The Hands of the King
Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn)
2011 Award Category: Alternate Universe: Angst - Second Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Ficlet
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes
Summary: "The Pyre of Denethor" with a different twist. Alternate universe, inspired by a museum exhibit of medieval reliquaries and relics.
Reviewed by: Linaewen ✧ Score: 9
I loved this story! Not just because it is one that gives us a Denethor who lives and realizes his weakness, but because of the extraordinary and unexpected use of the familiar healing given by the hands of the king. What better king to heal Denethor than one who had suffered inconsolable loss such as he had? Eldacar was also a king who persevered through loss to keep his kingdom intact, and such endurance seems to flow into Denethor as well along with the healing. Denethor is determined now to see it through, perhaps even with some hope blossoming in his heart. I like the fact that he leaves the palantir behind; though on the surface it is for practical reasons, I suspect that already Denethor is realizing there is little to be seen in that stone that can help him now. That is all to the good! While reading this story for the first time, I was suffering myself from having been burned, so the vivid descriptions of that pain were quite real to me! I was as relieved as Denethor when the rain came to cool him and the healing hands of the king touched his! This story is one that will rank among my favorites as an unusual yet inspiring take on the healing of Denethor!
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 6
This is an unusual, and fascinating variation on the endlessly interesting AU theme of Denethor Lives!. I love Denethor's characterization here, by turns despairing and grim, he nonetheless is very human and practical. This Denethor is sensitive enough to pain that he cannot bear the agony of the fire - I cheered when he got off the pyre and still had the presence of mind to roll over on the ground to douse the flames. Denethor seeks refuge among the dead, still very much alone and lost and hurt; and finds both a healing and a spiritual strengthening from an unexpected source. Branwyn's characterization of Denethor is, as usual, excellent; the narrative is at once minimalist and richly evocative. A shame that the main LOTR universe could not have saved Denethor in this way.
Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland ✧ Score: 4
This is a truly chilling and unusual story. I think it must be quite unique as I've not encountered anything quite like it before though I've read quite a few Denethor lives AUS. In this scenario Denethor flles from the pyre,quite badly burned to the tomb of King Eldecar and by chance touches the corpse's embalmed hands and is healed of his burns. I find this story both creepy and uplifting, chilling and inspiring and it both draws me and repeks me. In short an unsettling and brilliantly written piece.
Reviewed by: Darkover ✧ Score: 3
This was an interesting one-shot AU tale. In a most unusual fashion, Denethor survived his suicide attempt, and the implication is that his views about the King, at least, are somewhat changed as a result. This story took an unusual approach to the plot, and should be read for that reason alone. Well done.
Reviewed by: curiouswombat ✧ Score: 3
Ah - I remember first reading this about a year ago - and it certainly made a lasting impression on me. A fascinating, if rather creepy, concept in a well written tale that left me, as so many of the best stories do, wondering 'But what happened next?'
Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel ✧ Score: 2
This is an intense and very well-written take on the extremely problematic Denethor Lives AU. I rather wonder what happens next, to be quite honest.
Reviewed by: Dreamflower ✧ Score: 1
A fascinating snippet of an intriguing AU, it leaves me wanting to know more...