2011 Award Category: Drama: General
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Ficlet
Rating: Mature ✧ Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes
Summary: After the Battle of the Gladden Fields, Isildur must choose which bank of the Anduin to swim towards.
Reviewed by: Lilith Lessfair ✧ Score: 6
This piece depicting the last moments of Isildur in the Battle of the Gladden Fields is a knockout. In it, SurgicalSteel delivers a tale that is both visceral and contemplative. With great attention to the use of language, she draws the reader -- well, this reader, at any rate -- into Isildur's mind in those final minutes. I was terrified on his behalf and also deeply sympathetic to the manner in which he realizes that, for reasons that are all too understandable, that he had made a grave mistake when he decided to keep and not to destroy Sauron's ring. It's a fantastic and very economical (and all the more powerful for that economy of word choice) view in the the mind of a character who is deeply human in his gifts and his flaws.
Reviewed by: curiouswombat ✧ Score: 5
I tend to think of Isildur as simply a short note in the 'history' of Middle Earth; 'that guy who didn't get rid of the ring', followed by 'that guy who lost the ring'. But, in this ficlet, Surgical Steel makes him a real person who is thinking sad, but logical, thoughts even as he struggles in the river where he will lose his life. I will think of this Isildur, now, when I see his name mentioned - surely the sign of a well written piece. The comments thread considering whether Isildur was any 'weaker' than, for example Elrond, is well worth reading too.
Author response: Thank you, CuriousWombat! I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about Isildur and about the political situation in the late Second Age, initially as a backdrop for my other fic, but eventually these ideas I had demanded to be written. I'm really flattered that this worked for you.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 4
A sad fleshing out of Isildur's plunge into the river, loss of the Ring, and the cutting short of his second chance to do the right thing. There is one reference in this that ties this little ficlet to a larger fan-author universe, but I don't think it hinders too terribly, though fans of that universe will undoubtedly find that that line adds something to the flavor of the ficlet. Short and sad, as seems fitting for Isildur.
Author response: Thank you very much!
Reviewed by: Dreamflower ✧ Score: 4
Isildur's final moments: described briefly and in painful detail, as he ponders the choices that brought him to this last moment. SurgicalSteel's terse style is absolutely spot-on perfect for the situation, pulling no punches, and yet allowing the man Isildur is to shine through-- not a super-heroic figure, nor a hopelessly weak one, but simply and sadly human.
Reviewed by: agape4gondor ✧ Score: 3
I have always loved Isildur. No one remembers him as anything but a fool. Yet, when he was young, he did a great deed -- one that should have been heralded for all time. This is a beautiful, bitter-sweet moment. Makes me sob.
Author response: Thanks, Agape!
Reviewed by: obsidianj ✧ Score: 3
This is a very poignant scene. It must have been horrible to realize that all your choices were wrong. At least Isildur didn't have much time to regret his choices. Others had to live with it.