On Far Fields
Nominator: Isabeau of Greenlea
2008 Award Category: Races: Cross-Cultural - Third Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: Story contains themes and references to adult sexuality that parents may not wish children to read, regardless of childrens' level of comprehension.
Summary: They fought for Sauron, died for folly, but above all, they stood for honor. The enemy dead of Pelennor field get their elegy, and Andrahar of Dol Amroth faces an array of private demons. Story in the "Best-loved Sons" cycle. Reads best with knowledge of "Discovery," by Isabeau of Greenlea.
Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea ✧ Score: 10
When I first started reading/writing fanfiction, Dwimordene was one of the authors I admired most. When she wanted to jump into the sandbox that is called the Unabeauverse and play with Altariel and myself, I was very flattered and pleased. And when I saw the results, I was absolutely blown away by the surety with which she handled my characters. This particular story is a good example. Over several of her stories, Dwim has in particular expanded the Haradric culture and language and poetry and Andrahar's relation to same in a way that I know I could not. The song in this story is poignant and seems authentically Haradric, a real feat when Tolkien said so little about the actual culture. And I like it for another reason. In my story Last Rites, Imrahil tells Andrahar that he feels he neglected him in the aftermath of finding out about Boromir's death. This story proves that was not entirely true. Given Andrahar's current position as a captain of reknown serving his birth nation's greatest enemy, he is of course very conflicted when confronted with Haradric prisoners of war. Knowing this, Imrahil makes sure to seek him out after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, to provide the love and emotional support that his oath-brother requires. And it's a very good thing he does, for Andrahar is obviously very troubled and is working towards the fatalistic despair he later displays in Last Rites. Imrahil is ultimately forced to draw upon the bonds of Andrahar's oaths to bring Andrahar around. Their decades-long relationship is beautifully and accurately depicted.
Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger ✧ Score: 10
This is one of my favorite Dwimordene stories, which is saying something considering the fact that I love all of Dwimordene's stories. But this one, in particular, always seems to get to me. I think a part of it is the way that she manages to create a rich, foreign culture with its own priorities and values that never once feels inferior to the Gondor culture that infuses the POV. Alien, perhaps, and Imrahil does think that their code of honor might be a bit harsh, but at the same time, there's also a sense of respect for these men. I think a large part of that might come from Imrahil's respect for Andrahar, who is brilliantly depicted here. I love how conflicting obligations come to play on him. The full scope of these obligations is revealed by the end of the story, but the tension they create is present throughout. But perhaps my favorite moment in this story is the song. It's a haunting, keening song that certainly doesn't come from Gondor, and the foreign feeling heightens the sense of loss and mourning that the song conveys. I love the cries raised to various family members and how that hearkens back to the fallen warrior that Samwise sees in Ithilien. These men aren't just faceless enemies drummed up by Sauron. They have honor and families and homes to defend. Brilliant story that gives the Battle of the Pelennor some much needed perspective.
Reviewed by: Imhiriel ✧ Score: 8
A complex story that gives a sober voice to the human enemy combatants in the war against Sauron. The depth of detail in the descriptions and the sensory information give a very evocative picture of his highly-charged scene; the tension and intensity of the moment are conveyed superbly (I thought in particular in the moment when the chant - which was excellent in itself - began). The Haradrim culture is shown here as no less proud and important for the people that belong to it than that of their opponents. And Imrahil shows his fundamental empathy in respecting this. Through his eyes, we also get a glimpse of the maelstrom of conflicted emotions under the usually inscrutable surface of Andrahar (and man, does this story throw into stark relief just how important and *neednful* it was that shortly afterwards Brand came into Andra's life!). Dwimordene as ever manages to go deeply into the complex psychological motivations of her characters, examining minutely the crucible where ambiguous, convoluted emotions and reasoning mingle uneasily - by presenting it without spelling it out.
Reviewed by: Elena Tiriel ✧ Score: 6
Dwimordene's story, "On Far Fields", is about Andrahar, Isabeau's original character from Harad, on the Pelennor Fields after the great battle fought there. There are some Haradrim prisoners of war, and he is standing vigil with them. It is a rather angsty, introspective piece where Andrahar is trying to work out how to behave, being caught between warring cultures... having lost his place in Umbar, he now has a home in Dol Amroth, but the old sense of honor as understood by the Haradrim still survives. Imrahil arrives and supports his friend as best as he can, given Andrahar's internally warring system of values. This is an interesting story which sheds light on both of the characters, and helps us to understand the depth of Andrahar's emotional turmoil after the loss of his lover and the devastation of the war. Very well done!
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 6
Isabeau's OMC Andrahar of Umbar is probably my favorite of her original characters. Here, Dwimordene borrows the good Captain for a great vignette about the conflict of roots versus friendship. On the Pelennor, after the great battle in LOTR, Andrahar is caught between memories and traditions of the life he left behind and his loyalty to Dol Amroth and its prince. There is no question of betrayal here; but Andrahar is only human, and can feel sorrow at the loss of honor endured by the warriors of the people who were once his; and wonder as to his own honor and purpose. The misery of the captive Southrons is extremely well written; their song a masterpiece of evocative prayer - I especially like the incorporation of Sauron-as-Annatar into their mythology.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 4
Imrahil's Swordmaster Andrahar of Harad has found his loyalties stressed as he has faced among the enemies of Gondor some he knew in his childhood, including the half-brother who loathed him. And there is the guilt the man feels for the death of Boromir, as helpless to avert it as he was. So the two meet in the camp of Haradri prisoners, where once more Andrahar might offer--or perhaps seek--the mercy stroke. Again solemn and filled with the feeling for the people that marks so much of Dwimordene's writing.
Reviewed by: nancylea ✧ Score: 3
thank you, isabeau and soledad for letting dwimordene dabble in your ink pots the three of you have made this fabric all the richer by sharing your threads so graciously. dwimordene, please spread a little more ink, this is great.