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In Aragorn's Safekeeping
by:Radbooks
 [11] Reviewer:JunoMagic Date:December 29, 2006 11:24 AM
Me again!

I liked this chapter very much.

Galadriel was very well done. Haldir and Legolas carrying Rebecca was so funny. Best of all: Aragorn's reaction to daily baths!
MWHAHAHAHA!

But I also noticed a few problems that you might want to look at once more - after having spent most of the year editing and revising my novel, I am having a hard time turning off my inner beta-reader, sorry!

(First off, we need to feed the typo monster ... I noticed two typos: your orcs are "laying" at the beginning of the chapter, and there's a "too" in the dialgoue at the end that should be a "to" I think.)

Then, I'm not sure if you are using the POVs in the chapter to your advantage. At the beginning of the chapter your POV is Aragorn's (he sighs inwardly - so the reader is inside his head). But apart from that we don't get a lot of how Aragorn experiences this gruelling situation. And I'm not entirely convinced if it would not be more interesting to the reader to see the scene from the POV of either Thomas or Rebecca.

Apart from that I noticed a "telling" instead of "showing" glitch where you start giving us Rebecca's view of what happened. "Distraught ..." she is walking with Boromir, tears streaming down her face. "Distraught" is telling us that she is distraught. And that doesn't evoke emotion in the reader, but keeps the reader at a distance, keeps the reader from full immersion in the tale. If you leave that off, and just say "She was walking at Boromir's side, tears streaming down her face..." then you are *showing* us that she is distraught. We can see that scene in our mind, and it has much more impact than with the authorial command at the beginning of the sentence.

From what I have read of the story so far this seems to be your "biggest" problem. I may be wrong, of course, but my impression is that you are still a little bit insecure about your writing, that you are using those "telling instead of showing" bits as crutches, because you don't dare to jump right into the middle of an intense scene.

You write so well, your style is so balanced, your pacing is so even that you really have nothing to fear of jumping right into the scene, showing instead of telling, and of getting a bit closer to the POVs of your characters!



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 [12] Reviewer:JunoMagic Date:December 29, 2006 11:36 AM
Oh, what a great chapter.

Plans of the Valar. Well, as they say "the thot plickens"!

I think my favourite part is about Celeborn. I don't know many stories that portray Celeborn with any depth and believable. But you really made him come alive.

I also enjoyed the touch of light-heartedness in this chapter. Very nice!

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 [13] Reviewer:JunoMagic Date:December 29, 2006 12:26 PM
Html stuff: somewhere in the middle of the chapter you did not close a bold/strong tag - which results in bolding the second half of the chapter throughout.

I really liked the way both Thomas and Rebecca are learning new things with various teachers. That was interesting to read and rewarding - steps towards making Middle-earth their home, finding a place of their own in this new world.

And do I sense the most-likely-romance-to-happen at the end of the story? I'm looking forward to finding out if I'm right or if you'll surprise me!

What I really disliked about this chapter was the portrayal of the Hobbits. I'm really sorry to say that, because in most of the other chapters especially Pippin's voice is so fresh and real. :-(
But in this chapter your Hobbits are bit clichéd: Frodo all broody and angsty, Sam sooo caring(tm) and Merry and Pippin come across like happy-go-lucky smurfs!
Why do they only think about doing nothing and eating when they are in Lorien? Apart from Pippin they are responsible adults. They own swords and already had to use them to defend themselves and Frodo. I should think that they would be as intent as Thomas on practicing sword fighting. Tolkien also said they (apart from Pip IIRC) studied maps and books in Rivendell, so why wouldn't they do that again in Lorien? They could also probably teach the kids something about how to move quietly and how to hide quickly (see how Tolkien describes Hobbits in the prologue).

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 [14] Reviewer:JunoMagic Date:December 29, 2006 1:16 PM
Oh, bravo!

What a great twist of the plot. Any other decision would have made no sense at all, but there are not many authors who would have made this decision. (Actually, now I'm wondering why I didn't leave Lothíriel in Lorien ... LOL!) Anyway, that's really, really excellent, determined story telling.

However, I've also a few bits of concrit: you have a lot of narrative summary at the beginning that doesn't contain any vital information. I think you could cut 90% of that.

Hmmm ... Thomas and Rebecca.

When did Thomas fall in love with Rebecca? I can't say I didn't see that coming, because with the summary of "this is no Legomance" and two characters close in age and background like that I was sort of willing to bet that you would bring them together. I'm still hoping you won't, because that's so horribly predictable ...
But in any case it would have been nice to see a bit more of the falling-in-love. At 17 that is probably the first time for Thomas, so it would be a BIG emotional thing for him, taking him unawares, hitting him like a tank, especially in this situation!
I liked very much how you wrote Rebecca's side. To me she sounds as if she is not at all in love with Thomas. She seems to feel she *ought* to be in love with him, and as they are very good friends and it just seems fitting for them to be in love she's willing to pretend/try it out. I don't know if that's the impression you wanted to create, though. *g*
I found it a bit strange that you had Legolas talking to her about love. That feels a bit off to me, because Elvish and human ways of love and marriage are very different, even if you take a critical view of LaCE. I just can't imagine that Legolas would talk to her about that and that he would talk to her about it so easily.

I'm in two minds about Pippin falling out of a tree. On the one hand, it fits perfectly, and it's an accident that could easily happen, even if they were just trying to climb a talan - and the scene you give Rebecca is wonderful ... great character development. Otoh, it's again very close to the clichéd characterization of Hobbits-as-smurfs that I really detest.

Boromir - now that was again really, really well done. Especially the fighting scene where you show the danger of his anger when Aragorn doesn't allow him to fight Thomas. That was scary and subtle! Brilliant move.

One little thing: you have Aragorn say about Thomas that in his world he would be regarded almost as an adult. That implies that Aragorn doesn't see him as an adult.
I don't think that fits, really.
Afaik only the Hobbits had a formal age of majority in Middle-earth. If you look into the appendix, Aragorn was considered to have come into manhood at 20, which was considered early because of his mixed blood (and at that time he already returned to Rivendell after having done great deeds - probably as a warrior); a formal age of majority is not mentioned.
Therefore I think that "lesser" men would grow up in Middle-earth just as we do. Without a formal age of majority the time when a boy would be considered a man is not completely fixed, but I guess what it comes down to is more or less when he "looks/sounds" like a man i.e. when he's "grown", when he can grow a beard and when his voice has changed. Probably around 15 or 16? Anyway, I think that both Rebecca and Thomas would never be regarded as "teenagers" in Middle-earth, but as young adults.
I have to admit that's something that has been bugging me for several chapters now, because that should inform the way they are treated by the members of the Fellowship - and they are being treated every much like teenagers (ppl don't expect them to take on responsibility or to know certain things, ppl are trying to parent them). Looking back I think that Aragorn and Boromir were not quite surprised enough that Thomas doesn't know how to fight at all, and how he had a life without responsibility so far ... the Hobbits wouldn't be surprised, of course, because they do have a sheltered period of life in their culture - the irresponsible tweens. But in Gondor and among the Dúnedain a 17 year old man would already be a trained warrior.

I hope my criticism is not too annoying. It's just that your story is making me think about how the various cultures of Middle-earth would clash in a meeting of our-world-teenagers, Hobbits, Elves, Men and Dwarves ... because how people grow up and when/how they are considered to be adults, provides deep insight into a culture, doesn't it?

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 [15] Reviewer:JunoMagic Date:December 29, 2006 1:42 PM
Oh, whee, Gandalf is back! (And isn't that nifty, to have a character who can simply say 'I will take you with me and I know why and no one else does so no one will question that decision'? *g* The convenience of wizards-ex-machina!)

I liked the way you handled the lure of the ring. That it starts talking to Thomas as soon as he has been made aware of its presence. Makes one wonder how much of the lure is just imagination ...

And of course I have to repeat my complaint about the Hobbits (sorry!). Why are they still so happy and cheerful? That just doesn't fit IMO.

Sadly I have to go back to work now, lunch break is over!

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 [16] Reviewer:JunoMagic Date:December 31, 2006 12:48 PM
That's a really great chapter!

It's exciting and scary to see Rebecca's progress with the bow. And to get ready for another long journey ...

Thomas' part was excellent, too. He's really living up to the challenge of the quest now, isn't he?

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 [17] Reviewer:JunoMagic Date:December 31, 2006 1:29 PM
Very nicely done, that interweaving of traditional LOTR and the stories of your protagonists in this chapter! I really liked that. :-)

One really unimportant nitpick: afaik according to Tolkien Hobbits had clocks, so Gandalf would know about clocks. He might be surprised by the idea of wearing them around the wrist, though.

Oh, and a question: why was Legolas burning dead orcs only for the last 150 years?

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 [18] Reviewer:JunoMagic Date:December 31, 2006 1:46 PM
I really enjoyed this chapter. How people keep questioning Rebecca's presence is very well done, that feels very authentic. Very good.

The voice of Lothíriel in my mind bids me tell you that there is nothing "rustic" about Edoras, and that they have baths and saunas. ;-)

I especially enjoyed your grumpy Éomer. Tee hee hee.

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 [19] Reviewer:JunoMagic Date:December 31, 2006 1:59 PM
Another great chapter. A lot of action and excitement. I'm really glad that everyone is still alive.

If there's one thing I'm missing, it would be a little bit more details about what Rebecca and Thomas are feeling and thinking, how they are experiencing all that horror.

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 [20] Reviewer:JunoMagic Date:December 31, 2006 2:09 PM
(Now I'm hoping that Thomas will fall in love with Lothíriel.*g* That would be creative match-making!)

I think this is your best chapter so far. The intensity between Thomas and Rebecca when they confront each other about their experiences during the battle were really palpable. Excellent! The lines visibly *thrummed* with tension.

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