Author: Dreamflower

Nominator: Celeritas

2011 Award Category: Adventure: General

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

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

Summary: Bard the bowman slew Smaug, didn't he? Who would believe it could happen any other way? What if someone else had taken that role, as JRRT originally envisioned it?

Read the Story  ✧  Backup Story Link

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 5

Dear Dreamflower, you know, at a pinch I think it could have been like that. We all know how resourceful hobbits are and how brave when it really matters. So could Bilbo have killed Smaug? I think he might have, though he himself would not consider it possible. However, it is just as well that he didn’t. I think it serves the story as a whole better that Bard the Bowman kills Smaug, because The Hobbit (just like Lord of the Rings, come to think of it) is very much about cooperation and it wouldn’t be good if any one character had too large a share in the overall achievement, not even Bilbo. So quite rightly you let this be a dream – but what an interesting dream!

Author response: Clearly Tolkien thought he *could* have found the courage to kill Smaug, and it was on that conviction that I was able to use his idea of how it might have gone. But equally as clearly, he realized that Bilbo *shouldn't* kill Smaug-- and that is part of why I made it be just a dream. Because I do not think it would have been good for Bilbo to have had to do that. It is fascinating what twists and turns the story took before it came to us in its final form! Thank you for your lovely review!

Reviewed by: Marta  ✧  Score: 4

This story was scarily well done. Leaving aside the issue of dragon-blood and its mythological importance, I think that if Bilbo - if anyone - had killed a dragon at such close quarters, it would have a very real impact on his character. I was glad for him that he didn't have to do this, really. But it also showed his character that he *could* have acted this way out of need and out of a strive to get home; the way it was told made me believe that this most hobbitish of hobbits could have killed a dragon. That's saying something!

Author response: It would have had such an impact-- and not necessarily a good one, as I discovered when I first approached this as a possible AU. It was turning much darker than I cared for, and so I made it instead, a simple nightmare. But yes, I do believe that if it had been the only way to save his friends and gain his way home, Bilbo would have attempted to do the job himself eventually. I am so very glad he did not really have to.

Reviewed by: cairistiona  ✧  Score: 4

What a fun little tale of what was meant to be vs. what could have been! Bilbo is a hero, definitely, but could he have been an ever greater hero? Such are the questions that arise when you start looking into the history of how Tolkien came up with his final stories, and this "might have been" story is a well-written exploration of that sort of thing, with an amusing twist at the end. Really an enjoyable read, especially with "The Hobbit" film coming up.

Author response: Thank you, cairistiona! There are so many fascinating AUs in The History of The Hobbit-- so many places the tale could have taken a different turn! I had a lot of fun exploring this possibility!

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 4

I enjoyed this well told story very much. I admit then before I reread "The Hobbit" I thought Bilbo had indeed killed Smaug as I know Tolkien was influenced by stories like Beowulf and Sigurd in which the dragon slayer is the hero.I liked the way that Bilbo as dragon slayer was told in the form of a dream or rather nightmare.As I like dragons I'm glad Bilbo didn't kill one! A great read!

Author response: As you know, Tolkien was himself much influenced by "Beowulf" and "Sigurd"-- but I am very glad he realized in time that Bilbo did not need to be another "Beowulf" in order to be a hero, and opted instead for a solution of cooperation. Still it was a lot of fun to revisit his notion-- especially the golden goblet floating down the river of blood. That was the detail that made me decide it was only a nightmare: a solid gold goblet wouldn't float, and even a dragon would not shed enough blood to make it do so!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 3

I never realized that Tolkien had, when plotting [The Hobbit], had planned to have Bilbo kill Smaug. Dreamflower explores that untaken literary road, and gives it a better, delightful ending.

Author response: Thanks! I'd never realized it either until I came across it in The History of the Hobbit! It's a delightful font of irresistable trivia!

Reviewed by: Kara's Aunty  ✧  Score: 3

Very enjoyable story. Using a dream to marry what might have been into canon was a clever device. I tried to review this fic on MPTT but the site wouldn't let me - thank goodness I have the chance to do so here ;) Excellent work!

Author response: I'm glad you got to review it here too! It was a very difficult scenario for me to deal with-- I found it far easier to think of it as a dream, especially given the surreal atmosphere of JRRT's original notes!

Reviewed by: Malinornë  ✧  Score: 3

I found this to be a very interesting idea, to start from and flesh out an idea we know once was there in Tolkien's manuscript, but later abandoned and replaced with the version of events that was eventually published. I like the idea and the result is very true to The Hobbit, if perhaps a bit short.

Author response: I did enjoy fleshing out the outline JRRT had left behind of his original idea. It was, perforce, short, as he abandoned the idea before he himself fleshed it out-- there was not too much more in the outline that could reasonably be included in the story, in which I had to sort of meld what finally happened in the "real" story with what didn't happen in the "proto-story", if you know what I mean, LOL!

Reviewed by: Inkling  ✧  Score: 3

While I’m glad Tolkien didn’t stick with his first version of the slaying of Smaug, it’s fun to see it imagined in Dreamflower’s story. And the idea that the dragon's blood would change Bilbo is intriguing. My favorite image of that of Smaug settling down cat-like on his hoard.

Author response: Thanks! I'm glad that he didn't stick with it either-- but it was fun to explore a possible "what-if"!

Reviewed by: Ellynn  ✧  Score: 1

Very interesting and plausible AU. Yes, I can easily see this happening.

Author response: What is amazing is that JRRT himself could have seen it happening! I'm glad he changed his mind, but it was fascinating to explore his alternative!