Bitter Springs

Author: Dwimordene

Nominator: dkpalaska

2007 Award Category: Times: Mid Third Age: 2851 - 3017 TA - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Contains material that may not be understood by young children, and which parents may feel is inappropriate for young children regardless of understanding.

Summary: Allies can disappoint. Boromir and Théodred watch it all come apart.

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Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 10

For a brief interlude, this vignette reveals a lot of information. It all flows very naturally and realistically, however, and provides a glimpse into Rohan and Gondor's relations in the years just before war begins. The politics are very well thought-out (just as you would expect from Dwimordene) and there are excellent bits of foreshadowing scattered from start to finish. The interactions between Boromir and Theodred are insightful and well-written: their mutual frustration with the situation and their mutual respect for each other coming through clearly. This spring is bitter indeed, with worse to come; and the effectiveness of Rohan's army - the wellspring that both men depend on for the defense of their lands - is already poisoned by Wormtongue's manipulations. For all the wonderful things I've mentioned, I think what impacts me the greatest in this work is the feeling of impending loss. Both of these young men are capable, strong, intelligent and politically adept; both would have made good rulers in their own right... But neither is given the opportunity, for the very war that now inexorably bears down on them (and they do see it coming, oh yes) will take their lives. Tolkien at least gave us some knowledge and understanding of Boromir, but Theodred is barely more than a courageous footnote in the books: a contemporary of Boromir; another prince who was never allowed to reach his full potential; and most tragically, another who never saw the fulfillment of all his life's striving, the redemption and rescue of his beloved lands. Theodred's death always makes me feel wistful, as if I almost witnessed greatness and it slipped out just before I could appreciate it. So for this chance to see some of what he might have been, I especially thank you, Dwim.

Reviewed by: annmarwalk  ✧  Score: 10

A carefully researched and thoughtfully written vignette featuring Théodred and Boromir. AU to my AU, they are not lovers here, nor do they seem particularly good friends, but more like junior colleagues respectful of each others' professional qualifications and managerial potential. They are both chafing at the bit, frustrated at being forced to watch poor leadership, corruption, and ill luck take its toll. There is little they can do at this point other than meet unobtrusively to share honest, if discouraging, appraisals of the situation in their respective countries. What is particularly impressive to me in this tale are the what-if's: What if Théodred had been able to overcome Grima's machinations, and lead Rohan under his father's blessings? What if Théodred had rebelled, and led a renegade band (much like Film!Eomer), fomenting civil war in Rohan? These questions are for far more skilled writers than I to explore. Perhaps these whispers will lodge in Dwimodene's subconcious, rooting stealthily until they take simultaneous control of her brain and her fingers. I can only hope; or at least hope for, and welcome, more such insightful tales as this featuring Théodred and Boromir.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 6

I like how the setting of the scene is used to lead into the theme of the story. The dire situation Théodred lays out is clearly conveyed, despite (or because) his matter-of-fact tone, the underlying implications are subtly hinted at. The emotions are captured well, the frustration at seeing clearly and not being able to do something against it, at being actively balked. At having to scurry in secret to protect the land, to use deceit to wrest some small crumbs of advantage past spying eyes. The most haunting part is, perhaps, that even though Théodred suspects Gríma's motives, and feels there is something rotten in the state of Rohan (to quote The Bard *g*), he still can't quite put two and two together, and is further hampered by loyalty to his King and father. I wonder if he realised the truth, and the extent of Gríma's and Saruman's plot before he fell. I loved the brief mention of Háma's loyalty.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 5

That was a bitter spring. It was telling for the situation that Theodred and Boromir had to sneak out and speak in vague terms about their needs and the political situation they are in. I liked the interaction between these two friends. They know each other well enough to read between the lines of what is said. I never really thought about Theodred's position in all this. He made such a short appearance in the books, basically just dying. He is in this tale in no better a position than his cousins, watching Theoden fall under the spell of Grima, but after reading this I got the feeling it was even harder for him. It was his father, after all, that he watched decline and was unable to prevent it, not his uncle.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 4

Interesting speculation about the political situation between Rohan and Gondor, during the lead-up to the War of the Ring. It's quite realistic to suppose that both Theodred and Eomer would find it frustrating to deal with Theoden under Wormtongue's control, and Boromir, had he come to deal with Rohan on the Steward's behalf would also have been frustrated. The dialogue felt very realistic.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 4

There is an understated quality to this fic that really resonates with the reader, communicating the sorrow and heartache of those hard years before the War of the Ring so well. Dwim also does a first-rate job of capturing the freer Rohirric society (and Boromir's affinity toward those people), and the politics of the time - all without an infodump. I enjoyed this tale, and recommend it as a nice glimpse into Gondor's and Rohan's race toward war.

Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea  ✧  Score: 4

Boromir and Theodred are so similar in so many ways; their ages, their positions, even the date of their deaths. In this piece, the two of them come together as equals, both fretting about constraints that keep them from taking the action that they would wish. They are obviously friends of long standing, and both are frustrated. Grima's foul hand is very evident here, even though he is not present. And it is telling that this tale takes place in March, even as the ultimate resolution of the Ring War does.

Reviewed by: Marigold  ✧  Score: 3

A well told glimpse of how Grima's machinations are falling into place, to the dismay of Theodred (and Eomer) who can do almost nothing, and Boromir, who can do even less. There is a very appropriate sense of sad resignation and approaching tragedy.

Reviewed by: trikywun  ✧  Score: 3

I liked the sense of resignation here and wish that Theodred could have found a way to counteract what he saw taking place. Knowing the later outcome made this story even more effectual.

Reviewed by: agape4gondor  ✧  Score: 2

A very chilling moment between these two men. Very well written. The ending, with Theodred mussing himself, really told all. The Worm definitely ruled Rohan. Very nicely done.