Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

The Web of the World

Author: Dwimordene
Nominator: Altariel
2011 Award Category: Other Beings: General - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story : Length: Ficlet
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: "Vairë the Weaver [...] weaves all things that have ever been in Time into her storied webs [...]" - "Valaquenta", Silmarillion It is hard to love the world that is. Nevertheless, someone has to do it...


Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 10

Dwimordene has a wonderful and enviable talent for being able to put words to things so far beyond the ken of mere mortals that understanding seems nigh unto impossible. This talent seems most evident whenever Dwimordene tackles the Valar, though since everything is about to get deep and metaphorical, I should take more care with my own words. "Tackling" is not what happens here. "Singing" is a much better word to describe the lyrical beauty of this little ficlet. I always love it when Dwimordene writes about Song (note the capital letter) because her own writing is more poetry than prose and the idea of Song weaves effortlessly into the story. So in this, Dwimordene takes it one step further and discusses that weaving, but on a world-scale. Enter Vairë and a host of philosophical questions. I thoroughly enjoyed the concept that "having been" makes it so that one "is" forever as Vairë captures all things in web of fabric both wondrous and grievous. That she herself does not look save once is also telling. With that single look, I have to admit that I was too fascinated by the concept of Vairë weaving herself into the web (as well as a myriad of thoughts on determinism vs agency) to catch that the handmaid in question was Ungoliant. I only realized that once I hit the notes at the end, which meant I had to go reread the entire thing all over again. But it truly is a puzzle and a paradox of sorts: [the one free act of Lady Fate within Time]. I came away from this story with much to think about and a deep appreciation for how well Dwimordene sings the intangible.

Reviewed by: Himring -- Score: 10

This is an amazing portrait of Vaire-as-spider. It seems quite reasonable that a Vala who is a Weaver should naturally assume spider form rather than a human one (although there is, as it turns out, another reason why Dwimordene attributes spider form to Vaire and her helpers), especially when that Vala is not communicating with any of the Children--and Vaire in this piece is very much self-isolated from the Children. She cannot afford to communicate with them, although at the same time she is very intimately involved with their fates. Dwimordene has integrated early theories of Levinas's with the cosmogony of the Ainulindale, and it works surprisingly well as a fictional portrait, especially because she manages to maintain such empathy with Vaire in her non-human form. The function of Vaire's weaving, according to Dwimordene, is not merely to record, but to accept the present and, by doing so, tie the fluidity and possibilities of the future down into the unchangeable past, knot by knot. Accepting the present is hard; it forbids Vaire any personal preferences or wishes and requires self-abnegation and even a form of self-mutilation: Vaire blinds herself to what she does in order not to disturb the process of being and becoming. The consequences of not doing so are destruction and nothingness: the story implies a very interesting theory about the origin of Ungoliant and the nature of her fall. In contrast to Vaire, Ungoliant, who was apparently a favourite Maiarin handmaid of Vaire's, was unable to accept what is, and her bottomless greed and desire to feed everything into nothing are the consequences of that failure. Vaire is atoning for Ungoliant's fall as well as fulfilling her task--it is the only personal desire she still allows herself. Not for the arachnophobic, obviously, but if you like a bit of philosophy with your Tolkien, this is a wonderful piece.

Reviewed by: Starlight -- Score: 9

This is one of the most interesting pieces I have read. Dwimordene does a wonderful job of fleshing out the Valar for us (she has several pieces, all of them equally engrossing), in this case Vairë and her function as Weaver of history and the world. I am not a philosopher, so I am sure I am missing a lot of what this story has to offer, but what struck me the most (I am sorry, Dwim, if I am misinterpreting your awesome work!) is the idea that love brings with it some form of sacrifice. Vairë blinds herself, as do her maidens, because seeing for her means that she might be tempted to change, which she dare not do-- from experience, she knows what happens to those who attempt it: not only Ungoliant; she must have thought of Melkor also. Another fascinating notion is the thought of loving what is for its having been, not for what it may yet be, which for a Valië of Vairë's nature makes perfect sense. I'd be interested to see how they all (the Valar) view and understand this concept. I, for one, will probably be pondering about it for a while. Great work, Dwimordene, as always.

Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 6

Dear Dwimordene, I found myself impressed with this ficlet that renders the old theme of weaving history in a new and compelling form. The rhythm of this piece is beautiful and the way words and phrases are brushed against the grain and twisted into new forms – Heideggeresque, one might say – catches the attention and provokes thought. Yes, it is indeed harder to love that which has passed, which is fixed in its shape forever, than the potential which we may yet shape fit to our purposes and desires. And there is a touch of Heisenberg in the notion that looking at the weave might unravel it. I also liked that the physical form of Vairë vaguely resembles the avatar of a Hindu deva, since in many ways the Valar seem akin to Hindu deities. An original and engaging piece which I really enjoyed.

Reviewed by: Altariel -- Score: 3

I don't pretend to understand even the basics of the philosophy underpinning this story, but I'm captivated by the idea of Vairë taking bodily form as a spider. The Weaver accepts the present in order to give substance to the past, and mourns Ungoliant (once a favourite handmaiden) who could not accept things as they are.

Reviewed by: Ellynn -- Score: 1

Such a wonderful, poetic description of Vaire and her work. Well done.