Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Rise Again From Ashes

Author: Independence1776 (Crystal113)
Nominator: Elleth
2011 Award Category: Character Study: House of Finwë - First Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Novel
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Mature Language/Themes,Violence
Summary: After spending millennia wandering Middle-earth, Maglor returns to Valinor, where he attempts to adjust to both his Valar-imposed restrictions and living once more with the Eldar.


Reviewed by: Himring -- Score: 10

"Rise Again from Ashes" is an amazingly detailed imagining of the culture and society in Valinor in the Fourth Age as well as a moving acccount of Maglor's gradual reintegration into that society. There are highly dramatic confrontations in this novel, for instance with Finarfin, with Earendil and in Alqualonde, but overall the author takes her time, as Maglor begins to return from ages-long exile not only physically, but mentally, and gradually sheds his long-established paranoia, gaining the confidence to defend himself when necessary without blocking everything and everyone out altogether. Although the Valar have changed their tactics in some ways, they do not make that easy for him--that is, only some of the problems they create for him seem to be even intentional or foreseen by them. A little patience on the part of the reader of this story will be richly rewarded by the author's thoughtful characterizations of canon and original characters (Elrond and Glorfindel have important parts to play and so have Maglor's wife and his Telerin friend) and by her original ideas and descriptions. Naturally, I also very much approve of Maglor's acquiring a dog--a good thing for him in more than one way! And I love such details as that Maglor owns a Stradivarius and some of the relatively low-tech innovations that have been introduced in Valinor. Also, it is interesting that elven society is described as getting more involved with Middle-Earth again after long isolation and that Maglor with his experience of them is able to contribute to that project.

-- I'm ecstatic at everything you said here. I loved putting in the Strad. Thank you!

Reviewed by: Oshun -- Score: 10

I really enjoyed this story. It wasn’t always easy or predictable. There were times when I wanted to kick Maglor and far more often when I wanted to kick those he was dealing with. Indy kept hitting on some of my favorite prejudices here—knocking down fanon I particularly dislike and supporting interpretations that my reading of The Silmarillion and supporting texts encourages. How little the Ainur understood the Elves is hard canon as far as I am concerned. If the Valar seemed alien to the Elves, I think the Elves seems far stranger to them and burdened with all these psychological aspects that the Valar just could not read. It is continually confirmed for me in the reading and research I do for the Silmarillion character bios that I write month after month. I'd be happy to think that Valar did learn something over long Ages. Too little too late perhaps--these are no saints we're dealing with here. As a result, however, Maglor gets no soft landing, but he does get a chance and eventually we get a sense of resolution and if not wildly benevolent justice by my terms. I never felt like I was certain of the outcome of this story. I like the music in the story. I loved the idea of Maglor providing some welcome competition for Lindir. Very nice how she handles Maglor the Feanorian and the warrior as well as simply the musician and the "good" brother of common fanon. A lot of elements are included in this story that are often neglected in others. And, hooray, he gets a dog! I am not a pet person per se, but Maglor needed a dog in several ways, the obvious one and more subtle ones as well. Need to say I loved Elrond, and the residual father/son element was lovely and rarely addressed. Satisfying story, very well presented and thoughtfully built.

-- I'm glad you liked it so much, Oshun! Thank you!

Reviewed by: Russandol -- Score: 10

I first read this story as a WIP, anticipating every chapter. It's the Seventh Age of Arda and Maglor comes back to Valinor. In Middle-earth he had found a balance and even friends, though not close, or so he says, but his return changes everything. He's pardoned by the Valar but not easily accepted by the people who once suffered as a result of his actions. He lives in fear, and believes himself unworthy. His trip to redemption is painful, moving, and realistic in that he meets a wide range of reactions, not just open hostility but also indifference and friendship. The two main characters, Maglor and Elrond, are credible in their complex interaction that sways between the deepest affection to anger and defiance on the part of Maglor. They are well supported by a number of other characters, like Glorfindel, Celebrian, Maglor's wife Narmincë and even the wonderful dog Tirn. This story also does a great job of describing an evolved Valinor with new dynamics, new realms and even technological advances, like bicycles, printing presses and aeroplanes, all of which made for a fascinating read. I thoroughly enjoyed the ups and downs of Maglor's new life, from fear and bitterness to acceptance and, finally, the full pardon he has grown to deserve.

-- I'm glad you enjoyed it! Maglor's character arc was both fun and difficult to write, and I'm thrilled you found it-- and Valinor-- realistic. Thank you!

Reviewed by: pandemonium_213 -- Score: 10

I had the privilege of watching [Rise Again From Ashes] evolve from a rough draft into this final polished state. It is, to me, an authentic look at Maglor's return to Aman after his long sojourn of wandering the world, increasingly filled with mortals. Maglor is by no means a perfect character here. He's flawed, sometimes petulant, sometimes recalcitrant and the reader occasionally wants to shake him. And that is *good* characterization. Applause to Indy for pulling this off! [RAFA] follows a story arc that finds an uncertain Maglor, at times defiant, at other times insecure, at his first attempts of reintegrating into the stratified society of Aman. Elrond's role is reversed here: the son is the father to the man, as it were. I also liked Elrond's characterization a good deal here, as I did Glorfindel and his wife, both of whom are very engaging and provide a good supporting cast. Another supporting character is Maglor's dog. Now that is an interesting study in how a pet can help foster confidence. I thoroughly enjoyed Indy's depiction of Aman, which remains the same in some ways, cf. the stratification and distrust among the different tribes of Elves — bad blood still lingers from the kinslaying at Alqualondë — and the Valar who do not quite "get" the Children of Ilúvatar. But it has changed, too. Indy subtly brings in the elements of technology here (loved the cameo appearance by Celebrimbor), and I was delighted to encounter bicycles in Aman! Now that just feels so right. Indy, it was quite a journey, as much for you as for Maglor. Congratulations on bringing forth this well-honed tale of Maglor returns to Aman.

-- Pande, thank you so much! You have no idea how much this review means to me. *Thank you.*

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 10

Don't be daunted by the length of the story. It *is* a long story, but then, the same is true for the protagonist's. From Maglor's new beginnings at the Mahanaxar after his return to Valinor, he has a long way to go, and an eminently readable way it is. Independence1776 takes us on quite a ride alongside a damaged character in search of healing and reconciliation with the past - and he finds some of it, so the story more than satisfies on that count. There is no universal forgiveness, but considering the realism the author uses to approach the world she is crafting, that makes the story all the more believable. Maglor is recalcitrant, aware of his guilt and shame, marked by his travels, and nonetheless endearing and sympathetic, thanks to Indy's masterful characterization. The tutelage of an excellently written Elrond, who takes his reluctant foster-father under his wing, is another highlight of the story. Even though a long time has passed since the events of the First Age, Indy works with the loose ends (canonical, semi-canonical, and of original make) to great effect, and integrates that wonderfully with the theme of the sea - Maglor has been wandering the coast for several ages, lives in Elrond's House of the Sea Hills during the inception of his journey, faces retribution at Alqualonde and only later moves on physically, perhaps as final act of letting go. Another highlight that needs mentioning, and that has me glued to the screen every time I read the story (I have done so three times so far and keep discovering new details) is Indy's skill at worldbuilding. Time has passed, she takes that into account, and cleverly uses Maglor's long absence to introduce the astonished reader to changes like the presence of bicycles, as well as other technological innovations that allow the Eldar to maintain a connection between Aman and our present-day world. She also takes care to mention change (which so often is forgotten in fanfic), which delighted me to no end. All in all, I can't recommend the story enough, and am very glad to have gotten the chance to nominate and now review it - although the review hardly does it justice. Go and read, you won't regret it.

-- The theme of the sea… I did not consciously put that in there, and in fact, you're the first person to point it out! And I definitely can't see Aman as stagnant; change *must* occur, so leaving it out was never an issue to me. Making it believable was the hard part. Thank you for everything!

Reviewed by: KyMahalei -- Score: 8

This story is a gentle story of redemption, coming to terms with guilt and embracing redemption. The character arc is wonderfully constructed, from the vulnerability of the opening to the self actualization at the end. Throughout the story, Maglor is rendered as a character with pride and determination, cynicism born of bitter experience and a willingness to accept goodness as it is provided. The other characters are drawn with compassion and clarity. I especially liked Glorfindel and the slow emergence between him and Maglor as the story evolved. In one sense this was a "coming of age" story, although age in this context has an entirely different meaning. I appreciate the craftsmanship of a story that is able to show growth of characters incrementally and believably. The narrative reads smoothly and consistently, although I do think that the writing improved as the story went on. Crystal has a nice writing style that easily leads the reader from one chapter to the next. Overall I really enjoyed this story, and I'd recommend it as a good read. Nice job!

-- Thank you! I'm really glad you enjoyed the characters, craftsmanship, and the "coming of age" aspect. (The latter of which was a bit weird because I didn't notice that until *after* I'd finished writing, but then, I tend to like that sort of story, so I really shouldn't have been surprised it managed to work itself in.)

Reviewed by: Lyra -- Score: 8

I usually find fan fiction about Sons-of-Fëanor-released-from-Mandos highly frustrating as they tend to go against my understanding of Mandos and the process of "returning" from there - so I make it a rule to ignore them. This story was an exception from that rule. Although it does contain some of the elements that annoy me in this genre, these (subjective) flaws are made up for by the sheer scope and imagination of the story. Indy invested a lot of thought into what "modern" Valinor would be like, and has come up with a fascinating, dynamic and credible setting including a complex society, political and personal tensions - and technological progress. Additionally, the many characters of this story show a great bandwidth of reactions to Maglor's presence rather than just stereotypical rejection. The Valar are shown to make odd judgements and decisions at times, something I appreciate - after all, their decisions in canon aren't always all that wise either. An imaginative and worthwhile fanfiction novel!

-- I'm glad you read RAFA, even though it isn't entirely your cup of tea. (Honestly asking-- was I too vague about stating Maglor returned from Middle-earth? He's never been in Mandos.) I'm thrilled you found the worldbuilding and reactions to realistic!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 7

Maglor is my favorite of the sons of Feanor; and I always enjoy tales of his relationship with his foster-sons and also tales of his return to Aman. This story combines both in a multi-chaptered and multi-layered story of Maglor in the Blessed Lands. When the Valar parole Maglor into the custody of Elrond, Maglor has to walk a fine line between accepting his new life with restrictions and boundaries and also accepting that he is wanted and welcomed, if not by all, then by enough to make his life a good one. Valinor and Maglor have changed in the millenia since the War of Wrath; and yet the past is present still in both Maglor's heart and others. Independence draws a brilliant set of scenes in Maglor's life, as he renews old acquaintance, revisits the past in a stirring confrontation with Earendil, and renews ties with the wife he left behind. And I love the inclusion of the dog Tirn, as a non-judgmental presence at Maglor's side to guard and companion him. A fine addition to fanfictional Maglor chronicles.

-- I'm glad you liked it, especially Tirn. I couldn't resist giving Maglor a dog when my own is and has been such a wonderful part of my life.

Reviewed by: Caunedhiel -- Score: 7

This is one of my favourite piece's, your writing style is superb and your descriptions are always wonderful. I enjoyed seeing the changes that had happened in Valinor since The Noldor left, especially the opening of the straight road to the Elves, and that Elladan invented 'human-powered flight' seems so right somehow and I can picture it so clearly in my head! Especially what the look on Elrond's face must have been when he saw Elladan happily gliding right over the house... lol I also love that you included Tolkien's books in Elrond's library, it's such an amusing idea. As much as there is a fair amount of humour in this, it's quite a serious piece and looks quite closely at how Maglor would act and how the populous of Aman would react to having a Feanorion forgiven and living among them after everything that has happened. Of these I think the actions of the remaining members of the house of Finwe are the most intriguing. I enjoyed this story so much and would love to read a sequel if there was one. :)

-- Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the mix of seriousness and humor, and I couldn't have thousands of years pass without there being some sort of progress. There won't be any sequels, however, but there are several prequels on SWG.

Reviewed by: goldleaves -- Score: 5

This is a gentle story of the forgiveness of Maglor. It is beautifully written and depicts emotions that would be truthful in the situation. Throughout the whole story I felt for Maglor, and wished him well as well as sympathizing and empathizing for him. Throughout the story Maglor's character goes on a beautiful character arc from an afraid, but arrogant elf who feels unworthy to an elf who had settled and has found himself, and though he still sometimes finds himself unworthy of being forgiven at the end, it does not detract from the progression his personality has gone through. This story is amazing and brings joy to the reader.

-- I'm glad you enjoyed Maglor's character arc! Thank you!

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel -- Score: 5

I really enjoyed this fic. The author's depiction of Valinor as a far from paradisiacal location, complete with its own tensions, rings true for me, because I personally can't believe that the forces which led Feanor to draw a sword againat Fingolfin in pre-Exilic Valinor would've just gone away. I also found it realistic that her Maglor isn't entirely welcomed back immediately - he's viewed with suspicion at best and outright hostility at worst, and has to work hard to regain the trust of the few people with whom he had any sort of emotional connection. It's not always a comfortable read, but it was definitely a good one!

-- I'm glad you found RAFA realistic, Steel. (Not that it'll surprise you to hear that, or that I obviously agree.) RAFA was never meant to be a comfortable read, because things dealing with that sort of subject matter shouldn't be. Thank you!

Reviewed by: Erulisse -- Score: 5

Read this! Then read this again! And again! Rise Again from Ashes deals with one of my favorite Feanorians - Maglor, and his difficult return to Valinor. He must not only re-establish trust in those who remember Alqualonde only too clearly, he must also re-establish trust in himself. Through a variety of events and intervention and interference from the Valar, he learns to walk proudly once more and be the person he always should have been. The undercurrent of love given from Elrond, as close as any son could ever be, gives an anchor to the tale. Beautiful!

-- Erulisse, thank you! You picked out the most important parts-- Elrond's love and the reestablishment of trust. I'm glad you think it's beautiful.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 4

Rise Again From Ashes is an uplifting and heartening piece of writing. The story line, Maglor in Aman, is one that I have not seen very often, and the author takes full advantage of this untrodden ground, with very nice results. The development of the plot is perfect, and the story as it unfolds is interesting. I thought the ending fit very well, giving the reader what she wanted without seeming to cater. A very nice story.

-- Part of the reason I wrote RAFA was because I'd only seen a handful of other stories dealing with the subject, and all of those short. I wanted to fully explore what his return would mean. I'm glad you enjoyed the story!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat -- Score: 4

I looked forward, week by week, to each new chapter of this tale, and it did not disappoint. Finally returning to Valinor, Maeglin finds life pretty much as difficult as he had expected - although some things turn out better than he had hoped. The adjustment takes time for everyone, which is how it should be, I think, and all the characters are well written and believable.

-- I'm glad you read RAFA as I was posting, and enjoyed it enough to reread it and review here. Thank you!

Reviewed by: Liadan -- Score: 3

This is a great story. Maglor returns to Valinor and is pardoned and then he must try to learn to adjust to his new life under the rather capricious rules that the Valar have imposed on him.

-- I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Reviewed by: Lilith Lessfair -- Score: 3

In this novel, Indy's crafted a poignant tale of redemption. A tremendous project taking many months to write and to revise, she's created a story that was neither predictable nor cliched but was very satisfying, featured many unexpected turns, and centered around a very strong characterization of Maglor. Very well done.

-- Lilith, thank you! I wish I could say more in response, but words fail me.