Dusk Follows Dawn

Author: Striderette

Nominator: Ellynn

2011 Award Category: Character Study: Aragorn - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Mature Language/Themes

Summary: An intimate portrait of the day, in the year 120 FA, that King Elessar gives back the Gift of the One to Men. Told entirely from Arwen’s POV, the intensity of emotion and depth of her loss are explored. The sole characters in this story are Aragorn and Arwen.

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Reviewed by: cairistiona  ✧  Score: 10

In reviewing certain stories, it can be very hard to find words to express one's reaction, and this is one of those tales. Heartfelt, poignant, bitter, sorrowful... all these come to mind, for this is a story of loss and grief, and the title ably reflects that this is a grief for which there is no comfort, short of death itself and a reunion that Elessar, at least, had the faith, the estel, to believe but that Arwen sadly could not. Her heart's cry of loneliness shakes every word of this moving ficlet, but so also does Elessar's love. Reading this plunges the reader fully into Arwen's darkening world, and while the experience cannot be called comfortable, it is enlightening, for it is impossible not to see more deeply into the character and faith of Aragorn, and the differences between Elessar and Arwen, between Mortal and one who became Mortal, and thus we come away with a greater understanding of both characters, and a greater understanding of the estel that drove everything that Aragorn did. His words to her, both spoken and written, of hope that beyond the grey veil lies more than just the memory of a life gone by comfort us even if they did not comfort Arwen, because we as readers find ourselves looking forward to that moment when Arwen finally learns that truth for herself and finds her heart eased at last. This is definitely a must-read for anyone wishing a greater understanding of Aragorn and Arwen. So pull up a box of tissues and settle in, but perhaps have on hand a copy of "The Return of the King" so you can quickly re-read the account of their betrothal and marriage, to ease the lump in your throat!

Author response: Thank you so much, Cairistiona, for your kind words regarding Dusk Follows Dawn. Coming from such an accomplished writer as yourself - one whose glorious stories I've enjoyed reading so much - is high praise indeed. And I am humbled. I'm glad this story served as an insight to the characters of Aragorn and Arwen and that this tale of love, loss, and hope moved you...as it did me.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 5

This is a truly outstanding story, one of the best I have read this year. Striderette manages to make a familiar story, that of Aragorn's death, seem completely new and fresh by telling it through Arwen's eyes. I loved the idea that Aragorn should leave Arwen a letter, telling her that he is always with her. The image of her sitting weeping, wrapped in Aragorn's cloak, is simply heart rending, but the story ends on a more hopeful note as Arwen wonders if Aragorn is still watching over her. I defy any fan of Aragorn and Arwen to read this without shedding a tear. A truly beautiful and perfectly written portrayal of grief. I hope we see a lot more from this talented writer.

Author response: Linda, I have thoroughly enjoyed the many stories you have written about Aragorn - you are a tremendous writer - and I am therefore completely humbled by your review of my tale. The first time I entered the world of Middle-earth some years ago, I "fell in love" with Tolkien's Ranger/King. My inspiration for this story was to put myself in Arwen's place, to see this day through her eyes, amd to experience it with her heart. Thank you again for your kind words.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 5

Striderette uses a simple but effective strategy for writing about Estel's final day, depicting its beginning and its end. At the start Arwen awakens to find her husband, not in bed beside her, but at the window, and so we already begin on a note of departure. At the end of the day, she stands alone in the middle of the room. The time cut creates a gutted feeling within the narrative, a kind of echo chamber. I like the detail of Estel's favorite cloak, and the letter that he has left within it. Still, though the letter is loving, and the stars are beautiful, I still find it sad to think of Arwen abandoned and not yet weary of her days.

Author response: Thanks for your review, Lauderdale. Putting myself in Arwen's place and seeing the day completely from her perspective, enabled me to feel her raw pain, and yes, sense of abandonment. Intellectually, we all know a time will come when we are separated from our loved ones, but that knowledge never makes the event any easier to bear.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 4

This is such a beautiful, sad, poignant, heart-breaking story. I have read many stories about this theme - Aragorn's death and Arwen's mourning - but this one is really among the best I've read. I love Striderette's descriptions, and the way she depicts Arwen's emotions. For me, definitely the best part of the story is Aragorn's letter to Arwen. Beautifully done.

Author response: Thank you so much, Ellyn, for your kind words about my story. I tried to put myself in Arwen's shoes at that pivotal moment in her life, and from there the story took on a life of its own. I'm glad it moved you. I shed a few tears myself while writing it. Blessings, Striderette

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

A beautifully written tale of Aragorn's last day through Arwen's eyes. We see her savoring every aspect of Aragorn and the love they have shared, and can almost feel her begin to fade as she faces life without him, the very stars, so beloved by Elvenkind, losing some of their brightness as she looks upon them after Aragorn's death. This is familiar ground for LOTR fanfiction writers and readers, but Striderette brings out the power and sorrow of the day that Aragorn took back the Gift of Men.

Author response: Thank you, Raksha, for your kind review. I'm glad the story touched your heart. I've always been fascinated with this part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen. I wanted to explore more fully this day through Arwen's eyes, to imagine what she must have suffered on the most emotionally wrenching day of her long life.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

This is an intensely-written, very emotionally-descriptive story of the death of King Elessar and Arwen's feelings about it, and him. Gondor has lost its King, but she has lost the love of her life. Well done.

Author response: Thank you, Darkover, for your review of my story. I've been a writer for years, but this is the first time I've tried my hand at fan fiction. For this tale, I tried to put myself in Arwen's place at such a grievous time in her life and found that the story just flowed from there. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the encouragement. Blessings, Striderette

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 2

A beautiful and haunting glimpse into Arwen mind at a difficult time. Here her emotions and thoughts are expressed with poignant delicacy, and to great effect. A lovely tale.

Author response: Thank you, Adonnen Estenniel, for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed this tale.