Threshing Songs

Author: curiouswombat

Nominator: Clodia

2010 Award Category: Races: Men: Drabbles - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Drabble  ✧  Length: True Drabble

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: The Rohirrim's first harvest after the battles of the Ring War, seen from the viewpoint of the women.(Written for the Tolkien Weekly challenge 'Threshing'.)

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Reviewed by: Clodia  ✧  Score: 10

The War of the Ring ended in the Ring’s destruction, Sauron’s downfall and victory for the side of all that is good and right in Middle-earth, as everyone knows; nonetheless, it was a hard war and one with a great many casualties, not least for the valiant Rohirrim. In this poignant drabble, Curiouswombat gives us a glance at the glorious and golden harvest that follows the Ring War, when so many of the men have been killed or maimed that responsibility for managing the fields has fallen almost wholly to the women, from the young girls to their white-haired grandmothers. They come weary to the threshing floor, [Yavanna’s sacred space] (a line I love; how perfectly suitable for Yavanna to appear in this context), since they have had to take over the work of the men in the fields; and into their ancient songs has come a new song mourning their lost husbands and the children who will never now be born. The drabble uses as a reference point the old Scottish waulking songs (and thank you, Curiouswombat, for your translation from Gaelic of a sample song!), a fantastic example of the perfect interweaving of real-world traditions with canon to build up insights into Middle-earth cultures, in this case that of the Rohirrim. This drabble is a lovely look at the solemn side of victory and I enjoyed it greatly. Thank you, Curiouswombat!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 6

There's such poetry in this drabble's beginning. ["The threshing floor is Yavanna’s sacred space; that is why women thresh."] It's simple and straight-forward but also profound, and it lays the foundation for the rest of the drabble. The women who are singing are candid folk. They don't have time or inclination to mince words and build flowery elven poetry. They say it as it is, and in so doing, they paint a picture that is both joyful and sorrowful. The joy comes from the bounties of the harvest and the wonder at having so much to do when it comes time to do the threshing. The sorrow comes from being weary, and not just weary in body, though that, too, is certainly addressed. But weary in mind and in spirit because many of the men are not there to fill the hearts and the wombs. A swiftly running little drabble that stays true to its people all the way through.

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 5

This drabble is part of a series which greatly impressed me and I agree with curiouswombat that it is possibly the highlight of the series. The imagery is simple and effective; we see the group of women of all ages labouring over a task that is theirs by right, but to which is now added the burden of doing much of the men's work. Too few came home, too many will be missed, and not only for the strength of their hands. And yet there is a sense of relief and of gratitude. The joy of peacetime and the sorrow of the lasting scars of war are beautifully expressed in this touching ficlet.

Reviewed by: Azalais  ✧  Score: 5

This is expressive, poignant and powerful. Yes, the threshing floor is the women's space; but these women have already done not only their own work but the men's, [bringing the harvest home] with their men gone to the war and, in many cases, not returned. Curiouswombat vividly conjures up the whole range of female experience, in very Tolkienesque language; [from girls, whose bodies had yet to feel the pull of the moon, to women whose bodies were bent, whose hair was white.]. They are grieving for their menfolk, for themselves, for the future children there will now be no-one to sire; and yet, as women have done down the ages, they do the work in front of them because it is there and it needs to be done. This spoke so vividly to me of the practical, brave women of the Riddermark - beautifully done.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 4

A dramatic ficlet, one that makes you stop and think and count the cost of war. CuriousWombat has written a drabble that is well worth reading and savoring and thinking on. And the translation of song she's indicated inspired this drabble is itself a reminder that even victories can be very expensive in the cost of lives and loves lost. I definitely recommend this one to one and all.

Reviewed by: Lindelea  ✧  Score: 2

Word pictures and prose that reads like poetry, a mundane-seeming beginning that slowly leads to a gut-wrenching punch at the end. Well done.