2007 Award Category: Genres: Alternate Universe: Gondor or Rohan - Third Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: Mature ✧ Reason for Rating: Very dark with themes of manipulation; character death
Summary: Thorongil is accused of accosting Finduilas; to defend his honour, he must duel Denethor.
Reviewed by: annmarwalk ✧ Score: 10
We know that EdorasLass, well known as the author of the charming Nanny-and-bitty-'Mir stories, can also do drama, suspense, and creepiness we've read [Come When You Are Ready and Love Me And Despair]. So it shouldn't come as any kind of a surprise at all that, in this startling AU, she can twist favorite characters up and down and inside out, to give us a whole new and slightly horrifying world to consider. With her skillful pen, she' s turned Middle-Earth's favorite Madonna figure, Finduilas, into a two-faced witch, lecherous and demanding, with language [more suited to a dockside whore]. She's given us the the swoonworthy Imrahil as a Machiavellian prince, a corrupt and devious tool in his family's long-standing plan to achieve control of Gondor. It's almost enough to make you pity poor, besotted Denethor, willing to sacrifice his life in defense of his wife's honor. And bewildered, unfortunate Thorongil locked in his chamber, his world turned upside down within a matter of hours. His moment of realization comes almost a split-second too late, and it is his reflexes and training that save him. But even he is unable to thwart these long-standing plans. What I particularly love about AU's is that we * can * stop imagining when we want to. It's a good thing I'm not sure what would have become of young Boromir in this newly-imagined world, one where Faramir doesn't exist at all! Ouch.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 10
EdorasLass seems to be making a tradition of AUs that raise the hair on the back of a reader's neck first [Love Me and Despair], and now this story, which shows a far more ruthless crew of Dol Amroth nobility than anyone would have imagined. Imrahil is perhaps the hardest to believe, given that we actually see him, hear him speak, and glean something of his character in Tolkien's work. Imrahil's characterization is the one point I'm not truly able to swallow I'd believe this far more easily if Imrahil, too, were the unwitting victim of manipulation by sister and father. That said, it's an almost perfect power play and it leaves one wondering indeed how the battle for Minas Tirith and for Gondor would have turned out some half a century later. How would the thorny issue of succession play out when Aragorn knows he has enemies in Gondor who would literally kill for power? Even before then, however, would Boromir even come north? Would Boromir be alive at all? Who knows? And if anyone from Gondor did appear in Imladris, no doubt Aragorn would be on his guard from day one, even assuming that person Imrahil's heir? Boromir? Faramir? were ever chosen to accompany Frodo. This is a story that raises far more questions than it answers, for all it is a very short story. Read it if you like political thrillers or are feeling the need for something dark and disturbing.
Reviewed by: dkpalaska ✧ Score: 7
Edoraslass has managed to take one of my all-time favorite LotR characters and completely, totally twist said character into Evil. Augh!! It speaks volumes of her writing skill that she pulls it off with brilliance and that I still enjoy this story so much. The premise is scary, and quite likely something that *was* brewing in the background during various points in Gondor's history. The lust for power can lead to truly atrocious deeds, and - if one is willing to step away from Tolkien's Ideal Society for a moment - who more likely than one of the most powerful families in the land? So close to the ultimate authority, yet not quite there... A situation that could be rife for envious greed. Excellent writing, with the true villains only coming to light well into the piece, and just enough detail and interaction to enhance its plausibility - I sometimes think that "less is better" with the more outrageous AUs, and the author carries this off well. I am left avidly speculating afterwards.
Reviewed by: Aliana ✧ Score: 7
I think Ive referred elsewhere to EdorasLass as being the Queen of the Unsettling Alternate Universe Scenarios or something like that, and I think Im justified in saying that this gleefully shocking and intermittently nasty (in a good way!) little morsel backs me up on this. In context, the plot twists and reprisals among Thorongil, Denethor, Finduilas, Imrahil et al in Third Age Minas Tirith seem utterly (scarily) plausible, and EdorasLass keeps readers guessing along the way as to just what is going on here. It both begins and ends with a merciless bang. Skilfully written and well-executed, I think that perhaps my favourite aspect of this story is how it blows the fanon perception of Finduilas, Imrahil and their Dol Amroth clan as warm, sincere, honest and loving people right out of the water ands turns both the strong and powerful Aragorn and Denethor into unwitting conspiracy victims. I love it! Nice job, EdorasLass!
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 4
An audacious AU that turns two of Tolkien's characters - brave, honorable Imrahil and sweet gentle Finduilas - into sort of 'dark mirror' (Star Trek term) versions of themselves. Here, Thorongil and Denethor become entangled in a very wicked web; and it's not spun by Shelob. The characterisations of Thorongil and Denethor are spot-on; the poor guys are noble and clueless as to what's rotten in Denmark-er-Minas Tirith. I wish there was a sequel. Cleverly and convincingly written.
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 3
Ooh, AU indeed. You are indeed the master of the short and dark AU; I couldn't stop reading, and while my head kept protesting that no, no, this could never in a million years happen, my heart is less sure. Truly things were on the edge of a knife, and one ruthless lord could have toppled so much.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 3
A marvelous and chilling Might-Have-Been had Adrahil, Imrahil, and Finduilas conspired to take the rule of Gondor by manipulating and betraying Denethor and Thorongil into a duel to the death. Well, well written.
Reviewed by: Linda hoyland ✧ Score: 3
[spoilers] This is one of the darkest most scary Aus I have ever read,putting a whole new slant on why Thorongil left Gondor. What if Imrahil and his family were not the saints we have been led to believe? What if Denethor's hatred for Thorongil eventually resulted in a dual to the death? A chilling,beautifully written story which is highly original.
Reviewed by: phyloxena ✧ Score: 3
Ouch. Trust sweet and gentle Nanny with a bedtime story. We never actually met Finduilas or Adrahil ITB, and Thorongil and Denethor don't do anything surprising in the circumstances, but wicked, cruel Imrahil is very AU. I guess if he was blindly used by his father and sister, the story would still work and be even more disturbing.
Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke ✧ Score: 2
I found this a horrible alternate version of events, but well and chillingly told, the style clear and consise without ever being bloodless or perfunctory, but gripping, in fact.