King's Men

Author: Marta

Nominator: Azalais

2011 Award Category: Villains: General - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Mature  ✧  Reason for Rating: Mature Language/Themes,Violence

Summary: At the beginning of the Second Age the Valar "forsook for a time the Men of Middle-earth." For those who had fought with the elves against Morgoth they created Numenor, but the rest faced a series of evil kings, culminating eventually in Sauron's domination. What might life have looked like for people in that situation?

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Reviewed by: Azalais  ✧  Score: 10

So much fic prior to the Third Age focuses primarily on the Elves, or if Men the Men of Numenor, that it's good to see a piece exploring a culture we know very little about, from a very dark time when Sauron (in the guise of Mairon) has become as a god and the kings of Men under his tutelage oppress much of Middle-earth. Marta immediately draws us into this world, though, by focusing on the plight of individuals - a fisherman and his wife, in despair at the prospect of handing over yet another of their children to be enslaved. Their powerlessness in the face of tyranny - even to buy timber to build a bigger boat to sail away would arouse suspicion - their attempts to comfort each other and to hold on to hope (they may have a girl, the soldiers may allow them to ransom the child...) are heartbreaking, as is Nadira's "fool's hope" of escape to the land of the elf-folk in the North. Tempting as it might be to imagine their escape, both characters are painfully clear-eyed about the reality: [They must hold to each other and hold to that hope until there was no longer any doubt. What else was left for them to do?] Knowing that Sauron will eventually be thrown down at last is cold comfort, at the thought of how many, many people must have suffered like Osram and Nadira for another Age. Beautifully written, but very bleak, and very sad.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

A quietly tragic portrait of a family that has nothing left but hope; Haradrim living under Sauron's shadow in the Second Age, having both their sons taken away from them to be enslaved; and awaiting the birth of their third child. Marta ably draws the picture of the quiet husband and wife who have no resources with which to fight the taking of their children, who show their heroism in continuing to live and try to hope for better times.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 3

A sad, touching, tragic tale of one family under Sauron's dominion. Thanks to Marta's skillful writing, I sympathize with the poor family and truly hope that their own hopes will come true.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 3

I really enjoyed this glimpse into what was happening in Middle-earth while Sauron had free rein over it. The OCs are fully developed and entertaining, and the plight they find themselves in it pitiable and all too believable.

Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 3

As Gandalf reminds Denethor, even Sauron's slaves should be pitied--or perhaps he should have said: especially his slaves... Marta gives us a worthwhile reminder here of the fate and trials of people who are often overlooked.