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Reviews For The Tempered Steel
I found this amazing story by chance - looking at the new chapters posted for the first time or so (I'm still getting the hang of these archives). I've read it trough in one go - mostly, that is; I had to skip most of the first part until Maitimo was released, it was too intense and painful for me at that moment, because it was so very real and believable. But I will re-read this story without any doubt at least once, and then the whole of it.
Now to the part I acutally read - this is not my first story about Maitimo's rescue and recuperation, and I enjoyed your take on this enormously. I liked the bitter and brutal realism of it all, and the way how you made everybody's character and actions so real and believable, and so easily imaginable I had often the impression I was seeing it all happen around me. Your original characters are deligthful, too; particularly Tamurille.
Thank you for giving me so many hours of wonderful reading with your story.
Author's Response: First off, thank you so much for your comment! I'm very happy that you found it, and even happier that you read it, and especially happy that you took the time to let me know that you enjoyed it. Of course, I'm also tickled that you found it believable, and that you like my original characters. I hope I'll be able to give them more "screen time" in future stories - particularly Tamurille!
I'm sorry that you found the bits about Maitimo's ordeal too painful to read! Being a vain author and possibly a bad person, I have to admit that I'm going to take that as high praise. While writing this, I was wondering often enough whether I was making the suffering real enough, or whether I might be pussyfooting around the gory details too much. Getting feedback like yours suggests that I made it sufficiently intense, and that makes me kind of proud. Please don't feel that you're obliged to read the whole of it, though, if it is too unpleasant for you! I know that there are topics that I give a wide berth if I can, and you're welcome to do the same.
Again, thank you so much for your lovely review!
I will soon take the time to read this story from beginning to end again, because although you say that other stories have dealt with Maitimo's recovery to a level of satisfaction for you, this has not been the case for me; I have never found a story that truly made me sigh at the end and say: "Alright. This was how it could have gone"
I loved every time I saw there was an update from silmarillion writer's guild, because I only have one favourited story on here; yours.
I even have a printed out version of it and I absolutely adore the story and I am so glad you did not give up half way, because it was a story I wished to see finished.
So thank you for writing and letting me have the chance to read.
Author's Response: Oh, wow. I'm actually not quite sure how to respond to this, because I feel at the very flattered but also rather scared - scared that I'll disappoint you, too, so you'll sigh at the end and say "Well, damn. Another one failed"!
At the same time, of course, I'm thrilled that you seem to think this story might have a chance of handling the topic in a satisfactory manner, and that you've faved it and printed it out and everything. Squee! Thank you so much for letting me know!
Now I can only hope that you'll enjoy it and won't feel let down by the end.
You did it! You finished it!! Congratulations!!!
Ouch! He slaps him? I realize that Maitimo has knocked him off balance, but...!
At least Findekano has his moment of glory.
Author's Response: I don't think it's an off-balance thing - like FindekŠno wants to shout, it's really rather a symbolic deed than anything serious. Personally, I think it's a clever choice: To most of the Noldor, it'll pretty horrible, bad enough to be accepted as symbolic revenge (an Elf striking another! And in public, too!); to Maitimo, once he's gotten over the initial shock, it's nothing; and as payment for the theft and burning of the ships, it's a very low price. Or that was what I thought! ;)
Yep, FindekŠno can finally be celebrated now!
Oh, I see! I am a little slow! Now I can more easily see chosing to write that if the idea of psychological torture is more painful for you. It is hard to write suffering in general, isn't it? It costs something very real of the writer on an internal level. I find it harder read since I had children than I did in my callow youth also. My empathy with suffering of others and imagination is much stronger since I became a mother. Not that I was cruel before! I have always been soft-hearted; but am much more so now. Something about being responsible for the well-being, even the survival, of another human being hones those instincts.
Author's Response: I'm not too uncomfortable with the physical aspect, strangely (maybe a result of having two medical doctors for parents; the stuff they discussed at the everyday dinner table might make more sensitive minds run for the bathroom) - as long as no kids are involved. I definitely have grown very touchy on that subject since I've become a mother; I make wide berths around stories that involve (say) Lalaith, or Nimloth's twins. I know it's fiction, but augh, it just hits me too hard! You're probably right, something changes in your brain when you're a parent. Dangers suddenly feel a lot more real.
Mind you, I could never handle psychological pressure well - neither in real life nor in fiction. These days I find it pretty much unbearable. Maybe because with physical torture, if I read about it or see it on TV, I know that my own body is perfectly safe. But psychological or emotional abuse -- well, it's in the mind, and if I read it, it's in my mind, so in a way, it actually affects me. No clue whether that really makes sense, but that's what it feels like to me.
Your version is in a totally different world than mine. You would probably hate mine. I have Morgoth pretty much using psychological torture with him instead of mainly physical (it is near the end of my novel A New Day as a flash back and there may be more in future fics--in my version, Maedhros did not like to talk about it, although he did have a lot of nightmares). I was tired of the trope of no-longer-beautiful Maitimo and/or 25 years or so of torture--it did not feel to me like he would have enough of a brain left to do anything if it had been like that and lasted that long. Doesn't mean I cannot enjoy a good story that goes that route. I also relied a lot on a good friend/relative of mine who was tortured in Chile under Pinochet.
Author's Response: I'd probably find it hard to read yours because the mere idea of psychological torture hits me a lot harder than the idea of physical torture (I know that probably makes no sense! I'm just a lot more queasy when things move to a psychological level), but that doesn't mean I'd hate it - it sounds like a worthwhile interpretation (although I'm very, very glad I didn't have to write it; not sure I could have put up with the research, especially if it meant talking to a friend who actually suffered something like that! *shudders*). In my "world", I can always fall back on some blah about the resilience of the Feanorian mind and the purported supremacy the Elvish mind has over the mere physical, or something!
I can't wait to read what happens next.
Author's Response: I could roughly tell you what happens next, but I'm still trying to work out the details, and you're probably more interested in those than in what you can find in the Silmarillion anyway... I hope I won't keep you waiting for too long! Thank you for all your lovely reviews - what a nice surprise to come home to. :)
Well, the bread threw me. One I presumed the meant lembas and not all kinds of bread and, anyway, I am sure there were a ton of women with the Feanorians. I guess I missed that point entirely. Oh, well. It's your story to imagine as you will.
Author's Response: It's not a matter of women, it's a matter of ladies (i.e., women of noble birth or married to noblemen). The Quenya word massaniŽ, translated as "lady", literally means bread-giver, which makes sense if you look at the etymology of English "lady" (literally, "loaf-kneader" or "loaf-giver"), which Tolkien of course knew. So bread cannot be made by just any woman, but by the (adult) women of the ruling house. The FŽanorians are short on sisters and on wives, so they must go without bread for the time being. --
Now, the mas- element in massaniŽ is, of course, the same as in coimas (Quenya for Sindarin lembas); however, I can't help noticing that "lady" is not coimassaniŽ. Either, even the most circumlocutory Quendi considered that a bit too unwieldy - or the lady really is responsible for all sorts of bread. Except maybe unleavened flat wafers, but those have religious meaning for some people, so I didn't want to mess with them.
Interestingly, while the English word "lord" also has a relationship to bread (the Anglo-Saxon word literally means 'loaf-guardian'), no such connection exists in Quenya. In Anglo-Saxon society, apparently the lord's wife made the bread, and the lord dealt it out; among the Eldar, both the making and the giving of bread are the lady's job. (If there is a lady.)
So it's not strictly speaking my imagination alone - rather, it's my attempt to come to terms with just what the hell the crazy old professor may have had in mind with that particular linguistic tidbit. ;) I apologise for the etymology lesson!
I like the choice of Astaldo--may I borrow that with credit. of course, if I need it? I like the idea that "the Valient" was his mother name.
I am feeling bad for Nolofinwe, all those damaged people to care for and having to invent how he might possibly move from hardship to something a little better. Still no horses from the Feanarions? And the messenger even had to walk? Interesting details though and I love the scribe. And the references to his first healer.
I should be working on something else, but am reading this whenever I have a few moments.
Author's Response: By all means - with or without credit, really! The more people share my interpretation, the more "canonic" it feels. ;) *ducks and runs*
Yes, the horses will only come later once Maitimo finds his footing.
It's funny, back when I started writing this story, I had very little sympathy for NolofinwŽ. But the more I had to write about him, the more I came care and feel sorry for him and his followers! -- Yes, the messenger had to walk. Elves may be able to walk on snow, but I am less certain about Elven horses. If I dump a healthy load of snow on Hithlum, I can't send them gallivanting around on horses unless they shovel, shovel, shovel first. (Or invent the snowplough-sleigh, I suppose.) IstimŽ is another character who more or less just showed up out of necessity, and then grew on me more and more.
Awww! You make me so happy by telling me that. *hugs*
You are doing such a magnificient job with all of these details. This chapter made me cry. I cannot properly review. This entire period is very personal for me, because I lived with it myself for a year or so and spent countless hours, and every day, imagining how I thought it must have played out. It is a real credit to your writing that you can make me accept the differences and enjoy reading your version.
Author's Response: Sorry I made you cry, although I suppose I did something right then? Either way, thank you for reviewing anyway! This part of the story was what made me start this fic in the first place, because I wasn't satisfied with how I'd seen this handled in any other story I had read back then (in 2007!) and eventually decided I'd have to try myself. I'm not perfectly satisfied with my version, either - I should read yours, I don't think I have read it so far!
I'm thrilled you didn't find the differences between our two versions too jarring. That sometimes happens to me, when I invested a lot of heartblood in a story and I read an interpretation that goes totally against "my" version. So I'm doubly glad that this is working for you anyway!
I am finally reading this! I have been wanting to read this for years. But, sadly, I am a delicate person. I could not read the first two chapters. Finally, last night I decided it would not kill me to try to get through the torture parts. Yay! I made it.
I really like the setup in this chapter now that I am here. Going forward should be easier. I can take psychological punishment in fiction easier than physical. In real life, I do better with physical torment and not so well with mental anguish.
Anyway, I am getting very excited about the plot. Really liked these lines. They moved me a lot. Very simple, but telling.
How dare you threaten me after what happened? How dare you disregard my grief? Russandol was like a brother to me…"
"I, too, lost my brother!" shouted Nolofinwë in reply, exploding in his turn.
Good to see his making progress. Varnacanyo is to be congratulated for the dancing idea.
I guess he's going to need all his new-gained strength now. "At least once"? Hmm.
Author's Response: If all goes well, there are only two chapters left to write! O.ů (Oh well. I expect I'll end up with endless conversations and need at least five more chapters! ;))
Yes, he still has his work cut out for him! And yes, hmm-hmm!
I like the matchmaking part.
The other part isn't exactly there to be liked, is it? (Curvo, OUCH!!!)
Author's Response: Oh, glad you do! I was sort of worried that it would distract from the story, but Caranthir wouldn't shut up and I figured it might at least balance out the OUCH of the rest.
Which I guess really isn't to be liked - I'd settle for "credible" or "makes sense" or "consistent" or something along those lines. (And yes, Curvo, OUCH!!! I figure he's got a fine mind for strategy, but he needs to readjust his ethics...)
I have spent a couple of days reading this (the first part again) and enjoying it as much as the first time. It is wonderfully complex and thought-provoking, deeply reflective and casts so many different lights upon this period. You have made it so utterly'real', unvarnishing the rather glossed over story that Tolkien left us and really unpicking that higely complex relationship between the two Houses. And such great writing. Wonderful.
Author's Response: Wow, thank you for your praise and your lovely review! I'm thrilled that you're enjoying this story and that it feels 'real' to you. I hope you continue to enjoy it!
"Second helpings!" Well, it was high time for it. I'm glad to see the Fingolfinians finally get a proper meal.
I suppose it is the way things do work-- at first Findekano was rather uncomfortable being praised but in retrospect it means more to him than he expected?
I hope he manages to break out of that isolation--he may be contributing toward it himself, but it also seems to be something that is really there.
Author's Response: They're glad about it as well, I'm sure. ;)
Something that is really there... now. I'm still not certain that it doesn't look too "pastede on", as the meme went a while back - the contrast between Fingon's hero status among the Feanorians, and his outsider status among the Fingolfinians, was an idea that only came to me while writing the last couple of chapters, so I'm not entirely certain that it doesn't contradict stuff I wrote earlier. >_> If I ever manage to get this finished (which should only be three or four more chapters away! O.ů), I suppose the next step will be a massive edit/rewrite. Which probably shows that publishing a WiP doesn't really work well for me. Oh well. Lesson learned...
Anyway, thank you!
Oh, this is fantastic! I really appreciate the treatment of the complexity of the situation here - how Findekano starts to recognize how Feanor's followers would have seen things, how that is not treated as sufficient to set everything right, how you manage not to villainize anyone.
It's so rare to see conflict that isn't on some level about poor communication. But your Fingon and Maedhros are intensely self-aware, very very good at communicating with each other, and care about each other deeply, and it's not enough. It's heartbreaking. You capture that incredibly well. And I would give anything at all to hear Macalaure's song.
Author's Response: Thank you so much! As I admire the way you treat these things in In the Interest..., I'm thrilled that you seem to think I did the complexity of the situation justice!
Yes, there are so many issues to be resolved... meaning well just isn't enough! Glad that gets across convincingly.
And I'd love to hear Macalaure's songs as well. If only!
How complex. Not that I expected things to become simple of a sudden but...
Author's Response: Yeah, it's not getting any easier... that's why it's taking me so long to finish new chapters, too! >_>
Such a lot you packed into this chapter! No, I'm not surprised that they haven't got around to that dinner yet.
And, yes, I'm sure Beleriand must have been a dangerous place in those early days. We don't hear much about it, but it seems unlikely that Feanor and Maedhros's companions at the parley were the only ones who diesd.
Author's Response: And I hadn't planned on any of it! They were supposed to talk a bit, sleep, and go to the party. Instead they just kept talking and talking and talking forever! And it's all important stuff, so I didn't want to curtail it. I do feel stupid about taking three chapters for two bloody days, but sometimes that's just how it goes... :P
I think many of us seriously underestimate how hard those early days in Beleriand must have been. I certainly never considered it at all until Dawn brought it up in a fic, and then I felt rather silly for not having thought about that...
A great chapter! I might have known that your Findekano wouldn't take easily to being hero-worshipped. His uneasy feelings and the undercurrents among the brothers at dinner are convincingly told and fascinating--there is so much going on between them, as of course ther would be.
Author's Response: So glad it works for you! :)
I've followed this story for a long time now, and it's high time I mentioned how much I love it! Maedhros, Fingon, Maglor, they're all so wonderfully realized. And the worldbuilding -- stunning! But really, it's Fingon I adore especially, his correspondense with Maedhros. I look forward to more chapters in the future. Thank you for writing such a wonderful story!
Author's Response: Thank you so much! I hope you continue to enjoy the story. It's lovely comments like yours that keep me going.
You updated!! You updated!!!
Coherent comments later...
I found this story yesterday and I haven't been able to put it down! By the first chapter I knew I had stumbled upon a great find. I love it, I love it, I love it! What makes me love a story is weighed upon how much of the little details are put in – and you certainly did so. A lot of people skip over how bitter and confused the two Noldor groups must of been toward each other. You described it perfectly and subtlely.
Many have written on what happened to Maitimo, but you have been my favorite hands down! The atmosphere and imagery for the torture scenes are on par. The pacing is well done so that it was given time to make me feel great sympathy but just enough so that I wasn't skipping over paragraphs or wishing you to get on with it.
I have to say though, as well as those parts are done (and they are seamless) my favorite part about this story is the detail and relationships. Maitimo and Findekáno make me want to cry and smile at the same time. They are so loving and supportive! I love how you portrayed Maitimo's brothers (and no so little Celebrimbor) They're relationship is so believable. I could just gush forever on how much I love how you portrayed them! (Also, thank you for including Carnistir, as other than Maitimo, he is my favorite. Its refreshing that you made him to be more brooding and quiet rather than hot headed and screaming at everyone)
Goodness, I could just go on and on! I think if Tolkien ever would have written about this time in the Silmarillion it would look similar to this. Fantastic work and keep writing!
Author's Response: Wow, thank you so much for your wonderful and enthusiastic review! I'm so thrilled you like my version of the events around and after Maitimo's rescue, and that you enjoy the way I'm interpreting the brothers FŽanorian as well as the relationships between the two hosts of the Noldor. I don't think Tolkien would've written quite the same story - I think his focus was elsewhere, not on the details of daily life and the psychological and social aspects. But I'm still flattered by your compliment, of course. :)
Thank you so much, again!
I was surprised and glad to see the story continue. I look forward to reading more. :) As previously, I liked the official sort-of rigid formal exchanges the best.
Author's Response: Welcome back! I hope I'll be able to provide. :)
Finding some sort of balance between the Ars Dictaminis and the (presumably) more cordial tone between the cousins wasn't easy, and I'm not always certain I'm doing it well. So I'm really glad you liked it!
Excellent writing, Lyra. I was drawn right in to poor Maitimo's plight. Wearing his armor on the march to Angband and then having to wear it as his shackles was a great touch. I feel for him completely in this situation. And the torture feels real without dwelling overmuch on gruesome details. Melkor coming along and being gentle. Ooooh. *shivers* Well done.
Author's Response: Yay, someone who's new to the party!
I'm so glad you enjoy this. I actually had to reread the chapter to remember the parts you mentioned. I've forgotten how long I've been living with this story by now.
Anyway, thank you for your generous comment! I hope you enjoy the following chapters, too :)
Another letter! I was waiting to read it almost as anxiously as Findekano.
I thought that was a great scene on the ice of the lake. Good to see Findekano's impulsiveness have a liberating effect on the Nolofinweans--also showing that too much deliberation is not always a good thing...
Author's Response: I think they desperately needed some form of catharsis, too. They are Noldor, after all! ^^ Of course I'm thrilled you were anxious to read that letter! I was debating with myself whether it was too soon to have yet another letter, but I couldn't wait...