The Robin's Tale

Author: Branwyn (Lady Branwyn)

Nominator: Linaewen

2011 Award Category: Adventure: General

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: How the least of Lord Denethor's servants came to his defense. Original characters with appearances by Denethor, Gandalf, and Faramir. Written for the "White Tree" challenge at the LiveJournal lotr_community. Many thanks to just_ann_now for beta-reading.

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Reviewed by: Linaewen  ✧  Score: 8

What a fascinating way to look at the preparations in Minas Tirith for Sauron's attack -- through the eyes of robins, hawks and other birds! I loved seeing familiar faces, settings and happenings from such a different viewpoint. It makes perfect sense that there should be birds serving the side of good Men of the West, even as evil birds like crows and crebain serve Sauron and Mordor. This is a sweet tale of a robin who is at first only interested in finding a safe and suitable place for his wife and family-to-be, but he is soon caught up in the preparations for battle. I found it quite encouraging that such a small robin, who could hardly understand what it was all about, still was willing to do what he could without needing to know all the details. Even so, I'm sure it was a relief for him to meet Mithrandir, who could actually speak his language. There is only so much you can communicate through pantomime, especially if you are only a wee robin! I trust that Willem and his lovely wife Ruby do indeed nest long in the White Tree of Gondor, and that their bird song brings joy to the hearts of those who hear it!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 7

This is an unusual and outstanding story. It takes a specially talented writer to credibly write the viewpoints of animals, and Branwyn steps up and delivers in this enchanting tale. The story does not read like a children's book; the animals are birds drawn into the conflict between Sauron and the Men of Gondor. The protagonist is the valiant Willem, who, with his mate, nests in the withered white tree and hopes for a healthy clutch of eggs. But a flock of crebain come to spy on the counsels of Mithrandir and Faramir and Denethor for Sauron; and Willem is enlisted by a hawk in Denethor's employ to help warn of of the evil crows' approach. The narrative reminds me a bit of [The Hobbit]; it has that quality of a smaller and seemingly less significant group rising up to help stem the tide of evil. Thoroughly charming! I loved Faramir's kindness to the injured hawk; and of course, Gandalf speaking to Willem the robin. Long may he nest in the White Tree indeed!

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 6

Willem and Ruby are mere robins, seeking a safe place in which to build their nest. But this season all is dark and drear, and their preferred nesting site along the Rammas Echor is too near all of the Men who labor to raise the protective walls and man the battlements. Finally they choose a site within the city, and although the tree he has found is dead and parts of it hollow, Ruby feels it is a good place as they can build within the tree and so be safe from the egg-stealing crows. But the crows who fly this high within the city are spies for evil masters, and seek to steal information rather than mere eggs. And Willem finds himself having to ally himself with the three hawks that patrol the Seventh Level of Minas Tirith to protect the realm. However, how is a simple robin to aid in the protection of Lord Denethor’s counsels? Beautifully written from the robin’s point of view!

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 6

This is one of the most unusual and delightful stories that I have read. Tolkien tells us that the crebain were on the side of the enemy in the War of the Ring, but what if birds fought on the good side too? Branwyn weaves a delightful tale of Willem, a robin who has no idea of the peril Gondor is facing, yet senses something is wrong when he decides to move his nest to the White Tree. Just like people he feels despair in the darkness sent by the Enemy. It makes perfect sense that Denethor’s hawks should be helping in the fight, but seems surprising that they should enlist Willem. The robin with his fierce song proves invaluable against the crows and gets to meet Gandalf, Denethor, and Faramir who muse that help can come from unexpected quarters. Willem must be the smallest and least expected hero, while remaining a robin. A must read and truly exceptional story.

Reviewed by: Wtiger  ✧  Score: 4

I really liked the "least becomes the greatest" aspect of this story. Granted the robin couldn't fight but he did what he was good at and that was singing and it led to a positive outcome. Having the robins nesting in the white tree is was pure genius for it shows that there is always hope. The hawk escaping from the healers made me laugh too. All in all a very cute story. I wasn't sure whether or not I was going to like it at first but by the end I loved it.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

This is an original idea, and most reasonably written from such an unusual perspective! A little reminder that unusual things can happen in Middle-Earth. This story is enjoyable and well worth reading.