2011 Award Category: Other Beings: General - Second Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Ficlet
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes
Summary: The destruction and drowning of Beleriand after the War of Wrath--and one very unusual refugee. Written for the Season of Change challenge at the Silmarillion Writers' Guild archive. One of the two strands of this text (in italics) is a remix of Treebeard's song in Two Towers. Treebeard is the protagonist of the piece, but not named in the text. The destruction of trees is graphically described.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 10
Last year, I read some of Himring's stories at MEFAs, the first time I had read anything by this author, and I was so glad to have been introduced to them. Stylistically and in terms of content and characterization, they were all so well done. I've not had a very fanficcy year this year, so I haven't had time to go read more from Himring, but for MEFA nom season, I did go look and found this story, which caught my eye immediately. The Ents are very rarely written, and their own history and concerns are not often tackled. Himring takes us back to the days when Celeborn, if not young, was definitely *younger*, the glory days of the Ents, and puts us down in the middle of cataclysm: the breaking of Beleriand that put an end to the First Age. Himring splits our perspective: one sees the rending of the earth, and all the familiar places that the Silm has given us going under in a set of descriptions that testify to the power of the natural world; and intercut with these, one sees the struggle and the dedication of one individual to save another, in a testimony to the strength of will that is an Ent. The story moves very quickly, and is very short, but the power of this little piece is in many ways enhanced by this, given that the destruction of Beleriand happened very quickly. Himring gives us a portion of a basic evacuation scenario crammed into this limited space, but it fits well - it doesn't distract but helps to suggest relationships between this Ent and other refugees. It's a tragedy and a triumph packed into 700 words, and a unique piece of Middle-earth's story. Give it a read, folks, you won't be disappointed.
Reviewed by: The Lauderdale ✧ Score: 10
Raksha's review drew me to read this story. The method Himring uses to tell it alternates Treebeard's coaxing of an ancient elm to uproot itself with the disasters befalling other parts of Belariand. [The Ent goes on saying the elmââ¬â¢s name, reminding the tree how it grew, how it put out its first twig, its first leaf, its first flower, survived its first seasons, grew taller and strained upwards towards the sunlight. And through the heart of the wood of Neldoreth a fiery fissure opens, a wide chasm, and lava erupts. Where Luthien danced and Daeron played, beeches crack and go up in flame, red and gold for the last time, but not with the harmless fire of autumn. For it will never be autumn again in Taur-na-neldor...] In war we think of the toll on human beings, soldier and civilian alike. This story focuses on the toll upon the land, one for which *both* sides are responsible. I was glad, amid the general exodus, of the detail about some Laiquendi who actually leave their own possession behind, carrying small saplings in buckets to the Blue Mountains. But Elves cannot save the towering elm, and it is Treebeard who patiently and selflessly puts himself to the task. He works in the same capacity as other rescuers tasked with encouraging elderly or reluctant residents to seek safe ground, even as the inexorable devastation approaches them both. I have never envied or wanted to live among the peoples of Middle-earth, but this is one point that makes me wistful. If only we had tree-herds of our own. For those who love the character of Treebeard or have a particular liking for Ents, or who fell in love with the natural world of Middle-earth as Tolkien described it, this is an emphatic must-see. The final line is pitch perfect; the title is too. The entire piece is a work of art.
Author response: This review makes me so proud! Clearly, we share a love for the natural world of Middle-earth. Thank you so much!
Reviewed by: Keiliss ✧ Score: 6
I can really hear Treebeard running the two words of the title together and being most satisfied with how they joined, then adding a few more names drawn from some distant past and making almost a song of them. I've wondered before about the cost in life both two and four legged resulting from the War of Wrath, and the mentions here of familiar places going down under the water made it all somehow more immediate, more real. The way the destruction of Beleriand is interspersed with the slow power of the ent's song is very effective. This is such a realistic picture of Treebeard, the patient shepherd willing to risk his own life rather than desert an old, loved member of his flock. The ending was exactly as it should be, the entire piece evocative and wonderfully entish.
Author response: Thank you so much for your lovely review! Yes, I was sort of contrasting the power of life and growing in the ent's song and its slowness with the speed of Beleriand's destruction. I'm glad you think I managed the entishness! I had already written about the plight of the four-legged population of Beleriand after the War of Wrath, just a short paragraph in one of my Maedhros stories, when this came to me. There is a more light-hearted story (by Cirdan, I think), in which she makes Cirdan the Shipwright (whose other name is Nowe) act as Noah to the animals of Beleriand on Nienna's orders.
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 5
A powerful ficlet that takes a vivid, and unusual look at the destruction of Beleriand in the War of Wrath. Most writers might approach this awful and awesome event from an Elven or human point of view. Himring manages to convey the depth of the tragedy by evoking the loss of places illuminated by legend and magic, all from the perspective of Treebeard, as he slowly persuades an elm to uproot and follow him out of the doomed land. Wonderfully and viscerally descriptive piece of work, and Tolkienish in the sense of the lost beauties of nature and Elven-kind. Very well done!
Author response: Thank you so much! I am so pleased that you think it is Tolkienish, especially as I did want to do justice to the Professor's poem!
Reviewed by: Oshun ✧ Score: 5
It has always felt to me that writers of fanfiction (not to mention the original author!) give far too little attention to the results of the drowning of Beleriand. The idea of such a major chunk of a continent is allowed to far too lightly disappear into the sea. It is a massive remaking of their known world. The thing I like about this story is the speculation of how that major catastrophe must have affected the natural world--how much flora and the fauna were destroyed. It is fascinating that the writer addresses an individual tree in order to encourage the reader to think about the forests and far more.
Author response: Yes, isn't it odd about the original author? All that fuss, so to speak, about the drowning of Numenor--but in fact Tolkien hardly managed to set a complete story in the place, apart from its destruction. But Beleriand--the setting of all those stories that clearly meant so much to him: Doriath! Nargothrond! Gondolin!--and he drowns it all and apparently almost without a whimper! I know those places had been destroyed by war already, but still! Thank you very much for reviewing!
Reviewed by: Ellynn ✧ Score: 4
This is really sad and touching story. There is just one or two short lines in Silmarillion about the destruction of Beleriand was sunken; a reader goes on and probably doesn't give much attention to it, as other things follow in the book. But to read this story - to actually see and feel how all those places and living things are being destroyed - it is heart-breaking. :( Beautiful story, well written.
Author response: Thank you very much, Ellynn! Yes, the destruction of Beleriand gets very short shrift in the Silmarillion, unlike the destruction of Numenor. And I think many people who read Treebeard's song in the Two Towers might not have much of an idea of what he is talking about...
Reviewed by: Caunedhiel ✧ Score: 4
Ents are such marvellous creatures and you bring their unique personalities to the fore in this strangely beautiful tale. That Tree-beard would stay right until the last moment to save the first elm seems so right somehow! I think that it was also a nice touch to add that some of the Laiquendi chose to take saplings with them over the blue mountains, to save them from the fate of Beleriand. This was a very well-written piece and I enjoyed reading it very much.
Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel ✧ Score: 3
What a wonderful and unique glimpse at Treebeard. The Ents as a whole are so often ignored, and even then seldom given a main spot in any story. Not so here, and Himring's prose does this character justice.
Author response: Thank you very much! Treebeard has had a very long and very eventful life by the time he meets the hobbits in The Two Towers. I'm glad you approve of my attempt to fill this part of his biography in a bit.