Nominator: Gandalfs apprentice
2007 Award Category: Genres: Alternate Universe - First Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: General ✧ Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Sometimes foresight is false. After Pelennor, the new lease on life is but the beginning. Halbarad, Aragorn, and the journey towards healing. AU.(N/A)
Reviewed by: Gandalfs apprentice ✧ Score: 10
I can't praise this story enough--and it's not just pure self-indulgence for this dedicated Dunedain lover! The self-indulgence part of my enthusiasm is that this story depicts my main AU fantasy--Halbarad lives past the battle of the Pelennor fields, to stand by the side of his king into the Fourth Age. (Another AU fantasy--Gilraen lives into the Fourth Age. What reason did Tolkien have to kill her off? Just couldn't help wiping out all the women characters?) And it's not PURE self-indulgence because the story is so good. From the fever-pain of the beginning, through to the warm friendship of the two battle-scarred warriors at the end, neither of whom will ever be the same, written in Dwim's poetic angsty style, wandering in some dream state. Halbarad is a favorite character of many of us pervy Aragorn fanciers--a sort of Aragorn stand-in, as it were, but one whom we can make more of our own character, there being so little canon to stamp him in a mold. We don't even know how he was related to Aragorn (I have my own canon on that, and Dwimordene has, what, three versions, is it? I've lost count). But the one piece of canon we can't escape is his death in the War of the Ring. And I don't know if I'll ever forgive Tolkien for that. But Dwimordene has lessened the sting to a very great extent. Now if she'll only make it into a novel....
Reviewed by: dkpalaska ✧ Score: 10
I've lost count of the number of times that I've read this now, but it still brings misty tears to my eyes with the wondrous mixture of uncertainty and sadness and pure, light joy it contains. It's certainly become one of my favorite stories, AU or not, for its moving themes of death and life and the steadying call of duty and friendship. For one, the portrayal of Halbarad's near-death experience is just... exquisite. Somehow the perfect blend of word choice and sentence structure and length, and it feels as though I am sharing this horrific experience with Halbarad, understanding at least something of the terrible hold that it has on him - alive, and yet not really belonging to life. The symbolism of the [One All In Grey] (Mandos) is used very well here to represent Halbarad's closeness to death, as is the references to the transparency, filminess, insubstantialness of himself and the world around to show his semi-living state. I was hoping for Aragorn's return as much as Halbarad and the people were, though not for his kingship, of course - but for what he means to Halbarad. The deep and easy relationship is so well done, even though shown only sparingly, exactly as I'd see two such longtime friends and comrades sharing. And Aragorn, of course, knows just what Halbarad needs to anchor him to reality and living - the call to duty, to friendship and those who *need* him. The dream at the end was particularly beautiful, and left me with the strangest and most wonderful mix of joy and bittersweet sympathy. The Return of Halbarad will probably be no more easy than the Return of the King, but I greet it just as happily.
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 10
"Resurrection" does what the alternate unierse genre really does best. It takes a departure from canon and looks at how what changes (and what remains the same) has to say about the events that actually did happen. In this case Dwimordene takes Halbarad's death at Pelennor as her departure. What does this tell us about the actual canonical story? Halbarad's death is never actually told in the book, and his character is never even mentioned in the movies, so one might wonder whether this is a big enough departure. But I have always loved Halbarad, and in a way he represents the Northern Dúnedain to me. He is in my mind Aragorn''s past, and when he dies it feels like Aragorn's unglamorous years as a Ranger are being crucified, so that Aragorn-the-king can be resurrected from them. Dwimordene gives us a different view of how events could have unfolded. If Halbarad had survived, there would have been a much less king break between Strider and Elessar. Not to say that Aragorn's *memories* of his past don't affect him even in canon, but I think this portrayal of Halbarad's resurrection from Pelennor would require a much different integration between Strider and Elessar, and by extension Eriador and Gondor. In a way a Halbarad-lives AU is similar to a Denethor-lives AU, but with much more emotional pull simply because there are less obvious political consequences. In any event, this story's a beautiful read told mythically and brimming with spiritual language and imagery that makes you cry. Even without thinkin about how Halbarad's survival would have affected the canon. I highly recommend it.
Reviewed by: Imhiriel ✧ Score: 7
The language and structure of the story illustrates very well its mood and content. Halbarad's fever dreams and nearly slipping away to death, and his slow road to recovery, are conveyed by appropriately vague and dream-like descriptions, as the readers see the story unfold through his point of view. I find it a very intriguing detail that on one level, Halbarad *knows* he shouldn't have survived, that this is an alternative reality. It makes the tension of the piece between canon and AU that much tangible and I find it very creative to address this aspect in the story itself. In addition, comparing, or "paralleling" Death with Aragorn somehow gives the impression that it was only his friend's and king's need for him that made him turn back from dying. I find this aspect very telling and poignant, all the more so when their friendship is here rather implied; so self-evident and strong that it doesn't have to be explained or dwelled on much.
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 6
A beautifully told Alternate Universe story of the injured Halbarad's physical and emotional recovery. Badly wounded and close to death, he survived, and grappled with the strangeness of renewed life in a new world he had not expected to see. I like the way that Halbarad, whose strength and courage have never been in question, does not easily accept his own survival; he has been marked by battle, pain, and suffering, and the acceptance of the death that was nearly his. But he does not give up; there is no death-wish here, merely curiosity as well as the will to endure. Aragorn's appearance is perfectly written; Dwim writes the two old comrades and warriors very well, their relationship one of understated friendship and love.
Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea ✧ Score: 5
One of my very favorite Dwimordene stories. Halbarad, severely wounded on the Pelennor, hovers between life and death. Even after he is healed enough to leave his bed, he still hovers. Only Aragorn can truly bring him all the way back to life. Halbarad's odd, in-between state is well-described, his physical pain and mental detachment conveyed precisely using very few words. His long friendship with Aragorn is also conveyed in simple gestures and brief dialogue. This story depicts the hopeful rebirth of both Halbarad and Middle-earth.
Reviewed by: obsidianj ✧ Score: 4
[spoilers] In this AU Halbarad survives the battle of Pelennor, but it seems to be a near thing. Until near the end of the story Halbarad seems to be neither here nor there, balancing on the brink of death until Aragorn's need for him decides his fate. I like the description of his fever dreams, or are they dreams? Sometimes he is awake, but still removed from reality, from outside life. That is an apt description of the way to recovery after a serious illness.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 3
How many of us have wished something like this might have happened, that we see Halbarad and Aragorn side by side, Halbarad not dead upon the Pelennor but serving both lands.... A marvelous, very realistic look at how it Might Have Been.
Reviewed by: Bodkin ✧ Score: 2
How delightful to have Halbarad edge back from the borders of death - to stand by a different grey-cloaked figure, and see, at last, the dreams of the Dunedain become reality.