Both Beholden

Author: Dwimordene

Nominator: Gandalfs apprentice

2006 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Pre-Fellowship - First Place

Story Type: Other Fiction  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: G  ✧  Reason for Rating: n/a

Summary: The first step in any journey is letting go of what you're holding onto. Boromir, contemplating kings, discovers he's not the only one who needs to make that step.

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Reviewed by: Gandalfs apprentice  ✧  Score: 10

This is one of my very favorite stories. Many fanfic writers have seized upon the large unanswered area left by Tolkien on the relationship between Boromir and Aragorn. This story is a very satisfactory answer. Of course, it suits my own inclinations, I confess--I too see Boromir as choosing to side with Aragorn if there were conflict in Gondor--that is, absent the very large matter of the Ring. Faramir was doubtful in his comments to Frodo about Boromir seeing Aragorn as a rival in Minas Tirith's wars, but he himself had not yet met Aragorn when he spoke those words. I imagine that although Boromir might have felt some rivalry, or tension, he would have put them aside for the sake of Gondor. But the Ring did not allow him to make this choice. Another reason I love this story is the portrait of Halbarad--sober, knife-sharp, loyal to the core. If Halbarad and Boromir ever met, this is how it happened! I also really enjoyed the brief history lesson on Arnor--the erosion of kingdom to villages to roving band of Rangers is convincing, as is the description of Ranger life on the road. The atmosphere of the brooding wet night adds to the thoughtfulness of the piece. I liked the hoots of the owl. Too often we don't get enough of the sounds and smells of Middle-Earth.

Reviewed by: Anoriath  ✧  Score: 10

I don't think I would have ever thought to throw Halbard and Boromir together, and yet doing so is wonderfully fruitful. Ah, the subtleties of their thrust and parry! Halbarad is such an enigma in LOTR. Here we have been given Aragorn, in face grim and manner most often stern, and yet we know him for a man of depth of attachment and warmth of feeling when it is deserved. And yet, ony for Halbarad does Aragorn lose all restraint and run across the field of Rohan and grab the man up in a fierce embrace! Who is this Halbarad? It is always interesting to see what different authors bring to their perception of the people and relationships in LOTR. I've seen Halbarads with feet of clay, Halbarads who are Aragorn's strong-man, and Halbarads who are loyal to the end. But this Halbarad. Ah! This is a man of deep intelligence and wide scope of thought. So interesting that Boromir underestimates his cunning, as does, I think, the reader. It is not often that we are given a Halbarad who could be as comfortable in the role of statesman as he is wandering the Wilds of Eriador. Very clever of you to take advantage of that, so that Boromir's reveal is experienced at the same time by the reader. I had to pause after reading Boromir's flash of insight to let the implications sink in. A delightful experience to have understanding expanded in that manner. It's like opening a familiar door, thinking you fully knew the room that lay beyond, only to find a whole new world of possibilities behind it. That's a lovely gift to your readers.

Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 10

I appreciated the careful setup of this story. Boromir’s reasons for being among the Rangers were very well conceived. The dismal weather and disguising darkness made an evocative setting for the uncomfortable and layered exchange between Boromir and Halbarad. I enjoyed the lightening into dawn at the end, symbolic of the lightening of their relationship - and perhaps a bit of Boromir’s heart towards his potential king. The dance between Aragorn and Boromir was very clever, with B. thwarted in his purpose at each turn. The verbal sparring between Boromir and Halbarad was excellent. All the characterizations were well done, even the brief glimpses, and I had no trouble seeing this Boromir as the man of the books. But Halbarad – with his loyalty and own mirroring need to test Boromir – was truly outstanding. The author presented three very interesting and well-conceived interpolations: The Kin-Strife connection, and the past (or future) vision of ships upon the Anduin bearing the king’s standard; the Rangers growth out of the king’s royal guard and the evolution of leadership in the North; and Halbarad as Aragorn’s “Steward,” especially in light of Aragorn’s long wanderings away from his people. Halbarad’s bittersweet recognition that Aragorn would soon need others to lean on was touching, and I loved his confident assertion that Boromir would stand with Aragorn in the end. It would be very interesting to see Halbarad's inner reflections if/when he learned the manner of Boromir's death. I hoped that he remembered Boromir’s vision when he himself was sailing up the Anduin with Aragorn months later, and knew it for a sign before he died that his king had transformed that potential for political division into true hope for a reunited kingdom.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 10

Very vivid and evocative setting and atmosphere. As ever, your characterisations are completely canonical, three-dimensional and realistic. Despite the many inner reflections and extensive stretches of exposition, the story doesn't feel static, non-progressing; just the opposite: it fleshes out the plot, and makes it that much richer. The little details of movements, gestures and sensations deftly make the story play in the imagination. The history of the Chieftain as Wanderer and the Rangers as the former royal guards is very well-devised, and very plausible. I like the contrast you show between Boromir and the others, the exploring of the differences between the Northern and Southern Realm despite their common origin, and how those differences affect the people and their thinking/philosophy/way of living. Your notion of Arnor is as ever very plausibly extrapolated from canon, and very well realised. And I appreciate the fact that the tension between Boromir and Aragorn is not truly resolved at the end, Halbarad acting so to speak on behalf of his Chieftain. That it is made clear that this uncertainty and wariness will still inform their relations in future, even if the hope of a future understanding has been put on a more firm base because of more knowledge about the other's point of view.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 10

I haven't read this story since my story about Mardil and Earnur, and was caught a bit off-guard by Boromir's sharing my Earnur's concerns that the return of the king might lead to another kinslaying. That revelation was central to how I approached this story this read-through, because in the appendices it is Earnur who is described as having characteristics similar to Boromir. But Boromir here has a certain political savvy, or at least a sense of political responsibility, about him. He knows that he is perhaps not as eloquent or as sure-footed outside of the military arena, and he does on occasion reveal too much of himself -- but that doesn't mean he does not respect the need to be cautious. That is perhaps Dwim's greatest accomplishment with this story, but it is far from her only one: she sets up some important relationships between Boromir and the characters who will become part of the Fellowship, describes his intense protective pride of Gondor better than I have ever seen anyone do, and gives us a glimpse at the rangers of the North that is somehow both enigmatic and telling at the same time. It's a very well-pulled off gap-filler that won't disappoint Boromir fans or anyone who likes a story that is anything but subtle.

Reviewed by: meckinock  ✧  Score: 10

If you could be said to have a trademark scene, Dwim, I hope you'd not be too offended if I suggested it was this - to lock two characters in a proverbial room and let them circle each other like tigers, taking one another's measure, probing for weakness, feinting and dodging like two fencers - or two chess players. You did it beautifully in ["Where the Stars are Strange"], in ["Roots"], in ["Not in Our Stars"] just as examples I can think of at the moment. And now you've done it exquisitely again. Boromir and Halbarad - there are so many parallels between these two characters, and there is indeed this window in the chronology where it would be logical for them to meet, yet I don't think I've ever seen it done before. Boromir is drawn beautifully here - we see how off-balance he is with these Rangers - a warrior himself, he should be at ease with them, he should fit right in, and yet he doesn't. A bit put out that the opinion of a ["lowly-seeming swordsman"] seems to hold much sway with Elrond, yet intrigued by Aragorn and realizing he can learn much of him by watching him command his men, he volunteers for the Nazgul hunt, only to be thwarted by being assigned to a party commanded by Halbarad, not Aragorn. Still proud, prickly, and rank -conscious, Boromir is put more and more off-guard by Halbarad's silent regard. ["Boromir knew very well the other watched him; it was only a question of whether he did so also at Aragorn's command"]. As always with your stories, there are some phenomenal lines here - Halbarad reflecting Boromir's gaze as if to say [look if you must, but naught you shall find, those limpid eyes said; for my loyalty was given. And it was most emphatically not given to Gondor, just as Boromir's loyalty was most emphatically not given to one Aragorn son of Arathorn.] A stalemate, it seems. But this is only the beginning of this cat and mouse game, this contest of wills, as Boromir puts it. Eventually, though, Halbarad breaks the silence and draws Boromir into conversation (though not without resistance - Boromir's observation that no man in Gondor would dare lay a hand on him as Halbarad had just done ["with the presumption to give him a command"] was precious. And then they get down to business - Halbarad's business; which seems to be assuring himself that even though Boromir is not loyal to Aragorn, he is loyal enough to Gondor that he will do the right thing when Gondor's fate is at stake. The revelation that Aragorn was Thorongil comes into play - easily, as if Boromir had almost expected it. Halbarad is conscious here of passing the torch, handing off Aragorn's safety -and his -destiny - into other hands, and he wants to be sure those hands will be true when it counts. And by the end of their converation, he is (more sure than Boromir, intriguingly.) And even though we never get to find out for certain if he was right, since neither of these men will see Minas Tirith again, we get the strong sense that he would not be disappointed. A wonderful portrait of two strong and loyal men.

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 10

I find absolutely irresistible Dwimordene’s characterizations in this short story of both Boromir and Halbarad as well as the knowledge of Aragorn that is given to the reader through Boromir’s observations of Halbarad. The motivation and the setup is flawless. Boromir may not be as eloquent as his father or brother, but he certainly knows how to think and his loyalty and principles are clear. Halbarad, of course, is Halbarad, very much as Dwimordene has painted him before, and as I have come to accept him. I haven’t written of Halbarad but if I ever do, whether he shades a bit differently in superficial attributes or not, he will certainly be unable to escape from the imprint of Dwimordene’s portrayal of him here and in other stories. This is a classic, in-character Halbarad for me. The use of references to near or ancient history in the telling of this tale are beautiful layered throughout the text adding depth. I loved Boromir’s dream/vision and his musing on what Faramir might have thought of it. Also, I found Halbarad’s ability to discern that something had happened completely convincing. The description of the other Rangers and the physical environment are exquisite. My attention is absolutely riveted from beginning to end in this story, which breaks all the popular rules of fiction writing—in theory nothing happens here. In actuality the story ends in a total different space from where it started. We begin in a dark place and end with a glowing flash of hope. Perfect piece of work. My favorite lines are those of Halbarad: [“…you do not know Aragorn, and no tale I could tell would bring you closer knowledge of him. ….” "I do know him. And this I will say, for what peace it may give you: knowing him, and knowing what I know of you, I have no doubt that when the choice comes, you will stand with him, Steward of Gondor."]

Reviewed by: Inkling  ✧  Score: 8

This is an edgy, brooding story, its tone set in the opening paragraph by the oppressive storm. Following the Council of Elrond, Boromir is on patrol with a group of Rangers led by Halbarad--in search of the unhorsed Ringwraiths, but more to the point, in search of answers about the Heir of Isildur. As Boromir and Halbarad test each other's mettle in a tense duel of words, the turning point comes when Boromir realizes he has been outmaneuvered, and wonders anxiously what he has revealed about himself. But he needn't have worried, for Aragorn's loyal steward perceives that the loyalties of this steward's son are first and foremost with Gondor, and he that will support whatever is in his beloved country's best interests. In this context, Boromir is able to objectively view his own father as a potential threat to the stability of the realm. He does not say as much aloud, of course. Yet Halbarad, reading between the lines, tells him, ["You are not your father's son."] A fascinating exploration of these two characters, their motivations, and the politics of succession.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 7

Interesting gapfiller of a relationship we all might have liked to have seen - Boromir and Halbarad, drawn together in a Dunedain scouting mission from Imladris before the Fellowship set out together. Boromir and Halbarad are cautious and veiled, circumspect in word, and quietly testing each other, both seeking to learn the other's opinion of Aragorn, Boromir on behalf of the southern realm that he knows Aragorn will claim, and Halbarad to see at whose side Boromir will stand when that claim is made - Denethor's or Aragorn's. The parallels between Boromir and Halbarad are fascinating; both in positions to inherit the guardianship, if not the rule, of Aragorn's patrimony. When the silence between the two cautious men breaks, fascinating truths and hopes and a curious faith come to light. Dwimordene, as ever, is a master at writing dialogue of a politically sensitive nature. This story is well worth reading!

Reviewed by: Raihon  ✧  Score: 6

This is a gripping, terse portrayal of both Halbarad and Boromir, which vividly highlights the characters of each man. I especially appreciate the use of Halbarad as a mediator between Aragorn and Boromir, since he's an intriguing character who doesn't get written about enough, or well enough, in fandom (and he were get to see Dwimordene's version of Halbarad in a new context, which is a thrill). This story does both of the men justice and revives in our minds some of the core tensions over politics, birthright, and earned loyalty that threaten to topple Aragorn before he can even claim the throne. I like feeling that uncertainty of the outcome again, and having all the quite legitimate questions raised about Aragorn's right to do what he does.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 5

I never thought that Halbarad and Boromir might have met. This story brings them both together, and I love the way they both dance around the burning questions they have. They both learn a lot just by watching each other and when they finally talk, I was surprised by how much they have in common. Even that they both would not see Aragorn become King :-(. I love the way the political implications of Aragorn's claim to the kingship in Gondor is handled, and Halbarad's absolute conviction that Boromir would follow and support Aragorn even if Boromir is not so convinced himself.

Reviewed by: Llinos  ✧  Score: 5

Although I generally prefer hobbit stories, Dwim's writing alone is enough to draw me in. It is a logical thought that Boromir would join in the search after the Council. His thoughts here are very well done and the descriptions in the story are first class. This might be described as a gap-filler, but that really does not do it justice! It was also a fine history lesson for both Boromir and me, to learn the origins of the Dúnedain and to flesh out Aragorn's past. At the same time the story delivers a building tension and some good resolution. Fine piece of work!

Reviewed by: Bodkin  ✧  Score: 5

Poor Boromir - I shouldn't think there are many times in his life when he's been this much of an outsider. Treated with caution because of his birth, perhaps, but not an alien. It's not surprising that he should resent Aragorn, yet at the same time want to know about him. And this collection of Dunedain is disappointingly close-mouthed. It is fascinating to watch the dance between Boromir and Halbarad. Halbarad's conviction that, knowing Aragorn, Boromir will give him his support is so certain that even Boromir is half won-over. And so begins a friendship that will not have long to endure. Unfortunately. And I'm with Halbarad. Less rain would be preferable!

Reviewed by: Rhapsody  ✧  Score: 4

This is a story I struggled more than I expected too, so I felt relieved when I read the author notes to see that even the author felt the same. This is a very insightful piece into Boromir's character and to be he feels exactly as he is in book!verse. And I simply love Dwimordene's Halbarad: sharp and keen, this characterisation is a treat and kept me on reading. A nice read.

Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke  ✧  Score: 4

I had a hard time reading this at first; the descriptions here are highly detailed, and somewhat ponderous though very rich simultaneously. But within I found a very interesting and thoughtful consideration of character. The parallel's drawn in portraying Halbarad's position as 'steward' and Boromir's vision of Corsairs sailing up the Anduin under the King's banner - past or future - were truly original to my mind.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 3

An interesting and unique what if story in which Boromir meets Halabarad on his way to Rivendell and tries to gain some answers from the suspicious ranger.The author conveys the mutual unease of the two men well as well as their mutual fear of the Wraiths.A vivid portrayal of the sounds and scents of a dark night in the woods.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

In this story, Boromir accompanies Aragorn on one of the pre-Quest scouting expeditions, only to find himself with the group led, not by Aragorn, but by Halbarad. What follows is a tense duel of wits, as Boromir tries to find something out about Gondor's potential King. Very well done.

Reviewed by: Marigold  ✧  Score: 2

I had never before considered the posssibility that Boromir and Aragorn had gone off together after the Council. This story gave me a lot to think about.