Old Horses

Author: Crantz/Snacky CoAuthors

Nominator: Dwimordene

2010 Award Category: Genres: Character Study: Family - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: A Lord of the Rings AU, in which Theoden is not killed in battle, but lives on for many good years, and in which Eowyn comes home to visit him, towards the end of those years.(N/A)

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Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

Writing Alternate Universe stories is a tricky business. There are obvious multiple ways to write a good one, and it's not possible to make a definition that would capture a workable formula for one, but in general, I tend to find that the AUs I enjoy most make changes not simply to make them, but to explore something that the author wants to show is present already in the story Tolkien gave us. One could argue that something like this happens in Crantz and Snacky's story about Theoden's death in old age in Rohan, after the Ring War. Yet it's not entirely that; this more an instance in which a prompt that could be discussed in any culture, found a home in Rohan, and so ended up taking advantage of a believable possible twist of fate to show us what Rohan *might* be made to show us about the human capacity to respond to the final years of our lives. The development to me seems very believable for Rohan, or for any culture in Tolkien's Middle-earth - but that isn't to say it can simply be transplanted to any Ardaverse culture. It has its peculiar shape and feel because it is Rohan, and because it is Eomer and Eowyn and the court of Rohan doing its duty by Theoden, growing with him as he grows old and helping to bring out the dignity of those last years. In so doing, Crantz and Snacky created a very beautiful story on multiple levels; the brevity and simplicity of the style works extremely well, and the theme is something I wish we would think more about as a society. Thanks for putting this AU and some well-loved characters to such a lovely use!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 6

The thing that really struck me about this story is the relationship between Theoden and Eowyn. We catch glimpses of it in Tolkien's works, but nothing this personalized or this easy. Eowyn doesn't really thaw until after Theoden is dead, and as a result, we don't get to see the way they would interact if they weren't struggling with Wormtongue's lies. This story provides just that opportunity, and it does so in quiet, warm tones that tell not only Theoden's story but the story of the older generation who fought in the War. Theoden's slow transition from rider to trainer and the easy acceptance of this by the rest of Rohan says much about the way they look to their elders. It's a remarkable people that can so glory in the powerful speed of their horses but still honor the patient wisdom of their elders.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 5

I love the title so tenderly chosen for this piece. I also like the premise: an AU in which Theoden survives the Ring War. Years later he has entered what can be described as his second old age - a sequel to the unnatural condition caused by Grima Wormtongue - and Eowyn recognizes her uncle's aging process with a pang that is universally recognizable, though her attitude is one of acceptance and she does not crowd him but treats him with dignity. It is sad, but somehow satisfying, to see this good and decent man achieve a gentle death in a land at peace.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 5

What a lovely ending for Theoden King--healing enough to return home and to help prepare his nephew for his turn as King of the Mark, then increasingly working with the horses, seeing them properly trained for the Riders to come, preparing a horse for Eowyn's son.... A wonderful thing, to see the elderly not shunted aside but instead honored and loved and encouraged to remain a part of life until the day came they set that life aside as nature intends. And I'm so glad that Eowyn and Eomer were able to share this time with Theoden, if only within the bounds of this story. A worthy way to spend his latter years, had he not died beneath Snowmane.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

A lovely view on what Theoden's last years would have been like if he had not died on the Pelennor. The authors paint a wonderful picture of the ageing King, having ceded much of his authority to Eomer but still being useful and beloved, spending time working with horses - which must be a sought-after activity in Rohan and more than an honorable way to retire. The happily married Eowyn's viewpoint, and her relationship with her beloved uncle, is beautifully written.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 2

This is a bittersweet AU. I like the idea that Eowyn can meet her uncle one last time after a fulfilled life and can reminisce over old times.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 2

Lovely AU. I like the idea that Eowyn refused a coach on her way to Rohan, as well as carryng her sword. And the end is really beautiful and touching.