A Very Rain of Sparrows
2007 Award Category: Races: Men - Honorable Mention
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Medium Length
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: Handles themes young children may not understand or which parents might think unsuitable, regardless of understanding.
Summary: Peace. Land. Life. Loyalty. A Kin-Strife parable.
Reviewed by: dkpalaska ✧ Score: 10
A very, very intense story set during a tumultuous and difficult time in Gondor's history, and loaded with complex politics, alliances and ironies. Like so much of Dwimordene's work, this is not an easy read; but like all of her stories it is utterly worth it. Everything is carefully thought out and intricately woven together into a tapestry worthy of gracing Tolkien's world. The author brilliantly extrapolates from the tiny amount of existing Kin-Strife canon. Careful research lays out a complete and realistic background for the characters to act against, whether it is the ground-level effects of higher political decisions; or the grinding daily details of life in a small fishing and farming village; or the wonderful cultural delineations. Pelargir and its docks in particular come vividly alive. The characters are sympathetic but still carry their own shortcomings and faults; I finished the story caring deeply about them and grieving over their fates. I love the technique of bookending the peasants' story with the "extracts" from official records, as it emphasizes how much of the bloody truth is compressed and lost in the historical retellings, and that those viewpoints usually reflect those of the mighty victors - not the "small folk", who typically suffer no matter whose side they are on. This works well as a parable both for Middle-earth, in the sense that each war has affected Common Man everywhere in different yet similar ways; and for us today, with the majority of our world's people living in poverty, war-torn areas and/or under repressive regimes. Thoughtful and telling, Dwimordene has given us a work that fills in gaps in M-e's history and also carries an unhappily universal theme.
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 10
In the summary of this story, Dwim calls "A Very Rain of Sparrows" a parable, which for me really sets the tone for the whole story. That really set the tone for me as I reread this story for these awards. I don't mean to suggest that "A Very Rain of Sparrows" is preachy, or that the characters and plot was two-dimensional (something I often associate with parables). The plot is involved with each incident meaningful, and each of the characters has their own humiliations. But the story's pathos is not about certain canonical fictional characters. It's certainly rooted in Middle-earth by details and makes a poignant commentary on the period and Gondor's racial attitudes, but the meat of the story says just as much about very real situations in our own world. It got this reader thinking about inequalities and just how many ways there are to wear down the human spirit -- which is hardly a light or "happy" topic, but it is executed masterfully here, in a story that left me feeling drained but also in some sense fulfilled, and certainly contemplative. I'm not sure I'd recommend this for a quick read on a Saturday night, but for people who enjoy stories with a bit of meat to them, I wouldn't miss this one.
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 5
Life on the eastshore of the Anduin, there on the edge of Ithilien, wasn't easy during the brief reign of Castamir. Getting by, meeting taxes and supporting home and family grew worse and worse each year. Aethrin's family, like all within his village, is struggling. His widowed mother might make it if she accepts the suit of one of the King's men; but Aethrin's older brother objects to the thought of her marrying one from outside the village, particularly if it's mostly for a level of financial stability. The poverty and pride of the family and place have a distinctly accurate feeling; and the use of dialect is extraordinarily well done. A story well worth the reading.
Reviewed by: Imhiriel ✧ Score: 5
An unusual perspective on the Kin-Strife. The PoV from the bottom, of some poor, common people, many of them young ones, is used consistently and effectively. The "pig picture" of politics and civil war impinges only indirectly on their daily lives - or if it has direct effect, they are unable to set it in context. Using the few existing snippets of canon, extrapolations and new creations are integrated smoothly and convincingly. I admit it was difficult to really get close to the characters because I had to work so hard to understand the dialect. Nonetheless, they provide a moving insight into the universal theme of common people getting ground under the wheels of decisions by those ruling over them.
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 3
A richly textured story of some of the unknowns of Gondorian history; the common people caught in the crossfire of the Kin-strife. Intricate, well-written and entirely credible.
Reviewed by: agape4gondor ✧ Score: 3
A very sad look at the life of a child as he nears manhood. The characters were very well written and 'life-like.' The story itself was unbearably filled with despair. It almost seemed like a tale about Elves.