Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Judgment

Author: Aeärwen
Nominator: Larner
2010 Award Category: Genres: Fixed-Length Ficlet - Second Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Ficlet
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: 200 words The fate of one of the Nazgûl, after the destruction of the One Ring.


Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 10

We know little enough of the men who in time became the Ringwraiths, although we can appreciate that they were fooled by the one who came to them in the guise of the Lord of Gifts, promising them power unspeakable would they only accept the rings he offered them. Did they rejoice to serve Sauron as they did for an age and a half or so? Were they so twisted they had lost themselves totally in his delight in destruction and death, his will to dominate all life? I so love this hint that not all their humanity was lost to them, or at least not forever. The idea that one of the wraiths who fell in the midst of the destruction of Orodruin was GLAD to give over his long service, that he regretted the obedience he must show the Lord of the Rings is somehow heartening! This is a brief ficlet, but so very well done, and so very filled with hope for those who were forced to become the chief of Sauron's slaves. And the thought that what remained of this one's former humanity was rewarded by the reunion shown--it is delightful and most satisfying! That all of the evil brought to him by Sauron's original perfidy to him should have come to naught in the end--that is a wonderful thought! I cannot recommend this ficlet strongly enough! Read it! Read it!

Reviewed by: Ainu Laire -- Score: 10

Wow, just wow! I will be the first to admit that fixed-length ficlets do not tend to be my favorites to read because they cannot capture the essence of a character or plot in such few words. You, though, you really managed it and you did it incredibly well. I have thought briefly from time to time about what happened to the Nazgul, but I never really thought about it, not like this. Seeing Eru's forgiveness like that... it really moved me. The last line of the story was simply perfect. I immediately liked the character, even though he was a Bad Guy throughout the whole trilogy and I know he was. But when a reader sees him like this, with a soul again and willing to accept judgment for his crimes, you respect him and feel sorry for him. Sauron as Annatar tricked the most powerful Elves; a Man like he was perhaps doomed to such a fate. I wonder if he ever had a brief moment of "what have I done?" when he put on his ring, right before he lost his soul to Sauron's will. Something to write about, if you're up for it. We readers forget that the Nazgul were once Men, even though it explicitly states it. This ficlet is a wake up call to remembering that they were not always fell creatures in black hoods, nor men corrupted by Sauron, but people that had families, friends, hopes, joys, and sorrows. This is a wonderful reminder. Definitely recommend.

Reviewed by: Barazinbar -- Score: 9

There are far, far too few stories on the Nazgul. However, the few that do exist are quite good. This is definitely one of them. I love how the last moments of this Nazgul's life are relived along with the horrifying/great realization that he's finally free from Sauron's control - and dead. Then he wakes up somewhere (in Eldamar? Halls of Mandos?) bitterly regretting everything he's done and being all 'I was such a horrible person, and now I'm going to suffer for it! But I deserve it because I did terrible things' but then the Valar (I presume it's the Valar) let him go, and he gets to be in this great world with his wife and kids. It's really sweet and touching, and has some interesting things to say about mercy and responsibility (in the Nazguls' case, does Sauron bear all of the responsibility for their actions, or is the guilt and regret some/all of them feel enough punishment?). This story has left me with several questions (what about the balrogs? Morgoth bribed them into serving him too...does this mean they get let off as well?) but I'm quite curious as to the case of the Witch-King. The Nazgul in the story was one of the 'lesser' eight...what happened to the Witch-King?

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 6

I don't think I've ever seen someone tackle the fate of the Nine before. Not quite like this, and I wish there were more stories like it. This unnamed Nazgul might now remember what he used to be called, but his name is still a mystery to readers. And it feels oddly appropriate that this should be so, for that life is past. All we know of it is that he somehow brought about the downfall of Numenor and that his family was left behind as a result. He is ready to face penance for this, and in this resolve, Aearwen reveals a noble heart and strong will that Sauron must have enjoyed corrupting. This nobility and strength, though, are not enough to prepare our unnamed former Ringwraith for the possibility of redemption. Sometimes joy is far more overwhelming than the possibility of punishment, and Aearwen ends with the one thing that can cause this man to voluntarily fold. Beautifully done!

Reviewed by: Russandol -- Score: 5

What hit me most about this story was the strength with which one of the dreaded Nazgul comes across as a man. The ring he wore robbed him of his humanity and turned him into a monster, ruled by Sauron. Suddenly, everything ends, he is dead, but he has recovered his freedom. He is conscious of the evil he has performed, and willing to accept the consequences. Above all, he is forgiven and able to return to what he once had - if one interprets the Gift of Men as another chance for life. Amazing, how much is crammed into such a short, powerful piece of writing.

Reviewed by: Kara's Aunty -- Score: 5

Beautifully poignant look at the after-life of a man who has spent an eternity of hell-on-Middle-Earth in the form of a Nazgûl. And his 'punishment' was most unexpected. Perhaps it may seem unlikely that he got off so easy, but can there be anything worse than to look into the eyes of those you love and know that they know what your crimes are? I think his wife and sons may have forgiven this nameless king in their delight at seeing him again; but the harder challenge will definitely be for him to forgive himself. A fitting punishment, indeed. Really well done, Aeärwen. Kara's Aunty ;)

Reviewed by: Oshun -- Score: 4

Wow! I almost didn't read this I was so filled with dread at the thought of what I might find. This is a beautiful ficlet. It doesn't flinch at the evil done and yet it is all about redemption. Fanfic writers are very hard on those who "fall" in Tolkien's stories. I've never believed that this was his intent (whoops--not that writing his intent is necessarily a goal of mine in fanfic). But relentless suffering or unforgiven mistakes is not what I read this material to relish. Thanks for a different angle on this character.

Reviewed by: Beruthiel's Cat -- Score: 3

I love what this little vignette says about both redemption and the nature of Eru Iluvatar. Seen from the viewpoint of a character whose ultimate fate is seldom explored in my reading experience, I find it well done indeed.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale -- Score: 3

I read this here, through the first time, through the MEFA site. I expected something dark and unpleasant, especially with that title! Indeed, I got a little chill down my spine, but it was a wonderful happy kind of chill. Surprised by joy.

Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 3

That even a nazgul might encounter mercy, a welcome, speaks of a grace beyond human understanding. Aearwen renders this scene convincingly, with great simplicity and a confident grasp of the truly essential.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 2

Forgiveness, mercy and Pity are central themes in all of JRRT's work. We see it applied here in a most unexpected way, and it works.