The Stuff of Nightmares

Author: Linda Hoyland

Nominator: juliaaurelia

2011 Award Category: Drabble: Post-Ring War - Second Place

Story Type: Drabble  ✧  Length: True Drabble

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: The child's dreams are the father's nightmares.(Written for the Tolkien Weekly "Cut" Challenge. 100 words as counted in MS Word)

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Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

Hindsight is a two-edged sword. So is this drabble; which evokes the glory of war and the sorrow for its past and future consequences. It is natural for a child to admire a parent; and in Fourth Age Gondor, few fathers would seem to have such a shiny aura of heroism. Linda shows little Eldarion's natural curiosity and excitement at the sight of his father polishing Anduril, and wants to know and understand that part of his father's life. The exchange between son and father is touching, Eldarion asking with a youngster's enthusiasm how many have been killed by the sword; and Aragorn confirming the violent exploits he performed with the legendary sword. Aragorn, perhaps reminded by Eldarion's enthusiasm for accounts of bloodshed how very young his son is, refuses to tell the child anything more; and sheathes the sword. The drabble is Aragorn's lesson, from and to his son, that delight in bloodshed is a childish concept; and that parents should teach their sons to use weapons with respect rather than worship them as glorious legends. And of course, every father's nightmare would be the thought of their child being hurt or killed by a weapon of war; which is a realistic fear for a King of Gondor and Arnor, especially one who has participated in as many battles as has Aragorn.

Reviewed by: rosethorn59  ✧  Score: 10

I really like this. It's a good story. Children always seem to have a very strong curiosity of what they know nothing, or little, of. They want to learn about and understand it. Or of whatever their parents are involved in and doing. I can understand Eldarion's morbid curiosity here concerning the sword. It represents his father and what he does, and is something off limits to him. It represents the other dangerous side of his life. But what a question!! Someone's head? That would certainly catch me off guard!! Aragorn just answers his questions without actually thinking about how it could affect his son. But of course it just makes Eldarion more curious. And I love the last line. Yes, I can see how Aragorn would feel that way and probably have nightmares. The thought of the sword and his son, killing or getting killed by enemies, and cutting off or getting head cut off, could give him some serious nightmares. Not to mention the reality of what could be involved in Eldarion's life when he got older. Things he would have to deal with. And with a little help from Arwen, Aragorn's potential nightmares could probably be even worse. Eldarion makes me think of my nephew, William, a little bit here. When he was younger, he alway asked questions like what it was like to die, to be dead, if it hurt when you were actually dead, if it was just like sleeping, etc. My sister had lots of fun answering those kinds of questions. It's a wonderful drabble, Linda, even though my reviews don't always do your stories justice!! Loved it!

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 6

Dear Linda, this is a sad and serious drabble. As a parent, I know how nigh impossible it is to raise children in a war-toy-free environment. Try as we might to persuade them otherwise, children are fascinated by weapons and stories of fighting. I suppose it adds a special thrill to they games., and they might boldly declare not to be afraid, because they have no idea what the reality is like. Aragorn knows it is not a game, he has experienced the whole grim reality of hand-to-hand-fighting (and I admit that even thinking about this makes me feel queasy). Your closing sentence drives this home with merciless clarity. It is to be hoped that the polishing of the sword was in this instance done only for maintenance purposes!

Reviewed by: Inzilbeth  ✧  Score: 5

Oh this is pure brilliance, Linda! I do applaud your skill here as that last line is a killer. Arwen is right to be concerned that the tales her husband can tell, if he chose, might give her son nightmares, but in her concern for her child she has for the moment forgotten the effect that the telling of those tales might have upon her husband. Eldarion himself is of course oblivious and like any child safe in the arms of his parents relishes hearing tales of great deeds. But Aragorn has other memories and these he prefers not to be reminded of. Very well done indeed.

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 4

It's hinted at in canon that Aragorn has passed through more dangers than most people could comprehend, not counting the battles that are described in the novels. This is brought out in a drabble that's poignant and impressive in the admittance of the last sentence. An intriguing character study that paints Aragorn not only as a father and hero, but also as a war-veteran with the scars to match.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 4

A most succinct and poignant tale. A well-written drabble is a work of art, and the author does not disappoint. Elessar is a father as well as a warrior-king, and the final line of this drabble can be interpreted as having more than one meaning. I suspect the king's "bad dreams" would be caused as much by the idea of his young son having to grow up and engage in combat as he himself did, as by the memories of what he himself has endured. Very well done.

Reviewed by: cairistiona  ✧  Score: 3

I love Linda's drabbles... she manages to squeeze quite a lot of emotion and meaning in 100 short words. In this case, we get a glimpse of Aragorn the Father and Aragorn the Warrior, mixed in with Aragorn the Husband and Elessar the King. No easy task, fitting all those people into one drabble! A very nice moment between father, mother and son.

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 3

An extremely appropriate family scene. I thought Aragorn's response and reaction to his son was spot-on, and certainly understandable. It was nice to see that fatherly side of him, for sure.

Reviewed by: Tanaqui  ✧  Score: 3

An (initially) charming vignette of life in the restored royal family of Gondor that turns surprisingly dark in the last line, yet is very in character. Linda Hoyland has done a good job of capturing Aragorn here.

Reviewed by: Phyncke  ✧  Score: 3

I really enjoyed this snippet and the fact that Aragorn, not his son would be the one to have the nightmares. Of course he would...having lived through such horrors and war...death and destruction would leave an imprint on his mind. He would never forget. This works on many levels and still is true to the drabble. I really like this.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 2

In so little words, Linda Hoyland says so much. The last line in this drabble is so powerful and perfect. Well done.