Reviews for Following the Other Wizard: journey into healing
Anera527 chapter 35 . 8/27/2013
I have rarely, if ever, read a Lord of the Rings fanfiction that is as good as this one. I loved Frodo's relationship with Radagast (every time he used the name "Donkey" I smiled), and everything you wrote was woven with heart and understanding of Tolkien's world. In all honesty, I think I may love Radagast better than Gandalf at this moment! I loved the Orcs and their discovery of humanity, and their final parting with Frodo was so bittersweet and tender, it nearly made me cry.

I loved how you were able to so well convey what someone suffering from severe depression goes through. Frodo's almost normal thoughts of death and how it could happen were chilling- but that was because I, too, struggle with thoughts of death in severe depression. Reading your story and Frodo's own recovery gives me hope. Thank you.

Looking forward to the third part of quartet!
Nimbus Llewelyn chapter 35 . 3/23/2013
How does this only have 40 reviews? It is a travesty. This is a truly beautiful fic, and a work of art. You should be proud of yourself.
Zoop chapter 35 . 7/24/2011
Not so much a review of the chapter as of the work as a whole. I'm blinded by my own tears! This story has gripped me for days. I thank you for it. When I've recovered, I'll continue on with Canohando's tale, for the parting with the orcs was hardest. I do so love how you portrayed them! I've a fondness for orcs myself; you made them admirable and inspired sympathy for their plight without making them weak. I cried over the tale of Yarga's death as well, and he was the most reluctant to be healed! You inspire me; sometime soon I may overcome my embarrassment and publish one of my own tales. It's been quite some time since you published these chapters; I hope they are not the end of your works, for I look forward to more. What more can I say? You nailed our favorite hobbits to the tee! Perhaps some vignettes of those 60 years in Mordor? (hint hint!) But again, thank you. Thank you so much!
The Lauderdale chapter 35 . 8/5/2010
“Even the dregs are sweet.” I finished this last chapter on my work break, where it would not have been seemly to lose my composure, so now that I’m home I’ve read it again and had my cry. You write those last days with Sam and then after his death perfectly: never maudlin or forced, but honest, and direct. The ending scene is beautiful, and is one of my clear memories from when I read this story before, something that stayed with me, as a young Sam and Frodo ascend through the snowflakes. The falling snow was conjured up wonderfully, by the way: “straight down, a clean sweep of shining glory. Like Galadriel's hair.” I could see it clearly.

I’m glad, also, that Sam finally wanted to hear about the Orcs. His incuriosity about Mordor, which has been half of Frodo’s life, was discomforting but made sense. Frodo left and didn’t come back for decades. That’s a point of resentment, even for someone as good-natured as Sam. Asking to hear about “an orc that plays Kings” is like coming to peace with it in some part.

I didn’t comment on Nano, but I’m glad that he lived a good life and achieved what he wanted. And I’m curious to find out whether Radagast succeeded in finding the others of his order. And I’m looking forward to meeting Canohando again and following his story, and those of the lives he touches.

I’m ready to keep reading now.
The Lauderdale chapter 33 . 8/5/2010
I wonder, when you wrote "Another Way of Leaving," were you planning then to write a series? If you knew that Frodo and Radagast were going to meet the three Orcs in Mordor, including Canohando, had you conceived of Canohando's own later history already in your head, and what came after? It's interesting to know how a writer's ideas develop, and when. We can see clearly at the ends of this chapter how you are consciously establishing the the groundwork for "The Queen's Orc." Earlier, even, as in Chapter 31 with this line:

"Canohando never forgot that night of music, Frodo singing the songs of the far-away Shire; he believed in after years that the whole course of his later life had been set that night."

By the way, I liked that wry detail of Frodo turning his back on song after the incident at Bree - understandable, but a shame, to avoid this simple pleasure for so long - and how Canohando gives him back the gift of music.
The Lauderdale chapter 24 . 8/4/2010
Not much to say at the moment. Just reading, rapt. I always loved Yarga as a character: he's a complex, hurting person and I pity him for his struggle. I remember that he dies, and that his death hurt me when I read of it, though I could understand it: he had progressed as far as he was able... But in many ways I regarded "The Grey at the End of the World" as an invocation of Yarga and his darkness, generations later, even though Yarga and Logi are not blood kin to one another.

As an aside, if Canohando's Orkish name was Ghul-rakk I think he must have been regarded as unusual by other Orcs even before Sauron's downfall.
The Lauderdale chapter 16 . 8/4/2010
"I do not wish to kill you, runtling – but I am glad to know I could." It's such a strange sentiment, and it does go back to that special awareness that Radagast sees in Canohando. Frodo is dangerous because he is a conduit for change, and it is a hard and painful thing to change one's nature. The moment with the fish, and then Canohando's "attempt" on Frodo's life at the end are sudden instances of violence that show what the Orc is capable of, even as he is restrained by Frodo's presence and, unbeknownst to either of them, the Ringbearer's subtle influence.

If Chapter 15 were all of our encounter with these three Orcs, we might think that Orcs were "just people," essentially a misunderstood and victimized folk used by an evil lord who warped their culture (and it’s an interpretation I have seen before): left to their own devices they wouldn't hurt anybody. Yes, in a tiny group of three, and one of them wounded, that is the case, but if they were part of a larger band what might have happened to Frodo and Radagast instead?
The Lauderdale chapter 15 . 8/4/2010
So now we come to the meeting of three, Canohando, Yarga and Lash. Them I remember very well. I have an interest in Orcs - Orcs of all characterizations - and that was what originally brought me to these stories. Well, in a way anyhow. I had read "Another Way of Leaving First" previously, independent of my interest in Orcs, and liked it. But later, seeing "The Queen's Orc," I went back to read "Another Way of Leaving" and "Following the Other Wizard." Then "The Queen's Orc," then "The Grey at the End of the World," which still makes me teary-eyed to think of it.

It's fascinating to see the dynamics of this first meeting, as the three support one another in the face of the intruders. Canohando IS remarkably prudent, and his capacity for mercy toward Radagast and Frodo is also remarkable, particularly for Frodo, because we can see how from an Orc's perspective Frodo was an agent of genocide. The description of their marred bodies, riddled with scars, is sobering. I loved Canohando's statement about the whips...

...and after all of that, I like the final image of Yarga, "his eyes like black holes in his face, picking his teeth with his knife." I remember Yarga. These Orcs are by no means tame.
The Lauderdale chapter 13 . 8/3/2010
"And yet I ran witless and afraid, when the Nine left Minas Morgul to seek the Ring ... I failed of my calling, Donkey, more than you ever did."

Something that dissatisfied me in the Tolkien legendarium was the attitude toward Radagast's character - not just by a Saruman, who is a jerk, but by Tolkien himself. While it's true that Radagast was duped by Saruman and that he is little mentioned otherwise in the trilogy, I couldn't understand why Radagast's work among the animals should not deserve as much respect as Gandalf's efforts among the peoples of Middle-earth (excepting the ever-slighted East.) It only seemed fair to me that the other inhabitants of Middle-earth have an advocate as well.

Rather than glossing over this criticism of Tolkien's, though, that Radagast did not do enough during the War, you acknowledge it and make it a part of the story as Radagast shares his personal assessment of failure in this chapter.

I still feel that Radagast is a hero and that this is the work he came to Middle-earth to do and the time in which he was meant to do it. Gandalf came to save the world and then leave. Radagast came to stay and to heal it.

...it was interesting to encounter that book of lost poetry in the last chapter and made me wonder about the story behind it, and who its author was, and how Radagast came to be friends with this person in what were presumably the early days of the Third Age. The excerpt of poetry was very sad, and deftly used in the context.
The Lauderdale chapter 11 . 8/3/2010
"My eyes will not look again on the Lady of the Golden Wood, but some part of her remains in Middle Earth, and is with me."

This story is an AU in which the Ringbearers never sail. Now I'm wondering if Gimli also remains in Middle-earth, or if he sails in the end with Legolas as he does in the books. Must keep reading...

And I'm glad that Nano has found a home, even if it wasn't one I was expecting! I wonder if they will seem him again. It seems to me that now I have vague memories of him indeed becoming a master stone cutter, but I'll have to read to see if that's true or what else becomes of him.
The Lauderdale chapter 9 . 8/3/2010
...and I remembered there was an encounter with the Wild Men, but I didn't recall the exact circumstances. (Amazing how much one can forget!) That's another interesting thing about this story: the elements it draws on that are out there to be drawn on but that so many other stories don't. Tom Bombadil, the Druedain: these are very much underused elements of Tolkien's creation in Middle-earth fanfiction.

This time around I'm also enjoyed the "road trip" aspect of the story. It's as if I am in their party, seeing new sights and wondering, like Frodo, about the history and folk of these places. Maybe it's because I'm just coming out of the trilogy and the maps of Middle-earth are still somewhat fresh in my mind, but with many gaps that I am hungry to fill in.
The Lauderdale chapter 6 . 8/3/2010
Frodo's a hobbit and he has that bit of remove from Men's emotions, but it's easy for me to understand how Nano feels. He's young, and he's just lost his mother, and these people have abused him all his life. In another kind of story someone would write Radagast and Frodo as powerful intercessors who abash the villagers and place Nano in his rightful seat of authority - or at least shame the folk into caring for the boy, and raising him until he comes into his duly appointed position. This is more realistic, and a better sort of lesson. I remember Nano but I don't remember what happens to him or how he turns out. I hope he learns to let go of his pride and anger.

[keeps reading]
The Lauderdale chapter 3 . 8/3/2010
Still reading and rediscovering. I had remembered Cuina, but I completely entirely forgotten about the encounter with Tom Bombadil, or about them staying with him and Goldberry. That was pretty cool, not the sort of thing you would find in most fanfiction, and you did well with both characters. I thought that it was a valuable insight Goldberry made about Smeagol: there was no way to destroy the Ring that would have left him living. He would certainly have thrown himself in after it.

I also loved Radagast's names for Sam and Frodo: Unquenchable Hope and Endurance Beyond Hope are very apt. And I think what rabidsamfan said back in 2004 ("He's almost proud of having failed at this point!") was a great insight, and points to the kind of egotism that deep depression can foster as you become more insular and absorbed in yourself and your pain.
andaere chapter 35 . 1/3/2010
What a beautiful, moving, emotional, brilliant, well-written masterpiece of a story you have here! I've always disliked the canon ending of LotR and the fact that Frodo was forced to go into the West. And you've provided me with a very suitable, and preferable, AU story.

I think you're right in that Frodo would have been thinking of suicide, having no purpose and still being tormented by the Ring. I'm glad Radagast stopped him, though.

Speaking of, you've really transformed a very insignificant character into one I know and love. Radagast is hardly mentioned in the books, but I love your idea of him - his wisdom, love for all living things, and affection and care for Frodo made him a really endearing character.

And your orcs! I like stories that show orcs in a more favorable light (one such story you might enjoy is "Mordor" by Dave Struthers) and yet not all rainbows. I've really grown to love Lash and Canohando and even feel sadness at the death of Yarga. The relationship between Canohando and Frodo especially touched me. I love their bonding (although that made me worry about them getting AIDS) and the idea of Frodo being Canohando's (and the other orcs') "Light-bearer", the path out of Darkness.

About deaths... the last chapters had me sobbing like crazy! I love Sam and Frodo so much, and it was sad to let them go. Although I believe that you've given them a much happier life then Tolkien did and I thank you for that! Oh, and I was also sadded to hear that Nano died. At first I was unsure about him, but I grew to love him as I grew to care for all your OCs. Though his name will always remind me of a certain iPod... xD

This story is a really rare gem, of a stature that is very, very rare to find in fanfiction. Your grammar and spelling is perfect, which I really appreciate. As I sort of mentioned before, you give each character a unique personality and unique relationships and interactions that make them capture your heart. You've even given another spin on some canon characters - like I really love your Frodo. Oh, and on a side note, the nickname "Donkey" is awesome. At first I thought it was a bit condescending, but then it was so like Radagast...

Thank you for writing and sharing this one-of-a-kind story. You have made me laugh and smile, and weep and frown. And most importantly, you've given me a happier ending for Frodo! :) Thanks again, and sorry for the super-long, rambling review, which is probably full of typos.
Believer chapter 35 . 8/28/2009
I just read your story and it is absolutely amazing! I loved it! I read the whole story in one day, i was so completely rapt! It was so emotional and intense and ladden with grief, hope, sorrow and joy all at once, that i was overwhelmed! I don't normaly cry when i read fanfiction, even really emo ones, but in this case... I just, broke down and sobbed! Not only with some sadness, but with joy too! I really, really, really liked you're story and it's on my favorites now! Keep up the fabulous work!
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