Mother Country

Author: Altariel

Nominator: Dwimordene

2010 Award Category: Races: Men: Drabbles - Second Place

Story Type: Drabble  ✧  Length: True Drabble

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: A Rohan-set drabble on the theme of 'adoption'. (A drabble.)

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Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 9

Perhaps because Eowyn is so singular a woman in LOTR, fandom tends to portray her in the company of men at all times; although there are stories about Eomer's relationship with surrogate father and surrogate brother, there are no stories I can immediately think of that show Eowyn with a surrogate maternal or sister figure in the court at Edoras. It seems to be fandom convention to suggest that Eowyn grew up without any mother figures who could have guided her on the path to womanhood. I don't know that I can think of a story that thinks to put Morwen in Eowyn's life as a mother-figure and someone who won't take nonsense from anyone. Morwen's surname, "Steelsheen," is very visible here, and yet she isn't simply a tough woman, she is tempered by her love and her compassion. This is a woman I could believe might help to make Eowyn who she is, and Morwen's influence on Eowyn's love - both its character and its direction - is a fantastic interpretation. Thank you, Altariel, for the lovely birthday drabble, for shedding light on an obscure character, and for so beautifully writing one of Middle-earth's underwritten and largely absent women!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 8

I love the sense of power and strength infused in this drabble. In particular, this phrase rang brilliantly for me: ["she was the steel at the heart of the Golden Hall"]. It puts Morwen front and center, even after her husband has passed away, and it makes her the strength of the family, both in politics and in matters more personal. It's the latter of the two that gets the attention in this drabble, and I smiled when I realized where the drabble was going. Suddenly it all makes sense. The premise behind this is so stunningly simple and obvious once Altariel gets them going that I'm amazed this angle isn't better explored. Eowyn's characteristics, both pre- and post-Faramir, are easily seen in Morwen, who possesses not only strength but wisdom. She sees where she is needed and she carves out a role for herself, which is exactly what Eowyn does many times. And I really enjoy the concept of love that both Morwen and Eowyn embrace, which is that love is fierce and stern. It's a harsher brand of affection than what many might consider when thinking of love, but it feels more powerful in this context.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 5

Not long ago, commenting on a story involving Eowyn, I mentioned the dearth of other women in her life, the fact that she never even speaks to another women in Tolkien’s writings. In this short drabble Altariel explores the attention that Morwen, Eowyn’s grandmother and Gondor-bred wife of Thengel, focuses on her orphaned granddaughter, why she focuses on Eowyn over her brother Eomer, and how the fierce, stern love of this strong Southern woman influences Eowyn later. Reading the Appendices after reading this drabble, I found it a plausible expansion on Tolkien’s words about both women, when he says that Eowyn’s grace and pride [“came to her out of the South from Morwen of Lossarnach, whom the Rohirrim had called Steelsheen.”]

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 5

Thengel had found his own love during the years he spent in Gondor before his father's death and his recall to Rohan as King. The Gondorian woman he'd taken as wife it appears continued to influence the folk of the Golden Hall even afther Thengel's son succeeded his father, as Morwen found a new one in need of love and guidance in the person of a small girlchild recently robbed of her parents. Lovely to think that Thengel's Gondorian Queen helped prepare two important grandchildren for the loves each would find in Gondor, and that Steelsheen helped temper the steel within the breast of a future shieldmaiden. Lovely writing!

Reviewed by: Azalais  ✧  Score: 4

This drabble brings beautifully to life a connection between Gondor and Rohan often forgotten even by those of us who think we know the canon well. The metaphors are perfectly chosen for the woman called Steelsheen - tempering, fashioning, forging her granddaughter into the impossibly slender yet unbreakable blade she becomes. Totally convincing character portrait which both brings Morwen to life and illuminates the woman Eowyn became; lovely stuff.

Reviewed by: Tanaqui  ✧  Score: 4

Altariel has created a delightful connection between Eowyn and her Gondorian grandmother in this drabble. Eowyn seems so very centred in Rohan in the way she's described in the books (especially if you don't pay close attention to the appendices) that it's easy to overlook her Gondorian heritage and how that might have influenced her view of Gondor (and a certain Gondorian lord...). A very thought-provoking piece!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 3

I love the way Altariel entwines Morwen, and her and Eowyn's relationship, with the relationship Eowyn later has with Faramir. And it's a great portrait of Morwen Steelsheen; who is sadly not frequently addressed in fanfiction. A drabble that manages to convey strength, love, and the power of familial and geopolitical connections.

Reviewed by: Elfique  ✧  Score: 2

The use of language throughout this drabble is what really makes it work, the references to metal working, weaponry and armour is a stroke of genius.