Tree and Stone

Author: Barra the Bard (aka Barrabard)

Nominator: Erulisse

2011 Award Category: Incomplete: Cross-Cultural - Third Place

Story Type: Incomplete  ✧  Length: Novel

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Violence

Summary: There was a second Dwarf in Gondor during the last days of the Ring War. Dalfinor Redglass meets Mistress Silma Clerk during the siege. Their friendship will lead to many discoveries which will affect many lives.(18 chapters have been posted.)

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Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 10

I started [Tree and Stone] last night, reached the current stopping point (Chapter 18) this morning, and took some time to just go, Wow. I like this a lot: it's nicely characterized, and it deals with a fairly novel premise: the relationship between a woman and a Dwarf caught in the Siege of Minas Tirith. Both Silma Clerk and Dalforin Redglass are terrifically interesting, likeable characters: a "lady with a past" operating as an ill-treated volunteer in the Houses of Healing, and a merchant/envoy from the Lonely Mountain, marooned in the Citadel after his wagon and mules were requisitioned by the Guard. They meet while Silma is attempting to rescue her bedridden second husband and the family dog during a bombardment of the lower Circles. Sadly, it does not go off without a hitch, and Dalfinor finds himself pledging to care for the dying man's wife. So begins an eventful, lively narrative, as both characters, alone and together, struggle to stay afloat and do their part for a besieged city. This task is is more complicated than it should be, thanks partly to Silma and her penchant for going AWOL (she is NOT the type of person who tends to stay where you left her), and partly to certain trouble-making people in both characters' lives. Whether you loathe or love those mean-spirited characters who enjoy nothing better than to cause trouble for the leads, they are present in droves: from snooty noblewomen to arrogant healers to bullying family members to - whatever Dwelgin is supposed to be. Of course, if you take immense pleasure in seeing such characters get their comeuppance, there is a lot of that as well. I don't know about you, but I am that sort of reader. Some of the "he said/she said" transitions are not as smooth as they might be, and there is some repetition as certain scenes/conversations are related again from the POV of either Dalf or Silma. But this is one irritant out of a story brimful with treasure. I love Barra's skillful way of measuring out information, particularly with regard to Silma and her past - never annoying, because so much is going on, but illuminating, and more gratifying then if she showed all her cards at once. I also love Dalfinor - as gruff, courteous and loyal as you could hope for in a Dwarf, but still very much his own person, and very invested in the complicated and surprising woman with whom he has become entangled. This story kept me hooked. I went to bed reading it, I woke up reading it, and I enjoyed it immensely. I think, if you try it, you will find it worthwhile.

Author response: Lauderdale, Wow, I am amazed and very grateful for your detailed, encouraging and kind review! You are right about some of the transitions and repetions, but I wanted to experiment with the two POVs of the same events, to underline the cultural differences between Dalf and Silma. I think that gets smoother in time. I have had a wonderful time writing this so far! More chapters are up and will be added this next year. Thank you!--Barra

Reviewed by: Erulisse  ✧  Score: 3

This has been a wonderful story up to this point, and I look forward to additional chapters being added in 2012. Her "second dwarf in Minas Tirith" is a great addition and the personal interactions between the characters, both primary and secondary, ring true. I highly recommend this to anyone wanting a fun and well crafted read.

Author response: Erulisse, Thank you for the very kind and encouraging review! I have added more chapters....and will be adding more.--Barra