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Like a Blade Forged in Fire  by Lialathuveril 6 Review(s)
aiwendilReviewed Chapter: Epilogue 2 on 7/12/2021
This was fantastic. I'll say from the outset that I'm not huge on romance stories, and I've started quite a few Eomer/Lothiriel fics in this fandom only to set them down after the first chapter. Yours captured me from the start. It's always wonderful to see fics exploring Harad and you did so with nuance and a wealth of worldbuilding. I didn't mind that we jumped away from Harad after that first chapter--Harad's there all throughout the fic, and slowly putting together Lothiriel's experiences in the timeskip was a pleasure.

You really nailed Eomer's voice. I enjoyed his good humor, kindness, love for Rohan, his family, and horses. His narrative always had a great casual tone--I would find myself snorting out loud at certain moments. I liked that you didn't shy away from the heaviness of the losses Eomer's undergone, but also didn't have him dwell too long on them. It suits his character to live in the moment. But his outburst about having more family among the dead than the living will stick with me.

I also very much appreciated that you gave Eomer his blindspots. He fails to question his assumptions about Lothiriel's relationship to her husband and is subsequently blindsided to learn the truth. But, in what makes him a compelling character in this story, he is willing to accept it and change his views. I like that what moves his and Lothiriel's relationship forward is his giving her space to truly grieve for her husband. I was particularly moved by Eomer's realization that, had he been born in Harad, he would have been a similar man.

Tarcil was a highlight of the story. You have a real talent for writing children (another thing I don't often enjoy in fic!)! He never came off as annoying or cloying, and had just the right mix of intelligence and obliviousness for his age and circumstances. In a sense the story is just as much about Eomer and Tarcil's relationship--when they hit it off at the beach, with Eomer humoring Tarcil's claim to kingship, I said to myself, 'oh, this could work.' Eomer isn't just becoming a husband, he's becoming a second father too, and it's a role he seems to excel in. His back and forth always brought a smile to my face.

I really enjoyed the prose and your attention to detail in the setting--the horse facts, the different dyes, all the little things that make a world feel real and lived in. Weynild was a great addition to the Rohan cast. I appreciated the way this fic centered female characters in Tolkien's often male-centric world, without playing fast and loose with canon.

Finally, regarding structure, I loved your choice to start and end with Lothiriel, but otherwise keep the POV centered on Eomer. The pacing was excellent--each chapter gave me a sense of growth and movement.

Thank you for a lovely read! I'm definitely looking forward to checking out more of your work!

Author Reply: Thanks so much for your detailed review! I really appreciate it when my readers take the time to let me know what they like about one of my stories. The points you mentioned, like having Harad in the background throughout the story, but only revealing the details slowly, are exactly what I wanted to achieve. Funny enough, the structure of having the main bulk of the story from Éomer’s point-of-view actually came about very organically. I didn’t really plan it, it just made sense as I was writing. But I think it has worked out well.

Also I love worldbuilding and researching little details, even if sometimes only a fraction of what I learn makes it into the story. With this one, reading about dyes and paints was absolutely fascinating. And I had a lot of fun having Tarcil applying his superior knowledge ;-D

About having children in stories, I’ve often thought that Rohan would have a young population (compared to ours), with lots of children, young people and pregnant women, so I like to include some of that age group. They’re not very well represented in Tolkien’s writing, are they. With this incarnation of Lothíriel, her being a mother also added a whole new side to her character. And as you said, it’s a great opportunity for Éomer to show his ‘dad qualities’.

About Éomer wondering what kind of man he would have been, had he been born in Harad, I had a saying by the German chancellor Helmut Kohl in mind. He spoke of the ‘mercy of a post-war birth’, meaning that his generation did not have to face the test of having to decide whether to follow or reject Nazism. Some of my readers have insisted that the Haradrim are just all evil, but I think that when being born into that kind of culture it’s actually very difficult to develop a moral compass. As such, in a way Éomer has had it easier than Arantar. I thought that he would have the greatness of mind to realise that and acknowledge his own luck. The transition of thinking of Arantar as ‘that evil brute’ to ‘he’s not so very different from me’ was important to me.

And now I’ll finish rabitting on! Again many thanks for your review – it really brightened my day.

LarnerReviewed Chapter: Epilogue 2 on 6/25/2021
Most satisfying! And Tarcil will be an older brother? Will he seek to train his new sibling alongside Rakash and his ponies? Heh!

Thanks for this new story. Now--if I can just get my own writing started anew....

Author Reply: Thank you too, for coming along on this ride and for the encouragement. Happy writing and may the muse be with you!

whitewaveReviewed Chapter: Epilogue 2 on 6/12/2021
Thank you for including Eowyn and Faramir! I love how Tarcil and even Kouri--have grown to love Eomer more. Lovely way to close the story! I am wondering if someday Tarcil's shieldmaiden friend will join him at Harad. The battle planning with Gondor sounded very interesting. I also enjoyed how you gave details about Lothiriel's former husband that helped me appreciate him more and it's good that it was not a purely political marriage. Enjoyed the scene with Eowyn and Kouri as well. Thank you for this story. Looking forward to your upcoming works.

Author Reply: Eowyn and Faramir are some of my favourite characters, so I wanted to at least give a glimpse of them. And I thought the two shieldmaidens would get along pretty well - and enjoy trouncing Eomer's men.

As for Hildwyn, in my mind she will one day help Tarcil win back his throne (along with the rest of the gang plus the next generation of Eomer/Aragorn/Faramir's children). But that's another tale!

Thanks for reviewing!

UTfrogReviewed Chapter: Epilogue 2 on 6/5/2021
I waited until I finished the story before I commented. I loved it all. Thank you so much for your effort to draw such rich imagery. Excellent story in all parts.

Author Reply: Thank you! I'm so pleased to hear you enjoyed coming along on this journey with me :-)

RadbooksReviewed Chapter: Epilogue 2 on 5/26/2021
Thank you for this wonderful story! I really enjoyed this different take of Eomer and Lothloriel's meeting and relationship. I'm looking forward to your next one! :)

Author Reply: Thank you, too, for following! I enjoyed writing this different approach to their story, so I'm pleased to hear you liked it :-)

Reviewed Chapter: Epilogue 2 on 5/24/2021
I've really enjoyed reading this story as you've posted it - thank you for a really interesting and different take on this relationship.

Author Reply: Thank you - I'm so pleased to hear you enjoyed this different storyline :-)

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