Reviews for The shadow and the gold
Sauron Gorthaur chapter 1 . 11/18/2013
Wow, this is magnificent! It’s a stunning character study as well as a beautifully written and poignant one-shot. I really enjoyed every moment of reading it. You clearly put a good deal of time and effort into thinking about Loki’s character and motives, and all of it was extremely well spent. I’m fairly new to the Thor movie fandom, though I’ve loved Norse mythology and Loki in particular for most of my life, but I was blown away by the depth of your portrayal of Loki here.

Where do I start? There is *so* much going on here that I’m still a bit in awe of it. First, I’d like to heartily second what The Wayfaring Strangers said in their reviews: you do a fabulous job of balancing Loki’s character, showing both the light and the dark (as the title suggests), and avoiding simultaneously a monstrous Loki with no redeeming values AND a fluffy teddy-bear Loki who you want to cuddle and pat on the head and tell that everything’s all right. In short, I think you nailed the character from the movie. I think that balance is part of what makes Loki such an intriguing (and popular) character – it is for me, at least. You can sympathize with him, you can feel deeply sorry for him, while at the same time not condoning his deeds or brushing aside the fact that he is the villain. You wrote that perfectly. I could feel his pain and anguish (much of it completely understandable) but at the same time, there’s a darkness, pride, selfishness, bitterness, and anger radiating from him that makes me shiver.

As I’ve noticed you do with many of your stories (and something I really like about the way you write) distinct themes emerge. I love you’ve weaved the themes of longing, shadows, and cold into Loki’s character, into the setting, and into the fabric of this one-shot. Loki’s intense longing for a purpose and a place is heart-rending. I think this is (another) reason for Loki’s popularity; he’s so human (ironically) in many ways. Each and every one of us wants to feel like we belong, that we have a purpose and a destiny, that we have a reason to live. Obviously, Loki had problems beforehand, but clearly the moment he snaps is when he realizes he doesn’t belong (or he perceives that he doesn’t belong) and never has (and never will.) The throne becomes Loki’s symbol of purpose, the place where he thinks he can be fulfilled and become what he was meant to be, and all through this one-shot, as in the movie, I can feel him longing for it.

And yet, the terribly sad thing is that the throne DOESN’T fulfill him. If anything is stronger than Loki’s longing here, it’s that terrible sense of purposelessness that pursues him wherever he goes. I was amazed at how powerfully you portrayed that: both his sense of purposelessness and his fear/hate of it. It’s everywhere in this one-shot. From the very start, the throne “that I craved and now find wanting” to the end where he has “no royal task save to stare into the shadows.” Your word choices all throughout the story play into this: “useless,” “empty,” “hollow,” “listless,” “meandering,” along with such powerful sentences as “My pace is swifter now, though it has gained no purpose.” and “I am utterly alone.” As he is chased from room to room, as he tries to “escape,” this listless meaninglessness of his life as he perceives it pursues him relentlessly. It’s so tragic. Nothing can satisfy him and he knows it. I think that’s got to be one of the most terrible fates: to feel that you have no reason for living, no purpose for being where you are, and not belonging anywhere. Finding out about his real parentage only solidified what I think Loki always felt. No wonder he goes a bit insane.

I know I’ve said it before, but you have a stunning way with language, and I think that works exceptionally well here. Loki the silver-tongued would have an elaborate and gilded vocabulary, and the opulence of the language fits his character well. As I pointed out above, you really take care with your word choices and all of them reflect Loki’s character, as does the imagery. “dying brazier,” “a red that whispers lies about what lurks beneath my flesh,” “spreading her nine branches across them like a spider's clever web,” “Odin drowns in a golden sea,” “Odin's three tortured ellipses,” “still shivering for the torment of the wind” – the vocabulary and imagery of Loki is of death, trickery, and torment everywhere he turns…so appropriate for such a broken, tortured character.

And I loved the repeated imagery of shadows and cold that appear numerous times throughout, again very symbolic of Loki’s plight and inability to escape and appropriate imagery for the darker side of Loki’s own nature. I thought this sentence was particularly powerful: “Braziers and torches mounted on the gleaming walls toss quivering shadows on the floor, merging my own shade with those leaking out from darkened rooms to shroud my path.” You do a fantastic job of merging the shadow/cold themes with Loki’s own personal demons. It’s truly chilling (no pun intended :)

Although this is mostly a character study for Loki, I also liked the two brief interactions that he has with other characters. The small flashback between him and Thor was well-placed and powerful, and does such a great job of illustrating the difference between the two: optimistic Thor who keeps his doors open, who won’t give up on his goals or the people he loves, and Loki who shuts himself away, mentally and physically, who selfishly tries to achieve what he can never truly have or appreciate, who refuses to see what’s right in front of him: that he DOES have a family and a home and a place. And the moment with the four lines engraved in the wall – that is a fantastic example of showing versus telling, that vivid contrast between devoted little brother Loki so long ago and the bitterness, anger, and hate of grown Loki. The line – “the four fine lines that have outlasted my love for Thor” – gave me chills. As the throne has become Loki’s symbol for everything he (thinks) will fulfill him and make him feel like he has a purpose, so Thor has become his symbol for everything that stands in his way. Thor, the real son of Odin and Frigga, Thor, the future king of Asgard – this goes so far to show Loki’s motives behind his malice toward Thor. And that chilling final sentence! Loki tries to make himself taller by knocking other people down. No wonder he can’t lift the Hammer.

And finally, I really loved that touching scene with Loki watching Frigga. We’ve all had those moments where we read our own situations, plights, and fears into something, and in that moment, Loki is heart-breakingly vulnerable. I really felt for him in that moment: where he wants desperately to hear those words spoken about him but then it all comes crashing down around him.

Well, if you can’t tell, I immensely enjoyed the whole thing :) This was a brilliant portrayal of Loki, and a beautiful and emotional (if rather depressing) one-shot. I hope you will consider writing more about Loki in the future because you certainly have a knack for it. Keep writing!

-Sauron Gorthaur
Mornen chapter 1 . 7/2/2013
"The smile that twists my lips is mirthless as I trace the delicate knife-strokes, the four fine lines that have outlasted my love for Thor." - Oh, that's so sad...I almost feel like crying.

"How far will prove that Thor is nothing?" - Crackers, you amaze me. There is so much emotion in this work. There is so much to understand and open.

This was written in such a delicate, tragic way. There was so much care in the story. I loved it. The descriptions were biting. The feeling was intense. Beautiful, beautiful writing here.
The Wayfaring Strangers chapter 1 . 6/28/2013
eee...Eee...EEEEEE! It's so awesome it burns! Finally! A well-characterized Loki fic! I will treasure it always! Crackers, you are the best. All the descriptions... I have no words. in fact, I am of the opinion that you took all the good words and put them in this fic. That *must* be why I don't have any.

It's so Loki to run away from his problems. This whole fic is so Loki. I don't think there's anything I would change about it, and I'm picky.

I especially liked: 'I lift my gaze from my own stretched shadow, look left, and freeze where I stand. My brother's door is shut; he has never liked closed doors. ("They imprison those on both their sides," he once said, opening mine, "or speak of secrets when there are none.")' And also how there is the theme of fours. Also this: 'Rooftops cast in gold and silver stretch to the coastline, where obsidian waves lap forever against the stones. Far from the shore, starlight dances on their crests, a thousand mirrors for the indigo sky. Asgard, infinite and beautiful; Asgard, mine now and always. Thor, I am not sorry.' It has such wonderful cadence, like a poem, waiting to be poemified.

Thank you so much; this is a wonderful present. It's tied for best present of the day. :)
DarthMihi

Wow! This is ...amazing. I think this is the best characterization of Loki that I have ever seen. Most people don't understand his motives or his reactions very well, or seem to understand that he has flaws just like the rest of us. But you've done a marvelous job (no pun intended!) with this very complex character. In short: you managed to simultaneously avoid Saintly!Loki and Insane/Evil!Loki. I applaud you. Loki is hard.

I really like how, in this story, it's Frigga talking about Thor that finally drives Loki over the edge of regret and sanity. He thinks that no one cares about him, but they do: he's just too good at hiding his emotions and then gets mad no-one seems to notice. His family just can't tell that he's falling apart - if they could they would do something about it. But Loki doesn't know that.

Anyway. That was my character dissertation on Loki. Thank you so very much for writing this fic! It's beautiful and terrible and, as Mihi said, could very easily become a poem.

My favorite line: 'Asgard, infinite and beautiful; Asgard, mine now and always. Thor, I am not sorry.' I also really liked the next couple of lines - maybe a part of Loki's reason for attacking Midgard was to prove that Thor was nothing.

All in all, this is a great fic and Mihi and I hugely enjoyed reading it. Thank you!

RandomCelt
Ruadhnait chapter 1 . 6/28/2013
*dissolves into tears* LOKI WHY MUST YOU KILL ME LIKE THIS

I love your descriptions; they're always so wonderfully vivid and striking. I will admit that this is a different portrayal of Loki than what I'm used to, but I like it very much. Very, very much.

Everything about this was just about perfect... seems that this is setting the stage for the storm that will come later! *shivers* *still crying*