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In the Hands of the Enemy  by meckinock 13 Review(s)
lindahoylandReviewed Chapter: 11 on 9/13/2005
What a wonderful chapter ! I asume that Roly wanted the wolf to kill him?It was so noble of Aragorn to still try and protect him !
YOu created the suspense well but my favourite part was Halbarad's devoted care for Aragorn.I would much rather read about him than Legolas,for Tolkien suggests they were close.

ThorongirlReviewed Chapter: 11 on 5/24/2005
I'm getting ambivalent about this now. I love this story but of course, I don't want it to end. Powerful chapter. Poor Rolly. Obviously controlled by darker forces than Teburic because even though he likes and admires Aragorn, it isn't enough to prevent him from doing what he does. He fears someone. Saruman perhaps? It would make sense since Gandalf doesn't know as yet about Saruman's treachery. Just speculation. I still have that last chapter to read and I'm not sure if you will actually reveal who Rolly's "mentor" is or not.

Some powerful emotional stuff going on here too. Halbarad trying valiantly to disguise his distress at Aragorn's condition by attempting humor and Gandalf's declaration that "We will get him back." I felt like cheering when the wizard said that. Never underestimate a righteously indignant wizard, I always say. (Really. I do).

The little hobbit boy turns out to be a hero, too. Very nice. And of course, all that Aragorn pain. Sure I feel *somewhat* guilty at liking it. But not much.

Can't wait for the sequel.

Author Reply: Who Rolly was afraid of (and loyal to, because I felt it was more than just fear) is, as you've guessed, a mystery I can't let our heroes solve for now. They'll get to it eventually. In about eleven years, to be exact! Losing Rolly was tough for Aragorn. He saw something worth saving in the boy and it was hard for him to accept that sometimes he can't save everyone by the power of his own will. The person has to make a choice, too.

Halbarad is such a mensch. I love his single-minded devotion to Aragorn. And I do love Gandalf coming to the rescue. Although I think someone left Daw the Minstel a review today that said something to the effect that if Gandalf looked at your kid and said, "he looks like he might be useful," you should be very worried...

The emotional stuff is always a balancing act. I like the guys to act like guys, but to still have the emotions come across. Glad you thought it worked. The hobbit was the biggest surprise of all. He started out as a walk-on and then got under my skin.

And don't feel guilty. I have some very guilty pleasures as well! Glad you liked it and thanks again for the reviews.

fliewatuetReviewed Chapter: 11 on 11/17/2003
Sorry, I am quite late with my review, but that does not mean that I didn't enjoy the last chapter thoroughly (hope I got the double negations right here *grin*).

Rolly still remains an enigma to me (though an (almost) dead one as it seems). His admiration for Aragorn, for his stubbornness and sense of honour, seems genuine. Rolly and Aragorn are like two sides of the same coin. And as Aragorn is willing to give his own life to protect his secrets (and those he deems in need/deserving his protection), so is Rolly. He cannot betray the one who has sent him, and deep loyality binds him to that secret being in the background (though I have my suspicions as to his identity). Furthermore, Gandalf's remarks at Rolly's looks and Rolly's reaction to those words made me think (always a dangerous thing, mind you!) what else is hidden behind the facade Rolly maintains.

Halbarad, Gandalf and Tillfield are a lovely team, as always. Gandalf remains unpredictable, Halbarad somewhat gruff, and Tillfield eager to help, even if he has no clear idea what lies ahead.

And poor Aragorn still has to figure out what is real and what not. His assessment of Halbarad being real was priceless, as was his astonishment at a Hobbit wielding an elven dagger. Though I am not quite sure how much information he revealed to Rolly under the influence of that drug. But since Rolly no longer seems to pose a threat ... (then again, who else could have learned what Rolly managed to pry out of Aragorn in the time between the boy's interrogation and Halbarad's arrival - I am getting paranoid again, I know, but one thing that I love about your story is that it leaves ample room for speculation).


Author Reply: Gosh, there's no such thing as a late review. Somebody can come in with one next March 15, I'll be just as thrilled!
I'm afraid that Rolly (who, yes, is dead) will remain a bit of an enigma, but you saw exactly what I'd hoped you would see. Rolly's master, regrettably, needs to remain anonymous, at least to our heroes, and Rolly's own original identity was ultimately unknown even to himself. I used his physical resemblance to a Dunadan simply to strengthen the parallels between him and Aragorn, and also, probably, to poke fun at the concept of a eugenics-based moral barometer. He could have originally been a Dunadan child, or a Breelander, or even a Dunlending. Beats me. He reacted strongly to Gandalf's suggestion that he looked like a Dunadan simply because he'd been conditioned to reject any association between himself and the world of Men. Wow, that was a mouthful!
Glad you enjoyed the humor in that chapter - it had such a dark tone that it was hard to fit it in, but I thought it needed it. And wow, you caught my hidden ambiguity, too - we'll never know if Rolly ultimately broke Aragorn or not. Perhaps that was the truth he ultimately died to protect?? I leave it an open question.
I hate to see this end, I have really enjoyed writing it and also engaging in these exchanges. May I hope that you get back to work on your story so I can sit back and enjoy reading about my favorite Dunadan?

strider's girlReviewed Chapter: 11 on 11/16/2003
Does that mean that Rolly is dead? Surely you cannot kill him off?

Sorry if this review is not as good as my others but its because of all the revision which I have to do for my exams this week, unfortunatly. I'm feeling rather brainless at the moment.

Author Reply: Good luck on your exams. I spend an awful lot of my existence feeling brainless, so I can definitely sympathize.
Yup, he's deader'n a doornail. Had to; otherwise he would have told Gandalf stuff we can't have Gandalf knowing yet. Canon and all that, ya know...

grumpyReviewed Chapter: 11 on 11/16/2003
wow what a chapter. Not only is Strider rescued, Tillfield also gets to use his knife and kills a wolf. Plus Rolly finally does the right thing. I am almost speachless on how good this and every other chapter of this story has been.
Gandalf was great with his staff of power, and kind words later on, also like how he let Halbarad go first since he was so used to tunnels.
I loved the reunion between Halbarad and Aragorn, claiming he was there to get his horse back.
As for Aragorn, can i please have him, even if he is dented up a bit. Damn i bet if he was that set about not telling about the ring, I would have a very hard time making him forget about Arwen, any of those little vails left over?
anyways so looking forward to the next chapters.

Author Reply: Gandalf's no fool; he's not gonna go first into an orc cave! Halbarad was actually planning to give Aragorn a lot of grief about the condition he found the horse in while he was at it; good thing Aragorn wisely passed out. I do have a few of those vials left over if you want to take a shot at it; but I strongly suspect our poor love-sick Ranger would hand over the Ring WAY before he'd give up the Elf-chick.
Should be just one more chapter to go - have to finish so I can sit back with my EE DVD, dontcha know...

The KarenatorReviewed Chapter: 11 on 11/15/2003
Strider knew that smell. It reeked worse than the backstreets of Bree after New Year's Eve and half of all the guzzled ale was back on the street again. Essence of orc. Festering goblin number 5. Whatever you called the stink, it was rank enough to burn his nose hairs like short wicks. If the smell wasn't bad enough to double clutch his belly, the sudden dawning of where he had ended up was enough to give him worse heartburn than that tasty little mystery dish Arwen had cooked up before he left Imladris. From the dwarven decor, there was no doubt in the ranger's mind that he had just drop off the merry-go-round into the House Of Horrors, the one that was dug deeper into the ground than a telephone pole in hurricane country. While he was trying to get a fix on the whys and wheres, the Rollly kid was innocently humming along like he was taking a guided tour through Cinderella's Castle. It was with no small satisfaction that Strider got in his last 'told you so' when gray groons showed up and gave him the dignitary welcome. Even though Strider was about as coherent as a jilted bride, he knew things were sliding so far out of control that it would take a NASA recovery team headed by Bruce Willis to salvage this operation. The last thing the ranger heard was the kid offering to provide two entrées and an appetizer to the olid oafs on the welcoming committee.
It didn't take long before Johnny Halbarad, PI, had scoped out his friend's trail. His gut twisted up tighter than Elrond's braids when he saw that Strider was just along for the ride. Strider wasn't the kind of guy that let someone else drive his ride. With his eyes plastered to the tell-tale signs, the gumshoe knew his friend had passed this way wearing a light overcoat of muddy leather, a moldy Reese Cup was in his right pocket along with seven cents and an empty pack of Juicy Fruit in his left. One sock had slid down his friend's left leg and was bunched in his boot and his underwear was giving him one hell of a wedgy. Halbarad was on the right scent! He knew this area as well as he knew the freckles on the inside of his wife's elbow. Not sparing time to draw a road map for his two hapless helpers, he herded them off to an salt mine so old that even Gandalf looked like a spring chicken next to it.
Deciding that the half pint would be about as much help as a forty pound bag of sand, Halbarad decided to leave the kitchen whelp behind to watch the parking lot. The kid got the 'deer caught in the headlights' look at being left to fend for himself, but there was nothing that was going to change the gumshoe's mind...except maybe tears, but Gandalf patched everything up with a fuzzy blanket, a Three Musketeer bar and a lethal look that made Halbarad think that there might something to those rumors about the kindly old gent afterall.
The inside of the cave was as dark as a monkey's armpit as Halbarad took the lead. It seemed the wizard had suddenly opted to stay at his rear, bringing to mind another rumor Halbarad hoped was just mini-mart gossip. Gandalf switched on his staff like the spotlight on a squad car while Halbarad scanned passageways so narrow they looked like the let-out seams of his Aunt Gussie's dresses. Then there was the smell, a stifling mixture of rotten eggs, barnyard and some folks just begging for a stick of Right Guard. Just as he figured things would go down, a mangy band of misguided former elves charged out like the Light Brigade on dope. Gandalf turned up the wattage again, but the gumshoe was ready this time when Olorin the Science Guy flashed everything in a ten mile radius with enough amps to form a mushroom cloud.
Faster than a roach in sunshine, Halbarad tossed his scrambled buddy over his shoulder while Gandalf cut a bee-line after Captain Kid. Backtracking out of the cave, Halbarad juggled a limp body, his torch, and his weapon as easily as a housewife taking charge of kindergardeners on a sugar high.
Gandalf bagged the kid and dropped him like the night deposit on the ground where he found the gumshoe, the ranger and the hole vole were whittling away the time. Knowing that Strider was fading faster than cheap haircolor, they scooped up the debris of a trip gone bad and waltzed off down the trail.
Things were finally looking like a tidy end to a bizzare suspense novella, when the hounds from hell dropped back in for a repeat performance of Fangs. Even though the gumshoe was as worn out as Bobby McGee's bandana, he Ginsued his way through the furry flea bags like a Japanese chef on speed.
The ranger was not so far gone that he didn't catch the drift of something going down and wobbled up onto his elbow for a look-see. He was a resourceful sort and with the mere branch of a mere tree, he took a pot shot at one of the moth-eaten mutts, but Strider was weaker than a cocktail at Butterbur's and just ticked off the seedy slobbering sleaze-hound that he had yanked the pooch's dinner. To his complete surprise, a Shire short shirt wielding a knife nicer than anything he'd ever owned, stuck the beast like it was an olive in a martini. But it was too late for the Rolly kid. He had nothing left but a few lines of 'Boy For Sale' and a thief's code of honor that worked best when backed up with the promise of brand new cement shoes. Strider wasn't a man beyond 'Reviewing The Situation' and felt his heart tugged up to his gizzard. He felt for the kid and hummed a few bars of 'That's Your Funeral' in memory of a stellar performance by a brillant understudy. Then he took a nap.

What can I say? This chapter was too good. You even had 'me' feeling sorry for Rolly. Will we find out all the story behind him or will we have to draw our own conclusions? His code of honor and Aragorn's might have been a bit the difference between right and wrong, but the kid hung in there with his idea of making Aragorn proud. I have to admit, it was sad.
There was a lot of good action. I loved it when Halbarad told Aragorn that he had come for his horse. I just LOVE Halbarad. (Have I said that before?) He's such a man's man. Despite his overwhelming worry for Aragorn and his duty to find him, he was quite good with Tillfield. Gandalf can be such an old softy,too. Between the two of them, they took care of the innocent mite.
Well...I'm relieved that Aragorn is safe and on the way back to Bree, but all the loose ends haven't been tied up quite yet. I'm looking forward to getting the rest of the story....Very, very good, meckinock. This story has been so good that I find I hate to see it end...which I know is just around the corner. I hope you'll write more. It's been such a pleasure....:>) Karen
BTW...Daisy the horse! Well, I tell you what...Daisy, the toddler springer pup, is on my hit list. Just today, she's chewed up my favorite bookmark, a basket made of leaves, pulled the cat's bowl off repeatedly and chowed down my son's retainer. Wanna trade Daisys?

Author Reply: Karen, my alter ego, my nemesis, my partner in crime - you endless font of string-of-consciousness random associations - I think that when this story is over I'm going to miss you worse than Halbarad!
Hmm, maybe I'll have to get back to you on that...
First, the parody: So many gems, as usual - "tighter than Elrond's braids", "seven cents and an empty pack of Juicy Fruit", "let-out seams of Aunt Gussie's dresses", "weaker than a cocktail at Butterbur's"...I love every line of it!
Special thanks for letting me borrow your puppy's name (without permission). Thankfully, Halbarad's Daisy is MUCH better behaved than yours. When I realized I needed a horse name in a hurry I was so glad you had told me your bad-puppy stories. Even though (in my ignorance of his superior wisdom) I never really understood why Professor T. found it necessary to name EVERY SINGLE HORSE in ME, (or maybe because of that fact - obviously these Rangers take their horse names SERIOUSLY), I was starting to think it was maybe odd that Halbarad's mare had been trotting along for 11 chapters without a name. Also I was getting tired of coming up with different ways to say "the chestnut mare". But then I drew a blank on Ranger horse names and went straight for slapstick, as usual.
Plus I kind of liked the idea of making Aragorn ride a horse named "Daisy".
Anyway, glad you felt sorry for Rolly, that was my intention. WE know the difference between right and wrong, but the poor kid really didn't. Blind loyalty was as close as he could come, and though he was developing some loyalty to Aragorn, his master's grip on him was too tight.
Unfortunately, as far as Gandalf and company are concerned, there will be some loose ends that have to stay loose for another nine years or so. That's just how the chips fall. Hopefully I've left the readers, who of course have the benefit of hindsight, with enough clues to piece it together (Hm, someone who's insanely suspicious and jealous of Gandalf and has spies all over the place - who could that be....?)
And thank you for reminding me why I never want another puppy. Although I'm sure she's adorable...

NilmandraReviewed Chapter: 11 on 11/15/2003
This was an incredibly powerful chapter! Rolly was so intent on his goal that he was willing to die for it....and somehow it was as if he died with honor and dignity, if that makes sense. Code of ethics among criminals?

I love Halbarad. The sense of humor is wonderful. I also like Tillfield's strength (very hobbity) when he fought the wolf, and the way Gandalf, who seldom used his powers, used them against what he perceived accurately to be another of similar strength.

The wolves are explained now too. In this chapter and one earlier, I was surprised to see wolves attacking humans without being starving or backed into a corner. That they were under evil wizard control makes sense now.

And poor, poor Aragorn. Now that I am back, I volunteer to come and care for him personally. If he can't have Ada Elrond and his brothers, I am at least better than some inn in Bree.

Author Reply: Thanks, Nilmandra,
As always I think there's more insight in your review than in the actual chapter!
Hm, Rolly first. Honor among thieves? Well, I imagined Rolly as thinking of himself not as a criminal but as a soldier in a cause, and nothing is stronger than loyalty to a cause except loyalty to an individual. Enter Saruman, possibly the strongest and most manipulative personality in ME, who had been molding this kid since childhood. Even through Aragorn was able to whittle away at some of the brainwashing and make Rolly question some of the garbage he'd been fed, in the end there was still this unshakable loyalty to a person who had been the center of his belief system, and really his whole world, up to that point. If he betrays Saruman, what does he have left? Hard nut to crack.
I was really glad to give poor Tillfield the opportunity to vindicate himself, since everyone has been treating him like a useless appendage for oh, 9 chapters or so. You noticed how I danced around what it was Gandalf actually DID to Rolly? I also probably don't want to look too closely at the actual mechanism by which Rolly was able to control the wolves...
Come on over to see Aragorn, he'll be in the Prancing Pony, room 7. I'm sure he'll be extremely happy to see you once he realizes what the Bree UrgentCare Clinic consists of...

KathiraReviewed Chapter: 11 on 11/15/2003
This story is extremely well written, with a well-thought-out plot and excellent characterizations. Gandalf in particular can be hard to get right, and you are doing a great job with him. Aragorn is spot on and Halbarad is wonderful as well, very real. You are really to be congratulated. I encourage you to continue writing - you have real talent. On a personal note - it may be sick, but I just love Aragorn angst and torture and you write it very, very well! Do you have other stories published online? I would love to read anything you have written.

Author Reply: Hi, Kathira,
It makes me feel unworthy to hear such generous comments, but they are truly appreciated. Gandalf kind of scared me, but the way I got around him was to wait until he told me he had something to say, but not to push him. I think Tillfield's presence also helped soften the focus.
It's very kind of you to ask if I have any other stories out there, but I am sorry to admit that you have seen my entire body of work.

Author Reply: Hi, Kathira,
This may seem like a strange way to find you, but it was recently brought to my attention that you (or someone with your exact name) nominated this story for the MEFAs and I wanted to thank you!


EnvinyatarReviewed Chapter: 11 on 11/15/2003
The annoying little box on says that well-founded criticism is helpful. Unfortunately, I can't find anything to criticise in this story. Great pacing, humour, thoroughly believable characters and, above all, a gripping story, This is very, very well done. I can't even complain about you not updating frequently enough.

Seriously, I'm enjoying this as much as any fan fiction I've ever read. I started reading fan fiction because frequent re-reading of LOTR always left me wanting more of the same, if you know what I mean. A very few ff stories satisfied that craving. This is one of them.

Aha, I have found the fault in this story. It seems to me that it is rapidly approaching the end - and I don't want it to finish! I seriously hope that you have more stories to come. In the meantime. my sincere appreciation for this one.

Author Reply: Oh, come on, I'm sure you can think of something!
Thanks so much for the extraordinarily generous comments. I look to fan fiction to satisfy that craving, also, and it's a thrill to hear you say that my story satisfied yours - I'm still too close it right now to tell if it's gonna satisfy MINE! Yes, the story is approaching its end, but I will be setting up the premise for a sequel. I'm gonna need a bit of a breather, first, though.

websteransReviewed Chapter: 11 on 11/15/2003
An excellent resolution to a tragic character

Author Reply: Thank you very much

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