Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Field of Dreams (aka Harvest Song)

Author: agape4gondor
Nominator: Linaewen
2007 Award Category: Genres: Drama - Second Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Short Story
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: After the War of the Rings, when harvest time comes, who is left?


Reviewed by: Linaewen -- Score: 10

I cannot read this eloquent tale without weeping for this amazing woman of Gondor! She copes so bravely with the physical and emotional hardships that come when parted forever from a loved one, now that she is left behind with all the responsibility of feeding her family without the support of her husband and sons. Hers is that special kind of bravery of one who presses on in spite of the obstacles, even in the midst of her very powerful personal grief. Her care is not only for her family, however, but also for her countrymen who are in need of the wheat in her fields, and this is another duty that keeps her going, in spite of the hardship. She cares as much for her extended family and their need, as she does for her own family which remains. But it is a heavy burden for her, even though she carries it with as much strength as she can muster in her time of sadness. The first person narrative is effective, as the bereaved widow moves from describing her day-to-day routine with her daughters in bringing in the harvest, to remembering the happiness of other times, brought to mind by her work. The detailed descriptions of how she goes about that work -- the harvest, the sharpening of the scythe, the threshing, the caring for her children who remain -- are poignant and striking, and add very much to the reality and emotion of the tale. Agape4gondor has written a very moving story that cannot be forgotten once it is read!

Reviewed by: annmarwalk -- Score: 9

What an unusual and thought-provoking story! We never do hear many of the details, do we, of life (that is, survival) in the immediate aftermath of the Ring War. Was Denethor farsighted enough to set up emergency granaries and seed storage against these dark days? How would Gondor and the other lands of Middle-earth deal with the severely reduced labor force? How quickly could the kingdom be repopulated, and what changes might be necessary in society to expedite this? Most importantly, how would the most generous and compassionate of kings and stewards deal with these challenges? Your original character is very engaging I immediately felt empathy with her as she labored so desperately to fulfill her late husband's role. The description of the woman finding a moment's rest in sharpening the scythe was heartrending it wasn't even rest, just a few stolen moments of less tiredness. The stream-of-consciousness writing style works very well here; it's so very realistic - women's minds in the Fourth Age have to continually multi task in the very same way, don't they? Women haven't really changed, or gained, a whole lot since then.

Reviewed by: Oshun -- Score: 7

This is an extremely well-written description of a moment of one woman being overwhelmed by life and the cost of war for ordinary people. I get teased a lot for wanting to write the great tragic stories of The Silmarillion, but seeking out the moments of joy. You have turned my impulse on its head and written of a great victory from the perspective of someone who has lost nearly everything. The key word is nearly. If she had lost everything, she would not have the capacity remaining to have done the things you describing her doing in the vignette. I kept wanting to write a sequel in my head, however. She prevails, the kids grow up, the Pelennor flourishes again and, of course, knowing me and my relentless optimism, some handsome generous guy shows up and falls head over heels in love with her. I am sure you will forgive me my lack of courage here. A great story and recognizable for most of us who have survived to the age of 40.

Reviewed by: Elanor -- Score: 6

An anguished tale of war's aftermath in the countryside around Minas Tirith, this little story also reflects some admirable research into farming in the Middle Ages! This keen insight drives the touching story of a war widow bringing in the crop not only for what's left of her family, but for the needs of the suffering community at large. An interesting idea and a perspective that tends to be forgotten as we so often consider the lives of the Great in the after-stories, this gently paced and deeply-realized piece fills in the tapestry of Men in Middle-earth with many tough and shimmering strands of emotion and endeavor. There is no escaping suffering and sacrifice here; the author brings home the war in ways the grand Tower of Ecthelion is helpless to portray. Very nice work; unforgettable!

Reviewed by: NeumeIndil -- Score: 5

This piece reminds me, a bit, of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books that I read and re-read countless times as a child. It is heartrending, the picture of a manless Gondor you've painted. The character voice is great and does so much for the story, but I'm afraid the last two sentences really don't add much to the ending. I think a stronger image to end on would be, instead of simply restating that her husband is dead, to fill him into the memories she's seeing, so we as readers will feel the hole he has left for ourselves, closer to the way she does. It is always better to see than be told. I teared up as I read, I enjoyed this so much. Thank you for it.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 5

Very descriptive and detailed, the emotions and sensations of the narrator are conveyed vividly. I like the sharp focus on every aspect of harvesting - the sything, the sharpening of the scythe, flailing, sieving, etc.; it really helps to define the protagonist, her environment and her concerns. The wide space taken up in the narrativethese everyday tasks that have to be done no matter the circumstances, contrasted to the very brief mention of the loss of husband and sons on the Pelennor Fields, heighten the impact the latter has, by their very brevity.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 5

There is a real bittersweet poignancy to this vignette. The first-person narrative style makes it all seem more immediate, yet the pace is anything but urgent. The OFC shows us her world slowly, matter-of-factly, which makes the pain all the worse. And when I think that this OFC is not extraordinary and that her plight is quite likely shared by many, I was truly moved. This vignette does a fine job of bringing home the loss of the Ring War, while at the same time showing a very developed economic system of Gondor without letting that override the emotional content. I enjoyed it, so much as one can enjoy such a sad piece.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 4

The war has cost this farm its menfolk, father and sons; and the widow and their daughters remain to complete the harvest. A well told, all too realistic look at the aftermath of the war told from the point of view of one who has lost most of her joy in it, but who struggles still to provide not only for herself and her remaining children but for those left with nothing within the city as well. One of the best pieces I have ever read by Agape, and one I'm proud to endorse.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 4

Sad and sweet - after the war, there would have been many women, and many families of only women with all their menfolk dead or still away from home, in similar straits. The effort to bring the harvest in short-handed and understrength would be grindingly hard, and the knowledge that loved ones would not return to share the burden of the work and the joy of it would weigh heavily on the survivors, as Agape shows. Well done.

Reviewed by: Linda hoyland -- Score: 4

[spoilers] This is a moving story about the struggle of the women left behind in the Ring War to survive.Having decided to explore agriculture in Gondor in one of my own stories,this struck a chord with me.The bereaved woman is very true to life,thinking she sees her lost love everywhere. By the end of the story, I truly cared that the woman and her children would survive. A well written and unique story.

Reviewed by: Llinos -- Score: 3

I thought this story very well done. It's a sad but true representation of how people are forced to cope and take on unfamilar responsibilites that they are unsuited to, simply because they must. I admired the spirit and strength of character of the protagonist after suffering such terrible losses. The details of the harvesting were well researched.

Reviewed by: Bodkin -- Score: 3

This is all so sad. There must have been so many women struggling to keep the essentials of life going - missing husbands and sons. And a generation of girls growing up who would never marry, but who would, instead, have to do all the heavy labour that would usually have been 'men's work'. Forgotten heroines, from whose efforts the brave new world began.