Look Not With Longing

Author: Dwimordene

Nominator: dkpalaska

2008 Award Category: Times: Fourth Age and Beyond - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: n/a

Summary: The Fourth Age was hard-won for those who fought the Dark Lord. But that does not mean there are no regrets to confront. Faramir reflects on what has been won and lost in the War of the Ring.

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Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 10

I simply love reading this... and rereading, etc. It's one of those stories that, short as it is, stirs up many emotions and thoughts with layers of meaning and applicability to our own world. Dwimordene's superb writing skills bring this scene and its narrator completely to life. I guess the first thing I can comment on is the language used here. The tone and "voice" feel utterly, completely right for Faramir: introspective and somber but not morose or angsty. It was a victory, after all, even if loss walks hand in hand with it. The ending is indeed just perfect. It's difficult to limit myself on favorite lines to highlight, because there are too many - one after another, insights and phrases that strike me right to the heart. I notice that others have already commented very clearly on the prevalent theme of light, and of Light vs. Darkness and how each defines and heightens the other; I could not agree more on how powerfully this piece speaks to that. The sword requires fire and grindstone to strengthen and hone it. In many ways, this is reflected today in how those Americans living during WWII are sometimes referred to as "The Greatest Generation" - forever changed and yet with a glimmer about them, having lived through situations that most of their descendants can scarcely imagine. There's great use of other canon characters as reference points, markers that show Faramir he is not the only one who notes the post-War losses as well as gains. Even those children old enough to understand the War and what Sauron's final defeat entailed have been "colored" by the experience. One part I dearly love: [And truly, that is what they've fought for, all of them—that there should be no more marked as they have been. They have fought for a funeral—for the burial of an Age, and they have won the right to a headstone.] It's very true: war is for peace in the fighter's time, yes - but more so for their children and grandchildren's peace. And in the end, [dimmed] though the world may be, all the sacrifices foreseen and unforeseen are absolutely worth it. Thank you so much, Dwim, for a brilliant exploration of an understated but critical facet of peace, and what it takes out of the warriors to get us there.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

The first word that came to mind while reading this story was the word "bittersweet." Which is actually my favorite kind of ending for a long story, and it's the kind of ending that Dwimordene's story is all about. Faramir, of course, would be among those able to comprehend and understand these kinds of feelings, and he makes for a great conduit to help the readers understand, also. I loved his musings on how this was what they fought for but how in achieving this, something was lost. In particular, the idea that the world was ["dimmer"] after victory really caught my attention. Without the contrast of Sauron, there's nothing to force the opposing forces to be that much better or to look that much brighter. It goes back to the idea that the shining ages of chivalry are just that in societal memory: shining. And despite the darkness of Sauron, there's something about the past that Faramir misses. Because in losing it, he lost the part of himself that was trained to contend with it. But Faramir, being Faramir, is also able to see the good. And even as he mourns his lost self, he's ready to embrace the new. And his ability to find that readiness in the faces of others is a wonderful note on which to conclude. Powerful story!

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 7

I thought this short story captured well the nostalgia one can feel even when they refer back to a time that was darker and more perilous than the present. A feeling of being adrift in a time growing ever more remote from one's own experiences, experiences that may well leave a more indelible touch on one's soul than those in more peaceful times, being more dangerous and therefore likely more intense. This quote perfectly encapsulates this sentiment: ["Things had a weight to them then that he misses now - the world swept clean of gods and demons is an open, airy space, yet dimmer - thinned."] It is particularly poignant that it is Faramir pondering these feelings, who had yearned for a more peaceful time when he could cease having to fight that was not to his natural inclination. But it feels entirely in-character for him to be so self-aware and reflective. There is so much a sense of what is left unsaid, or only hinted at, that gives a wonderful richness and denseness to the story. The contrast between the melancholic tone and subject matter, and the imagery of light, of shining woven throughout the story is an intriguing and very appealing touch.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 5

A lovely vignette that deals with the joy and sadness of surviving a time of horror and sorrow. Faramir was marked more heavily than some, and also had the strength and imagination to adapt happily to the changes of the Fourth Age. But as perceptive as he is, it is not surprising that Faramir can see the differences between those who lived through the same crucible that forged him, with sympathy, and a certain wistful longing for the greatness of the past that is equalled by his relief that the children of the newer age will never have to face "gods and demons". All of which is expressed beautifully here, through Faramir, by Dwimordene. Well worth reading!

Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea  ✧  Score: 5

One of the greatest members of Gondor's Greatest Generation reflects upon what has been won and lost in this beautiful story. Faramir, ever thoughtful, can appreciate the peace that has been won for his children while acknowledging that desperate times are the forge upon which great men are made. With both Sauron and the Elves gone, the World of Men is a lesser, paler place, and he feels that lack while acknowledging that it is best that things have turned out as they have. A lovely, lyrical story. There were several beautiful passages I started to quote in this review, until I realized that I'd pretty much be putting the whole thing into square brackets! Just go read it!

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 5

In the growing day of the Fourth Age Faramir finds himself realizing how much of what he is and has and knows is rooted in the age he helped bring to an end, and knows that the very evil of that time yet allowed a great good to flourish that those who know only this age cannot yet approach. What a novel and yet profound idea, that we need in part the Shadow of the past to allow the Light to be seen more clearly. In my own stories my characters often bewail the loss of the highest that occurs even as the orcs and trolls and other constructs of Morgoth and Sauron dwindle in number as well as potency. The world becomes mundane until there is a great reason to strive for excellence.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 4

I can see Faramir and others like him having these thoughts all too easily. It's very true that we often do not fathom the full cost of our dreams and wishes until it's too late, and this is just as true of Faramir's dream of Ithilien as a garden, as it was of Denethor's for ["things as they were in all the days of my life"]. Dwimordene does a very nice job of writing this character with depth and subtlety, a real treat for all Faramir fans - I recommend it.

Reviewed by: Avon  ✧  Score: 4

Oh my gosh, that's just wonderful! Reading stories like that makes me wonder why I ever stoped reading LOTR fan fiction. It catches all that is best about Lord of the Rings stories - the mysticism, the glory, the ever underlying sadness, the sheer beauty of words and phrases and the pictures that they make. Tolkien, who served in a war of blood and darkness and who, like so many, probably found the world beyond that war a strange place, would have found great truths in this story. Beautifullu, beautifully written.

Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke  ✧  Score: 3

This is wonderfully thoughtful, and the author turns over each thought and shows it to the reader even as her character does. Faramir's thoughts are appropriately restless, and flow easily and almost randomly from one to another. Thus the author captures both Faramir's experience, and a common human experience, perfectly.

Reviewed by: nancylea  ✧  Score: 1

[Things had a weight to them then that he misses now—the world swept clean of gods and demons is an open, airy space, yet dimmer—thinned.] we forget one without the other is --yes--somehow lesser. wonderful reminder.