Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Dissonance

Author: EdorasLass
Nominator: Elen Kortirion
2007 Award Category: Races: Cross-Cultural: Gondor - Third Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Short Story
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: n/a
Summary: A worker in the Houses of Healing is shocked to discover who's being kept isolated from the rest of the patients. Valacar is Aliana's creation, and used with permission.


Reviewed by: annmarwalk -- Score: 10

This subtle yet powerful tale speaks so much to things that have happened in our own Age, not just the final days of the Third. This reminded me of the people right here in our country who attacked mosques and abused Middle Eastern people right after 9/11. Do you remember? Such blind rage and xenophobia. In the Narrator's case this shock and anger is quite understandable, as he was an enemy combatant, mortally wounded in the very act of seeking to destroy her city. [Part of me is repulsed by him, by everything I know his countrymen have done to mine, and I want to scream and rage at him.] A very realistic reaction on her part, yet her immediate and unthinking compassion for a dying man, even her enemy, does her great credit. It's not easy to take up someone else's original characters and write them as smoothly and seamlessly as you've done here. Every nuance of the Narrator's character is spot-on: her nervousness at being discovered by Valacar where she's not supposed to be, the tiny detail of her noticing the strange scent on her fingers from touching the Southron's hair. For those of us who have been following Aliana's story, this additional episode, somber as it is, is a welcome treat. The imagery you've provided, of the man singing his own death-song, is extraordinary. I think I can imagine his voice, that high wailing chant rising and falling. What despair, to use the last of his strength for this. A fiercely beautiful, unique and memorable story.

Reviewed by: dkpalaska -- Score: 7

["Dissonance"] does a very good job of capturing the antipathy between enemies, and the shift in perspective that can happen when we are brought face-to-face with our foe's humanity - most effectively in the face of helplessness. The title perfectly captures what the story goes on to elaborate: the lack of harmony between these strains in the Great Music, artificially imposed by Sauron and Man's own failings. Excellent characterizations, with the point of the story brought home quietly but clearly. With the dangerous nature of the Southron mostly neutralized, the female aide is allowed the time to actually look at him and observe the similarities between him and any wounded man. She doesn't come away with true understanding of why he was there to fight Gondor, or of his unique culture (I loved his sung eulogy!), but she does seem to get a glimpse of the deeper truth: ["There is only one man in all the world and his name is All Men" (Carl Sandburg)]. Thank you for this timely and well-written reminder, Edoraslass!

Reviewed by: NeumeIndil -- Score: 6

I hope it will not seem harsh of me to say that at first glance, I hesitated to read this story. I've read very few good works of fiction that use the present tense well. Having finished it now, I will say that this is not one such. The draw into this story is slow, with just enough details to pique the curiosity without being too telling. Surprisingly little of the character is revealed until she encounters the man behind the door, but the details we are given appeal to all the senses. I was especially impressed with the excellent use of scents and odors, which it seems are often overlooked in favor of visual details even though the sense of smell triggers so many memories. Reading this, we experience along with the character her meeting with the man behind the door. We don't just see what happens and observe her reactions; we feel and smell and see through her perspective. Very excellently done.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 6

There's something sobering about this vignette, but definitely meaningful. I really liked the idea that in the Houses of Healing (at least to a healer like Valacar) the fact that a man is injured and can be helped is more important than anything else; that seems to be the ultimate point of all the Dunedain principle, and a nice fleshing out of Tolkien's comment in the letters that, outside of myth and legend, there are orcs and men on both sides of any conflict. But the fact that EdorasLass's OC nurse could not just effortlessly accept the surprise of their patient's identitywas a very human touch, and I felt myself nodding at her struggle to see the humanity in the "other". A very nice read - quick to read, but I'm sure it will be in my thoughts for a while.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 5

The readers are immediately right along the narrator, wondering with the narrator about the mysterious patient, experiencing the story through all her senses. She is characterised well, not only by happenings in the main story, but also by her asides, which evoke her world in swift little details. The beginning paragraphs serve to establish her as a perceptive observer, so it is entirely natural that through her eyes, we get such a detailed picture of the Southron - not only as a subject observed, but as a character in his own right. The open and melancholy end resonates long after this brief story is finished.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 4

A very compelling vignette in which a woman healer finds an unusual patient in the Houses of Healing after the Battle of the Pelennor. This is a fine story of suppositions being challenged, and war reducing barriers as well as building them. The nobility of the OMC is nicely conveyed here, easily and naturally, as she fights her own very understandable prejudices in the face of something beyond her experience that nonetheless brings out her humanity. And the plight of the patient is rendered in touching, credible detail.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 3

When a young healers' aide hears cries of distress from a remote and isolated room that no one save senior healers has entered, her curiosity moves her to enter. In it she finds a dying Southron warrior, and in spite of her initial revulsion at finding and enemy here she is moved to aid him as she can. A moving and well done piece.

Reviewed by: Bodkin -- Score: 3

Sad. And it's at times like these that an observer can see that they're all just boys, caught up in the machinations of those to whom individuals are unimportant. Led by propaganda and upbringing to follow one side or the other, convinced of their own rightness. I'm glad she gave him water rather than dissolving into hysteria.

Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke -- Score: 3

This is lesson taught so gently. I like that your OFC is too motivated by compassion to heed her fear, anger or distaste. Your tales are told so evenly, but still pack an emotional wallop.