Bronwe Athan Harthad
2005 Award Category: Books/Time: The Lord of The Rings: Post-Ring War - Second Place
Story Type: Vignette ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: PG ✧ Reason for Rating: adult themes
Summary: Frodo deals with the loss of the Ring.
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 10
This piece is beautiful. Simply beautiful... breathtakingly true to its very core. It's probably the best thought-out exposition on the internal torture that Frodo must have faced after the Sammath Naur. Someone with less experience with grief might be tempted to say Frodo was "blaming himself", but Aratlithiel clearly has a good grasp on the emotions that come into play here. The only fault that this piece has, if it can be called a fault, is that it seems to switch into Aragorn's thoughts in two places. This is certainly "allowed", but I found it a bit jarring because we were so strongly in Frodo's head, especially at the beginning, that this just seemed "off". Not sure how to avoid it, though. What I really like about this piece is that it doesn't try to wrap everything into a neat tidy package. Frodo's grief is not resolved by the end of the story, though Aragorn (and presumably Gandalf) understand it better and Aragorn is resolved to do whatever he can about it. This fits very well with the tone of Lord of the Rings. Unlike "The Hobbit", this is not some "There and Back" journey; and as Gandalf says to Sam at Cormallen, not all the bad things are coming undone. Thank you for not trying to provide an emotionally satisfying but ultimately false conclusion to a scene where there's just too much being resolved. And thank you for a very well-written story.
Reviewed by: Inkling ✧ Score: 8
When I first read this story in 2003, it was quite a revelation to me. An angry, articulate Frodo who rails against his fate, against Gandalf, against Eru Himself, was something I had not encountered before in the LOTR fandom: You'll forgive me Gandalf, he said, dropping his hands, if I'm not in a charitable mood toward this deity you're so enamored with. Thanks to Aratlithiels skill and insight this characterization seems not only plausible, but completely appropriate, deeply satisfying, and thoroughly in keeping with canon. In short, it feels right. Tolkiens portrait of Frodo is subtle and complex, yet in its restraint one feels that much was left unspoken. This story represents gapfiller at its best for surely Frodo must have had his moments of rebellion and rage. To be sure, there is much more than anger to this heart-breaking glimpse of Frodos state of mind immediately following the Questhis self-loathing, feelings of failure, emotional emptinessbut none of this is uncommon in Frodo-angst fics. In this story, its the anger that stays with me.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 7
A very difficult moment in the slow journey of Frodo back from Mount Doom to the Grey Havens; one could imagine an episode like this, despite the hobbity resiliance that is more often shown in the post-war Minas Tirith chapters. The effects of the Ring on him are brought out very clearly in a sort of survivor's guilt, almost, or post-traumatic stress. Whatever the cause, the utter alienation of will that is the Ring's ultimate effect upon a person lingers and clearly will take a long time to heal. The theodicy is nicely handled, going back to the root of pity and the larger context of Frodo's repeated choices for pity and mercy that prove more powerful and defining than the final act in the saga. Aratlithiel puts it well when she has Merry and Aragorn claim that it was the Ring that claimed Frodo, not Frodo who claimed the Ring in the Sammath Naur.
Reviewed by: Cuthalion ✧ Score: 6
I guess it has been - for many readers - a deep mystery if Frodo succeeded in the Sammath Naur or if he failed. Aratlithiel has answered this question in two of her tales in a completely satisfying way, and this is one of them. I remember sitting there reading about Frodo's despair, emptiness and grief in Minas Tirith and suddenly understanding that he "fought the goog fight" (and won it) by saving Gollum's life in the Emyn Muil instead of allowing Sam to kill the slimy creature. Her explanation, heartbreakingly beautiful set in a conversation between Frodo, Aragorn and Gandalf, has influenced every single of my own post-quest Frodo-tales ever since, for she is right, and this is truth, carved in stone. Thank you, Aratlithiel!