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This is really some superb work!
I love the way you wrote Triumph of the Shadow as such a sweeping, epic AU, and crafted it so realistically that you can then write within it, and have the reader completely immersed within the AU as if it were canon.
Author's Response: Fanari,
The Circles indeed has its own canon. We have enough rejected plotlines and alternate versions of chapters to fill at least one volume of the "History of Middle Earth" series. There is also a completely separate "Book of Lost Tales" that came before The Circles that later became the inspiration for The Circles.
Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like had The Circles fit perfectly within Tolkien's canon. The twins and the women of their village would probably have been Gondorians who had been kidnaped by pirates, or nomadic tribesmen in Northern Rohan who had been captured by orc or Easterling raiders. And things would have ended very badly for the Nazgul on March 15 and 25... An interesting possibility, but not one that Angmar and I ever wished to explore.
Again thank you for reading our story!
Firstly, I must applogize for my utter lack of reviews when it comes to this fantastic story. I have been following it and a new update to the story is met with delight but I have been neglectful when it comes to actually leaving reviews which is the least I can do for such a wonderfully thought out and deep AU story.
This story I feel is one of the hidden gems of this site. Everytime I read a new chapter I am drawn completely into it and always find myself longing for more afterwards as your writing style is so incredibly rich and detailed. Though I must admit that at the mention of lice I do tend to squirm in my seat quite abit!
I really admire how you portray the Rohirrim and the Men of the South, often in stories the writer tends to take an over sympatehtic stance towards one side but you manage to portray both cultures extremely well and it is fascinating the interaction between the two groups as it comes as completely realistic.
I am always reading this story, even if I do not review it as often as I should, and I have been throughly enjoying it and as always I am looking forward to reading the coming chapters.
Author's Response: Anwyn,
Don't worry about not reviewing. Angmar and I are glad you are enjoying the story. We try to put a generous dose of realism into our fantasy, incorporating elements of real world history, culture and customs. I think just about everyone squirms a little at the mention of lice - it's the power of suggestion. *laughs* It is very common for people who are forced to live in close quarters, such as the captives, to become infected with lice or contagious diseases, such as dysentery and influenza. Luckily, there have not been any outbreaks of the latter two among the captives - yet...
We try to portray both sides in a neutral light. In real life, things are seldom black and white, but varying shades of gray. Although there are people who are considered by many to be "evil" or "good," whole cultures cannot be "evil" or "good," because they are comprised of many people with varied standards of morality and personal codes of honor. Even though the Lord of the Rings is a work of fiction, the people of Middle-earth should be portrayed in a realistic fashion. After all, Middle-earth is our own world, but with an alternative history and origin very different from our own.
I hope you keep reading The Circles!
Another tense, and so-realistic chapter in this epic which the both of you are so wonderfully forging. ' Triumph of the Shadow ' was a superbly crafted AU and this book is a look within it and is as riveting. Wonderfully drawn characters, such a sense of realism that I can feel myself with the characters. You continue to thrill me.
Author's Response: Fanari,
Thank you for your comments. Angmar and I like creating unique characters, and some of the ones Angmar creates are... *very* unique!
I am very, very behind in leaving a much overdue review for this abseloutely incredible story, and I applogize for that. I do not think I can praise this story enough for it's realism, espically in the way that you capture the behavior of the Rohirrim women, specifically Elfhild and Elffled of course and I did enjoy the way they compared Garavegion to a proud gander strutting about and then proudly reminded him that hey are daughters of Eorl, It was a wonderful touch that sadly, they are now slaves to Mordor but they are still proud and have not forgotten who they are. I found the character of Garavegion intriguing, and he had quite an intresting chemistry going on with the girl's the way he was so shamelessly flirting with them, he was kind but I honestly found myself expecting him to snap at any moment, In him you have created yet another fascinating character and I hope to learn more of him in future chapters. This story abseloutely fascinates me as the victory of Mordor is not really something I can imagine with any comfort but you write this with such wonderful realism that it makes for an abseloutely gripping read which I always look forward to reading whenever it is updated. Kindest regards to you both.
Author's Response: Anwyn,
Sometimes those who seem fair are really foul. Not everything is as it seems, especially in enemy territory. Unfortunately, the girls are finding out that their foes do not always have to be a hideous orc or a leering man with stray hands. A lowly scribe can do just as much damage with a mere signature. At least the girls got to watch someone write - a refreshing change from the dismal monotony of marching.
Elfhild is proud and defiant, but her sister just wants to survive and go unnoticed by her captors. Even though they are frightened and grieving, both girls possess a subtle strength. Many of the captives do - it is the only way they can survive. Poor Breguswith was not so fortunate, and went insane when her baby died. It would be very difficult to keep from falling into despair and just giving up in such a horrible situation.
Garavegion might be back sometime in the distant future.
We strive to make our story as realistic as possible, excluding scenes where there is magic, of course. Thank you for your wonderful compliments. :)
Your writing truly is beyond praise. Reading of Elfhild wondering how the warriors had died rang very true with me, I could imagine myself doing that, I could feel the horror of it and the shock. A grim chapter of the aftermath of defeat and yet your writing raises it far beyond the level of depression which most true-to-life works can instill in me. Truly masterful!
Author's Response: Fanari,
Thank you for your compliments on this chapter. When the story started, Elfhild was very naive and idealistic. She knew only of war in stories and songs, heroes' boasts of victories, or paeans celebrating fallen heroes. Though she was by no means an advocate of war, she thought of battles as adventures for brave men -- until the men of her village were called away to Gondor. As the story progresses, war becomes a grim reality from which there is no escape. Once its true brutality is discovered, it can never be glorified by those who have seen it.
Thank you for reading!
This chapter was abseloutely heartbreaking to read but I really enjoy the style of your writing, it flows beatifully along even when writing of moments as bleak as this. The realization of loosing one dear, When I lost my grandfather I don't recall crying, though I am most certain I did, but just really wanted to go to be with him, no matter where he was now but of course I see now I was really too young to understand. As strange as this might sound, I am going to just go ahead and say it that there is a beauty to this chapter, in that it is very strong and stirring, not "over the top" but beatifully captures what it must have been like for the captives to behold the remanants of such a horrible battle and now that remains of so many is only memories...and bones. Though the poor captives are heading off to what I would consider a far more grim fate, Its just chilling to consider for even a moment. While I dread to even begin to guess at what they may encounter next I will faithfully follow this story as I find it all abseloutely enthralling. You writing style weaves the story together so beatifully, I really do not think I can even begin to praise it enough.
Author's Response: Anwyn, thank you for your kind remarks. They are more than appreciated. As one who was born at the beginning of World War II, scenes of carnage and misery are part of my formative memory. From the radio broadcasts to the newsreel footage at the theatre, I was surrounded by war's grim horror at a very early age. One uncle served in the Pacific with the Navy, and when the war ended and he came back, his mind was scarred with horrible memories. To a little boy like me, he seemed very strange indeed.
I was three years old when the Dachau concentration camp surrendered to the American army in 1945. Years later I remember one of my father's friends who was part of that liberating army telling my father, "The stench was so bad we could smell the camp miles away." As I grew up and saw the horrifying pictures of Dachau, Auszwitz, Buchenwald, and the many other death camps, I was repulsed and frightened. Even today when I look at these pictures, I can still have flashbacks to the time when I first saw them.
Growing up during the Cold War, every day I worried that we would all be killed by an atomic bomb. You can't grow up like that and not be affected by the gristly face of war. Perhaps some of it shows in my writing.
My co-writer, Elfhild, is decades younger than I am and she is fortunate that she grew up in a more enlightened era. I rely heavily upon her to add the perceptive of young women and children who have been wrenched away from their homes and are having to face a future filled with uncertainties set against a tableau of war in all its horrors.
Again, thank you for reading.
This is absolutely the best story dealing with the War of the Ring era and after that I have ever read. The only other one which is similar is A Dawn Of Many Colors, which also begins about the same time frame. Both are AU and both are outstanding.
The writing is elegant and descriptive and dramatically beautiful, it *feels * completely authentic, even if it is AU .
The dialogue is wonderful and it is * epic * and you do not get many epics on fanfiction. I look forward to the next in the series! Well done!
Considering I will 99.9% of the time read only Elf-centered fanfic the quality of your writing and story is immense to hook me and keep me hooked, most of the time I will start something and loose interest but this was all gripping and superb!
Author's Response: Fanari, thank you for your kind comments about our story and for sticking with us until the end of Book One. When I wrote the first seven chapters, I wanted the story to merge seamlessly into the canon and then blossom out from that solid root in Tolkien's "official histories." I've seen alternative universe stories which are set in the months and years after Sauron (or Saruman) won the war, but I wanted readers to have a little glimpse of life as it was before the war. Hence this idyllic scene of farm life - peasant maids milking the cow and feeding the chickens, father and son digging a well, mother planting a garden. It's just an average day in a village of the Eastfold. But then everything changes in an instant - a rider approaches, bearing news of Saruman's defeat and the Muster of Rohan; war with the Lord of Mordor is imminent, and all able bodied men are commanded to follow their king and come to the aid of Gondor. Father and son go off to war and the women are left behind to spend their days in darkness and fear.rn
rnIn my portrayal of the women, I was inspired a lot by Aragorn and Eowyn's dialog in "The Passing of the Grey Company." rn
rn"'A time may come soon,' said [Aragorn], 'when none will return. Then there will be need of valour without renown, for none shall remember the deeds that are done in the last defense of your homes. Yet the deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.'rn"And [Eowyn] answered: 'All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more.'"rn
rnEowyn wanted to fight with the men, not sit at home and wait for the men to return - or the forces of Mordor to invade. I wanted to do a story about the women who waited at home, and became just statistics in the histories - either captured or killed, their names and lives forgotten. They do not do anything that would be considered brave and heroic by the historians, but yet they possess a quiet sense of bravery. It takes strength and courage to keep from going mad when your home is destroyed, your relatives murdered, and the fate you face is one of dire uncertainty - slavery in an enemy land.rn
rnAngmar and I wanted to write a story about the characters, races and nationalities which neither Tolkien nor his fans wrote much about, such as orcs, Nazgul, Haradrim, Khandians, and Rhunians... even lowly peasants of Rohan and Gondor. With the exception of Sam, Tolkien mostly wrote about nobility and the upper classes. We like to give the poor folk a say. :)rn
rnWe're glad you liked what we have written. And, yes, The Circles IS epic, and will take many years to complete. In the next book, we leave the great Powers behind for a time and explore the miserable plight of the Rohirric captives.rn
I have to say it again, you two are superb. The way you bring this to life, your vocabulary, use of the English language, the way your characters, whoever they might be, are drawn, is magnificent!
Author's Response: Thank you very much for your very kind words. Elfhild and I put a lot of research into the background of our stories and it is very gratifying when we get compliments. We hope to do a series of books on the "What if Sauron had regained the One Ring?" plotline. Pure AU, but it is fun to speculate.
What can I say? This is GRIPPING, gut-wrenching, truly atmospheric, mature, and realistic. I feel it should be among my collection of most read [very foxed!] books. I have read few published novels which have enthralled me like this, despite the claims of many '' Gripping! '' '' Unputdownable! '' . This really is. It is thoroughly believable, and you have not fudged the true impact of war , [ as you said in a response you would not ] which whether in a fantasy novel, or reality, is terrible. I am truly hooked, this is very special, original , and immensly talented writing, from both authors. Very many thanks!
Author's Response: xFanarix, thank you again for your kind words. While magic and sorcery play a part in The Circles, Elfhild and I planned from the beginning that it was not going to take prime importance. Where real life situations, such as war, are the focus, the story will get grim and bloody, and we do not promise happy endings to all stories.rnrnAngmar and Elfhild
I must say that I throughly enjoyed reading your story. I understand there are two writers who penned this tale so to you both I congradulate you on writing an excellent tale.
Admittedly, I often do not read AU stories but I found this one extremely well written, an intresting and honest look into what *might* had happen if the tides had moved differently during the battle of the Pelannor.
I really apprechiated how you managed to so well capture the spirit of the Rohirrim people, that even in times of fear and uncertainity that they remained proud and tried to maintain what little dignity they could still cling too after all that had happened to them.
Again, I throughly enjoyed reading this and I hope that you will have more chapters up soon! :)
Author's Response: Anwyn, we certainly appreciate your kind remarks, and, yes, there are two of us who write this story. Elfhild is a charming young woman, and I am a not-so-charming sixty-five-year-old man. While the story is co-written, I (Angmar) often handle the action and adventure segments of the story, and Elfhild writes for the female characters (or orcs, strangely enough). Sometimes she writes a whole chapter; other times I write it; and sometimes we write a chapter together. When we get together, we go into a brainstorming session and develop ideas for the story.rnrnI come from a long background of wargaming and writing alternative history stories. I like to explore the "What if?" aspects of an event. In the last few years, I've pretty much left wargaming for writing fantasy stories.rnrnLord of the Rings ended on a more-or-less positive note. Sauron, the symbolic world dictator, has been foiled by the West. What would have happened if he had not been defeated? That's the question that Elfhild and I find fascinating, and we are doing our best to provide what we hope are at least reasonable theories. This takes a lot of research into all the Tolkien books, plus real history and world cultures.rnrnWhile we are providing possible answers or at least thought-provoking conjectures, we will be exploring some of the lesser known characters and kingdoms that are found in Tolkien's books.rnrnI warn you, though. Many aspects of this story will not be happy, because we do not treat war as anything other than what it is - unimaginable carnage, the destruction of established social order and the replacement with another form, and the complete disruption of innocent lives.rnrnThank you again for reading, and we will be adding chapters soon.rnrnAngmar and Elfhild
I love this: your reaearch, your knowledge of canon, [ even though this is AU] the '' flavor '' of Rohan and it's peoples , the language you use, reads effortlessly.
Author's Response: Elfhild and I are glad you are enjoying the story. There will be many twists and turns in the story and we will be honored if you keep reading.