Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

The Mariner's Son

Author: cairistiona
Nominator: Amarok
2008 Award Category: Genres: Adventure - Third Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Short Story
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Rated for mention of violence
Summary: The One Ring is not the only ring that brings peril to the Heir of Isildur.


Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 10

It's interesting to see a story involving the Ring of Barahir - that's fairly rare, but I quite like the use cairistiona put it to in this short story. The story starts us out in media res, and it's far from a pleasant situation for our poor, nameless prisoner, though the reader has her suspicions about who this must be fairly early. Captivity and confusion are well portrayed, as is Aragorn's mounting desperation: what begins with the promise of a confrontation with one of Sauron's minions becomes a struggle with the elements which Cairistiona writes very well. What had seemed to be shaping up as a battle that would be a contest of wills against a human opponent ends up being a battle of Aragorn for himself - his survival, but also his struggles with his identity. This more inward struggle ends up giving him a point of solidarity in a way with the other two characters in the story, both of whom are marked by a namelessness that on the one hand, for the Mariner, signifies a deliberate letting go of the past man, and in the case of his adult son, a kind of innocence of identity. Aragorn has to find a way between these extremes - he can change his name, but he cannot not have one, for all his names in the end refer back to another name - Heir of Isildur. The link between Isildur and the Ring of Barahir in a way gives Aragorn the chance to occupy a middle ground: that of having his identity taken from him, at first symbolically, then literally through amnesia, leaving him to learn to desire what he had once thought he could have gladly given up. But the adventure also gives him the chance to show that even in the absence of identity, his anchor is in his character, which is that of a king, whether or not named. Nicely done! Aragorn fans should enjoy this.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 10

I was completely blown away by this story (pun only partially intended). There are so many aspects and angles to it, and I will freely admit that I did not anticipate most of them. The first part is fairly straight forward. It's a harrowing piece of action with Aragorn as the one and only star desperately trying to escape from a flooding old lighthouse. Details are scant in the beginning, which forces readers to absorb every piece of information we are given. We become painfully familiar with both Aragorn's physical condition and the seemingly impregnable prison that is the lighthouse. Eventually, we come to learn that he was attacked by a crazed begger, but those facts don't come around until we are already caught up in a painful drama. The flooding sequence had some of the best action I've ever seen. I could feel it. See it. Hear it. And when Aragorn finally broke through the roof, I nearly cheered aloud. And then came the second act of the story, featuring two unnamed original characters who are now as dear to me as Aragorn himself. Their story gave the drama a different tone, namely one of tragedy rather than fearful adventure. And perhaps that's the most impressive thing about this little tale. The tone runs a gauntlet that includes danger, panic, courage, relief, grief, and tragedy, and they all come together seamlessly, building into what feels like a very quiet resolution. In the end, I'm reminded of the calm after the storm, which is very fitting given the context of this story. Masterfully written, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Aragorn.

Reviewed by: Amarok -- Score: 10

That is really a great story, with action, tension and heroism Ė and humour. And it is all written in such a beautiful language. Oh, how Aragorn almost despairs, but then decides to fight until the end. Or the water surrounding him, but still he is thirsty and can not drink the sea water. Each time I thought it could not get worse it did - that was done great. And of course I loved the angsty scenes while Aragorn almost drowned. While he hung on that small ledge, I hung on tightly to the arms of my chair to not jump around in tension and unseat the laptop :-). I also loved the element of memory loss. I would have wanted to see more of that, but I can always hope that you'll commit a story to it in future, can't I? ;-) And your playing around with his many names was enjoyable, as always. And the Marinerís and Aragornís talk about his age made me laugh as well. Really great was the ending. Our hero Aragorn choose to not fight for his ring, instead he used his knowledge of the human soul and mind (even a slightly sick mind) - and he succeeded, and got his ring and sword back. I think as future king he'll need that kind of knowledge, and I'd love to learn how he developed it. Has Elrond taught him? Or has he learned this during his ranger years? Or while out alone in the wild, observing the animals? You see, you need to write much more :-). So, I can only repeat: I loved this story. Well done!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 5

This story opens with a thrill ride. Well, a very scary thrill ride; as Thorongil awakens in a locked building, in a bad storm and soon finds the water rising. Two mysterious characters are added later, turning the adventure story into a deeper, more psychological drama. And the author's addition of temporary amnesia, which is credible due to Aragorn's physical injuries, just ratchets up the tension. The writing of the danger chapters is extremely vivid and fast-paced, without being extreme or overloaded. Later, the pace slows down a bit as Aragorn finds out the origin and reasons for the trap in which he had been placed, which also works well.

Reviewed by: obsidianj -- Score: 5

Aragorn travels to the coast of Anfalas when he falls victim to a madman who steals his ring. When Aragorn wakes up he is trapped in a room with no way out and a big storm approaching. The description of Aragorn's fear and panic when he tries to escape the trap seems very real. The story takes several surprising turns until he finally gets his ring back. The tale of the life of the mariner and his son was touching with unintended consequences of his decisions for his son. I was touched by the discussion of what is in a name. Aragorn has too many names, the mariner's son has not enough.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 5

The story is good at depicting and building tension. The descriptions are vivid, painting a detailed picture of the surroundings. The growing storm, in particular, seems like a real presence here, growing in menace. The PoV is used skilfully, letting us see and explore the scene through Aragorn's eyes, follow his thoughts and feelings, and gradually discover the plot along with him. There seemed a whiff of Movie!Aragorn in the characterisation, and the revealing of the mystery seemed a little pat, but all in all, I thought his portrayal in such a low moment, which must necessarily bring anxieties to the front, well done, and I liked how he handled the situation in such a level-headed and compassionate way.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland -- Score: 5

This story is gripping and unique.I found myself reading it in one sitting which I rarely do for a multi chaptered story. Aragorn's plight at the beginning was chilling, but the it was the tragic tale of the Mariner and his son that truly caught my attention. I would have liked to know exactly how Aragorn avoided drowning and I think he ended up as Thorongil in Gondor, because he did want to be King and needed to learn about his future subjects. The final chapter was my favourite in which Aragorn gently persuades the simple minded boy to return his belongings. A very enjoyable read.A friend told me I would enjoy this a while ago,but I never got round to reading it,so I'm glad I did now!

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 3

A remarkable tale with remarkable characters, from the unnamed "mariner's son" to the one imprisoned by him. The story is haunting, and it sparks our sympathies for all involved. Highly recommended.