The Ranger and the Man in Yellow Boots

Author: cairistiona

Nominator: Raksha the Demon

2011 Award Category: Drama: Featuring Aragorn - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Sexual Content

Summary: On his own in the Wilds and on the cusp of taking his place as leader of his people, a young Ranger has a mishap that leads to a bemusing encounter.

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Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

Any Aragorn story which has our fearless superheroic King-of-the-West slipping on a stone and falling into a stream after admiring the water lilies as an Arwen-preoccupied young idiot instantly gets my attention. Add Tom Bombadil into the mix, and you have a charming encounter and memorable story. Cairistiona has written many outstanding stories of Aragorn Elessar at various stages of his life, but never one with such an unusual encounter. I keep thinking that the first meeting of Tom Bombadil and Aragorn probably occurred in the way she wrote it; and that Tolkien would have approved. She uses the tactic of characterizing Bombadil through Aragorn's eyes. The young Ranger sees both the odd little man in silly yellow boots babbling cute rhymes and the deeper-magic-before-time elements behind Tom's bright eyes; and the contrast is delightful and bewildering. Cairistiona writes Tom's rhymes wonderfully; they really sound like they could come from Tolkien's Tom. And Aragorn's being enchanted by Goldberry, while by no means forgetting Arwen, is amusing and credible. The addition of the last chapter and the switch to the viewpoint of Elladan pans the reader's experience out to a wider view, that of Aragorn's childhood past and hopeful future. The child they knew is becoming a man and now embraces a man's destiny, albeit with a joy and childlike wonder in having met Tom Bombadil. I wish that Cairistiona would write a sequel, where an older, more weathered Aragorn, would meet Tom and Goldberry again.

Author response: Thank you so, Raksha! LOL... yes, I do suppose that Aragorn-as-addled-by-love-twit isn't the usual approach to that character in fanfiction but hey, it had to happen at some point and why not with Tom B. there as witness! *g* And viewing Tom B. through Aragorn's slightly concussed eyes was, I freely admit, a bit of a cheat because Tom B. to this day still leaves me both delighted and bewildered. And I do intend to write a follow-up tale to this someday, as soon as I a) figure out Tom Bombadil a bit better; and b) figure out when it will be the best time for Aragorn to meet him again. It could be that I'll do two more stories, perhaps one as he's an older Ranger and then again when he finally returns as King. They both intrigue me, so we'll see if the muses cooperate!

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 9

Tom Bombadil called Aragorn a twit! I couldn't stop grinning at that. This is a charming story, set in the days of Aragorn's awkward youth, when he has been newly informed of his identity and fallen head over heels under the rapturous charms of the Evenstar. The weight of responsibility and grim duty hang heavy on the horizon, and Aragorn has real misgivings about the future - will the Dúnedain accept him as their king? Will his education and life experience be up to the task? It is fortunate that he should have this lighthearted encounter with a being who never could take anything too seriously. Reassuringly, we see that Aragorn is capable of laughing at himself as well, and of appreciating Tom's gaiety and boundless good humor, though he is also intrigued: like many a Tolkien reader, he wants to solve the enigma that is Tom Bombadil, and is dissatisfied with the answers that he receives from his foster-brothers. Men are just more curious about these things, it seems. Raksha says in her review that it would be nice to see a sequel in which an older Aragorn meets Tom and Goldberry again. I second that excellent suggestion.

Author response: Thank you so much! So glad you enjoyed the story... Tom B really is an enigma, one that I haven't solved myself (has anyone!), so leaving Aragorn just as in the dark as I am worked well for me as a writer--I didn't have to solve Tom B! I do hope to someday write a follow-up to this, as soon as I figure out the where's and when's.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 6

A young Aragorn's first meeting with Tom Bombadil is the subject of this story, which is brilliantly-written and a delight to read. Everyone is in-character, especially Tom himself. Goldberry, young Aragorn, and the twin sons of Elrond are all equally well written. The strength of this story lies mostly in the way the characters are portrayed and how they interact with each other. Elladan and Elrohir and their affection for their young foster-brother are all well portrayed. Aragorn has yet to prove himself as Chieftain of the Dunedain, and he is well aware of that fact. But his visit with Tom not only helps him out of an immediately-difficult situation, it also gives him food for thought. A very good story that should not be missed.

Author response: Thank you, Darkover! What a nice review. I did want to give Aragorn food for thought after his visit with this unlikely denizen of the Old Forest. Aragorn at that point in his life still had so many things to learn and encounter in Middle-earth. Actually meeting the man whom he'd heard about briefly in lessons had to have been quite the education!

Reviewed by: Inzilbeth  ✧  Score: 6

I'm so pleased that Cairistiona finally got around to writing about a meeting between Tom Bombadil and Aragorn. Goodness know we speculated about it often enough but in the end her choice of stage in Aragorn's life when this encounter would occur surprised me. I had always imagined exploring a meeting between Aragorn and Tom when our ranger was older. Perhaps he purposefully ought out the old fellow on the advice of Gandalf. No, instead Cairistiona engineered a meeting when Aragorn was only newly out in the wilds and it was to prove a wise choice. Aragorn has none of the deference that we would expect from his older self so the exchange far more spontaneous. Her use of 'twit' is a good example! And I completely agree with others that there should be a follow up meeting. Well done!

Author response: Thank you both for this review and for the inspiration for this tale! I know I wouldn't have ever attempted writing Tom B. without your challenge. I do hope someday to write a follow-up where Aragorn meets him again, though I'm not sure of the where's and when's yet. But it is on the radar... or at least, in the "story ideas to follow up on" folder!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 6

Cairistiona writes the character of Aragorn, chieftain of the Dunedain, so very well. Here we see the young Aragorn, still coming to terms with the reality of being the chieftain, coming face to face with Tom Bombadil and Goldberry after falling in the withywindle. And how well Cairistiona writes Tom; this character so often avoided or badly written in fanfic. This Tom is wise, knowing, a real person rather than a caricature; a Tom that I can understand Goldberry loving. And then that final chapter - more serious again as he meets up with the sons of Elrond, brothers to him in all but blood, as they try to reassure him that he will be welcomed by his own people - again such well written dialogue. A lovely story of hopes and fears, well worth the reading.

Author response: Thank you, curiouswombat! I'm so glad this story was well-received... I freely admit to being one of those writers that avoided writing Tom B. because he was such a challenge. That he felt real to you is the highest compliment indeed!

Reviewed by: Levade  ✧  Score: 6

Falling head-first into a stream while daydreaming of his love, Aragon finds an unusual way to meet Tom Bombadil. It's appropriate, given Tom's love of the silly, but also Aragorn recognizes that here is something lost and gone from the rest of the world. I liked that a lot. Usually Tom is made ridiculous, and without purpose which never seems what Tolkien had in mind. Of course it is a tale of Aragorn, and a wonderful one at that. Insecure as yet, anxious that his people will accept him and that he will be able to lead them, he confesses all of his worries to Elladan and Elrohir, who do a good job of not only assuring him, but taking his mind off his concerns. It would be wonderful to see a follow-up with an older Aragorn, as Raksha suggested! But this tale is truly a must read and re-read for me.

Author response: Thank you, Levade! I'm so glad you pointed out that this story didn't make Tom B. out to be ridiculous because I feel the same as you, that too often the tra-la-lillies obscure Tom's enigmatic timless wisdom in people's minds. Definitely not what Tolkien intended, I agree! One of these days I'm going to do a reunion piece... just not sure yet how to frame it!

Reviewed by: Striderette  ✧  Score: 5

In this delightful tale, you've beautifully imagined a first meeting between the ever-enigmatic Tom Bombadil and a young Aragorn on the cusp of undertaking his destiny as Chieftain of the Dunedain. Not only have you perfectly captured the mannerisms, language, and speaking style of this "funny little man," but Aragorn's bemused reactions as well. I especially love the third chapter where Aragorn successfully wrestles with his doubts before literally "putting on" his renewed resolve to take his rightful place among his people.....a place of leadership and hope, tempered by humility.

Author response: Thank you, Striderette! I fully believe that Aragorn likely had some jitters going into his first day with his own people, but I also fully believe he had the wherewithal to overcome the inevitable nervousness. Having two ancient and wise brothers to give him encouragement and advice, plus another being more ancient even than they, had to be an incredible encouragement for him!

Reviewed by: Nath  ✧  Score: 5

Poor Aragorn. Bombadil must be bad enough to deal with when one hasn’t had a knock on the head. Yet Tom is neither a hallucination nor a sign of madness, and he does much to calm the fears of the young man who has only just set out to meet his destiny and his people, and is feeling understandably daunted by the prospect. It’s not easy to write Bombadil, yet Cairistiona does so convincingly. Her Aragorn, here as a very young man, is as excellent as always, as are Elladan and Elrohir. One to recommend if you haven’t read it yet.

Author response: Thanks, Nath! So glad you felt I handled the characters well in this, especially Tom B., who's very tricksy to write! It helped viewing him through Aragorn's befuddlement and confusion, to be honest. I figured any errors in personification could be laid at Aragorn's concussed feet, er, that is, brain. ;) Thanks again!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 5

This is a truly charming story of how a young and confused Aragorn, newly informed of his name and lineage, has an encounter with Tom Bombadil. Cairistona uses wonderfully descriptive prose and captures the distinctive lilt of Tom's speech beautifully. The story makes it clear just how beloved this young warrior is by those who know him and those who will come to know him. Tom and Goldberry offer brief sanctuary and wise advice, and send him on his way to his destiny newly encouraged. But his questions to his brothers about his mysterious benefactor go unanswered.

Author response: Thank you, Dreamflower! Very much appreciate you leaving a review here for this tale, and that you felt I caught Tom's way of speaking. It wasn't easy, that! I don't normally think in terms of poetry and tra-lilly-la-dillies. LOL But I like to think that he and Tom hit it off from the start, despite the enigma status of Bombadil. Someone as discerning as Aragorn, who can read the hearts of Men, would be able to see the good in Tom pretty quickly, I think. Thank you again!

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 4

Aragorn on the brink of taking over as chieftain of the Dunedain has a case of nerves, but Tom Bombadil and his brothers help him get over it. I like the characterization of Tom and Aragorn. Tom is this enigma between the silly man on the surface and the ageless spirit underneath we got to know in the books. Aragorn as young man is the right mixture of youthful exuberance after his meeting with Tom and self-confidence after his brothers dispel his bout of doubts.

Author response: Thank you! So glad you liked the characterization... I'll admit that writing Tom B. was really, really tricky, because like Aragorn, I don't really understand him myself! I like him, but you've pegged him: he's an enigma. And that's a good thing, really. :)

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 4

I am not a fan of Tom Bombadil, but thanks to Cairistiona's wonderful writing, I like this story. We see young Aragorn, a little insecure of himself (which is not strange, because he carries a great burden, and young people don't have the experience and confidence like older do), but Tom Bombadil's wise words help the young chieftain. The end, where we see Elladan and Elrohir discussing Aragorn's future, is especially touching and beautiful.

Author response: Thanks, Ellynn! To be honest, I have to agree with you and admit I'm not a huge fan of Tom B, either, but writing this did give me a greater appreciation for him. Sometimes it's probably a good thing to try writing a character you don't normally connect with! Glad you enjoyed this.

Reviewed by: Fiondil  ✧  Score: 3

A delightful tale of a young Aragorn’s meeting with Tom Bombadil as he travels north to meet with the Dunedain for the first time as their Chieftain. Tom is amusing as always and Elladan and Elroir are also well characterized.

Author response: Thank you, Fiondil! So glad you found my characterizations spot on, and glad you enjoyed the tale.

Reviewed by: Sevilodorf  ✧  Score: 2

Excellent characterization. The worries Aragorn articulates are those that would worry a good leader.

Author response: Thank you! That's exactly what I wanted to come across... that even Aragorn could suffer the nerves that afflict any man of good conscience when facing a great task. I think too often he's placed on a pedestal as someone who never suffers doubt or insecurity. It's a fine line between writing him so confident as to be arrogant or so nervous as to be a weak-spined ninny, but it's a fun line to try to find.