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 May, 4 2007

A journal for discussion of the story "Reconciliation."


Just what the hook says. I will try actually to reply to any comments in this journal.

Hello, Dwim,

I've really been lax about reviewing the latest chapters, for which I apologize, considering how intensely I've enjoyed them. Looking back at the story as a whole, I can more readily appreciate the gradual and inexorable build-up, the constant pressure on our three "black swans" always increasing, so that we are carried along with what happens to everyone until, like Pel, we ask ourselves, "How did it get this far?" It could have been hard to swallow, but it felt all too believable to me with the wonderful supporting structure you carefully crafted.

Too, I can see "almost" moments in hindsight: pivotal points where chances for at least partial aid were lost. Ch. 4 in particular, when Pel and Elya don't end up getting out of that ugly atmosphere for a night at Aldan's home, and Andra doesn't get the chance to truly talk to Imrahil about all that bothers him. The trip to Calardin might not have happened; or at least some events could have been postponed, to what other end...

I loved Andrahar's grousing about the esquires' exam results at the beginning of Ch. 7. (Being married to a teacher, I have heard much along those same lines!) And his brutal self-honesty after the quarrel with Imrahil was perfectly in character.

The whole trip to Calardin seemed very well done, ending with the crucial placing of Pel and Andra together facing a common enemy. That entire setup, from the villagers to the mysterious enemy, to Albarion's revelations, all flowed very smoothly to me, and the political aspects (A Dwim Forte) blend so well with a lead-in to the Hurrhabi raid. Andrahar's struggle between worlds was very well depicted in the scene with the dead Haradrim on the beach: Very clearly, Harad may have rejected Andra, but he will never completely reject Harad. Plus, I can see how this points forward to his musings on his faith at the end.

A big sign of relief when Pel, Elya and Andra start groping their way to a mutual understanding. And Ornendil earned my respect in full for facing up to his own errors and actually suggesting a plan that included his own resignation.

Poor Elya! I thought you did a particularly fine job on his struggles, especially in that last chapter. His feelings towards Pel must have been mixed at the least, as Pel's concerns are what led ultimately to the masters learning of Elya's suicidal thoughts. Afterwards, he is not only still plagued by self-doubt, but faces doubt from his friends (naturally worried, yet those concerns only exacerbate his precarious mindset and shame). The additional information about his childhood helped flesh out the "why" of his personality a lot.

This was an amazing and shattering description: ...Elethil gave his friend a sideways look. At once too knowing and ambivalent, it perhaps said more than intended, for in it gaped a woundedness. It was as if a turn of the head had revealed another face, or another side of his face, scarred and misshapenóa map of the soul's fragility...

Loved Imrahil's conspiracy to get Pel and Andra's story out among the esquires during lunch. (So what do the other esquires actually know about why Pel, Imri and Andra ended up out there? And what was behind that look that Imri and Adrahil exchanged?) Loved even more Andra and Elya's conversation outside the Great Hall, when Elya tried to sneak out - being confronted was just what Elethil needed to shake him out of his despair-ridden rut, and just what those closer to him could never have done.

The switching between Andra/Imri and Pel/Elya worked out well, I think: Contrasting the different friendships, and issues that Andrahar and Elethil are facing; and letting Elya's confession build up to an even more forceful impact for me. Andrahar's thoughts about faith (or the lack of it) were very interesting - do you see it as symptom or cause of his feelings of rootlessness, of being caught between worlds? I would really like to see that aspect of him explored more fully; I can only remember it getting brief mention in other places.

But Elethil... His wish for things to stay the same was actually understandable, and his declamation of himself as yet a coward tore at me. To walk back and face living again takes courage, and then learning what he does with it: Overcoming his own ambivalence about Andra in particular and Haradrim in general, to embrace them! Well, that was moving, beyond my ability to describe. Well done.

A delightful, light-hearted epilogue, after the anxiety of the rest of the story. I laughed at the scenes on board ship, and was overjoyed at the receptions on the pier, especially Pel/Elya. Adrahil's remembered speech at Pel's knighting was the perfect touch to highlight what Elya still faced.

And that ending, so wonderfully described, had me grinning like an idiot just like Pel.

What do you think happened to Celdir, Faldion and all their "lads"? Did they make it? What attrition rate do you envision after Adrahil's final decree to the Knights about their individual attitudes towards racism?

Ah. *cough* Sorry about going on so long, but considering I was about 10 chapters behind in reviewing...

Believe it or not, the formatting is a bit wonky in Ch. 2 now. :-/

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