Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Hidden Within

Author: Keiliss
Nominator: Rhapsody
2009 Award Category: Genres: Character Study: Friendship - First Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Short Story
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Past meets present; two elves and a sword, words of power sung under starlight.

Reviewed by: Rhapsody -- Score: 10

Hidden within is a gently told story, filled with gorgeously detailed scenes and it feels as if you sit there to observe how Keiliss paints a location with words. Even if you never had a clear visual of Rivendell before, you will have a good one after reading this story. Erestor's character and past is well explored in this story, his struggles to fit in and find his place amongst the others is carefully worded and it makes you feel for him. His pain and need to belong is brought in such a palpable way. As the story progresses, the author weaves in a different theme as well and as we get to know the reborn elf, the contrasts between the two elves, but also the feeling of how two generations can be so immensely different is explored immensely well. Tolkien's elves are old and have seen a lot, yet their history also created a divide amongst them and Glorfindel's case illustrates that so well. At the end, it is Erestor who drinks in this knowledge with such eagerness, giving him the feel of a young man while Glorfindel shows ancient knowledge of old, coaxing the hidden powers of the sword from within. And of course this story also reads as homage for those who have chosen a career being a librarian/archivist, I cannot help but to smile and say: yes, we do a lot of important work with that much love as Erestor shows and takes pride in. This is a wonderfully paced and movingly written story.

Reviewed by: minuial nuwing -- Score: 10

I still can't quite find the words to express how deeply this story touched me. There is a warm, hazy feel to the narrative, as though it is a vignette being watched through thick glass of a most glorious color. You have provided such an intimate look at not only Erestor and Glorfindel, but at Imladris itself, from the thatched roof with bits of dull slate green tile, to the birds nesting again and again in the same protected places, the caves and trees and the owl - you brushed away the air of formality and showed us how easy it must be to fall in love with Elrond's valley. I love the way you draw Glorfindel as both hero and awkward visitor, not yet belonging, and the realistic reactions your OC characters have to his dual status. The ritual with the new sword, and his willingness to share it with Erestor seemed so very 'Glorfindel' to me. He would do just that, use just those words. Erestor. **sigh** He is, as always, perfection. I loved this line: [Once he had been a soldier and the heart's choice of a king, but that was a very long time ago...] And this one broke my heart: [...at the end no one thought to question his ashen face and dry, haunted eyes after the great, final battle that saw the last High King’s reign end in blood.] But he is such a survivor, in the end. Despite all the loss he has endured, he lives and loves and smiles, and I think that is the real reason your Erestor has woven himself into my imagination and stolen my heart. This is quietly, exquisitely, almost painfully beautiful.

Reviewed by: Red Lasbelin -- Score: 10

This is an absolutely gorgeous fic. The feel through out the story is stunning, you are a watcher to a very most personal moment in Glorfindel's life - much like Erestor is - but welcome and part of the experience. I loved the description of the House, sometimes I have such a hard time with imagining Imladris from stories, but here it is painted so well and vividly. I loved that Erestor has his own hideaway, a place where he can breathe. I've never seen anywhere else the story of how he got there, how the large library was built up around him, almost by accident, and it feels very right. Glorfindel? The descriptions of him are perfect, they are some of my favorite bits in the fic. He reminded me of Tolkien's but much further fleshed. I love the diamond-tipped stylus, the way he drew her out of the metal and the runes. They add a realm of otherness to this, a mysterious world we only know so much about, and it's part of what drew us to this in the first place. Erestor is gorgeous as well, his whole life story a treat. The bit about Gil-galad's death was particularly bone-chilling, and I think it would be even if I weren't soft on him. Also, I loved the dining room scene - we got a slice of normality from their day, and I loved Erestor's thoughts about it, and your Arwen - she made me laugh out loud at bits. I think my favorite part though is Glorfindel singing with the blade and the starlight. It felt so incredibly Elven and so right. You just really captured a feel of two very different people from different generations meeting and finding their common ground. It's one of the best friendship meetings I've ever read - and one of the best stories you've told.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 10

This is very well done. Erestor's character is established in a thoughtful style such that the reader is simply drawn in to believe that behind the perhaps two lines he gets in FOTR, this is the person waiting to be revealed. His past hopes and disappointments, and past loves, are all hinted at, not truly fleshed out - but they don't need to be, and they serve to give him a sense of depth. However, what I liked best about this story is the way that it makes me feel the difference in generations between Elves. I've seen many stories that can flesh out and make me believe in the cultural differences between the different kinds of Elves - Teleri, Noldor, Sindar - but this is the first story I've read that really takes me inside the differences between Elven generations, between those who were born beneath the stars and lived in starlight and those who were born later. Glorfindel's character is absolutely believable in this respect, an excellent extrapolation, but totally unforced. Like Erestor, he is who he is, and the reader believes in the person he presents immediately. It's clear that it's the start of a beautiful friendship - thanks very much for this, Keiliss! I highly recommend it, especially to those who like either Glorfindel or Erestor, or who have an interest in Elves in particular.

Reviewed by: elfscribe -- Score: 10

It is wonderful to read Keiliss' characters and see how they've developed over the years. She knows them so well now that there is a wealth of back story only hinted at, such as this ["a soldier and the heart's choice of a king"] that adds depth to the story. It is full of wonderful details, for ex. the opening with the description of the little scooped out places where both Erestor and later Glorfindel go ["when the past spoke loudest."] The little hide-aways, a place of retreat within the larger retreat that is Imladris, strike me as symbolic of the idea of "Hidden Within" and as such are a great way to open the story. I loved the opening image of Glorfindel climbing up to the caves with the details that make it come alive in a cinematic fashion. ["A pair of broad shoulders and a head of yellow-gold hair came into view further down the wide ledge. A lean but powerful body heaved itself over and upright in a single fluid movement, and the pack slung over one shoulder was shaken back into position with a single easy shrug."] Things I particularly liked: the detailed description of Imladris so that I can see it the way Kei does, Erestor's tragic backstory and how he seeks solace through work and the development of the library, the awkwardness of Glorfindel in his new home (one of Kei's recurring themes), the concept of singing the edge to the sword, that the sword was female, the strong hint that this is the beginning of a great friendship for both of them, the wealth of detail, the quiet tone like the still surface of a pond with great depth below. I have watched Kei hone her wordcraft over the years so that now it seems to sing effortlessly. We all know how much work it takes to get that effect. Wonderful story in the best tradition of fanfic.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 10

The best way I can think of to describe this story is to say that it is a story with personality. And not just Erestor's personality or Glorfindel's. The story itself has a personality, and it's felt as early as the first few paragraphs. The descriptive narrative has hidden with in it (just like it's extremely apt title) a wry sense of humor. That continues into the dinner scene, where dry wit comes to the fore. I loved Erestor's commentary on dinner, on whatever it was that Arwen had done with her hair, and on the speculation regarding what those in Gondolin actually ate. Nor is this wry humor simply there for the sake of amusement. It carves out individuals. Each elf who speaks or is noted has a personality distinct and unique from everyone else. Erestor is very much his own elf. Elrond is clearly an individual. The guards, the advisers, the thin scholar from Greenwood, they're all different and all interesting. It adds flavor and variety to an already fascinating story, and it primes the reader for the second act, which is the personality of the sword. The scene between Glorfindel and Erestor is striking and beautiful. The story is already brimming with personality, so it seems natural to extend this personality to a sword. And to extend personality to separate Ages, as personified by Erestor and Glorfindel. And the coming together of those Ages, though separate and distinct, feels like new notes of harmony being added to a song. It's the way individuals can work together without losing the best parts of themselves. Glorfindel will remain as such: an elf of a much younger Age. He need not change to fit the times. He simply has to find a place that fits him. The same could be said of Erestor and the story of how he came to Imladris. He found a place that fit him, allowing him to be the personality that emerged in this story. Fantastic tale!

Reviewed by: Phyncke -- Score: 10

This is one of those stories that I printed out to read. I knew that it was special. I was not going to read it all, just a bit to get a sense before I went to sleep. It was so interesting to me that I had to keep reading it all the way through. It is that kind of story. It pulls the reader in from the first paragraph, that first description. I think it is a testament to how well crafted this story is The rich description from the very first is a real treat. The house comes alive as a real entity or as a thing embued with character. And that is how I feel about everything in this story. I can see the details so clearly here. I think the essence of what Keiliss does here is have the old world meet the new. Generations and customs clashing and we have Glorfindel who has stepped out of time into this new world. Her story really tells this so well. They don't understand him. He is odd and strange to them. The gossip at the table and all that. And Erestor who we get to know so well through his thoughts and the description of his career, and his love of Gil Galad. I think the tapestry just fits together so well in this to make something beautiful. I found myself riveted at Glorfindel's ritual of the sword and wondering if this was something that he personally did or something that came from the first age. In my mind it is something he personally did. But I don't know. That can be a blank the reader fills in for themselves. It is very primitive and primal what he is doing there and we see Erestor's fascination with it and it puts their contrast in sharp focus. One of thought, rationality and one more of feeling and mysticism. This is a story that one can read a few times, to catch more details and more delights. It captures the heart of the warrior and is very well done. It reads like poetry, smooth, elegant and entrancing.

Reviewed by: Scarlet10 -- Score: 9

This wonderful story draws a picture of the glorious days of the past through the image of an ancient warrior, practicing an old ritual. These days, the ritual is almost unknown (except maybe to some lore masters), but to him, it used to be a part of life practices as a warrior. At the same time he is opening the window to his world and tries to bring in a "youngster" into what seems as a mystery. The Glorfindel depicted in this story, is of the stature of Tolkien's ancient heros: ["one of the mighty of the Firstborn. an Elf-lord of a house of princes"] ["lord of the Eldar from beyond the furthest seas"]. One with the light of the trees in his eyes, and some internal power which can drive away, in fear, the most terrifying servants of darkness. Yet, at the same time "the elf behind the hero", is a gentle soul. An Elf who tries to learn of the new world into which he was returned, and the people in it. I was spell bound when I first read this story, and even more so on a second read. Erestor here is shown as a character with two faces. First, as an experienced warrior , lore master and adviser, one with long history some of it happy, but much more painful. Later, Erestor is suddenly a youngster again, learning the mysteries of the old world, older then both him and Glorfindel. As old as the Elves themselves.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 5

Vivid and evocative prose that manage to convey the beauty and glory of Rivendell - the rocks and flowers, the waters and the fauna. The development of Imladris from hidden refuge camp to the Last Homely House and a grand repository of learning is believable. It was an interesting idea to have Glorfindel not be greeted with unanimous welcome (and hero-worship, as might be assumed), but with some ambiguousness towards this First Age Elf. The making of the sword is mysterious and completely fascinating, incorporating very intriguing concepts. I like how this part of the story employs a slightly higher level of prose - very fitting for the magic of it.

Reviewed by: Fiondil -- Score: 5

Stories about Glorfindel and Erestor are always fun to read (I’ve even written a couple myself) and this one is no exception. I like how we see everything through Erestor’s eyes and get a glimpse of what the Elf has experienced in his life and how he came to be living in Imladris. Glorfindel is very much as I always imagine him to be. It was amusing to read the conversation of the other Elves of Imladris discussing this First Age legend come literally to life and complaining that he doesn’t understand “our modern ways”. An interesting look at the beginnings of a friendship between these two Elves.

Reviewed by: Erfan Starled -- Score: 5

The review I’m posting uses words I framed earlier this year to describe my feelings for this hauntingly lovely story, as true now as they were on first reading. I found this story beautiful, heart-breaking and visually descriptive, like the different dark of the river, in ways that feel right - unforced but vivid and rich, as if you can sink into the pleasure of the words and be in the place and find it, too, beautiful. The characters shine true to a wide, far sense of who they are and what they have lived through. Erestor and Glorfindel are utterly 'Elven', too, and in that, full of heart. Their characters, coupled with their history and what they bring from that to their present, cut deeply as I read this story.

Reviewed by: KyMahalei -- Score: 4

I enjoyed this leisurely and highly detailed stroll through Erestor's character and later Glorfindel's. Keiliss has a gracious way of unpacking her setting with vivid images of small detail and events that are lighthearted but very revealing. The whole tale would do well in the storytelling motif, as events and descriptions are strung together to make a unified tale. I especially enjoyed the interaction between the two characters as they considered the blade. This story was a pleasusre to read and review.

Reviewed by: curiouswombat -- Score: 4

How well written. I love the insights into Erestor's mind - little things like the repetitiveness of baked quince, or the number of stanzas still to go in the song about Nimloth. But the section with Glorfindel is even better - I feel that I can see it all - and in my mind now, this is how it was. It takes a very good writer to have this effect on me - for their writing to become part of the history of Middle Earth in my own mind - well done.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 3

A beautiful look at Glorfindel's activities on his first arrival within Imladris, and the means by which he finds his new weapon and seeks to empower it. This view of him through Erestor's eyes is most interesting, and, for a wonder, not focused on the erotic! Thank you for that!