2007 Award Category: Times: Mid Third Age: 2851 - 3017 TA - Second Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: General ✧ Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: An elf, a man, a wizard - met by chance in a forest under threat - grow, perhaps, to have a better understanding of their allies.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 10
Every so often, the essentially anonymous character game works well it gives you just enough information to anchor the perspective, and denies you the rest, forcing you to fill out the words and actions of the character with general ideas, suspicions, hints hoping that perhaps at the end there will be a name revealed, and all the guesswork you've invested in trying to tie the story and the nameless character to an actual name or event will be vindicated. Bodkin doesn't go in for vindication, not for her Ranger or for her elven patrol leader: they remain merely "Ranger" and "patrol leader," although one could fill in a couple of names and there would be nothing in the books to contradict the guesses. But part of the reason one would want to do this is that these two nameless characters, dutifully about their business and slightly irritated when said business intersects with someone else's, are well-drawn. They have their own personalities, and the reader wants them to have names. The bit about the message being 'in' the Ranger's head was a classic bit of literalism trumping the figurative and made for a good laugh over the elf's hopes of learning its contents. Neat trick, that! Readers who enjoy Rangers, Elves, Mirkwood, or a well- (if briefly) written Radagast, should take a look at this story. Good job, Bodkin!
Reviewed by: Elena Tiriel ✧ Score: 8
(Possible spoilers within:) This is the tale of an unidentified Dunadan of the North who barely evades a rabble of Orcs who wound his leg and kill his horse, hooks up involuntarily with a patrol of Mirkwood Elves, and delivers a message from Gandalf to Radagast. It is decidedly entertaining! At the beginning, the Ranger is up a tree, injured, out of arrows, with a bunch of Orcs lurking below him and a poisonous caterpillar inching its way towards him. The Orcs leave, but an Elven patrol arrives and surprises him asleep. They are unhappy that he laid a false trail for the Orcs, inadvertently leading towards an Elven settlement. This prickly Ranger and these prickly wild Elves do not know or like each other, but they slowly begin to learn about each other. What I liked most were the observations that there was much in common between them, like a distaste for paperwork and an annoyance at Gandalf's more coercive habits. There was clearly a growing respect between them, and I was a bit sad that they probably would never meet again. A meaty and satisfying vignette... well done!
Reviewed by: Dreamflower ✧ Score: 6
A fairly simple story: an unnamed injured Dunadan falls in with a patrol of Elves in Mirkwood, as he takes a mysterious message from Mithrandir to Rhadagast. Yet it is not really all that simple--there are all sorts of lovely cross-currents and hints for the astute reader to make guesses scattered delightfully through the narrative, like Easter Eggs. We never actually learn who the Ranger is, nor the Elves for that matter. But we get to see them interacting, and it is a study in cross-cultural relations. The Ranger is able to appreciate *these* Elves in a way he has not appreciated Elves he has known before. And the leader of the Elven party learns to have a bit more respect for Men. Very skillfully written, and very enjoyable to read!
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 5
Ah--when like calls to like! When a Dunedan warrior is pursued into an Elven forest near the valley of the Anduin by fifteen orcs, to find himself being aided by an unfamiliar Elf with a marked suspicion of Men was not what he'd expected. These Elves are warriors born and bred, and very efficient at their work. But Halbarad is not at liberty (much less able) to share the message Gandalf has sent via him to Radagast as he once again "borrows" Aragorn for some purposes of his own, and the Elf shares his frustration at what appears to be more machination by wizards. A superb story, well told; engaging and drawing one into the forest and the company of supercilious Elves.
Reviewed by: NeumeIndil ✧ Score: 4
Ooh, a Radagast story! The Dunadan grew on me quickly, and I was most impressed with his ability to win over the elvin captain without ever humbling himself more than necessary. At several points I laughed aloud at the dialogue, which flows very naturally. My beta-reader's eye caught a typo ["I picked up my escort no more thaT a day or two after parting from Mithrandir and my captain."] and there was a bit of pronoun over use as the first word in the sentence, but aside from the latter being a common error of my own, it fits with the speaker voice, making it an understandable decision.
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 4
This was really nice work. I love stories where we only figure out peoples' identities slowly, when they're done well, and this definitely qualifies. You also do a good job of developing the tensions between men and elves. It reminded me somehow of the Battle of the Five Armies, where the so-called "good guys" would have been at each others' throats if the baddies hadn't shown up.
Reviewed by: Jay of Lasgalen ✧ Score: 4
You have some wonderful characters here, even though they're unnamed. The man - Isildur's heir, since he hails from Imladris and knows Elrond's sons so well; but he's not Aragorn or Halbarad. The elf captain - wonderful leadership, and I like the interaction with his patrol. And his brother receives the reports? There's the guardian as well. Wonderful characterisations, Bodkin. I love this tale.
Reviewed by: Imhiriel ✧ Score: 4
Effective storytelling, where the smallest and most innocuous details, like a small caterpillar or an itching calf, increase tension and peril. Switching between the PoV of the Ranger and that of the Elf is also an effective technique. Good characterisation despite the anonymity of the protagonists (although I have a good guess just who at least the Ranger is). I like the wry, resigned tone of the Ranger's thoughts despite the danger he is in. Believable rendition of Radagast and his home.
Reviewed by: obsidianj ✧ Score: 3
It is unusual to have the main protagonists remain nameless. But here it works to emphasize the qualities of the Dunedain in general and of a typical elven warrior patrol. We never find out who the man and the elven patrol leader are, but they show some very familiar characteristics of both groups.
Reviewed by: Marigold ✧ Score: 3
I liked the anonymous and yet familar man and elf - the fact that we don't know exactly who they are and yet understand the events that they are caught up in really struck me. In addition to the characters that we know, so many unnamed others played a part in the struggle against Sauron and I enjoyed this nod to them.
Reviewed by: Linda hoyland ✧ Score: 3
I enjoyed this look at what it is like for the unknown people fighting againts Sauron,beautifully written as is all this writer's work.A wounded young Ranger on the run from Orcs is helped by an Elf. The fact the characters are not named adds to the delightful aura of this story.