On Purpose

Author: Pearl Took

Nominator: Dreamflower

2011 Award Category: Mystery: General

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes

Summary: Perhaps Hobbits aren't as innocent as we're led to believe. What if murders do occur in the Shire? This is the story of such a murder.

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Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 10

Pearl Took is a very nice and sweet person, and I get so used to the nice and sweet stories that she usually writes about young Pippin and his family that even though I know better, I am still a little shocked when she picks up a rock and looks underneath. But she is really very good at doing that and in finding rocks no one else has gone looking for, and the shock is always an interesting one, making the reader think in new ways about Middle-earth. This is not the first time Pearl has explored the dark side of Arda ( I can't help but think of her AU in which the Lady Galadriel claims the Ring, a previous MEFA story), but it is certainly among the most memorable. We are told in canon that ["No hobbit has ever killed another on purpose in the Shire…"]. But there could be a wide territory within that phrase ["on purpose"] that can lend itself to some very chilling interpretations. Just what does it mean? What if the intent was masked? What if the consequences were not quite what someone intends? Does an act being deliberate automatically make it ["on purpose"]? This story puts a whole new spin on the tale of Frodo's parents, and on their mysterious drowning deaths. In this story Primula and Drogo were not alone on the Brandywine River. Someone else is also there, someone with an ulterior motive. This story will give you a shudder, and make you look twice at the placid Shire.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

It is funny how easy it is to paint hobbits as these idyllic creatures who would never harm a fly. Maybe they don't war on the scale that Men, Elves, and Dwarves do, but plainly they have their feuds. Sandyman's early claim in LOTR that he'd heard that Drogo and Primula basically killed each other on that boat shows that such ideas and so presumably behavior are not unheard of, and in fact that gossip is willing to spread them. Pearl takes that simmering undercurrent and brings it to the fore with a tale of unrequited love that leads eventually to a double murder. One understands the nameless protagonist's position: Pearl is careful to build him up as a bundle of weaknesses that wear against each other, until outside pressures overwhelm what control he has, and lead him to act. I also like the way that Pearl suggests that there is a broader societal force at work: inter-hobbit violence tends towards specific forms which, though certainly they happen outside the Shire, are not the most remarkable forms of violence other societies engage in. This has the effect of placing individuals like Lalia Took into a context: they are no longer singular examples held up to show that the Shire has bad people, too. They are personalities shaped by their societies and give voice and presence to its pressures and prejudices; they *are* the Shire, just as much as Frodo and Merry and Sam are. Every society, if it is healthy, raises its heroes and heroines; but it also creates its villains, and I like the way Pearl shows us this. Well done!

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 6

Stories that explore some little detail of Tolkien’s writing and make a full scene have always been some of my favorites, and the scenario propositioned here is one of those. Pearl Took presents an entirely different (but not impossible) perspective on the death of Frodo’s parents, told from the lips of a scorned suitor. And while the subject and reasons of the murder may seem to be a bit too fantastic, I thought the author managed to put a certain hobbity sense of style into the writing that made the scene all the more likely. In addition, the added information at the end, coming straight from Tolkien’s hand, made things seem more realistic,and I personally found it to be very interesting. This was an amazing gap-filling piece.

Reviewed by: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn)  ✧  Score: 6

The deranged first person point-of-view makes this fic a horror story as well as a mystery. I was very strongly reminded of the narrator in Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart." Pearl plays her cards very close to the vest (or maybe that should be waistcoat?), building suspense as the reader guesses who the victims will be. At first glance, a tale about murderous hobbits seems to go against canon, but Pearl includes chapter notes which provide evidence to the contrary. The tale is lent credence by Tolkien himself who implies in his letters that this particular hobbit arranged the death of his own mother. Ferumbras is clearly capable of murder, and Pearl does the research to find a possible motive and opportunity. The scenario is chilling but plausible. A beatifully-written and fascinating story.