On Starless Waters Far Astray

Author: Empy

Nominator: EdorasLass

2007 Award Category: Genres: Crossover - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Mature  ✧  Reason for Rating: Some m/m smut.

Summary: Caught in an autumnal storm, James Norrington finds he has simply sailed over the edge of the world as he knows it.

Read the Story


Reviewed by: EdorasLass  ✧  Score: 10

I have so much love for this story that it's a little unreasonable, but I think it's all right, as it was graciously, surprisingly written for me as part of a fic exchange. I didn't think anyone would take my Imrahil-James Norrington request seriously, but Empy did, and I am still squeaking with joy. I really didn't expect the logical "don't speak each other's language" route, either - it seems to so rarely happen in crossover fic, when, in fact, language would be the biggest hurdle in such an unlikely situation. But it works beautifully - it creates a much more tense atmosphere, and casts poor Norrington even further adrift than he already is literally. I love like the way that the whole situation is so uncertain, how it just sort of cascades along with no way of stopping it or knowing where it's going to end, and all Norrington can do is go along with it, because there's just not a damn thing he can do to explain his situation or even his very existence. It's a very shivery, helpless feeling. Even though I know Imrahil's not, say, a pirate, I was still awfully wary of him here. There's just so little way to tell what his actual intentions are, what his conclusions about the whole situation will be, or what he'll eventually decide to do with James. He would be fully within his rights to simply have him executed, and in Imrahil's context, it would likely be the wisest thing to do. Very unnerving! Though I did have a bizarre mental picture of Norrington fighting Corsairs in three years. And the ending is just a kick to the head. Is the entire scenario going to repeat itself endlessly? Is there some obscure way for James to break the cycle and perhaps find his way home? Or - always an option with crossovers - is Norrington perhaps just lying delirious or maddened with fever on some foreign shore? It's wonderful in its ambiguity and sense of utter confusion, and I can't thank Empy enough.

Reviewed by: annmarwalk  ✧  Score: 10

What an odd, disturbing, and entralling story, at the same time dreamlike and nightmarish. Telling the tale from Norrington's point of view draws us in masterfully so that we are share his anger, frustration, and confusion. Middle-earth is not familiar to us, neither language nor dress nor even climate. We feel those pinpicks of unease, just as he does, as his situation becomes increasingly bizarre. And Imrahil! At first, he reminds me here as nothing so much as a great cat, toying with his prey. There's no need to treat Norrington in this manner; he's obviously injured, exhausted, not a threat in the slightest. Imrahil's air of decadence, his ennui, is quite intriguing - that he would treat a stranger so, purely for his own entertainment, without any intimation of lust or anger or even a need to prove dominance. But at the same time, he seems to be drawn, despite himself, to the mystifying and mysterious Norrington, as if desire is the only language in which they might be able to communicate. Yet he makes no use of Norrington's surrender. Perhaps he had reconsidered, found these actions to be without honor, and abandoned his dispirited, not-entirely-willing partner? The surprising ending adds another surreal element to the tale - that poor Norrington is doomed to repeat this experience, over and over, until -- what? Empy gives us no hint at all; we can only each try to imagine a fitting end. [Review partially cannibalized from the anonymous one I left at the original post. Did you guess that it was mine?]

Reviewed by: Michelle  ✧  Score: 10

It is not so easy to come by LOTR-crossovers, because authors tend to bemoan the fact that the universe somehow doesn't lend itself to be crossed. I admit, it can pose problems, but when you look at a story like "On Starless Waters Far Astray" then you will notice that there are certain other fandoms that just beg to be crossed with LOTR. POTC is such a fandom. First of all, everything seems possible in that universe. And second, who is to say that the world isn't flat and that, if you sail too far you will drop off - to land in Middle Earth. The combination of those two characteristics are a perfect mix for a POTC/LOTR crossover. And so we have James Norrington, shipwrecked in Middle Earth. There is the barest hint of a backstory (him finding a ship and crew to follow Jack Sparrow), but it's just a means to an end. So again, he is shipwrecked and found by Imrahil's men. That nobody speaks the other's language is obvious from the start and that doesn't exactly causes trust between the two parties. Imrahil doesn't really know what to make of the strange man - he doesn't seem to by a spy or someone sent by the Nameless One, but since no one knows who exactly the man is, it's easier to keep him under wraps. And of course Norrington cannot explain himself. He gets exceedingly frustrated by this lack of communication. It's rather nice to see that the differing languages (and the difficulties that causes) play such a large part here. It's always easier for an author to brush past this fact and not take it into consideration too much because it holds the possibility of slowing the story down. But here, in contrast, it is the crux of the story. If Imrahil and Norrington were able to speak with each other the mystery would be solved, there would be no reason to hold Norrington any longer. And for Imrahil, the appeal would probably be gone too. But this way, he keeps coming back to Norrington until "it" happens. "It" is just a clash between bodies, something that appears to be at least partially an accident. The lack of romance is intriguing - especially since their little encounter still shows if not exactly tenderness, then at least respect. It's a very fine balance which was fun to read. Last but not least, the ending is fantastic, a real punch in the gut - for Norrington as much as for the reader!

Reviewed by: TrekQueen  ✧  Score: 6

Recently becoming a slash writer myself as well as having a love for Imrahil and crossovers, I just had to read this fic. I loved the imagery and descriptions depicted in the story, right down to the frigid mist of the sea and the rough, creaky planks of the decks on the ship. I also was quite happy to see some knowledge of sailing/ship terminology that gave it a true "feel" of knowing the environment and placement being presented. I also liked the switching POV since it gave an insight as to how both Imrahil and Norrington were trying to figure out what to do with one another without the ability to truly communicate. Cute and a touch of anxiety getting me going saying "ACK! what is going to happen next with these two?!?" Poor Norrington, hopefully his dreams and wants will come true one day.

Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea  ✧  Score: 6

This one took me by surprise. I read and write a fair bit of slash, and I read and write a fair bit of Imrahil, but I had never expected to encounter this particular pairing! The mechanism as to how this is brought about is never fully described, and that's probably best. The encounter between the two men is full of frustration of all sorts-unlike many fictions, the language barrier is not disregarded or done away with, so the two men never truly communicate save on the physical level. It's an odd sort of piece, which is to be expected given the premise, but it works on some level. Imrahil is the commander of men that Tolkien shows him to be, and Norrington still keeps his pride, despite his current circumstances in his own canon.