Flame of the West

Author: Altariel

Nominator: Dwimordene

2005 Award Category: Races/Places: Gondor: Vignette - First Place

Story Type: Vignette  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: G  ✧  Reason for Rating: none

Summary: In the Houses of Healing, a steward and a king.

Read the Story

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

This would be Altariel doing what she does best: creating tightly paced, thematically rich drama centering on Faramir. Here we find only the second conscious meeting of Faramir and Aragorn, in the Houses of Healing, just before Aragorn leaves for the Black Gate. But it's more than that—this story is a reflection on loyalty and honor, and the need, I think, for ritual, for giving a voice and a form to what might "go without saying" otherwise, but which would be the poorer for being merely understood. It takes a certain talent to write ritual meaningfully for an audience that can be assumed to be thoroughly cynical when it comes to the ceremonies of power, but the key is that we can see here that this oath-taking of steward to king is personal between Faramir and Aragorn. It's something that Faramir needs to do, not simply for his peace of mind but as an act of thanksgiving and out of love, I think, and it is equally something that Aragorn needs to do for Faramir as the man who would be—and who for this one man already is—king. That Altariel ties that interaction back into the profoundly positive experience of Faramir's oath-taking with his father just makes it better by affirming that relationship between Denethor and Faramir as important and vital, no matter what else might have happened between the two of them. The two oath-takings therefore shed light on each other by contextualizing each other, and it's impossible to say whether one redeems the other or whether that earlier pledge is what furnishes the meaning of the later one, by setting the later in a relationship of continuity. Beautifully written as always and something every Faramir (and Aragorn) fan can enjoy.

Reviewed by: SilverMoonLady  ✧  Score: 7

This was a very beautiful and heartfelt piece, full of all the love, sadness and hope that a man in Faramir's position might indeed feel. The dialogue was carefully crafted, very true to each character and distinct; there is no doubt as to the speaker, whether it is Faramir or Aragorn, and the full load of their emotions and their past is carried forth in each action and each word. The desire to love and trust again that Faramir places squarely upon this new King breathes out of each line, as does his ache for those that have gone before; Aragorn's regard for Faramir, both as an individual and as a representative of this family, with whom he has had such a long and complicated relationship, is evident as well. What a potent phrase to end his part with as well, “Not all of you,” he murmured, his eyes becoming distant. “I would not lose all of you.” All in all, a truly touching vignette, well deserving of notice for its wonderful flow and technical perfection.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 7

It's a shame that Tolkien never wrote more about Aragorn and Faramir after the War of the Ring, because if stories like these are any indication, they made an incredible team. The give and take of the dialogue, turning phrases around to meet other phrases which were also turned, was beautiful. These two men foiled against one another well, bringing out strengths and weaknesses both. I loved the moment when Faramir made his oath, and I loved Aragorn's pause, ensuring that he had Faramir's undivided attention for the last part. And framing the exchange between the two men was some amazing narrative and descriptive work. The contrast between the beginning and the end played well into the discussion between Steward and King, and the last line about Earendil seaeds the story nicely. Great job with setting, symbolism, and characterization.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 6

This is a great intimate scene between Faramir and Aragorn. It gives one explanation for the foundation of Aragorn's and Faramir's friendship and working relationship. Here Aragorn puts the wellfare of Minas Tirith into Faramir's hands and Faramir reassures him that he will be loyal to the king to the best of his ability. I especially like that Aragorn makes sure he has eye-contact with Faramir when he comes to the part in his answer to the oath of fealty where he says "fealty with love". I think that is the key between Aragorn and Faramir. A nice contrast to Denthor's reaction who showed 'pride' but not love.

Reviewed by: Azalais  ✧  Score: 6

All the hallmarks of Altariel's writing of Faramir - courage, integrity, self-knowledge - are here; and here begins what will clearly be a lifetime relationship of loyalty and love with Aragorn. The idea of Faramir wanting and needing to swear his fealty in case Aragorn doesn't come back is terribly poignant, and of course Aragorn sees it for what it is and embraces it. Altariel's gift for raw, loaded and accurate one-liners for Faramir - "“I would walk into the fire,” he said, “if you commanded it.” - here passes to Aragorn too: "I would not lose all of you" - ouch. It wouldn't be painful if it weren't so true.

Reviewed by: ErinRua  ✧  Score: 6

I don't remember when I first read this vignette, but it remains one of the most elegant, thoughtful, poignant character studies between Faramir and Aragorn that I have read. The author artfully balances the strength and sternness of warriors, of men, with the precarious seasons of the heart. One is drawn to Faramir's sparsly-worded passion, simply for the fact that his act is so supremely unadorned, but rather he lets action and oaths speak his heart for him. As beautiful is Aragorn's silent understanding of what is being offered, and his gentle acceptance of the same. A beautiful peace, gently noble in its tone and a true gift to readers.

Reviewed by: nerwen_calaelen  ✧  Score: 5

An interesting gap-filler. The characters of Faramir and Aragorn are presented clearly and very true to their canon versions. It is very interesting to see the ways in which Aragorn handles his knowledge of what has happened to Faramir, especially while Faramir is unaware are the events during his fever. The description of the light of the candles against the sunset and the comparasons between the types of light are wonderful. Overall a very nice scene that adds to the reader's understanding of the characters.

Reviewed by: annmarwalk  ✧  Score: 5

It's very easy to imagine the scene depicted in this tale: early evening; lamplight:Faramir dozing by the fire; the uncomplicated friendliness of Aragorn smoking his pipe. Altariel has made it even more lovely by adding Faramir's dream, wherein he still seeks his father's love; and balancing this vision with Faramir's vow of fealty to his new liege-lord. It's particularly meaningful that Faramir chooses to make his vow in private, swearing his life and service to the one who has given his life back to him. A very moving vision of these two heroes.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 4

This story had a nice feel to it. I can imagine Faramir and Aragorn having just this kind of conversation, and it was nice to see them at least begin politically. I had some quibbles, and in a way the pledging seemed redundant (it didn't accpmplish anything more than Faramir accepting Aragorn's kingship when he first woke up in the books, as Aragorn is not crowned king yet), but the character interaction was nice nonetheless.

Reviewed by: Aliana  ✧  Score: 4

"But, as he said once more the long-familiar words, he knew that it was this promise, this memory – of kneeling by the fire

side in a small, plain room; of the warm, firm press of this man’s hands around his own – that would sustain him, whatever lay ahead. This, he knew, was the true homecoming."
As usual, absolutely perfect. The characterizations of Aragorn and Faramir are wonderful, as was the rapport and affection between the King and the Steward. The pathos, hope and dread of that tenuous moment in Gondor's (and Middle-earth's) history come through beautifully. Simply lovely.

Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke  ✧  Score: 3

It is easy to picture oneself in this story, the feeling, sounds and smells of place are extremely well communicated. The pace is steady, characters' feelings gently and subtly rendered; almost too subtle - while I could see and hear Aragorn's pain, Faramir's steadfastness, I couldn't feel them as intensly as I wanted.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 2

One of my favorite fanfic stories with Aragorn and Faramir: understated yet heavy with emotion, and ending in hope. A pleasure to read and re-read.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 1

Oh, this was lovely! I like the idea of Faramir pledging his fealty to the King before the Host of the West marches away.

Reviewed by: bridilliel  ✧  Score: 1

A wonderful short story, well done!