Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Inspirare

Author: Ariel
Nominator: Lily
2006 Award Category: Races: Hobbits: Friendship - First Place

Story Type: Other Fiction : Length: Short Story
Rating: G -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Some gifts can break your heart.


Reviewed by: Mechtild -- Score: 10

Of the stories of yours I’ve read, Ariel, I think this is one of the best you’ve written – perhaps the very best. The subject matter is compelling, the characters beautifully and faithfully observed; the writing is tight, lean, understated – and all the more effective because of that. I thought the idea of Rosie developing a “nose” during her pregnancy – something women are known to do – and applying that heightened sense to Frodo’s malaise was a brilliant conceit. It could have backfired, making it seem as though Frodo actually stunk, but the impression I got was that what Rosie “smelled” was actually something indefinable. [“He seemed perfectly healthy”], Rosie noted … but he’s always cold, requiring a fire even through the summer. I understood the “taint” as something she intuited, more than as a scent she smelled with her physical nose. Through Rosie’s normal-person, observant, concerned POV, you portrayed Frodo vividly, and with insight. Well-mannered and courteous as ever, he was, but increasingly reserved, as if consciously holding himself apart. You use of him the words [“unobtrusive”]; [“watchful”]; he is [“present”]; he [“listens”]. They all give a sense of him not just moping around or off in a bad dream, but waiting, biding his time, calculating the “when” of his leaving, not the “whether.” He is withdrawing, she notes, already turning over his role as Master to her and Sam (long before the journey to the Havens). Even though I know it doesn’t count in the vote, I want to lift up a passage for special attention. Frodo has just spread out his baby things before Rosie (in the beautifully, heart-breakingly modest and retiring manner you have given him), telling her they are hers now, for the baby. You make clear that Rosie understands what this means. [She looked at him again and her lip trembled. Sam always said Mr. Frodo was more than just a good master, that he was the best of hobbits and had been honored by kings. She didn’t know any kings. She didn’t know what it meant to be honored by one, but she wondered what could compensate this dear, gentle soul for what he had lost. No mother or father, wife or child nor even, it seemed, life left to live.] Oh, heavens, what a paragraph! It shows just what I love about what you have done in this tale. You could have said this in twice the space, milking it for the tears, yet not squeeze one out of my eyes for all your efforts. But, said so sparely, so concisely, with the plain elegance of Rosie’s uneducated, but intelligent, clear-eyed observation, it tells all there needs to be told, and tells it superbly. *weeps again*

Reviewed by: Lily -- Score: 7

I have seldom seen Rosie so well characterised as in this story. She is caring, gentle, loving and has the well known common-sense of the hobbits. Also she has a keen eye for her surroundings and the way smell is worked into her perceptions is amazing. Frodo is still superior to her and yet she reminds me more of a friend than just someone who happens to live in the same hole. The way Frodo’s loss and his sacrifices are brought into the story of a gift which is far more than that, is unique. The death of Frodo’s parents was discussed in many ways but I never considered Rosie pondering it and I marvel every time at the description of a hidden pain, even deeper than his malady. A marvellous piece of fanfiction with Tolkien’s hobbits characterised in a way that would surely please the master.

Reviewed by: Rhapsody -- Score: 6

What a tenderly written short story. And ai, full of things I recognised, for some reason pregnant women seem to be able to pick up on a lot of things and once Rosie realised Frodo is ill, all falls on it's place. It leaves me wondering a bit about Sam, who most likely in his optimism has not noticed that Frodo is ill after carrying the ring for so long. What really caught my attention in this piece was this line: [Sam had once described what Elves were like; both old and young at the same time, gay and sad, but with a deep wisdom.] and then this one: ["They will look lovely on her. My mother would have been most pleased, I think."] This made me wonder.. how does he know it is a girl? But then at the end I read the line quoted from Tolkien's works, which made me wonder. And I re-read the story again, just as Rosie starts to perceive him as an elf. This is such a rich story with lovely descriptions and down to earth dialogue. This story was a treasure to discover.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 5

THis is a hauntingly beautiful tale. Not enough is written about the relationship of Frodo and Rosie, but as they represent in a way two different pahts that Sam could have taken (stay in Middle-earth or go immediately to Valinor), I think their relationship is a telling one. Here we see Frodo wounded but still not so much that he can't hide it any more -- from Sam, at least. The perceptiveness of Rosie, her senses augmented by the very earthy process of childbearing, become the very epitome of the beauty and strength of the Shire, and Frodo's gift to her is truly fitting.

Reviewed by: Súlriel -- Score: 4

Ariel, this is absolutely exquisite. The subtly and nuances are wonderfully done, the slow twist of the tone is especially well done with the weaving of the threads from the smells, the baby, Frodo's illness and coming back to the child. I started out, nodding and smiling, I had the same problem with smells with both my pregnancies, and ended up with goosebumps and tears in my eyes. I always enjoy your work, but you've out-done yourself with this one.

Reviewed by: Cuthalion -- Score: 4

"Inspirare" is one of the tales on fanfiction that really surprised me when I found them for the very first time. Rosie, pregnant with Elanor and overly sensitive, feels that something is amiss with the beloved master of Bag End. One day he receives a package from his relatives in Buckland, and he asks her to join him when he unpacks it - and so Rosie receives a very special gift... Wonderfully written, deeply moving and utterly convincing to boot. This tale is the reason why I always love to read a new tale by this author.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 4

Finely drawn characterisations and relationship, the emotions are subtle and restrained, but poignant. Rosie's perceptiveness and Frodo's patient endurance are wonderfully true to canon and expertly realised. Good handling of dialogue and introspection. The beautifully written narrative is quietly intense, resonant, rich in meaning. Deftly interwoven little details of description. My favourite passage: ["Your mum'd've wanted you to keep them in your family." ... He smiled slowly and nodded. "Yes."]

Reviewed by: Rose -- Score: 4

Looking at your list of nominated stories, it was hard to choose just one favorite; but I really think this might be it. It's a small piece which appears simple at first glance, and yet there's so much going on under the surface. The baby clothes are so filled with significance that it is very easy to imagine the thoughts going through Frodo's head even though the reader, sharing Rosie's point of view, is not privy to them. I've also commented in the past about the wonderfully effective mood of this story. Great job!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 3

This author has the skill of making small moments pack a wallop. When Frodo gifts an expectant Rosie with some baby clothes that his mother had made, she is hit with the painful realization of just what that gift means. Her acceptance, of both the gift and the insight it gave her, is sad but beautiful.

Reviewed by: Inkling -- Score: 3

What a delicate and nuanced little piece! And true to canon in its restraint and subtlety, with what remains unspoken as important as what is said. Frodo's tragic lack of family is a recurring theme in Ariel's stories, and this is a lovely, poignant addition to them.

Reviewed by: Bodkin -- Score: 3

Rosie has so much practical hobbit wisdom - I love her silent conspiracy with Frodo to shield Sam from the knowledge that Frodo is weakening. And I suspect her strength and bond to the natural things of life were a great support to Frodo. The sense of smell thing, too - so true!

Reviewed by: Marigold -- Score: 2

A very bittersweet story. The bit that I loved the most was when Rosie protested that the baby clothes should be kept in Frodo’s family and he answered [“Yes.”]