Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Foundered Land

Author: Altariel
Nominator: Altariel
2011 Award Category: Cross-Cultural: Gondor or Rohan - Second Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Ficlet
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: In the dark times will there be singing? Yes, there will be singing, about the dark times. Faramir and Gandalf in the library of Minas Tirith


Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 10

In capable hands, one of my favorite characters to come across in fanfiction has to be Faramir. And I honestly can't think of more capable hands for this particular character than Altariel. Faramir is characterized by all his many facets: politician, captain, poet, dreamer, philosopher, Steward's son, and last but certainly not least, Wizard's Pupil. It was fascinating to watch him from a first person perspective. My usual experience with such perspectives is that more is revealed about other characters than about the one through whose eyes the readers watch. Unless the character is given to extreme introspection, he or she is usually concerned with those around them. Not so here. Though I don't doubt but what Faramir can be introspective, that isn't the method by which Altariel paints. Instead, the characters around him are used as mirrors to reflect his personality back to the reader. I love the imagery of his restless rovings in the library, and the brief but revelatory conversation with Gandalf showcases everything I love about this character. His resolve and fire, especially since it put him at odds with those around him, was brilliant. And I love that this story doesn't end with or even contain much hope. Everyone feels desperate and harried, and the wonderful atmosphere does more than any words to paint the picture of Gondor on the eve of war. Fantastic and beautiful! Well done, Altariel!

-- Thank you so much for this generous review. I wrote this story right at the end of a period of writer's block, finishing it before I was entirely through the block - which may help explain why it ends with squared shoulders and girded loins rather than hopefulness! If Faramir can write through the end of the world, I guess I can write in significantly happier circumstances. I'm very grateful for this review and your kind words, Thundera.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 7

[“I would say that beauty is its own end. Nay, more than that – for the extinction of all that is beautiful is the Enemy’s goal. And thus when we make or speak or act beautifully, for its own sake, we contradict Him. We oppose Him.”] I could squeal in fangurlish awe for these lines of Faramir's alone; for they so capture his essence. Altariel really nails Faramir here, he is a true warrior-poet; not just a warrior who wants to write poetry; he is a man who perceives that the creation of beauty, in the act of writing it (which is evident in poetry), is an act of war against their Enemy. Of course, Faramir articulates these feelings in a conversation with Mithrandir, who, as written by Altariel, has that Tolkienish knack for drawing out truth from people (not unlike Faramir, who is definitely a Wizard's Pupil here). Altariel shows the affirmative power of the Gandalf/Faramir relationship - Faramir notes that others, including his father, would prefer that he not waste his time with poetry; but, during his conversation with the wizard, voices his determination not to be silent (another favorite moment in this story). This story shows the perception and writing technique and power that make Altariel one of my favorite Faramir writers.

-- Thank you so much for this great review, Raksha. I find it really interesting that when I write Faramir interacting Gandalf, he seems to become particularly "Faramir-ish", as if Gandalf inspires him to voice his essential self. Definitely the Wizard's Pupil. I'm very grateful for your kind review and delighted that you enjoyed the story.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 7

This little story resonates very much with me. There is so much to be done, and it seems as though one could easily devote every waking hour to dealing in the facts and figures, and to devising the means to make something of them that might contribute to a solution to serious, deadly problems. Does the struggle and the need for a serious approach to it eliminate the possibility of artistry that does not have a direct and immediate contribution to make? Poetry or painting or whatever it is that one does artistically is not something one simply does easily - it takes energy, and that is a finite resource, as Faramir's "writer's block" shows here. If one has to deal in limits, shouldn't one pick one thing and invest everything one has into it? Faramir's answer, as captain and poet, is both yes and no - appropriately for a wizard's pupil and for a scion of Númenor, as Gandalf reminds us. Well-played, Altariel?

-- Thank you for this extremely thoughtful review, Dwim. What would Denethor and Faramir's relationship have been like in a time of peace, I have to wonder.

Reviewed by: Darkover -- Score: 5

Both Faramir and Mithrandir are very in-character here, written just how Tolkien meant them to be portrayed, IMHO. Unlike some, most notably his father, Faramir understands that creating beauty is not something that should be expected to wait for the perfect time; he also believes that the very act of creating something beautiful or true is an act of defiance against the dark lord. Gandalf, by making Faramir articulate his thoughts, is simultaneously both gruff and encouraging. He also, typically, is in great haste, for this tale is set immediately prior to the Ring War. This story demonstrates that not a lot of action is needed to make an interesting story.

-- Thank you! There's something about writing Faramir and Gandalf that I particularly enjoy: the warmth, the mentorship, the generosity of the space that Gandalf gives Faramir to articulate his own ideas and resolutions. I'm very glad you liked the story!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 5

This little interlude, in which Gandalf and Faramir meet briefly before all Mordor breaks loose in Sauron's search for his Ring, is stark-- Gandalf is in the archives seeking the answer to the riddle of Bilbo's ring, while Faramir is seeking temporary solace from his ever more difficult duties in the history of Numenor. Wizard and Steward's son have a conversation over the importance of beauty and of history; it's a bleak one, for at this moment, neither of them yet knows where hope lies. The ficlet ends bleakly for them-- but the reader can trust to hope for them.

-- Thank you for this thoughtful review. Yes, they're both about to face the most difficult part of the war: Gandalf has just learned about the Ring, and Faramir is facing the siege of Gondor and the deaths of his brother and father. I'm glad that even if the characters have little hope, you were able to find some for them as a reader.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 4

Altariel's Foundered Land is a wonderful look into Faramir's thoughts. The author's use of first person narrative was especially effective in this piece, I thought, as it gave the reader a straight-cut bridge into the character's thoughts without the necessity of a narrator to interpret them. Additionally, Faramir's thoughts, as they were expressed in the vignette, were on par with what Tolkien revealed about him, yet at the same time gave more--perhaps the author's own flair and spin on his much-beloved character.

-- Thank you very much for this lovely review!

Reviewed by: obsidianj -- Score: 3

This is a slight melancholy piece. It is so Faramir to seek rest and solace in the library. I was at first a bit confused about the mentioning of "singing" in the summary, since there is no singing in the library. But the histories in Middle-earth are written down in songs and Faramir's attempts at poetry some may call song.

-- Thank you! Yes, I was taking "song" in its widest meaning, and so Faramir's poetry counts. And you're absolutely right - where else would Faramir go in need but the library?

Reviewed by: Liadan -- Score: 3

Faramir often understands what is at stake far better than either his brother or his father. They only see what is before them while Faramir clearly understands the possible ramifications of ignoring the larger picture.

-- Thank you! Yes, I think you're onto something there.

Reviewed by: Antane -- Score: 3

I love what was said here - the encouragement Gandalf gives and the conviction that it gives Faramir to continue. I love this scholarly, hobbity Man. Thank you for another glimpse. He loves to be among books just like I do and a scribe as well. Love it.

-- Thank you! It was good to put him amongst his books, where he ought to be.

Reviewed by: Wtiger -- Score: 2

The story is quite melancholy. Certainly reflective of the times in which it was written. An interesting perspective.

-- Thank you!