Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Paradise Lost

Author: elea24
Nominator: Robinka
2009 Award Category: Genres: Ficlets

Story Type: Story : Length: Ficlet
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: During the destruction of Numenor Tar-Miriel searches for absolution as she tries to ascend the Meneltarma.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 7

This short vignette, looking at the last thoughts of Ar-Zimraphel before the destruction of Numenor, is simply beautiful. Hauntingly so, I would say. It captures the general despair of the times quite well, and the physical details that are hinted at in the Akallabeth (such as the storms sent by the Valar before they bowed out to Iluvatar) are certainly intense. I can easily imagine being there. However, I think what most strikes me about this fic is the way that Ar-Zimraphel blames herself. I use her Adunaiac name purposefully, because she seems to have fully taken on her identity as "king's man" -- not by choice but by coercion. This fic screams the after-effects of domestic violence, which makes Ar-Zimraphel's role in the Akallabeth that much more pitiable. This fic is too short to explore just how culpable she might be, but surely no one deserves as much responsibility as she takes on herself. The story is worth reading and thinking about for that factor alone.

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 6

With the topic being what it is - the fall of Numenor - the reader realistically knows that this story can't end well. But the breakneck pace elea24 employs to keep step with Tar-Miriel as she struggles to save her life fails to let the reader go and paints an all too clear, haunting picture of the approaching wave and the desperate attempt to escape to the summit of Meneltarma. That this attempt is doomed is clear from the first falling stone, but Miriel's hopelessness doesn't fail to strike a very resonating cord. Her repentance and wish to be annihilated, not only from life, but from memory, make death - otherwise the ultimate horror for the people of Numenor - seem like a release. Along with the sometimes shockingly honest characterization and intricate details, there is much that makes this story well worth the read. Wonderfully written, thank you.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 6

First of all, I have to say that I love the poem ["Paradise Lost"], and I think this story does an excellent job of paying tribute to that moment when it is simply too late and deeds have gone past the point of reclamation. There's definitely a feeling of doom in the air, but there's also a feeling of desperate hope. I was particularly struck by these lines: ["Something, something must be saved! Even if it is only the merest echo of what was."] I could feel Miriel's determination to preserve a small piece of her land and her heritage, even if that piece was only a dying prayer atop Meneltarma. Of course, as readers, we have the hope that Elendil and company are going to make it back to Middle-earth, but there's no way for Miriel to know that. Even if word reached her that the ships had successfully fled the harbors, she couldn't know if they would survive the storm. Excellent character portrait and beautiful descriptive work! The storm and the mountain all felt very real to me.

Reviewed by: Robinka -- Score: 4

Most poignant and tragic! This is a gripping take on Tar-Miriel's final moments, before the Isle of Numenor was destroyed, and along with it -- her life and suffering. The queen's fears, regrets and emotions are conveyed in a haunting, very convincing way. Terrific imagery and beautiful language complete an outstanding short story. Excellent job, Elea, and a perfect challenge entry :) Bravo!

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 4

The challenge was to break far outside the author's usual mode of writing, a challege Elea has met most admirably! A most intriguing look at Tar-Miriel's last minutes within Middle Earth as the wave breaks over the Isle of Numenor. Her thoughts, fears, and regrets are well expressed, and the writing communicates well the confusion, anger, despair known by all. And her choice of references to Milton both in title and quotation are both so apt! Well, well done!

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 4

Poignant prose. I like how the outer tempest reflects Míriel's inner storm; how the story tension builds up and up just as she ascends the Mountain Meneltarma and just as the great wave builds up before her. I also found the relatively swift and unadorned ending very effective: it seemed to me a good illustration of how the wave would abruptly swallow her and her voice, with her prayer unanswered.

Reviewed by: Ithilwen -- Score: 3

Very nicely done! You do a good job showing Tar-Miriel's regrets as she struggles in vain to reach the top of the mountain. Somehow knowing she falls just short of reaching the summit before the wave takes her makes her view of the Fall all the more poignant.

Reviewed by: NeumeIndil -- Score: 1

Her anguish and long suffering come through very well in this piece.