Toy Story

Author: Gwynnyd

Nominator: Marta

2005 Award Category: Races/Places: Cross-Cultural: Vignette - Second Place

Story Type: Vignette  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: G  ✧  Reason for Rating: n/a

Summary: Estel was unaware that he was Aragorn before Elrond revealed his lineage to him. What had he expected to do with his life? Who did he think his father was? And who better than his brother to help him understand his changed expectations?

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Reviewed by: Tanaqui  ✧  Score: 10

Gwynnyd picks up the brief mention in “Not Without Hope” of the toy soldiers carved by Elladan and Elrohir, and uses them to weave a subtle story about Aragorn’s response to learning about his lineage. Through this clever device, she has the perfect medium to explore Aragorn’s heritage. It’s entirely convincing both that Aragorn would have strong if confused memories of the toy he played with as a child, and that Elrohir would have so carefully kept the model of Arathorn he found necessary to confiscate. Watching Aragorn’s reaction through Elrohir’s eyes allows Gwynnyd to explore the full possible range of reactions Aragorn might have to the news, and reflect on them through Elrohir’s wisdom and experience, rather than inappropriately giving insights to Aragorn that he wouldn’t possess at that age. I also love tge sly in-joke on Gwynnyd’s part when Elrohir tells Aragorn to “Go practice in the woods or go down to the Hall of Fire and introduce yourself to the household”: little does he realise he is sending Aragorn off to fall in love with his sister! However, I think what I like most in this piece is the light touch Gwynnyd shows in bringing out the brotherly affection and teasing, along with the wry humour of both Elrohir and Aragorn in what could otherwise have been an overly-sentimental moment. Yet she doesn’t neglect the very real turbulence of emotions that Aragorn must have experienced at Elrond’s revelation.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 10

I must have read this story a dozen times, all told -- firs tin beta, then when it was first put up on the members-only side of HASA, then in HASA public, and finally from these awards. It's one of those stories that I read every time I see its title somewhere, it's just that good. And the truly amazing thing is, it's a bit like Tolkien in that every time I read it something else jumps out at me. What I noticed this time were the last few paragraphs, after Aragorn leaves. The symbolism of the repairing of the Arathorn toy soldier really had a really strong layer of symbolism to it. For those who have read some of Gwynnyd's other stories you'll know that in Gwynnyd!verse Aragorn is raised to believe he is the bastard son of Arathorn. Which is a definite hit to Aragorn's legacy, but because of the way that everyone especially Gilraen apparently talked about Aragorn's unnamed father with such respect, that legacy will be able to be repaired at least in the eyes of those people that need to know. And that counts. Also in this paragraph there's some really nice foreshadowing, such as the idea that of course Aragorn will have a son soon who will be fostered in Imladris. Oh, and the way Aragorn goes around introeducing himself to the household staff... that made me laugh out loud. Of course, the way he rattles that off to Arwen in the appendices' version of what happens the next day, he *would* have been practising!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 7

There was a single line in this story that really stood out to me: "A brother by any name is always welcome." And that's essentially what happens. Estel, now Aragorn, is welcomed by Elrohir, who has been holding on to the toy soldier of Arathorn for many years. The conversation between the two is brilliant, and there are so many levels to Aragorn. He's a young man in a time of transition, and it shows. He goes from somber to laughing to tears to uncertainty almost as quickly as an elf might, and it's clear that he's dealing with a lot of unexpected issues. But he seems to be dealing well, as laughter wins out in the end. I also love Elrohir's treatment of Aragorn's questions. He makes the conversation light enough to avoid bogging them both down, but he gives it the seriousness it deserves, too. Great little interlude in the change from Estel to Aragorn.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 5

This goes very nicely alongside "Not Without Hope"; I like the use to which old toy soldiers were put in this story. It's always a bit strange to remember that most people who lost a parent or a relative very young would never see that person's likeness—blame it on the photographic revolution that is so pervasive! In that sense, Aragorn is very lucky that Elrohir chose to model toy Rangers on real people. He does have that visual link, and an answer to very old questions and strange memories that help him to more easily pull the different strands of his life together.

Reviewed by: Bodkin  ✧  Score: 3

The picture of Estel arriving with a laundry basket full of wooden soldiers is a wonderful one - as is Elrohir talking him through the information that must be too much for him to take in. And Aragorn might be doubtful about Elrond as Adar - but Elrohir is still his brother. I like the light this shines on their relationship.

Reviewed by: nerwen_calaelen  ✧  Score: 3

An very interesting view of Aragorn. It is nice to see his doubts and the way he comes to terms with his heratige for it is such a big change to his life that it would not seem realistic for him to be able to accept it without any questions. You writing is very good and enjoyable to read.