Hard Sailing

Author: Dwimordene/Isabeau of Greenlea CoAuthors

Nominator: Dwimordene

2009 Award Category: Genres: Character Study: Friendship - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Battle violence.

Summary: The best laid plans of mice and men do sometimes go wrong. In war, plans laid less well cost lives. Imrahil and his oath-brother Andrahar face the consequences of one such.

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Reviewed by: Elena Tiriel  ✧  Score: 10

These four vignettes written by Dwimordene and Isabeau all show different aspects of one event, in which Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, against his shield brother Andrahar's advice, attacks a Corsair ship larger than his own. The consequences are horrific... though Dol Amroth has the victory, half of Imrahil's men die, and Imrahil and Andrahar are both injured, Andrahar very seriously. These are interesting because, though they describe the same event and its aftermath, each author has a slightly different take on the outcome... but they work together as a joint series. I'm way too short on time, so I'll just pick out a few things that I especially like from these: "Shield Man" is from Andrahar's point of view, as he is mortally wounded. I liked the bit about him recognizing his foe's swordmaster, and selecting the best maneuver to get around the foe's defenses. So quintessentially like Andrahar as the Armsmaster! "Counting Costs" is a poignant reminder of Imrahil's panic and remorse, after the battle fever leaves him, at his intransigence and what it might cost him: the life of his dearest friend. "Bitter Victory" continues the theme of Imrahil's remorse, but he learns how he is now respected among his (surviving) men as a great fighter. And how some men, who do not have the responsibility of command, actually relish the good fight; whereas he only sees its costs. And the last, "In the Doldrums", is an hour-by-hour, day-by-day chronicle of the recovery from the battle. Imrahil must function as captain, heartening his men and presiding over the ceremonies over those who died... while heartsick himself and in constant dread that his right-hand man and dearest friend Andrahar will die. These are exquisite vignettes, and profound for the way they handle such varying characters and emotions. Very well done!

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 9

The event covered in this story had already been alluded to in several pieces of the "Unabeauverse", and I'm happy to finally read in detail about how this turning point in the story arc actually came to pass. The characterisations are vivid, with crisp dialogue. Although apart from the two main protagonists the other characters have only minor roles, they are described in enough detail that they become real in their own right. The deep friendship, love and concern Imrahil and Andrahar feel about the other come through completely clear. It's moving to see how they take control of looking out for the other as circumstances and faculties allow or demand. The conflict with Imrahil's private concerns and his role as commander is presented very realistically, and I liked the details about his duties. I like that despite the urgency of battle or other outer distractions, I can still follow the emotions and thought-processes of the characters, without the one cancelling out or overshadowing the other: I still feel the heat of battle, but also how accomplished warriors might split their concentration equally outward and inwward.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 8

As a general rule, I'm a fan of anything involving Imrahil. I'm even more of a fan when I get to see young Imrahil. And with Andrahar in the mix, it's just that much more enjoyable. I have to say that I enjoyed the first vignette most mainly because of the gallows humor. The action builds, the drama peaks, and as Imrahil and Andrahar find themselves without an escape route, Andrahar gives this absolutely priceless line: ["Well, that simplifies matters. Forward it is."] It was perfectly timed and perfectly executed. There's nothing like a bit of lightheartedness to make a dire situation that much more gripping. I also thoroughly enjoyed the adaptation of the old norse Berserkers to the Beornings, and I think the link to Rohan was particularly appropriate. Unfortunately, Imrahil was in no shape to appreciate the story, and I enjoyed watching the action through his distracted and somewhat flustered perspective throughout the middle two vignettes. The wear of battle and the necessity of dealing with the aftermath is stark and vivid, giving the story a healthy dose of realism and believability.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 5

Reading this story I'm reminded of that line from Star Trek: "[fate favors fools, children, and ships named Enterprise.]" It seems we can add canon characters in their pre-canon adventures (and perhaps a beloved OC or two) to that list. Anyone familiar with the Andrahar story arc knows that he isn't going to die at this point or even be permanently harmed, but that doesn't keep the tension from seeming thick at times - maintained very well up until the end, I might say. This is a nice coming-of-age moment for Imri, and a thoroughly enjoyable addition to the Andraverse (if I may coin a term) from two very talented authors.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

A battle at sea is won, but it's a pyrrhic victory for young Imrahil. An absolutely riveting battle begins the story; and then the reader, like the characters, must deal with its cost of deaths and wounds. The relationship of Imrahil and his OFC oath-brother Andrahar continues to enchant; and the medical and nautical details do not disappoint. A fine entry in Isabeau's spellbinding series about Imrahil's life and times. I hope that she and Dwimordene collaborate again.

Reviewed by: agape4gondor  ✧  Score: 4

Absolutely excellent tale. I do love a good battle - and we are given one here - not only a battle, but a battle at sea. Not much could be better except perhaps a whale thrown in - a mumak would drown.... As for the characters - well written and real. The tension starts at the very beginning and cuts right through to the end. And the language is beautiful - I love a good phrase and there are more than enough here to satisfy! Well written indeed - and the last line of Chapter Three is priceless. Congrats!

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

Between them Isabeau and Dwimordene have created a small masterpiece as we watch the Olwen win a dearly bought victory, and as Anrahar and Imrahil each manages a further victory over wounds and fevers. Dwim's amazing use of language and Isabeau's penchant for detail make this a must-read.

Reviewed by: Erfan Starled  ✧  Score: 2

Friendship, fighting ability and honour thread a long story about convalescence. Phrases used throughout add colour to images, thoughts and feelings, as here: [The watches of the night fall away like flesh from bonesÂ…]