By the Light of Earendil's Star

Author: Branwyn

Nominator: annmarwalk

2005 Award Category: Genres: Drama (includes Angst): Incomplete - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Incomplete  ✧  Length: Novella

Rating: PG-13  ✧  Reason for Rating: violence, gore

Summary: After an ambush in Ithilien, young Faramir has little hope of rescue from his captors or from his own despair. Faramir, Boromir, Denethor, OCs (men and orcs).

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Reviewed by: annmarwalk  ✧  Score: 10

The premise of the story is simple – A ranger patrol, led by young Faramir, is overrun and captured by orcs; Boromir organizes their rescue. In hands of a skilled writer, though, this becomes a tale of action, horror, suspense, and humor. Brimming with carefully researched detail, exquisite description, and very finely drawn characters (both canonical and original) this fine tale never wanders down the twisted path to A-U, nor descends into the pathos of hurt/comfort, but remains true to its roots as a gripping adventure. Probably the most outstanding feature of this tale is its fine characterizations: Boromir is young, somewhat reckless, but imaginative and resourceful. His impetuous decision to steal some boats and ambush the orcs who have captured Faramir and his companions is completely in character. Faramir, badly wounded, is still able to inspire his companions to unimagined acts of strength and courage. Original characters, such as Boromir’s longsuffering second-in-command / bodyguard, Haldan; and cousin, Eldahil, serve as excellent counterpoints (an occasional comic relief). Even the orcs have their own personalities, rivalries which are subtle but integral to the plot. Special recognition must be made of Branwyn’s characterization of Denethor: certainly not the cartoonish madman of the film; her Denethor is a loving and compassionate father who has felt himself forced to present a powerful, controlled persona to his people. Every parent can empathize with his despair, when he believes Faramir to be dead; and his elation and then worry when he discovers his child alive, though severely wounded. Another noteworthy feature of the tale is the meticulous research and wealth of detail. Fight scenes are realistically and accurately described to provide marvelous visualizations. Medicinal herbs; structural and architectural features of a surgical room; Gondorian hangover cures fill out the corners of the tale. Faramir’s feverish dreams (particularly an exquisite vision of stargazing expedition, as a small child wrapped securely in his father’s arms) provide lovely stories-within-the story, each of them as intricately detailed as the whole.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 8

20-year-old Faramir's in terrible danger in Ithilien; and Boromir sets out to save him. This sort of story has been done before, but rarely, if ever, this well. A thinking woman's (or man's) action story - and more. How the writer manages to color it with beautiful, evocative description and excellent characterisations in her spare, elegant narrative, never wasting a word, is beyond me - but if she bottled the ability, I'd buy it! The fight scenes are unusually well done, but she never loses the human mind behind the sword. Even the orcs have personality. And after the danger is done, the story is still extremely compelling, with clever but unobtrusive touches of humor. There are a few original characters, who are written so well that one comes to care very much about them, but the heart of the story is the relationship between Faramir and Boromir and Denethor. The latter is depicted more as a loving father than as a monster or crazy man; but the writer deftly reveals the seeds of the family's future tragedy. An outstanding story!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 3

I really like the pacing of this story. It's intense and it drives itself hard, but at the same time, it never goes too fast. It takes time to establish characters and setting, which is vitally important for action stories as they invariably become driven by either the environment or the people involved. I hope to see more of this story soon.

Reviewed by: Bodkin  ✧  Score: 3

Beautifully plotted, written and characterised. Your additional characters are delightful, too - and deserve more page time. I liked seeing a less manic Denethor, who was able to be multi-dimensional. All in all, this is a very good story and I'm looking forward to more of your work.