Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Return to Me

Author: Dawn Felagund
Nominator: Rhapsody
2006 Award Category: Genres: Drama: First Age Elves

Story Type: Other Fiction : Length: Short Story
Rating: PG-13 -- Reason for Rating: horror, blood and gore, disturbing themes, death themes, mild sexuality
Summary: Finrod is the first of the exiled Noldor to be re-embodied in Valinor, and when Finarfin is called to Mandos to help ease his newly reborn son into life, he learns truths about the nature of Finrod's death--and his own beliefs in the process.


Reviewed by: Rhapsody -- Score: 10

This story connects three canon events in Tolkien’s world in a touching way. It starts with Finarfin’s journey to the Halls of Mandos to retrieve his son and Dawn’s descriptions of it and the emotions that are evoked in Finarfin’s soul are incredibly realistic. We meet Mandos and we do learn how elves are reincarnated while Mandos repairs the body which once has been utterly marred. Finarfin is foremost a father in this piece and you can feel how much he is struggling with the harm done to his first-born. Then halfway the piece we are transferred to the cold plains of Araman where Finarfin pleads his children to return home. But Finrod does not hearken and the roles of leadership feel reversed and this is magnificently captured in the following fragment: [There he stood, letting the vicious wind whip him until he was numb with the pain of it, whispering, “You will return to me,” until his lips grew too cold to move any longer, and then it was only his thoughts, carried on the icy wind that would wrap his son’s ears, leagues to the north, and make him shiver as though portended of death. You will return to me.] While I read this I immediately thought: well Finarfin, you never expected that it would happen in this manner. Once awake and returned to life, Father and Son discuss the morality and fire that still burns within Finrod. In a way, both ill find healing of the hurts with each other and the first seed starts to grow with this quote: [“Fathers who are willing to forsake their sons in service of a cause—” he stopped, considered. “Before I was a king, Findaráto,” he said at last, “I was your father. And no price is too dear to save you.”] This surely is pressing motivation for Finarfin to go to war on Beleriand during the War of Wrath. Besides the clever weaving and connecting of these three main events in Finarfin's life, I simply marvel at the rich language, which expresses itself in the narrative and dialogue written by Dawn. I simply feel drawn into the story at instant and once I finish the story, it gives me lots of topics to think about. This is a great piece of writing Dawn!

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 6

This story deserves major kudos for the description of the Halls of Mandos. There is torture of a sort, and it is not pretty -- and just because the pain is in its way restorative does not take away from the pain of it all. I love the way that even the gardens are sickly with the touch of all the death, and the way that Arafinwe's horse would not go through. That reminded me of the paths of the Dead in LOTR. You also give us some touching father-son moments, especially in the garden at the end. I really liked the moral ambiguity in their conversation. Is martyrdom for a noble and worthwhile cause worth the death, or is that familial kinship the only cause that matters (if it can even be described as a "cause")? I think Arafinwe is right that he should never be willing to sacrifice another, but Findekano also has his points. Definitely made me think!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 4

Finrod is reborn, and to the question of the meaning of his death. His father, watching his son's body be 'repaired' and assisting him to recover after the rejoining of spirit and body, is a father first - there is no question his son's life is not able to be set against the fate of the world. For Finrod, what he has been part of is worth dying for. Some interesting descriptions and speculations about the Houses and their unearthly, unbearable ways. The tuning fork and the healing of Finrod's body by Namo seemed appropriately otherworldly.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 4

This is a very impressive piece of work! I sometimes find fic about the Elves of Valinor to portray them as somewhat cold and emotionless. This story does the opposite, and we see Arafinwe as a loving father, going through the torment of seeing his firstborn re-born. The description of Namo, and the means of healing was fascinating. And the reunion between father and son all it should be. And I loved Findarato's admission that he would die again if need be, and the contrast between Arafinwe and Feanor. Very beautifully done!