2009 Award Category: Times: Post-Ring War and Beyond: The Shire - First Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: General ✧ Reason for Rating: n/a
Summary: It is time to lay the past to rest. Sam and the Old Forest, post-Ring War.
Reviewed by: pandemonium_213 ✧ Score: 10
On December 21, Natalie Angier, a science journalist, published an article in the New York Times, entitled [Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too] which neatly described the incredible complexity of plant life, including their means of communication and active responses to their environment, that is, plants are not passive organisms, something I deeply appreciate as a former undergrad botany major. It may seem to be a huge leap from contemporary science to Dwims [Amends] but for me, her tale, told from Sam Gamgees perspective, resonates beautifully in a faerie tale sense with scientific reality (after all, trees and humans have common descent). Thus it was that I read [Amends] with such pleasure. Dwims story is, as in all her work, nuanced with philosophical and moral questions which never become heavy-handed. Rather, she handles this with grace here. Sam ponders what to do with those last few grains, the last left from his quest to repair the Shire from the damage inflicted on it by Saruman and his henchmen. Dwim uses a marvelous and to me, telling choice of words here: [Such wanton destruction had left him tearful sometimes, and mad others, and he did his sowing with a vengeance]. He ponders using the last grains for the glory of Bag End, the New Row and Rosies garden. But instead, upon recalling Treebeards eyes and walking among the trees near Isengard with Merry and Pippin, he arrives at a decision to make amends in the Old Forest where, although not to the extent of Saruman et al., the hobbits had destroyed trees, earning enmity from the ancient forest. That is, the hobbits are not entirely innocent or in contemporary terms, environmentally green. But Sam decides to make this right. Ultimately, this is a tale of apology and forgiveness (not just a very cool botanical faerie tale), and the final scene when Sam leaves the forest actually made my cynical old eyes misty. So, very well done, Dwim!
Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger ✧ Score: 10
Before saying anything else, I have to confess that the first two paragraphs of this story had me in stitches. Brilliant introduction! One of the best I've ever seen. And also brilliant characterization. With a few wild, chaotic rationalizations, we as readers are given a close and personal look into Sam's state of mind. And even amidst all his nervousness, he makes some very profound observations, as would probably be expected from the normally grounded Samwise. I love the observation that ["telling Merry meant probably telling Pippin"]. So few words say so very much. And that's actually the tone of the entire story. Sam himself muses as much when he recalls walking with and listening to Merry and Pippin. In a few choice words, Sam (and Dwimordene does such a superb job of channeling him) gets his points across very well. He doesn't stop to analyze all the whys and the wherefores of what's happening. Instead, he lets the story speak for itself. I especially like the recounting of his path back to the Hedge when the trees brush against him. No superfluous thoughts to slow down the story. Just a quick, clear, and very straightforward account of what is happening, which enables the readers to draw their own conclusions. And it also supports the feeling of wonder that suffuses the end of the tale. Beautiful work all around.
Reviewed by: Imhiriel ✧ Score: 7
Sam's characterisation, as conveyed through description and through the use of his thoughts and his point of view as narrator, is spot-on. His initial misgivings and overcoming them to do something generous and great-hearted sooo what I could see actually happening (and who is to say I didn't, in light of the fact that he didn't tell even Frodo so of course it isn't recorded in the Red Book!). The ultimate gardener, with a care for all growing things, even those who are unfriendly. His reasoning, remembered here, is appropriately round-about, at times vague and undefined, but always at its course steadfast and focused as the plan slowly coalesces, his considerable courage builds and builds until he takes the step to realise the plan without further ado. The eerie, oppressive atmosphere of the Old Forest is captured well; I particularly liked ["...scratchy, brambly silence..."]. I don't know if the implication was intended, but the fact that Sam laid *two* grains in the middle of the ring reminded me of the Two Trees.
Reviewed by: Dreamflower ✧ Score: 6
There is so much to like about this story. From the very first paragraph as Sam recounts to himself the reasons he has not told various people where he's going-- into the Old Forest-- all the way to the end, this story is pure Sam Gamgee! It seems as if, even after casting his dust of Lorien to the winds, he has just a few stubborn little grains of the Lady Galadriel's gift. And it seems to him only right to take it there. This is the Sam whose big heart encompasses all growing things, the Sam whose practicality has expanded to include things that common hobbit-sense would have dismissed before the Quest, but now it seem equally hobbit-sense to take those things in mind when it comes to restoring the Shire and settling old accounts. His actions and his reactions are absolutely spot on, and I absolutely love the ending.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 6
No one seems certain what precisely started the quarrels between these divergent neighbors, but certainly Sam Gamgee intends to make amends as he can so as to see the enmity put paid if at all possible. Who else but Sam would even think of such a thing, much less try to see it through? Who else would even consider trying to apologize to this group? But heartened by thoughts of Treebeard and the Ents, he feels emboldened to try! As for the response to his overtures--well how should these reactions be interpreted? And the final response of all--well, perhaps only a gardener and orchardist who had once worn the Ring of Power and who'd been blessed by the greatest of the Elves could be expected to appreciate just what was happening! Such a marvelous, original idea, so perfectly executed! Dwim's facility with language and story telling shines brightly here!
Reviewed by: Virtuella ✧ Score: 6
Oh, splendid, splendid! I enjoyed this story very much. It feels like it /ought/ to be part of canon, because it gives such a satisfying feeling of closure and completion. The tone of it is delightful and just right in every way, and it's such a very, very /Sam/ thing to do! I like the opening with Sam's musings and worries and how we gradually work out what he is about to do. His speech in the clearing, too, is entirely appropriate and very much in character, as are all the other hobbits of whom we only get a glimpse, Merry in particular. The pacing, the wording, everything is just the way it should be. wonderful job. I'm struggling to say more about it, because something so neat and smooth is difficult to pick apart, but I really like it very much.
Reviewed by: Inkling ✧ Score: 4
What a delightful notion--that Sam would wish to make amends to the Old Forest! Who but he would think of such a thing, and who would the trees take a shine to more than this little gardener? Dwim has captured both Sam's voice and the Forest's mood beautifully. I love the slightly creepy image of the questing roots, and Sam's awkward little speech. Best of all is his walk back amidst the tree's brushing caresses...a lovely, touching moment.
Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke ✧ Score: 4
That was lovely! a total delight. I love the way you caught Sam's voice, truly but not simply or tritely, with just enough Hobbitisms so that we knew it was really Sam. And I thought this a wonderful and unexpected concept. You found a great little taking off point everyone else I can think of missed, and followed it to a sweet and - to my reading - unexpected but thoroughly charming end. Great work.
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 4
This is a lovely moment, just the kind of stories that I love best in fanfic: tales that add something to the established story line but do it in a way that feels almost organic, like it was always there just waiting to be discovered. I could easily see a new!improved!Sam, broadened by his experience on the quest, being more aware of what happened before Hobbits came of the Shire. And that new awareness manifests itself nicely. People who like gapfillers will want to make sure they give "Amends" a look.
Reviewed by: obsidianj ✧ Score: 4
This is a lovely piece. I especially like the characterization of Sam. I can see him in his words and thought process. It seems just like him to try and make amends for something he had no part in, but feels he can help set things right again. Galadriel couldn't have found a better steward for her gift. I had to laugh at Sam's reasoning why he didn't say anything to anyone. I think his reasoning was spot on if a bit convoluted. But that is Sam for you.
Reviewed by: Antane ✧ Score: 3
A very interesting story and very Sam-like for him to think of this marvelous, loving gift to the trees. And they love him right back. Love the whole tale - his wondering what to do with those last few grains, his fears but resolution to apologize, his doing so in words and deed, the caresses he received - everything! Thank you for this sweet story.
Reviewed by: NeumeIndil ✧ Score: 3
Leave it to steady, hobbit-sense Sam to realize that his gift was meant for the entire world, not just his corner of it. This was a great poignant look at how I think we should still see the world, with every feature and figure of it treated as the gift of the Creator that it is.
Reviewed by: Sevilodorf ✧ Score: 2
Exactly what Sam would do. The relationship between the Old Forest and Fangorn is one that bears looking into.