The Hardest Month

Author: curiouswombat

Nominator: Linda Hoyland

2009 Award Category: Times: Pre-Ring War: Drabbles - Third Place

Story Type: Drabble  ✧  Length: True Drabble

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: A glimpse of Aragorn as a healer during his days as a ranger.(True drabble written for the Tolkien Weekly 'Eat, Drink and be Merry' challenge - 'Wine'.)

Read the Story

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 7

A fascinating glimpse into the difficult lives of the brave and hardy Northern Dunedain, through a very elegant drabble. Curiouswombat does not offer the spectacle of Aragorn healing one of his injured Rangers; instead, she uses the young man's survival as a metaphor for the great strength and pride of this remarkable people. Aragorn is ostensibly the star of the story, but it is his patient's mother who steals the show. Her expectations and the paucity of her pantry show the privation endured by the Northern Rangers; young men go out with their fathers to fight and can share wounds and death as well as commitment; and the widow celebrates her good fortune of her son's survival by offering soup made with [the last] bacon of the winter - a lovely, evocative bit. The widow's final offering to Aragorn emphasizes her pride - she is not just feeding him, she gives him a wine that carries its own homely magic as well as warmth and sustenance. Well written and very credible.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 5

The thing that amazes me about Aragorn (and really, about all the Rangers of Eriador) is the way they hold to their difficult, strenuous, dangerous, unkonwn, and utterly thankless duty. And I think what this drabble does is capture a little bit of the character that drives these men. In this winter month, Aragorn isn't expecting much from the woman whose son he saved. He can take pleasure from the fact that life was preserved. But the wine still manages to warm him and remind him of summer, and it's this ability to enjoy the small blessings and see in them the greater possibilities that really drove the Rangers. Fantastic visuals and great character moment.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 4

A lovely vivid glimpse into the Hope that Aragorn brought before he became king. The mother's gratitude for the live of her son is truly heart-warming. Her gift of a glass of wine to him has an almost sacramental feel. one feels that if this woman had gold and jewels she would lay them at Aragorn's feet gladly. A drabble that conveys a long unspoken story in a hundred words.

Reviewed by: Cairistiona  ✧  Score: 4

Drabbles done well offer a compelling glimpse into a short scene, and this does that so well. The child's expected death, forestalled by whatever unseen healing Aragorn performs, speaks of Aragorn's strength as healer. The last of the bacon and the way the woman blows the dust off what had to be a prized bottle of wine shows both the utter poverty of the Dunedain and the spirit of generosity inherent in that people. A lovely drabble, all the way around.

Reviewed by: Tanaqui  ✧  Score: 4

What I like most about this drabble is the sense curiouswombat has created of how hard life was for ordinary people, and yet the generosity that still existed. And I'm sure that, although the woman in the piece believes the meal she serves Aragorn is ["hardly a fitting feast"], he appreciates how she is still trying to give of her best from the little she has. One feels he's warmed by that quite as much as by the surprisingly fine wine she also manages to produce. A delightful moment.

Reviewed by: Inzilbeth  ✧  Score: 4

This is a most delightful drabble. The author captures perfectly the desperately hard lives of the Northern Dunedain as they struggle against the growing darkness on a daily basis. That they could have so easily lost their young chieftain is a possibility they must face at any time. And Gilraen would feel this loss for more than any other. Beautifully and evocatively written.

Reviewed by: annmarwalk  ✧  Score: 3

A simple, and lovely, drabble depicting a gift of gratitude encompassing happier times. The elements of the drabble are familiar, but the story is told with freshness, charm, and bright imagery. A heartwarming story which fulfills its purpose wonderfully well!

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

The cost of this winter has been dear--her husband and almost her child as well; but the moment when the wife offers what little she can to their chieftain and healer, she yet finds a way to share summer's fullness, apparently. CuriousWombat's imagery shimmers as does the wine! Beautiful and moving!

Reviewed by: Robinka  ✧  Score: 3

This is a lovely example of what a well written drabble is: a short ficlet that speaks volumes, has great imagery and a good conclusion. And -- last but not least -- a nicely sketched glimpse at Aragorn. Well done, Wombat!

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 2

Oh, well done. What a touching scene, rendered with such elegant simplicity. The imagery of the summer wine is beautiful.

Reviewed by: Jedi Sapphire  ✧  Score: 2

This drabble was a delight to read. It brought out the harshness and difficulty of battle to a nicety, while at the same time ending on a note of optimism and warmth. Well done!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 2

Understated and sweet, this drabble reminds us how thin the line is between life and death, and not just for Rangers in extraordinary circumstances.

Reviewed by: Marethiel  ✧  Score: 2

What a delight this drabble was to me. In so few words, the author has created both loss and reclamation, conflict and resolution, sense-evoke memory... awesome job!