2007 Award Category: Genres: Drama - First Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Novel
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: Violence, some potentially disturbing themes.
Summary: Justice is one matter, forgiveness another. In the wake of an infamous failure of fellowship, the Swan Knights and esquires of Dol Amroth struggle with the messy business of achieving both. Story in the "Best-loved Son" cycle. Features Imrahil, Andrahar, Peloren, Elethil, and numerous other borrowed or original (to me) OCs.
Reviewed by: obsidianj ✧ Score: 10
[Spoilers] I love this story. It is based on two situations in stories by Isabeau. In one Peloren helps to beat Andrahar to a pulp and in another story they are both friends. This story explores how the change might have come about. But I don't think you need to read any of these stories to understand this story. All the characters in this story are well-drawn, complex characters and come to life. Andrahar as a newly minted Swan Knight comes back to Dol Amroth, and Peloren and Elethil, Peloren's friend, are back as esquires after a year away with the infantry as punishment for the beating incident. Everything should be okay now even if they are not exactly friends, but they should be able to tolerate each other. But the atmosphere, unspoken rules and a sometimes misunderstood Code of Conduct that made the beating incident possible have not changed. All this conspires that some esquires resent Peloren and Elethil for what they did, others think it was a good thing what they did, but they made the mistake of getting caught. Peloren and Elethil are the target of bullying and since they are under oath not to be impolite or start any trouble, they can't do anything about it, and in typical fashion of young people they don't know when the pranks cross the line and they need to get help. On top of that they can't avoid Andrahar since he is one of their instructors. Andrahar is also a victim, since there are still a lot of people even among the leadership who think a Haradrim among the Swan Knights is a stain on their honor. The tension racks up from chapter to chapter until something has to give. When Elethil finally cracks under the pressure, Peloren and Andrahar are thrown together to try to find him. A surprise raid of Corsairs manages to let them set aside their differences and respect each other. It is still a long way to real friendship, but the groundwork is done. I highly recommend this story.
Reviewed by: annmarwalk ✧ Score: 10
While the rest of the world was reading Harry Potter, I treated myself to a gift I have put away for just this occasion: Dwimordene's latest installment in her Swan Knight saga. These tales wander all over the timeline, so it was quite interesting to find a younger, less assured Andrahar and his companions to be the focus here. It's been a very long time since I've read a good adventure tale, and Reconcilation would be memorable from that standpoint alone. Dwim's battle scenes are well presented and choreographed so that it's very easy to visualize all the action. Peloran and Andrahar's stand against the Corsair raiders, with the help of hastily assembled and trained townspeople, was very vivid, and the scene of Andra's last rites for the dead Corsairs was quite moving. The description of Andrahar falling in love with his native language was very lovely, and gave me a new insight into his character. How frustrating for him that he could not teach the language in its beautiful and poetic forms, but had to use sterile accounts of warfare instead! It was also a wonderful twist that Elethil ended up a statesman and scholar of Haradric language and culture my heart ached for that boy all through the story. More than action-adventure, Reconciliation works very well as a coming-of-age tale, thoughtfully exploring the issues of young manhood: pride, loyalty, jealousy, pack-mentality, finding one's proper place. Adding racism and xenophobia to the mix gives a timeless element to the tale I see young men grappling with these same issues and concerns every day.
Reviewed by: dkpalaska ✧ Score: 10
I remember reading this chapter-by-chapter when Dwim was writing it earlier in the year, and the scheduled updates could not come quickly enough! A fascinating and well thought-out mix of psychological battles and the more physical kind, ["Reconciliation"] grabbed me and didn't let go until the very end. Actually, it didn't let go even then, as the timeless and heart-rending struggles of Elethil, Peloren and Andrahar played through my mind again and again... It was not until I had completed the story and had the chance to look back on it as a whole, though, that I really comprehended the masterful way that the author builds up to the climax. Had it happened too quickly I might have struggled with some of it, but Dwimordene gives us a concrete foundation - complex and tightly-woven - that leaves the progress (or non-progress) of the protagonists seeming inevitable. The pressures, and the stakes, gradually and constantly increase, so that we join one of the characters near the end in wondering, "How did it *get* this far?" Dwim accomplishes this with excellent pacing and detail, wonderful side stories and minor characters, simply delightful expansions of existing characters and believable political extrapolations. Much of the story is (appropriately) rather dark, but the epilogue is uplifting and the final resolution fit each individual so very well - even when some of the results were entirely unexpected! A superb must-read all on its own, and even more impressive when its perfect fit into the Unabeauverse is considered.
Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea ✧ Score: 10
I spent a very pleasant afternoon re-reading Reconciliation. After all, what can be better than someone you trust taking your characters and writing good stories about them? Dwimordene answers a question in Unabeauverse that I hadn't had time to get around to and does it wonderfully well-how is it that Andrahar not only reconciles but eventually becomes friends with one of the esquires who attacks him in Kin-Strife. That process isn't completed here by any means, but the seeds of the future relationship are sown. She adds lots of good detail (which I intend to shamelessly appropriate!) about how the Swan Knights train their esquires, and fleshes out Andrahar's cultural background, including his views on religion, his language and Gondor's bewildering differences, particularly its more fluid social structure, so unlike Harad's more ordered castes. He is still, despite his recent knighting, the odd man out here, the warrior from the enemy culture regarded with suspicion by his fellow Swan Knights, fighting to win a place for himself other than that of the oddity tolerated because of Imrahil's friendship. And he is still very much fighting his desire for his oath-brother. Add to that his superiors' request that he somehow advance the reconciliation between himself and Elethil and Peloren, and that he teach his native tongue to the esquires who dislike him, and you have one stressed-out young man. My characters all ring true here and Dwim adds some good ones of her own. Aldan, the valorous man-at-arms called up from the foot to try to become a Swan Knight is a particular favorite. Older than the other esquires, and of lowly birth, he is a good, common-sense foil for the angst-ridden Elethil and Peloren, who have been allowed to come back to the Swan Knights after spending a year in the foot as penance for the attack upon Andrahar. This is a historical precedent for the Swan Knights and their fellow esquires seem to be determined to drive them away once more. Harthil, an instructor in Haradric who turns out to be something more, is also a memorable creation, but in a more sinister way.
Reviewed by: Imhiriel ✧ Score: 9
A riveting, exciting plot, thought-provoking themes, nuanced characterisations. Additionally, a fascinating look at the training of knights and the problems that may arise in such a community of ambitious young men, who may still be uncertain of themselves and their place in life: racism, loyalty (and when it is inappropriate), harassment, the finding of justice. Heart of the story were, of course, Peloren, Elethil and Andrahar (with fellow students and superiors complicating the situation). The development of their relationship, the slow steps towards a ["reconciliation"] were developed in a believable and thoroughly captivating way. But the rest of the great cast is handled equally adroitly, with each of the characters distinct, credible and complex. The introspective passages added much to the density of the plot (although I have to admit, in some instances I thought some of them went on rather long). The most interesting sub-plots for me were the teachers' views on the whole matter (including Harthil's reprehensible behaviour, and the final remarkable decision by two of their number), and the details about Haradric and Andrahar's new-found love for his language.
Reviewed by: Elena Tiriel ✧ Score: 8
(Possible spoilers within:) A fascinating, intricate story of two trainees in the Swan Knights of Dol Amroth who return to training after having been punished for an attack on a Haradric colleague by the name of Andrahar. This is a sort of coming-of-age story for the young men, who face overwhelming obstacles in rejoining the insular and tight-knit Swan Knight community. They must prove themselves worthy of respect and finish their training, despite being the targets of anger and informal retaliation among their peers, which is not acknowledged or helped by their commanders until much later. There are a number of adventures along the way, including hitting the depths of despair, and rallying to protect a defenseless village against overwhelming odds from a major Corsair attack. This story keeps me transfixed each time I read it; the plot is intricate and the author makes the interactions between characters rich and real-life and messy, not cut-and-dried, so the situations seem as complex and ambiguous as they usually do in reality.
Reviewed by: Radbooks ✧ Score: 7
[SPOILERS] This is an amazing story to me. I do not know how Dwim. is able to take Isabeau's characters and make them her own like she does, but she does it very, very well here. I, too had wondered how Andrahar and Peloren had become friends and I was so glad that someone wrote that story for us. The backdrop of a military school setting and young men trying to find their way is, in and of itself, a fascinating story, and then adding a racial issue with all of the undertones with Pel and Elethil and what they'd done made it a complex story and it was done wonderfully well. It couldn't have been easy. There was a lot of tension in the story... not too much, just the perfect amount. I was sure that Elethil was going to kill himself, the story seemed to be leading up to that and I was so relieved when he didn't. I liked the other original characters in the story, especially Aldan, though the other characters were well written - I just didn't like them. But, I don't think I was supposed to. A very enjoyable story and I thank you for writing it for us!
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 6
This story really has a lot to recommend it. I have not read the other stories in the Best Loved Sons arc the author refers to in her first chapter, but I did not found myself lost. I'm sure there were some things I would have appreciated more with more knowledge of the backstory, but the fact that I enjoyed it on its own merits is praise in itself. Then there are the references to Andrahar's deeds in Harad which are perhaps not strictly necessary but do such a great job of developing a more intricate world. And I loved Aldan and his wife. I liked the idea that Dol Amroth was a meritocracy to an extent, but loved how Dwim captures the stresses this later knighthood would bring with it. Really, there are lots of little details that just make this story zing. It's a great portrait of coming of age and learning to live with (and past) what you've done that you wish you could change.
Reviewed by: Bodkin ✧ Score: 6
Oh yes! I loved this story. Poor Peloren and Elethil - I am not at all sure that those dismissed from the esquires didn't have the easier sentence. These two are still struggling with the penalties for what they were involved in. So, really, is Andrahar - a fact that might, in the end, strengthen their relationship. I was worried for Peloren - but more worried for Elethil. I was fairly sure he was going to end up a victim of institutional bullying in the name of brotherhood and was glad that it wasn't as bad as I suspected. It's a good thing that the Princes of Dol Amroth are, on the whole, a wise, determined and perceptive bunch - they do a good job at running a paternalistic princedom and looking after their dependents. Most enjoyable.
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 4
A well-crafted, meticulously delineated story focussing on the training of various younger members of the Swan Knights during Prince Imrahil's youth. The story is a spinoff of the series about the long brotherhood between Imrahil and his Southron friend and sworn brother, Andrahar of Umbar. Very credible stuff here about the training of the esquires, and the political and personal difficulties caused, through no fault of his own, of Andrahar's presence in the Swan Knights.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 4
Once again Dwimordene has given us a fantastically detailed look at life within Gondor, now looking at two young Men returning to their training to become Swan Knights after a period of demotion to the foot after taking part in an attack on a Haradrim esquire. Characters are superbly drawn, and the training based on that of squires in England and much of Europe during the Middle Ages. One feels as if one were indeed within Dol Amroth.