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MEFA Reviews for Tuesday, November 18, 2008

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  • annmarwalk
    Title: A Moment in the Morning in Bree · Author: Budgielover · Races: Cross-Cultural · ID: 731 Reviewer: Dwimordene · 2008-11-18 03:22:20 [the getting to
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 18, 2008
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      Title: A Moment in the Morning in Bree · Author: Budgielover · Races:
      Cross-Cultural · ID: 731
      Reviewer: Dwimordene · 2008-11-18 03:22:20
      [the 'getting to know you' period during which strangers become
      friends] reads the tag line. Alternatively, one could find new
      temptations to strangling certain traveling companions!

      Amusing - I can sympathize with the sentiment in that last line, even
      as I laugh.

      Title: Heart of the Wood · Author: Kenaz · Races: Cross-Cultural:
      Friendship · ID: 60
      Reviewer: Dwimordene · 2008-11-18 03:48:23
      Spoilers!
      Although I don't generally go with this interpretation of Elves, the
      writing and the power of the emotional sweep of the story are
      impressive. The pieces of the story tumble by and down the way to
      consummation, and one can believe that despite Túrin's infamous
      temper, pride, and sullenness, Beleg would still love him.

      The shift from a linear perspective, that builds towards the
      anticipated climax or at least establishment of the (limited)
      relationship of the two to a retrospective is well-done. Kenaz uses it
      to great effect and reminds us of the burden of memory, but also that
      sometimes we love our burdens and cannot easily relinquish them - not
      even if we are Elves.

      Thanks, Kenaz!

      Title: The Revenge of Curufin's Horse · Author: Moreth · Genres: Humor
      · ID: 139
      Reviewer: Linda Hoyland · 2008-11-18 04:13:08
      A delightful story concerning a horse with more horse sense than
      anyone might guess! One usually only remembers the hound in stories
      about Luthien and Beren so it is high time the horse got its fair due.
      I don't usually read Simarillion stories but I enjoyed this.

      Title: Tolo Dan Na Ngalad · Author: Elwen · Races: Hobbits · ID: 735
      Reviewer: Dwimordene · 2008-11-18 04:14:20
      Spoilers!
      Three days while Elrond tries to determine what is wrong and how to
      cure it are three days worth telling of - the story picks a good gap
      to fill!

      Elwen makes good use of what Tolkien gives us canonically, and then
      fills in with a sort of telepathic set of healing sessions that are
      about as much fun as surgery without anaesthesia for poor Elrond. The
      stakes are higher than we think, even, as elven rings come into active
      play for the first time since Elrond became Vilya's bearer.

      Good job of infusing suspense into an interval that might have lacked
      it just because we know the final outcome!

      Title: Black Memory · Author: mrkinch · Races: Villains: Fixed-Length
      Ficlets · ID: 603
      Reviewer: Linda Hoyland · 2008-11-18 04:15:36
      An interesting drabble.We love reading of Luthien's heroism ,but
      sometimes forget the horrors she must have witnessed.This drabble
      provides a clear and chilling reminder.

      Title: Boromir at the Bat · Author: White Gull · Genres: Poetry: Late
      Third Age · ID: 632
      Reviewer: Linda Hoyland · 2008-11-18 04:18:31
      A delightfully amusing poem which I have to admit reflects some of my
      own feelings about Boromir whom I pity but cannot say I exactly like.

      Title: Dol Amroth Yule · Author: Isabeau of Greenlea · Genres:
      Adventure · ID: 295
      Reviewer: Dwimordene · 2008-11-18 04:34:12
      Spoilers!
      No matter what point in the Unabeauverse you start with, there is one
      constant (okay, there are more constants than that, but this one is
      magnetic north): being Andrahar's pupil is a trial that will make or
      break you. Here, we have Andrahar and Hethlin at their absolute worst
      with each other - or at least, Andrahar is at his worst. Hethlin is
      just trying to survive his tutelage and barely managing it on native
      talent, endurance, and native stubbornness that won't give in if he won't.

      So when she steps right into the middle of an old feud one dark Yule
      night, things explode, believably and messily. One of the things we
      tend to forget because we have the luxury of it is that all our heroes
      (and heroines - well, in this story, anyway) are violent people. They
      can and will and have killed others - to survive, to render justice,
      but sometimes also because they want to on top of all of that.
      Andrahar shows that darker side of a killer's constitution with Heth
      and it would all be just part of a day composed of good and bad in
      measures Heth doesn't try to specify, but that there's an
      assassination in the offing this Yuletide.

      At that point, Andrahar's work with her, despite all their troubles,
      bears fruit. There are layers of irony to it, especially thinking of
      later stories, where we know more of Andrahar's background - obviously
      it's his own training that saves the day in the person of the student
      he least likes, but there's more than that. Unlike Heth, he can speak
      Khandian, yet he doesn't hear what Heth hears; that 'deafness'
      resonates well, actually, with the fact that that night, their
      troubles started over language and Heth's refusal, as it were, to
      weaponize what should be used to create understanding. Then there's
      the fact that Hethlin, as a woman and warrior, is able to recognize
      another woman warrior, where Andrahar's culturally-inculcated bias
      blind him and everyone present.

      It's a nice, cathartic little sidebar story, and though I know Isabeau
      has always planned a few alterations to it, I quite like it as it
      stands. It's bitter and angry where it needs to be, and the come-down
      from those emotions is believably handled and shot through with a
      violence appropriate to the temperaments of those involved.

      Thanks for the great story, Isabeau!

      Title: The Librarian · Author: Jay of Lasgalen · Races: Elves: Family
      · ID: 700
      Reviewer: mbumpus_99 · 2008-11-18 04:37:35
      Raising an intelligent child is always a challenge, but when Legolas
      is aided in his flights of imagination by a librarian like that... No
      wonder Thranduil was tearing his hair.

      Very nicely written, Jay. Thank you.

      Title: Best Three Falls, No Gouging · Author: Brigantine · Genres:
      Humor: Gondor · ID: 587
      Reviewer: stefaniab · 2008-11-18 06:25:08
      Spoilers!
      Purely fluff and a total howl. At the tail end of my hefty quota of
      MEFA awards, it's so nice to read a story that is nonsensical,
      whimsical, and simply a lot of fun. Brigantine has Merry and Pippin
      provide commentary to a totally implausible brother/sister combat
      between Eomer and Eowyn, the latter with her arm still in a sling.
      Matters get even more ridiculous as Faramir stolidly enters, wondering
      if he should try to end the battle.

      The dialog, particularly the banter between Merry and Pippin, is what
      drives this story. It gets devilishly racey, but never in bad taste,
      as adding Faramir to the mix really increases the riotous hobbit
      commentary.

      Title: The Wanderer · Author: Lackwit · Genres: Adventure: Incomplete
      · ID: 627
      Reviewer: phyloxena · 2008-11-18 07:24:08
      Spoilers!
      A wonderful beginning. Faramir returns to Ithilien after the long
      absence, unrecognized, unexpected, and largely believed to be dead.
      The story is very well written, very tense, abundant with beautiful
      details. I hope there will be more of it. "Odyssey", of course, is one
      of the best stories ever - I wonder how close it is possible to knit
      it with what is plausible for the Middle-Earth. One of the obvious
      questions a reader wishes to see answered is why the king wouldn't
      take care of Ithilien in the prince's absence: is he deceived,
      oblivious, incapable?

      Title: The Pillar Perished Is · Author: Imhiriel · Times: First Age
      and Prior: House of Finwe · ID: 356
      Reviewer: Inkling · 2008-11-18 07:57:30
      Spoilers!
      This is a devastating glimpse of the anguished mind of Fëanor as he
      departs Valinor, his inner turmoil mirrored by the wonderfully
      evocative images of storm-tossed ship and raging elements.

      By focusing on the death of Finwë rather than the loss of the
      Silmarils as the driving force behind Fëanor's disastrous behavior
      (and citing the canon passage to back this up), Imhiriel has made him
      much more sympathetic than he otherwise would be. We see him oblivious
      to the death and destruction he leaves in his wake, to his confused,
      exhausted sons [ghostly shades], even to his precious Silmarils...all
      pale compared to the loss of his father; all guilt, regret, and drive
      for vengeance emanate from this one obsessive grief.

      His hubris is perfectly captured here, as he imagines himself equal to
      the challenge of battling Morgoth--making me think of Mandos' laconic
      prophecy: "To me shall Fëanor come soon."

      A fine portrait of a complex, tragic figure.


      Title: One Step More - The Heroism of Frodo Baggins · Author:
      ConnieMarie · Genres: Non-Fiction: Character Studies · ID: 395
      Reviewer: Inkling · 2008-11-18 08:31:50
      This essay should be required reading for anyone--inside or outside
      the fandom--who "doesn't get" the appeal of Frodo. It's not the
      unrestrained gushing of a rabid fan but rather a rational, clear-eyed,
      footnoted analysis of the nature of Frodo's heroism, contrasted with
      popular culture's predominant action heroes.

      ConnieMarie explains it better than I ever could, with elegant clarity
      and simplicity, and in deeply moving personal terms. She expresses
      what I think many of us feel but may not have clearly articulated,
      even to ourselves: how a character in a work some dismiss as escapist
      fantasy (be it Frodo or so many others in Tolkien's world) can be such
      a profound real-life comfort or inspiration.


      Title: I Stand No Longer Alone · Author: Larner · Races: Men: Minas
      Tirith · ID: 62
      Reviewer: Inkling · 2008-11-18 08:36:27
      The old adage "If walls could talk" gets a new twist in this cleverly
      imagined glimpse of Aragorn's ascent to the throne from a most unusual
      POV. I like the allusion to Thorongil in the almost-familiar tread.
      No, no mistake there...it was just the timing that was wrong. And I
      love the idea of [the stones of the city itself ringing with joy!]
      Nicely done.

      Title: Jewels of Light · Author: Larner · Races: Cross-Cultural:
      Friendship · ID: 394
      Reviewer: Inkling · 2008-11-18 08:40:07
      This is lovely. Through just a few beautifully drawn metaphors Larner
      has conveyed so much about the budding friendship of Elf and Dwarf,
      and about each member of the Fellowship observed. I especially liked
      the passage where the light of Frodo and Aragorn is caught in the
      faces of Merry, Pippin, and Boromir, as planets reflect the sun. And
      Gimli and Legolas as perfectly matched twin stars!

      Title: Wave-Singer · Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn) · Genres:
      Alternate Universe: Drabbles · ID: 33
      Reviewer: Robinka · 2008-11-18 08:56:31
      An evocative glimpse at what might have been Maglor's ultimate fate.
      Powerful writing, and I love the narrator's voice in this drabble.

      Title: Cuts Gone Wrong · Author: Dwimordene · Times: Mid Third Age:
      Eriador · ID: 156
      Reviewer: Nancy Brooke · 2008-11-18 14:45:39
      Spoilers!
      When I began this story I thought 'well this will be a charming tale
      of growing-up Aragorn. Nice' though I noticed particularly how well
      the dialog was done. But as I continued I realized it was that and
      much more. This story incorporates wonderful, true-feeling, imaginings
      of Ranger heirarchy and practices, as well as Dunedain society. The
      characters are real and three dimensional, while still fitting neatly
      into useful archetypes. This is an excellent story, endowing a fairly
      common story - lessons of growing up learned - with extraordinary
      depth and richly, uniquely imagined details.

      Title: Taking Roots · Author: Imhiriel · Genres: Romance: Drabbles ·
      ID: 367
      Reviewer: dkpalaska · 2008-11-18 18:22:37
      Spoilers!
      Imhiriel has captured an unusual look at Galadriel, to say the least.
      "Uncertain" is most definitely not a description I'd normally pull out
      of my readings of Tolkien's works, but I think it works really well
      under these circumstances and with this particular witness.

      In the first place, it is an arrogant individual who never feels the
      need to question; while I definitely characterize Galadriel as proud,
      that's a different thing. While all Elves have an affinity for Arda,
      and I've always assumed that meant a deeper tie to *all* of Arda's
      aspects, it's an established and natural precedent that some Elves are
      better at some things. Here, Galadriel is acknowledging that she's in
      the presence of a Master of his craft, which she is dabbling in.

      Second, if there was anyone she would feel comfortable revealing this
      lack of sureness to, it would be her husband of... how many centuries?
      Reading this from Celeborn's perspective, I get a lovely sense of his
      mingled respect and love (and yes, perhaps a bit of indulgence *g*).

      The whole work both fleshes out Galadriel a little more for me by
      showing a less-than-typical aspect of her, and provides a marvelous
      snapshot moment that encapsulates much of this Middle-earth couple's
      marriage.

      Title: Call of the Wild · Author: annmarwalk · Genres: Romance:
      Drabbles · ID: 94
      Reviewer: dkpalaska · 2008-11-18 18:23:27
      Spoilers!
      Oh, magnificent! I got shivers reading this: from the description of
      Thengel, yes (woohoo! *swoon*), but most particularly from Morwen's
      emotions at the end.

      The descriptive writing is wonderful and lovingly employed, well
      befitting the thoughts of a would-be lover. Thengel's characteristics
      come across perfectly; I especially adore the animal imagery, because
      it captures my impressions of the Rohirrim so well (admittedly a bit
      influenced by movie-Eomer's hair) and highlights what makes him stand
      out from the crowd.

      Other maidens might see such an untamed and untamable being as
      threatening or worthy of dismissal. Morwen's opposite reaction is
      excellently captured, and leaves me wondering what has made her so
      different from her peers. She's a female character I wouldn't mind
      knowing a lot more about.

      I love how all of it also leads to thinking of another Gondor-Rohan
      alliance that will come further down the road for kin of these two,
      and whether there was a similar fiery attraction.

      Title: The Waker · Author: Nancy Brooke · Races: Villains:
      Fixed-Length Ficlets · ID: 287
      Reviewer: dkpalaska · 2008-11-18 18:24:32
      What an awesome take on the prompt that inspired this... The drabble
      is subtle, with some truly inspired writing that definitely carries
      the feeling of instinctual response versus any intellectual capacity,
      and lends a distinctive voice to this voiceless one. The sounds we do
      get are not even of the creature's making, but what wakes it. Somehow,
      the connotation, phrasing... I can't put my finger on it exactly, but
      the author manages to place me right where this happens in the books
      or movies, almost immediately, even though it's never explicitly
      stated either in the drabble or in any author's notes.

      The rhythm and rhyme of the words, the careful structure, are all
      extremely well employed; it feels nearly poetic. The author also does
      a good job of expressing everything from this foreign being's
      perspective. (The clever inference about shallow water injuring the
      eyes, and the remembered flavor of certain prey, for example.)

      And the last section to the ending - I can only say again: inspired.
      The one true temptation for this creature and how it is unveiled is
      simply brilliant. Great writing, great PoV and a neat final twist.

      Title: Gone Amiss · Author: Raksha the Demon · Genres: Drama: Ring War
      Drabbles · ID: 44
      Reviewer: dkpalaska · 2008-11-18 18:25:04
      Spoilers!
      Wow, such a believable and wrenching outpouring of grief and regret...
      While certainly they shared their differences of opinion, and may have
      found themselves at times opposing each other in the future, I agree
      very much with what Raksha shows: that Aragorn at the least respected
      Boromir as a warrior and as a man capable of the Stewardship of
      Gondor, and deeply mourned his death.

      Aragorn's shock at this part of the battle's outcome is written
      exceedingly well, the phrasing and pacing of the words expressing his
      disbelief, thoughts tumbling on to his feelings of having failed as a
      leader, as a healer, as a fellow fighter. The quoted line is fleshed
      out and given real life here.

      And finishes up with a superb last line! Just a single mention of that
      name invokes a palpable overshadowing presence... Well done!

      Title: Dreamscape · Author: Tanaqui · Races: Dwarves: Drabbles · ID: 442
      Reviewer: dkpalaska · 2008-11-18 18:25:52
      I really enjoy that this is from our beloved Gimli's perspective,
      still a young dwarf and not yet tested by the trials of the
      Fellowship. His excitement at joining his father must have been
      tremendous on its own (the recovery of an ancient home!), but I can
      clearly sense the adrenaline rush when he spies the glitter across the
      newly-opened room.

      One can't forget the relative poverty Durin's people faced in the Blue
      Mountains, as Tanaqui gently and naturally reminds us. The contrast
      between images Gimli knows from his youth and what he now beholds is
      artfully presented: not just new veins of ore, but something even more
      precious.

      Perfectly chosen title, too, encompassing Dwarven dreams of returning
      - from finely crafted replicas to what Gimli sees before him in the
      opening quote. Yes, I can well imagine that this is exactly what
      springs to Gimli's mind as he stands with Legolas and names those
      mountains once again...

      Title: Fennas Haradren · Author: Linaewen · Genres: Adventure · ID: 280
      Reviewer: Nancy Brooke · 2008-11-18 18:26:25
      This is an excellent story and I greatly enjoyed reading it. It tells
      a ripping good story, with true-feeling characters, suspense, and
      action, and was nicely written. For every clean, uncluttered and
      straightforward statement ["Boromir did not like waiting."] there is a
      lovely, lyrical, liesurely description ["The early morning breeze
      quickened and there was a soughing and sighing in the trees. The
      leaves fluttered overhead, their undersides flashing silver in the
      light of the sun as it rose above the clouds that hung over the land
      of Mordor."] sometimes in the same paragraph creating a nice rhythm
      and balance.

      Great Boromir characterization.

      Title: The Kindly Airs · Author: Dwimordene · Times: Late Third Age:
      General Fixed-Length Ficlets · ID: 480
      Reviewer: Imhiriel · 2008-11-18 18:42:59
      And another one of the beautiful gems I received for my birthday - as
      unique and sparkling as one could wish for and more!

      The drabble opens up with a sweeping glimpse of the wide-ranging
      purview of Middle-earth's winds, providing us with a broad picture of
      the land showcasing its diversity.

      No wonder than that the East Wind, too, obviously would love to have a
      part in this, to range and roam freely.

      But she is bound, bogged down, burdened by the malice happening on her
      "watch" she is helpless to prevent, just as she is helpless to prevent
      it from spreading through her, and to be associated with it.

      All the more great is her delight when she is freed at last -
      literally able to take a fresh breath of air after so long a time, and
      lift herself up. And what a completely fitting recompense and reward
      that she is allowed to carry the messengers of the glorious tidings to
      spread the news. I can certainly feel her pride and her joy.

      I also found it an interesting twist that Dwimordene changed the
      neutral "it" from the poem to a "she" in her drabble, thereby
      increasing the feeling of the winds as personlities.

      Title: Renewal · Author: Elena Tiriel · Times: Late Third Age: General
      Fixed-Length Ficlets · ID: 208
      Reviewer: Imhiriel · 2008-11-18 18:43:10
      Spoilers!
      I have been so exceedingly lucky in my "harvest" of birthday stories
      this year, and a fair number of them have ended up in the MEFAwards to
      be exposed to a wider readership who might appreciate them as much as
      I do.

      This drabble evokes the power and heat and passion of the process of
      sword making, at once violent and creative - and also healing in a way
      - which the striking form and its particular, driving rhythm evokes
      perfectly. The melding (pun half intended) of describing the process
      while bringing alive the sword as an aware personality which reflects
      this process on a different level is done very effectively.

      The readers can follow how, step by step, the sword comes alive and
      regains its former strength and purity. IIRC, it was old custom to
      quench the sword with blood - it was an intriguingly reverse touch
      that here the sword had to be purified by heat from the taint of
      Sauron's blood.

      And my hat off for extra geekery *g* in the author's notes: I love
      reading details which revealing something of the creative process
      before and during the writing - the more the better. I especially
      appreciated the explanation about ["the resilience of Isil"].

      Title: One Step More - The Heroism of Frodo Baggins · Author:
      ConnieMarie · Genres: Non-Fiction: Character Studies · ID: 395
      Reviewer: stefaniab · 2008-11-18 23:25:56
      This essay is more moving than you would expect a nonfiction piece to
      be. Connie Marie draws comparisons and parallels among action heroes,
      Frodo Baggins, and real people with great problems. The essay makes
      the case that small heroes, though not the stuff of archetypes, are
      more the types of people (and hobbits) that we can relate to. We can
      use Frodo's horrendous quest and dogged determination as inspiration
      for moments in our lives that are full of trials. In these trying
      times, the conclusion that the essay draws is particularly uplifting.
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