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Comments For The Tempered Steel
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.
Author's Response: Glad you managed to make it through the torture parts (even though I always thought they were a lot less gruesome than they could be). I'm like you - in the real world, physical pain is easier to deal with than psychological pain. (Or so I thought until I had my first baby. :P)
Anyway, I'm so glad that you made it through the "hard bits" and can now move forward. And I'm thrilled you like the plot!
It's funny, when I started writing, I really didn't like Fingolfin. (That's what it was like in those days, you either loved the Feanorians and hated Fingolfin, or the other way round!) But by the time I came to write him, I was so invested in the story and the characters that Fingolfin had become another human being, with feelings and everything. I think these lines were when I really realised that, and knew that I couldn't bash Fingolfin anymore... :)
Thank you for your comment!
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...
I really like those letters, the tone and the content.
And I hope the guy who is intelligent enough to keep his mouth shut is also intelligent to figure out about the Nolofinwean food shortages and tell Maedhros about them!
Author's Response: Glad you did! I wasn't sure how much of the letters I should include before everybody would grow sick of the italics, but I figured nothing wouldn't do, either. Besides, they're necessary to pick up all the stuff I left out in order to get back to writing at all... You think? ;)
Delighted to see that you're back with more of this, and I didn't realize how much I had missed it until I saw, "He sacrificed his bowl of peas and millet so he did not have to risk an argument over whether or not the messenger should be fed, and while the other was eating, he sat down on his bed and, in the cold light of a Fëanorian lamp, began to read." Oh, Findekáno!!
Author's Response: Now that you quoted that sentence, I feel horrid at how awkward it feels. Damn! >_> FindekŠno is too good for his own good sometimes. ^^
You're back!!! :D
I have missed the Nolowinwëans, just as I had missed the Fëanorians before (when Maitimo was recovering in Findekáno's keeping). I always imagined they would be better able to deal with the winter than the Fëanotians. Your take was different but it makes sense, and I always like reading about alternative interpretations. Their pride could kill them before winter ends, but that's the Noldor for you ::sigh::
I loved the letters and the idea of Tyelparma acting as Russandol's right hand (though there was a part of me that was hoping it was Russandol's left hand who wrote them. I guess it's too soon...). Kudos to Failon for knowing when to shut up, he did pretty well considering.
Looking forward to your next update!
Almost forgot, Carnistir's little PS in Maitimo's first letter was endearing; I love your take on the character :)
Author's Response: Yeah, for all their cleverness, the Noldor aren't exactly the most practical people around. ;) I suspect that in the years before the Sun, Beleriand can't have been the most warm or pleasant place, either. So it's not like the FŽanorians are altogether unprepared... and the Fingolfinians are traumatised. Glad you liked the letters! I was wondering how much of them I should actually write in, I didn't want to soak everything in italics ;) Re: the right/left hand: soon... I'm also glad you like "my" Carnistir. Somehow he's grown on me... :) Thank you for your kind words!
You wrote an update! You wrote an update!! You wrote an update!!!
(I may manage to write a comment worth reading eventually...)
Author's Response: Awww! Yeah. After months of being stuck with different drafts of this chapter, suddenly I had a revelation: Change the POV! And lo, one day later the chapter was written. Oldest trick in the book, I know. *hangs head in shame*
I'm still enjoying this, and wanted you to know that. Very well characterized, and I love the wealth of detail.
I would like you to know that the publication of this chapter set back my Calc homework time by probably two hours (who cares about Rolle's Theorem after reading about Nelyo's next big victory on his road to recovery?). I also had to go tromping off in the perma-drizzle to work off nervous energy produced by this chapter giving me inspiration on that AU I mentioned several reviews ago (whoo-hoo on defined story arcs and progress on chapter two!) I am holding you responsible, because I've learned better than to given myself responsibility for anything other than the misery of our favorite (and not so favorite) Noldor.
I was happy to see Nelyo's flash of temper here; so far, they've been confined to people he feels most comfortable with. Given the amount of emotional trauma he's been through, I find it promising that he's beginning to assert his less positive feelings with people he's not so close to. Plus, Mr. Silk Tailor was asking for it. *will rip his face off upon next physical sighting for lacking all tact and posing a threat to Nelyo's self-esteem*
I also loved how in-depth you got about Nelyo's essay; while it seems to be a general consensus that he was some sort of scholar in Tirion, most people don't go to the level of detail you did about what he wrote about; it didn't feel like some throw-away detail, and was relevant to the plot without feeling planted.
The comment about Feanaro snorting had me seriously pining for our ring-leader. (Nelyo is not allowed to make me cry over his dead father. I can only angst about so many things at once, young man. You are quite enough at the moment.)
I was... surprised... and somewhat horrified... to find myself feeling wistful at the mention of the Nolofinwions. It was a novel experience for me. And disturbing.
To cap off the emotional roller coaster, you managed to nicely avoid Nelyo conceitedly (thought justifiably) mourning the loss of his traditional beauty, which had me happy, because I don't know if I could have coped with a sad ending after everything else. Plus, it wouldn't have fit in very well with the Nelyo you've been portraying at that particular moment.
All in all, I enjoyed reading this. Can't wait for part III!
Author's Response: I offer my apologies to Monsieur Rolle, but otherwise I accept all the blame - in fact, I take it as a high compliment and am grinning like mad even as I type because I feel so absurdly flattered that not only did I keep you from your homework (which is maybe not so hard to do; I know that I always prefer reading fanfic to doing my homework ;)) but actually made you feel so restless that you braved the drizzle and moreover felt inspired to continue your AU. Squee! SQUEE!
Unsurprisingly I also enjoy the rest of your comment very much. The essay was a cause of some mental agonising (first, figuring out what it might be about; then, figuring out what Nelyo could have to say about it; finally, talking about it enough to make it appear at least vaguely feasible while at the same time not a) talking nonsense and b) boring everyone with psycho-philosophic rambling) and it's a relief that you found it believable and plot-relevant (without, or so I choose to interpret the "planted" bit, coming across as ham-fisted ^^)...
And HAH! I made you like them! Well, not hate them, anyway! o/
As there is so much sad/angsty Nelyo around, I figured I could give "my" version a more positive and determined outlook. I don't think Nelyo can have been quite as depressive as fanon often makes him; otherwise he'd have found a convenient fiery chasm (or some other way to remove himself from the scene) much sooner. No, I think his problem is rather that things very often do not look half bad, and he works extremely hard to keep them good and perhaps make them better, only to see things fall apart again and again. But angsty, permanently depressive Nelyo surely wouldn't have picked up the pieces so often (and single-handedly, too! *is glared at by annoyed muse and hides away*)...
But enough of my rambling! Again, I'm thrilled that you keep leaving these lovely long reviews, and I hope I'll be able to bring you part III (and update it behind your back, mwahahah) soon. Thank you so much!
I agree that Maglor must have been a competent leader--otherwise Maedhros would have been unlikely to entrust him with the defence of what seems to have been the most vulnerable section of the Marches of Maedhros. As for the period after Maedhros's capture, if you stick with the canon, as you do here, you end up with this unfortunate business of prolonged non-communication with Fingolfin and his people (although I'm personally inclined to blame the author rather than Maglor or Fingolfin for it being quite so unreasonably long). You've done your best to deal with that and certainly Maglor seems to have managed to ensure amazing prosperity among the Feanorians. I had always assumed they were not all that much better off than the others, apart from the horses--to be sure, they had had better means of transport, but the way the departure from Tirion is described, I had imagined the Feanorians more or less rushing off, sword in hand, and forgetting to pack, while it was the Finarfinians who brought up the rear with the luggage. And now--even new silk gowns! Mulberry trees and silkworms in Hithlum? Well, Middle-earth botany at this stage is pretty crazy anyway. Or maybe it is a rough translation of the relevant Quenya term, and is really a different but similarly precious fabric. Anyway, I'm glad that Maedhros is thinking of Fingolfin and Fingon. It's not all that long since he left, I guess, and he's still very weak, but that situation has gone on far too long and surely they all know it. I rather wanted to know what was in that letter to Fingon, but none of my business, I suppose.
Umm, sorry--a bit of a long ramble here!
Author's Response: No apologies necessary - I love rambly comments, as they allow me to start rambling in return! ;)
It's funny you mention the mulberry trees, as I was thinking about those a lot recently (I figure I'll eventually write an essay on the topic of Middle-earth plant-life, but... later). In my personal understanding, the Noldor brought a lot of stuff - not just horses, but other animals (up to and including silk worms ;)), as well as seeds and seedlings). If the FŽanorians didn't think of packing something, the Fingolfinians and Finarfinians may have. But where do you put all that heavy luggage, once you happen to have acquired those handy Telerin ships...? In my reading, in the end the FŽanorians got most of what the others prudently remembered to pack. (Another injustice that Maedhros will have to deal with!)
So that explains the 'exotic' bits - the oranges, the silk. On top of that, they have 12 years (or whatever) of a headstart, so they certainly had time to find out where to look for timber, for clay, for quartz and all other sorts of materials (especially since they weren't doing any major fighting after the Battle-under-Stars). They had time to grow plants and gather provisions, to breed animals and find the best hunting grounds. So while they didn't pack properly, they nonetheless end up wealthy.
Of course, that's just my interpretation and you don't have to buy it!
As for the letter, there probably wasn't all that much private information in it. Maedhros had to dictate it after all, so Caranthir (and possibly Varnacanyo, or one of the brothers or healers) got to hear it all. So Maedhros could neither talk a lot about his reception among the others or his longing for Fingon (for fear of offending), nor even talk much about his illness (for fear of making Fingon worry). All the secret juicy stuff will come later, once Maedhros has learned to write again. ;)
Right! See? I love rambling. But now I'm done for the time being. Thank you for your review and your thoughts!
It's a little hard reading and ending with such a hopeful feeling knowing everything that'll happen to them... that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it! This chapter left me smiling: Maitimo and the scholar, his little "vengance" against the robes guy, Macalaurë and Ambarrusa's happiness at having him with them, Tyelkormo combing his hair (LOL)...
Liked the contrast between the old and the new: in fashion, in Maitimo's way of thinking (he really was naïve, they all were), in his looks (and how the simple act of smiling made such a difference).
Looking forward to part III. There is a part III, right?
Author's Response: I find it hard to think of all the nasty things that are going to come to the FŽanorians (et al), too. *sighs* All the more reason to grant them a few cheerful moments though, I guess! ;)
Yes, there will be a part III (the muses willing)! The problem is just that I only ever wrote the story this far; and now I'm entering the exam phase, so I won't have any time for writing (for fun, that is) in the next couple of months. So there'll be a break for a while. After that, however, I'll hopefully manage to bring this story to an end - which definitely means a part III. :)
This was very well done. It's not easy to write a scene like this and make it real without being dramatic. I don't always comment, but I am enjoying this story greatly.
Author's Response: Thank you so much! And please don't worry about not always commenting - while I love and treasure comments and I'm delighted that some people comment on every chapter, I perfectly understand that sometimes one doesn't have time, or doesn't quite know what to say, or whichever! (I'm a notoriously bad commenter myself.) So that's fine! :)
"Yes, Cáno, I have. No wearing myself out, let Varnacanyo know, send people home. As you say," he shot Macalaurë a sly upwards glance, "my king."
Actually, what I'd been thinking in this chapter and the last is that Macalaurë does make a good king of the Noldor (which I had never realized in any other story I've read about these events), so Maitimo's decision to transfer power elsewhere will come as even more of a blow to his brothers (though, perhaps, not to Macalaurë himself, who I think sees himself more as a loyal and loving "younger" brother than he does as a ruler. I have tremendous sympathy for him now!)
Author's Response: Yay! One of the goals I'd set myself when I started to write this was to depict MacalaurŽ as a perfectly decent king, because I was so tired of seeing him depicted as the whiny, incapable "But I'm an aaaaahtist!" sort you find so often. As the House of FŽanor and their followers managed to survive the span between Maitimo's disappearance and return without any further losses, someone must have kept them together and governed them (relatively) wisely. While Tolkien doesn't tell us who that someone was, it's reasonable to assume that the next in line - MacalaurŽ - would be it. For that matter, I can't recall any instances of whiny, incapable MacalaurŽ in the book; the whiniest thing he does is, in the end, suggesting that they forego their oath and accept judgement... which, considering the whole story, seems to suggest great strength (and a penchant for unpopular but wise decisions ;)). So, yeah. Strong and capable MacalaurŽ. Thank you for letting me know that it appears to have worked!