The King's Colors

Author: Dwimordene

Nominator: dkpalaska

2008 Award Category: Genres: Alternate Universe: Steward's Family - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: n/a

Summary: The King's Colors fly once more on Pelennor. Denethor's best-loved son meets the man who would be king. An AU vignette for Obsidianj's birthday.

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Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 10

The trickiest part of AUs for me is whether the author can balance the shift(s) to canon while maintaining accurate characterizations. I am very much a character-driven reader; I can handle a slight bending of Tolkien's beloved crew, but there usually has to be good reason behind a change to how an individual would "normally" act or I most often end up disengaging from the entire story. Well, there are no concerns with ["The King's Colors"]. Dwimordene alters quite a bit of the LotR story that leads up to this point in the timeline, but the interaction depicted here feels as authentic as something right from the Master's pen. Aragorn and Boromir *are* the original Aragorn and Boromir, and the author handles this uncanonical meeting superbly. And as usual, there is never cause for complaint concerning the technical aspects of writing with this author. The first few words draw me in immediately, the stage is quickly but thoroughly set out, and the initial promise is followed through to the end of a tight, well-paced scene. The tense atmosphere is palpable, Boromir's inner thoughts and the dialogue excellently handled. We are given very few details of how this AU moment came about, but I did not find myself dwelling on it; the concept is entirely plausible and a reader's imagination easily fills in the gaps. The author's focus remains right where it should be: a reader is no more distracted by extraneous information than the two protagonists. Despite the rough beginnings to this relationship, there is a clear, definite feeling of hope in the end: Boromir, like his brother in canon, will prove to be not wholly his father's son. A must-read for any fan of Aragorn or the Brothers Mir!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

I've never been disappointed when Dwimordene sits down and spins out an Aragorn story, and I don't think I ever will be. She is the undisputed master when it comes to writing my favorite Ranger, and in this story, she proves she's equally adept at writing Boromir. There are countless parallels between Boromir and his brother, but there are subtle differences, too. The confrontation in this first meeting of King and Steward's son has a quiet intensity about it. It feels kind of like two big cats sizing one another up and determining what the first move should be. This tone is balanced by some wonderful moments of humor (I especially liked Boromir's response to Aragorn's request for heraldry), but the levity serves to make the tension that much clearer. In the absence of Faramir, Aragorn's arrival on the Pelennor is far more complicated a matter. Not only does Boromir stand before him, but Denethor does not seem to have given way to his despair. And herein lies the story's true strength. We don't know anything about Faramir's travels with the Fellowship except for the fact that he won't be coming home, but Dwimordene manages to weave an enormous backstory into Minas Tirith's side of the tale. With Boromir captaining Gondor's last defenses, the war is very different. No one goes out to a desperate final stand wearied by a father's accusations. No one is left burning on a funeral pyre (at least, not that we know about). And all of a sudden, Faramir's warning to Frodo in Ithilien about becoming embroiled in Gondor's politics is a very real danger. Fantastic glimpse of what might have been. It definitely left me thinking.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 7

This short story explores the premise of Boromir and Faramir exchanging places in the search for Imladris in terse, poignant dialogue and evocative introspection. The exchange itself is not the focus (not even the question of how Faramir, too, lost his life), rather, it is the ramifications when the Fellowship reaches Minas Tirith: how the House of Húrin might have handled Aragorn's claim for Gondor when push came to shove, an issue Tolkien sidestepped by having Denethor and Boromir die before - and Dwimordene fully acknowledges and explores the complexities of this issue (and creates a good companion piece to her story ["Both Beholden"]). I love the serious tone of the narrative and the dialogues, it seems very down-to-earth and direct, and at the same time a little remote and cast in a slight mythological light (and I hope I'm making sense here *g*). It is coveyed clearly yet subtly that Boromir and Aragorn are wary of each other, their dialogue circles around like fencers testing each other's mettle.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 5

In this AU apparently Boromir traded places with Faramir. With a few well-placed words the reader knows enough to fill in the blanks. From there the whole changed scenario of Aragorn's arrival in Minas Tirith follows. Here it is Boromir who meets Aragorn after the battle on the Pelennor and there follows an excellent exchange between the two. They are both wary and weary, but they need to see where they stand. It feels like two combatants circling each other and sizing each other up, not knowing quite which way this will go. A lot of their dialogue has a second layer of meaning. This is an AU, but these are the canon characters we love and know and if this scenario would have happened, it would lead to just this scene.

Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea  ✧  Score: 5

An AU vignette that would have served very well as the first chapter of a longer story (hint, hint). Here, Faramir took the quest to Imladris and it is Boromir who stands upon the Pelennor to greet the stranger who stands beneath the ["splendid-dreadful"] banner. Boromir is very much Denethor's son here-cautious and canny even in his grief over hearing of Faramir's death. It is apparent that Aragorn will have to tread carefully with both him and his father to have his claim as King approved. There is no resolution or closure in this brief piece, but it leaves the possibility of such in the future and leaves the reader wanting to know how things actually fell out.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 5

Tolkien tells us in the appendices that Faramir was more like Denethor than was Boromir, yet as I was reading this piece what I first noticed was how similar Boromir's reaction to Aragorn was to how I imagine Denethor's would have been. It's an AU that almost doesn't read like one – Boromir stays in Minas Tirith and Faramir goes to Rivendell, but the main focus on this piece is how Boromir comes to accept Aragorn. As such, it feels delightfully canonical and shows a more reserved, more calculating Boromir that I can very easily see being Denethor's son. Nicely told, Dwim.

Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke  ✧  Score: 5

This work uses its Alternate Universe to great benefit, changing only one thing in order to see everything else familiar in a brand new light. And what we are shown is a wonderfully incisive, character revealing moment, well imagined and ringing true. I particularly appreciated how Boromir's character is shown tired, distrusting, and grieving yet faithful and true, while Aragorn's character is replete with a little careful power maneuvering, and compassion. To create one such complicated character is an achievement, two is a feat.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 4

Such a bittersweet AU, this meeting of two who should have known one another--who did--in canon. We are left to guess what led to this particular situation, as well as how it would turn out--yet the important thing is what we see in the characters' interaction: they are both very much portrayed in line with their noble canon selves. One can easily believe that this is how such a conversation would have gone.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 4

The Captain-General of Gondor's forces meets with the leader of the odd alliance that has just won the battle, and must make decisions he knows the Steward will not like. But there is news here as well as the hope of renewal, as the two seek a place to talk, there [on the edge of ruin]. A sad and solemn might-have-been, and a wonderful use of a quote from TTT here in a variation of ROTK. The mood of the meeting and the desolation of the battlefield are both well conveyed.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

I have always been impressed by Dwimordene's ability to tell fascinating stories with powerful character studies. Here, in this AU where Faramir apparently took Boromir's place in the Fellowship and died, Dwim captures Aragorn's otherworldliness and charisma as well as his intelligence. And, as usual, Dwim shows her knowledge of the history of Middle-earth, in Aragorn's mention of Arnor's debt to Gondor now paid by him - a Neat Bit if ever there was one. And a good capture of a war-weary Boromir, too. This story was a treat to read.

Reviewed by: Avon  ✧  Score: 4

Beautifully written! The idea is just such an unusual twist and so well done. I could quote examples of language I loved forever but here's a simple line that stirred me: [Duty slipped through his fingers like water] I loved this line too: [And all of them standing beneath that splendid-dreadful banner.] Poor Boromir - so much pain and to see his whole world turned upside down and his pain and duty brought to naught. I loved the storyline, but again let me say it was the way you used words - elegant in its true meaning, beautiful, heart-rending and incisive.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 3

A fascinating glimpse of what might have been had Faramir gone to Rivendell instead and ARagorn and Boromir met in Gondor. I especially liked the portrayal of Boromir's conflicted emotions.