Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Answering the Call

Author: docmon
Nominator: Dwimordene
2008 Award Category: Genres: Drama - First Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Medium Length
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: This story relates tales of when each character succumbs to the call of the Ring. The scenes sometimes result in potential violence between characters that is nevertheless disturbing despite not being realized. There is one scene (ch. 3) where there is some brief violence that is described clearly, though not graphically, so I have chosen Teen to err on the side of caution.
Summary: A series of (unrelated) vignettes in which each member of the Fellowship hears the call of the Ring - and answers it. My take on the big What-If, pursuing the potential in each character to take the Ring. Varying degrees of angst, drama, action, and perhaps a little more angst.


Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 10

A good alternate universe story is a thing of beauty and a joy forever - even when it's extremely depressing. Docmon sets us up nicely with a vignette that fits neatly into the journey of the Fellowship: not yet AU, it simply gives us the opportunity to see the way in which the Ring does reach out to the other members of the Fellowship. No one is immune - everyone avoids and struggles not to listen in his own way. But from that point onward, we are left to wonder: what if someone *did* listen? What if promises were not enough? And then one by one, we see how each member of the Fellowship might have come by the Ring. Some of these vignettes begin well before the Quest ever got off the ground; others show the Ring taking its victims in the middle of the Quest, leaving us to wonder what would happen to the rest of the Fellowship. Not every AU leads inevitably to the Ring's dominion and Sauron's victory - there are some where there's room left for hope, which I quite appreciate. The variation keeps us on our toes and engaged, wondering whether Docmon will be able to pull off a cliff-hanger. In terms of motivations for seizing the Ring - we don't always have these directly portrayed. Sometimes, we have to infer, from what we know from the books, and what is indirectly shown in the vignette, what might have moved someone to claim the Ring. But where motivation is shown, I think Docmon nails it every time: characters react in ways that make sense based on who they are, and what they've struggled with in their past. And she doesn't forget that key stricture in the book on Frodo's actions: that he must not reveal the Ring to outsiders or let them handle it, and only allow members of the Fellowship to handle it at dire need. I thought Gimli's vignette and Aragorn's took good advantage of this loophole - especially Gimli's. That was unexpected, but it recalled Bilbo's actions in setting out after the party - perhaps only a hobbit could do what he did, and one wonders if only a dwarf could have a chance. We don't know the ending to that story, but somehow, I can't help but think Gimli might have been the one right choice. The Men in the Company, in their AUs, don't fare nearly as well, regardless of intent or method of becoming the Ringbearer. This isn't to say that hobbits necessarily fare better - Sam's and Pippin's vignettes were, I thought, well-constructed. Again, the motivation seems right for both of them - Pippin's is strangely light in tone where perspective stays with him, but I found that that fit him. Sam's motivation also rings true - as if the Ring had had, in this AU, a little more time to figure out what makes Sam tick, and so was able to tempt him far more effectively than it did in the book, when it granted him the standard vision of dominion. All of which is to say: if you like AUs, if you like getting a look at our favorite Nine under the temptation of the Ring, read these vignettes. Well done, Docmon - great set of stories!

Reviewed by: dkpalaska -- Score: 10

First, I think the author made an excellent selection of plausible AUs with these vignettes. Each is unique to the individual portrayed, with logical use of "weaknesses" that allowed the One Ring to speak to every member of the Fellowship, and a very creative use of different times in which each character could have snatched the Ring. The introduction itself sets the stage very nicely, and the interspersed quotes are relevant reminders without being intrusive. Even better, every scenario left me wanting to know more about that particular situation. (Like in Gandalf's chapter: What happened to Bilbo? This one may have been my favorite, although it would be hard to choose.) I admit, I liked that the Ring was not always successful in its objectives; [The Hobbit] and Tolkien's background information certainly shows this as a reasonable possibility. The thread of referring to the Ring as being "precious" is used well, not only in setting up the story of a character's fall, but also being notably absent where It fails. Combined with the lovely originality is the author's excellent writing, flowing style and wonderful characterizations. I felt the members of the Fellowship were still those I knew from the books, even as events spiraled away from canon.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 10

This is one of those haunting stories that stays with you long after you've read it and draws you back to revisit some truly spectacular moments. The thing that impresses me most about this story is the sheer variety in each of the little AUs. And it works so well for each character! Sometimes you see how and why a character would have come by the Ring (Merry and Pippin, for example). At other times, you're beyond that point in the story and you primarily see the effect (Gandalf, Aragorn, and Boromir come to mind). It's a great study in characterization, because for hobbits like Merry and Pippin, the "why" needs to be told. The temptation isn't the same for them as it is for their larger companions, and the difference makes the "why" all the more important. But for Gandalf, Aragorn, and Boromir, the "why" is already pretty obvious, and there's never much doubt that these three could obtain the Ring if they really set their minds on it. With them, it's more about just how bad things will get and what form that ruin will take. My favorite vignettes by far, though, are the two about Legolas and Gimli. Which is probably a little predictable since they're my two favorite Fellowship members. But going into specifics, the sense of shame that pervades the Legolas-vignette is tangible, and I love what Docmon does with Aragorn in that scene. He's stern when he needs to be, and he's firm throughout. But he also showcases an ability to step back and analyze what went wrong, giving us the origins of Legolas's temptation. As for Gimli, I've long held the opinion that if the hobbits had been unavailable to act as Ring-bearers, the dwarves would have been the next best option. I really do think Gimli's got a chance to see it through at the end of his vignette, and ending the story on that note of hope was a stroke of genius. Thank you, Docmon, for a truly spectacular ride.

Reviewed by: Antane -- Score: 7

A very interesting and at times heartaching series of tales, each chapter dealing with what may have happened had each of the Fellowship claimed the Ring for their own. Gandalf's is the most chilling. Legolas perhaps the most heartbreaking, though that may be tied with Frodo's because the new hobbit Lord of the Rings wannabe doesn't seem to realize his terrible peril in claiming the Ring, though Sam does and it breaks the loyal gardener's heart. Boromir's is well done - that one realizes his folly only at the very end, as he truly did, and he pays the price but perhaps was saved by it. Sam is not overcome, but he takes the Ring out of love and pity and so is not corrupted by it, but none of the tales end well, except the last. Gimli's is the only chapter that has any hope left at the end and perhaps that is because he did not lust after the Ring himself, but was given it to Frodo in a desperate hope that the Quest not fail. It would be wonderful if the tales that could be continued for all could be.

Reviewed by: Michelle -- Score: 7

Docmon‘s stories are a feast for everyone who has a soft spot for AUs. Many authors have written how one of Tolkien‘s characters might have succumbed to the Ring‘s whisperings. Docmon, however, takes the concept much further insofar as all members of the fellowship will eventually take the rings for their own gain. This leaves the reader with a prologue and nine following vignettes (of varying length) of concentrated drama, tragedy and apocalypse – a thing which might be hard to stomach. To me, the most surprising of these vignettes was Gimli. Personally, I would have struggled to come up with a scenario in which he takes the ring – he is loyal, realistic and down to earth while missing the innocence and naivety of the hobbits. But the situation Docmon puts him in is original and thought-provoking. I actually would have wanted this part to go on to see how and whether Gimli completes his mission. All in all a depressing and dark collection of what-ifs that are well worth the read!

Reviewed by: annmarwalk -- Score: 5

This was a very intriguing and thought-provoking story. I had always taken Gandalf at his word when he said he didn't want the Ring, so it was quite interesting to ponder what he would have done with it (and the confusion his having it would wreak on his friends as well as his enemies.) There was more than enough pain, bitterness, and angst to go around, as other members of the Fellowship were considered in their turn, but I whooped with glee at the last vignette, so different from anything I'd ever encountered before. Brava! to a story very well told.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 4

Twice before I have read and loved this series; it is an honor to review it here. A most thoughtful series of AU stories in which we see the various members of the Fellowship responding to the powerful call of the One Ring. Most end badly; most, but not all. For even in hearing the call of the Ring there dwells Hope. Very thoughtfully written, and with a marked degree of thought as to how each of the various characters might have been expected to respond.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 4

A scary and very credible exploration of the fates of the members of the Fellowship if they had each taken the Ring. Docmon takes the reader down each tortuous path, from the younger hobbits' rashness to the duty-driven ensnarement of Boromir and Aragorn's mistake in judgment. I found the chapters about Boromir and Gandalf the most haunting; Gandalf becoming more and more like Saruman, but all of these AU's are hard-edged gems, brilliant and multi-faceted and sharp-edged.

Reviewed by: PipMer -- Score: 3

Such realistic scenarios for every Fellowship member in how they might become seduced by the Ring. Very well done, I enjoyed it very much. I especially liked Legolas, Gimli and Pippin, in that all hope is not lost, but redemption and/or success is still possible. That seems very true to their characters, as opposed to the others.

Reviewed by: Inkling -- Score: 3

A fascinating and disturbing series of what-ifs...with Gandalf's somehow all the more so for being presented entirely through uneasy conversations. In one of Tolkien's letters he described Gandalf in possession of the Ring as ultimately making good seem more loathsome than evil...and this vignette picks up on that idea, I think. Nicely done!

Reviewed by: crowdaughter -- Score: 3

Awesome collection of AU's. The two I found most chilling and compelling were the two concerning Gandalf (what a great vision! And how sneaky the change of thinking comes about) and the one concerning Legolas. Very well done!

Reviewed by: Virtuella -- Score: 2

The concept of this is very interesting. In the execution, I felt, it varied. The first and last chapters were the strongest.

Reviewed by: Ainaechoiriel -- Score: 2

Interesting takes on each of the Fellowship taking the ring. And most of them ended terribly. Interestingly, Gimli's actually ended with at least some hope.