A Tree Grows in the Pass

Author: Larner

Nominator: curiouswombat

2011 Award Category: Drama: Featuring Aragorn - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Violence

Summary: Serving for the first time with the Rangers of Ithilien, Eldarion and Elboron hear of the gifts given Frodo and Sam when they had visited in the refuge of Henneth Annun, and hope for the chance to retrieve such relics.

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Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 10

This story is as beautifully crafted as I have come to expect from its author. The subject is, I think, unique, and I found the personalities of these young members of the next generation well drawn and likeable; Eldarion, although younger, still the leader of the teenaged pair, but Elboron certainly not averse to joining him in an adventure. Then Alphros, the older cousin who is theoretically the leader, but who finds himself on an adventure of which he had no foreknowledge, unlike his young charges! Their quest to discover what happened to the two staves of lebethron that Faramir had had made for Sam and Frodo is a real adventure story - with such well thought out little touches as Alphros wanting to get back to a comfortable bed, Eldarion having acquired a bottle of his father's very best brandy and so on. There are so many wonderful touches as they follow in Sam and Frodo's footsteps - I particularly liked the idea that not only would there be statues of the two hobbits, but of Gollum, too, as he had also played his part. And how wonderful their discovery of first Sam's broken staff, and then to see what had happened to Frodo's - and what a genuinely fantastic meeting for them in that desolate place. I really liked, too, when the time comes for them to report back to their most senior officers - who question them to discover what they might have been doing to exceed their orders - before becoming, at the end, relieved fathers once more. I enjoyed this greatly the first time I read it - and even now, on the third or fourth read through, I love it still. Thoroughly recommended!

Author response: Oh, CW--when I was told my tree for this challenge was the lebethron, my first thought was the staves given Frodo and Sam by Faramir, and then the thought of what might have become of them. Researching the type of tree the lebethron might have been led me to both oaks and maples, and in the end I chose to imagine one of the twisting "helicopters" of joined maple seeds perhaps caught in Frodo's hair--or the staff miraculously enlivened by Yavanna herself--and the tree growing in the pass as a result--with the following meeting once the three youths pass the tree to meet with the Lady herself. And now and then I enjoy imagining just what kind of people Eldarion and Elboron might have grown into! Thank you so very much for this beautiful review of my story!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

One of the problems of writing, or reading, any Fourth Age Tolkien fanfiction story is that much of the magic that illuminated LOTR has fled Middle-earth. Larner writes a story that manages to reprise some of the sense of wonder, the potential of magic from an earlier time in this Fourth Age story. Here, three young Dunedain, heirs of the mighty warriors of the Ring War and members of the Ithilien Rangers in a less dangerous time, find something, or someone, unexpected after they climb the stairs of Cirith Ungol. Alphros, Elboron and Eldarion are written well, three young men of intelligence and ability. There's a curious lack of urgency that only comes from growing up in peacetime and carrying out their military duties without the threat of imminent or eventual doom from an overwhelming Enemy; and it's rather refreshing. The three princes can afford to indulge their curiosity. It is also telling that their curiosity is sparked by a minor, but interesting, element of Sam and Frodo's sojourn in Ithilien during [The Two Towers]; that of the lebethron staffs given to the hobbits. The story reminds me of drinking fresh cider in the autumn; there's a warm, golden beauty about the story. It is definitely something of a pilgrimage, a journey to touch something other that is precious and significant as a holy relic in medieval culture. An interesting, fresh and well-paced story.

Author response: I have so appreciated this review, Raksha. The world is shorn of so much wonder with the Rings and Ringbearers gone; but not all of mystery is yet gone from Middle Earth, and I wanted for Elboron and Eldarion to find an echo of it. It was more chance than anything else that Alphros found himself sharing in it all! And I suspect that the Valar were never quite as distant as those in Middle Earth believed. Again, thank you so for such a warm and wonderful review. I've not read and reviewed much this year, but hope to do so now that things are relaxing some.

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 9

Dear Larner, what an excellent plot bunny this is! I like everything about this story, the idea of the quest for those long-lost staves, the chosen characters (and I can’t remember ever reading anything about Elboron and Eldarion at this age), the encounter with the Valar. The latter in particular was beautifully rendered. I also enjoyed all the details – how the prepare for their patrol, the glimpses of the statues, the methods that are used to cleanse the valley: this makes for a great blend of Tolkien’s world and your own imagination, because he tends to be vague about such things and you think them through. One l;itle popint of criticism: I’m in two minds about the title. On the one hand I approve of its poetic beauty, and it certainly drew me to the story, but on the other hand, it gave away too much – as soon as Frodo’s staff was mentioned as missing, I thought, right, that’s what they’ll find. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the anticipation and finding out that I had been right. It is a lovely story and I read it with much pleasure.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 4

Characterization is the strength of this story, although the plot is a nice one, too. Eldarion and Elboron are portrayed in a realistic fashion, and in such a way that the reader likes and wants to read about them, which is not always the case in fan fics. They find what Eldarion was seeking and then some; the descriptions are well written. The ending of this story serves as a reminder that great things can arise from small deeds, and that kindness is never wasted. A good story.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

I love Larner's notion of what has become of Mordor and the surrounding lands, now freed from Sauron's domination and desolation, it has become a place of pilgrimage to honor those who bought that freedom. In this story, Eldarion and Elboron, now young