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Comments For Dogfight
This is a most interesting look at Luthien. I don't think there are many stories about her that address the extent to which her loyalty to Beren entailed a betrayal of Thingol and Doriath. Of course, that has partly to do with the way her decisions are presented in canon: her role as princess of Doriath seems to be described in such aesthetic terms.
One can see where Lady Thu is coming from in her views, certainly. And yet, despite the parallels, the divide remains great between the two.
(Deleted and re-posted to correct typo--sorry!)
Pandë just clued me in that you write a female Sauron, and I had to come read! This is fabulous. Mairen and Luthien are both so real here, with their motives and insecurities and struggles. Will we see more Mairen in the future? :D
My MEFA 2011 review:
This is the Luthien that Tolkien did not write, the real woman as opposed to the beautiful enchantress with magic long hair. The Luthien in Dogfight is resolute, and ruthless in her determination. I followed, fascinated, the debate between the two foes, and admired the way in which their parallel choices were pointed out during their conversation. Luthien's quest was stripped of its glory and brought down to the reality of its consequences in success or failure, without room for romantic embellishments. At the same time we discover how Mairen may not have found what she wanted when she joined Melkor full of ideals and believing she could set her limits. Amazingly, changing Sauron into a woman did not feel strange at all, if anything, there was a sort of mutual respect between the two adversaries born of their common understanding of their dreams and ambitions that was not there in the original. Maire's empathy, even in defeat, made her far more credible than a snarling, bitchy enemy would have been. I liked and felt sorry for both characters, actually. After all, both women were fighting for what made them feel alive, away from the established norm, even when they feared what they would find was not what they had sought in the first place.
I thoroughly enjoyed this fic, gritty and insightful.
Oh oh I adored this! Your Mairen and Luthien both make compelling characters, which for me doesn't often happen for the latter. I especially loved how even Luthien's assumption about female strenght and power was in fact a limitation. Whereas she can imagine a man as both powerful and cruel, a women suddenly has to have limits, even if they were supposedly positive ones.
And the Tam Linn reference! Perfect.
This is a fabulous story. Beautifully imagined and executed. I ran off copy and revise my review from here for the MEFAs and found that I had never written one. I do not know what is happening to me, some creeping senility, or what? I know I appreciated this and I do try to review stories I like, not always, but most of the time.
Anyway, my apologies. You picked a method of telling a story which is really, really difficult to pull off. Sometimes I think fanfiction writers are incredibly valorous in that way. They also often fall on their face--you did not. You chose an iconic scene from canon and re-wrote it from a totally different perspective, jumbling up the characterizations and the relationships in a most fascinating manner and convincing the reader of their absolute validity in the new context. Sauron as a woman in process and still not hardened into who she will become is unexpectedly poignant. The belief that she could somehow collaborate with Melkor and remain entirely herself was wrong and we see her first realization of that. It's painful and, surprisingly to this reader, not entirely unsympathetic. He interaction with Lúthien is mesmerizing and shows both a weird intimacy based upon the fact that there are more similarities between the two than one could easily have imagined, but you make them seem transparent. Lúthien is usually dull as dirt or annoying to me, I have loved only a couple version of her, Moreth Musing's take-charge Lúthien jumps to my mind and now you have given us yours. (It was not my conscious intent, but I wrote a Lúthien story this year and it probably owes something to yours--some little bit--mine is a nothing little vignette, but I probably would not have even considered writing her before at all--what is it people say about the truest form of flattery? Mine is not even like yours, but you enabled me to re-imagine her.)
I have to say the title is out of this world fabulous.
Thanks so much for sharing this story with us. Look forward to more of your Dark Lady in the future.
I've meant to acknowledge this forever and a day, so let's not talk about forgetfulness. I may win that contest hands down. My mind is a sieve.
Though this is long in coming, it is no less sincere for it. Thank you very much for a far, far too kind review. The story, with its step to the left, was very fun to write and Luthien fun to imagine (as Sauron was fun to re-imagine).
Oh, wow. I scarsely have the words to tell you how fantastic this is. Every time I thought you'd hit the mark, you went further. I love the parallels you draw between them, how Mairen helps her for her own reasons, the strength of Lúthien's character (and stubbornness), pretty much everything about it.
I can't believe how long I waited to read and review this. It's wonderful.
Thanks very much for your kind review. I'm delighted that you enjoyed the story.
I will review on here, being more of an archive reviewer :) and say again, how much I like everything about this. Mairen's insights on how she believed she could join Melkor to a degree, or choose her path, and how she was stripped of that notion actually made me feel pity. Her conversation with Lúthien, coming to a strange intimacy, truly showed the similarities between the two. And by the way, I like your Lúthien (as I like Moreth's) as a depiction of her character.
I hope we see much more Dark Lady soon.
I'm delighted that you enjoyed this story and thrilled that you'd mentioned two aspects I'd wanted very much to convey. I've always found Sauron to be a character who lurked on the edges of the story -- the nightmarish villain who moves the action forward but for whose choices and motivations we receive only tantalizing hints. As a writer of fanfic, he's a fascinating character. Tolkien provides enough hints as to his past and motivations that he becomes far more complicated than he initially appears and yet there's room for considerable development of that past and those motives. In this instance, I'd wanted to highlight the degree to which Sauron might have entered the service of Melkor with a rather different understanding of his role and options and/or how he (in the case of Mairen, she) might have had a few second and third thoughts as the implications of her choice became more clear. Tolkien's Sauron has always struck me as a revolutionary -- one who followed Melkor because he had a different -- perhaps an idealized vision -- for how the world ought to be and one who justified to himself, if not to the Valar, his decision to remain in Middle Earth as a beneficent one.
Though I think Sauron might justify the choices he made in Melkor's service and later as ones necessary to achieve a certain ideal, I doubt he'd ever be entirely sanguine about them. He's far too complicated a character. I'd also found the interaction between Luthien and Sauron to be described rather briefly in the Silmarillion (JRRT had quite a lot of ground to cover after all.) and I'd wondered what the conversation might be like between two very powerful, very intelligent and very complicated characters. I've always found Luthien to be a rather more complex figure than many heroines of chivalric romance.