Day's Ending

Author: Raksha the Demon

Nominator: Linda Hoyland

2011 Award Category: Ring War: General - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet

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

Summary: What does Halbarad see at the end of his last day? Follow the Ranger's last moments, through his own eyes.

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Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 10

Although Halbarad only appears briefly in the book, I have a very soft spot for him. It is obvious from his brief appearances that he and Aragorn care for each other deeply. Maybe Halbarad is the human brother that Aragorn sadly never had! I've read lots of stories and written them myself where Aragorn forsees his death or is struck down and killed instantly, but Raksha takes a different, and in my opinion, more emotionally involving approach here, by letting Halbarad survive until the end of the day of the battle. I love it that Halbarad is able to say goodbye to his son, the twins and most of all, Aragorn, in whose service he willingly gave his life. How I wish,thought he could have lived to see Aragorn crowned and marry Arwen and become a father! Halbarad draws his final breaths gazing up Minas Tirith, the City he had long dreamed of seeing,and upon the standard that he had so bravely borne. I think it most appropriate that Halbarad, a Ranger, who has spent many long years outside, should wish to die in the open air, beneath the sky.He can also take comfort that his sacrifice was not in vain, Minas Tirith was saved and Aragorn is closer to his dream of becoming king. I defy anyone to read this deeply moving story without shedding a tear, even on repeated readings.

Reviewed by: cairistiona  ✧  Score: 6

A beautiful telling of the death of Halbarad, which Tolkien left frustratingly blank as to detail, just as he left only the barest outline of the man's life. Halbarad is one of my own favorite characters and Raksha does him great honor with a noble death surrounded by his son and his beloved Chieftain, as well as the Peredhil brothers, who must surely have been very close friends with Halbarad, even as they were close as brothers to Aragorn. There is neither too much sentimentality in this nor too little; it takes skill to avoid the mire of overblown prose in a death scene and Raksha strikes just the right balance. I highly recommend this little gem to anyone who wonders about Halbarad and the manner of his living and his dying.

Author response: Thanks for the review, Cairistiona. I'm pleased that you thought there was neither too much nor too little sentimentality in the story; that's what I was aiming for...I like sentiment in stories, but if there's too much, it overwhelms; and of course this was HALBARAD's death so not just some poor unknown Dunadan's last moments...Anyway, thanks. I don't see Halbarad as someone who would want his last moments dripping in tears; he was above all a soldier; he'd want to know that the people he loved were cared for, and that he did his duty, and he'd be pleased to have brought Aragorn and that standard to the gate of Minas Tirith. Glad you liked it!

Reviewed by: Russandol  ✧  Score: 6

Halbarad has always been one of my favourite characters in The Lord of the Rings, even if his appearance is far too brief. Who can not have a soft spot for the loyal friend and stalwart supporter who dies, after ominous words of self-foresight, within reach of his life-long dream? This ficlet portrays that sad moment beautifully and at least gives Halbarad a chance to reflect on the triumph he has achieved next to his soon-to-be king, and to admire the scene of his childhood bedtime tales. Tolkien only told us that he died in battle, a hero of the War of the Rings, but I'd much rather it happened like this than in the middle of the fray, without time for farewells to his son and words for his wife or deprived of that brief glimpse of victory.

Author response: Thanks for this thoughtful review, Russandol. I thought that at least some of the Northern Dunedain, wandering in the wilds in constant hardship, might have cherished a sense of almost reverence for Minas Tirith, the great white Numenorean fortress of the South, or at least viewed it as an iconic place in their people's history. And to me, Halbarad would have derived great satisfaction not only in fulfilling a great mission, to deliver and bear the standard of the King, but to die beside that King in the saving of Minas Tirith. Tolkien does not specify the exact place and circumstance of Halbarad's death, whether he died where he fell in battle, or was fatally wounded and had time to be removed from the battle, just that he did die on the Pelennor ("But many others were hurt or maimed or dead upon the field...Neither Hirluin the fair would return to Pinnath Gelin, nor Grimbold to Grimslade, nor Halbarad to the Northlands, dour-handed Ranger"); so I thought I had some leeway in recording the time and place of Halbarad's death, the Pelennor being such a huge place. Anyway, I'm pleased that you liked the piece. I don't write Halbarad very often, and he's such a dramatically powerful character, I wanted to do him justice...

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 6

This is a beautiful story of Halbarad's passing. He dies knowing he has fulfilled his purpose in life, and that his friend and kinsman will be crowned, and life will be better for their people, because he and his fellow Dunadain rose to the task. Beautifully written, and not at all sentimental. I especially liked the part where Halbarad snaps at one of the Peredhil, "I will lie quiet soon enough, Elrondion," and insists on dying outside, in the fresh air. That brief and simple passage indicates that Halbarad was his own man up until the very end. Aragorn's sorrow at the death of his close friend and kinsman is written in an equally convincing and impressive style. Very well written, especially for such a brief tale.

Author response: Thanks much for the review, Darkover. I really did not want to over-sentimentalize Halbarad; despite the great emotional impact of his untimely death. I feel he understood the risk when he set out with the Grey Company; and had foresight of his own death; and, as a soldier, and a Dunadan soldier as well; that knowledge would worry him less than the fulfillment of his mission, and a victory for his kinsman and king. I think to some extent, Halbarad died content; and that sense of purpose and accomplishment was one I wanted to convey, as well as Halbarad's excitement to finally see the White City.

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 5

Dear Raksha, I think what I like best about this story is the very fact that you give Halbarad a family. You are absolutely right to propose that he was married, in fact, in a society where men are so scarce, it would have been strange if he hadn’t been. I also like the inclusion of the grandfather and the son, it gives a lovely sense of continuity. And I enjoyed how the city of Minas Tirith becomes almost a character in its own right. Halbarad displays a strength of mind and serenity here that is very fitting for his character. This is a well-rounded, well-executed ficlet which I enjoyed reading.

Reviewed by: Inzilbeth  ✧  Score: 5

Oh Raksha this is absolutely wonderful! For some reason I just can't explain, I find Halbarad's approaching death all the more poignant when told in the first person and you did this so beautifully. I particularly liked the lack of sentimentality which can overwhelm a sence like this and it was a clever device for Halbarad to have already seen images of the White City in his grand father's book. Halbarad's closeness to Aragorn is revealed in the little details such as Halbarad recognising the quiver in Aragorn's voice. But the crowning moment has to be Halbarad beholding the banner that he dutifully carried for so long. Well done, this brought a tear to my eye!

Reviewed by: Ragnelle  ✧  Score: 3

A gripping telling of Halbarad's last moments, and one of the best of its kind I have seen. The setting was, to me, surprising, but it works very well. The tone is subdued and avoids the sentimentalism that so easily creep into stories that, like this one, focus on a character's death.

Author response: Thanks for reading and reviewing this story, Ragnelle. I don't write Halbarad often (hardly ever); and I wanted to do justice to him as a great character we barely knew in LOTR. I thought that at this moment, Halbarad at least would not be too sentimental; he had made his decision and knew he would not come home; I think he would have had a soldier's pride in bearing the standard of Elendil and seeing his friend, kinsman and Chieftain come to claim his lost throne. Halbarad's greatest care would have been for his family and Aragorn at this time; and I did think he would die with a sense of great accomplishment and hope. I'm glad you enjoyed it; thanks again for calling it "one of the best of its kind"....

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 3

Day's Ending is certainly one of the better Halbarad death-scenes I've read to date. I love the way the author depicts his strength and honor, right up until his last breath. It's a believable and fitting end for one such as him.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

Most stories have Halbarad fall and die during the Battle of the Pelennor, and he is already dead when the battle ends. Rarely do I see one in which he survives to see the victory first and to take his farewell of Aragorn. In this one he does, and it is a very fitting and well-written scene. Moving and poignant, but with a graceful dignity and hope, as well.

Reviewed by: Sevilodorf  ✧  Score: 2

A poignant look at a hero's death. To come so close to the long sought goal but not achieve it would have been a bitter end for a weaker man. Well portrayed.