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At Hope's Edge  by Cairistiona 14 Review(s)
MikoNoNyteReviewed Chapter: 8 on 1/16/2013
This was a tough read, and probably just as difficult to write. Battle scenes (melee) drive me wonkers. I've written many and you always need to know where your fighters are and what they are doing. You did that very well; enough so that following Aragorn's fear and emotional response - and his reasons for doing what he did for gosh sakes! - were easily read and understood. Bravo!

You went into some really heart heavy descriptions of what Aragorn was going thru with the Black Breath. I've read several versions of what fan writers have to say about it, some better than others, and certainly Tolkien was no help, but yours I must say bit like a cobra. I could readily follow the deterioration and utter helplessness that Aragorn was going through; the battle of his own insecurities which were an incredible weapon against him! as well as the terror that made him weak. And then following with Halbarad's remark of "terror looking through your eyes" really brings home Aragorn's humanity and his vulnerability which we, as readers or writers, often forget. Tolkien painted his hero as Heroic in the mythological sort, like Beowulf or Herakles. Here we see he is anything but!

Favorite line so far, another one with humour: "to be chieftain, to marry Arwen, to fulfill your destiny and rule Gondor and Arnor and save Middle-earth from all evil, bad weather, bad manners, and spoiled vegetables."

Halbarad for the win! And I laughed myself silly. Thank you!

Author Reply: Thank you, Miko! That was a really hard section of the story to get through, to keep Aragorn's heroic status intact but still show that he's human and subject to fear, as his reaction in the Prancing Pony showed (yes, that may have been a perhaps unintended leftover from when Aragorn was still a hobbit named Trotter who'd been tortured by Sauron... but it made it into the book as part of Aragorn's story, so it demands explanation!). And Halbarad, bless him, just can't handle any tough situation without tossing in some humor. *g* Hope the rest of the story keeps holding up for you!

LisaGReviewed Chapter: 8 on 2/4/2010
I was so glad that Aragorn's friend from the inn survived, but still, what a horrible loss!

The fight with the Nazgul and then to fend off the Black Breath was chilling. I felt as exhausted as Aragorn must have just reading it as he did in the fight itself.

Oh and I adore your Halbarad! Loved his rant telling Aragorn that he is indeed good enough! I only wish Aragorn would embrace his words of encouragement and wisdom, but I fear he's too beaten down physically, psychologically and spiritually to absorb the message and truly heal. :(

Author Reply: Thanks, Lisa... I often find myself wondering about all the chieftains through the years that had to deal with similar tragedy. Such a hard road they all had to walk, and I hope that each one had a Halbarad by his side to encourage and prop up. Halbarad has his hands full this time, for Aragorn's definitely in a state, and now he has the Black Breath working on him as well.

Rest up, because the story doesn't get much easier for quite some time!

Thanks for the review!

DreamdeerReviewed Chapter: 8 on 8/4/2009
I remember the impact of reading this the first time. The author had so firmly established Aragorn's strength and courage, that to see him utterly helpless like this physically frightened me. I could simultaneously experience his illness and Halbarad's fear.

Cairistiona uses well Poul Anderson's rule to include at least three senses in every scene. No matter what happens in the story, the reader experiences it vividly.

Author Reply: Thank you, Dreamdeer! I have to confess to not knowing that was actually a rule ascribed to someone, to use at least three senses in every scene. I do try to engage all the senses as much as I can in my stories, because that's what brings a fictional world to life. And to think I actually induced physical fear in you is a bit mind-blowing, to be honest. I'm so glad you felt the scene's full impact. Thank you for letting me know that. :)

LarnerReviewed Chapter: 8 on 2/6/2009
He definitely needs the reassurance, and am glad Halbarad is willing to give him what he needs.

Author Reply: Oh goodness, somehow I missed this review you left! My apologies! I'm glad you liked the chapter... yes, Halbarad is there to do what he can, although he's no doubt feeling absolutely helpless in the face of this.

Thanks for the review, and again, my apologies for overlooking this!

Linda HoylandReviewed Chapter: 8 on 2/2/2009
A wonderful chapter.I loved the way you showed the dreadful Black Breath.I'm another who thought of Faramir.I always thought only the King or Elrond's family could use athelas,but I guess Halbarad would have enough of Luthien's lineage for him to use it too.
I just love Halbarad here and his care and obvious love for his kinsman and how well he has him summed up.A great line about how he blames himself even for bad vegetables!I just love this story.

Author Reply: Thank you, Linda! I'm glad you liked this chapter and Halbarad's care of Aragorn. I don't really think it was Halbarad using the athelas that did the trick--it was that he was simply doing the administering of it and Aragorn's own lineage that makes it work for him (Aragorn). I'm going on the theory think there could be a sort of latent ability in Aragorn himself that makes the athelas somewhat effective, even if he's not at his full capacity as a healer. And I can't say more or I'll spoil upcoming chapters. *grin* But yes, interesting point in perhaps being a cousin, Halbarad might also be able to use it in the way Aragorn does--which makes for interesting possibilities for future stories... hmmm....

Thank you for the thoughtful review. :)

MP brennanReviewed Chapter: 8 on 2/1/2009
Great chapter!
Poor Aragorn . . . want to hug him and cuddle him and make it all better and if you think I sound like a hopeless fangirl, you're not the only one;-)
Excellent depiction of the Black Breath. This story certainly goes a long way towards explaining the passage you quoted in the prologue.
Halbarad was spot on, as usual. "Save Middle-earth from all evil, bad weather, bad manners, and spoiled vegetables." LOL! He really is a perfect counterpoint to Aragorn.
Looking forward to more!

Author Reply: Thank you, Brennan! I'm really glad you liked the humor in Halbarad's line. I think Aragorn does sometimes suffer from an overly developed sense of responsibility to make EVERYTHING right in Middle-earth and Halbarad sees it as his role to bring Aragorn's thinking into a more realistic balance. And I'm glad you liked my take on the Black Breath. Creepy stuff, the BB. And hey, no shame in being a fangirl! I definitely had a lot of those moments writing this. I definitely wanted to hug this poor guy. Several times. *grin* Thanks again!

inzilbethReviewed Chapter: 8 on 1/31/2009
This chapter is just brilliant. I really don't know what else to say. I just love everything about it! Hopeless review as always, I know LOL!

Author Reply: Ah, but you help immensely as my beta reader, so no matter about the reviews! I just appreciate you leaving one, and I'm so glad you liked this chapter... and helped me with the last minute "reconstruction" of it! :)

Raksha The DemonReviewed Chapter: 8 on 1/31/2009
Yikes; poor Aragorn. It's so hard for him to understand that he can't do everything he has set his heart on doing, at least not without casualties along the way. It's not a failure; it's just that he's up against overwhelming odds even for Isildur's Elf-raised Heir; and sometimes there will be failures between victories.

I see that Halbarad scored points in the Whack-A-Wraith game; he made the critter leave its quarry.

Aragorn's ghastly experience with the Black Breath makes me have even more respect for Faramir, who also lingered for two days or more in the grip of that poison - I suspect that Aragorn's experience here will help him when he has to heal others, including Faramir, who are caught in the Black Breath; Aragorn's been through it and lived, and will have a special knowledge of what he's up against as healer and King.

I loved Halbarad's telling off Aragorn about Aragorn's occasional rants that he can't save the world from Sauron and bad vegetables. I imagine that Halbarad helps keep Aragorn sane as well as alive. It is the ultimate tragedy that Halbarad didn't live to see Sauron's Fall and the resulting peace as well as Aragorn's kingship and marriage.

Author Reply: Thank you so much, Raksha! (We've got to figure out a way to build a Wrack-a-Wraith game!)

I'm so glad you mentioned Faramir, because that was in my mind as I wrote this, that this is a "toss him in the deep end" bit of a learning experience for Aragorn that will help him when the time comes to deal with Faramir. It's one thing to have had book-learning under Elrond, or even a bit of a glancing blow if that happened while he was on his errantries; quite another to face the wraith directly in battle and then experience the effects. Looking at Aragorn's reaction in FOTR at the Pony to the wraiths and his power while healing Faramir, I figured there had to be a very personal encounter with a wraith somewhere in his past.

And yes, poor Halbarad (I'm glad you loved his rants)! I just hate that one of these days I'll have to write a story revolving around his death, but I know I will... the idea is in my head to do it and I'll have to follow that muse. If there were any AU tale I'd love to write, it would be of Halbarad surviving to harass Aragorn up until the very moment Aragorn gives his life back and then they leave the circles of Arda together. Ah well.

Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful review!

georgeReviewed Chapter: 8 on 1/30/2009
Just wanted to pop in and let you know how much I am enjoying your writing!

Especially this aspect: I've read a lot of stories (correction: read the first few chapters of a lot of stories) where I just want to smack the author because the dangerous situations Aragorn gets into make him seem like a suicidal idiot, and his self-doubt makes him seem like a whiny crybaby with low self-esteem. You, on the other hand, do an excellent job of leading the reader through all of Aragorn's worries and fears and responsibilities, so that we can see why he feels they are justified, even if we might not always agree with them (and maybe sympathize with Halbarad's wistful thinking on pity removal techniques). I especially loved both your description of his feelings about standing between his men and danger, and his outburst to Halbarad about his destiny way back in "Unexpected." For someone like Aragorn who cares so much about his people and has been raised as a guardian of so much, the idea of 'sparing' himself for some distant future must be a horrible conflict. Anyway, you've done a great job of characterization for all involved, great job of heaping on the hardships that set the tone for this story, and communicated quite a lot without breaking the flow of your story.

Sorry if I'm babbling, but I figured I'd cram reviews for the last bunch of chapters all into this one. >.>

Can't wait to read what happens next!

Author Reply: Wow. *blinking in happy astonishment* Thank you, george! You have my permission to cram as many chapters into a single review as you like!

I too sometimes am very dismayed when I read fics that pile on the hurt or angst without regard to Aragorn's character or how such hurt/torture/whatever will affect the future canon lays out for him. I very much want to avoid doing that with this tale, but still wanted to explore his strength, his inner conflicts or demons, if you will, although I don't really see Aragorn as riddled with inner fears, and his inner hope. All good leaders who care about their people surely must question their motives, their decisions, and all that, and Tolkien showed us Aragorn does that quite a bit. So this is definitely a tale about how far can I push (and pummel) and still have him be the same Strider we first meet at the Prancing Pony. It's a fine line between turning him into a navel-gazing wimp and drawing him as a compassionate man examining himself ruthlessly to make sure he doesn't do anything to make his people's situation worse. I think I begged my beta's most to make sure they caught me out if I overstepped that line.

Thank you so much for such a thoughtful review; I hope the rest of the story continues to unfold in a satisfactory way for you!

Silivren TinuReviewed Chapter: 8 on 1/30/2009
*breathes again* That was tense, to say the least. Did I mention lately how much I love Halbarad? *g* Poor Aragorn. The nightmare was truly dreadful, and being trapped there alone, in the cold and the darkness, must have been terrifying. I loved the moment at the beginning of the chapter, when Halbarad was able to reach Aragorn by taking his hand.

Blessed be those stubborn, faithful rangers for refusing to let go and for somehow managing to find athelas in time. It's just like Aragorn to *not* realize the strength he has shown by holding on for so long, both during his fight with the Nazgul, and afterwards. He is so lucky to have Halbarad there to hammer some sense into him, and I think he knows it. ;-) I loved Halbarad confronting Aragorn about his 'wallowing' in the end, and that Aragorn was not able to 'nod and smile' but had to stop pretending, for once.

"But I will not give up on you, nor will I allow you to give up on yourself. Not as long as I have breath." - I did mention that I love that ranger, right? *bg* Another wonderful chapter, Cairistiona! Loved it! :)


Author Reply: Thank you, Almut! As I've mentioned before, I absolutely love your reviews--they're so comprehensive. Halbarad really does have a way of cutting to the heart of the matter with Aragorn, doesn't he? And yes, the Rangers are all very stubborn... they all love Aragorn as much as Halbarad and would fight to their last breaths to save him from whatever perils he might find himself in. I always imagine it was very hard on all the Dunedain when Aragorn left them on all his many missions. And yes, I too think Aragorn is likely to not always see his strength because he's always trying so hard to be the best, the strongest, the fastest, the wisest... because he feels he *has* to be those things. And so any perceived imperfections get blown out of proportion. And that leaves poor Halbarad stuck with the task of pounding the proportions back into line. ;)

Glad you liked this, and love Halbarad! And thanks again for the review!

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