Author: Thundera Tiger

Nominator: elliska

2011 Award Category: Horror: General

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes

Summary: There are some forests even Legolas cannot abide, and there are some caverns even Gimli cannot endure. A gapfiller featuring the Grey Company on the Paths of the Dead.

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Reviewed by: crowdaughter  ✧  Score: 10

A short story by Thundera Tiger is always a treat, and so is this one. The explanation, what exactly it is that made Gimli fear going underground at the Path of the Death, and Legolas fear and be troubles by the trees - the absence of Song, a hollowness of form without substance - is as striking as it makes sense. Equally striking is the way Thundera paints the atmosphere and let it slowly creep up on the readers in this story - a fitting treat for Halloween, and also a great addition to those scenes in Tolkien's book, giving them even more depth and substance. this is one of Thuundera Tigers great strengths as an author: not only do her stories fit wonderfully into canon, they also add to it and make it more vivid. Like this one. I also love the way both Gimli's and Legolas' perception of the Song is described here - different, but similar enough, as both can feel and hear the Song (Legolas mostly in the trees, Gimli most clearly as a chanting in the stone), while men cannot hear and feel it as clearly; and that they both can see and understand this similarity and difference about each other is foreshadowing the later deep friendship that is so much at the heart of Thundera's stories. This friendship and trust is already palpable here, for example in the way Gimli seeks Legolas' contact, trusts on his reactions to the horse, even without thinking, until he notices the Elf's trouble. But I also love the idea that the sons of Elrond, as half-elves, would both share the fears and the perception of Elves and of mortal men; and the idea how Orcs were created and why exactly their existence has to be so abhorrent to Elves. All of this gives the story an even deeper, almost philosophical note. Excellent work! Applause!

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 7

Dear Thundera Tiger, you have managed wonderfully here to give much needed depth and texture to a passage in Lord of the Rings that remains a little too vague in the original: Legolas and Gimli dread the mountain, but why? The prospect of ghosts is hardly more terrifying than the prospect of Moria, to be sure? Why fear them so much? Tolkien leaves it as a mysterious quality of the place, but you have given it a beautifully surreal and disturbing reality: The forest and the mountain are mere empty shells without substance, like holes in the very fabric of the world. They are like the seeds of utter destruction, the end of all of Arda. They are hollow, they are like portals into a non-world, into a state of not-being, never-having been and never-going-to-be. This would indeed account for the great terror felt by both elf and dwarf. This is a very convincing story that I read with increasing fascination.

Reviewed by: Erulisse  ✧  Score: 7

I am familiar with this author, but this story was new to me and a joy to read. The action before entering the door in the Dwimorberg is the work of less than a page in Lord of the Rings but the focus of this story. The Paths of the Dead, as seen through the eyes of Gimli, show a disturbing "lack". An emptiness, a sense of hollow where the Song of Creation no longer exists. Speculation follows, about the lands through which they are passing, as well as how it may be the lack of the Song that will call an end to Arda, not a battle royale. Bit parts in this tale are played by Aragorn, Elladan and Elrohir, and the Rangers play a silent presence as well, but the focus is really on Legolas and Gimli and their varying responses to the trees and stone of the entryway to the Paths. The "wrongness" of the path, the sundering, the imprisonment of souls through their oathbreaking, pervades the piece. This is a piece that will cause me some thought and that is well worth reading.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 5

This is an amazingly atmospheric look at the Dwimorberg and the Paths of the Dead. What was it that Gimli truly feared? And what did Legolas sense among the tree? I am taken by the way in which Thundera describes the emotions: of Gimli, the POV figure; of Legolas, whom he watches uneasily; of the sons of Elrond who accompany them. For each feels the essential *wrongness* of the land through which they ride, but expresses it in a different form. Gimli feels an absence of the "chant" of the bones of the earth; Legolas notices the complete absence of the Song; the Elrondion are affected both as Men *and* as Elves. A very eerie story, and yet one that will make you think, as well.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 4

This was a really interesting gapfiller for the ride to the Paths of the Dead. If anything, it made more sense than the Tolkien original - just why was Gimli so affected by the ghosts of men? I found myself fully absorbed and also not-unpleasantly terrified by the scenes playing out. Like so many of Thundersa's works, the categorizations are spot on, down to Gimli's inability to tell one son of Elrond from the other. I don't usually enjoy horror, but this tale was both chilling and engrossing - not an easy feat.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

An insightful look at the Grey Company + Elf and Dwarf as they take their fateful journey to the Paths of the Dead. Thundera Tiger pinpoints a horror felt by three races of Arda, that of utter silence, empty of the Song or, for the dwarves, the sound of the Vala-Smith's forge behind all other melodies. A masterfully written look at a trip that is scary and about to get even more scary.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 4

A truly chilling tale of silence and emptiness, perfect for a cold winter’s night. Tolkien makes the Paths of the Dead a truly scary place, which I wish he had described as it happened. Here Gimli describes the approach to that dread place and above all the silence, a silence more chilling than screams and moans of conventional ghost stories. Arda throbs to beat of the music of creation, but here there is none. Thundera Tiger shows herself a mistress of horror and suspense in this short story.

Reviewed by: Antane  ✧  Score: 3

I wanted to nominate this but someone beat me to it! To me, this is a powerful piece of what the end of the world may sound like, or more accurately not sound like, the end of the Song as the last note ceases and all is silence. Few stories stay with me these days but this one does. Glad to see it here!

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 3

This is really a fantastic piece. Thundera's descriptions of the forest, mountain, of shadows, of emptiness, of darkness, of unlight above all, are perfect. This gave me chills all the time while I was reading. Excellent story.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

This story is very descriptive, impressive, and intriguing. It is a most well-written example of how horror need not be graphic to be effective. The reader is left with a far better understanding of why the Paths of the Dead were so horrifying. A great story, especially if read just before Halloween!

Reviewed by: Liadan  ✧  Score: 2

All (Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Elladan and Elrohir) fear the Paths of the Dead for a variety of reasons and each attempts to explain it in their own way.

Reviewed by: Sandra S  ✧  Score: 1

I still shiver. Very well written.