Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

The Roses of Imloth Melui

Author: Aervir
Nominator: Marta
2008 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Gondor Fixed-Length Ficlets - Second Place

Story Type: Fixed-Length Ficlet : Length: Fixed-Length Ficlet Series
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: adult themes
Summary: A story told in a series of ten true drabbles of 100 words each. The life of Ioreth, a minor character from "Return of the King" and an (extra-)ordinary Gondorian woman, as told in ten drabbles.


Reviewed by: annmarwalk -- Score: 10

First of all, I love the imaginative framing of your tale: the strictly fixed format of the drabble, one hundred words exactly, yet expanded as a drabble series to present ten distinct scenes from a woman's life. It never occurred to me to tell stories in this manner until I read yours; now, (as you know), I'm a firm believer in the format, so thank you for the trick that has made my own writing both easier (always a good thing), and more expressive. Secondly, your juxtaposition of Ioreth, one of the best-loved and memorable minor characters of the canon, with the theme of "roses", is inspired, and richly imaginative. From the imagery of a little girl, casting rose petals over the grave of her pet, through the optimistic young woman gathering flowers for a festival, and on to an abandoned lover, a drudge, and finally, a wise-woman (almost a prophet without honor in her own country) whose memory of old tales unmasks a king and saves a prince and princess. Each brief sequence is both immediately identifiable in terms of fairy tale and legend, but also speaks to us as women of the twenty-first century, for have we not all shared Ioreth's experiences of love and loss, disrespect, career challenge, growing confidence, and ultimate serenity? You've told Everywoman's story, and told it magnificently, within the context of a peripheral character who hardly had the respect or affection of her own author. As to the writing itself - it's gloriously vivid; I particularly love your imagery of the autumn garden of Ioreth's last days [the gardens outside the window leaves downed with silver and veined with gold, grass-green and olive, crimson, purple, scarlet], probably because that's what I'm seeing outside my window today. Thank you for bringing Ioreth to life in such an extraordinarily rich and memorable story!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 10

Ioreth is one of those characters that is hard to like, I think. Minor character, a chatterer, on the wrong end of the irritation of people like Aragorn and Gandalf, she seems made to be the old woman whose wisdom requires the interpretation of men before it can make any sense. I love, therefore, to see someone take her up and do something with her that's more substantial. Aervir's lovely drabble series, held together by the scent of roses and different shades and meanings of red, is one such tale that rounds out Ioreth magnificently. Readers familiar with her will find her quiet in this series: she doesn't talk much, but she does take everything in: sound, scents, colors. Death seems to mark the stages of Ioreth's life: we see her evolution from a young girl struck by the death of a bird to a young woman who must deal with the death of a child, then to a healer who must deal with the deaths of others, and finally to an old woman facing her own death. She acquires a certain worldliness: she's seen things, had life happen to her. She also displays a sense of judgment which opens a surprising relationship with a main character who, though unnamed, we are able to recognize nonetheless. Aervir manages to get a whole and very full life into ten lyrical drabbles. Gondor fans, and the rare Ioreth fan should give these a read!

Reviewed by: Oshun -- Score: 9

This is a wonderful character study. A fully realized life story written in a series of drabbles is almost impossible for me to imagine, but you have done it and done it well. I really love the seriousness with which you handle this woman, who Tolkien used almost as a comic foil amidst the aftermath of the ugliest of the Battle of the Pelennor fields, which although it was a victory, did not ensure the final victory and held all the ugliest of war within it. I love her history and her observations. It is wonderful how one sees her grow and change. The total lack of romanitzing of this woman's life by the author is a marvelous contrast to Ioreth's conscious decision to romantize for children her memories of her experiences. I think perhaps I loved that drabble the most. If I am not usually drawn to very short stories, I am even less drawn to stories which are based upon a obvious theme or explicit prompt, like the roses in this story. They far too often feel forced and contrived to me. In this case the use of roses is wonderfully executed and ties the individual ficlets together into a lovely whole. Highly recommend this story.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 7

There is something very sensual in the drabble series: the scents, the colours, the sensation of touching things etc. are elicited very vividly. As the narrative is understated and restrained, those descriptions and "pointers" attribute much to the effect of what is being told so subtly. The repetition of the roses as motif in the individual drabbles work well to link together the drabbles, and the variations in the actual meaning of this motif in the respective contexts form a very complex and nuanced imagery. There is a wonderful character arc throughout the series, Ioreth growing from the child through painful memories and shyness at being in the large city to a confident woman. And throughout her life, despite the bad that happened, she seems undaunted and persevering. A poignant touch was how the series comes full circle, starting with a bird's grave and ending with Ioreth's last days.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 5

In canon, Ioreth comes off as a bit silly with her merandering tongue, but Aervir won't leave it at that. In these ten drabbles she gives us moments from the healer-woman's wife, showing how the road to the Houses of Healing wasn't as straight as might be supposed. In the end, we see that see how Ioreth's strength of character and exposure to pain gives her a uniquely feminine (within Middle-earth, at least) form of courage, and allows her to critique the perversion of this in her perhaps most famous female patient. A very eye-opening series.

Reviewed by: Elena Tiriel -- Score: 5

Aervir's series of drabbles, "The Roses of Imloth Melui", gives us glimpses of the long life of an extraordinary woman, Ioreth of the Houses of Healing. The imagery in these drabbles is vivid and rich, with roses recurring as a theme throughout. The vignettes show us a strong woman who has endured much, but always finds red roses to surround herself with... until the Battle of the Pelennor, after which red became too closely associated with blood and horrific losses. Aervir does a wonderful job of evoking the senses: we seen and hear and smell and feel the world as Ioreth does, and we are the richer for it. This is an extraordinarily beautiful series. Very nicely done!

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 5

Ah, Marta--how wonderful a set of drabbles. Ioreth as a girl burying the fallen bird or creature, then living always, it seems, with roses or their bushes about her, loving red and scarlet until the day of the Battle of the Pelennor when she saw too much of it. Ioreth's was a life well lived, I think. And as one who has written her several times, I find I've always had a soft spot for the chattering woman whose heart was yet open and true and whose chattering never had aught of ill to it. Love the vignettes from Ioreth's life, and the hints at her having been seduced and seeking after a new life in its aftermath. The mood is consistent and the images catch at the imagination.

Reviewed by: dkpalaska -- Score: 5

This series is a fascinating take on a one-dimensional minor character in the Houses of Healing. I enjoyed it all the more, I think, because Aervir takes Ioreth on a circuitous route to her scenes in LotR (which are not even directly mentioned), and gives her some alternate touches of characterization than what many might have done. The result is a three-dimensional portrait of a hard-working woman, with ups and downs and many struggles, and more than a passing acquaintance with death even from her childhood - in short, a realistic and interesting individual. I enjoyed how unobtrusively the rose theme was worked into each drabble, and how well each flowed to the next even when large gaps in time occurred.

Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke -- Score: 3

I am always interested in seeing minor characters brought to the fore, and this is a welcome portrait of an often overlooked character. I especially liked the earlier drabbles, which hinted at Ioreth's reasons for becoming a healer.

Reviewed by: Tanaqui -- Score: 3

Aervir has cleverly woven the motif of roses through each of the drabbles in this series of ten. The trick is pulled off admirably, never feeling forced in any of the individual drabbles as Aervir uses these snapshots to tell the long and eventful life of Ioreth. Very nicely done -- bravo!

Reviewed by: crowdaughter -- Score: 2

A beautiful view at Ioreth, and very delicately written. I love the imagery of the roses, and how they follow her through all her life. Very well done.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland -- Score: 2

A moving behind the scenes look at those who worked in the Houses of Healing during the Ring War.How horrific to imagine so much blood that crimson roses lose their charm!

Reviewed by: nancylea -- Score: 1

an over due look at stoic preserverance, beautiful