Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Keeping Watch

Author: Cairistiona
Nominator: Inzilbeth
2009 Award Category: Genres: Ficlets: General Fixed-Length Ficlets - Third Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Ficlet Series
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Rated for a bit of mild sexual innuendo.
Summary: Collection of drabbles, double drabbles, and triple drabbles that form a ficlet of roughly 3400 words, written for the NaQuaWriMo challenge A series of drabbles, double drabbles, etc. to form a complete stream-of-consciousness story as Halbarad, with the help of Elladan and Elrohir, keeps watch over an ill Aragorn.


Reviewed by: Dreamdeer -- Score: 10

This prequel to Cairistiona's novel, "At Hope's Edge" in some ways echoes the larger story; I might even go so far as to recommend that it be read after, so as not to undermine certain points of tension in that admirable work. Much of what I said in that review applies here. One difference that stands out is the formatting. A ficlet is, in itself, a tightly-wrought little jewel, as opposed to the larger sculpture of a short story, and the monumental architecture of a novel. What Cairistiona has done here is threaded together a whole series of ficlets into a larger story, with a result resembling a necklace of gemstones. In this form, not only must each individual jewel reflect well on the lapidary precision that crafted it, but it must also complement every other gem in the string, and find its right place in the sequence. Even the best jewels of ficlet can go wrong if strung together carelessly. Cairistiona rises to the challenge. The shadows and glints of angst and humor, fear and warmth, play off of each other in carefully measured (or intuitively inspired?) balance, making the whole more than the sum of its parts. It works. Beautifully. I never even heard of Cairistiona until I stumbled across her work by chance, here at the MEFAs. I am so glad that I discovered this writer!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 7

Stream of consciousness is difficult to write. Too little form and it's incomprehensible. Too much and and it's too structured to be what it intends to be. I think Cairistiona hits a good balance here. By keeping each ficlet short, each scene can be realized and understood with a minimum of form, so it truly does feel like a stream of consciousness from Halbarad. His emotions, from relief to exhaustion, come through brilliantly. The spots of mirth in between are shadowed and have that hysterical edge of those pushed too far. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Elrohir and Elladan cannot agree on whether Aragorn is worse or better. It feels like a turning point for all involved (with the possible exception of Aragorn), because the disagreement could escalate or they could turn their energy toward tending the sick. And the power of these ficlets is that we don't see the whole story, but we do see the results, leaving the rest to the imagination. Brilliant use of a difficult style.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 6

It was wonderful having reason to read this drabble series once more, refreshing my memory. The Chieftain of the Northern Dunedain ill, caught by the same fever that even now kills many of those of his people around him. Elladan and Elrohir come to aid as they can, even to the point of lying body to body with him to share their own warmth with him as his own bodie's defenses appear crumbling. A wanton dream that sets a certain blackmail in motion; promises and worries, healing and loss. Such are the truths known by the remnant of the descendants of the Faithful lingering in Arnor, and Aragorn embodies their hope as he does that of all of the Free Peoples. This series of poignant, pointed vignettes bring to life Aragorn and the harshness of his world, and the love all hold for him. An excellent means of telling this story.

Reviewed by: Peredhil lover -- Score: 6

I had never read this before now, and I didnít realize that you had participated in NaQuaWriMo last year. Did you know that it was my rant at a writerís group last fall that started it all? A few posted the idea on their LJís and apparently it spread more than I realized. Hmm, I suppose Iíll just have to start up that rant again soon to see what quality words I can inspire my fellow writers to produce this November. ;) Anyway, it was a delight to read this warm and touching little tale of care and comfort. I enjoyed your take on the relationship between the twins, Halbarad and Aragorn, and the lighthearted moments of humour you wound through all the worry and concern brought a smile to my face more than once. This was a very fine effort and most enjoyable to read.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 5

Effective ficlet series, from the viewpoint of Halbarad, as he watches over the fever-stricken Aragorn. Nice interplay between Halbarad and the Peredhil and Aragorn, with a few moments of believable humor. I thought Halbarad's conviction, even while Aragorn was suffering grave illness, that his chieftain would one day dwell in the Citadel, was an excellent way of showing Halbarad's faith and confidence in his kinsman. Halbarad's love for his friend and chieftain, and Aragorn's power as inspiration and focal point for the Northern Dunedain, are well written here.

Reviewed by: Inzilbeth -- Score: 4

This a a most original idea for a story, it being a succession of drabbles which, when strung together, collectively tell the tale. It works perfectly though, as do the switches from angst to humour which occur throughout. The care and concern of all concerned for the ailing chieftain is touching without being ever being coying. Very well done and, as always, superbly written.

Reviewed by: Marethiel -- Score: 4

I loved this from the very first time I read it. This particular author's characterization of Halbarad is one of my absolute favorites: wry, yet heartfelt; down-to-earth, and yet fey at times when it comes to the Chieftain. The brilliant counterbalance of Halbarad on the one side, and the brethren Elrondion on the other, with Aragorn resting -- feverishly! -- in the middle was superb, and made absolutely awe-inspiring by adding the element of the series of drabbles to the mix. Truly worth the nomination; a joy to read.

Reviewed by: crowdaughter -- Score: 3

Lovely fic and effective telling. I like the first person point of view you keep here, and the sparse measures of telling the story, both still used very poignantly. Very well done! Thank you for sharing!

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland -- Score: 3

A series of drabbles from Halbarad's point of view as he keeps watch over Aragorn's sickbed with the twins. Halbarad's devotion to his cousin is very real and touching and the reader shares his hopes and fears as Aragorn struggles to recover. Aragorn is certainly loved and cared for by those who tend him and this shines through the series.

Reviewed by: obsidianj -- Score: 3

This story highlights the unwavering loyalty and the close connection Aragorn has with Halbarad and his elven brothers. I like the humor after all the dreary and frightful days of Aragorn's sickness. The vanishing Arwen is priceless.