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A Lesson in Swordplay  by Nilmandra 19 Review(s)
WinterwitchReviewed Chapter: 1 on 4/20/2013
Oh, this was wonderful! I really love your Elrond, he is also my favourite character, and reading your approach really lifts my heart. (I've started with this, read another short one and decided to read in order and leave reviews accordingly ;o) ). The way he approaches Estel is great, as is the way Estel generally is taught, and treated. It must have been extremely difficult for him at times to have been such an odd one out, such an exception, with so many things differencing him from his foster family and the small people he lived with. It certainly gives Elrond much credit that he managed to create for Estel an environment where he felt so at home and welcome, and so much part of it as he did.

nancylea57Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 1/9/2009
you illustrate one of the biggest problems estel had to face; while we all haate to lose we want to know that when we do indeed win we can rub it in good!!!!!

Author Reply: LOL, I think Elrond and company did a good job raising this human boy to a brilliant man - no easy job, I'm sure! Thanks for the review.

MarethielReviewed Chapter: 1 on 12/18/2008
This was lovely, Nilmandra. Quick question... am I assuming too much, or did Elrond present Estel with Arathorn's sword? Gilraen seemed so touched by seeing it, and then seeing in her son's hands...

Ah, well, I just might be too romantic. LOL!

Regardless, a lovely story and beautifully written. Thank you!

Love your Elrond, by the way... by far, my favorite of the elves, though Elrohir comes a close second. :-)


Author Reply: I think the sword was Arathorn's. One of the nice things about writing from Estel's POV is that i didn't need to know that. :>)

Thanks for your kind words. Elrond is my favorite Tolkien elf, too, and of course, I adore the twins.

elliskaReviewed Chapter: 1 on 5/17/2008
I am catching up on reading...I absolutely adore your Elrond. He is so wise. I love the quote you ended with--perfect for him. And this was really well done too--writing sword duels is so incredibly hard to do. This was very well done. I really loved this.

Author Reply: Thanks, Elliska. I am glad you liked this. I adore Elrond too.. but I'm sure you knew that. :>)

LarnerReviewed Chapter: 1 on 5/5/2008
His father's blade, perhaps? Yes, time to learn and be tested! Well written.

Author Reply: I think it likely was his father's sword, judging by Gilraen's reaction. I liked that I didn't have to know that, since I was writing from Estel's POV! :D

DotReviewed Chapter: 1 on 5/4/2008
This is great, Nilmandra! I thought Estelís frustration really came through at the start. The others are so good-natured and jovial about the sparring but this is important to Estel. Not that Elladan and Glorfindel arenít taking it seriously but theyíre looking at each match as practice for Estel whereas to him itís turning into yet another example of how heís still not getting to the point where heíll see himself as good enough. I felt bad for Elladan but I thought it was clear that Estelís frustration is mostly at himself. And his upbringing shows in the way he makes sure he wipes down and puts away his sword before leaving even though he must have wanted to rush off straight away.

I love that they followed him. And I love even more how they attempt to get him to relax and they so openly share the reasons why they understand more than Estel must have thought they could. The banter between Elladan and Elrohir made me smile and I could practically feel the tension leave Estel.

There was I laughing at the idea of Estel contemplating sparring with Elrond and look who comes along! Elrond treating him as a worthy adversary was probably just what Estel needed, though Iím sure Elrond had more in mind than stretching rusty skills. The bout itself was wonderfully written. Iím impressed because IĎd run out of ways to describe a sword-fight after about two sentences but you had me following every step. I love how the onlookers swarm over, arguing about the moves but Estelís focus is totally on Elrond, whose respect for Estel is so obvious. That moment when Elrond hands Estelís gear over along with his own is very moving. Heís showing that heís an equal Ė and I suspect itís about more than the match they just had. Still, Elrond may have glimpsed what Estel will become but heís not there yet and Elrondís lesson to him was delivered with such patience and wisdom. Itís a gorgeous moment between father and son, and yet thereís always the sense that Elrond is guiding him for a purpose, even as he has Estel work things out for himself. Estel is not only gaining skills with weapons but heís learning to see the bigger picture and to understand motives behind actions even when he only has a split second to judge them.

You could no longer hope to defeat me in the position you were in, but you were unable to simply accept defeat or give up hope. That is an admirable thing, Estel. Chance, or fate, or the favor of greater powers in this world may come into play at such times. I think thatís one of my favourite parts in this piece. No-one gets into Elrondís head like you do.

Elrondís honesty with Estel is lovely to see too. Heís developing Estelís skills and he loves him as a son but he has a job to do too in turning him into the very best man he can possibly be.

You actually made me a little teary when Elrond gives him the sword! Gilraenís reaction was very touching, as is Elrond following her out. I suspect that Estel will be learning a little more about this sword some day. And what I particularly love is how when Elrond tells him that itís a manís sword, Estelís thought is that he would grow into it. He knows heís still learning but heís willing to put his trust in these teachers that fate has given him and to do the best he can. That wisdom canít be taught, but it can be nurtured.

Really, I loved this. Itís such an insightful look at the unusual childhood Estelís had, at how lonely and challenging it must have been sometimes but how very blessed he is to have teachers who truly understand the meaning of that word.

Author Reply: Your favorite part was my favorite part, as I sort of started from that point. I wanted Estel learning a lesson that you can't learn out of a book - about perseverance and hope - and to show a glimpse of those things in him as a young man. I love those glimpses that we see in adult Aragorn in LotR.

And of course, there was Elrond. I love Elrond, LOL, but then I bet you guessed that.

And I am happy to say that several more story ideas have come to me. Maybe I'm not done writing yet.

RedheredhReviewed Chapter: 1 on 5/4/2008
Well gosh, there is not much more to say that has not already be said! Except, the bits with Elrond simply handing off their gear and Estel being given his father's sword and... yep, the whole story... was wonderful. Very well done.

Thank you bringing this in a little early!
And, Happy Birthday to Radbooks!!

Author Reply: Thanks, I am glad you liked it. Estel needed a little boost and I think Elrond knew how to do that in a meaningful and hopefully not contrived way.

mistry89Reviewed Chapter: 1 on 5/4/2008
Lovely to see a story from you, and one that deals with something I have always wondered about - it no doubt was of considerable advantage to Aragorn to have had such teachers and opponents, but it must have been very tough on Estel, as in sword fighting (and many other of the lessons he learned), there must have been stages where he felt overwhelmed at his inability to beat/achieve the goal. Family and encouraging as they were, but as a mortal amid the glory that was Imladris (these elves chose to stay to help ME, they weren't just lolling about), he must have had moments of inferiority and frustration.
Thank you (and Happy Birthday to Radbooks)!

Author Reply: Thanks, Mistry. I am glad you liked it. Aragorn certainly had a non-traditional upbringing, but it seems that it befitted the man he became. Perhaps he was better prepared than if he had spent those formative years with the Dunedain. Hard to know, but interesting to explore!

meckinockReviewed Chapter: 1 on 5/3/2008
This is a great coming-of-age story, Nilmandra. It really shows what a non-standard and yet, in many ways, blessed upbringing Estel had. If only all kids could grow up nurtured by so many kind and wise grown-ups caring for not only their present well-being but their future. In his case, with the doom that rested on his shoulders, it was a necessity, but it's clear that Elrond, his sons, Glorfindel, and all the other elves of Imladris loved Estel not just for who his sires were but who he is.

On the other hand, your story brought out how lonely it must have been at times for Estel, never having other children to play with, and how frustrating it must have been to never be the best at anything. Three-thousand-year-old peredhil just aren't very convincing in the "we were 16 once, too, you know!" department, unfortunately LOL. I really liked how they didn't coddle Estel through his self-doubt and frustration but simply provided a good measure of distraction, humor, and reassurance and let him work out his feelings on his own. Poor kid, he really is quite self-aware and mature for a boy that age.

I absolutely loved this line:

ďYou have seen Adarís sword. It has more kills than days you have lived,Ē teased Elorhir.

I'll bet. I want to see Adar's sword, too!

ďI do not think it has been off the wall in all the years Estel has been alive though,Ē replied Elladan.

That's one of those nice jolty reminders that reminds you who these people are.

He glanced down at Estel. ďHe might stand a chance.Ē

Oh, poor Estel. Here it comes!

I loved the sparring session with Elrond. Estel's mix of apprehension, gleeful anticipation, and hopefulness was just perfect. I wanted to jump up and down when he saw Elrond all decked out in his fighting duds. And the bout itself was wonderful. My favorite part, though, was at the end when Elrond took Estel's sword from him and handed it to an attendant to be taken away.

Estel did not remember ever not having to care for and put away his own equipment before.

What a watershed moment. Of course tomorrow he'll be right back to cleaning up his own gear again, but this moment seems to signal that something has changed - he has changed; he's not only becoming a man but also there seems to be a tribute not only to Elrond's rank but to his own hidden one.

Loved the man-to-man talk. This part was not about two great lords but about a father and a son. It really reminded me how much boys at this age need a nurturing, strong father figure, how they thrive with one-on-one attention like this. I was so happy for Estel in this scene, that he had such a loving foster father. Elrond was so patient with him, and so helpful in explaining his teaching methods. Are you sure you're not a sword-master?

The last scene of course had me in tears. I especially liked Gilraen's recognition of the sword. I can't find a word I like better than recognition, although that implies that she's surprised to see it and I imagine that Elrond would discuss something like this with her beforehand, so I don't think it was surprise at seeing it, but just a mixture of emotions. I imagine she chose not to see it since the day Arathorn last strapped it on, so the memories must have been very strong. The moment when she left the room was very powerful, and I liked that Elrond followed her out. That was really a nice moment.

Well, what a lovely story. I have certainly rambled my fool head off to the point where I almost forgot to wish Radbooks a happy early birthday.

Author Reply: Wow, thank you for the great comments. You caught a lot of the nuances I hoped to show and not tell. I have long thought Estel had to be the most self confident of young men to step out into the world that he did. And that meant he had to be loved and nurtured to that end.

I'm sure that I know nothing about swordplay, but I could see that battle in my mind! I love the idea that Elrond would use the circumstances of something that was so important to Estel at that time of his life to teach him greater truths. That is what a father should do - relating real truths at the point the child is at and at a level of understanding that can be a building block to greater things.

Gilraen had to cherish these moments when she saw Estel taking one step closer to being Aragorn, Arathorn's son.

Thanks for your kind words.

perellethReviewed Chapter: 1 on 5/3/2008
Happy birthday to Radbooks, and good that her day brought us this jewel! I so miss your thoughtful tales, Nilmandra, that I'm selfishly wishing that you feel full well soon!

This was full of lovely details, from the companionable banter between the twins and Estel about Elrond's skills to the lord's caring approach to the lesson he was serving. You even managed to depict the graceful and controlled movements of the elf lord, or perhaps I know your Elrond so well by now that I could even picture the concetrated expression on his face as he sword danced his lesson...

And of course, Elladan and Glorfindel would be discussing he highlights over a beer after the match and during the whole week back at the office.... er, over some miruvor, surely! I loved that detail!

But it was the lesson in there what caught me. And Aristotle. I had forgotten that quote. I'd add that those that understand, write. Beautiful. And it came in a very appropriate moment for me, for which I am doubly grateful. take care of yourself.

Author Reply: I was looking for some greater lesson in all of this than simple swordplay or how to assess an opponent or develop strategy - and what made Aragorn exceptional - or noble, perhaps - was his willingness to sacrifice. His words to Frodo at the Prancing Pony (if by life or death I can save you..), his willingness to starve in Fangorn with Merry and Pippin, and then standing at the Morannon and facing sure death if it gave Frodo a chance. That is someone who continues when all hope seems to have failed.

Some of that has to be an innate characteristic, but some of it must be modeled by others. So I was glad when Estel wouldn't give in at the end of the fight. His last ditch effort meant more that what it seemed - it was a pattern of who he was to become.

It seems to me the difference between Denethor and Aragorn was just this. Aragorn continued on when all hope seemed lost. Denethor despaired. Gandalf tells us that despair happens when you know all ends.. and he tells Pippin, I think, that they did not know all ends. Denethor was deceived - and the deception was that he knew all ends - that he knew the END and all that was left was to die.

So I was hoping for a little lesson to show that.. and if it came through even a tenth of what I hoped, then I am very glad!

Thanks for your kind words. I am glad it hit you at just the right time, too.

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