2005 Award Category: Races/Places: Villains - Third Place
Story Type: Vignette ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: G ✧ Reason for Rating: n/a
Summary: A boy of Harad learns a lesson from his father on the proper way to give the most precious of gifts.
Reviewed by: sulriel ✧ Score: 10
I've been looking for this one and couldn't remember the name, so I am glad to find it here. I'll say first that I mean no offense to the rest of the list in my praise of this one outstanding work, so please take this in the spirit in which it is given. - In my mind, this is a shining example of what JRRTolkien meant when he spoke of building a legend for other hands and other works - the dreaded, very nearly forbidden, all original cast. Dwimordene builds a world within the world, carefully, oh so carefully using the Middle-earth base, but creating something entirely her own. It fits - but it's more. Carefully matching the edges of the puzzle, she adds to the world with her own art. In addition to following the first rule of writing - "tell a good story" - I especially enjoy that study and work clearly shows in this short story. It is 'active' and 'engaging', as any good writer's manual will ask you to do, a balanced mix of narrative with the dialogue, both spoken and internal, it opens with a hook and the reader's heart is immediately drawn to little Nharadh as he ritually braids his father's hair for battle. These simple rules and guidelines that are so often missed in our excitement to share our work with others pull together in this piece as a shining example of a piece of original work set firmly in Middle-earth. Great job!
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 8
I said that your drabble about the Haradrim chilled me to the core; this one did, too, but in a different way. So much of the religious rhetoric is twisted versions of the hints Tolkien gave us for what Elves and Men believed. Or even Christian tenets, sucha s "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away" (usually used to describe death, as you describe it here). There's such a warrior culture portrayed throughout here. I'm a sucker for symbolism of colours. One of the strongest memories I have from the Catholic side of my upbringing is making the easter cake, with its three coloured layers: red for the blood, yellow for the sun, green for the grass. That was what I thought of when I read of Nharadh and his thoughts on the burial ceremony. All the elements had such meaning to them! But the thought that one lived to be a worthy sacrifice on death -- it's just so different from what we believe (and to me personally, offencive). But it is also very believable for Harad, and you did a first-rate job here of developing a culture for a people we only see from the other side of the sword, so to speak.
Reviewed by: annmarwalk ✧ Score: 5
Warriors, maidens, crones, and children of Harad come alive in this very unusual, imaginatively-crafted tale of warriors rituals and prayer,. The parallel to those who are stirred by mindless religious or political demagoguery in our own age to give their lives as sacrificial offerings is unmistakeable. Like exquisitely crafted Haradric weaponry, theres always a dark and painful edge to Dwimordenes tales that leaves me feeling unsettled, but not so unsettled that I dont want to read more.
Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger ✧ Score: 4
I love stories that look at the other side of the war, and I really like the honor shown among the Haradrim. It feels so solid and so real, and it's offset nicely with little things, like soap to force tears or the everyday task of braiding another's hair. The Haradrim feel like a complete culture here, with beliefs, failings, fears, and conviction. They're definitely a formidable people, and I wouldn't want to run into this boy when he grows up and decides to offer his own gifts.
Reviewed by: nerwen_calaelen ✧ Score: 2
An interesting view of life in Harad. It seems a slightly confusing story, maybe it makes more sence if I had read the other stories you have writtten about the characters.