Places in the Heart

Author: Raksha the Demon

Nominator: Tanaqui

2011 Award Category: Drama: General - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: A new map reveals the boundaries and routes of a Shadow-free world to Aragorn and Faramir. But dreams cannot always be charted and drawn as easily as lines on a map. A short story of the late Third Age, partially inspired by the "Passport to Middle-earth" theme of the 2011 B2Me Challenge.

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Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 10

Dear Raksha, as I said in my review on Stories of Arda, it is a delight to look at maps and it is a delight to read a story about people looking at maps. I have in my lifetime seen a few changes on the map of the world, some for better, some for worse, the most significant for me personally, and probably for most people, the disappearance of the Iron Curtain. I imagine it must have been exhilarating for map makers to eliminate that dreadful line. Even more exhilarating it would be for Aragorn’s mapmakers to chart some territories for the first time. To Faramir, the scholar, it would be doubly thrilling, and you show him beautifully anticipating the possibilities. And yet the greatest challenge, perhaps, still lies ahead, because while Sauron was in the end defeated within a few short weeks, the rebuilding of Middle-earth will take generations. I like how both men have a city close to their heart which they would like to see restored, and the symbolic as well as concrete importance of these two places is such that the reader can only whole-heartedly agree. Yes, Annuminas must be rebuilt, yes, Osgiliath must be rebuilt, because a city is more than the sum of its buildings. A great short story, very much after my own heart.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 10

This is a wonderful story as it crams so many thoughts and ideas into a relatively short story. Raksha vividly depicts an image of Aragorn and Faramir poring over an old map of the Reunited Kingdom and together planning the future of the realms of Gondor and Arnor. Although both men like one another and try to see each other's viewpoint, they naturally prefer their own birthplace and region.This is very true to life and reminds me of the way we all feel about our own home regions. As a Northerner, I am not happy if only the Southern part of the country is invested in, and Faramir feels much the same about Aragorn's natural bias towards the North. What a lovely glimpse of Aragorn and Faramir's plans for the future and what a time it must have been to live in. I like it that Faramir will speak his mind and Aragorn listen to him.This story could have been about the first quarrel of the King and Steward, but both men are too wise to do that. I was amused at my own Northern reaction as I found I was favouring Annúminas as much as Aragorn ! How wonderful, though that after so long being in ruins that both great cities, Annúminas and Osgiliath will finally be rebuild in a prospering Fouth Age Middle-earth, free at last from the shadow.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 6

This is a delightful story! To see Aragorn and Faramir, side-by-side, as they begin to explore their friendship much like they are exploring the map before them is lovely. Both of them are like young boys planning adventures with nought but a map to fuel their imaginations (and I could not help but imagine a young Frodo and Merry doing that sort of thing once) and yet-- there is more, for with the duties and responsibilities of their offices can also come the privilege of making their imaginings come true. I like Faramir's enthusiasm-- and then his hesitance: has he overstepped some as yet unseen boundary with his King? But Aragorn proves that he is not one to guard the borders of his dignity beyond reason. And with the two of them, I also look forward to seeing those things they are planning come to fruition!

Author response: Thanks much for reviewing the story! I was aiming for a story that combined elements of friendship and politics, and the power to dream. Both Aragorn and Faramir have had to contain their dreams for so long, and now they are in a position of actually sitting down and planning to make those dreams come true - there would be a heady rush of excitement, and then the real-world implications creep in. But these are exceptional men, and the new Age is dawning, and dreams have already come true and more will come, though they won't all be realized overnight. It must have been a very exciting time in both Gondor and Arnor...

Reviewed by: Altariel  ✧  Score: 5

Such a great hook for a story: a new map and its meanings, as a new world opens up in front of two of the men who will be shaping it. I like Faramir's memories of looking at shipping maps with his grandfather, and how the various locations on the map call to his mind other people that he loves. The map becomes a focus not just for the rebuilding of the two kingdoms - and their two ruined capitals - but for a first exploration of the boundaries of the relationship between King and Steward: ["Had I overstepped my bounds"], Faramir wonders. But Aragorn is not Denethor, and this is new ground. A clever and insightful piece; thank you, Raksha!

Author response: Oops, I hadn't replied to this review. Anyway, thanks much for reading and reviewing this piece; I put a lot of thought into it; the idea had been floating in my head for awhile before I actually wrote it; and it's probably the most political of my stories; or at least the closest to a situation having political implications. I think that Faramir would be a person who would have loved the sense of history and adventure that can be found in maps; and Aragorn would have been very excited about seeing the first post-War map and the implications of the peaceful connections that could be made. The story is also my attempt to portray Faramir as a budding statesman, a man who can transcend the political and be something of a visionary, with the big dreams needed for a new and more open Middle-earth.

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 5

Back to Middle Earth Month has been the midwife to so many good stories - this is one such. I like Faramir's excitement at the idea of a new map showing the re-united kingdom, but this is only the starting point. His counsel to his King seems at first to be rather biased; that he should restore not only the capital of the North but also Osgiliath, even though Minas Tirith, capital of the southern kingdom, is already being restored and so the two halves of the kingdom are already being treated equally. But his vision for Osgiliath is such a big vision that I find I cannot complain!

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

A story about the future, combining Faramir's ideas with Aragorn's hope. A good insight into the characters of both men, and a great reminder to readers everywhere that great things can be accomplished when we put our minds to it. Well written and a pleasure to read!

Author response: Thanks for the review, Darkover. I always enjoy finding a new angle from which to work with Faramir and Aragorn; both of whom I think are great men who did great things, and would usually work well together.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 3

A nice look at how politics might meet the personal. Of course Faramir would want to see Osgiliath restored, for the loss of that seems to represent the waning of Gondor (falling from a true capital to a war-fortress, etc.) This fic did a good job of mixing the private with the political.

Reviewed by: Antane  ✧  Score: 3

Oh, I love the idea of Faramir being a teacher! He would love that. I love also the end - that Aragorn should be one also because he is Estel. What grand dreams they both have, but the big dreams are the only ones worth having. Did you write a sequel showing this? You should!

Author response: Thanks much for reviewing this story, Antane. I think Faramir would make a splendid teacher. I did want to get that sense of big dreams across; now, with Sauron gone, big dreams are not only possible, but have a chance at becoming reality in time. I haven't done a sequel yet, but maybe someday...

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 3

Places in the heart can become reality, as Raksha tells us in this ficlet. We see Aragorn and Faramir making plans (or should I say dreaming?) for renewing some ancient cities of Gondor and Arnor; and while reading this, we readers feel that it can be done. Beautifully written.

Reviewed by: Wtiger  ✧  Score: 2

I can definitely see how something like this would mean the world to Faramir. Especially to be recognized for his love of lore and history. That is a true gift indeed.

Author response: I put a lot of effort into this story; and dialogue is not my strong suit; so I really appreciate every review. Thanks much for taking the time to read and review it, Wtiger. History and lore certainly do mean a lot to Faramir; and he is not a stranger to the give-and-take of politics...