Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Web of Treason

Author: Linda Hoyland
Nominator: Raksha the Demon
2007 Award Category: Times: Fourth Age and Beyond: Gondor or Rohan - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story : Length: Novel
Rating: Mature -- Reason for Rating: violence,torture,angst
Summary: To save the tortured, captive, Aragorn, Faramir must forfeit his own honour. Can one do evil in the service of a greater good? And will both King and Steward survive an ordeal that tests their friendship as well as their fealty?

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 10

This most ambitious of Linda's stories takes a darker turn than do most of her tales. [Web of Treason] examines, as its central theme, the question of whether a good man can remain good while doing evil deeds to accomplish a noble purpose. There are no simple answers, and the verdict is largely left to the reader. In the story, Aragorn disappears and Faramir comes to suspect a cabal of lords who have made already made a dubious political move on the Stewardship in Council, as well as a surprising proposal of marriage for the infant Eldarion - which Elessar had opposed. Faramir decides that to find his missing King and friend, he must feign sympathy for the suspect lords, and infiltrate their ranks. To accomplish this end, Faramir must lie, deny and betray his allegiance to the very king he wants to save. A terrible price is exacted; which endangers Faramir's soul, Aragorn's life, and the trust and love between them. Linda reveals considerable depth and courage as a writer by choosing to end the story in the way that she does - not with joy and forgiveness, but with doubt and shadows. Even heroes of Aragorn's mettle cannot completely recover from prolonged torture in a month or two, though the king is saved and restored to power. Time is needed, and there is still hope; a more upbeat ending would be less believable. Excellent depiction of Aragorn as an upholder of justice, dispensing both mercy and the ultimate penalties for treason. Arwen is well-written here; as a woman of strong will, enduring fear and physical hardship without ever losing faith in Aragorn. There is also a delightful OFC - Elbeth, the mysterious child saved in Linda's story [Shadow and Thought], provides both extra pathos and a welcome thread of lightness amidst the sturm und drang. She is by turns a wilful brat and a kind-hearted angel of mercy; and is effectively revealed as a lonely child surrounded by venal opportunists who alternately neglect or spoil her, including her own mother. The story is well worth the read, though it takes the reader down some dark and unexpected paths.

Reviewed by: Michelle -- Score: 10

And the King returned and everyone lived happily ever after... That's what most fanfiction authors write when they think about Gondor in the 4th Age and maybe that's even what Tolkien envisioned, but if you look at it realistically it's very unlikely. In history, there are a lot less kings who died of old age than there are kings who were assassinated, poisoned, overthrown or otherwise done away with. Add to that the fact that Aragorn's return as a king is a huge political change that will most likely cause dissatisfaction amongst certain groups and you have all the ingredients for Linda's "Web of Treason". She sends Faramir on a mission to save his king and friend from a group of conspirators who want back "the good old days". And they don't fear treason or killing or torturing their king. Of course Faramir manages to snatch Aragorn from the grasp of those men, but the reader will soon realize that this is only the beginning of another kind of torture. Because Faramir had to gain the trust of the traitors, he now lost the trust of his friend and king. And it seems, that's the more painful experience for them both. I always like immersing myself in Linda's stories, because she masters a wide range of characters with absolute ease. And even though I see Aragorn differently in some aspects, she makes him believable for me in her world - and that's the fun of fanfiction! Of course the relationship between Aragorn and Faramir is at the heart of this story, but there are also a lot of supporting characters I enjoyed a lot. I like Linda's view of the Rohirrim, who are stout, realistic and matter-of-fact. Eowyn (and later Eomer) work as a wonderful contrast to Aragorn and Faramir, who tend to be so wound up in their honour and their upbringing that they don't see what's in front of their noses. All in all, a wonderful tale that had me engrossed from beginning to end. It ended on a sad and uncertain note, something that will cause it to reverberate in my mind even longer. The morale is: There are some things that cannot be undone, cannot be healed. Let's hope Linda will find a way to give Aragorn and Faramir some hope of closure!

Reviewed by: juliaaurelia -- Score: 10

This is the third in this author's series of longer fictions. It is the darkest of them, and my favorite of the completed ones. It begins with the unspeakable, a plague in Gondor and an attempted coup d'etat by a faction of the Gondorian aristocracy that is unhappy with the changes made by the new King. Aragorn's new ideas, which are meant to strengthen Gondor and make life better for all her citizens, are seen by these men as an eroding of their aristocratic privileges. They snatch Aragorn at a weak moment and Faramir, after being persuaded by Arwen that his King is still alive, must go undercover to infiltrate the conspiracy and save Aragorn, much to the detriment of his own soul, as he is forced to hurt his friend and King in order to prove to the conspirators that he is truly one of them. The author's talent for writing really harrowing H/C scenes really shines in this particular story, as Faramir must care for the grievously injured and ill Aragorn in a cave. Luckily, he has the help of Elbeth, in my own opinion the author's best OC to date, a plucky young girl who is the illegitimate daughter of his brother Boromir. After many trials, Aragorn and Arwen are reunited, as are Faramir and Eowyn, and Aragorn regains his throne, but the terrible toll that all this has taken on Aragorn and Faramir's relationship remains, and Aragorn himself is left in dark place, as is his Steward. I think that this approach is much more realistic and true to life than fics where the characters are angry at each other in one chapter, then make up quickly in the next and the quarrel is never spoken of again. In this series, the author's skillful handling of continuity shines forth, as the previous two fics are woven into the plot and the end sets the reader up for the next story in the series.

Reviewed by: Bodkin -- Score: 6

I was so relieved that there was a happy outcome to this story - it looked along the way as if there might well not be! I really like Elbeth, who took on a delightfully rounded nature as a determined and not-always-perfect child. I did find myself wanting to punch assorted people on the nose - Aragorn, for failing to see what Faramir had endured to save him - yes, I know he was hurt, but that was just plain stupid of him. Imrahil, for another, for immediately thinking the worst of his nephew and not acknowledging how actions - getting out there and saving the king - speak much louder than any number of helpless laments. This is a very dramatic story, with lots of suffering along the way - and I'm very pleased it turned out as it did!

Reviewed by: Gandalfs apprentice -- Score: 4

Linda Hoyland is the queen of Aragorn angst. If you have not-so-secret sadistic urges toward the King, here's your tale! Somehow the author keeps up a steady pace of complicated plot and never fails to surprise us with what's coming next. And at the end she leaves us on a big cliff, begging for the next installment! As she is very prolific, I'm sure the wait will not be long.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 4

Not all the lords of Gondor are happy with the new regime; some would prefer to return to the rule of the Stewards--as long as they are the ones truly in charge, of course. When the Queen begs Faramir to dissemble and appear to join the rebels to find and restore the kidnapped Elessar, he does so reluctantly--but at what cost to both? Heartbreaking and ruthless, and a story to keep one reading until done.

Reviewed by: nau_tika -- Score: 3

This writer's handling of the friendship between Faramir and Aragorn is excellent and she's about the only author who has both and Arwen and an Eowyn I enjoy. This was a painful story emotionally, both for the characters and the readers!