2010 Award Category: Races: Cross-Cultural
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Ficlet
Rating: General ✧ Reason for Rating: n/a
Summary: Aragorn learns to honor a sky where the stars are strange. (Four hundred words for the 2006 Advent Calendar at There 'n' Back Again)
Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger ✧ Score: 10
I always know I'm in for a treat when Dwimordene writes an Aragorn story. She never disappoints, and neither does the Ranger when he's in her capable hands. But what most impressed me about this story is the atmosphere. There's a fluid rhythm to the conversation and also the narrative. In the background, I can hear the ululations and the drums, and they provide a counterpoint to a fascinating meeting of two (or three) very different cultures. Well, different yet not so different. People are still people, and they still have hopes and dreams. I love the imagery of the night sky finding a mirror in a man's life, and it was fascinating to find the touch of eternity in the blessing of the fruits of family and posterity. It's an echo from countless cultures and religions, and it's a particularly fascinating sentiment in an LotR story. Elves don't have to worry about immortality or somehow seeding themselves beyond the span of their lives. But having grown up in their midst, I suspect Aragorn would be keenly aware of his own mortality and of the bloodline that would fail should he falter. Seeing hope on the horizon, though, provides the final link for this meeting of cultures. On a final note, I have to add that I loved the cagey Aragorn and his allusions to Umbar evem as his thoughts turned to Eriador. He's in fine form here.
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 7
Aragorn's time in Rohan and Gondor as Thorongil has attracted a fair amount of fanfic attention, but we also know that he journeyed to ["where the stars of strange"], and his time in Harad has been left comparably untouched. This is not surprising, given that there are no canonical characters for Aragorn to interact with, but as this ficlet shows, this is a very rich environment for fanfic writers to explore. Dwim presents Aragorn as venturing into the world of Harad proper; not the corsairs, who would have had greater contact with Middle-earth, but with the men of the interior. Aragorn presents himself as one of the Umbari, and even that is alien to the Haradri, but Aragorn's thoughts point to an even greater cultural divide. The differences and the similarities give a more realistic portrayal of the diversity of Men than we often see, and the imagery is breath-takingly beautiful. A very nice portrait of a foreign society.
Reviewed by: Russandol ✧ Score: 6
I was stunned by the amount of wonderful lore and myth crammed into such a short piece, with the purpose of making the reader step into another culture. I found myself at once amongst the people of the desert, whom Aragorn considers his foes, who fear the heat of day and worship darkness and the Giver of Life. The mirroring of sky and earth, that need to be blanced to achieve perfection, evokes a beautiful image that can very believably be attributed to someone like Sauron. The Dark Lord desires to build a huge army out of those who follow him and cunningly crafts a story that meets his designs. The final touch, waiting for the evening star and realising that these other people are not that alien after all, just made me applaud.
Reviewed by: Azalais ✧ Score: 5
This is so vividly done; I can see all the hues, and the sudden drama of the sun sliding beneath the horizon, and feel the sudden shift from unbearable baking heat to the cool of night. The use of symmetry, and balance, and reflection which so often underpins Dwim's fic, forcing the reader to take a fresh look and see the other side of a culture or an event, comes into play here with the imagery of the mirror, the counterweighting of day and night, heat and cold, all coming back to the conflict and resolution in the mind of the one the Haradrim are calling Hyarmendil: [He came here to learn their hearts, but at the moment, he does not know his own]. Mettare from the other side, and a powerful fresh perspective.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 5
There is a special soft spot in my heart for Dwimordene's writing, for she has a gift with language that reaches deeply into my heart. I, too, have thought that Aragorn found unexpected friendships and glimpses of beauty on his journeys to Rhun and Harad, but this is particularly beautiful! Here he sees a ceremony for midwinter that captures the imagination for its simple love for light and beauty, and Man's desire to mirror the benificence of the Creator! A delightful glimpse of a culture nowhere as different from our own than we might think! Truly moving.
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 3
Dwimordene pens a lovely quadrabble here - one of the most intriguing vignettes of Aragorn's travels in the South that I can recall reading. I love the character of the old man, T'houtekh, and the way that the Tolkienesque/Elven magic of Varda's stars meets and melds with the desert culture.
Reviewed by: Virtuella ✧ Score: 3
Dwimordene gives a beautifully written, very evocative image here of Aragorn experiencing a strange festival in Harad. She uses this setting to convey a universal message, that, cultural differences notwithstanding, we are all connected by our basic humanity. Thank you for this delightful and thought-provoking ficlet.