Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

You Live Your Life in the Shadow of the Mountain

Author: Darth Fingon
Nominator: Hallbera
2010 Award Category: Genres: Alternate Universe: Incomplete - First Place

Story Type: Incomplete : Length: Novel
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Teen rating applied for some sexuality and mature themes.
Summary: This story is about 1/4 complete. At the end of the First Age, religious feuds and civil unrest threaten Valmar and Tirion. A 'What-If' AU featuring predominantly original characters.


Reviewed by: Russandol -- Score: 10

When I began to read the first chapters of this story, I was puzzled. The names and customs of the characters and their roles seemed alien to any description of Aman that I had seen before. People went on with their lives (and deaths) in a most realistic way, but I could not see any resemblance between this land of religious and cultural conflict to the stereotypical blissful realm where the Elves dwell in the company of the Valar. I rubbed my hands in glee, this was going to be different. And I have not been disappointed! This tale is very different and fascinating, as well as a pleasure to read. The characters are built in minute detail through scenes of their ordinary life, the setting is almost being drawn before my eyes and the plot is disturbing in a dark way that I fear will turn sinister soon, though it has not reached that point just yet. Elves live in a divided, intolerant society in which known rebels or stragglers can become targets of violent repression. I fear for those who will become victims, it is like a mirror of our real world. At the moment, the WIP has paused with a massive cliffhanger, an unbelievable twist that makes me scream very loudly: "Please get on with it, Darth, and tell me what happens next!"

Reviewed by: Jael -- Score: 10

This story has to be one of the most intriguing I have ever come across in fanfiction. Like everything coming from Darth Fingon, it is as well written as most published novels. It could easily stand on its own as a piece of original fiction, yet it gets its extra little fillip from the fact that these are Tolkien's Elves, the Vanyar. And such Vanyar! Not the vapid golden-haired perfect beings who spend their days singing the praises of the Valar. These Vanyar are beset by strange religious schisms and political intrigue. There is a mystery hidden in the backstory of the protagonist, a holy man with a less than holy past, it would seem. It is beginning to affect his relationship with his children, especially his eldest son. And sharp-eyed readers who are familiar with Darth Fingon's other work may notice, based on the name of one minor character, who the mysteriously named protagonist actually is in this AU of an AU. I was recently in a discussion where 'fanfiction' was castigated as being lazy, derivative and banal -- a pale imitation of the original. I almost wished I could cite this story in defense of what we do, because it is anything but. This is what fanfiction can and should be. Currently, this work in progress ends in one of the evilest cliffhangers yet. Please, Darth, write more. And thank you for what you have given us so far.

Reviewed by: Oshun -- Score: 10

As usual, this is an outstanding story. It looms so far above the average work of fanfiction that it is hard to even coompare them. The is sad, funny, clever, and incredibly intelligent. I love the way you take aspects of canon texts and bits and pieces of culture and religion from our own world and couple those with insights into human nature and create a whole new fantastic world. Oh, it is defintely fanfiction and not original fiction, because every nuance of plot and characterization is informed in some way by the canon sources. On the other hand, the imagination involved in creating all of this world simply soars. I look forward to each new chapter. Sometimes it feels as though we form a mystique around an author's ability to present unique and rare worlds or interpretations of those of others, but actually it is a straightforward question of honesty and courage. If one wasn't willing to extend one's use of the canon sources and reveal hard won lessons about life in general, one could not write like this. Darth is exciting to read, but he is never careless. He takes his craft seriously and dewmonstrates an impeccable eye for avoiding the tired or cliched in his manner of expressing himself without ever coming across is pretentious or self-consciously original. Fabulous storytelling build upon solid writing cannot be matched. Highly recommend this story and his entire world.

Reviewed by: pandemonium_213 -- Score: 10

When I first started reading [You Live Your Life in the Shadow of the Mountain], the first things that came to mind were the power of words and death. Regarding the first, Mr. Fingon, whose sub-hobby of his fan fiction hobby is elvish linguistics, created a Vanyarin dialect. With a nod to a few words from Tolkien's Qenya Lexicon that implied a religious structure in Valinor, he then ran with them. For words have power; they have ramifications upon culture, and we see this unfold with the narrative of Sidaizon, a priest of the Valadávar, who revere Manwë alone as opposed to the more pagan Yaranénor who revere all the Valar. The other element of the beginning of the story is a death -- a young woman has died in childbirth. The rituals of death often reveal the heart of a culture, and they do so here. The deceased's husband is of the Valadávar and wants her body buried; her father is of the Yaranénor to whom a pyre is the appropriate funereal rite. With these constrasts, Mr. Fingon sets up the schism that exists among the Vanyar (not to mention the Noldor!) and how Sidaizon negotiates the charged religious and political atmosphere and his own personal challenges, especially when someone from his past appears at the bathhouse that Sidaizon and his son frequent. In this WIP, Sidaizon's house of cards is quivering, reading to fall down upon him. But he glides through his life. The details that Mr. Fingon paints into the niches of culture, religion, politics and characters come together to create a rich panoply of a secondary world -- a Valinor that may startle the more orthodox, but not this reader. For is not Paradise in the eye of the beholder and all too often, an unreachable place, even for the quasi-immortal. I eagerly look forward to installments of this marvelous novel from this digital pen of the immensely talented Darth Fingon.

Reviewed by: Hallbera -- Score: 7

Way back when I was a total newbie to the Tolkien fanfiction scene, I happened to stumble upon one of Darth Fingon's stories. That was when I though that I would only like to read stories strictly set in the canon. Boy, was I wrong. This is one of those stories I am glad I have found when it's still being written, as otherwise I could not stop myself from reading all of it in one go. On the other hand, I cannot wait for it to be completed so that I can spend an entire weekend reading it from start to finish. Darth Fingon's version of Valinor feels to me more believable than the sterile and stagnant paradise it's often described to be, and his characters, even the most minor ones, have been cretaed with such care and attention to detail that I'm left awestruck and not a little jealous of his talent. I wish I had the English to praise both the story and the author as they deserve to be praised, so I have to make do with saying how much I have enjoyed reading this story.

Reviewed by: Súlriel -- Score: 4

Unarguably, one of the most original fanfictions I've ever had the privileged to follow along. Darth has a unique talent, regardless of if he turns it to humor or drama, of delving incredibly deeply in character and in the world, yet in a way that is still uniquely his own. I love the layers upon layers in this world, how he has taken what Tolkien gave us and expanded it sideways and backwards and down rather than just making it 'larger'. I love how he can take us on long, tangled journeys and still tie all the pieces together in the end.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel -- Score: 4

A very different take than the usual fanon version of Valinor - Darth Fingon has given us a really complex society and uses characters who are definitely multifacted and fallible to explore it and its various problems. His Valinor is by no means a paradise, and I for one suspect that his Valar are distinctly non-angelic from what we see of their devotees. A really good and thought-provoking read.