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A Creature of Fire  by daw the minstrel 321 Review(s)
BodkinReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/12/2005
Very Pride and Prejudice. A single elf in possession of a fortune must be in search of a wife, n'est-ce pas, Beliniel? Or maybe a horse that does as it is told, Adar? Or some healthy trees, Ithilden?

I love seeing Legolas all grown up - but it's a shame that it comes with the responsibility of reporting on the deaths of other young elves. Is Legolas at last seeing here why his big brother was so keen to keep him away from the big nasties for so long? And the young lieutenant is seeing how the reporting of deaths to loved ones is - influenced, perhaps, by the need to reassure the living. (It reminds me of some 1WW poems and images.)

Annael - well, he is just so gorgeous. He and Elowen are rocks in Legolas's world. Everything else might change for the worse, but they are still there, loving him just as much as they did when he was a little elfling drawing pictures with wax crayons. Does Elowen still treasure that picture, I wonder? I'll bet she does. (Shame Annael doesn't have a sister or cousin available for his best friend.)

Eilian claiming it would be irresponsible for him to go off to the settlements. I should think the Valar were hooting at that one. (Especially after Glorious Summer.) And, actually, put right - Thranduil, his council and Ithilden would probably leap at the idea of having Eilian and Celuwen spend a few months in a variety of settlements - a sort of royal progress, pressing the flesh and proving the king's devotion to his subjects. And Celuwen would think it was all her own idea. Though wisdom would suggest avoiding Solith. Which hardly seems fair on Celuwen's mama.

And then they could go and play in the woods - which would be good for them, just as Alfirin's 'picnics' are good for her and Ithilden. I hope for a brief update on the Sinnarn situation, too. He must be most of the way through novice training now.

Good first chapter!

Author Reply: How odd that you should mention Jane Austen! I've been trying to slow down some of my narrative lately and take time to explore feelings, so sometimes I get to a point and ask myself, "What would Jane Austen do?" Not that I want to slow things down too much, of course.

Legolas is indeed an adult here. That's exactly what I wanted to suggest in this chapter, that and his loneliness and a vulnerability that is partly shadow driven.

I too like Annael. I'm charmed by the idea that he eventually is a sort of relative by marriage to the king, when his daughter marries Ithilden's son. Of course, that hasn't happened yet in the time frame of this story, but I like it. I think Annael is wise. He's generous and honest and good at understanding what drives other people.

I hadn't thought about Celuwen's poor mother until you mentioned the unfairness of how Solith's nastiness to Eilian keeps her from her daughter. Actually that's an ironic result for Solith too, because I do think he loves his daughter and that his hostility to Eilian results mostly from that.

Sinnarn is a fully adult warrior now. He was a warrior already in "Fire and Shadow" when Legolas first encountered a dragon at the age of about 100. And Legolas in 290 here. Sinnarn is away in a border patrol somewhere. Maybe the northern one, maybe not, depending on whether I feel like dealing with him. Having a lot of OCs gets wearing!

esamenReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/11/2005
Oh, I'm so happy to see a new daw story. I thought that you might post a chapter tonight. I really enjoy your vision of Elvish marriage:

Suddenly, he turned his head to look expectantly toward the closed door of his office. A few seconds later, someone knocked, and Calith poked his head in.

I love reading about those mysterious bonds between married Elves. You certainly have included a fun bunch of details in this chapter . . . thick picnic blankets and baths before dinner . . .

And poor Legolas, all alone with his horse -- now, is it a bay or a roan? ;) -- trying to be nice to his blind date. I don't think that this particular elleth is going to be the right one for him, because she doesn't have the softly waving, unruly hair that seemed to attract him so much in previous stories. But maybe you have a surprise for us this time.

You are really building something new here with all this sense of Legolas being older, not so young anymore. I like it. It's fresh and different. And I very much like this line:

Legolas had liked serving under Eilian. He and his brother read one another well and made a formidable joint menace to the enemy.

This seems to take us to some new, more fully matured depth in the relationship between these two. It's great, like taking a walk on a path that you've never been down before. I am looking forward to your next chapter . . . and hopefully I'll have one of my own to send to you pretty soon now. RL has taken its toll on my writing this month.

Thanks for the new story! Love it, absolutely love it! Happy typing!


Author Reply: Bless you for noticing that moment when Ithilden sensed Alfirin's presence, Esamen. I wanted it there but didn't want to beat on it.

Elemmire also pointed out the bay/roan thing to me, and I thank you both. I'm a city girl. The only horses I saw in Detroit were the ones the riot police were riding.

One of the things about gradually maturing Legolas is that it gives me a chance to write some things a little differently. He is an adult here. I'm not going to be able to show him and Eilian in joint battle in this story, but it makes a fun thing to look forward to another time for me.

RL has taken its toll on me recently too and will continue to do so for a while. I have to be out of town for work all next week, which will probably slow me down a bit with this story. I really look forward to seeing how your characters are doing. I look at Cedar Rapids entirely differently now!

ElemmíreReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/11/2005
Yay! Another story! You've brightened my day!

(PS-bay or roan? or bay roan?)

Author Reply: Oh geez, thank you. I went and changed it all to "bay" immediately. I am pig ignorant about horses, and while I try to educate myself, it sometimes doesn't take! Please let me know when you see other stuff like that. I'm grateful.

The KarenatorReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/11/2005
What a delight to come home from freezing my toes off at a ball game to find that the first chapter is up! This is a nice way to settle in and get warm by the fire.

I loved the image of Legolas standing at Ithilden's door with his hand poised to knock and then Tinar chiming in. The best messenger Ithilden has! If Mirkwood's treasury was as big as Tinar's ego, they could just buy Sauron off.

Legolas's age and maturity came through. He's still young--in elf years--but his mature reactions to the lunch 'set-up' and his father's horse trading was well done. Even though his duty comes first, I imagine he gets a little lonely at when orcs aren't chasing him. He had to have had flirtations and relationships during his life. If he didn't, then I'd worry about him. I like to think that he was a normal person.

Good beginning. I'm very interested in seeing how Smaug fits in and how Legolas will surely get involved in the dragon's arrival. OH! And how Eilian and Celuwen work out the living arrangements. And she's urging him to defy the he needs encouragement! Anyway, that should be fun.

Carry on, Karen

Author Reply: Glad you liked it, Karen. I was just introducing characters (including what Legolas is like now) and setting up some themes. It's hard to think about how elves mature. I don't believe we should just take our life spans, set them next to an elves, and then stretch the scales to match. That is, a 290 year old elf is young by elven standards, but he's a full adult with a lot of experience that has to have taught him a great deal. So he's not a kid.

And I do think that Legolas was normal which probably means he had an interest in sex and love, and (almost) everyone else around him seems to be happily bonded. I imagine he was deeply grateful that Celuwen put her foot down and announced that she and Eilian would not engage in the elven equivalent of doing it in the road, though. :-)

ManderlyReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/11/2005
Yay, a new story from Daw! I've been looking for a new one from you since your last story finished, even though you have told us that you have other work (real work) to pursue before starting another story. The wait is over!

What struck me about this first chapter is the apparent maturity in Legolas. He is simply taking everything in stride, from upsets in his warrior life, to dealing with Thranduil's well-intentioned but at times overbearing arrangements and even in dealing with the little jealousy that he feels for the bonded people in his life. He has certainly come a long way from that little elfling. It's interesting to see that Ithilden seems to be more aware of this maturity than Thranduil, but I suppose to Thranduil, Legolas will always be his baby.

I love that little scene at the beginning in Ithilden's office. Tinar may be an annoying little orc end, but he never fails to provide the comic relief. Calith must have the patience of a saint to not have killed him yet.

Author Reply: Yay, I get to write again!

You're a sharp reader, Manderly. One of the things I wanted to accomplish in this chapter was to show the stage that Legolas is at, and I wanted him to be a full adult. He's young by elven standards (between 250 and 300) but he is an adult with many years of experience. And I also think he's a pretty well-balanced person, so while shadow must wear on him sometimes, he's usually on a pretty even keel.

And I also have to say that one of these days I'm going to have to do more with Calith. He's beginning to amuse me.

Frodo3791Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/11/2005
I was hoping that you'd decide to post a new story today, and when I checked my email, I was delighted. I've missed your stories, and this one looks to be another good one.

I think if I were Legolas and I heard my brothers talking about "extra curricular activites" they were going to have with their wives I'd be slightly disturbed. Maybe that's just because of my age. But walking in on them in the garden... I think Legolas was atleast lucky he didn't have to find a way out or interrupt them. That'd be really embarrising.

I'm looking forward to you delving into Legolas' character about his joy and his jealousy. I'd never picture Legolas married (because Tolkien never said so), but I don't picture him without ever having been in a romantic situation. I'm sure he would have broke a few hearts and had his own broken.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to this story a lot. I'm glad to see you back and writing!

Oh yeah, I love Celuwen. She's perfect for Eilian.

Author Reply: I really missed writing this last couple of weeks, and I'm glad to be back doing it, so I'm grateful you were happy to see it, Frodo.

Legolas is profoundly grateful that Celuwen declared she and Eilian would go to their room rather than make love in the garden. He would probably have had to make his presence known before they got too far and that would indeed have been embarrassing.

I like your assessment of Legolas's romantic history -- not married (I agree) but not stone dead either!

You can't imagine how glad I am that most readers don't hate Celuwen. It's very hard to create an original female character that people will tolerate.

elliskaReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/11/2005
Hi Daw, I'm glad you're back. I'm on some serious drugs and I'm really rushed right now so if this doesn't sound very intelligent, forgive me. :)

I am so excited to see you do the appearance of Smaug. I am really curious to see what you are going to do with it. I am also excited to see from this little opening chapter that we seem to have a promise of some Eilian/Celuwen and even Ithilden/Alfirin action. As well as Annael. All the centrals in one story and that is wonderful.

You know what struck me as I was reading this: there are so many characters in this one chapter and all of them have a very unique voice. I am always amazed at how detailed these your huge cast is and I thought I should mention it.

The discussion of the death of the warrior under Legolas's command was very poignant (sp?--too lazy to look it up, sorry). It actually had me tearing up a bit. Legolas is still very young to be having to manage such things (in your world here he'd still around 250-300, wouldn't he, 'cause he's well under 600 when the War of the Ring starts if I'm remembering right). So young to be talking to parents about the death of their children. But I see this as very realistic. Mirkwood would have been a very difficult place at this time (you do an excellent job depicting the Shadow's presence in all your stories). I love Legolas in this scene--very responsible, dutiful. He'd have to be given his life, even as a third son. But I like the way Ithilden shows himself to be a good commander and good brother by helping Legolas see that he is not at fault for the situation. I think it would be natural to feel that way as the commander of the mission. And Ithilden does a great job helping with that.

I'm glad you lightened this with a little teasing about thick blankets. :) I wonder if this is the same picnic location where Thranduil and Lorellin (hope I spelled that right--I remember a double letter, I'm just not sure where) shared a few fun moments under. Those sorts of things are always fun to play with and I remember them on a few picnics in a few stories.

Of course I love any interaction with Legolas and Thranduil and especially when there are horses involved. I spent a lot of time in Kentucky as a child. I love horses. And I love your running joke about Legolas's. I can't see him taming a horse too much either.

But I liked the scene in Annael's cottage the most. I love his family--always so caring of Legolas. It is that type of caring that holds the elves of Mirkwood together for 2000 years under the Shadow. I love the way you show that. And I can see them doing a bit of match-making. Poor Legolas. He would not have time for such things but that wouldn't mean he wouldn't miss them and desire them even if he recognized the time wasn't right. Must be bizarre for immortals to know they can put off things like relationships for a good long while in the face of bigger responsibilities. Knowing that you have plenty of time for something does not make it easier not to have it, I wouldn't think. I do agree with the way you portray this--I think every one of Thranduil's sons would be very "duty to the realm first" but that still doesn't make it easier. I say let the poor elf enjoy a little flirtation even if it can't develop. :)

I am almost afraid to see how Eilian and Celuwen's story arc is going to develop. I can't see anything good coming of it. Poor Eilian.

I am just dying to see how you deal with Smaug, though. This story is going to be great. I love your Mirkwood so much! So happy to see another story.

Author Reply: I hope you're not too sick, Elliska. Take care of yourself.

I'm considering trying to do this whole story by following Legolas, without cutting to the other characters like I usually do. But I'm really interested in how Eilian and Celuwen's marriage is developing. I'm hoping I can still have bits about them anyway. It's hard to get all this in. And in this chapter, I really struggled to keep the number of OCs as low as I could and still introduce the kinds of themes I wanted to use.

As I work on these stories, I keep reminding myself in each one of the age Legolas is and how experienced or mature he'd be. So as you say, he's between 250 and 300, young for an elf, but fully adult and a capable warrior who's just a little worn down from the shadow. But he's capable of enjoying friends and joking with them or his family. And I couldn't imagine what it would be like to have to take the body of a child back to his parents. That would have to be devastating to anyone, mortal or immortal.

I'm not very good on horses, I think, because I've never been around them. Are you reading lwarren's story about Legolas getting a new horse? That's wonderful. She's really good on horses and elves.

One of the things I like best in your review though is the statement that even though immortals know they have time, doing without something isn't easy. I agree with that. I think it's really hard to imagine how time would feel to elves. Surely, even though they know they have lots of it, moment by moment, it still passes the same? They just might not be in as much of a hurry.

I hope you're still happy with this story at the end!

KatReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/11/2005
I think you write a lovely story, I just don't think the story is about elves. I've read a lot of fan fiction and I just don't think you have elves down well. I love your Eilian and even Ithilden but your Legolas is way out of character. Like I said you write a nice story I'm just not sure what group of beings it is about.

Author Reply: You know, it's funny. I've had people question my sense of what Legolas is like before. He seems to draw out definite feelings in people that can vary widely. I'm that this succeeds for you as a story, even if it doesn't succeed as one about elves.

French PonyReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/11/2005
Is this going to be a kissing story? I suppose that what with the title character and all, there'll be enough adventure to make up for that.

Recalling the discussion about beginnings, this one seemed to come off well. You've got four nice little capsule scenes that really tell you all you need to know about Legolas's relationships with the main people in his life. Later on, one could poke around to find out just who they are, but I think that technique of having such characteristic little scenelets works out well for you.

So, again from your title, it looks like this will be another leave spoiled for Legolas. At the rate he's going, he'll be glad to go back on patrol, which will seem easy by comparison. He's got the title character to deal with, and he's within fifty miles of Tinár. Kiss of death, that is.

Annael turns out to have a fairly intriguing arc. There's something fascinating about him, I think. He is and has always been one of the most stable people in Legolas's life. Aside from his father's early death (and presumably Turgon's, though we never hear much about how that affects him), he leads a very happy, contented, unadventurous life -- he seems to be the one constant in Legolas's world. Legolas's brothers may run off and get wounded or married, babies may be born, his relationship with Thranduil has its ups and downs, but always, there is Annael, and he remains remarkably constant throughout the series. I just can't help feeling that there's something very forceful lurking below that calm surface. . . it may take two Ages of the world to push Annael to his snapping point, but I'll bet that'd be a sparker.

Naran’s death had been like many others. It was only to those who loved him that this loss was unique.

I liked this observation. I think it's a clear demonstration of the dehumanizing (de-elvishising?) effects that war can have on people. Especially a people who are theoretically immortal, to have reached the point where no death is especially unique really says something about how brutalizing life in Mirkwood must have been for its inhabitants. I imagine that the immediate post-War period must have been one of great psychic disruption for the Elves as they struggled to adjust to real peace as opposed to a prolonged war of attrition.

Or maybe colloquium today is still getting to me. Hard to tell. Moving right along. . .

Let's have a big welcome for Eilian to the land of the grownups! Yes, Eilian, you are on sabbatical. Celuwen has a good reason to want to move to a settlement. It's okay to go with her. You know you want to.

And dear Ithilden and Alfirin, going parking -- excuse me, picnicking. You think they use Thranduil's special spot? You think they know it's Thranduil's special spot? Actually, I'm pretty sure they don't; if they did know, Ithilden would be completely unable to perform.

Author Reply: I'm hoping there'll be enough adventure to keep this from being sappy. You never know. Any story can go wrong, but then, there's always another one.

I'm glad you think the opening worked well. I had to really think about who mattered and what I wanted their presence to show about Legolas.

I'm very interested in Annael too. He seems wise to me. He's spent his time learning about himself and the people around him, and I think he's very good at understanding others. It pleases me to think about the fact that he eventually becomes a distant relative of Legolas by marriage when Ithilden's son marries his daughter. That hasn't happened yet in the time line of this story, of course.

How would elves have adjusted to seeing mass death (like at Dagorlad) or constant skirmishing with the enemy leading to a string of deaths over the years? Of course, I think the fact that they have such confidence in seeing those they lost in Valinor must make some difference too. I don't know.

In "A Matter of Heart," I had Ithilden take Alfirin on a picnic to a spot that, in my head, was the same one Thranduil used. Of course, Ithilden doesn't know that. He just remembers his parents taking him there as a kid.

LamielReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/11/2005
Nothing! Legolas has nothing whatsoever to be jealous about! Certainly not any Elf maidens of any kind, with or without shining hair. I can see that this story is going to involve a bit of personal angst for Legolas, so I'm gearing up my usual anti-romance arguments early. He's young, he's got responsibilities, and he's single, doggone it! As a fictional character he's inaccessible enough without making him bonded as well.

That said, on to the rest of this chapter. So this story takes place just before Smaug's arrival, is that right? Which makes Legolas, what, 300 or so? Is this taking place after your previous story that featured a different dragon (I think it was a different dragon - not entirely sure). I'm afraid I'm a little mixed up, so some clarification would help there. You're a wonderful story-teller, and your prolific creativity is one of my favorite things, but it is hard to keep track of everything in your universe.

Oh, and I particularly liked that bit where Ithilden looked toward the office door a second before the aid knocked. Nice, subtle reminder of the nature of Elven bonds, and an understated bit of poignancy for Legolas as he contemplates his own unbonded state.

Which is not meant in any way to encourage any changing of that unbonded state. No no no. Huh. I wonder if Eilian going off to the settlements and Legolas joining the northern patrol will somehow lead us back to meeting up with that maiden what's her name again (assuming that this story takes place after we met her the first time). And then we would find out that she's happily bonded to someone else or otherwise totally and completely negated as a romantic threat to our beloved youngest prince. Yes. That would be good.

Author Reply: I read your opening couple of sentences and burst out laughing. I seem to recall you being very skeptical about any maiden who's come near Legolas so far! We'll have to see how this all goes.

In my fictive world, Legolas is 290. He encountered a dragon when he was 100 and serving in the Northern Border Patrol. That took place in the year 2580 or so, which the Tale of Years says is the time that dragons began to attack the dwarves in the Grey Mountains of the north. That's why they came back to Erebor. That dragon wasn't Smaug; Legolas killed it.

I'm so glad that you picked up on Ithilden sensing Alfirin's presence before the aide knocked! I thought it might get lost!

Legolas met a curly-haired maiden named Tuilinn during the floods after the Long Winter. I described those in "Spring Awakenings," which took place about 11 years before this story. I'll have to check her demographics to see if they match the ones you're giving!

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