Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

...and hear the song of salt and sea

Author: Cuthalion
Nominator: Cuthalion
2006 Award Category: Genres: Drama: The Steward's Family

Story Type: Other Fiction : Length: Short Story
Rating: R -- Reason for Rating: There are no erotic scenes involved, but a character death. This might be disturbing for younger readers.
Summary: Finduilas of Dol Amroth was only married to Denethor for twelve years before she died, and people said that she "withered in the guarded city, as a flower of the seaward vales, set upon a barren rock". This is a tale about her longing, her sorrow and her loss.


Reviewed by: Mechtild -- Score: 10

In this fic, you envisioned a part of the LotR backstory that I have never stopped to think about: Finduilas of Dol Amroth, and what her marriage to Denethor might have been like. Thanks so much for bringing this “gap” to life for me. (Before I forget, I want to say I loved the touch of her remembering how her brother would take the boy Faramir’s hand during walks when they visited in Dol Amroth – the prince and uncle who would save Faramir as he fled before the Nazgűl, across fields of the Pelennor, decades hence .... This little detail touched me deeply; it’s the sort of “gap-filling” that fleshes out the story beautifully, making characters merely glimpsed in the canon text live.) From the first, you show your protagonist, Finduilas, as a gently, caring soul. Although [“she did not love him at first sight”], in time she came to see his loneliness and loved him. Yet, love was not enough. How well you sketch the sort of place Finduilas grew up in, Dol Amroth, by the sea. I have never thought of Minas Tirith as anything but beautiful; somewhere I’d like to live. But, to make a comparison, while Rome was beautiful and impressive, emperors preferred to take their holidays in Capri. You make it understandable how a woman raised by the sea, with its milder weather, soft breezes, and fragrant gardens (and from a beloved home), would find the White City as severe as its steward. Too hard, too exposed, too hot, too cold. You tell how his cares (fighting the powers of the East) “harden” and “darken” Denethor’s heart, so that love wanes. Then, his patronage of his first son and rejection of her second son – or the way she was raising him – seems finally to kill her love. In the appendices, Tolkien implied two main threads for why Finduilas would have grown unhappy. I think you touched on both of them. He says, [“…it seemed to men that she withered in the guarded city, as a flower of the seaward vales set upon a barren rock. The shadow in the east filled her with horror, and she turned her eyes ever south to the sea that she missed.” ]Your Finduilas did not seem directly affected by “horror” in the east, but she certainly suffered through Denethor’s grim preoccupation with it. Her withering because she was, so to speak, “out of her element” – a sea flower on a barren rock of a city – was well-shown in your story. My only reservation about this fine fic concerns its ending. Nowhere in the canon materials or drafts is it hinted that Finduilas actually killed herself (is it?). She died untimely; she withered. We know her children mourned her, and that her husband became more grim and taciturn and sour after losing her to death. Considering the way in which you depicted Finduilas sinking into deeper and deeper despond and depression, it is entirely plausible that she would have killed herself in the way you describe. But, based on my knowledge of real-life situations in which a parent has killed herself, the way this sort of death would have impacted her survivors would have been extremely severe. Denethor would have been incapacitated by guilt, and I don't see how her sons would have got over it. From the source materials, though, this did not appear to be the case. Therefore, I think you could keep the idea that she killed herself, but it might do to show that it was generally *believed* ("generally" including her children and husband) that her death was accidental. If Denethor lived to be haunted by the suspicion that it had been intentional, and that he himself was responsible for the state of misery that would have driven her to it, that could make sense in the context of canon. But he could not know *for sure* -- he'd have to be able to put the thought aside enough to shoulder the huge responsibilities he actually had. And her sons could not be allowed to know at all, I think, or the repercussions would have to have shown up more than they do in their LotR portrayals. Well, *in my opinion* that would be the case. You might imagine it differently, or not care that much about sticking closely to the text. Fic-writers do whatever they want with the source material, hang the canon text, but you seem to want to maintain a resemblance. A sequel, perhaps...? :D

Reviewed by: Rhapsody -- Score: 5

Haunting and beautiful, I never thought that Finduilas would end her life like that. Yet as I read along the moment when Denethor threatens to take Faramir away from her to be trained properly is the moment that makes her loose touch with reality. This is a beautifully written portrait of the Stewards family where Denethor and Finduilas drift apart, where the author takes the time to explain why Boromir was more drawn to his father and Faramir to her. This piece is effectively written and suits the purpose of a gapfiller extremely well. The comparisons between the two cities (I like Dol Amroth a lot) are beautifully drawn and Finduilas longing to what once is convincingly written. This is a gem of a story!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 4

An effective and haunting story, showing Finduilas' increasing isolation and loneliness. The way she clings to little Faramir, perhaps unknowingly clinging too much and expecting too much from so young a child, is heartbreaking. I like the way the writer shows the slow decline of Finduilas' spirit, from the happy bride to the lost and depressed woman who cannot sustain herself.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 4

A story like incoming and receding waves of deceptively calm waters, very appropriate to the subject: Beautiful to behold, but with hidden, treacherous undercurrents telling of darkening times and the cost (and eventual end) of happiness. The tension increases subtly with every section set in the present until the shocking climax. Powerful, evocative writing!

Reviewed by: Gandalfs apprentice -- Score: 3

A very melancholy and tragic take on Finduilas's end. Some might consider it noncanonical, but I believe it is entirely legitimate for the writer to read between the lines into what Tolkien did NOT say. It is hard to carry off a piece that is so grim and sad, but you do a good job.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 3

From the promising beginning through the change, never clearly understood, to a final parting before death, Finduilas goes back through marriage, family, and the division duty introduced into her life. Perhaps. It's impossible to pinpoint what made the decisive change, but the ending does not come as a surprise.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 3

Oh my! So very, very sad, and so very, very plausible. I can see this Finduilas and this Denethor, laying down the paths that will lead to the future tragedies for their sons. Poor Finduilas, thinking she had no other choice.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland -- Score: 2

I verymoving tale about the Steward's family, and a plausible explanation as to why the brothers are so different.

Reviewed by: Marigold -- Score: 2

Poor Findulias, driven in this story to take her own life, rather than endure an unbearable and unhappy future.

Reviewed by: Llinos -- Score: 2

What a tragically sad story and I find the premise a plausible one. There is a richness of detail here that adds to the stark shock of the ending.