Mapping Desire

Author: empy

Nominator: foxrafer (csevans8)

2011 Award Category: Romance: Gondorians - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Mature  ✧  Reason for Rating: Sexual Content

Summary: There are hidden treasures in the libraries of Minas Tirith, and when Aragorn finds one of them in a book of maps, Faramir agrees to act as guide.

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Reviewed by: foxrafer (csevans8)  ✧  Score: 10

What first draws me into this story is the dialogue. Right from the start the writer uses the interaction between Aragorn and Faramir to begin defining these characters, showing us a glimpse into their personalities and temperaments. I, for one, always like stories that present Faramir after the War at peace and settled in his life, and seeing him in this easy conversation, finding amusement in Aragorn's discoveries of these atlases that are more than what they seem, is a delight. And Aragorn has the gentle, patient spirit that I enjoy reading in stories. As they look over the hidden drawings in the book of maps, drinking wine as they go, their inhibitions begin to fade and their conversation becomes more flirtatious and challenging. I appreciate that she doesn't have them instantly begin mauling each other. This is, after all, a King and his Steward. There would be a natural hesitation, a desire to maintain decorum, that would stay their hands. Once they begin to act on their mutual desires, I love that it's Faramir who takes the lead rather than the reverse. This is not a mousey or reserved Faramir, and he takes control much to Aragorn's delight and pleasure. I found this to be a truly wonderful story. I love the characterizations and the dynamics between these two men. And the way in which the writer presents Faramir's thoughts throughout is absolutely perfect.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 10

The first time I read this story, I was reminded of an encounter I had not long after I first came to fandom. I asked a slash-only listserv whether they accepted gen stories, and one of the members (also new to fandom) seemed legitimately surprised by the question. To her, the idea that a story would not be pairing-driven seemed like a revelation. In many ways, "Mapping Desire" flirts with being the very kind of story this member thought epitomized fanfic. We have Aragorn discovering the Middle-earth equivalent of the Kama Sutra, complete with annotations by a younger Faramir on which illustrations he found most exhilarating. The result, for any slash aficionados out there, is in some sense predictable – brilliantly well-written, to be sure, but still more or less what I expected from the scenario. But what really sells this story for me are the little touches. The way that Aragorn learns of Faramir's truer or at least more hidden aspects through the honesty Faramir is willing to brave (and, I'd wager, how Faramir learns a thing or two himself), when he moves beyond titles to honesty. The way that politics is present even then. The way that Aragorn craves and needs to surrender his kingly authority in this more private environment. I always struggle to accept Aragorn/Faramir slash, given these characters' backstory and especially given the sacrifice Arwen made for their love. I think it is literally impossible for a story of this length to convince me of this pairing. But setting that issue aside, I always find this story to be a really nice ride and in many ways a truly thought-provoking characterization of those two men: equal parts tantalizing eroticism, character development, and pushing the boundaries of what the Fourth Age makes possible. Nicely done.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 3

Interesting guide Aragorn found in the personal and bookish way. I like it that most of the conversation is indirect and not spelling explicitly out what is meant, but is clear enough that the reader can fill in the blanks for himself.

Reviewed by: agape4gondor  ✧  Score: 1

Very nicely written. A brief moment in the life of Steward and King - but so much learned.