Ladies and Captains

Author: FireSign

Nominator: Elfique

2011 Award Category: Drabble Series: Character Study - Second Place

Story Type: Drabble  ✧  Length: Drabble Series

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: "Shall you be my Captain?" Five drabbles, one question. The life of two citizens of Minas Tirith; the boy sent to war, and the girl who waited at home. Written for A Long Expected Contest July 2010- "Freedom."(5x100)

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Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 8

This is an extremely powerful series of drabbles. Over the years these two have played at the children's game of "Ladies and Captains," in which the ritual question of ["Will you be my captain?"] is answered properly, ["Always, my lady."] Acquaintanceship has led to friendship, then to love, eventually to marriage. Always his answer has remained the same. What fears have been known as the threat of war with Mordor has grown to an immediate threat have not stayed the question or answer until the end, when the final battles have sent him back at the side of Hope, but all has been changed for him, his spirit shattered by the violence and hatred he has seen and endured. How difficult it must be to face this change in him; and how terrible it must be for him to have lost that certainty he always knew before! Extraordinarily perceptive examination of how those who must face stresses and fears beyond their bent can find themselves broken, and how that breaking can cause even greater losses on their return to "normal" life. Firesign is to be commended for giving us such a thoughtful and sensitive piece of work.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 8

I've said that this story is like a dark twin to EdorasLass' [From the Ashes]. The two share a number of similarities: they depict the growing love and relationship between two original characters in Gondor against the backdrop of war, playing out over a sequence of ficlet-vignettes. But whereas the war is over in [From the Ashes], in [Ladies and Captains] its approach is a looming presence from their youngest days. She is a refugee; his father died in war, and he himself spends his days in the streets where they first meet, through a game played by the children of Minas Tirith: ["Shall you be my captain?" / "Always, my lady."] This rote dialogue of question and response becomes a trademark of their relationship, as she asks and he answers over the course of growing up, and falling in love, and facing separation after he is called to duty. She is still asking after the war, when the new king has been crowned, but this time the response is different. I really do think these stories complement each other beautifully. The one reminds us of what the other does not, as war purchases the freedom to love for some, which others have to pay for. Together, these stories remind us of what is lost, and what in turn is won.

Reviewed by: Elfique  ✧  Score: 6

When I first read this for ALEC I was blown away and knew it had to be nominated here asap! An extremely clever bit of writing that takes you all over the place, from highs to lows and yet remains realistic and incredibly powerful. The repeating question/answer of ["Shall you be my Captain"/"Always my Lady"] that ties the whole piece together is haunting in the way it is so frequently changed and charged with different meanings and emotions. At the very end of the tale when it is broken, and the expected answer does not come, the characters' new separation is marked and highlighted all the more. This is a hard-hitting bit of writing, that looks a the effects of war in a very unique light - you expect the girl who stayed home to never see her boy that went to war ever the end of this tale you are almost were wishing that would have been so.

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 5

I was initially uncertain what to expect of this story given the summary, but the biographical treatment circling around the question [Shall you be my captain?] and its answer in different circumstances easily makes the characters sympathetic and brings them to life on the page despite the brief form. The story also easily illustrates the terrors of war while never once leaving Minas Tirith. All in all, an interesting look at the citizens of Gondor, complete with the invention of a game, that I could easily imagine taking place in canon alongside all the great deeds.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 5

This is an example of a drabble-series done right. The continued query [Shall you be my captain] and his answer: [Always, my lady] tie together scenes that are connected in an unobvious way, therefore making them obvious. These two characters, though they have no names, are admirable and a joy to read of. Very rarely do original character shine so strongly. Their personalities are not fully developed by necessity of the drabbles' length, but what we do know of them is beautiful. They are strong and loving. Beyond that, the final drabble is what brings everything into focus. For so long these two have had their exchange, but when all is said and done, he can no longer speak for himself. What he has gone through it too much. Perfect!

Reviewed by: Tanaqui  ✧  Score: 4

This is a beautiful drabble series that moves from childish innocence to heartbreaking maturity in these five scenes. There's some well-worked symmetry between the first drabble where the two protagonists don't know each other and the question and answer are light-hearted and meaningless to the last where war has given the question too much weight and made the protagonists again scarcely know each other. Extremely well crafted!

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

These connected drabbles are well written, with an unorthodox approach: Gondor's long war seen from the perspective of two OCs, ordinary people. The plot was original, the dialogue good, and the descriptions very well written. The ending is not for everyone, but the story makes the reader think. This is a most original tale, and well crafted.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 3

Tolkien mostly tells us of the War of the Ring through the eyes of its heroes, but we know the majority of people must have been ordinary people. I especially enjoyed this drabble series as it gives us a glimpse of life in Gondor through the eyes of an ordinary boy and girl in the shadow of war. The ending is heart rendingly bleak.

Reviewed by: Rivergift  ✧  Score: 3

A profoundly insightful, sad piece. Beautiful tie-in with the repeated question and the steadfast answer, till the very end, but it just shows your understanding on how war breaks people till they can hardly remember how to love.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 3

I am not a fan of drabbles, but I love this series. I love how the relationship changes and grows deeper. The end is touching and sad, without the answer that we expect, but it is plausible: no one can be untouched and unchanged by war. Well done.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 2

I really like this set of drabbles - nice symmetry, and a nice viewpoint on the war. Very thought-provoking.