2011 Award Category: Second Age and Early Third Age: General
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Ficlet
Rating: Mature ✧ Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes
Summary: Ar-Zimraphel struggles up the mountain, hoping to avert the Downfall
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 7
A powerful ficlet about the last moments of Ar-Zimraphel, a.k.a. Tar-Miriel. I liked how Surgical Steel wrote Zimraphel; here she does not flee to the Meneltarma in an attempt to escape the coming destruction; but goes deliberately to try to avert it. Taking the very reasonable view that the mountain is a volcano, Surgical Steel has Zimraphel act as a queen should; she tries to sacrifice herself to the fires to appease the wrath of the Valar that her husband has provoked. Surgical Steel gives strong description of Zimrahel's ordeal, the resolve that does not weaken despite severe pain and discomfort. The ending is horrific and tragic in that she does not even manage to complete the mission she set for herself. Excellent short story. When the gods are revealed as disinterested or angry, what do humans have left but the strength of their own conviction and the will to carry it out? There are no easy answers; but the reader comes away with considerable respect for the courage of the Queen of Numenor.
Author response: Thanks, Raksha - this was an idea that I'd pondered for a very long time. Some of the things I wrote for B2MeM were swirling around in my head while I listened to Radio Margaritaville one day, and this was the result. I'm glad it worked for you!
Reviewed by: Elleth ✧ Score: 6
There is another story of the exact same topic in this year's MEFAs - Tar-Miriel's struggle for survival at the Downfall of Numenor, and while I enjoyed both, the stories couldn't be more different in tone and treatment. Where EÃ¤rille's [The Axes of a Soul] is focusing squarely on water and somewhat mythical distance (though the story itself is very, very alive), SurgicalSteel's [Volcano] deals with fire as Meneltarma is erupting at the cataclysmic events that precede the Downfall, and *her* Tar-Miriel's prayers are regarded close-up and personal - and are ultimately futile. Two different sides of one coin, and each of them is worth a read - here, notably, the keen attention to detail and SurgicalSteel drawing on the Book of Lost Tales to enrich the pantheon the queen of Numenor pleads to before her death make it a fantastic read. Very nicely done indeed!
Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel ✧ Score: 5
I liked this close look at Zimraphel's final thoughts and supplications. The less typical portrayal of her marriage and co-rulership worked well here, giving the queen a more personal edge as her death loomed closer and closer. I thought the author did an excellent job of increasing the tension in Zimraphel's thoughts as the ficlet progressed, building pressure as the earthquake intensified, but then peacefully releasing it at the end to the reader's satisfaction. A very wonderful piece of writing, and an effective glimpse into the Downfall.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 3
I grieve for Zimraphel here as she struggles to reach the top of the mountain and fails, intending to offer herself for her people. And I fear that her last thought proved all too true. An excellent use of Tolkienââ¬â¢s earlier imaginings for the cosmology of Middle Earth!
Author response: I'm glad this worked for you, Larner!
Reviewed by: Dreamflower ✧ Score: 3
This description of the last moments of Tar-Miriel, or Zimraphel, is stunningly horrific, not stinting on the details of how she died. And yet it is still a picture of both courage and desperation that shows her as a true queen of her people.
Reviewed by: MalinornÃ« ✧ Score: 3
I very much liked the quote in the beginning of this story, it set a tone of impending, irreversible catastrophy treated in an impossible, almost light, stoic way that was well reflected in the queen's actions. Entertaining in an unusual way.
Reviewed by: obsidianj ✧ Score: 2
This is a powerful little story about Ar-Zimraphel's last moments. I love the back and forth between her thoughts and what is happening around her. It makes for a vivid picture.
Reviewed by: Ellynn ✧ Score: 2
Very poignant, bone-chilling story. The descriptions are so strong and vivid, and the readers feel all that Zimpraphel feels. So well done.
Author response: Thank you, Ellyn!