Grace and Memory

Author: Larner

Nominator: Linda Hoyland

2011 Award Category: Ficlet: General - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet Series

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

Summary: How does one respond when admonished of the White Tree, but it is only a tree when all is said and done? Five vignettes.

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Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 8

I've always loved the White Tree and my very first story that was ever nominated for MEFA several years ago now was about the White Tree. But how much more I've learned about it during those years! When I wrote my early story I had no idea just how special the tree was! This beautiful series of ficlets explains just what the White Tree is and why even a dead one was so revered in Gondor. I especially loved the final section where Boromir cannot understand why his brother so reveres the tree. we the readers, have the advantage of knowing that Faramir will see the new White Tree, which springs from a fruit of the old blossom in all it's beauty. Sadly Boromir will not live to see this marvel. I think Sauron feared the power of this wonderful tree, a gift from the Elves which is why he ordered it to be destroyed. How wonderful that Isildur managed to save a fruit and that in the distant future, his direct descendant should find the tree’s direct descendant. This is a must read story for anyone interested in what shapes the history of both Númenor and Gondor. A true joy to read.

Author response: I'm so glad, Linda, that we share this love for Gondor and its symbols, and particularly for the White Tree and the Kings and Steward who best loved it. In the years I've now been writing fanfiction I've learned so much of the history behind this special gift to the ruler of Numenor and later Gondor, and I found that the phrase I was given for the challenge worked so well to look at the special history of the line of White Trees throughout the rule of the descendents of Elros Tar-Minyatur. Thank you so for your response to this series of tales.

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 8

Dear Larner, This is a very clever series of vignettes which is following the fate of Numenor’s and Gondor’s White Trees. I like how the crucial sentence, the one that wants to diminish or even completely deny the importance of the tree, is repeatedly embedded in different situations. Each time the tree finds a champion, some of them with more merit than others, just as the “enemies” vary in the degree of their fault – sometimes it is ignorance, sometimes pure malice. I liked the third vignette best, it has an intensity about it which makes it stand out. The last is a very satisfying conclusion, bringing the line down to the generation that will see the glory of Gondor renewed. Weaving both Boromir and Faramir on the one hand and Aragorn and Arwen on these other hand into this last vignette was a good choice. The themes of grace and memory which the title alludes to, are suitably illuminated. Overall, this is a very well designed and executed series which I enjoyed very much.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 5

This is a wonderful glimpse into the nature of the White Tree, its importance, its worth in the eyes of Man, and the efforts made throughout the years to keep it in bloom. Here Larner offers a brief history of a plant, yet it is no less poignant on account of its brevity. In fact, the conciseness of the series allows the true nature and theme of Grace and Memory to come forward. For of what worth is a tree, when all is said and done? Larner gives us this answer, time and time again, running through terrible moments in history before finally rising to a quick note of hope (literally) at the very end. A beautiful piece, and well worth the reading.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 5

This is an excellent series of ficlets, all pertaining to the White Tree and the history of Gondor, and Numenor from whence it came. There was something really gratifying about reading a story such as this, a story that reminds us both that trees are living things, and that symbols have power. The expression, "It's only a..." generally says more about the person making the remark, and the impoverishment of that person's imagination and spirit, than it does about the thing or symbol to which the person refers. Everything about this story--plot, characterization, and dialogue--is brilliant. It was a pleasure to read.

Reviewed by: Barra the Bard (aka Barrabard)  ✧  Score: 4

Often when someone says, "It's only a...." whatever the outward seeming of an object is, it is a testing of one's own clarity of vision. Briefly but tellingly, Larner reminds us through the White Tree of similar important symbols of our own, which should not be slighted. With her usual brevity and clarity, she provides much food for thought with the fruits of Nimloth! Well done!

Author response: I'm greatly honored by your gentle review of "Grace and Memory," Barra. So succinctly you've managed to show you captured my own intent in writing this. Thank you so!

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 3

A beautiful ficlet series about the White Tree. Larner gives us several POV's - different people are speaking of the Tree. Although some might call it only a tree and nothing more, it has always been much more - a symbol of hope and good. With her skillful writing, Larner shows how true that is.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

A set of five sensitive vignettes, showing the way in which the White Tree was honored time after time by those who were Faithful. Each of the Tree's defenders is shown as brave and resolute, well aware of what it symbolized and of its honored lineage and their own. A very nice set of ficlets!

Reviewed by: Sevilodorf  ✧  Score: 2

The true wonder of fanfic is the depth of history that is added to Tolkien's world. These vignettes remain true to the professor's canon, yet add to Middle-Earth's past.