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Comments For Back to Middle-earth Month 2010 Stories
Hi Dawn, I thought I'd repost my Mefa review for Battle Strategy here:
This ficlet portrays a situation that I think all parents can sympathize with -- a well-intentioned effort to get two siblings to cooperate that goes awry. Dawn beautifully shows us in a short space Finwë’s point of view (which appears overly optimistic) as well as a snapshot of both the hot-tempered Fëanáro and his even-tempered brother Nolofinwë dutifully on his knees[“returning the carven pieces to their correct compartments.”] Dawn writes Finwë’s voice so clearly. And I loved the symbolism of the last line.
I really liked chap. 8 about Nerdanel. Life is full of " what-ifs" . It was portrayed very beautifully :)
Thank you--I'm glad you liked it and appreciate that you let me know!
(And welcome to the SWG too! :)
I adore Nerdanel. But seriously, just between me and her: give up on it already, sister. You know you'd do it again. Regret it, again? Almost certainly. But woowhoo! What a ride!
I agree that I think Nerds probably had at most ... mixed feelings. But I think she was wise enough to know that the past simply couldn't be undone without consequences greater than her simply being happier and more content.
I also (probably my bias showing!) think that she and Feanor had many, many happy years together. (And now a plotrabbit the size of a T. rex just stomped into the study. Eegads.)
Thank you for reading, and for commenting. :)
I read this ages ago and didn't know what to say. Speechless. I'm here because it came up in correspondence recently--ahem!--about how annoying people can be who say, "I liked it so much that I didn't know what to say."
Man was he drunk! Shit-faced! No that doesn't sound right for such a moving piece. The title says it all. Too overcome by the grape to do anything but write the truth.
Okay, I'd buy that if you had requested it and I'd told you I had written it and you hadn't even been able to squeak out a "Thanks" (one syllable!) because "You liked it so much that you didn't know what to say." ;^D I don't expect anyone to comment on my work, although I'm always thrilled when they do. ;)
However, I liked this particular comment so much that I don't even know what to say. *hides*
Anyway, I'm glad you liked this piece. It's certainly one of my more ... errr ... off-the-wall pieces. It was fun to write though. (And there's a birthday theme where it fits--yay! So it will see light of day again!) He certain was shit-faced, indeed.
Thank you for commenting. (Six syllables! Still not that hard! ;)
Adding a clarification to my previous comment--I would not have said what I said, if I didn't think this was a strong piece that created a visually striking scene. At the time, I thought that was too obvious a point to make, but on second thoughts it might not be?
I can say that I, personally, do not need to hear "I liked it" about my work. I never turn it down ... but insightful comments give me something to really mull over and challenge me to think about my own ideas as a writer. So I think your first comment was lovely! :)
This is dark indeed, which impels me to read it against the grain (only optimists can stand heavy doses of grim realism undiluted).
In spite of having spent their lives in Angband, these captives still have a word for pity and they know who is pitiable; otherwise they would not need to forbid themselves to pity the delvers.
And Maedhros? He is an outsider; he has a different history and different problems, which they in their turn do not share. And yet, he is paying attention enough to feel that their prayer is painful in its simplicity, to ask them a question, to observe and want to know...
Most of my writing tends to be dark. And, in my personal life, I tend to be a pie-eyed optimist. 8^) Perhaps this lends support to your point in the first paragraph! ;)
The captives also know who Varda is, so I think their concept of pity comes from the same sources. Some (many?) were likely not born there and remember life "on the outside" and the emotions that motivate people who don't live in such a black hole for empathy.
Being fascinated by human behavior, the potential for seeing through Maedhros's eyes the culture of the Elves held captive in Angand is tempting. I think this may be one of my first attempts, though I've thought about it a lot.
Thank you, Himring, for the insightful comment! :) (And you can see that the note on my sticky-pad did eventually work! :D)
Such an exquisite wording! Even when I find myself not quite agreeing with you on the topic of the House of Fëanáro, I cannot do but praise your writing skills and use of language, which are excellent, in my opinion. However, the image conjured in the end of your drabble left me simply speechless. What a beautiful and meaningful image, at least for me, who I'm still besotted with Fëanáro. I apologize if I got this wrong, but in my opinion the head raising over the horizon and wearing it like a crown bears a heavy significance. For one day that head (along with the body, of course) will indeed arise from the Halls of the Dead and with it, Light of the likes no one has seen before will break and remake Arda. Sorry if I'm wrong but when it comes about this I have the tendency to get carried away way too easily.
I like your Nerdanel because even if the drabble's theme is whether she would change the circumstance that brought her and her future husband close, she still manages to look towards the future, no matter how far seems to be that future and how grim the present is. Agreed, at the moment her whole life is a mess and had she chosen differently, maybe her life would've been more peaceful. But the key word here is maybe and, moreover, even now, there is a future, one full of Light and new beginnings. It like so much how your story is slowly drifting from the drabble's main theme, which is going back in the past and choosing differently, to the fact that all we have now is the present and, if we look hard, we could discover that there is also a future. What a powerful image, Mandos has become Nerdanel's centre of universe and when the time is ripe, her waiting time will be over.
Again, congratulations for a excellent piece, especially because there aren't many stories featuring Fëanáro to suit my tastes.
Thank you, Sitara! I am of the opinion that you can't be wrong in how you interpret a story ... and as it happens, you picked up on one of the things I was trying to do in that last paragraph, so I'm doing a little happy dance right now. :D I definitely indulged in some wordplay there. The idea of the head wearing the crown hadn't occurred to me, but this is a really cool way to look at it (I love when readers point out things in my stories that never would have occurred to me! :) I certainly did have in mind the Final Battle and Feanor's return to rekindle the Trees; this is one idea that I cannot get out of my mind, and I sometimes feel as though all of my stories about the Feanorians flow towards it these days.
Thank you again, so very much, for taking the time to read and review and for your kind words about my story!
I love the way this doesn't show what led to the upending of the chess board, because in the end, it doesn't matter which of the two started the quarrel. There was really only one way things were going to end; Feanor's resentment of his younger brothers' reason for existing assured that.
You're exactly right, and I enjoyed leaving it open-ended (though I have in my mind what I think happened ;). Once again, too, we see Finwe's wishful thinking that made an appearance in "Temperance." On the B2MeM site, someone commented that leaving those two alone together was not the wisest of choices! Finwe, of course, is unable to see that.
The last line is heartbreaking, Dawn. Well done!
Thanks so much, Ithilwen, for all of your reviews. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to reply; it was like Christmas morning as a kid, finding in my inbox so many reviews at once, and always so insightful and thought-provoking. :)
Poor Finwe, his age and experience here are proving a handicap. Or perhaps it's more that he doesn't want to see the truth of what is happening between his children, so he comforts himself by comparisons with his past, so he can reassure himself that they will indeed outgrow their quarrel eventually (ignoring, of course, the reality that his own folks were split permanently asunder by their disagreements).
I find myself fascinated by how Elven culture would have responded to aging. I imagine what if, as a writer, I had to compete with the person who wrote Beowulf? Or even, more recently, Virginia Woolf, John Steinbeck, Walt Whitman ...? Since achievement in our culture involves the earlier generations getting out of our way, it's a bit challenging to wrap my brain around how an immortal race would handle the same questions. That was certainly on my mind in writing this: that Feanor and Fingolfin will never be viewed as fully adult by the likes of Finwe. I certainly think there's a good bit of the wishful thinking going on as well in my 'verse. Finwe just can't imagine how his two eldest sons could not love each other as he loves them.
I imagine that even the Noldor who didn't rebel felt some of the restlessness which helped to prompt those who did. Finarfin's almost-envy of his doomed brother's situation seems very plausible here.
Thanks, Ithilwen! :) I agree--they also lost their king (and father, in Finarfin's case) and would have felt the same loathing for Morgoth. It must have been frustrating, at times, to feel hobbled by the choice they had made.
I'd call this nice, except that it isn't. ;-) This does a great job in showing the horror of Maedhros's captivity, where taking Namo's hand becomes something to desire rather than fear - and perhaps because it WAS desired is the reason that handclasp was withheld?
We do need a word that means "nicely written about an unpleasant subject," don't we? I find myself in that conundrum all the time! :D
In my mind, Namo is certainly withholding his help because he knows how much Maedhros desires it. It is a bit of cat-and-mouse; my version of Namo certainly is not one of the more benevolent of the Valar, and his idea of "recreation" is often a little on the dark side. ;)
What a difference a misplaced r makes! I love the way you show Maedhros not quite being able to admit openly precisely what sort of unity he really desires with his cousin.
I was worried that the misplaced r would escape many people's notice--a worry not helped by the fact that, almost immediately after posting this piece, I received an email asking if it was intentional or a typo. >.< I'm still not sure if it works, but I'm glad you picked up on what I was trying to do! :)
This is gorgeous! Feanor's hopeless frustration really comes across well here. I also love the irony that he's seeing Maglor as so similar to himself, something that your Maglor would never believe (given Maglor's reactions in several of your earlier fics).
I've always seen Maglor as the most similar to Feanor of the seven sons (no matter Tolkien's opinion that it was Curufin. ;) And you're right that my Maglor's jaw would fall on the floor to hear me say that! Feanor too, probably! :D I've never felt like Curufin is depicted as having Feanor's creative genius, even if he shares Feanor's skills. Now Maglor ... he certainly knows what it's like to have the muses constantly raging at him, to be compelled to create without reason, to have that drive dominate his character. It creates irresistible possibilities in stories, to have Feanor and Maglor so often at odds with each other but also with so much in common.
Thank you for reading and reviewing, Ithilwen! :)
Very poignant! I wonder whether Finarfin occasionally regretted that he was "stuck" with the trivialities of Tirion?
Thinking about Finarfin and his perceptions of the Noldorin rebellion and what follows has provided me with hours of diversion! :D (<3s Finarfin) I don't think that remaining in Tirion was at all easy at first; he might even have had a more difficult job than his brothers, given the abrupt reduction in population that he had to work with. But, over time, I do also wonder if he regretted not being in a position where he could be more proactive in the fight against Morgorth. Certainly, he didn't seem to hesitate when going forth to the War of Wrath.
Thank you for reading and reviewing, Lyra! :)
I think this one is my favourite- there's so much in it! The idea that of-no-avail-as-a-counsellor Tulkas invented something so complex as chess is delightful, counteracting Tulkas' friendly but stupid reputation. Finwë's strategy of using the game to try and make his sons friends is likewise clever (a pity it doesn't work out!). The last paragraph, with poor Nolofinwë tidying up the mess and picking up the pieces, is a nice bit of foreshadowing, just like the marked division between the black and white pieces.
And I can't help but wonder why the board was upended: Did Fëanor get frustrated with his obtuse little brother, or did Nolofinwë win? :D
In short, great work!
Thank you, Lyra! I can't help but to think that there must have been more to Tulkas than acting as the Guy Who Punches Things and Laughs about It! :D I could have also had him invent Risk or Warhammer, I suppose ... or, eegads, the B2MeM Final Battle game! But I suppose I'm swayed by all those movies set in medieval times where the nobility sit around and play chess. I always like to imagine my Elves playing chess.
I had my own thoughts on what went on between the brothers to spark Fean's outburst, but you're totally right that there is actually a lot of ambiguity there. It's always fun to discover new angles to my own writing based on reader comments! :)
In several strategic moves describing a game of Amanized chess, you captured the would-be kings: Dutiful Nolofinwë and suffer-no-fools Fëanáro.
Your B2MeM2010 contributions have been a joy to read, Dawn. You know, you really ought to write a bit more about the Fëanárians. ;^)
Pandë, thank you so much for the reviews of my ficlets! Finding them this morning was quite a pleaseant surprise! :)
I still have hopes of finishing all of the challenges. (I haven't even finished last year's B2MeM yet, though, so that might be a while in happening.) Even though, when I start a project like this, I always say that I'm going to really try to branch out from the Feanorians ... I always come back to the Feanorians in the end. *sigh* ;) As for writing them generally, so far, my summer is wide open; I am taking two undergrad linguistics courses for my certification but otherwise have nothing on my agenda (and have forbidden myself from building any new websites! ;) and so hope to write, write, and write some more, including working more on the saga that includes AMC. (The prequel is already underway, but I also have an odd hankering to work on the sequel. Time will tell, I suppose. :)
Thank you again, so very much, for your ever-insightful comments!
Again, a neat exercise in what strikes me as free verse (see, I really am a hack at things poetic). I really like the rhythm of the words and the effective use of repetitive phrases, each one adorned a bit differently.
Observe the ash gathering within, imagine him rebuilt in opposing manner to which he departed.
Witnessing his father's physical disintegration must have been horrifying for Curufin and his brothers, and in this final sentence, one can feel Curufin trying to drive the terrible image out of his mind.
I'd sooner have your ear for poetry than all the knowledge in the world of poetic form! :)
I suppose I'd call this (like "One Thousand Times") a prose-poem more than anything. I seem to be in a rut in writing repetition-based ficlets of late! :) (I've forbidden myself from writing any more for a while and am so far successful, which isn't saying much since I've only written one since this one!) In any case, I wanted to get more into the mind of Curufin in this piece. He's probably the most difficult of the Feanorians for me to understand, and I've written very little from his perspective. The temptation, I think, is to be too "canonical" and write him as an image of his father with no embellishment aside from that. It seemed easier to approach him in a moment of frailty in beginning to consider the nuances of his character. I agree that the death of Feanor must have been awful for them all but Curufin in particular.
To me, this is a thoroughly plausible mind of an elder of the Firstborn. JRRT wrote that in fact Elves do age, and here you've captured how I imagine they age -- in mind and attitude, and actually reflective of how we mortals age (I can attest to that as a cranky old broad).
They knew not a time when these questions--the very same!--carried not merely the weight of rhetorical victory but the price of life or death.
The portent of these words is very heavy indeed.
I first started considering the question of Elven aging when I was writing AMC and had to address the question of Elven inheritance. Clearly, they had a tradition of inheritance--but why? In an immortal race? That, in turn, got me thinking about how younger generations had to compete with people literally thousands of years older than them. Would it even be possible for them to catch up?
So this ficlet was based on these musings, looking at it from the perspective of the elder and wiser as he underestimates the younger generation quite badly! (Poor Finwe, I don't usually depict him very positively ...)
I awoke to exile, adventure, damnation, and possibility.
That says it all and sets the reader up for that powerful confirmation of the narrator in that last sentence.
Finarfin's character fascinates me because he possesses courage that is much quieter than his brothers'. Yet it seems that Eldarin culture (and, based on the way he is treated in Silmfic, our fannish culture) certainly value marching off to war rather than quietly rebuilding a damaged land. Since my own inclinations tend more toward the latter, I find the intrapersonal conflicts he likely experienced irresistable!
Very nice free verse here...or at least it has the feel of free verse to me: a hybrid of prose and poetry. The cadence of "one thousand times" is striking with its evocation of what must seem to Maedhros to be ceaseless torment.
And a satisfying rendition of the Doomsman. ;^)
(The database crapped out on me last time I tried to post this reply--let's see if I can re-create what I wrote the first time! :)
Oddly enough, I wrote this happy little prose-poem in my head while eating lunch at Q'doba. I rushed back to work to write it down before I forgot it.
I thought you would like my version of Namo; you know that my Namo won't ever be caught in a rocking chair coddling elflings. ;) I wanted to show a certain distance in his character--and, actually, I think this might well be characteristic of the Valar in general, some more than others--where Elves and mortal humans are concerned. To draw an awkward metaphor, our house is invaded by ants every spring. Namo has a similar attitude toward life or death of Elves as I do when I come home and find the sink full of ants and turn on the tap anyway. Or when I annihilate them by the hundreds because they interfere with my plans and defy my will for an ant-free house!
Of course, the slightly heretical view is that Melkor was far from alone in enabling the torment of Maedhros. ;)
Heh. In vino veritas.
Passion and politics basted with wine. You've captured Maedhros and Fingon as I have come to see them, thanks to you and Oshun.
Thank you--I blame Oshun for this one as well! :D
Oh, how your way with words rings my chimes! For example...
it seeps like a somnolent fume into all corners of my life...
The glass shouts as it is broken...
I crouch beneath my worktable, blow upon frozen fingers, tremble like flightless, songless bird in a cage.
Deft nod to a disquieting theme in your vision of Fëanor: a cage.
I really had fun writing this one! I loves my purplish prose. :) The lines that you chose were favorites of mine as well, so it's good to know that what resonates with me resonates with at least one other person! :D
I'm glad someone picked up on the allusion to AMC too ... ;)