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A White Shell  by Celeritas 47 Review(s)
LarnerReviewed Chapter: 11 on 7/1/2013
So wonderful to see this updated again at last, Celeritas! Delightful to see the family beginning to make it up at last, and for her to learn of her father, if obliquely. And Tom is still Tom. Oh, dear, her birthday presents to him are so intended to prod at him! He needs to realize that not all to do with reading and writing will drag her away from him, and he might just come closer to her in a positive way if he learns, also.

Author Reply: Thanks for the review! And Kira does love to prod Tom, doesn't she?

If the family's making up, it really is just the beginning stages. Kira at least hasn't ever borne any ill-will toward them, and Mother's allowing this in large part because Kira has a point about their financial support. But hopefully it's a first step.

DreamflowerReviewed Chapter: 11 on 7/1/2013
At last!

For some reason I kept getting logged out when I tried to review. Very odd. But it's not just SoA--some of my other sites were doing that too. *shakes head and blames Titivilus*

This is a great chapter to begin with, after a hiatus. There are enough bits to remind the reader of what was going on before, but not overwhelmingly so, and while the story (and Kira) are still in "waiting mode" for the wedding, you are moving forward with the character development quite well.

Kira and her mother are getting along much better still, in spite of Kira's continuing dishonesty and Rosemary's preferring to interpret things her way. I was pleased to see her defend her mother and her upbringing to her father's relatives.

I can't help but wonder, though, what Tom has told her mother. Will it improve things or make them worse? Knowing Tom, I'm guessing the latter, especially given Rosemary's hints afterwards.

I have to keep reminding myself of how young Kira is. A way in which you were quite brilliant with this was showing her reactions to her father's diary; her impatience with the "tweenishness" of it all only underscores her own "tweenishness" if she but knew it!

Still, I find myself dreading the wreckage that is inevitable when her mother finally understands how much and for how long her daughter's been deceiving her!

Author Reply: Yeah, SoA has a tendency to boot people out for reviewing.

The "waiting mode" chapters are really tough to write, because they still have to have some sense of direction and I don't always know what that is as I'm writing it. So I'm glad you sensed the characters moving forward.

I'm also really glad that Kira is coming across as young and inexperienced, because a lot of literature dealing with adolescents treats them as mini-adults. Protagonists should be allowed to be stupid--although they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it forever.

As for what Tom has or hasn't said... well, that's for a later chapter, isn't it?

goldvermilion87Reviewed Chapter: 11 on 6/29/2013
Way to get my hopes up about Tom!

But I really like the subtle way you're working in Kira's history. And I love her dad's diary.

Author Reply: Anytime. :)

And in two chapters, Kira's dad's diary is going to get reeeeeal interesting.

Thanks for the review!!

demeter dReviewed Chapter: 10 on 11/26/2012
(oooh,dear. if i would have read the other reviews first,...of course she would be SAM'S Goldilocks. ooops.) Another connection you have inspired here. Your Halbarad, like his namesake of old, is "only" the second-in-line for the "crown" as it were. Unless something drastic happens to big brother Alaric, little Hal will likely spend his life serving his people as his brother the Thain's loyal right hand. And also... Grandfather Faramir was trying to get the older grandson interested in the tales to be found in the books. I wonder if he was aware of the parallels between your two Hobbit lads and his namesake and His older brother. The older, the one born to rule, is not so anxious to be wasting his life away with boring books. The younger is the one who loves the old tales.
And speaking of Boromir, I think Kira now has a similar opportunity to make amends for a personal mistake by service to young ones. If she can become indeed a living replacement for the lost book of tales, and nudge an appreciation for them into the future Thain, she will be doing a service for yet another generation of the Shire. Tales will become legends, and legends, myth. Probably nothing will stop that. But it is good to keep the eye witness on history accounts alive for as long as we can.

Author Reply: Yep, Goldilocks comes straight from canon, and yes, she's Faramir Took's widow.

I don't want to say too much more about the Took family dynamics, because it's something that I hope to develop much more deeply, and indirectly, in greater detail. But Alaric is not quite in the same situation as Boromir, because even if Thainship is a military position, the Shire is snug and smack-dab in the middle of a very well-off kingdom, not the first line of defense against Sauron. I think Alaric would reject notions of warfare as much as he's rejecting books, simply because other people would by trying to foist them upon him since it's his "duty" to know them.

Oh, and something I forgot to mention--there is evidence of an oral tradition of post-Rings tales in Tolkien--MAD BAGGINS! (Again... I don't think hobbits are inherently that committed to their history!)

demeter dReviewed Chapter: 10 on 11/26/2012
A huge, tall bed in an alcove off of Gerontius Took's study? I will bet that Gerointius's occasional, much beloved WIZARD houseguest used THAT bed! In which case, the former occupant would have been delighted to have it full of young Hobbits hearing tales of that great adventure. I have picked up so many thoughts from this chapter. For one, what a treasure we have in inexpensive, mass-printed, pine-pulp paper books! When my children "loved to death" their
favorite Dr. Suess or Little Golden Books, I could usually find a bookstore, or even a discount department store to give us another copy, for mere money! No weeks or months of copying by hand required.
And concerning the telling of tales, compared to reading them. Are any of you readers familiar with the premise of Ray Bradbury's "Farenheit 451"?. The colony of people who were dedicated to preserving books did so by committing them to memory! That way there would be no paper or parchment copys subject to decay or wanton destruction! Over generations of oral transmission, changes are bound to occur, but the essence of the tales generally remains. And an oral tale can still be shared even if you run out or batteries for the Kindle or a hurricane takes the power out for a month! I have not given you many reviews. I am not so good at keeping up with longer tales. I try to limit internet reading in a vain attempt to spend more time in Real Life than Middle Earth. (A lost couse, I'm afraid!) One last question. "Goldilocks Took" is Thain Auluin's mother, correct? Now is she Pippin's DAUGHTER, or Faramir Took's widow, Pippin's daughter-in-law and SAM'S daugter?

Author Reply: The giant bed was actually inspired by the Great Bed of Ware in the Victoria & Albert museum in London--a giant sized bed originally from an inn in Ware apparently used as a destination gimmick. The thing is huge, and it occurred to me that that size of "huge" would be about a queen or king-sized bed to a hobbit--easy enough to pick up from a carpenter out in Bree. Gandalf might well have used it, but I doubt he was the only person that did.

One of the things I appreciate about LotR is how obviously it is not a culture of the written word--one that we didn't really get until Gutenberg and paper made books affordable. So it actually makes sense for people like Faramir to have no clue that the theoretical weapon that he wouldn't pick up if it were laying by the highway was that Ring that maybe some scribe transcribed accurately from these really old documents, if that wasn't just a legend, etc. Information traveled so much more slowly when all we had to rely upon was word of mouth and hand-copied transmission.

Of course, even if you don't have paper or parchment, an oral culture will only work as well as the people dedicated to transmitting it (same with a hand-copied transmission culture, come to think of it--it's only after print came along that we didn't have to worry so much about information being lost forever). And hobbits were apparently never too dedicated to that--they don't have any memory of their history before the settlement of the Shire, and can only tease it away with some slight etymological reflections on their unique words. This is supposed to be an advantage, since they disappeared out of everyone else's stories, too, allowing them to escape the Enemy's notice for a long time, but it's clear that Frodo, at least, wanted to change that.

I'm sorry about blathering on at you for a time--don't worry about sporadic reviews or anything! I'm far worse with the sporadic updates!

DreamflowerReviewed Chapter: 10 on 11/26/2012
At last!

I finally got to read this chapter yesterday, but for some reason I kept getting logged out.

I loved this chapter--you picked up so seamlessly where you left off that I had no trouble remembering what had been happening (always a question when there's bee a long hiatus!) and I could plunge right into the story.

Kira's story about the "prince" was rather startling, and it took me a few lines to get where she was going with it. Once I did, I just shook my head at her.

She's so adolescent in this: defiant and rebellious, even where there's really no need to be, because she makes assumptions about people based on her biases and her own personal feelings about things. And yet we also see her true common sense and sense of fairness, when she readily acknowledges herself in the wrong and is willing to apologize. That's not common in adolescence, and a great many adults never learn that lesson either.

Goldilocks was right: the Tooks were remarkably polite, gracious and forebearing in the wake of Kira's quite deliberate rudeness. I think that she's the real "star" of this chapter, and when she appeared I literally shouted "Hah!" at the computer screen! And I think her standing as Sam's daughter gave her a cachet with Kira that was necessary, and enabled her to see herself as in the wrong rather than wronged. I do not think that this indicates her opinion of the Thain's decision has changed, but rather that perhaps she realized that her reaction to it was out of proportion, especially after all this time.

The confrontation with Alaric was lovely. I adore her scorn at his attitude towards reading and history--and the poem was beautiful! Congratulations on it--it's quite perfect, and I think needs its own separate entry! One of Isengar's, I assume? Or at least about Isengar?

I look forward to seeing where this leads! I'm so glad you are fully back!

Author Reply: Well, it helped, I guess, that I left off at a "cliffhanger."

Also, Kira is so much fun to write when she's feeling tweenish, especially when she's in full "snark" mode. It might have read better against Alaric, though, because that's slightly more justified than insulting the Thain in his own home.

As far as Kira's willingness to admit that she is wrong, and apologize: I credit that to her original transformation as a reader. Once you're willing to admit you were wrong about one thing, it's easier to come to terms that you were wrong with another. Although, perhaps, that isn't entirely accurate to real life: I can think of many people who went through One Epic Transformation in their teens and then were so convinced that they had discovered the Absolute Truth that they could never be wrong again. So maybe it's different for hobbits, or maybe it's just Kira. Ah, well--I did want to create a dynamic character who was more like the role models in the stories I read in my youth and actually became better people by the end of the story.

But Kira definitely would not have been able to come to that realization for at least a week if Goldilocks hadn't been there to pound it into her. She really is the hidden star in this chapter! And no, Kira hasn't changed her mind about the Thain--she's just realized that there's no real reason to be rude to him when there are other people around.

The strange smell (sea salt/brine) and the weatherbeaten cover were both indicators that the entire book came from Isengar, so yes, that is his poem.

And I'm looking forward to writing the next chapter!

walkerskyeReviewed Chapter: 10 on 11/25/2012
Thank you! Finally I get to know more about Kira. She's become one of my favorite original characters in Stories of Arda. Please keep the stories coming, Im as eager to jear them as Kira is to tell them.

Author Reply: Thanks! I should have another chapter out sooner rather than later (think: three months, rather than six) because the next bit I'm drafting is Kerry and Sandra's wedding, and I already have a lot of the wedding customs sketched out. We'll see how quickly I can get it done!

LarnerReviewed Chapter: 10 on 11/25/2012
I rejoice to see another chapter of this after so long! I've missed hearing from you on occasion! Poor Alaric has been duly chastened, I think. I hope he takes it to heart, realizing it was his great grandfather he was reading about and not some long-dead hero with nothing to do with him. Hal was darling, and LOVE the appearance of Goldilocks in all of this! Her awareness of her father's devotion to duty as him apparently never sleeping is marvelous! Am also glad that Kira apologized. That was a necessity.

Author Reply: I'm happy to finally be back in my writer's seat as well!

I hope Alaric starts learning as well, but you can only learn things if you want to.

And I think Goldilocks was the secret star in this particular chapter. I'm really proud of how she turned out.

Thanks so much for your review, Larner!

VirtuellaReviewed Chapter: 9 on 2/1/2011
I was thinking of the Red Book. It's not there anymore, but it's left its mark.

Author Reply: That makes sense. When you mentioned the idea in the review, I think my mind went off into half a dozen flights of fancy on anything and everything else from the past that isn't here anymore, but you can still see the tangible effects of their impact--Kira's father, the Book, the people who wrote and participated in the plot of the Book, the prisoners in the Lockholes, the old course of the Ash River before the ruffians diverted it, etc.

VirtuellaReviewed Chapter: 9 on 2/1/2011
//a loaf of bread, partly hollowed and filled with soft cheese; summer sausage//

Deary me, not a very healthy diet! They should take some fresh vegg from their garden! ;-)

The psychology is very good again in this chapter. Great to get a glimpse into the life of Kira's father. And I loved the detail that the pressed flower was not in the book, but the outline could be seen. Very symbolic. :)

Author Reply: I was trying to stick to things that would travel well--although they don't have far to go, and (from my vague impressions of seasons, which are completely thrown off because of the different climate) I don't know if apples and the like would be in yet. At any rate, there are 5 other meals in the day for them to get their essentials in.

You know, I hadn't consciously intended the flower to be symbolic, but you do have a point there! Thanks for the review!

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