Garden of Gondor

Author: Altariel

Nominator: Azalais

2011 Award Category: Drabble Series: Men - Second Place

Story Type: Drabble  ✧  Length: Drabble Series

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: A series of drabbles from the Fourth Age, involving the Prince of Ithilien and his family.(10x100)

Read the Story  ✧  Backup Story Link

Reviewed by: Azalais  ✧  Score: 10

Like many of the best drabbles, these feel like snapshots of a wider, richer, fully-realised fictional world; suffused by sunlight and starlight, deftly evoked. 'Role Reversal' and 'Still Room' make me laugh out loud, with the children playing shieldmaidens (poor Elboron; [Sometimes the women of his family are a challenge], indeed) and Aragorn getting a headache from the racket. The quiet, subtle intelligence of Leof, conspiring with Faramir in night escapes and learning woodcraft from an Elf and a Ranger King, is a delight, as is Morwen learning the magic of smithcraft. I like the relationships between the generations; the adults passing on skills and wisdom to the children and striving to make the world new for them [His life’s work: leaving her the world he never had], yet the young ones quick-witted and often very protective of their wounded, damaged parents. This is not a Fourth Age which forgets the Third; Faramir and Eowyn will never be free of their scars or their memories, and nor will many of those who fought alongside them. Yet the children's games and stories gradually transmute those traumatic events, as time will and should, into memory and legend. The final drabble's final line encapsulates that feeling of a world handed on in trust from generation to generation; an inheritance now filled with hope.

Author response: Thank you so much for this, Az. You know how much I love these characters and it's brilliant that other people have responded so warmly to them.

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 9

These drabbles, all of them, reminded me of summer, and some (I'm writing this after hearing my cousin and his friends chasing about in the garden all day) seem to have a universal validity, if not the same post-war context that adds a very poignant note to this series of drabbles. What struck me most was the last drabble, though; Faramir's passing was at once devastatingly inevitable but portrayed with a sense of peace, and the last lines (as well as the title) of the final story hearken back to Tolkien's vision of Númenor reinstated (despite the hidden skeletons). Andor, the Land of the Gift, was one of the names of Númenor, which, in its glory days, was intrinsically linked with the surrender and passing on of life and its gifts. With Aragorn's quest as the last Númenorean complete, it's satisfying to see that such a conclusion could be reached elsewhere in Gondor (especially with Faramir, who allegedly shared much of that Númenorean air), and speaks of the author's skill in evoking connections to the original canon material. Beautifully written.

Author response: Thank you, Elleth - yes, they are summer drabbles, written during last May. I'm extremely glad that the Numenorean echoes came through.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 7

These are a total of ten drabbles, all written on the same theme, that of Steward Faramir, the Lady Eowyn, also known here as "Lady Wraithsbane," and their family and friends. The children are OCs: Elboron, Morwen, and Leof, and it is a tribute to the author that even if the reader is unfamiliar with these children, their personalities are such that they are easily recognized as the offspring of Faramir and Eowyn. That is most difficult to do in just one hundred words each time! Each drabble is a jewel in its own right, and the ten drabbles flow seamlessly together. Both past and present are portrayed, and Faramir and Eowyn are both completely in-character. A full range of both characters and emotions is conveyed by each drabble. The author has done a beautiful job. I especially liked one of the last lines of the final chapter: a reminder of how the parents of the new Steward Elboron built Ithlien up from ashes. "Garden of Gondor" should not be missed.

Author response: Thank you very much, Darkover, particularly for being willing to read a series about so many OCs! I'm glad they feel plausibly the children of Faramir and Eowyn. Thank you again!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 7

This is a lovely series of drabbles concerning the Fourth Age life of Faramir and Eowyn and their children in Ithilien. Altariel writes them as delightful sketches of moments or phases, as the land and culture of the new princedom flowers. The past is a playground of magic and adventure to Faramir and Eowyn's children, which rings very true; what is vivid and reverenced or feared as personal memories does transform into a great story for future generations. I especially enjoyed the drabbles [Role Reversal], where young Morwen and Elboron re-enact their mother's famous challenge to the Witch-King; [Hunt It, Kill It, Cook It] which pairs Faramir's youngest child with some of the best instructors one could ever want, and [Work-Life Balance] which delves into Faramir's commitment to Gondor with great charm... Altariel writes children well; and of course continues to portray Faramir and Eowyn with respect and credibility. I hope that Altariel continues to explore Fourth Age Ithilien.

Author response: Thank you very much, Raksha!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 6

Altariel gives us a scintillating look at life in the [garden of Gondor] that Éowyn had determined to build with Faramir once upon a time. Each piece realizes a little more of that dream for the reader, and shows both the labor and love required to make, shape, and maintain it just long enough to pass it to the next generation to tend and better. I like that not everything in each drabble is explained - there are mysteries; there are also possibilities that emerge and one wonders where they will go in the future (like Morwen's smithery). That unfinished character is part of the charm of the series, which is about growth and becoming, and less about a fully coherent picture. The style is fantastic, as always, and captures the air of relief and excitement over the idea of building a life instead of having always to fight just to survive and defend it.

Author response: Thank you for this, Dwim. "Relief and excitement" - that's exactly it. The natural curiosity and enthusiasm of the children has a transformative effect on their parents, I think, opening up the world for them again. I also wonder what Morwen will do with her smithery...

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 4

In this ten-piece drabble series, Altariel presents a nearly cyclical view of life in Ithilien for Steward Faramir and his growing and evolving family. The ten scenes, all unrelated and able to stand by themselves, somehow manage to impart a glimpse into a full familial scene, not always happy but certainly successful. Each drabble was written with perfect style and imagery, leaving a wonderful and distinctively Middle-earth aftertaste. Beautiful writing, and a lovely series of scenes.

Author response: Thank you very much! These drabbles emerged organically, so I'm glad that they came together as a whole in the end.

Reviewed by: Wormwood  ✧  Score: 4

This is such a lovely seriers of drabbles. About Faramir and Eowyn and their children. About childhood games, echoes from the past, Faramir's hard work and the ultimate wish to leave the "Garden" as ["the world he never had"]. I like how Eowyn takes care of her own needs too, by creating her "still room". She knew that every woman needs a room of her own. I have always felt that Ithilien represented a chance for both outer freedom and inner stillness for Eowyn.

Author response: Thank you, Wormwood. Ithilien offers them both the opportunities that were denied to them as children, and lets them pass those opportunities on. I'm really glad you enjoyed these, thank you.