luthien is pretty.
luthien is pretty, and beautiful, and her father’s lovely little star, and from the moment she is born, she is pretty. it’s a mantra they repeat to her, as they dress her in deep blues and royal purples and shimmering golds, as they braid back her hair and teach her to dance and teach her to sing.
what nobody really remembers is that luthien came out of the womb angry.
melian hadn’t had a child before. melian wasn’t an elf. melian carried her child for due time, and when she got bored of the pain and the frustration, she gave birth. so luthien came into the world kicking and screaming. she came into the world just like her mother. ready to fight.
and halfway across the world, there’s an elf named feanor, named spirit of fire, and he too is born angry, and in this world of lovely things (the girdle around doriath, the calacirya past tirion) they are similar. not the same, but similar.
the difference is this - one of them is told yes my son, may you live long and love fiercely, and may you fight for that which you must defend. one of them is told no my daughter, may you dance often and shine brightly, but these ways of ours are alien to your father and his people.
but both are told your ways are not for us.
and perhaps luthien is lonely. perhaps it is a horrible existence, this strange state of being that is singular only to her. (and not in the history of arda is there another like her, is there? her descendants, so odd and so strange simply due to her blood, and perhaps it is good there is no others like her, perhaps then the world would have broken into pieces - )
perhaps luthien is lonely, in her beauty and her dresses and her songs. but more than anything, she is angry.
because this blood that she carries. it is not that of the second children (though her descendants, with their thrice-cursed lineage, they are another tale) and it is barely that of the first. it is that of stars, of dreams, of sparkling skins that shift like the heat that ripples off the fire, and luthien is a small child and she has to hold it all in like a raging inferno -
luthien does not tell her mother of her dreams: of gull feathers, of a hidden city burning to the ground, of jewels so bright they defy possibility, of twins drifting through the wood and twins drifting through blood and twins drifting through the wood and two girls with her face, and a voice cold and dark and ancient -
melian says you must hide it. they are not like you. you are one of a kind. you must hide it. melian knew dreams. melian knew enchantment. melian knew how to hold it all in. luthien doesn’t. too many teeth, too many eyes, proportions put together all wrong because she doesn’t know how to be this kind of existence. all this anger. all these teeth. what does that make her.
what does that make her.
feanor dies on these shores. luthien doesn’t. everyone dies, on these shores, and luthien doesn’t. they fight battles, and luthien does not leave the girdle, but something starts flickering under her skin, all incandescent and familiar. luthien laughs.
luthien meets a mortal man.
theirs will be a story for the ages, she knows. beren looks her in the eyes and says i am not afraid of what you are. luthien tells him you should be. beren shakes his head. you are far too beautiful to limit yourself, my lady.
and what can luthien say to that?
they send beren to find the silmaril, and send him away, and melian says to luthien he is no match for you, my love. did he not faint away from your might? did i not tell you?
you must hide it.
luthien leaves. theirs is a story for the ages.
luthien remembers the beautiful fragility of her mortal love - how unafraid he was to spit in the face of terror, how unafraid he was to die. luthien remembers the beautiful fragility of his face when he did not falter before her. luthien laughs at celegorm and curufin and hopes they hear how her voice breaks in seven; hopes they see how her nails are also claws. luthien and huan rescue beren, and then they set off for angband, and when they come across the enemy, the great darkness of the north -
luthien sings him to sleep. he sees a mortal man and a shining girl-child, and he steps down from his throne, and that is his first mistake.
they cut a silmaril from his crown. theirs will never be a twice-done feat. it is only this once. the jewels are so bright they blind, and for a moment luthien in her exhaustion sees the carnage, sees the blood, and had she more strength, perhaps she would have destroyed them then and there.
but that is not how stories go.
it is said that theirs is a romance and a tragedy, an epic and a song. beren dies, and luthien faces mandos himself, and in all her fury and fire, beren is returned to her, and she is made mortal. they carry the silmaril, and they live happily, and the stories will not remember the most about luthien. will not remember the wings, will not remember the sorrow in melian’s eyes, will not remember how luthien bled light and cried tears, will not remember the screams she woke beren with, every night.
luthien is pretty.
celebrimbor never met luthien. perhaps if he had, he would have held more wariness towards beautiful annatar. they were too similar, and when annatar finally shed his form and celebrimbor knew him to be sauron, he understood this truth that was at the very heart of luthien’s being -
anger is beauty. beauty is terror. and terror is simply that which one does not know.
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Microsoft announces it will shut down ebook program and confiscate its customers' libraries
Microsoft has a DRM-locked ebook store that isn’t making enough money, so they’re shutting it down and taking away every book that every one of its customers acquired effective July 1.
Customers will receive refunds.
This puts the difference between DRM-locked media and unencumbered media into sharp contrast. I have bought a lot of MP3s over the years, thousands of them, and many of the retailers I purchased from are long gone, but I still have the MP3s. Likewise, I have bought many books from long-defunct booksellers and even defunct publishers, but I still own those books.
When I was a bookseller, nothing I could do would result in your losing the book that I sold you. If I regretted selling you a book, I didn’t get to break into your house and steal it, even if I left you a cash refund for the price you paid.
People sometimes treat me like my decision not to sell my books through Amazon’s Audible is irrational (Audible will not let writers or publisher opt to sell their books without DRM), but if you think Amazon is immune to this kind of shenanigans, you are sadly mistaken. My books matter a lot to me. I just paid $8,000 to have a container full of books shipped from a storage locker in the UK to our home in LA so I can be closer to them. The idea that the books I buy can be relegated to some kind of fucking software license is the most grotesque and awful thing I can imagine: if the publishing industry deliberately set out to destroy any sense of intrinsic, civilization-supporting value in literary works, they could not have done a better job.
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