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Title: The Antique Box Reviewer: Formegil Signed
I like the scene in The Blue Frog very much, especially the conversations between the workers. Even with rather brief description they seem to be very likable fellows. The two Orcs especially interested me: How and when did they turn away from evil and came to work in Gondor? I wouldn't mind seeing them, and some of the others in future stories, too.

It was oddly moving and comical at the same time to see Trahald doing his "paperwork". It's like he was trying to fill a void in his life by pretending to himself that he was doing something worthwhile. This, of course, is wholly my own impression so disregard that if it was not your intent. There were other fine touches in the scene, too, for instance Trahald's secret word and the conversation with the reflection in the mirror. Well, I guess this actually may be the happiest end Gollum could get.

P.S. Did you get my reply to your latest email? My mail sometimes refuses to work properly.

Author's Response: Thanks for your review and continuing interest in my stories, Formegil. Snagagûl Boxlifter is a character I originally created for "Arwen's Journey." He alludes to his role in that story during his conversation with Tauron and Malbethmir. Both he and Globuk gave up their evil ways once they were free of Sauron's influences.

You correctly guessed Trahald's reasons for poring over wrinkled receipts and contracts he couldn't understand. As a child, I used play the same game with the old paperwork my father would discard from his business, even though I was too young to read. The fact that I couldn't understand what was on the pages made it all the more easy to fantasize that I was doing the work of a lawyer or scribe.

Yes, your last Email reached me with no problem.
Date: Nov 22 2011 03:21 pm [Report This]
Title: The Antique Box Reviewer: Kitt Otter Signed
I am enjoying the continuing wonderment and naivety of the two country boys in the big city. Rule #1: always be wary of buxom waitresses. ;P

I am sucker for stories with food … I can just taste those pork pies. Yum.

I know times have changed, but Trahald’s choice of company speaks of ancient habits. Not to say that it isn’t awesome Uruks, orcs, and Rohirrim would share the same table! I love eclectic mix of backgrounds of Butterbur’s workers.

Trahald's gleeful galloping about on all-fours and into the Uruk’s arms is too cute. That image shan’t easily leave my mind! :)

The best part of this chapter is the intimate look into Trahald’s downtime. The details are superb – a whisper of who Trahald once was: the secret name, the box of rings, the demanding reflection.

It is sad he has no memory… but actually, it may be for the best. Smeagol, for now, has won.

Author's Response: Thank you for the review, Kitt. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the story. My only disappointment in writing it is that Narya, the author whose challenge I responded to, never acknowledged my effort and has apparently abandoned the website.

Like you, I guess I'm a sucker for stories involving food. At my age, food is just about my only remaining vice. "Freida's Frypan Frolic" was dedicated to one of my favorite stovetop dishes. A few readers even requested that I Email them the recipe, which I did.

None of my characters can be involved, it seems, in a scene involving a meal without my describing in some detail what's on the menu. Queen Evenstar can't even take simple tea without my readers partaking of the freshly-baked lembas' aroma and the way she butters it.

I must confess to having a utopian's viewpoint in regards to Gondor's economic recovery after the WotR. Hundreds of new jobs and economic opportunities would have been created as the population inevitably expended beyond Othram.

The country's manpower would have been devastated during the war and Elessar's subsequent campaign to reclaim Umbar. Where else would the requisite demand for workers, opportunists and investors come except from the far reaches of the Reunited Kingdom and the now poverty stricken land of Mordor? I could only hope that a humanistic and progressive employer like Butterbur would be able to bring together such a wide spectrum of workers in a spirit of cooperation and comradeship in which most hatreds and prejudices would be set aside and forgotten.

There was one aspect of Trahald's later life which I purposefully did not explore in the final scene because I thought the ending was already sad enough. Without the Ring, he would have begun to age rapidly and would have eventually realized that he didn't have long to live. The saddest thing would have been that he wouldn't have known why. I rather wanted the tale to end as you so aptly put it: "Sméagol, for now, has won."

Thanks again for the review and your continuing support.
Date: Nov 22 2011 07:16 am [Report This]
Title: Expectations Reviewer: Formegil Signed
This is a very good start for a story. As the previous reviewer noted, the main characters are sympathetic in their young enthusiasm. You've managed to excellently capture the way youth regards every new job as a kind of adventure. Also, your descriptions of the factory are very vivid. Somehow, you've even managed to turn a day of manual labour into an entertaining read!

I think the employer hiring war invalids is actually quite realistic a concept. Here in Finland, for instance, WWII (with its threat of total annihilation of our country and people) and the rebuilding period afterwards were huge unifying factors. Many employers had themselves been at the front and wanted to do a good turn to fellow veterans. Thus, some of them gave preference to war invalids able to work and ex- front soldiers when hiring workers. So, a Gondorian employer doing likewise makes perfect sense.

Author's Response: Thanks, Formegil. My descriptions of the factory and its workers are based upon actual life experiences. I was a child laborer in my father's shop during the late 1950's and early 1960's.

See my reply below concerning the hiring of war invalids. I'm disgusted with the way many wounded veterans of the Vietnam and present wars have been mistreated by the Veterans' Administration.

I'm presently in the middle of my autumn chores, but I hope to have the concluding chapter finished soon. Thanks again for your time and review.
Date: Oct 05 2011 10:34 am [Report This]
Title: Expectations Reviewer: Kitt Otter Signed
This is fascinating! I like the youthful optimism of Mal and Taur - it makes even this broom-making business like a grand adventure. The bustling details of the work area are a fresh breath as well - metallic clatter, odors of leather and glue. I feel very much as though I'm right in the shop with them.

The incremental servings we get of Trahald's character are just the right amount. I like how we get only a hunched, shrunken figure at first, to talking in plural, finally to "gollum!" But it had unexpected twists as well - his method of keeping time, his memory loss, how he got on after the war - were all nice touches. It's interesting to see how much the war is still affecting all these worker's lives.

Looking forward to the update! :)

Author's Response: Thank you, Kitt. This story takes place in the spring of year 14 FO, three years after the War of the Lebennin Conspiracy. Tauron Lunt and his friend Malbethmir are two original characters who first appeared in "Arwen's Journey." A couple of other original characters will also pop up in Chapter 2.

The descriptions of war veterans and Gollum's post-traumatic stress disorder comes from my own experiences and interactions with fellow soldiers during and after the Vietnam War. The notion of a philanthropic employer who would actually seek out impoverished and disabled veterans to better their lives is an idealized version of life as I see it. It is how the world should be, not necessarily how the world is.

Thanks again for your review. I hope to post the final chapter soon.
Date: Jul 22 2011 11:41 pm [Report This]
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