Walking the Line - Book One
2009 Award Category: Genres: Adventure - Third Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Medium Length
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: Coarse language, Violence
Summary: Brandon, a seventeen-year-old boy wakes up in the woods of Imladris and is taken captive by elves. What is is fate in this new world? Will he ever get back home?
Reviewed by: Narya ✧ Score: 10
This story gripped me from the beginning. I loved the realistic reactions of the Elves to having an intruder in their forest, and it's intriguing to have a guy fall into Middle-earth for a change - it alters what the reader expects from standard Tenth Walker stories. Brandon is a distinctive character from first page onwards, strongly developed, likeable and with his own individual voice. It only gets better as you go along. The use of humour throughout is well-handled; it brings a lighter touch to the story, something a lot of Tenth Walkers lack. Cultural references to things from our world give the readers a "touch point," so to speak. Also, I find the way he is not immediately accepted in ME very realistic. His crush on Arwen is a fun subplot, and probably would happen if a guy from our world ended up in Imladris! I'm pleased he did not attend Council (it annoys me when OCs are automatically granted this privilege without doing anything to earn the trust of canon characters) and glad that the story doesn't dive into the trekking and fighting right away - callerofcrows allowed the characters breathing space, given them time to get to know each other. Speaking of which - the highlight of this fic for me is the way Brandon's relationship with Boromir develops and changes. It goes from mutual indifference, possibly even suspicion, through friendship and eventually to brotherhood. The bond between them is beautiful, believable and touching, and the characterisation of Boromir is spot-on. Callerofcrows is not afraid of the big issues - death, sacrifice etc. Her depticition of Brandon's grief over Gandalf is very moving, her handling of Boromir's death positively harrowing, and the way she has Brandon reacting to his first kill is impressive. Too many writers gloss over this aspect. Even so, I love how she keeps the humour even in the story's darkest moments, e.g. post-"death" of Gandalf. The character of Brandon continues to develop throughout; he seems much more mature and eloquent later in the story. It's fascinating for the reader to see how his ME experiences have changed him. Add to all that some beautiful descriptive passages with truly startling imagery, and you have what I consider to be the best Tenth Walker work in development today. Terrific reading. Well done, callerofcrows.
Reviewed by: Lethe ✧ Score: 10
This is an unusual approach to the much-written 'Tenth Walker in the Fellowship'. The main protagonist is male, which in itself is unusual since it is generally women who get thrown into Middle-earth. Caller of Crows is a new young author whose writing deeply impresses me. She writes of emotions with a maturity that is not often seen within her age group, and handles them exceptionally well. There is a very 'different' feel to this story, as Brandon, the protagonist, on occasion, falls asleep in Middle-earth and wakes up back home - once in a coffin. That was a claustrophobic and terrifying experience to read of and Caller of Crows certainly produced that atmosphere with great skill. (It made me gasp for breath.) Brandon's doubts, homesickness, his youth (in comparison to the other members of the Fellowship) and the fact that he is not familiar with Tolkien all contribute to an engrossing read. He does in fact, have a book with him, which he tries secretly to read to find out more about events in the future - now that is a really nice touch, because knowing them, could he change them, or is fate not to be tampered with, whatsoever he may do? I am glad to have found new authors this year, and Caller of Crows is one I intend to follow and support. She is young, but she has massive potential as a storyteller, and deserves to be read. She is one of the few who manage to follow book canon without copying from the book, but uses her own words. I noticed that and really approved, as she kept to the spirit of Tolkien but did not slavishly copy out sentences and paragraphs.
Reviewed by: obsidianj ✧ Score: 5
This is a girl-falls-into-Middle-earth story, just the girl this time is a boy, which gives the story a wholly different dynamic. I like it that the elves are not that friendly to Brandon in the beginning and have a hard time believing his story. I also love it that he switches between the two worlds and there is this ambiguity, will he stay or not. I especially liked the way his knowledge or not-knowledge of the events in Middle-earth is handled and how the little bit he glimpsed from the books colors his relationship with Boromir. A fresh look at the well-known quest of the Fellowship. I'm looking forward to reading the further adventures of Brandon.
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 5
One of the better fanfics of the Tenth Walker AU genre - CallerofCrows presents a nifty variation on the theme by having the Tenth Walker be a teenaged boy instead of a girl or young woman. Brandon McEwan is a very credibly written character; and his fears, joys and wonder at Middle-earth make for enjoyable reading. (I loved his appreciation of Arwen and disappointment that he couldn't even ask her for a date - very boyish). The sense of brotherhood built between Brandon and Boromir adds to the poignancy, especially since Brandon knows, from reading FOTR, Boromir's fate. I look forward to reading Brandon's further adventures in Middle-earth.
Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger ✧ Score: 4
One thing I really appreciated about this story was the character growth. Brandon isn't just another tenth walker. He's an interesting individual, and the relationships he establishes with the rest of the Fellowship (in particular, with Boromir) feel real and earned. I also appreciated the level of suspicion he meets with when he first runs into the elves and how suspicion eventually gave way to necessity and tentative trust. Good pacing and excellent characterization. Very nicely done.