Tom Cotton

Author: Dreamflower

Nominator: Marigold

2007 Award Category: Races: Hobbits: Post-Grey Havens - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Sam's brother-in-law Tom Cotton ruminates about their relationship since Sam returned from his journey...

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Reviewed by: Elanor  ✧  Score: 9

Dreamflower has crafted a thoughtful, sensitive portrait of Tom Cotton here, ruminating over the changes wrought in his relationship with Sam Gamgee by the fortunes of War. His humble working-hobbit's voice, beautifully composed by a writer with an excellent ear for such things, sadly considers the loss of his "best friend" to the memory of Frodo Baggins and the sons of Tooks and Brandybucks, and ponders the bleakness of the fact that a lifetime of friendship can be so summarily swept away by the crucibles of War. Tom remains, in his heart, devoted; Sam is still his best friend, even if destiny has taken Sam in another direction. One senses the enormous strength and sympathy in this eminently decent hobbit, who understands the psychological brutality of war more than most--having held down the fort while the commanders were away--and who is brother-in-law to Sam through two marriages, and wonders if the hole in his heart will ever be perceived and beyond that if it will ever heal. This is a fine little work, deftly constructed, gently pursued, and hauntingly memorable. I found it sweetly touching, and wished there was more!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 6

[Spoilers] This is a vivid and unusual gapfiller from a hobbit we usually don't hear much from in fanfiction - Rosie Cotton's brother Tom. As he considers his brother-in-law and friend Sam, Tom's thoughts provide a fascinating look at hobbit nature and the nature of friendship itself. Tom is beautifully characterised as a steadfast and generous soul, limited by standard Cotton (and hobbit) provincialism, but also someone with the imagination to think beyond the borders of what he has known before. And I though I felt sorry for him, in that Sam has left his best friend Tom behind; I wasn't too sorry; because a hobbit of Tom's caliber would be able to make new friends while cherishing the old. Excellently and credibly written.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 5

A deeply moving look on Tom Cotton's thoughts on his twice-over brother-in-law and the changes his adventure and the company he kept has wrought in him. There is melancholy there, and regret, that their once deep friendship has altered and Sam is now friends with the ["gentlehobbits"], but no real resentment; rather the opposite: Tom appreciates that Sam needs people around himself with similar experiences. I also very much liked this sympathetic outsider's perspective on the friendship between Sam and Frodo (and Merry and Pippin) before everything began. The last line really expressed what he had been ruminating about in a nutshell, and I was profoundly moved by it.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 4

This is a really telling glimpse at someone who knew Sam well. I'm not sure I personally see him being quite this buddy-buddy with Merry and Pippin after the War, but that idea isn't unbelievable or anything. And if that was the way it happened, I can easily see Sam's childhood friend feeling a bit like a third wheel (or in this case, a fourth wheel). This story handles Tom's feelings nicely -- pragmatically accepting the change, but still a tad hurt by the change in his old friend.

Reviewed by: Marigold  ✧  Score: 3

Poor Tom! It's always difficult when friends move apart and Sam's shared experiences with Merry and Pippin will certainly have drawn them together in ways that Tom can't compete with. An excellent and introspective character study.

Reviewed by: Bodkin  ✧  Score: 3

Tom is perceptive, isn't he? He understands the closeness between those who left and returned - and their sorrow at the loss of one of the four. It must seem odd to him for his childhood companion to be more closely bonded to the gentlehobbits than to his double brother-in-law. It's good of him to hold back - and to hold on. I'm sure Sam appreciates his loyalty.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

What the four Travelers went through together has changed them and their relationships with those they knew before. Now Sam's first son is born, and young Tom Cotton refrains--for the moment, at least--to join them, for the fourth they would prefer to sit there.... Sad and thoughtful, but filled with the steady hope of the Shire.