You make a very good point. If I remember right, there are at least a few Elves that went to the undying lands and returned.
Author's Response: Thanks for taking an interest in this essay, Lisse. I'm not the first author here to experiment with the idea that were still some forms of communication between Middle Earth and Undying Lands during the 4th Age up to the time when Valinor finally disappeared into another dimension. The most popular of these ideas I've seen here, thus far, is Frodo and Sam sending each other mail up to the time of the latter's departure into the West.
I never thought of that aspect of Middle Earth ship building before - in fact I never really thought about ship building at all, to be honest - but now that you've pointed it out, I agree that it does make sense. A logical explanation for one of the Professor's loose ends that opens up some great plot opportunities.
It bugs me when purists start harping on about violations of canon. This is fan fiction, for crying out loud, people! We are free to do what we will with our versions of Middle Earth. My philosophy is just don't read it if you don't like it; it seems unfair to leave a review just to tell an author that they haven't followed canon to the letter.
End of rant.
Author's Response: Most of my stories take place in the Fourth Age, so I think I'm justified in introducing technical innovations which I believe are within the abilities of Gondorian engineers. I think it likely that Tolkien would have done the same if he wrote later sequels to "Lord of the Rings".
I confess that I've occasionally pointed out minor canon violations to new authors, but I've also advised them, if they haven't already done so, to give their story an AU warning if they wish to change Middle Earth history. I'm certainly not a purist and never tell anyone in my reviews that they can't write a story exactly the way they want it to be.
I think that is a very good point. I like the reasoning behind it too. Good job defending yourself.
Namarie-Lady of the Lake
I think this makes a lot of sense as long as there are still a few random Elves lingering in Middle-earth. Once all of them have departed, I imagine they'd take their ships back to Valinor and that would be the end of any traffic. While it's easy to take a more emotional view of the Tolkienverse, as writers of fanfic it's good for us to remember that Tolkien wrote these stories as a history, and that in the matter of history practicalities still apply. Elves strive to live in harmony with the natural world---that they would denude the forests in order to avoid reusing ships is antithetical to what we know of their race. Their reverence for forests is a defining characteristic. That alone supports the idea that they would keep the shipping lines open, so to speak. As long as the shipping lines are open, what is it to carry a little mail now and then?
Author's Response: I believe that there would still be a substantial number of Elves remaining in Middle Earth during the early decades of the Fourth Age. At this time, Thranduil's kingdom is still flourishing in the north and Celeborn is founding East Lorien. I'm certain that a small number of diehard Elves would still be living in Lothlorien for a few decades after Galadriel sailed to the West. And Legolas must have had a substantial community of followers if they were to beautify and manage Greenwood in Ithilien after the War of the Ring. I'm basing most of these ideas from what I've read in "The Atlas of Middle Earth" and "The Complete Guide to Middle Earth".
Besides mail, I don't think it would be unreasonable to assume that a limited amount of trade goods and/or gifts would also be carried. In the above mentioned chapter of "Arwen's Journey", Aragorn alludes to a small cask of fine pipeweed which Evenstar had previously sent to our Hobbit hero.
My profuse thanks for your thoughtful and insightful review.
This is a very intresting theory and I certainly bow to your knowledge of foresty as that is something that I lack completely and also your knowledge of ships but from my perspective, and I admit that often my perspective is shaded by emotion more than fact I do not think I can buy into the belief that mail was sent back and fourt on any kind of a regular basis from the Undying Land's that the Undying Land's has often carried a strong resemblance to heaven and that it is a place of beauty and peace and that those who choose to go there never returned and went to heal and possibly even forgot much of their former life. So while it is a nice thought that Sam and Frodo exchanged letter's and so on it is not something I can really accept as I feel it takes something away from the end of the story as of course Sam was heartbroken he still returned to his wife and children and lived a full life in the Shire, the thought of him having a penpal in Frodo while Frodo was in the Undying Lands healing, To me it takes away alot of that bitter sweet ending. Though again, I truely do admire the pratical knowledge you put behind this theory and it is definately something I will be giving more thought to.
Author's Response: Actually, my idea of Frodo and Sam communicating between Valinor and Middle Earth was probably more of an emotional one at first, rather than factual. I've been separated from close chums many times in my life and always stayed in touch through correspondence whenever possible. It seemed likely to me that Frodo and Sam would do something similar. It was only after I started researching Middle Earth history and geography for "Arwen's Journey" that the idea actually began to look practical.
Thanks for your input and review.