Nominator: foxrafer (csevans8)
2010 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Gondor or Rohan
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: Some m/m content.
Summary: A young Theoden returns to Minas Tirith, the city of his birth, bound for Belfalas on the orders of his father to woo Imrahil's sister and finds himself torn between duty and desire and a lady whose fate seems as bleak as his own.
Reviewed by: foxrafer (csevans8) ✧ Score: 10
I am forever blown away by alex_quine's use of language. The details she brings to every description bring the world and the people to life. There's a realism to her writing, a vividness that makes you feel you're watching a long lost film as you read. Just one example: ["There was a pale moon, flitting in and out of cloud and casting occasional glittering streaks across the water. He watched the water shimmering, listened to the lullaby of the waves and remembered the scene below."] Pure magic. Theoden has been sent by his father to court Imrahil's sister Ivriniel. I appreciate how the writer expresses Theoden's feelings on the matter, fighting against his own passions and his duty; it feels right for the heir to the throne and for the man. I particularly love how alex_quine depicts the House of Dol Amroth; Imrahil and his sisters are imbued with infectious personalities, very endearing and attractive to the reader. Without giving too much away, we get to look at the mechanics of a formal courtship for an arranged marriage and the impact on all parties involved. And each relationship is managed with a deft hand, very quietly and subtly developed from beginning to end. This is a beautiful story that includes a wonderful character sketch of Theoden as a young man. And I believe readers will be left wanting alex_quine to tell them more about Imrahil and Theoden's future. And on a side note: I am by no stretch a Tolkien expert, so when a story introduces me to facts I wasn't aware of before I'm always incredibly happy. In this story the author mentions immediately that Theoden was born in Gondor which had me running to my Rings resources online to read about his history. I love that.
Reviewed by: The Lauderdale ✧ Score: 10
This story has a wonderful opening as an earthy servant girl pushes a pastry with the imprint of a tree into Theodens hand. I love how the author captures the moment of a persons return to a childhood home and all of its associations in this passage: [He had the reins in one hand, took a bite out of the cake and was a child again. It was the smell of the city, of the plain before it that was not the grasslands of home, the heady mix of scents that had grown as they approached the tall gates, of men and beasts and cooking, blacksmiths fires and tavern slops running in the gutters, all of them confined within high walls, that brought his earliest memories flooding back and now this little cake, sold in batches of nine, stars, a crown and one white tree.] I could relate to Theoden's rediscovery of a childhood treat (sort of like the pleasure I feel whenever I get to eat a kinder egg - which isn't often), but I also enjoyed the fact of these little cakes, evidently a specialty of Minas Tirith. This is only one of the original embellishments that the author has embedded in this beautifully written story. It takes an unusual, but plausibly conceived, premise of a young Theoden sent to woo Ivriniel, older sister of Prince Imrahil and Finduilas. (There is a particular pang for the reader in meeting this young, happy Finduilas, perfectly at ease on the sea she loves so much.) The horse lord is uncertain of his maritime environment, and uncertain of these seafaring people. I enjoyed Theodens perspective: somewhat insecure, and surprisingly sensitive, but schooled to duty and honor, and to a warriors stoicism. I enjoyed his interactions with Finduilas and (the rather impish) Imrahil, as well as the grave but kind Ivriniel. A lovely and mysterious harp also plays a part in the story, and stirred my curiosity as I wondered whether this instrument was referenced by Tolkien. As far as I can tell it is wholly the creation of alex_quine: a sub-creation that feels perfectly of a piece with the larger world. I loved it!
Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea ✧ Score: 5
Theoden had plenty of Gondorian blood in him, but you don't often see that fact treated in fanfiction. alex_quine has done so here, with Theoden coming first to Minas Tirith, then to Dol Amroth to make suit to Ivriniel, Imrahil's oldest sister. Things do not work out exactly as planned for poor Theoden, but it makes an enjoyable story nonetheless. I particularly enjoyed the boat journey down the Anduin, which showed a young Finduilas and Imrahil in their element, absolutely competent despite their youth. Theoden's voice is clear and well-drawn here and it is pleasant to have a story in which his is the POV.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 4
I think Alex fulfilled the challenge to write an unusual pairing. The overwhelming atmosphere of Dol Amroth and the sea are certainly a presence, filtered through Théoden's different and quite land-bound sensibilities. Among the story's enjoyable points: the very light portrait of Denethor and Finduilas, a school of musicians in Edhellond, and Imrahil as the charming and cunning courtier, who can play people like his eldest sister can play the harp.