Reviews for The Song in the Darkness
miladyRanger chapter 14 . 9/8/2010
This is insanely hard to read... you put Aragorn through so much, I wasn't sure he was going to make it for a while. What an amazing fic. Keep writing stuff like this - it makes me think, but it mostly makes me cry, and despair, and at last relearn the meaning of Hope. Thank you for this wonderful tale. My life is a little better for having read this, for pushing me in ways that I've never thought to travel in. Thank you so much!
Canafinwe chapter 9 . 12/1/2009
I love how you have incorporated Tolkien's text into the first part of this chapter! It fits seamlessly with your own words, and I found it exceedingly satisfying. I'm sure I've said it before, but this is AU done well!

The exchange between Gandalf and Pippin was so poignant: Pippin striving to be brave, Gandalf trying his best to be gentle, the disbelief, the sorrow, the last failing hope.

And the eagles! I knew it! Maedhros, indeed. It's terrible to see Aragorn like this, through the eyes of his dearest friend. "Blood shed for the freedom of Middle-earth"... ack!

How painful is Gandalf's search for a pulse! And though he toys briefly with the idea of freeing Aragorn as Fingon freed Maedhros, he sees reason. There really is no other way... except, of course, for "the chain that snaps"! Aragorn is free of his bonds, but the pain and the repercussions of the torture will not so easily release him. It seems almost impossible that he could rally from such hurts, even under the tender ministrations of Elladan and Elrohir. Nonetheless, I have faith in his inner strength and I have faith in Mirach, who promised me that the ultimate outcome remains the same, AU or no!

The image of Gandalf flying back to Minast Tirith upon Gwaihir, with the broken body of the King in his arms, is so horribly vivid. What an image, with the blood staining the white robes. What a powerful and gut-wrenching image!

Well done.
PHENOMENIAN-SHIRO chapter 14 . 10/28/2009
AGAIN YOUR STORIES ARE AMAZING!

I JUS LOVE THEM!
Elafacwen chapter 14 . 10/23/2009
(This is Elafacwen)

Thank you SO much for linking this story to me on DA! You have no idea how much I enjoyed reading it!
RS1 chapter 14 . 10/18/2009
I did not think I could finish reading this story! I was in pain! How could anyone endure this? And yet...I could not put this down.

What helped me through this torment is the spiritual part of it..whether it was intentional or not. The light, "his spirit" really did give this reader that feeling of hope, not just for the story itself but for the unknown when we really do leave this world. Beautiful!
Canafinwe chapter 8 . 10/17/2009
Before I get started, I need to say that I've been greatly enjoying the disclaimers and warnings, and this one takes the cake. What am I getting myself into, that we open with a HEALTH WARNING? Ah, well. I fear not doom nor dying. Here we go...

Ookay, let's start with this. "He wondered what the power was that helped the man to keep his secrets through the long days of excruciating pain." I must smugly say at this point that that's something the Mouth of Sauron will never understand. Not even a little bit. Now I shall stick out my tongue at him. :-P So there.

I have a feeling that that's the last shred of humour I'm going to be including in this review.

"He screamed - a last, shivery scream in a spasm of pain that arched his body in agony. His eyes opened wide in a scream that cost him the last of his strength." Oh, so we have come to the end of it at last. These words are so chilling. There's a void in the pit of my stomach right now, because you've made it so clear with these lines that he can't endure any more physical suffering... and if we know it, Sauron knows it too. Which means, of course, that the next torture will be a torture of the mind... but does Aragorn have the strength of will to endure? I very much want to believe that he does, but I'm so afraid for him: how much more can he possibly endure?

"he was in a high place, and hung by his right hand, which was chained to the wall" Ack! ACK! MAEDHROS! Brilliant, so brilliant! Horrific, but so brilliant. Here's another story that I love... but Fingon will not come, nor will the eagles of Manwe - oh. Oh! Must keep reading; I think I've solved it!

The first thought that springs to Aragorn's mind when faced witht the wrath of Sauron is his encounter with the palantir. This is so eminently logical, and it's also oddly ironic. After all, it was the act of revealing himself in the seeing-stone that landed him in this predicament in the first place. For the record, "predicament" is far too mild a word.

The paragraph that begins "nothing else existed" is such a perfect, evocative rendering of the helplessness and desperation of this dreadful moment. Here you capture Aragorn's fragmented thoughts so excruciatingly. It's strange, but I think at this point the pain is hindering Sauron more than helping him: he is sifting through shattered remenants of the mind of the Heir of Isildur, looking for something lost somewhere amid the rubble. I can only hope that this brief delay will give Aragorn the time he needs to mount some measure of defence.

"here, at the end of it all...' Brilliant parrallels to our hobbit heroes, and a perfect segue into Sam's scene... but no one is there with Aragorn...

I stand corrected. For a moment Frodo sees him, and he sees Frodo. Ooh! This moment, surely, lends strength to them both. The streength I was begging for a moment ago, perhaps? Onward! Onward!

Ah, yes, it seems that he has found the strength aftre all: his strength of will and his inner wellspring of Hope. "This was the place where he would die..." Again I must reiterate, though surely you are weary of hearing it, how much I appreciate your deep and profound understanding of Aragorn's (canonical) death. Thank you, a thousand times thank you.

His song shapes Minas Tirith in his mind? I'm... speechless. You're brilliant. But here we have shades of "The Silmarillion", for he sings against Sauron. And Finrod comes to aid him... and I'm glad, for Aragorn is no mighty Elf-lord unsullied by pain and surrounded by his ten loyal men. He is a Man, weakened by many days of anguish, at the very borders of his strength. He needs all the help that his mind can muster.

I adore the progression through the gates! First the Song, and the figures of ancient legend. Then Gil-galad and Elendil, Aragorn's mighty ancestor and the one in whose likeness he is said to walk. The re-creation of that battle is beautifully portrayed... and I love that no Isildur appears. Not only, of course, because it would negate Aragorn's struggle, but because Isildur has no place in his defence. Isildur was not the selfless lord that his father was, nor yet that his thirty-seven-times-great grandson is. He has no place in this last construct of hope (arrogant sod), and I'm glad you leave him well out of it. After all, in a way all of this is his fault, too.

The Dunedain before the third gate... How terrible for Aragorn to watch them slaughtered, to watch Halbarad fall... again. "The memories burned: he had no kin..." Oh, how can you continue to break my heart?

Gilraen and Arathorn! He is drawing on every strength that has ever sustained him. Beautiful. It's poetic that Arathorn falls first, to the orcs, and then Gilraen is crushed, overwhelmed by the shadows for that is precisely what befel her. "So died the memory of Gilraen before the Fourth Gate, and the gate could not hold back the flames of darkness any longer." This line could have come straight from Tolkien himself.

His foster-father and his brothers... "his very soul was torn apart". Though each time Aragorn's mind rallies to reisist, each further incursion of Sauron is so painful, so horrible... you're weaving such a tapestry of strength and suffering. I'm awestruck.

And the Sixth Gate, of course, is the Fellowship. This would be the perfect place to use Gimli's words from "The Council of Elrond": "Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens". I love the discreptions of the Fellowship, and the litany of Gandalf's names. And Merry and Pippin, smiling...

It's doubly suitable that Frodo and Sam are not present. For one, of course, they are the secret, but furthermore, Aragorn is protecting *them*; it would be a little surreal if they were protecting *him* here. Paradoxical.

Your use of "You shall not pass!" is epically fabulous. You gave me chills with that one.

And last of all, on his last day his last companion, is Arwen. His beloved, who has sustained him through all of his adult life. The crowning jewel of hope that allowed him to persevere against incredible adversity. "For long moments she stood in the raging fire, tall and proud, unchanged. Like a flower of diamond, like a Queen of old she stood, and her eyes shone like stars in twilight. Then the flames swallowed her, and she was no more." My throat is taut with tears as the Seventh Gate falls.

But it is not the end. He has spent every shred of succour that remains, and Aragorn is left alone, to face Sauron at last with nothing but the last spark of his spirit to sustain him. THe image of Aragorn, bloodied but pressing on, parrying agaain and again the blade of Sauron - the incursions into the last untouched reccess of his mind - is so beautifully drawn. And then, in the moment when all seems lost... it happens! "The Ringbearer has fulfilled his Quest"! I can feel the flood of peace, and in those two simple words, "It's over..." you communicate such joy and relief and abject gratitude that I find I'm not able to endure any more. Beautiful, simply gorgeous.

And he spies Earendil! "Leaving his battered body behind" and finding some measure of peace at last. Ooh, this was an amazing chapter. A magnificent climax. I fear for Aragorn, tormented and chained at the pinnacle of the Barad-dur, but I have a feeling that I know where you're going from here, and there are still six chapters left...
Canafinwe chapter 7 . 10/14/2009
Ookay, for some reason it SENT my half-finished review! Some days I hate this website. At least I was able to finish my sentence.

I was going to say that you've perfectly captured the motivation of the Mouth of Sauron: as much as he might have his own desires, he is not his own man, nor is he free to act upon his whims. He is first and foremost Sauron's loyal servant.

"He put the sword into the black fire..." At this point, my trapezius muscles seized up and I was oblidged to remove my hand from the mouse. Little wonder that Aragorn is tempted to release his spirit "now, before they can hurt him anymore" (oh, my poor heartstrings! And I only just got them replaced!). His thought of Frodo is so beautiful: even now he puts the Ringbearer first. It's "if by life" again, but what a life this is! And how much more difficult than death.

I can see so vividly the arching of his stretched and strained body against the new anguish. In your litany of verbs, though, "stingin" seems like a weak one. I'm not sure what else you might use, but it doesn't seem strong enough between "biting" and "devouring". You definitely need four verbs for the rhythm, but I'm at a loss.

Visceral, gut-wrenching, excruciating... nothing but a verbatim transcription can do this passage justice: "awaited teh inevitable, sobbing openly. He was beyond the point of caring for dignity now; the only thing he cared for was to endureā€¦ In his mind, he called to his Ada like a hurt child, but no comforting images came with the name. He was alone, naked in the darkness, and the red-hot metal was nearingā€¦" This is the most emotionally evocative paragraph in the entire chapter! Stoic, courageous Strider reduced to tears, crying out for his father only to be greated by darkness and terror... oh, Mirach, what have you done to him? Yet even then he does not break. His dignity is shattered, his self-control is lost, and yet he resists, for Frodo and for all of Middle-earth. Alack! I fear his suffering is not over yet, but I don't know what more you could possibly do!

"No! Stop! Stop it! Please, make it stop!" He is on the verge of breaking now, and he knows it. He is prepared at last to release his spirit before he gives in to the pleas of his failing mind...

And in the last moment, they cut him loose from conciousness. Where are they taking him? Never mind. I have a feeling that I know all too well... The Mouth has failed. It is time for the Master to try his hand.
Canafinwe chapter 7 . 10/14/2009
Well, I'm back.

I love "In Western Lands". It's one of my favourites among all of Tolkien's songs. I'm so delighted to see you use it here! I also love the idea that Sam's song of hope lends Aragorn comfort and strength in his suffering, and allows him to escape to that refuge that has comforted him in all his wanderings.

And in Rivendell, Arwen is sleeping, only to awake to visions of horror. What a terrible vision to visit her in the night! And yet she reaches out for him, "as if her hand could reach through long miles and cool a fevered brow, soothe the pain...". You give us the briefest glimpse of the torement of these two who love him best as they are made aware of Aragorn's anguish, unable to know its cause or what has befallen him in the distant south, but this short respite from Mordor offers a glimmer of hope. He is not alone, though he may think that he is.

Ah, but for a moment he knows it, too. He can feel Arwen's hand upon his face, and it brings "a ghost of a smile to the corners of his lips". I love that description; the image of him smiling in the midst of his anguish. Ooh, but he's going to pay dearly for that reminder that he has not yet been broken! And of course the Mouth of Sauron is there to resume the interrogation. It's particularly artful that you make his actions sound like a direct result of Aragorn's moment of consolation, as if he is aware of Arwen's touch, and striving actively to drive it away. Aragorn's quiet moan is absolutely heartrending.

As is this: "water... cool water, like the spray dancing at teh feet of a waterfall, like rain whispering in the leaves, even a puddle of rainwater would do... he desperately longed for water to soothe his dry, burning throat..." Ack! Now I'm thirsty.

Of course, it's orc-cordial and not water at all. Your description of the adding of the next load makes my chest ache. Here, again, you give us a marvellously evocative turn of phrase: "it left Aragorn in delerium on the verge of the possibilities of his body." It's amazing that after seven chapters of torment, you can still offer such increasingly powerful descriptions of his suffering.

Ah, another glimpse into the mind of the Mouth of Sauron. You've drawn him very skillfully: even now, his passion and his desire for vengeance are held at bay by the knowledge that "his Master would not be pleased".
Thorongirl chapter 14 . 10/11/2009
I don't think I ever left a review to say how completely and utterly amazing this story was from start to finish. I wish I had the time I used to to leave reviews but alas, it's not to be. But truly, your writing draws the reader in from the inception and doesn't let go until long after the last word is read. Thanks you SO much for gifting us with this story.
cairistiona7 chapter 14 . 10/9/2009
And so it ends... wah! But it's only self pity, the kind I get every time I finish reading a great story. And this one was. Hard to read, as I said, but well worth it by the end. I love the paraphrasing of the poem in this epilogue, and the contrast the bright words make to the nightmares Elessar still suffers. It's all well and good to sing lays about heroes, but it does come down to a real man undergoing real suffering to achieve the impossible. That Elessar finds comfort looking at Gil-Estel makes the perfect segue to your story "Gil-Estel".

Thank you for such a wonderful two days of reading! A part of me wishes I had taken my time, but it was impossible... I had to race through it to see Aragorn safely home. :)
cairistiona7 chapter 13 . 10/9/2009
Although the epilogue is still to come, this chapter is such a crowning touch (literally, I suppose!) that I feel like I'm fully satisfied. The bringing together of the entire Fellowship, plus Faramir and Eowyn, was pure fun, but seeing the love and tears and joy between Elrond and Aragorn brought a lump to my throat. And the kiss! Ah. And so funny that Merry and Pip would be the ones to interrupt it. That's so fitting!

On now to the epilogue...
cairistiona7 chapter 12 . 10/9/2009
Aragorn finally opening his eyes... *bliss*

Another touching chapter of comfort and healing. I love that among Aragorn's first thoughts are concern for Frodo.
cairistiona7 chapter 11 . 10/8/2009
Oh, this was lovely, absolutely lovely. Earandil taking him to the Valar to restore Aragorn's spirit... absolutely brilliant. Had Tolkien's works ended this way, it would have felt absolutely right.

And one thing, in my rush to get through these chapters, I failed to touch on earlier-I absolutely love the idea of Aragorn singing the fortress-Minas Tirith-into creation in chapter 8:

"There, on the last stand, facing the darkness, Aragorn son of Arathorn reached for the light of hope, and felt the clear and immaculate tunes of the Music of Ainur. From the tunes he wove a song, forming them into walls of defense, protecting the secret of two little hobbits and the fate of Middle-earth."

There are just too many wonderful links to canon... I can't really recount them all!
cairistiona7 chapter 10 . 10/8/2009
Oh brilliant stroke, having the eagles bring Elrond and Arwen! Yes, Hope will not be abandoned...
cairistiona7 chapter 9 . 10/8/2009
Ah, rescue at last...love the parallels with Maedhros... would say more but I must keep reading...!
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