Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Not all the birds are to be trusted

Author: Altariel
Nominator: Raksha the Demon
2009 Award Category: Times: Ring War: Drabbles - Second Place

Story Type: Drabble : Length: True Drabble
Rating: General -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Drabble Why not give the Ring to Gwaihir?


Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 7

Wow - Albert Hitchcock meets Lord of the Rings, in this alternate universe offering from Altariel. Altariel takes a reasonable, often thought-of solution by the Council of Elrond that might have brought the Ring to Mt. Doom far faster than the canon hobbit delivery; and then shows the readers how it all could have gone horribly wrong. Size and really big wings isn't everything, as the unfortunate Gwaihir finds out. An increasingly scary atmosphere builds and prevails. The phrase [First the grey mist feathered out from the East] is particularly, ominously, apt. The language of the drabble is often Tolkienesque, adding to the credibility of the ficlet. The flow and pacing of the drabble are marvelous, everything moving together as it should - this is something I find hard to do in drabbles, but good drabblists like Altariel accomplish it seemingly easily. A subtle and downright shivery alternate universe drabble from one of the fandom's most accomplished writers.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 7

Drabbling takes unique advantage of Altariel's uncanny ability to take a few ideas and hone them into extraordinarily compact, punchy and poetic turns of phrase. Alternate Universe stories have their own unique challenges, mostly in setting the scene in such a way that the departure is not questioned, can be assumed upon reading by the reader. The more unusual the departure, or the more complicated, the harder that can be to pull off. This is an AU I'd never even thought of before, and it's a fairly big change. But in one hundred words, Altariel makes us believe it, and the mood she evokes is fantastic. The air and its inhumanity - even if we should have a less anthropomorphic term given that the viewpoint is Gwaihir's - is well-drawn, and the ominousness of the title plays out nicely. The sky is haunted by malicious eyes, and we are forced to remember that not all of Sauron's servants are human. If you like AUs and want an unusual perspective, as well as elegant prose, give this drabble a read!

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 7

I've seen this possibility (ie: Why didn't the Eagles just fly them all there?) parroted about on message boards, videos, chat rooms, etc. And there are all sorts of reasons as to why the Eagles couldn't have been involved, but this is the first time I've seen a truly compelling and horrifying vision of what could have happened if the Eagles had been given charge of the Ring. There are places to hide and sanctuaries to be found on the ground, but Altariel makes very clear the fact that there are few places to hide in the sky. Too big. Too open. The imagery of ["inhuman eyes"] that are ["bright and ever-watchful"] is chilling. And I love the way that Altariel builds the progression of birds. I especially liked the imagery of the first hazy group that ["feathered"] out, kind of like the high cirrus clouds that sometimes precede a storm. And that's exactly where Altariel takes this drabble. In the end, the drable culminates in a storm of birds that is more than capable of patrolling the skies against any that the Wise might think to send. A very eerie and thought-provoking drabble.

Reviewed by: Elleth -- Score: 5

The vision you evoke here is completely terrifying. If Hitchcock's birds were bad, this is an apocalyptic scenario that I don't ever want to witness. Beside the word choices that made the story extra-chilling, the best aspect of this is that it is not even an unmotivated taking of the One Ring simply for power, Gwaihir's sentience and the hardships of the journey are astoundingly expressed in so few words. So is the despair of the world of men, and I keep wondering if there is any way to counter this new threat. Thank you so much for sharing this AU drabble, I really enjoyed reading it.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 4

This is creepy, I have to admit; but really very well-told. There are a lot of longer fics in the "[x]-takes-the-ring" subgenre, but it's rare that a single drabble could work where there wasn't a strong canonical basis for that temptation. This temptation is one I never imagined before reading it, yet it was written in an utterly convincing manner. Nice work, Altariel!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 4

One of the questions frequently asked by those who are new to LOTR: why didn't the Council just give the Ring to an Eagle and have it dropped into Mt. Doom from the air? There are any number of reasons, both story-external and -internal; but this one is very telling. What if that Eagle had been tempted to take the Ring and claim it? This drabble gives a very chilling answer.

Reviewed by: stefaniab -- Score: 3

This drabble is downright scarey. It hints of a war waged on Arda from the birds in the sky, under the leadership of the eagle Gwaihir who has been corrupted absolutely by, of all things, the One Ring.

Reviewed by: Celeritas -- Score: 3

I love a good dark AU and this one accomplishes much in a surprisingly small space, leaving much—too much for comfort—to the imagination. Proof that what is easy is not always what is right; reminiscent of Hitchcock in its utter creepiness.

Reviewed by: Clodia -- Score: 3

This is an excellent AU and probably the most plausible solution to that old plot hole of why everyone’s favourite deus ex machina, the Eagles, were not employed right at the start to transport the Ring directly to its fiery end. The effect is chilling. Thank you!

Reviewed by: elliska -- Score: 3

Very cool explanation for why they could not 'just fly there on an eagle and drop it in Mount Doom' as so many jokes suggest. And a well written drabble that captures a lot in the confines of 100 words. Great job!

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 2

An all too likely Might-Have-Been, had the Ring been given to Gwaihir to bring to the Mountain. The end result is especially grievous! A fascinating drabble, this.

Reviewed by: crowdaughter -- Score: 2

Chilling and lovely AU Drabble giving a frighting answer to that old question why they made the Quest on foot and not simply on the back of the great Eagles... Very well done!

Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 2

This is an interesting and thought-provoking drabble. I particularly liked the line about guarding against the sky, impossibility thereof.