Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Song of Summer

Author: pandemonium_213
Nominator: Rhapsody
2011 Award Category: Ficlet: Later Age Elves - First Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Ficlet
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: While visiting Imladris during the 20th year of the Fourth Age, Radagast overhears an elf-woman, who pulls weeds in the kitchen garden, singing in his Valarin mother tongue. When the wizard observes that he has heard her Song of Making, she informs him of her purpose and priorities. Inspired by a lively discussion about Lúthien on The Heretic Loremaster and ripe New Jersey tomatoes


Reviewed by: Oshun -- Score: 9

This simple little story contains so many elements that I find make up the best fanfic stories: big backstory, interesting and creative use of canon elements, and incorporation of personal experience and psychological observation. I love the idea of the wily old wizard, who we hear too little of in canon or fan fiction, sneaking up behind this clever lady that those of us who know your personal story-verse have come to love so well, while she practices her mysterious deep arts (easily interpreted as dark and/or questionable by the faint of heart) for a simple homely task. This is great stuff and has the added element of wish fulfillment. I told you when I first read it, that if I could practice those deep arts which she learned from her Dark Lord father, then I might try my hand at tomatoes on my fire escape. I further love how comfortably unrepentant she is with this particular wizard—I am sure that he must seem tame and non-threatening to her in comparison to what she has known. I also love the tow-headed baby chewing on her hair, that’s a favorite element of mine within this storyline--the brilliant lady who stills enjoys and is bound by the requirements of motherhood.

Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 8

Dear pandemonium, what a charming ficlet this is! I loved every bit of it. The cloud of butterflies that follows Radagast as well as the birds – yes, very fitting, very appropriate. Then the description of summertime in Imladris, you know, it very much reminded me of Scottish summers, lush, mild, not too hot, with enough rain to keep everything fresh and green and pleasantly beautiful. But not warm enough to ripen tomatoes, yes. One might think that a decently constructed greenhouse would suffice to amend this problem, but what bother with greenhouses if one can sing magic songs? It is certainly a less frivolous use of such powers than what you insinuate with regard to Luthien! I also really enjoyed the description of the mother and the child in the sling. Having been a baby-wearer myself, that brought back fond memories, and I cannot but approve of a mother who keeps her baby with her at all times. The final image of the story, bringing it round again to the butterflies, was quietly beautiful and very satisfying. I liked this story very much indeed.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel -- Score: 8

I really enjoyed this piece. I loved the image of Radagast being followed by butterflies and finches and the beginning - and then the way that's picked up again at the end, as Radagast is helping with the tomato harvesting. I also liked that Rivendell reminded Radagast of home. I think one of the reasons I like the image of the elven-smith Mélamírë grubbing out weeds with a baby slung on her hip so well is that I know from some of your other writings that she's still practicing her craft, so this is a strong, intelligent woman who's still using her brain and all of her skills despite having a family to care for - not someone who's let her talents and intelligence go to seed for the sake of True Love. It makes me laugh that the same song used to create Luthien's long hair and the cape made from it is used here in a different capacity - simply to contribute to the nourishment of the family. Living in a northerly climate, I certainly empathize with her problems with a short growing season! A really good read!

Reviewed by: Russandol -- Score: 8

I wish I had Mélamírë's gift. In my country of adoption I can fully relate to her need for a little Song of Making when growing vegetables that otherwise will turn up insipid. I often sigh at the memory of ripe fruit, colourful and bursting with flavour that put to shame the ones I can grow or buy. In this tale I almost tasted that tomato, and clearly pictured the vegetable patch and the lovely image of fluttering butterflies around the wizard's head. The words paint the scene with bold colours and the brightness of sunlight. Amazing how this whole story takes me back to a warm, sunny summer day, even today in a dark, miserable midwinter evening. However, my favourite part has to be the snarky comparison with Lúthien, who used her sorcery "to make her hair grow". No glorious quest here to justify the use of the powers Mélamírë inherited from her father, but Radagast is spot on when he says her priorities are right!

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel -- Score: 6

In spite of what should perhaps have been a solemn occasion, the author managed to infuse this piece with a certain amount of light-hearted mirth. Mélamírë's jaunty personality comes across clearly in this short vignette, as does Radagast's eccentricity; the presence of the infant was a nice touch, I thought, as well. I also enjoyed Mélamírë's slightly disdainful dismissal of Lúthien, the character widely considered to be Tolkien's strongest female lead, equal to or even surpassing the White Lady. When put in this perspective, the woman's opinion of Lúthien seems justified, and comic as well. On the whole, a solid, entertaining piece.

Reviewed by: elfscribe -- Score: 6

In this ficlet, Radagast comes upon an elf woman, Pandemonium’s original character Mélamírë, employing her special talents in her garden. I really admire Pandë’s ability to evoke a lush scene with few words. I can feel the hot sun; see the fluttering butterflies following Radagast; Mélamírë bent over her plants, her baby lying heavily in the sling while busily gumming her mother's hair; and the lusciously ripening tomatoes. Love the interaction between the two, especially Mélamírë’s comment about Lúthien. [“It's a matter of priorities, old man."] And I can just taste the tomatoes, indeed the [“very essence of summer.”]

Reviewed by: Rhapsody -- Score: 6

This story presents such a vivid view on Imladris and her gardens as seen through Radagast’s eyes. I love Pandemonium’s description of him, butterflies included. In the gardens he enters, he comes upon a daughter of one of the maiar and soon their discussion shifts to an ethical one: how to use their skills and the power they can wield. To hasten a crop or the length of hair… indeed that is a matter of getting priorities straight since the tomatoes can be enjoyed by everyone. Other than that, this story I love as well for the picture presented: that of a mother with a child in a sling giving it all an authentic and timeless feel. The child and mother are so much at ease, reflecting the peace of Imladris itself. What a marvellous vignette with a great last line.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 5

This is an excellent vignette that gently juxtaposes the prosaic with the powerful. Radagast, sojourning in early Fourth Age Rivendell, comes upon a friend, a female Elf, Pandemonium's original character Melamire, with her baby, singing songs while gardening. One of the songs is a Valarin song of power. The recognition that there are multiple ways to employ the power of the Valar, to grow one's hair sorcerously long like Luthien in her escape, or just to help ripen tomatoes in a cool climate, is a lovely moment. There is power and then there is power, the power of nature seen in the sensuously described tomatoes, and the power of the Song that accelerates their growth.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 4

I quite enjoyed this - slightly heretical (in a good way), but even that a nice earthy moment between an elf and a wizard, showing how they might relate to each other when great matters were not at hand. Using Radagast was really appropriate, as he seems to shine precisely when things are at their most mundane (but again, in a good way). I could see this happening quite easily.

Reviewed by: Lyra -- Score: 4

A summery story that discusses the use of magic in Middle-earth in a humorous manner. Although Radagast appears at first unimpressed when an Elf-woman uses a powerful Valarin song - one previously used by Lúthien, what's more - for something as mundane as gardening, he quickly agrees that she has got her priorities right when he tries one of her ripe, delicious tomatoes. A sweet and light-hearted piece that made me crave tomato salad - I wonder why ;)

Reviewed by: crowdaughter -- Score: 4

Interesting and lovely short story. I love the atmosphere of peace in this. And a Song of Making for that purpose is a nice little piece of sorcery that could come handy, especially in the Hidden Valley... Finally, we learn how they managed to grow enough food to feed themselves and a hungry Hobbit to boot! ;P I also love Radagast in this. Thank you for writing and sharing.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 3

["Home-grown tomatoes, home-grown tomatoes, ain't nothin' else like home-grown tomatoes"]. I think Radagast and Melemire would both agree with the sentiment from the old song. I do love seeing a bit of power used on something so delightful! This is such a sweet vignette. Melemire is an intriguing OFC, and pandemonium's Radagast is one of my favorites!