By Such a Foolish Name

Author: cairistiona

Nominator: Linda Hoyland

2011 Award Category: Character Study: Aragorn - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: A farmer meets a stranger with an even stranger name on a rainy afternoon in Bree.

Read the Story  ✧  Backup Story Link

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 10

Tolkien tells us very little of the people of Bree and we see them only through the eyes of the tired and suspicious Hobbits. Barliman Butterburr seems a decent enough man, but we know little of the Breelanders, who are Tolkien's folk who are maybe the most like ourselves. I fell in love with this delightful story the first moment I read it. It was in a contest and I could hardly wait to be free to nominate the story for MEFA the moment the other contest ended. I felt as if I were at the inn and seeing Strider taking shelter from the rain at the "Prancing Pony" and trying vainly to find a room. It was fascinating to behold Strider through the eyes of Bowen Rushlight, a farmer from Bree who is suspicious of Rangers, but less so than many as his father welcomed them. I loved the way he gradually perceived there was something special about Strider and unwittingly detects what he truly is.Of more import for the moment, though, is Bowen's realisation that Strider is ill. I loved the farmer's compassion in inviting Strider to share his room and overcoming his fear in order to help the ailing Ranger. This beautifully written story feels like a lost section of Lord of the rings that Tolkien himself might have written. A must read !

Author response: Thank you, Linda, both for nominating this and for reviewing it! I'm so glad you enjoyed it and you're very kind to liken it to a lost section written by Tolkien himself. That's humbling, that is, as Bowen might say. *g* Bowen's become such a beloved character for me, as well... I may never stop writing stories about him! Thanks again!

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 6

This story should not be missed. The story is so well-constructed that the reader will immediately find him or herself immersed in The Prancing Pony at Bree, while a strong wind blows outside and cold rain lashes the windows. The original character of Bowen Rushlight, his interaction with the other characters, the dialogue, and the delightful, intriguing perspective on things, are all written with great skill and are a tremendous pleasure to read. Tolkien himself would approve, for the professor himself was a great hand at writing of "chance meetings" in Middle-Earth. The "stranger" with the "foolish name" is superbly in-character, as well. It is no wonder that readers demanded, and were given, a sequel!

Author response: Thank you, Darkover! I so wanted to give the reader that "immersion experience" with this, so your words leave me very gratified. The more I read up about Bree and its folk the more fascinating I find them, so yes, a sequel had to be in order, and then a third story to make it a full trilogy (once it's written!!). The heroes of Bree need their stories told, after all. :)

Reviewed by: Striderette  ✧  Score: 6

Excellent short story that gives a realistic portrait of Bree and the surrounding area through the eyes of your OC, Bowen Rushlight. Of course, I love that he meets a mysterious Ranger with an equally unfathomable name. Bowen’s curiosity regarding the grim Ranger and his impression of that keen pair of grey eyes are both well described. Equally apparent is the Ranger’s initial wariness, followed by his genuine gratitude at being the recipient of a bowl of stew and the offer of a warm, dry spot to sleep for the night. I like to think that through the long years of lonely wandering and vigilant watching in the North, there were occasions when Aragorn was accorded a measure of friendship and hospitality, instead of scorn. This tale certainly serves as confirmation of that. The touch of irony in the last line was priceless, by the way!! Bravo!!

Author response: Thank you, Striderette! So glad you enjoyed this tale and found Bowen to your liking. I'm with you in thinking surely there had to be a few folks that offered the hand of friendship, or at the very least, kindness toward the Rangers. It's just too hard to think of them *never* having received any kindnesses! So... thus we have Bowen Rushlight! :) Thanks for your kind words!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 5

Having endured several rounds of weather this year, Cairistona's scene-setting spoke to me. I liked the description of the inn's common room and its occupants; she gives it a level of detail that avoids drowning the reader but also brings the place to life through the eyes of her OC Breelander, Bowen. In a way, it seems as though the story is almost more about what Bree *can* be than anything else - namely grounded, generous, willing to lend a hand at need. Surely there must have been a friendly encounter or two over the long years between Rangers and Breelanders, and Cairstona writes an episodic story that ends on the possibility that a friendly encounter might one day deepen to friendship. Short, but sweet!

Author response: Thank you, Dwimordene! Glad you were able to relate to the setting, though sorry you had to endure that kind of weather! I do think that the people of Bree were, in large part, a generous and kind people, even if they had their prejudices and fears. They weren't all Bill Ferny's, in other words, or I doubt the Rangers would have felt compelled to thanklessly guard them all those years. And Tolkien describes the Prancing Pony as a resort even for Rangers, so I would imagine, given the way Bree-landers regularly congregated there with all sorts of people, that it's a clue of their tolerance (even for Rangers). So yes, this is a story of what the Bree-landers "can" be but I think too that it's a tale that shows a glimpse of the Bree-landers who "are" that already but go unnoticed in the greater need of the progression of LOTR's plot.

Reviewed by: Inzilbeth  ✧  Score: 5

I just can't praise this story enough. It was originally just a one off piece but has spawned a trilogy [or will have when the final part is published!] with all stories starring the wonderful down to earth Breelander called Bowen, who is rather taken with our ranger! Strider as seen through the benevolent eyes of Bowen is a pure delight, especially when set against the views of the less than convinced Barliman Butterbur. Those who enjoy hurt comfort will no doubt relish all that side of things with plenty of bed and bandage action but it was the acute perception of Bowen into Aragorn's heart and his ability to see beyond the rough exterior which touched me the most. Cairistiona is indeed a master of characterisation and Bowen one of her best OC's to date. Well done.

Author response: Thank you, Liz! So glad you (and other readers) are enjoying Bowen Rushlight and his adventures with 'them Rangers'. I always enjoy writing canon characters as soon through others' eyes and Bowen's actually given me a lot of insight into Aragorn, odd as that may sound. And yes, now to get that 3rd story written!!

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 4

Aragorn seen through the eyes of a farmer in Bree. I love the comments and thoughts running through Bowen's head. In the face of the location they are in, they seem quite fancy. It is funny how close to the mark some of his thoughts are. If only he knew. I like the description of the Prancing Pony on a rainy afternoon. It is very vivid and paints a clear picture in my mind.

Author response: Thank you! I had so much fun examining Aragorn (and Bree and Barliman) through Bowen's eyes, and to see just how, as you say, close to the mark Bowen's conclusions might be--and how, being a Breelander, how quickly he banishes such thoughts as being completely foolish! Glad you enjoyed the tale.

Reviewed by: Rivergift  ✧  Score: 4

I thoroughly enjoyed this! Bowen is a beautifully drawn character, a perfect take on the slightly wary, but inherently good-hearted Bree man. I have begun to love him already, and I loved the beginnings of a tentative friendship that you've planted at the end. So too is your 'by such a foolish name' line, bringing with is a stinging irony and a lovely insight into Bowen's clear sight- tempered by what he considers common sense, but I have a feeling he will learn to dream big soon! Thank you for sharing!

Author response: Thank you, Rivergift! So glad you liked this little tale of Bree and some of its folk. They're a bit overlooked in fanfiction and I hope to rectify that. I'm grateful for your review. :)

Reviewed by: Malinornë  ✧  Score: 4

I very much enjoyed reading this story and seeing Strider through the eyes of the farmer. I found it very well done and more than once I felt I really could see what that scene looked like, him stretching out his long legs, the worn look and so on. I liked the farmer's generosity and found this story to be an interesting portrait of Strider as well as a heartwarming meeting between two good people.

Author response: Thank you! So glad you liked Bowen and his unique take on Strider. We usually hear how the folks of Bree spurned the Rangers, so it was great fun to imagine how a Breeland man with a good heart might react to Strider.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 3

Wonderful story, written for Teitho contest, where it got one of my votes. Teitho is based on anonymity, but I recognized Cairistiona's great writing style. I love her style, characterization and humor. So well done!

Author response: Thank you, Ellynn, both for this review and your Teitho vote! I've just about given up on trying to disguise my style for that contest... everyone seems to recognize it regardless. LOL But mostly I'm glad you enjoyed the story, and grateful for the support. :)

Reviewed by: Fiondil  ✧  Score: 3

A chance meeting, as they say in Middle-earth, brings a certain Ranger together with a man who has found someone with a stranger name than his own, and thus begins a delightful, gentle story of friendship. Cairitiona’s Bowen Rushlight is a delight.

Author response: Thank you, Fiondil! So glad you like Bowen... I'd love to have him as a friend in real life, to be honest!