Nominator: Raksha the Demon
2007 Award Category: Races: Men: General Drabble - First Place
Story Type: Fixed-Length Ficlet ✧ Length: True Drabble
Rating: General ✧ Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: A wizard and a warlord discuss the nature of power.(100 words, written for the "Births" challenge at Tolkien_Weekly)
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 10
This drabble is a fascinating study in power, opening questions as to who wields power, and how power should be wielded. The dialogue between Denethor and Mithrandir is beautifully written, and could come straight from LOTR. Denethor's need, and desire to dare things that are beyond his ken for the sake of his people, are succintly brought into the piece, in vivid contrast to Mithrandir's more avuncular (and to some degree, patronizing) approach to the disposition of supernatural power. The air seems to crackle with the conflict of these very powerful individuals. One cannot blame Denethor for wanting to save his land by any means possible, and one sympathizes with his impatient reaction to Mithrandir's cryptic utterances. Denethor craves answers, not riddles and enigmas. And yet, the use of Power against the natural order of things, to bend it to one's will in all manner of weaponry and regardless of consequences, is a two-edged sword. Sauron has done so, Saruman is doing so; Mithrandir has good reason to warn Denethor against this course, and to explain why he will not employ the same means as their Enemy. An intriguing drabble, subtle but very thought-provoking, that asks us, as well as Denethor and Gandalf, about the fine line between Power and Desecration.
Reviewed by: Tanaqui ✧ Score: 10
[this review contains spoilers] Gosh, what an incredibly powerful, profound and subtle drabble. And what a treat to stumble across it so unexpectedly. In this brief sketch of Denethor and Mithrandir, Branwyn has woven together ideas and words to create one of the best drabbles I have ever read. The tense interplay between Denethor and Mithrandir is beautifully handled in terse, pitch-perfect dialogue. We gain so much knowledge of their relationship just from this short scene, which is a remarkable achievement given so few words, as well as their individual characters. Denethor's strength and pride are clear, while Mithrandir is his usual maddeningly cryptic self! The different kinds of kinship between Mithrandir and Sauron are delicately drawn out. Branwyn touches on both their inherent natures, of which Mithrandir knows the truth and Denethor perhaps only guesses, and also on their behaviours, as Denethor perceives them (and, in truth, Gandalf's shaping of the events of the age is not so far off the mark). We see here the fertile soil of Denethor's frustration into which Sauron can plant and nurture the paranoia we find in him in the book. The use of the stone to demonstrate the extent and limits of power is a masterstroke of imagery. This is a drabble I will keep reading over and over and feel as if can never truly appreciate all the layers of meaning Branwyn has wrapped in it. Quite superb. Bravo!
Reviewed by: EdorasLass ✧ Score: 5
This drabble is very uneasy, because I can easily see Denethor thinking that a mystical army would be an excellent thing to try, which would certainly be a horrible idea. It seems to me that once the notion was raised, Denethor would spend more and more time looking into the palantir, hoping that he would find some hint there as to how he could get himself some sort of created army, both in hopes of having a fighting force that would be more difficult to defeat, and to keep from sacrificing men of Gondor. A very nice depiction of both Denethor's dislike of Gandalf, and his lack of understanding as to how the mystical actually works.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 4
Ah, Denethor fails to recognize the greatest difference between Mithrandir and Sauron, that the former offers choice while the latter would steal all choice away, imposing his own will on all. Like the old story, the Wizard sells not solutions but seeds the purchaser must nurture himself to bring them to fruition. A good deal of punch once more in a small story.
Reviewed by: agape4gondor ✧ Score: 3
This was chilling and profound at the same time. I really liked your Denethor... wise, yes! I loved what Gandalf does to the poor stone - though I think if a Hobbit had been present - there would have been much sobbing at the mushroom's fate! Nice job!
Reviewed by: Llinos ✧ Score: 3
A very subtle drabble and I liked what was actually *not* spoken between them. Denethor is not far off the mark in his comment about Mithrandir's methods, though his purpose is certainly nobler.
Reviewed by: Dreamflower ✧ Score: 2
An interesting conversation between Gandalf and Denethor. It is so like Gandalf to try and teach a lesson, and so like Denethor to draw the wrong lesson from it.
Reviewed by: Linda hoyland ✧ Score: 2
[spoiler warning] A chilling drabble which vividly illustrates the vast gulf between Gandalf and Denethor.
Reviewed by: phyloxena ✧ Score: 2
So true! Denethor is perceptive and doesn't miss a bit, and Gandalf never lies, but doesn't care to be obvious.