It seems the early, undeniably vicious attacks on Kirsten Gillibrand, Hillary Clinton’s controversial Senate replacement, have only made her stronger. Perhaps she has science fiction to thank for her resolve: The mother of two young kids is a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, New York magazine reports, “and her life has had a similar the-quest-is-all momentum.” Despite a shaky first 100 days—marred by flip-flops, threats from political rivals, and smear campaigns—things are looking up for the senator. In less than 90 days, she’s already raised $2.3 million for her 2010 campaign—especially impressive during a recession. President Obama personally convinced potential Democratic primary opponent Steve Israel not to challenge her. And she’s working hard to reintroduce herself to constituents: “My parents and my husband have been worried about the coverage,” says Gillibrand. “I told them, ‘Give me six months, and I will make it better.’ People meet me, they like me. I work hard.” New York Democrats may wish they'd bitten their tongues.