Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

The Road Not Taken

Author: Branwyn
Nominator: Raksha the Demon
2006 Award Category: Races: Men: Vignette - Second Place

Story Type: Other Fiction : Length: Other Fixed-Length Ficlet
Rating: G -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: In the woods of Rohan, Boromir turns to the North and begins his journey into unknown lands. Written in response to the HASA "Your Favorite Poem" challenge.


Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 7

J.R.R. Tolkien, meet Robert Frost. Well, sort of. Frost's lovely lines about taking the road less travelled by, and that choice making all the difference, weaves seamlessly into this vignette. Boromir's final leaving of the lands he knows, as he faces the road that will take him from Rohan and the young Rider who has escorted him there, is both splendid and sad. The use of the swan, ancestral sigil of Boromir's mother's Dol Amroth line, as herald and harbinger, is a lovely touch. Indeed, the connection between the trumpeter swan, Boromir's own horn-call and his eventual fate, is almost magical, the writer's use of the Old English word for swan is just perfect. There's a fitting tinge of melancholy in the fair autumn landscape, and a touch of suspense as to where Boromir's road will lead him. Good and evocative descriptions heighten the power of this quiet but significant moment in the life of Denethor's heir.

Reviewed by: Anoriath -- Score: 6

Boromir’s journey to Rivendell is a gap that seems to beg to be filled. It can only have been full of mystery, discovery, and danger, and yet a challenge to portray in words because of the lone nature of his journey. I think you’ve captured that tension between mystery, hope and an underlying current of danger very nicely here. On the surface you give us a shimmering late fall day and two men in high spirits. But lurking below the surface the uneasiness of the animals and the magic of a road seldom trod that splits the forest in two. And what a wonderful twist, and well-used, that the call of the swan is “ill fate” and Boromir answers it with such clearly felt bravado. No matter what the end, he would go and go facing his fate with a pride and courage few other men could match.

Reviewed by: annmarwalk -- Score: 5

Very lovely and unexpected! I like the way you set the autumn-y scene immediately, and used that theme to convey the feelings of change and sadness that so often go along with that time of year, melding them with the pain and sadness and indecision of his quest. The first year we lived in Alaska, I remember being stunned at the sound of thousands of wild geese headed south together - I could not imagine what that sound was, and ran outside with my baby in my arms. It's still a very powerful memory, of forces of nature quite beyond my understanding. What a lovely and bittersweet note for Boromir, to be bid farewell by one of the sigils of his mother's house, as he begins this journey that will bring him to his doom.

Reviewed by: Rhapsody -- Score: 5

What a nice vignette! The narrative is beautiful, but I find it difficult to tell if the author answered to the challenge it is written for. Nevertheless, I love this moment so close to Swanfleet where Boromir answers the swan’s call which gave me the feeling of foreshadowing knowing what will come in Tolkien's works. The timing is great and I love this short insight during Boromir's journey to Rivendell. Hmmm isn’t he close to loosing his horse too? I felt that Boromir was spot on here and the descriptions of the surroundings were very evocative! A great job!

Reviewed by: dkpalaska -- Score: 5

Branwyn smoothly works in many layers of meaning into this short work. The beautiful descriptions of the autumn woods and the unused road perfectly complement the referenced poem, as well as setting a tone of ending and farewells. The lonely and wild swan call brought to mind not just Boromir's impending travels, but his heritage from his mother. It also enabled introducing ["ilfete"], which led to Boromir's foreshadowed misunderstanding. The ending left me thinking of the last line of the poem, and what a difference indeed that this parting led to - for Boromir, his family and the Fellowship.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 4

Frost gets good employment in this is a well-crafted interlude that shows the very beginning of Boromir's journey out of familiar lands and into the wilds of the North. The description of the birch forest is wonderful, as is the 'dialogue' with the swan that Boromir's horn allows him and his companion. The finding of the road, buried beneath ages of dirt marks the beginning of many discoveries for him, though he cannot foresee them.

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 3

Wonderfully evocative scene, full of beautiful imagery and descriptions. The inclusion of the swan, with all its symbolic allusions and forebodings, gives this short scene rich layers of meaning.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 3

A nice little vignette, of Boromir being set on his way out of Rohan, when he journeyed North. I enjoyed the discussion of the swan, and his answer to it with his own horn! Very nicely done.

Reviewed by: Bodkin -- Score: 3

An omen! Ragnvald led Boromir as far as he could - and now it is up to the Steward's son to take that step (a la Sam Gamgee) into the unknown. He left his comfort zone in following this quest - and, in the end, became a better man for it. It's just such a shame he had to be the sacrifice! I love the description of the birch trees swallowing up the Man of Gondor.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland -- Score: 3

I just loved this glimpse of Imrahil when he brings the wounded Faramir home..I am certain that many a reader shared the Prince's seniments at feeling like hitting Denethor for sending his son out to die.Imrahil is a perfect knight, bound by his oath,but how he must simmer inside !

Reviewed by: Súlriel -- Score: 2

I found this to be a lovely visual adaptation of one of my favorite poems, and was delighted with how seamlessly you wove the two together. Well Done.

Reviewed by: obsidianj -- Score: 2

The title is an interesting play on words. It was not what I expected. Knowing what befells Boromir, that call was really a bad omen.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 2

I love the idea of Boromir encountering swans just before he leaves Rohan. It's a nice connection with his homeland far to the south.

Reviewed by: Marigold -- Score: 2

Excellent descriptions, they really set the scene. And the call of the swan just as Boromir started along the path to his destiny was very well done.