Eleanor Simmons, Society Lembas Rep (as well as Secretary 2009-10 and Publicity Officer 2013-15, and Society Hero), gives us her evaluations of a collection of Tolkien fanfics.
I’ve recently been on a bit of a nostalgia trip, re-reading the Tolkien fanfic I immersed myself in through my teens. Some of it was even as good as I remembered. Below, a small round-up of some of the best. Or silliest.
The Last Elf Standing, by Suzene Campos
Category: Third Age, Humour; 2767 words
The increasingly vitriolic correspondence of Thranduil and Elrond through the Third Age. It is sad when two elves of noble standing and ancient lineage are reduced to desperately trying to troll one another – but it is also extremely funny.
King of Mirkwood,
Though I had to scrub my eyeballs with lye to get rid of the images you planted in my brain, I want you to know that I bear you no ill will. To prove how high I hold you in my esteem, I have sent your son off on a very important mission.
To Mount Doom. With a Dwarf.
Lord Elrond of Imladris
In Brethil’s Shade, by Philosopher at Large
Category: Silmarillion/ Drama; 10857 words
The forging of the House of Haleth, and her infamous message to Thingol from the perspective of the one elf who runs through the Silmarillion doing his best to understand all the peoples he comes across. A lovely, nuanced look at cross-cultural negotiations – what I particularly like about this is the depiction of a “primitive” culture from the perspective of a “civilised” one that manages to be both respectful and insightful. To say nothing of the gorgeous characterisation and character-voices of Haleth and Finrod Felagund.
“Behind and around her primitive high seat stand boys with axes, in armor of leather pieces stitched together – No, he corrects himself, only one is a boy, and he her kin: the rest young women, hair cropped as short as their chieftain’s, faces masklike and mysterious in the fire-circle’s cast light. Yet even after all these meetings and the report of her scattered folk throughout his dominion – and of his own sense – he still finds it strange to think of this girl-guard, though they do not seem to think it so. Their language is not fully clear to him yet, and he is not sure if they simply do not make the distinction, or if the usage is deliberate, but he believes they call her ‘sir’ and whether it be as strange to their ways as to his own, it is not done in irony.
A Game of Chess, by Altariel
Category: Fourth Age, Romance/Angst; 77000 words
A really excellent ‘what happened next’. This is essentially a romance novel, following Eowyn and Faramir’s developing relationship after their marriage, as they deal with past trauma, culture shock and misunderstandings, and learn to live with each other as partners. It’s told in alternating first-person chapters, which remain believable and consistent of voice
Light and frothy, it ain’t – Eowyn and Faramir have serious, almost relationship-ending disagreements and personal struggles to work through, and they spend much of the ‘novel’ doing their best but completely unable to understand the other’s point of view. They work hard to earn their eventual happy ending – and the story is all the more rewarding for it.
For, despite all the time he had spent in Edoras, and for all his otherwise great gift with speech, he still failed to speak my language like one born to it. […] For he spoke it like the scholar that he was. His diction was more perfect even than my brother the king’s. But it was not a language to learn through books; it was a language to be lived and spoken and sung. And although he had improved greatly, he would always, I deemed, sound to anyone in the Mark like a man of Gondor speaking a little too precisely a tongue that was very much not his own. And this irked him greatly, partly on my account, and partly because it was the only language he had ever studied in which he had not achieved mastery; and, most modest of men he might be, I think this did offend his pride a little.
The Care and Feeding of Hobbits, by Baylor
Category: Third Age, Humour/Friendship; 20000 words
This one is simply very sweet – while the Fellowship are first travelling together and beginning to become friends, Boromir attempts to understand the ways of Hobbits. This fic is essentially an excuse to see the Fellowship interacting with each other a lot, with lots of hobbit banter and people looking after one another and generally being cute. Boromir works particularly well as a point-of-view character, and it is very heartwarming to see his relationship with the hobbits develop.
“So Frodo is a Baggins from Balbo?” Gimli asks, and Merry gives him a look that borders on exasperation.
“Frodo is a Baggins from his father, Drogo, one of Balbo’s great-great-grandsons, but more importantly, he is a Brandybuck from his mother, Primula, one of Gorbadoc’s daughters and sister to Old Rory, my paternal grandfather,” he says in a rather affronted voice. “But heredity being as it is, you are right, Legolas, that Frodo ended up looking like a Took.”
“What is this?” Frodo demands, swinging down from one of the tree’s lower branches. “Are you slandering my family tree again, Merry?”
“I am doing nothing but raising you in the esteem of our companions by pointing out to them your Brandybuck line,” Merry answers, “and it is not my fault you came out looking and behaving like a Took instead of a proper Brandybuck, who would never be caught running along tree branches like a squirrel. And at your age, too.”
Evidence, by Camwyn.
Category: Silmarillion/Discworld crossover, drama/humour,
When you have a notorious criminal on your hands – and specifically, a god of evil attempting to destroy the world – who better to call in than a very good policeman? Particularly, when there remains some dispute about the gemstones that set off the whole mess… Normally I’m not fond of crossovers blend such different writing styles, but here the mental image of Vimes trying to get to grips with Noldor logic is just too good to resist.
Vimes shrugged his shoulders. “Asked what the hell was going on, of course, but you lot are worse than Nobby Nobbs when it comes to explanations. All I knew for sure was, there was a war over and one man to be called on the carpet for it. Nobody told me he was a god, thank you very much.”