Fourth Age

Author: Isabeau of Greenlea

Nominator: Dwimordene

2011 Award Category: Incomplete: General - First Place

Story Type: Incomplete  ✧  Length: Medium Length

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Mature Language/Themes

Summary: Hethlin as a terrible old woman. In the twilight of her life, the King of Gondor entrusts her with one of her most important missions yet-making something of his very spoiled grandson. A sequel to most of my stories!(Approximately one-third to one-half complete.)

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Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

These vignettes are part of an episodic serial, which moves by skips and jumps: one can infer what happens between episodes, but it is discontinuous as a whole. But what I love about this story's interludes are all the lovely character pieces, with the focus revolving around one particularly spoiled descendent of the House of Telcontar, and on the drill-master with the unenviable task of curing a spoiled princeling. Isabeau started out in LOTR fandom writing a fantastic first-person perspective on the closing moves of the Ring War, and on the early post-War era. In [Fourth Age], she returns again, very often, to that first-person perspective, though the character is totally different, which shows off her versatility in creating character voice. There is also a third-person piece in the middle, which breaks things up a bit, giving us bits and pieces of the backstory of Gondor's ruling family that don't otherwise come out, as well as speculation about them which the first-person perspective could never access. And it features an utterly, utterly charming Elfstan Fairbairn, one part master chef, one part historian, one part diplomat who probably could hold his own in Gondor's main court, to the consternation of many - or so I would guess. For fans of Isabeau's Rangers and [Captain, My Captain], this is a return to one particular old friend, and the descendents of a few others, as two generations, differenced by two between them and being born in different ages, collide and try to work out in what sort of hands the future will reside. For new readers, it's a character piece following the misadventures and slow building of a relationship between an old campaigner and an idle young man yet to crack his shell and become someone, anyone at all. Good fun, lovely prose - looking forward to another episode!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

Isabeau of Greenlea is well-known for an epic and assorted stories about her Original Female Character, Hethlin of Anorien, the girl who, saved from orcs by Faramir a few years before the Ring War, joins his Rangers and returns the favor more than once. Hethlin became a great warrior and moved into higher circles when courted by various eligible gentlemen of the late Third and early Fourth Age, giving her readers a fascinating window on diplomacy, love and adventure from Ithilien to Imladris in a changing world. This story is no less delightful but rather different. The time is 122-or-so years later; a few years after the passing of Aragorn and Arwen. Hethlin is a ferocious old woman; and this tale is told in alternating chapter viewpoints, by her very immature and spoiled great-grandson "Tel" and Hethlin herself. This time, King Eldarion gives Hethlin is given a mission more seemingly difficult than defeating Sauron - to make the boy into a man, and, since the boy is Eldarion's great-grandson, make him a man who will deserve to inherit the kingdom Hethlin and others fought so hard to defend and preserve. Hethlin's advanced age has given her more social confidence and the freedom to say exactly what she feels, regardless of convention, especially since she is almost universally respected and liked, which makes for some tart dialogue when dealing with the pompous and arrogant young Tel. The boy has little idea of the world outside of Gondor, and Hethlin is just the person to teach him to appreciate his inheritance. But the story's charm comes from not only the interaction between the spoiled young prince and the old warrior; but from the places they go and the people they meet. The world has changed; the magic, and the Elves, have left; and only the older folk like Hethlin can really understand the great loss to the world, since they knew the Elves as individuals, rather than just legends. There's a lovely chapter where Hethlin sojourns with Elfstan Fairbairn in the North. The hobbit is every inch the grandson of Samwise and Rosie, smart, empathic, and a fine cook; and his wry hobbit-sense opens up a new perspective on the spoiled prince in Hethlin's charge, as well as echoing Hethlin's regret for the departure of the Elves. I found this story most entertaining; and really hope it continues soon. I want to read more about Hethlin and Tel; and find out if the spoiled brat will ever learn the value of duty and hard work. The pairing of characters is really unique and captivating. More, please, Isabeau!

Reviewed by: Altariel  ✧  Score: 8

It's boring being the prince-in-waiting. Young Tel - great-grandson of the recently deceased King Elessar - may or may not one day be King of the Reunited Kingdom. But with his grandfather and father still alive and well, it doesn't look likely that it's ever going to happen. So what is a prince supposed to do? Enter an old soldier with more experience and less pity than Tel has bargained for - unfortunately, since his exasperated grandfather and father hand him over to her care, and send him north to learn about the other kingdom over which he may one day be king. But it's tough out in the wild, and his new mentor, Hethlin, shows him no quarter. The story that follows is a series of short, episodic pieces about the growing relationship between Tel and Hethlin, who has much to teach the young wastrel prince - if he's prepared to learn. A rich picture of Gondor and Arnor in the Fourth Age, and a particularly beautiful portrayal of the Hobbit Elfstan, whose hospitality and kindness light up the chapters in which he appears. I hope we see more of this, Isabeau!

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 6

This is a story that features one of my favorite original characters, Hethlin, as an old and grouchy Ranger, saddled with a spoiled brat and tasked to see whether she can set him straight. Thorontaur - no wonder he does not like this name, what were his parents thinking? - has the choice to go with Hethlin or go to Harad, which to his mind is no real choice at all. I think, he comes by his ill manners through heritage, I remember a certain Prince among his forbears, who could also be named spoiled. On their travel to the North Thorontaur and Hethlin make a good pair, one surly and petulant, the other grouchy and no nonsense. I love the wisdom of the Hobbit. He has Thorontaur pegged and helps Hethlin with some good hobbit sense to get some insight into the young man.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 5

Sometimes being the descendant of legends is not an easy thing to live up to. Eldarion asks an old friend to take his spoiled and petulant grandson under her wing, to help make him fit to be an heir to the United Kingdoms. She hauls him up to the North Kingdom, where he finds that few are impressed by his ancestors, and begins to see his own inadequacies. I know a little of the OFC shown here as the youngster's guide and mentor, but am not completely familiar with all her backstory. Never mind that-- the story's an interesting one, and the characters engaging. I am especially pleased with the author's depiction of Elfstan Fairbairn. I look forward to seeing more of this story.

Reviewed by: Erulisse  ✧  Score: 4

I have been loving the occasional chapters put out in this tale of an older Hethlin and her "education" of a very spoiled youngling. Just being able to revisit Hethlin, a character that many of us fell in love with in earlier works, is worth it. But her characterizations still ring true and are fully realized, and the scenes are painted with an experienced brush. I still think back on her sitting in front of a fire with Elfstan Fairbairn, the scene is so clear and the interactions so true. Another triumph for Isabeau.