Eagle of the Star
Nominator: foxrafer (csevans8)
2008 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Featuring Aragorn - Honorable Mention
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: Mature ✧ Reason for Rating: Sexual Situations
Summary: A young Thorongil struggles to reconcile his growing love for Gondor to the part that Denethor plays in his life there.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 10
Denethor/Thorongil slash always strikes me as trying to hold together two immensely powerful watch dogs that could be friends, but could also turn to tear each other to shreds without much warning. Tolkien very deliberately puts Denethor forward as comparable on a number of levels to Aragorn - he would have to be, for there truly to be a rivalry, even if a one-sided one. This can make the two of them hard to control when it comes to writing them as lovers, because there's this competitive, power element that doesn't let itself lodge in the background. Then there's the Ecthelion factor, which has always to be handled somehow. One way of handling all this is to jump right in and go for the dark, unhappy rivalry - always a choice I can enjoy. However, Alex Quine goes a different route, and does it very convincingly in terms of retaining the essentially public character of these three men - they all serve Gondor - while restraining the rivalry between Thorongil and Denethor. She does this without making Denethor into less than a sharp, strong man, but he and Thorongil are both young, though Thorongil's experience belies his age and between Ecthelion's protectiveness of his less experienced heir and his reliance on Thorongil, Denethor is reaching a point where he's being underused. He hasn't yet reached the point of being bitter about it, but he is slightly jealous, and jealousy here plays out not in the realm of policy (the opposition over Mithrandir and Umbar is eliminated), but in the bedroom. There Denethor has such dominance as will satisfy him at least for the time, and Thorongil submits out of a sense of guilt over unintentionally usurping Denethor's place. Ecthelion's role also shifts here to a very active one, that reinterprets or recontextualizes Thorongil's departure after Umbar in an inventive manner, and one that illumines the sense of his stewardship. It also demosntrates a trust in Thorongil that can't but make one wonder: just how much does he really know or suspect about Thorongil, even if he doesn't admit it? The words don't reveal, but the action is one of those acts that is either foolish or inspired, and probably even a wizard couldn't tell the difference. Beyond the excellent handling of three powerful men, the language is lovely. I particularly liked this description of Thorongil after a mission: [Just now he stood, patient in his dirt]. Perfect image of a Ranger just home from the field! Well done!
Reviewed by: foxrafer (csevans8) ✧ Score: 7
This is such an incredibly beautiful piece. The tone and language are perfect. The opening scene gives a great introduction to Thorongil and Aragorn's role during this time in his life. I particularly love and appreciate this depiction of Denethor. It is a welcome change to the many characterizations where he is practically demonized. This Denethor not only is a sympathetic and likable character, he is also portrayed with great depth and care. I really enjoy how after reading this it puts Denethor and Aragorn's future relationship into a very interesting light, if we assume that Denethor knows they are the same person. I'm not sure whether I think Ecthelion knows who Thorongil is or not, but I kind of like that at least for me it's a bit ambiguous. At the end I decided he doesn't, but there's something in how he watches them leave that makes we wonder. A very powerful and thought-provoking story.
Reviewed by: annmarwalk ✧ Score: 6
This was a most intriguing story. I don't know that I've read such a well drawn characterization of Ecthelion, shrewd and wise, but also farsighted and suprisingly compassionate. The characterization of Denethor was quite unusual too: briliiant, yet somewhat pampered and overprotected, reckless and eager to prove himself. The sexual relationship between Denethor and Thorongil was very different from others of this pairing I've read: Denethor portrayed as a bored dilettante, pouncing upon Thorongil almost for the novelty of it, while Thorongil, poor Thorongil, can't quite decide to be flattered or overwhelmed. The idea of Thorongil feeling heartsick over his impending exile, longing for the city he has come to love, made my heart ache, too. The final scene, where Ecthelion gifts Thorongil with a token in earnest of his future claim, was unexpected, and quite moving.
Reviewed by: obsidianj ✧ Score: 5
This story has an unusual explanation for why Thorongil mysteriously vanished after the triumph over the Corsairs. This is the first time that I see a story where Thorongil and Denethor are not parting on bad terms. I like the portrait of Steward Ecthelion in this piece. He wants what is best for his son, but realizes that he made a mistake. I love the conversation in the garden between Thorongil and Ecthelion. Does Ecthelion know who Thorongil is? Sometimes it seems he knows and then I'm not so sure anymore. I like this ambiguity. It adds to Ecthelions personality as the wise Steward who knows what he is doing except when it comes to his son.
Reviewed by: Imhiriel ✧ Score: 5
Evocative, lyrical prose; the scenes are set extremely well with almost tangible details appealing to all senses. The unusual characterisation of Denethor was handled well, but I really liked the portrayal of Ecthelion, and how nuanced the tension was explored between the three men. The discussions on strategy against Umbar felt very real, very plausible, and quite ingenious. I would have appreciated an acknowledgement (at least in the author's notes) that this was an AU regarding such canonical dates as Denethor's marriage and Boromir's birth.
Reviewed by: Galadriel ✧ Score: 4
Beautiful, simply beautiful. I love how Ecthelion's true intentions spin out over the course of the story, and how it becomes less a story of a man trying to protect his son, and more about a Steward recognizing (or at least suspecting) his King. The amount of depth presented here in all the main characters is stunning, and the author breathes real life into what would otherwise be starkly drawn canon portrayals. Wonderful.
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 3
There is much to recommend this story, so that I hardly know where to start. The strong description of the Haradric guard's relieving himself, the almost messianic quality of Ecthelion, the political machinations in the years before the Corsair raid... nicely done all around, I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Reviewed by: nancylea ✧ Score: 2
your opener____ penultimate skruffy ranger material. your middle____ strong men need to relax and let others control, too your ending_____much desired thankyou