Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

A Secret Gate

Author: Elanor
Nominator: Dreamflower
2006 Award Category: Genres: Drama: Incomplete - First Place

Story Type: Incomplete : Length: Epic
Rating: PG -- Reason for Rating: While in execution this story would appear to be a G, the subject is, in the long run, Death. Further, it is unfinished, and I don't yet know what ground may be turned as I continue, so it may not be fair to the reader to blithely assure them of clear sailing in this regard. Tolkien does not include a lot of PG criteria himself, but in theme and execution I think LOTR itself is PG.
Summary: A letter from Rohan in the spring of 1484 (S.R.) foreshadows Merry and Pippin’s last journey in Middle Earth. How the elderly Thain and Master of the Hall said goodbye to the Shire forever, and who remained after their deaths to tell how the tale ended, far away in Gondor.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 10

Of all the various works-in-progress that I am following, I have to say that “A Secret Gate” is at the top of my list. Set in Merry’s and Pippin’s twilight years, the main plot revolves around the decision they make to leave the Shire once more, and return to the South. Yet there is so much more to it than that. We also see, through a series of flashbacks and memories, what their lives have been like in the intervening years since returning from the Quest with Frodo. This story contains one of the most brilliant and definitive characterizations of Meriadoc the Magnificent, Master of Buckland, that I have ever read. Merry stands forth as a hobbit every bit deserving of the nickname his people have given him. We see less of Pippin in the early chapters, yet from what I can tell, her depiction of him will eventually be just as strong. There are also a number of engaging and well-drawn OCs. I am particularly fond of young Jamie Bucket. And then we have Merry’s children, and Sam’s and Pippin’s--as well as flashback glimpses of Estella and Diamond, each of them with a strong enough personality to hold his or her own with the canon characters. Yet the other strength of this author is her power of description. Each chapter is a perfectly polished gem of almost poetical prose, and her settings have just as much personality as her people. I can’t say enough good things about this story.

Reviewed by: grey_wonderer -- Score: 10

This is the most amazing fan fiction that I have EVER read. I can honestly say that of all of the fiction on line that I have had the pleasure of reading, this one is the most vivid and the most detailed. The story is so very close in nature to Tolkien that it could easily be thought of as an extention of his work. The characters are true to their original personalities and I have enjoyed every word that this author has written. I look forward to each new chapter. This is Merry and Pippin in the later years of their lives long after the quest but this is not a sad or morbid story. Merry is a fine, strong, proud hobbit who still insists on doing for himself and Pippin still has his remarkable cheer and bright spirit. Both are surrounded by loving families and are still as close to one another as brothers. This story is filled with lovely disciptions that transport the reader in a way that makes you feel as if you are standing right next to the characters. She has constructed a wonderful story, none of which I will mention here because I think everyone should read this one and enjoy it for themselves. I must mention that there are several original characters in this, one in particular, that have captured my imagination and which I can completely see as a part of Tolkien's world. If you don't read anything else that is posted on line you should still make an effort to read this story. This is something special and it enriches fanfiction and raises the bar for everyone. This is the sort of story that I would kill to be able to write. I am happy to settle in and read each new chapter of this one. My thanks to the author for writing this and for sharing it with all of us.

Reviewed by: Marigold -- Score: 10

What an astonishingly wonderful story! It is full of rich detail, and descriptions that make the scenes appear before the reader’s eyes as though they were standing in the very places with the characters and seeing their actions and hearing their words. This piece is awesome in the strength, beauty, and content of the writing and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I especially like Pippin in this story – his characterisation and the details about his life are just wonderful, from the descriptions about his difficulties after returning from the Quest to the way he is loved, cared for, and cosseted by his family and friends, and beloved by all of the Shire. Merry fares equally as well, and there is no doubt that Buckland is proud of their Magnificent Master. I also like the way that Diamond is portrayed, as a farseeing sprite of wondrous beauty who recognises Pippin instantly as the one whom she has been waiting for, and unbeknownst to him, the one that he has been waiting for as well, to calm his being torn in two and root him to the Shire. But Diamond is gone now, and it is time for Pippin and Merry to make their final journey South. The original characters are excellent, especially young Jamy, who reminds Merry of a certain Took. Jamy’s background is richly described and I am intrigued by the riverhobbits, and would love to see more stories about them. This is a story not to be missed, complete with the added bonus of sumptuously beautiful illustrations. A masterfully written tale by a very talented author!

Reviewed by: Gryffinjack -- Score: 10

When it comes to LotR stories, the story at the very top of my list that must be read is “A Secret Gate.” This story transcends beauty and enters into an altogether different realm with its poetic prose full of rich descriptions full of emotion. The characters and scenes are so vivid that the reader feels as though they were one of the characters, seeing and feeling what they do. Reading this story is like stepping into a magical land filled with wonder, faerie magic, and an intangible special quality that leaves the reader in breathless awe. The story comes alive and is totally captivating. I for one am extremely jealous of this writer's imagination and writing talents. The story is an extremely imaginative visit with Merry and Pippin at the end of their days in the Shire and follows them as they decide to leave the Shire and their offices behind and return to Rohan first and then Gondor. This is the only story I have ever read where I can accept Merry and Pippin being old and embrace their personalities as they have developed through the many long years. However, this is not merely a story about a trip to the South. The writer artfully weaves into the fabric of this story Merry's and Pippin's memories so that we see various events from their lives, such as the moments when they first fell in love with Estella and Diamond and the special relationship each has with his respective wife. The story behind Pippin and Diamond is absolutely breathtaking and has definitely influenced my view of Diamond. All of this writers' characterisations, including her OC's, are so rich with detail that they spring to life. The reader will see them and hear their voices clearly. I am especially fond of a young hobbit named Jamy Bucket, who comes to Brandy Hall with a message for the best Meriadoc the Magnificent, Master of Buckland, that I have ever read and becomes much more than a mere messenger. The author carefully sculpts Jamy’s background and developes his story as he interacts with Merry and his family so that the reader is left wanting to see much more of this engaging young hobbit. The details about the lives of Pippin and Merry and their families are sensational, each of their children given depth and a unique voice. But it is Pippin and Diamond that truly steal my heart in this story, with the other-worldiness and mysticism that envelopes their relationship. The overwhelming brilliancy of this story is made all the more complete by the wonderful addition of illustrations that are as rich and vibrant with magic as the story itself. I cannot recommend this story highly enough and anyone who does not read this gem of a story is missing out on a really special treat.

Reviewed by: Llinos -- Score: 6

This is a well-told story that has a descriptive quality that is vivid and familiar characters that are believably written. The present and the past are woven into a complex tale that comes to life. Merry is well depicted, a strong and self-sufficient hobbit even at his great age and a superb Master beloved by his people. Pippin is portrayed as kind and gentle and a beloved Thain who is respected by all. I liked the chapter of Pippin’s first meeting with Diamond and it is easy to see how such a great love kept him content in the Shire for so long. But now that Diamond is gone, Pippin can no longer stay and Merry will not be parted from him, Éomer’s letter just adding more impetus to the inevitable. The spelling did veer from UK to US rather too much and there were a few literals that could do with attention but, on the whole, a good story.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 2

Gentle, moving style, carefully detailed (if sometimes overly ornate and with occasionally erratic structure). I liked your take on the children and the Bolger siblings.