A Bitter Gift
2005 Award Category: Races/Places: Cross-Cultural - Second Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: G ✧ Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Elrond tries to explain Iluvatar's gift to a young Estel.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 8
With apologies to Avon, I'm going to resort to an old review I wrote and expand it a bit. I've seen a couple of different fics that examine how Elrond would've explained mortality to a young Aragorn. It's certainly an interesting topic, and the Aragorn addict in me finds the idea fascinating, that one would have to learn about dying secondhand, because no one around you naturally ages or dies. "Bitter Gift" does justice to the characters, both in terms of species but also in terms of age: Aragorn is believably a child here, but not a caricature of one--I could see the adult Aragorn we're familiar with from LOTR growing out of this boy. Elrond is believably immortal, though one who has had to deal with death in a way most Elves do not. Avon is very effective in using Elrond's own past to create a realistic ambivalence in him towards death as a gift, one that is matched by Aragorn's ambivalence in accepting out of duty, but wishing the Gift had not been given. Well done!
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 6
This piece has a simple majesty to it that is truly captivating. It is easy to write humour or cute fluff involving Elrond and young Estel, but much harder to write serious drama. Here you capture the heart of a child just on the cusp of adolescence, when childish games will have to be put aside bit by bit, and more adult matters will intrude onto the child's conscience. The way you tie in bits form the Silm, both Elrond's history with his brother and the Downfall of Numenor. Before I read this I imagined Elrond must have had this conversation many times with his brother's heirs, but somehow this seems fresh; Elrond has to really think about the answers. It seems there's something truly unique about Estel -- but then we already knew that. ;-)
Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger ✧ Score: 5
Deep questions for a nine-year-old to be pondering. I like the way these questions came about, too, through the death of a horse. It was probably something of a shock for Estel, and I love the fact that he immediately begins thinking of his mother. Elrond's words to Estel are perfect both characters. They're couched in a language that a boy can understand, but there's more to them in case Estel wants to look further. I liked the comparison with the trees, too. That's a good visual image for both Estel and the readers.
Reviewed by: ErinRua ✧ Score: 5
Bittersweet, poignant, and yet never cloying, this is one of the nicest Elrond-young-Estel interactions I have ever read. There is a gentle sincerity and truth to this ficlet, a sensitivity that brings the reader near and rings of the hard truths Elrond doubtless had to wrestle. Avon handles Estel's hard questions with realism that gives no pat endings, no easy answers, but nonetheless leaves the reader with Elrond's own sense of hope, and the knowledge that a child's world has just broadened, and not all for the bad.
Reviewed by: nerwen_calaelen ✧ Score: 3
An interesting tale. I like the way you show Aragorn, his coming to face death adn learn of it, is very interesting. Your characterisation of Elrond is also good, I especailly liek the ay he says that he should not be the one trying to deal with this but manages to explain it so well. It seems to show how he has come to understand it even if he beleives that he has not.
Reviewed by: LOTR_lover ✧ Score: 3
Even to those who have faith in what will come after death, the knowledge of human death is hard. Your Elrond does a good job of explaning something incomprehensible to himself yet vital to Estel. I liked the analogy of Elves and evergreens, Men and deciduous trees very much. Lovely story.