Nominator: Raksha the Demon
2006 Award Category: Times: Fourth Age and Beyond: Gondor - Third Place
Story Type: Other Fiction ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: G ✧ Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: A sequel to Isabeau's story "Noble Jewel": Faramir comes face to face with Brand.
Reviewed by: dkpalaska ✧ Score: 10
On the surface, this story is about Faramir learning of and connecting with his dead brother's bastard son. Interwoven with this are many allusions and foreshadowings to the over-arcing universe that Altariel and Isabeau jointly write in. As such, the many layers will only be appreciated when the other stories containing these characters are read in conjunction with this one. However, much of this story stands on its own as a character study of Faramir and his still-evolving understanding of his relationship with his father. Altariel always writes a wonderful Faramir and this is no exception. He is - as-ever - fascinating, complex and angsty, and he maintains his overriding sense honor and loyalty despite receiving a great shock. My first thought in reading the story premise is that Faramir would be overjoyed to have this reminder of his brother, yet as the story unfolds Altariel made me feel that it was inevitable for Faramir to respond to Brand as he does. Although at first I was frustrated by Faramir's reaction, I came to understand that although they felt they were doing things for the best, the folk of Dol Amroth were also indulging in their own motives, and indeed in a sense "stealing" Brand from Faramir, as he mentions over the chess game with Amrothos. Faramirs initially possessive response to Brand is not right, but is a believable legacy from his father. Some parts that I particularly loved: The focus on Faramirs hands and ring in the second meeting with Brand in the library, connecting with mannerisms that Altariel established in previous tales and that look forward to some events in her [A Game of Chess]. The reflections of Faramir about how he is and ever will be Denethors son, and that he still grieves for him despite their difficult relationship and Denethors horrible ending, and how Faramir is coming to terms with this. (This is another foreshadowing to AGoC, and makes me think of Faramirs fiery confrontation with Imrahil in that story and the subsequent change to their relationship.) The powerful and comforting vision that allows Faramir to accept Brand as true family, realizing how Boromir would have reacted to discovering his son. I also loved and appreciated that Eowyn was part of the story, albeit in the background, and the glimpse of we get of her generous heart in her letter to Faramir at the end.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 10
This is a fairly late story in the [Best-loved Sons] series, so without knowing at least some of the backstory of Boromir's affairs, this won't be as accessible. Probably the minimal reading would be [Noble Jewel], which discusses Brand's history, as well as giving a quick summary of Boromir's relationship with Andrahar. Knowledge of the T.S. Eliot series of shorts by Altariel would help to understand Faramir's position. If you've read the series, then this story is about closure for Faramir, who, I think, feels a certain abandonment by his brother, and a sense that the other people in Boromir's life--his other family, as it were, that Faramir had less part in--have a greater hold on his brother's life and legacy than he himself does. This is a source of some tension and grief, as Faramir struggles with himself and the urge towards possessive love he inherits from his father. In the mean time, his uncle, cousin, and Andrahar and Brand struggle to give him space enough to deal with these issues which touch on them so closely. As usual, it's exquisitely written, and the intricacies of grief and anger, misunderstanding and woundedness, are well-portrayed. Not everything is resolved--[A Game of Chess] still lies ahead, which will bring Faramir's father issues, echoed in his struggle to accept and relate to his newphew, to the fore in ways that cannot be side-stepped. He's not there yet, but we can see some of the foundations for that 'later' portrayal.
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 7
The story is part of a series about the House of the Stewards and the House of Dol Amroth, to which several authors have contributed. And it's one of my favorites. Isabeau of Greenlea's "Noble Jewel" introduced Brandmir, the 11-year-old son Boromir never knew he had. Here, in its sequel, Faramir meets his nephew, who has been adopted by Boromir's erstwhile lover Andrahar, Arms-master of the Swan Knights and sworn brother to Imrahil. The story is beautifully written, unfolding like a dark, then bright flower, with excellent characterisation of Faramir. The boy is the unwitting catalyst for reflection not just on Boromir's death, but on the cycle of sorrow and love, from Denethor and Finduilas to their sons, as the echoes of tragedy that have scarred Faramir now shadow his nascent relationship with his beloved brother's only child. The tale of how Faramir copes with the discovery of the boy and the memories that Brand evokes is a suspenseful family drama and a showcase of Faramir's own quality.
Reviewed by: obsidianj ✧ Score: 7
A great squel to Noble Jewel. At first I was angry at Faramir for not accepting Brand at once. His seemingly cold reaction left me bewildered. But then I thought about the time frame of the story. This plays before Faramir is married. So his grief at the loss of Boromir is still fresh. Then, Brand is in the care of Andrahar, and Faramir's relationship with Andrahar is strained because of Boromir. But I think the biggest thing is, he feels cornered. Imrahil and Andrahar have decided that Brand is Boromir's son, and Faramir has no say in it. Not that he would disagree once he sees the boy. But he probably feels pushed around and not taken seriously. Poor Brand is on the receiving end of Faramir's emotions, and he reacts understandably cold and threatened. Luckily for both, they come to a better understanding in the course of the tale and at the end Faramir is reconciled with Brand's existance and a new friendship starts.
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 5
This story was great fun. Brand is an original character who has always captured my imagination and here he is in full force. He is responsible and diligent but also moody and more than a little unsure of himself around all these great lords -- as you would expect of a teenaged whoreson thrust into a world he had never imagined would accept him. But what I really like is a tangential matter here: Faramir and Eowyn, why Faramir loves her and the wisdom that we see in her. Even though Eowyn only inhabits the shadows just beyond this piece, her presence is fully felt. I think she and Brand would get along quite well one of these days.
Reviewed by: Jenn_Calaelen ✧ Score: 4
An interesting story to read. However, it is a little hard to follow because there seems to be an assumption that the reader is aware of a lot of the background and events in other stories set in this verse. This makes it harder for me to follow as I have only read some of them and have got very confusion about which stories are in this continum. However, the characterations are good and show depth to the characters. I like the way you show the similarities and differences between Faramir and Denethor.
Reviewed by: Imhiriel ✧ Score: 4
Faramir's conflicted state of mind in regard to Brandmir comes through very clearly and believably: his reluctance, perhaps even fear, of connecting with Brand, of being reminded of Boromir, and thus him taking refuge in formalities and the focus more on the political aspects of it until he is able to see the boy for himself and not only for what he stands. I particularly liked the conversation with Amrothos, Faramir's vision of the boat on its further path towards the West and following from that, embracing Brand for the first time.
Reviewed by: Dreamflower ✧ Score: 4
This story seems very entangled in other stories, yet I feel that while it would be enhanced by holding all the other pieces, it does not suffer for their lack. Faramir in this comes across as very much himself--not perfect by any means, but struggling always to do what is the right and good thing, and helped by the knowledge of Eowyn's love. And it is such a gift to find that Boromir did leave something of himself behind. Beautifully done.
Reviewed by: Bodkin ✧ Score: 4
I love this. I enjoyed the whole story of Brand - but I can empathise completely with Faramir's reluctance to accept the story of his brother's son out of hand. It is, after all, rather unlikely. Yet their rapprochement is beautifully drawn - as it the understanding to which they come. And Brand has developed an uncle. Seeing Andrahar and Faramir stepping carefully round each other is enjoyable, too - and they can tolerate if not like each other.
Reviewed by: Llinos ✧ Score: 2
It is nice to think that Boromir might have had a son. The story fits very well into this universe.
Reviewed by: Marigold ✧ Score: 2
It is most satisfactory to think that Boromir might have had the legacy of a son. I wonder what Merry and Pippin might think if they met Brand someday!