Shadows of Memory

Author: Linda Hoyland

Nominator: Raksha the Demon

2011 Award Category: Mystery: General - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes

Summary: Injured and believing himself in great danger, Aragorn seeks to flee for his life. Escape, however proves impossible.

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Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

This story is a fascinating combination of the genres of mystery, hurt/comfort and drama, with an occasional seasoning of humor. Thorongil awakens one morning in Gondor to find that he has suffered a head injury; Denethor is being extremely and unusually kind to him, and worse, knows his true name! Things get more puzzling when Denethor insists on personally caring for Thorongil, but something is odd. Denethor lacks a scar produced by a recent wound, his fingers are longer than Thorongil remembered, and he knows the uses of athelas... Linda plays out this interesting mystery well, with Thorongil getting more and more confused and frustrated; until the fourth chapter, when, at least for the reader, the mystery is explained when a horrified Thorongil wakes up to find Arwen in his bed. It is actually over 40 years later, Thorongil is King Elessar with a case of amnesia, and the man he thought was Denethor is Faramir, his Steward and good friend. Chapter Four is probably my favorite; the chapter where Thorongil finds Arwen in his bed and is scared and horrified and concerned for her; and Arwen is annoyed that he doesn't remember marrying. The mutual confusion is beautifully and credibly written, especially the moment where Arwen shows baby Eldarion to his father and poor "Thorongil" is drawn to the child but does not remember being his father. Happily for all the characters, the amnesia is temporary, and Aragorn's memories start to return. This is an interesting premise that is carried clearly and with pathos to its conclusion. I highly recommend it for fans of the hurt/comfort genre as well as Aragorn...

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 10

Dear Linda, I love how cleverly you are unfolding this story. During the entire first chapter, and through much of the second, the reader buys into the scenario you have set up, in which Aragorn believes himself in the care of a Denethor who has discovered his secret. Only gradually do we realise that a man who is so warm towards Aragorn and who speaks Rohirric is more likely not Denethor, but Denethor’s son and that Aragorn is suffering from amnesia. That Faramir should resemble Denethor so strongly is something that I would doubt in a real life setting, but in a fictional universe where Arwen is the spitting image of Luthien, I have no problem with it. The plot thickens when Aragorn awakes to find himself in bed with a dark-haired woman whom he believes to be Finduilas, and concludes that this is Denethor’s plot to get him executed, and then it takes another sharp turn when Aragorn recognises the lady as Arwen, but has no memory of having wedded her. She finally discovers the truth, and manages to convince Aragorn. Perhaps the most striking part of this story is that Aragorn suddenly finds himself confronted with forty years’ worth of news, including the deaths of some of his nearest and dearest. How distressing, to hear of these losses all at once and to have to grieve all over again! Also to hear that Sauron is defeated – this is good news, but it also robs him of the purpose he believes his life to have at that point, and as yet there is nothing to replace it. The shock of having lost forty years of your memories, of your very identity, is a great one indeed and one you have rendered very convincingly. By the time we reach the end of this story, we are very glad that Aragorn’s memory is gradually returning. I think this is your best story competing this year.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 5

Both readers who are h/c fans, and readers who are fond of mysteries will enjoy this story. It has an intriguing plot, excellent dialogue, good characterization, and an effortless, flowing style that is a pleasure to read. Aragorn/Thorongil finds himself in a desperate situation; he is injured but has no clear memory of how it happened, and his antagonist Denethor has apparently discovered his true identity! Things become increasingly desperate for Thorongil as he tries to extricate himself from this situation. Each chapter is well written, with excellent imagery and an impressive command of plot, and the conclusion is satisfying. Not a story to be missed!

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 4

This is a very intriguing story in which we see Thorongil who thinks that he is trapped by Denethor. However, the situation is much more complicated than that. The readers have enough clues to think that there is more than meets the eye, and Linda intertwines Thorongil's "reality" and the true reality very skillfully. I love some humoristic elements in the story, and the end is very nice and touching. Well done!

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 4

Shadows of Memory depicts a troubling time in Aragorn's life. For a man as healthy as he to succumb so entirely to illness must have been disconcerting indeed (to say the least). I love the way the author portrays Aragorn and the others around him; throughout the story, she injects just the right amount of mystery and confusion, creating a wonderful atmosphere.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

I really enjoy stories in which the reader quickly guesses exactly what's going on, while the poor character struggles along in the dark, trying to figure it all out. This is an excellent example of such a tale; it mingles suspense and a little angst with humor and the recognition factor. A very enjoyable read!