Graceful and Green
2007 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Ithilien - Third Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: General ✧ Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Sam, Frodo and the Rangers of Ithilien remember the fallen at Henneth Annun.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 10
The traumatic experience of warfare calls for some of the most strenuous and difficult works of mourning. It is not just the others who are lost, but we ourselves as we had been who are lost, and both losses require to be laid somehow to rest - memorialized. Mourning and remembrance are the very substance of this stylish story, with the two hobbit narrators outside the ranks of those whose rituals they share in, and yet brought inside them, enabled to integrate their own loss of self, their own traumatic transformation from ordinary hobbits of the Shire to the sacrificial deliverers of an entire world. Sam's drama is most interesting, and rightly central, I think: the Sam-Gollum relationship was not only antagonistic, but between it and the demands of the journey to Mt. Doom, Sam has been brought to see parts of himself that he did not know existed, parts of himself that Gollum brought out, and which now have a claim on him in the grieving process. ["He's still here isn't he?"], Sam asks Mablung, and the whole story to me turns around what to do with what is still here, and yet must be in some way left behind. ["Rosemary for remembrance. Isn't that how it goes?"], Frodo says, and so gives the key to the work undertaken throughout the story, by various characters as they come to terms with the selves they have left behind in the crucible of war, the selves they are not yet, and the many who have been lost.
Reviewed by: dkpalaska ✧ Score: 10
Even now, over a year since I first read this, the mere sight of the title conjures up beautiful and moving imagery. It is one of those stories that fits so seamlessly into Tolkien's universe that I'll be imagining it in the background whenever I read the books. More, the author has filled a gap that I didn't even realize was there, and yet is obvious in hindsight. Sam is perhaps one of the most poignant and revealing PoVs that could be chosen to tell this tale, with his unflinching honesty, plain "working-Hobbit" speech, and his personal war demons to come to terms with - some shared and some wholly his. Alawa has taken this character and made him her own, giving us a pitch-perfect voice that brings me to tears by the end, and has me repeatedly nodding in agreement, sniffling or chuckling over his observations. And he is not the only one: all the characterizations are uniformly well done. This is also a story that bears several rereadings; at least each time I read it I have been gifted with more insights. It is densely packed with details and references, but still flows along smoothly: uncontrived and clear connections being formed and reformed through Sam's meandering but brightly truthful perspective. The reflective tone of the story is consistent and beautifully managed throughout, leading up to a wonderful moment within Henneth Annun and an ending that binds the various elements together into one shining, brilliant whole. The entire story feels right and perfect - something like this must have happened, and Alawa's vision is one marvelous possible answer.
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 10
[spoilers] This is a truly marvellous story of redemption and moving on. The early scenes about Sam learning to let go of his protective concern for Frodo's well being were touching, and Mablung was well-drawn as a common "man-of-arms" who had to step into a role of leadership that he never expected. I imagine there were lots of men like this in Gondor after the Ring-War, as so many Gondorian lords died in the many battles and new heroes were singled out for their bravery in that conflict. This was a situation I hadn't seen examined before, and Alawa does it nicely. I also liked Frodo's perceptiveness (and Sam's!) that these men needed the gift of the Lady's phial as much as Frodo and Sam did. That was a great interpretation of how light is used in Tolkien's Middle-earth. But the part of this story that really captured my heart was how you handled Sam. Too many authors make him a yokel or a simpleton, and while you give him a touch of the rural and poorer dialect we see in Tolkien, as a character he comes across as someone very capable, not just of serving the landed gentry but of thinking for himself. My interpretation of Sam is more in keeping with how you present him here, and so I was just tickled to see how perceptive he was, and how eloquent he was in explaining his thoughts - and also, by how Mablung and the other Gondorians treated him with respect and heard him out. A really nice job, Alawa.
Reviewed by: Imhiriel ✧ Score: 8
Intricate descriptions that bring the scenery and feast to life in every detail. The wide range of emotions is handled exceptionally well. There is a lovely, lyrical tone to the whole piece, and a beautiful title that fits perfectly. To have Henneth-Annûn as a backdrop for the story was a wonderful idea, and it offers the opportunity for some interesting comparisons between the current situation and the first time Frodo and Sam had been there. It is also nice that the site is described in further or different details than in canon - it makes it an even more memorable setting. I find Sam a difficult character to portray convincingly, but you have managed it very well, including his patterns of speech and thought. I appreciated it very much that he contemplates the scene in which Sméagol gazed at Frodo with regret - I have often wondered if Sam recognised what a pivotal moment that could, perhaps, have been. There were some resonating subjects raised: death and survivor-guilt, burial rites and mourning, Gollum and Boromir etc.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 2
A most thoughtful depiction of the memorial the Rangers of Ithilien share for those they've lost, including Frodo and Sam in their number.
Reviewed by: Rabidsamfan ✧ Score: 2
Lovely. To take Sam's point of view at a dinner of the surviving Rangers of Ithilien and yet still bring in so much of what Frodo and the others must see is a real gift.