Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

A Momentary Pause in the Act of Death

Author: grey_gazania
Nominator: Elleth
2011 Award Category: Ficlet: Elder Days - Second Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Ficlet
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Violence
Summary: It wasn't supposed to end like this. After the attack on Doriath, Curufin is found by Maglor.


Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 10

[A Momentary Pause in the Act of Death] is an eyecatcher for the title alone, which is a very good thing, because it increases the likelihood of the reader to click, and to find an excellent story. In the aftermath of the Kinslaying of Doriath, Maglor finds a dying Curufin hanging on to his last moments. Grey_gazania delivers the scene - for all its brevity - with a stark, very raw emotional impact from a character not commonly alotted a great deal of emotion in fanfiction, and drives home how terrifying death must be for a Feanorian. For all that, she doesn't lack incredibly strong characterisation - Curufin's obsession with Silmaril and father and quest shines through clear as day (and makes the story all the more tragic, because it leaves the reader with the impression that Curufin won't be able to 'rest in peace', driven as he is), and his astute observations even to the end of his life wrench at the heart more than just a little. In focusing on one example of the horrid losses both sides suffered, grey_gazania shows the cost of Doriath, especially in the last line of the story, when the focus shifts from Curufin to Maglor in a bleak but very cinematic moment, and the reader becomes aware of the scope of the kinslaying. It takes skill to portray canon-from-the-inside stories of this kind, especially the darker moments, with such intimacy. I for one felt like I was present with the brothers as an invisible observer. Grey_gazania's skillful writing does the rest to suck the reader in. I'd recommend this story for those who feel drawn to the darker side of the legendarium.

Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 7

Dear Grey Gazania, this is a very stark and impressive ficlet that conveys a harrowing sense of dread and loss. The stream-of-consciousness, cleverly done, becomes a stream-of-loss-of-consciousness. I like how the alliterations if st mimic the stabbing pain and the action of stabbing itself. The use of repetition is very effective, both of key words like “cold” and of syntactic structure, and word choice is confident and aesthetically pleasing. The pain of both brothers is very directly felt. The one niggle I have - and I am mostly mentioning this in order to make this review longer, since it’s so hard to write much about a short text, however good it is – is that the word “futilely” is an awkward word, it is difficult to pronounce because of the clash of the two Ls and that marrs the flow of that sentence. Otherwise, this ficlet is most excellently done.

Reviewed by: Elfique -- Score: 4

Well this is rather chilling! The sense that everything ties back to Feanor (with the repeated ["Oh Atar"]), and the sense of guilt over a supposed failure in reclaiming the Silmaril (rather than the slaughter that has just happened) is so sad - it definitely wasn't supposed to happen like that! The disjointed writing style adds realism (without being melodramatic) as well as being clear and readable - very deserving of this nomination.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 4

Though short, this piece managed to portray a character's last thoughts with precision and empathy, making Curufin's plight terrible and heartwrenching. The author's style of prose works very well, and, in particular, I thought her way of showing Curufin's entreaties to his father seemed to speak eloquently about his character, given what Tolkien revealed about Fëanor's relationship with this particular son. On the whole, a wonderful ficlet, and aptly titled.

Reviewed by: Oshun -- Score: 4

Wow! This is terrific. I am very shy of death fics in general. Especially those of major canon characters. But this one strikes all the right notes for me. It is heartbreaking in its simplicity. So beautifully done. This is one of the canon scenes that I really wish could have been written differently. It just seems to senseless on all sides. And so tragic for all of the actor involved as well. You managed to give me all of that in this tiny fragment of a story; thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 3

This story is gutwrenchingly tragic, especially the last line. There is a quiet pain but a solemnity and a dignity to it - I won't say I enjoyed it because the subject matter is dark, but it was quite well written. Nice work.

Reviewed by: Darkover -- Score: 3

This is very descriptive, very sad, and quite well written. It is all the more impressive because it describes the last moments of an Elf, who would not expect to die, and the brother who tries to comfort him. Impressively written and well worth reading.

Reviewed by: crowdaughter -- Score: 3

Sad and intense. The view out of the dying mind of Curufin is well-written and true, and the mention of the waiting void and the up-creeping cold is chilling. And even then, all he can think of is that he failed in the fulfilling of the oath... Great stuff. Thank you for writing and sharing!

Reviewed by: Liadan -- Score: 2

A very sad, well-written story. Maglor is able to say goodbye to his younger brother Curfin in Menegroth.

Reviewed by: Azalais -- Score: 1

Evocative and powerful in description; the last line is so very sad.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel -- Score: 1

This was a really sad piece - beautifully done deathfic.