Adrienne D chapter 55 . 6/17/2010
Frakkin' hell, this story is still going!

What a thing to find upon randomly deciding to return to the fandom of Tolkien. I had thought I'd reread it for old-time's sake - and have spent the past two days doing just that - but I didn't expect to see it continuing, and recently updated to boot! Llinos, m'dear, I'm at awe.

Was every bit as fun this time around as it was many years ago, and I'm very glad I was moved to take a peek again. Seems your skill for cliff hangers has yet to fail you though. ;) I just wanted you to know that even after eight years, I'm still inexorably drawn to this story. Cheers to you, Llinos, and I will be adding this to my alert system in hopes of catching updates once more!
FantasyFan chapter 55 . 6/4/2010
I am enchanted with your description of the clever mind of Meriadoc Brandybuck, and how he makes his own luck with planning, excellent use of his resources, diplomacy and a little bit of slyness. This is very heartening, since he’s on the spot and needs a plan. He still has some resources, including transportation, a means of communication and a relatively useful orc or two. Diplomacy might help him muster the latest version of the odd fellowship, but what exactly is his goal? Rescue the others? Hold on tight until somebody else rescues the others, positioning himself to drop the ring when it’s safe to do so? All choices are fraught with peril, and he needs to put his cleverer brainses (as Pippin would say) to work, because none of the plans (that I am able to come up with for him) make a lot of sense so far. But all is not lost - Legolas has a plan. One that involves walking into Mordor, and er, doing something. Hmmmm, the problem is that Sauron also has a plan, and it involves Legolas walking into Mordor. This could get exciting.

Pippin, it seems, also has a plan. I’m looking forward to the next chapter, when perhaps you can give a description of how Pippin makes his own luck, which seems to involve a tremendous amount of personal charm, the willingness to think outside the box, a well-honed ability to dissemble, and an intuitive and impulsive knack for knowing when to act. Add in the magnetism of hobbits in general, and surely the forces of evil must be defeated. Between the two of them (Merry and Pippin, that is, although the contributions of the rest of the free folk and their armies are appreciated) whatever happens is sure to be as surprising as it is entertaining.

Last comment for this chapter. Most of the mindspeaking to date has been interspecies, and because of that filled with difficulties in communication. Legolas, Gandalf, the hobbits, Éowyn, Gimli and the orcs have had trouble understanding each other at times, although their individual idioms are charming. In this chapter, Éowyn and Faramir share the mind-link, absorbing pain from three weary and battered hobbits, and they are magnificent together. Smooth and easy, they don’t need words with each other. Perhaps because they are both human, but also perhaps because they are forming the bond of soulmates that sustains them. How lovely.
Marigold chapter 55 . 5/23/2010
Sauron just hasn’t learned a thing about hobbits, even though Merry and Pippin have already escaped his clutches before – his overconfidence is going to be his undoing, just as it was in the book. He just can’t conceive that he won’t ultimately come out the winner. You’ve captured his arrogance wonderfully well!

I love the background on Merry, which you’ve touched on before, especially in Bilbo’s Gifts. I really enjoy knowing what has made a character turn into the person that they are, if that makes any sense, and you have really done an amazing job of developing/explaining Merry’s personality. He is ‘your’ Merry and yet he remains Tolkien’s Merry as well; most authors aren’t able to achieve this but you accomplish it with every single book character. I loved that he himself created an image of Pippin to finally convince himself that he was making a big mistake!

That Legolas is so eager to accept the trade is excellent – I got several impressions regarding his motivations; the big picture obviously, which is to make sure that Sauron doesn’t get His Ring back, but also that Legolas is keen for the challenge and a chance for some action and of course that he wants desperately to help his beloved hobbits. Loved that Gimli and Sniggin wanted to go along with him!

Pippin is fantastic in this chapter (as usual!) and I am really impressed with how much he is growing. He is much more confident and in control of things now and I love the role reversal going on here, with young Pippin now the one sorting things out and making the plans rather than his elders, who now must depend upon him. He is becoming more of a long thinker but somehow still combines that with Tookish impetuousness – a neat trick, almost as good as walking with crossed toes!
Grey Wonderer chapter 55 . 5/10/2010
Oh, my! Merry does indeed have a plan but his plan is just a bit too dangerous for my liking. I'm glad he was convinced to remove the RING but I'm not completely certain that will be the end of his plan. All that clever thinking combined with his need to save his cousins and Sam may cause Merry to take some very large risks before all is said and done.

And speaking of risks, Legolas's plan isn't exactly making me feel any better. I don't like the idea of him walking into Mordor and trading himself for Sam. Sam isn't going to like it either.

Oh, and I'm far too nervous to consider Sauron's plans. Those are more than a little disturbing.

So far as it goes, I like Pippin's plan. It's small, it's quiet, and it doesn't seem to involve RINGS.

Then again, I haven't heard all of Pippin's plan really. I could find that disturbing too once I've heard all of it.

I don't know how you do it, but this has managed to stay so exciting and so very entertaining! Each new chapter is a delight. And I am really fond of the way you write Gimli. I like his loyalty to Legolas and his concern for everyone else. I also like the way you are mixing in elements of the hobbits' character and their lives prior to the quest. I really enjoyed the part at the beginning of this chapter that gives us a look at Merry as he really is and the way others, who don't know him that well, see him. (Not the best wording in this review but I think you'll get what I'm trying to say.)

Keep the chapters coming or when June arrives, you will have a very upset house guest on your hands.

PS Errol says that he knew all along that Merry was the most clever of the hobbits. He likes the way you explain how Merry was able to provide the ponies for the Quest too. He says, "That is exactly why "Recaptured" is as wonderful a tale as it is. Llinos always considers the details."
Angela chapter 55 . 5/9/2010
I am intrigued by the delicate balance of moving pieces you've had going in the last few chapters - there's so much going on between Sauron's plotting and the heroes' counter-plotting and the hobbits' coping with their respective situations that I can never quite figure out what's going to happen next. I like how much the fallibility of Sauron has come into play, how he gets so self-absorbed and distracted with his evil scheming that he misses what's (figuratively) right under his nose, despite all his spies and his connection to the Ring.

I've really enjoyed the way Pippin has evolved through this story in terms of how he reacts to and deals with his circumstances - if anything, his situation now is even worse, even more hopeless than it had been in the past, but now he snaps into resourceful!Pippin mode instead of sinking into (what would be totally justifiable) despair. Lately he reminds me a lot of how he was in the Shelob chapter - really capable and observant and a world away from the sort of dippy and dependent way Pippin is often portrayed. I liked your characterization of him them and I like it now - he's crafty and down-to-earth but still keeps that wry irreverent wit that makes him so fun to read...there are always a few lines that make me laugh. And I love it when he talks to himself. xD

The "magic note" scenes in Chapter 146 had me giggling so much at lunch that I think some of my coworkers thought I was losing my mind, LOL. Sniggin and Bloggin are always great, but the interaction between Gandalf and Sniggin is particularly fun to read.

I always like reading various fic-writers' takes on the backgrounds and family dynamics of the hobbits, and your interpretation of Merry's background (and the differences between how he views his circumstances versus how others see them) is no exception. It's nice to see such a detailed and well-thought-out nod to book-Merry's ability to arrange and orchestrate things, and how and why he might have ended up being so good at that kind of thing. And I think that whole aside about the nature of luck as it pertains to Merry was an excellent set-up for something that really *was* plain good luck. But the part of that chapter that really hit me was the couple of paragraphs where you had the contrast of the Ring-Vision Merry next to the actual Merry. Every so often there's a little chunk of the story that makes me stop and say, "Wow!" and go back and read it several more times before I can continue, and that part was one of them. It was just perfect for the scene; it really clicked.
Pippinfan1988 chapter 55 . 5/9/2010
Oh, how I really enjoyed your exposition on Merry! I think it really slips in smoothly with the Professor's take on Merry obtaining Crickholllow for Frodo. Well done and very much in character (naturally). :-)

Yep...the pieces have begun to move. In the end, I just hope Sauron gets his due and more! Not the Ring, of course, but perhaps a good swift kick in the armored backside might suffice. Maybe not. ;-)
Marigold chapter 54 . 5/8/2010
There’s so much going on in this chapter!

I’ve always loathed the Mouth of Sauron but your interpretation of him makes me detest him even more. He’s so oily and scornful even though he’s feeling rather exposed at the moment – he strikes me as being very cowardly though I am sure he’d never realise that about himself. He uses the bravery of those serving him and the might of Sauron behind him to make himself look good but if he was unsupported I am sure that he’d find some justification to keep himself out of any sort of danger. Good thing he isn’t facing film-Aragorn here! I thought that moment one of the worst in any of the films.

Pippin’s talents and personality really shine in this chapter. Loved Pippin playing up to the jailer! I could really see him batting his lashes and looking up at him with wide pleading eyes, lol! I doubt that anyone short of Sauron or one of the Nazgul would be able to turn him down anything he begged for and I think that even without the fear of magick or ticking Smagnu off that the jailer would have given in – the biscuits were a lovely touch! Maybe the jailer was using them as extra insurance in a way, to keep on the magickal imp’s good side. I loved that we were able to see Pippin’s thoughts as he manipulated the poor orc into doing what he wanted! And then he did such a good job caring for Frodo and Sam. He is so mature now, and focussed, able to do what needs to be done without any reliance on anyone else, though the help from Legolas and company is certainly welcome. And yet despite everything he remains young and sweet and innocent – the last line in this section is wonderful; "you go want a bickit?"

Smagnu is brilliant in this chapter as well. I love all of his dialogue and the way that he is respectful of Merry but at the same time so matter-of-fact and forthright. He’s steadfastly loyal but not it’s not at all blind loyalty.

I think that my favourite part of the good guys conference was the interaction with Sniggin. Before this chapter my favourite little orc twin was Bloggin but now I love his brother just as much. Love the way that Gandalf is becoming so fond of him. And then the scene where Sniggin goes off for refreshments is just wonderful! I loved that writing is to him “real magick” (because it really is, isn’t it) and the image popped into my head of him after the war, assuming that he survives it, curled up on a cushioned window seat somewhere and reading a book on a rainy afternoon, lol!

The part where he is actually getting the food and drink is so very funny! I love the way his astonishment grows the more his requests are met until he is completely speechless! And I also love the way that he bustles about setting everything up when he is back with the others, the way that he has assigned himself the role of ‘assistant’ to the new bosses the way that he did with Smagnu and Grutfley. I think he is very Sam-like in this respect and actually likes looking after folks. He’s very much a nurturing sort of orc! I felt very sorry for him when the magick paper was taken away!

One of the best things about Sniggin’s expedition was the reaction of the soldiers and quartermaster. I thought that it was fantastic the way that you clearly showed their characters and personalities even though we didn’t actually ‘meet’ them. I also thought the way that they were so tolerant and found humour in the situation rather than resentment or revulsion towards a member of a race that was their lifelong enemy really showed their nobility. They considered Sniggin as an individual and not as an anonymous enemy that should be reviled, if that makes any sense.

Merry! This part had me on the edge of my seat! I can’t believe that he did that, but then what else could he have done? It’s out of character and yet given the circumstances it isn’t, although I know that’s an odd way for me to put it. He is certainly in a difficult situation and Bloggin’s reluctance is worrying too. I can’t wait to read how this is resolved!
Pip4 chapter 55 . 5/4/2010
Well yea, I knew they got biscuits in another chapter ( I wondered where the orc got hose too :P)

O, everyone's hatching plans, fun, can't wait to see what they are.
I like how you tied Merry's resourcefulness into everything. It provided a nice exposition in the story. I also love how you've got Pippin coming into his own with the mind control abilities.
Pippinfan1988 chapter 54 . 4/30/2010
"This would not be a very noble action, especially since he was under a flag of truce." your author note

You know...that thought never occurred to me and I wholly agree!

Omgosh, I loved that little "magick" errand of Sniggin's, lol. Too funny!

What brilliance with Merry's storyline! I didn't see that coming. And I enjoyed watching Pippin work his bit of charm over the jailer. I like watching his character develop as this lovely tale does the same. Exellent!
The Lauderdale chapter 54 . 4/30/2010
I'm going to echo Legolas here. No Merry! Don't! For pity's sake No!

Honest to goodness.

And thanks for that note, I actually had reread some and still not managed to find that. You are a very sneaky author. Wicked tricksy Llinos!

And the best part of this chapter, hands down, is Sniggin's magic. I love those little goblins. 8D
FantasyFan chapter 54 . 4/30/2010
Thanks to Marigold’s reminders, I have been, er, reminded, to come and read some more of your fascinating story. Several chapters to catch up on, so sort of a conglomerate review here.

When Frodo tossed the Ring in the cracks of doom, I felt really proud of him. Proud of his determination, proud of the way he handled Gollum, proud of his response to the loss of his finger (at the same time I was sad, that he had to suffer this hurt when he never put on the Ring). Now, I realize I should have been suspicious instead. Oh, I’m still proud of Frodo, but he really didn’t have the Ring after all, and so it really wasn’t a fair test of his will when he threw it away. A case of too many cooks, I imagine. So many are there, all focused on getting to the cracks of doom, all helping Frodo in ways Sam alone couldn’t in the original, that nobody feels the loss of the compulsion the Ring exerted, and so they don’t realize it has literally been left by the wayside. At least, not until Sauron doesn’t implode, and the battle continues, and the Nazgûl head for Oroduin.

And there’s so much action there, at the end, that there’s little thought to spare for Gollum’s sacrifice and death. It did turn out to be as predicted, that someone would die; Gollum’s death was not surprising, but it wasn’t actually inevitable. The Ring wasn’t gone, and so he could have lived on. The fact that he remained alive might have been a clue that the destroyed Ring didn’t carry Sauron’s power, but nobody gets the chance to realize that. I suppose had Frodo put on the Ring and not disappeared, that would have been another clue, but as he is spared that trauma, the false Ring is not revealed. So many intertwined threads of “what if,” here at the crux of the action, that there almost wasn’t time to feel sad for Gollum’s fate. He truly couldn’t go on, though he came closer at the end than anyone could have hoped.

Fortunately, however, Gandalf is still in the loop, and figures out the problem quickly. Not that he could save the hobbits from being taken, but at least the forces of the West know what is going on. I cannot imagine the general frustration in times when there was no instant communication, and everything had to be played out for the long haul, and in faith. Situations change so fast here: without communication all would have been lost, many times I think.

And I am glad that at last Faramir gets to show his quality. He offers himself, his strength and determination, in the service of the cause. Not that he hasn’t been noble before – he has, repeatedly – but there has always been that undercurrent of trying to please, a damage to his character that can be laid directly on his Father, but that Faramir overcomes. There’s none of that in his decision to accept Pippin’s pain. I'm also pleased that Eowyn is impressed, now that he's not trying to impress her.

Now, to get to the actual chapter review. I loved Sniggin’s foraging expedition. Gandalf has a bit to learn about managing orcs, especially resourceful ones like Sniggin has become. “Give him whatever he wants” is generous, but not very wise. I suppose even wizards have their moments when wisdom slips, amongst all the important thoughts Gandalf is managing. Sniggin’s character has certainly grown over the time since he joined up with the Uruk-Hai battalion. He’s been exposed to new ideas and situations, and he’s not the cringing fodder he once was. And his resourcefulness, a trait he has had from the beginning, has blossomed. It makes you think about those we call “enemies,” as Tolkien once did in Faramir's/Sam's famous soliloquy in Itillien. How many of them could become allies, were they given a chance to overcome the circumstances that put them on the “wrong” side?

Merry’s got a plan. Usually, that doesn’t bother me. In fact, knowing how clever Merry is, it usually makes me cheerful. But I’m not so sure here. Having figured it out (by himself?), he retrieves the Ring from Bloggin. Bloggin shows a possessiveness towards his ornament, but perhaps less than I would have expected. Is it because he is no longer just an ordinary orc? Is it because Sauron is confused, that he doesn’t have the ability to summon the Ring and its new bearer? Is the Ring itself confused by its association with confusing hobbits? Nothing it’s tried lately has gone as it expected, except the trick designed to deceive them about which was the true ring. Did it not even try to compel its new bearer, or has there just not yet been time? But back to Merry’s plan. The smartest thing, and one that I imagine Gandalf will advocate as soon as he knows what has happened, would be for Merry to march right back to Orodruin and pitch the Ring in the fires. Only problem with that is the three hobbits now in Barad-dûr would die in the collapse of the tower, and Merry is not going to let that happen. Is his plan to to sneak in the way he snuck out, rescue everybody and then go back to the mountain? Give the Ring back to Frodo? I hope there’s a better plan than that, because the chances of success are slim to none. A fool’s hope, I suppose, yet the story (in all incarnations) is full of foolish hope. I’m really looking forward to seeing it all play out, and I hope I can catch the next installments on a more regular basis.
ebbingnight chapter 54 . 4/28/2010
But of course Legolas will offer to trade himself for the return of any one of the hobbits: just ask him!
Grey Wonderer chapter 54 . 4/27/2010
I'm with Gimli! How does one make that sort of trade? ("Legolas for one of the hobbits?" Gimli growled with anger. "That would be a sore choice to make!") And which hobbit? He has three of them now and I wonder about poor Merry. Who are we trading here?

Pippin is doing such a fine job of holding things together as best he can and relying on what he's been taught to see him through. I think that perhaps without the RING's influence, he is better able to function now. He seems stronger with each new chapter.

I don't like the fact that Merry is so confused but I Do like the fact that Merry has a plan. Merry is normally a very good planner. I hope that this is really Merry's plan and not some plan that has been forced upon him by whatever it was that made him attack Bloggin though. It looks to me as if Smagnu will need to be on his guard here. He may have to make some plans of his own if they are to get out of this in one piece.

Forgot to say in an earlier review that I am glad to see Faramir in there helping out. He's been on the edge of things for so long that it is good to see him in there helping.

Again, I am with Gimli. Someone, somehow, some way needs to talk to Legolas before they trade him off. I think they need Legolas personally. And how does one trade an Elf? I am guessing that the Elf in question will have to be in agreement for this trade to work. Gandalf and Aragorn are making valid points on this but I'm still going to go with Gimli. Let's ask Legolas.

Love Sniggin's shopping spree. I wish Gandalf would sign off on a few little items I've been needing. : )

Merry! No! Now I am so beyond worried about Merry. I am all the way to panic-stricken. Not Merry! (TBR is beside himself with worry but he insists that Merry has a plan. TBR assured me that Merry was a match for the dark magic and that he knew what he was doing. I still have my doubts. I plan to panic.) Legolas is in a panic and so I feel justified.

Grey Wonderer chapter 53 . 4/27/2010
Finally! I have managed to get in here to review! I read this on my IPhone. (It was very tiny there but still very, very, entertaining) I couldn't get it to let me review there though. Anyway, enough about me. This is a review!
I can't tell you when I've been this worried about Merry. I don't know what is going on with him but I am very afraid that the Dark Lord or the RING have something to do with his attack on Bloggin. Up until now, Merry has not had to deal with the effects of the RING directly but I am afraid that somehow he has come under it's influence. (Unless he knows something about poor Bloggin that I haven't figured out yet.)
I love the way Pippin is attempting to help Frodo and Sam and spare Legolas, Eowyn and everyone else any pain on his behalf. He is being so very brave in spite of where he now finds himself.
I love the way you ended the chapter in spite of the fact that I didn't really want it to end until I had a better idea of what was wrong with Merry. (But something happened then that the Ring did not intend... It was picked up by the most unlikely creature imaginable...) I love the way this story always makes connections to the books, the films, and to prior chapters. It's just part of what makes reading it so much fun. I love discovering little connections that you've included.
Anyway off to read the next chapter before my internet leaves me again.
Pip4 chapter 54 . 4/26/2010
Where does an orc in Barah Dur get biscuits?

Sniggin getting all that stuff reminds me of the scenes where Pippin used to plunder for Smagnu and Gruftley. That was a rather charming scene.

O, can't wait to see what's gonna happen to Merry now that he has the ring on.
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