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By the Light of Earendil's Star  by Branwyn 89 Review(s)
DreamflowerReviewed Chapter: 19 on 9/13/2006
I have to thank the MEFAs for bringing this story to my attention. I have enjoyed it immensely, even though I hardly ever read stories without hobbits. I'm using the MEFAs this year to stretch my horizons.

This was an excellent adventure, a "page-turner" if you can call something on a computer screen that. I found it very credible that this would be the sort of adventure that could have happened to the brothers so many years before the Quest.

In it, we see the seeds of the men they will become--Boromir, proud, impulsive, a fierce warrior, and Faramir, wise and a good judge of people, intuitive and foresighted. And yet we see characteristics that will need to be tempered, and this experience is possibly one way in which that tempering happens.

I love your OCs, especially Eldahil--he's just marvelous.

And I even found your somewhat less grim and more likable Denethor credible--a difficult feat, considering that I have disliked him for almost forty years, ever since my first reading of LotR! You made him believable, and yet you also left the seeds there for the grimmer and haughtier man he ultimately became. I found it somewhat bittersweet to see his words to Faramir about hope, when I know that in less than two decades, his own hope will fail utterly. Good job!

Author Reply: Dear Dreamflower,
You are an angel for sending this kind and thoughtful review on today of all days! I was told this morning that, due to a downsizing, I no longer have a job, after working happily for my employer for six years. This review cheered me up immeasurably; thank you so much!
When I wrote the story, I was very nervous that the OCs wouldn't work since I didn't have much experience writing fiction. So I am glad to hear that you loved Eldahil and the rest. :-)
Thanks again--

AcaceaReviewed Chapter: 19 on 9/3/2005
I’m truly sorry this has come to an end. It was a beautiful story and the last chapter and epilogue much as the rest of the story were really quite perfect. Denethor with the horses was so fine and so noble and intelligent and interesting and I loved the bit about the mail!

And the epilogue – yay for the puppy:) I really liked the outwardly calm and peaceful feeling these that just seems to percolate through the last bit.

Of course further Adventures are requested:) this story was terrific and more will be welcomed with open arms and a flower carpet… :) Really… it’s not often one gets a good story where the central action involves orcs fighting with rangers and it’s not often that the recovery phase maintains the same level of consistency and length as the earlier phase without getting boring. This story was just perfect:)

Author Reply: Thank you so much for reading and for your kind comments.

That little dog is actually a Welsh springer spaniel, but I had no idea how to translate "springer" or "spaniel" into Sindarin! Raksha (who has given me a great deal of help and encouragement with my writing) raises that breed of dog and loves them very much, so Eldahil just happened to bring a Welsh springer spaniel puppy to visit Faramir.

A flower carpet sounds beautiful (though perhaps slippery to walk on), so further adventures will be forthcoming. :-)

BodkinReviewed Chapter: 19 on 9/3/2005
A splendid story, delightfully concluded. Love the characterisations - and would be very pleased to see more stories including Eldahil and Hirluin. Not to mention, of course, the usual suspects. And the dogs.

This has been a great ride.

Author Reply: I do plan to write more stories with this crew (including the usual suspects), though maybe my next story will not be quite as long...
Thanks for the kind review! [does dance of joy]

perellethReviewed Chapter: 19 on 9/2/2005
Six chapters?! Well, it was a blessing then that inspiration hit you along the way ! It's been a fantastic, amusing, tense, well told story, with a great characterization of Denethor, something to be particularly grateful for.

Last chapter was very endearing, the father reading to his son and encouraging him to find hope in the darkest places... and Eldahil's last stand, thanks for that!

If there's a place when one can go and sign for more about these distant cousins, please indicate, and I'll go and sign!

Congratulations, and many thanks for sharing!

Author Reply:
As I mentioned to another reviewer, I wrote this in response to a challenge to write a story that showed the relationship between Denethor and Faramir in a positive light. I was livid when I saw how the steward was portrayed in the "Return of The King" movie; after I had calmed down a little and stopped throwing heavy objects, I decided that Denethor needed a champion. He certainly has his flaws, but he is not the cartoon villain found in the movie and in much fanfiction.

I do plan to write more tales of the distant cousins. However, my husband wants me first to write the dreadful orc parody we dreamed up a while back (think of the play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" but set in MiddleEarth...)

Writing this story gave me a great deal of enjoyment (in between the spells of aggravation), so I thank you for reading along. It has been a rather long, meandering cruise up and down the Anduin, LOL!

mirthorReviewed Chapter: 19 on 9/2/2005
*IF* there is further interest? Anxiously waiting…please get started. What a pleasant surprise for those of us who were not looking forward to the end of this tale.

Perfect punishment for Boromir…Denethor can make his point that Boromir risked too much by searching for his brother, yet they all three get the extra time together as a blessing in disguise.

Author Reply: Perfect punishment for Boromir...
Glad you approved of Denethor's Solomonic justice; it seemed to me that everyone got what they deserved, LOL! Boromir is condemned to a summer of renownless tedium, and old Haldan gets a much needed vacation from sleeping in hedgerows and riding around in the rain. And, yes, as an added benefit, the steward will be able to spend time with his sons, and Faramir will have the company of his brother while he convalesces.

Thanks so much for all of your reviews--I have enjoyed them a great deal.

mirthorReviewed Chapter: 18 on 9/2/2005
I truly love your Denethor. I think my favorite part of this chapter was the Steward leaning into his horse’s mane immediately after the vision of Faramir with the orc. What must have been running through his mind…his heart…

“For oft the old tales are true..” I’m glad we got to see this memory of both Denethor’s, as well as his sons’, as it is really the heart of the tale.

This line…” Faramir knew this book, The Tale of Beren and Luthien, by sight. He could see it in its proper place on the shelf in his father’s library…” is an example of the insightful imagery that has me watching for your updates.

The reading of Beren’s fate is very clever of Denethor…and yourself. Certainly Faramir knew his father had purpose when choosing, though he must know the effects were for the best.

Is the year of Sauron lighting beacons in the appendices? Just curious, it’s been so long since I’ve had the opportunity to reread.

Author Reply: Thank you so much for the wonderful review!

You are right that Denethor's scary bedtime story is meant to be the heart of the tale. I wrote this story in response to a writers' challenge to show the relationship between Denethor and Faramir in a positive light. The challenge was posted on the lovely A'mael Taran website (which I still miss)in February 2004. At that point in time, I was still simmering over the vicious portrayal of Denethor in the film, so I took up the gauntlet and started writing this story. A mere year and a half later, I finish, LOL!

Denethor tells Faramir that he must trust in Providence, that the forces of good can and will prevail in the end. Of course, Denethor himself later rejects this belief and falls to despair, so it seemed more than a little ironic to have him espousing hope!

Maybe I was being too poetic and vague when I had Denethor refer to Mt. Doom as the Enemy's beacon. :-D Since Gondor maintains a line of beacons to summon its allies, I imagined Denethor looking at the light of Mt. Doom and seeing it as a beacon to gather the forces of evil to Mordor. Certainly, the glow from Mt. Doom was a sign that the Enemy was growing in power. Denethor was born in 2930 and and Mt. Doom burst into flame in 2954, so he would have been about 24 at the time, which is roughly Boromir's age in my story.

Thanks again for writing!

Raksha The DemonReviewed Chapter: 19 on 9/1/2005
I share the sorrow that this outstanding story has ended.

Branwyn, this is one of the best Faramir fanfics I've read; and also the definite best Faramir&Boromir fanfic story I've read. In lesser hands, it could have been an entertaining but far less credible hurt/comfort piece. Your attention to detail, knowledge of military matters and herblore, is terrific and has added to the authenticity.

And the characterisation is just wonderful, from the Orcs to Denethor. The most vividly etched characters are Denethor, Faramir, and Hirluin, but how can one fail to fall in love with Boromir and Eldahil?

What a wonderful Epilogue! Big SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE for adorable puppy action! And it's a white and red pup with soft brown eyes; you know how that image touches my heart. Poor long-suffering Haldan, I understood his consternation at the embodiment of cheerful chaos also known as Eldahil. I could just hear Eldahil explaining to his superior officer at Osgiliath that his deerhounds were rat-catchers. And dear Hirluin, who has had to grow up very suddenly, is so cute succumbing to the wine...

Squeeing aside; the end was sheer beauty - our heroes finally having a well-deserved moment of peace, and Faramir finally feeling as safe as the rescued mariner in Eldahil's tale as he falls asleep.

I'd be delighted to see more of Boromir and Eldahil - maybe the puppy, who, if I judge her breed right, will be bossing the deerhounds around in a year or two, could appear too...But I'm holding out hope for an eventual tale of the Boromir Memorial Fishing Trip after Aragorn's coronation, with Faramir, Hirluin, Eldahil and Haldan...

Author Reply: Thanks so much for your help and encouragement over the last fourteen months. Your contributions made this a much better story (all residual lameness is my own, LOL!).

I am so happy that you thought the puppy action was adorable. SQEEE! But, for the life of me, I could not figure out how to translate "Welsh springer spaniel" into Sindarin! I am glad to hear that the red and white pup will be able to hold her own against those huge deerhounds. They seem a rather stolid breed, but I didn't know if they were agressive toward other dogs.

After what I put him through in this story, poor Faramir deserves an unreservedly happy ending. :-)

Since Eldahil is organizing it, the Boromir Memorial Hunting and Fishing Trip would involve gourmet campfire cooking and more than a few cases of good Lossarnach wine. In fact, they take along enough gear and food to provision a small village. The pup is honorably retired from hunting by then and spends her days dozing in the sun, but her offspring go along in her stead. With a sidelong glance at Eldahil, Eowyn tells her husband to have a safe trip and stay out of trouble...

Thanks for writing!

Raksha The DemonReviewed Chapter: 18 on 9/1/2005
I really didn't have to do much beta-work; as always, the chapter was very well-written.

Lovely scene with Hirluin and Denethor; and then, in a bittersweet counterpoint; the scene with Faramir and Denethor. Both young men have survived a harrowing ordeal and have reacted to the terrible experience in different ways - Hirluin by devoting himself to Faramir's welfare; Faramir by feeling deep guilt over the fates of the men he led and could not save. Denethor tries, in his way, to be kind to both of them. The Denethor/Faramir interaction is very touching, in a subtle way; they don't seem to be able to speak directly, which is understandable, as Faramir feels less at ease with his father than he does with Boromir, yet Denethor understands his son and they do communicate through the telling of Beren's story.

And thanks for having Denethor mention Faramir's skill with critters, such that his less flashy horse could beat Boromir's when they raced. (a sort of metaphor for the course of the two brothers - Faramir is more quiet and less flamboyant, yet he will outlast his older brother in later years and pass the test that Boromir fails.)

Author Reply: My thought was that Denethor finds it much, much easier to talk with Hirluin than with his own son. He can anticipate with some certainty how Hirluin will respond (because he can read the poor kid like an open book), but he is not sure if Faramir wants to talk about his grief and sense of guilt. So the steward tells the tale of Beren, hoping to draw a reaction from Faramir. It is a diplomatic move because, if Faramir does not wish to talk with him, they can both pretend that Denethor's story-telling is nothing more than an evening's diversion.

I do not think that Hirluin was as badly traumatized as Faramir was. For two reasons--first, he was not the leader of the patrol so he would not feel personally responsible for the deaths of the other men, and second, he got to work through some of his grief by slicing up that orc--highly therapeutic, no doubt. :-D In the end, he had a chance to fight back, and I think that would leave him less vulnerable to psychological damage, though of course he was still badly shaken by the experience.

Of course, Denethor's ulterior motive for praising Faramir's skill with critters is to win Hirluin's confidence since Hirluin obviously worships Faramir, LOL! However, you are right that I was trying to sneak in an example of how their leadership styles differed, with Faramir being more patient and, in the end, more effective than his brother. In ROTK, Beregond says of Faramir, "Less reckless and eager than Boromir, but not less resolute."

Thanks so much for reviewing!

annmarwalkReviewed Chapter: 19 on 9/1/2005
Oh, this is so very lovely - I can't begin to tell you how much this chapter pleases me (even as it saddens me, for being the last.) The image of sleepy Faramir, drowsing contentedly while surrounded by his beloved brother, loyal bodyguard-to-be, kinsman, and friends is so perfectly delightful. Add in a secret picnic, storytelling, a puppy (!), and its all too wonderfully, ah, wonderful.

Thank you so much for the pleasure this story has given me over the past 14 months! Your characters are realistic, engagingly written, and memorable. I would love more than anything to read more of them.

Author Reply: Thanks for reading along and giving me much-needed encouragement as I faltered, wandered, and, uh, whined. :-D

Poor Faramir seemed to deserve a proper happy ending after so much angst and suffering. My husband is already asking me if I have started my next story, LOL!

annmarwalkReviewed Chapter: 18 on 9/1/2005
Simultaneously, "Hurray!" and "Oh,no! I'm so sorry to see it end!"

This chapter alone is extraordinary, and contains the most vivid, thoughtful, and realistic portrait of Denethor I have ever read. This Steward is not a madman, but a loving and devoted father, even if he cannot communicate comfortably with his son. (I understand perfectly - I have a similar relationship with one of my children.) This is most definitely the Denethor of "Spring Planting", who has had to let his younger son grow, learn to face danger and pain and defeat, heartache and responsibiity.

I was also particularly moved by the portrait of Denethor as one who reads the hearts of men so shrewdly that he would know how to calm a skittish young man, gentling him to his own will, in order to win the knowledge he seeks. That scene alone will live in my memory for a very, very, long time. Exquisitely written. Bravo!

Author Reply: My story is set many years before Denethor sends his remaining son on a deadly errand. Subsequent events and his own choices will warp him into a different person. I am glad you thought I drew a realistic portrayal of the steward. When we meet him in ROTK, he is embittered and already close to madness. Remember that Imrahil says that his kinsman's "mood has been strange since his son was stricken down"--we never see his normal personality, so writers are forced to extrapolate it from his psychotic state in ROTK. Sheer guesswork on my part. :-)

For the scene between Denethor and Hirluin, I looked at Denethor's reaction to Peregrin in ROTK (the book). Though the steward is overwhelmed by grief and worry, he is still amused and (to some degree) disarmed by the hobbit's naivete. It seemed reasonable that he would react similarly to Hirluin and would treat him with unwonted patience and care.

Thanks for the kind words!

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