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|At Hope's Edge by Cairistiona
|Reviewed Chapter: Prologue on 10/6/2011
|I like it so far :) It's probably going to take me a while to get through this story since I have been working on the computer a lot lately and I'm ruining my eyes doing so.
Loved the reference to Sharpe's "Chosen Men" there ;)
Hope to read more soon,
Ranger~Arratay (Lady Wallace from FF.net)
Author Reply: Oh dear, don't ruin your eyes! But thank you for your kind words (and yay! for setting up a reader account here). I hope you enjoy the story--I wrote it quite a while back and it was one of my first real forays into writing LOTR fic, so there's things that aren't quite as polished as in my later stories, but there you go... the evolution of a writer right before your eyes. *g* May you find it enjoyable!
|Reviewed Chapter: Prologue on 11/7/2009
|All right. Picking up shortly after "Keeping Watch", I gather, we find Aragorn composing a letter...
First let me say that I do like the idea that he was able to get the occasional letter home to Rivendell. There must have been some sort of infrastructure for providing Elrond with dispatches to keep him abreast of the situation in Eriador.
Oh, but Aragorn's words are so harsh, so filled with pain. He does not spare his father the details in this first draft, does he? There were a few lines that struck me in particular:
"Time is weighing heavily on me, and hope seems a thing that is as shifting and impossible to hold onto as smoke from a fire."
"I feel almost trapped, unsure what the future holds and helpless to do anything about it."
Can it be that Aragorn is feeling a little dysthymic? I'm worried for him: he had a hard spring, with his own illness and the grievous loss of life. It is only natural to feel a little blue, but this seems more serious. I confess that "trapped" and "hopeless" are frightening words, coming from the hale and hardy Ranger we know him to be.
As a side note, I am glad to see that he is making use of the tent. Given the trouble that Halbarad went to to haul it for him, I'm sure his second-in-command would concur with me!
The bittersweet words about the young man (sixteen? Oh, he's only a boy!) are very touching, particularly "I think we all wish for sons like him." Poor Aragorn: all he really wants is a home and a family, I think. And a little peace. Not yet, dear Strider. Not yet.
The image of Halbarad pacing before the tent is a very endearing one. Ooh, will we get to meet his wife? That would be lovely. Your view of the Dunedain runs closely with mine: most of them would have had wives and children hidden away on distant homesteads somewhere in the Wild. Such a hard and bitter life, not only for the Rangers but for their brides.
I do like the tantalizing hints as to the personalities of your crew of Rangers. I look forward to becoming better acquainted with them!
"Of late it seemed that sorrows plagued him like a pack of curs nipping at his heels, but there was no sense in burdening Lord Elrond with what was his alone to bear." Oh, Aragorn! He's definitely dysthymic. Surely he should know that he can confide in his foster-father! After all, everone from Gandalf to Thorin to Galadriel turns to Elrond for aid and advice! Though Aragorn's determination to bear his burdens alone is admirable, it's also heartbreaking, and it does make me fear for him so! He has such a yoke to carry, and he does not feel able to lay it by even for a moment. What will happen when it breaks his back?
And his fresh letter, beginning "It has been a hard summer, but hope has not deserted us..." Ack! You're plucking at the heartstrings already, and the story has scarcely begun! A most auspicious start: I shall eagerly read the rest as time allows!
Author Reply: Thank you, Canafinwe! I'm so glad you found the prologue intriguing and poignant... I really did want to pull the reader into Aragorn's state of mind and having a glimpse of his own words via an aborted letter to Elrond seemed to be an effective way to do it. There's an intimacy in letters that's often absent in conversation, and indeed, Aragorn realizes here that he's opening himself up too much. I imagine him often struggling with his desire for that father/son relationship but also trying hard to prove himself independent and worthy of kingship and, of course, Arwen's hand. I see Elrond and Aragorn as always having a loving relationship, but that issue standing between them was bound to, now and then, cause problems and misunderstandings and wrong assumptions, and exploring that is one of the layers in this tale.
Dysthmic... I had to look that up! LOL Yes, I think there could have been times when Aragorn found himself in that state, where pessimism and sorrow may have gained the upper hand for a time, when perhaps even his own great store of hope might falter. And being the Chieftain of a fading people had to have been very draining at times, especially I think at this point in his life, when the throne of Gondor seemed impossibly out of reach and evil was starting to stretch out and spread from the East.
I hope you enjoy the original characters... I took a bit of a page from author Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe novels and the idea of "chosen men". I think Aragorn's Grey Company was probably the cream of the crop of the Dunedain, and there were likely four or five men among that company, Halbarad foremost, who were his closest associates. I don't see the Dunedain as having especially strict and formal military ranks and organization--they were far too few and scattered--but to the extent they were able, I do think there was a type of military hierarchy. So we have Denlad, Galadh, Eledh and young Mallor. And yes, I'm with you completely in that all these Dunedain likely had families, or wanted to have families, and other duties besides protecting the realm. A hard life indeed for all of them.
Thanks so much for the review! I hope you enjoy the rest of the story. :)
|Reviewed Chapter: Prologue on 8/3/2009
|(From Dreamdeer) I almost missed out on an exquisite reading experience, based on this prologue. Unnecessary passive voice made me fear that the whole story would plod. Yet the content intrigued me enough to give the first chapter a chance, and by then I was so hooked, in fact so utterly enchanted in the oldest sense of the word, that after I wrote a 10+ review for MEFA I decided to go back and read this all over again, giving my views chapter by chapter (as I prefer done with my own work, when I can get it.)
So, let's get this little quibble out of the way. Passive voice means anything with a conjugation of the verb, "to be". The more you can weed it out, the more active and engaging your story becomes. (JK Rowling did make a notable exception, in that all of her house-elves speak in passive voice, to underline their helplessness under the spell laid upon them from birth.)
For an example, I took a segment out of this prologue: "...it seems as though year by year I am watching the dying gasps of the remnants of the Faithful, and it tears at my heart. Time is weighing heavily on me..." Notice that "tears my heart" has the most power in the section. Now, compare the vigor of a very slight rewrite: "it seems as though year by year I watch the dying gasps of the remnants of the Faithful, and it tears at my heart. Time weighs heavily on me..." Can you feel the difference? Subtle, perhaps, but it can accumulate.
Keep in mind that I only nitpick like this for the worthiest of stories, and writers worth the time. You have tremendously impressed me overall.
Already the prologue caught my interest with its hint of backstory, and the knowledge that it begins with Aragorn already weary.
More on the next chapter.
Author Reply: I'm sorry the use of passive voice in the prologue threw you... I don't use it very often (or at least, I hope I don't let too much slip in) but sometimes I do, deliberately. Aragorn here is hurrying along, writing a letter to Lord Elrond, and grammar and the like are not something he's particularly concerned with as much as pouring his heart out... and then retracting it for fear Elrond will worry too much over him. But I appreciate your comments. It's always a good reminder to doublecheck things like that and no matter how many times you revise, things slip through. I hope you didn't find the rest of the story too clogged with passive voice. I don't care for it myself and try to keep it to a minimum.
But mostly I thank you for the kind comments about the story itself. It's been a subject that intrigued me since reading Strider's reactions to the Nazgul in FOTR. Thank you for taking the time to review here *and* at MEFA... wow. A 10 pointer! Thank you so much. :)
|Reviewed Chapter: Prologue on 3/16/2009
|Oh, poor Aragorn! It always seems like everyone rests their hopes and burdens on him, and yet he has no one to turn to when he loses hope...I think you've captured that quite beautifully, especially in the way he wants to write to Elrond but can't bring himself to do so. This story looks really promising, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of it! =)
Author Reply: Thank you, Minerva! I'm glad you're intrigued by the start of this. Very much right in that there's really no one besides Elrond (and Arwen) who can *really* help him, but being the selfless person he is, he is reluctant to burden anyone at all with his troubles. Aragorn's is a hard road, in more ways than just the battles with the enemy. There are many internal battles to face as well, and this tale is about that. Thanks for the review and hope you enjoy the story and let me know your thoughts as you go along!
|Reviewed Chapter: Prologue on 2/8/2009
|Oh, I was going to wait until you finished this story but I've been horribly sick all weekend and there's nothing like a *touch* of Aragorn angst to make me feel better. Woman, I am blown away by this story, totally blown away. The prologue was fanastic, and when Aragorn crumples up his letter and throws it away, I wasn't surprised. But honestly, this is fantastic. I don't know if I'll review any more today (my head feels like it's permanently encased in mothballs) but you can bet I will when I can. I had hoped this would be a great story, but in all honesty, so far it's one of the best I've ever read. (I read all the chapters you posted already so I'm not just going by the prologue).
Thanks for making me feel better. *Pats Aragorn*. Wish I could say the same about you, oh studly ranger. So much for waiting til the story was finished...
Author Reply: Oh, I'm so sorry you're not feeling well, but I'm very glad to have provided you with a nice distraction. And you've made my day, believe me! You don't even have to leave more reviews--I think I can live off this one for a long time (although more reviews are always welcome. *grin*) Yes, I'm really giving it to our studly Ranger, poor guy. I hope you feel better, but um, as for Aragorn... well, future chapters will tell that tale. I'm glad you're enjoying this and hope you feel better. Thanks again!
|Reviewed Chapter: Prologue on 12/21/2008
|Ohhhhh, Aragorn, so very eloquent in his letter-writing! What sorrows is he holding back, though? Time for me to click the "next" button...
Author Reply: Oooh, thank you for hitting the "next" button ... and for leaving the review. Hopefully you'll find the story compelling enough to keep hitting that "next" button. Thanks!
|Raksha The Demon
|Reviewed Chapter: Prologue on 12/15/2008
|Being Heir of Isildur and Chieftain of the Dunedain is certainly no picnic in the late Third Age, is it?! But it's good that Aragorn is thinking like a king.
Author Reply: No, it's definitely not a picnic, and probably far worse than any of us can picture or even that I've written, I imagine. I do think, though, that Aragorn's days as Chieftain really honed him for the long struggle to attain the throne, and even as Chieftain he was always looking toward the future, or trying to, even when the path became too dim to see. And that is the heart of the struggle in this story. Hope you continue reading and thank you for the review!
|Reviewed Chapter: Prologue on 12/14/2008
|Ah, finally! I'm glad you finished this. Looking forward to reading it.
Author Reply: Yes, finally finished it, after what, a year? LOL I hope you like it ... I will always be extremely grateful for the help you gave me at the outset. I really don't think I would have gone anywhere in the fandom without your friendly welcome and this story especially would have died a quiet death on my hard drive without your input. Thanks again!
|Reviewed Chapter: Prologue on 12/10/2008
|Poor Aragorn,what a grim outlook he faced.I've a nasty feeling the young boy will be the next doomed one.You write Rangers beautifully.I find this part of Aragorn's life very hard to write.I eagerly await more.
Author Reply: Thank you so much, Linda, for your kind review. I'm glad you like the way I write Rangers... they've become near and dear to my heart, so I'm glad to know you think I'm doing them justice. And of course, I can't say what comes next, other than, um, well ... no, I won't say anything. ;) Thanks again for the lovely review.
|Reviewed Chapter: Prologue on 12/9/2008
At last, I can return the favor of a review! What a charming and engaging beginning to what promises to be quite a story! I can tell already that a great deal of work and time and consideration went into this piece.
I would love to discover your interpretation of the matter of the Nazgul for that quote has often fascinated me (I also thought that there was something of the flashback in his "unseeing eyes aas if walking in distant memory or listening to the sounds of Night.") Tolkien was a soldier of WWI; it's not inconceivable that he would have been aware of such things--or even suffered some of them himself.
Now for all of the delicious detail you put into this very promising prologue, I do have one aspect that jarred me a little. Your OCs look very engaging, and I look forward to meeting, but I wonder if Aragorn, having known these men for an indeterminate length of time, would have described them in such thorough and...gushing? detail. I know that letter writing was the best way of communication then, and men put a lot more into their words and were comfortable expressing a lot more than they seem to today, but the almost overabundance of description seemed...off. Perhaps, it's just me, and that is, of course, only my opinion. I still very much look forward to what you come up with (actually, I'm quite glad this story is already complete, so I don't have to suffer :) My own readers, unfortunately, will have to for a little yet.)
All the best,
--more detail? Less of an out and outright description of the men. Would aragorn spend so much time describing his men in that intimate a detail?
Author Reply: Thank you for the review, Marchwriter! I'm glad you mostly liked my beginning. In answer to your question--I do think Aragorn would describe the men as such. For one thing, this was a letter to his foster father. Had the letter not been a personal one but a strictly military report, then no, he would not have mentioned any of them in such terms. But being a missive to a loved one, I think we can give Aragorn some leniency in waxing a bit eloquent about his friends. But mileage varies and you're fine in disagreeing with my take on it. :)
As for the Nazgūl quote, I have that exact same impression of it--I think Tolkien probably was very aware of men who had such experiences after combat. Wouldn't it have been great had Tolkien given us more detail on this? But then we wouldn't have the fun of exploring it ourselves.
Thanks again for the thoughtful review. Hopefully my take on Aragorn will ring more true for you in future chapters.