The Fairy Wife

Author: Daffodil Furrow

Nominator: Celeritas

2010 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Aragorn or Hobbits - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Novel

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Attack above the Langwell by trolls and orcs; dragon attacks and kills two hobbits. Hobbit considers seducing young elf but does not do so. Later hobbit and young elf maiden marry; controversy among indignant elves concerning marriage between hobbit and under-aged, young-adult elf-maiden.

Summary: Of The Fairy Wife: In "The Hobbit": "It was often said ... that long ago, one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but still, there was something not quite hobbit-like about them, and once in a while members of the Took-clan would go and have adventures." This is the story of that Took ancestor.

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Reviewed by: Celeritas  ✧  Score: 10

This is one of the first high-quality pieces of fan fiction that I ever had the privilege to encounter, and I'm happy to report that it's aged mostly well (despite a few troubling uses of the word "kiddo"). The things I love about The Fairy Wife are manifold: 1). Flawed original characters who do some pretty nasty things to each other, not because of some grand overarching evil manipulator, but because flawed original characters can be selfish and convince themselves that what they're doing is right. Then! Said flawed original characters realize that what they did was wrong, learn from their mistakes, and actually grow up. Fan fiction doesn't lend itself that well to the traditional format of "immature person becomes more mature through life experiences," but there are still fewer examples of it than I'd like to see. 2). An original explanation for a throwaway line in [The Hobbit] that is very, very easy to overdo and draw far out of proportion. By focusing on the original events of what happened and leaving rumor to posterity, Daffodil Furrow creates a believable narrative that also, incidentally, deals with plenty of questions we might have had along the way (not the least of which is the issue of height). 3). Osanwe. It's rare that we get a treatment of osanwe in fan fiction, and one would hardly expect to find it in a discussion of hobbits. But. It works. 4). The ending. After all of the events and all the hurt that has already happened, (see 1), a perfect ending that ties up all knots is impossible. The Fairy Wife realizes this fact, and thus creates an ending that can't tie up all knots, but--provided that the characters are able to work with it--is workable. There's a lot more I could say about this fic--the sheer difference of the elves from what I encounter in most fic deserves at least a mention--but I've already blathered on long enough to give the story the review points it deserves.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 10

This story beautifully expands a throw-away line from Tolkien's "The Hobbit." More than a gapfiller, it envisions a place and time in Middle-earth's history when early hobbits were migrating into Eriador. The disruption that one young Elf causes in the lives of Doldo and Mallie and their two sons Noldo and Sindo (thos names! too clever by half!) is absolutely incalculable: for themselves, for those they meet and (taking the long view) for Middle-earth itself. It is not a happy story, though its characters find their own small pockets of happiness. They are all of them flawed, and Noldo, Sindo and Lorien in particular don't require an evil Ring to hurt or do damage to themselves and one another. Actions have consequences (many that the reader can predict or recognize as they are occurring; some that come quite out of left field, such as in the concluding epilogue with a revelation about Thorontir), but I love the words of wisdom one Elf has to offer: ["Consider, yes. Judge, no."] This isn't to say that the story is impartial. There ARE clear judgments being made, but there is a lot of considering as well, as actions I found upsetting or even evil would yield unexpected grace, and as (for better or for worse) characters had to build their lives around the consequences of what they did. Above all the story is marked by a deep sense of compassion. Characterization: excellent. There is the family unit of four (five counting Lorien), the painful love triangle of Sindo-Lorien-Noldo, but other characters enter the story as well, and I came to care about all of them. With the exceptions of Rinloss and Helkaris, who kept me wondering whether they would ever exhibit any remotely sympathetic or redemptive traits. The best I could come up with for those two was restraint. "Well, they don't murder, burn or eat anyone, so that must count for something." Plot: I was always engaged. External factors of Orcs and dragons acted on the story, but it was chiefly character-driven and much more interesting for that, in my opinion. I stayed up a good part of a night reading it. Non-fiction: Though this is a fiction story, the explorations of osanwe are very interesting, and watching hobbits learn it and teach it to one another was fascinating. My own understanding of it has always been very mechanistic (telepathy strengthened by affinity, urgency and/or authority, and weakened by the hroa), but I found this story's approach to osanwe both believable and very natural.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 8

Ah! I've now read three stories of the Fairy Wife, although only one of them is finished as yet. And, of course, I've had my own visions of what they might have been. Of the three, this is the closest to my own ideas--that a young Elf maiden saw the beauty of the spirit of a Hobbit and came to love him, and chose to marry him in spite of the objections of her own people or his. I find myself appreciating both Lorien the elleth and the Took family that rescued and cared for her, and whom she came to love. That a young, stubborn, and somewhat spoiled young Elf should not only pursue the object of her affections so singlemindedly but should convince Noldo's brother to assist her in spite of his own infatuation with her was surprising but at the same time an idea I found I could truly appreciate. Yes, I find I like the final outcome as the Tooks find their place along the Hoarwell alongside a Hobbit community from east of the mountains. A wonderful story that I am truly proud to recommend, and that I hope will do well in this year's competition.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 7

The premise for this story is certainly a very original one. I myself have often wondered about the vague reference to the “Took fairy wife.” This story was an intriguing gap filler, and was also an interesting view on early Hobbit culture before the planting of the Shire. The tension between the two brothers, the father, and occasionally, the mother, was well-written, as was the interaction between the “fairy” and her love interest. Elves, for the most part, were portrayed nicely, though the author allowed a small hint of the stereotypical “Santa Claus elf” persona to invade the piece. However, the comedic relief did not go astray, and certainly gave the reader a break from the depth and drama of the story at large. The epilogue was the best part of the story, by far. In my humble opinion, it added to the image of the resilience and continuance of Elves. On the whole, a well-intentioned story, though the writing itself often was lacking.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 5

I remembered reading this a few years ago, before I had drawn my own conclusions about the fairy wife of the Tooks. The story is very character driven, as a young Elven maiden, left alone after tragedy, finds herself taken in by a family of hobbits, and the object of contention between the two sons of the family. The author found a very original way to make such an unusual union plausible, and her use of some of the lesser known Elven abilities also works into the story. I found the family dynamics to be very intense, as she brings in the sibling rivalry of the two hobbit brothers. I found it a very absorbing page-turner!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 4

A story that does, indeed, explain the presence, in the Took family line, of a fairy wife. The tale is not a joyful, or happy one, and even the ending is tinged with sorrow. I feel the time spent reading it was definitely time not wasted - I found both elves and hobbits to be well drawn, although I am not totally convinced that a young elf would insist on using only mind to mind communication and refusing to use words....