Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Spoils of War

Author: Aeärwen
Nominator: ebbingnight
2010 Award Category: Genres: Horror - Second Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Medium Length
Rating: Mature -- Reason for Rating: This story deals with two intense scenes: the first of extreme violence. The second is about thoughts of suicide. There is also a continual reference to multiple rapes throughout the story.
Summary: In Mirkwood, at the end of the War of the Ring, a stranger in a strange land struggles to find a new place among beings thought to be fearsome and cruel.


Reviewed by: Windsurfbabe -- Score: 10

In this excellently-written story, Aëarwen tells us the tale of a young slave of the Uruk-hai; freed by the elves after the battle of Mirkwood, she is taken into their custody. But there are scars that run deeper than skin and flesh, scars that no salves can heal... And so we follow Inzilanî in the days when her life is turned upside down, and see the world through her eyes. Kindness is foreign, generosity unexpected - and evil motive lurks behind every gesture. Raised in captivity, trained to become a perfect slave, Inzilanî cannot imagine another life, and struggles to adapt to this new state of things, to find her place in a world that seems to have no need for her. And when elves express no interest in using her in any way she knows, she is lost. Aëarwen's story shows us how many things we take for granted - respect, privacy, comfort, friendship. There is an undiscovered luxury in indulging in all those things without questioning the motive or waiting for the blow that should come as a price. The reader is compelled to feel compassion for Inzilanî, itching for her to finally understand that she is safe and that her previous life is over. It is frustrating to see her torture herself with thoughts of her lower status, but there is hope too: friendly faces make their appearance to teach her to trust again. Aëarwen has a worthy ending for this touching story; and the reader smiles along with Inzilanî as she accepts the tentative friendship offered by he elves, and learns to be treated as one of them - an equal, not a slave.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale -- Score: 10

This story. I remember this story. It's an ugly one, for all that it begins when the worst of Inzilanî's pain should be over. Sold into sexual slavery by her family when she was young and eventually ending up in the clutches of a cruel Uruk warrior, Inzilanî is terrified when Elven forces defeat the Orcs and raze their camp. She knows that, whatever comes, she is only a spoil of war, and Elves are rumored to be even crueler than the Uruk-hai. With no one who speaks her language to tell her otherwise, she assumes that she is now property of the Elf Borongil, and the most kindly and innocuous of actions by him and other Elves are filtered through this perspective. Even when Borongil gently turns down her offers of sexual submission, with no one to explain Elven customs or her new place in the scheme of things, she can only think that she has either displeased him or is too appalling a creature to satisfy him in bed…and, living now in a place of peace where the struggle to survive no longer occupies all of her heart and mind, the memories of deeds done by and done unto Inzilanî become too overwhelming to bear. This is an excruciating, all-too-vivid perspective to read, and I alternated between pitying Inzilanî and screaming at those oblivious Elves to get a translator for this poor girl, for heaven's sake! In fact, the author bore the brunt of my frustration in a number of reviews to this effect while the story was still being written. “Spoils of War” was my introduction to Aeärwen’s fanfic works and, while it is much more disturbing than the other stories I have since read by her, it was an impressive one. For those who can handle the subject matter, I recommend it.

Reviewed by: Ignoble Bard -- Score: 10

I have to admit I didn’t hold out much hope for this story, a tale of a young girl who is freed from slavery by the Mirkwood Elves in the last days of the War of the Ring. Yet I found myself drawn almost immediately into the action by the choice of the author to tell the tale from the girl’s point of view. A surprisingly moving and affecting story emerges as the girl, Inzilani, is caught in a situation she can only interpret from her previous horrific experiences as slave alternately to Umbar and Orc masters. The language barrier is handled well. Inzilani’s attempts to learn to speak to her “captors”, mainly so she can explain to them her status in hopes of staving off certain death, does not happen overnight and much gesturing and halting speech is involved to get even the simplest concepts across. I also found it rather amusing when Inzilani awoke next to an Elf sleeping with his eyes open and thought he’d up an died on her in the middle of the night. But the story never lapses into the maudlin, angsty hand wringing that marks so many of these types of tales. Inzilani does not feel sorry for herself, even when she attempts to take her own life. She’s only trying to do the honorable thing according to the codes of behavior she’s been taught. Her healer’s rudimentary attempts at psychoanalysis was nicely written, though he seems not to have been very good at it since Borongil ultimately had to explain what this guy had been trying to get across for a month, but he tried and that’s the important part. :-) All in all I enjoyed and was moved by this story and I would consider it a worthy addition to any reader’s wish list.

Reviewed by: Ainu Laire -- Score: 10

You are one of the very few authors that I enjoy time and time again who does *not* focus on my favorite characters, and this story really amplifies the reason why you are. This is not merely fan fiction, but literature happened to be set in an established fantasy world. As has been shown in your stories surrounding Ivoreth, you have a wonderful grasp at the human psyche and why people act the way they do, and write in a way that is so believable, so gripping, and the perfect blend of Mankind's despair and willpower that anyone who knows anything about a good drama would gladly read the whole thing. You certainly have enough skill to be published, so I, for one, am glad to have your writing as part of the LOTR fan fic community. This story in particular really caught the personality of a slave and all of her actions. Her point of view was perfect for the story; it is obvious that she was already a survivor, having survived as long as she did as a slave, but even then she had no self-worth, being raised and living as she did. As another reviewer pointed out, you did not have her mourn and angst about this, as a less experienced writer may (drawing from limited self-experiences in their likely Western-based life), but you dealt with it realistically. Everything she did made sense from the POV of a slave woman who was never told that she was worth something as an individual. Her thoughts both echoed her culture and her life, and did so in a way that was gripping and not at all tedious. In other words, I continue to remain impressed and highly recommend this story- and you as an author- to anyone reading this. Even those who are not fans of OCs will recognize the quality and entertainment this story brings.

Reviewed by: Russandol -- Score: 9

This is a story of painful misunderstandings, of different languages, cultures and points of view, of events misinterpreted and of the resulting feelings and actions of Inzilani, a girl who was sold to slavery and is freed by the elves of the Greenwood. Only, she thinks these are her new masters, reputedly crueller than the Orcs and when all her efforts to offer herself in any guise are rejected and met with horror or pity, she believes she is unable to serve them, and therefore she is dishonoured. When she takes revenge on her previous cruel Orc master, she believes herself a monster, tainted by his evil. Instead of understanding her new freedom, everything is so overwhelming that she attempts to take her own life, to rid her "masters" of her presence and recover any honour left to her. So, yes, the plot is harrowing, and some scenes are hard to read, but everything is told in a matter-of-fact voice, without dramatics that detract from the actual tragedy she lives. It is almost mpossible to put the story down, hoping that understanding on both sides will come at last, before it is too late for Inzilani.

Reviewed by: ebbingnight -- Score: 8

"Spoils of War" is told from the point of view of a young girl who believes that she is indeed now the rightful "spoils of war" of those she believes to be terrifyingly evil enemies: the elves. She has been enslaved for most of her young life: first sold by her own father to the Southrons, and then, most painfully, handed over as a bed-slave to the Uruk-Hai. When she is "taken" after a battle, she believes that she will either be killed or be enslaved by these even more frightening immortal beings. The account of how she repeatedly misinterprets events around her based on her previous experiences is quite believable, and the repeated attempts to make her understand her present circumstances are touching and sometimes tragic, Although this works very well with Tolkien canon, it also resonates deeply for anyone aware of the thousands of women and girls currently enslaved throughout the world, and how they try to survive. A well-done and surprisingly realistic story about a girl who believes that she has no value and no future-- and yet finds that she has both.

Reviewed by: curiouswombat -- Score: 6

This story covers a little written area - those who have been kept as slaves and become the possession of whoever is the victor in any given battle. The young woman who is the central character has lived the life of a slave for so long that she cannot imagine anything else, and cannot comprehend what is happening around her when she, once more, finds that her current 'owner' has been killed by his enemy, and she is now the property, as she sees it, of yet another victor. It is told very skilfully, always from the viewpoint of the young woman, so that the reader is, often, almost as unsure as she is of what might happen now. A story that holds the reader, even when it does not make for light entertainment. I would certainly recommend it to others, but do not expect sunshine and fluff.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 4

A unique and, for fanfiction, original, story - Aearwen brings the plight of a slave girl, freed from her orc captor by the Mirkwood Elves, to life in this powerful and engrossing tale. Inzilani is a compelling character; and her personal journey, through hardship and the terrible confusion of freedom, makes for great reading. Dramatic and heart-warming, and at times very dark, but always credible.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel -- Score: 4

This is another superb story from Aearwen. In this one, she explores what it might have been like for a woman who has long been enslaved by enemy forces to suddenly be liberated - only she doesn't realize that she's been liberated, because she doesn't speak the language of the people she perceives to be just a new set of captors. Her entire world is turned upside down, and behaviors which were once protective are now disapproved of. The ultimate resolution of her conflicts and her journey was emotionally satisfying for me.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 4

Sold as a slave when little more than a child, the young woman had known nothing but abuse for the last three years. But the defeat of the orc army by the nimir--elves--changed that. But understanding that she was seen by these as being far more than a mere spoil of war was difficult. This is an often intense story as we watch this young woman learn how to live and to finally appreciate just what freedom was and is as she finds herself unwittingly a member of the King's own household. Well done.

Reviewed by: Vanime -- Score: 3

This story is so great! And very well written too by Aearwen, (as usual!) I thoroughly enjoyed this one, and have to say that the conclusion was satisfactory, but still left me wanting to read more! That's always a good thing! Highly Recommended!