Reviews for The Song in the Darkness
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...!
cairistiona7 chapter 8 . 10/8/2009
Wow. I'm a bit speechless. What a tremendous battle... I love the parallels of history and the levels of the city, leading up to one man, Aragorn, at the top. That's imagery that I think I will always have in my mind now, as I read about Minas Tirith. This is a chapter of epic proportions, gripping and moving and triumphant at last! Now to see about getting Aragorn some help with all those wounds...
cairistiona7 chapter 7 . 10/8/2009
Ah, thank goodness for Arwen and what comfort she was able to give him before the horrors began anew. *shivers* This one was another hard one to get through... but I'm pressing on, because I know hope is still alive...
cairistiona7 chapter 6 . 10/8/2009
It seems odd to say "lovely" in regards to such a painful episode, but what's lovely about this is the power both of Aragorn's will and hope (love the Argonath visual giving him strength), and the power of music. It was music, after all, that created Arda, and so music would have a vast power, I would think, over evil and over pain itself. I love that he was calling for his father, and feeling the comfort of the memory of Rivendell-or perhaps even through osanwe-kente, actually communicating in thought with Elrond on some level and tapping into his strength and love much in the same way that Arwen "watched from afar". Whichever, it works wonderfully here.

And on another note regarding the torture-normally torture fics don't hold me, because the torture is gratuitous in the hands of most writers. But that you're weaving in such symbolism and revealing so much of Aragorn's nature and abilities and strengths makes this all work.
cairistiona7 chapter 5 . 10/8/2009
Ah, bravo, Aragorn! "If by my life or my death I can save you..."

Where to start expressing my thoughts on this chapter? I guess I have to say that I like the almost Biblical language you've used. Aragorn's suffering here is so evocative, to me at least as it's my own faith, of Christ's suffering on the cross. Those themes are present in Tolkien, though it's not allegory, and any time I find a story that touches on those themes, it goes straight to my heart. That Aragorn is not willing to let anyone else suffer his fate... that's an amazing, selfless act beyond anything most people could do.

Really liked this. A lot. Can you tell? :)
cairistiona7 chapter 4 . 10/8/2009
Another chapter that was very hard to read... but I loved these lines: "Anger rose in him then. His eyes opened and the look in them was like the clouds of an ancient storm when Middle Earth was young and the horns of Oromë echoed in its thunders."

What an excellent image of Aragorn's power!
cairistiona7 chapter 3 . 10/8/2009
*dep breath*

My word, poor Aragorn! You're right-it does seem I'll need a vast storehouse of "my poor Ranger"'s and "Oh my dear Aragorn!"'s! Hard to read him being so treated but at the same time... it would be the case, were he ever captured and brought to Barad Dur. I'm so glad he has a way to disassociate from it all... I'm almost afraid to keep reading, but I have to!
cairistiona7 chapter 2 . 10/8/2009
Oh... poor Aragorn! This is so dark, and yet you have to have darkness to show how very strong even a faint light can be. This is definitely the kind of AU I enjoy... taking canon in a different direction in a "what if..." scenario, leaving the principle characters and setting intact. This story is off to a fine start (although Aragorn might argue otherwise!)
cairistiona7 chapter 1 . 10/8/2009
Oh what a chilling start to this story! I can all but feel the coldness of the Nazgul's miasma and before that Aragorn's fatigue from his hard labors. The bit where he had to stop and shut his eyes, at the spot where Halbarad died, was sparsely told but powerful for all that it was bare of much detail. I'm looking foward to reading the rest of this!
Canafinwe chapter 6 . 10/5/2009
And now (drumroll please!) ANOTHER overdue review!

I love that Aragorn retreats, not into unconciousness, but into a place deep within his mind where he can shelter from the pain. The changing of the colour of the light of hope is at once very poetic and profoundly eerie. He has no hope left for himself, but the Hope that he is still shines for Middle-earth.

For some reason the words "bleary eyes" make me so profoundly sad. How low Aragorn has been brought in his suffering: his eyes, always "keen and commanding", always kindled with a light that few could endure, are now bleary, clouded with pain. Still he manages a "calm and cold look", and the Mouth of Sauron is forced to look away, quailing as he does in the book. But here, of course, he is able to wreak revenge for the humiliation, and he slams Aragorn's jaw in frustration.

He has doubts now, too. "lacking the strength to support it... or was he saving it for later?" The Mouth is beginning to realize what a formidable opponent he is facing.

Aragorn is subsisting soley in the present: he banishes any hint of speculation as to the next torment. This is sound survival techinque, by the way: often it's the imagined horrors that inflict the most damage on the psyche, not the actual pains. "he had the last moments before it began". These words speak to desperation, the frantic clinging of a beleagured mind to the last moments of the pain it knows, before the unknown pain descends.

The image of the Argonath, timeless and unshakable, is beautifully used. It's such a perfect metaphore for "secrets kept, strength like a tower"

The anguished description of the stretching of his tormented body is very nicely (horrifically!) done. "as it shifted the broken ribs" was for some reason particuarly effective. The stark, almost clinical wording leaves so much to the imagination, and as you've probably noted my imagination is a very hyperactive one.

"It hurts... Oh, Valar, it hurts so much!" The dichotomy between the vivid words that you use in the narration and this simple, almost child-like cry of suffering is very powerful: Aragorn has been reduced to the most basic thoughts. He cannot embellish the pain, because it overwhelms his faculties. So only the stark, simple words remain. "It hurts so much."

Here's another very evocative sentence: "The world erupted in a fountain of pain". Again, the simple word best serves your purpose, punctuating the statement and allowing the image to dominate. I admire your style precisely because you are not afraid to take a Spartan approach and to let the strength of your writing carry you without explicite words. Well done!

He escapes at last, but of course the Mouth of Sauron cannot allow that. The choking smoke is a horrifying and haunting tool: I can almost smell it as I read. It would be interesting if this strange wood were Lebethron... that dark, ageless wood that composes the casket in which the Winged Crown of Gondor rests. Just for the sake of a little awful irony.

In any case, the thought of coughing against broken ribs sends a shiver of empathy into the pit of my stomach. And it is only the first discomfort, as the smoke drags him back into "the centre of pain".

He cries out for his father. Oh, he cries out for his father! Again the childish words: "Ada" this time. "oh, Ada, it hurts!". And after anther hugely effective description of suffering... "Ada! please..."

"and he was young again"... the wistfulness of this line is the most evocative part of the whole chapter. In it, Aragorn seems to wish away not only the anguish of the moment, but all the long years of suffering and hardship and bitter labour. In this simple phrase all of that falls away, if only for a moment, and he is free again. How many of us do not at one time or anohter experience a moment like this? Once more you've given us a profoundly human moment, where we can glimpse deep into the heart of the grim-faced Ranger who so stoically endures discomfort and deprivation and degredation, and reminds us that under it all he is just a man. A brave and valiant and unspeakably *good* man who happens to be trapped in the Alternate Universe from Angband at the moment.

Then the pain returns and he is no longer innocent or unsullied, but he brings with him the memory of that vision, and with the memory he finds new strength to endure. He is no longer little Estel, standing at his foster-father's knee, but he is still in the Hall of Fire, and the songs sustain him. This is a moment that could be straight out of Tolkien: Aragorn, the culmination of all the long years, the scion of all the great heroes of old, singing in his torment like Maedhros in Thangorodrim.

I shudder to think, however, just how long he hangs there. The Lay of Leithian alone is a good two or three hours long.

Here you have the Elessar... hmm... I'm so evil. I love your final sentence: "Many hours passed, but to him, they were ages, and the old legends of song unfolded in their own time, while he suffered in the dark cells of Barad-dur". He is at once profoundly alone, but at the same time he is a singer in the great Song of Arda: the Song that began when Eru first bade the Ainur to create their music, and the Song that will continue on for all eternity, even after the world ends and Ea is unmade. He is a part of the grand tapestry of the universe, a thread in the vast web of Tolkien's mythos, and in his singing he defies the darkness and endures in hope and fortitude despite impossible odds.

How strange to say, but what a satisfying chapter! Viva la Alternate Universe. ;-)
Canafinwe chapter 5 . 9/28/2009
Ooh, you open with some powerful metaphores this time! "Pain circling his veins instead of blood. Pain filling his lungs instead of air." Pain has become elemental for him, an integral part of his world.

Alone in the darkness... his panicked response to the thought that he might be buried alive reminded me of the dread with which he faced Moria. Can it be that he has a fear of dark, enclosed spaces? Even if it is only a product of his traumatized and fevered mind, toying with him in the bowels of the Barad-dur, it's still a terrifying prospect.

That he longs for the return of the orcs wrings at my heart: he is so desperate for water, even a little water, and for the reassurance that there is a world beyond the darkness that he awaits the pain "eagerly". There's a metaphore here, too, I think... does anything exist beyond the Shadow of Mordor?

"Why?" The question that one always asks in moments of trial and suffering. Why this? Why me? Why? There is never an answer.

The repetiotion "... and in the darkness bind them..." feels almost like the heavy tread of a drum, or the beating of a heart. It is a pulse of despair and blacckness, and it binds these anguished paragraphs together into a cohesive whole. I can feel Aragorn's terror and the disorientation and the despair.

His mind tormenting him with visions of failure... very, VERY Aragorn. It seems like he spent half the Quest brooding on the ways he might bring disaster upon everyone. It would be no different here. It's perfect that Sam is the accusing voice: Sam, whose trust he laboured so hard to earn. Of all the apparitions to give voice to his failure, it would have to be Sam.

Ack! NO! He wasn't given that gift to use like this! Ooh, to have him tempted thus by his ability to offer up his spirit willingly, at a time of his choosing... horrific. BRILLIANT.

Mixing my Inklings again, but your descriptiion of "clean air... as fresh and sweet as the morning of the first snow", and the layers of the world, and the song, reminded me of "The Last Battle", when they all pass into Aslan's Country at last. Gorgeous.

And the next paragraph is the Song of Melkor, of course, awakening him once more to knowledge of the terrible price of failure. His repentance is exquisite. It's heartbreaking to see him begging for suffering, but it is precisely what Aragorn would do. He accepts his duty before his needs, and he returns to the pain, to the torture that still awaits him. He is prepared now to endure it. He harbours no illusions about his fate: "for him, suffering until death. Or until they broke him.'

He understands his destiny: he is Estel, the Hope of all the free world. Even when he has no hope left for himself, he holds out hope for them... beautifully expressed. I can see what you mean about the darkness and the light in this story. It's filled with pain and despair, but it isn't bleak. That's a stunning accomplishment, and it's perfectly in line with J.R.R. Tolkien's philosophy and world view: even in despair, there is Hope. Even when all seems overrun with Evil, there is Good. Even in the pits of Angband, there is Eru.

*shivers in awe* Wow.
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