Berilac's Errand

Author: Dreamflower

Nominator: Thundera Tiger

2010 Award Category: Times: Ring War: Gapfiller - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Berilac Brandybuck has an unpleasant message to deliver...

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Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

Dreamflower completely opened my eyes in this story. I'm not sure why I never paid attention to this particular gap before, but it's definitely a gap that needed filling. I'd just never paused to consider exactly how news of Sam's disappearance might have reached the old Gaffer and what unfortunate messenger drew the short straw that earned him such an unpleasant task. But the thing I like best about this story (aside from the epiphany I had midway through that something like this had to have happened and it most likely happened in the way Dreamflower portrays it) is the outsider perspective. Berilac isn't in on the Conspiracy, and he doesn't have all the background information that Saradoc has. But he's astute enough to take what he knows and what he's seen and put some of the pieces together. It gives a fresh feel to the message's backstory, despite the fact that we're treading in very familiar territory. We're also in territory that isn't so familiar, because while the bigger events of LotR are given hints and nods, Dreamflower also pulls out the story of a hobbit who is most likely soon to be facing Saruman's designs for the Shire. One really gets a sense that there are bigger events playing out in the background of the Shire, and it's a wonderful but sobering reminder of what the Travelers left behind.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

Dreamflower's hobbits always sound right out of the Shire to me – she has such a fantastic ability to evoke Tolkien's style, and a sure hand when it comes to characterization. I've not seen much written about this particular set of events, though I'm sure there must be a cache of stuff about how the families of Merry, Pippin, and Sam were alerted to the disappearance of their sons, to say nothing of telling the Bolgers about Fatty. Dreamflower gives Saradoc Brandybuck an astute and compassionate off-stage presence, handling the question of why a messenger must be sent, and why it has to be poor Berilac or someone else from the Brandybuck family who takes the news. Her Ham Gamgee is also well-portrayed as someone who's wiser than he lets on. Through Berilac, she paints a picture of the doings of the Shire, but also of the terror of the Riders, and the difficulty of understanding what has happened, and what is happening. We get a taste of intra-Shire perceptions, and a sense of how different hobbits perceive the Big Folk, and the changes that have been wrought with Frodo's decision to sell Bag End. Very well done – great atmosphere, lovely characterization, this story fills a gap very neatly, and suggests the contours of the future. Great work, Dreamflower!

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 4

Dreamflower has a way of characterising hobbits that is very convincing. She shows what odd folk they really are - always keen to ensure their creature comforts, but at the same time willing to make do with whatever is available, accustomed to a tame and mundane life, but quietly rising to the challenge of danger. This short story displays the whole complexity of hobbitiness.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 4

Berilac Brandybuck must carry word to the Bolgers and the Gamgees on what is known of the state of their sons in the wake of the attack on Crickhollow by the Black Riders, and deal with the concerns of Fatty and Sam's families. Characterizations are excellent, and one feels as if we were there riding through the Shire and sitting in the smials with the young Brandybuck as he listens to the conjectures of those he must address as to what's going on. As always, Dreamflower gives us a beautiful look at the Shire and its folk.

Reviewed by: Pearl Took  ✧  Score: 4

Wow! This is not an action packed story yet it moves swiftly nonetheless. We read here about Merry's cousin, Berilac, being sent off to tell the Bolgers and the Gamgees about the events at Crickhollow after Merry, Pippin, Frodo and Sam have left the Shire. Everything is tip notch in this tale. The Hobbits are all in character and the emotions experienced by Berilac are most genuine. A wonderful and moving story by the talented Dreamflower.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 3

Another of Dreamflower's hobbit stories - a fine vignette about something that surely had to have happened - the bringing of word to Gaffer Gamgee of his son's leaving the Shire. Berilac is a well-drawn character; someone who comes to life in this short piece; one wonders what will happen to him during the eventful year to come...