Sea Wing

Author: Himring

Nominator: Elleth

2011 Award Category: Men: General - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Mature  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes,Mature Language/Themes,Violence

Summary: At the Havens, as Tuor and Idril prepare to sail into the West, Sador Labadal's niece muses on her fascination with Idril and the fate of the servants of the house of Hurin. Featuring first love (homosexual and unrequited) in times of great loss. The occupation of Hithlum after the Nirnaeth is sketched in some of its brutality. The story is a bit grim, but not graphic.

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Reviewed by: Lyra  ✧  Score: 10

As I noted when I first read this story, I was rather grateful for the irreverent footnote concerning Tuor's midlife crisis - after a story so full of sadness and (remembered) injustice, that provided some much-needed comic relief! Beyond that, this story about a former thrall of the Easterlings slowly dying of a poisoned wound in a house of healing at the havens of Sirion feels true and even satisfying - but it is awfully sad. The unnamed protagonist recounts her fate, her childhood dreams and her obsession with Indis in a matter-of-fact, calm manner - she does not, or no longer, appear upset by her miserable condition. But the reader can't help but be upset in her place. There are moments of light, to be sure - Indis' smile, the protagonist's brother for whom there is hope of a better life now - but sadness prevails. In a good way, however - it feels appropriate and honest. The dying girl (her age is not mentioned and she herself clearly considers herself fully grown, but she came across to me as fairly young) appears to be at terms with her fate. Her final words suggest that she is happy to have dared the journey to the havens despite the injury that she suffered on the road and that is now killing her. A beautifully sad and cathartic glimpse at the aftermath of the Fall of Gondolin and the uprising of Turin.

Author response: Thank you, Lyra! I'm glad that the story feels both honest and cathartic to you! I've always felt that the fate of the Edain and the curse on the house of Hurin are somehow of a different order than even the fate of the Noldor--and that their descendants received Numenor in recompense wouldn't really do much for those who had suffered and died in those wars. So often, surely, they didn't even have descendants! It is possible that my protagonist's brother's descendants will reach Valinor. I sort of hope they will, although they will have to survive the Sack of the Havens and the War of Wrath, and they are not a very lucky family, it seems...

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 10

Himring has a penchant for moving slice-of-life stories, and [Sea Wing] is no exception, although what drew me to this story first was the idea of a fic for the International Day of Femslash featuring an Original Female Character. As Himring states in her archive summary, nothing very much happens at all, apart from unregistered and therefore unrequited fascination - nonetheless the story of Sador Labadal's niece nursing a fascination with Idril at the Havens of Sirion is well worth a read. Not only the realistic and often grimly vivid look at the life of the Edain thralls of Hithlum after the Nirnaeth Arnoediad convinces as well thought-out scenario, the dying woman's love (if it is) for Idril's vivaciousness (while her own has all but disappeared) drives home one fragment of mortal fascination with the Elves. In fact, they are linked frequently with love and death in this fanfic - Fingon who has fallen in the war and still serves as beacon of hope to the thralls only to ultimately disappoint when the protagonist's mother is dying, Idril who visits the wounded and dying of the Fall of Gondolin that have made it to the Havens, only to ultimately set sail into the West beyond mortal reach. All in all a quiet, but highly complex story that will remain fascinating through more than one reading.

Author response: The choice of subject for this piece at times has seemed almost wilfully obscure to me, so I was surprised and delighted that it drew your attention. Thank you very much again for nominating it! And thank you so much for your close reading and thoughtful analysis in this review. I very much appreciate your picking up on so much that I was trying to convey, especially with regard to the mortal fascination with the Elves.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 9

Although it's probably backwards to review the story notes, I have to say your description of Tuor's decision to sail and of your comprehension of the sea-longing just made me laugh! After the tragedy the two refugees have endured and are still enduring, it was needed. Anyhow... Himring's story moves quickly through the unhappy lives of the two refugees come to roost among Tuor's household. The story opens in sickness and both the speed and the tone suggest, at least to me, someone who is not fully present in a lot of ways. Death is drawing the veil, and it feels as though memory has been reduced to its essentials - loss, grief, abandonment, flight, and the process of dying. And then into this process walks Celebrindal, who manages to draw from a dying woman something like interest, in the sort of distant way of someone who knows there is no point in acting or trying to act on that impulse. But it seems that this rather one-sided relationship nevertheless gives the protagonist something to be content with, as she wonders about the distant Valar. Sad and wistful at the end, and strangely content - this story is all these things. Enjoy!

Reviewed by: Keiliss  ✧  Score: 6

There isn't time to give this even the hint of a decent review. I love Himring's writing, but I had not read this before, otherwise it would have received the review it deserved. All I can say is I read it at speed and it still left me with tears prickling my eyes and a lump in my throat. Later I will go back and read it again slowly at leisure and after that I will be telling anyone I know who loves something beautiful but real to read to go look at it. There are images here that will stay with me for a very long time. I always wondered why Idril and Tuor had that urge to sail, now after reading this it has left me sad and worried for all those people they had to leave behind. Incoherent review, sorry. Go read it even though it's too late to review now. Leave a comment on SWG. This little piece deserves it.

Author response: I've already told you how delighted I am that you liked this piece so much and I still am! You could hardly make me a greater compliment than calling it "beautiful but real". Thank you so much!