Reviews for The Sun Sets in the West
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 23 . 6/12
Chapter 18: 'Broken Paths' (Continued):
This new part of Vezely’s backstory, while not as spectacular and fascinating as earlier parts, is certainly good. It makes a fair lot of sense to me, the decisions made by Eluréd in particular are properly justified. I also like that we got an explanation for Vezely being released.
I love Vezely’s assertion that she really isn’t the nicest kid on the block, but I like Elrond’s reply as well. Sure, her hesitancy to kill the innocent was minor, but it was a start. Her Elvish side was very slowly seeping through… or was it? I actually think that she was subconsciously remembering to be an honorable warrior, to make her ancestors proud and her people prouder. Sure, her Elvish blood played a part, but I think both that AND her Balchoth upbringing were starting a tiny rebellion. But it matters not. What matters is that she returned to honor. Sauron couldn’t have that. And as tiny a start as it may have been, it was a start.
A lot like with Legolas, it’s really refreshing to see Elrond not know something. He’s almost all-knowing; he’s been on Middle-Earth longer than pretty much anyone. Vezely’s reply was a strong moment. What’s really interesting to me is that Sauron and the Istari essentially made the same mistake. Sauron thought his experiment in repressing her Elvish side worked for a while, but in the end, it came out again. He then thought this would also provide him with a suitable end for his pet project. Any genuine Balchoth part was at most temporary. Sauron failed because he succeeded. The Istari and White Council, being mostly dicks, likewise think they can turn her into a normal Elf for a really long time; I think this is the first time one of them, Elrond, finally does get the right idea: trying to marry the two. Is she an Elf or an Easterling? Well, let’s recreate some dialogue from Mystic Force (Phineas and Leelee, ‘Light Source, Part 1’): “I guess I’m a little bit of both.” “So am I. A little troll, a little goblin. And together, they make me. That’s all I can be, you know. Me.” I know it’s silly, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to it. Asking her to relinquish either the Balchoth or the Elf is a huge mistake. However, now that Elrond acknowledges this, who knows? Perhaps hope truly isn’t lost.
If she doesn’t get killed in battle, that is. I think the main reason Elrond didn’t just say: “I’ve come to give Aragorn a sword that’ll allow him to summon an invincible ghost army which is going to win the battle for us” is that she’s probably going to call bullshit on that. I actually would’ve loved to get her reaction to that, but fine. Also, this is Peter Jackson’s fault or his writing team’s. To be fair, Tolkien had the ghost army, but it was used for taking out the Corsairs and filling their ships with Gondorians. I’ll be fair, the West is still screwed if everyone on the battlefield dies. Even if that army of Sauron is then wiped out, he has reserves. The West would be done for.
The conversation between Legolas and Elrond was brief, not a lot to say, but it was fine. I enjoyed it.
Alright, I like the Elvish armor. But Legolas didn’t notice it, apparently? It’s a freaking armor. This isn’t a mirror you can put in your pocket. I guess it’s a minor oversight?
I am not going to talk about Legolas saying goodbye to Vezely for long. As I said before, I’m not a romance fan, as much as I think there are advantages to having a romantic subplot. However, I will argue this was well-written and well-handled and there was some real emotion going on. Also, another thing I mentioned earlier is how much I like referencing back to earlier in the story, so good work there!
Vezely/Gimli interaction is just so damn awesome. This really brought a smile to my face.
Alright, the third part. Holy crap, Théoden is such a badass. Why can’t my country have a King like that? Seriously, I would support a revolution for an absolute monarchy if Théoden could be the one to rule.
I like the explanation we’re given for Vezely burning her memory book. The best part about it is how much it fits the pragmatic Easterling. It was a tool she used to need for the sake of her sanity, but now it’s served its purpose. And I like the confirmation that the past should never be forgotten.
*Sigh* I actually wasn’t upset about this before, probably because I didn’t remember it. Éowyn all of a sudden has doubts. Now, I like inner conflict and all that. Except I can’t enjoy it here, because I’m too busy asking one question: FUCKING WHY? What the hell is his? Remember in Helm’s Deep? There, it could’ve been a big deal, or you could’ve remained silent on the issue there. But instead of either of those solutions, you had Éowyn seeking validation – from Aragorn; that was some serious nonsense – and being denied, and she was just frustrated. She didn’t go into battle, probably mostly because that didn’t happen in the movie either, but she was persuaded to keep her sword close by Vezely in all of a few seconds. Why is Éowyn’s decision all of a sudden a difficult question? You’re trying to make this moment mean something… WHILE THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY IT EARNED THAT. This was TWO MOMENTS SPREAD OUT OVER THREE CHAPTERS. We get it. Éowyn isn’t staying behind.
Considering how relatively little time has passed since Vezely first met Éowyn, and all the time they didn’t spend together, AND that she had a hunch about the Corsairs and her former second-in-command, I think Vezely has foresight.
Now, despite my complaints at the end, this chapter was certainly not bad. Fortunately, there was an epilogue after the third part to lead us into the next chapter, which I like, because it means we don’t end with the worst part, but with the promise of more greatness. This chapter really made me feel like it mattered, which is a step up from last one, and it’s essentially as solid. While not very remarkable, it was undeniably good and makes me want to read on.
Chapter 19: ‘On the Fields of Pelennor’
First, I want to say a few words on the timeline. I for one like the timeframe. It’s good we have it there for reference. Also, I did the math, and while I’m not sure Vezely would already be trustworthy during the events of The Hobbit, it actually does add up. More on that later.
Uhm… WHAT?! Théoden, as we all remember from Helm’s Deep, has 'fought many wars'. He’s a veteran of probably countless battles. The implication is that he was personally present in the occasions he mentioned when Gondor didn’t help. He’s a badass with an incredible amount of war experience. And he thinks pairing Vezely and Éomer off is a remotely good idea? At the very least they’re not going to be in concert. Why isn’t Ridar or Fasthelm by his side? I mean, Théoden kind of knew Ridar earlier, right? In the worst case, one or both of them are going to see this as a perfect occasion to get rid of the other, and I’m genuinely surprised they don’t do it. The strength of a team is NOT determined by the combined strength of the individual fighters, and Théoden should know that. It’s how well they work together.
Théoden seriously thinks death isn’t preferable to owing your life to someone you hate. And thinks there are no better people to guard his heir than Vezely, like… people they both actually have reasons to trust. I mean, how many Royal Guards are there? We saw about a DOZEN in ‘The Two Towers’, and only TWO are supposed to stay with Théoden all the time. If you’re really too old to give a fuck if you survive this battle and that’s the reason you’re so badass, and you need your nephew as your heir to survive, even if you also want a few to keep an eye on Éowyn, is it difficult in any way to have, like, four people guarding your niece and assigning the rest of the Royal Guard to your heir’s protection? I don’t know why this is the best plan. Are ANY Royal Guards needed back at Edoras, where there are literally no Royals left to defend?
Oh, what the hell. I like Théoden, and his brief interaction with Vezely is pretty good.
It’s nice to have some backstory on the only thing about Vezely that didn’t get any explanation so far: her horse. Good job.
The next part isn’t a lot to talk about. I do like the idea of joining forces with the old enemy to face a greater threat. As much as any plan that requires Vezely and Éomer to work together is a dumb plan, they have something bigger to worry about.
However, one thing is baffling: she spots enemy reinforcements coming in from the NORTH? THE ROHIRRIM ARE COMING IN FROM THE NORTH! Also, both the Haradrim and the Variags live SOUTH of Mordor and Gondor. Sorry, it just bugs me.
Yes, I know, this next part does seriously decrease the tension about this huge battle, but since we’ve all seen the films, or are expected to have seen them, we already know about the ghost army. Really, the main tension that remains is: who will survive? The good guys are going to win, sure, but hell, maybe Vezely dies. Maybe Éomer does. Maybe Éowyn does – and I will never forgive RotK (both book and movie) for selling us the bullshit she didn’t. It’s my favorite of the movies, but that part was terrible. More on that later.
I like the reminiscing on the gulls calling to Legolas. Again, it’s a nice touch for him to be conflicted, and indeed, the timing couldn’t have been worse. But thank goodness his best friend is there for him. Aragorn really comes off as a good friend and having helped Legolas put his mind back to the task.
Oh yeah, I keep forgetting this war actually doesn’t depend on these huge armies, but on the two Hobbits going on a trek to the Black Land.
Holy crap, Théoden is the most awesome guy ever. He just needs a mic drop. He totally owns everything. I could listen to that speech over and over for hours.
I like how Vezely is just thinking about strategy IN THE MIDDLE OF COMBAT. Goes a long way to show just how useless Orcs are.
That was a pretty good spear throw. Not quite as excellent in its results as Éomer’s, but it’s u
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 22 . 6/7
Chapter 16: 'New Beginnings, or Not' (Continued):
I can see why others would love it.
Chapter 17: Instruments of Death
If anything, I consider this chapter a transition from one into the next. However, chapter 13 has proven that filler can work. While I wouldn’t place the two on equal terms, this is certainly a solid chapter. I don’t feel very strongly about it, neither in a positive nor negative way, but it had some interesting elements to it, so the end balance is positive.
With the end of the first paragraph in mind, I should note I may have given the wrong impression earlier. While I did take up arms in defense of the idea of vengeance, as I still genuinely feel it is the cornerstone of justice and, honestly, I am a sucker for warriors who go out there to avenge the wrongs inflicted against their people, their family, their honor, this does not mean that I believe revenge is the sole right motive. I believe it is an honorable motive, but not the only one worth fighting for. And I do agree with Legolas that Vezely caring for more than just her vengeance genuinely is a good thing.
I like Legolas looking back on his own life; and hell, it’s really interesting to get confirmation that he isn’t perfect. I do think there would be some inherent responsibility and pressure from being Thranduil’s son, but since Thranduil is immortal, it makes sense that they wouldn’t place the normal ridiculous amounts of pressure on the heir to the throne; chances are he’ll never become King anyway. Though I do agree that Royalty, not just Kings, should take the higher good in consideration. On the other hand, I for one hesitate to call centuries of distrust, rivalry and even war and bloodshed ‘petty differences’. But that’s just me.
Legolas’ reflections on Vezely and whether or not she should have been released were very interesting and thought-provoking. Despite the explanation we get, in which I would go so far as to read that Elrond foresaw Sauron turning against her, her return to Sauron, especially after the reforms to make the Easterlings an even more ruthless and disciplined army, was responsible for her most terrifying missteps.
Wait… ‘for an Elf to die in battle was an honorable end to life on these shores’? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for that, but then what was that nonsense of Vezely dying in battle being a problem when it comes to her fëar being allowed into Aman?
As for the second part, I LOVE that and how Vezely hid blasting powder to keep it with her. It’s a smart idea; people won’t expect it in the armies of the West, and if she died, who would find it? The idea of some kind of grenades… I read that such weapons were actually used during the Mongol invasions of Japan. While it’s not something I want to see heroes use, Vezely, while having come a long way and being on the good side, is arguably rather an anti-hero. The way she’s been established, it’s appropriate.
The next paragraph, while sad and dark, is also brilliant. It gives a good insight into the character, and there’s plenty of analogues to think of in Vezely’s context. The flower being crushed… Alright, a little girl giving someone in a moral grey zone a flower that gets crushed; I’m thinking of Villamax. If I’m seeing a link where there is none, I do apologize. If you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, check out (the last part of) Linkara’s ‘History of Power Rangers’ review of ‘Lost Galaxy’. That particular subplot actually stayed on my mind for years, even without being reminded. There are differences, of course, most notably that instead of the main villain, the person in the moral grey area personally crushes the flower here. This is also the closest I come to genuinely feeling strongly about this chapter, and trust me, that’s a feat on itself. Moreover, it’s in a good way.
Gimli is such a great friend. Legolas is right to be happy to have him.
I like Vezely’s explanation of this strange new weapon, and the added bit of levity about the things not being foolproof. Also, it makes sense for Vezely not to share the design. Probably she was still testing it when Sauron removed her and he didn’t know – or didn’t care – about what she was doing.
Okay… What happened to ‘too many unknown variables’? Or are those 6000 too few even in the best possible circumstances? I will admit, it’s terrifying how right she is; the only way they win is by having a convenient ghost army. Anyway, when she says ‘it’s no longer about hope’, she’s lying in one of two ways. One interpretation is that it was never about hope, simply about probability of survival/victory. The other is that hope only now becomes a thing. Considering what follows shortly afterwards, I prefer the second explanation. To despair means to lose hope. How can one despair if they didn’t hold hope to start with?
I know… I should comment on the content, but really, I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry, you deserve better, but that’s how it is. However, what I will say is that it’s a very good moment, strong interaction, decent insight; I believe love this. Take it from me, you did an excellent job.
The reference to Galadriel’s warning was particularly good. I also like the meaning behind her tattoos – coupled, of course, with some of her AWESOME backstory. It’s not really a big thing, but it’s good that it’s there and I think it works best the way it is.
Oh, I love Legolas. Controlling your urges, putting tradition first. This is how I want Royalty to think.
A first! I’m giving an overall analysis of one part instead of the chapter, even if it’s going to be very brief and focused on one idea. The theme of this second part reminds me of a quote I heard a few times, but I can’t remember who said it: “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” My first thought was that, for the sake of this chapter, ‘love’ should be replaced with hope, but then I thought again. It’s a little more complex, which is definitely a good thing. In fact, when I complain, I’m often so harsh because I know you can handle important things with the complexity it needs and deserves. Here, hope and love are very closely tied. In my opinion, that quote here is being called into question. Was it better for her to find hope, but also learn despair? Or was she better off as she was before, without Legolas and being completely cool-blooded? There’s very valid arguments to be made on both sides. I’m on the fence myself. This part was excellent.
The third part… well, really was just setting up next chapter, but it does it fairly well. The interaction between Elrond and Legolas was decent and Vezely’s immediate reaction was fairly strong.
I stand by what I said at the beginning: this isn’t the chapter I remember. For that reason alone, I hesitate to call it great. However, it’s strong and solid. There were a few very good elements to this, and well, there’s not really anything to dislike. There’s not a lot to it, but what there is to it is all pretty good. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a memorable chapter, but it’s definitely a good one. And as I said before, in a story with 62 chapters, good luck making them ALL awesome.
Chapter 18: Broken Paths
Overall, I feel about this chapter a lot like how I did about last one, but this is the better one of the two. Mostly because there’s a little more to it without making more real slip-ups. And the first part was pretty damn neat. Let’s get to it!
Believe it or not, I genuinely like Vezely here. She’s pretty much got a ‘no bullshit’ attitude. Nwalmaer is just a title given to her by Elves in her absence, and addressing her like it doesn’t feel appropriate. As for her birth name, she doesn’t even remember. Please, just call her Vezely. It’s actually an easier name than Bellethiel. She wants to cut the crap. She finally wants clear answers now that she’s finally met someone who can give them. Of course, she’s still acknowledging what he did for her. I like her.
Holy crap, she’s stepping up to freaking Elrond. Who else do we see doing that? And again, she’s honest. She never felt tormented until Sauron locked her up. She fought for Sauron because she was taught to, not because she was forced. Again, in Power Rangers terms, this is not like Kathrine or Tommy, who were under mind control, or Tyzon, who was blackmailed. Again – I know I made the point before – she’s more like Astronema or Tenaya 7. They need to find out that they actually have a link to the good guys before they start questioning their drive. Vezely, not having such a personal link, has it even harder: she has to be betrayed by Sauron. She has pretty much zero connection to her Elvish side, and Elrond and the others make a huge thing of how important it is that she has this Elvish blood which she doesn’t care about in the slightest, taking really important decisions based on it.
Elrond got the right idea: meeting Vezely on her own ground, namely one of direct honesty without beating around the bush. Also, this is actually a pretty good reason. He made a promise; even if she doesn’t remember a thing, Elrond does. He keeps his promise. I can’t decide which one I like more, and that’s an excellent job on your part.
This is a pretty decent explanation why Vezely doesn’t remember her parents. I mean, she should’ve been able to remember at age six. What I don’t understand is how Vezely doesn’t just figure: ‘He probably put a spell on me which not even the White Council or the Blue Wizards could lift and that’s why I still don’t remember.’ For that matter, is there a reasonable chance Elrond telling her could backfire?
What the hell does her memories being repressed have to do with her scars not healing? The implication does seem to be this is supposed to explain how her physical scars don’t go away like those of most Elves. Why would Sauron even care? It’s an explanation, I grant you, but not really a good one.
This new part of Vezely’s backstory, while not as spectacular and fascinating as earlier parts, is certainly go
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 21 . 6/4
Chapter 16: 'New Beginnings, or Not' (Continued):
Though where I’m really chuckling is when she argues she’s ‘unconventional perhaps’. Perhaps? Yeah, right.
Seriously, this is an even worse example of the whole ‘humility’ thing. They’re ruining the lives of the people in charge this way. Doesn’t this ever backfire? If Aragorn ascends the throne unwillingly and filled with uncertainties – because that would be the logical consequence of not feeling worthy – would that not have a negative impact on his decision-making and his rule in general? Hell, I’m surprised, especially with what we see later on in the story, the Gondorian nobles don’t rebel or just kill him and name someone else King who actually feels comfortable in a leader’s role. As I said before, I agree that power-hungry sociopaths are way worse, but the other end of the scale isn’t usually the answer.
"It brings hope to the world of men." Does it? Because I’m terrified. You see, there’s a difference between not actively wanting power and actively not wanting it.
I have mixed feelings about the beginning of the second part. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely like it. It was well-written, it again showed a side of Vezely we don’t usually get to see, and it gives a very grim look on what Sauron’s victory would mean. It’s awesome in its darkness. My main problem is Vezely and how well she’s taken – I know, I won’t shut up about it, but bear with me, please. I will try and explain myself.
As I said before, the things that really help us understand the characters are the little things. The very concept of this moment is brilliant. Her not liking the sound of children derives probably from both her guilt over her own past actions and her dismissal of emotion in general and affection as getting in the way of effective combat strategy. Mostly, this does do a good job of letting Vezely make a good impression. She displays kindness to the little girl, which is entirely selfless. Okay, she was in her way, but it would’ve taken less time to just walk around her. My real mixed feelings are about her attempt at kindness. I may be wrong, but to me, this is a showing of awkwardness more than anything else. She doesn’t know how to be kind, especially to a child, since she hasn’t needed that in centuries and even before that rarely. That being said, I am stunned that this girl isn’t just freaked out. A five-year-old girl, and Vezely speaks of ‘not enough to accept defeat’, which, at least to me, has definitely a military connotation. I don’t claim to remember what I was like as a kid, but I imagine I would be freaked out, and if anything, I was more obsessed with the Samurai when I was younger. On a side note, the children give the youngest and smallest among them the hardest job, which she is also least suited for. Because children suck. Don’t get me wrong, it’s believable, just a remark.
On depressing things, obviously I have to talk about Vezely’s vision. Actually, it’s not entirely clear what will happen if Sauron defeats the armies of the West. Yes, he doesn’t care about their lives per se, but wouldn’t the citizens be useful as slave labor? Or slaves for sport, to remind him of what he can do? I’ll talk more about that later this chapter (you can guess when), but I wanted to say a few words on it now. Yes, that’s still pretty dark. However, Vezely’s vision is still a very probable result of Sauron’s victory, and it truly is a prospect to drive Sauron’s enemies to give it their all.
Yeah, it’s official to me: the Easterlings are essentially Romans. While I actually did expect her to enjoy a good fight – and thus a good kill – her killing ‘for sport’ is a genuine surprise. I don’t mean that in a bad way; it’s good, interesting character insight.
I really don’t understand why Vezely actively tries to get Éomer to hate her even more, but whatever; there’s a far better opportunity to talk about that.
In fact, the Easterlings are a very good match for Dwarves. They both enjoy battle. Here, it’s a very nice touch to see one of each side by side. Vezely has more in common with Gimli than anyone else in the Fellowship. Where they differ is in the Easterlings’ ruthlessness and the Dwarves’ direct approach. I know, it’s reading a lot into a few lines, but it’s fascinating to ponder.
I have no doubt I’m wrong, but wasn’t it established before that if Gondor actively asked for help, Théoden would ride out?
I was unsure whether or not to count what follows as a third part. I’ll count it as such, but it doesn’t really matter.
I want to like Éowyn for apparently having taken her brother’s advice to think things through, I really do, but… it feels so out of place, especially since this is the ONLY time we ever see her seriously doubt if she should do it. So far, it’s always been: ‘I want to do this, I don’t even care if I die getting to do this, but people keep holding me back; they’re so terrible’. Sadly, this is pretty much the only time I am tempted to really like Éowyn, too… Also, Vezely, so far you’ve been telling her that yes, she should join the army. Why is either one – let alone both – almost backing down now? Is this going to make a difference for the battle at Minas Tirith? DUH-DUH-Doesn’t amount to anything. I’m not saying it’s bad, it just doesn’t fit and essentially means… nothing, while I feel it should be kind of a big thing.
As you probably guessed from my earlier remarks, I am astonished that the little girl actually sought out Vezely after that. ‘Odd child’ is right. Oh, who cares, it was a sweet moment.
I like Vezely’s reminiscing. Though I am still unsure how she needs more than ‘bleak acceptance’… Whatever. It was a solid, well-written paragraph. Since I should already have covered all of it, because it’s reminiscing on her own character, I don’t think I should spend much more time on it, since I’m already so far behind and there’s plenty more to say this chapter.
It’s always fun to see Legolas and Gimli banter. I like that you put it in there.
That tent where Éowyn had her heart-to-heart with Merry is the Fellowship’s to use? What does ‘ours to use’ mean? My guess would be ‘to sleep in’, but since Aragorn has his own tent, my guess is so do the others. Though I’ll be fair, it’s pretty unclear in canon.
“I do not doubt his heart, only the reach of his arm.” Yeah… I should talk about that line and what ensues from it. Yes, this is the rant I predicted at the start. It should be noted that a lot of it should be aimed at the people who made the movie, or even at the audience. However, the follow-up here honestly doesn’t help. Let’s do this.
This is the only moment you can use to argue that Éomer really is a jerk. However, taking it that way, it is also the only time Éomer ever displays any sense of humor. Considering the way the character’s been established, this is very hard to believe. It is my belief that this was actually just a factual observation. And yes, I can hear you retorting: “From the way he says it, I’m pretty sure it was meant to be a joke.” Fair enough. However, there is another explanation. In fact, Éomer talks quietly saying the second half. When telling a joke, you want people to hear you. I think he just realized how ridiculous it sounded while he was starting to say it and that’s why he suddenly lowered his voice. Really, the main reason we see this as a joke and not just as a simple fact is Gamling’s reaction.
But the real problem here is the follow-up. Yes, in the context of this story, it makes sense that Éomer realizes Éowyn also refers to herself when saying “Why can he not fight for those he loves?” However, Merry is male, and a Halfling, essentially a grown Halfling. So his ‘War is the province of men’ line doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why is it in here? My personal guess is because this story is never sure it has quite hit the feminist angle enough. Just take it from me, it has. We get it already. By keeping up the parallel with Merry, I think he would’ve gotten his point across, which is blunt, but makes sound common sense: “You’re untrained and inexperienced. You won’t last for ten minutes. Your only chance at survival is running.” There is honestly no reason to add that last line.
I like Legolas, trying to keep Vezely out of even more conflict. Though, of course, he’s unsuccessful, but I can’t blame that on him.
I am seriously under the impression Vezely wants Éomer to kill her. I’ll admit, this time, at the end, she does admit she shouldn’t have, but the point still stands. Anyway, while I see her point, I actually think she’s wrong. If the armies of the West are all defeated on the battlefield, then Sauron has won and everyone is going to end up dead or enslaved. If they emerge victorious, then everyone is saved. There. Why does Éomer not simply give this retort? Mostly because this story is on Vezely’s side in the argument, but there is a good in-universe explanation: surprise. He’s caught off-guard; in military terms, Vezely has seized the initiative from him in a surprise attack.
Wait… Is this narration, definitely right, or Vezely’s thoughts? Because if Éomer doesn’t understand his sister also speaking of herself, then his – already stupid – ‘war is the province of men’ line makes no sense at all. I am pretty much sighing at the rest of this chapter, but I’m going to skip over most of it. What I will say is that Vezely apparently thinks the soldiers of Rohan and Gondor don’t realize that if they lose, their families and their entire people will be wiped out. I’m pretty sure especially the Gondorians are perfectly aware in this battle, and my bet would be so are the Rohirrim.
Please don’t misunderstand me. It’s not like I absolutely hated this chapter. I just don’t feel like I enjoyed it as much as any reader was meant to. That we end on one of the things that I feel, as I will explain in the overall analysis, hurts this story, doesn’t help. However, there was genuine, strong emotion, some fun and decent writing. I can see why
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 20 . 6/2
Chapter 15: 'Past Lives' (Continued):
Sure, her uncle tells her she’s Elf, but Vezely herself maintains she’s Balchoth with a lot of conviction. But I don’t mind, because that’s how I like seeing Vezely most so far. I love her following her education and her Balchoth upbringing. I like seeing her as a great warrior and while I’m not a fan of cold, calculating, Caesarean Generals (I much prefer Alexander), it really suits her. The crucifixions also reminded me of the Roman Empire. Yes, any parallels only go so far, but studying ancient history, it’s nice, from what we learned so far it seems to fit the Easterlings and no matter how you look at it, it’s genuinely interesting.
You’re probably expecting me to call the Istari assholes, and you bet you’re right. You may be expecting me to say they’re assholes for calling the ‘environment over blood’ thing interesting while Vezely has by no means fully recovered and is still unstable, and if so, you’re totally wrong. I’m just happy these dicks give her upbringing the credit it deserves for a change. And Romestamo is right: It IS interesting! How can I not like this?
That being said, these assholes really give that bloodline too much credit in regards to her redemption. Wouldn’t it go a long way for her redemption if she just fights against Sauron, and regains a sense of honor? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not good to deny any part of your identity, and acknowledging her bloodline would help her understand the way some Westerners treat(ed) her. He’s not wrong about her learning about her bloodline, but what’s this crap about her redemption?
Then they send her to Rohan, expecting her to not get killed as soon as the Rohirrim find out who she is. They leave a lot of this up to chance – admittedly, probably a little to Gandalf too, but how they coordinated anything is pretty unclear. Also, they go out of their way to annoy her. And ‘a chance to confront your past’? Yeah, I’m sure she’s delighted at that prospect.
Vezely is good. I like her response and determination. And her talk to her parents was emotionally powerful, well-handled, beautiful and made me feel for her. I will admit her first lines make it make not a lot of sense (and frankly, in the context of Easterling culture as it’s been established, I’m not too fond of them having totems; still, I guess Sauron's military reforms later on which came with wider repercussions), but who cares? It’s still really good. Also, as she says, Sauron wronged her, but also her entire people, using them. That’s why he’s her enemy.
Alright, the third part. The time has finally come. I have openly admitted to putting this off several times before, and the prospect of doing this part of the review was so terrifying to me that two days before writing this, I told myself I’d finish this chapter’s review, but when I came to this part, I decided to call it quits for the day. To put it clearly: I’m not a romantic by any stretch. My apologies for what you’re about to read. It’s not going to be great, and definitely not as great as you should be expecting from someone fanatic enough about this to spend about 50 pages on less than a quarter of the story. But I simply can’t ignore it altogether if I’m going to claim honesty. Alright, here goes…
Let me say that while I’m not fond of romance for the sake of romance, I am not against it in stories altogether. It certainly is a way of adding or raising personal emotional stakes for the characters involved, and it can be a viable ‘reward’, so to speak; a strong part of the ‘happily ever after’. Even if that only remains a prospect, the idea is certainly there.
Legolas and Vezely falling for each other… feels kind of weird, but it has been built up, and besides, you give a perfectly good explanation: you just can’t choose who you fall for. In fact, probably the inability to make sense out of it is probably the main reason I’m not fond of it – or maybe it’s because it’s been done so often just for the sake of it, especially in movies. I do like how Vezely, being the rational fighter, regards love as a distraction and a weakness. However, eventually, she does fall to this strange power.
The part does start out unambiguously good, very strong in establishing Vezely’s inner turmoil further and building further from the AWESOME second part. I also like Legolas being worried about the invasion of Mirkwood.
I should talk about this: "Weakness?" he repeated, surprised at her word choice. "Perhaps that is a biased word," realizing she spoke condescendingly, "One honed by centuries of desired disassociation.” In a way, it really is a major weakness if your partner dying causes you to die. However, I like Vezely’s acknowledgement. It says something for her honesty. I love the next way she puts it: "That there is a great dichotomy of the strength of our flesh and the softness of our emotions.” That is some seriously good writing right there. Maybe this incredible drawback was meant by Eru to compensate for all the advantages that come with being an Elf, like virtual immunity to any disease.
Maybe I’m wrong here, but Legolas seems to imply there is some kind of telepathic connection between two romantic partners. Kind of like Yoda in ‘Revenge of the Sith’, when he senses the deaths of the other Jedi, causing him distress. Except here, it ends up killing you. Let’s remember that, because it’ll be kind of important later.
I will say that I like Legolas’ assertion that it’s alright for Vezely to ask him questions. And, of course, I like Vezely returning the favor. Plus, her making fun of how polite Legolas is – far too polite to be straightforward on what he wants (to know) – is genuinely amusing.
I have already given my opinion on the weaknesses and benefits that love provides. What I will comment on is that Legolas, after Vezely implied she used tactics similar to the Kreshtan’s, who cut off heads and put them on pikes to abuse other people superstitions, even praising them as ‘being ahead of their time’, has any doubts she would see but not exploit an opportunity provided by a couple’s love. But I guess abusing love, for an Elf, is as inconceivable as dying from a broken heart for a Balchoth. Thinking of it that way, it’s a neat parallel, actually.
Surprisingly, or not, since I already said I’m not a romantic, I’m with Vezely more than Legolas. While it is a good thing they acknowledge their emotions and feelings for each other, that doesn’t mean giving in to their passions in the middle of a war is a good idea. Especially for Legolas, who says she should hold hope, this actually should make a lot of sense. Do you need to ‘pursue’ love to gain the advantages? Isn’t acknowledging it to yourself and the other enough? I’m sorry, just wondering.
All in all, despite my problems reviewing this chapter, I think it’s fair to say this is the best so far. We get to see all kinds of sides to Vezely, telling a story and analyzing parts of it at the same time, her flashbacks, and finally, her love for Legolas. We see her as a friend, a General, a daughter, a Balchoth Clan member, a survivor, a pupil, and finally a lover. The entire second part is just awesome and while I normally wouldn’t be too fond of the last bit, the writing style really makes up for all of that. As a general analysis, this chapter is superb and highlights almost everything that makes this story so great.
Chapter 16: New Beginnings, or Not
I like the title for this chapter. I know, a title doesn’t necessarily say a lot, but it helps me get excited about what I’m about to read.
Generally, I like the chapter. Sure, there’s a few times where I raise my eyebrows or sigh, and even one where I spontaneously start ranting, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot to like about it. And when this chapter is good, it’s damn good, remotely making up for the moments where it’s somewhat lacking.
We start off with a genuinely sweet and well-written moment, but after last chapter, I really don’t want to go into the romance again. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but I don’t feel like I can go much deeper into it without repeating myself.
I know, it’s tiny, but the tiny things are what make a good story great. Deep slumber reminding Vezely of Dol Guldur was genuinely good. It’s very interesting and makes sense.
Yes, last chapter hinted at it, but now we really see how much of a problem it is. Before she got together with Legolas, she could die by the sword and be happy. However, if she dies now, it may kill Legolas, and having her soul destroyed may keep him from eternal bliss. I'm starting to understand Davy Jones: “Ah, love. A dreadful bond.” Again, there’s an argument to be made for love being a weakness and a strength. She now cares about surviving; in fact, she needs to survive. This may give her strength and determination, but there is a drawback. There were military advantages to the Samurai way, which was all about going into battle expecting to die, almost determined to die, seeking death in combat. While they had a strong defense, they sought the initiative and were willing to take risks, because if they died in battle, it didn’t matter. If you’re only thinking about what you have to do to the enemy instead of worrying about what he can do to you, I’d say you have a definite advantage.
I like how Legolas answered Vezely’s question. Yes, I was confused he didn’t just answer right off the bat, but I actually think it’s better this way. And since, by his own admission, Legolas already said she’s ‘one of us’ before, I imagine I already discussed that. Though I don’t think I mentioned that there are two interpretations to this statement. One is that she simply IS an Elf, at core, just because she is. I much prefer the other: as a sign of acceptance of Vezely, even with all her differences.
The mutual teasing between Vezely and Legolas was genuinely amusing. They’re both right, really; Legolas is polite and Vezely rather uncouth. Though where I’m really chuckling is w
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 19 . 4/25
Chapter 14: ‘Trail Rides and War Games’ (Continued):
Yes, I wish we had seen more of it, but just imagining Vezely, Merry and Gimli discussing their cultural differences is a lot of fun.
Legolas’ talk with Aragorn… there’s not that much to talk about which I haven’t covered yet, so I’ll be fairly brief. On itself, as a conversation, it was good. It worked, at least for me. I bought it as a chat between two long-time friends and in a way, it was heartwarming. It leaves me reassured that in all kinds of trouble, from war to love, Legolas and Aragorn will always be there for one another.
I apologize for the generally poor quality of this chapter’s review compared to what I did earlier. I will explain myself in the overall analysis, I promise. The thing is, this chapter is actually a micro-verse of this story as a whole. There’s a lot to like, some genuinely awesome stuff, and a whole bunch of very interesting ideas. That said, there is also a lot that holds it back, and while it balances out in the story as a whole, and admittedly in this chapter, since I can’t decide if I love it or hate it, I think it’s because in here, it’s just a rollercoaster. We get interesting character stuff, then we get the crap with Éomer and the soldiers, and then good stuff again. To see the bad things so openly placed in between the good just hurts; it doesn’t help that what I don’t like takes on significant proportions in here. Still, as I said, it’s a really tough call and there are definitely good elements to this chapter.
Chapter 15: ‘Past Lives’
I want to start off by saying that, in general, this is a very strong chapter. I will say it wasn’t all for me, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot for me to like. A lot of this chapter is good, interesting and clever. To do a perfect job, according to my own philosophy, is impossible and you honestly come as close to it as I can reasonably ask here.
Vezely having a history with Azog, while being a little convenient, feels pretty natural, and credit where credit’s due, she doesn’t know him all that well; he’s just some guy she met once at council. Apparently he made quite an impression, though in the negative sense. Which you immediately justify by Vezely’s description of him. He liked to nag and keep asking questions; yes, he was annoying, but he probably talked as much as anyone else or more. So logically he would stay on their minds. Plus, how many pale Orcs do we see in all of Middle-Earth’s history?
As for the story of Vezena, this is one of the occasions the reviewer I mentioned before said there was too much focus on Vezely. I have said before that I strongly disagree, and I stick to that. The truth is, we learn more about Easterling culture in general than we do about Vezely. Also, Éowyn wants to hear the story because it’s about a woman, and a warrior woman at that, not necessarily because it’s the person Vezely was partially named after. The story itself I rather liked. I know I keep using this word, but it genuinely was interesting. My guess is the Kreshtan weren’t prepared to fight at all, assuming the already beaten people would want peace as soon as possible, and thus not be in the best shape. A lot like the Spartans at Leuctra. Vezely’s remarks were genuinely clever too. Save for this bit: "Sometimes means justify the ends”. I am about 100% certain you mean ‘the ends justify the means’. What’s with this story and turning things around? I think it happens again in a later chapter, too, but I’ll get there when I get there.
Merry enjoying darker stories is… kind of odd for any Hobbit, but to be fair, if I am to buy this from a Hobbit, at least it’s Merry and not Sam. It still feels weird, but admittedly not overly so.
I should discuss the meaning behind Vezely’s name. First, a tiny remark on Vezena: not that it doesn’t have a nice ring to it, but who calls their child ‘the sun’s mother’? Well, I grant you, this IS the story where Elvish parents call their daughter ‘strong one’. Back to Vezely. This is really good. I will say I am slightly confused at why she was named after ‘the setting sun’ – which, by the way, is a neat and fairly original way to justify the story’s title – because conquering the West was her purpose and not because, well, she was born in the West and her parents knew that. I don’t know, maybe it was the response they kept giving whenever other people gave them crap about her daughter being Western and they themselves admitting it through the name and Vezely just picked that up, maybe that’s the explanation they gave Sauron to satisfy him (and possibly he told Vezely that to help keep her on his side later on), maybe she only asked the ‘why’ question about her name after they died and Sauron made it up, or that actually was what her parents were going for because… reasons. I don’t know; I have no idea how old this ‘we have a destiny to conquer the West’ thing was. Anyway, as Legolas says, a name doesn’t need to have only one meaning; I can think of a few, and her having to lead the Balchoth West really is the one that makes the least sense. First, there’s, of course, as I mentioned before, Vezely having been born in the West. Another interpretation, from more a meta point of view, is that it indicates her place is in the West, while still tying her to Rhûn because it’s a Balchoth name. A darker explanation is that like the sun, she sets – as in going down – in the West. Yes, I know, she dies very far in the East, but not only does she come damn close to dying, up to the point of literally standing on the verge of entering Balchoth heaven, but honestly, I think her slightly softening up is what got her killed. And where did that happen? In the West. Though within that category, going down doesn’t have to be all literal as in dying. Maybe the sunset is her going through this identity crisis of embracing her Elvish side, eventually having to lose a lot of her Balchoth side – at the very end even her Balchoth scars and tattoos. The sun also rises and sets in cycles. Yes, she was born West of the Anduin, where she lost her parents, but she was raised in the East – rising to greatness. After the battle of the Wold, having killed Eorl but lost her army, she was almost killed in Mirkwood. She returns East and rises up even stronger, as a General with a highly sophisticated army at her back. Then she’s thrown into the dungeons of Dol Guldur (West). She recovers in Rhûn, then goes West and damn near dies, as I said before. Then she returns to the East, picking some of her old mannerisms back up – when death takes her a long way West in one blow and causes all that skill to be kind of useless. Sucks. Vezely being the setting sun may even foreshadow her leading the Balchoth to their doom and all the torments she goes through. Really, the possibilities are endless.
I know it’s tiny, but Westerners being much more reserved with their bodies than Easterlings makes sense in the larger respective cultures. And, of course, it’s talking about cultural difference, so I like it. A nice little touch can sometimes be all you need.
I really like Vezely’s further reflections on the West and love. And boy, compared to Rhûn, is the West obsessed with it. No wonder Men of the West and certainly Elves are considered weaklings. Also, let’s remember that it’s Legolas who maintains here dying of a broken heart makes sense, because it’ll be kind of odd in a later chapter near the very end. In general, though, this was pretty neat. Personally, while I do think emotions have some biological grounds and therefore work differently in Elves than in Men, I believe a lot about how you feel in certain situations is actually determined by upbringing and pure chance, not by rules bound to being Elvish or human. As Vezely acknowledges, because of her Balchoth upbringing she survived Dol Guldur with nowhere near as much mental damage as you’d expect from an Elf. This makes me wonder… If it had been the other way round and Legolas had died, would Vezely have ‘died from a broken heart’, which she grew up unable to imagine? Is the idea that it could happen to her really plausible? Or is she actually right and is it utter horse-crap? It’s an interesting subject.
I should say a few words on the exposition on Elvish sexual lives. This site – I was told – has a reputation for being very explicit. My personal guess is that this is true to an extent, but exaggerated because ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ originated around here, giving it the reputation. The easy answer to this would be to simply ignore that aspect of life, as I myself have done in ‘The King, the girl and the lion’ and, hell, much like how even Tolkien himself did it. I actually intend to follow a third way, following the books by George R.R. Martin and Feist, and the stories on this site ‘Slave Girl’ (it’s been over a year and I’m still not over it) and… ‘The Sun Sets in the West’. This is a lighting example: not ignoring it, because that would decrease realism, without ever taking it too far. In my opinion, when you’re trying to write a serious story, this is the way you handle sexuality.
There are two things I sadly can’t tell you. One is how much I love the second third of this chapter. The other is how guilty I feel over not knowing what else to say about it. I mean, it’s pure awesomeness up to the point of speaking for itself. But I’ll try and scratch up a thing or two, because you deserve more praise for this than not even half a dozen sentences typed in about a minute.
As always, I’m a huge fan of Vezely’s backstory. This entire second part consists of that, and I am incredibly happy reading it. Sure, there’s a few things that I will complain about, but really, them not being there would’ve messed with consistency. As indicated by the remarks at the very start, it’s about Vezely being Balchoth, Elf or both – though I’m not sure why the first instance, or even the first three instances, qualify as identity crises. Sure, her uncle tells her
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 18 . 4/22
Chapter 14: ‘Trail Rides and War Games’ (Continued):
At the end of the review, in the overall analysis, I will include something that I hope will make all this rambling make a lot more sense. It’s a symptom of a bigger problem I have with this story. What I will say now is that, while it’s not being stressed, this is one of the earliest occasions what I will call the feminist angle – because gender equality angle doesn’t have a nice ring to it and is a little long – actually hurts. So far, it’s been mostly fine, I wouldn’t really make a problem out of it. I’ll go further into that later, but here, it hurts.
Ah, we’re back to something good! It’s nowhere near the start, but it’s interesting in its own way. You’re probably expecting me to complain about Vezely having a bad feeling about the Anduin and thus apparently in a way anticipating the Corsairs… but that’s a lot like with the Variags. Maybe, this time subconsciously, she recognizes another way to attack the White City. It’s really okay, and I’m just too glad we’re good again to mind.
Legolas teasing Vezely kind of makes him look immature, but it’s fun. Plus, we already know he can loosen up from his many verbal skirmishes with Gimli and act in a way you would expect from someone who has lived 1% of his years or less. I like to think that precisely because he has seen so much, especially being a Prince and all, carrying lots of expectations, he needs this levity. I’ll take it.
I checked, and Legolas figured her mother was a Silvan Elf back in chapter 7. It just sounds like it only came to him now. But whatever. I like the next part of his reasoning, which I do buy he just thought of now. Stuck on the shores of Valinor, very reminiscent of another occasion where she comes even closer to death which we’ll see later on. I’m intrigued by the last bit having been missed before; probably indicating she has by no means reached the end… I could be wrong in this interpretation, but that’s the appeal. It’s fascinating. I’m sorry, I feel really unfair for not going into this deeper, but I just don’t know what to say. So please let it suffice that this is deep, interesting and really good.
I like the idea of having the Dark Elves of Dorwinion. They may be Avari, or the first group of the Teleri to give up on the journey to Valinor – or both; I believe the intention of that group was to reunite with the Avari, maybe they succeeded. And never having seen the Light of Valinor they are Dark Elves. Also, there’s a very actual theme going on here: Vezely having had to deal with some kind of racism. She’s being judged for being an Elf even growing up with the Balchoth. This probably added to her determination to be one of the Clan, not an Elf. It’s a really interesting concept. Her decision would have been fine… but it requires her to ignore or forget a part of her being. It was destined to go wrong.
I’m surprised she didn’t fully convince herself she’s not an Elf. In a way, it would’ve been great to have her not care about Mirkwood and the Silvan Elves at all, just seeing them as foreigners. But okay, I guess what happened makes more sense. Plus, her having suppressed her Elvish side may in this instance actually have backfired. She’s bottled it all up, she’s denied it, and now she has to face it. Her tough luck she was in her own and her mother’s old home…
Does ‘living with nature’ being a good thing also just come with Elvish blood without being able to do anything about it? Just wondering.
I really like Legolas being confronted with the war going on in his homeland. The books kind of speak of it, the extended edition mentions it, but the movies really just ignore it. And there’s never been such a blunt, brutal reminder for him that Sauron’s armies march against Mirkwood, too. I like how he seems genuinely worried – understandably; it’s his people, his father, his friends, his comrades from the Woodland Guard.
Again, I think we can glimpse Vezely’s self-hatred. Convinced of her own unworthiness, she can’t imagine her return. I’m still conflicted on her wanting to return… And she’s still banished. Plus, even if Sauron is defeated, there’s so much work to be done in Rhûn. That is her home. She can’t just leave it in shambles. Yes, I have a hard time imagining her return to Mirkwood as well.
The further interaction between the two Elves is sweet and awesome in its own right. Good job.
Yes, eight were sent out – in pairs, each pair in another direction. How did you expect to be found by more than two? And you had a huge head start. Plus, Vezely, you’re a soldier. Would you be motivated to do it if your commander sent you out to go babysit his little sister? These guys signed up for protecting their country and killing Orcs, not for tracking down rebellious teenage girls.
The reminiscing of the experiences the Fellowship had in Lothlórien I liked. I’m reminded of the books, which is good. Merry is fun, and Gimli’s adoration of Galadriel worked really well.
Now, more awesomeness. I won’t say I love the Easterling method of warfare, because I don’t like it on itself, but it really fits the Easterlings and especially Vezely, it’s genuinely interesting and I like how different it is from the Western way. Besides, it’s not like the way of the Elves and Gondorians, with guerilla warfare and ambushes, is all that honorable, so why complain about these methods? This is a good concept, and as a fan of speaking about cultural differences, I’m SO happy it’s in here.
As a fanatic of military history, I just love the rational, tactical explanation of winning in spite of huge numbers. Plus, it’s more of Vezely’s backstory.
While I agree with Legolas that this openly bureaucratic approach to warfare is disturbing… come on, it’s not like it’s all that different from what the Woodland Guard, the Rangers and probably many more armed forces do: try and destroy the enemy at as little cost as possible. In a way, the Easterlings are just being brutally honest about it.
Gimli’s skepticism makes a lot of sense. I mentioned Time Commanders before and a recurring thing is that people have cultural preconceptions about war. This is also true for Gimli. Also, this bit of dialogue really explains why the axe is so quintessentially the Dwarven way of war. Let me recall a line about the axe: “Its simplicity makes it reliable.” They don’t bother with all this crap, mostly because it requires too much to be effective. Merry, however? He probably barely gave war any thought in his life before he joined Frodo on his trip with the Ring. He doesn’t have these preconceptions. He’ll readily accept people using this system.
Also, I should say in Vezely’s defense that I absolutely understand her trouble calculating or predicting the battle of Minas Tirith. First, the enemy numbers. The only numbers she may have relative certainty about are those of the Orc armies from Minas Morgul. She can’t be expected to know exactly how many Mûmakil there will be, or how many Haradrim – on foot, in the towers on the Mûmakil, or on horseback. As for the Variags, she can be sure there’ll be a significant fraction of their forces, but… how many? She doesn’t even know if they’ll be there at all. And that’s just the beginning of her problems. The second difficulty is… how many soldiers do the good guys have? I don’t think anyone knows how many Gondorians there are. And does she know how strong the fortifications of the city are? Does she know about the trebuchets? How good the Gondorian archers are? That Denethor stupidly wasted (one of) his best commander(s) and 200 soldiers in an attempt to retake Osgiliath? All that matters hugely when it comes to determining how many Orcs are going to get killed before the Rohirrim arrive. More on that in a moment, but speaking of the Rohirrim: at this stage she doesn’t know how many there will be. At best, she can work with Théoden’s optimistic projections – which in themselves aren’t clear to me; in the book he says he could’ve had 10,000 Riders galloping with him, but in the movie he says this: “6,000 spears. Less than half of what I hoped for.” Did he hope for 15,000 men? Because even those 10,000 would’ve left all his fortresses ungarisonned. But whatever, at best Vezely can work with 15,000, or let’s say she actually guesses 6,000. But then there’s the third factor I briefly touched upon shortly before. How long will it take the Rohirrim to get to Minas Tirith? And in what shape are the Orcs and Rohirrim going to be by then? Fourth: where are the Haradrim and Variags going to be positioned? Finally, just to show how terrible this job can be: the Hellenistic Kings often faced armies similar to their own, because they fought each other. They really developed a sophisticated military science, comparable to what we see here. This is the kind of advantages that can bring victory: having the wind at your back, or the enemy having the sun in their eyes. So the time of day and/or the weather would matter. Even the wind is important. And that’s not even mentioning her hunch about the Corsairs, but fine, let’s ignore that.
I like the talk about the importance of morale. Did you read Adrian Goldsworthy’s work? He places so much emphasis on morale it’s even a criticism from another scholar. If you didn’t, while I can recommend his work, that’s fine, I just was reminded. Whether it was inspired on Goldsworthy, or any historical research for that matter, or not really doesn’t matter. It’s still awesome.
Merry, while, as you pointed out, always having been the brains of the duo, feels a little out of character by this level of intelligence. However, I prefer to think of it as character development. Maybe a way of showing Vezely being there matters. If so, it’s kind of subtle and really well-handled. And I am just stunned in awe at his line: "Depends on the hobbit." I love it in its plain and simple truth.
Yes, I wish we had seen more of it, but just imagining Vezely, Merry and Gimli discussing their cultur
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 17 . 4/19
Chapter 14: ‘Trail Rides and War Games’ (Continued):
This is probably as close as we’re going to get to an explanation why Éowyn is/wants to be a warrior. Here, it’s not the bigger culture, it’s almost classic sibling rivalry. Éowyn’s mother, while being a good parent, actually didn’t do a lot of good here. Éomund probably told her that fighting is dangerous, but from her mother’s reaction to her races with Éomer, what is she to think other than hat horse-riding is dangerous? So she almost starts equating horse-riding and combat – which from what we see in Return of the King is really accurate. The Rohirrim aren’t fighting, they’re just riding their horses towards the enemy and the Orcs all die. But serious talk, Éowyn put all these things together in her mind and decided that fighting, like horse-riding, is something that if Éomer can do it, she can do – and probably on roughly equal terms. Which is some serious bullshit, since every person in Rohan probably knows how to ride a horse, but of the two siblings, only Éomer was actually trained for combat, but at least I know get where she’s coming from.
Which brings me to the most important line in his chapter. Honestly, I barely recognized Éomer. I know he’s no fun and humorless and not the nicest guy, but what did he do to you? He was incredibly serious-minded, but he wasn’t a total dick by any means. Sure, he could be kind of an asshole sometimes, but think about all the crap he’s been through and tell me you don’t kind of understand. Think of all the burdens he’s carrying. That’s enough to justify what we see in the movie, but in this story, he’s just a jerk. It took me three re-reads of this story up to this point and some over-thinking, but I finally figured out what his deal is. And this line is the key: “I think he still sees me as that young girl who never failed to follow his request to race him to the top.” This may not seem like a lot to go on, but as I mentioned before, I’m training to be a historian. So let’s be a historian and stop taking everything we hear for fact. Hell, this line is even literally dialogue; this isn’t said by a narrator who you could argue is all-knowing. Éowyn even admits to not knowing this for certain in this very line. Let’s do something ancient historians should be good at: learn a lot from really sparse material. Most of this will be saved for the character analysis, but for now, let’s say this. What if this isn’t just some cheap, easy and not really important exposition? This line speaks of a mistake, but what if it IS a mistake in its own right? And not just Éowyn’s mistake, but Vezely’s (the narrator’s) and thus one easy for us to make, too. Vezely accepts this statement as fact. But maybe Éowyn is wrong – only not the way you probably think I mean. Let’s stop being vague and say it already: Éowyn is right when she says Éomer still sees the child who raced him to the top in her. Her mistake is in believing HE is making a mistake. She thinks she’s moved on from that… but she hasn’t. She doesn’t realize, but he sure does and he realizes he has to protect her from the one person incredibly likely to get her killed: herself.
Hmm… I should talk about this: “Is it wrong to hold such ambitions?” Well… Technically I’m with Vezely. You can’t help what you feel. As I said before, ‘What should I feel?’ is the wrong question. It’s out of your control, so you can’t be wrong for feeling anything. However, feeling a desire and acting on it are two very different things. I think we can all understand Éomer WANTING to kill Vezely, especially after this chapter, but even I would be a little shocked if he actually did it. Vezely doesn’t seem to really make that distinction, at least not enough. ‘Expectations’ make it sound so petty, but really, it’s her culture. It’s the way her society thinks and feels. Someone – probably Éomer – should just sit Éowyn down and explain to her that part of being Royalty is exactly that: not getting to do whatever you like.
Éowyn does know that Vezely was expected to grow into a warrior as the Balchoth leader’s daughter, right? To be a warrior was no more Vezely’s choice than not to be one is hers. Vezely had her part to play, Éowyn has hers. Actually, Vezely is not so fundamentally a rebel.
I agree with Vezely. People who care about you naturally will want to keep you safe. Again, in keeping his sister alive, Éomer’s biggest challenge is… his sister. They wouldn’t try to keep her out of the fight if they didn’t give a damn if she came out of the war alive.
Seriously, socio-political structures, now marital customs… Can Vezely please stop bashing the West? Maybe that’s unintentional, but this really feels like criticism. She wants to fit in herself, but encourages her one friend, who has a great position, to go against the structures?
What I really do like, though, is Vezely’s response to Éowyn on the importance of love (in the classical romantic sense). It leaves Éowyn not knowing Vezely’s position… because she doesn’t really have a clear stance. She’s all mixed up on the subject and a few others – and hell, who can blame her?
Looking back, I’m honestly surprised at how often I find myself agreeing with Vezely. To me, Elves dying from a broken heart makes little to no sense. I mean, you have eternity to get over whatever comes your way. Still, as we saw in the movies with Arwen’s decision to be mortal, having to live on alone really sucks. I also don’t know why Elrond didn’t consider the possibility Arwen would just die from a broken heart at Aragorn’s demise, but whatever. It feels kind of weird… but I guess it fits, in a way.
She really has me grinning at “I’m not what one would call marriageable.”
I know, when will I talk about Vezely and Legolas? I promise you, soon. For now, suffice it to say I like this lighter part where Éowyn and Vezely really are convincing friends. I buy this.
Alright, sadly, that was the best part. Now we’re getting to something I don’t like. Again, no one is under obligation to agree with me – I’m used to the opposite, to be honest. But I for one have my complaints about Vezely and Éowyn vs. Gárbald and Fasthelm – though I will give you props for actually coming up with names that sound like what Rohirrim would name their children.
First off, what the hell? Éowyn knows Éomer sent out the riders, and SHE was the one to suggest Ridar and his mates tried to take Vezely’s horse – and kill her – with his knowledge and blessing. How does she even think for a moment he’s cool with the two of them going out together? For all he knows, Vezely’s going to kill her. And in a way, she really is helping Éowyn to get killed.
Next, Vezely is a confirmed jerk. Does anyone understand Éomer hating her? Still just me, huh? And as stern as these two were before, I’m surprised they didn’t just keep ignoring her or answer along the lines of ‘Our names are nothing that need concern you’, to make it clear they’re not interested in talking. And why would they be? She doesn’t hold a rank, their commander – Éomer – hates her, she’s an Easterling, and at least partially because of her they were sent on this mission, which I would just want to get over with. Plus, earlier you talked about their ‘sense of duty’ – how does it make any kind of sense they took a coffee break?
Why are these two soldiers – and these two are soldiers, not the random villagers dragged into the fight we saw at Helm’s Deep – being such pushovers? Hell, if you’re going to lie to the Crown prince anyway, why not get back at Vezely in the process? Just tell him you were searching. At worst you can tell him you moved slowly to find and stay on the track or because you searched widely and thoroughly – this chapter doesn’t even tell us they didn’t. But they just assume Éomer will take Vezely’s word over theirs? Even Éowyn could just be covering for her. Why are they putting up with this crap? There really IS another way, guys, and it’s not even that hard to find.
Seriously, at that last comment, I would’ve swallowed any and all complains about this chapters if one of the guards had pulled a Faramir and thrown a spear at her.
Why does no one appreciate Éomer? Not even his own sister? To be honest, I would kind of understand if he had just given up on her. Well, you don’t choose who you care for… She knows he worries about her. Would it have been that much trouble to leave him a note? Give him some kind of reassurance you think at least a little bit before you act. Éomer is totally right in suggesting she doesn’t.
Again, is Éowyn dumb that she suggests Éomer should trust Vezely to protect her? But I will be fair, she does get the right idea now.
Is there a prize for worst sister in Middle-Earth? Because if there isn’t, Éowyn is just a terrible person for the sake of it. Éomer is being reasonable and she’s turning her back on him. Seriously, Modern Artifact, what did this guy do to you? How does he deserve this for all his loyalty and honor?
Okay, I am the only one who’s supporting Éomer. But am I the only one under the impression Vezely is actively daring him to kill her? I’m surprised he doesn’t just go ahead and do it. Also, how is Éomer a bad influence? I see Vezely’s point, but Éomer is merely doing what every responsible big brother should do: try and keep his younger sibling alive. Vezely is making that harder for him. But… HE is a bad influence? For asking her to think things through? For wanting her to accept her position with all its responsibilities? I don’t know, you tell me.
Fine, in the interest of fairness, I will concede Éomer’s being pretty harsh on Vezely, bordering on unfair. Also, is caring for someone an emotion? No, that’s a serious question. I’m not sure, to be honest. But then, ‘Vezely retorted fairly’? What do you call ‘fairly’? Wouldn’t it have graced Vezely far more if she had at least tried to explain things to Éomer?
Sorry, I’m tired from continuous ranting. At the end of the review, in the overall analysis, I
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 16 . 4/16
Chapter 12: The Palantir, Power, and Position (Continued):
Overall, while I hesitate to call this chapter great and a lot is preventing me from enjoying it as much as I should, this is still a step up from last chapter, where my problem is with the main conflict inside the chapter, and it’s still very interesting. I like it, even if I don’t love it. It’s good and there’s definitely as much to like as there is to frown at. It does give me the feel things are getting good again.
Chapter 13: Complicated
I think this chapter’s title is also the title of a song. I’m sure that’s mere coincidence, and it doesn’t really add to or detract from my enjoyment of it, but I thought of it, so I decided to mention it.
I am a sucker for Vezely’s backstory, as I said before, and going into some detail here is pretty damn awesome. I would even go so far as to say it’s this chapter’s highlight. This is absolutely brilliant. I kind of figured before she’d been raped, too – and this brings me to the self-hatred I mentioned a few times before. Self-blame, as far as I’ve heard – and I don’t claim to be an expert – is relatively widespread among rape victims – and slaves in history. This can easily lead to self-hatred. In my opinion, that may be a mental self-preservation instinct: to avoid going insane, you tell yourself it’s actually all as it should be. That you deserved it. Couple that with Vezely’s hesitancy to consider herself to have changed since then… Of course she doesn’t feel she deserves help.
Actually, Vezely doesn’t answer Legolas’ question. He asks her why he thinks the Variags will join the party. Vezely answers by explaining how she thinks her former second-in-command is their leader. I don’t really see any cause-consequence relationship here. Yes, she tries to explain by speaking of ‘the promise to meet him again’, but that’s something on her to-do list, not some ancient prophecy, right? Another thing, why is Legolas even asking? Is he so sure there is another reason besides intuition, which Vezely dismissed, and strategy, which she already gave? Would anyone need more reasons to assume the Variags would be there? The explanation she gave King Théoden made sound common sense, and it sufficed.
Can I just take a moment to say that I LOVE Vezely’s determination? She’s going to kill Oldür, because it is necessary. It is necessary for her to restore her honor, and in order to do so she needs to kill him. Again, I’m getting Samurai vibes. This is absolutely awesome.
“I cannot accept this longevity”… Is she saying she wants to kill him and then die in the battle? It’s a pretty vague line, and it’s both disturbing and really fascinating. I love it.
Uhm… Legolas? She needs to restore her honor. She’s going to do it herself. I know, I know, I like the Samurai way too much and it’s obvious the parallel with these Easterlings only goes so far… But does it really not matter if you do something all by yourself or with the help of an incredible warrior who also happens to be a Westerner?
I genuinely loved Legolas and Vezely acknowledging their differences and I adore their idea of still understanding one another. However… I know people say this, and often even believe it, but Legolas seriously thinks him finding out she killed children isn’t going to cause him to see her in a different light.
Vezely being unable to see herself at peace made sense and was good. I loved it. Yes, there’s a lot of good stuff in here. And her working alone for the resistance was a good idea. Her in a leadership role… Having to take orders from someone they actually hate would probably cause resentment with the fighters, so not having that made sense too. Her having to take orders… That’s not going to work too well.
I like the joking between Vezely and Legolas. ‘Someone of my ilk’, ‘You mean, you following orders?’. Nice job. It adds levity, but there’s some character development going on as well.
Again, Vezely no longer has a place. She’s a Balchoth, I keep repeating that. But that means being a member of the Balchoth Clan, and there is no more Balchoth Clan. She’s an Elf… by birth. Fine. She knows virtually nothing of life among the Elves and she’s not in the slightest prepared for it.
Alright, Vezely’s bloodline. She’s totally right. Legendary? Tragic is more like it. She’s not unimpressed, she’s detached – or detaching herself. And well, blood is important, but education and culture are as well. Her realizing she’s actually an Elvish Princess doesn’t suddenly make her a real Elf. Even the Blue Wizards recognized that; otherwise I expect they’d have told her. And yes, she has Maiar blood, but… after Lúthien, does that ever come into play? Melian’s daughter defeated Sauron in a contest of sorcery, but apart from that, there doesn’t seem to have been a whole lot of demigod influence.
Legolas’ doubt as to if he should’ve told her because he doesn’t know the whole story felt natural. In a way, I’m getting ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ flashbacks with Hagrid. Yeah, I know; Legolas and Hagrid, similar? But anyway, I’m sure it wasn’t a conscious reference, but I liked it either way. And again, it’s refreshing to see Legolas have doubts. To see him struggle with all the burdens he himself and others place upon him. And I understand Vezely, too; at least now she knows something, whereas before she was completely in the dark.
Seriously, about this bloodline thing with Vezely, Legolas is the only reasonable Westerner. Everyone wants to help her because she’s Elrond’s cousin. Legolas is all like: “No, we should help her regardless.” SHE WAS HELD PRISONER BY SAURON. How terrible are these people if they need more reason to try and help her pull herself back together?
Vezely asks a very valid question. What’s the deal with Half-Elves and immortality? Okay, once you make your choice it’s permanent. So far so good; you should think it through before choosing. But can all descendants of Ëarendil and Elwing choose? Because if so, how come Aragorn can’t just choose to be immortal? Though with Elros, choosing to be of the race of Men seems to have come with Kingship… so Aragorn has to remain mortal or lose his claim to the throne of Gondor? The throne Elrond told us he wasn’t interested in and even already turned down, choosing to live in exile? Why did he not choose immortality and eternity with Arwen in that time? Did he always feel he would one day have to step forward? That makes sense, I guess… But NONE of Elros’ descendants chose immortality? And it’s not like Elrond and Elros are the only ones who can choose; Arwen chooses to be mortal. Does it depend on the mother? Obviously not. Or can you go from immortal to mortal, but not from mortal to immortal? Because that’s unfair. Who made this deal to begin with? Who thought this was a bright idea? Why weren’t clear rules established from the start for cross-breeding between Elves and Men? Why am I still expecting this mess to somehow suddenly start to make sense? Seriously, Tolkien and Jackson went all Vrak from Power Rangers Megaforce on us: “Far too complicated for you to understand.”
Legolas’ answer: okay, so you start from a default race, so to speak, based on your ancestor’s choice or your other parent or whatever, and then you get to choose… ‘only if you deem it so’? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Does this make any sense?
Now, I’m sure I’m being too technical – again – but let’s look at this. “…her fëar being denied entrance to Aman if she were to be killed in battle.” What? Dying in battle doesn’t score you any bad points, does it? I mean… “I died trying to protect the world from Sauron!” “You died in battle, so no entry into paradise.” Wouldn’t giving her life fighting against Sauron count in her favor? Is it that she hasn’t had the time to truly make amends for everything she did? She helped save the West – TWICE. What more do they expect from her? Okay, she committed a lot of sins, and I’m the last one to say that should ever be forgotten. But I really think that by now, the Valar have plenty of reasons to allow her in – or let her pass into Balchoth heaven regardless of her choice. We’ll get back to that.
I like referencing back to earlier in the story, so good job!
And the set-up for next chapter, which I remember to be very interesting. I look forward to re-reading it!
Though I can’t resist one final nitpick… Why would a sword be necessary? She’s got Vezely there, Orcs really shouldn’t be anywhere near without the Rohirrim knowing and working on killing them, and Saruman has been defeated. I know, I know, I’m the first one to advice and say “Best to be sure!”, but Éowyn is a Princess of Rohan on horseback; if nothing else, she can flee and get to safety.
Despite all my ranting near the end, I really did enjoy this chapter. Weird, because it also kind of feels like filler to me; it just comes and goes. But for what we do get, we get some really good and interesting things. There’s not a lot to talk about, fair enough, but there’s an awful lot to say. This chapter was really well handled.
Chapter 14: ‘Trail Rides and War Games’
This chapter was really interesting in terms of character, especially the start. I will talk about it more at the end, but I shouldn’t ignore it completely here.
It’s really minor, but it feels so out of place I have to point it out. ‘Kids’? Now, in plenty of fanfics – even LotR-fanfics – that would be normal, but this one tends to be more solemn and archaic, a little closer to the book but still readable to 21st century readers. However, ‘kids’ really doesn’t fit that brilliant choice. I mean, ‘when we were children’ or ‘small’ or ‘little’ are all fine, but ‘kids’? Okay, okay, I’ll move on to something that matters.
I actually prepared kind of a rant about Éowyn winning, but based on the relatively vague wording and because I promised to focus on something that matters, let’s talk about parenting. This is probably as close as we’re going to get to an explana
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 15 . 4/14
Chapter 12: The Palantir, Power, and Position (Continued):
What if Vezely has a flash of inspiration, a brilliant idea, and is too humble to speak up? Okay, she’s on the defensive now – and, by the way, I LOVE that she’s still so unsure about that – but she can prepare for the very best Sauron can throw at them. She understands the psychology of a General of Sauron on the offensive deeply. Okay, Éomer hates her, but Théoden might listen. And he’s the King; at the end of the day, Éomer, good soldier that he is, will obey him.
Uhm… I’m confused. How would it be bad for Vezely if Théoden learned a couple of drunks tried to take her horse?
Let’s go through the advice given before judging the scene proper. First, the Mûmakil. It’s odd, really; the Haradrim have nothing except Mûmakil. And everyone just accepts that. This makes zero sense; even the armies best known for elephants always had large bodies of cavalry and infantry in support. Admittedly, the film does also try to tell us it’s just Mûmakil from Harad. But here, the implication does seem to be that there were other Haradrim, based on Vezely’s wording and the fact there’s a few Haradrim captured. Maybe you can survive falling from that height, but given the quality of healthcare in a medieval society, recovering to any kind of fighting shape would be possible, but so unlikely that I can’t imagine all four managed. I guess it’s possible, but combined with Vezely’s exact words, the Haradrim have more (like they did in the books). No one’s worried about that; I’m sure hundreds of horsemen and a few thousand spearmen and archers won’t be a problem for Rohan’s cavalry army.
Anyway, let’s talk Mûmakil. A lot like actual elephants, Mûmakil are actually frightening to horses. Something about the scent. A factor that’s pretty important to the Rohirrim, but doesn’t get mentioned. Apart from that, I’d actually take cavalry over elephants. As Richard ‘Mack’ Mackowitz said (Deadliest Warrior: Genghis Khan versus Hannibal (S3E4)): “There’s a reason cavalry lasted for centuries and centuries as horses, not as elephants.” Horses are faster and more maneuverable. However, Indian Kings primarily used their elephants as missile platforms, and because of the height of Mûmakil, that use would make the beasts incredibly effective, as Vezely rightfully warns.
Let’s talk tactics. I want to start off by saying that yes, I am aware it’s easy to play expert for academics sitting comfortably at home. However, I’ve heard and read a few things on ancient and medieval warfare by people who specialize in it, so I hope not to be completely unqualified. The very first line baffles me. ‘Hold your line and break theirs’? What the hell? I understand the advice to break the enemy lines, because that holds one universal advantage: it allows you to pick the enemy off one by one. Try to lure the Mûmakil away from each other, and then have 100 archers focusing on one of them, throw 20 spears into another; that makes sense. However, hold a line with horsemen? Not only is that close to physically impossible when engaging elephants, insisting on formations would lessen mobility and decrease a key advantage. I think elephants want lines to break through – and good luck trying to physically prevent them from doing that. It’d confuse elephant riders more to be dealing with enemies in very loose formations or even split up into small groups. The rest, to me, made sound common sense. You’re not going to harm an elephant, except by going for the eyes, but you can hurt them and drive them mad. I particularly liked the suggestion to take out the riders.
I’m confused by the Variags. It seems to be the implication they’re essentially an Eastern Clan, but separate. However, Khând lies to the south of Mordor, Rhûn to the north. It gets even weirder when the Haradrim are almost equated to Easterlings later on…
Seriously, Sauron needs to update his arsenal. The only military reason for having chariots is that you don’t have the horses for real cavalry like the Rohirrim. Granted, you can use them as mobile missile platforms, but really, there’s not a lot you can do with them that you can’t with cavalry. Don’t get me wrong; as the team on Time Commanders after their battle of Wattling Street recognized: “We said: ‘Oh, the chariots aren’t going to be a problem’, and the first thing that was a problem were the chariots.” You can use chariots to effect… But not against cavalry. Axe-men, I admit, are dangerous to horsemen. In general, I feel pretty confident the Rohirrim can defeat the Variags.
I can’t believe that at the moment it actually sounds so easy. Well, the first casualty in any operation is the battle plan, so that’s good. Good from a meta-perspective, I mean; for the Rohirrim, it’s not as good news. And I hope they do it. I hope the Rohirrim have the guts to tell the plan to stay in a huge mass to go to hell, break up into small éoreds and use their maneuverability to get into positions where they can take down an elephant or two. Let them go after one éored, then suddenly hit them with three. I mean, these guys are the best cavalry army in Middle-Earth; I’m confident they might pull that off. There’s only one problem here: there’s a lot to take down. Not just the Mûmakil; how many Orcs are there? A million? Even if they’re crap, that’s a lot of crap the Rohirrim will have to somehow get rid of; you can’t just ride past them and pretend they’re not there.
Now, what’s the meaning of me coming up with all this rambling? Partially just me being a pedant jerk, partially a typical interest in battle and warfare, but it also means that I’m really getting into this. And that’s excellent on your part. That’s what you want to do: draw people in. Well done.
I actually rather like the concept of the undead; it almost sounds like recreating what Sauron did with the Nazgûl in a weakened form. I really do buy these guys being a threat to be reckoned with. It kind of reminds me of the Mouth of Sauron. Maybe he was one of the undead, possibly the first.
What. The. Hell. ‘“…If this is so, he or she," Vez added 'she' simply to prove a point’. Alright, first off, has Vezely started to refer to herself as ‘Vez’ in her own thoughts because Gandalf decided against being open and clear with King Théoden in the first place? But that’s not even what I’m going to rant about; that’s stupid, but it doesn’t really matter in any way. No, the things to remember here are the following two: Vezely herself was earlier implying Sauron is sexist. Would he make women undead? Yes, I grant you, maybe he saw Vezely turn into a success story and that changed his mind, but if you work with that kind of stereotyping, that’s a fairly cheap way of overcoming it. The worst aspect, however, is this: Vezely adds ‘she’, quote, ‘SIMPLY TO PROVE A POINT’. Weren’t you being all humble? Don’t you really want to fit in by this point? As minor a provocation as this is, it can still be taken as a provocation. LAST CHAPTER YOU THOUGHT SOME OF ÉOMER’S MEN WANTED TO KILL YOU. This is a pretty good time to – finally; and yes, I add that word in simply to prove a point – start showing Rohan, the West and their ways some respect. And to say whatever you like as objective truths, but not ‘simply to make a point’. You’re only getting people pissed at you. Seriously, Vezely has learned humility up to the point where she only advices when asked and she needs to live together with the Westerners, and she kind of wants to fit in, but then she adds ‘she’, ‘simply to prove a point’. Is anyone else admiring Éomer’s restraint by now for not straight up murdering her? Guess it’s still just me.
Sorry, I know I sound like a douchebag. Well aware of it. I get carried away. But with my thoughts all straightened out, as much as I complained, the very fact that I’m talking so much means I’m into this. I actually really liked the war council scene; I thought it was very interesting and fairly clever… but not without its problems, which I have proceeded to list and discuss. Maybe I really am being a jerk; it’s completely possible my complaint is another person’s praise.
Ah, interaction between Vezely and a Hobbit! I immediately know this is going to be good. And indeed: immediately, there’s a clever bit on the size of a Hobbit, which at first glance seems an obvious and distinct battle disadvantage, actually having the potential of being a formidable attribute. Also, we know from the lore Hobbits in general are good at getting around unnoticed, unlike Dwarves. The argument Vezely makes seems to really fit. I like it.
The exposition on Mûmakil was really interesting. Well done. And then, of course, reminiscing of home. It was brief, but it was heartfelt; you feel for both Merry and Vezely. It furthermore bears out the wisdom one cannot appreciate something if they’ve never had to miss it.
I’ll admit I feel more than a little awkward imagining Merry and Vezely laughing hysterically together, but fine; their actual conversation was fun, and hey, I’m the one who insists on having a little levity and not making things too dark (I come from the book version of Fate/Zero; trust me, that makes you appreciate levity). It was harmless fun… and strangely, weirdly interesting, comparing cuisines (as part of wider cultures).
The actual end, however, does return to a darker, more serious note – which, at this point in the story, the great battle fast approaching, is appropriate. Did I read over the part where she originally thought the undead Variag leader was her former second-in-command? I don’t know, I could have; if so, I do apologize. Anyway, yes, what are the odds of that dramatic reunion on the battlefield taking place… But I won’t be such a hypocrite as to pretend I, and most probably many readers, would’ve chosen not to do it or didn’t like it. I’m always up for a rematch between old, bitter foes.
Overall, while I hesitate to call this chapter great and a lot is preventing me from enjoying i
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 14 . 4/6
Chapter 11: 'Decisive Gambling' (Continued):
I’m genuinely smirking at “Well, one thing is different, I no longer have an army.” As for Legolas’ apology, Vezely’s right. He’s just being polite. This was pretty good.
I should be talking about the Legolas/Vezely relationship… But I really don’t feel ready yet. I promise I’ll get here, soon.
Alright, the second half. See, this is why letting Éomer getting all worked up, especially when he’s drunk, is a bad idea. Also, he didn’t do anything. At least we can’t prove he did from what we’re told here. There were three men with Gizik, but Éomer wasn’t one of them. I said before that this is a bunch of nonsense. However, I’ll go over a thing or two individually and then formulate a theory. Okay, here goes!
Alright, first, Éomer addressing Vezely rather than the Rohirrim. Can we all stop and take a moment to consider how this must look when you’re just arriving on the scene (and already distrust Vezely)? Éomer might well be under the genuine impression she attacked his men without provocation, or at the very least she’s trying to kill them. Why does everyone immediately assume he knows perfectly well what’s going on?
These three random assholes are friends of Éomer? Whatever. I can actually buy that. No, the real problem here is: Éowyn is implying these guys got the idea to steal Vezely’s horse – which, as I said before, should be a capital offence in Rohan – and decided the best thing they could do was take that plan straight to the freaking Crown Prince. That sounds like an awesome plan. And apparently, she’s right?
‘KniveS’? No, there was only one dagger, right? And even if all three had daggers with them, don’t you expect these people to own daggers and carry them around? But no, it must be an assassination attempt. And Aragorn immediately goes along with accusing Éomer? Why? There is zero hard evidence pointing at him. Seriously…
What the hell? Éomer DID know they’d go after Gizik? What nonsense is this? And why does he care – or even pretend to care – if they wanted to kill Vezely? He doesn’t trust her, so isn’t her death something to celebrate in these dark times? It’s one less worry, right? This whole mess is so confusing.
This is really weird. But fine, I developed a theory that, for better or worse, does kind of make sense while still holding Éomer responsible. Maybe he was drunk, angry and bitter enough to order her assassination. Now, he’s drunk enough to make him more reckless, but not too drunk to think anything through, so he advises Ridar and the others to go after Gizik, knowing full well Éowyn will alert Vezely to the possibility. His oversight is that he doesn’t account for the men being drunk and only one of them having a dagger. The chapter even says: ‘He appeared honest in not believing they would go this far.’ Appearances can be deceptive. And his anger at his men? It’s not feigned. Not only did they put him in an awkward situation, they couldn’t even kill off Vezely in the process. Ridar doesn’t deserve to be in the Royal Guard… because he failed.
However, these are the facts. Three drunks – one of whom holds a grudge against Vezely, the other two having lost in betting to her, a woman, earlier – tried to steal her horse, and one of them had a dagger on him. Vezely confronted them, and being too drunk to think straight, they attacked her, and in the heat of the fight, one of them drew his dagger. That’s what we know happened.
Overall, this isn’t a bad chapter, but after two great ones, I feel it’s kind of disappointing. I’m sorry; everyone’s free to disagree with me, of course. And I’ll gladly admit there’s a lot to like here. I remembered this chapter… but I didn’t remember it fondly.
Chapter 12: ‘The Palantìr, Power, and Position’
Ah, the story went back to good. I liked the title, and I certainly enjoyed this chapter. It’s not without flaws, of course, but I’m back to being a fan.
Alright, let’s start with the Palantìr itself. I genuinely like that Vezely had a brief confrontation with Sauron himself. It was good. However… If I were Sauron, I would’ve taken a different approach. As I said before, does Sauron still care about Vezely? But let’s say he does want her back now, at least he should be reasonable enough to realize he made a mistake discarding her and she’s probably not coming back. He made himself her enemy, and she’s not likely to forgive him for decades in a dungeon. He’s offering her back her old position. Yeah, the position from which he removed her at his whim and from which he threw her into a dungeon. The position he snatched away so easily last time. He seriously thinks that’s going to work? Admittedly, he did find an Elf to corrupt at all, so I guess he believes in miracles. Still, it could’ve been more practical to mess with her mind and leave her insane. At least give it a go. Then she’s officially useless to his enemies.
The Easterling spice tea, again, is good on itself; it’s a nice moment. But again, I’m in disbelief. Seriously, Gandalf needs to get his priorities sorted out. Inform King Théoden, now.
Wait… ‘Theodon was hesitant of riding to Gondor's aid immediately, dissatisfied that they didn't aid Rohan at Helm’s Deep’? For real? I know, Théoden said: “Why should we ride to the aid of those who did not come to ours?” And he’s totally right, only… he can’t know Gondor was even aware of the battle of Helm’s Deep, as he was the one who – quite reasonably – refused to send out riders and call for help. We know Gondor was well aware of Rohan’s plight, but Théoden doesn’t, right? I always thought he was referring to the other times he also mentioned at Helm’s Deep: when the Westfold fell, when Rohan’s enemies closed in around them. So he’s holding a grudge against Gondor; he did ride to their aid several times before, and they never reciprocated. I’d be bitter, too. So now, he just reached a point in his mind where he doesn’t really want to help Gondor, and the issue needs to be forced by the Beacons, making him remember his honor and vows and alliances. He realizes this is the time Rohan must make a stand alongside Gondor. But here? He’s like: “If they ask for us, I’ll come, but if not, I’ll just stay at home. I’m angry at them for not helping when I didn’t ask for help, even though the key difference here is I don’t think they were aware I was under attack while I’m fully aware Minas Tirith is about to be under siege, but not that angry.” If he’s assuming he will find himself on the battlefield, he’s an irrational dick for not just gathering his Riders right now so he has about a week to marshal an army and prepare his campaign instead of three days.
Well, say what you will, I have to give Vezely props for honesty. Though you could rightfully argue that there’s no real sense in lying here… I’m actually surprised Vezely genuinely feels Sauron’s promise – which I talked about shortly before – had a decent chance to work. She’s had decades, if not centuries, to ponder the fact Sauron took everything from her; wouldn’t that make virtually everyone determined to destroy him? Don’t get me wrong, I understand she wants her army and dominion over Rhûn back, but wouldn’t revenge be the top priority? Actually, THAT would’ve been awesome: Vezely returning East before the end of the war, somehow (admittedly, I can’t think of a way) take back the Easterling armies and then march them against Sauron to fight alongside Westerners. Hell, why not? Well, as I admitted myself, probably not because it’d be hard to write around.
Again, we see Vezely’s self-hatred. I’ll get back to that. For now, let’s talk about her own discussion of her time in the desert. She’s talking about what she should’ve been feeling, but that’s always the wrong question to ask. A better question would be: ‘What does it mean that I felt this?’ And to be honest, I flat-out disagree with her. I’m completely with her not being angry at Sauron for killing the blood parents she doesn’t remember at all. In fact, her not remembering because of him would be a better reason to hate him. She did as she was ordered and/or expected to. Essentially, while obviously having strayed from the way of the warrior, she did what a soldier does – two concepts so easily confused. I actually understand guilt wouldn’t be the first thing on her mind. She has just been released after decades of captivity; she’s probably full of bottled up rage and bitterness. Who can blame her? And she’s also hinted to have developed detachment in order to survive mentally. It’s easy to comprehend that when those walls around her collapsed (partially), she was more willing to let anger and hatred in than more difficult things to deal with. Hate could give her strength and keep her going. I don’t mean any of this in a bad way; it’s genuinely clever and interesting and I truly enjoyed it very much.
I feel like I should talk about the next bit, and believe me, I want to, but it’d merely be repetition of what I’ve said before.
Seriously, these Istari assholes need to stop focusing on humility and start training their acolytes for their jobs. Especially in this medieval world, humility has a decent chance of backfiring.
I really liked the talk about the clothes. Did I seriously just write that? But no, for real, it was really good. What I liked was the contrast with her skin, covered in Balchoth tattoos. Her skin – who she is – didn’t change and never will. Well, not in this life, but let’s go with it. Plus, this is all the evidence I need to definitively label Vezely a Balchoth. If she’s anything, she’s that. The last of her people. Her clothes – the circumstances in which she lives – on the other hand? They’re a right mess. However, it’s not because her skin is covered by her clothes, that the clothes change her skin – a lot like how the stars still shine, even behind a cloud. It’s brilliant; it’s awesome; I’m a fan.
Okay, now I’m convinced those idiots shouldn’t focus on humility. What if Vezely has a flash of i
Guest chapter 62 . 4/4
Love this more and more each time I read it. Saw you were no longer writing here... :( still, this is wonderful! Thank you.
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 13 . 3/28
Chapter 10: 'Dressed up with Doubts' (Continued)
There’s literally no reason anymore not to call her by her real name.
I do like, though, that each in their own way, Vezely and Gandalf both suck at getting her a place in the West, and each of them knows it about the other. Vezely may have figured it out by now, though she definitely understands well before the end. Gandalf figured Vezely’s deal out already.
What the hell? ‘Much they shared in feminine courage’? So they share one thing and that’s enough to hit it off like that? I agree, Éowyn’s character revolves around being a fighter despite her nation’s customs forbidding it because she’s a woman, but… are we helping the case by reducing her to just that? Hasn’t she still been raised in a very different way from Vezely? Shouldn’t plenty of things about the Balchoth still be shocking to her?
Alright, Vezely reflecting on the names she was given – that she remembers. This is some seriously good stuff. Vezely, as her parents intended, encompasses her origins and her future – even if her future didn’t turn out to be what they expected. And her cynism at ‘Nwalmaer’ was very convincing.
Eorl the Young. Even more fascinating history to explore. This chapter is awesome in its own right. I’ll admit it’s kind of convenient he was all the stereotypes of the perfect King, but that kind of was the implication in the books, as far as I know, so I’m fine with it. The comparison with Théoden was an obvious chance which I believe you were wise not to waste. In the middle of all this ancient lore there’s also one of the (sadly few) moments where Vezely – or any Easterling – treats Western culture with respect: her acknowledging she should ‘let the West have their kings, for it is their way’. It’s not how they do it in the East, but it’s how it’s done here in Rohan. I really liked it.
Vezely’s expectation was essentially to get beheaded as soon as the Rohirrim noticed her. Yes, obviously it’s quite different from that.
I like how Legolas is confused. In the movies, he’s too good to be true, and even in the books that’s not too different. Him being conflicted like a normal being is refreshing. The tied in exposition on Elven love customs doesn’t surprise, but it’s nice. Him having had ‘feelings’ for Vezely since she was in Mirkwood… Well, while I’m not buying it, who’s to say it doesn’t work like that for Elves, or even Men? No, the real problem is… Thranduil knew somehow his son had feelings for Vezely or something, but later it comes as a total shock to him when Legolas and Vezely are a thing. Why?
A drinking competition is something we’d intuitively associate with Dwarves rather than Elves, so it’s actually rather surprising Legolas won, but then you decided to give a good, solid, sensible explanation. I’m genuinely impressed. Also, this is probably why Elves appear to be awesome at whatever they do: they just have the time to train for literally ages and use centuries, even millennia of experience. It’s a really nice touch. Well done.
I’m surprised along with Vezely. How many ales has Éomer had? Because he shouldn’t have any more. Seriously, how drunk must he be to behave like that to Vezely? Well, with what comes next chapter, it may be part of a cover-up. If that’s the case, he overall does a crappy job, but considering he’s essentially a straightforward military man, I’m on board with that.
I liked that we got some payoff for the healing scene in ‘Scars and Wargs’. It was a strong, touching moment.
I am seriously grinning at this: “As long as it doesn’t involve body parts, I’m in.” That was awesome right there. Really well done.
Yeah, there’s a lot to like about this chapter. So what was all the crap about it not being up there with ‘Assumptions’ as I said at the start? Well, the fact of the matter is I wasn’t blown away by this, so to speak, the way I was last chapter. I talked a lot more – I also complained a lot more – because I had the feeling there was something to talk about all the time. Which I liked. So yeah, that’s why I rank this lower. However, this chapter is packed with awesome moments and brilliant lines and it’s definitely something I could re-read a dozen times.
Chapter 11: ‘Decisive Gambling’
After the last two chapters being so awesome, I guess I’m just being overly harsh on this one, but I feel I have a few genuine problems with this one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, or at least alright, just not great, you know? I mean, it’s certainly enjoyable. But there’s something that keeps me from really liking this. Actually two things.
First, the Rohirrim are mostly kind of dicks. Which is kind of weird. The Rohirrim in the movies – and arguably the books – were way more impressive than Gondor. They were both shown and described as brave, noble warriors, though by Éomer’s own admission hot-headed. But Boromir and Faramir in the books both gave Rohan glowing reviews.
Which brings me to another point that makes the premise for this chapter make zero sense. Boromir, in the books, during the Council of Elrond, in response to the news that apparently the Rohirrim pay a tribute of horses to Sauron, says that can’t be true. He knows the Rohirrim and whatever happened to Rohan, they would never buy their lives with horses. He even goes on to state that after their families, the Rohirrim love their horses most. And he’s right about the actual argument; when Éomer makes his debut in the books, Gimli asks about the tribute and Éomer decidedly states Rohan has never given any tribute to Sauron. So maybe Boromir’s also right in his reasoning. Horses are incredibly important to the Rohirrim; their very name means ‘Horse Lords’. In this country, stealing horses should be punishable by death. And no Rohir in the right mind would ever even consider betting his horse. Vezely kind of makes one remark on that, but this generally doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Éomer suddenly remembered he hates Vezely. Well, to be fair, the chapter does start out pretty good. I like all the small things you included there. Where she got the ring, just to name something.
Vezely does realize Éomer would smile finding her dead even without a particular reason to be angry with her, right? And she decides the best thing she could do was leaving him with the thought he lost his horse to her? Seriously, I think Éowyn and Théoden foolishly went too far in their acceptance and made her feel at home to a degree, while they should know better and understand Vezely should be kept sharp because Éomer will jump at a chance to discredit or get rid of her. This is definitely not a risk I would be comfortable taking. I’d try my very best to get Éomer from hatred to neutral disapproval or something, and certainly not anger him. Though I will admit, right after that, we immediately talk about how reckless Vezely is, so I guess that explains something. Still, it’s not a bright idea.
It’s just a brief moment, but I really liked Vezely remembering how hard it was to fit in with the resistance. As I said before, it makes a lot of sense. She’s probably responsible for the deaths of many of these people and their families. The dislike was mutual – which, again, makes sense. You can’t fight each other for centuries and then be best friends in a year. Also, Vezely was used to being a General, to having an actual, strong army at her command, not to be just another pawn in a rebel organization. Some growing pains would be perfectly normal.
I liked the exposition on Elves and their respective ages. It was genuinely interesting. You clearly put a lot of thought into this, which I can commend.
Vezely’s rant was pretty impressive. I’m reminded of the Noldor, who claimed to want to escape the slavery under Manwë. The reply was that if it was slavery, they could not escape it, since Manwë is King of Arda and not just Valinor. Likewise, Vezely can’t escape. Personally, I think Eluréd and Rovian had personal reasons for wanting a child. Would the Valar or Eru be in the habit of interfering in that kind of things? However, what Vezely misses is that the guidance and protection of the gods or Valar lies primarily in the next world, at least since the Fall of Númenor. The gods aren’t completely inactive, but while the rules are vague at best, I can imagine there are rules limiting their power to intervene in Middle-Earth because that would leave Men and Elves and Dwarves and even Sauron and his minions… irrelevant. The Valar are definitely powerful enough to just destroy them, but they are bound by rules. Where were they when so many died because of Sauron’s orders? At the top of Taniquetil, watching and mourning.
A few more words on the matter: Sauron actually does claim, or at least doesn’t deny, to be a god. The Haradrim see him as both god and King. And they may not even be wrong; Sauron is a Maia, like Gandalf and probably all the Istari. The Valar are considered gods, but the Maiar are only one level lower. Maybe all the Ainur qualify as gods. Or maybe the Maiar are half-gods. Also, I really love Sauron and the Istari and White Council being equated here. Vezely’s totally right.
You’re probably expecting me to say something about the ease with which Vezely admits to having provoked the fight, but to be fair, it makes sense. She probably thought he’d figured anyway, and she’s kind of right; he’s not surprised. Legolas’ reaction was kind of neat. The first crack in his either polite or kind demeanor. It’s interesting.
Again, does Thranduil have foresight? Because to foresee this, he’d have to. Now, anyway, this is actually some pretty serious philosophy right here. I’m surprisingly with Vezely, despite all of Legolas’ years. Who we are, at the core, never changes. We just learn along the way, and as we learn, we develop new views on both ourselves and the world. Vezely’s wiser and more experienced than she was under Sauron’s command, but not essentially another person. I’m genuinely smirking at “Well, one thing is different,
NarniaAndMiddle-Earth chapter 12 . 3/27
A very merry Easter!
Chapter 9: 'Assumptions' (Continued):
I mean, the East must’ve had some great leaders, and they’re not seriously such assholes they’re forcing you to fight for your life while you’d actually be happy to step down, right? No one’s that awful, right? Granted, in the West, you’re the leader because you’re born into it and you don’t have a choice, but at the very least you don’t have to be scared of any random person challenging you on authority and being forced to fight over it. Not in theory anyway.
Alright, some philosophy on love. Not my forte, but I’ll give it my all. What I love here is that Vezely, in her very first statement, is right twice. The mistake Aragorn and Vezely both make is that they think it’s an ‘or-or’ thing. It isn’t. Attachment is both a weakness and a stabilizing force. Think of all the ways attachments can work against you. They can make you lose sight of the bigger picture, make you lose control of your emotions, make you easier to manipulate, offer the enemy an opportunity to blackmail you by kidnapping the people you’re attached to and holding them hostage, and I probably haven’t mentioned half the problems. However, people need stability, and without attachments, that’s just not there. It sounds like an enormous benefit to me if you have someone you can come home to and who can help you relax.
Aragorn… I agree with up to a point. Love is strong, certainly, but since it is the fuel for hatred, hate is probably at least equally strong. And the strongest thing a person can feel is fear. Is love strong? Sure. Is it the most powerful force in the world? I don't think so.
On memories, it’s the exact opposite. This time, I actually think Vezely is doubly wrong. Is remembering a luxury? A curse? Both? It’s neither. It’s a necessity. Why? Well, because Aragorn, despite not following it through with that conclusion, rightly states that ‘every moment makes us what we are today’. The past determines a great deal about us. Even a decision to try something new is one you make based on what people taught you when you were a kid, on your culture, on earlier experiences, or even on a decision to rebel against your past. But without your past, there wouldn’t have been anything to rebel against.
Good Valar, please stop calling her ‘Vez’. I’d actually be cool with Éowyn calling Vezely ‘Vez’ to her face as a sign of familiarity and friendship, but she’s politely talking to ‘LORD Aragorn’ about Vezely. Is it anything but appropriate to call her by her actual name?
Is Éowyn qualified to invite people to the banquet to celebrate the fallen warriors? Shouldn’t Éomer and especially Théoden at least get priority, since, you know, they’re actually involved in the army? I mean, it’s fine, don’t get me wrong. This is the Royal palace, and Éowyn is still Royalty. I’m totally okay with that. But Éomer didn’t/couldn’t veto this? Or Théoden gave his blessing? She does know Vezely’s position here is rather complicated, but doesn’t think anyone might be offended by her presence? Like… her brother? And the ‘defiance’ is allowing Vezely in her room, not inviting her to the banquet? Okay. Whatever, I’m thinking too much.
Éowyn and Vezely talking about how bathing goes on campaigns in mixed armies I actually rather liked. It felt fairly natural, it was interesting, it was good. Excellent work.
First off, as I pointed out before, Vezely now pretty admits to having lied to Vezely earlier, when she said in the East (in general) no one cared if you’re a girl. However, what astonishes me: "I wish I could say that women are considered men's equals in the East, but that fight is still not won.” Is that considered a fight to be won? Do people like the Balchoth keep whining to the other Clans about how they should change their gender politics? Is this like the West shoving Enlightenment down everyone’s throats in our world? If so, why has no one decided: ‘Those guys are annoying. Let’s kill them’? Even for peaceful people, it’s natural to react fiercely when your way of life is threatened. What further invitation do these badass trained from birth warriors from highly militarized cultures who enjoy battle need? And if there actually was a big war about that, then either the Clans that do accept women should’ve lost and no one would use them for the military again, or the Clans that don’t accept women should’ve lost and the entire East should’ve submitted to Balchoth practice.
So… the Rohirrim used to teach their womenfolk to wield swords, but that never lead to a woman making a name for herself on the battlefield? Okay. Just so I understand.
And, as always, I’m a big fan of Vezely’s backstory. So, props to you! Also, the mask of strength and indifference she’s keeping up – despite her protests indicating she does care – is falling off. Which makes sense. With all her emotional luggage, it doesn’t take much to really get to her. This is plain good.
This chapter’s title sums it up. Both are my favorite so far. This chapter is truly about assumptions – assumptions about and originating in different cultures, but also assumptions people in this situation would always naturally make. This title spells so much promise, and it delivers beautifully. This is incredible in its beauty. And it made me love Vezely, even if only for a little while, and that says something.
Chapter 10: ‘Dressed up with Doubts’
I really like this title. And the chapter to go with it was pretty interesting. Okay, it isn’t up there with last chapter, but that’s really unfair. It’s still really good.
Vezely scolding herself for her emotion was very good. It felt natural, considering we’ve just been told last chapter what the Balchoth thought about emotions, even love. I love seeing Balchoth Vezely.
Seriously, I understand the tactical reasoning behind Vezely’s relocation Gandalf gave before, but this sounds plain cruel. They’re forcing her into a culture she has zero feeling with and to embrace Western kin she doesn’t know at all – apart from her blood parents, maybe, but those are dead. No wonder she can be cranky.
Vezely’s trouble fitting in the West I understand, but what really adds a new dimension is her no longer having a place in Rhûn. This would actually be a good thing to exact vengeance on Sauron for. Surely he could’ve saved the Balchoth, but he left them to their demise. Then he turned directly against Vezely. Her no longer having a place in the world is his fault, and his alone. Fighting under Sauron, she was either a Balchoth warrior or desperate for a new position. As for the West, she doesn’t want to want to belong there, because she realizes, as she told Thranduil, she’s Balchoth, not a real Elf. She’ll never truly be accepted. At the very least, that’s what she thinks, and honestly, that’s a reasonable assumption.
I actually understand why she hates empathy. Empathy suggests that the harsh warrior is a mask, or at least not all she is. But to her, the warrior is the core of her being. That’s what her parents raised her to be. And having lost so much already, she doesn’t want that questioned.
Vezely’s dislike of dresses was at the same time weirdly awesome and weirdly hilarious. The very image of Vezely in a dress has me smirking, and her thoughts on the matter really don’t do anything to change that. At the same time, it's genuinely cool and clever. She’s right in a lot of ways; just from the looks I can tell dresses aren’t practical. That’s not what they were designed for, either. Also, if you put someone in a dress, I’m not going to take them seriously as warriors. Éomer’s reaction was brilliant and very natural, though he did keep his guard up around her – and who can blame him? He’s probably freaked out, and so would I.
Alright, I should talk about the story of the Corsair fleet. Personally, I really liked it. It showed off Vezely’s intelligence, tactical ingenuity and resourcefulness. Also, apparently the Blue Wizards are so influential among the Eastern Resistance they managed to keep all those people, who probably lost family to Vezely, from killing her instantly – making me slightly more annoyed at Gandalf bothering with the ‘Vez’ crap.
Then there was the tiny added bit of backstory for Gimli and his family. That was good. Though… Dwalin was Balin’s brother, right? I mean, the movies clearly told us, and if anything, Balin looked like he was the elder of the two. And I think them being brothers was in the book. Add to that the fact that in the movie ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ Gimli said twice: “my cousin Balin.” So how’s Dwalin his uncle? I’m sorry, I guess it just bugs me because you obviously know your Tolkien and such a mistake is unbecoming of you. I know you’re better than that, but even the best make mistakes.
Rhûn being united the way it was described here was really good. In fact, the Clans were happy and frankly better off divided. It’s like the aristocrats in France: in the feudal age, they even waged war on each other, but each had his own, things didn’t get too much out of hand, there was internal trade. However, Louis XIV reduced the great aristocracy of France, once the flower of Christendom, to a clique with himself at the center, brought together at court. And ever since the nobles prostituted themselves, their only concern being to appease the King. I don’t want to push the parallel too far, and I hope I didn’t offend anyone, but it’s slightly reminiscent of a few actual historical developments, which makes it more believable.
Hell, even more awesomeness coming up! It’s a cool idea that in Rhûn – and probably Harad – there are tales of light-skinned demons who took what belonged to the Haradrim and the Easterlings, thieves, unreliable and weak or something. Théoden keeps being awesome. He’s rational and reasonable, despite his shared stereotypes of Easterlings. What I don’t like as much is that Gandalf STILL insists on calling her ‘Vez’. Please, stop. There’s literally no reason anymore not to call h
Randirwen chapter 62 . 2/25
Suil!
I began reading your amazing story quite some time ago, and only recently made an account on here after a long, long absence from the site. I just wanted to tell you how absolutely enthralled I was while reading your story! Your plot was so carefully constructed and refined; it went far beyond the simple Legolas/OFC romances that Fanfiction seems to be overflowing with. The way you wove the dynamics and complexities of cultures attempting to reconcile with a dark history overshadowing them (whether it was between two people or two realms) had me ridiculously excited in anticipation to read how everything would play out.
Thank you for putting so much time and effort to create such a remarkable piece of fiction that so many found enjoyable. It was a true delight to read, and I hope you will continue to do so!
Randirwen o Eryn Lasgalen
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
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