The Toymaster of Buckland

Author: annmarwalk

Nominator: Marta

2009 Award Category: Races: Hobbits: Drabbles - Second Place

Story Type: Drabble  ✧  Length: True Drabble

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: In his old age, Merry takes up a hobby that allows him to indulge in some bittersweet memories. (For the "Sport/Leisure" challenge at tolkien_weekly)

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Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 10

Annmarwalk is easily the queen of the drabble-writers, and "The Toy Master of Buckland" surprised me (pleasantly!), even coming from her. I remember the first time I read this piece, how my breath caught at the word image she evokes, for instance when she writes, ["fierce mumakil, ochre and cinnabar; bright hummingbirds shimmering lapis and ruby-red"]. For a Shire hobbit I'm sure these images were exotic indeed, and Ann's lovely language captures that other-worldliness quality brilliantly (if she will excuse the pun). This might be enough to capture in a hundred words, but the details Ann uses serve double purpose when connected with Merry. The mumak is [fierce], but Merry has managed to transmute him into a hobbit mathom. Perhaps more than any member of the fellowship, the vision of the mumakils towering over him, perhaps threatening to stampede on Theoden or Eowyn, would be the stuff of nightmares, and it speaks of a hobbity resiliency that Merry can come to view the beast in that way. But what I keep coming back when I read this is the sheer majesty of the words. Not just that they are a nice word image, but what this kind of language says about our elderly Merry. I am imagining him hunkering down in the Rivendell libraries with Celeborn and surprising Celeborn the first time he reminds him that "rustic" and "parochial" need not mean "simplistic."

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 4

A lovely look at Merry as he seeks to reduce his memories and experiences to small figures, carefully painting each one, putting his loves, griefs, fears, joys, terrors, friendships, and proudest moments into perspective, allowing him to relive them in his memories, deal with them, and hold onto his own hopes and loves tangibly. As always, Ann proves her mastery at saying a great deal with economy that nevertheless fails to skimp on emotional impact. And, also as always, a worthy tale of those we've come so to love.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 4

Meriadoc Brandybuck the Magnificent, the Master of Buckland, knight of Rohan, slayer of the Witch-king, counsellor of the North, scholar, herbalist-- and, apparently, a toymaker as well. The descriptions in this, especially the descriptions of the colors, are so vivid they bring not only the scene, but the character to life as well. I really do love this drabble.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 3

What a charming little gem of a ficlet! Annmarwalk is a master drabblist, and, as usual, does not disappoint. Here she paints an exquisite picture with words, of the elderly Merry taking up a new hobby in his old age. The last line is bittersweet. Ann, you should write hobbits more often.

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 3

Yes, I can see this happening. Merry has always struck me as a very constructive person, in every sense of the word. A beautifully written drabble, with a lovely rhythm and delightful imagery.

Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke  ✧  Score: 3

This is quite touching and as with any good drabble small gestures convey a lot. That Merry chooses to ["play the simple craftsman"], and that the pigment names are ["like poetry"], putting us in mind of Bilbo at what must be a similar age. And you know I've a soft spot for anything including remeniscences by the Hobbits of Boromir.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 3

Having just taken part in the painting of a labyrinth, I can see the appeal of taking up toy-painting as a hobby. I love the swirl of color in the swirl of [exotic names], and the little, understated hint of sadness at the crafting of the kine.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 1

What a delightful idea that Merry should craft toys in his latter years!