Survival of the Fittest

Author: Erulisse

Nominator: Himring

2011 Award Category: Drabble: Character Study

Story Type: Drabble  ✧  Length: True Drabble

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: Disturbing Imagery/Themes,Violence

Summary: A true drabble for Tolkien Weekly's prompt "Fell Beasts - Wargs". What actually happens in the den to newborn wargs?(Tolkien Weekly Fell Beasts - Wargs)

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Reviewed by: Himring  ✧  Score: 10

I don't recall having read a story told from the point of view of a warg before, and I think this is a very strong piece. It is quite a brief glimpse--necessarily, as it was originally written as a drabble for Tolkien Weekly on LiveJournal as part of a series of prompts on evil creatures. The language is simple and to the point. However, these economical means match the starkness of the subject. How easy it is to turn a young animal that is still almost a puppy into a brutal fighter, if one sets about it methodically enough! How soon does the sibling becomes the enemy, if they are forced to compete against each other for mere survival! And how difficult would it be for a warg to overcome such radical early conditioning--and yet, if their nature were evil to begin with, the conditioning would not be necessary at all... Erulisse said in a response to a review that, in this ficlet, she was hoping to grasp the pain that the Dark imposes on its servants. I think she has succeeded very well in doing that. The Dark does not even appear in person in this ficlet--neither Melkor nor Sauron nor Saruman nor any named character is mentioned, nor any orc or other non-warg. The things that are done to the warg and his siblings are simply done to them and described in the passive, without mentioning an agent, as if the warg were quite incapable of realizing that in truth it is not his litter-mates but his oppressors who are his enemies and that his aggression should really be turned against them. And nevertheless--or perhaps precisely because of that--evil becomes palpable in this drabble.

Author response: I am humbled and honored by your kind words for "Survival of the Fittest". I believe that evil is something that is learned by most creatures and that the training must start as early as possible so that thoughts of things other than evil simply don't exist. Your amazing review just floored me and brought tears to my eyes. Thanks is so insufficient to offer on my part, but it is all I have. So I thank you with all my heart. - Erulisse (one L)

Reviewed by: Elleth  ✧  Score: 3

Horrifying and scarily plausible. There are many origin-of-orcs stories, but this is the first drabble I've seen exploring the origin of wargs, and the assumption that they were conditioned rather than naturally evil. Well done and thought-provoking.

Author response: I thought I had responded, but apparently had not (shame on me!). I thank you so much for your kind words and review of this story, a horrific view of the life of a warg, but nonetheless, an interesting view. If you indeed found it thought-provoking, then I am truly honored. Thank you for reading and reviewing, I appreciate it very much! - Erulisse (one L)

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 3

Brutal, but wholly believable. And I like the way that this renders the wargs wargs by training - they're forced into it by the weaponization of their hunger, which overpowers any other bonds they may have had or could have developed. A sad fate, but it makes sense of the fierceness of these creatures.

Author response: Thank you so much for your review of "Survival". I can't imagine that it is easier to grow up in the dark-side than in the light :-) These wargs prove me right. I appreciate your taking the time to read and review. - Erulisse (one L)

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

Feeling sorry for the dark creatures of Middle-earth is not a typical reaction for most of us, but the reader will feel pity after reading this tale. This drabble is harsh, accurate, and highly original in its subject matter. Read it and be impressed.

Author response: Taking the viewpoint of something inhuman in a situation of stress and death led to this rather frightening look at the conditioning of wargs under the Dark Lord. I am delighted that you recommended this drabble to others. I would say that you enjoyed the drabble, but the subject matter is not really couched for enjoyment. Thank you so much for your review. - Erulisse (one L)

Reviewed by: Adonnen Estenniel  ✧  Score: 2

A disturbingly realistic view of Wargs and their habits. I love this--the way it expands upon a species rather than a character is wonderful.

Author response: Thank you so much for your review. I suspect that nurture rather than nature is responsible for a great many of the evil characters who populate Tolkien's works. There is nothing nice in the life of a warg. - Erulisse (one L)