The Braided Stream

Author: annmarwalk

Nominator: annmarwalk

2009 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Drabbles - First Place

Story Type: Drabble  ✧  Length: True Drabble

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: n/a

Summary: "The children of √Čorl have no need for books; their history surrounds them like air, like water."(For the "History" challenge at Tolkien_weekly)

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Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 8

I think that what I appreciate most about this drabble is the ability to take a different perspective on history and make it completely accessible to the reader. I suspect that most people who write or read fanfiction would feel more of a connection to the races who wrote and read history books, because fanfiction is about reading and writing history for an imagined setting. So it must have been quite the challenge to coax the written word into revealing how the Rohirrim felt about history. And it's all pulled off with flying colors. The critical element seems to be the establishment of the Riddermark's landscape, and the detail with which this is described really makes it come to life. I could feel the land growing and breathing around me, and in that kind of a setting, I begin to understand how the Rohirrim see history. It surrounds them and it grows and changes with each passing day. Seen from that perspective, it's hard to understand why anyone would want to freeze history and lock it away where it can't expand or be added upon. An enlightning view of the world in drabble form!

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 7

The images of living history (in both senses of the phrase) you built this drabble around are astoundingly lovely and sent shivers down my spine. You are taking into account not only the parts of history that the Rohirrim put into words - they must have had any number of great songs and lays if they are anything like the 'horsed Anglo-Saxon' culture Tolkien envisioned them as - but also the more direct approach that permeates the whole body: [hear, mark, learn, and inwardly digest] is such a fitting description! Instead of [unlettered] I first read 'unfettered' in the second paragraph, and the notion of [history locked away in books] (while that is debatable) seemed especially fitting then, but even so it is a beautiful comparison of orality and literacy -- and the Rohirrim definitely strike me as more unfettered than their 'more civilised' counterparts, in displaying an almost Elvish aptitude for memory, even though they are doubtlessly biased in implicitly believing their way the (only?) right one. A beautiful drabble, and very thought-provoking. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 5

This drabble captures so much of what led me to first fall in love with Gondor and Rohan: the stark difference between their cultures and how it reflected two very different approaches to knowledge and history. We are not so much told as shown that, for Rohan, knowledge and wisdom do not come from facts but are a malleable, changing thing. This doesn't mean that there is no such thing as the truth of history; it just transcends what can be nailed down into a book. Really, very thought-provoking and beautiful to - I highly recommend it for anyone who likes these two peoples or just enjoys thought-provoking ficlets.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 5

This brief description of how the children of Eorl learn their history by breathing it in day by day, singing and listening to it, living it and reciting it, leaves me filled, replete with details that don't need to be presented in lists with bullet points. The wording reminds me of catechism classes as I prepared for my confirmation; of services filled with hymns and familiar prayers and formulae that yet proved but the format in which to teach new truths, to evoke new understandings, to examine new thoughts. An organic means of knowing one's history, this, and so perfect for the Rohirrim!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

Drabblists like Ann make me gnash my teeth in jealousy. Here she comes up with a hundred exquisite words that capture the culture and spirit of the Eorlingas. The concept of the Rohirrim living their history, keeping it fresh, sung rather than written, is beautifully expressed here and quite Tolkienish. She opens a window into the heart of the Mark. HIghly recommended!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 4

What a great immersion into the worldview of an oral culture! There's a thickness to what literary cultures would, from their perspective, mistakenly call "ephemeral words" that jumps off the page and makes one realize just how ingrained into different, omnipresent forms of social life the past is. This really makes you feel the ownership and integrity of Rohan's culture, and the living presence of the past in the present and the projection of the future that can only come from the necessity of making words one's own. Brilliant, Ann!

Reviewed by: Elen Kortirion  ✧  Score: 4

Beautiful. Flowing, intricate, lyrical - you've conjured a super picture that's captured the Eorlingas in all their simple complexity of 'wise but unlearned' with wonderful elegance. I particular liked [their history surrounds them like air, like water...] and [...yet the √Čorlingas wonder at those who keep their history locked away in books, instead of breathing it anew each day, fresh as the scent of grass after rain, the color of sky.] I said this before and I think it's fair enough to repeat on this occasion. I haven't read this since it was first posted and re-reading it shows it to be still as fresh and apposite to Rohirric culture as ever.

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 3

This is a delightful drabble, and the image of the braided stream is wonderfully significant, so simple and so appropriate. I like all the iamgery you use to show how "organic" the Rohirric culture is (though as you know, I've been guilty of having it [locked away] in a book).

Reviewed by: Tanaqui  ✧  Score: 3

In this drabble, annmarwalk has created a lovely tribute to the power and value of oral cultures, which don't ["keep their history locked away in books "] The drabble itself pulses with the powerful rhythm of a tale meant to be told aloud, to be recounted and remembered in part through the pattern of the words. A very nice match of content and form

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 2

A wonderful tribute to the oral culture and traditions of the Rohirrim, I love the crafting of the metaphor which is begun with the title, and carries through the drabble.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 2

I enjoyed this thought provoking drabble.Maybe we rely on books too much and the Rohirrim have a good point!