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.