Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

The Usurper

Author: Elena Tiriel
Nominator: Tanaqui
2006 Award Category: Times: Early Third Age: Fixed-Length Ficlet - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Fixed-Length Ficlet : Length: True Drabble
Rating: PG -- Reason for Rating: implied violence
Summary: Castamir the Usurper begins his cruel reign of Gondor by passing sentence on the captured son of his deposed predecessor...

Reviewed by: Súlriel -- Score: 8

As much as I love the Men of the West, it's difficult for me to remember or accept those such as Castamir, and back through the 'fallen' kings of Numenor. It's tragic to me that the sons of Elros would come to that, and especially rewarding to see Aragorn prove true. Difficult? it rips at my heart, but we see it through out the history of the world as well as throughout the history of Middle-earth, and, I think, that's one element that gives this drabble it's intensity. That so many would fall and so few remain true - even in the same family, for example: such a noble family as Denethor, Boromir and Faramir, the Darkness threaded it's way into their hearts and minds. How could we expect any lesser men to stand strong? Yet, without darkness the light doesn't shine - and I greatly appreciate the contrast that you give us with your writing - you delve to the very heart of Tolkien's writing's, in my opinion, the horrors that lurk and are sometimes exposed in mankind, and yet - always - there is good, and if it's not enough to balance the moment, at least there is hope. Well Done!

Reviewed by: dkpalaska -- Score: 6

Brrr... The author captured Castamir's ruthless and vengeful nature here, effectively using his own PoV and highlighting a tense moment soon after his victory. His rise to power did not make him generous, but only deepened his pride and sense of righteousness. I especially liked how his internal dialogue highlighted that he considered himself the rightful ruler, and unfortunately not with any feeling of true responsibility to his land or his newly-won people. The particularly vicious sentence weighed on Ornendil, and the destruction of the city, leave me glad that he himself is eventually overthrown. My only "comfort," such as it is, is that this particular moment was likely the start of the people's turning away from his "pure-blooded" ascendancy, and back to the "half-blooded" true king, Eldacar. A very well-realized and uncomfortable drabble.

Reviewed by: Tanaqui -- Score: 5

Elena Tirel once again gives us a chilling insight into a Dark character and another one of the more obscure corners of canon she loves so much. In this drabble, she makes us feel not just the ambition, vanity and cruelty of the usurper Castamir, but also his pettiness, petulance, self-absorption and lack of self-awareness and all from Castamir's own perspective. This is a tour-de-force in 100 words! The drabble provides a fine exploration of Tolkien's frequent theme that evil contains the seeds of its own undoing, by showing how Castamir would have turned the people of Gondor against him by indulging his own appetites for revenge and cruelty. Excellent work!

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 4

This drabble really does an effective job of showing just how cruel someone like Castamir could be. The irony is that if Eldacar's son is a true traitor like Castamir seems convinced of, then the burning of this southern city would be no great torment to him (other than that it would bring about his own death, obviously). It makes me think that perhaps Castamir is more cruel than cunning, which doesn't bode too well for Gondor. Really nice gapfiller, Elena!

Reviewed by: elliska -- Score: 3

Wow! I love the little lines that Tolkien gives us in the appendices--they're little teasers. And this drabble does an amazing job of illustrating the one you quote. The method of execuation Castamir chooses is sick enough but the way you show him relishing it and his power is really disgusting. Well done!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 3

Ouch! Poor Ornendil, not to mention the people of Osgiliath. You've captured Castamir's haughtiness and utter lack of mercy to the fallen very well. Excellent work of turning a thrilling, complex story, into a haunting drabble.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 3

Castamir's true colors show plainly here: he is both egotistical and cruel. For the sleight to his pride, and a prince's unwillingness to acknowledge him, he will order a most horrific and slow death for the offender. Indeed, collective punishment apparently isn't too good for the people of the City who (at least nominally) were loyal to Eldacar's line.

Reviewed by: Elen Kortirion -- Score: 3

Ooooh - so chillingly cruel! You have caught a character here that is certainly an evil man. It is difficult to say I admire it because it almost leaves one sickened, but then I assume that is your intention - and you succeed very well; it's a strong and memorable drabble, that is well written.

Reviewed by: Bodkin -- Score: 3

What a nasty piece of work Castamir is! And so much for the nobility of Numenor - he is as cruel as any follower of Sauron. Seeing the incident through his eyes gives an interesting perspective, too.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 1

A chilling account of the cruelty of Castamir, which is merely hinted at in canon.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland -- Score: 1

A truly chilling glimpse of Castamir.