|Reviews for The Sun Sets in the West|
| NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 11 . 2/3
Chapter 9: 'Assumptions' (Continued):
Now, this part of the review is pretty disturbing, but I think you’re mature enough to handle it. If anyone except the author reads this: don’t say I didn’t warn you. Now, Sauron apparently asked specifically for a boy. Perhaps, harking back to my earlier point, the Orcs checked on all the homes outside the Royal Halls and Bellethiel was the only child they found. However, that’s not entirely what we’re being told. By my own admission, the Orcs may not have been able to tell Bellethiel was a girl. Okay, fair enough. But imagine your boss is Sauron; he has awesome magical powers and he doesn’t take well to being disappointed. And he asks for a boy? I’m definitely going to double-check. We know from the books Orcs reproduce like Men and Elves (and thank goodness Elves and Men reproduce the same way, because otherwise the Royal couple Aragorn/Arwen would’ve faced a pretty big practical problem), so they should be able to discern genitalia in an Elf – especially since Saruman told us Orcs used to be Elves. We’re talking about minions of evil here. And if your life might be on the line, tell me you wouldn’t check.
Sauron is really kind of petty. You’d expect better from him. His Orcs at least bring in a child, which is more than he had any right to expect, and he discards it because it’s a girl? Did no one pass him a memo Balchoth will train girls, too? Hasn’t he been in contact with Yumruk about this? Or has he and Yumruk never bothered to tell him a girl would be fine, so the Orcs’ job got easier? And apparently, Sauron is so disappointed he needs to be convinced to actually exploit this success. I know it’s not what he dreamed of, but it’s something. Work with what you have.
I’ve tried to reconstruct what happened based on these thoughts. You tell me if it makes sense. Sauron got the idea and then told his Orcs: ‘Find me an Elvish boy.’ The Orcs, in a shocking display of competence, avoided the Woodland Guard, killed Eluréd and Rovian and captured Bellethiel. They were actually smart enough to make it a quick strike, also aware that there just wouldn’t be a lot of kids to abduct, and brought Bellethiel to Sauron, essentially being like: ‘Found a kid. Is it a problem if it’s a girl? We didn’t find a boy.’ Sauron’s at first not convinced, especially since she’s so quiet and awkward, but the Balchoth are confident they can work with her and convince him to let them try.
Another theory I came up with is based on the slim odds of a randomly picked child being Elrond's cousin. Maybe Sauron somehow found out about Eluréd and went after his child, but hoped it was a boy. Yeah, that issue in that theory remains unresolved.
Okay, I’m probably reading into this too much. One thing I thought I haven’t read enough into, despite now having had my first really great chance, is the romance. However, I feel there’s still a better moment for that. I promise I’ll get there. I’m just writing this because it might have been appropriate here.
Alright, the Hobbits. Especially at first, they were mostly comic relief, as CinemaSins correctly assessed. And now, too, they add some levity – only this time, we can really use it. Hell, with Vezely’s past, while never going too far, it’s been pretty dark. Gimli helped, but the Hobbits are the experts. I love the interactions between them and Vezely. They’re so different, but the Hobbits being sociable, they make pretty much anyone feel at ease. Merry giving Pippin a lesson in manners was funny and good at the same time. The second part ended on a high note.
Alright, part three! There’s some stuff to cover immediately. First off, as I said before, I LOVE digging deeper into Vezely’s history, and there’s a lot of it right here. That can only be good. With the Elves being overpowered superhero demi-gods in the movies, even in close quarters, that must’ve been one hell of a fight Vezely and the Balchoth were in. However, the Balchoth themselves are from a much more militarized society, specializing in killing face-to-face, and they train more intensively and from a younger age; this feat, while making sense the way it was described, definitely shows you don’t want to mess with them. The only problem I have – and I recognize it was necessary for the story – is this: how is this happening? Because later on, we’re told Easterlings fight to the death. Why haven’t they all fallen in the Battle of the Wold then? But in the grand scheme of things, that’s a minor thing, and even the best of warriors are only human.
Okay, Thranduil, seriously. Either you have talked to Elrond or you’re so damn smart in your own right you figured out Vezely would ultimately return to the Light, and yet in the former case neither you nor Elrond thought about maybe guarding her if she showed up (and let’s not forget Elrond does have foresight, so if he foresees all that about Vezely, I can’t imagine why he hadn’t foreseen her being in Mirkwood), while in the latter case, you were at the same time either neglectful or downright stupid enough to consider maybe this Easterling General who obviously had fought the Woodland Guard and managed to get out alive needed a guard. The West is run by minds corrupted by the villains and by idiots. Well, except Dale and Erebor, as far as we know. Why hasn’t Sauron won yet? Admittedly, his own plans don’t make too much sense on occasion…
It’s actually kind of nice to know that Vezely has acrophobia (yes, I bothered to look that up, with no other reason than this review. Do I need a life or what?). This is the kind of stuff that makes us really get into her character, that allows us to sympathize more. That’s it. I just wanted to point out how clever that was.
Vezely’s plot to escape was pretty damn awesome. Throughout that part, I was actively rooting for her – yes, against the heroes. But the very best part of it was this: ‘"You are Elf-kind," he replied quickly as if that in itself was a good reason. I laugh unconvinced, "Elf-kind?" Then I added proudly, "I am a Balchoth. I am not your kind of Elf."’ There’s so much awesomeness in these few lines. First off, ‘as if that in itself was a good reason’. Elves in history have done some pretty horrible things and a few of those were killed in battle, and while there was always kind of a tragic undertone, generally you can say they deserved it. These people all seriously underrate education and culture. Which brings me to Vezely’s protest that she’s a Balchoth. Hell yeah! This line just owns everything. I’m sorry, I’d love to elaborate more, but it’s hard to explain. I’m simply swept away.
Okay, so Thranduil first says: “If you ever long to return, it is by another route not yet laid out for you." But then he says: "You are hereby banished from these lands Vezely of the Balchoth, return and you will face certain death." Uhm… What if she returns by that other route that Elrond or Thranduil has foreseen? Does she still die? Or is this some bullshit where Thranduil is pretending Vezely can just ‘revert’ to Elf after being raised as a Balchoth? Because, if he expects that from her, he’s a dick. This is really a recurring problem among the Westerners. In a weird way, this makes Éomer, who at least fully realizes she can’t be seen separately from her Balchoth past, the most reasonable of the bunch. Also, Thranduil seriously thinks she’ll want to return to the place where she lost her last remaining soldiers, nearly got killed, and was held captive without an army strong enough to give him trouble. I would never want to go back in my life.
That last separate dream was really good. I genuinely liked it. It’s partially vision, as we’ll see much later on, and part remembrance of that song from her childhood. Distant past and distant future together. This is brilliant.
I’m really being a jerk about technicalities, but… could you define ‘short’ for me? I mean, a short proverb? A proverb is something like ‘if the shoe fits, wear it’ or ‘the pot calls the kettle black’, right? Those are at least 4 times shorter than "The land stretches on, set your foot on it, make it your home, but do not stray from the warrior's path or forget the home you came from." The closest I come – and probably the best parallels – are ‘all persons are created by God, the slave is created by the Tuareg’ and an actual saying in Bushido: “Go into battle willing to die and you will survive. Go into battle hoping to live and surely you shall not.” And even that’s shorter. I’m sorry, just something that made me raise my eyebrows.
Alright, it’d be unfair to not talk about the actual proverb itself. And let me tell you this: I actually rather like it. It’s about stability, sticking to tradition and a way of life, honoring the past. To me, it’s brilliant.
I want to briefly talk about Vezely meeting the Rangers. Just knowing those smaller things does a lot to help us understand her. Also, the fact that she didn’t just have them killed – she was on campaign, I imagine she had an army at her back – means something.
Yeah… This is something else with regards to philosophy. “A better leader is always one who does not want the title”? For real? That never leads to people being less motivated and not performing to the best of their ability? Don’t get me wrong, power-hungry people are even worse, but do you have to not want it? Wouldn’t someone who sees it as his calling make for an alright leader? You don’t run the risk of them half-assing their way through it, but they’re not manipulative sociopaths or some kind of ultimate bullies either. This line, in combination with last chapter’s exposition about duels to the death, now forces me to imagine a challenge going like this:
Challenger: “You have failed the cause. I challenge you.”
Leader: “You know what? Here, take the ring. I don’t give a damn and I’m sure as hell not risking my life over it.”
Challenger: “Wow… seriously?”
Leader: “Yeah, I never wanted this job in the first place.”
I mean, the East must’ve ha
| NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 10 . 1/29
Chapter 8: 'Of Rhûn's Deserts and Dorwinion Wine' (Continued)
In fact, what I like about the later Vezely-Faramir tension is that it remains unresolved.
Just reading Gandalf’s talk with Vezely, it’s really nice, genuine and heartfelt; tasteful and emotionally powerful. However, when you think about it, it pretty much proves my earlier statement. My favorite part in that regard is this: ‘"You stand as proof that darkness can be rescinded, that what is good can be built back from the ruins because that good does not leave in the first place."’ And earlier: ‘"Sauron failed and you today stand as a testament to that."’ The impression I get is that the good guys are really just interested in disproving Sauron’s theories. Sure, they have to help Vezely to do that, but helping her never seems to be the goal, except for Elrond, because he’s her cousin or something. It’s actually kind of a clever, if cynical, take.
A lot like this review was kind of a clever, but pretty cynical take on this chapter, wasn’t it? For the record, I mean that as self-criticism. But in all seriousness: this was a pretty good chapter. Yes, we started off by glossing over Saruman’s death, but hey, the movie didn’t even reassure us that yes, the second magical villain is dead, so props to you. And I’m not quite over the anticipated confrontation between Saruman and Vezely not taking place (on the re-read for reviewing, I didn’t understand why I didn’t remember that, and now I’m reminded it’s because there was nothing to remember…). That was a shame. But the second part was good on paper, and the third part pretty much makes up for everything. I know I complained a lot about it, but while I have a lot to say about it, part of that is just that it fascinates me. It was interesting, and interesting is always good. I’ve gladly read this chapter.
Chapter 9: ‘Assumptions’
Holy crap, this chapter was awesome at one thing: reminding me what’s so good about Vezely. Seriously, apart from a minor thing near the end, this totally made me root for her.
‘He acknowledged that the culture of the Easterlings was far removed from his own, that Vezely was hardened by it, but somehow it also gave her purpose.’ This line embodies the sheer awesomeness of the premise for this story. This spells so much promise. Also, this may be one of the very few times the cultural stuff is actually well handled. Everyone is pushing Vezely into being more Elvish – including Legolas – and Vezely responds naturally by distancing herself from the West even further. Her way of life is under attack; no one would like that. This time, however, at least someone recognizes she needs some stability that only her Eastern education can provide. Also, I’m a huge believer in the importance of culture and cultures being very different, despite naturally also having similarities, and thus I’m very happy to see that acknowledged here. I’m in love with this line.
Elvish is super important, apparently. I will admit, Tolkien was a linguist and Elvish, from a meta-perspective, was the basis of Middle-Earth. In universe, I’m not entirely sure why everyone cares so much. Every Elf alive knows Westron, right?
What exactly did Éomer pretend to know while he didn’t? He even literally said: “That is how I see it.” Besides that, he only brought Rohan’s history back to mind. Though I will be fair and admit he doesn’t know a lot about Vezely. And as she herself points out, neither does the Fellowship. They don’t understand. Even we readers, who experience a lot of this through Vezely, don’t know what being her is like.
Which I’m totally fine with, because this little paragraph is so awesome. ‘"He strains a metaphor for hope," she spoke as if talking to the wind, "As did the Blue Wizards. I am Sauron's experiment that failed, as if I had no sentient role in the choices I made. My minor defiance to Sauron's commands seemed undeserving of both his punishment, and further undeserving of the kindness on the part of those who saved me."’ This gets to the bottom of the matter. As I’ve said a few times before, the Istari and the White Council are mainly concerned with proving Sauron wrong. Who and what she is doesn’t matter, apparently. And that’s a mistake, not just ethically, but in fact. Vezely nails it.
I’m trying to wrap my head around Legolas’ thinking process. 'Mirkwood will someday be overrun, but not by your armies.' Uhm… That can literally mean anything. It could simply mean that Vezely knows Sauron’s plan is to have Orcs invade Mirkwood and divert all Easterling forces to the Lonely Mountain or something. Yet Legolas assumes it means that because they spared her (which, especially to Vezely, doesn’t make any kind of sense), she will refuse to invade Mirkwood. Awesome. And, given Vezely’s reaction (and we have a pretty good insight in her thoughts around here, so I don’t think she’s pretending), he’s right? Wow.
Alright, let’s get back to the awesome stuff. This chapter is a highlight, and this is a highlight in this chapter. The Easterlings aren’t – or aren’t just – the enemy. They’re actually okay, probably manipulated by Sauron – and that’s nothing to be ashamed of, considering this whole ‘magical ring’ stuff and the Nine and Seven Rings were only a thing because Sauron manipulated some of the oldest, wisest and most powerful Elves of the time. He probably offered the Easterlings glorious victories, and for warrior Clans, that must’ve been close to enough. Battle is its own virtue, right? Let’s go into more detail.
I like the Balchoth right off the bat. Unfortunately, what we see later is more reminiscent of Romans, but this early general description – and first impressions are important – makes me love them. It’s actually reminiscent of the Samurai. Maybe I’m being influenced by my own version of Rhûn, but ruthless, arrogant warriors who still do have a sense of honor? Yeah, definitely Samurai. And again, that’s a good thing for me. Also, not having all the heroes being very nice people (and not having all villains being complete jerks) makes a story more interesting. The Balchoth aren’t evil; they have just been misled, as I said before.
The portrait of the adoptive parents was awesome. Vezely not fitting in easily makes sound common sense. Also, remember that Vezely actually was awkward, quiet and shy, because that’ll be kind of a thing in chapter 32, if I remember correctly. But that’s for later. The reasoning of the parents Vezely assumes is really good; I buy it. Also, I kind of think they had a daughter and thus, contrary to Sauron, were happy it was a girl and that’s the reason they actually defended her to him. But that’s just me. Oh, it should be obvious, but I LOVE that Vezely had a ‘normal’ childhood (normal for Easterlings).
It’s always great to discover Vezely’s history, but this eclipses virtually everything. This brief talk between her and Legolas is arguably the best part of the entire story – though it’s very early, and there’s more awesome stuff coming. At the very least, it’s the best up to this point. An outstanding job.
Yeah… I need to talk about that. It doesn’t really hurt quite yet, but here the sexism straight up makes little to no sense. Let me reconstruct what happened, as I got the impression from what we read. One day, Sauron was sitting in Dol Guldur, being evil, and he said to himself: ‘I’ll get an Elf to fight for me! That’ll show the world I can make anything mine – well, except for the Dwarves I tried to manipulate with magical Rings, but still, they kind of turned evil and/or insane. That’ll be a huge blow to the enemy morale. I’m a genius!’ Then he called his Orcs, who even in those days he should know are total fuck-ups, and told them: “Bring me an Elven boy.” Apparently, Sauron is a highly intellectual villain with little feeling for the practical reality. Because this plan is virtually impossible, considering what we learn later. First off, there’s not a lot of Elven children at all, even in the world, let alone in the population of the Woodland Realm. And most Woodland Realm families have relocated to the Royal Halls of the Woodland Realm, heavily guarded. There are only a few families out in the open and vulnerable. Seriously, Sauron is extremely confident that his worthless Orc minions can pull this impossible plan off. The Orcs actually found a child – an incredible feat Sauron should be extremely proud of – but apparently can’t tell a girl from a boy. Admittedly, with Elves, that task is notoriously different and with a six-year-old, I can buy it that they don’t immediately see it. The Orcs take Bellethiel to Sauron and he’s pissed off because… it’s not a boy? Huh? Instead of showing his Orcs some well-deserved appreciation for their most impressive feat in centuries, he wants to discard the child they brought her, thus not exactly helping morale in his camp and making himself look like a total douche to his whole army. The parents, however, convince him they can transform this shy, awkward, six-year-old girl into a badass warrior. And Sauron figures what the hell, and decides to give it a go. That is actually the plot as it is presented here.
I already discussed how unlikely this plan was to succeed. Sauron should be smarter than this. But okay, maybe he guessed there were a few children in Mirkwood. But seriously, with such an unlikely plan, he’s really not in a position to specifically ask for a boy. What does he want from his soldiers? Next thing he’s going to tell them to bring down the moon or something. And Sauron has been defeated by an Elvish woman before – Lúthien much? Okay, maybe that caused him to hate female Elves even more, but if his mind worked like that, wouldn’t corrupting a she-Elf be some sweet, sweet revenge?
Now, this part of the review is pretty disturbing, but I think you’re mature enough to handle it. If anyone except the author reads this: don’t say I didn’t warn you. Now, Sauron apparently asked specifically for a boy. Perhaps, har
| NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 9 . 1/27
Chapter 8: 'Of Rhûn's deserts and Dorwinion Wine' (Continued)
Seriously, give the ‘higher purpose’ thing a break! I think your main concern is to get her to fight against Sauron and convince people she’s on your side now – which, given how respected Elrond is, shouldn’t be that big a problem.
Was that sarcasm? Oh, even better, it’s a jest. Because… to me, it’s just telling the truth. If they force her to fight for the resistance, they’re literally giving her to her former enemies. Vezely clearly has great perspectives with these guys.
"And you assume I'd seek forgiveness?" Well, this is where I would smile at sarcasm. You’ve got to admit, at this stage, this entire plan makes no sense from her perspective. And she’s actually kind of right. A complex, convoluted plot that revolves around her admitting her life is based on deceit, manipulations and a mistake or two. If I’m really, brutally honest here, Sauron probably did some serious mental damage to Vezely both after the Battle of the Wold and during her imprisonment, but you can make a case for the Istari/White Council doing something very similar by forcing her to embrace a part of her she barely feels a connection with. Okay, she’s an Elf. Get over it. Actually, on a philosophical level, is what the Council’s trying to do that different from what Sauron did? Sauron tried to prove everything can be corrupted to do his bidding, and the White Council… tries to prove him wrong. Vezely’s just being tossed around. No wonder that ring is so important to her.
Okay, I’m really being mean here. And I apologize. If it counts for something, I would like to point out that I’m always just happy to see a flashback; Vezely’s history is fascinating.
Hm… Théoden prodding Vezely (and why can’t he call her by her actual name? ‘Vez’ was part of a cover-up for a secret he already found out) for personal, obviously painful information feels out of character. However, let me give you credit: you bothered to explain. And, for better or worse, it kind of makes sense. The real problem here is that he knows Éomer distrusts her and now he draws attention to her, while he already made it clear he doesn’t want to waste any more time on it. But there’s a lot to say about Gandalf in that regard…
Théoden is old, wise and well educated, right? What does he think ‘usurping power’ means? It means ‘taking over illegitimately/by force’. That’s not hard to understand, is it?
Now, don’t get me wrong; even at this point, whoever her second-in-command was, fuck that guy. However… Should this really work like a Clan? It’s Sauron’s army, right? Shouldn’t he be able to put anyone he wants in charge? He’s the one who united both Rhûn and Vezely’s army in the first place. Is this usurping? Actually, by considering the army ‘hers’ and not Sauron’s, isn’t Vezely kind of usurping Sauron’s army? Ugh, technicalities and semantics are really confusing…
I’ll get to Vezely’s attitude soon enough, don’t worry. But first, let’s discuss the actual practice they’re quarrelling over. I’m kind of torn. In a way, it’s cool. Also, Kings and nobles are traditionally first and foremost warlords; they lead their nation into battle. The risks they take in doing so and their martial prowess are the justification for their power. In that respect it makes a lot of sense. However, this system entails immense risks. What are you going to do, for instance, if the best warrior of the Clan is a terrible person? He can challenge the leader, kill him and go on to rule until age starts to weaken him. That’d be terrible news for the Clan, right? But even without that risk, this principle means we get a situation like in the later Roman Empire, where every Emperor’s first concern was his own survival, the risks always casting a shadow on their policy. It can’t be easy to be a good, effective ruler, especially in the long run, if you know anyone can challenge your reign at any time. Yes, later we learn it doesn’t happen a lot, but the idea still stands. The principle is there, and that alone must be a threatening presence. Also, this means that people who may be raised by a leader and would do an awesome job in complex Clan politics are easily dethroned by people who aren’t as good leaders or as well educated, but are better fighters. Don’t get me wrong, in the tradition of the Samurai I believe an educated warrior is a more lethal one, but if your education focuses on leading rather than killing, I’m pretty sure there’s better warriors in the Clan. Plus, a single family at the head does provide some stability – a stability which this custom, as cool as it is, does a great job of destroying.
Now, Vezely. I’ve said this before, but as long as it keeps popping up, I’ll keep bringing it up. Vezely is weirdly obstructive to her own integration in the West. I was accidentally re-reading a couple of reviews shortly before typing this part and found one saying that Faramir was a bad leader for not respecting other people’s culture – like Vezely and his prisoners. Principally, I don’t disagree with that reviewer, far from it. Respect is vital. However, by those standards, Vezely is a really crappy leader. And this bit proves it. I’m going to copy it, so there’s no misunderstanding: ‘"Men of the East do not follow a leader simply because his father tells them to," she replied coolly, knowingly being condescending to the West's system of rulership. "Leaders are often challenged if deemed weak."’ I’ve stated before I don’t like Romans, but one thing I do like about them is they don’t care what you believe, as long as you do your part to keep the Empire going. I agree with them. My criticism here isn’t that Vezely prefers the system she grew up with to the one she meets in the West; that’s only natural. What does anger me is that she’s openly and blatantly disrespecting Western political culture and traditions. She – and, as far as I remember, Easterlings, Variags and Haradrim (I’ll get back to that, too) in general – never show Western culture any respect, and yet the Westerners are douches for treating Eastern culture the exact same way. What the hell? And she decides this criticism – with all the contempt – is best spilled to the King of Rohan, his Crown Prince (who already hates her) and the rightful King of Gondor, WHO IS ONLY THE RIGHTFUL KING BECAUSE HIS BLOODLINE RUNS BACK TO ISILDUR AND ELENDIL. Aragorn could’ve been the exact same character with another bloodline and he wouldn’t have had a claim to the throne. Vezely needs to make up her mind. Does she want to fit in or not? I’m fine either way, but PLEASE, decide.
I like the added exposition about the high expectations of leaders, the remembrance of the fallen, and most of all the previous leader’s younger brother. I’m going to call him Scar. Sorry, that was too obvious an opportunity for me not to take it. Anyway, Balchoth Scar is kind of racist, but he is right not to trust Sauron – or anyone Sauron sets them up with. I imagine he didn’t get along with his brother too well. Or secretly Vezely’s adoptive father wasn’t Sauron’s biggest fan either. Also, how did Sauron interfere? Vezely killed her uncle in single combat, and her father was the one who passed on leadership to her and not his brother. Or did Sauron tell him to pick his own child instead of his brother? It’s interesting that being member of the Clan by blood apparently does kind of matter, even if leadership isn’t exclusive to one family. I’ll keep that in mind.
Gandalf is making a mistake. The first blatant one, but not the last. Seriously, how come no one in the west had her executed? Drawing attention to the Balchoth ring may not have been a terrible move, but how does it help in any way? Plus, he’s not worried Éomer is going to make that comment? If nothing else, he should’ve anticipated she wouldn’t like telling everyone about it.
Oh, fine, I’ll be fair to him. Despite me being with Vezely that we’re probably overestimating her ‘natural Elvish good side’ in her refusal to mindlessly do as she’s told – and really scratching my head at ‘unfortunately’, because if Sauron hadn’t discarded her, our heroes would now be missing a valuable ally – I really like getting more information on Vezely’s past, and it’s a nice take. Plus, who’s to say this wasn’t the genuine idea in the White Council’s head when they decided to bust her out? It’s well handled, good character development, interesting, and heartfelt.
Éomer is kind of a dick. This really bothered me the original few times I read the first chapters, until last time I read the entire thing and figured out what his deal was. I mean, yeah, he was kind of humorless in the movies, but I really liked him. However, he does have a reason to be a jerk to Vezely. I’ll get there in the character section at the end. He backs down from Aragorn probably because he realizes he’s outnumbered – his uncle uncaring and everyone else on Vezely’s side. And if anything – and this is why I admire him so much – Éomer is a soldier; the war comes first. He’s reasonable. Then why does he even talk about this ring? I’ll explain when I feel it’s appropriate. Like Vezely’s interaction with the elderly woman a few chapters back, this is one of the tiny details that say most about a person’s character.
‘We must continue together under mended circumstances’? Really? Aragorn is strangely Enlightened for a medieval society – and I’m not buying that. Progress, forget the past: typical Enlightenment. Also, typical for today: just tossing the word ‘must’ around (at least, I seem to see it a lot in modern debates). Well, if you’re going to use big words, I’ll add some nuance. Wouldn’t it suffice if Éomer keeps hating Vezely, but doesn’t try to kill her until after Sauron is defeated? (I’ll get back to that; and yes, I’m aware you’re probably tired of me saying that. My apologies.) MUST the relationships be any more than functional? In fact, what I like about the later Vezely-Faramir tension is that it remains un
| NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 8 . 1/24
Chapter 7: 'The Forest River' (Continued):
Vezely specifically mentioned Sauron getting bored with his experiment the success of which would be the victory Legolas is referring to as a possible reason for her being locked up. I understand she’s kind of got an Elven nature, and it’ll tear her apart if she doesn’t learn how to accept that part of herself, but what’s this Sauron winning bullshit? At this stage, Sauron cares about two things: finding the Ring and making sure the West can’t form a single unified front. At the very least, as far as Legolas knows. Is he lying for her benefit? If so, why? Wouldn’t her otherwise being torn apart be a sufficiently good reason to embrace my Elven side? I mean, we’re talking about her sanity, and thus her functionality – even if she’s all Balchoth in her thinking at this stage, that should make an impression.
Okay, the story itself pointing out that a lot of Legolas and Vezely and their history is unexpected, especially the recent twists, doesn’t excuse it, but I’m sorry, that doesn’t mean it’s not awesome. It’s freaking brilliant. I’m smiling, almost laughing, in a serious and heartfelt chapter, and it’s at the same time so subtle it feels natural. This is gold.
Vezely needed someone? Or even comfort? She had Éowyn, right? And isn’t it possible – for Vezely of all people – to just focus on her mission? But okay, I guess I can buy that it was a lot for her to cope with. Hell, you could go into interpretation and state she’s saying he made things easier by unexpectedly accepting her. It’s not really a problem, just wanted to briefly talk about it.
Hm… This is so interesting. And kind of disturbing. Now, I’m not afraid of disturbing – trust me, just read what I’ll write in two chapters… I just don’t feel it’s appropriate here. I just want to point out that right here, with Vezely’s attitude shifting back to ‘skeptic’, she’s actually practicing self-hatred. Which makes sense, given what we learn later on… But that’s something to talk about later on.
Huh. Legolas seriously turned around – in just half a dozen chapters. Relatively quickly, yes, but okay, Gandalf explaining her back-story probably helped. A lot. I’m fine with it. But don’t get carried away; she’s been raised by the Balchoth since she was six, so I’m pretty sure she hasn’t turned into a ‘real’ Elf in a couple of chapters – or even a couple of decades.
This is actually pretty cool, though slightly unbelievable with what both trilogies have shown us. The Elves are being overrun; they’re having trouble maintaining their position. God, please tell me it’s not just Orcs attacking them… The original canon, while also ignoring the war in the north, made you wonder why the Elves don’t just smash Sauron’s entire army again. They’re too good to be true. Including the Silvan Elves being in trouble really helps the idea there’s some serious risk and establish Sauron as a super-powerful threat. I’m just going to say it: this is better than the original.
The part about Vezely’s Balchoth ring was pretty damn awesome. I liked the added history and character insight it provided. Also, I’m really happy we got confirmation the Easterlings in general are actually not bad people. Her Balchoth foster parents were her parents, and for their culture, really good parents. We even learn later on they protected her from and stood up for her to Sauron himself. Say what you will, that deserves respect.
Generally, this was a strong chapter. Legolas-Vezely bonding, more of Vezely’s AWESOME back-story, some more of the cultural stuff I enjoy so immensely. I sit in awe.
Chapter 8: ‘Of Rhun’s Deserts and Dorwinion Wine’
Generally, this chapter isn’t up there with chapter 7 or 5, but let’s be honest: those are some pretty big shoes to fill. It’s still good, and strangely, I’d take it over chapter 6. The references to the book and the extended editions are appreciated.
Wow. So all you need to do to hear the trees talking, and even understand it’s not hostile, is… know Elvish? Sweet. Yeah, Vezely was born in the Woodland Realm, but she remembers so little of it I don’t think she’d have the ability from there. Or LotR biology works in really weird ways, where being an Elf comes with not just extraordinary beauty, immortality and the best immune system imaginable, but also with special abilities like… understanding talking trees. Does anyone else think maybe the people who accused Tolkien of racism may have been wrong, but not entirely wrong? (I shouldn’t complain, but in my own defense, I will add in some justification; if anyone wants to come back at me with this argument in a review, I guess that’s fair.)
‘Legolas noted what he assumed was a slight apprehension of speaking Elvish in front of the others, reminding him of his determination to have her use it more often.’ Yeah… Let me start off by saying I do kind of understand Legolas, just to be clear. But that doesn’t mean I’m with him on this. Seriously, slow down. She’s not going to turn into a ‘full’ Elf. Also, only, like, yesterday you told her she was one of you either way. I’d actually love to see Legolas taking more of an interest in Balchoth culture, asking Vezely to teach him the language in which she was raised. That’d be so awesome.
I really like Gimli now for pulling Vezely into the conversation. You’re the best, Master Dwarf! As for her reply, I’m satisfied with her reasoning of her being reminded of Dol Guldur. And the desert was a really interesting choice. Her later explanation, of finding life even in the most unlikely places, was brilliant.
And having gained an advantage, you press it home by following up with another good, interesting part, even if this one is pretty brief. But that’s probably for the best at this stage; let it loom in the background. What happens after Sauron is defeated – if Sauron is defeated? The question that, honestly, no one bothered to ask themselves is asked here: what happens to the East? Vezely seems to long for peace, which is interesting, keeping ‘Scars and Wargs’ in mind. However, it’s not an image of the future she can even imagine at this point. Good thing she was raised to be a fighter.
Yeah… Merry and Pippin were definitely drunk, high or both.
Vezely sympathizing with Saruman was really good. I loved that bit. Her knowing of Palantìr… Well, she did command the Eastern armies, so I guess that qualifies as high enough. Her own doubts as to what she would’ve done were very well handled. Also, she raises a very valid point. Can the armies of the Free Peoples resist Sauron’s onslaught? In fact, probably the biggest plot-hole in LotR is why Sauron doesn’t just send his entire force out, since there’s no way anyone could’ve survived that. Okay, except for the ghost army, but Sauron didn’t know about that, or at least didn’t expect anyone to use them. He could’ve smashed Gondor easily and worked his way up north. I’m guessing Sauron himself finds the lack of subtlety in such plans distasteful; he’d prefer to win in a more sophisticated matter. However, at the end of the day, as I said before, Sauron’s forces are just too strong.
Okay, I’m sorry, I actually read over this the first time, but I did notice now. This is deliberately wasted awesome potential. Is there anyone who read this story who wouldn’t have liked to see Saruman actually try? I mean, the only actually interesting character we have at this point (okay, in this version you can make a case for Éomer, and even Éowyn, but they don’t hold a candle to Vezely) vs. SIR CHRISTOPHER LEE as a SORCERER. Does it get more awesome than that? And it’s just begging to happen, but… Gandalf is all like: ‘No, no way that’s happening.’ In an uncharacteristic display of competence I don’t feel great (or terrible, I’ll be honest) about; seriously, is this the same guy who has made and will make really dumb decisions? Also, if Saruman had tried to seduce Vezely back to the Dark Side (I know, dumb comparison and really cheap, considering Saruman is also Count Dooku…) and Vezely had resisted on her own, that would’ve really meant something. Sure, we get a moment later, but Saruman at this stage is more manipulative than Sauron, who has just been the enemy for too long, both to the West and to Vezely. Now, Gandalf’s assertion that Saruman poses no threat to Vezely’s determination and enmity to Sauron remains just that – an assertion. We’re told she’s past that stage, but we aren’t shown. Apparently Gandalf actually isn’t that sure. Or are you telling us at this point she isn’t past that stage? That’s a cool angle, but then why not have her falter in her face-off against Saruman and Gandalf intervene? This just feels like a cheap way out. I’m sorry; for the record, this story is awesome, but that doesn’t mean I’m on board with this.
Wait. So Vezely thought the White Council stormed Dol Guldur, found her in the dungeons, didn’t think that Sauron’s return may not be a situation where the maxim ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ applies, didn’t recognize her or just didn’t bother to kill her, helped her up and maybe meanwhile discovered who she was, didn’t decide that just killing her as soon as they realized she’d be killed if turned over to the West as captive anyway would be so much easier and less messy, and helped her up for… a trial? A journey? Yeah, what for exactly? I mean, if the intention is to have her punished anyway, why not just kill her? Sounds a lot easier. Remember, we’re not dealing with parliamentary systems addicted to procedures here. We’re dealing with Kings who make laws and then enforce them. Also, the Istari are all kind of dicks, so the weirdest part about this is that I actually kind of understand Vezely. They won’t turn her over to Thranduil or Rohan, great, but is she much better off with the Eastern resistance? She’d have a reputation there, right? Isn’t there a big chance someone would find out who she is and kill her or have her killed? Wow…
Okay, guys, seriously, give the ‘higher p
| NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 7 . 1/9
Chapter 6: 'Defending the Deep' (Continued)
Humor and smiling equals inner Elvish light. I agree, it means she’s not dead inside, but it doesn’t mean she’s more in touch with her Elven side, does it? I mean… does it?
Oh, screw it. I’m starting to hate myself here. The Vezely/Legolas dynamic is awesome. I buy it, I like it; Hell, this is seriously good.
Certainly not telling a King about one of your companions having killed the founder of his dynasty qualifies as keeping a minor secret, and nothing of any relevance. I know Théoden is indebted to Gandalf and trusts him blindly, but Gandalf’s really pushing him. Also, everyone knows entrances to fortresses are the best places to hold council after battles. I mean, much better than, say, getting inside the Hornburg and talking there. There’s nothing too pressing to take that little amount of time, is there?
Théoden knows this is actually Vezely of the Balchoth and yet continues to refer to her – for no reason whatsoever – as ‘Vez’, which is a nice cover name and even just shortened name, but is total bullshit to call her in formal introductions like this. And don’t tell me he didn’t want Éomer to know who she really was, because he IMMEDIATELY says the worst thing there could be for a Rohir to know about her. I know it’s really minor, but I’ve read the entire story and the continuous use of ‘Vez’ – which doesn’t even sound as good as Vezely – really gets out of hand. Here, it’s forgivable, but… I don’t understand.
Okay, there’s another problem that shows itself for the first time here. People are WAY more confident than they have any right to be. Here, when Gandalf does it, considering how we see Gandalf screw up later, Vezely is the luckiest Elf alive.
Yes, that would make me happy, too. More chances of getting killed. And also continued risk for my entire nation. God, I hope IS never goes away. Seriously, that’s Éowyn’s logic. I’m not making this up. I’m surprised she won’t break down crying and get all depressed upon finding out Sauron is destroyed. I’ll go into further detail later, I promise.
Overall… I guess my main problem with this chapter is that it feels rushed. I know, we needed Helm’s Deep and we didn’t need to re-watch it; we know what happened. It was total bullshit at times in the movie, but we know what happened and we bought it back then. Actually making it make more sense than the movie would’ve forced me to recognize you’re a complete and utter genius, this fanfic is totally awesome and I’m a dumb gorilla for pretending any nitpick I could make is relevant. I’d still be nitpicking, but I’d rate this story a lot higher. But it’s not really a problem. I can live with it. The battle of Helm’s Deep was glossed over to a degree that made it hard to get invested, but took enough time that it makes it harder to have good original scenes. And still, there’s actually really good moments here, so credit to you. Maybe I’m being extra harsh because last chapter was so awesome. I’m looking forward to next chapter.
Chapter 7: ‘The Forest River’
This is a little slower and more in-depth, and there’s a lot of original stuff, so that’s a huge step in the right direction. I like this chapter.
The moment with Vezely thinking about how the victory isn’t that relevant in the grand scheme of things… Yeah, it’s not actually true, because if Saruman had won at Helm’s Deep I don’t know how the West ever would’ve won the war. But it felt nicely reminiscent of the movies and even more the books, which are really kind of depressing at times. Elrond talks about how he has seen ‘many defeats and many fruitless victories’. Gandalf in the movie ‘Return of the King’ literally says: “He has suffered a defeat, yes, but behind the walls of Mordor, our enemy is regrouping.” The books are even more explicit, Gandalf anticipating a second, even more powerful attack on Minas Tirith. Yes, they’ve won, but Sauron’s just too powerful to be out of the game. You can do all the right things, but at the end of the day, that’s a lot of Orcs and Men. Nice touch.
This time, there was some pretty philosophical stuff. It makes me wish we had seen those thoughts in the post-combat reflection: about the fragility of mortal life or, harkening back to the irrelevance of the victory, the irrelevance of a brief human life or even of this brief episode in history in the grand scheme of the huge wars against Morgoth (and later on, we learn about her knowing the People of the Dark Lands who worship Melkor, so I’m confident she knows something about that ancient lore) and the struggles that will remain in Rhûn, Khând and Harad. And being in the West obviously is difficult for her, not only because of her past, but because they don’t act in any way she’s familiar with. While that’s obvious, it’s always good to focus on it – and in later chapters, it’ll be shown, not told, which is even better. I like this.
Okay, let me take a minute to appreciate this stupidity which Vezely pointed out brilliantly a few chapters ago. ‘His father had foreseen this turn of events’? For real? Thranduil knew all along Sauron would end up imprisoning her, she would be rescued, the Blue Wizards would look after her and she’d eventually fight against Sauron? Because… no. No, he didn’t. Thranduil doesn’t even have foresight, and while it’s certainly possible, this asshole doesn’t have remotely enough proof to ‘know’ it’ll play out like that. If he knows all that, why is he surprised his son ends up in love with her?
Vezely wondering about her fate in the long run, in relation to Valinor – basically Elven Heaven, except you don’t have to die in order to enter – was pretty nice, but I feel like I have a few words to say about it. First off, this is a Paradise for Elves who have been raised in typical Elven culture – which she may actually not be fond of. I’ll get back to that. But she just assumes it’s awesome in an absolute sense: that no matter who or what you are, if you’re an okay person, you’ll love Valinor. I’m glad this idea is played with later, but that’s for another chapter. Also, she grew up in a warrior culture; we already had the awesome thing about her that battle makes her feel alive. Would peace truly make her happy? That’s at the very least a question I’d like her to ask. A topic that is slightly hinted at, but never actually addressed. Do the Halls of Mandos suck? I mean, they get boring, no doubt, and a lot quicker than Valinor, but I bet Valinor, after thousands of years, becomes pretty boring, especially if you’re raised for battle. Wandering around Middle-Earth forever sounds like it’s a terrible fate here, nicely, subtly and cleverly reminiscent of Arwen I might add, but that comparison only goes so far. Arwen and Vezely have been raised in almost opposite ways. Also, unless the Valar are racist, she’s as much Balchoth as she is Elf. She assumes they are, apparently, because Balchoth heaven isn’t an idea she even considers. I’m glad it’s brought up later, though, and admittedly, this is really based on me having read the future awesome stuff. On itself this paragraph is brilliant. Another cool option that’s never even mentioned, though, is her actual complete destruction; that she’s judged after death and then dies a second time. But now I’m really taking it too far, and I apologize; just writing what comes to my mind.
I’m so grateful to Legolas for asking about Vezely’s motivations. Her mental history was pretty damn awesome. What’s it like to be Sauron’s captive? What’s it like to be one of his Generals? I actually think she was, to put it in Star Wars terms, seduced by the Dark Side. Remember, Sauron’s been a huge influence in her life since she was six years old. Then, her Clan, as we learn later, is destroyed. This obviously leaves her mentally vulnerable, sad, bitter, probably angry, and without a place. Sauron is an evil genius; I’m sure he knew how to capitalize on this advantage. This is just great.
Now, this is again philosophical. Personally, I actually considered this an understandable waste of awesome potential. Why would Vezely be interested in a higher purpose? I seriously and genuinely don’t understand the hate on revenge. Have we forgotten that revenge is the cornerstone of justice? Or at the very least the wish for revenge? You want someone to not get away with what they did to you, your family, your people or another group you’re part of. Sauron betrayed her and she wants revenge. Do we seriously need more?
Okay, seriously! Why does seeking revenge mean you can’t be ‘honest, kindhearted, pure’? She simply lacks connection, that’s all. Also, I have a theory: love and hate don’t destroy each other, they need each other. You can only feel true hatred if you love someone. Hatred is born when one of your loved ones is gravely harmed. Wouldn’t that be a pretty awesome motivation for Vezely? Her not only hating Sauron for what he did to her, but for leading the Balchoth to their doom? Vengeance for both herself and her family? Or even avenging her birth parents? How does this mean you’re not a great person? I just don’t get it, is all.
The thing with the Woodland lullaby was brilliant. I imagine the song was so deep in Vezely’s memory Sauron couldn’t block her access to it entirely. Yeah, you can argue about that for days, mostly revolving around how then did he block her access to all other memories before being taken, but having her remember at least something was a genuinely good choice. This was a nice, heartfelt, genuinely sweet moment. And yet it fits in Vezely’s relatively dark character; there’s some bitter-sweetness going on about the childhood she should’ve had. Especially on Legolas’ part, ironically. I like this.
"Those woods remain in you. You must accept it, or Sauron will have won." Really? Does Sauron still care? Even if he does, how do you know? Vezely specifically mentioned Sauron getting bored with his experiment the success of which would be the victory Legolas is referring to a
| La Nuit Noire chapter 62 . 1/5
Loved this story! They went through so much and came so far. It was a joy to read.
| NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 6 . 1/1
A very happy New Year!
Also, my apologies is my Chapter 6 review is particularly bitchy; I was playing CinemaSins in the background and maybe it shows.
Chapter 5: 'Submission' (Continued)
Alright, I need to discuss Théoden’s decision, right? I’m honestly really conflicted on this. It’s actually hard for me to make any coherent argument about it at all. In general, let’s just say that while it may not be awesome, it’s definitely good. I myself enjoyed it. What I loved most about it is that, despite the decision being necessary for the plot, in-universe, for Théoden, it was still a though call. He’s hesitant, reluctant. We see his doubts. I’ll get back to that, but for now, suffice to say it’s really good.
Éowyn goes to Aragorn to ask permission to fight? What for? Théoden can command 300 Rohirrim himself, can’t he? Aragorn is only given a command because of the Elves showing up. At this point, Aragorn can’t do anything for her. If she’s going to ask permission anyway, she should ask it of her uncle. Maybe he’ll understand. Also, why does this strong, badass female warrior character ask permission to join the fight? Just disguise yourself in armor (if you can do that in Dunharrow, I’m not sure how you can’t in Helm’s Deep) and blend in with the army. It’s not like they’ll do a background check; they’re arming little kids. If you’re running around with a sword, no one’s going to stop you.
There are moments when the relationship between Éowyn and Vezely becomes a little head-scratching. Okay, so Éowyn doesn’t care about history all that much, but she’s literally like: ‘Oh, you killed the founder of my House? I’m so glad you’re here to defend us!’ There’s not the tiniest bit of hurt or betrayal over this revelation on Éowyn’s part, and I’m left wondering… why? She’s not even a tiny bit suspicious?
I’m a sucker for flashbacks, so Vezely thinking back to her own army when she goes to visit the Rohirrim in the armory is really great for me.
Vezely talking to Legolas as she picked a bow was a plain awesome scene. The cultural thing came forward again, which is something I always enjoy. The exposition about the Balchoth words, to me, was particularly good. Also, it’s awesome to see Vezely being so relaxed about all this; it really establishes her as a cold-blooded badass who, when things seem to be collapsing, is going out there and giving her all regardless. I instantly remember why I like her.
‘Blood of my blood’? Well, someone read ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’! Or at least saw ‘Game of Thrones’… If you saw the series, I seriously recommend the books. Anyway, I’m going to guess Eluréd is the only reason Elrond knew about Vezely. Honestly, I thought earlier the White Council attacked because they didn’t like an evil sorcerer sitting around in Dol Guldur growing more powerful and they just stumbled upon Vezely when searching the fortress. This is a new interpretation: Elrond knew about Vezely and somehow received word Sauron turned against her. So he decides to kill two birds with one stone: get Sauron out of Dol Guldur and save his cousin. And… to be honest, I’m buying it.
I’m astonished that Vezely, who in chapter one said herself that she shouldn’t be trusted in these dark times, doesn’t realize why Théoden wants her next to him. I can guess easily: he’s not an idiot and wants to keep her near. And don’t try to tell me in her centuries as a warlord, no one ever told her about ‘keep your friends close, but your enemies closer’. Still, the explanation she comes up with is kind of cool, I guess.
Overall, this was one of the better chapters and arguably the best yet. While I kind of have mixed feelings about the Théoden/Vezely dynamic, you could make an argument that Vezely’s identity being revealed and Théoden’s reaction was a highlight, and the armory scene was too, so that’s two highlights in a single chapter. I’ll remember this one fondly.
Chapter 6: ‘Defending the Deep’
Huh. I honestly wasn’t expecting the battle to be pretty much glossed over. So, I guess points there. I do understand your reasoning; we already know what happened in the battle, and why would we need to be reminded? Alright, let’s get to the actual chapter, chronologically.
Let me start off by remarking the morale thing actually was really different in the books. The books spoke of ‘the silent threat of rock’, and Saruman’s army was genuinely thrown off balance. A neat little parallel to that is the Greeks, who shouted and chanted in their traditional hoplite warfare, being unsettled by the Persians, who silently went to war like the professionals they damn near were. In the light of the latter, I actually like to imagine the Easterlings just standing there, breathing determination and refusing to be intimidated by screaming savages. It would make sense from what we learn about the Easterlings and them being all rational. But okay, you’re following the movies, I get that. And in the movie, I’ll admit, the Rohirrim did look pretty scared, despite the fact they had the safest posts. And the movie version of the army of Isengard wasn’t scared of rocks.
There’s a lot of summary and some repetition, and I’ve already covered that. So let’s get to the fight scene. Good God, you would’ve been so awesome if you’d just scrapped that shield surfing bullshit. You didn’t even need to tell us he didn’t do that, just ignoring it would’ve been great. But there’s some fun here. Vezely fighting herself was awesome. I’m conflicted about the mention of her ‘only being Elvish when fighting’. Huh? Because she relies on speed and precision and stuff? Don’t the Easterlings use that in single combat? Vezely’s scimitar is an Eastern weapon, right? Plus, as I’ll talk about later, Vezely is a warrior because the Balchoth raised her that way. However, her kicking ass was really good. And it makes sense; she was a general for centuries. She would’ve spent countless hours training. This is freaking awesome right here.
Wait. One of those overpowered dinosaur killer machines with super senses is getting snuck up on BY A FREAKING URUK? WE HAVE JUST BEEN TOLD URUKS ARE ABOUT SIZE AND STRENGTH! These guys aren’t subtle. By Elven army standards, this guy is a total punk. Which reminds me that, while the battle at the breach in the Deeping Wall and the retreat are written pretty in-depth, Haldir’s death is completely glossed over. Might’ve been even a small emotional moment. Just saying.
Now, I really have to talk about Théoden. I like him. Forgive me if I seem to be making excuses for him, but I believe there’s something to it. I hardly think I’m the only one to notice it’s so odd the guy who is so paralyzed by Helm’s Deep is also the guy who, in Dunharrow, has this conversation:
Gamling: “Too few have come. We cannot defeat the armies of Mordor.”
Théoden: “No, we cannot. But we will meet them in battle nonetheless.”
This guy is so badass! And at Minas Tirith, he looks down on a million Orcs, makes a sound that I can only interpret as hate or even contempt, and decides that he can fuck them up. Why is this guy even slightly worried? Well, because this is a new kind of war, with the mines and all, and he physically sees that history isn’t doing him any good. It’s a rude wake-up call. However, charging Orcs is something the House of Eorl – and Théoden himself – have been doing for, well, ages. I think this vulnerable moment really fits his character.
This is one of the points where, just for the sake of being an asshole in this review, I start thinking about points I ignored when watching the movie. Well, to be fair, even CinemaSins on YouTube completely overlooked it. Anyway, while I understand Aragorn’s reasoning that the women and children should head for the mountain pass, how does he expect to get a message through? The books clearly specify a few defenders were trapped in the caves. In the movie, we see them entering the cave. And I’m pretty sure that you can’t access it if you’re cut off in your keep. I’m sorry, I’m really being unfair to you by talking about mistakes in the source material…
Right, because someone who hates blood ties as determining the identity of the King obviously cares about a blood claim being backed by a frankly suicidal order. Sure, like at the very beginning, you’re screwed either way, and it’s glorious death and whatnot, but if this made any kind of practical sense, I might have felt like I was going too far now. Plus, no one cares how badass or smart he is – he’s the rightful King. His claim to the throne and this order have literally nothing to do with each other.
Another thing that bothered me even in the original: what happened to all the other Elves? Both this story and the movie explicitly showed us there were a few left, but the survivors magically disappeared. I guess they were cut off while a few Rohirrim got inside the Keep, but a few seconds after the Hornburg became the last bastion they were never seen again.
Well, shit. Gandalf’s pretty good at figuring stuff out, despite sucking at helping her becoming an accepted part of the Western army.
I like the reflecting after battle thing, it’s really cool as part of the intercultural theme and makes sense for the Balchoth. One reviewer said it’s not being properly used, and that reviewer… isn’t entirely wrong. Some deeper insight in her character might be good. But okay, for what we did get, it was nice. I’m not that unfair.
Vezely, you’re fighting against the person who betrayed, imprisoned and tortured you and wants to destroy the West and enslave your old home in Rhûn. You haven’t betrayed the Balchoth, and you’re now fighting on the side of your birth nation. Also, your sense of honor is still very much Eastern. How are you not an honorable warrior?
The talk about comparing weapons was honestly brilliant. It’s smart, it fits Vezely’s character, it’s fun. I’m a fan.
Humor and smiling equals inner Elvish light. I agree, it means she’s not dead inside, but it doesn’t mean she’s more in touch with her
| NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 5 . 12/28/2015
Chapter 4: 'Scars and Wargs' (Continued):
One thing in this chapter that I did like about Vezely, however, also deserves mention. I just LOVE that, being raised in a warrior culture, it’s battle that makes her feel alive. I wish I could go much more into depth, even if only to balance out, I really do, but as I explained before, I’m sadly not good at that. Anyway, that’s a part of her character I do admire. I’m immediately reminded why overall, I actually like her.
Yes, of course I have to discuss the confrontation between Ridar and Vezely. Again, we see only one side, and I’ll try to balance it out, without being unfair to Vezely. Yes, Ridar is out of line – even King Théoden says so. However, I’ve argued earlier that he already disliked and distrusted her from the start, because she’s an Easterling – hell, Théoden’s statement that ‘Easterlings can’t be trusted’ is even described as a mantra of the Rohirrim. And then he sees her riding a Warg and landing impossibly softly. Of course he doesn’t trust that. Maybe he just threw his spear at a random Warg and it happened to be the one Vezely was riding – I know, what a coincidence, but in fiction, you have to allow for some convenience. And only then he noticed apparently Vezely rides Wargs. Would that reasonably help ANYONE in his position to trust her? Anyone? Honestly, I’m amazed at how little confusion Théoden displays, but even he thinks maybe he should think twice about this matter. And Vezely, despite wanting a place and honor in the West, isn’t helping her own integration. Seeking to make the confrontation hard and fierce is one thing, but seriously, is Gizik any better off on her own than she is with Vezely? She could’ve easily done the same amount of damage on her horse, right? And she didn’t think riding a Warg might seem a little bit suspicious? Remember, at this point, no one knows she once served in Sauron’s army at this point, except Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. Everyone agrees she should hide it for now. Yet, she gives a really obvious clue. Finally, it – again – reminds me why Vezely is good, but not that great a person. ‘Vezely's smirked slightly, she couldn't help but be amused by this man's easy defeat.’ Uhm… define ‘defeat’ for me. His King – his ‘employer’, you might say, since he’s Royal Guard – gave him a direct order and he obeyed. That’s what I call loyalty, not defeat.
The healing scene I actually rather liked. It was good, I found it nice to see more positive cultural interaction, and the idea was genuinely clever.
I’m personally rather fond of the idea that Vezely’s first time in a fortress – like all firsts – isn’t something she feels immediately at home with. A really cool interpretation would be that sieges aren’t considered honorable, but considering what we learn about Easterlings later on, I doubt that’s it. Vezely’s probably just uncomfortable being cornered; as Sauron’s General I imagine she was usually on the offensive. That’s still nice, though.
Plutarch, when writing his biographies, believed that when discussing a historical character’s personality not their huge accomplishments, but the small anecdotes are the most important pieces of information. I agree with him, even if he wasn’t the best historian. The interaction with the elderly woman was a really nice little character moment for Vezely. What I like most about it is the awkwardness. It makes sense. It’s original. It goes beyond the movie. It’s… good. As much as, due to philosophical differences (sorry about that; I already talked about that in the introduction), many of your ideas wouldn’t do it for me – especially if I tried them myself – when it comes to writing this is actually in several respects a learning opportunity. In certain ways, I find myself envious.
That being said, there is something about the exchange… I’m with Vezely in wondering how the elderly woman is so cheerful in wartime, but I also wonder why she is so happy talking to Vezely when she realizes she’s Easterling. What the hell? Everyone in Rohan, especially the elders, HATES Easterlings, right? Éowyn I wasn’t on board with, but I could understand. Here?
Even I can’t find anything to complain about or scratch my head at in Vezely’s exchange with Legolas. Though I do wonder why Gandalf didn’t tell Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in chapter 2. I don’t know, might’ve made it easier for them to accept her. Still, that conversation already was pretty exposition-heavy and the fact that this isn’t glossed over makes it seem all the more important – and it is: it’s the moment Sauron and Vezely went from allies to enemies. What Sauron in fact did was break her down a second time, making it possible – unintentionally – for the White Council and the Blue Wizards to build her back up. The conversation was heartfelt, there was some genuine concern from Legolas here, and Vezely continued to be awesome, concluding as a fierce warrior. This is a true highlight.
Overall, this was an interesting, good chapter. I guess it’s solid; there’s a few things I’m not fond of, as I pointed out, but there’s a lot to like here. It’s not great, but it’s not an important chapter either. It’s probably as good as it gets without being memorable – and hell, try writing 62 chapters and making ALL of them great. While by this story’s standards, I would call it average, I myself call it good.
Chapter 5: 'Submission'
Alright, let’s talk about Théoden and his confrontation with the Fellowship. First off, his argument makes sense for his character, but it also genuinely makes sense. What the hell makes these Uruk-hai so special they can succeed where everyone else has failed? Also, his argument about Gondor, again, makes a lot of sense. Gondor didn’t help before when Rohan was in trouble, so why would anyone in Rohan rely on those assholes? And we know he’s right; Faramir gets a report about Saruman attacking Rohan and Théoden’s people fleeing to Helm’s Deep. If Faramir has this information, obviously the Steward has it, too. But Gondor is all like: ‘No, we must look to our own borders.’ Sorry, Aragorn, but sending out a rider to Gondor, even if it’s just a little kid, isn’t going to do anything except saving that one kid. Maybe that’s his intention, but I doubt it. Plus, something I only realized rather late: how the hell does Aragorn expect an army of Gondor capable of even putting up a fight against 10,000 Uruk-hai to arrive before the Uruks, who will arrive before nightfall, have completely overrun 300 Rohirrim, most of whom are too old, too young or aren’t even actual soldiers? The Gondorians, as far as he knows and as he represents it, need to get the message, assemble an army of at least 1,000 men (and probably that number several times over, considering how useless Gondorians are against even such pathetic foes as Orcs and how stupid they have to be to burden themselves with armor that obviously never stops anything) AND march that army (because most Gondorians are foot soldiers) all the way to freaking Helm’s Deep. ALL BEFORE THE NEXT MORNING, because how long does Aragorn expect the Rohirrim to hold out on their own? Sorry, you’re essentially fucked at this point, no matter what you do, and Théoden has the right idea: “If this is to be our end, then I will have them make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance.” Seriously, Théoden is the most badass old guy since ser Barristan Selmy. In fact, thinking about it, I’m astonished how quickly the Elves made their way to Helm’s Deep. Apparently, the time it takes the Rohirrim somewhere between Edoras and Helm’s Deep to get to Helm’s Deep (and let’s be clear: Edoras isn’t THAT far from Helm’s Deep) is about equal to the time it takes an army – ON FOOT – of Elves to march all the way from Lothlórien to get there, and both are much faster than an army of actually pretty disciplined Uruk-hai who have left from Isengard, which, like Edoras, isn’t all that far from Helm’s Deep. But okay, if Peter Jackson made that mistake, I’m fine with you taking it over; it’s not really your fault.
Huh. I thought the black powder was an invention of Saruman, made possible by his magic. Still, this was more implied in the books, and it wasn’t clear in the movie, so I don’t mind. It’s actually a pretty cool twist. Also, it allows for the heroes to employ this kind of weapons – though I have to admit, being an idealist, I think the idea of bombs and the like fits villains better than heroes. On the other hand, it does fit Vezely’s attitude – reminiscent of the Roman idea – that winning comes first. I’m not fond of the Romans, but it fits, and that counts for a lot. In fact, thinking about it, the mines in the movie – and the ‘fire of Orthanc’ in the book – only seem to be added to pile on the drama, so again, limitations by the source material.
Thinking about it… Why is anyone concerned about provisions? Isn’t everyone assuming the enemy is going to try and storm Helm’s Deep? There’s 300 Rohirrim to keep out 10,000 Uruk-hai, they’re not going to just be camping right outside the door. Plus, this is Rohan’s go-to fortification. This provision problem could easily be solved with the reasonable policy of maintaining a large stock of food here at all times. I don’t know, if I can think of that, maybe one of the Kings could have. Again, this criticism is more to the original writers of the movies than to you.
‘A witch instead of a woman’? The hell? Maybe they thought ‘this woman was a witch’, but witches are still women. That’s not cool, guys! Just because they know magic, that doesn’t mean witches are no longer women! Magic users have feelings too!
Vezely was just banished from the Woodland Realm, right? I mean, she’s a known enemy of the State in Rohan, so of course the Rohirrim would kill her at any given opportunity. Or does Thranduil have the power to tell other Kings to banish her, too? Or did Eorl’s successor banish her? That’d make sense, only no one ever mentions it.
Alright, I need to discuss Théoden’
| NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 4 . 12/25/2015
First off, a very merry Christmas!
Secondly, sorry, I made a mistake. The line about all of Finwë's descendents being brave referred to Aredhel more than Galadriel. However, it still applies to Galadriel
Chapter 3: 'The Stars Call to You' (Continued)
Yes, this is speculative, but it’s the most reasonable theory I can come up with – in canon. I’ll talk more about her at the end and as we learn more about her, but her meeting Vezely just had to happen… though it never makes her look all that great. Maybe here, the criticism about too much focus on and even adoration for Vezely does hold some weight. That’s just my opinion, and if Éowyn, as I said before, is indeed essentially a teen girl, it’d make sense she wants someone to look up to, especially since her parents are dead. Still, while a brave fighter, a strong character she is not, I believe. I don’t know, maybe on my re-read of later chapters.. She just seems to depend a lot on Vezely, rather than doing it all by herself as she did in the canon.
This is a thing with Gandalf in this story; Vezely herself even points this out later on, though only in her thought. He does a TERRIBLE job of helping her get accepted in the West. Admittedly, Vezely strangely isn’t helping much herself on occasion; I’ll get back to that, too. Seriously, I know getting Théoden to fight back is more important, but Gandalf doesn’t think it’d help if he, the one guy the King now trusts unreservedly, were there to plead for Vezely when she reveals herself? Either that or he thinks she’ll keep her identity hidden until after the Battle of Helm’s Deep… Something that somewhat bugged me even in the movie: Gandalf’s tone as he pretty much forces the issue with Théoden. Does that not count as undermining authority?
But who cares, because this line is awesome: ‘Driven mad in your eyes, perhaps, but not by fear’. That’s it. I haven’t got anything else. This line is just brilliant. Moving on.
I should say a few more words on the first conversation between the two woman warriors. Dynamically different, but also the same. It’s really good in concept. But I wish I could say I liked it more. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad at all. Though there’s a few tiny things. First, in-universe: ‘"If you don't mind me asking…Is it true, that Easterling women fight alongside the men?" ... "Yes, it is true. From childhood, Easterlings are trained to fight. To protect one's home by wielding a sword, it matters not what is in between your legs,…”’ Odd, since later on, we’re told that plenty of Easterling Clans don’t allow women to fight. Why not tell her that now? Is Vezely on her way to something remotely important? Secondly… It’s more a philosophical disagreement, so I guess it’s fine, but for me, it bugs me. ‘"It's man's world, Eowyn," Vezely continued, "Not because it should be, but because we let them have it."’ Later on, Éomer and Faramir are portrayed as jerks for their disrespect of Eastern culture. That sounds really hypocritical when Vezely is blatantly disrespecting Western culture right here. Yeah, I know, we’re hearing one side of the story – Vezely’s, and it makes sense she considers Eastern culture superior. However, I do not accept anyone to demand respect for their culture while offering none for that of others. And according to Rohan’s culture, Éowyn should sit the war out. Period. It’s fine if you think that’s stupid, but then don’t complain about Rohirrim thinking some aspects of your culture are savage.
Théoden actually makes quite a lot of sense. I really buy him as an old King. Drawing on the wisdom of the past to guide his course. This is consistent with the character we saw in books and movies; his very decision to go to Helm’s Deep is based on history. Aragorn told us: ‘He’s only doing what he thinks best for his people. Helm’s Deep has saved them in the past.’ Théoden draws a lot of his confidence from history: ‘No enemy has ever breached the Deeping Wall or set foot inside the Hornburg.’ The songs of Rohan say that no one has ever taken Helm’s Deep while Men defended it. The historical figure of Helm is very important to Théoden. Of course he doesn’t trust his nation’s historical Easterling enemies, even without knowing who exactly Vezely is. However, this does make me scratch my head even more at the decision to trust Vezely when he does find out. Éowyn, strangely unlike her brother, represents a new generation that looks forward to new glory, not back on ancient victories. Her line that ‘"History cannot dictate every obstacle we come across,"’ in my opinion, summarizes this perfectly. They both make sense in very different ways. However, you can easily criticize both. Théoden can be criticized for clinging too tightly to the past, while an argument can be made that Éowyn, who also wants to break from the tradition that forbids her to fight, doesn’t give the wisdom from the past enough consideration. Also, it’s apparently pretty easy to gain Éowyn’s respect. A single conversation including a bit of encouragement is all it takes? You don’t even want to see her in action, in actual combat, or hear first-hand accounts? Still, Éowyn does have a good added argument about Gandalf backing Vezely. Théoden’s response also seems to reflect both unwillingness to adapt to a new situation at his old age and discomfort at the realization it is necessary to do just that. It’s actually really clever.
The moment with Vezely thinking back to her conflict with Rohan was really good. It felt natural, it taught us more about Vezely, it was well written. An excellent paragraph.
I’m not sure why Vezely wonders if war will find its way to Helm’s Deep. One: they assume they’re being tracked, right? If so, the enemy will find out they’re making for Helm’s Deep. Two: Helm’s Deep is considered ‘the great fortress of Rohan’, the go-to fortification of the House of Eorl, even more so than Dunharrow. It’s the logical conclusion for Saruman to assume they’ve gone there and he’ll probably send an army. Three: it’s a fortress. War is what is was made for. So, it’s pretty obvious war will find them in Helm’s Deep.
Personally, that added bit of Vezely’s history, how she got away from the Woodland Realm, I thought that was good. It’s a logical question to ask Legolas, and the overall discussion of her character… I’m sorry, I suck at this. It’s harder to explain, as I said before. I just really like it a lot. I’m totally with Aragorn: be careful and patient and watch as the situation unfolds. More data will automatically present themselves, more to work with. However, Legolas’ curiosity, too, makes sense, and I’m on board with him, her fellow Elf, wanting almost desperately to get a read on her, to figure her out, what transformed her from probably a normal Elf into a fierce Eastern fighter.
I like Vezely demonstrating a minor Elvish trait, and the conversation about this was nice. Going back to my earlier remarks on Vezely resembling Karone, she may not have family, but she does have someone to guide her. Personally, I’m fond of this. Legolas commenting on her change and Vezely’s reaction were particularly good. I’m sorry, I wish I could explain in depth what I liked about it. Maybe I could, if I tried really hard, but my arguing would probably be more confusing than anything else. The line I enjoyed most, though, was this: ‘"Such prescience," she scoffed disbelievingly, "Or perhaps foolishness."’ You know, generally, I’m pretty hard on poor Vezely; while I generally like her, I don’t as much as most would and not as much as I imagine I’m supposed to. But in this instance, she’s awesome. I’m completely with her on this one. What the hell was Thranduil thinking? While it was necessary he did so, and I kind of understand, I think Vezely is absolutely right. We’ve established she doesn’t want trouble, but that doesn’t mean she’s a pushover; when something is dumb to her, she says it.
As much as there is in this chapter to make me scratch my head or even to dislike, generally it’s still good. Maybe last chapter was a little better, but this is still solid. The cultural differences thing makes an appearance, which I like. The conversation between Legolas and Vezely was honestly better than that between Vezely and Éowyn, and the latter wasn’t all bad. Especially the last third highlights the thing that makes Vezely really interesting: the nature vs. nurture conflict, or rather her being both Elf and Easterling. Legolas can’t imagine an Elf remaining an Elf and still lose the light, and that’s not what happened. The light is in her, weakened, but not extinguished. The light is still there, even if it is shrouded. That metaphor was really clever, and I honestly figured it out just now, on the re-read where I stop to think all the time. That’s some good writing right there.
Chapter 4: Scars and Wargs
There’s a line I want to get over with: ‘She followed behind them saying nothing, being terribly bored of men's insecurities on account of her gender.’ I said before that the sexism angle ends up hurting, but we’re nowhere near that point yet. Yes, I can be fair. However, isn’t this obviously more a cultural thing? They were just making clear how they feel about Easterlings in general and finding a way to do it. And, considering Théoden’s remarks last chapter, can you blame them? These people have heard the tales, but aren’t anywhere near as educated, making a later part really scratch my head… I know, we’re seeing things from Vezely’s POV, all I’m trying to do is my duty as historian(-to-be) by balancing and providing context. That being said, I just want to take this opportunity to explain why I’m not as fond of Vezely as most people undoubtedly are. I like her and think she’s interesting, but she’s not scoring any points with me by not even trying to understand and appreciate Rohan’s culture and traditions.
One thing in this chapter that I did like about Vezely, however, also deserves mention. I just LOVE that, being raised in
| NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 3 . 12/17/2015
The British Celtic tribes were known for their chariots, but again, they too had cavalry as well, and we can safely assume more. Why are these Wainriders sticking with chariots when they have the perfect horses for a good cavalry force?
Next: Vezely’s familial connection. Yes, several extra members have been added to the descendants of Finwë, Olwë and Elwë here, and I have to admit I’m not sure why Elurin was in there, but hey, I’m fine with it. Dior and Nimloth were the parents of Elwing, Elrond’s mother, making Vezely (I am NOT calling her Bellethiel, unless I feel it necessary for 'historical accuracy') Elrond’s cousin. That’s actually kind of cool. Though I do find it an unbelievable coincidence. I can buy most of it, but Sauron’s forces (who, as I’ll get back to, were incredibly dumb even in those days) RANDOMLY found a kid and it just turned out to be the great-granddaughter of the woman who actually managed to defeat Sauron and the cousin of Elrond, one of the three who survived the face-off against Sauron in the Last Alliance. Incredible. Also, the implication later on is that if it really had been a random child, Elrond and the others would be happy to leave her to her fate. That’s undoubtedly not what you meant, but I sure got that message. Don’t get me wrong, family’s important and all, but still, doesn’t everyone being held captive by freaking Sauron deserve at least a chance?
Now, for a few words on politics. Kings actually can’t be dictators. They can be tyrants, but never dictators. I know, technicalities… But the real problem is that Vezely apparently thinks Westerners do consider Kings gods. The King is a very important symbolic figure, no doubt, but hasn’t Gondor been fighting Sauron for centuries with relative success without a King? The State can work without a King when necessary. The idea of being both god and King was only ever mentioned as applying to Sauron.
Alright, I like the idea of involving the two remaining Istari, I really do. But… Seriously? Sauron betrayed Vezely and she still needed the Blue Wizards to join up with his enemies? Whatever happened to ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’? I understand she’d be planning on turning against them after Sauron’s defeat, but as long as Sauron was a strong common enemy, shouldn’t she be reasonable enough to try and unite all forces working against him? I don’t know, sounds smart to me.
I understand the point Aragorn’s making about Vezely’s skill, but I don’t care how skilled a warrior is, if I don’t trust them, I don’t want them by my side. Théoden would actually be wise to either get rid of her immediately or keep a close eye on her until she has proven herself, and I’m honestly not sure which I would do.
Something I didn’t realize until very recently: I haven’t seen Power Rangers: In Space (such a shame, too, because from what I hear, it was awesome), but I’m familiar with the plot and Lost Galaxy – which I did see, partially – hinted at Karone’s story. Which sounds a lot like Vezely’s to be honest. A girl, born good, abducted and raised to be evil – by a guy who serves the forces of evil, but is actually okay himself – and finally returning to good. The neat twist here is that Vezely doesn’t have a brother or surviving parent or anything to help draw her back in, making everything go much harder and more realistic. I don’t know if it was intentional, but who cares? It’s still clever and I still like it.
I know I’m really being a jerk, but the staff was always going to remain intact. They were just going to take it away from him and safely store it. Maybe ‘staff in hand’ would be more appropriate.
What’s with this story and switching things up? I’ll get back to it later on, but it’s a striking problem in a few instances, and its first appearance is here. The old, bewitched version of Théoden was a shadow of his real self, right?
Wait. Théoden has his GUARDS escort his visitors to his chambers? Isn’t that a job for servants? When you join the Royal Guard and they make you show visitors around, don’t you think: ‘I didn’t sign up for this bullshit’? Why aren’t these assholes back at their posts guarding the main gate? Okay, maybe the guards meant here are the six guys who followed Hama , but don’t they have regular stations? If you’re worried about their security, it would also help if you would give them their weapons back and DO YOUR DAMN JOBS. I know, I know, it’s small things, but on a re-read, I notice them.
Holy crap, what am I doing with my life? These original parts with Vezely, when she’s on her own thinking or interacting with those strange Westerners, are AWESOME. Again, it’s in tiny things, but this time in a good way. The tea really helped reinforce my idea that Easterlings have a small Japanese streak – I stated before I’m a huge fan of Samurai culture, so that’s always a good thing. The contrast, the mutual curiosity and the tea moment felt natural. I liked the psychological warfare thing, and I loved the boasting. The little verbal skirmishes between Legolas and Gimli are fun, and you added in a third party, and it… works. It genuinely works. I want to see these three together. I want them to compare cultures. In fact, it already was comparing Elves and Dwarves with just Legolas and Gimli, and adding in Vezely and Easterling – or rather, Balchoth – culture only makes it better.
I’m sorry, two more things and I’ll stop being a jerk and get to my overall feelings about the chapter. First, why is Vezely even slightly perturbed by stares, if ‘her unhidden appearance always elicited them’? I mean, she’s been around for centuries, right? And she was raised by mortals, so unlike Thranduil, she wouldn’t see 100 years as a mere blink. I think I’d get used to it in 20 years if it happened all the time. Yeah, she’s not used to having her appearance unhidden, I’ll admit. I have to be honest. But it must’ve happened quite a few times before, right? And finally: ‘Aragorn chuckled and then added encouragingly to the woman, "You'll fit right in."’ Uhm, yeah, well… no, she won’t. Aragorn’s been to Rhûn, he should know how different the Easterlings are. She’ll find her place, no doubt, but ‘fit right in’? I like optimism, but let’s keep it real.
Alright, a few words on this chapter proper. A lot of these things I pointed out, when originally reading it and not stopping every paragraph to think about it, I completely read over. A huge part of that is just the fact that I like your writing style, but that’s something for the end. Another factor was that I was too busy actually being invested in the characters. Gimli is treated with a lot more dignity in this story than in the movies, but still recognizable, so a very good job. This is the first chance he really got to shine, because the introduction pretty much needed to talk mostly about Vezely. I criticized Aragorn, but let’s be honest, I like him. Legolas having history with Vezely was a good idea, especially the original distrust. A friend of mine works with multiple hero factions, so to speak; there’s lots of good guys, and they do end up working together, but they don’t do so in the stereotypical way. It’s not like they’re jumping at the chance to help each other or anything. The cause of this is a huge philosophical chasm between the several heroes. (My apologies for any spoilers, but to really understand what I talk about, you really have to read his story (when it gets to those points, which may take a while; us being friends, I have an unfair knowledge advantage); I advertise it on each chapter I upload). It’s actually a very clever twist. We’ve seen multiple villain factions over and over, and while I much prefer that to just one big bad guy because this allows for internal politics and/or for several evil factions fighting each other, it’s not really original anymore. The multiple good actions idea, though? I sadly don’t feel it’s taken to its full potential, but it’s really great to kind of see the idea at work. Legolas distrusting Vezely is the shortest-living example of this, but it’s still rather nice. The romance thing… I’ll get back to it later, but I’m not as fond of it as I’m sure most people are. Still, I don’t necessarily dislike romance, so it’s okay. And I guess it’s a nice way to complicate things between the two Elves. The ending of this chapter… yeah, I guess it’s a little on the nose, but sometimes it’s best to be subtle and sometimes it’s best to be clear. Plus, this chapter’s ending, I’m totally digging what you’re selling us It highlights what I like best about the idea behind this story. It’s about different cultures, people from different cultures, coming together and managing to work together. To me, it doesn’t get better than that. Well, okay, I’m sure it can get better, but what I mean is: it’s really, REALLY good. Two chapters in, I’ve gone from ‘interested’ to ‘fan’.
Chapter 3: ‘The Stars Call to You’
So the time to discuss Éowyn has arrived. First, let me point out that I’m really happy Éowyn was in LotR; as I argued before, she was probably the most complex character. The problem with complex characters, however, is that if you give more on their back-story, it’s hard to make it add up. Still, I think you did alright; hell, I’m not convinced I could do better myself, so who am I to judge? This is what I got from the canon: I mentioned before that Faramir in the books told us that the women of Rohan, too, were brave. Éowyn herself said that the women of Rohan learned to wield swords long ago. Aragorn in the books also mentioned that while Rohirrim don’t write books, they sing many songs. So I would say that Éowyn’s inspiration came from one of those songs, going back to even before the Rohirrim settled down in Rohan, probably about an occasion when the men had ridden off to a battle in the open field and another enemy attacked their encampment, being met by the women, who fended them off. Yes, this is speculative, but it’s the most reasonable theory I
| NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 2 . 12/16/2015
I’ve heard most fans argue the biggest mistake in George Lucas’ prequels was adding in Jar Jar Binks. I don’t mind him as much as most seem to do, but my personal opinion: if that’s true, then Tauriel is Peter Jackson’s Jar Jar. Now, when you turn a short children’s story into an about 8 hour long movie trilogy, of course you’re going to waste time. But I feel I could come up with a better, more clever way to waste our time. And I’m not even getting paid for it! First off, there is NO reason to believe Elven armies take women. Arwen was an exception, and other badass she-Elves have always been sorceresses (Lúthien, Galadriel). Secondly, there is no reason whatsoever to get invested in her character. I talked to a girl who likes the Hobbit movies – which, by the way, is perfectly fine; I had fun watching the movies – and she said she actually sympathized with her. Well, that’s good for her, and probably props to Tauriel, but I’m not seeing it. The love triangle Legolas – Tauriel – Kili is honestly worse than even the Edward – Bella – Jacob bullshit in Twilight. You see, that triangle was actually important. We had a pointless love triangle in the original LotR trilogy, with Éowyn having a crush on Aragorn (I think she’s actually a teenage girl, even if it’s never made clear in either the books or the movies, and matured after having seen battle). But there, they didn’t even try to make us care. It was basically like: ‘Yeah, Éowyn has a crush on Aragorn because… it honestly makes sense. It’s not really important, no need to memorize any of it.’ The Hobbit movies are spending way too much time with a dumb and honestly almost creepy love triangle that isn’t actually important to the plot. Thirdly, it’s obvious – to me at least – that the writers were seriously fed up with making up new characters when they got to Tauriel (and the Master and Alfrid came even later) and just made her because they were told that they needed another female character, preferably a fighter. I can just imagine them sighing and half-assing their way through Tauriel’s character. That’s the only explanation I have for the fact that a writing team that did such an awesome job with the other important female character, Galadriel – honestly a better job than the original LotR-movies’ writers did – and even made Tilda, unimportant as she is, good, didn’t do better with Tauriel. Yes, Galadriel and Tilda were good. I prefer Galadriel from the Hobbit to Galadriel from LotR. In the original trilogy, she was cold and distant. In the Hobbit, we see her being soft, gentle and feminine (including the only bad part, the thing between her and Gandalf, but okay, I can live with one slip-up), but also powerful, brave and straight-up badass. She DESTROYS that Orc that tries to kill Gandalf. She refuses to be brought to safety and banished Sauron. If that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is. And Tilda… Honestly, as tiny a moment as it was, I think THE ultimate feminist moment in any Peter Jackson movie is not when Éowyn kills the Lord of the Nazgûl (trust me, I’ll get back to that…) or any Tauriel scene or even Galadriel banishing Sauron. No, it was that one scene where Tilda threw a plate at an Orc. She’s not immune to physics like Tauriel, she doesn’t have magic, she’s just a little girl, her home is being invaded by killer monsters, AND SHE THROWS A FREAKING PLATE AT THEM! That’s awesome. THAT, gentlemen, ladies, is bravery. She probably knows she doesn’t have a chance, but she’s not going to put up with this crap with no resistance whatsoever. Tilda, bravest female character in anything set in Middle-Earth – except in certain fanfics, perhaps. But back to Tauriel: I’m sorry, she was just pointless. And before anyone calls me sexist: I don’t actually mind more female characters, but we don’t need this made-up crap. I’m not angry because it’s another female character, I’m angry because I honestly feel I could’ve wasted our time better. How about using the same logic they did with Legolas? I’m actually fine with him being there; they have a good reason. Legolas is almost 3000 years old in LotR, so he was around 60 years before. And his father was there. It made sense that he’d be there. Well, then why not put Arwen in it? Her dad was there. And take it a step further: introduce Celebrían and reveal she’s Arwen’s mother and Galadriel’s daughter. To us, book readers, that would also provide an explanation for Galadriel’s different demeanor in the original films: we know Celebrían was captured and tortured by Orcs. The implication is she set sail for Valinor, since Elladan and Elrohir are described as seeking vengeance for her torture, but not her death. So that would happen somewhere in those 60 years, causing Galadriel to become cold and distant. There; in the Hobbit movies, that’s wasting time, but I’d take that over the Tauriel crap we got. I don’t blame Evangeline Lily, and maybe even the writing was actually okay, but honestly, she felt – and was – superfluous and unnecessary and wrong in concept. Fine, give us female characters, but give us female characters that actually have something to them other than being female (and the now almost obligatory love story). There, I’m done. Please don’t take any of this as offense; this criticism is aimed at the Hobbit movies and not at you or your fanfic. However, returning to Vezely, now I will need to ask the question: is there more to her than being female and a love story?
Vezely, right from the start, has more to her than being female and the promise of a love story. She’s from a different culture, from Rhûn. I LOVE intercultural stories, so I’m pumped. There’s definitely a lot of potential with the character. Just based off this chapter, that’s clever writing. She has everything to make her an interesting character; she definitely has history for us to discover (even if we did see some interesting stuff in the flashback, there’s obviously more ahead), she’s from a different culture, she’s a corrupted Elf who now has a reason to hate Sauron, and even just from this chapter I can guess it’s about him betraying her. And let’s be honest, as monumental as LotR was, by today’s standards at least it seriously lacks in interesting characters. Someone like Vezely is exactly what this universe needs. This chapter did what an introduction chapter needs to do: it made me believe this is going to be good.
However, one tiny thing about her character I’m not fond of: why does she care from the start about ‘regaining her honor’ in the West? It would honestly be more awesome if destroying Sauron was all she cared about and she was polite, but cold and distant, so her relations with the others would be functional, but she wouldn’t go for more right away. But that’s just me. In the end, it’s your choice and I guess it’s fine. Still, a reason why would be welcome…
Before I start nitpicking a few small mistakes, I’ll say a few more thoughts on Vezely and the cultural thing. The sai instantly make me think of the ninjas. I always thought that Samurai didn’t approve of women warriors; I thought that idea fitted the ninja concept much better. But I saw a documentary and you know what? The Samurai didn’t consider women non-combatants. A Samurai woman was first and foremost a Samurai. They didn’t send their daughters, sisters or wives into battle, but every Samurai woman was trained in the use of weapons, just in case they ever needed to protect the house. I make a version of Rhûn myself, and being a huge admirer of Samurai culture and established authority and nobles, I go for that arc. With the sai – more ninja weapons – you go more for a rebel arc. That may not be something I would do, but it’s a legitimate creative choice and it can certainly work. Anyway, the ninjato was actually modeled on the katana, so the ninjas did take over good ideas from Samurai. It’s entirely plausible that ninja groups accepted women into their ranks. It makes sense, and the parallel only reinforces the idea that Vezely, unlike Tauriel, is an altogether logical character.
Alright, nitpicking. ‘Raping villages’? As gruesome as it undoubtedly would be, I’d love to see a village being raped, because it sounds physically impossible. Or is the implication that every last soul in the villages got raped? In that case, I will humbly apologize. And feel extremely awkward. ‘Sarumon’ is actually called Saruman – that’s a frequent problem for some weird reason, ending names that end on –n on –on. ‘Sarumon’ returns several times, as does ‘Théodon’. I guess it just bugs me because overall, you’re a good writer and you’ve proven you’re smarter. ‘…she was once a prize of Sauron, part of his revenge for the Elves' betrayal of his offer of an alliance.’ Sauron? Your memory’s a little foggy. First off, you can’t ‘betray’ an offer of an alliance – you can at worst turn it down. But the Elves didn’t turn your offer down – you disguised yourself so you looked like a good guy, and apart from Elrond everyone accepted your help. Also, YOU’RE THE ASSHOLE WHO BETRAYED THE ELVES WHO AGREED TO HELP YOU FORGE 16 MAGICAL RINGS! I understand why Sauron hates Elves, but this reason is bullshit.
Despite the few head-scratching moments I pointed out, this was an enjoyable chapter and it really made me want to read more. So let’s see how things unfold in…
Chapter 2: Easterling Spice Tea
There’s a few things I want to talk about immediately. First, I’ll unleash my inner historian (I study ancient history): if the Wainriders breed in strong horses, and still specialize in chariots, they’re honestly a bunch of dumbasses. Chariots were used primarily by cultures who had not yet bred enough strong horses to carry a man into battle. Yes, the Indians kept chariot warfare up until the 8th century, but they also had cavalry supporting and there was probably more cavalry than chariots. The Seleucids used chariots, but not that extensively. The British Celtic tribes were known for their chariots, b
| NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 1 . 12/16/2015
Hey. As I promised before, I’m now starting a review of this story – first chapter by chapter, then a general analysis. I’m sorry it took so long; it took me a while to read everything. However, I will re-read each chapter before reviewing it.
Now, as to the purpose for this review: I’ll put it the way I did back in the days when I reviewed ‘Slave Girl’, a brilliant Narnia fanfic which has sadly been deleted. In the words of Honest Trailers: “It’s good. We have to be honest. But (…) GET READY. FOR. NITPICKING!” Now, while I do feel entitled to nitpicking as reviewer, nitpicking and reviewing aren’t the same thing. When I feel you really do something right, I will try my best to point it out. And trust me, you get plenty of things right. Now, it’s all just my opinion and philosophically, I’m probably a little… odd. Don’t take my words too harshly (and don’t take every single sentence too seriously). If you feel I’m being too much of a jerk, please contact me, address me on the issue, and I will certainly try to be more considerate. (I sent what I managed for the aforementioned review to a friend, who told me I was being pretty hard on that author; hence why now I try to make sure I’m not going too far.) If I can get a smile out of anyone, that’s great. But in general, this should be a fairly serious and in any case honest review.
On that note, I should tell you that when something doesn’t make sense to me, or I don’t like something, I feel a need to justify it much more than when I do like it. So even if I agree it’s generally a good chapter – or story – I may spend more time complaining or being confused than praising you.
Now, before I get underway, I need to get one thing out of the way: the canonicity of Peter Jackson’s prequel trilogy. This was a very difficult question, to be honest. For myself, I take a middle ground: I consider the ideas it introduces canon, unless it doesn’t make sense to me next to what we had before. The twirly-whirlies (forgive my spelling) from the extended edition? Yeah, I’m on board with that. We’ve established Dwarves are expert engineers and considering they are arch rivals to the Elves, it makes sense that they’d develop weapons specifically to take on Elves. Thranduil being a complete asshole because he’s immortal and the Men and Dwarves are sure to die in the end anyway? Yeah, no. For the purposes of this review, it was extremely hard. I feel like it’s literally split in half. I read the first half (literally, chapters 1-31), and I thought: ‘Great, don’t need to think about the Hobbit movies.’ Then, I read chapter 32 and I was like: ‘What the hell?’ It looked like you wrote the first half of the story, then saw ‘The Desolation of Smaug’, and then wrote the second half. Especially with Thranduil, he seems a lot nicer in Vezely’s flashbacks than he ever does when we actually see him in the later parts. Weird. And my final decision: screw it. For the purpose of this review, I will not care about the Hobbit movies at all.
All that being said, let’s get reviewing already.
Chapter 1: The Past Remembered
A lot like ‘Slave Girl’ (sorry, it’s been half a year and I still haven’t gotten over it…), this starts with a classical in medias res, even if it’s handled fairly differently. I would describe its use as more subtle. Subtle is not necessarily better, but it’s never bad. And the very idea of in medias res revolves around building tension right from the start. And it never fails. At what point do we even enter the story? Who is this person? Yes, she’s being described, and we’re seeing things from her culture, hinting at her being something special. By the end of the chapter, we know her name and we know a few things about her, but it’s obvious there’s so much more to learn. How does Gandalf know her? Personally, I like it. Her own questions felt natural. She’ll have heard something – she’d have to have heard about the fellowship to meet Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli there. Though I do find myself asking how the hell they arranged this, considering Gandalf has been out of commission due to the Balrog fight killing him. But hey, we’re dealing with a wizard; three wizards, as we learn later. So I can live with it. Generally, the first chapter – and certainly the first paragraph – worked.
We’re immediately introduced to the main character. Now, I read the reviews – my personal favorite was one of the eldest, by ImAurora. Anyway, another review said you were focusing on Vezely too much and making her seem too important. It’s all personal taste, of course, but I personally have to strongly disagree. First off, even in canon Pippin (or Merry, but I think it was Pippin) thought to himself: “Damn, I’m forgetting about Frodo.” And let’s be honest: do you want to watch the awesome war in Rohan and Gondor or Frodo’s trip to Mordor? But Frodo, as the story keeps reminding us, is the real protagonist, the actual hero, the one everything really depends on. Secondly, this fanfic tells us repeatedly Vezely has a minor role. But we know who plays the really important parts. And why would we need to be told the stories we already know? We know about Gandalf, we know about Aragorn, we know about Frodo; why would we care to hear about all that again? Plus, Vezely is a more interesting character than everyone – book version or movie version – in LotR put together. There, I said it. No worries, I’ll get back to this.
The addition of Vezely is essentially the premise of this story. A large part of it – so much that it really hurts at times, but I’ll get there when I get there – is about her being a woman warrior. Now, I’ll be fair: another part of it is cultural difference, and I’ll get back to that, too. Allow me to first recap the precedents and then I’ll talk about how Vezely compares.
Let’s be quick about the things from the book that never made it into movies, starting with the Silmarillion, which didn’t have a movie version at all. There’s a tale of a human woman fighting alongside her father (her people’s leader) and brother and taking charge of her people after both of them got killed by Orcs, and as leader, she kept on basically being a badass, telling an envoy from Thingol himself that he’s either an idiot or a dick if he seriously thinks she’ll let Orcs pass through her lands. Thingol’s daughter, Lúthien, faced off against Sauron and actually defeated him, though that was as a sorceress, not a warrior. BTW, remember that, because it’ll be kind of important when I talk about a later chapter. Furthermore, there’s a line stating all of Finwë’s descendants are brave and fearless, primarily referring to Galadriel. Finally, in the LotR books, Faramir talks about the Rohirrim: “… tall men and beautiful women, both equally valiant”. My apologies if the quote isn’t perfect, I read the books in my native language. Anyway, valor is a typical martial virtue, implying Rohirrim women once did fight. I’ll talk more about that when Éowyn shows up.
Alright, let’s get to the movies. Now, when it comes to Lord of the Rings and female warriors, the obvious first one to come to mind is Éowyn. However, I will talk about Éowyn more in the character analysis at the end and when she makes her first appearance, so I’m just mentioning her now. I will remark that she’s virtually the only canon character that has something interesting going for her, and certainly no one else is more interesting. With her, the combination of the demands of the moment and the inspiration from the past are in conflict with her current socio-cultural position. She’s really good overall, but Vezely is, in my opinion, a tough act to beat even for her.
Arwen’s never shown fighting, I’ll admit that much. But I still consider her a woman warrior because, well, she carries a scimitar around and I don’t think sane people send someone out on important missions who carries a scimitar, but doesn’t have a clue how to use it. This makes a lot of sense when you look at her father. Elrond is too old to not teach his children – even his daughter – self-defense. He was born in a time when Morgoth was the dominant power in Middle-Earth. I think he was kidnapped by one of the last two remaining sons of Fëanor. He didn’t fall for Sauron’s offer of help in constructing the Rings of power. He lived through Sauron’s betrayal, the great wars between Sauron and the Elves that followed and the fall of Númenor, befriending the leader of the survivors. He fought in the Last Alliance and faced off against Sauron himself, fighting him alongside Círdan, Gil-Galad, Elendil and Isildur. In that battle he saw his friend Elendil die and Gil-Galad, the last Noldor King in Middle-Earth, being burnt alive by Sauron’s hand. And if all that wasn’t enough, his wife was captured and tortured by Orcs. If there is anyone – ANYONE – who would want his daughter to not be totally helpless when he and his sons aren’t around, it’s probably Elrond. Even if she does rely on magical water horse tsunamis to fight off the Ringwraiths, her even taking a stand against them does say something about her guts. Even if, being honest, we have to admit the Nazgûl never did anything useful, they were scary as all hell. If I saw them, I’d run away terrified. And those voices make me shiver. But she stood her ground. Arwen didn’t look the tiniest bit intimidated. I respect that. However, we never see her in actual combat. Mind you, I heard that the plan originally was that we would. Apparently (check Nostalgia Critic’s top 11 dumbest Lord of the Rings moments) they originally shot footage of Arwen at the battle of Helm’s Deep, but ended up editing her out. I can’t really say I blame them – how could anyone write around that? – but it might’ve been cool. If she’d even just slashed at a Nazgûl coming too close during the chase…
Now, for my first rant. Tauriel. I know, she’s not canon by my own admission, but she definitely indicates the seeds of the idea for more women warriors was there. I’ve heard mo
| eclairargent chapter 62 . 9/24/2015
Excellent! I was hooked since chapter 1. Your characterization of Vezely is very strong, and, to me, it was believable. I love how you emphasize the difference in culture, especially in regards of honor and fulfilling it. And also how she (Vezely) tries to make a compromise between her Easterling side and her Elf side. The struggle, the confusion, and the conclusion. You tied all the loose ends of the story beautifully. Spent the whole weekend to read this story from the beginning until the last chapter. Bravo!
| ssooo chapter 62 . 6/26/2015
i couldn't stop reading this ! oh goodness, it was an adventure and i really love reading each chapter. vezely is such a great character and i love her personality. i am glad she didn't change her ways after being released from the Halls :) i won't lie and say i didn't cry at certain points because i did! haha i enjoyed reading this through and through, and I'm most likely will be coming back to read it again in the future!
| AngelicRoses chapter 62 . 3/7/2015
I just want to first of all say thank you. Thank you so very, very much for taking the time and the immense effort to write this story. It's beautiful, and heartfelt, and everything I never knew I had been looking for in a fanfic.
The moment I saw it, and read the first chapter, I knew there was something special about this story and I have absolutely no regrets in reading it. There were so many times where I had to stop, and take a moment to gather myself because I was becoming too emotionally affected by the events occurring in the story and that is simply a testament to your skill as an author; to evoke such strong reactions from your readers.
I loved Vezely and everything she represented; everything she fought so hard for. At the end of Chapter 51, I actually had tears in my eyes because it was arguably the most poignant moment in this story, and I say so because it is her final moment, her final battle, and her resolution was strongly felt.
Truly, thank you. This is a story I will re-read many, many times because it's masterful and wholesome. It was an epic of a story and you are an excellent storyteller.