Author: Starlight

Nominator: Dwimordene

2011 Award Category: Men: General

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: A story of adoption set in Rohan.

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Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

I really did get an embarrassment of fanfic riches for birthdays and what not this past year or so, and this is one of them. I don't know that I've ever seen the adoption of Éomer and Éowyn into Théoden's household turned into a drama, but Starlight really sold the conflict between Théoden and Eahlmund, Éomund's father. The tragedy of losing a sister and a son, respectively, is intensified when those losses lead the family members to collide over who will raise the children that are all that is left of the departed. The initial description of Éomer as *not* his father's son, at first so innocently interesting, becomes much more fraught, as the reader wonders: is it possible this is grief and opposition to Eahlmund talking, and making out Éomer to be more unlike his father than he really is? It's also a fantastic inversion of canonical perspective, that focuses on the likeness of Éomer and Éomund. Starlight finds a way to turn that around and make the differences between father and son weigh. In terms of the specific arguments, they range all over, raising questions of what is good for the children, what is right for Aldburg, and impossible questions about whether it would have made a difference for Théodwyn to have been in Edoras rather than Aldburg. And there's no real resolution, no one has a knock-down justification that would make Aldburg or Edoras *the* right answer. The ending is ambivalent - at least one of Eahlmund's fears has come true, yet one might ask whether Eomer's dislike of an eastward facing window (and what a brilliant contrast to his sister later on in RotK!) is not a sign of wisdom learned at Edoras. And finally, there's poor Théoden, who, if not quite an orphan in the technical sense, was certainly uprooted young, raised to foreign ways - in a foreign house or a foster house, as it were - and who has every reason, I think, to sympathize with Ealhmund, and to wish that his nephew not feel estranged from his birth-home. An intense, satisfying, sad family drama over the adoption of Éomer and his sister, I very much enjoyed it and recommend it to other fans of Rohan especially.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 8

Characterization is crucial when it comes to the Rohirrim. They're martial enough and honor-bound enough that a misstep in characterization easily transforms them into the idiot strawheads that Dunland claims them to be. Starlight tackles this problem beautifully and even contrasts it with hints of Gondor characterization. Theoden is stunning in this story. The mark of spending his first few years away from Rohan is telling, and I love the comparisons and regrets he's taken from it. Those regrets are brilliantly used to encourage his conversation with Eáhlmund, and through them, Starlight is able to paint a Rohan that is definitely different from Gondor but not inferior or foolhardy. It simply has a different perspective and emphasis. I also love the brief glimpses of Eomer and Eowyn and how tragedy is already shaping the people they will become. And of course I have to mention the charged atmosphere that this story comes down to and the despair that threatens Rohan's people (or at least Eáhlmund and Theoden) even as early as this. Excellent story!