Pretty Good Year (Lord of the Rings series)

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Title: Pretty Good Year
Author(s): Mary Borsellino
Date(s): 2002-?
Genre(s): Hobbits, domestic AU, poly, threesome, The Lord of the Rings-era Hobbit fandom
Fandom(s): Lord of the Rings
External Links: Pretty Good Year website
banner from the 'Pretty Good Year' site

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They say you were something in those formative years
Hold onto nothing as fast as you can
Well, still, pretty good year. - Tori Amos

Pretty Good Year by Mary Borsellino "is an episodic story ... taking place during the final chapter of Return of the King and beyond.",[1] containing a positive Frodo/Sam/Rosie relationship. It was nominated in the Mithril Awards 2003, category "Best story focusing on Hobbits".[2]

Author's Discussion

In 2003, the author described her journey through the creation of the series and fandom's reactions to the storyline in her Forward to the printed version of Pretty Good Year.

"I had become acquainted with hobbits as a young child, as almost anybody who likes to read is. The only strong memory I have of my reaction is that I would no longer swim in the deep end of my grandparents' pool, for fear that Gollum would be lurking. But, when I was almost twenty, that glorious New Line movie was released. I must confess, my first reaction was a desire to write Boromir/Aragorn/Arwen, but then I went home and picked up my brother's copy of the book and began to re-visit this world that had so terrified me as a child. It was somewhere between hobbits being called good-natured rather than beautiful, and Sam's tearful reaction to the prospect of seeing Elves, that I completely forgot about the tortured angstful manly men and their fey girlfriends and instead fell madly, irrevocably, totally in love with the hobbits.

I began posting messages in my online journal that were mostly inarticulate noises of adoration and the like. And then I began posting stories - just little things, random ideas that popped into my head....

I suppose I should talk more about the readers, and the small cult that's sprung up around this story - there are t-shirts and aprons and underpants. Sections have been translated into Finnish, German, and Quenya. There are gorgeous artworks and fan-poems and stories where the characters and vampires and werewolves and soldiers in world war one (I think Tolkien and Montgomery would both be especially bemused by that particular disregard of allegorical distance) and on one memorable occasion, pirates.

But I think most of those rambling thoughts would be better suited to an introduction to a collection of these things themselves. Because it's almost a franchise now, but in the beginning Pretty Good Year was just three hobbits, a baby, and a brief bright happy ending. People were so worked-up and worried about how I was going to end it, while it was being written. Would I break the sacred order of canon, or would I destroy the small sweet family I had coaxed out of the tale? Of course, now everybody knows that I did both and neither. But before the 18th of May, 2002, when 'Bonfire night' and the two offshooting paths were posted publically, it was a huge cause for debate. People threatened, pleaded and persuaded to try to influence the ending.

They missed the point. Sometimes the happy ending isn't on the last page.

"'They all start laughing, and that makes Elanor laugh too because she likes to see them happy, and that makes them laugh even more. Everything is perfect, just for a moment. And a moment's all they need, for now.'"


"To the non-fan, or to fans of different shows, [some works] present another level/layer to be traversed, because they require competence both in the source and in a specific fan artifact, which is a (Tolkenian) sub-creation. This calls to mind Mary Borsellino’s Lord of the Ring AU, Pretty Good Year: an alternative reading to the book finale, which problematises sexuality and coupling norms, the status of women and the treatment of mental illness (pointing at yet another source in the title, the Tori Amos song). Pretty Good Year became a fandom in its own right, with other fans programmatically writing in that universe. to add yet another layer of complexity."[3]

A follow-on series (or set of loosely linked) fan fiction was written under the heading West of the Moon.

Works Inspired by Pretty Good Year

The entire series been translated into German by Cuthalion. Two more stories have been translated into other languages: Prologue into Finnish (translation by Hyel) and Winter's Road into Quenya (elvish) (translation by Gilly). Several fanartists have created illustrations for it, songs have been written, songvids edited and a shared universe of fan fiction written by other fans inspired by the series has been set up at Storytellers, a fan fiction and fan art archive.

Pretty Good Year music videos

Fan Art Inspired By The Series

Blow is a small representative sample of the extensive fan art inspired by the series. For more comprehensive galleries go here for Pretty Good Year and here for West of the Moon artwork.


fan created family tree of the characters appearing in Pretty Good Year, click three times for largest size. Artist: Hyel

Core Stories Written By Mary

External links


  1. ^ Pretty Good Year. Accessed November 9, 2008.
  2. ^ Mithril Award Winners 2003. Accessed November 9, 2008.
  3. ^ Battlestar Redactica: Visual Revision of Narrative Error comment by Mafalda Stasi, November 20, 2009.