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At Hope's Edge  by Cairistiona 17 Review(s)
MikoNoNyteReviewed Chapter: 26 on 1/31/2013
Angst, angst, angst! You really tortured poor Strider. *snickers*

re: Aragorn's .. whatever you want to call it: dream? I used to think renderings of Faramir's dreams were really over the top. You've out done them. What kinds of nightmares does this guy carry around inside of him? *shudders*

Aragorn and Elrond; the healing and the catharsis - You have, beyond all doubt, ripped a hole in my heart.

We all face grief differently, and Aragorn seems to have bought in to the tale that men are strong, men don't weep, men don't mourn. But oh yes they do! It takes a stronger man to face his grief and let it flow through him, washing clean the soul. It was so nice to see Elrond responding to him as a father would, and telling him just how silly it is not not let the feelings flow.

And you are still out-doing yourself with wittiness! "
Erestor being Erestor, argued it was fifty-one..." I laughed a very long time!

And, before I leave off: did you write this before or after Enzilbeth's lovely first draft of "Hobbit to Hero"?

*still laughing*

The change of point of view in the last two chapters seemed a bit odd; I never expected journals of Aragorn. I thought perhaps it was your way of dealing with recalcitrant muses or even difficult scenes that refused to be written correctly. The unease over the change was only minor and was fine after I read on, for Aragorn's sense of the ridiculous came through sharply!

I was also glad to see the foreshadowing of events yet to come, and Gandalf's interaction thereof. But I think most of all you caught Aragorn's spirit: the rise to the challenge that Gandalf presented, the danger and unknown that he would face trying to find Gollum. I literally shuddered when Aragorn realized the finding of The One Ring - it felt very real - coupled with Aragorn's lightening change of attitude -

*something stilled within me. I felt calm again, almost relaxed. It is the same feeling that comes over me in those last seconds before the battle is joined, when all questioning and planning and speculating are done and it remains only to raise sword and fight*

That was something else I really liked as well. That call to battle that was like a drumming in his blood. Throughout the story you've used very strong emotional resonances (at least to me). I would not mind having this Dunedan on my team in a fight, nor would I want to face off against him. He does have a recklessness at this point (Hell, at all points really!) and a willingness to sacrifice both his body but his desires. It's young yet in him, but his "I'm fine" answers to any questions of his health point out just how close he's willing to cut it.

Last lines are important as well. And while not the most driving, not something to rally the troops with, this one still got me grinning ear to ear:

“You have a way about you, Aragorn, of making the hardest challenge sound easy.”

End of the story, but not end of the saga. I'll be returning to drive you insane my friend!

Author Reply: Yay, you survived until the end! *g* I'm so glad you liked it... and it sounds like you'll be wreaking revenge on me for driving *you* insane with my Aragorn torturing. hee hee. I don't mind at all.

To answer your questions/comments:

Regarding Elrond being fatherly, I can't *not* see him being a loving father. That's how he is in the books, and that's how I prefer to see him in my fics. Yes, he and Aragorn had that Thing between them, but I think they still felt love toward one another, even though it might have caused misunderstandings at times, like the one that occurred in this story. As for Aragorn being a typical male "deny all emotions", I think it was a bit of that but to my mind the bigger problem was that the Black Breath really messed with his mind, because he was already reeling both from his own illness and from losing so many of his people, and then losing Mallor. I saw him in my mind as fearing to give in to tears because he might not have found his way back out again, and too much was at stake. Of course, he probably couldn't have sussed that out for himself without years of therapy. *g*

Regarding Inzilbeth: I wrote this several years before ever seeing Liz' book... indeed, her book was just something that, at this time, was an idea she was thinking of pursuing. It was actually fanfic that brought us together as friends when she emailed me about "The Mariner's Son". She assisted me as a beta in all the rest of my tales, including a ton of really helpful input on this one, which was my first major foray into LOTR fic (and there's things in it that I intend to revise for having a better understanding of Tolkien and Aragorn now than I did back then).

Regarding the change of POV in the epilogue: Call it a folly (though I hope it wasn't too self indulgent). *g* I love journal form stories, and I hate epilogues that are nothing more than telling what happened. I could have made the next year's story a sequel, but I wanted Aragorn to tell us the story himself. So yes, it might be a little bit of a "Hey, what the heck??" moment at first but hopefully, like you said, it was just a little bobble before the reader finds their footing again.

Finally, the Dunadan and "battle song" that courses through their blood: I based that a teeny bit on the idea of berserkers. I don't think the Dunadan ever lusted for battle nor lived for it, but I do like to think they met it with, if not enthusiasm, than bravery bordering on that. I have no idea if that's very Tolkienish but it's very cairistiona-verse-ish. *g*

I do hope you like the rest of my stories. Most of them include at least a mention of Aragorn's "chosen men", and some feature them in central roles. I plan on doing many more stories, as time allows. So, er, brace yourself. *g*

Thank you soooooooooo much for all the thoughtful comments and nice words! :)

TirnelReviewed Chapter: 26 on 12/10/2010
I loved the trotter bit thrown in there. Halbarad is my favorite ranger, next to Aragorn of course. And despite the fact that I knew he could not die yet (that's later) you got me really worried when you shot him. Good job on that.

Author Reply: Thank you, Tirnel! It's always good to hear from a fellow Halbarad & Aragorn fan. I'm glad you enjoyed my take on them both, and very glad I made you fear for Halbarad's life "even though". :) Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

EllynnReviewed Chapter: 26 on 8/25/2010
And when will the road go on? *sweet puppy look* I want to read how Aragorn felt when he and Gandalf discovered Bilbo's ring really was The One Ring. *sweet puppy look* I want to read how Aragorn felt on Weathertop, fighting Nazgul. *sweet puppy look* I want to know how Aragorn felt in the beginning of the quest. *sweet puppy look* I want to know... all. *sweet puppy look*

And if you think I ask too much, I will only say - it is your own fault. *innocent smile* My wishes, I mean. *innocent smile* Because you are an extraodinary writer. There is a proverb, describing this situation and my wishes, and it goes something like: "You gave me a finger, and I want the whole hand." :) I am greedy, am I not? :)
But, whatever you will write - and as I said, I would really like to read sooooooo much more from you - I know it will be perfect.

Author Reply: You're very kind, thank you! I do intend to write more Aragorn stories, definitely--not sure whether they'll be reflections on the events in LOTR or more adventures that take place before the Quest and War of the Ring, but there will be more, one way or another.

Thanks for all the comments and reviews for this story... it was fun to hear your thoughts as you worked your way through it! :)

ImbecamielReviewed Chapter: 26 on 11/3/2009
Well, this certainly took me longer than expected. Things got a liiitle crazier than I'd anticipated. But my reviewing motto is "better late than never", so... here I am.

I must admit, in sitting down to write this I went through an internal debate. Maintain a literate and relatively intellectual demeanor as I attempt to leave some form of helpful feedback... or simply break down into squeals of general incoherent delight? Ah, the dilemma... But I shall try to show some restraint. ;)

So, for the story: Absolutely loved it, as you may have guessed. Not only can you create a a well-crafted plot, but your writing style just makes it shine. And when you add to that a real understanding of canon characters (and courage in writing some characters that I know many find intimidating!), plus the ability to create well-balanced and thoroughly enjoyable original characters... It makes for some wonderful reading indeed.

Even above all that, though - which certainly makes for very enjoyable fanfiction as it is... This story struck that chord of undefinable longing which the books themselves stir in me, but which I only rarely encounter in fanfiction.

Hmm, how to go further without giving in to the temptation to quote back your story line-by-line in order to comment on all the wonderful parts? I think I'll have to summarize and go completely out of order, as things occur to me, or I'll be here all night.

I just love your sense of humor - and the way you blended so well the seriousness, and tragedy, with lightness. It was, in many ways, a dark story, and yet it was far from being a depressing story. The way you've portrayed the events, characters, and settings seemed very in keeping with the books. (As a matter of fact, the overall feel of your style reminded me strongly of what I've read of meckinock's work. I read, and loved, all that she'd done, back when she had only posted a few here - and now that I've seen how much more she's written, definitely intend to catch up.) So much to enjoy, both in the broader strokes and the little details you make use of.

Your portrayal of the Dunedain was delightful - both canon and original characters. Halbarad - what can I say? I already loved him, and you've made me love him even more. All of Aragorn's interaction with him was just brilliant. And I absolutely loved every one of your OCs, not only for what they contributed to the plot but as excellent characters in their own rights. I'd definitely like to see more of them in future stories!

Aragorn himself was just perfect. You balanced his awesomeness with realism, his own doubts with just how competent and capable he really is. I can't think of one way your portrayal of him could have been improved.

And Gandalf! I know a lot of people shy away from writing him - and I know I'd certainly be intimidated by the thought of it myself. But your smooth sure-footedness doesn't waver even here, and I loved his parts in the story.

And your elves... First I must simply say this: GLORFINDEL!!!!!

Ahem. Yes. I am a huge fan of Glorfindel, and have gone on plenty of hunts for good fanfiction featuring him. There's not nearly enough of it in the world... And I have to say, what you've done with him in this story ranks up there with my favorite stuff ever. All of it, but most especially that fight with the Wraith. Oh yes, even if this story hadn't already qualified on other grounds, it would definitely be making it to my list of "stories that must be re-read many times", if only for that. You have made me very, very happy indeed.

As for the other elves that appeared in the story, you handled them brilliantly as well. Hmm, how to explain it? In my mind, there is the "book version" of LOTR elves, and the "expanded, fanfiction version." Though I've enjoyed both versions greatly, the fanfiction version does certainly tend to diverge from the book version to greater degrees than characters of other races generally seem to. Not always a bad thing, as I've certainly enjoyed reading versions I see as going well beyond the realms of behavior likely in the book-verse elves, but yes. All that to say - it seems to me in this you've drawn out so many of the most enjoyable traits frequently found among fanfiction depictions of the elves, and portrayed them in such a way as to seem easily compatible with those found in the books. Elrond, Elladan, Elrohir, Erestor, your OCs... Just wonderful!

And speaking of Elrond... Mmm, oh yes. The way you handled his relationship with Aragorn, the rift caused by Aragorn's love for Arwen, the eventual easing of tension between them - this was amazing. I've seen the issue glossed over too easily, and I've seen it drawn out to the point where reading it was just really painful. I loved the balance you struck in this story. Beautiful.

A few other particulars I'll just toss out for specific mention, because I loved them: Little Estel and his forty-eleven peppermint sticks! Your excellent use of little details, from the books and histories. (Tolkien's original intention to have a hobbit named Trotter rather than the Strider we know and love - I don't think I've ever seen that referenced in a fanfic before!) Your beautiful use of language, which helped more fully immerse me in the world of Middle Earth. (Ah, I have seen so many stumble - badly - when attempting to in any way mirror Tolkien's "higher" style of writing, rather than the usual, more casual style of fanfiction writing that more people can manage well. The more formal style is just delicious when done right, and the more casual style can be truly excellent as well. But not everyone knows which is appropriate for their own story, skill set, and writing style.) The fact that you mentioned Legolas, even though he wasn't in the story! (Yes, yes, I love Aragorn and Legolas friendship stories very much...)

Oh, so very many things, and there are just dozens more that I would love to exclaim over at length. But it is late and I am tired, and I fear approaching the limits of my coherence for the day.

And now, as I believe I have shown a great deal of restraint thus far, if you will excuse me -

EEEEE!!!! SUCH an awesome story! And Aragorn was COOL! And he got HURT! And there was lots of good stuff with other people getting worried and caring about him! And - and COOL! And FUNNY! And I LOVED it, because it was reallyreallyreallygood. And - *SQUEE*

Ahem. Yes. I really, really like your writing. I've kind of taken a break from most LOTR fanfiction reading for a while, for... a number of reasons. But now you've gone and reminded me of all the reasons I've so long adored the fandom, and now I've got the wild urge to go and re-read all of my favorite stories, and read those stories I've been meaning to get to, but haven't. Which would probably not be good, because not only do I not really have time, but then I'm going to start getting the urge to go and start writing more stories myself, which I seriously Can Not do, with all the writing projects I already have going. Hmm. Ah, temptation.

I should maybe be irritated. But I'm too happy. Please keep writing. For a very, very long time.

I shall be attempting to leave reviews on the "Ranger and the Hobbit" story from here on out. :)

- Cami

Author Reply: Wow, Cami, thank you! When you leave a review, you really leave a review! And one that has left me smiling from ear to ear. I'm glad you opted to give both the intellectual review and the "OMG!!!! THIS IS SOOO GOOD!!!" review. *g* They're both fun.

I don't even know where to start... I feel almost as though I need to leave a review for your review, but that can get to the point where it feels like you're sending a thank you card for the thank you card. But to touch on a few things--I love Meckinock's stories. They were the first ones I stumbled across and her kindness to me was instrumental in helping me take a few baby steps into a fandom I knew little about and seemed impossibly huge and intimidating. That you liken my writing to hers is just about the highest compliment you can give me. And I don't really try to "be more Tolkien than Tolkien" in my writing style. That would be, er, incredibly bad and clunky. Tolkien is the only one who can write like Tolkien, and the rest of us just need to bow down and genuflect at his inkwell, methinks. If I tried to do too much in the way of his "Behold!" type dialogue and high prose, it would just be sadly cheesy. Stinky, Limburger-y cheesy. So I try to draw a line between the casual and the higher and hope it works.

And Elves, eek... I never really know how to write them, but I do like the Rivendell Elven folk. They seem a little more easy to understand to me, for whatever reason. And Elrond, yes... he's a loving father to Aragorn, even though they have that Big Problem. But the Big Problem I think caused the occasional misunderstanding but never completely overrode the love. That's cairistiona's #1 Rule of Elrond and Aragorn Relations. :)

I do intend to keep writing... I love it too much not to. :) Thanks again for the lovely review... I'll be feasting off this one for days!

DreamdeerReviewed Chapter: 26 on 8/13/2009
And finally, the ending that segues neatly into prologue for the familiar ground of Tolkien's legendarium. Thank you, Cairistiona, for an outstandingly good fanfic!

Author Reply: I feel I should be the one thanking you for all the lovely and encouraging reviews! I'm so glad you enjoyed the entire tale, and I very much appreciate you taking the time to tell me in such detail your thoughts as you went along. Those are always the best kinds of reviews. :)

Lady TelcontarReviewed Chapter: 26 on 7/16/2009
I am unable to say just how much I enjoyed reading this most excellent story. Throughout all of the story, I felt stuck to the screen by some unnamed power, forcing me to read the next chapter and the next and the next...

This tale will most certainly stay in my memory forever as one of the best Aragorn-centric stories ever and surely the most heartwrenching one.

You have the talent to make your readers feel exactly what Aragorn feels, to make everything seem real, like painting pictures with words. And that is what in my opinion makes this story so touching and realistic.

To think, that after much suffering and at the edge of Hope, at a point where one can fall no lower, one can get up again and become even sronger than before...

For that is what Aragorn did.

Author Reply: Thank you so much, Lady Telcontar! My goodness, what a glowing review you've left me. I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. My chief goal in writing it was exactly as you put it--to show that a man can fall to the very brink of destruction yet still find the strength to climb back up, and afterward, though not without scars, find himself stronger than he was. Tolkien left that compelling glimpse of Aragorn's reaction as he spoke of the Nazgul to the Hobbits in Bree, and like so many writers, I wanted to explore it and find a reason why, so many years later, he would still find himself in a cold sweat simply speaking about them. It would have taken quite a lot to cause a man as strong as Aragorn to feel that sort of long-term lingering fear. I'm very glad you found the tale realistic and touching.

Thanks again for the lovely review!

Raksha The DemonReviewed Chapter: 26 on 5/2/2009
A fine ending to this excellent thrill-and-chill ride. Aragorn has regained his hope and initiative, despite continued memory of the Nazgul horrors. It's good that he got to see his mother as well. Aragorn seems to have emerged from his ordeal even stronger than before, if a bit sadder.

Author Reply: Thank you, Raksha! I'm so glad you like how this tale finished up. Yes, Aragorn is sadder but stronger, which seems to be the pattern for his life before the war... that grimness we see in his face from Tolkien's description really does reflect a life filled with hardships. But there's always a wellspring of hope and that did not truly diminish even with the struggles he went through here. I like to think if anything he discovered even greater depths of hope within himself, once Elrond straightened him out. Thank you so much for reading this entire tale and for all your faithful reviews--they mean the world!

Linda HoylandReviewed Chapter: 26 on 5/1/2009
Thank you for a story that every chapter left me eagerly awaiting more. If this were in the shops, I'd rush out to buy a copy.

I liked the way you had Aragorn decide to find Gollum and in doing so finds purpose again.

I eagerly await your next story.

Thank you for a great read.

Author Reply: Thank you so much, Linda! I'm so glad that you found this tale worthy of ever actually putting down cold hard cash to buy! It was definitely a labor of love and one that while I'm sorry is finished now allows me to explore new stories, not least of which is Aragorn's hunt for Gollum. There are so many, many stories to tell about Aragorn--hopefully I'll be writing for a long time. Thank you again for this and for all the reviews you've left. They're greatly appreciated. :)

Silivren TinuReviewed Chapter: 26 on 4/28/2009
I like this ending even more than what I thought to be the ending. ;-) You are right, in a way FotR could be seen as a sequel to this story, but I still wouldn't mind at all hearing some of Aragorn's adventures while hunting Gollum from you. I also hope that Gandalf will appear in your stories again - I like the way you write my favourite wizard. *g*

It was really nice to see that Aragorn is now able to listen to Halbarad and Elrond (and himself ;-) and spend some time in Rivendell when he needs it.

Aragorn's visit to his mother was heartwarming. I think he could really use the comfort she had to offer him. I loved Aragorn's reunion with his rangers. I can't blame him for feeling insecure and I could have hugged all of them for greeting him the way they did.

I very much enjoyed the conversation between Aragorn and Gandalf. Poor Aragorn - you definitely have to be a very patient man to enjoy a conversation with a Maia. *g* What followed reminded me of the scene where Gandalf tells Frodo about the Ring for the first time (I love that scene). It's always both exciting and frightening to hear about Gandalf's discovery, or, at this stage, theory. The way you ended the story makes me want to read FotR again right away. :D

Once again thank you for sharing this tale with us - I hope there will be many more to come! :)


Author Reply: Thanks, Almut! I'm so glad you liked the "second" ending. *grin* And wow, it makes you want to read FOTR! That to me is exactly what fanfic should do... inspire people to dig deeper into the original. Gandalf will definitely appear again, and I'll follow Aragorn on his hunt for Gollum as well. And yes, wasn't it sweet of the Rangers to basically throw a big party upon Aragorn's return? (Makes me wonder what they must have done when he finally came back after all his years south as Thorongil).

Still more stories to come--these characters still jostling and elbowing me for attention. *grin* Thank you for all your wonderfully encouraging reviews throughout this big long epic. They're very much appreciated!

Lily BagginsReviewed Chapter: 26 on 4/27/2009
Well, I have to say that this has been one of THE most mesmerizing stories I’ve encountered in my seven years of reading LOTR fanfic. It was absolutely wonderful, every element, and I hope you’ll be writing of Aragorn’s ventures for many years to come.

I must say that the last part was thoroughly Aragorn---home in Rivendell to seek solace and at the behest of Halbarad, and yet the moment Gandalf indicates that Aragorn is urgently needed for a cause, he's outta there the next day! Talk about not letting the grass grow under your feet!

You have no idea how I will miss looking forward to installments of this story. It's been the bright spot of my week for a long time now. I'm so glad you have other ideas for future fics, and I am going to grovel/beg/plead/pray that you're still planning to post some "deleted scenes" to this story. I'm so looking forward to them!

In the meantime, I'll be re-reading this over and over, you can be sure of that. It will definitely always remain one of my all-time favorites. Thank you so much for giving us this story.

Author Reply: Thank you so much, Lily! I'm so glad the story held up for you to the very end, and yes, this story may be finished but I do have more to come, including the "deleted scene" ones, the first of which I'll post next week. I'm putting them up separately under the title "At Hope's Edge: The Appendices" just because they are a bit different in some of the detail than what eventually ended up in At Hope's Edge. But still fun to read, I hope. :) There's 4 one- and two-shots for this. So grovel no more... they'll be coming. *grin* And I have more stories coming besides, although maybe not as big or epic as the scope of this one was.

Yes, Aragorn certainly didn't let much grass grow under his feet--and he really didn't need to hang out in Imladris too long the second time around. Just enough to get some reassurances from his ada and a bit of R&R.

I'm honored you consider this one of the better ones you've ever read and thank you so much for all the lovely reviews you've left!

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