No Escape

Author: Aranel Took

Nominator: Aranel Took

2007 Award Category: Times: Mid Third Age: 2851 - 3017 TA: Drabble - Second Place

Story Type: Fixed-Length Ficlet  ✧  Length: True Drabble

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Allusion to violence.

Summary: The fall of Khazad-dûm during Balin's time. (100 words. Written for a drabble challenge, which had to use the words 'escape', 'knife', 'shadow', and 'tears'.)

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Reviewed by: Imhiriel  ✧  Score: 7

A powerful drabble, compelling and wrenching. The repetition of the phrase ["There was no escape."] increases the tension, gives the drabble a driving rhythm, and evokes the hopelessness and inevitable doom of the situation. It also reminds me of the Moria chapter in LotR, where Tolkien uses the drums heard in the deep to increase the urgency and danger the Fellowship is in. The way the characters are described makes them immediately recognisable as Dwarves, without the need to belabour the point. The emotions are conveyed in a very tangible way. What also moved me was how you indirectly included even the fate of the Dwarven men in the drabble, and how this fate was conveyed so tellingly in an absence, their voices no longer audible, whereas those of their foe (the Balrog?) is all the more present and loud. The last paragraph - together with the final ["There was no escape."], which here takes on an utterly tragic double-meaning - was delivered with flawless timing, all the more effective for being left unspoken, but seemingly seen as inevitable.

Reviewed by: Marigold  ✧  Score: 7

This was written from a marvellous though grim perspective. I was really pleased to find this drabble as the theme is one that I have been interested in for a long time; I too believe that there were dwarven women and children in Moria and wrote something from Pippin's pov in The East Gate group story that touched on the aftermath of their deaths but don't remember seeing anything else on the subject; so finding this was a pleasure despite the necessary sadness. This drabble is so much more effective being in the first person as it is. The hopelessness and terrible reality is tangible and packs a powerful punch. There really is no escape for these poor innocents and the sense of inevitability takes the reader's breath away. Knowing what the mothers' will have to do out of mercy for their children and themselves is heartbreakingly sad. A most excellent drabble, capturing the resolve of the dwarven race perfectly.

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 6

I'm a sucker for original characters. And dwarves. And especially dwarven characters. So obviously there's a lot about this drabble that appealed to me, and when I realized what exactly the author was doing I definitely smiled. Yet, I'm not sure that my personal tastes fully account for how much I liked this drabble. It's a nice gapfiller, and really gets at the dwarven spirit well. But there is also something more fundamental going on here: at a base level, it's about a mother protecting her children, and that seems to transcend every culture. It's very affective both at telling a uniquely dwarven story and a moment that could have been many different characters at different points in Middle-earth's history. Brava, Aranel!

Reviewed by: Súlriel  ✧  Score: 5

*Reader tries to gulp*. *has to pick jaw up off floor*. *successfully gulps*. umm. WOW! I know I have been somewhat out of touch, but I've only read your sweet hobbit stuff - which I enjoy, but... I honestly had to look back at the title page to be sure I had the right drabble. This is horrid and chilling; I mean that in a good way, of course. It gave me Goosebumps and tears. Wonderfully visceral, evocative and emotional. Incredible use of repetition with the 'no escape' beat. This is a prime example of how sometimes leaving scenes off stage, the 'not showing', can be stronger than what is shown and said.

Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 4

Chilling and powerful, this drabble does a superb job of capturing the demise of the Dwarves' colonization of Moria. Their combined desperation and bravery is evident, and the tension inexorably builds until we get the shock at the end: they will kill themselves, children and all, rather than allow anyone to be taken alive. Excellent descriptions and characterization of the female Dwarf, and of the sounds they hear in the distance signaling the approaching end.

Reviewed by: Llinos  ✧  Score: 4

[Spoiler Alert] I hadn't considered before that Balin would have taken females when he led the group of dwarves bent on retaking Moria but it does make sense as they planned to recolonise and took many of their folk. This was very grim and touched my heart as it would the heart of any mother. The sense of hopelessness is palpable as is the resolve and bravery of this poor dwarf woman. This drabble is certainly unlike anything else that I have ever read by this author and I thought it well done indeed!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 3

This is a vivid and poignant snapshot of the brave Dwarves on the edge of doom, about to fall to the orcs and Balrog in Khazad-dum. The tension is palpable, as is the unnamed dwarf-woman's grim resolve.

Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke  ✧  Score: 3

Hmmm ... this one is complicated. The feelings of this mother, trapped with her young ones - valliant, desperate, and brave come through clear and strong. And the ambiguity I read in the ending only heightened the tale, but I have to wonder what families were doing there then, and the wondering almost spoiled it.

Reviewed by: Tanaqui  ✧  Score: 3

In this drabble, Aranel Took has written from an extremely unusual perspective – and written from it very effectively. I love the touches of dwarven culture scattered throughout the drabble, and the repetition of phrases is very effective in building the tension within the piece. Nicely done!

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 3

If not all those who went to Khazad-dum with Balin were not males, what became of the women and children? A fascinating and all-too-plausible look at what fate might have come upon them.

Reviewed by: Inkling  ✧  Score: 3

[spoilers] A heart-breaking look at the fate of Balin's colony from an unusual perspective. The matter-of-fact treatment of female dwarves' physical appearance was very nicely done, giving a new twist to our accustomed notion of graybeards. And the use of the refrain [There was no escape] was most effective, bringing to mind Ori's haunting words in FOTR: ["We cannot get out."] Well done!

Reviewed by: Elena Tiriel  ✧  Score: 3

(Possible spoilers within:) This is a chilling drabble about the last stand of the Dwarves who had recolonized Khazad-dum under Balin's command in the Chamber of Mazarbul. Whereas we might have thought that the dwarven remains all belonged to warriors, this vignette shows that that might not be so. It is heart-breaking.