The Annals of the West

Author: Dreamflower

Nominator: Celeritas

2011 Award Category: Post-Ring War and Beyond: General

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Medium Length

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: ”In Brandy Hall there were many works dealing with Eriador and the history of Rohan. Some of these were composed or begun by Meriadoc himself…It was probably at Great Smials that The Tale of Years was put together, with the assistance of material collected by Meriadoc.” (Prologue: Notes on the Shire Records) Merry has an idea.

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Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 10

Dear Dreamflower, I remember being very charmed with this story, especially since it focussed on subjects that we both have an interest in: history, research, bookmaking, calligraphy. Merry is the perfect character to embark on such a project, and it was lovely to see the different stages of it. It is clear that you have given a lot of thought to the topic of how historic events and development are recorded and how they change in the process of recording. The readers gets a very good sense of the vastness of elven history and also of the fact that history rarely catches the imagination unless it is presented in a personalised manner. You made a very good job of explaining feasibly how accounts vary and of what is “really” behind some of the things we read in The Hobbit. I liked all the well-chosen details you included in this story, like Estella’s thoughts about mealtimes, the oversized bed, or the connection between Hobbits and Rohirrim. You also brought out the personalities of the characters very well, as is especially evident in the different letter-writing styles of Merry and Pippin. This is an all-round enjoyable story, well-thought out and well presented.

Author response: I am so glad you enjoyed this one. It does deal with many of the same themes you like to write about! The idea of Merry as a scholar, and being responsible for much of the knowledge we have of the West of M-e appeals to me very much.

Reviewed by: pandemonium_213  ✧  Score: 10

Whenever I wish to visit the Shire and its denizens, Dreamflower is my go-to tour guide. I can be assured of detailed descriptions of hobbit culture and attitudes, as well as vistas of the Shire that vividly recall those of the old Oxford don. In {The Annals of the West}, not only do I get to visit Buckland (one of my favorite places in the Shire), but I also travel with the Master of Buckland, Meriadoc Brandybuck, and his wife, Estella Bolger Brandybuck, to Rivendell. There, Merry intends on collecting research so he may construct a chronology of the First, Second and Third Ages. Dreamflower skillfully builds up to the journey by portraying the older Merry as a scholarly type of hobbit (and I must say, this is a very appealing vision of him), who understands the value of recording history so that it is not lost. {The Annals of the West} is an entertaining and effective means of illustrating the importance of recorded history. The Brandybuck family tutor, Merry's cousin Merimas, shows the reader this as he asks questions about the Red Book, which Merry has deemed important enough to be a requirement of study. Merimas' questions highlight the difficulties of capturing history clearly and completely. Merry then decides to take on a new project: a chronology. Celeborn grants him permission to make use of the resources in the library of Rivendell to do so. And thus we are off on the journey and then on to Merry's scholarly (and well-paced) explorations. I love the characterizations here. Merry has always been one of my favorite characters, so it's a delight to see him featured front and center in Dreamflower's capable hands. Estella is wonderful, too, and I appreciate the love between a mature couple that Dreamflower shows us. Another bit that tickled me was the round door of Bilbo's (and Trotter's!) former quarters in the House of Elrond. We get a quick look at Erestor through Merry's eyes and the astute observation of the chasm between the Firstborn and the Secondborn, that is, the fleeting lives of the former relative to the indefinite longevity of the latter.

Author response: Thank you Pande for such a detailed and lovely review. I had so much fun writing it and imagining this stage of Merry's life and how that fit into my own 'verse. And I'm very glad you liked the interactions between Merry and Erestor. I have a great admiration for those Elves who chose to give themselves in friendship to mortals even when they knew the heartbreak that awaits them.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 6

Now, this is a wonderful expansion on comments within the Appendices on the writing of the Red Book, the expansion of the Red Book material to include information once known only by the Wise, and on the further scholarship of Meriadoc Brandybuck in the libraries of Rivendell, including his authorship of a tome on the herblore of the Shire and his comparative studies of the language of Rohan with specific usages within the Shire’s dialect of the Common Tongue that indicated past associations between the ancestors of the Shire’s Hobbits and the ancestors of the Rohirrim. I love the inclusion of Estella within this adventure, and the truly Hobbity and Mannish touches one sees here and there within the tale. Well recommended!

Author response: Thank you so much, Larner, for your kind review! Examining the hobbit that Merry became after Frodo left, it's interesting to guess how he came to do some of the things that resulted in his being called "Magnificent"!

Reviewed by: Oshun  ✧  Score: 3

You had me with the title. The idea of exploring the history of Arda always draws me into a story, despite the period of history or characters or place. This one was certainly no disappointment and quite different from others I have read over the years. Beautifully written as your stories are and a lovely and fresh look.

Author response: Thank you very much! I appreciate the kind words immensely!