The Roots of the Ivy

Author: Aranel Took

Nominator: juno_magic

2006 Award Category: Genres: Alternate Universe: Post-Grey Havens - Third Place

Story Type: Other Fiction  ✧  Length: Epic

Rating: R  ✧  Reason for Rating: Sexual situations. Adult Themes.

Summary: Merry and Éowyn took comfort from each other before the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Now, their daughter Ivy must find her place, caught between two worlds. This story draws from both the books and Peter Jackson's films.

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Reviewed by: juno_magic  ✧  Score: 10

“The Roots of the Ivy” is an epic Alternative Universe novel. The story is based on a premise that seems almost inconceivable at first glance: on the evening before the Battle on the Fields of the Pelennor, Merry and Éowyn “comfort” each other in the secrecy of their shared tent, with the result that Éowyn conceives Merry's child. “The Roots of the Ivy” follows the life of this child, Ivy Brandybuck, half-Hobbit, half-human. The story begins with Ivy's conception and the awkward circumstances of her birth. Then it moves on to relate how she grows up in the Shire and in Gondor, and never seems to fit in either culture. In the Shire Ivy is too tall and matures too quickly, in Gondor she is too small and too young for her age. When she finally falls in love, it's at the wrong time and with the wrong person. At first it seems that there will be no chance for her love... and I'm not going to give away more at this point. But how Ivy finally manages to find her place in life, to hold on to her love, and finally to have the family she has always dreamed of, is a touching, exciting story that can be read and enjoyed again and again. As unbelievable as the premise of the story may seem, as realistically the story is developed. What's more, the spirit of Tolkien's Middle-earth is more present in this story than in many “canon stories” that I have read over the years. The plot is carefully structured and moves along at an exciting pace in relatively short chapters that make online reading very easy. The characters, no matter if canon or original, are rounded and believable. Even minor characters become real and have a background and a voice of their own. The cultures of Middle-earth are well-researched, down to details of marriage customs or the question of inheritance. Middle-earth really feels real in this story, and soon the idea of Merry and Éowyn having a child together feels more like a detail that Tolkien left out in his telling of LOTR, because well, the story is a little awkward and less than “proper”. A highlight of the story is the excellent use of dialogue. Without doubt that's one of the strongest points of the authors. Every character has a distinct voice, and when we read their arguments or their romantic whisperings, every word sounds true. The story also contains adult scenes. Hobbits are not cute, childish, inane figures in “The Roots of the Ivy”. They are real persons, some good, some bad. Tensions and problems are not glossed over, but dramatically developed and in the end very satisfyingly resolved. And yes, Hobbits do have sex! Tasteful, stirring and realistic love scenes are another talent of Aranel Took. A pleasure to read for any adult reader who doesn't want the usual tedious smut. Here's heartache mingled with laughter and real hunger. That is another point I would like elaborate on: “The Roots of the Ivy” is a story that evokes real emotions. Reading it, I have smiled, laughed and cried, the story had me jumping up and down and squeeing. “The Roots of the Ivy” has real emotional impact. All in all, “The Roots of the Ivy” are one of the best epic fan fiction novels I have ever read, and certainly one of the best Hobbit stories I have ever seen. I recommend the story to everyone who is interested in realistic romance novels and Hobbits.

Reviewed by: Cuthalion  ✧  Score: 10

Maybe the premise is a little hard to swallow, but the idea of two warriors giving each other comfort at the eve of battle is a very believable concept, and that fact that it is Éowyn seeking comfort in the arms of Merry doesn't change the credibility of that fact. That fateful encounter between two who should only have been friends has consequences, however: Éowyn conceives and gives birth to a daughter, and she decides to send the baby - a little girl named Ivy - to the Shire. Merry has to get used to being a father and to raise a child of mixed races... to big and growing up too fast to be a hobbit, to small and too "different" to be a human (and besides, born on the wrong side of a noble bed...). This could have been one of the stories that makes the reader's eyebrows rise in mild disbelief, but astonishingly enough it isn't. Aranel Took unfurls the rich tapestry of Shire life, the heroes of LOTR delightfully in character and neatly fleshed out. Her heroine Ivy, half Buckland, half Rohan, is utterly believable, and the tale of her life takes the reader by the hand and leads him from chapter to chapter (and there are more than 100 chapters...), until at the end he/ she leans back with a satisfied sigh. Aside from Ivy there are wonderful female portraits to find, a marvelous Rosie, a great Estella and a rather nasty Diamond (!) - a rare treat in a fanfiction universe where heroines are much too often neglected for the sake of a misunderstood (and most often slashy) canon. Which of course also means that there are many (delightfully handled) erotic scenes and a (very unexpected) lovestory for Ivy. An extra kudos for the fabulous dialogues! Again - those who are willing to accept the premise will enjoy this, and very, very much. Bravo - extremely well done!

Reviewed by: Llinos  ✧  Score: 8

In spite of the eponymous OC, there are plenty of canon characters here to enjoy, chiefly Merry and, of course, Pippin. The title is cleverly based on Merry's choice of name for his and Éowyn's illegitimate daughter, believably conceived in their comforting of each other on the night before battle. He claims that, Ivy flourishes wherever it puts down roots, an old Shire saying apparently. They both hoped it would prove true for their daughter as well. Merry agrees to raise Ivy, as she would have stuck out like a sore thumb in Gondor or Ithilien and does so, with Pippin's help. There is very much joy to be found in Ivy's early days and the hobbits take her to their hearts from the beginning, for Ivy is certainly not without her charms. Visiting her Mother's people also has plenty of happy moments as friendships are formed. It is mostly in matters of the heart that Ivy would seem to be a problem, but an amicable solution is eventually reached. You will need to read up to almost 100 chapters to find it though, but it is well worth the effort.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 6

This is a rather wild AU. If the reader can get past the premise, they will be drawn into a rich story. Ivy the girl between the worlds--for the hobbits too tall for men to small-- has to overcome lots of very believable obstacles until she can find happiness. I especially like the description of her teenage/tween years, where she doesn't fit in anywhere because of her mixed heritage. Poor Merry has to deal with a daughter who is only 13, but shows all signs of being a tween. I like it that Ivy shows characteristics of both her parents, although that makes it even harder on the parent who is supervising her at the moment. Intertwined with Ivy's story is the story of Merry and Pippin and how they grow up and into their roles as Master of Buckland and Thain. Pippin's story is heartbreaking, but in the end everything turns out for the best.

Reviewed by: Garnet Took  ✧  Score: 5

This is a very interesting story. I had wondered if there were any stories that dealt with the possibility that Merry and Eowyn could have had a one time encounter that led to a child, then I found this story. There are a lot of interesting twists and turns in the plot, and the author does manage to deal with issues of such things as the diffirent rates of maturation between hobbits and men. At first I found the Pippin/Ivy relationship a little hard to get used to, but once I got into the story, I kind of enjoyed it. I do hate Diamond in this story. She's evil. All in all, a very good story.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 2

An interesting premise for an AU story--Merry and Eowyn have a daughter, and she is sent to be raised in the Shire.

Reviewed by: Marigold  ✧  Score: 1

A really interesting premise and an enjoyable AU. I particularly liked Merry in this.