Author: annmarwalk

Nominator: Branwyn

2006 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Remembering - Second Place

Story Type: Other Fiction  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: G  ✧  Reason for Rating: n/a

Summary: While awaiting the birth of her grandchild, Morwen Steelsheen crafted two gifts. A tale of how these simple gifts became precious heirlooms in both Rohan and Gondor. The character of Winfrith is used with the gracious permission of her author, Alawa.

Read the Story

Reviewed by: Anoriath  ✧  Score: 10

There you go, again, tugging on the heartstrings. I really love the parallels in this piece. There are so many that are available to the reader on the surface, the two mothers, both indulging in the sensual pleasure that is loving their children, and husbands that give a small thing of comfort from their past to their children. It ties them all together. But, at the same time, beneath all of this lies deeper parallels, threads which come together in a theme of loss. Both mothers have left home and family behind and the gifts of the toy horses were given by a queen who knows that state intimately as well. Both horses were carried by children who then passed them on to younger family members when they had need of comfort, and, sadly, were then lost themselves when grown. What do we do when we lose home and family, those things that ground and complete us? What do we do when our parents die, our siblings die, and the world changes around us? Does it stop there? And the answer you give us is “no.” You don’t stop loving, you don’t give up and lock yourself away. The way you cope with loss is to rework it, take a small part of it and make it into something beautiful, whether it is something as grand as a piece of art, or a smile and feeling of comfort to a small child.

Reviewed by: Branwyn  ✧  Score: 9

The heirlooms of the title are toy ponies which were made by Morwen Steelsheen for baby Boromir and Theodred. As they are passed along to new owners, the ponies become a symbol of the ties of love and kinship between the ruling famlies of Gondor and Rohan. The unassuming heroines of the piece are Boromir and Faramir's Nanny and Theodred's old nurse Winfrith who have kept the old toys for all these years, though a thread of devotion runs through the entire ficlet, starting with Morwen's lovingly hand-made gifts. The description of the simple, soft toy made from brown wool with a mane and tail of flax rope is wonderful--Morwen knew exactly what a small child would love. The wonder and joy of the two mothers, Eowyn and Lothiriel, as they gaze at their tiny sons is described with great tenderness. The two sections of the piece are written in close parallel, emphasizing the close ties between the two families and also the similarities between the two new sets of parents. A beautifully and lovingly written piece! This tale is part of the Pony!verse stories, written by Annmarwalk and Edoraslass, which follow the fortunes of the two stuffed ponies.

Reviewed by: Mechtild  ✧  Score: 8

A fine conceit! Again, you have done much done through carefully chosen details to open up my imagination to a time and characters I knew little or nothing about, and illuminated (by further insights) characters I did know something about. The notion of a thing passed on without the original maker (Morwen) having an inkling as to where or to whom it might in time go is an inspired one. In Tolkien’s stories, the motif of an heirloom having great meaning is a strong one. How fitting, that in this story you should fashion heirlooms of a homelier sort than swords and shields. It reminds me that more than weaponry and battle skills make a noble hero. I was touched, too, by the idea that not just Grandmother Morwen, but the dead uncles of the boys both were able to reach through time to give these gifts, just as in Benison, Finduilas did it for Eowyn. The passing of the heirlooms in this way helps convey a sense of love strong and enduring enough to weave itself into the lives of those who come after, even after those who first loved have died and passed on.

Reviewed by: Acacea  ✧  Score: 6

I loved this for the way it weaves together so many little threads into one compact yet exteemly touching piece. There is the thought of Morwen making two little ponies for two little boys to play with, and the thought of the roles that were enivisaged for both boys and the way it in some manner acts as a prelude to their potenetial friendship (and more in Ann's other fics:)). Then there's Theodred understanding the loss his cousins would have felt and trying in his own way to help them, Eowyn's jealousy for the sword, and yet her care of the stuffed pony, of Boromir giving the pony to Faramir and how Faramir feels safe with it. It is such a beautiful thought that both Elfwine and Elboron have something of their uncles, both of whom have helped shape their fathers and mothers into what they are.

Reviewed by: EdorasLass  ✧  Score: 6

The parallels here are wonderful: Theodred and Boromir, Eomer and Faramir, Eowyn and Lothiriel, all connected by something as simple as a child's stuffed pony. I really like how both of the ponies came to a younger family member as a means of comfort for both Faramir and Eowyn when they were suffering the grief of having their whole world turned upside down by the loss of a mother. This paints a lovely picture of two young families who have been through all sorts of hardship and sorrow, yet have now found some peace, and are ready to begin the next part of their lives, even while holding dear the good memories of the past. And it's a lovely way to connect the boys to the uncles that they'll never be able to meet. I think that both Theodred and Boromir would be pleased to find out what has become of the ponies, as would Morwen.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 5

A very sweet set of matched vignettes. I remember Winfrith and the children's toys from Alawa's story very well--it was one of my favorite passages, so it was lovely to see that expanded on a little across the years and two lands. Forever absent uncles find ways into the lives of newborn nephews. Eowyn's recognition of the toy helps connect it to a feminine genealogy, too: from Morwen to her great-great-granddaughter-in-law (I think), and not simply through the stories Éomer and Faramir can tell, though those, too, are a part of it. As always, Ann's attention to the craftwork that goes into the everyday items shows through.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 4

Morwen crafted matching horses for the children of the ruling houses in Gondor and Rohan; and in time the love for both lands and children is recognized as a new generation brings those two lines together, and the tradition of playing with those horses is passed on. A most beautiful look at how traditions can help communicate love from one generation to another.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 3

A lovely vignette showing the passage of love through three generations in the small and homely form of two stuffed animal toys. Wonderful synchronicity here in the giving of the toys, as well as the new mothers' joy in their perfect little boys.

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 3

This is a lovely little story about two toy ponies made a long time ago for Theodred and Boromir. It is touching how this toy was used in both cases for comfort and to pass it on to the next generation. I love the parallels in the two scenes of the two boys now the owners of these toys.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 3

This is really neat, Ann. Here you give us how women out of their native cultures might perceive their sons' Rohirric heritage, but it doesn't come across at all staid. The child's tool was an interesting way of getting itno the backstories of the two families, and it was a touching glimpse into all the characters involved.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 3

I love the idea that through their mutual kinship to Morwen Steelsheen, both Faramir and Eowyn found themselves gifted with identical toys--which had belonged to Boromir and to Theodred, and which end up in the cradles of their son and their nephew. It's the sort of parallelism that seems appropriate to M-e, and I think JRRT would approve.

Reviewed by: Bodkin  ✧  Score: 3

This is a gem. I love the image of little Elfwine with Theodred's horse - and Elboron with Boromir's. A bond between the generations and countries and a link with two much-loved and much-missed members of their families. A very touching tale. Delightful.

Reviewed by: elliska  ✧  Score: 2

This was a really touching, powerful story. I love the idea of these children having such special toys. Great vignette!

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 2

Very moving. A nice way to link the future of Rohan and Gondor through Théodred and Boromir, and, further back, to their common ancestress Morwen.

Reviewed by: Madeleine  ✧  Score: 2

No doubt, these heirlooms are of a rather different kind. A lovely idea. I’m just surprised those toy horses survived nearly unscathed the devotion and love of several children.