Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Beneath the Sickle's Swing

Author: Clodia
Nominator: Ignoble Bard
2011 Award Category: Drabble Series: General - Third Place

Story Type: Drabble : Length: Drabble Series
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes,Violence
Summary: Currently 13x100 written for tolkien_weekly challenges A WIP drabble collection about the remnants of Melkor's hosts in the ruins of Utumno during the years of Melkor's captivity, beginning with the vampire Thuringwethil.


Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 10

Dear Clodia, in this wonderful series you have managed to wrench an astonishing and wholly unexpected beauty from darkness and evil. This beauty comes from the highly polished shine of your prose, which is in fact barely prose at all and really would be better classified as poetry. And it’s hard to put my finger on how you do it. I could list and identify the whole battery of alliterations, chiasmus, repetition, contrast and metaphor, and they are all brilliantly handled, but that would not quite catch it. I think ultimately it is the musicality of the sounds and the crisp starkness of the imagery that combine to make this series such a haunting and breathtaking experience. You have captured the confused animal state of mind of such a lost spirit with chilling accuracy. The scenes, sketchy though they remain, are each defined enough to give the reader a clear sense of feelings and motivations, while time and space step back as vague and unimportant parameters. This is an exquisite achievement which once again demonstrates what an incredibly talented and skilled writer you are. I am looking forward to reading more of these vignettes and seeing the highly original way in which you use the prompts.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 10

Clodia's stories are one of my MEFA finds - I hadn't known her work before reading some of it at MEFAs, and it's always amazing. She really has a way with words: whether it's describing the icy, terrible landscape of the northern wastes after Utumno has been broken, or describing death from the perspective of a reembodied Elf trying to make a new life (literally) in the world again, her language is lyrical and poignant. That sensitivity to the play of language I think makes her a fabulous drabblist, where lyricism and pithiness are at a premium. Moreover, Clodia has an ear for the voices not only of the protagonists of Tolkien's stories, but for the antagonists. She writes heroes and villains with nuance and vivacity, and gives to each their own interests, their own humiliations and triumphs. Her portrait of Thuringwethil shows this well - from legend to a mere bat that can be dismissed as not really dangerous is a huge change. And though I've seen many people take on orcs as main characters, I found this a unique presentation of them - the Orcs are storytellers, even as the Elves are, and Clodia shows her mastery in punctuating one orc's stories in a most unexpected way to show a hope for the future that is not all that different from their Elvish forebears (well... assuming we're going with that theory). There's brutality, but although there's also a certain kind of love, it isn't overly sentimentalized into a "nice" affection. That takes skill to write, and Clodia has skill in spades. A very enjoyable, unique, and sadly unfinished (I believe) series - highly recommended!

-- Oh my, thank you so much, Dwimordene! I could echo so much of what you say here in regard to *your* work (and really must, once I find the time and energy to write some reviews), so it's wonderful to read your amazingly generous review. You're right that this set is unfinished - I originally thought I would be able to finish it before the cut-off date, but then... got distracted. (This happens far too often.) I do intend to pick it up again one day, though, when I've cleared a few other things from my list. Once again, thank you so much!

Reviewed by: Ignoble Bard -- Score: 10

Clodia may be the best fanfiction author that no one has ever heard of. Her work is not flashy or overwrought but a perfect blend of canon and character unmatched in our beloved fandom. Her stories, be they novel length epics or drabbles, are always beautifully written and crafted with the eye of a true artist. I often get the feeling when I read her stories that, were Tolkien still alive and writing, he would ask her advice on how to flesh out the universe he created. Yes, her work is that good and I’m disappointed to see there are no more reviews for this remarkable drabble series. When I read the first of this drabble series I knew I had to nominate it for these awards. Rarely does one read drabbles of such power and emotion. The imagery is stunning, the descriptions of the fall of Utumno and Thuringwethil’s plight instantly drew me in and put me at the center of the action. The terror of the ages reduced to a mere bat by hunger and the ravages of time is superb bit of storytelling and the tale of the Orcs’ origins, always harrowing to contemplate, but told here with a bold lack of sentimentality is one of the best pieces of writing I’ve seen in fandom. I can only hope that one day Clodia is recognized for her extraordinary talent and given her just due by the fans.

-- What I said before - you're the best, and you're always far too kind to me. Stop praising me, my head will burst!

Reviewed by: crowdaughter -- Score: 8

This series of drabbles, set after the fall of Angband, takes the reader with visceral power, as it is written from those who were the inhabitants. And their view is nothing but gripping, brilliantly written in Clodia's great craft, which leaves the reader with sympathy and rooting for the scattered survivor's, regretting it when they fail, as ones does in the drabbles about Thuringwethil, although the drabbles give enough hints about the identity of the would-be-prey that the reader can guess they are usually the heroes of Clodia's tales. However the most gripping drabbles are those pertaining the surviving Orcs, who are presented to the reader in a wonderful mixture of grandfather's tales of "those were the days!" and brutal reference to the pain and scarcity of their present survival. The great power of this cycle of drabbles is that it does make on sympathize with this race, while excusing or pitying them in no way at all. Great work, and one of my favorite views at Orcs as a race in fanfiction. Greatly done! I hope to read more of this!

-- Ahhh, thank you so much, Aislynn! I really should get back to this set, shouldn't I? I let it get put in one category on the basis that I should be able to finish it by November - and haven't written any drabbles since! Ooops. Kick me in January! - if I'm not writing more Sugar then...

Reviewed by: Himring -- Score: 6

Well written (well, that really goes without saying in the case of a drabble series by Clodia) and full of empathy for some of the lowlier of Morgoth's creatures who attempt to survive after the fall of Utumno. That empathy is probably a little more tongue-in-cheek in the case of Thuringwethil than in the case of the orcs. But it is somewhat of a feat to make the reader sympathize in any way with a megalomaniac vampire bat on an involuntary crash diet at all--and Clodia actually sort of manages it. The orcs (according to most accounts not volunteers to begin with) perhaps even attain a certain amount of real freedom from their conditioning, certainly they seem to develop some of the tribal structures hinted at in the Lord of the Rings, and one wonders how they would have developed if they had been left alone by Morgoth and Sauron after the Fall of Utumno...

-- Thank you so much once again! I really must get back to this series - I had been writing so many fics about Elves sitting around and being wistfully nostalgic that I thought it would be fun to write the other side doing the same, and I was right and it was fun - but then I got distracted...