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Dancing in the Darkness  by Marnie 21 Review(s)
Morwen TindomerelReviewed Chapter: 2 on 12/5/2004
Poor Celeborn! I loved that bit about the Ithildin tattoo and how it offended *everybody* - but it was a good idea for all that :) I wonder if the twins may want to be tattooed someday, in tribute to their Nandor ancestry, and what their parents will think of it.

Of course you've noticed how Tolkien's great heroes tend to be of mixed blood. Beren was part Hadorian as well as Beorian, Hurin and Huor and their sons mixed all three strains of the Edain, and then of course there are the Half-Elven. And now here are the twins who can proudly trace their ancestry back to the three Fathers of Men, to the High Kings of the Amanyar, to Elu Thingol and to Denethor of the Nandor. There is definitely something to be said for hybrid vigor!

Author Reply: I think it's often the case that the peacemakers and people in the middle have a tendancy to do high-minded gestures which only succeed in offending both sides. But Tolkien is largely positive about the benefits of mixed blood, and most of his heroes seem to have been the results of love across cultures.

A very progressive attitude for his day and age! As for the Twins, it's a shame we don't hear more about what they did during their tenure on ME, but I seem to recall them appearing in a mysterious way in Calednardhon and aiding Eorl the Young. So possibly they were a lot more important than we get to know from LotR. I can't help hoping so.

Thanks for the review!

BejaiReviewed Chapter: 2 on 11/30/2004
Wonderful chapter! Here's a couple of things I wanted to mention, now that I've read it 5 or 6 times because I love it so much ;)

- I love the idea of the dance, how, as Elrohir said, feeling like "the water was dancing me." So very elvish, that connection to the Earth.

- The descriptions of the twins sprawled out across Celeborn just made me laugh

- "Another dismal parting." Rather a family tradition, that.

- The image of Thingol embracing Denethor

- The tattooes. And what a twist, that something like the ithildin tattoo, that makes all your readers go "cool! I want one!" is a source of some embarassment to him. Typical Celeborn. And what a wonderful tie-in with the crown and the lesson of the story!

- The battle. It is so good to actually "see" this one. The history certainly is muddled and hard to follow at this point. This helps give me a clearer idea of what could have happened. Wonderfully well done! I particularly liked a line that ties into some of your other stories, about a "better way" than battle. The Noldor were somewhat disdainful of the Sindar living behind Melian's power, if I recall. With this battle and its losses in mind, that choice certainly makes more sense.

- Amdir and Oropher at the battle. It is little throw-away lines like that which make these minor characters so interesting, and unleashing flaming plot bunnies into my life ;)

- "They never went to war again until Oropher and Amdir asked them to, at the Last Alliance, and for that bravery too they were very poorly rewarded." Another flaming plot bunny, there. I'm planning to have one of my chapters in DF describe the Last Alliance from that army's point of view.

- "Your offspring and their grandparents will always be in league against you." The rather sad thing about that line is that Celebrian herself didn't know any of her grandparents. It is good that Elladan and Elrohir know one set, at least.

Wonderful story! I hope to see a few more of these lessons, because you so brilliantly fill in gaps that I didn't even realize were there.

Author Reply: Thanks for a fantastic review, Bejai! I was rather fond of the image of Thingol welcoming Denethor - the impression I get of Elu is that he is very much a larger than life sort of monarch. And - as Finrod finds later - he does have a tendancy to just give away kingdoms to his kinsmen and friends. Something I wanted to get over because so many people seem to think he's greedy.

Once it occurred to me that that the moon letters on Bilbo's map were made of ithildin and therefore it could be a kind of ink, I'm afraid I too thought it would be really cool as a tattoo. Celeborn himself, as you can tell, was not so sure :)

The battle is definately a 'could have happened this way' rather than a 'did happen', but it seemed to make sense this way, and I also got to explain why Tolkien talks about Mablung always being around when the King needs a warrior, and never mentions any of the later Sindar Lords, like Celeborn, Oropher and Amdir. I mean it's Tolkien himself who calls Celeborn 'prince of Doriath', so I felt it needed explaining why Celeborn is never visible doing anything ;)

Yes, the Noldor do seem to have distained the Sindar for living in a fortress-country. At least, until they too had experienced for themselves how overwhelming the odds were against them - then they either got wiped out through their own arrogance (like Feanor and Fingolfin), or they adopted the same strategy; like Gondolin and Nargothrond.

Amdir got to command the right flank, and poor old Oropher got to be Celeborn's bodyguard because I'd written myself into a corner by saying in 'The Wisdom of Isildur' that Oropher didn't have experience of commanding an army in open warfare.

But I'm delighted to hear we'll get to see the Last Alliance from Oropher and Amdir's POV in DF. Fantastic! It really is about time they got some recognition for their efforts. All the glory goes to Gil-galad just because he was in a position to fight Sauron himself. Would he have even got to that postition if not for them? Even if he would, they made the same sacrifice he did for the same cause, and don't deserve to be forgotten.

I do have material for one or two more of these. Stuff which was intended to go into the third part of O+W. I'll have to see which I can face doing. But stuff like Thingol almost attacking Nargothrond really ought to be told, I think ;)

Many thanks again!

elliskaReviewed Chapter: 2 on 11/30/2004
Wow, there are always so many things to comment about in your chapters. They are so loaded. I don't see how you can work so much into them. I think my favorite part was this: "And I am reminded that the blending of two lines may produce a result just as worthy as any one in isolation."

I have always been most impressed with Haldir's line in Fellowship:Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him. Yet so little faith and trust do we find now in the world beyond Lothlórien, unless maybe in Rivendell, that we dare not by our own trust endanger our land. We live now upon an island amid many perils, and our hands are more often upon the bowstring than upon the harp.

That seems to be the central theme through the Silm, Hobbit and trilogy--that Morgoth/Sauron's power is in division and the way to fight that is through unity. I have always loved that theme and you handled it well here. It would be a lesson Celeborn would find hard to accept, given all he has seen in Menegroth, but it is obviously a lesson he has partially learned, given who he chose to marry. Great job with that.

And great job filling out the battle description. It was very moving, especially seen through the twin's eyes. And asa usual your descriptions are very rich and unique. Great job!

Author Reply: Thanks, Elliska! Loaded chapters are one of the penalties of having a muse like Celeborn the Wise, who's been around forever and seen just about everything (and usually has to comment on it) ;)

I do sometimes think - on the subject of unity - that one of the reasons why the Sindar seem to have more problems with dwarves even than they do with the Noldor (both of whom sacked Menegroth) is that at least they didn't think that the Noldor were their friends at the time. So although it was terrible, it wasn't a betrayal.

I think that seeing how well Elrond has turned out would have made Celeborn soften even towards Maglor. And Gimli's sensitive soul clearly astonished him and made him rethink even his attitude towards dwarves... but he's not quite *that* far along here!

But Haldir's line does make me wonder again about exactly what grudge Lorien bore Mirkwood. Was it really all down to Oropher's decision to move north, just to avoid Galadriel?

NilmandraReviewed Chapter: 2 on 11/29/2004
I admit I am thrilled at Celeborn's revelation at the end - both he and the twins seemed so ornery and angry at the start, and this realization that the blending of the lines and heritages has produced wonderful results is a nice way to end the story. The twins have learned something new of their heritage, but somehow I think it was Celeborn who most needed the lesson. :)

Author Reply: LOL! Yes. I was with him on the subject of the wreath right until he explained his reasoning about the tattoo - whereupon it became obvious that Celebrian had just been trying to do exactly the same thing, and had recieved the same lack of understanding from him that he got from all those other people.

The boys were modled after my children at the start. They're good girls, but they *do* hate having to sit still and make polite conversation :)

Aislynn CrowdaughterReviewed Chapter: 2 on 11/29/2004
Hi, Marnie!

Each and every one of your Celeborn stories is a delight to read, and this one is no exeption! I love the story of Denweg and Denethor, and the tattoos, especially the idea of Celeborn doing his in Ithildin, I love the way of venturing and exploring the culture of the Silvain elves you do here, and I love the way you do it: by teaching Elrohir aND Elladan their heritage, though Celeborn, and in the setting of that magical night. Another great story by you and greatly done! I hope you write much more of this one!

Thank you!

Author Reply: Many thanks, Aislynn! I am very reassured by your review. I wasn't too sure about this story - Denweg and Denethor are so obscure, and all the book warn you about putting too much exposition into a story. So I'm delighted that you think it worked.

I just loved the idea of ithildin, and it seemed a shame there wasn't more of it around than just on the West Doors of Moria. Then when I remembered the moon letters on Thorin's map I thought that they must have been able to make ink out of it. And in a story with tattooed elves, that was just too good to resist ;)

There may be one or two more 'lessons' in this series - but on other obscure bits of history; such as the time when Thingol got the army of Doriath ready to go and attack the elven-kingdom of Nargothrond, and why :)

Thank *you*!

BodkinReviewed Chapter: 2 on 11/29/2004
Deep sigh of content. Where do I start? I just love the wildness of the Silvan Elves and Celeborn's dual identity and his resentment of smooth Noldor 'of course we're best' assumptions. And yet at the same time, I can't help but sympathise for the way he falls between two stools - a savage to the Noldor and an imperialist to the Silvans. As tattoos go, (I'm not fond of them), Celeborn's sounds great - beautiful and mysterious - and yet compounding his sense of loss, of not belonging anywhere and having his treasures rent from him.

He is (with, to an extent, I suppose Galadriel) the only person who can look at the twins and see Luthien, not just as their great great grandmother, but as a real person, and to whom so many - Thingol, Denethor, Mablung, Melian - are of vital importance. It's not surprising, really, that there is a core of sadness to elves as the ages pass. So much loss.

Elrohir really seems to have the music in him - more so than Elladan. I'm glad Celeborn played (if he wouldn't dance!) and that he didn't feed the twins scrumpy.

"You're like a library!" said Elrohir in awe. "Adar has his books, but the woodelves have you?" What a brilliant line - perceptive elfling.

I love Celeborn's battle map - made with his own hair to represent the rivers, and using acorns and cider. Good thing he made Elladan see the seriousness of battle - even it the effect is brief.

Amazing story of courage and sacrifice - as Denethor's surviving nephew, does that make Celeborn the closest thing the Green Elves have left to a king?

"It's the natural state of any parent," said Celeborn unrepentantly. "Your offspring and their grandparents will always be in league against you." Ha! Something to look forward to.

Such a beautiful conclusion, too.

Author Reply: Wow! Another great review! I'm glad I didn't put you off last time with my incessant arguing :)

The Sindar are pretty stuck in the middle, aren't they - no wonder they're called Grey elves - half way between the woodelves and the Noldor. And Celeborn who rules an ancient Silvan land with a household full of Noldor and Sindar nobles, and a Noldo wife, has a tough balancing act to do.

As tattoos go, Celeborn's is probably inoffensive - as long as he doesn't take his shirt off in the moonlight you can't see that it's there at all ;) But I know what you mean - my father had tattoos on both arms and legs, done while he was in the army. By the time I came along he was so ashamed of them he never wore a T shirt or shorts again. Which has always made me slightly wary of them.

But to a certain extent I think of the Sindar+Silvan elves as being like the Celts and Picts; and tattooing was a big deal for them, culturally. As an aside, I've always wondered whether Tolkien intended the necklace to be the symbol of kingship among the Sindar (what with all the fuss about the Nauglamir), like the Celtic torc. But anyway, I'm digressing ;)

It is quite staggering how much older Celeborn and Galadriel are than anyone else, so that things which are distant legend to other people are living memory for them. The stuff they've lived through!

My theory on the descent of elvish royalty is that Kingship doesn't pass through the female line, unless (in the case of Dior) the King himself names that person as his heir. So in theory no. In practice it probably makes it easier for the Silvan elves of Lothlorien (and the large following of Green-elves he brought out of Beleriand in the 2nd Age) to accept his rulership.

And yes, when you have children try and live at least a day's journey away from your parents - it makes it harder to get babysitters, but at least you can take the kids away before they get too spoiled ;)

Many thanks for a fabulous review!

daw the minstrelReviewed Chapter: 2 on 11/29/2004
There's lots of little phrasing here that takes these actions out of the ordinary: the twins walking "as if they didn't own their own bodies," Celeborn "feeling" the stars move. There's a bodily knowledge here that's different from Elrond's lore.

Also, just as a detail, I remember hearing that almost all cider was "hard" until there was pasteurization (or whatever the word would be). Most of us ignore that fact, but Celeborn knows.

The parallel between the twins and Celeborn's tatoo was nicely drawn.

Author Reply: Thanks, Daw! I was trying to get some of that sense of a much deeper relationship with the Land than humans have, which you get when Legolas casually remarks in Eregion that he can hear the stones lamenting. I do get the feeling that that attachment to Middle-earth is something the Noldor don't have. They make a big deal of being Exiles, and we hardly ever hear from the elves who are at home.

I can't claim any cleverness re the cider, I'm afraid. It's another case of being two great nations divided by a common language ;) Here in England cider is alcoholic by definition. Particularly in Somerset, Dorset and Cornwall, really rough, very strong head-splitting cider is the traditional working man's drink, like bitter beer in the North, and stout in Ireland.

So what would be the American word for an alcoholic drink made from fermented apples?

Anyway - sorry - I'm getting distracted by cross cultural stuff, and I should stop. Thanks again!

SphinxReviewed Chapter: 2 on 11/29/2004
And you can carry on embarrassing me until the world's end, father, if that is what it takes to remind us of it.

*sighs* Awwwwww.

Very nice. :) Cannot leave gushy review because I will be yanked from the chair any second by a very annoying cousin.

More more.


Author Reply: LOL! Darn cousins! Glad you liked the end though, I was rather afraid that it would put people off, being a little too heavy on the moral. But I couldn't think of any better way to end, so it stayed ;)

BodkinReviewed Chapter: 2 on 11/29/2004

More when I haven't got ten minutes to get to work.

GwynnydReviewed Chapter: 1 on 11/27/2004
You make it look so easy! I love the way you've shown the twins and a happy Celebrian, and Elrond so formal and, and... your grasp of ancient elven history always awes me! Congratulations on another story very well done!

Author Reply: Thanks, Gwynnyd! Believe me, it wasn't easy! Part of the reason for not posting the second half was that obscure little details from HoME kept cropping up and changing things all the time :) (The other half was the fact that went down for the rest of the week.) I'm glad it managed to hide the fact that it was such a strain to write!

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