Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Trotter

Author: Dreamflower
Nominator: Cathleen
2009 Award Category: Races: Cross-Cultural: Eriador - First Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Medium Length
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: I chose Teen for some descriptions of violence and for character deaths.
Summary: After his retirement to Rivendell, Bilbo finds proof he that is not the first hobbit to dwell there. He discovers a very interesting journal.


Reviewed by: pandemonium_213 -- Score: 10

Dreamflower's [Trotter] stands among the best examples of how a fan fiction writer can pluck a lesser known tale from the early stages of Tolkien's legendarium (The History of Middle-earth) and bring it to fruition through creative interpretation of the text, fine wordcraft and excellent characterization. Dreamflower's tactic illustrates the wonderful result of viewing the legendarium as mythology or folkloric tales (as opposed to "this is factual canon" -- a dubious proposition with Tolkien's works from my observations) and then transforming the myth or folktale into "this is what really happened." Hildifons' character is perfection in this story. Not that he is a perfect fellow. No, he's as flawed a human as the rest of us (and that makes him all the more appealing). It's just that he's entirely *hobbit* but with that little something extra. His Tookish penchant for restlessness and adventure come through when he sets out from the Shire after being spurned. Dreamflower has given Hildifons a voice reminiscent of a young British fellow of the 19th century who has left for adventure in foreign parts, such as India, the Americas, Africa, etc. The use of first person point of view is especially effective for this. The pacing of the story is nicely executed; the narrative never drags with Dreamflower's streamlined prose and crisp dialog. The supporting case, in particular, is appealing, especially the Rangers. Oh, yes, the Rangers. Dreamflower creates a wonderfully drawn society here, and we get to see real characters of what were just names in Tolkien's background writings, e.g. Argonui among others. Although initially uncertain of his place among these Men, Hildifons proves his worth and then some, which earns him his coveted nickname of Trotter. Hildifons is a truly memorable character who carries a truly memorable tale. Hat's off and a bow to you, Dreamflower, for writing one of my very favorite hobbit fan fics.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 10

"Trotter" was the nickname originally given by the Master to the Ranger who would lead Bilbo's heir, carrying the Ring, from Bree to Rivendell--except this Trotter would be a Hobbit who wore wooden shoes on his feet to protect them after having been tortured extensively by Sauron. Here Dreamflower has taken the kernel of the story of the original Peregrin Took and given it instead to quite a different Took wanderer, one known basically only from the Took Family Tree. The manner in which Hildifons Took leaves the Shire and becomes a Ranger, identifying himself thoroughly with the Rangers of Eriador, and why he chose never to return to the Shire and the Great Smials and all, is so well told and so plausible! And we see the discovery of Hildifons's journal by Bilbo in the libraries of Rivendell and his acceptance of what happened and a good deal of the reason as to why he was so well accepted by Elrond and his people. Very plausible and so in keeping with what we know of the natures of the various folk we see represented in both this story and the original. Dreamflower had created a wonderful tale here to explain the disappearance of this one son of the Old Took. Definitely a story for those who can't get enough about all the Hobbits of the Shire!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 10

I smiled when I first saw the title of this masterpiece. Trust Dreamflower to capitalize on Tolkien's early writings when Aragorn was a Ranger-hobbit. But Dreamflower does much, much more than that. She gives life to this early incarnation, making him a full-fledged character in his own right, and then she places him amongst the Rangers, giving them culture, history, tradition, and personality. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Arador. It's good to know that Aragorn, in bearing the name Longshanks, carries something of his grandfather. And I love the little glimpses of other familiar faces, such as Dirhael and Ivorwen. Arathorn was also a fantastic character to meet, and it's so rare that an author tackles the young version of him before he wed Gilraen. Dreamflower does a brilliant job, creating an entire world for the Rangers and allowing that world to unfold slowly as Trotter becomes more and more acquainted with them. But far and away my favorite part of this story was simply getting to know Hildefrons Took and watching as he became Trotter. Couching this story as a diary that Bilbo reads is a great parallel to the LotR series itself (which uses the conceit of having been written by Bilbo and Frodo). And Trotter's own story is something of a parallel. There is such character growth throughout, and it seems to show primarily in his interactions with Gandalf, who doesn't withhold judgment on Trotter's actions the way the Rangers do. His words and counsel to Trotter, at times kindly and at times stern, are characterizing strokes that let the reader know how far Trotter has come. All in all, a fantastic and wonderful journey that makes the most of Tolkien's early writings.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 8

A wonderful tale of a lost sprig of the Took family tree. Dreamflower takes Tolkien's early version of Strider, the hobbit Ranger called Trotter and combines his tantalizing but brief existence with the real but unknown existence of Hildifons Took, the son of the Old Took who went off adventuring and never came home. Dreamflower gives us the tale of Hildifons' life from the events that drives him to leave the Shire to his retirement in Rivendell, where, later, his diaries are discovered by his nephew Bilbo. We see Hildifons meet and join a pack of Rangers that includes two of Aragorn's ancestors; and Hildifons' adventures as the Ranger called Trotter. The story winds its way through the self-exiled hobbit's life, covering his joys and sorrows, never losing the uniqueness of this very unconventional hobbit. Gandalf, Elladan and Elrohir, Bilbo, and Arathorn make appearances; in fact Trotter's friendship with Arathorn from the Dunadan's childhood until his death is excellently told. A real treat, even for those who don't always read hobbit stories.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 8

What a wonderfully creative idea to combine ideas of early drafts of LotR with one tantalising footnote in a family tree to craft such a complex, compelling and thoroughly enjoyable stoy. Hildifons was an interesting character, with bits and pieces that reminded me of several of his more famous relatives - it was fun to puzzle out which of them would be the best "fit" in some of these glimpses. It was nice to see some of the familiar locations from a new perspective, but also make different turns to explore new ground. The same is true for some of the characters we mainly know as ancestors of familiar characters. The story moves along at a brisk clip, which helped to "gobble it up", although I sometimes wished it had lingered a bit in certain scenes the better to relish them. I'm ususally not that fond of interludes and the like, but I thought in this case they provided some interesting additional facets to the story. It also felt like a dialogue between Bilbo and his uncle, which was a nice touch. And the last chapter was indeed a very touching closing of the circle.

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 7

I liked this story a lot - well-written, consistent, and an engaging gapfiller about Trotter the Hobbit Ranger who mesmerized me so much reading the early drafts of The Lord of the Rings. Of course he would have to be a Took to go off on an adventure of his own - and you did a great job at having that Tookishness shine through every now and then, as well as the more general Hobbit characteristics that emerged throughout the story. The solution to Trotter's wooden shoes makes perfect sense - I always wondered how and why a Hobbit would wear shoes, and you provided a good explanation for it. I loved the touches of details and cultures that you introduced into the story, even if I missed this later: The last few chapters read a little too much like a summary to me, but in total it was a fascinating adventure to follow, and the interludes went a long way to loosen up the story and provide other perspectives and reactions. Beautifully done, and a touching read overall. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Reviewed by: Nath -- Score: 7

Trotter... While I'm glad that the published books did not feature a hobbit Ranger with wooden shoes instead of the son of Arathorn, it's fascinating to read how Trotter might be integrated into the published version of the legendarium. This tale is told from the perspective of Bilbo, while he lives in Rivendell and finds an old journal detailing the life of Hildifons Took. The framework provides another layer to a tale already rich in detail, and all characters, canon and original both are well-drawn. Throughout his adventures, Hildifons grows from a lovelorn runaway into a skillful Ranger who can, despite his size, hold his own when necessary. Then disaster strikes and his Rangering career is brought to an abrupt end. Resilient as any hobbit, he lives for many years with the Dúnedain, until his health forces him to move to Rivendell. I wasn't going to do more than skim this to write my review, but found myself rereading the whole story instead - and it was a pleasure.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel -- Score: 5

Dreamflower's taken one of the discarded bits from early drafts of 'Lord of the Rings' and crafted a really intriguing story from it. In the earliest drafts, the character who came to be Strider/Aragorn was a wooden-shoe wearing hobbit called Trotter. She's written a credible backstory for this hobbit-turned-Ranger, given him believable obstacles to overcome and understandable cultural differences with his adopted people, and even come up with a wonderful explanation for why a hobbit would be wearing wooden shoes in the first place. I really enjoyed this story - re-reading it for review purposes here was a treat, and I'm certain I'll re-read again in the future!

Reviewed by: Garnet Took -- Score: 4

This was a story full of so many things that it is hard to put them into one review. It has a mystery solved as to the disappearance of one of the Old Took's children: it has the first real friendship between the Rangers and a hobbit: and also it has one cracking good adventure after another. It was so fun to wait for each chapter of the story as it was posted to see what new and exciting event would befall Trotter and his friends. Thanks for a great read, Dreamflower. You really brought all these characters to life for me.

Reviewed by: Cathleen -- Score: 3

I was pleased to get one of the first looks at an early draft of this story while on our trip to Scotmoot, and my only surprise was that Dreamflower didn't finish the story sooner. This extraordinary writer creates the most wonderful OC's ever, and I love what she has done with the canon mystery of this missing Took. A must-read tale, don't miss it!

Reviewed by: Mysterious Jedi -- Score: 3

This was an excellent story. It is good to see an "original" character so well written. Also, it is interesting to see the time when Arathorn was growing up, as I have not read a lot of stories about that. The prose is very evocative, and the descriptions make pictures in the reader's mind rather than giving every last detail.