Lament for a Dying Son

Author: Fiondil

Nominator: Ellynn

2011 Award Category: Character Study: General - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes

Summary: On the shores of Dol Amroth a young Umbari pirate lies dying, wondering how it all went wrong. First place in the Teitho contest ‘Devil’s Advocate’, in which you had to write from an enemy's perspective.

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Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 8

Written with touching accuracy from the perspective of a boy who wishes to prove himself in his father's eyes and for whom piracy and enslaving others is simply the means of doing it--and who because it is a means approved by the society he lives in completely fails to see anything wrong with it. Poor boy, his defeat and his father's, outwitted by Imrahil and Aragorn, may be a blessing for the inhabitants of Gondor's coast, but his death is a tragedy nevertheless and it is a good thing that Aragorn is there to ease his passing as kindly and sensitively as he can. For my own taste, the ending was just a little long. I had not expected Aragorn to need to explain in quite such detail what we had already been shown so clearly and movingly in the previous narrative or that someone like Imrahil would be quite so slow to understand him, despite the fact that the pirates were his hereditary enemies, of course. I suspect that Fiondil had an audience in mind that was harder to convince of the essential humanity of Umbarian corsairs than I am.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 7

A powerful short story that unfolds through the dying thoughts and memories of a young Umbari raider in Dol Amroth after he has led his small force into a Gondorian trap. The boy's love and devotion to his father is delineated, as is the intention to take slaves, including a good-looking boy young enough for him to mold into an obedient slave - a concept that is abhorrent to the readers, but would be in the mind of an ambitious young officer of a slave-trading and slave-holding people. Thorongil's compassion for the dying boy does him credit; and raises the question of how to deal with evil? Could you let someone die alone in the rain with no comfort, not even a hand to hold, even an invader who came to take slaves from your people? A difficult question. Thorongil is shown to have enough self-confidence and authority to ease the boy's passing; and even persuade Adrahil that such mercy was not misplaced; which I found as interesting as his wanting to give his young enemy mercy in the first place.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 7

I, too, had wished to nominate this story, but someone else beat me to it. How horrible it would be to find oneself dying alone on the beach, believing oneself to have been a total failure in one's first raid. So it proves for this Umbarian youth as he feels the darkness taking him. When someone leans over him and comforts him and offers him something to drink, he is certain it is his father who has found him, and if he is surprised when his own atto asks his name, he is reassured by the reasons given. How hard it can be to find compassion for one's enemies, and how surprising it must have been for Adrahil to see it in the treatment the famed Captain Thorongil gives this young man from Umbar. Perhaps the boy's father will not long survive his son, but at least he will be granted time to properly mourn his son. Perfectly written, this is definitely a tale I am glad I've had the chance to read more than once. Thank you, Fiondil, for the chance to do so!

Reviewed by: Kaylee Arafinwiel  ✧  Score: 4

All right, as much as some of Fiondil's pieces make me laugh, this one made me weep. *looks reproachfully at Fiondil* You made me cry, Atto. You did. But this was beautiful, though it was sad. There's a twist at the end, I think, though I suppose given the challenge it's for it shouldn't have been much of one. But it's very cleverly done. (And did I mention sad? =( ) Still, I love it. Bravo, Atto =) Well done. Kaylee Arafinwiel

Reviewed by: cairistiona  ✧  Score: 4

Mercy is something that often goes by the wayside in war, but here Fiondil has given us a beautiful, moving story of that very thing. Without adding spoilers, I will simply say that friend and enemy are given equal humanity in this short story, and readers can come away with better insight into both sides of the conflict between Gondor and Umbar. Well deserving of its first place Teitho win.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 3

Fiondil presents another side to an oft-told story, the vehicle being a sixteen year-old boy. This is a well-thought tale, interesting and illuminating. The character's death throes were believable and realistic, while Aragorn's presence (though seemingly a bit coincidental) aided the story's full effect on the reader. A very good tale.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 3

Such a sad and touching story. Beautifully written. I first read in on Teitho contest webpage and recognized Fiondil's usual skillful, beautiful writing style. It is interesting to see a Haradrim's POV, and it is really touching to read how Aragorn speaks to this young man in the end. This was one of my favorites in the contest, it got one of my votes.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 3

This was a deeply moving story which made me feel for the young pirate. I especially liked Aragorn here, who had the kindness and compassion to comfort a dying enemy. I felt this story was very relevant to our own times in showing the horrors of war and loss of young lives. This story richly deserved its win at Teitho with its powerful and universal theme.