Portrait of a Queen
2008 Award Category: Races: Men - Honorable Mention
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: Dark themes
Summary: Tar-Telperien was the second Ruling Queen of Númenor, and never met her great-grandmother Tar-Ancalimë, the first such Queen... ...In life, at least.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 10
The fate of the poor women of Middle-earth is ironically well-known: they are largely forgotten, with a few exceptions. One can argue that the male characters Tolkien focuses on are also exceptional individuals (obviously, they are), but even exceptional women - ruling queens - are apt to be bypassed and inserted into a list, their motivations reduced to a narrow focus on a husband or lover, and bitterness can only be taken as a failure in them. Turin's bitterness? Yes, fine, he was moody and doomed; Beruthiel's or Erendis's or Ancalime's bitterness - bad news, but not of the sort that gets elevated to having world-historical importance. Aruthir capitalizes on this pattern of forgetfulness and reduction with the tale, told in formulaic snips, of Tar-Telperien, as she grows from a girl to a woman to a queen, and finally to an old woman bent on seeing her will done if only to spite those who inspired that first, childhood observation: "Life, thinks the little girl, is very unfair", and the silence that results is both mandated by the 'proper' and a harbor for the sting of injustice. The solitude of a girl growing up in the censored society of Numenor's court, subject to the constraints of female nobility, who must represent a very particular ideal that reduces her to passivity, is well-depicted, and suggests a reason for the longing to know the one figure who speaks to her sense of herself, or the self she would want to be. Well done, and in very few words!
Reviewed by: dkpalaska ✧ Score: 8
The story of Aldarion and Erendis has enough bad blood and angst from both sides to make a prize-winning soap opera. The product of this unhappy marriage is Ancalime, who goes on from the poor example of her parents to garner a very unhappy marriage for herself. And three generations later, her great-granddaughter begins "seeing" her... This is a fascinating and well-conceived look into the first two Ruling Queens. The writing is engaging and brief; the story is amply told by what we are given, but the layered hints that Aruthir slips in had me scrambling for my copy of UT in order to fully appreciate them. I thought the author was exceedingly inspired to see the potential connections between these two individuals, but the similarities in thoughts and attitudes are striking and believable. Having it told in short snippets highlights the important aspects and delivers an immense emotional punch, as well as leaving plenty of questions about the intersections of fate and free will. Was this a meeting of kindred spirits? What would Telperien have become without the visits? Excellent!
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 5
A fantastic series looking at the two ruling queens of Numenor and the nature of propriety. Why does Tar-Ancalimae come to the one woman who will follow her in her dreams, and why does the child ask ever about her? Why does she not behave in a proper manner? Each vignette is perfectly chosen, and we see the wilfullness and determination of the child become the stubbornness of the woman and the obsession of the crone. And through it all we see how thoughts of propriety ever rule the actions or lack of actions of those who wear the crown and wield the sceptre of Numenor. Rather chilling and very satisfying.
Reviewed by: viv ✧ Score: 4
Oooh, I like this. You have given us the progression, the reasons *why* she was as she was. Incredible, in such a short space of words, to give the whole life and motivations of a complicated woman, and yet you've done a good job at it. I especially liked the voice of the new king at the end, discussing her burgeoning madness in old age. Ha! If only he'd known: she'd been seeing things and hearing voices for a long long time. And I loved Ancalime having "terrible eyes." Gave me the creeps in the best possible way.
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 4
Intriguing exploration of the life of Numenor's second Ruling Queen, Tar-Telperien. The frustrations of an upbringing that appears to encourage passivity and conformity in a strong-willed child are well-conveyed here; and the use of Ancalime's ghost is a stroke of genius - the reader is driven to ask the question of whether Telperien's bitterness is born of her situation, her descent from the bitter, unhappy Ancalime, or the ghostly influence of the long dead queen.
Reviewed by: Jules14 ✧ Score: 4
An excellent oneshot. You have perfectly captured the frustration, determination, and rage of a strong women trying to gain recognition in a patriarchal culture. However, I don't clearly understand why the portrait of Ancalime was hidden and why her name was stricken from the records; after all, by this time, women could take the scepter of Numenor. Also, was the background information on Tar-Telperien and the portrait gotten from one of Tolkien's books? If so, which one, as I'd like to read it.
Reviewed by: Súlriel ✧ Score: 3
This is a lovely and unusual work. I love the repeated theme, how it ties her life together from childhood to death. I love seeing the child grow through womanhood to become a great queen, I love her strength of resolve and how she is never bent or broken.