Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

With Hope and Without Hope

Author: docmon
Nominator: Cathleen
2008 Award Category: Genres: Adventure: Incomplete - First Place

Story Type: Incomplete : Length: Novel
Rating: Mature -- Reason for Rating: Level of violence in 2 chapters, where torture is depicted clearly, if not somewhat graphically.
Summary: The entire length will be approx. 100,000 words. All chapters have at least a first draft written, and are in various stages of completion. One decision made differently - the Three Hunters run through that second night of their chase after the Orcs rather than rest - and everything changes. Well, not everything. They're merely captured by the Orcs like Merry and Pippin. But one decision changed doesn't change one's destiny. How each of them is to reach their destiny is a bit peskier, though... There’s action and adventure, suspense, and not too much angst as the Three Hunters struggle to return to their task.


Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 10

Certainly there have been other authors who tried to tackle the question of what would happen if the Three Hunters had been captured alongside Merry and Pippin. And there have been a number of stories built around this theme with varying degrees of success. But what sets this story apart is that it finds a single turning point and then shoots off into AU territory while always keeping in mind the canon story that it parallels. This story is earned. Nothing is taken for granted, and those events that would affect canon also affect the AU. The action is also brilliantly related. There are some harrowing chase sequences and some riveting dialog passages that are as much action as any battle scene. Particularly after Saruman enters, the verbal exchanges take on something resembling swordplay. And the drama that ensues is gripping and dark. The narrative thrills readers both with what it reveals and what it does not reveal. Sometimes the things that are left unsaid are the things that really come back to haunt. Finally, I have to give this story full props for some brilliant descriptive prowess. The interior of Orthanc comes to mind as a good example, and you can just see the shadows receding upwards in the central room. Full and nuanced tale! Well worth the time to read!

Reviewed by: Larner -- Score: 10

This one now approaches completion enough for me to feel free to do a review. A might-have-been story, it starts with the premise that the scout that first spotted the troop of Uruks and Mordor orcs carrying Pippin and Merry toward Isengard was killed rather than escaping to draw Eomer and his Riders to the eaves of Fangorn to the battle that kept them from carrying their prize to Saruman. From there it works toward how each of the five members of the Fellowship remaining west of Anduin finds the way back to their eventual tasks that must be accomplished for the story to come out the same. I was afraid at first this would prove another of those tales in which the author plays repeatedly with the characters' hopes and attempts to escape and make things right until you want to beat the author over the head with "Enough, already! Too much time is passing! Let them succeed at last so they don't actually become too weak to accomplish anything!" But Docmon realized such tales are unrealistic, and stops the tortures in time not to let all begin actively fading. It makes the final decisions to do what needs doing more heroic in the end, seeing how each is but barely recovered enough to contemplate essaying the Paths of the Dead or whatever other path is set for him.

Reviewed by: Michelle -- Score: 9

This could have been nothing more than the typical storyline of the fellowship gets captured by orcs and they are tortured for the rest of the story. Fortunately, docmon manages to avoid a simple unfolding of that storyline, but instead writes an engaging AU-tale by changing one single fact that in the end has big ramification while still wrapping up the story up with a chapter that places all characters on their respective places on Tolkien‘s chessboard. I found that docmon has a real knack for writing wizards – both Gandalf and Saruman are superbly captured (and they are by no means easy characters to write) and chapter 16, which evolves around the confrontation between Gandalf and Saruman is probably the high point of the story (so much good dialogue to be found here!). Still, my favourite part of the tale was Aragorn‘s and Pippin‘s storyline and while I‘m not much of a hobbit fan, I was very much impressed by Pippin‘s journey and the reversal of roles between Aragorn (the strong and responsible ranger) and Pippin (the young and reckless hobbit). It made me see potential in Pippin I had never noticed before.

Reviewed by: Cathleen -- Score: 8

As others have commented here, I also wondered at first if this would turn out to be simply another story in this venue with a typical ending. Docmon has proved to her readers that is not the case! I like AU stories in general because it's fun to follow the writers' imaginations to find out what kinds of events might have taken place if things had gone even a tiny bit differently. "With Hope and Without Hope" executes a wonderful exploration of the theme 'What if?' What if Merry and Pippin had not been the only ones captured by the orcs, and what if other members of the Fellowship were also captured? Docmon's story examines each character's feelings in detail and shines the spotlight for a time on each one as they struggle to escape and help their fellow travellers. I particularly love the way she's portrayed Pippin and Merry in this. They have a definite part in making things happen and in changing the way things are going to work out. One person is not taking care of everyone, they all have an important part to play. This is an angsty H/C tale that still portrays a ray of hope for our weary travellers. Well done!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 3

An interesting premise: what if Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli were captured by the Orcs who took Merry and Pippin? A small change to canon causes this AU. It's very angsty, with h/c for each one of the five. But I like how each of them shows his mettle in different ways, and I appreciated the cleverness of the author in getting all of them back on the quest by the end.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland -- Score: 3

I'm not usually very partial to AUs but this had me gripped as it was so skilfully written and gave every character a chance to shine.I especially admired the courage of Pippin and felt for Aragorn's pain. Never have I been so glad to see Gandalf,not even in the original! A very well written story.

Reviewed by: Ainaechoiriel -- Score: 3

This story has me on the edge of my seat. The despair is real and hard to take but the author throws the reader a bone now and then, the cheer of a hobbit, the escape of two. I hope this one gets updated and finished ASAP! I keep hoping for a Ent to show up. Or Gandalf. I still hope for a happy ending despite all the non-happy middle.