Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Stirrup Cup

Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn)
Nominator: annmarwalk
2009 Award Category: Genres: Character Study: Dunedain or Rohirrim Drabbles - Second Place

Story Type: Drabble : Length: True Drabble
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Written for the Tolkien_weekly "Cup" Challenge Young Eowyn considers her role as the bearer of the stirrup-cup.


Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 6

I love the way this drabble goes about showcasing character growth and change in Eowyn. Initially, there's excitement and pleasure at the thought of how the Riders might desire her, and it hearkens back to the excitement of a young teenager who is realizing that boys find her attractive and that she's entering a new stage in life. The very newness of it all makes it desirable. But as time passes, Eowyn realizes that these riders want all the things associated with her but not necessarily her for herself. And therein lies the hollow feeling that would seem very much like an empty cup. They offer her trappings and finery but no substance. Nothing that could sustain her. A perceptive and thought-provoking little drabble!

Reviewed by: annmarwalk -- Score: 5

The drabble is full of the rich language and imagery which are hallmarks of Lady Branwyn's writing. It's very easy to visualize Eowyn as she's described here, outshining everything else in the Golden Hall ["Bright with amber and silk"] There's a very barbarian-princess feel to it which is quite appealing to Eowyn's modern-day admirers. The lines [" her dower horses would number in the hundreds."] and [" her soft woman’s flesh would bear her new husband’s weight and then bear him fine sons"] show a very vivid insight into the values of the Rohirric culture. The final lines have a slightly bitter, ominous undertone as Eowyn contemplates the emptiness of her future. ["At first, she was pleased by their longing; yet later, she thought it an empty thing, like a stirrup-cup that had been overturned.'"]. I like the vision of Eowyn's restlessness at cusp of womanhood, perfectly in character for the Eowyn that we, and Strider, will meet later.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 5

Branwyn paints a vivid picture in a hundred words here; but it is not just the beautiful language and evocation of a proud warrior-princess that is interesting. The drabble shows both the power and fragility of Eowyn's position in her uncle's hall. As the young and marriagable daughter of the royal house, she is sought after and admired not so much for her character, but as a future bride, an ornament to the houses of the warriors who want her, a source of a great dowry of horses and also a source of fine sons. It's credible, but a little disturbing; and it is to Eowyn's credit that she eventually sees the greed beneath the admiration.

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 5

A fascinating glimpse into Rohirrim culture, values and viewpoints, plus evocative, lyrical language - but the insights into Grima's and Eowyn's characters (and especially Eowyn's development into a more serious person) are what really make this drabble shine. I found it a very thought-provoking read as well, since the brevity of the form makes it easy for the reader to ask questions that sometimes have to go unanswered in the story itself (which is not necessarily a drawback), such as for example Rohirric marriage rules and customs. Needless to say, I enjoyed this drabble a lot. Thank you for sharing it.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 4

Lady Branwyn walks us through a major turn in Éowyn's life, and it really does come down to the last line to make it happen. The suddenness of the shift matches well with the imagery used to describe it: [like a stirrup-cup that had been overturned]. One gets the impression of the abruptness and finality of that shift (until or unless someone fills the cup again), which suggests to me at least that it might be something that needed considerable time to undo. Interesting!

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 4

What a bright and shining drabble! Ah, yes--definitely a tale worthy of the reading, this. The culture of Rohan shines through, as does Eowyn's growing awareness that she is intended for a different life than that of a bride to a Rider, no matter how high he might be in the court of Meduseld or Council of the land. Clearly a bright gem Lady Branwyn has crafted here.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 3

There's something harrowing about the way this drabble presents the Riders, how they are so possessive. Yet I can see it happening just this way. It gives a nice feeling for the machismo that might have pervaded Rohirric culture and definitely made me feel more empathetic toward Eowyn. A really nice examination of this character.

Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 3

This drabble is very beautifully written and it rings very true. People desire to be loved for their own sake, and not for what they represent, and Eowyn is no exception. Very good pioece of work.

Reviewed by: Elen Kortirion -- Score: 3

I very much admire the language and tone used in this drabble. The ethos of the Court of The Mark and Rohirric customs are beautifully court in spare, elegant phrases that shine out... much the same as Eowyn did. Not only that, Lady Branwyn has caught the brittle bitterness that eventually caused this shieldmaiden to be described as a 'lily touched by frost'.