Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Caretaking

Author: Altariel
Nominator: Dwimordene
2011 Award Category: Drabble: Men - Third Place

Story Type: Drabble : Length: True Drabble
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: 100 words What aid can come to this heavy house? A drabble after the death of Finduilas.


Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 10

I am not sure whether Tolkien actually writes it, but one adjective that pops into mind as I follow Faramir's story through TTT and RoTK is "careworn." Altariel's [Caretaking] shows a household in desperate need of care, but where the effort seems futile. Finduilas's death has sucked the emotional life out of the house, and taken language and all its capacities with it, leaving the bereaved, including Imrahil who has come to try to help his brother-in-law bear up to the loss, isolated and slowly foundering. There are some fantastic turns of phrase in this drabble that help to convey the overwhelming effect of grief on the Steward's household, and on Imrahil. I loved the way that feeling is made into a support as vital as roof and walls, and that without it, everyone comes apart, that the loss of language is a direct result of the collapse of this essential element of a household. Imrahil's own sea-faring life in the port-city of Dol Amroth is also aptly brought into play to illustrate his own sense of total disorientation and helplessness. The language in general is beautiful, if paradoxical given that it is put into play to make the lack of language weigh. The appearance near the end of the Steward and his son is a terrific role reversal - the father exhausted and vulnerable, the son trying to be a bulwark in the midst of general collapse. Tellingly, Faramir's look is the only phenomenon spelled out as a kind of speech. He may not be careworn yet, but he does take care, and finds a way to speak that doesn't need words. A very intimate, sad portrait of the Steward's household after the loss of Finduilas. Highly recommended.

-- Thank you for this generous and sensitive review, Dwim - "careworn", yes, that's exactly right for Faramir. I'm very glad this drabble worked for you. Finduilas seems to have been much on my mind this year.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 5

This is a touching and relevant glimpse into the aftermath of a familial crisis. The brevity of the piece does not at all hinder the impact of the author’s writing; in fact, the simplicity lets the content shine more than it could have with a longer ficlet. The imagery presented here is very good—the comfort between family members is tangible through the prose. I did think, however, that the first half of the drabble ran more like the summary of a longer piece than a story in and of itself, though the second half was suitably prosey. To be sure, there is nothing wrong with this, only that the two halves didn't quite seem to match up.

-- Thank you! I'm glad you liked the imagery and that you found the piece touching.

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 4

What a wrenching story - which I mean in the best possible sense. It would be easy to over-emphasize emotions in the situation described and make the writing sappy, but I found this story effective and emotionally honest. The use of metaphors and similes also worked to underline the individual characters of Denethor, Imrahil, and the situation as a whole, though young Boromir's reaction was the most telling. Very well done.

-- Thank you! I was trying very hard to avoid too much sentimentality, and so I'm glad that worked.

Reviewed by: Levade -- Score: 4

Every word, every phrase, in this drabble is so perfect. It's as if the author had found that last puzzle piece and slipped it into place to create the mosiac. Yes, it is sad, and the weight of that moment presses down upon the reader as it is meant to. Perfect phrases describe each character, especially Imrahil, and Faramir needs no words even as a child to convey his will. Beautiful, Altariel.

-- Thank you, Levade. I work very hard at construction, and I'm particularly glad to hear that paid dividends.

Reviewed by: Wormwood -- Score: 4

Children can, especially during times of bereavement, be almost heartrendingly selfless and understanding. I can picture this scene so clearly: a small Faramir trying to comfort a griefstricken Denethor. Minas Tirith must have been exactly like this after Finduilas' death: a place where sorrow covered everything in a smothering hush. Lovely writing as always too.

-- Thank you, Wormwood. Yes, children can often be almost alarmingly mature in circumstances such as these. I'd like to think this brought Denethor genuine comfort.

Reviewed by: Darkover -- Score: 3

This is a most moving drabble, and the title has a double meaning under the circumstances. Is the boy watching over Denethor meant to be Boromir or Faramir? It might have been the author's intention to allow the reader to make up his or her own mind. Boromir was closer to his father, but Faramir was more compassionate. Good story.

-- Thank you! I intended Faramir, but the drabble can be read as if the boy is Boromir, and I am more than happy for it to be read that way.

Reviewed by: Azalais -- Score: 3

So sweet, so sad, so deftly written; the similes here are just right, [The wintry skies weigh down like stone. Imrahil drifts around the house like a sinking ship]. It's always good to see different nuances in the childhood relationship of Denethor and Faramir, which is all too easily written one-note (though never by Altariel!) and I was really touched here by the loyalty and care of the small, determined Faramir.

-- Thank you for this, Az. Glad this one touched.

Reviewed by: Tanaqui -- Score: 2

There is much rich imagery packed into these hundred words. I especially liked the description of Imrahil, that he ["drifts around the house like a sinking ship."]

-- Thank you!