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Reviews For Balar fics
I've read some of your Elwing stories before, but I do not recall reading this one. She is an odd one (was gonna say "odd bird" but that sounds like a terrible pun!). I think you have a very interesting take on her--the effects of her trauma and the resulting strangeness of it. I've also always thought Dior and Luthien were weird too. Probably why I haven't written much about either of them. But you tackle the strangness and do not hold back from wrestling with it and dealing with the difficulty in taking on the not quite human and less relatable aspects of it.
Of course, I love your Gil-galad! He faces her with courage and principles. It's the right thing to do even if it isn't always an easy way to spend one's time.
The references to her "court"--the advisors in denial and lacking much, if any, empathy--always give me the chills! I'm pretty sure they must mean well, but, oh, wow!
Fascinating story. So glad you decided to post it here.
Ooh, somehow I missed this. So sorry, Oshun!
I used to be meticulous about posting things in the right places but somehow that all came apart a few years back and every so often I come across something and realise it's only posted in one other obscure place... I do want all the Balar pieces on here, it's where they belong.
I have no interest in Dior, absolutely zilch, but when Elwing was talking about her family it did make me wonder all sorts of unanswerable questions about how two mortals produced a half-elf and all the rest of it. Still not curious enough to write about him. And Luthien - Luthien is the one Tolkien character I have absolutely nothing to add to. He made her the ultimate Superwoman (makes Wonder Woman look tame) and there she is, kick ass female, took on Sauron, took a silmaril from Morgoth -- the works (it's crystal clear to me that Beren was just the hot arm candy and occasional muscle)
There are other ways I could write Elwing, but for me this is who she is so I stay true to her. Not an easy little person, no - Gil has immense patience with her, but then that's Gil, patient where you'd least expect it. But she has her own logic and to be one of only two such people in the entire world - I can't begin to imagine how that would be, even without all her other issues. As for her courtiers, I'm pretty sure they ran for their lives when Maedhros came calling and never thought to try and protect her. I like to believe they didn't run fast enough!
Thanks very much for the kind words, it means a lot that you find these pieces interesting.
I am almost completely certain I have already given you feedback on this, if I haven't I certainly intended to. The breaking of beleriad was such a huge thing and I love how you caught the horror and sheer wrongness of the event, the callousness behind all those lost lives, lost land, lost histories... It was a horrific event and you captured it so well from that small group of elves that experienced it together.
I don't remember if you commented on this anywhere - I think it's on lj and AO3, or possibly the old Slashy Santa archive, but it is so incredibly cool to get another review for it. I have always loved this fic, had so much pleasure in writing it, but it kind of sits between worlds, too first age for the second and third age readers, too second age for the first age fans and so it's tended to get overlooked. I was smiling so much when I read this. That was the heart of it yes, the lives, whole cultures gone, breeds of animal never seen again, all for an objective that rendered them expendible. Thank you so very much, sweetie!
Loved this, always told you you could write the feanorians! Beautiful story and spot on wording as usual. love how maedhros kind of watches the action from afar, not participating but always aware.
also love the personalities the broken and souldweary Maedhros and the always wonderfully cynical, if controlled emotional here, maglor but you also captures the clash of cultures, the stricter noldori warrior type culture that must have been built up through the centuries and the sindari culture that had developed through both peace and war. (tasteless yule lol but yes feanor would,i think, have loved it)
the struggle of love of different kind is also so deeply woven into this story, the love between brothers that also has become best friends an only trusted allies to eachother, the love of children and the hard choice of what is best for them, beautiful.
(also VODKA ROTFL)
I remember when I wrote this how I wished you were around to share it with because, well, Vodka yes. I still have a copy of that chat filed away somewhere, lol.
Maglor I'm comfortable writing -- I don't try and force him to show up, but if he does I enjoy his company, but Maedhros was a whole new experience. What I pictured was a great prince reduced to being a guerilla leader who had lost most of his men but wasn't able to pack up and go home and say 'I tried.' Just going on down that road and knowing the end won't be good. And after all they've been through, the brothers would have been tight-bound together, they've seen the highs and they've seen things no one should have to remember.
The different kinds of love, and the way the boys were Maglor's final balance were what I focused on, and how Maedhros could make the hard choices - that's what a leader does, all the time - but in the end it was Maglor who had to choose.
Feanor would have been deeply amused by it all, yes.
(owe you an email, getting there!)
Yes, that sounds like Gil-galad. And what a daunting task he has ahead of him. Sometimes it is best not to know the future.
It was ages ago but I still remember how much I loved writing this (it probably needs a good edit, but I don't mess with things that made me happy). He had a huge task ahead yes, and he'd have taken it one step at a time, done the things he needed to do as he found them.
Great story- popped up on the random story. Love his pragmatic acceptance.
Hey Ziggy. One of my older ones about him, written with a lot of love. I'm glad you liked it, thanks for telling me :)
I really like the interactions between Gil-galad and Elwing.
He's the one person I think could really understand her life, just by contrasting it to his own. I'm so happy you liked this.
I like your description of Gil-galad's financial problems due to having to run a war band, as well as his being imaginative when it came to giving gifts. That fits the time: they didn't have a lot of resources of any kind.
I suppose there were treasures brought to 'safety' after Fingon's death and later they'd have salvaged what they could when they were pushed back from the costal cities, but Gil-galad must have been permanently short of funds. I like thinking about stuff like that, always great when someone else also finds it interesting.
Nice to see day to day life in Balar.
Thanks :) They're always a lot of fun to write.
A new perspective on the arrival of Eärendil and Elwing in Valinor! I really appreciated seeing this through Idril's eyes -- all the details of how she and Tuor do not quite fit in. Loved the women's gossip, particularly about Tuor and how she delighted in tweaking their noses. Idril's anxiety about what the Valar will do is quite understandable. I wonder what her reaction would be to her son's ultimate fate.
"Eärendil came bearing our law daughter’s dower - in other words he has something they want.” This intrigued me -- the idea that the Valar wanted the Silmaril and that weighed in with their decision.
Beautifully written, as always.
Thank you so much, reading your review made me really happy.
I guess the thought was there before, but it was only when I started writing this that I wondered why Earendil? Tuor and Idril between them represented elves and men, plus she was royal with family to speak for her there, and yet they were lucky to escape with their lives (I choose to believe the possibility at the end of their section in the Silm that they survived and Tuor became an elf). The differences were Earendil had the blood of both kindred PLUS he was wearing the shiny the Valar had tried to get Feanor to hand over all those years ago. It seemed very Valar-ish somehow!
I found that I love writing Idril. She's such a well-rounded person, plus she and Tuor were 'the ones who got away', possibly the only really happy couple in the Silm! I love that about them. Someone had to beat the odds.
I love it! More later.
Thank you :)
Another jewel of a story- glimpses into the past, a scene of domesticity and then a moment of absolute drama and foreboding. Love this distant mention of Maedhros- so sad, just before everything changes and is lost.
Aww, it's lovely to find reviews for you over here too!! Thank you, I'm glad this appealed. It started as a little domestic scene, just the majority of my 'Balar people' sitting in the kitchen chatting but I get restless when there isn't a point somewhere so then there was the market and then I thought 'why not tie it up to Brothers?...' and so, yes, Elwing's twins came home. I don't know if you've read Brothers, it's the previous piece where Maedhros takes the decision to send the boys to comparative safety on Balar.
Slice of life Silmfic is one of my favourite things ever, because I love reading more about the every day lives of First Age peoples in a way that the Silmarillion never gets into--and you do it so well! I love everything about this--Erestor & Gildor's discussion about swans (hah), the easy banter, your very evocative descriptions on Market Day, and of course the mysterious arrival of Elrond & Elros with the two Edain.
Those days after the Sirion attack always seemed very precarious to me, given that Morgoth had almost completely overrun Beleriand, and I like how you acknowledge that. Or perhaps the darkness everyone's alluding is the upcoming war that'll end up destroying the entire region? Both? Hopefully I've not misread this too badly, but I just appreciate the foreshadowing in context of everything else happening in this story.
I'm glad you enjoyed this, thank you for the lovely review. I really like writing these people, this time and place. It's an awkward little corner, not quite First Age anymore but not Second Age either, even if most of the characters are, but there's so much story in it. Plus I love just being able to listen to them talk, and it's really special when someone else enjoys the setting and the banter too. Thank you :)
Dark days indeed, yes, with the elven survivors holding onto the island and just a tiny corner of the mainland and Morgoth's forces killing and destroying almost at will. And by that stage there would have been a sense of something bigger about to happen, which Maedhros understood. So no, you read it just right :D
Oh, this is wonderful! I love this version of their story as you write it here. What a delight. I particularly appreciate it because I love the stories you have written which included Elwing and Gil-galad.
Great lines here:
“He said it was time for us to go back where we belonged,” one of the boys said softly in careful Sindarin. They had been standing to one side, almost forgotten while the men and Gil talked. “He said darkness was coming, and this was the safest place remaining.”
Thank you so much! I had a note from years ago about Maedhros being the one to see they got back to their family, it was just waiting for the right story to happen. Reading over this reminded me how very much I enjoyed writing it and anything else in that setting. They make up their own dialogue, i just have to type it out. It makes me really happy that you liked it.
Reading over it now also meant I got to fix a few of the more obvious typos *blush*. Scary what you find when you come back to something after a while.
The story of Earendil and Elwing has always been one of the least satisfactory of Tolkien's stories to me, mostly because I find the idea of being destined to serve a greater purpose by basically abandoning your family nauseating at best, and having constantly observed its function in real life, I've only ever found that it is an idea that has destroyed much more than it has ever saved or created.
That being said, your story does much to illumine a character who's motivations always seemed strange to me, if for no other reason than she is not that sharply drawn by Tokien to begin with. More than that it is beautifully written, and the personality you've given Elwing here is very sympathetic and understandable. It's hard to tell whether she is really the master of her own desires, even from her own perspective, and that might be the underlying tradgedy of it all, especially since what is considered her bravest and possibly most necessary action could also be considered her most selfish and irresponisble.
On top of all of that, you once again build everything with little details, such as Elwing counting the stairs in the tower, and you always seem to know which details to convey to paint your literary picture. Well done, yet again.
I think Tolkien wrote Elwing and Earendil more as ciphers rather than going into who they were, what might be driving them - I get so frustrated when he does this. I used to find Earendil easier to understand - the darkness had them hemmed into one small corner of middle-earth and somehow someone had to get help from the west, but it was only after I saw a drabble pulling Elwing apart as a cold, uncaring mother that I started to think about her seriously. I wrote a few pieces set when she was very young -- fey, traumatised, and used as a figurehead by the remnant of her people - and this entire complex young girl was suddenly 'there' for me. I'm glad you found the story interesting and enjoyed reading it, and your kind words are very much appreciated. Thank you so much :)
Cutting and pasting this comment, slightly edited, from the first time I read it a short while ago--perhaps I am sharing with a few new readers here.
This is amazing. I once thought that nobody could ever make me like Elwing (never mind me and my thing about parents' responsibility to care for their children trumping all other concerns!). Well, a few years back you changed my mind about her by showing her as the fragile, damaged, and managed beggar child queen, sheltered and treated with reverence, but still safeguarded for her heritage than ever truly cherished for herself alone. With this story, you've extended my view of her further once again!
I still want to read it more thoughtfully. It is beautifully done. That ending literally caused me to gasp aloud!
This time though, unlike the others, she had a voice, a vessel to work through, for in this fragile child with the strain of Maian blood resided power barely dreamed of by other elves.
She is still being used here! But I somehow I found Vairë the Weaver attractive and not at all repellent, despite the way she utilizes Elwing.
For a moment she looked down at Elwing, concern vying with satisfaction across her sweet face. Small of stature was the Weaver, with nut-brown hair and bright, hazel eyes, but something in those eyes belied her gentle looks and hinted at a will of steel.
There is so much to love about this story. I particularly like Elwing's glimpse Elrond--the entire experience is so beautiful, poignant, despite ultimately being so painful for her.
He turned his head suddenly and seemed to look directly at her, small lines crinkling his forehead above the long elegant nose that was so like her father’s. She stared at him, willed him to see across the distance, to go to where Círdan stood and look into the other stone, but it was no use. He gave his head a brief shake and turned back to the conversation, but there was an unease that showed in the way he was seated now, which she knew almost as though she had watched him grow up after all.
“I love you,” she whispered into the nothingness that lay between them.
Eeps! I cannot say that stories often make me cry--but these few lines did.
I want to think about it more. Congrats on a wonderful, wonderful story. That must have taken a lot out of you!
Thank you for reposting this wonderful review here. As I've said elsewhere, the fact that you saw another side to her after reading this means a great deal to me. I can't write her often. I have such a strong sense of her that I could get a bit lost if I did a long story, so instead I seem to be writing her life in small pieces.
Like a stalker I have tracked you down from esteliel so I can read more without waiting(I have no abilty to derfer gratification and am always astonished at people who ration the,selves in any sense). This delicate and beautifully told story does not disappoint; it is poignant without being sentimental, and moving and tender. I love the context with the thunder and banging and their speculation over what is happening. Your writing is superb - you show what is happening rather than tell and that is such a skill. Masterful story telling.
Why, hello there *g*.
The bit about showing instead of telling -- thank you SO MUCH, I always worry about whether I'm getting that right.
I wasn't sure I could write this, I'd never had much to do with Maedhros before, but it was a Yule swap request and I knew the recipient would like them so I tried and really enjoyed writing it - loved their voices and it was around the same period as Night the Sea Came In so I could build on my idea of what was happening to the world then. It was a challenge that turned into something I felt good about, and that makes me especially happy when someone likes it. Thank you very much for making me smile :)
(Oops, almost forgot -- when you're ready, I've started posting the sequel to Burning Bright over on AO3....)
<i>“He might have been entertained by the sheer overdone tastelessness of a Sindarin Yule. Who knows?”</i>
OMG! You killed me here! That may have been an invented argument on his part, but it really captures something about Feanor for me.
I really love this paragraph also:
<i>A dog barked. Maglor had a glimpse of someone crossing between trees, one of the guard that had been set. An owl called, a hunting cry. From inside he heard a great gust of laughter and wondered distantly what that had been about. And then he looked back and Maedhros’s tall, dark form was still there, the hair tucked under the edge of his cloak, his eyes strangely peaceful. </i>
Just makes me so happy that you thought well of this, Oshun. Thank you. I was very aware of once again inching out of my personal comfort zone and a owe Himring thanks for raising a few questions I hadn't even realised I needed answers to *g*. Feanor though - I'm often reminded of a movie I once saw about Picaso... larger than life personality, vast talent, utterly selfish, loudly flinging himself into 'quaint' local customs. Feanor would eat up a loud, tasteless Yule celebration, methinks.
I have never thought much about the effect on the coast of Beleriand- the description of the storm was really fantastically done- I was there, under the table, unable to see but only hear and feel the effect. A real masterclass.
I had a great time writing this, trying to imagine how it would have seemed from the pov of elves on the very edge of the main action. I'd also never thought about the effect of drowning that huge landmass - never even realised how much went under the waves till I came across a map while I was researching for the story. I'm delighted you enjoyed it and that the descriptions worked for you - that's a great compliment. Thank you so much for making time to review.
You have really got me thinking now- just started reading Gil-Galad fics- and you are what has got me doing that. I wa slooking for Glorfindel first, read a few short pieces- yours are certainly among the best and most thoughtful- then this. Really really intersting- and of course Maedhros and Maglor are still out there somewhere. Wonderful use of a family Yule= your Galadriel is drawing me in too and I have never found her particualry appealing. She is wonderful, true to canon and fascinating!
I love Galadriel the way she appears in the Silm - ambitous, curious, ready for adventure - and writing her is always good. Gil-galad though is 'my elf'. That happened by chance - I had him as a character in a swap fic years ago, later expanded that little fic into Even Quicker than Doubt, and he's still the person I most like writing about. I'm --- trying to find the word here - utterly, uttterly thrilled that you liked this story and that it got you looking for more Gil (also thank you so much for the compliment on the Glorfindel stories, I really appreciate that)
Oh wow on several levels:
- The scheming.... of Galadriel and Gil both.
And they had the audacity to worry/ blame the remnants of Doriath of being "with political ambitions... not necessarily in her charge’s best interests"?
- Gil's perceptiveness all over the various scenes, starting from observing Elwing, all the way to understanding Galadriel, who is shown here in all her "glory" manipulativeness.
- His compassion as well as his shrewdness.
- The humorous tone that accompanied the "heroes" thoughts, mainly that of Gil.
At the end of the day, it seems that Círdan was right to consider Gil as a Noldo, even with his Sindar upbringing and mother....
This is a well done "how it may have happened" filler story. How Elwing and Eärendil found their way to one another.
Gil's last thought could be interpreted as premonition, or maybe just an author's hint of a sequel....
Gil is pure Noldor where it counts, yes. I think there must have been days when Cirdan felt a little disappointment *g*. Earendil and Elwing - it just seems too neat and tidy to have been a chance love match. I mean, the only two royal children in Sirion who also happen to be the only half-elven children - I don't think people could have resisted pushing them together to see what happened. And it would be a Noldor thing to consider Elwing's Silmaril in the equation. The more I write about that poor child, the more angry I get on her behalf. Though the uncharitable thughts about the surviving nobles from Doriath were fair enough - neither in this piece nor in the previous one, Season of Hope, has anyone over there seemed to be looking out for her either.
And Galadriel is Galadriel. She can't really stop herself *g*. Someone on MPTT thought for a bit that she was hinting Gil should offer for Elwing himself, which is a stunning bunny I refuse to go near.... I can so see her doing it.
There's probably a sequel, yes :( I keep going back here. Red keeps saying there's a long story if I'd just sit down and write the thing. I rather like just going back now and again because writing anything set during Gil's days on Balar is kind of a guilty pleasure.
Thank you so much, Scarlet *hugs*
Wonderfully written, I love it.
Hi Ellynn :) Thanks so much for the kind words, I'm happy you like it.
My first note is of the impression of Melian, as you describe her, from Artanis' pov. Not at all the Melian I always saw in my mind before.
I had some resentment to Melian's "probe", which felt more like an intrusion: "Finrod jerked, startled, but Artanis kept still, permitting rather than fighting the invasion. She had walked in forests with Yavanna and recognised strength beyond her ability to resist."
Wasn't such unauthorized act a sign of the dark one? I think I read something about that somewhere. Not sure.
Melian looked up at him, her face warming into an adoring smile. "The Night Walkers cannot come where we are, my King," she said confidently. "We have no need of the Lights. Let them do what they will, Doriath is safe. I have said it, and it is so."
If there's one thing I'm sure about after this "adoring little smile", is that I do NOT want any of the Ainur closer then the way Gandalef was permitted by the rulers of the Elven realms on the 3rd age.... *shivering in fear*
I can see how this Mealian can be the same one as decribed in "Secret Garden". Not a fairytale princess at all.
As for the rest of the story, it is a very emotional touching one. I came to love Galadriel (can you imagine), depicted as she is here. I loved the relations you created between her and Celeborn, the history of the 1st age, as viewed via their eyes.
Thank you for another wonderful tale.
I keep resetting it, but SWG still doesn’t give me review notifications 8 times out of 10. I’m so sorry Scarlet, I almost missed this great review.
I wasn’t sure how to write Melian, but she struck me as kind of ‘wild Maia’, a rebel and outsider amongst her own kind and also VERY different from the elves. She is their queen, but also an alien being with her own agenda and priorities. I’ve always hated how she just walked off and left them after Thingol died, as though they held no further interest for her now he was gone. It didn’t take long from there to get the fey, strange person I see when I think of her *g* ---- and it passed from her to Luthien, a whole other story of unusual decisions, LOL. I’m glad her behaviour in Secret Garden made more sense after reading this – I should really have added a note at the end about the connection, I think.
I wrote this with a vague outline and a map at the top of the page (first time I’d ever done that) Each time I hit something I’d never tried before I just kept going and got this really good feeling when it worked. Never forgotten that, it made writing this very special. It gave me a softer view of Galadriel than I got in Doubt, too – more vulnerable – and cemented her as someone I will always like writing.
I’m so happy you liked the story in its own right, Scarlet. Thank you *hugs*
So good to see this posted here so that I can now tell you "officially" how much I like it. It's so much characterized by the more low-key heroics of survival--if that way of putting it makes sense? But of course the danger is anything but low-key and impressively described! And it is very much an ensemble piece--everyone working together to survive and getting their share of loving attention from you.
I also like how you've expanded the end with a bit more detail of the later life in Lindon--it feels very satisfying!
Ooh, you originally saw it before I posted the end piece? :D I had it outlined but needed sleep before fleshing it out. (I posted as Red revealed the stories, I really was that close to the deadline, lol)
*low key heroics of survival* Yes, that's it precisely. People in a dire situation doing their best. I knew it should be a 'couple' story and had I not known the recipient well I might have tried to keep the Gil/Lindir relationship more centre stage, but it would have felt artificial, so it was a relief to just write it as I saw it. I'm so glad you liked the end result, that means a lot to me. Thank you :)
I have been meaning to comment for a good long while on The Night the Sea Came In. Oshun called my attention to it around the Slashy Santa reveal, as she thought I'd like the story. She was right. I devoured it. Characters are well-drawn per your exacting standards, and the storm and the sea? Holy moly. Brilliantly done!
I'm thrilled you enjoyed this, Pande. Thank you so much for such a positive review, it quite made my day. Loved writing this and I'd like to try a prequel later, I suspect Maedhros might have a better idea of what was happening in the north than they did on Balar.
Oh Kei, I do not know where to start to express how much this piece moved me. First I have to get past the feeling ‘I want to write like this, painting a scene with such vivid words and yet at the same time drawing the reader in like that.' Feel free to smack me ;)
What a vignette, you showed us this safe haven through the eyes of Gil-galad and made me feel inside the emotions he felt when he listened to Elwing's words. But this tale is not only about description, nor about emotions... it is a character sketch of the woman to be named Elwing and how she grew up as almost otherworldly, making that immese difficult decision when the third kinslaying happened. I think many of us debated how a mother could have done such a thing, but with this piece alone I can see why. I can understand why she (now that I come to think of it) being partially a maiar, was able to fly as a bird away from carnage.
Then there is of course the mingling of cultures, so beautifully delivered and the dangers when one person can undo it by isolating such a young child with such tales. It makes me nearly wonder why Rueth would treat a child that way, to keep the trauma alive by chastising her so.
The storytelling at itself is a gem: tight, yet warm and moving, quiet and yet lush with descriptions but not overly so. Perfectly balanced, a story worth of a silmaril (but don't let those Fëanorians know I said so ;) ). I am most definitely adding this one to my favourites! Thank you!
Aww, you picked one of my personal favourite, darling --- and this is the kind of review you read and read again and then just sit smiling at. Thank you so much, I’m happy the story touched you, especially young Elwing. (and of course, I always love writing about Gil)
I also found it hard to understand how a mother could desert her children for the sake of an artefact, no matter how beautiful, but when I was writing Doubt I started to see how that could have happened, how a terrified young woman who had experienced massive trauma as a child might react when faced with the same people who had killed her parents and left her brothers to starve to death. Even someone emotionally well balanced would have been terrified. What I hadn’t seen was the effect the Kinslaying might have had on her as a child, I needed Gil to show me that, also with a little inspiration from the fey little child-queen Uli once wrote about, an image that never left me.
Rueth – I wanted to smack her, lol. A selfish woman, ambitious for her own position, doing immense damage in her efforts to keep Elwing dependent upon her. I’m sure her influence was reduced after this, but the damage had already been done.