Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

By Choice or By Blood

Author: Ellie
Nominator: Ellynn
2009 Award Category: Times: First Age and Prior: House of Finwe

Story Type: Story : Length: Short Story
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Violence and a romantic situation
Summary: Finarfin faces the ultimate test of his courage and faith and now must determine where his loyalties lie.

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 10

Your story endeared me from the first. You give a lovely description of first love here, with all its quirks and drawbacks, stutters and family planning. This first passage made me smile, and the sharp break when you cut to the aftermath to the Kinslaying served well as an emphasis, or exclamation mark if you so will. The imagery here, and the break with the lyrical language from before gave me the shivers, of horror at the scene itself and with appreciation for the way you depicted it with emphasizing the brutality but without making it overly graphic. I found myself sympathising with everyone here, Finarfin and Edrahir as well as the Teleri: they all suffered terribly, and while being maddened by grief is understandable, it makes the Teleri no better than Feanor himself. It is another brutal scene, but anything else would decrease its effectiveness. ["Had you marched beside Feanor, your blade would now be stained with our blood!"] - one of the most powerful parts of dialogue of the story, and the first time that I thought I could make sense of the title. It made me wonder if - had Finarfin been present - he would have ended as one of the casualties, caught in the middle between Teleri and Noldor in an attempt to make peace as he so often tried between Feanor and Fingolfin. Blood again, if of a different kind. I like the thread you are spinning here, and the way it re-emerges as leitmotif throughout the story. It was a relief to see people more reasonable in chapter two, and here we see that Finarfin is caught in the middle indeed. It hurts to think that he was bound to fail in his attempts at making peace, and it is all the more impressive that he continues on. In a way the Kinslaying did become a very unlikely rite of passage for Finarfin, and with the potential that Olwe mentions here, it stands to reason that he will have wisdom of his father-in-law's scale one day, if not already. I was very impressed by the fact - another spin on the title that I did not expect - that he would make the _choice_ to convince the Noldor to return before setting out instead of scuttling back to Tirion with the tail between his legs at the pronouncement of the Doom of the Noldor. The strengthening of an already strong character was made very impressive indeed, and it is a rare treat to see someone go against common interpretation in fanfic. The frame is closed elegantly as well, now that we know that Earwen decided to offer her strength despite the horrible losses her people suffered, and went accompany her husband. In many ways, Feanor's accusation of having them [sit idle in grief] is proven wrong here. To sum up: I loved the way the symbolism re-emerged throughout the story, the characterisation was fabulous, if perhaps a little too collected in the face of such horror. Your use of imagery was powerful, and there were real gems among your already evocative prose. The only thing that irked me a little was the use of Sindarin names and terms as a slight anachronism, but then it is more or less in account with the Silmarillion and an understandable choice after all. Once more, thank you for this fabulous story, which is far more layered and elegant than I do justice in this review.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 10

In the whole of the Silmarillion, even though he doesn't get a lot of screen time, my favorite character is probably Finarfin. And it's so wonderful to find a story that does him justice! He may not be the natural leader that his brother is or that his half-brother is, but there are other qualities in him equally important and they shine through here. This story showcases his capacity for love, his caring, his sense of duty, his wisdom, and his courage. Finarfin is put in an impossible situation, and somehow he manages to emerge with the respect of those remaining. In addition to Finarfin, everyone else receives brilliant characterizations. The mob of Teleri that accosts him do so with justifiable anger, and even then, there are rational voices among them. They are desperate to find anyone and anything that they might hold culpable, but they are also willing to listen to reason. And I loved Olwë's wisdom amidst his blaspheme against the Valar. He recognizes that by refusing to act, the Valar allowed the deaths of both the Teleri and the Noldor. Even in his rage, he recognizes that blood was spilled on both sides. But perhaps what makes this story really shine is the brutal manner in which it depicts the kinslaying. Finarfin is the perfect character to give us the emotional and visceral aftermath, and then there's the timing of the story. From a romantic interlude, the story hard-cuts to the flames in Alqualondë. The contrast and the imagery make the impact even bigger, and the full horror of the kinslayings is hammered home. Fantastically done!

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 6

After the destruction of the Trees, the death of Finwe, and the theft of the Silmarils, Finarfin had at first thought to follow those of the Noldor who chose to leave Aman to return to Middle Earth, hoping to serve as a reminder of reason and balance to a people swayed to fever pitch by Feanor's fiery rhetoric. We know he at some point turned back and returned to Tirion, humbled himself before the Valar, and in the end was granted the kingship of the remnant of the Noldor who had refused to follow Feanor and his sons back to Middle Earth. In this short, two-chapter tale Ellie has given us an excellent probable scenario as to why Finarfin changed his mind. Characterizations are nicely balanced between personal humility and righteous nobility, and it is both plausible and highly satisfying. Very well done!

Reviewed by: Ithilwen -- Score: 5

This is very well done. I love the way the Teleri who take Finarfin captive almost go on to commit the same crime they are berating the Nodor for committing; it seems a very plausible reaction to the horror of the Kinslaying - lash out at those who have hurt you. I also love the way both Finarfin and King Olwe find themselves doubting the Valar for permitting this tragedy to happen, and found myself wondering whether Finarfin ever got up the courage to ask them tat question. Finarfin's shock at the realization that he would now have to wear the crown and lead the remnant of the Noldor in Aman was also well portrayed. All in all, this is a very satisfying read.

Reviewed by: Ellynn -- Score: 2

The story is wonderful. The author gives characterization and relationships between characters perfectly, with so many details. It is written in a very professional way.