The Gift of Men
2011 Award Category: Drama: General - Honorable Mention
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Ficlet
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: Mature Language/Themes,Violence
Summary: The last thoughts of Ar-Zimraphel, queen of Numenor.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 10
Mm, theological twisters... Marta has been exploring questions of faith, reason, and theodicy for some time now in different fanfics, and here we have another one, though this one is less focused on the knotty problem than it is on one individual's psyche as she has to find a way to act. Tar-MÃriel is not a woman at peace, but she is one of resolve - a queen, as she herself notes and wills to be right down to the end. Marta's brief tale makes her flicker to life, with all the competing, half-acknowledged motives that make her strive to reach Meneltarma before the destruction of the island can overtake her. I like the dignity with which Marta invests MÃriel/Zimraphel, and the ambivalence and ambiguity of her, which is evidenced even in the name that MÃriel/Zimraphel uses of herself. Marta manages to make MÃriel/Zimraphel ride the line between simple defiance of the divine in the face of disaster and an act of faith that has nothing to do with whether the gods exist or how they are, but with who she is and what she owes. That's a tough line to hold to, but I think Marta wrote it well. Recommended for fans of the Second Age and NÃºmenor, or anyone who likes her philosofic with a dose of epigraphical theology to flavor it.
Reviewed by: Lyra ✧ Score: 8
Tar-MÃriel/Ar-Zimraphel's flight onto Meneltarma as the wave descended upon NÃºmenor has always been a matter of some confusion to me - what did she hope to gain by going there? Reach the ears of Eru in all that turmoil? Reach a point high enough to escape the ruin of NÃºmenor? But if she was indeed as faithful as the published Silmarillion (though not all the drafts!) claims, shouldn't she have accepted the inevitable? Or was she just headless with fear and might as well have run into some forest for cover, had one been available? Marta's Zimraphel asks herself the same questions while she climbs, and comes to an answer: As a place of sacrifice (albeit only spiritual, so far), the Meneltarma is a fairly appropriate place for her to be in NÃºmenor's - and her own - last moments. Struggling with hope against hope, doubt, faith and all the mental chaos that can be expected in someone who knows that she is about to die, Zimraphel finally finds a certain fatalistic calm and dignity in herself and faces the wave. I liked this interpretation very much.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 7
A fascinating look at the thoughts of Ar-Zimraphel's thoughts as she climbed the slopes of Meneltarma, striving vainly to reach the Hallows there when the wave overwhelmed Numenor. That she would willfully take herbs to lose those children she had conceived of Pharazon was an interesting thought, and certainly understandable if he had indeed made her his wife against her will, taking the kingdom with her body; that she might indeed have been pregnant at the time the island was threatened is an idea I've seen before in other expansions on the original paragraph from the Silmarillion, but I like how it was she had realized that this child was living and she found she wished she could indeed carry it to term in spite of her reluctance to give Pharazon a proper heir. As for her final decision.... At least she did face it with a level of courage. Written with the skill one associates with Marta's writing. Excellent imagery!
Reviewed by: Caunedhiel ✧ Score: 5
Immortal or mortal? That is just one question that doesn't have a right answer, no matter how hard you look at it. This got me thinking certainly about the fates of both elves and men in Tolkien. It just doesn't seem fair does it? To either side really. I loved the fear and the terror felt by Ar-Zimraphel as she fought to out run the waves, and at last the acceptance and courage to hold her head high in the last moment. It felt so real! You are a brilliant story-teller and this is one of the best pieces I've read even though it wasn't as long as I would have liked :)
Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel ✧ Score: 3
There have been many interpretations of this particular scene by various authors, but I can honestly say that I've never seen a version that features this particular plot point: a pregnant Zimraphel. It cast a whole new color over the scene, and I thought it was interesting to read it with that fact in mind.