In the Shadow of the Tower

Author: Ignoble Bard

Nominator: Olorime

2011 Award Category: Horror: General - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Must all Houseless spirits be corrupt?

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Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 10

Dear Ignoble Bard, this is a very impressive ficlet indeed. The lack of redemption in Tolkien’s work is an aspect that troubles me, or perhaps I should better say annoys me, and it is good to see you throw a different light on things here. I have thought at times that the original orcs, those who were Elves once and tortured into twisted creatures, would be bound to still carry the spark of their true identity, and it would seem dreadfully unfair if they ahd no chance to recover. Was this poor soul an orc or some other victim of the enemy? Did he love or loathe the body he has lost? It doesn’t really matter, in any case, you have managed to make us feel his pain and despair very acutely. In particular the thought that he is fighting against the temptation to take over the body of some other person is a very chilling (and touching!) one. Also, his disorientation, his confusion, his sense of helplessness – yes, he would feel that way. And it must be a terrible thing to continue to exist but without any means to participate, to interact, to create. The imagery and expressions in this ficlet are very effective in their simplicity and directness. A well-crafted story, chilling and yet hopeful, which I enjoyed reading.

Reviewed by: Clodia  ✧  Score: 10

Ignoble Bard has written a very vivid and very raw short ghost story here. Although this is a ficlet, it casts a very long shadow, as it were. The narrator is an elven fae who had been unhoused by the evil arts of the Necromancer - a solitary spirit still haunting the talan abandoned long before by his fearful family and friends, watching the shadow of the Necromancer's tower grow slowly darker across Mirkwood. The narrator's ghostliness is strikingly described: his loneliness, the puzzled bewilderment at being to all appearances abandoned by Lord Namo, the helplessness of being able only to watch events unfolding, never to interact, and the terrible desire to take possession of a living body when one strays into view. After all this, it is a relief when that golden-haired visitor turns out, mercifully, to have been sent by Lord Namo to reveal to the poor, confused ghost that the Necromancer's tower had been thrown down long ago, and that it was only the Necromancer's lingering influence over the land that kept him from hearing Namo's call. Finally, the narrator (and other tortured ghosts like him) can depart for the peace and healing to be found across the sea in the halls of Mandos. The ficlet is chilling and touching in equal measure; thank you, Ignoble Bard!

Author response: You're so good to me. This is such a wonderful review and it really warms my heart. It's always a compliment when you review my stories because it's like having Michelangelo give my painting a thumbs up. Thanks so much! I truly appreciate your comments and I appreciate you.

Reviewed by: Malinornë  ✧  Score: 10

I remember this story as possibly the best melancholic one I read last year. I am usually not much for angst and vivid suffering, but to me this piece expresses sorrow and longing in mild, grey colours and shows the character's prison as more of a mist of the mind than something violent and sharp. I liked that, and also the character's little outburst at the sight of a living being. I enjoyed seeing that in spite of its suffering and confusion it had not lost its 'life' completely but was still searching for a way out of its pitiful existence. I just wonder, would it indeed have been so easy to take over that body from the soul currently inhabiting it? Did it think so because it deemed itself older and stronger than the body's owner? Or was that perhaps just a desperate, ungrounded thought? Be that how it will, anyway I was deeply moved by this excellent piece, so full of emotions expressed clearly but without excesses. It is beautifully told as well, and the theme of houseless souls is way too scantily explored in Tolkien's writings in my humble opinion. So, good story with interesting plot. And a happy ending, I'm especially happy for that... it makes it worth suffering together with the character. Thank you, I enjoyed this fic a lot!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 6

Sometimes horror is just outright terrifying, gruesome, blood-curdling, etc. But sometimes, horror is a lingering, wasting thing. And in some respects, that has a much more lasting effect. Ignoble Bard proves that in this story with an elf who never heard the summons and, as a result, was trapped in an endless limbo. There's something altogether unnerving about his fate. It's a ghost story, but it's not the typical haunting. In a sense, it's as if the ghost is the one haunted. Those he reaches out to can run away. He's stuck with his memories, his inability to act, and his temptations. I love this idea that certain elves were denied even the ability to answer Mandos and that someone was eventually sent for them after the Necromancer was no more. It's a thought that definitely needs more exploring!

Reviewed by: Russandol  ✧  Score: 6

I actually felt uneasy imagining this tormented spirit trapped for ages in the gap between life and death, feared by his own people and lonely, watching his old world disappear. There's a lot of emotion in the voice of the desolate spirit, with just the right level of drama. I eagerly followed his conversation with the kind stranger (an elf ior perhaps a Maiarin messenger?) who explained how he would be able to find peace at last. Sauron certainly outdid himself with the horrible spell he created to prevent his victims from finding the way to Mandos, after stealing their bodies for terrible purposes. I'm glad someone thought of these forsaken spirits when he was defeated. This is a chilling ghost story, creepy but in all the right ways.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 4

Once again, Ignoble Bard merrily upends canon, or at least what canon seems to say, and shows us a different set of possibilities. I love the idea of this poor, houseless spirit who struggles against temptation, and manages to hold onto some part of his or her former character. A good ghost, one who really doesn't mean any harm, is unusual, and I love Ignoble Bard's explanation of how this particular spirit had failed to leave Middle-earth. Excellent work, very enjoyable - give it a read!

Reviewed by: Jael  ✧  Score: 4

This story is definitely spooky, yet sad. I've always wondered about the spirits of those elves corrupted by the darkness. Would they, and the orcs, find mercy and healing in the Halls of Mandos? This story attempts to answer that question. I'm not sure who the tall, golden-haired elf who rescues the nameless protagonist is, he could be one of several. But I have my own personal preference. Nicely done, Ignoble Bard!

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 3

A delightful little ghost story, with a wonderful range of emotion that affects the reader very much. Though unnamed, the canon character is immediately apparent, and the conclusion, when it comes, is quite fulfilling.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 3

This is a very touching story. I felt sorry for the poor elf captured by evil spell; Ignoble Bard describes his pain so well. I love the thought that all such victims will be saved from darkness in the end.

Author response: Thanks so much, Ellynn. I'm glad you liked the story and the way it turned out. I have to admit I love a happy ending myself. I really appreciate your review. Thanks again. :-)

Reviewed by: crowdaughter  ✧  Score: 3

This is a both powerful and refreshing view at the pains of a houseless fea, and at what exactly the Necromancer may have done with the Elves he got his claws on. The pain and loneliness, the despair of the houseless elf are intensely described. I also loved the end of the piece, which gives some comfort. Well done!

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 2

The ghosts of Elves are different--and much more pitiable, as this story shows. An intriguing look at what such an un-life would be like. Fortunately, the ending is a happy one.