I've been reading a lot for escape lately, but reading has been difficult. I've had bad luck with a crappy succession of mindless escape fiction I've been taking out of the library, so I went out on the internet looking for fanfiction.
I was in the mood for some Éomer/Lothíriel, which is generally my preferred pairing in the LOTR universe. I like Éomer as a character, because he is quite well-rounded and has an extremely interesting background. He's heroic, but he's human, too. He shows the full gamut of human emotion. Unlike the more saintly Aragorn, Éomer has a temper which has at times altered the course of his character arc.
We know, from Tolkien's afterward, that he married Princess Lothíriel of Dol Amoth, and we know at least a little about her family, but Tolkien (to the best of my knowlege) never brough Lothíriel onstage. This is catnip for fanfiction writers: a pairing with one incredibly interesting, appealing character (Éomer) and another who is more or less a blank slate, so they can build a very wide range of stories. But Lothíriel's situation is interesting, as little we know about her, too: she is coming to a new culture, learning an entirely different language, and it's a great device for the reader: as Lothíriel learns about Rohan, the readers learn about it, too. And the culture of the Riddermark is extremely interesting, not just standard medieval fantasy.
The great risk, of course, is turning Lothíriel into a Mary-Sue character. I haven't run much into that, however, because the Éomer/Lothíriel pairing is one of the rarer ones due to the fact that the courtship and wedding and indeed the entire relationship happens after the book ends, off-stage, and so the more clumsy beginning fanfiction writers may not even KNOW about the pairing. On the contrary, the few who do write it are steeped in Tolkien's lore, and I think, better writers.
Two of the prominent writers I've enjoyed the most are Lady Bluejay
, both of whom have returned to the pairing again and again, writing some impressive, novel-length works. They have played with a number of questions: was it an arranged marriage or a love match? Or was it an arranged marriage which turned into
a love match? Or was it an unhappy marriage? What is Rohan like? What sort of role does Lothíriel have in her new home? What does she discover about the different role of women in her original home by the sea as opposed to her adopted home?Deandra
writes Éomer/Lothíriel, too, and she's quite prolific but her works are generally shorter, and not, I think, quite as richly complex.
However: as I said, I went out on the internet looking for more (since it's a rarer pairing it's hard to find new stuff) and I ran across a story and author I'd never encountered before. I must say I think it's one of the strongest fanfiction stories I've ever read. It's REALLY different than the standard Éomer/Lothíriel story, which often concentrates on how they met, how they fell in love, and how did Lothíriel adjust to Rohan.
I've seen some Éomer/Lothíriel stories that deal with Haradian characters (generally they're cast as villains), but I've NEVER seen a Éomer/Lothíriel story which takes place partly IN Harad. Éomer and Lothíriel spend almost the entire story apart, but they are learning about each other and their relationship is changing, even so. It examines big, big questions which seemed to me particularly timely, considering the goddawful news out of the Middle East: what is justice? How does a nation recover from war? What should you do when you encounter your enemy afterwards--if you win OR if you lose? What are the moral justifications for going to war? There was what (I thought) was a really surprising twist toward the end, and the ending itself was absolutely stunning.
I'd really love to get your reactions. The story is In His Face A Shining Light
and it's by Carryon14