Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

A Time of Harvest, September 22nd, 1915

Author: Elen Kortirion
Nominator: Elen Kortirion
2009 Award Category: Times: Modern Times - First Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Short Story
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: 2nd Lieutenant JRR Tolkien meets a stranger in the woods of Warwick, someone with a rare tale to tell.

Reviewed by: annmarwalk -- Score: 10

This is a gorgeous story, and a unique twist to the AU genre. Elen Kortiron has deftly combined local history, biography, elements of Tolkien's world, and her own impressive body of work to produce a tale that's quite feasible, actually. Who's to say that Tolkien did not begin to envision his world under circumstances just as are described here? One of the elements of Kortirion's rich writing, which always delights me particulary, are her rich descriptive skills. In this story, she has the rare opportunity to describe the city and countryside surrounding her own home, Warwickshire. It's very easy to imagine John Tolkien's feeling of "coming home" to the woods, moving from the hustle and bustle of wartime Warwick to the peace and solitude his soul craves for recovery. In a dream - or perhaps not ?- Tolkien encounters a stranger who shares with him a rich history, a mythology that the young scholar-to-be will take to heart. And for that stranger - here Kortirion's incomparably vivid storytelling shines once again. Clothing, boots, the timbre of his voice, the beauty of his hands, the astonishing revelation of his hair - this has got to be one of the most spellbinding character introductions ever! As a trusted beta reader, I know exactly who Caleb is, but won't spoil the surprise - if you want to find out, you'll have to read ["Prince of Horses, Lord of Stone"], currently posted at HASA. The whole story is dreamlike, enchanting, but with a wistful plausibility that The Professor himself would applaud. Well done!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 8

A standout Modern Times Tolkien tale. I have read a number of fanfiction stories featuring JRRT interacting with surviving Elves in the 20th century; it's a fascinating fanfiction subgenre. Here, Elen Kortirion outdoes herself; in a richly detailed tale of young Lieutenant Tolkien on furlough, hiking through the forest and meeting the last of the Peredhil. The scenery is described beautifully, and the intersection of this natural landscape with a landscape of hidden and ancient wonders forms the heart of the story. The meeting between Tolkien and the mysterious Caleb Green is also a classic tale of a Man enmeshed in Faerie; and we know from Tolkien's own writings that he always yearned for the elven-lands unreachable for mortals. Tolkien's parting gift from the Elf reprises the notion of perilous fairy gifts; since the gift is both wondrous beyond belief, giving Tolkien joy and inspiration, and perhaps perilous, reinforcing longings that can never be quenched. A brilliant story; one of Elen Kortirion's best. And I loved the elf's toast that's not quite to the Green Man....

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 7

This was a lovely read. I am very fond of stories featuring the Professor himself, the observations you had him make rang true and beautiful, especially with his focus on the trees, the environment, and Edith. You featured my favourite poem in the story, which was also a big plus and very much helped set the mood as transition into the more dreamlike part of the tale. Celebmir really shines, though I had initially expected someone else, one of the Galadhrim featured in the Lord of the Rings, perhaps, but you fleshed him out believeably from his first appearance, so that his being OC is not a drawback at all. The tale-telling and return to the real world were also masterfully done. It reminded me of the Fellowship's stay in Lothlorien as well as the real-world myth of fairy rings and the differing passage of time in the Otherworld (the latter probably serving as a model for the former). And the Red Book, of course! It made me smile. A lovely story, thank you.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 7

Very vivid, sprawling and, well... "immediate" scene setting, regarding both time and place. The descriptions are detailed, painting a complex, nitty-gritty picture. The contrast between the contraptions of modern life on the one hand; and the natural world, the trees, the fields and the untouched blue sky on the other, are very effective and contribute to the somewhat jittery yet also whimsy mood of the story. I've never been to Warwickshire, but the descriptions of the landscape and the local history & architecture ring as well researched. I like the minute focus on all those little outer details, mirroring the twists and turns Tolkien's thoughts are taking as he takes in and enjoys his surroundings. The transition from the "real" world to the fairy world (somewhat paralleling the transition between town and natural forest) is marvellous in its subtlety and smoothness. And his awakening reminded me of all those tales of straying into the Otherworld and losing track of memory and time.

Reviewed by: Fiondil -- Score: 6

There are many legends of mortals straying into Faerie, seemingly for only a few hours to find that days or even years have passed when they return to their own world. Elen uses that same motif here in this tale of a young 2nd Lieutenant Tolkien who, while visiting Edith in Warwick, decides to spend some time in the woods belonging to the Earl. There he meets a stranger who calls himself Caleb Green. What follows is an imaginative “what if”, giving us one possibility of how Tolkien came to write about Middle-earth. Elen has a superb sense of place, and the descriptions of the landscape and of Warwick and its surroundings are very detailed, so one can actually see what Tolkien himself sees. A good read and highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Dreamdeer -- Score: 5

A charming story, an engaging story, that pulled me in by degrees, making me feel very much present in the setting that it depicted. It cast a kind of spell. Although somewhat predictable, it unfolded the story that my heart wanted to predict, and that is not always a bad thing. The virtue of how Elen Kortirion told the story outweighed any minor flaws. I could listen to the music of her words all day. And the images she evoked will stay in my mind for a long while. I wanted to be in that story, sitting on the log with that character. The story left me feeling satisfied and even somewhat enriched. And it's a darn sight better than many offerings I've read these past few days. May new readers enjoy this work as much as I have.

Reviewed by: Celeritas -- Score: 5

The power of this story lies not so much in the idea (Tolkien meets an Elf has been done /so/ often!) as in its execution. Most authors shy away from writing Tolkien as a character with good reason, but Elen Kortirion takes the reader into the life of an Englishman-turned-soldier that this really, really, /really/ works. The Warwickshire countryside is beautifully described. I would like to fact check this entire story—not because I think the facts are wrong (and if they happen to be, they’re still beautiful), but because I think I would learn so much more along the way.

Reviewed by: curiouswombat -- Score: 5

Another loved story almost not reviewed! This telling of the tale of a young 2nd Lieutenant John Tolkien, recovering from injury, meeting with the stranger in the woodland is beautiful - the mixture of the hauntingly different and the prosaic is spot on. Kortirion has a masterful way with words - she can twist at the heart and bring tears on occasions - but this is, despite the date when it is set, in the early years of WW1, a more gentle tale - one in which every word is 'the right word in the right place'. Having, since, read Kortirion's 'Prince of Horses, Lord of Stone' I understand better just who it is that our young hero meets in the wood - which has given me an extra layer of meaning as I re-read.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 4

I have to confess, I have a real weakness for stories which JRRT himself figures as a character. His encounter with this mysterious stranger while he is on fulough from WWI is very well researched, and the author makes it seem wholly plausible. I enjoyed this a good deal. The atmosphere is both realistic and folkloric at the same time. And the wonder JRRT has at the end of the encounter echoes the wonder that permeates his work.

Reviewed by: KyMahalei -- Score: 4

It is hard to find a story about Tolkien's "discovering" the real Middle Earth without reading silliness. This story not only has an authentic ring to it, it also has a poignant twist that leaves the story lingering in the reader's mind long after the text is put away. The attention to detail in this story is remarkable. Through carefully worded prose, Elen creates a setting that is tangible and totally believable. This is an extreemly well done story. Good job, Elen. I hope to read more of your work in the future.

Reviewed by: harrowcatliz -- Score: 4

I found this story browsing through all nominations and I am so glad that I did. There are far too few stories featuring Tolkien himself and this is a gem. As someone who was born within sight of those 'woods' I am full of admiration for the author's descriptive powers. Many are the times when the tower of St. Mary's has welcomed me home too. This story made me quite homesick.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 4

What a meeting between Tolkien and perhaps a descendant of Celeborn and Elrond and perhaps Legolas as well, considering the carrying of the white knife. And to think that in such an encounter the stories of the creation of Arda and the histories of its folk were passed on for our own edification, and that he might have been gifted with one of the true copies of the Red Book of Westmarch! How truly wonderful! I suspect Tolkien himself would have loved to spend two days so entertained! Thanks so for this one!