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Reviews For Lessons from the Mountain
Oh, that last line hit me hard. Right now, I'm finding it so hard to remember the good things about a relationship of mine that recently came to end. It's amazing how when our relationships deteriorate, the bad experiences and hurt can color our perception until we can't remember any of the good that came out of them. If I find anything at all that is comforting in your story, it is the knowledge that we can find those points of light in our darkest hours if we really try. (Of course, it doesn't hurt to have someone whom you love and who loves you helping you along the way, either.)
Thank you! I've tried to keep the overall tone of the story hopeful and focused on healing and mending. But...the hurts are real, and shouldn't be glossed over. I guess...I guess it helps that I'm an ocean and a continent away from my own family right now, so I miss them and remember the good stuff more often.
I'm sorry about what you're going through right now, and I hope you find someone to help you find those bright points.
Great! I wouldn't have dared to hope you'd manage to update the story from Ethiopia!
That's an interesting constellation--Elured and Elurin and Feanor!
Hehe, one of the fun things about Mandos is that...literally everyone passes through there. There's really no reason not to have the unlikeliest people meet up with each other.
I didn't think I'd manage to work on the story here, let alone update it, but, well...I'm glad I could! Now, to keep working on it, before my readers trundle off to the Halls of Mandos...or I do.
So not one chapter left after all, eh? =-p Actually, if you had decided to end it here, though I may still have been left wanting more, the fact that Maedhros could even sit down and talk to Feanor would have been a fitting conclusion.
That being said, I would like to express my undying encouragement to you to continue this story until the end--not to pressure you, but to let you know that your work is worth a great deal, in my opinion.
Ah, yes, my 'plot', if there is one in this story, caught up with me, so there's a bit more left than I thought to deal with. The next chapter will likely be quite strange, and I have to figure out how to handle the ending I have in mind. While it is true that Maedhros and Fëanor are on speaking terms...it's not likely that Fëanor is going to take everything his son says *quite* so docilely. He insisted this snapshot of him is too limited ;).
I certainly appreciate your encouragement, and apologize profusely for making my readers exercise the patience of the elves. In fact, I have a few moments right now and I will try to work on this....
The long new chapter was worth the wait, though. :) I'm happy to see this story continue.
I haven't seen the previous chapters in a long time, but I glanced at the previous one a bit before reading the new one, to refresh my memory of the plotline, and the missing hand thing caught my eye. In one of the Curufin encounters, it says something along the vein of 'If we weren't dead, Nelyo would be missing his right hand, and not his left one', but in the new chapter, he is missing his right hand. ... Or have I missed something? ;) I'm confused now about this left hand matter, please explain?
Worth the wait? No, you flatter me too much; I know it was too long to leave this as I did.
Did I mix up the hands? I'll go check it. Yes, in life, Maedhros had his right hand cut off (of course). In the Halls of Mandos in my story, his fea starts out with both, but then he loses the left one. So, he should be a one-handed *right-handed* elf now. The only place I remember mentioning it here is when he channels Beren and shows the missing hand as proof he holds a silmaril...but there it says it is the stump of his left arm, so that is correct.
Thank you soooo much for still being willing to read this story! I really appreciate all the thoughtful reviews you have left me.
I am so glad to see an update to this story!
And your portrayal of Feanaro is impressive!
Thank you very much for your vote of confidence! I hope not to make everyone wait so long for the final chapters.
awwww, is there no more???
Please let there be more. I love this, i really do :)
Please update soon !
Thank you for your encouragement. I apologize for leaving this neglected for so long. Yes, there is more. I've just updated, and there will likely be two more chapters to finish things off (or perhaps one chapter and an epilogue, depending.) The final chapter remains unwritten.
It is very irksome to see that it is over two years since you last updated this story. And with only one chapter left according to your summary. For someone who has only stumbled upon this story recently, I must say that this cannot be borne! This story is too good to go on without and ending for that long.
I've always loved Silmfics set in Mandos because of the amount of creativity and reflection they pull from their authors, and this one is no different. In fact, it's one of the best. Please, please finish this story soon.
You're right, it's rather embarrassing I've abandoned this story for so long. I want to do something about that, so hopefully this summer and fall I can get back into it and make some progress. I think part of the problem was that this tale is *all* character exploration/development and very little plot...but the ending has to wrap up what plot I do have. I know what I want that to look like, but making it happen is a bit problematic. That...and Feanor. I wrote the chapter with him in it, and hated it. Enough time has gone by that I can go back and take a more dispassionate look at it and do whatever editing is needed. I hope. Then I have to finish writing the final chapter, and decide if it needs an epilogue or yet *another* chapter to bring everything to its final conclusion. For 'Tis the Season of Writing Dangerously,' I've pledged to finish this, so hopefully this story will be wrapped up before 2012. *deep breath* Hopefully.
A great piece! But I wish you used the Quenya form of the names instead of the Sindarin one... It seemed odd here somehow...
The last sentence was amusing somehow. I can't really explain it, but it's... just like that. So the "mountain" here meant Thangorodrim? I thought it was Himring but then I corrected it myself and became lost to what actually the "mountain" refered here was... LOL
My hair stood on end when reading many parts of this chapter. You did quite well with the atmosphere! :) You described Maedhros' emotions and thoughts pretty well too. I just wonder what about the puddle of water on the floor... I thought, with the pristine condition of the rest of the room (mmm, I would not call it a cell :P), there should not be a puddle of water there - like what we could find in a cave... Your description that the floor was constructed from stones of various colours took me off guard too.
The Lord of Mandos was quite in character here. He was not all stony and forbidding, but he was not gay like Tulkas or Nessa or even his brothers. I love his dialogues here, and his interactions with Maedhros (although you managed to unnerve me too by the latter LOL). Great job! I will read-review the next chapter when I am back to this site again. :)
Ahh, yes....to Quenya or not to Quenya? I must admit that I struggled with that choice throughout this story. The first fanfic that I read which used the Quenya names for the characters I found bewildering, and the last thing I want to do is completely confuse the issue of who the story is even about. But...Tolkien went to so much effort to establish when and where certain languages were used, that I don't want to just mash them up, either. My beta is more into language than I am, so I should probably ask for more of his input on this question.
As far as this intro chapter goes, though.... No names (and thus, no elvish) is used prior to Mandos speaking. And it seemed natural to me that in this formal context, he would address Maedhros in Quenya, using the name he'd been given as a child. Quenya is, after all, Maedhros' first tongue. 'Feanor' was only given that name posthumously; he was Feanaro for as long as he lived.
But Maedhros has been living in Middle Earth, among other elves and men, for hundreds of years, where the common language is Sindarin. He may very well have continued to use Quenya in private, but publically, everything was Sindarin. He was Maedhros, not Maitimo/Nelyafinwe/Russandol/etc. So, I ended up deciding that he'd think of himself as Maedhros, as much for the ease of the reader as for the historical reality. But when Namo speaks to him, it would be natural for them to converse in Quenya, not Sindarin. If he converses with someone from Middle Earth, though, again....Sindarin. I suspect I have not been as consistent with this as I would like, but there are my thoughts on the matter, anyway.
Yes, that last line was meant to be amusing. My story is rather dark/heavy/angsty, but I've sprinkled a bit of this understated humor throughout, because even death and judgement can have its petty annoyances. Yep, the 'mountain' here (and in the title) is Thangorodrim, even though Himring is clearly the most important mountain in Maedhros' life. From the standpoint of the Halls of Mandos, the isolated experience on Thangorodrim may have been more significant. Maedhros changed there.
I am glad to hear the atmosphere was sufficiently creepy! My goal with the Halls of Mandos is to keep them a bit mysterious and other worldly. Maedhros (and the reader) can get a bit comfortable and acheive a certain degree of familiarity there, but it's never going to be...cozy. You're right, it's not a cell. But Maedhros views the place as a prison, and so... The Lord of Mandos may continue to be unnerving, but he will also become a bit more personable.
Thank you so much for reviewing, wind rider! I have been meaning to finish up this story, but I was completely dissatisfied with the last two chapters I wrote and will probably be starting over from scratch. It's unfortunate, but I blame Feanor and a corrupt jump drive. So, it will not be continued/finished any time soon, but I *will* finish it. Really. There are about 2 chapters and an epilogue left, if it goes as planned.
I am finally able to pick off where I left off on this story (spurred, I'll admit, by the fact that there's only a little over a month left to review in the MEFAs, and I wanted to be sure to get a review in on this one!) Two things jumped out at me in this chapter that I thought were really compelling and somehow made sense of the characters in new ways for me. I want to mention them here since I won't be able to mention everything that I like about this story in this MEFA review unless I want the review itself to be eligible for the Longer Works category! :) The first was Namo's remark, "I do accept it, for I consider it my duty. For this reason did I enter into Arda," regarding his spiritual guidance of Nelyo. Namo is one of the most fascinating characters to me. I can ponder him endlessly, and what it must be like to live with his "gifts," and I have come to the conclusion that he is rather cold and distant, and he sometimes seems rather dark as a result. But ... you are right that he did choose to enter Arda, and the reason that you give provides a deeper dimension beyond being dark or even unfathomable: That his dominion over death comes not because he is unsympathetic (or even cruel) enough to withstand such work but because it gives him the ability to influence what is the weightiest decision in an Elf's existence, in choosing the path of his afterlife. I thought this was a simply brilliant observation, one that changes the character of Namo for me within this story and, quite likely, without as well.
Secondly is the remark about Curufin and kingships: that if Nelyo had not given up the High Kingship of the Noldor, his brothers would have been able to assume lesser kingships, and Curufin would not have craved the crown of Nargothrond. Your vision is very different from my own, but with seven brothers, I don't think there will ever be an author that sees the dynamics between them the same, and I thought this was a really clever analysis of Curufin's motivations and how they tie back through Noldorin history ... and how Nelyo's own actions, then, shaped the fate of Nargothrond as well.
Also, I have to say that I love when Nelyo addresses different walls for different Valar. Having written stories set in Mandos, it is really a challenge, and I really like that you're tackling it head on in this story and doing, I think, a really wonderful job of making it at once tangible and yet also otherworldly enough that I am constantly enticed to want to know more and more about how you see things.
Okay, eagerly moving on ... :)
Hehe, and whose fault is it that this story was nominated for MEFAs in the first place, hmmm? Just teasing, thank you for such a thoughtful review here.
My beta has written extensively about Namo's role in the lives of the deceased, so I must credit him with getting me to think about these things (and for some of my ideas). My characterization of Namo is driven by the assumption that, no matter how dark, how cold and how 'force of nature' he comes across, he is good, and he therefore (deep down) loves the Children of Iluvatar. I do not think someone could be truly good if they did not know love at all. His version of love is, of course, incredibly harsh. He's not a warm and fuzzy Vala, no matter what I do with him. I must admit that I borrowed the phrase, "for this I came into the world" from the gospel of John: it's part of Jesus' response to Pilate. The reason Jesus gives is "to testify to the truth." I could see that reasoning appealing to Namo, and I wanted to give him a role beyond just judge and doomsman that actually approached saving elves from a very real threat. Elves do not have any heaven or hell, so I had to look at what fate could possibly be worse than the Halls of Mandos. Tolkien's comments about wandering houseless spirits make them sound much more miserable, so I went with Mandos being a refuge for these disembodied spirits, not a place where they are punished. And I suppose I have made up the thoughts on the Outer Darkness, but it seemed the only way to truly threaten the seemingly immortal spirits of the elves. But Yavanna is not the only Vala who is interested in the growth of living things.
I cannot please everyone with all 7 of the brothers, that is for sure, but I cannot even please myself all of the time. Curufin is probably the brother that I've written most contrary to expectations. I have to assume that I've read his character a bit differently to start with, but also he is probably a weaker part of this story. The problems I have with him are only compounded with his father, though. I'm glad you like my connect-the-dot history. I love weaving implications together.
Glad you are enticed by Mandos so far; I hope you like what you find in the later chapters! Thanks again for the thoughtful (and highly flattering) review.
I must say the whole final section of this chapter was mastefully done! Definitely one of the best moments in the series. ^ ^ Generally, the whole chapter was very well handled... except for two or three moments that I didn't find very consistent with the nature of the Eldar, such as the skirmish in front of Curufin's cell that didn't make much sense to me, as I should rather expect a 'battle of words', especially where the swift-tongued Noldor are concerned... The leavetaking scene was lovely, though, and it presented one of the best portrayals of Nerdanel I've read- neither weak nor exceptionally strong, and though a loving mother, she keeps some sort of... very Eldarin detachment, I'd say.
Tyelkormo is magnificently written in this chapter! I really love the way his character has evolved by the end of it. He may be 'Strong Finwë' regarding the physical side, but the fragility and even softness I found in his fëa here impressed me deeply (eg. when he resolves to help Curvo, when he faces him, when he meets his mother and learns about her departure... that one was excellently handled, btw, as far as his -and Curufin's, too- character is concerned!) I'd love to see this character line to continue... *closes eyes dreamily*
Moryo is just as nice as always... No, I mean it; I have a weak spot for the character so to say, and I'm always smiling reading your descriptions of him (eg. in the lamp scene here ^ ^ ) - just like I've ever seen him: possessive, grumpy, standing apart... and yet in need of his family, both absorbing and -in his own way- giving affection.
Once again, the last paragraph gave me hope- for Nelyo this time. At last, his brother(s?) seem to look to him as the leader of their House! And his mother confirms his position by asking him, and him only, to look after his father.. *is joyful beyond words* (..though I must confess I keep obstinately clinging to my belief that knowledgeable though the Valar are, it's Eru who ultimately decides all fates, and he may not reveal all his schemes) ;)
Curufin is certainly interestingly handled... Maybe it's a pity more space hasn't been given to his abrupt change of spirit after recognising Tyelkormo... that was IMHO a very believably written dialogue- and unusually, at the same time. His panic fear of his brother (whom he probably saw die, if the lines can be read like that) and his attitude to Tyelkormo were well expressed.
I admit I'd be curious to learn the reason for the 'mindless hate' he suffered from at the beginning... At least to me, it seems to be more complex than just the rejection of death. Also, I wasn't quite sure about the suddenness of the shift to recognition and knowledge after the encounter with Tyelkormo.. It left an impression in me that Curufin actually *might* have recognised the others before and chose not to reveal it, the implication of which I try to fight off... I've always seen Curufin as the most malicious of the brothers, true, but one who stays in the background and whispers his counsels in a rather wormtongue-way, 'prodding his elder brothers into action' (quite a fitting label I've borrowed from -I think- erunyauve). It will be interesting to see your rendering of him in the later chapters... So far, 'Atarinkë' seems to have to go a long way yet to truly resemble his father's purposeful, clever, inquisitive spirit :)
Regarding Curufinwë *senior*, I'm not sure I understood correctly your observation that your portrayal of him would never be what I expect it to be- I believe I've never mentioned how I see him in my reviews so far..?
I'll be looking eagerly forward to the next chapter!
Thank you, Nólemë, for such a lovely review! I am glad to hear that the ending scene worked. I can't usually gauge how, well, 'moving' a scene is when I read what I've written. So it was very encouraging to hear that it came across the way it was intended to. I've determined that I like Nerdanel very much, so I'm thrilled to hear that you like 'my' Nerdanel. As for Fëanor...well, it's not that I don't think I'll write 'your' version of him, so much as I think that no version *I* write can possibly live up to the character. I mean...seriously. That is all I meant when I said he's sure to disappoint. The next chapter is with my beta now, so we'll see how it goes.
The squabble among the brothers was meant to be a light moment, and was perhaps influenced too strongly by how my own brothers resolved their differences as children. I agree with you that bickering would be more in character. I had felt that scene was weak, but I was not sure why; thank you for pointing it out to me.
Curufin and Celegorm were both killed in the same room, where they confronted Dior. We heard their deaths described at the tail end of Maedhros' judgement, though not by name. Caranthir was not with them (in my version of Doriath, I mean). So, yes - Curufin saw Celegorm die, while he never saw (or knew) that any other of his brothers died. His denial of his own death trapped him in a sort of limbo, where he was completely unaware of his surroundings, and trapped in the emotions he felt as he fell in battle - he was perpetually in 'kinslaying' mode, and unable to even recognize his own brothers. But he had some small modicum of interaction with the world around him, so he was responding to stimuli (ie, his attacks). He did not understand a word Maedhros ever said to him, though. The sight of Celegorm (whom he knew to be dead) was enough of a shock to get past some of his heavy barrier of denial. Once he did get past that denial, he became much more himself - he could think and talk again, and move past vengeance, if he chose.
Yes, I don't show what's going on with him very much. Maedhros is not his sole (or even primary) saviour; his brothers have been helping him, so Maedhros misses some of the moments of growth/healing/recovery. Curufin is far from well here, but...at least he's better than he was. We haven't seen the last of him (or Celegorm, or Caranthir...), but I think Curufin's full recovery would be a story in its own right. I do not intend to write it.
Your detailed reviews are very encouraging, and a great gauge for me to figure out how I am doing with each of my character arcs. You let me know when I drop the ball, and when I let them speak for themselves. So, thank you so much!
When Maedhros asked Vairë “Who will judge your life?”... I loved that. I don’t think he needed to be ashamed of questioning such a thing. Obviously, Eru is the only one to whom she needs to answer, but it’s not the same kind of judgment that Maedhros was put through – I just don’t think it’s comparable, so having that as her answer didn’t really satisfy me. She tells him that he cannot save his family, and seems to expect him to just accept that, which is a bit unreasonable, isn’t it? But don’t get me wrong, this was all very canon and in-character and tied in well with the Doom of Mandos (“There long ye shall abide... and find little pity...”) and you wrote it very well. You know me, I’ve always been very defensive of Maedhros – you’ve written him in such a way that I can’t help but care for him.
Curufin, the most charismatic? I never really saw it that way, though I have no doubt it is accurate. And as to Curufin being anywhere near able to take Maedhros in a fight, I find that a bit unlikely, even if it was wrestling and not swordfighting. I might not agree with everything you’ve done, but your Fëanorians certainly are as messed up in death as they were in life; when Maedhros asks “Why is it that the Fëanorionath are so broken?” he definitely has a point. Your reasoning for the various issues you’ve given them (Celegorm’s blindness, Curufin’s... violence...) isn’t clear to me yet, but I suppose I will just have to be patient and wait for later chapters. Thanks for such a lovely chapter, and I hope for more soon.
Thanks for the review, Feta! You are so thoughtful to always write me one...it spoils me :) Don't apologize for defending Maedhros - you're right, he's not *about* to just accept that. And perhaps Vaire doesn't expect him to, but thinks he needs to hear that, just the same.
Hmmm, apparently I see Curufin rather differently than is typical. I'll have to see if later chapters justify my portrayal of him here, or if he needs more work. After all, Tolkien did give us some very good clues as to what type of person he was! I suppose I took it a little more seriously that he was the most like his father, so I see him as having huge force of will and amazing speaking talents (not that he's showing those off, at the moment!) The wrestling is more psychological than physical, so perhaps I should work harder to demonstrate that.
Thank you for giving me this food for thought, and I will work to have a new chapter up soon (I've been travelling a lot recently).
whee, I'm nearly as dismayed as Nelyo, seeing what Curufin has turned into! *shudders* After the pleasant appearances of Tyelkormo and Moryo, this definitely caught me by surprise. I've never been over-fond of Curufin, so I wonder what you will make out of him, meaning his character, once he comes to his senses. I've spent a long time considering why you might want to write him like that- the only logical, plausible solution that came into my mind was that he's still in his kinslaying mood, as that's how he died, and has no idea whom he struggles with. The idea of Curufin knowingly charging at a member of his own family sounds incredible to my mind, for it would contradict everything I've ever read about the Fëanoreans- and that I've made a thorough research ^ ^ The mere fact that he alone among the Fëanárioni had a family, is enough evidence that despite his later slyness and dark deeds, he was capable of love.. I hope Nelyo manages to kindle affection in his heart through the contact of their fëar again *crosses fingers* .. Better that, than allowing his brother to unleash his murderous temper again.
I'm greatly interested in characterisation of the Noldor of the house of Finwë and I'd like to comment briefly on a couple of things, but I'm not sure how much I can pick upon things, being no beta but a reviewer. Just tell me if I ramble too much ;) Also, I hope it won't seem that I criticise too much; it's rather that when I'm stressing something on which I don't share the views with someone, I tend to explain much more to make my point clear. With such a nicely developing, canonical story as yours is, I would feel saying just "this portrayal wasn't Ok with me" almost a betrayal ;) So, here we go:
Nelyo's claim that he could never compete with Curufin in wrestling left me staring in disbelief... I think that if Curufin was indeed as good a combatant as described here, the books wouldn't omit such important information. What they indicate is rather the contrary; Nelyo is portrayed as the undisputed invincible 'hero' of the house of Fëanor (which is also backed by the evidence that he survived all the battles and kinslayings); Celegorm is renowned as 'Strong Finwë' and a mention is made of his triumph in the Dagor Nuin Giliath; Cáno is known to have killed the leader of the treason in the Arnoediad; and though at least twice, Celegorm and Curufin are named (as a pair, however!) as making a valiant stand in battle, no mention is made of any extraordinary physical prowess of the fifth son. On the contrary- he gets almost killed by a 'mere' mortal, while Nelyo, though one-handed, is described as a dreaded adversary...
Which is also why I'm a bit uncomfortable with the way the character of Nelyo shifts here at times. Nelyo seems to be returning to his former insecurity in his doubts about himself and extreme tentativeness in his dealing with Celegorm... I can almost feel his younger brother's expectance of Nelyo re-assuming the role of the leader. However, finding meekness where one would expect strength and resolution, I don't marvel at his reaction, resembling that of a youngster trying to assume the alpha role in a family where his elders are unable to fulfill their roles.
I was moved, on the other hand, by Nelyo's reminiscence of his cousin, which moved me almost to tears. What subtle timing! Ah, and then there was Tyelkormo's greeting Nelyo, and his smile when he was feeling the statues... Those brief moments gave me hope again, that behind the "authority and ominousness" of Tyelkormo's self-assured display, there's yet deeper the love and loyalty that he bears for Nelyo and the rest of the family. The very last sentence has also strengthened my belief that 'there's always hope'; a credo that underlies all of JRRT's works. ^ ^ How glad I am that you place such sparks of hope at the bottom of each chapter! It was relieving to see Nelyo pull himself together again and set himself a new goal. I wish fervently that he keeps his self-confidence and sense of duty to fulfill his task without further fits of doubtfulness from now on... Until he comes to the door he has not yet entered. And *that* encounter, I'm very much looking forward to.
You do realize that there is *no way* I can live up to your standards for Fëanor? Right? I will of course try my best, but I almost feel as though I am leading you on, for some reason.
I very much appreciate your remarks, and I thank you for explaining why you feel the way you do. I do have a beta for this story, but he is not (in particular) a fan of the House of Fëanor, so he is not as likely to pick up on the subtleties as other fans. Also, I did ask for feedback, because I do want to go back and edit this story even more at some point. So you are not overstepping any unwritten bounds (hehe, and you wonder why Nelyo is so timid in Mandos, where all the rules are unspoken!)
As for the wrestling...wrestling is not about physical prowess, it is about technique and mental skill. Missing a hand is a *severe* disadvantage, though weight and height are also very important. Genghis Khan supposedly chose his generals from those who won wrestling matches, because it revealed they had a mind for strategy. I made Curufin 'the wrestler' as a unique way to show off his subtle mind. In a swordfight, Nelyo would beat Curufin, certainly. I was not attempting to portray Curufin as a superior warrior, though I can certainly see why you would read it that way.
And you are correct. It is unthinkable that any of the Fëanoreans would just attack each other. Curufin's behavior will most certainly be explained. Sorry for Nelyo's self-doubts. Since we solely have his point of view, I have to let him share his feelings with the reader. Perhaps I overdo it at times. But Nelyo is not the alpha in this family, as much as he wants to (and has had to) assume that role. He needs to learn that he can't do everything himself...and that's okay.
Thank you again for your thoughtful (and thought-provoking!) review, Noleme!
Ok, first off, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to reading this... but I’m here now. And I loved it, as usual.
This bit was interesting: "What has changed?" he asked. "You have." I think that pretty much, well, sums up your entire story, in a way. I don’t really know how to explain it.
"Maedhros, son of Fëanor?" the elf asked him politely. He considered denying it, but thought that tall, one-handed, red-haired elves were probably a bit too rare to do so effectively. That really made me smile for some reason. You say you didn’t come up with it... but still, thanks for using it, it made me happy. :)
So I assume we will be meeting Curufin soon? That should be interesting. And Maedhros is allowed to see Fëanor? As in, you are going to write Fëanor? I wish you the best of luck. He’s such a difficult character, but I’m sure you’ll do a good job.
That's 5 points off for late work. Hahah, no seriously, thank you for taking the time to review. Timing doesn't matter; I just enjoy hearing what you think! I hope your SATs went well.
You're right - that is sorta the theme for the story. Which is funny, because I started writing this....well, to get at the truth of Maedhros' life. I only intended to do the judgement chapters, and then it morphed into this on me. I was trying to write a story about Maedhros and Maglor at the end of the First Age, and I realized that he was no longer himself - rather broken, and he'd picked up an accumulation of explanations that simply weren't *true*. I realized I had an untrustworthy narrator, which was fine, but I thought the author should not be fooled by him ;). So I guess it does make sense that the story became about him changing from who he was at that time to who he would be if you stripped the Oath away.
Yes, Curufin is coming. Though Námo wasn't kidding about 'no joy in that meeting'...yet more angst for our poor Maedhros.
Yes, Fëanor. He was the spanner in the works. I got to the chapter where I had to write him, and hit a screeching halt. He's very scary. Trying to write him put me in a weird mood for a week. I have a rough draft now, but I'm not happy with him yet. But hopefully I'll get the chapter cleaned up and sent to my beta soon...ish.
Thank you again, Feta, for the lovely review!
Yay... another lovely chapter ^ ^ The interaction between Nelyo and Tyelkormo was a pleasant surprise for me, just like the one with Moryo :) Reading this, I realised that only too often I subconsciously lump Celegorm and Curufin together as concerns their natures, forgetting the "it is Curufin who put evil into Celegorm's heart" line from the Lay of Leithian. It was a nice surprise to find Tyelkormo much meeker than I expected. The song motif -Nelyo's idea to reach his brother this way, his meaningful choice of the first song, and Tyelkormo's being influenced by music- I found all of that very touching. I consider the songs scene the best one in the entire chapter.<p>
Again, I loved all the subtle keys that illustrate the natures of the brothers- Nelyo's stubborn moping around Tyelkormo's cell in his belief that there must be a way, Celegorm's loyalty to and love for his house and his shame and pain for bringing ruin and dishonour on it... and I do feel for him in the scene where he refuses to meet the others for fear that they might sneer at him... It shows quite nicely that for all his cleverness, he's never reached his brother's wisdom, and -at least in my eyes- has never really grown up. <p>
For some reason, I feel that Curufin would prove a much harder nut to crack! <p>
"He considered denying it, but thought that tall, one-handed, red-haired elves were probably a bit too rare to do so effectively." - LOL... ^ ^ I love this kind of humour. <p>
A question- you don't plan to write of the meeting of Moryo and his mother, or at least mention it? In the last chapter, we left Moryo unaware of his mother's presence in the halls, and now it feels like he's met her already... For some reason, I view him as very close to his mother.. <p>
I wonder how the elensar found its way from Endórë to Mandos... But I guess it will remain one of the things you'll leave unexplained, though I daresay the stone will serve some sort of purpose later on... Maybe it would be its healing influence. <p>
I'm looking forward to the scene when Tyelkormo receives the gift, and when Nelyo meets his father :) <p>
"But at the moment, he was separated from all other elves by a widening gulf of time. Those who lived would never visit these Halls. And those who died would depart ere long, as he judged things. Only his father…" oh... *sniff* It's heartbreaking to imagine the two of them staying until the end... I refuse to believe that, though. I still have hope... a faint hope that the house of Fëanor shall be restored long before the end... a hope fed by Istarnië's matchless story of Flame Rekindled, and by Ulmo's words in the UT- "In the armour of Fate, there is ever a rift, and in the walls of Doom a breach, until the full-making, which ye call the End." <p>
Best wishes, Nólemë
Yay, another lovely review! :) [I assure you, the feeling is mutual!]
I am glad you found my subdued Celegorm a pleasant surprise. I know it's unusual for him, but I think Doriath had a profound effect - like the Fifth Battle for Maedhros, it was a failure, and it was 'his' project. He is lacking in maturity, so hopefully he'll grow in wisdom as we continue here. His sulking is due to a very fair insecurity, even if it is childish.
You are right, Curufin is going to be a tough nut to crack. *whistle* I did not realize until you said something that I glossed over Caranthir's reunion with his mother. Part of the problem is that it is hard to write that scene in (possibly) 5 different ways without becoming repetitive. Also, this chapter was already long, so I sorta plunged ahead. I will say, though, that I agree with you that he is close to his mother, and their relationship is unique. For this reason...Maedhros doesn't see much of it, sorry. I think there is a scene I haven't written yet where they discuss her, but no promises.
I wish I could claim credit for the humor! But that line was inspired by another fanfic. I couldn't remember which one, but I just hunted it down. It's called 'As Little Might Be Thought,' and it's a terribly depressing take on Maedhros post-Havens (not that Maedhros should be anything but depressing at that time, but I digress). Oh, and I also fixed the 'Míriel's' in this chapter now; that's what I get for posting while falling asleep! And you're right, the green stone will not be explained.
There may be some twisting of fates and dooms before this is all finished, but I rather doubt it's what you're hoping for. So be forewarned, the dooms of Mandos are not lightly set aside. Again, you'll have to wait for several chapters to get to Fëanor, but as Námo promised, he *is* coming, and the Lord of Mandos does not speak falsely :).
Thank you for the review; you quite literally made my day!
Hi MithLuin, I've been keeping an eye on this story from the first chapter onwards, and I must say it's becoming better with every new chapter :) - both the plot and the characterisation. Oh, and I'm so sorry for the format, but I have no idea how to make paragraphs here :( ***
As for the characterisation- I'm very pleased to see the change Nelyo has gone through, and still hope he gets even further from the original helplessness and emotionality (the crying fits) to become what Mandos prophesied for him- the firm-hearted, wise restorer of his house. You asked for opinions on what works and what not; for me, what works is the Nelyo you portray in the last two chapters- an Elda with a sense of duty, who has retained the pride in his house though not in his deeds, who, though filled with remorse -and blaming himself for the fall of his House- doesn't go anywhere near emotional breakdowns. It was the crying fits, changes of mood to almost childishness (too human-like, IMHO), and self-pity that weren't Ok with me. My idea of Nelyo as a wise (whom his wisdom fails in the end, however), stern-to-many-including-himself leader of his house is probably too firmly fixed :) ***I do appreciate how you portray the twins- not as innocent merry youngsters as does the vast majority of fëanorean fic authors, but indeed as grown-up elves, who just happen to be less burdened by their oath than the rest of the brothers. Yet they would follow it in the end like the others, out of the sense of duty, and they did. That's why the feelings of resentment at the beginning of this chapter didn't make much sense to me. The they-were-annoyed-because-Nelyo-survived-the-Havens explanation makes an even worse impression on me- if you love your sibling, isn't it much more likely that you'd be glad for his escaping death, though you yourself should die? *** Oh and there's Moryo- I have to thank you for this portrayal of him! ^ ^ After all the fanfic portrayals I've seen of him, this is definitely one of the most canonical and enjoyable ones ^ ^ He's my favourite Silmarillion character, so I was overjoyed to read how you write him -very authentic and believable- and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of him. Showing his unwavering loyalty to his House in the banner scene was a very nice touch. I love how he's suspicious of the Valar, but follows and trusts Nelyo... and how one of his main concerns is where his father is, his longing to live again, and his reaction to being informed that Finrod has been re-embodied... LOL, I love the subtle humour in this series. *** I was very content with your portrayal of Mandos as well, especially in the last two chapters. The love-with-a-degree-of-reservedness that marks your take on the relationship between Nelyo and his cousin is absolutely how I picture it. *** I hope I'm right to read the chain scene as purely symbolic, as the Valar were forbiden to forcibly restrain the fëar; and as can be seen in LOTR, if you're powerful enough you can keep a person confined to a place or room by the sheer power of your will. *** Symbols are another thing I wanted to mention- yours are exceptionally original and well-chosen- eg. Mandos' throne or the dagger that could slay a Vala, to name some. Rarely have symbols impressed me so deeply in a fanfic, and that I've read many. You have my admiration for thinking them up! *** Oh, um, one more remark- Nelyo is a nér and presumably doesn't know much about washing clothes, but the best way of getting dirt out of a cloth is to rinse it *inside* the bucket, and scrub it against its wooden sides if you wash it one-handed ;) ... unless you're planning to wash the floors in the room at the same time of course :) *** I also like the style. My top preference for First Age stories is language of the myth, ie. archaic, but the language used here ranks right after that. It's plain enough for all readers to enjoy, yet eloquent at the same time. Let me just point out the spelling of 'essence' in the passage where Nelyo embraces his cousin. *** I like the use of Quenya in your stories, which remains restricted to titles and names. It sounds very authentic that way. A question- I was glad you use diacritics in Quenya words- could you possibly do this also in Míriel's case? It's just a detail, but it reflects the long pronunciation. *** All in all, I consider this piece one of the best fëanorean fanfics I've read so far. I definitely look forward to the upcoming chapters- especially the one where Nelyo would meet his father ^ ^
Hi Noleme! Thank you so much for your remarks. I will certainly try to address some of those things on revision. And I thought my beta caught all the misspelled Míriel's! I must have forgetten to change some of them. So, thanks, I'll recheck. (My eye tends to miss that particular accent.)
It seems I made the twins reaction too strong. It was meant to be a minor spat between brothers, just making them unreasonably angry, but the storm soon passed. Survivor's guilt in reverse, if you will.
It bothered me, also, to write Nelyo so...brokenly...at his judgement and afterwards. I did not want him to become too child-like, but I wanted him to start over, in a way. I think it bothered him more than it bothered me, though, so thank you for the reminder that I should be careful not to let him fall into crying fits. It is most unbecoming in a prince of the Noldor, after all!
Caranthir will make some reappearances later, but this chapter was really his opportunity to shine. Just a heads-up, so you aren't disappointed. I am very glad that my portrayal meets your high standards thus far, though - I know we are always very protective of our favorite characters!
The chain is meant to be symbolic. I try not to explain in too much detail, because then this mysterious place will be too known and comfortable. But the idea was that, by entering the Halls of Mandos, Caranthir implicitly agreed to obey Namo. Then, by trying to run off to 'escape' to the Outer Darkness, he earned a reminder that he couldn't do that (the chains). Thank you for the compliment on the symbols...I guess my mind just works that way. *grin* No, they probably do come from explicit sources. I know that the knife was the sword from the Garden of Eden in George MacDonald's _Lilith_. The white floor of Namo's throne room is from Minas Tirith in the movies. But I don't always know where I get them from.
And LOL, thanks for the clothes washing advice! I agree, that would make more sense. I wrote that scene after visiting my sister in Honduras, and there they wash closes on a cement slab called a pila. I was sorta adapting from that, but of course it's better than trying to do it on a stone floor.
Thank you again for such an encouraging review, and I hope you continue to enjoy the story! Nelyo's father will not make an appearance for some time, so please continue to be patient.
Ok, that’s the second time you’ve made me cry. I don’t know if it’s your fault or if I’m just overemotional. But how could Fingon leave Maedhros like that? Just... leave him? I can’t believe you would do that to him. I mean… why? Their relationship here hasn’t been a major part of the plot or been developed too in-depth, but I still can’t see Fingon deserting Maedhros willingly, knowing that they will never meet again until the end of Arda, if at all. It’s not out of character, exactly, because I don’t think of Fingon as being the type to be content in the halls of Mandos for too long, but the idea of them parting like that is still just heartbreaking. And it’s even worse since he’s the only one to tell Maedhros “All faults are forgiven” which is something I think he really needs to hear.
Your Caranthir was very well characterized, and I could definitely sympathize with him. He’s sullen and opinionated, and not exactly likeable, but I can see where he’s coming from. He’s not the type to just give in and admit that he might have done something wrong, and having all his faults piled on his head cannot be easy for him – I can see him trying to avoid it, especially given how it went for Maedhros (“Is that what judgment teaches you? That everything is your fault?”).
Mandos with even the slightest bit of a sense of humor or the ability to compare himself to an elf (“If only my little brother would listen to me”) is something I think you pull off quite well. I mean, we’re all used to him being this big, powerful herald of doom, but this story deals with quite different circumstances, so I suppose it is logical that there is more to his character than that. But I’m with Maedhros in totally not knowing how to react to it.
Once more, I love the whole family dynamic; despite all that has gone on, Maedhros’s brothers are still his brothers. And I think I disagree that he was solely responsible for their deaths, even if he is the obvious one to blame. They were just as bound by the Oath as him, and even without him guiding them they would still have just as much need to fulfill it (an idea that I will be exploring in my own current Silm fic, “Just One Victory”). But either way, your depictions of the Fëanorians (or at least the ones we’ve see so far) are realistic. I assume we will be meeting the remaining brothers quite soon?
I seem to be ranting more than providing feedback, and I apologize; I’m just so attached to your characters that I end up having quite a bit to say about them. I can also, however, assure you that I am enjoying this story very much. I get very excited whenever you update, because I am anxious to see what will happen. Your writing style is lovely; you really capture the characters, the dialogue fits them well, and I impatiently await upcoming chapters. :)
I just wanted to say that I look forward to your reviews in the same way as you look forward to my chapters. So, it's a positive reinforcement feedback loop, which can only result in more chapters for you in the near future. Thank you so much for the encouragement! (And yes, the other brothers are in the wings.)
I am sorry I made you cry. I know it doesn't seem fair, but for elves, death cuts both ways. Everyone else in the Halls of Mandos can hope to (eventually) be reunited with those who are reborn first...but not Maedhros. He's the exception. If it makes it any better, it's not wholly Fingon's choice. As I see it, the time of rebirth is unique to each elf, something that happens when they are 'ready' - so it is Namo's call. I know this won't endear you to the Vala, but he really did think it was time for Fingon to go. Maedhros mentions that they haven't seen each other recently, so perhaps the distance is already there. Fingon has already moved on, and is looking forward to being reunited with Finrod and his own parents. If Fingon had refused to be reborn and stayed, he would have been miserable, and just think how *that* would have made Maedhros feel, knowing his friend was trapped for his sake! There is no easy, happy answer...only Fingon's tentative hope that the end of the world is not, well, The End. But Maedhros does not share his friend's hope, so for him, this was the end.
You are right that Fingon's own desire to be forgiven is what prompted him to say those words to Maedhros. Maedhros is caught more in raw grief at the moment, so he wouldn't have thought to say that unprompted, but he does reciprocate. (I'll admit that "Nor do I you," is more convoluted than necessary, and not quite equivalent to a full pardon.) I have not explored their friendship too closely in this fic, in part because everyone else already has ;), and also because this story focuses on Maedhros' relationship with his family. He and Fingon are very close, closer than Maedhros is to his brothers, actually, but Fingon does not need Maedhros the way they do. Hopefully, Maedhros will eventually realize that Fingon has been healed, and that is why he is leaving.
Caranthir is proud and a loner, but he is caught here on one of his less good days. I'm sure he can be more pleasant when he wishes to be! So, I'm glad you could at least sympathize, even if you wouldn't want to eat lunch with him. I also agree with you that Maedhros is not solely to blame. As the leader, he has greater responsibility, but that does not exonerate his followers. If Maedhros had crawled into a hole after the Fifth Battle, the twins still would have sacked Doriath and the Havens. They swore the Oath as adults, over 500 years previously! So, they may be younger, but they aren't *young*. But their anger at the beginning of this chapter was over something else - in the battle where they died, Maedhros lived. It's irrational, but that is what has them upset. So, that is why he tells them about his own death, to clear the air a bit. They aren't blaming him for everything! He holds himself a bit more accountable than necessary, for now.
And I am so glad you liked that line of Namo's. That is one of my favorite in this entire story, and Maedhros' mental image was written especially for my beta, Fiondil. You can check out his work on Stories of Arda, if you like; his Namo is warmer than mine, and you might like him better. My only defence is that he wasn't dealing with Feanoreans!
Don't worry, I don't mind the ranting at all. The fact that you take my story and characters so seriously is actually very flattering. So, thank you so much! Maedhros could really use someone in this story to look out for him, because clearly the author is bent on torturing the poor elf! Giving him hugs is now your official job :).
I have been anxiously awaiting this chapter ever since you mentioned that the title would be “brothers,” and it lived up to my expectations.
“he could only suppose that they did not yet realize that they had driven their mother here as surely as he had. He would not remind them.” Even after all that has happened, Maedhros is still so… brotherly. He seems willing to take responsibility for everything, to spare his brothers, which is, well, a very Maedhros thing to do. I was glad to see him reunited with Amrod and Amras, even if it was a very short-lived time of happiness.
“He would accept that if he had to…but it wasn’t easy” I can imagine that the way in which the Halls of Mandos are run here would certainly be difficult for Maedhros, having to accept whatever comes with so little ability to change it. He’s, well, a fighter, and just sitting around with so little control over his fate would certainly be against his nature, even though there’s nothing he can do about it. It is like Amras says: “You are the most stubborn of all of us” – I cannot picture him just calmly waiting out eternity, not doing anything, so: when he speaks up with Mandos (“he was sick of being timid. It suited him ill.”) it was very in-character. He just isn’t the type of elf to sit back and go along with whatever happens, even if he does accept his sentence. And so I like the idea that he will be the restorer of his House, and hope you go through with it.
“I am not opposed to giving you what you want, Maedhros Son of Fëanor, but I will only give you what is good for those in my care. As long as you see things as being about you alone, you will not see." Ok, once more, I am not sure that I like your Mandos. He seems determined to villanize and demean Maedhros in any way possible. I mean, he basically says that Maedhros is being self-centered in wanting to see his brothers, which I think is a bit unfair. He says he only does what is good for those in his care, but seems to be forgetting that Maedhros is in his care too, and seeing his family is certainly good for him. The more I read your story, the more I understand chapter nine of the Silm. Who wouldn’t want to rebel and escape from these Valar? They seem to be running a tyranny in the name of doing good and being fair. Morgoth or not, I know I wouldn’t want to be stuck under their dominion, and the flight of the Noldor now makes a lot more sense. Or maybe I’m just being a little overprotective of Maedhros.
On the other hand, Mandos is becoming a more intriguing persona as the story progresses: in some twisted way, he really is supporting Maedhros, and he really does want things to work out for the best. He’s just not going about it in the most friendly manner. And the whole “Nossenehtar ar Torninehtar” thing annoyed me. I mean, insulting (if arguably accurate) names aren’t any more polite when they’re spoken in elvish, even if it makes them sound prettier. Can he not give Maedhros any credit for any of the good things he did do, or must he insist on being so critical?
I liked Maedhros’s reaction to Mandos’s throne room. It makes sense that Angband was only a copy, as Morgoth never really created or invented anything for himself. It is interesting that he feels “trapped” when Mandos comes – almost as if, because the room is so similar to that in Angband, Mandos is in some way equated with Morgoth. It’s a fascinating dynamic, one which I think you could have explored even more.
One question: what is up with Ulmo? As the Maia says, "Seldom does he come to these Halls, so I am as much at a loss as you." And well, I am at a loss, too. Why was he there? We are going to find out sooner or later, right?
The halls of Mandos are such a confusing place that the whole fic almost feels like a dream: everything is significant, things are beginning to come together, and I assume that all will be explained in due time, but it feels so arbitrary – if this were not a fanfiction, but an original story, I would expect it to end with “and then he woke up.” As it happens, though, this story is as of yet one of the best of all that I’ve read recently, and it gets better with each chapter. I hope you don’t mind long reviews – when I get talking about a fic that I’m really into, the way I have with this one, I don’t know when to shut up. And it’s difficult to write a proper review with a rather opinionated muse reading over my shoulder and making comments. So thank you for listening to my rambles, and thank you for writing such an amazing chapter!
No, I can't promise that everything will be explained. Some things, yes, because Maedhros will gradually learn what is going on. But others...no. Sometimes we don't know the reasons behind things. If you want to know what Ulmo is up to, keep in mind that Amras and Amrod very recently went through judgement, which means that Ulmo was there. Apparently, he disagreed with Namo about how the Feanoreans were being handled, and decided to intervene. But there's not really any more to the story. For instance, we've already learned about as much as we are going to about the water/light in Maedhros' room. If it seems surreal and dreamlike...please keep in mind that all these people are dead! I have to make it seem like an afterlife somehow.
I know, Namo isn't terribly likable, I'm sorry! But let's be honest, Maedhros isn't very likable, either. Of course I like him and you like him, but he's very proud and he has a bad habit of killing people. The Lord of Mandos is not going to cut anybody any slack; that's just who he is. He is brutally honest...but with the goal of getting past that. Maedhros is still proud of himself (in a small way) for keeping the Oath, and Namo isn't going to let him get away with that. As honorable as keeping your word is, it shouldn't drive you to destroy your family and kill your people. Maedhros should have broken the Oath, and the sooner he admits that error *completely*, the sooner he can move on from it. The names were in English when I wrote it, and only in translation once my beta got ahold of it. I know the scene loses a little when you don't know what he's saying, and for that reason, I almost kept them in English. Harsh, yes, but not needlessly so. Namo has not forgotten that Maedhros is in his care - he cares very much about what happens to him, and is doing his best to heal the elf.
But your suspicion is correct; Maedhros is going to do some good for his House; that's what the rest of this fic is about ;).
As for the rebellion...Namo does not treat non-rebellious elves this way. The only reason he's harsh with Maedhros is because he needs to be. Maedhros wants to see his brothers, and it will be good for him to do so...but only when he's ready. He is naturally stubborn, but as a pure spirit, change is harder, too. When he was alive, Maedhros chose to lead all of his brothers to their deaths. He may seem keenly aware of that error now, but has he really changed? Would he do the same thing again? That is what Namo is concerned about, and that is one reason why Maedhros was not instantly reunited with his family. One reason; there are others ;).
You updated! And it made me very happy, even if it wasn’t exactly an uplifting chapter. Could you please give Maedy a hug from me? I think he needs it. :(
It’s awful to see him like this... it seems like he’s always trying to do the right thing, but it so rarely works out for him. I kind of want to slap your Mandos (is it possible to slap a Vala?) – yes, he’s very logical and does everything for a reason, but can’t he give the guy a break?
Obviously, being a Tom Petty fan, I liked your title very much and had to download and listen to the song while I read. I’m not sure how well it fit the chapter, but it’s still a good song.
Will we ever find out what happens to Maglor? Obviously he doesn’t come to Mandos, but Manwë or someone must know what’s going on with him, and I would like to hear it. I am also eagerly awaiting the presence of the other sons of Fëanor – you say we’ll hear from them soon, but how soon is soon? And why was this whole chapter in italics? Ok, enough questions. You did a very good job, as usual, and I can’t wait for your next update.
D'oh! Sorry about the italics. That's what I get for not previewing. It's fixed now.
Maedhros is going to continue to need hugs throughout this story. It's not exactly easy on him, what I've put him through so far, and what I'm going to do to him.
If Namo *could* give him a break, without doing harm to anyone, I'm sure he would. There are reasons for what he does beyond what we've seen so far (though keep complaining, so I can catch any plot holes that aren't adequately explained!) I am not brave enough to slap the Lord of Mandos, but by all means, go for it! ;)
No, the song isn't really a soundtrack for the chapter. I just thought it made a good title. I've never written a songfic, but I do tend to match up fandom characters to songs when I listen to them on the radio. And of course I updated just for you ;).
Unfortunately, Maedhros is never going to learn what happened to Maglor after they were parted. Manwë may know, but he's not inclined to say. As for the other sons of Fëanor...the next chapter is entitled "Brothers." *grin* But, be forewarned, it's at least as angsty as this one, and has an equally unsatisfying ending. No promises when it will appear...fanfic is not at the top of my priority list right now, unfortunately!
Thank you so much for your encouraging and thoughtful review! It does help to know that someone is reading this - it spurs me on to finish it.
Oh, god. I don’t think I can possibly explain everything I’ve felt about this story, but I can go over a few things. After all, of the various Mandos stories that I have read, this one is probably my favorite, at least thus far. You’ve left me pretty much speechless, but I am going to have to form words to get you the feedback you deserve.
Your characterization of the Valar was quite accurate: they’re not exactly forgiving, but only because they want to do the right thing. I can’t say I like them, but I can respect them. You said that the Halls of Mandos here are not how you picture them, and they’re not how I’ve always thought of them either; but of course, a piece like this would be difficult to write with no physical description whatsoever, so what you did makes sense. It doesn’t detract from the story, especially if it is thought of metaphorically or symbolically… did that make sense?
I cried during the scene with Elured and Elurin… and I didn’t stop. I don’t know if you meant to write something so gloriously depressing, but that was my reaction. I’m not sure if it is a compliment or not.
It was interesting to see Nerdanel’s response to everything that went on after she was parted from her sons. It’s something I’ve often wondered about; it never crossed my mind that she would die, but it does make sense. Miriel’s presence was also nice; she dies so early on that she usually is more of a revered memory than a character. I was glad to see Maedhros reunited with Fingon, and look forward to his meeting with his brothers, which I hope will come soon.
You’ll have time for fanfic in June? That’s a bit of a wait, but I suppose I will have to endure. If you ever need any encouragement, just remember that I’m waiting eagerly for more.
(Do you mind if I friend your livejournal? I like seeing what other writers are up to. :D)
Oh wow, what a great review! Of course you may friend me - I'll even friend you back ;). I only update my journal a couple of times a month, usually, but I like to read other people's on my friends page. I'm a teacher, so May is just a really busy month for me. But I will try to update this story soon.
About the Valar - they aren't the type of people that you'd want to hang out with. Vaire in particular is coming out very...well, just incredibly cold. But if you can respect them, then that is all I can ask. I wanted them to be...good, and reasonable, but not necessarily...nice. A lot of people think they are stupid or unfair (particularly Manwë, after some of the decisions he makes), and I didn't want that to be how they were seen. They might be warmer in less official capacities, but Maedhros wouldn't really know anything about that. Part of this story is him transitioning from a rebel against the Valar to someone who can (grudgingly) respect them.
And yes, if you can take my concrete descriptions metaphorically, that's *exactly* what I intended! But I wanted to leave the interpretation up to the reader. When I first made the decision not to describe everything in terms of bodiless spirits, I was afraid it would be a very bizarre depiction...but I think there are enough hints of deprivation to keep it otherworldly. And I decided that it was better to write in terms that both I and the reader would be familiar with ;). But at the end of the day, I have to admit it is a copout, and really asks the reader to suspend disbelief (it's going to get worse, as future chapters rely even more on physicality.) If I were a better author, I might know how to describe the *feeling* of a scene without relying on senses, but I just couldn't do it.
I am so sorry to have made you cry like that! It's meant to be a pretty horrifying scene, but I was trying to upset Maedhros, not you. If that makes any sense (sometimes I wonder about my sanity when I say things like that!) To me, it was creepy because they were young and fairly dispassionate in their account. But yes, I find the whole mess of the Fëanoreans after the Fifth Battle to be horribly depressing, and this one incident just drives it home.
There are other Sons of Fëanor waiting in the wings. We'll meet them soon ;)
Alright, I don’t have time at the moment to read all that you’ve posted or leave a lengthy review, but I promise that I will do both as soon as I get a chance. In the meantime, I just wanted you to know that this is an absolutely fabulous story, and I can’t wait for the rest.
Author's Response: Thank you so much! I'm glad you like what you've read so far, and I will continue this. I have to write the last couple of chapters yet, but there are several more that should be ready for posting soon. I hope to have time for fanfic in June, so we'll see how that goes. Reviews are so encouraging, because they let me know that someone is reading :)
You've posted three more chapters! I've got some catching up to do! ;)
I think that stories that are actually told as stories--in the narrator's voice, recounting his tale to someone else--are really tough to write. (As the "loremaster" for my gaming group, I end up writing one every week, so I have lots of recent experience in this!) You do really well with this; I know it might seem a strange compliment, but people have trouble with this. *points at self* There is a fine line to walk between making the story interesting (as most spoken words are bland or downright incomprehensible once rendered upon a page) and keeping true to the fact that the story is spoken and, therefore, not subject to the little flourishes we writers like to spice up our stories with. I've read published books where the storyteller uses elaborate imagery and metaphor, and I'm ripping my hair out in frustration--no one talks that way! So I commend you for taking a difficult form and making it not only true to the voice of your character but entertaining as well.
One line jumped out at me, and it's very small but contrary to what so many other authors have done (and I've accepted without question) that it jumped out at me. Morgoth's lack of consideration of Maedhros:
He did not think of me often.
As I said, I've seen other authors take the opposite cant ... well, in every instance I can think of. Maedhros becomes almost an obsession for Melkor, his chief "treasure" and the subject of most of his actions. That he is more forgettable here is somehow crueler than the other variety.
I also wanted to expand more on your reply to my last comment. It was very tempting to write another comment just for this purpose, but I have so little time for fun online and spending it babbling about something that is a research interest of mine when I hadn't even read the next chapter didn't seem fair.
I actually do not picture the Halls of Mandos how I am going to describe them. I know that's strange, but I opted for a very, well, physical depiction. So, there is some level of 'translation' between their experiences as pure fëa and my use of (for instance) facial expressions and touch and sight. My only excuse is that, though disembodied, they are still experiencing things, and I have to convey that the best I can...even if it is by analogy.
That makes good sense to me. I have a novella called "The Tapestries" that is about Feanor's time in the halls of Mandos after his death and how he came to terms with his own deeds and the situation in which he has put his children and people. One of the major challenges of this story was writing a character without a body. So much of writing is centered on sensory experiences and corporeal presence--walking, sitting, facial expressions and gestures--that it was really difficult to dispatch with all of those things. And what kind of story would that be? I've seen where people have done stories along the lines of stream-of-consciousness navel-gazing and ... well, I won't say it never works, but I can't really think where it has. I think that corporeal experiences and their attendant sensations almost anchor a story and give it a basis upon which to build those loftier, philosophical messages. But *ahem* I am rambling. :) I also chose much the same route that you did: letting Feanor experience things as he would have in his body. My justification is that, if he possesses thought, he must possess some sort of mind, and the mind can be a tricky thing. Phantom-limb pain, for example, can create something where nothing exists. Or dreams create experiences that generate intense fear, joy, lust ... again, from nothing but a bag of neurochemicals. So, in that sense, I believe that if the mind is used to a body, then it would register sensations and perceptions in much the same way that a body would. Or, in communicating with other fear, would possibly cloak itself, as the Valar do. So, to me, the strong physical grounding of this story makes perfect sense, both from an artistic perspective and from my understanding of mental processes and Tolkien's spiritual concepts.
His lack of mercy is not cruelty, but rather devotion to the truth.
This is the best description I've ever seen of Mandos! I completely agree.
I feel like there was something else that I wanted to mention, but I've gone and forgotten it. It may come back later, at which time I'll leave another comment. Oh! Also, thanks for the info on the "Maglor lives" quote. I do remember seeing that now; I usually listen to BG on my iPod so haven't looked at the CD booklet in years. I don't know about you, but I look for Maglor every summer, in Ocean City. ;)
Looking forward to the next two chapters. With B2MeM, my online life is busy, so I can't promise how soon it will be, but if the length of this comment is any indication, then I'm really enjoying this story and will be back within the next couple of weeks! :)
Oh, keep spoiling me with reviews, they're going straight to my head!
No, seriously, thank you. I understand your time is limited, so no rush. My story will still be here in April ;).
True, I have seen stories where Morgoth is obsessed with Maedhros. And in mine, he is certainly happy to have such a prize. But...his attentions are seldom. He's just waiting for Maedhros to break down, then he'll do something with him. I wanted Maedhros' experience on Thangorodrim to be...very lonely. I've written more about this elsewhere; I didn't think it was necessary to explain it in this story. But if it is that unusual, I might want to work it in again at the end, just to clarify what, precisely, Morgoth hoped to accomplish...and how. Leaving those details out has been niggling at me recently.
Thank you so much for the compliment on the narrative voice. I think part of why that comes more naturally to me is because....I am *not* much of a writer, and have a very sparse style anyway *grin* But I did worry about having such a long 'retelling' right at the beginning of this story. Everyone who will read this already knows the story of Maedhros' life, and revealing motivations (while fascinating to me, the author) can only hold the attention for so long when nothing is happening!
Thank you again for such a detailed review. Your enthusiasm for the subject makes this all worthwhile - even if you and my beta are the only people who ever read this ;). But if it starts going downhill or something, *please* let me know - I am not afraid to edit this story.
Oh, and if you find Maglor in Ocean City....do tell :D
Okay, I will be patient. ;) I just wanted you to know that I read the next chapter and can't wait for more. There are lots of good things in this chapter: the toy horse memory, the way you establish a presence for each of the Valar, getting to see history through the eyes of Maedhros, the acknowledgment of his error after Feanor's death. I patiently await more. :)
*gives Dawn a cookie for her patience* :)
Thanks for the review! Now my dilemma is...do I update quickly (with what I have), and then leave everyone hanging indefinitely since I haven't written the last part? Or do I pace myself, so I actually have an incentive to finish writing before I catch up?
Either way, I think I torture you. Perhaps you can see why it isn't so hard for me to write this after all! *whistle*
I have a fascination with the halls of Mandos and Elven afterlife (my morbid side, I know :), so I am thrilled to see you posting this here, and I read it with great interest. It's always intriguing to me to see how other authors picture the halls of Mandos; we know so little about them. I'm really looking forward to reading more. (And I have another chapter to go!)
I think you use the hand and the pain and the light very well in this opening section. His comparisons to Mandos and the halls to Morgoth and Thangorodrim is intriguing because Mandos always strikes me as the darkest, least merciful of the "good" Valar. (Yet, he's also my favorite. Go figure.) And in Tolkien's earliest works, especially, he portrayed Mandos's dominion as being very dark and scary; I seem to recall the servants of Mandos being named specifically in "The Coming of the Elves" in BoLT as one of the reasons why Yavanna wanted the Elves out of Middle-earth. Yet he's not a bad guy ... this makes him such an intriguing character, imho. I'm really interested to see where you take him.
Just curious: in which song does the "Maglor lives" line occur? Or is it one of the spoken interludes? (I don't usually put them on my iPod, except "Nom the Wise," since it's about my namesake and all. *ahem* But then, I always mishear BG's lyrics, so I may have missed it. It was only recently that I realized that the refrain for "Nightfall" is "Silently crept in and changed us all," not, "Buy me a Kraken and save us all." :^P
Okay, onward to the next chapter!
LOL at your misheard lyrics! They are a tough band to hear correctly - I must have listened to the CD hundreds of times before realizing - hey, "Blood Tears" is about Maedhros! Don't know why "cut off your old friend's hand" didn't clue me in earlier.... But anyway, no, it's not you - Maglor lives! is in the CD case slip thing. I don't know what it's called - the little booklet on the inside cover of a CD? Anyway, somewhere in there, with the list of thank yous, they say "Bards ye are, and bards ye shall be. Maglor lives!" And I just thought that was really cool....because he does! He's about the only one, but hey....
Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! The afterlife is fascinating, isn't it? If I ever do write an original fic, I'll probably have at least one dead character, just because ;). But back to this story... I actually do not picture the Halls of Mandos how I am going to describe them. I know that's strange, but I opted for a very, well, physical depiction. So, there is some level of 'translation' between their experiences as pure fëa and my use of (for instance) facial expressions and touch and sight. My only excuse is that, though disembodied, they are still experiencing things, and I have to convey that the best I can...even if it is by analogy. So, there are occasional hints that they aren't really walking around, but not so much that we can't relate. Or something like that.
As for Mandos himself - yes, he is dark, and scary, and not known for his mercy. I probably don't do him justice - I don't write scary stuff very often ;). But to me, what distinguishes him from Morgoth is his love of goodness and justice. His lack of mercy is not cruelty, but rather devotion to the truth. That, and like the other Valar, he does want what is best for the Eldar...even if it might be painful or difficult for them. The reason he is so unsympathetic is because he is so unwilling to make exceptions for human (or elven) weaknesses. The ultimate in high standards....
But yes, you'll be seeing plenty more of him later :).