The Deserter's Just Deserts

Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn)

Nominator: Linda Hoyland

2011 Award Category: Cross-Cultural: Gondor or Rohan - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes

Summary: When a deserter from the army of Rohan is captured in Ithilien, Faramir finds that his wife is strangely troubled by the Rider's plight.

Read the Story  ✧  Backup Story Link

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 10

I can't say that I'm a big Éowyn fan. I dislike the way she switches her affections so quickly from Aragorn to Faramir and that she abandons her duty to her people by joining the Riders as they go to Gondor's aid. It does turn out that helped change the tide of the war, but she was not to know that. This story helped give me far greater insight and understanding into Éowyn’s character and lingered in my mind long after I'd finished reading it. A bounty hunter comes to Ithilien to track down Wulf , a deserter. Faramir and Éowyn hear the man's story and feel pity for Wulf as it seems he suffered from claustrophobia and tried to help with the war effort in his own way, but Faramir has little choice but to hand him over in the knowledge he will most likely be executed. The next day Éowyn tells the bounty hunter that Faramir despatched Wulf and provides a bloodied plait as proof. Later Faramir discovers that his wife has cut her beautiful hair so that Wulf could flee to safety as she identifies with his plight. I personally think Faramir would have learned the language of Rohan, but Tolkien leaves us to make up our own minds and this is a fascinating look on what desertion really is, human nature, remorse and second chances. A wonderful read!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 7

I've always been fascinated with the differences between Rohan and Gondor. Though staunch allies and neighbors, there's still much that sets them apart. As a result, the Faramir-Eowyn relationship is also a point of fascination, and I love the way that plays out here, blending politics with the personal. Eowyn's solution to the problem is sudden, inspired, and hard-hitting. It's exactly what I would expect from Rohan's shield-maiden, and I love that Faramir both resents and admires it to a certain degree. There's another layer of atonement going on, though, beyond the claustrophobic deserter. Both Faramir and Eowyn understand this man's dilemma, and Eowyn shares a large part of his guilt. Her solution has the charisma and boldness of the Riders as well as the compassion and understanding that both Aragorn and Faramir showed her. A wonderful exploration of two very different cultures.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 7

I expected this story to be one thing and it turned out to be another. There is some comparison/contrast between Eowyn and the hapless Wulf, who both deserted their appointed posts during wartime, and Eowyn is the first to point out the rare instance of a double standard from which she benefits: [“None dare harm the King’s sister, but he is simply a Rider of the lowest rank."] But Eowyn isn't content to lament or stew over an unfair situation. In Chapter Two she takes action, and very cleverly, displaying the keen mind that she possesses alongside a warrior’s mettle. I had to laugh at the thought of poor Aelfric, leaving with such an unfavorable view of innocent Faramir, and can only imagine how he will have relayed the story to other Rohirrim. Interestingly, despite her skillful manipulations of the truth, there are at least two outright fibs that Eowyn does not account for. For all her talk of new beginnings, she is as subversive and independently minded as she ever was, and it is clear that marriage isn't going to stop her from bucking authority if she perceives an injustice.

Reviewed by: Rivergift  ✧  Score: 7

I was delighted to find this piece on the MEFAs, it is certainly a well-deserved nomination! Characterisation was beautiful, Eowyn's spirit shines through every line and action and though she no longer bears arms, we find that she can still fight! Faramir's horror at this custom of the Rohirrim is well portrayed too, though I would suspect Gondor would have equally brutal customs, especially in the times of war. It is a thought provoking concept, too: does the ends justify the means? Eowyn, of course, deserted the post her King laid down for her, but in the end slew the Witch-king, and there are obvious parallels brought out here. How hard it would have been for her to stand by and watch as someone not unlike her received such harsh punishment for a misdeed she could so easily understand! I loved her solution and how poor Faramir would now be regarded as a bloodthirsty executioner by the hunter! Good work!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 5

Another review written totally from memory as I've run out of time to go back and re-read! But I remember this one well - I think it was the first thing I had read that pointed out clearly how Éowyn had deserted her post - the role her king had designated for her. And considering herself a deserter she has much sympathy with another Rider who left his appointed place. I recall exactly how she convinced the Rohirrim who were seeking their deserter that Faramir had exacted the ultimate punishment. I also remember that I felt rather sorry for poor Faramir - he might not have actually wanted such a reputation amongst the Rohirrim!

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 3

The problem of deserting is always a tough one; there can be many reasons for deserting, some of which may sound reasonable. However, in war deserters are usually executed. In this story, Branwyn deals with this difficult problem with great skill. I like how Eowyn handles the situation in the end. So well done!

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 2

This is a rather intriguing character study of the White Lady. I liked the author's style of presentation, as I thought it brought an interesting insight.