The Edge of the Knife

Author: Dwimordene

Nominator: Marta

2008 Award Category: Genres: Alternate Universe: Other Fixed-Length Ficlets - First Place

Story Type: Fixed-Length Ficlet  ✧  Length: Fixed-Length Ficlet Series

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Death, warfare, and torment involved in some drabbles.

Summary: "Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all." What was said to the Fellowship holds equally for the man to whom the Quest owed its existence. Eight drabbles about Isildur and what might have been...(Series of true drabbles - complete.)

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Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 7

It's a bit surprising, when you think about it, how close history came to utter ruin in Tolkien's universe. That's of course true of the Fellowship, but perhaps even moreso for Isildur. Dwimordene shows masterfully the many ways that his life could have turned out worse than it ended up – and a few times, how it could have turned out better. She is well-known as a master of AU, yet for all of their doom-and-gloom these drabbles feel natural, not at all weighed down as they might have been if recorded by a less nimble pen. Of all the moments portrayed in this series, I think I most "enjoyed" (if one can even use that term) the final one. There is a nice dichotomy between the idea in Tolkien's draft that Gollum would allow himself to fall into Orodruin having possessed the Ring once more (which I actually like much more than the idea in the final draft. And the reference to Buridan's ass [] was inspired. Nicely conceived, and nicely put.

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 6

There are few stories about Numenor, and fewer who show such intricate twists on the source material. These eight drabbles about Isildur's different fates do much to define the narrow path that eventually brought him to his end in the Gladden Fields while at the same time show what might have been if he had strayed, just a little, in either direction. The threads of mortality and Sauron's power run through this like leitmotifs, and even though each has a different end they all seem entirely plausible. Personally, I very much enjoyed [Hin Húrin], not merely for the Silmarillion references, but also for the ingenious idea that one of the great stories of the First Age may repeat, if in lessened and modified form, like the other one (of Beren and Luthien) was repeated in Arwen and Aragorn.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 6

Fanfiction pieces about Numenor, and even the Second Age, are not as numerous as those of the Ages before and after them, at least it seems that way to me. Elendil the Tall and his mighty sons get comparatively short shrift. But here, an outstanding writer gives us a series of eight drabbles painting pictures of alternate branchings of Tolkien's tree, all involving Elendil and/or his sons. What would have happened if Isildur had died while saving the fruit of the tree? And what if Elendil and his sons had combined their forces with Tar-Miriel to stop Ar-Pharazon before he caused Numenor's destruction? And if Isildur and Anarion had been corrupted by Annatar's evil? Dwimordene brings these fascinating possibilities, and more, to vivid life. The series is a great read for drabble aficionados as well as people who appreciate quality fanfiction.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 6

I have to admit to being amazingly short-sighted when I first clicked on the link to read these drabbles. I expected to find drabbles about the Last Alliance, the arrival of the Faithful on the shores of Middle-earth, etc. And while these thing are here, what I did not expect to find was the prevalence of Numenor in these drabbles. Dwimordene helped me remember that AU turning points can be found not only in the end but also in the beginning. For some reason, the tragedy of Numenor feels so fated in my mind that I had trouble remembering the turning points. So I thank Dwim profusely for opening my mind to a world of possibilities. But despite the enlightenment of "un-fating" Numenor in my mind, I have to admit that my favorite drabble was the last one in which Isildur lets himself fall, too. The emotion in that segment was beautiful.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 5

The title of this drabble series is perfect for what Dwimordene presents us here of alternate scenarios. It reminds us of the precarious balance, of the many lucky incidents and fateful chances that had to come to pass to vanquish Sauron. There is also a weight to the drabbles that force us to contemplate ramifications and choices and free will, and juxtaposed or set side-by-side with the above, makes for a very thought-provoking offering. I appreciate that some version offer a (slightly more) positive alternative, and also some show that other turns might have been as dire as the canonical realities. My favourite may be "Riven": Amandil successfully reaches Aman to plead before the Valar, but what then?

Reviewed by: Isabeau of Greenlea  ✧  Score: 4

Eight scintillating AU drabbles about Isildur, a canon character whose triumphs and failures were both equally profound. Dwimordene presents a kaleidoscope of alternative Isildurs-Isildur as King of Numenor, sworn to Annatar, Isildur as Annatar's long opponent on Numenor, Isildur as a prisoner without hope in the bowels of Barad-dur, slave to the Ring, an Isildur who has the strength to cast the Ring away and several others. Each Isildur triumphs or fails as completely as does canon Isildur.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 4

Isildur's fate might have been so very different, and his life, like the fate of the world as dictated by the actions of the Fellowship does indeed stand [on the edge of a knife]. Here is a marvelous series of Might-Have-Beens had various things changed along the course of his life, from his childhood to the taking of (or failure to take) the Ring from Sauron. Well, well done series of drabbles taking one through all emotions.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 4

I have always had a soft spot for Isildur and wish more writers took notice of his heroic deeds rather than his one moment of weakness.In the society of that time,wergilt was an accepted concept and the Ring did not turn Isildur into a mad tyrant. These beautifully written drabbles explore the key moments that Tolkien tells us about in Isildur's life and capture the character brilliantly.