Kin-strife for Christmas

Author: Dwimordene

Nominator: Dwimordene

2009 Award Category: Times: Second and Early Third Age

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet Series

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Deals with themes that may not be suitable for children, regardless of understanding.

Summary: The road to power is not paved with good intentions. The view from the ground of Castamir's ascent.(Twenty-four true drabbles and one ficlet, written for the 2008 There and Back Again Advent Challenge. See first chapter for rules. Complete.)

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Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 10

"A Kin-strife for Christmas" was Dwim's response to the There_n_Back challenge, where each day participants had to write a ficlet featuring that day's element and those introduced on previous days. Kind of like the attic game. The fact that Dwim chose to do this in drabble format (meaning by the end a full quarter of her words were chosen for her!), and succeeded, is admirable. The fact that she turned out a truly memorable piece, and with a time period that (like Ambarin) so many of us want to forget or never quite wrapped our heads around the horror of it all, is admirable as well, but in a different way. Actually, I'm quite a bit jealous that she did as well as she did! The first twenty-four drabbles are each in their own ways nice. Not nice, really, but certainly visceral (which I mean in both ways: gritty, but also full of life), and each is sure to move the reader. But where this series really shines is its epilogue, a longer ficlet where one of the characters looks back on his part in all of it. Reading it, I couldn't help but think on our own political situation, and the way we relate to warfare. Too many of us celebrate the soldiers as heroes or mourn the casualties. I know I tend to forget that casualties come in places other than VA hospitals and body-bags, and that heroes are as likely to resemble Sam (or even Fatty Bolger) as Aragorn. The quiet role played by such "everymen" is captured well here, and throughout the piece, really. It's an immersing read if a rather disturbing one, and well worth the effort.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 9

First of all, may I first offer my congratulations to Dwimordene for meeting the requirements of an exacting challenge and for meeting those requirements while working in drabble form! Wow! I'm absolutely stunned at how you pulled it off. Secondly, may I offer my gratitude for once again tackling the time of the kin-strife. I'm always excited when Dwimordene gets her hands on the lesser known characters, because she gives them a life and a complexity that is stunning and that manages to fit snugly into canon. In this drabble series, we get original character after original character, and through these original characters, Dwimordene plunges her readers into the dark, gritty world of the ordinary people caught in the midst of the kin-strife. There are people just trying to make a living, there are spies, there are messengers, there are opportunists, and there are patriots. And snapshots of their stories unfold in visceral imagery. But despite the power of the drabbles, I have to confess that my favorite moment was the ficlet at the end in which Ambarin feels bloodless and dry and haunted by it all. A chilling ending to a fascinating series. Well done!

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 7

First: my hat's off for the technical expertise in which this drabble series converted truly challenging conditions into flowing, evocative prose brimming with life and colour! And consolidating it into a coherent story set in the often-neglected (but into which Dwim has already delved into with excellent results) time of the Gondorian Kin-Strife, to boot. I particularly liked the way that the prompts didn't have one specific meaning, but were used in various ways. The language is impressionistic, as it sketches the different scenes just in featherlight touches, leaving much to the readers' imagination. Characters are introduced quietly through whom the story slowly is stitched together and reveal the drama. The picture Dwim paints as a whole doesn't make for an easy assessment of black or white, hero or villain, but explores the broad spectrum of grey that exists in society and in every individual, particularly in the back-looking, summarising (and haunting) epilogue.

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 4

Without knowing the stories this is based on, I found the plot and events somewhat difficult to follow, but still thought this deserved some praise for a) the difficult format of continued drabbles with repeated prompts, and b) the rich turns of phrase that you employed here. Some reminded me of impressionist paintings, and they were all impressive. Well done!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 3

Dwimordene cleverly strings a necklace of ficlets with challenge prompts in this series chronicling the intrigue boiling into Kin-strife. Tragedy, corruption and too many innocents caught in the boil - an excellent usage of some very obscure and difficult prompts.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

A most dramatic series of drabbles working with the vocabulary given us in the Advent Calendar challenge, done with Dwim's fantastic flare for using language. Betrayals and plots, all set withing Pelargir during the Gondorian Kinslaying! Often brutal and filled with pathos.