Reviews for Return to the Barrowdowns
SilverCat63 chapter 1 . 4/11/2010
Ooh! Nice adventure! I like how the nasty wight gets what he deserves. And the poor girl! She must have been terrified. Merry and Pippin seem to be pretty in character. You've got the camaraderie between the hobbits down very well, too. I think my favorite moment with them is when Pippin and Merry are arguing about how bad the situation is - that got a laugh out of me.

Isn't the whole geography of the Shire (and Middle-earth in general) kind of a pain in the rear? My lit class is reading all of Tolkien right now (The Hobbit through The Silmarillion) and he uses what he calls "Google Middle-earth" which is just these really cool CG maps from the Encyclopedia of Arda that he's draws on for us to understand where things are. I've read LOTR many times, but I've never really gotten the geography until Google Middle-earth!
BakerStreetIsLastRefugeOfHope chapter 1 . 2/27/2010
A great story. Very well written. You might want to work on your spelling, though.
eiluj chapter 1 . 10/31/2007
It's an interesting post-Quest adventure for the hobbits. You are to be congratulated for having come up with a truly unique plot (difficult to do in LotR fanfic!). And you may put aside your fears: I don't think anyone's desperately OOC.

Now the bad news: you have a *major* geographical problem.

First: "Rosey dear, pack me a lunch. Fredegar, send for Merry and Pippin. Tell them to meet me here quickly with ponies."

Sam lives in Hobbiton. Merry is either at Brandy Hall or Crickhollow. In either case, that puts him about 55-60 miles ESE of Hobbiton. Pippin is either at Crickhollow with Merry, or at the Great Smials in Tuckborough (about 15-20 miles SSW of Hobbiton - but there’s no direct road).

If a message was sent by pony to the Smials, Pippin might arrive at Bag End late that afternoon. Merry would arrive two or three *days* later. But why waste all that time summoning Merry to Hobbiton when they have to pass within a dozen miles or so of Merry in order to leave the Shire?

Here’s an online map of the central and eastern Shire (it’s the same one that’s in my old hardcover Fellowship): w w w. douglas. eckhart. btinternet. co. uk. maps-the-shire-01. jpg

Second problem: the Barrow-downs are between 30 and 60 miles east of Buckland, and are about 60 miles long, from the NW corner (closest to Buckland) to the SE corner. Between Buckland and the Barrow-downs lies the Old Forest. There’s only one entrance to the Old Forest from Buckland, and the Master of Buckland keeps the key. If the child somehow managed to enter the Old Forest from Buckland, she’d have had to go 30 miles to reach the westernmost edge of the Barrow-downs - and either she’d have been rescued by Tom Bombadil, or the trees would have killed her (one way or another) long before she got to any barrow-wight.

And a logic problem: if a hobbit-child from the Shire had somehow managed to reach the Barrow-downs, how would Freddy have known about it?

If you want a logical way for them to be in the right place to rescue a hobbit-child from a Barrow-wight, you might have a group of hobbits (including Sam, Merry, and Pippin) travel to Bree (the trip would take about a day once they left the Shire). Since they’re travelling outside the Shire, it’s logical they’d have had their weapons with them. [Probably not the helpful vial of orc-flesh, though!]

Version 1: The child was travelling with them (several families with children) and wandered off while they stopped for lunch; they tracked her to the wight’s barrow). This would have a higher angst-level, as the child would not be a stranger - might even be kin or well-known.

Version 2: After arriving in Bree, they heard about a child who’d gone missing from Bree, then tracked her to the Barrow-downs. [Apparently there were no Rangers or King’s Men in Bree at the time, and the hobbits knew time was of the essence, as the wight wouldn’t wait long before sacrificing the child.]

Miscellaneous comments:

In several places, your verbs are past tense instead of present tense.

I doubt Sam would address Freddy as “man.” Tolkien once or twice does use “man” or “woman” for someone of another race, when he wants to indicate the person’s gender (I remember Galadriel being called “elf-woman,” for instance). I don’t think he would have used it as you did.

“Rosie” (not “Rosey”).

“Both of which stood a good head above him” - “which” should not be used for people. Use “whom” instead (in this case, it’s “whom” instead of “who” because it’s the object of the preposition “of”).

“A seemingly new Dwarvin axe” - “Dwarven” is the correct spelling. It’s an intriguing idea, Gimli giving Merry an axe. Keep in mind, though, that Dwarves *did* use other weapons - Thorin Oakenshield was quick to lay claim to the sword Orcrist, found in the trolls’ hoard (when Gandalf acquired Glamdring and Bilbo, Sting). And while Merry might have used other weapons, it’s almost certain that Éomer would have given Merry a new sword when he was knighted - what good is a knight without a weapon? And Merry’s original weapon had perished in the defense of Théoden, so there is logic to Théoden’s kin giving him a replacement. [Other well-written fanfics have Éowyn or Aragorn gifting Merry with a new sword; I think I even read one where the Rivendell smith makes him a sword.] And we know that Merry *did* somehow acquire a new sword soon after losing his old one, because Tolkien tells us he was wielding a sword in the Scouring.

It wasn’t the Barrow-downs (east of the Shire, and not even adjacent to Buckland) that Aragorn gave to the Shire, but the land *west* of the Shire. And that wasn’t until 1452 (31 years after Frodo sailed). I didn’t get the impression that this story was taking place so late, since Elanor was still so young, and Sam and Rosie had very few children.

“It is evident that one of those men, is not resting” - The wight is actually *not* the ghost of the man buried in the barrow, but an evil spirit sent by the Witch King to inhabit the area. (I’ve forgotten where I read that - maybe “Unfinished Tales” - but the Encyclopedia of Arda confirms it: w w w. glyphweb arda/, in the article “Barrow-wights.”)

"A bit of an ork we found” - A very clever idea (do you play role-playing games? it reminds me of role-players brainstorming to outwit the gamemaster). But it should be “orc” with a “c” - though the adjective is “orkish” with a “k.”

“Fallow” - you use this a couple of times when you mean “follow.” [As a verb, “fallow” means to plow without seeding a new crop. It can also be an adjective (unplowed or unplanted; or a light yellow-brown in color) or a noun (land allowed to lie idle during the growing season).] You have many other spelling errors and typos; it would be helpful to use ff’s spell-check and have a beta-reader.

“As he leaves the skirmish between the two Hobbit knights and the hungry beasts begins” - A comma after “leaves” would make the sentence clearer. Here and at other times, you omit mention of Freddy. It’s confusing to the reader: But what about Freddy? Did I forget - did they leave him at home? Does Freddy not have a weapon?

“Sam walks calmly down the masterfully hued tunnel” - The last we heard, the inside of the tunnel was “inky blackness.” I’m very confused about “masterfully hued.”

Sorry, but I find it impossible to believe in Sam fighting with two swords - not merely fighting with two swords, but fighting *well* with two swords. I can’t see Sam (busy husband, father, gardener, Mayor) “wasting” the amount of time he’d have needed to practice to become that good. And who was available in the Shire to train him? Fighting Florentine (i.e. with two weapons) is not a common skill; few warriors have the agility necessary to be able to do it.

I do, however, like Sam the Hero calmly facing down the wight. I’m not sure Tolkien would approve - Tolkien’s wight has a much weightier horror - which almost paralyzes Frodo - than your wight does.

“When Sam emerged from the earth, it sees the tender child he holds in his arms, and makes a dive for her... It's hopes are dashed however, for Sam quickly dispatches it with one sweep of his sword, which sends the wolf to the ground in two separate places” - Logic again: if Sam is carrying the girl in his (plural) arms, how is he carrying the sword? And even if he’s carrying it in one hand, he’d have to drop her so he can wield the sword with *two* hands - it’s only by using both hands that he’d have any hope of having enough power behind his swing to cleave through muscle and bone strongly enough to chop the wolf in two...

Write on!