The Ranger and the Eagles

Author: cairistiona

Nominator: Ellynn

2011 Award Category: Cross-Cultural: The Fellowship - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Novel

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Violence

Summary: The hunt for Gollum has passed its first summer, but will it survive its first winter?

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Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 10

A well-rounded Aragorn hurt-comfort story that for once does not feature Elrond laboring to save his badly injured/wounded foster-son. This time it's Gandalf. And some friends. Some very large winged friends. And they're nowhere near Imladris, but up in a cave in the mountains in winters; so there's lots of snow and cold. Which could become cliched; but not when Cairistiona writes it. You'd be surprised at the uses of eagle plumage in the care and transport of an injured man. At least I was. When I wasn't giggling over poor Aragorn's less than stoic reaction to going airborne in an eagle's claws. Cairistiona deftly blends pathos and gentle humor to keep the story from getting maudlin. But my favorite part was the sojourn in the House of Beorn. You don't see enough of Beorn in fanfiction; and here, he still has a sense of humor and a willingness to take in unanticipated guests. The chapter where Aragorn gets both puppy therapy (awww!) and a huge shock (had to laugh again) when Beorn shows his teeth physically as well as metaphorically was my favorite. A delightful story, ideal for a reading, or rereading, on a cold winter night with the wind howling outside and oneself situated in a warm and cozy home...

Author response: Thank you, Raksha! What a lovely review! I'm so glad you enjoyed this story... it was great fun figuring out how Gandalf would manage to help an injured Aragorn and, as I hoped, a new twist on h/c (there's just not much Gandalf-as-healer out there). And Beorn! I really fell in love with him writing this. Like Gandalf, he has an endearing crotchedy-ness that's very appealing to me. You'll never find treacle when either of those two are around. :)

Reviewed by: Inzilbeth  ✧  Score: 10

Ah, I had forgotten about this one! One of the things I love about Cairistiona's fan fiction is that she doesn't shy away from the lesser known characters. This year she has written about Tom Bombadil who, it has to be said, is not a character written about that often, at least not in comparison with Aragorn. And in this long multi-chapter story, she has introduced not only Beorn who is also not the most written about of characters, but also the eagles as well. And a breeding pair at that! Furthermore, she has created a whole back story for these eagles and turned them into characters every bit as real as any of the those that go on two legs. The setting for this story is the Misty Mountains, not far from the Carrock. Once again Aragorn is injured. This time he has Gandalf to help him but the weather is closing in and things look bleak. Help is on hand in the shape of the eagles but Cairistiona decides it isn't going to be a simple matter of Aragorn climbing ontp one of their backs. Oh no, first he has to overcome his fear of flying! There is plenty of humour to balance out the angst, just as we would expect from a Cairistiona story. Two things stick in my mind particularly with this story. One is Beorn and the conversations about death that he has with Aragorn. Admittedly this is partly because we discussed this conversation for about three days at the time of writing and I wholeheartedly approve of Cairistiona's treatment of this topic. The second is the epilogue which came as a complete and wonderful surprise. The story as a whole is an absolute treasure.

Author response: Thanks, Liz! I love it when someone forgets about a story and comes back to it almost with fresh eyes! "Once again Aragorn is injured" made me giggle... I am a little hard on the man, I admit. :) Thanks for taking the time to write such a nice review of this!

Reviewed by: mirach  ✧  Score: 10

I think it is widely known that Cairistiona’s stories are a great reading for those who are looking for a good story about Aragorn, with characters faithful to the books, but revealing much more in depth. This is one of such stories, and more. I remember running out of superlatives in the reviews when the individual chapters have been posted. Not only does it have wonderful hurt/comfort and character interaction between Aragorn and Gandalf, but also totally loveable original characters – as the title of the story indicates, the Eagles. A pair of them, Durvain and Menelris, are one of the main characters in the story, and they are really well portrayed and interesting characters. Also Beorn makes an appearance... And a puppy, which might be close to an overdose of cuteness - in a good sense. (In the best sense possible, actually). The plot is full of suspense and moments when the reader can feel Aragorn’s pain so intently that his heart races like wild alternate with moments of rest and peace masterfully. AFter all this, the ending leaves him with a feeling of fulfillment. It is so emotionally intense that I didn't know if I should laugh, weep, or go out and run to cope with the beauty of the ending of this story.

Author response: Thank you, mirach! I'm very grateful you took the time to review this story here after you'd already left so many wonderful reviews for it at SoA. And I do believe this is the first time I've heard of one of my stories inspiring (or compelling!!) someone to go out and run! Fanfic as inducement for staying in shape... I'm all for it! *g* Seriously, thank you so much for the review!

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 8

This story has all an Aragorn lover who likes h/c stories want. The story shifts from Gandalf worrying about Aragorn to Aragorn having to fight his illness with the help of some unusual friends among them some eagles. I love the first line [a hatful of fire]. It invokes such a whimsical image. So very Gandalf. This line drew me right into the story. There are several lines like that in the story, I just failed to write them down. I was too engrossed in the story for that. The characterization of the canon characters is spot on, and Beorn comes across like I imagined him. I love the eagles especially Durvain. They gain a real personality here. Having an eagle as a doorstop is a picture to remember. I can understand Aragorn's confusion about Beorn's halls. The reader, if he has read The Hobbit, will be less confused than the poor Ranger. My favorite chapter is the last one, although I love the h/c stuff. I have not seen a story that explores Aragorn's emotions after he finally won the crown. And then he sees the eagles again and they give him a really kingly gift aside from the eagle down.

Author response: Thank you so much! So glad you enjoyed it down to that last chapter, and I'm especially glad you found my characterizations of canon characters spot on (especially Beorn. There's too little Beorn fic out there, in my humble opinion!) I greatly appreciate your taking time to read this and review it here!

Reviewed by: Rivergift  ✧  Score: 7

What a lovely piece! I was delighted to see it on the MEFAs, which it is entirely deserving of. Your Aragorn is a joy; he is a noble, kind, brave, stubborn Man with his flaws and his greatness, and a King hidden in the serious eyes of the Ranger. I loved the concept of childhood fears you wove into this story, irrational fears from our foolish youth do come back to haunt us sometimes, and some phobias never die! Fortunately for Aragorn, his did (after much objection). I love the eagles, who I can completely imagine as Kings and Queens of the Westernesse alongside Men! Eagle down, indeed- what a lovely gift. The epilogue was- to see Aragorn at this crowning moment of his life (no pun intended) and in a joyful reunion with Durvain and Menelris was beautiful :') Gandalf, too, is wonderful, crotchety and worried and an utterly human character, still keeping his sense of something beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. Great work, Cairistiona!

Author response: Thank you, Rivergift! Wow, such kind words... so glad you enjoyed this, and the characterizations of all. It was fun to bring them all--Ranger, wizard, Eagles, Beorn, dogs(!)--to life, and it's gratifying to know that you as a reader enjoyed my take on them. :)

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 7

I just love Aragorn hurt/comfort stories and can never get enough of them. I most enjoy stories in which Faramir of Halbarad is the comforter, but this one quickly won me over despite the absence of either. The story is set during the years of Aragorn’s hunt for Gollum with Gandalf’s help and Aragorn is badly injured in an accident. We know from Tolkien, that Gandalf, despite being such a powerful being, is oddly lacking in healing abilities and the wizard can only help Aragorn much as any skilled mortal might. Gandalf knows Aragorn cannot survive in the mountains in the cold and this where the greatest charm of this story lies when the great eagles take a hand in helping the injured Ranger and bringing him to safety. The story is filled with delightful and heart warming touches from the kindly eagles trying to calm Aragorn’s fears of flying to the vivid scenes at the house of Beorn where many surprises await Aragorn. This story is a must read for everyone who loves Aragorn.

Author response: Thank you, Linda! I'm like you in loving h/c, and I discovered, in writing this, that even though I have my preferred caregivers (like Halbarad), I can also greatly enjoy seeing more unusual ones like Gandalf lending their aid. Perhas in exploring others as caregivers, it opens my eyes to how well-loved Aragorn was by all those who knew him. So grateful for your kind review!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 7

I enjoyed reading this story so much, chapter by chapter, as it was written, awaiting each twist and turn of the plot, each new facet of the various personalities uncovered; and it has been a great pleasure to come back to review it here. Gandalf thrown into the unexpected role as a healer in the early chapters is fascinating reading - but then comes the wonderful point in the tale where we meet the eagles, who are such well written characters in themselves, followed by the discovery of poor Aragorn's fear of flying - for which I have great sympathy! The character of Beorn, when they reach his Hall, is also beautifully written - as are the conversations between him and Aragorn. And what a wonderful epilogue where Aragorn meets the eagles again - it brought me both a beaming smile and a lump in the throat. All in all this is a really well written story, showing all Cairistiona's usual flair and attention to detail - I would certainly recommend taking the time to read it - it will be time well spent.

Author response: Thank you so, curiouswombat! What a very complementary review! I'm so glad you enjoyed both the original reading of this and the revisit to review it here. It really is one of my own favorites, if nothing else than for the fun of putting Gandalf squarely into an area where he doesn't feel as capable. And that ending... I told another reviewer it was one of those ideas that made me think, "where on earth did this come from?" but I felt it closed the story well, and it's been gratifying to hear readers think so too. Thanks again!

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 5

This brilliantly-written piece is of novel length, and every detail is neatly taken care of by the end, but the reader will still feel as if it ended too soon, because it is so enjoyable to read. It is easy to forget that Aragorn's hunt for Gollum took a long time, and although ultimately successful, it was done under extremely arduous conditions. This novel covers a portion of that, and also portrays Aragorn's friendship with Gandalf at its best. Both are beautifully in-character, and Beorn and some Eagles are brought into the story as well. Dialogue is brilliant, each chapter is a jewel in itself, and the plot proceeds briskly. Easily deserving of a MEFA, this novel should not be missed.

Author response: Thank you, Darkover! I'm so glad you liked this and very thankful for the review. You make an excellent point about the hunt for Gollum... it was so long that it can really only be tackled in fanfic in individual bite-sized (or in this case, meal sized!) portions and that's what I was attempting here, just to show how one portion of that hunt might have turned sour but at the same time taught Aragorn something he had still to learn and Middle-earth. And of course, we get to learn at the same time, from the warmth and comfort of our armchairs. :)

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 4

I really love Cairistiona's stories about Aragorn (and other Dunedain, of course), and this one is another great story of hers about him. But in this story, unlike others, for the first time we meet other creatures: eagles. They are beautifully described, with very interesting and well defined personalities. As always in Cairistionas stories, there is great action, dialogues, descriptions, emotions and humor. So well done.

Author response: Thank you, Ellynn! So glad you liked this story and the Eagles... they were incredibly fun to create. I appreciate the review!

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 3

Cairistiona's The Ranger and the Eagles is a serious-minded tale with a sweeping conclusion. I very much enjoyed the author's inclusion of the Eagles in the plot, as I feel they are oftentimes overlooked and misrepresented; not so here. Altogether, a good tale to read on a stormy night.

Author response: Thank you so much for this review! I agree with you 100% about the Eagles often overlooked or misrepresented. I'm glad you enjoyed my take on them, and hope it helped you get through a stormy night. :)

Reviewed by: Fiondil  ✧  Score: 3

A winter avalanche brings injury to Aragorn and Gandalf, with the aid of a few Eagles, offer comfort and aid as they try to figure out how to help the Ranger. I loved the ending. It was just perfect.

Author response: Thanks, Fiondil! So glad you liked that ending... it was one of those "where did this idea come from??" moments for me as a writer, but I was pleased at how it concluded the story, and I'm always so grateful when readers mention how much they liked that particular part of the story.

Reviewed by: Sandra S  ✧  Score: 2

A compelling story. I liked your Gandalf and that Aragorn was able to feel such joy in the end when Durvain took him up.

Author response: Thank you, Sandra! Glad you enjoyed the story and left such a kind review!