Rock and Hawk

Author: Adaneth

Nominator: Gandalfs apprentice

2007 Award Category: Races: Cross-Cultural - Third Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Novel

Rating: Mature  ✧  Reason for Rating: Some scenes vividly describe the aftermath of combat, including medical procedures. It may not be graphic enough to deserve Mature, but I erred on the side of caution.

Summary: Fell things prey on the Dúnedain and Dwarves of the Ered Luin. What can one woman do?

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Reviewed by: Gandalfs apprentice  ✧  Score: 10

Adaneth's work shines in its careful adaptation of Tolkien's mythology in a vivid new interpretation. No, she is not an obnoxious canon-tweaker for its own sake--she is that rare writer who understands what Tolkien was about in the first place. He wanted to create a body of mythology that would seem as if it really descended from ancient times, with contradictions, multifarious interpretations, and new pieces stuck on from time to time. Adaneth does just that here, using Tolkien's world as a framework for a tale of her own. Yet she captures the spirit of Middle-earth far better than many a canon slave. For me, two things stand out: the wonderful development of Dwarf culture, and the use Adaneth makes of her own professional expertise as an archaeologist. The result is a rare treat of world-making. Of course it doesn't hurt that she and I share a fondness for tales of the mortal condition. I enjoy her portrait of the Northern Dunedain so much that I have borrowed bits of her tale to enrich my own tale. It speaks of Adaneth's generosity that she more than welcomes such borrowings. My only complaint about Adaneth's work is that she writes too fast for me to keep up with her as a reader. I do hope she finds her way to original fic.

Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 10

Adaneth's stories came highly recommended to me this year, and I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to immerse myself in her world. Her writing style and technique are wonderful, making the land and people flawlessly come alive in my mind, and would leave a great many published authors envious. Her characters, all OCs, are marvellously rendered and handily claimed their places in my heart almost immediately. The beautiful and wild scenery is the perfect backdrop for her people, the descriptions full without being overwhelming. I especially appreciated how she deftly appropriated Scots/Gaelic terminology and language to help set the tone, as I agree with her that ["words have their own unique flavors, which contribute to character and setting in subtle yet powerful ways."] The tension between Saelon and her people and their expectations of her; between races, with their artfully explored cultural differences; between the defenders and their unknown, preying horror - all is handled and interwoven beautifully. The development of the various threads is done with a keen eye to appropriate pacing, the dialogues are marvellous, and the attention to detail simply amazing. Finally, I am in awe of the level of research and knowledge that has been brought to bear in the creation of this work, and am thrilled that the author is continuing the saga.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

Adaneth brings to bear a wealth of research into a way of life that frankly, I can only look at from the outside and imitate. She gives a strong sense of the world her characters inhabit, and their relationship with it, which has the happy effect of placing the reader in a fictional space that immediately has its own feel, its own unique image, and a sense of solidity – of its having its own rules. Subcreation, anyone? With the sea and its nearby shore all washing around the reader's imagination, we then meet the characters, and begin to see the unfolding of a fascinating encounter not only between the sexes, but between different races. The Dwarvish point of view, shown primarily through the Dwarf Veylin in his interactions with Men and his own people, is a difficult one to write well, I find, but Adaneth does it effortlessly (or so it seems; the measure of the author's skill is that it always looks effortless when done well). One falls into the Dwarven world and discovers that it is not quite like ours, and the differences grow more pronounced as we get a better feel for the Dwarves. Saelon, our primary human touchstone, is also well-portrayed, given a strong personality against which the Dwarven characters can come up and interact. Her isolation from her own people, her independence as a woman, and especially as a woman of the Dúnedain, living in their decline, makes her quite singular and startling. Yet she fits with the sea and shore that she loves, thereby providing many opportunities for those less rooted in it to grate against her. The force that brings the Dwarves and Saelon together is a set of mysterious creatures – fiends or demons, who knows? – that no one can seem to kill, and which become progressively bolder as time goes on. This is a threat that seems a cross between the Grendel of Beowulf and the legendary Beast of Gévaudan: it dismembers what it kills, preying upon the outliers of settlements and their animals at first, taking victims without warning and often leaving no traces behind. As time wears on, they eventually attack houses, driving the people of Srethan Brethil, Saelon's original home, right onto the doorstep of her isolated sea-cave, where she is thrown into the role of Lady and liege-lord all at once. By the end of the story, the beasts still remain at large – the need for vengeance among both Men and Dwarves remains strong, but it has also become a more real possibility, due in large part to the slow growth of something like friendship between Saelon and Veylin. They do not fully understand each other, but they do respect each other and the distance between them, as well as the possibility of a more substantial set of ties. Time and another story will tell whether vengeance is claimed and a neighborly relationship achieved, and I quite look forward to it. Highly recommended reading for anyone with any interest in Tolkien's Middle-earth. Well, well done, Adaneth!

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 10

A thoroughly fascinating, captivating story, told in a language perfectly suited to its setting and the people inhabiting it, and a marvellous way to fill in some "blanks" in Middle-earth history and geography. You have managed to create a profoundly original world which is nevertheless deeply and smoothly integrated into what Tolkien gave us. The wind-swept landscape ["between the Mountains and the Sea"], harsh yet beautiful in its wildness, is created before the readers' eyes in intricate, careful detail, appealing to all senses, often enough part of the plot itself in how its bounty is put to various uses, and how the weather affects it, and all of it just as much a character as the people encountered in the narrative. The characterisations are complex, nuanced, and immediately engaging in all their diversity, in particular the two protagonists Saelon and Veylin. The Dúnedain woman is forthright and strong-minded, but behind her confident and solitary facade lie also loyalty, a caring heart, and a certain fragility. All this is recognised by her new acquaintance and unlikely friend, Veylin the Dwarf. Curious, enterprising, willing to take a chance in what the earth may yield to his skilled hands, and in this woman from another culture.

Reviewed by: Jael  ✧  Score: 7

I would never in a million years have believed that I could be so enchanted by a story that features all original characters, all the time, and nary an elf in sight, but here I am, proved wrong. Rock and Hawk (indeed, all the stories of the Dunhebaid Cyle) is simply splendid! This story is what I would call high quality historical fiction set in the world of JRR Tolkien. However, it is a novel of people and their often strange ways. A strange, solitary Dunadan woman living on the shores north of Lindon, is forced by circumstance into an odd friendship with a Dwarf and into becoming a leader of her people. Adaneth has a wonderful way with words -- each line of dialogue and exposition packs incredible meaning. And the descriptions of the land and the life these people led is utterly superb. I find myself wanting to learn more and more about Saelon and Veylin -- and the folks who surround them. Since Adaneth is on her third sequel in this wonderful cycle, I will get my chance. Jael says, check this one out!

Reviewed by: Súlriel  ✧  Score: 6

Adaneth's many special talents shine in this first novel-length installment of her epic saga of Dwarvish and Mannish cultural clashes and relationships as they, individually and together, struggle for survival. Her attention to detail at every level show the intensity of critical thought that has gone into this work. I appreciate the realism in everything from the garments and crops to weapons, plants and wildlife and even the weather patterns. The tone and flavor of her distinct writing style bring a rich and unique story to life, not just in a black and white reading print kind of way, but in a full-flavored three-dimensional living it kind of way that is hard to find no matter if you're reading online or in print.