Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Westmarch

Author: Celeritas
Nominator: Dwimordene
2011 Award Category: Drabble: Post-Ring War - Third Place

Story Type: Drabble : Length: True Drabble
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes
Summary: 100 words Westmarch is resettled. Written for B2MEM 2011, Day 12, about the relationship between each of Middle-earth's races and nature.


Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 10

Environmental concern these days is likely consonant with Tolkien's sense that the industrial age engages in needless destruction for no good purpose, but I would guess that that concern is more acute today, and that it ties more directly the knowledge that we, as a species, are in the business of plunging headlong toward a cliff of our own construction. Celeritas takes up the destruction of unpeopled nature from the perspective of the land: from nature's point of view, all who settled and try to harness the natural rhythms of nature and exploit them - whether they are Elves or Dúnedain or other sorts of Men - are enslaving Mother earth, and who does not regret their passing. The vivid metaphor at the end shows that even Hobbits, commonly taken to be in tune with nature and harmoniously going about their lives, are violent wresters of the fruits of the earth, who had been happy to forget what it was like to be subjugated. What we get out of this is that if nature means "unpeopled" or "untapped" forces, then from that perspective, there is no difference whatsoever between careful agriculture and today's clearly rapacious Agri-Business. A well-paced, well-written drabble that unsettles the eco-friendliness of our favorite fictional peoples but also gives us something to think about when considering how we approach and define the notion of "eco-friendly" and of "nature."

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 6

I liked this true-drabble very much. The author's choice in perspective was a brilliant one, I thought, and really served to explain both the prompt and the situation very well--better, perhaps than a more "standard" narrator could have. The land's emotions were expressed with finesse and poignancy, and in such a way that brought a question to readers' minds. The style of the prose worked very well, and the author's word choice was superb. I was very impressed by the direct manner of address; the author didn't waste time (not that such a thing is possible with a drabble--the form is rather constricting, after all), got straight to the conflict, and then ended with a truly lovely statement. A wonderful, wonderful piece of writing.

Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 6

Dear Celeritas, this is an impressive drabble indeed and one that I've read with much pleasure. You evoke swiftly the image of a land with consciousness and personality which, yes, would have to be female due to the associations with fruit-bearing and fertility. The historic panorama opens up a feeling of depth as we imagine the different races passing through the consciousness of the land. I don’t know if I am reading things into it, but I also feel that the notion being subdued makes it a commentary on the condition of Woman. In any case, one would have to hope that the land will eventually come to be happy with her new situation – the hobbits, I am sure, will treat her kindly. I am used to reading your novel-length pieces, carefully developed and intricately structured, but I see that you have mastered the short format equally well.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 5

One of my favorite half-suggested possibilities in canon has always been that the Entwives found a home in the Shire. This drabble doesn't claim that, quite, but there is this sense of the land made animate and sentient that was a big part of why I found that possibility so enticing. The land is wild in its way, but not mean-hearted; this piece is more about freedom than anything, and what it means to submit to another's control. As such, it suits the Shire really well. I found it entirely believable that Buckland (if given a voice) would think just these thoughts, and equally likely that the hobbits would record them or imagine them on the land's behalf. Nicely done, Celeritas!

Reviewed by: cairistiona -- Score: 4

Fascinating glimpse of what the land itself might think of the races that walked and lived upon it. There's a nice sense here of ambiguity; we're not completely sure whether the land is happier wild or tamed, though there's a hint of which it might be. In the hands of a writer less skilled, that uncertainty would be annoying, but Celeritas merely gives us wonderful food for thought. Nicely done.

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 3

Certainly a unique perspective to write a story from. It casts very different lights on the peoples of Middle-earth and is quite a thought-provoking treatise in terms of cultivation history and animism of the real world as well.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 3

An unusual drabble. Celeritas uses the viewpoint of the earth herself, or, more correctly, the earth of Westmarch, as a focus for a comparison of the way different peoples use the earth. Very well done, with a powerful finish.

Reviewed by: Azalais -- Score: 3

Such an original perspective on the long passing of time in Middle-earth! I'm reminded of Bombadil, or of Legolas hearing the stones' song at Hollin; how would the earth Herself feel about the rise and fall of peoples and civilisations? The last line in particular is both powerful and somehow shocking.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 3

This drabble is a short and sharp reminder that even the pursuits of peacetime by even such a peaceful folk as hobbits, such as tilling the earth to bear crops, can be as much a violation of the land as violence and warfare.

Reviewed by: Tanaqui -- Score: 3

Celeritas has chosen a very unusual point of view for this drabble -– and a very illuminating one. Well-crafted, and with a nice sense of ambiguity as to how much the protagonist welcomes or approves of being ["subdued"].

Reviewed by: Darkover -- Score: 2

Original POV in this drabble, with almost sexual connotations. A little too politically-correct for my tastes, but interesting.

-- Thanks for the review, Darkover! You must have a very different idea of political correctness from me, because I rather detest PC in all its forms and certainly did not intend to write a drabble that panders to someone else's ideas of what should or should not be said. (If you wish, I can tell you right now that even if the imagined land's perspective really really enjoyed being her own mistress, she doubtless was covered with all kinds of nettles, thornbushes, and predators that genuinely made her dangerous to the people who travelled through her and eventually settled her.) The drabble was written for a prompt which asked how different races related to the land around them, and since I was focusing on hobbits for the entire month I already knew 1) what the topic was going to be (aka, which race), and 2) what everyone would therefore expect me to write. Hence the reversal of point of view and of the reader's expectation. The fact that so many people have taken the drabble as some kind of gendered postcolonialist environmentalist critique of has alternately tickled and irked me (irked mostly because I don't want people to read an entire personal philosophy out of a 100-word exercise). Rather, I just wanted to remind people that there's something lost and something gained whenever anyone implements a change: "subdued" was lifted directly from "fill the earth and subdue it" in Genesis. Personally, I think the gains in settling Westmarch offset the losses, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be aware--and shouldn't make others aware--that something was lost in the process.