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Great Oaks  by Bodkin 17 Review(s)
lwarrenReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/16/2007
*sighs with the delight of it all* Oh Bodkin, ever since you introduced 'the Lady' in Far Horizons, I have been fascinated by her character. Mystical, magical, fey, powerful...Laerwen is something else and a perfect match for Thranduil! Although, I think maybe they both grew into that power that seems to emanate from them in later stories...hmmmmm.

Well, anyway I loved this first meeting between these two. LOVE at first sight indeed! :-) I loved Faroth, the tree flyer - you could sense his excitement and joy and freedom in flying through the trees and his patient horse following below LOL was just a perfect touch. Laerwen's grandmother - wow! No wonder Faroth almost fell off that branch...the whispered stories of his people come to life! I loved that she was checking out this 'Sinda boy' that has caught her granddaughter's eye (and heart). Then that meeting between the two, when Laerwen steps out of the trees and becomes real. *sighs again* I am pea-green with envy at the way you are able to describe the forest and the way the elves interact with it, Bodkin - you paint such marvelous pictures with your words and the forest becomes a character all its own. The whole story is just great - we get little glimpses of Oropher and his wife and hints of great events to come! Wonderful...absolutely wonderful!


Author Reply: Oh yes, I think the power took time to twine itself round their essential personalities. Although their marriage alone probably exposed them both to different strengths and brought out elements in themselves they were barely aware of up until that point. And - having the Lady already in my head - Laerwen had to be more than a simple elleth! She was the heir of a Silvan culture and power that the Sindar barely touched. Even Oropher doesn't work at quite such an instinctive level, I think.

Faroth - just announced himself and then refused to take anything very seriously. Except, that it, an unexpected meeting with an elf who was more myth than reality, even to her own people. I have a feeling that she generally dwells in vast forests to the east - and made an unusual journey west to check out these Sindar princes who ruled the Greenwood and see whether Thranduil was suitable as a match for her granddaughter.

One of the things I love about writing elves is the possibilities inherent in the relationship they have with the living world - they interact on a level that is just not there when dealing with other species.

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Linda, and I'm so pleased to hear from you. I hope the kiddies aren't putting you off your own writing, because I'm still looking forward to hearing more about Legolas and his beautiful golden mare! And the delightful family they found on their adventures.

elliskaReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/10/2007
Oh I am so happy to have found this! Thranduil is wonderful in it, I loved his interaction with the others in his scouting party and I was laughing about his reaction to living in a hole in the ground, and then I got to the mysterious woman. Wonderful! This was just incredible! I just loved it!

Author Reply: Thank you, elliska! And seeing what a gorgeous Thranduil you write, I'm glad you liked it! It originally started with a section where Thranduil and his mother were talking - and I had to take it out ... But that has turned into a little sapling of its own that might get posted at some point. It's interesting, too, how having written people at different stages then ties your hands when you go back to write them earlier in their lives. Laerwen had to be Silvan and powerful - or she couldn't have become the Lady of Far Horizons.

perellethReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/1/2007
I have been thinking of this tale for the whole week. I really really love the fairy-talesque flavour of it. Even for Sindar wood elfs were strange stuff... and the way THranduil´s was picked up by his bride'to'be and her grandmother has a lot to do with the prince in fairy tales and the rincess of his dreams. THat was what he had been searching for. I really loved that, and, of course, the way you write trees...and the feeling of the living forest. This was really superb, Bodkin, enthralling.

Author Reply: You are, to a large degree, responsible for some of my thoughts about sustainability and the relationship between elves and the forest! While, once you start thinking about trees, they clearly have different personalities ...

It's interesting to turn things round sometimes - and wonder what made the Sindar rule of Lasgalen more acceptable to Oropher than the Noldor kingdoms of Beleriand. It couldn't possibly just be because he was the one in charge, now could it? And Thranduil is intelligent enough - and close enough to the forest - to wonder about these things. (Although I think his strong bond to the forest came partly through his bond with his wife - and that's interesting, too.)

Thank you, Perelleth. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Nieriel RainaReviewed Chapter: 1 on 3/1/2007
Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing such a lovely tale.


Author Reply: Thank you, Nieriel. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Maybe sometime I'll get round to taking the part that was edited out - and introducing Thranduil's parents to the story!

CeanaReviewed Chapter: 1 on 2/26/2007
That was absolutely beautiful. I loved it. What a wonderful story about how Legolas' parents met. You write the Elves' connection to nature so beautifully. Actually, rather magically. Well done.

Author Reply: Thank you, Ceana. Legolas's mother appears in ... odd bits of story here and there and she is clearly a Silvan elf with a very strong connection with the forest. It was interesting to speculate on how she first came into Thranduil's life!

JastaElfReviewed Chapter: 1 on 2/26/2007
OMG this is superb... so beautifully done, so lovely, so well written....

‘Tell me all you know of the Sindar boy of Elu’s house.’

*shivers* OMG what a great line.... :-)

I adore this. It is gorgeous. The characterizations are brilliant, the story perfect... you continue to stun and delight me!!

Thank you SO much....

Author Reply: Thank you, Jasta! There was a moment when this was frustrating me dreadfully - it just wasn't going anywhere. But if you like it, it can't be that bad!

I'm so pleased you enjoyed it. And very flattered by the praise!

DotReviewed Chapter: 1 on 2/24/2007
I can’t believe you were going to scrap this. It’s just perfect. But I’m sorry if it was frustrating for you – that was probably my fault for choosing Thranduil :-/

I really love this story. First off, I adore Faroth! What a great character. He’s hilarious with all of his my lord-ing Thranduil. And he’s just so full of life.

The opening is beautiful. There’s such a sense of contentment. I love how you give the types of trees different characteristics and voices.

I like this Thranduil who takes his task very seriously but not himself. His thoughts about the difference between Silvan and Sindar are very interesting. These Silvan intrigue me! I’m enchanted by the image of them disappearing back into the forest if they felt they were putting a strain on any one part.

What a fascinating discussion between Corudír and the other elves. It’s really rather moving to glimpse the early days of Oropher’s settlement in the Greenwood when they were so determined and so hopeful to just dwell peacefully in the forest, becoming part of it. You’re so good at the practicalities that are involved too. I think I’d be useless at that! Finding the balance between what the Silvan want and what the Sindar need must be incredibly difficult.

I was starting to wonder too if there were any settlements of elves there already when they hadn’t come across any. I like how you have Thranduil worry that he and his people might be seen as intruders. It seems a horrific thought to him to behave like the Exiles. And he shows such wisdom and insight to the needs of people and balancing that with the land around them.

I absolutely love these descriptions: The oak hummed reassuringly, its steady pulse finding its echo in his blood and relaxing him to the point that he began to drift into a pleasant haze. […] The throb of the oak, the humming of a canopy of bees, the chirruping song of a hundred watchful small birds combined to soothe him like a lullaby. He sighed, leaning his fair head back against the rough bark and drew in a grateful breath of sun-warmed green. Just gorgeous. It’s so elfy and comforting.

The next part, with Thranduil waking to find himself being watched, was delightfully unsettling! I had to stop myself from scrolling down at that point…

In fact, he would not be at all surprised to discover that his father had decided this would be an excellent lesson for his only son in the impossibility of satisfying everyone. LOL!! Nice glimpse of Oropher’s character there!

Gosh I love Faroth. I actually found myself smiling at him just because he seemed so full of joy as he raced through the trees. And I really like the idea that suddenly this all felt completely right as they began to follow Thranduil’s instincts and go east.

And look what he’s stumbled across! I nearly fell off my seat when he leapt right onto the branch where this lady that he’d only heard tales of was standing.

It was a wonderfully magical moment when Thranduil spots Laerwen. I just love the idea that he’s known within himself who he was seeking and now he’s found her. It just goes to show the role played by fate too. These two were destined to meet. And I suppose that proves that Oropher’s people are meant to stay in this forest.

‘You have brought a carrot?’ LOL!! Of course, the moment didn’t stay magical for long :-)

I’m grinning here at the sight of Thranduil so completely besotted. She’s so beautiful and foreign and light-hearted and he’s completely overcome. I laughed when he realised that he didn’t even know her name. I hadn’t actually noticed that – there could be no doubt that this is the same Lady of the woods in Aman.

Faroth’s teasing about ellyth and grandchildren was rather close to the bone! I was beginning to think that we wouldn’t see Laerwen again in this story, even though she’s clearly been filling Thranduil’s thoughts since that one brief encounter.

Poor Faroth! Obviously he knew they’d had an interest in Thranduil but his friend said nothing. LOL, what a surprise the proposal must have been!

But what a beautiful, perfect ending. The whole story was just lovely. I love seeing this side of Thranduil and especially seeing glimpses of him alone and content amongst he trees. And it feels like such a privilege to witness the first meeting between him and Laerwen. What a powerful pair they’ll make. Clearly, the females in her family are very influential. You’ll have to show us more of the two of them together :-) Thank you so much for this story. I’m sure I’ve left out loads but I love it. It’s one to be read over and over.

Author Reply: Thank you, Dot! There's nothing wrong with wanting Thranduil - nothing at all! And once I removed the first chunk it did (I thought) hang together better.

I must admit I liked Faroth, too! I think I have a collection of irreverent sidekicks - a hero needs a friend - but Faroth appeals to me. While trees juse are different. Oaks are strong and slow and dignified, while birches are gossipy. Even Ents show the difference between the trees they herd - Quickbeam was hasty (wasn't he?)

And I don't know how it is - all the musings about journeys east and groups of elves assuming authority are just fascinating. I wonder if Oropher ever paused to see himself as taking up a role like Finrod ... I doubt it. And moving any large group of people is so massively complicated - the logistics of it, especially in delicate environments, must have made even elves tear out their hair.

Thranduil (in my stuff) is old enough to remember Doriath (just) - and will have been traumatised by its destruction. And then, of course, he is Oropher's son - he is bound to have absorbed a fair bit of his attitude towards the Exiles. While, on the other hand, he remembers the Valar's host and has seen, perhaps, that lumping everybody into stereotypes is not a good thing for anyone involved ... Perhaps he is searching for a role, too. And I like to think of Oropher putting in a bit of a lesson that being the one in charge isn't easy!

And thank you - I do like writing descriptive stuff. Evocative. (It's like writing poetry. Which I quite like attempting as much as I dislike reading.)

Laerwen had to be of a powerful Silvan family - she is, after all, the Lady! And I loved playing with the thought of the Silvan having a very strongly matriarchal, Earth-mother streak. To go with their elusive streak! (I think her grandmother rather liked Faroth. And, probably, Thranduil.)

I think fate and destiny played a big role in the lives of the big players. Thranduil needs a strong bond to the forest if he is to keep it together through the Third Age - and Laerwen will strengthen his connection far more than he can imagine. (The thought leapt in my head when I was writing something or other that Oropher's mother was totally Sindar - close kin to Elu, possibly a sister or a niece (females being so little mentioned that there could be dozens of them) - and his father was actually a green elf who died with Denethor. I don't know if there is anything to say either way!)

And magical moments cry out for humour! I think they both knew before they ever met - and I sneakily liked giving her control! Thranduil is such a strong character that it was rather fun making him wait for Laerwen's arrival. And I can see why he wouldn't want to speak of her - treasuring everything about their one meeting. Faroth must have wondered about his interrogation, but I doubt he expected this!

I'm glad you liked the story, Dot. Happy birthday and many of them! May you long cherish Thranduil ... and Ithilden.

RedheredhReviewed Chapter: 1 on 2/22/2007
Simply wonderful. Their meeting was not just any meeting! I do so love your writing! And then you follow that stunning moment with such gentle humor. ;) Ah, they just knew they could find no one better to love! Heh, it was not the robin's song that I heard when Thranduil spoke Laerwen's name, but Tony's songs from West Side Story. Thranduil's silence in order to have her all to himself was very romantic.

Your wood-elves are so natural. They come across as uncontrived creatures and true forest-dwellers. Although I admit, I think this tree-walking thing (wherever it came from) is silly. What you had to say about both Sindar and Silvan is fascinating and done so entertainingly that one craves to be further informed. Interesting how you paralleled the Sindar to the Noldor along with a reversal by this time having Thranduil legitimized in a way by Laerwen as Galadriel was by her marriage to Celeborn.

Laerwen will be perceived as a force of nature, as any powerful female always tends to be perceived by males. ;) Of course, the Silvan would give her the respect nature deserves.

I am so glad you did not set this story aside! Thanks to Dot, too, for getting one year older!

Happy Birthday to you, Dot! And may you have many more - so we get many more of these lovely stories!

Author Reply: Thank you, Redheredh! Well - Laerwen was 'the Lady'. She seemed more than just a simple maiden of the forest - and she and Thranduil were just meant to be - (at least, she thought so!) And Thranduil is rather a force himself - she's a good match for him.

These Wood-elves are very much part of the land they chose, I think - and that means being good stewards of the forest. And it is interesting to think of the parallels between the Noldor's journey east and that of the Sindar. I imagine Oropher as being part-Silvan, too - (it came to me when I was writing something or other that his mother was close kin to Elu - sister or niece - and his father was a green elf, who died with Denethor. It just felt right!)

Well, I doubt that all Silvan elves spent all their time running through the trees – but lots of arboreal animals manage to leap quite easily from tree to tree. It depends on the sort of forest they’re in. I suspect elflings would do their best to turn it into a game – and, really, being able to operate in another dimension would be far too useful to warriors for them not to use the trees. Being above your enemy and obscured from his sight is a pretty standard military technique (I think). But if you couldn’t go from tree to tree, being stuck in one would become a trap – so I do think that elves would have learned to use their speed, grace and balance to take advantage of closely-grown trees. And Faroth would just find it such fun – like an endless adventure playground.

It's also interesting to speculate on (with the force of nature thing) the Silvan perhaps being more matriarchal than patriarchal.

This story just didn't feel right at all - until I ended up dumping the first three pages. Which was a shame, because I quite liked them - but they changed the focus. And birthday stories are a great excuse to play in slightly different playgrounds!

LeRouretReviewed Chapter: 1 on 2/22/2007
Oh, charming, charming! I love your portrayal of Thranduil, and the merest shadow of his father Oropher. And to have the elleth come to him in that fashion was perfect: no explanations, no apologies needed; the barest words essential, their hearts already as one. Perfect!

There was so much good stuff to unpack in this fic I'm having a hard time nailing it down to one or two instances. I loved the differences you outlined between Silvan and Sindar, and Thranduil's attempts to reconcile the two; I enjoyed his thoughts on dipolomacy, his friendship with Faroth, his maturity dealing with Corudir, and the lure of the forest and the folk within that drew him to his final earthly destination. I also loved how the oaks spoke to him and comforted him, how reserved he was, his secret thread of humor. You portrayed Thranduil exactly how I've always seen him, and that recognition made the story that much more enjoyable to me. In particular this phrase - "He, at least, had no desire to repeat the errors of the Exiles by presenting his people as better and wiser than those whose lands they would share – and being graciously prepared to share their wisdom with their inferiors." - showed wisdom and insight, a necessary ingredient in so powerful an elven king.

Thank you for offering us a glimpse of Greenwood the Great before the coming of the Necromancer! It is a soothing image, and one I will carry with me all day.

Author Reply: Thank you, LeRouret. Oropher tends to take over a bit too much, given half a chance, so Thranduil was quite glad he kept to the background! I like the idea that elves recognise the person who is right for them - and who needs words when it's that simple!

It was interested to think of the parallels between the two journeys east and what made them different. It has to be the willingness to adapt, I think, and respect the culture of the people they met. Thranduil had a strong connection to the forest - and he would have had to spend time developing that. Although the marital bond with Laerwen won't have done that any harm! I'm sure the forest welcomed him even more as her husband!

I enjoyed playing in the Greenwood - and I'm pleased you enjoyed the story enought to want to hold the image.

LarnerReviewed Chapter: 1 on 2/22/2007
Now, this indeed has me questioning. Obviously an Entwife is involved; but have we a case here of a Maia that takes the shape of an Entwife to give birth to Laerwen, or who has fostered Laerwen in order to see her wed to the proper one once she sees him, or what?

Whatever the answer to my questions, I still find myself loving this story.

I read it earlier today, but for some reason the ability of my ISP to access several of my LOTR links has been interrupted frequently over the past week, and it's taken hours to get back on to leave a review.

And I love Faroth running through the paths of the trees while his long-suffering horse races the deer trails below him. Such a Elvish thing to do!

Author Reply: No Entwives, I'm afraid - although wouldn't that make an interesting twist! Laerwen in Far Horizons is seen as 'the Lady' and has a very close bond with the forest - enhancing Thranduil's power and standing among the Silvan. I see her as coming from the oldest and most powerful of Silvan families - her grandmother being one of those who awoke at Cuivienen and chose not to leave the lands of her birth. She is so closely bound with the forest that I doubt much happens that she doesn't know - and she is one who would never sail. She came, I decided in the end, simply to check out Thranduil and see if he was acceptable as a husband for her granddaughter - she couldn't live in the Greenwood, really, as she's too powerful - Oropher wouldn't have been king if she was around. But she isn't seen, isn't really known - she is just there. I had a - er - revelation some time ago that Oropher's father was Silvan and his mother was the one who was close kin to Elu Thingol - sister, perhaps, or niece - (I think there is little enough information about Oropher that you can do what you want with his background) - so Thranduil is a quarter-Silvan.

Faroth just presented himself in all his irreverence and Silvan joy in the forest. Such a character - I loved him instantly! And his horse shares my fondness - he really doesn't mind trying to keep track of his mad rider!

My net connection keeps cutting out these days - it drives me to the edge! I thought the net was pointless when it was first devised, but I've come to enjoy my connection to the world wide web!

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