Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Pelargir

Author: Dwimordene
Nominator: Starlight
2011 Award Category: Cross-Cultural: Gondor or Rohan - First Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Short Story
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Violence
Summary: In the tradition of 'we have met the enemy, and they are us', as the Corsairs sail ever nearer, Pelargir struggles not to implode before ever they arrive. A twenty-nine drabble series (length/type chosen so it will compete against full-length stories).


Reviewed by: Lyra -- Score: 10

This is an outstanding drabble series, fleshing out the few lines Tolkien offers about the build-up of the Corsair attack on Pelargir, and its defence. Following the fate of a Haradric family in Pelargir during that time of war, Dwimordene paints a fascinating and dramatic picture of the parallel cultures of the Dúnedain and Haradrim living there, and of the tension and hostility threatening to tear Pelargir apart even before the true enemies arrive. Quotes from Haradric scripture and lines of Haradric language bring that unknown culture to life, as do the credible and likeable characters and the allusions to real-world history. The preparations of war, the fighting and the deaths of characters one has come to sympathise with are narrated in a matter-of-fact but nonetheless chilling tone, and the final chapter - an excerpt from the King's copy of the Red Book - brutally makes clear how much was lost for Pelargir despite the eventual victory over the Corsairs. Masterfully constructed, this is an intriguing look at an overlooked place and its people in the history of the Ring War, answering some questions about the silence of Pelargir in the muster of Gondor on the side. I would love to find out more about Dwimordene's envisionings of Haradrin religion, language and society.

Reviewed by: Himring -- Score: 9

I suppose this is a gapfiller; certainly the author's end notes point out a number of gaps in the Return of the King that she is filling. It does not really read like a gapfiller, though, but as much more than that. The family Dwimordene focusses on is by culture and religion Haradrim, but its political loyalties are (mostly) Gondorian, a tangle of identities that occurs all too commonly in such political situations in border countries, although in RotK the issues are made to seem so clear-cut. The authorities in Pelargir, it seems, also are in great danger of over-simplifying and thereby mishandling affairs. The story-telling technique adopted here resembles that of LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness--snippets illustrating the complexity of the background interwoven with the story of individuals which invites identification. We see both the immediate and the less tangible damage inflicted by war, but also acts of heroism that are likely to go unnoticed in Minas Tirith. With a sad irony, it is the son of the family who was least certain of his political loyalty to Gondor who ends up dying before our eyes by a Corsair's sword.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 7

In this fascinating drabble series, Dwim explores the nature of the battle for Pelargir. We know this city was where Aragorn, the Grey Company, and the Army of the Dead encountered the Corsairs of Umbar, but we don’t know precisely what happened there, save that the Dead were able to cross over the water and drive the Corsairs off their ships to their deaths in the Anduin. But as to what the Corsair fleet was doing in Pelargir and what local defenses were doing is a driving question. Nor does the Master tell us in LOTR why Pelargir sent no levies to Minas Tirith. The reasons given both in the series and in the author’s notes are sound as to why this might have been so; and this tale set within the Haradrim quarter of the port city is both a vivid and thought-provoking look at the dynamics between native Gondorians and Haradri expatriates. Filled with Dwim’s fantastic, vivid language usage, this is definitely a tale to be read and reread.

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 6

There is detective work in literary sources, and then there is worldbuilding around this kind of research. Dwimordene has taken one of the many slight inconsistencies in Tolkien's works (this time about the titular Pelargir at war), and raised up a whole culture, complete with language, myths, religious considerations and sometimes gruelling social implications that was brought to life in a series of drabbles. Although some of the plot and references remained nebulous to me, not being familiar with the larger fic-verse it appears to be set in, the story still deserves comment for the skill with which all of it was executed and formed into an impressive whole. I'd love to read more on the culture that was built here, especially, and see the exilic Haradrim explored in more depth.

Reviewed by: Kara's Aunty -- Score: 5

The author has put a lot of work into this fic, of that there can be no doubt. Creativity and imagination abound as Dwimordene unveils for us a world which she has envisioned from the very sparse info we have on either Pelargir or Harad. Settings, languages, culture clashes, crises of pride, loyalty and conscience for the Gondor-born Haradrim, all are exquisitely detailed and highly impressive. Makes me feel a little inept as an author, really, reading such a masterful work. The only niggle I have is that the dialogue is so artful and complex that it sometimes went right over my head. Apart from that, a hugely impressive authorial feat. Very well done.

Reviewed by: Altariel -- Score: 5

This is an astonishing drabble series set in Pelargir during the endgame of the Ring War, that follows the (mis)fortunes of a family living in the city's Haradric Quarter. Dwim's detective work is amazing - who else would have noticed the silences in the original text about Pelargir? - and her ever-evolving Haradric world-building is superb. Also, it's exciting (and sometimes gruelling) to read. Pelargir - and the desperate position of its Haradric minority - are brought vividly to life. Brilliant, uncompromising stuff - well done, Dwim!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat -- Score: 5

I have only very recently acquainted myself with Dwimordene's folk of Harad, Pelagir and Dol Amroth - but the idea of the coastal towns and river ports having such mixed populations seems absolutely right to me - as does the way people of one ethnic group might begin to attack the other when war is so very close. But even more interesting than the drabbles themselves were the notes - I had not really thought of what must have actually happened at Pelagir, to the people of the city before the Corsairs docked, or after... It is clear, though, that Dwimordene has put a good bit of thought into it - and it is suddenly much clearer to me now, and of much more interest than ever before, too. Thank you.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 4

What I love about this is the way Dwimordene has created an entire culture here, through a short series of scenes. Complete with customs, language, and religion, the people in this tale are a people of their own, with their own identity that is illustrated beautifully. And the story itself, of a devastated city, is emotionally charged and hauntingly incomplete. Absolutely wonderful!