The Healer's Journey

Author: Linda Hoyland

Nominator: Raksha the Demon

2011 Award Category: Character Study: Aragorn - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Mature Language/Themes

Summary: Tolkien says "The hands of the king are the hands of a healer", but how did Aragorn become a healer? The story of how Estel the helpful boy became Elessar the great healer." Written for the Teitho "Journey's" Challenge.

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Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

One of Aragorn's most interesting aspects is his inborn ability, and the skills he learned, to heal. It is two-fold; not only does Aragorn have the healing hands of his kingly bloodline, but he has learned the medicinal arts from Elrond, who probably the greatest physician in Middle-earth, and he has had many years to practice, as a Ranger and Chieftain of the Dunedain. Aragorn's mastery of the healing arts sets him apart from the traditional hidden royal heir in myth and folklore. Linda Hoyland writes of Aragorn's progression as a healer in four chapters, from childhood through young manhood and beyond, to the night after the Battle of the Pelennor. I really enjoyed seeing the first chapter, when the child Estel takes a big leap forward from learning the first stages of herblore to using his inherent powers - spurred not because he had a conviction that he was fated to be a healer or savior, but out of a very human desire to help his foster-father... I enjoyed Linda's inclusion and characterization of Inzilbeth, Halbarad's mother, in the third chapter. Inzilbeth's being an experienced healer herself gives her the authority to snap at the 20-something-Aragorn, bringing in a well written bit of tension when Aragorn suggests something that Inzilbeth has already tried. And of course the final chapter is an excellent culmination of Aragorn's spiritual and emotional journey as a healer. Aragorn's giving equal weight to being the bearer of the Elessar stone and Anduril is very much in-character, especially after the battle that has saved Minas Tirith at the cost of Halbarad and many others...

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 9

Dear Linda, I am aware how fascinated you are with Aragorn’s dual personality as both a healer and a warrior. While both these roles are part of his heritage and therefore predestined for him – though as far as I know, Ioreth’s verdict notwithstanding, we don’t hear of any other kings who are great healers – you show the healer’s career here as a personal choice, which gives it a greater dignity than a fated skill would. I enjoyed how skilfully you show us young Aragorn’s fascination with the art of healing and the way Elrond brings out the boy’s natural talent. That he meets challenges well beyond what can be expected from him at his young age is well in keeping with the exceptional status of this character. I like how this theme is then developed further by showing Aragorn’s ministrations to two men of great importance for him, Halbarad and Faramir. It is a journey indeed and one that leads to a destination which is both crucial in the Tolkien canon and important to you personally. This is a well thought-out and very well rounded story which I enjoyed.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 6

As described, this story describes how the boy Estel learned how to be a healer as well as a warrior, until he becomes Aragorn Elessar, self-assured of his capabilities as both healer and king. This story's portrayal of Aragorn reminds the reader that the road to kingship was never easy for Aragorn, and that his skills, both as leader of the Dunedain and as a great healer, were hard-earned. The last two chapters are particularly good, with Aragorn's healing of Halbarad and Faramir, respectively. The last chapter, in addition to being the most descriptive chapter, suggests the intriguing idea that the healing of Faramir from his wounds and the Black Breath might have been, in its own way, just as important and necessary for Aragorn as it was for Faramir. This is an insightful story that is well worth reading.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 4

This story shows milestones in Aragorn's development as a healer. From the first more accidental healing as a little boy to the more controlled attempts later in life until he becomes king. In each scene Aragorn can show what he has learned and what potential he has even if he doesn't know it yet. I like the characterization of Aragorn. You can see him grow from Estel to Elessar.

Reviewed by: Malinornë  ✧  Score: 4

I enjoyed this journey into King Elessar's past and found it interesting to explore some of the situations leading to his developing his gift and choosing how to help the wounded, as well as of course learning the important lesson that sometimes not even the most powerful, gifted and well trained healer can be of any help. It was interesting to read a story that focused on him as a healer rather than as a leader and warrior, even if those elements were also present.

Author response: Many thanks for your much appreciated review. I am so pleased that you enjoyed my story. It was one I greatly enjoyed writing.