Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Reckoning

Author: Dwimordene
Nominator: Dwimordene
2010 Award Category: Times: Post-Ring War and Beyond: Vignettes - Third Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Ficlet
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: The Enemy once weighed a pair of hobbits in his scales. Sam learns the measure of his master.


Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 10

Something that's always niggled the back corner of my mind is the way the Ring went about tempting Sam. Dwimordene manages to summarize the attempt succinctly with Frodo's statement: [“It was so inept.”] I don't know that it could be put any better than that. Of course, having stated the problem, Dwimordene then goes about and finds a solution in Gandalf's words. I love the fact that it's Sam who answers Frodo's question about why the Ring did what it did. Sam's solid, grounded characterization puts him in a unique position to understand what happened, perhaps even better than Frodo could. Tolkien himself noted that Frodo adapted to lands, people, and culture as he progressed through his journey, adjusting his speech accordingly, but Sam didn't. Sam remained Sam, and he judged his situations with hobbit sensibilities no matter where he ended up. Dwimordene capitalizes on this in providing a reason for the Sauron's (and vicariously, the Ring's) actions, because he did the same thing. He could not fathom actions beyond the scope of his own malice. It's an eerie similarity of Sam that I hadn't considered before, and it sent chills down my back. On top of throwing in some brilliant Sam characterization and a solution to a nagging problem, Dwimordene also paints Frodo in vivid albeit broken hues. He had me as worried as Sam in the beginning, and like the gardener, I couldn't quite see where he was going until he started into a more coherent explanation. I also love the sentiment that Mordor is a bad place to be stuck in and that Mordor still seems to be stuck in the hobbits. A thought-provoking vignette that thoroughly unnerved me.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale -- Score: 9

Temptation is a private country. Our objects of desire, the means by which an individual can be manipulated, are often deeply personal and not necessarily easy for another to understand. Frodo gets stuck writing his account of Shelob's lair and what followed: more specifically, he is having a hard time with Sam's experiences, baffled by how the Ring sought to tempt Sam. [“It was so inept,”] he says, puzzled by the disparity with his own experience of the Ring's manipulations...but while that may be true, rightly or wrongly, I still infer some degree of desire on Sam's part even now. Though the Ring fell shy of its mark, I suspect that it struck closer than Frodo, with his very different personality and interests, can appreciate. While Frodo may not necessarily relate to Sam's object of temptation, however, Sam can relate to his. I felt a moment's pity here on behalf of - of all things - the Ring itself. A bodiless agent that nevertheless has its own desires, I am sure that it DID want to go home…which is what finally happened, in a sense. A wonderful parting moment of insight from Sam! I could see Frodo’s crooked smile clearly in my mind.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 8

I think what I love most about this ficlet is the quiet sensibility about it, half weariness and half contentment. If I was to search for a label for this situation, I think the closest I could come is shalom, the Jewish concept usually translated a peace but that means not so much the absence of enemies but finding a sense of completenesss in their midst. (The American conception of peace, especially in today's political climate, is such a poor parallel!) But even that concept is lacking a bit, because in the end neither Frodo nor Sam is anywhere near complete enough for shalom - they've gone a bit threadbare, and it shows. Still, there is a contentment, a moment of balance, the closest they can hope to have until the deus ex machina that is Valinor enters into the tale. Frodo especially is well-drawn, the way he seems out of himself and not even in a state that can be snapped out of; and Sam's willingness to reckon with the truth. There is an almost Aristotelian courage there that I found quite appealing and (strange as it might seem) quite hobbity.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 7

It was an honor to have this story written for my birthday, and it is now an equal honor to recommend it to others. As Frodo is working on the portion of his book that deals with the events that took place while Sam carried the Ring, as It sought to tempt the gardener with the vision of Himself as the Hero of the age and the one who commanded Mordor to bloom and grow with a Word uttered through the Ring, he finds himself moved to come out and comment on the ineptness of the Ring in appreciating the motivations of the Hobbits who brought It at last to the Sammath Naur. And Sam feels emboldened to ask Frodo what It used to motivate him. Only at the very last, it appears, did It find an argument that truly touched Frodo's own heart, a most simple and basic plea to his basic nature. Well thought and written, and so true to the natures of both Frodo and Sam, the scholar of Bag End and its gardener. Lovely! And, once again, thank you, Dwim.

Reviewed by: Kara's Aunty -- Score: 5

Heartfelt and touching tale on the lingering memories of Frodo's and Sam's individual times as Ring-bearer. One would be inhuman not to feel for Frodo as he struggles to cope with the aftermath of his Quest - something made all the more poignant because we all know how his struggle ends. I love the dialogue in this ficlet, and I truly feel for both Frodo and Sam - particularly Sam, for his conversation with Frodo can only compund the fact that there are some demons the faithful gardener simply can't help his master fight. Very good work, Dwimordene.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 4

["“It was so inept.” ] Frodo, speaking to Sam, about the Ring's attempt to suborn him after Sam had taken it, when he thought his master dead. A hard thing to think about and to remember, but Frodo is right. The Ring offered Sam nothing that he really wanted, and by the time it began to realize, it was too late. But Sam's question to Frodo, and Frodo's answer was heart-breaking. Indeed, at the end it appealed to the one part of him that could answer it. And yet, if that indeed is what it tempted him by, then it got its wish in a way... A very insightful conversation.

Reviewed by: Antane -- Score: 3

What a terrible place to get writer's block! But wonderful of Sam to still want to be there with his beloved master to help him through it and try to understand. I have wondered what exactly was the temptation the Ring tried to seduce Frodo with. The Ring got its wish but Frodo did not get his.