Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Ariel

Author: Altariel
Nominator: Dwimordene
2011 Award Category: Drabble: Character Study - First Place

Story Type: Drabble : Length: True Drabble
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: 100 Finduilas is made of air. A tiny ghost story.


Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 10

I have been looking forward to reviewing this story from reading the summary since I started adding stories to my wishlist, and it didn't disappoint. The author very much succeeds in writing Finduilas of Dol Amroth as a ghostly entity through the years; I'm sitting here with goosebumps down my arms at the descriptions. Using the familiar image of tapestries as a signifier of the afterlife in Tolkien's world, and the disconnect to the people who were Finduilas' family, Altariel emphasizes her ghostliness beyond the usual intangibility. Finduilas' release comes when she comforts and encourages an injured Faramir (a child she was largely unfamiliar with due to her early demise), and her responsibility to her younger son is fulfilled concurrently with the defeat of Sauron. The dust and stale air that captured her is blown away in favour of a new breeze from the west. From the delicacy of the descriptions to the idea of [a tiny ghost story] told in a drabble, to the title hearkening back to the angel associated with guardianship, healing and air (all three motives occur in the drabble as well), this was a fantastic read. Finduilas is a character made sympathetic even though information about her in canon is sparse and she is one of the usual absent mothers in Tolkien's work (except, as the story shows, not really). Very nicely done.

-- Thank you for this lovely review, Elleth. Everything seemed to come together for me when writing this drabble, and I'm extremely pleased that it worked so well for you, including goosebumps!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 8

I've been reading Altariel's stories about the Steward's family for ten years now, and she still finds angles and lenses that bring out new possibilities for viewing everyone's favorite first family of Gondor. What I love most about this little ghost drabble is that it takes the trope of the dead wife whose influence lingers in the family, and it gives that wife a *living* power beyond her death. Finduilas is not only a memory, but she, too, is seeking liberation for herself and her loved ones; she has some power to act, not only to observe the failures of strength and vision in her family. The style is exquisite: Altariel uses juxtaposition beautifully to highlight contrasts, and the references to air, fire, and water give an elemental and Eliot-esque atmosphere to these hundred words. If Faramir is water, and Denethor is fire, while poor Boromir is earth, then it is fitting that Finduilas be air, and associated with the vitality of breathing. Sad and lovely, Altariel, this captures both the tragedy and the hopefulness inhering in the Steward's family.

-- Ten years, can hardly believe it! Who would have thought Finduilas would talk to me again after all this time. Thank you, Dwim - I really wanted to give her a little power in the world, when she'd had so little. The possible death of her last living child would be the catalyst, I'm sure. A little breath, a little athelas. I wonder if Aragorn knew she was there. Thank you again for this lovely reading.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 5

In this piece, the author presents an interesting peek into the mind of a ‘friendly’ ghost. The style is elegant and whimsical, and the character is completely relatable on a fiction to reader standpoint. The author’s word choice is also very excellent here; it completely fits with the tone and content of the piece. Yet while the concept is good, I'm not sure I understood it quite as well as I could have. No doubt a longer exploration of the piece would resolve these issues and answer readers’ questions. Even so, the piece is written quite well, and the idea is lovely and touching. This is a very good drabble.

-- Thank you for the review! I had been thinking a great deal about Finduilas this year, and I wondered whether she might linger a while to watch her children grow. We know that Aragorn can summon the Dead and make them able to act in the world, so I imagined that his presence in the City would allow Finduilas to do one last thing for Faramir, the son who never really knew her. Her own small blessing on Faramir acts as a contribution to his healing, and lets her ghost stop haunting Minas Tirith.

Reviewed by: Levade -- Score: 5

It's amazing how much emotion can be wrought in just one hundred words, and Alatriel is a master as shown in this drabble. The very first line captures you and wafts you along with Finduilas, seeing what she is seeing and hearing as well. So very little of her substance is left, but what is there still clings to her family. Alatriel paints a vivid picture with every word. "Then a fresh scent comes from the Sea." and with that I had to think it was apt that finally Finduilas could find peace, and let go, knowing all would be well. Absolutely gorgeous.

-- Thank you, Levade! Finduilas seems to have had so little power in the world, but I think she would hold on just long enough to give Faramir her own blessing, and send him on his way into a new age. I'm really glad you liked this, thank you!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 5

This is a little gem of a drabble. Finduilas as a post-death houseless spirit, wafting through the corridors of Minas Tirith, is presented here in images of lightness and fragility, juxtaposed with the fading of her husband and son. I love it that she finally finds her voice, and her freedom, the fresh wind from the sea - surely a reference to Aragorn, who came up from the sea to help save the city - at Faramir's bedside, as her son moves from the dark valley of near-death back into life, Finduilas moves from an aimless, sorrowing semblance of life to the utter freedom beyond the circles of the world.

-- Thank you for this lovely review, Raksha. Yes, that's definitely a reference to Aragorn, who can summon the Dead and let them act in the living world.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 4

I love the quiet dignity of this drabble, and the understated horror of it - it seems just right for the steward's family and Finduilas in particular. The use of that word, [houseless], was particularly inspired as it brought to mind the image of elven fear shorn from their body. While this isn't a drabble about elves, the visual of that canon idea seemed to really complement what Altariel was trying to do here. Well done.

-- Thank you, Marta. Yes, that word "houseless" seemed so right. The people of Dol Amroth have a little Elvishness about them.

Reviewed by: curiouswombat -- Score: 4

Such an evocative drabble this - Finduilas left, haunting the Citadel, little more than a whisper of memory in the stale air and the dust until set free. Set free, probably unknowingly, by the wind of change blowing through the palace with the Return of The King, and the healing of her younger son, to go wherever the breeze should carry her spirit. Evocative - but in the end, uplifting.

-- Thank you! I wonder as I'm writing responses to these reviews whether Aragorn knew she was there. Another drabble for another day! I'm really glad you enjoyed this.

Reviewed by: Wormwood -- Score: 4

I love this drabble. Finduilas drifting like a handful of dust among the rooms where she once lived her life, unable to let go and unable to interact. It feels very true that it is a scent from the sea that gives Finduilas her voice back at last, hovering beside a gravely ill son she never got to spend much time with. When she finds her voice she sets both herself and Faramir free: to live on and to be relased at last. I have alway seen Finduilas as an Ariel of sorts - an air spirit , a kind of stranger in the world.

-- Thank you, Wormwood. Finduilas has always been the Lady of Silences for me, and it was good to give her a voice at the moment when it really counted.

Reviewed by: Tanaqui -- Score: 1

Some lovely poetry in the writing in this piece.

-- Thank you!