Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Lonely Watches

Author: Canafinwe
Nominator: Radbooks
2010 Award Category: Genres: Character Study: Angst

Story Type: Story : Length: Short Story
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Haunted by solitude, Aragorn finds respite unlooked-for in the company of a friend.


Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 10

Gandalf and Aragorn stories are always welcome, but they can be hard to come by. Gandalf is difficult to write; one needs an occasion that fits, it's hard to balance humor with hardship, etc., etc. Canafinwe's story is aptly named: she does an excellent job portraying the loneliness of a Ranger's path - not just Aragorn's, but all the Rangers through him. One gets a sense of his concerns, of the importance of time home for harvest, of the unwelcoming atmosphere in the towns, of missed opportunities, losses, failures (real and imagined). I've seen a lot of stories that have these elements, but which do not succeed nearly as well as Canafinwe's in making them work together, or in getting one believably into Aragorn's perspective. It's his sense of extreme loneliness, and his exhaustion that drive the interaction and give the story its tension, even though, strictly speaking "nothing happens." This is Aragorn on the edge of things, including his capacity to endure, whether he realizes it or not. Her Gandalf voice is extremely well done - very confident, with a mixture of mirth and seriousness, and one can see both his quickness of mind as he responds to Aragorn's bitter irony and yet it seems neither false, nor insincere, and Canafinwe avoids any easy sentimentality. He is the necessary counter-balance to Aragorn's mood, but also the element of action, the one whose tasks bring the story to a close. Ultimately, this is a lovely portrait of friendship in hard times and an illustration of Gandalf's resiliency and powers of renewal, set in a time frame that I think will interest most readers who enjoy Gandalf and/or Aragorn. Well done, Canafinwe!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 10

Canafinwe is amazing when it comes to setting. Simply amazing. And this story is yet another example of that. One gets a very clear sense of how lonely, how isolated, and how wearing a Ranger's life can be. Rather than outright informing readers that Aragorn is lonely and exhausted, Canafinwe plunges the story into a place that is just as worn and just as deserted as Aragorn feels. The harmony of place, tone, and Ranger drives home the hardships of this particular lifestyle, and it makes it accessible and genuine in a way I've rarely seen realized. But in addition to setting, what really draws me to this story are the characterizations. Let's talk about Aragorn first, and rarely have I seen someone do such a good job with Aragorn pushed to his limits. There's a prickliness about him that wouldn't ordinarily be there, but he is still more or less courteous in his speech, and he isn't flinging blame around when he might very well make a case for (particularly regarding Gilraen). I read from him a gritty perseverance that has been worn away until it's hanging by a thread, but it's still hanging. For now. Enter Gandalf. and here Canafinwe displays some masterful characterization. The wizard is definitely a wizard. He's certainly not ignorant of Aragorn's state of mind, but he isn't pulled down by it, either. He acknowledges it and then pushes past it, dragging Aragorn along with him. It's exactly the kind of therapy that Aragorn needs. No more wallowing; just friendship, pure and simple. I love the way the cagey wizard, who simply refuses to be pigeonholed in a conversation, flits from topic to topic in pure wizard fashion, healing and gaging and encouraging all at once. Rarely is Gandalf so well characterized.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 7

It has been a pleasure rereading this! It is harvest time, and most of his men who are married or have families have been sent home to assist in the harvest and threshing of the grain, and Aragorn himself is taking over as much of the slack as he can in the patrols about the borders of the Breelands and the Shire. It is a lonely and wearing duty, particularly as he is feeling particularly ostracized by "polite" society. When Gandalf finds him within sight of Archet in a cold camp he knows relief on many levels, even though the Wizard's ultimate goal is to convince him to resume the search for Gollum. A very realistic depiction of the life Aragorn most probably led as Chieftain of the northern Dunedain and captain of their Rangers, and the relief of companionship--and good Hobbit-provided fare--on a night when he'd had every reason to feel isolated and starving for both decent food and human contact. Beautifully written and well recommended.

Reviewed by: Cairistiona -- Score: 4

Canafinwe is one of my favorite Aragorn writers, because she writes him with such sensitivity, without skimping on detail either in setting, character or emotion. In this tale, he's probably as lonely as he ever has been, to the point where the sound of friendly laughter nearly brings him to tears. With great attention to canon, Canafinwe tells a heartwarming tale of how Aragorn's loneliness was alleviated by the unexpected arrival of a good friend.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland -- Score: 3

A moving and beautifully written story that captures Aragorn's feelings well. I loved caring Arwen here too and little Eldarion,though he seems a little older than three to me. It must indeed be a heavy burden to send men to their deaths.

Reviewed by: NeumeIndil -- Score: 2

Bits of his thoughts here remind me of Boromir's speech at the Counsel. You are very reminiscent in tone and timbre the original books as the Professor wrote them. I like it.