Beruthiel's Kittens

Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn)

Nominator: Linda Hoyland

2011 Award Category: Cross-Cultural: Gondor or Rohan - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: During the Siege of Minas Tirith, the healers are not the only ones tending to the wounded.

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Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 10

I adore cats and have the honour of sharing my home with several. One thing I have often noticed about them is that they seem to know if I am feeling under the weather and stay close to my side. It has always saddened me that Tolkien obviously didn’t like cats and I am delighted that Lady Branwyn has redressed the balance here in this moving, charming, skilfully written and delightful stories. We are constantly told that in times of war and hardship that everyone must do their bit and it seems that the cats of Minas Tirith are no exception during the War of the Ring. I can well imagine that cats were invaluable in catching mice during the siege, but Lady Branwyn’s story gives them other valuable uses too and ones easier for the average reader to identify with. Beruthiel, the cat at the Houses of Healing seems just as concerned about Faramir as everyone else when he is wounded and dying from the Black Breath. As a cat ,she has no healing lore, nor can she mop his fevered brow, but there is something she can do, stay beside him and try to comfort him in the way only a cat can. Beruthiel’s concern does not stop with Faramir, but extends to the other patients whom she instructs her kittens to comfort. I just love this remarkable cat and wish I could give her a cuddle!This is maybe the most heartwarming animal story I have read all year. A must read for anyone with a heart!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 8

A sweet but not over-sentimentalized Houses of Healing story, told from the unusual viewpoint of Beruthiel, resident mouser and therapy cat. She is a wise creature who does not completely understand the causes of the patients' injuries, or even who they all are, but who feels a duty to help the sickened and wounded, specifically Faramir, Eowyn and Merry. The addition of Beruthiel's ten-week-old kittens adds to the sweetness of the story, but is also a very practical measure, since Beruthiel cannot snuggle up to all three patients at once. She brings her kittens to the beds of Eowyn and Merry; and administers to Faramir the only way she knows. Pet therapy is a comparatively recent addition to therapeutic measures in the real world. This story conveys the animals' desire for comforting physical contact with people; and the healer's own notion that this comfort can help the patients cling to life until stronger healing methods can be found and used validates both the ancient and modern wisdom of this practice.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 6

It seems that Gondor's men share the same sense of duty as do Gondor's cats. And why not? Especially given the history that certain cats in Gondor had! I loved Beruthiel and her no-nonsense approach to things, particularly the catapults that had nothing to do with cats. There was a great sense of purpose to Beruthiel, too, and I enjoyed the thought that she would be teaching her children the duties that came to a cat in the Houses of Healing. And the cats are just as overwhelmed as the healers with the flood of wounded. Beruthiel's perspective on Eowyn, Merry, and Faramir was uniquely cat-like. She sees things on her own terms and in her own way, and as a mother and a dutiful cat, she worries. Her solution to how to help all three was brilliant, and it started her kittens on the road to their own lives as cats in the Houses of Healing.

Reviewed by: Altariel  ✧  Score: 4

Absolutely charming piece about the cats of the Houses of Healing, and the special part they play caring for the sick in the House. The unusual character's eye-view of several of our favourite characters is really well done. I'd love to hear Beru's account of what happens next between the woman-who-must-have-been-hurt-protecting-her-litter and "My Lord".

Reviewed by: cairistiona  ✧  Score: 4

What a lovely thought, that the cats in the Houses of Healing felt a duty to help the ill and injured. It puts to mind stories you hear about cats in nursing homes that sit with those who are the most sick. Her bringing her kittens to help in the only way she knew how was so sweet. Altogether a lovely story that left me wishing it had gone just a teeny bit further so we might have seen Beru's reaction to Aragorn's arrival and healing of Eowyn, Faramir and Merry... it seems that even a cat could use an infusion of Hope!

Reviewed by: Malinornë  ✧  Score: 4

This was an interesting and unusual story, and I really didn't know what to expect, but was intrigued by the title's referral to the mysterious cats. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was something as rare as a story told from the perspective of a cat. I enjoyed seeing a glimpse of the battle and the houses of healing from this new angle, and it makes very much sense to have cats helping in this way. I am, of course, a cat 'owner', or should I say 'servant', lol!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

This made me smile. I am thoroughly convinced of the therapeutic value of pets, and my husband (a nurse for almost 40 years) quite agrees. Beruthiel was certainly a wise cat and a good judge of character-- and a very practical one as well!

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 2

This is a very unusual, but gorgeous tale. I love the POV; Beruthiel is such a sympathetic, wonderful creature. Beautifully done.

Reviewed by: Sevilodorf  ✧  Score: 1

An intriguing idea.