Score: 1

An interesting and unusual alternative viewpoint of events in the First Age.