A Long and Weary Way

Author: Canafinwe

Nominator: Cairistiona

2010 Award Category: Genres: Longer Works: Incomplete - First Place

Story Type: Incomplete  ✧  Length: Novel

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: This story is rated "Teen" for violence, hardship, and the involvement of Gollum.

Summary: After fifteen years of fruitlessly searching for the creature called Gollum, Gandalf forsook the hunt. Though Aragorn persevered for a time, tracking his quarry on the marches of Mordor, he too despaired at last and began his homeward journey... This story is a work in progress.(About two-thirds completed. Novel length.)

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Reviewed by: Gandalfs apprentice  ✧  Score: 10

This is a fabulous telling of a story I thought could never be told (at least I could never tell it): Aragorn's hunting, capture and transport of Gollum. Canafinwe has all the talents to make this difficult tale come alive: great prose, an amazing talent for detail, and a knowledge of survival in the wild that, I assume, has to come from personal experience. Are you a wilderness explorer? She's got the personalities spot on: Aragorn, Gollum and the little bit of Gandalf that we see at the beginning. The heroism of Aragorn's quest shines through this tale: the reverse heroism, one might say. A quest full of misery and indignities, starvation, the bites of the miserable creature, and so on. I've just left Aragorn on the bank of the Anduin after his epic swim through the icy waters; next comes Lothlorien, the Beornings and Thranduil at last. I can't wait! Write faster! I also really like the little tidbits of Aragorn's past that creep into the tale, seamlessly integrated into the story: memories of Thorongil, some musings on Denethor, and references to hard-won knowledge of men and danger. Here we see the quiet endurance and the ability to make hard decisions that mark Aragorn's character in its mix of humility and majesty. The Man Who Would Be King shines in this story.

Reviewed by: Dwimordene  ✧  Score: 10

Firstly, let me say thank you to Canafinwe, because thanks to her, I will never ever be remotely tempted to try to write this story. You have saved me from myself, and in the best possible way, by providing a riveting, and on more than one occasion, rather gruesome account of Aragorn's capture of, and journey with, Gollum. Canafinwe possesses that enviable talent of writing a lengthy tale at a pace that keeps you moving, but without ever rushing the story. Events that take time, take time, and the reader feels that without feeling that the story drags. Mostly, this is because what takes time is Aragorn's hallucinatory sensory experiences of darkness, pain, hunger, and exhaustion, of his surroundings and his "companion." One can believe that this is a journey that only Aragorn, deemed the hardiest of living Men, could possibly have survived, and even then, only by the skin of his teeth, and the occasional act of providence that seems indistinguishable from plain good luck. One of the talents that I lack, and envy in other writers, is the capacity to portray a journey in the wilderness in a fashion that suggests (even if by ruse and clever disguising of ignorance) a familiarity with the natural environment and how one survives it. To write this sort of story well, to be able to push a character to the very limits and then a little beyond, and reel him back in to a survivable state, takes either a lot of knowledge or else an extremely developed sleight of writerly hand, to a level I don't hope to attain. Canafinwe has these skills in spades, and uses them keep readers believing that this is something Aragorn could handle, if with extreme difficulty. Her characterization of Gollum and Aragorn's interactions with him are throughout very well done. Gollum's stubbornness and maliciousness, his toughness are all present; at the same time, Canafinwe lets Gollum's duality, his Smeagol-Gollum division, show in an interesting way. The story still has several hundred more miles on it before Aragorn can collapse on King Thranduil's door, but I look forward to reading them. Tough journey, written very, very believably throughout - Aragorn fans ought to enjoy this. I know I did!

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 10

In 2009 a group of fans released "The Hunt for Gollum," a 40 minute film about Aragorn's tracking and capture of Gollum at Gandalf's behest, based on references in LOTR and the Appendices. “A Long and Weary Way” tackles the same subject matter, but the difference between the two is like the difference beween night and day. Canafinwe’s novel-in-progress is a gritty survival story, rendered with depth and realism. Aragorn’s quest takes him into Mordor and out again, dodging Orcs and Ithilien Rangers alike. Battles with the elements, limited supplies and personal (often grisly) health crises are of paramount concern in the narrative, as are Aragorn’s isolation and anxiety, for though he is a hardy warrior and the greatest tracker of his Age, he is still but one man in enemy territory on an indefinite hunt defying hope. He has no idea where Gollum is…and when, impossibly, he does find the creature at last, his difficulties only multiply. In “The Hunt for Gollum” the title character spends most of his on-screen time grumbling in a bag slung over Aragorn’s shoulder. It’s a clever enough technique on the part of the filmmakers, affording some humor at the sacked Gollum’s expense and allowing them to stint on the CGI. This story’s Gollum is portrayed from no such remove: he is a filthy, feral, vicious creature with a nasty bite and an unmixed hatred for his stern new captor. There is nothing of Frodo’s cringing guide or Bilbo’s morbid riddler here. Gollum is a furious prisoner and recent torture victim who fights Aragorn constantly. Repellent as he is, I’ve got a lot of respect for the little guy in this story: as bloody-minded and strong-willed as Aragorn, he has powerful tenacity and endurance. It’s easy to see how he has been able to survive the 70 years since his loss of the Ring: too stubborn to die, but ready to die before he will ever give up. Whine though he may, he certainly isn’t weak, and I developed a fresh appreciation for Aragorn’s own strength in keeping Gollum in check. This is an amazing, well-crafted gap-filler and I plan to check in on both characters regularly to see how they are doing. (And while I'm reviewing, I feel I should also give a nod to Canafinwe's Orc characters: thoroughly evil and well-written. I'm hoping to know what became of Third Voice, but if we never see him in this story again, I still have my own theory about who he was.)

Reviewed by: Mirach  ✧  Score: 10

A long and weary way – again there couldn’t be a better fitting title for this story. It is a line taken from the poem about Mewlips, and this story has much in common with it – spiders, marshes, weariness, but, most of all, the gloomy atmosphere. In this story it is the details, the little things that make it more real. Canafinwe gives us all those details, like what Aragorn has in his pack, and how it feels to don his boots after drying. We can imagine how every part of the story looks and feels and even smells, and that makes it so immediate, that one has the feeling as if being in the story. There are parts in the story where Aragorn remembers song, heard long or not so long ago, and those parts can tell quite much about the situation and even the subconscious thoughts that emerge through the songs. When he can remember only songs of despair and darkness in his mind tells more then he would like to admit to himself... We can see Aragorn at the very borders of his strength here, but through the entire story he is true to himself. An excellent characterization even in the small, insignificant things, that are the salt and spice of the story and the reader can tell – yes, this is really Aragorn as we know him from the books, exactly as Tolkien wrote him, and he lives behind the pages of this story. Even more interesting turn the story takes when Gollum is finally captured. The interaction between the captive and captor is very subtle, and I often had to wonder what is going on in Gollum’s head. I’m really looking forward to read the rest of the story, and see Aragorn finally safe in Mirkwood!

Reviewed by: Inzilbeth  ✧  Score: 5

This story is still not complete and I have a few published chapters to catch up on, but, like all Canafinwe's work, it is the attention to detail which makes this story so compelling. And for those of us who find the few lines in Lord of the Rings and Unfinished Tales quite insufficient to satisfy our curiosity about that long journey of Aragorn's from the Dead Marshes to Mirkwood with Gollum is tow, then this is a must read. As with all Canafinwe's stories, canon rules supreme and Tolkien's words are adhered to meticulously throughout. I do hope this story is eventually finished as I doubt that can be a better version of this episode out there.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 5

And what a marvelous tale this is, as we watch Aragorn hunting northward from the Crossing of the Poros and along the Mountains of Shadow for the hint of where Gollum might be lurking and which direction he might now travel. From the beginning in which we see him drying from a murky swim through marshlands to the end, this tale exhibits wonderful descriptions of both land and actions, giving us great images of growly Gandalf who'd just thought of a means to find a test for Bilbo's trove to bathing in the shallows to scrambles through the harsh lands of the Ephel Duath to.... Truly a gritty tale, and well written and presented. A wonderful tale from an excellent writer!

Reviewed by: Cairistiona  ✧  Score: 4

This tale is absolutely spellbinding, and I cannot wait for her to finish it, although I suppose I and all the other readers waiting each new chapter with bated breath must. To take on writing about a journey that spans years is no easy task, but Canafinwe has pared the hunt for Gollum down to the exciting end, and as you read, you will feel the weariness and the pain of each of Aragorn's steps. You might even feel the sting of Gollum's teeth sinking into your wrist!