Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn)
2009 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Drabbles - Second Place
Story Type: Drabble ✧ Length: True Drabble
Rating: General ✧ Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: As the Grey Company rides for Gondor, Aragorn fears that their coming will be too late.(Written for the "Late" Challenge at Tolkien_weekly)
Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger ✧ Score: 10
What a frightening and ominous little drabble! I love the way that the scene is initially set, and the use of winter and all its chill to describe the dead really gave...well, I hesitate to say it gave "life" to the scene, but it certainly made for a vivid mental picture. Aragorn's weariness is clearly felt, and it is a somber and sobering camp. Then a stark contrast comes in, because as dismal as the Ranger's camp may be, there's a stillness about it that borders on eerie. Not so with Minas Tirith, as Aragorn discovers. The differences between the two scenes make them all the more compelling, and it gets even better with the sheer number of contrasts in the Minas Tirith section itself. I was particularly taken with the idea that the White Banner had become obscured by smoke, but by far the most frightening visual came when Denethor traded the symbol of his stewardship for the palantir. Aragorn's feelings of haste come through as clearly as did his earlier exhaustion, and his desperation to save Gondor makes it seem as though it truly is too late. In just one hundred words, readers start with a haunting and eerie camp, tumble through a fierce and frightening dream, and then wake to a world of frantic haste where every hour can be counted in lives. A truly compelling drabble!
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 8
A reviewer at the site where this drabble made the point that Aragorn is not a superman and so, however much his mind might regret it, even he has to stop. That reminded me of a philosophical concept of the ubermensch. I'm far from an expert on Nietzsche, but as I understand it, the concept says we should not appeal to other-worldly rewards and should instead be master of the current life. Aragorn personifies that, and the juxtaposition with Denethor - who chose a death that was in a sense glorious, at the least an escape from ominous pain - seems to bear that connection out. I'm not sure if the author had all these implications in mind when writing this. It strikes me that, assuming she didn't, it only serves to testify further to how deep this piece is. Because the Aragorn presented here definitely ties in with both Tolkien's creation and the deeper philosophical meme, and yet still manages to be an emotionally moving beat in the larger story even without all that. That's quite a lot to accomplish in a hundred words, and Branwyn does it admirably.
Reviewed by: annmarwalk ✧ Score: 5
A heartrending drabble, and a perfect demonstration of the Master Drabblist's art: telling a complete and compelling story in exactly 100 words. The dead rustle, waiting in their valley of dry bones, but Aragorn is a living man, not a ghost or superman, and sooner or later he and his companions must rest. With terrifyingly vivid language, Lady Branwyn conveys Aragorn's nightmare vision of the White City. How anguished he must have felt, knowing the cost of the delay! ["He begrudged his body these hours of rest, hours stolen from the lives of other men.'] I don't have words to do justice to the painful beauty of that last line - I'm just awestruck with the power and majesty of Branwyn's writing.
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 4
A perfectly marvelous drabble, sharp and clear, with beautiful prose. Branwyn does in a hundred words what it would take me to do in six hundred, and does it brilliantly. The conflict between Aragorn's crucial need for a few hours sleep on the frantic journey to Gondor and the cost of even that brief a delay, is well delineated by both Aragorn's dream and his realization of what is happening while he rests. [He begrudged his body these hours of rest, hours stolen from the lives of other men.] - a heartbreaking, haunting end to this excellent drabble. I recommend it highly.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 4
Sometimes the family tendency toward foresight must seem a terrible burden to Aragorn, and particularly during that last frantic ride through the Paths of the Dead and past the Stone of Erech. Had he indeed realized that Denethor was caught by Sauron's machinations through his use of the Palantir, how would Aragorn feel? A marvelously spare glimpse of the awareness of tragedy building. Well, well done.
Reviewed by: Elleth ✧ Score: 4
Dark, very dark indeed - this seems like an altogether plausible exploration of Aragorn's thoughts. Grittily realistic and nightmarish at once, and the last line gives a whole new meaning to the word 'punchline' for its impact. The prose, too, is gorgeous and (for lack of a better description) appropriately jarring, the mention how [(t)he dead rustled like a forest in winter] is unique, original and very memorable. Wonderfully done.
Reviewed by: Tanaqui ✧ Score: 4
One of the things I enjoy most about Branwyn's writing is her careful and considered word choice, and this drabble is no exception. The imagery she conjures, whether describing the Dead or events in Minas Tirith or Aragorn's frustration at the impact of necessary delay on others, are vivid and compelling. This drabble delivers a great deal within the limits of its hundred words well done!
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 3
As usual, Lady Branwyn chooses her gaps well, and fills them beautifully. In just a few, evocative lines, she sets the scene against its larger context, allowing it to inform Aragorn's weary thinking, which gives the whole drabble its urgency and tension. Very well done, and that last line was a great ending!
Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland ✧ Score: 3
A very atmospheric drabble which illustrates just how hard Aragorn drove himself during the Ring war. A beautiful piece of writing and glimpse into the soul of this remarkable hero.
Reviewed by: Virtuella ✧ Score: 2
I liked this drabble, especially the last sentence, which was very nicely turned. It has a haunted feel to it - excuse the pun. ;-)