The Darkest Night
Nominator: Linda Hoyland
2011 Award Category: Men: Aragorn - Second Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: General ✧ Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: A dejected and soaking-wet Aragorn spends Yule with a Ranger patrol, and gains hope from a fireside tale.
Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland ✧ Score: 10
This is a wonderful glimpse of Aragorn and the rangers and how it must have been for them. I think it is all to easy to glamorise the life of Tolkien's characters, but Nath shows it as most likely was as a cold ,wet and hungry Aragorn arrives at a Ranger camp-site in mid winter, longing for warmth and food and company. The story is set just after Aragorn's return from Gondor and I especially enjoyed Aragorn's thoughts about his leaving. He feels his enmity with Denethor has thrown away his chances of becoming king and marrying Arwen and he misses Gondor and the life he had there. It must have been quite a come down for Aragorn going from being the popular, acclaimed and respected Captain Thorongil to resuming his duties as Ranger Chieftain, loved by his men but scorned and ignored by everyone else. i also liked the human touches such as Aragorn's crankiness and unreasonable annoyance(which he acknowledges) that Halbarad is not around because his kinsman is busy chasing Orcs. The reader shares Aragorn's relief that he can finally sit by a fire albeit outdoors and enjoy the Ranger's telling of the old stories to celebrate Mettare. Aragorn is inspired by the great tales of old. A vivid, well written and enjoyable story.
Reviewed by: cairistiona ✧ Score: 5
I must admit up front that when I heard Daeron would be telling the tale of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, I did not see how it would help Aragorn regain a more hopeful mood, but Nath pulled it off with this. It's very believable that even the ever-hopeful Aragorn would have times of doubt and low spirits and need the support of his fellow Rangers to pull him out of it, and this is a wonderful glimpse of such a moment. I've often thought hope was something all the Rangers had, as part of their nature and beliefs as well as because of the influence of Aragorn, and this story is a terrific example of hope flowing back to the Chieftain in a moment when he needed it most.
Reviewed by: Levade ✧ Score: 4
Poor Aragorn. Horse lame, he's soaking wet and freezing and it's Yule and... Not a happy Ranger. The banter between the Rangers is great. It shows their courage and spirit, even in such dampening circumstances. I love that you used the story of Hurin at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad to bring hope to Aragorn. It ended the story on a perfect note. Not entirely happy, that would come later, but with hope. Great job, Nath!
Reviewed by: curiouswombat ✧ Score: 4
Oh dear - poor, cold, wet, fed up Aragorn. He must have spent many a day and night literally under the weather - but how much more depressing when it is a night to celebrate. No wonder he is feeling grumpy and sorry for himself. I love the description of the ranger encampment, and the banter between the men - reading on such a similar night, as I am, I have much sympathy for all!
Reviewed by: The Lauderdale ✧ Score: 4
I am reviewing this the day after Christmas, which seems an appropriate time to have read it. Aragorn spends Yule 1, 2980 with a group of Rangers. Dejected by a wretched journey and lousy future prospects, he takes heart in a retelling of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, the most horrific grand-scale battle in Middle-earth's history. It's a paradoxical source of comfort, but it makes sense in context. "AurÃ« entuluva" is one of the most beautiful phrases in the Tolkien lexicon.
Reviewed by: Darkover ✧ Score: 3
An excellent story for anyone who has ever had to spend Christmas/Yule far from home, or in less-than-ideal conditions. A good story for those who might feel unappreciated, as well. This is a very descriptive story, and the characterization of Aragorn and his fellow Rangers is equally well done. Day will come again, and so will hope. Very well written!
Reviewed by: agape4gondor ✧ Score: 3
This story made me embarrassed. I have never really had an abysmal Christmas. It reminds me of our soldiers who are away from home and family. Fighting evil in nasty surroundings and unforgiving terrain. I loved the interweaving of the tale from the Silmarillion. The message comes through loud and clear in the midst of privation. Well done.
Reviewed by: Ellynn ✧ Score: 2
This is a lovely description of one special night in the lives of the rangers, which gives us an insight into their way of life. I love the hints of humor in the story. Nicely done.