Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

What The Lightning Said: 20th June 3018, Minas Tirith

Author: Azalais
Nominator: curiouswombat
2010 Award Category: Genres: Character Study: Gondor Drabbles - Third Place

Story Type: Drabble : Length: True Drabble
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Written for the LiveJournal tolkien_weekly drabble community's "Weather: Lightning" challenge What was Denethor doing on the night the Ringwraiths under their Black Captain assailed the Anduin bridge at Osgiliath?...


Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 7

There's a wonderfully dark and charged atmosphere in this drabble. The vivid descriptions in the beginning are very compelling in setting an oppressive tone. One can feel the heat and the coming storm bearing down on Minas Tirith. It's a potent combination that most readers have probably experienced during the summer months, and it immediately makes the scene very tangible and very accessible. I particularly like this phrase: [unassailable wall of the Ephel Duath]. It adds a note of despair and hopelessness to the brooding weather. In full view of all brave enough to look, Mordor sits and mocks the White City. The lightning mocks Denethor especially, for he knows his sons are in the midst of it. This is where Azalais really makes the drabble count, because Denethor is placed in an impossible situation. On the one hand, he knows too much, but on the other, he doesn't know enough. It makes the choice to turn to the palantir both natural and almost necessary. A compelling character portrait of a fascinating man!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat -- Score: 5

Within the hundred word limitation of the true drabble Azalaisdep manages to perfectly paint for us, first, a picture of a summer's night in Minas Tirith, and then a character portrait of Denethor. Not the caricatured, cruel, and uncaring Denethor we see in film and many stories, but a Denethor who is driven by a truly understandable motive, by a very natural need to know. It is, however, a Denethor who could quickly become that man driven mad by, for the large part, his own actions. The use of words in this drabble is masterful - I would recommend it as a perfect vignette.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 5

When I saw the title, I thought of Altariel, and not without reason - Eliot strikes again! This piece manages to describe the tension in the atmosphere of Minas Tirith in a very short space. Descriptions of the atmosphere as "[hot and heavy as velvet]" vividly evoke memories of humid summer nights that never really cool. It's as if Az sees the entire city holding its breath before the menacing lightning and thunder in the Ephel D˙ath. Denethor embodies that tension, though he is perhaps less patient than others. That last line is brilliantly played! Good work, Az! Very enjoyable.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 5

In this short drabble Azalais has skillfully managed to display perfectly the scene as a tense Denethor watches distant lightnings over the Ephel Duath, fearful for the safety of his sons and the realm he seeks to safeguard. The tension is palpable, the anxiety perfectly conveyed, the defiance made plain. And when he turns to the object under the blue cloth, one can feel the purpose of his decision. An extraordinarily vivid and effective ficlet, and truly well worth reading. I doubt I can recommend it highly enough! Do read it! Well done!

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 4

Azalais paints a vivid and disturbing picture of the emergence of the Ringwraiths, capturing the atmosphere of the sweltering summer night perfectly by rich turns of phrase. The dread in the story becomes all the greater by lacking a direct view of the attack, only obliquely hinting at the violence and watching from a distance through the eyes of Denethor himself, who here appears both remote in his watching and sympathetic through his internal dread. A very deserved nomination and well worth a read.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale -- Score: 3

A deeply human and sympathetic reason for Denethor to use the Palantir. It is sad to think that such a fundamentally loving concern could be playing a role in the ultimate compromise of Denethor. The final phrase ["I must see!..."] is a primal one and not to be denied. I read this initially as any night: the author's note packs a bonus punch. Nicely done!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 2

A powerful yet exquisite display of writing skill here. Denethor is so perfectly in character, the atmosphere so right, it's chilling. Well done!

Reviewed by: Ellynn -- Score: 2

Though I am not a fan of drabbles, I like this one: the atmosphere and Denethor are perfectly described. Well written.