Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Alchemy

Author: Branwyn
Nominator: annmarwalk
2005 Award Category: Books/Time: The Silmarillion: Poetry - First Place

Story Type: Poem : Length: N/A
Rating: G -- Reason for Rating: none
Summary: Feanor, basic chemistry, and the art of glassmaking. Also, a play on his name--"spirit of fire."


Reviewed by: Azalais -- Score: 10

This is a stunning piece of work - I am always in awe of people who can write free verse, without any of the frameworks of rhyme and meter helpfully laid down for "traditional" forms, be they sonnet or triolet or whatever, and yet make that verse feel structured and controlled, with the satisfying "rightness" which in a more traditional form comes from the pre-determined rhymescheme or rhythm falling into place. Here the sense of structure comes from the use of repetition with variation ("before there was glass, there was.."), but there's also a dynamic, a sense of moving towards a goal, as we wait to see how the glass will come from the elemental ingredients. The whole *idea* of the alchemy, a blend of craft-with-magic, seems very fitting for Arda, and the use of the ingredients that would be found along the seashore is just right for an Elf of Valinor (albeit not a Teler!) Each ingredient seemed to foreshadow something about the Feanorians' doom as well - "scoured and sifted" their future hardships, "deep-drowned" the fate of Maglor's Silmaril, "empty houses, holding the distant echo of Eldamar" their exile from Valinor, and as for fire - well, the burning of the ships at Losgar, the Dagor Bragollach, Maedhros's end, take your pick! (It's entirely possible, of course, that the author didn't consciously intend any of these. But I think that's a mark of most good poetry - images are used which open up the reader's mind to possibilities sometimes richer than even the author could set out to list). There are many effective uses of imagery, alliteration and so on - "scoured and sifted", "deep-drowned grasses", and the beautiful description of the seashells as "cups of bone". Although the last verse speaks of "smoothing" and "soft words" there is an air of menace about the last two verses which seems entirely apt for Feanor, for the palantiri, and of course for the Silmarils, which are never mentioned in the poem but which, given its subject, are I think ever-present in the subtext. The fact that this was all accomplished in exactly 100 words as a birthday drabble makes it, I think, all the more awesome. I was very very jealous at the time both of the recipient and of the author's skill, and still am on both counts!

Reviewed by: annmarwalk -- Score: 5

A simple, 100 word poem, hypnotic as waves on the shore or swaying fronds of seaweed. The simple, repeated words - “before there was glass…” conveys the mysteries of the natural world as interpreted by a imaginative, curious craftsman. I was not familiar with the Silmarillion when I first came across this poem, but the exquisite use of language – deceptively simple – fascinated me. It’s very easy now to envision the craftsman at work, melding science and magic to create those fateful orbs.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 3

Would that all chemistry lessons could be so lyrical! Seriously, though, I liked the way you started out with the basic elements and then worked them back into fire. The idea of Feanor being a spirit of fire and fire being so essential to his work in the forge makes for some interesting connections.

Reviewed by: Llinos -- Score: 3

Fluid and enticing - a delightful read! The prosody is in keeping with the subject and gives a good feel of the materials. Excellent metre too which leads the reader through well. This is not always the case with the dreaded blank verse, but this is very well done.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 2

I normally don't much care for poetry, either RL or Tolkien-based. But this is an exceptional piece - the fire of creation, the artistic process, all captured beautifully in this poem about the master-craftsman of the Noldor.

Reviewed by: nerwen_calaelen -- Score: 1

An nice poem. I love the way you use the creative imgry.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 1

This poem has an almsot sing-song quality about it that I found particularly effective.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 1

A very intense bit of verse about Feanor crafting the palantir. I especially love the play on words at the end.