The Kindness of Strangers

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Story Summary

Sixty-eight days is a long time for an impatient wizard to do nothing but pace on top of a tower. Is that really all that happened in ten weeks? Did Saruman carry out any of his not-too-subtle threats? Here's a "what Gandalf did on his summer vacation in Orthanc" tale, from the viewpoints of Saruman and an inquisitive stranger in black.

2009 MEFA Winner First Place for Drama: General



Chapter List

Ch# Title Words Com. Updated
1 To Take a Wizard 1,233 2 06 Dec 08
2 An Intruder 2,641 2 06 Dec 08
3 A Civil Conversation 3,869 2 10 Mar 09
4 The Means to Persuade 1,507 3 06 Dec 08
5 Waiting 462 1 06 Dec 08
6 The Gift 1,586 0 06 Dec 08
7 Fortune and Misfortune 1,492 0 06 Dec 08
8 The Cleverest Creature 639 1 06 Dec 08
9 Strange Kindness 3,015 2 06 Dec 08
10 A Fool's Hope 558 0 06 Dec 08
11 Futility 485 0 06 Dec 08
12 And Need of Vittles 2,690 1 06 Dec 08
13 Lighter Matters 1,036 0 06 Dec 08
14 The Clan of Isen 912 0 06 Dec 08
15 An Unkindness of Ravens 1,769 0 06 Dec 08
16 Lord of Thieves 5,209 3 25 Feb 09
17 A Hopeless Fool 4,418 2 06 Dec 08
18 Last Gift 2,018 1 06 Dec 08
19 Silver and Gold 3,163 0 06 Dec 08
20 Author's notes 913 2 06 Dec 08
Appx. Word Count 39,615 22  



WARNING! Comments may contain spoilers for a chapter or story. Read with caution.

The Kindness of Strangers

MJ - 10 Mar 09 - 8:02 PM

General Comment

I'm delighted to see this story back, Aiwendiel -- and completed!  You already know that I'm a sucker for a good Gandalf story; they're so few and far between, and an exceptionally well-written one such as this is a rare jewel indeed.  As we have ravens in plenty where I live, I found your use of them quite interesting -- a strange sort of Greek chorus, observing and commenting upon the more familiar action, and providing a most unusual point of view.  I also applaude the way you handled what could have been some very gruesome and grisley moments, presenting enough to convey the intensity and horror without focusing overlong on the details.  The scene atop Zirak-zigil was both disturbing and touching; I'm not sure if I want to know whether or not the ravens actually came back to... well, you know.  Yet I can easily see Gandalf giving such permission, knowing that he was dying.  What a unique way of looking at this particular event!  All in all, an excellent job!


The Kindness of Strangers

Aiwendiel - 13 Mar 09 - 5:19 AM

General Comment

Thanks much, MJ, I am pleased it is now available on the reviewed list. I hope others find my tale as enjoyable and disturbing (in a good way) as you did. Your comments are greatly appreciated. A

The Kindness of Strangers

SurgicalSteel - 18 Mar 09 - 7:49 AM

General Comment

This was an enjoyable gapfiller - I especially enjoyed the POV of the ravens. The fact that Gandalf has to figure out a way to get water, at least (and how he does it) coupled with his fear of getting food poisoning from eating rotten meat - those led sort of a gritty realism to the story that's not often seen. I liked this very much!

The Kindness of Strangers

Aiwendiel - 18 Mar 09 - 10:40 AM

General Comment

Thanks, SurgicalSteel (what an interesting handle, by the way..hmm, I wonder what you do for a living! Wink)

I enjoyed imagining the consequences of being trapped on the top of that tower, so underplayed in the original. Either there was room service, or...well, you know what I concluded! It was great fun inhabiting a raven's personality, too. SO glad you liked it!


The Kindness of Strangers

Linquenóllókë - 03 Sep 09 - 7:12 PM

General Comment

This is incredible.  I love the ravens and their POV on the events of the story and on human nature.  It's great how you've made them intelligent and sympathetic without ever forgetting their animal nature:  Coräc hoping to find a drowned child to feed on and Hrafn speculating on whether it's appropriate to eat the body of a friend-of-a-relation.  Very interesting, and the matter-of-fact way that the ravens think about such things makes them seem very real.

It's interesting to see Saruman struggling with guilt over what he's done.  I imagine that the very discovery that a member of his own order can be harmed like that would be frightening enough on its own.  I really felt his despair when he found that Gandalf had escaped just a moment to soon (for him, anyway).

I really can't tell you how much I enjoyed this.  The fandom needs more good Wizard-fic!

The Kindness of Strangers

Aiwendiel - 07 Sep 09 - 6:44 AM

General Comment

Dear Linquenolloke, I am very honored by your comments, and glad that you enjoyed the tale. It was fun and interesting to inhabit the ravens' POV, and gave me some freedom to speculate on the nature of humanity... (or wizard-ness, as the case may be...) Thank you so much for your comments. Aiwendiel

The Kindness of Strangers

Huinárë - 29 May 11 - 2:55 PM

General Comment

This story makes me happy on many counts.  I love the incorporation and characterization of the ravens.  Your avian knowledge really shines through in this story: it's awesome when people incorporate their passions/geekiness into their work.  Finally, the world doesn't have enough well-rounded portrayals of Saruman, so thanks for that (I'd have liked to hear a bit more from him at the end).  Cheers!  _Huin

The Kindness of Strangers

Aiwendiel - 29 May 11 - 5:53 PM

General Comment

Thanks, Huin, your comments are very welcome and appreciated. I am a total bird geek and happen to love ravens (obviously), and I do like to look at a story from the POV of someone/something out of the main action. Interesting challenge -- maybe I'll have to add a chapter with a few words from Saruman as the Fellowship passes back thru Orthanc... or maybe a new story.... thanks for the promt!

The Kindness of Strangers

maeglin - 30 May 11 - 6:23 PM

General Comment

This is such an interesting tale, Aiwendiel!  One of the best long Saruman stories out there.  And a good gap-fill of one of Tolkien's more confusing gaps; how would one "take" a Wizard, indeed? 

I like your presentation of Saruman here; he has fallen into treachery, but hasn't fallen nearly as far as he will later on.

It's thought-provoking too, and highlights some remaining gaps in the canon.  What of Narya?  A Great Ring actually within Saruman's grasp, and apparently he didn't even attempt to take it.  And just how was Saruman ensnared so easily by the Palantir, when Denethor was not?  

Great story!

The Kindness of Strangers

Aiwendiel - 30 May 11 - 8:03 PM

General Comment

Wow, thank you, Maeglin, for the rich comments. I admit I had to just follow the Professor's lead on the thorny Narya issue. Why didn't Saruman sense it, and why didn't Gandalf use it more effectively? I postulate in places in A Bit of Rope that only another bearer of a Great Ring can really sense/see the presence of one in another's possession, so that helps with issue 1, and maybe Gandalf was just too hopeful that he could convince Saruman... but that leaves the question of how in the world did he hide it from Muzluk et al... Ah well, maybe some gaps aren't meant to be filled... And as for the Palantir... I am hatching another story that might weave together some loose threads about Saruman... AFTER I finish what I've already started, that is... Thanks again.

The Kindness of Strangers

Glîrnardir - 13 Aug 11 - 3:02 AM

General Comment

It's official: I want the Ravens of the Isen Clan in "A Bit of Rope"! Such wonderful characters. So different, so peculiar, so... beastial. I think this story is now in my Tolkien's Canon. Very, very, very well-conceived. Congratulations!
(and please... THE RAVENS INTO "A BIT OF ROPE!!!!)

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Story Information

Author: Aiwendiel

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 01/05/10

Original Post: 10/25/08

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Playlists Featuring the Story

The Old Grey Wizard - 7 stories - Owner: Aiwendiel
Stories of mine that center on Gandalf, either gap fillers or alternate universe themes.
Included because: Long gap filler about what went on in Isengard one summer.


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