Along Came A Spider

Author: Aeärwen

Nominator: Hallbera

2010 Award Category: Genres: Character Study: The Silmarillion - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Medium Length

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Few have not heard of her, but hardly any know her true story.

Read the Story

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

How many writers would consider crafting a beautifully narrated story that addresses fate, purpose, self-determination, light, dark, balance, destruction, and creation all from the point of view of a giant spider? And how many writers would be able to pull it off? Aeärwen gives it a shot in this story, and she carries it off with flying colors. Ungoliant, as she would later come to be called (I love the idea that Eru didn't give her a name), is the perfect choice to hold this story's perspective. She serves as a counterpoint to the Others, and as is so often the case, the counterpoint is misunderstood and ignored. Her ability to empathize with both Melkor and the Valar (at least in the beginning) is unique and provides a fascinating look at the way in which Arda unfolds. Her estrangement with the Valar and her realization of betrayal from Melkor continue to make her unique, and where she once empathized, now she seems to equally despise both sides. I enjoyed watching the familiar events of the Silmarillion from such an unusual perspective, and I loved her exchanges with Melkor, particularly the latter ones. Melkor's raging decree that ["it is time that the Others - and the Children - discover that they cannot have their way at every turn!"] has all the irony it needs to expose his designs. Ungoliant's own desires and her progression from one who destroys to one who hungers and creates was told with chilling realism. One of the most fascinating character studies I've ever read. Well done!

Reviewed by: Ignoble Bard  ✧  Score: 9

Illuvatar sets a daunting task for Ungoliant in this ingenious, provocative story that chronicles the history of one of Melkor’s most despicable minions. Aearwen takes us into the mind of this Ainur with no name who, through seeking to fulfill Illuvatar’s charge, is shunned, becomes resentful, is manipulated and betrayed by Melkor, but is ultimately redeemed by her choices. It’s an unusual feat when a writer can engender in a reader sympathy and understanding for a creature who feeds upon light itself, aiding Melkor in the destruction of the two trees. Yet this reader could not help but be moved by Ungoliant’s plight, her dedication to her purpose, and the pain of her isolaton. Tolkien’s mythology is fully alive here and I liked the descriptions of the music, of Ungoliant’s choice of form, of her slow descent into corruption. I also liked that, in the end, she did not allow either the Valar or Melkor to define her true nature, and that her personal suffering achieved a higher purpose. It is difficult to write a villain well, avoiding cliché and giving the character depth. Aearwen manages it beautifully in this story.

Reviewed by: Jael  ✧  Score: 6

I don't think I have ever seen a story that was written from the point of view of Ungoliant before. That is what makes this journey from light into darkness and then back into the light so very interesting. She does the difficult task appointed to her by Iluvatar and is first misunderstood, then hated for it. She loves, and is loved and then reviled for the changesw wrought upon her by her cooperation with her lover. We see the slow slip from, if not good intentions, her obedience to Eru, into bitterness and misery. Meanwhile, the early history of Arda plays itself out through her limited perceptions. And then . . . let me just say this was not the end I expected. Good job for taking on a very difficult subject and giving us such a thought-provoking story

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 5

In reading this story, it is important to remember that in many cultures light and dark are seen as the two sides to the single coin: Shiva and Kali are the Indian deities, male and female, both of creation and destruction; and yin and yang are both seen at the same time. Iluvatar stated that nothing was sung in the Great Music without His acquiescence, and all serves only to greater highlight His intent in the end. So, how do such as Melkor and Ungoliant fit in with the Great Music? Is their devotion to darkness and self-absorption a sign of their degeneracy or merely the manner in which they see to it that Eru's Will for their beings is expressed? Most interesting view of the history of Ungoliant, I must say.

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel  ✧  Score: 4

In this tale, Aearwen take one of the creepiest villains in Tolkien's work and fleshes her out. She's made Ungoliant into something other than yet one more evil villain trying to get one over on the other villains - she's made her into a somewhat sympathetic character, something I wouldn't have thought possible, let alone plausible, before reading this story. Her motives are explained in a way that have me understanding her. A superb read.

Reviewed by: crowdaughter  ✧  Score: 4

This is a stunning and most unusual view at Ungoliant and her lot, and a very interesting view at her fate and purpose in the world Eru created. Was Ungoliant a creature not of Eru's making? Was she corrupted? Or did she fulfill a purpose? These questions are tackled in this story in a stunning and breathtaking way, and in the end, the reader is astonished about the amount of sympathy and empathy that incarnation of all spiders can elicit and command. Very, very, very well done!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 3

Aearwen tackles one of the biggest of Tolkien's "Big Bad"s in this thought-provoking story. An ambitious tale that weaves a tangled and curious web, if one can be permitted this metaphor for this character, through the cosmogony and mythic landscapes of varied eras of Arda through the First Age and perhaps beyond. Good characterization of Melkor, too....

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 2

A fascinating account of the origins of Ungoliant, why she was who she was, and why she did what she did.