Tongues of Men and of Angels

Author: Linda Hoyland

Nominator: Eärillë (Virodeil)

2011 Award Category: Men: Aragorn - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

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

Summary: Attempts to forge better relations with Harad cause problems for Aragorn and Faramir. Written for the Teitho challenge "The Student Surpasses the Teacher."

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Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 10

Dear Linda, this story combines several elements that I like. The learning of languages is a topic close to my heart, and so the premise of the story immediately interested me. Then we have glimpses into the early stages of the friendship between Aragorn and Faramir, and I like how you have included an aspect of rivalry here but have treated it convincingly in the way it would develop between these two particular characters. And I saw with glee the first appearance of Embassador Tahir and his wife Avida, who are among my favourite OCs in fandom. What a pickle for them to get into on their first arrival in Gondor! The plotting of this story is neat and the pacing lively. I enjoy how you are exploring the entire issue of Harad and develop the culture of this land, drawing on real-life Arab cultures but fitting them convincingly into Middle-earth. I also liked Arwen in this piece with her no-nonsense approach and her wisdom and knowledge than can keep Aragorn right where he might otherwise jump to hasty conclusions. The title with its biblical reference adds a further layer of meaning to the story, which shows that Faramir has that which alone can make communication truly successful: a warmth of heart.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 10

This is a superbly-written story. The characterization is excellent; Elessar, Faramir, Arwen, and the OCs are all wonderfully written, with the individuals created by Tolkien being fully in-character. The plot is also intriguing, well-developed, and logically written. In this story the relationship between the recently-crowned King Elessar and his new Steward Faramir begins some serious development. The reader is also introduced to some interesting and realistic characters in the form of people of Harad, once enemies of Gondor, whom the King and Steward are trying to turn into allies. The title derives from the fact that Faramir wishes to learn the language of Harad in order to greet their new ambassador, and asks the new King to instruct him in that tongue. Aragorn/Elessar willingly does so, and not only does their friendship develop, but the King is amazed and a bit disgruntled that the Steward has an even greater affinity for languages than Elessar himself does! This story was written for the Teitho challenge,"the student surpasses the teacher," and the author has done an admirable job of rising to the challenge. The story also demonstrates how useful it is to know more than one language. This story is strong in characterization, description, and plot, and well worth reading.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

For this story, Linda Hoyland goes to the beginnings of the friendship of Aragorn and Faramir, during the first year or so of King Elessar's reign. In this story, she shows a double learning process; Faramir learning the language of Harad, and Aragorn learning more about his Steward and himself as he teaches Faramir. There is also an element of danger, as an assassination plot threatens both Aragorn's life and the nascent peace between Harad and Gondor. If there is a theme to this entertaining story, or themes, it is the importance of linking knowledge and communication and understanding. Each element of the triangle is important in its own right, but are at their most valuable when they are shared and understood. Faramir's desire to learn the tongue of Harad provokes Aragorn to value him more because of the younger man's determination and skill; and the knowledge that Faramir gains enables him to understand the plans of the would-be assassins and save Aragorn's life. And the life of a lonely, embittered Southron amputee is enriched by the time spent conversing in his native tongue with Faramir, and also because of the greater good resulting from those conversations. I also like the way Linda weaves in the themes of misunderstanding and cultural bias. Aragorn himself reveals his own slowness in learning the Haradraic tongue during his sojourn in the south and he is quite quick to accuse not only Ambassador Tahir of plotting to assassinate him (which is forgivable, considering that it is men in Tahir's retinue who plan to attack the king) but Tahir's pregnant wife of planning to strike at Arwen (possible, but less likely). Arwen assumes that Tahir is a patriarchal oppressor, as she has heard the men of Harad are, rather than a man who deeply loves his wife and is delighted by the birth of their daughter. The last line - [Lore and learning were treasures that should be shared] - almost says it all. Faramir and Aragorn and the other characters also demonstrate that understanding and compassion flow to and from knowledge and communication, and are also to be treasured.

Reviewed by: Eärillë (Virodeil)  ✧  Score: 8

Quite a realistic and interesting tale of a study in languages and cultures, coloured with Aragorn’s thoughts regarding a certain (too) apt student, mixed with an intriguing diplomatic problem between Gondor and Harad after the War of the Ring. Linda Hoyland dared to delve into the little-known, less-flattering side of Aragorn, and did it excellantly. Aragorn’s characterisation was quite human, for lack of a better word, and refreshingly so; also, his interaction with Faramir was realistic and lively. The mixture and clashes between the two cultures and languages presented in this story were quite apparent and engaging, despite (or perhaps, because of) the lack of actual Haradric words. Moreover, the author chose the names for the original characters cleverly, adding more meaning to the roles each of them played. Overall, it is a heaven for those who love learning about languages and cultures, or those who would like to see how Aragorn battles to heal his wounded pride. – Highly recommended!

Author response: Many thanks for your much appreciated review which helped this story to a first place. I am so pleased that you enjoyed my story. It was one I greatly enjoyed writing.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 4

Aragorn teaches Faramir the Haradric language and is a little bit jealous at how easy Faramir picks up the for him very difficult language. I like the characterization of Aragorn and Faramir. Aragorn is all too human in this story and Faramir is shown as a capable friend able to keep a clear head and put his newfound knowledge to good use. I had to laugh at the unwitting help of the poor captive in the Houses of Healing.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 4

I really love this thriller. Aragorn's life is in danger, and he is saved thanks to Faramir's skills in learning the tongue of Haradrim - the student surpassed the teacher, which was the theme of Teitho contest for which this story was written. I love Linda's characterization of the persons we see in this story; ambassador Tahir and his wife will later become my favorite OCs. Highly recommended!

Reviewed by: Wtiger  ✧  Score: 3

I enjoyed this story greatly. Faramir is such a unique and interesting person and Tolkien doesn't give great details into the depths of his character. To see him learning a language that quickly and then to be able to use that knowledge to save Aragorn is wonderful. It's funny to see Aragorn jealous of his Steward though. At least he came around in the end.

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 3

Faramir has a gift for the Haradic language that equals Aragorn's in many ways. When Aragorn suggests that he study further with captured native speakers, Faramir does so and is able to prevent a tragedy.

Author response: Many thanks for your much appreciated review which helped this story to a first place. I am so pleased that you enjoyed my story. It was one I greatly enjoyed writing.