Come When You Are Ready

Author: EdorasLass

Nominator: Bodkin

2006 Award Category: Genres: Alternate Universe - First Place

Story Type: Other Fiction  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: PG-13  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing imagery & description

Summary: Denethor walks the halls of the Citadel, and wonders where everyone else has gone.

Read the Story

Reviewed by: Bodkin  ✧  Score: 10

This is very powerful - and quite horrific. Denethor is – despite his appalling injuries and his suffering – more like the Denethor of Under my Wing. I can see him as the slightly bemused, but proud and loving father he was before responsibility, grief and a palantir drove him over the edge. I feel that this Denethor, were he able to be aware of anything much, would be absolutely horrified by his attempt to take Faramir with him into death. I am glad that he wished to be reassured that all was well with Faramir before he was willing to follow Finduilas and Boromir. And that he chose to leave before the healers had to start removing parts of his anatomy. I am sure that they will be waiting for Faramir when he arrives - a long time from now. Although that room is really no place for the faint-hearted, it seems a good thing in the long run that Faramir was able to see his father and speak with him. The detail of Denethor’s undamaged feet, feet that Faramir had never before seen, was touching – the sort of thing that sticks in the memory, but what I think will be most reassuring for him is his father’s concern. I think he always felt abandoned by the reality that has Denethor’s death over and done with by the time Faramir awakes. Denethor is walking the edge between life and death and half-aware of both sides – and it is good to know that his loved ones are waiting for him with love and understanding.

Reviewed by: Branwyn  ✧  Score: 10

In this slightly AU tale, Denethor survives the flames of the funeral pyre but only for a short while before succumbing to his injuries. The first hint that something is not as it should be is when he hears Finduilas' voice and then the low voice of an adult Boromir. The plot unfolds slowly but relentlessly until the full horror of the situation is revealed. The description of the ugly wounds, impossible to treat, and the stench of the sickroom are very effective. Edoraslass cleverly uses the detail of Denethor's bare feet--the one part of his body left unscathed--to convey the extent of his injuries. To his son Faramir, the bare feet also seem to show how vulnerable this stern, distant parent actually was. I love the dream-like quality of Denethor's thoughts, how he wanders the Citadel looking for Faramir, as if in a nightmare. Mercifully, he is not fully aware of his attempt to kill his son, though his confused concern about Faramir argues that he has some vague memory of the event. Though this story is filled with suffering (on both the part of Denethor and his remaining family), it ends with the reconciliation with Faramir that Tolkien never gave us. A very satisfying if grim piece of reading.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 10

This is a touching tale that by the end had me weeping like a baby. I don't think we are truly meant to enjoy it but rather to be moved by it, and it definitely does that job. It is so compelling that I could not put it down, and each new revelation as we learn a little more of Denethor's condition is more potent than the last. This short piece is slightly AU in that Denethor does not die immediately on the pyre but to very good purpose: his searching for Faramir was touching beyond words, and the way the author used Finduilas's song, at first faint but growing to ["a chorus unto itself"] that echoes throughout the whole house -- they wowed me and left me gasping for breath at the same time. When a story affects me bodily as well as mentally I know the author is a skillful one indeed. Boromir was also handled very well here. At first he seems like a petulant child wanting his father to come join the family *now* - but I have to wonder, as the story progresses, if Denethor gets some feeling of himself in time, where exactly he is. By the end he is contemplating bating his son over his unmarried state. I can see hints of the little boy we see in EL's "Nanny" stories, but also much more than that. Brava to the author for such a well-rounded view of Denethor in this most difficult of all fanfic stories. This one won't be leaving my mind any time soon, you can be sure of that.

Reviewed by: Rhapsody  ✧  Score: 10

I have to say... I was very intrigued by the title of this piece. Reading the summary I kind of guessed what it would be about, but oh wow. What an amazing story! And such an incredibly bunny. Denethor survives his desperate tumble just barely and wanders between the living and death. The author does an awesome job in writing this confusion: the search for Faramir and how Denethor hears his wife singing. But Denethor doesn't realise that he is dying, maybe because he is delusional from the pain and his worry regarding Faramir is just so beautifully written. Honestly, I have a hard time labelling this as AU since the author gives this story such an authentic feel. Shivers ran down my spine when I read this: [“He will come when he is ready,” Finduilas says him. “Do not be impatient, my son.”] It is just so striking that at the end Denethor says almost the same thing about Faramir, not realising that his son has found a love worth remaining for. A part of me feels glad that Éowyn at least got to know her father in law, but not the way one would have thought off. The small touches upon Théoden, his fierce reaction to having Thorongil at his side gives this story a special and unique feeling. What I also like about this piece is that it reads so smoothly: the author does not shy showing the condition of Denethor (mental and physical), but not too overdone and with a fitting narrative. This is a great work Edoraslass!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 8

Redeeming Denethor is quite the task, especially after the pyre. The eerie stillness of Denethor's dreams, alone in the tower, save for the voices of wife and son, and two allies, all of them now dead. But Denethor cannot join them quite yet--he's in the borderlands between life and death, plucked from the pyre but so wounded as to be unrecognizable. Cutting back and forth between Denethor's oddly peaceful--save for a few disturbing intrusions from the outside world and his persistant, driving fear over his inability to find Faramir--dreams, and the reality of his sickroom and the plight of family and acquaintances is an effective tactic. Poor Faramir--as if the man had not enough trauma to deal with, his father's steadily worsening condition cannot but horrify him. But there is a release for them both--this is a redemption story. Denethor cannot be ready to pass until he knows his younger son is safe and well, and happily, Faramir is able to provide him that assurance, and to know that his father feared for him undoubtedly goes some length towards healing him as well. Well-told, EL!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 6

Brutal in its honesty, but ultimately rather beautiful. This is a tragic "Denethor Lives" AU, where the Steward's mind is wandering, unaware of the Pyre, even as his burned body is losing the fight for life. Denethor's voice is well-written, the atmosphere of his dream filled with foreboding, fell omens, and yet with beloved voices. His obsession with Faramir's safety, with seeing his younger son to ascertain that he is well, is quite moving. The other part of the narrative shows Faramir's reaction to his father's physical state, his attempt to give his father the only help he can, one last conversation. Faramir is written as well as Denethor, braving horror and sorrow to speak with his father and offer his love. A tragic, horrific, and quite touching story.

Reviewed by: annmarwalk  ✧  Score: 5

No matter how many times I reread this, it always has the same impact, like a punch to the gut. I know you have a dark streak – we saw it in “Love Me And Despair”- but this tale is even more horrific. Poor Denethor, wandering all unknowing between life and death, drawn by the voices of his loved ones who have gone ahead. He searches for them, desperately seeking Faramir in particular, remembering, perhaps, how in his last conscious moments how his thoughts were for his younger son. Your description of Denethor’s charred, ravaged body, and the anguish and courageous fortitude of his caretakers, is sickeningly vivid. As an AU, this is extraordinarily haunting, so very plausible.

Reviewed by: Nienor Niniel  ✧  Score: 5

A very creepy AU story: Denethor wandering through the halls of the Citadel, following the voices of the Dead, without knowing what has happened, hanging between the realm of the living and the dead. We also see things from the side of the living, especially Faramir, who are unable to help in any way. This is a truly chilling story which still contains a positive note in the relationship between Faramir and his father. Nevertheless, it is somehow good that this is an AU, as Tolkien's version is, I think, more gentle to the protagonists. Very gripping story!

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 3

The build-up of tension is handled deftly, letting the reader wonder what is going on along with Denethor. Faramir's thoughts about his father's feet are particularly affecting and haunting, as well as Denethor's last thoughts.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

I remember reading this when it was published, and find I like it as well now. Denethor at least finds some healing as his restless spirit walks the Citadel after nearly killing his son. Very thought-provoking.

Reviewed by: nau_tika  ✧  Score: 2

I had to think about this fic before I decided who the character was. Very compelling and well done. Especially liked how the part relating to Faramir was handled.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 2

A very chilling AU premise: what if Denethor survived setting himself on fire for a time? What would he go through in his pain and fever? And how would Faramir react. Very well done.