Nor the Battle to the Strong

Author: Marta

Nominator: obsidianj

2011 Award Category: Drama: Featuring Aragorn

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Violence

Summary: "Then the Sun went at last behind Mindolluin and filled all the sky with a great burning, so that the hills and the mountains were dyed as with blood; fire glowed in the River, and the grass of the Pelennor lay red in the nightfall. And in that hour the great Battle of the field of Gondor was over; and not one living foe was left within the circuit of the Rammas." (from The Return of the King)

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Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 9

Marta takes up one of my favorite, in the sense of most provocative and disturbing, lines in RoTK, about the complete eradication of any living enemy within the circle of Pelennor. What exactly does that mean, and what are the implications? Marta has Aragorn and Imrahil take up the issue besides Halbarad's funeral pyre. These two clearly are as troubled as I am - likely more, since the blood is on their hands at least in part if there was a massacre. I like that Marta doesn't give us a definitive answer, that she injects doubt into Imrahil's efforts to reassure himself and Aragorn that Gondor doesn't just slaughter men who have surrendered. War being as violent and hateful as it is, there is no guarantee, and in the absence of any living foes on Pelennor, well... the question must be asked, and eventually investigated and dealt with. And I think, too, that Halbarad's ashy presence isn't just scenery: he gave his life for the honorable restoration of Gondor as a functional kingdom under the line of Isildur. If there has been a massacre, that betrays the sacrifice of the dead who gave their lives and held their hands when confronted with a weaponless enemy. Good work, Marta!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

Interesting vignette with Aragorn and Imrahil discussing the ramifications of the lack of surviving Haradrim after the Battle of the Pelennor. Marta combines good insight into human nature with the exhaustion, and camaraderie, of warriors who have survived a harrowing battle and writes the characters as weary warriors as well as lords, facing great loss and a temporary reprieve rather than a happy victory.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 4

I found this story unsettling and disturbing and I mean that as a compliment. Marta captures the true horror of war and carnage, which is a welcome change from the many attempts to glorify slaughter that are still all too common in our world. I was moved by Aragorn's grief for Halbarad and understood why he wanted his body burned, and like Imrahil troubled by why there were no Southron prisoners.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

A brief, emotional and rather graphic tale that reminds us that even victory in war isn't all glory. I'm not sure I agree with some of the implications, as I am reminded of a quote from a real-life veteran of WWII during an interview; "There are no rules in combat. Except one. Win." But this tale provides food for thought.

Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 2

A perceptive story that clearly spells out the brutal and bitter implications of what I had read as a beautiful sentence.