Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Illuminations

Author: Dawn Felagund
Nominator: Oshun
2009 Award Category: Races: Elves: Incomplete - Third Place

Story Type: Incomplete : Length: Short Story
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: themes unsuitable for younger audiences; entry #6 ("Song of Creation Denied and Thwarted") includes a discussion of miscarriage
Summary: "Illuminations" was written as part of the Back to Middle-earth Month 2009 challenge. 9 of 31 prompts have been completed. Pengolodh of Gondolin was one of the fictional "authors" of The Silmarillion. Born in Middle-earth, he spent most of his years hidden away in Gondolin, yet wrote authoritatively of the events of the First Age. "Illuminations" explores the coming of age of the character who would almost singlehandedly determine how First Age was recorded in history.


Reviewed by: pandemonium_213 -- Score: 10

Pengolodh, although an important figure behind the curtain, or should I say, behind the quill in Tolkien's legendarium is not often the subject of fan fiction. More often than not, writers of Elven canon characters focus on flashier characters. Although I haven't been active in fan fic for more than a couple of years or so, until Dawn began her treatment of Pengolodh, I was only aware of Tyellas' memorable version of him. Then Dawn brought forth young Pengolodh in a gift of a fic for me ([Stars of the Lesser]) as a foil to young Celebrimbor. In [Illuminations], Dawn continues and greatly expands upon this young fellow's development and education in Nevrast. Dawn has chosen an appropriate title for this series, in which each chapter unfurls like parchment with flowing calligraphy of Dawn's elegant prose, edged by an illumination Dawn's writing is always impeccable, and her interest in psychology, which so often infuses her work, is used to good effect in this character study. Anyone who has engaged in scholarly pursuits and professions (the overwhelming majority of Tolkien fan fiction writers, I imagine) can relate to Pengolodh's striving for excellence and the sense of competitiveness he has with other students who in turn bully him. Dawn also shines the light on Pengolodh's parents. His father, Master Sailaheru is rather overbearing, and his mother's disappointment in Pengolodh's failings can be glimpsed. Dawn's wordcraft is subtle here as she shows us the character of his parents and their very high expectations of him, These miniature portraits are a fine character study of the historian who brought forth the texts that make up [The Silmarillion] and perhaps are revealing of potential biases. Here's hoping that more scrolls will unfurl.

Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 6

There is a certain irony in Tolkien's claim of the Elves' wisdom and lore, while he almost exclusively shows them as warriors, politicians and adventurers. Herois deeds are all very well, but what of the hand that records them? It is an omission that I have regretted before. How delightful then to see a story that lets us see the loremasters, artists and scribes at work, creating the very culture which will echo on through the long ages. The characters, skillfully sketched with a very light hand, appear convincing and interesting; the protagonist's parents no less than the protagonist himself. Written in beautiful and smoothly flowing prose, this story is entirely charming and not to be missed. I like it very much indeed.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 6

I remember reading these as Dawn published them last March. She takes Pengolodh, who is hardly more than a name in Tolkien's list of characters, and fills him out. She gives us the endearing picture of a rather gangly youth who feels himself laboring under the reputations of his parents, both fine artisans who seem to perform effortlessly, while he is held back time and again. Then as the stories spread out over other events, war and the perilous question of truth in tumultuous times begin to enter his story. And there is always the reference back to scribing and illuminating books - here, we sense the author's first-hand knowledge of this process, which makes her so ideal for bringing Pengolodh to life. First Age afficionadoes will undoubtedly enjoy these greatly, as the record-keeper behind the tales steps into the spotlight himself in Dawn's writing.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 5

Dawn is herself a scribe and illuminator, (as am I) so it's especially intriguing to see her take on this character. Little is known of Pengolodh in canon, but she has given him a distinct personality: lonely, a bit of a geek, a bit of a nerd, proud of his parents-- yet feeling distant from and initimated by, them. He's not popular with his teachers or peers, but he has a keen insight into what motivates some of them. (I loved his reaction to the young Elf-maiden who was trying to get his sympathy.) And I am quite interested in his axquaintance with Celebrimbor. I was also quite impressed with the chapter which was actually done in calligraphy!

Reviewed by: Rhapsody -- Score: 4

I never expected this, but I really love Dawn's Pengholod. In this story she takes us on a journey and shows us the dilemma’s this young elf faces as he tries to master his much-wanted profession and come into his own. He questions everything and sometimes it works very sobering to know what lore he indeed did jot down and passed onto generations. This work is yet incomplete, but of the many works that Dawn has as a WIP, I really hope she finds time to continue Pengholod's journey.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 4

This series of moments in the life of Pengolodh (author of many of our sources about the earlier ages) is fascinating. As a graduate student myself I found myself really relating to the pressures he faced -- family stresses, the drive to meet benchmarks. The two vignettes about Pengolodh's "friendship" with Celebrimbor were particularly interesting; I could definitely those two interacting this way. I know the author is busy, but I do wish she'd write more of this! I want to see how her Pengolodh continues to develop.

Reviewed by: WendWriter -- Score: 4

With beautifully written, atmospheric writing, you have skillfully captured the imagination of this lad as he beholds an illuminated manuscript. This is reminiscent of the artwork in the Book of Kells and other famous works. Your writing is so vivid, I could almost smell the parchment. The attitudes of mingled fear and fascination of Pengolodh make him very believable as a character, and he is very compelling to read about. Good luck in the MEFA's.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel -- Score: 3

I really hope to see thie continued someday - it's a wonderful fleshing out of a character rarely written about in fanfic, although he's arguably one of the most important figures in how the First Age of Middle-earth is remembered.