Heart of Glass

Author: Raksha the Demon

Nominator: Linda Hoyland

2011 Award Category: Drama: Family - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Ficlet

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Sometimes a human heart can be as fragile as glass. And sometimes it can be reforged from sorrow, stronger than any sword. Will Gilraen's heart sustain herself and her son when her losses seem overwhelming?

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Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 10

I thought it fascinating that when challenged in "Back to Middle Month" last March to write a story about a woman picking up broken glass, Raksha and I both thought of Gilraen without either having read the other's story.Maybe it is because either we think of Gilraen as a human woman living amongst elves and also that she has a small child when she goes to live amongst them. Somehow it is hard to think of Arwen or Galadriel breaking things! I found this lovely bitter-sweet story quite heart wrenching as out of all the precious Elven antiques little Aragorn could have broken, he instead breaks the one item that is priceless to his mother,a glass horse that Arathorn gave her. The young widow's bleak misery at losing this memento shows vividly how isolated she must feel. The Elves can shower her with luxuries and pretty glass cats, but nothing can give her back her husband or the life she has lost, the family and friends and sense of community. If little Aragorn would still in their old home, he would be playing outside with his ball and with other children. It is much to Gilraen's credit that she quickly overcomes her anger and tears and does not take out her feelings on her child, who after all is just playing as a normal child should. I would highly recommend to this story to anyone who has grieved or understands children, in short, just about every reader!

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 9

Dear Raksha, this ficlet illustrates very clearly what we mean by the term “sentimental value.” A little horse figurine, Gilraen’s (only?) keepsake from her dead husband, alas, why did it have to be of glass? A wooden ornament would have been more fitting for the Ranger’s way of life, but this delicate figurine was a reminder of their past and of their connection with the Kings of Numenor of old, as you show in the fact that, while not crafted with the same sophistication, it holds it own among the cats and vases of Elven make. It makes sense that the symbol of this connection is fragile as glass, and it makes even more sense that Gilraen eventually understands that the real connection – both with her ancient heritage and with her husband – lies in the child who has so haplessly destroyed the trinket. The child is more robust than a glass horse, and at the same time he, too, is fragile and in need of protection, and insight which Gilraen reaffirms towards the end of the story by her willingness to take Aragorn to much less welcoming places, should his safety require it. This ficlet worked very well for me and I enjoyed it.

Reviewed by: ziggy  ✧  Score: 6

This is a tender and heartbreaking ficlet, just focusing on a glass horse that is broken. But it is everything the horse represents and although Gilrean begins with thinking how it was brought from NUmenor, and therefore has value, it is not that which makes her cry. The writer's deep understanding of how personal small possessions become imbued with meaning is in abundance here; for hte horse broken represents and reminds her of all she has lost in her husband, her home, her usefulness. She recognises that whilst she may be treated as a visiting princess, that is ALL she is — a visitor. I like the fact that her Mother's tenderness overtakes her grief and she puts it away fro her child of course. And she just gets on with it. Very beautifully crafted writing as always.

Author response: Thanks for reading and reviewing this story, Ziggy. Gilraen is not someone I write often; and is a difficult character for me to grasp; but I think she was a woman who needed to be needed, to have purpose; and I tried to convey her sense of loss, how adrift she must have felt. She was a strong enough woman to pull herself together and make an alien environment a loving home for her son, but I think Gilraen's feeling of isolation and uselessness probably returned after Aragorn left to make his way in the world. Anyway, Gilraen was dealt terrible blows by Fate; here, I wanted to show that she did not lie back and give up; she fought for her son to have a good life, despite her own sorrow.

Reviewed by: Caunedhiel  ✧  Score: 5

I love your characterization of Gilraen, her love for her son and her attachment to the glass horse. I'm sure it probably wasn't the best piece when lined up next to elven wonders but the memories that the little glass horse carried are worth much, much more. I can sympathize with her on that, as I have loads of little keepsakes my self. My favourites one being a little pink stone that I got in Spain when I was eight. :)I've grown quite attached to it and I've brought it along every time I've moved house. I especially like this line: [The Elves cherished Gilraen and treated her like a visiting princess, but she would never belong in the Elven house, no matter how many glass cats they gave her. ] It shows how she feels like an outsider still. A human among elves, which she is, I don't think I would feel very settled either. I love the last paragraph of your story, it made me smile so much. :)

Author response: Sorry I haven't replied to your very thorough and welcome review. I've never been very good at answering reviews; it's more fun writing them; but I appreciate every one! We all have beloved keepsakes that help define a home. And Gilraen had been forced to abandon and dramatically reshape the very notion of what a home could and should be, moving from her hardscrabble but familiar home with the Dunedain to a new home bereft of parents and friends as well as other mortals, except for her two-year-old son. A keepsake from the home she shared with her husband would be all the more precious. I think the Elves were kind to Gilraen, but there's only so much they could do for her; she had lost so much and she was living in a comfortable but alien society. Thankfully, she had Aragorn/Estel as her anchor. It is only after he leaves to forge a life away from both Rivendell and (to some extent) the Dunedain of the North that Gilraen seems to become disconnected from the places where she lives. I had not written from Gilraen's point of view before, and it was an intriguing experience. Thanks for the review, Caunedhiel!

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 3

A touching and heartrending glimpse at the aftermath of Arathorn's death. Both Gilraen and her son were wonderfully characterized here, and the situation they were in seemed to be only too plausible. Excellent work!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

A poignant ficlet featuring Gilraen and young Aragorn/Estel, written for the Back to Middle-earth Month challenge of 2011. Gilraen here is characterized wonderfully, a mixture of grief, anger, and motherly love, as she and her small son try to fit in to their new life in Rivendell.

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 2

Really beautiful story. I love how Raksha describes the "history" of Arathorn's gift to Gilraen, and her love and sacrifice for her son.

Author response: Thanks much for reviewing this story, Ellynn - I don't normally write Gilraen; and wanted to do her justice. The poor thing must have faced a difficult adjustment to life in Imladris; she made a huge sacrifice to protect her son, trading the love and comfort of her family for the safe but alien environment of the Elven haven...