The Rooster Man of Gondor

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Fanfiction
Title: The Rooster Man of Gondor
Author(s): Chelsea Nolen
Date(s): 2002
Length: ~1300 words
Genre: character vignette, gen
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
External Links: @HASA

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The Rooster Man of Gondor is a Lord of the Rings vignette by Chelsea Nolen posted in August 2002. Set in Minas Tirith during the Return of the King, it slips neatly into canon and centres on a highly unusual and memorable original character, who gives a unique perspective on canon events. The tone mixes humour with the horror of war.

The author's summary is An unusual perspective of the siege at Gondor.

Reception and Awards

The story has been widely recommended. It is often used as a pimping rec for Lord of the Rings and as a story to introduce non-fans to fanfiction. Stultiloquentia includes it in her Newbie's Introduction to Fanfiction Top Ten, describing it:

If you ever need one short story to explain why people read and write fanfiction, this is a good candidate. It's my favourite kind: one that takes some small, forgotten stone in the wall, chips away at the mortar and releases an unexpected flood of light from behind.[1]

The story won Best Characterisation – Original Character in the 2003 round of the Mithril Awards.[2] It was placed third in the category The Lord of The Rings: Gondor in the Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards 2005.[3]

Reviews

Definitely the most original character I've come across in any Tolkien fanfiction. What this story lacks in word count, it makes up for in impact. Breathtaking! (Mithril Awards judge)[2]
I hadn't thought that one could actually fill in gaps in the actual story of The Lord of the Rings -- there are no gaps. But, to borrow a phrase from Lewis, there are other peoples' stories. And this is one of them -- a poignant behind-the-scenes look at one unusual character caught up in the siege of Minas Tirith, which takes another look at some of the events of that part of the story. Well worth a look at. (Kathryn Andersen)[4]
There are ways of convincingly integrating truly minor characters into a believable LOTR fic. For example, the winner of the Mithril Awards' Best OC award, "The Rooster Man of Gondor" didn't even have a *person* to work with, just the sound of a rooster crowing. It was brilliant and convincing. (Emily)[5]
A very unusual view of the siege of Minas Tirith, from the perspective of one of the strangest and most fascinating original characters ever created in this fandom; all in a short (about 1200 words) but intense package.

This story has become part of my personal canon; I'm firmly convinced that events happened this way.

In fact, I'm so sure of that, I was surprised not to see it depicted in Peter Jackson's Return of the King - maybe it'll be on the extended DVD... (Forodwaith at Crack Van)[6]
I remember seeing this pop up as a recommendation in my e-mail, and I thought at first that it was some sort of joke. But it turned out to be a story filling a gap I'd never noticed existed, and forever more, the cock that crowed and signaled the beginning of the end of the siege of Minas Tirith will be associated with this fic. Among its many virtues is the fact that here is a tale of the mad in Middle-earth. You know there must have been people who suffered from various forms of mostly harmless psychoses (as opposed to Black Breath induced ailments), but we don't see them in Tolkien's writing. The Rooster Man, who's really rather cast adrift in this fic and left to scratch among the deserted streets when everyone else evacuates is a rather forlorn, pitiable character for a time. But just because he's mad doesn't mean he's totally without comprehension, and he ends up finding a unique place in Minas Tirith's embattled forces. I remember reading somewhere that in some of the most extreme situations (concentration camps, alas), those who normally would've been considered mad and unable to cope with society suddenly found themselves in a sense in their element, able to function as no one else could. It's at once horrible and wonderful—right on that edge where you don't know quite what to say. As a mascot who keeps hope alive with a bravery that's childlike in its total disregard for self-preservation, the Rooster Man becomes emblematic of the elemental truth of Gandalf's words: even at the worst of times, the Rooster Man flourishes, and so he falls within Gandalf's realms as one of those who will bear fruit and flower, as it were, thwarting the Enemy's ultimate triumph. In all, a great story. Bravo, Chelsea, for such a memorable character. (Dwimordene)[3]
Great story! There's definitely humor here, but underlying that, there's a more somber tone as well. I like the balance between the two, and I really like the defiance of this Rooster Man. He was very well defined in the story, and so were the guards who kept pulling him down. Their dual exasperation and admiration were easily shared by the reader. Definitely a different perspective on events, and a very welcome one, too. (Thundera Tiger)[3]
The Rooster Man might be the most "original" original character I have ever encountered in fanfic. A highly novel perspective on the Siege and the battle of the Pelennor, and a deft account of dogged heroism in the most unlikely places. I loved the humor, the courage, and the strangeness of it all. (Aliana)[3]
A very strange and original story. Was that really a cock's crow heard before the Rohirrim arrived? Very thought provoking. (Dreamflower)[3]
[In response to a request for pimping recs] Short, inventive, grin-inducing. (Stultiloquentia)[7]

References

  1. Stultiloquentia's Fanfic Recs (accessed 29 August 2012) (via WBM)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mithril Awards: 2003: Award Winners (accessed 29 August 2012)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards: Archive: The Rooster Man of Gondor (accessed 29 August 2012)
  4. Katspace: Chelsea Nolen (accessed 29 August 2012)
  5. VoyForums: Re: The kicker is... (accessed 29 August 2012)
  6. Crack Van: The Rooster Man of Gondor by Chelsea Nolen (PG) (accessed 29 August 2012)
  7. Lord of the Rings (somewhat skewed toward Gondor) in norah: Compilation question: Pimpin' fics (accessed 29 August 2012)