Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

Friendship of Their Kind

Author: Dwimordene
Nominator: Radbooks
2007 Award Category: Times: Early Third Age: 1-2850 TA - First Place

Story Type: Story : Length: Short Story
Rating: Teen -- Reason for Rating: Potentially disturbing gory image.
Summary: n/a It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Three Rangers go on the hunt for some of the Enemy's fiercest creatures, and find both more and less than they had expected.


Reviewed by: Rhapsody -- Score: 10

Well this was not what I expected when I read the summary, but this was an excellent story featuring a cast of original characters being ordered to clean out a dragon's layer. The reason why this 'lucky' rangers were assigned to do this in the first place, leads up to the moral back story of this tale: the responsibility they have for the lives of others and of those who perished - evil or not. Evil is evil and will feast on a less opportune creature when they can, this mixed that every creature in Arda deserves a proper burial was surely a wise lesson to learn for these two young rangers. I do like these [two yearling Rangers], they do appear to be good guys who can fight very well, however they are just a complete newby to rangering, to me good ranger material nonetheless. For a moment, I wondered what this young dragon would be different than our famed Smaug or Glaurung, but the description of the bounty in the cave settled it firmly in Tolkien's world. This is a story with wonderful detail, sympathetic characters (or sturdy trusty ones in a leadership role), and a splendid plot that is magnificently written with as an extra bonus the author notes that gives more background information about little details (including the smell of dragons).

Reviewed by: dkpalaska -- Score: 10

Tense and taut, the entire lead-in of this story is pure excellence. The description of the Rangers' harrowing ascent is told with such immediacy that I am *with* them, in every sense, and wholly sympathetic to their trial - even after finding out that the two youngest rather earned this disagreeable duty. Dwimordene always carefully constructs the surroundings that her characters act against, and here is no exception. The details about the stench, the kill-hole and the Rangers' practiced and surreptitious stalk are what help make this story feel so tangibly real. And such lovely characters to act against her backdrop... The young and inexperienced pair are marvelously matched with the kind of mentor that anyone would be fortunate to have. Halandur's calm and measured demeanor, his sharp eyes and protective warnings, are what will help keep his charges alive; his compassion and understanding, and wisdom with regard to their enemy dead, are what will help retain Televor and Belendir's humanity and nobility. One danger in a horrific, seemingly endless and downhill fight is for the warrior to degrade to the level of an appalling enemy. (Somehow, it never seems to work the other way round.) This is what Halandur seeks to instill in his young Rangers: that the distance between them and those they abhor can be vanishingly small, and every action that can maintain that distance should be religiously followed.

Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 10

I have read nearly all of the pieces that Dwim has posted in recent years (save the sprawling WIPs), and as I've read them I've noticed that there is always a nugget of deep thought buried somewhere in them. Even in her humor or drabble, or (in this case) what might have turned into a simple adventure story in less capable hands. It has all the qualities, and it certainly works on that level. She caught my attention immediately with Belendir's opening cry of ["Faugh!"] and her use of details within the cave was both horrifying and gut-wrenchingly, wonderfully graphic. Just as it should be. But then she moves into what might be called deeper territory. Not convinced to give us a simple tale of rangers destroying a dragon's nest (which would be fresh territory in fanfic and good in its own way), she gives us a piercing portrait of what is the difference between the rangers and the type of men that characters like Barliman Butterbur might mistake them for. Her experienced ranger Halandur has his two green recruits prepare final rites not just for the dragons' victims but also for the dragons' young. When Televur and Belendir question this, she has Halandur explain, ["because you are Rangers, not brigands and not beasts, and this is often that little distance that makes the difference"]. In a way this reminds me of Christ's statement, ["You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies. (…) If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (Mt 5:43-44, 46)] We like to think of our rangers only doing nice things, but in the wilds when facing darkness, I think that their hands might get a little dirty at times. Distinctions like this come to make all the difference. Statements like that make this story more than just a thrilling adventure tale, or an engaging gapfiller, or a coming-of-age fic. They give the piece lasting depth.

Reviewed by: Inkling -- Score: 10

[spoilers] There have certainly been some interesting--and wildly different--responses to the alphabet challenge prompt "D: Like a Very Dirty Dragon"! Dwimordene's impressive take on it has produced this brief, intense foray into a dragon's nest by a small group of Rangers. All babies--even monstrous ones--elicit a certain "Aww" response based on their helpless, innocent state. But Dwim avoids the pitfall of easy pathos in this scene. These hatchlings are neither cute nor pathetic, but merely [scaly little forms]. Yet, like Televor, I couldn't help but wince as they are dispatched, despite knowing full well that their deaths are necessary and justified. This cold-blooded killing provides the central action of the piece, but that's incidental to its real purpose: to serve as the springboard for Halandur's unexpected, moving eulogy to fallen foes that forms the heart of the story. Enemies, even helpless ones such as these, may deserve no mercy, but they are owed respect--acknowledgement that this was no fair fight--and even gratitude ["for going ahead"]. This sentiment is indeed what sets the Rangers apart from those they oppose--and what elevates this story to something more than simply a well-written, gripping tale of suspense. It marvelously amplifies the passage in LOTR that Dwim quotes in her author's notes and that gives this story its title.

Reviewed by: Radbooks -- Score: 5

Young Rangers and dragons, what could make for a better story? I enjoyed reading a mostly original character story and really Aragost at the end is almost an OC since no one writes him! But it's rare to find a story like this and Dwim always does a nice job with her original characters. Going into a dragon lair is unimaginable and yet they do it anyway. Having to do it because the young men had stumbled into something they shouldn't have is a 'punishment' that will ensure they won't do it in the future. I like the older Ranger and the steadying influence he brings and the lesson he teaches. Nicely done!

Reviewed by: Imhiriel -- Score: 5

An adventurous, suspenseful look into one of the less-known episodes of Middle-earth history. It brings the culture of the Dúnedain, and especially those of the Rangers, vibrantly to the readers imagination. Details like the smell of dragons, the ["kill-hole"], or the hoard and gruesome debris in the lair paint concise pictures. To kill the dragon's offspring might seem cruel, but the commander is right: should they survive to grow up, they would only mean a peril to the countryside. And killing them now, swiftly, might also mean a more merciful end than death by starvation.

Reviewed by: geek_chick -- Score: 5

[Contains Spoilers] This was an interesting little story! The plot of the story (three Rangers hunting for a dragon’s nest) lends an element of adventure, and the pace of the story is brisk enough to keep the reader interested yet slow enough to offer some insight into the characters. I love the lesson that the young Rangers learned at the end -- I thought it was interesting that you used dragons rather than a more humanoid race like Men or even Orcs, to demonstrate the lesson. While the idea of caring for the dead of the enemy is not a new idea, I think using dragons to illustrate the point is a little more unique!

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon -- Score: 4

A well-told tale of three Dunedain Rangers, long before The Hobbit or LOTR, cleansing a dragon's nest. The tale is remarkable for the attention to both human nature and the gritty details of the measures taken, with a slain dragon's dead victims and soon-to-be born young. I really liked the characterisation; the young Rangers being seasoned by a messy task, and their wise commander who is compassionate as well as tough as nails.

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 4

Aragost has reason to be upset with two of his men as they alert the dragon they've been hunting before their fellows are quite ready. So they are sent within the dragon's cave to see if the female they've slain left young, and they find bodies of men taken as prey and a cache of eggs. Now to learn the difference between the honor of the Dunedain and the ways of the Enemy. Very thought provoking.

Reviewed by: obsidianj -- Score: 3

Three Rangers have the misfortune to get assigned to clear out a dragon's nest. Poor Halandor getting saddled with two rookies and then having to guide them through this dangerous undertaking. The stench of a dragon really had to be awful. At least the picture you paint from the actions and reactions of the rangers to it brought it vividly to my mind.