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The Dare  by Dreamflower 82 Review(s)
LindeleaReviewed Chapter: 1 on 10/26/2005
Have just started reading this for the first time, after Dana mentioned it the other day.

I love the way you draw the relationships between the cousins!

Those Bankses are a real piece of work. It sounds as if they've grown up under a bad influence. Who is it?

And yet, even here, in this very early story, I can see the seeds that grew into "Road to Edoras". Clovis is a thoroughly unpleasant chap, and seems to be the instigator of most of the mischief, while Cado seems less than whole-hearted about the whole miserable business. I think he'd actually like to be friends with Pippin, if he were let alone.

Author Reply: Hi! I didn't realize you hadn't read this one! What fun!

I am glad you like the way I draw their relationships. The ties between them, and later between them and Sam, are an obsession of mine, more than any one of them, I like examining what makes them tick as a *group*.

Good old brother Clodio.

Yes, you can see that they already have their own dynamic firmly in place. As I told another reviewer, Clovis and Cado are sort of my "anti-Merry and anti-Pippin" in that I can explore such a relationship gone wrong, where they bring out the worst in each other rather than the best.

GryffinjackReviewed Chapter: 6 on 10/20/2005
Clodio is plum awful! The apple does not fall far from the tree, I see. And that nickname he has for his sister - yuck! I sincerely doubt he will give his sons the punishment they deserve, and any punishment they do get from their father will not be because he thinks they were wrong, but for embarassing him and making him go all the way to Tuckborough to bring them home in disgrace.

Once again, Frodo is amazing in his care, compassion, and diplomatic skills. He was absolutely right - Merry would have fretted himself sick had he not been able to set things to rights with Pippin before leaving. Frodo is an excellent "older brother" to both Merry and Pippin.

I'm so glad Merry and Pippin were able to see each other one last time before Merry left. Merry needed to apologise for yelling at Pippin and he also needed to hear Pippin admit that what he did was a stupid thing to do. It shows a lot about the strength of Pippin's character that Merry knows that had he promised, Pippin would never drink again. It also shows Merry's wisdom in not making him promise such a thing. The promise they made to each other will be difficult enough to keep, but there is not doubt they both will keep it. No doubt neither of them realises right now the full implications of that promise. It's also something that can bring them even closer together, if that's possible.

Merry will also keep his promise to one day punish the Banks brothers as they deserved. Anyone who knows his resolve and his total devotion and love for his Pippin know that. Merry will make the Banks brothers pay for what they did to Pippin. I would *not* want to be them when Merry does get even.

You should be very proud of this story. It is one of the finest fan fiction stories I have ever read. It not only deals with a very troublesome and real problem, but it does so responsibly and with love for the characters, dignity, and compassion. The only thing I am sorry about is that I have now finished reading it. I'd read it again right now, except I have so many more stories of yours to read again first, including my other favourites, A New Reckoning, It Takes a Took, and both versions of When the King Comes Back.

I really am totally enjoying reading these again! Having read them once and now reading them in chronological order adds even more meaning to them. I'm so glad you've written all of these stories and are sharing them with us!

Author Reply: Clodio is pretty dreadful, and rather pathetic. His jealousy of his sister and brother-in-law has poisoned his life and blighted his sons' lives. And I thought "Egg" was a pretty rotten nickname to stick one's sister with, LOL! They will be punished, and you are right about the reason, a totally selfish one.

Frodo is here showing an early sign of the wisdom that will eventually be his; it is not so far from being wise to being one of *the* Wise, though he must first be tempered at the Fire. Yet this wisdom is out of his love for both his cousins, and his determined protectiveness of Merry. Merry will always be in many ways his "baby brother", and he wouldn't hesitate to intervene on his behalf. It helps of course, that he can meet Paladin on equal terms. He is, after all *the* Baggins, the head of a family, and has been Master of Bag End for nine years now. And it also helps that Paladin was already feeling a bit guilty for the way he made poor Merry suffer.

The pact that they made is one they can reasonably, if with difficulty keep, though you are right in saying that at this point in time they do not realize all its implications. I thought long and hard about whether this pact would be canon--we know, for example that Pippin was looking forward to the beer at The Golden Perch. But that doesn't mean he intended to get drunk on it. And even though JRRT makes it clear that hobbits love their beer and ale, he never shows them inebriated,(except for one brief mention of hobbits and wheelbarrows after the big Birthday Party) so I didn't feel it was too big a stretch of canon to have them make this agreement with one another.

I have been very gratified by the reaction of many to this story. I did want to make a point about the dangers of underage binge drinking and peer pressure, but I also wanted to stay true to canon, and to the characters as JRRT wrote them. I am glad you thought I succeeded.

I am totally enjoying reading your reviews and responding to them. It's amazing to me to realize that I've been able to make things mesh in the stories, even though many of them were written in a different order than they occurred. You are the first person to tell me that you are making use of the chronology, and I'm so glad now that I put the effort into putting it up, as I was doubtful how useful it would be. I have come to realize that I am going to have to make tiny tweaks in a few stories, so that they don't clash with future ones, but I'm still surprised that those tweaks aren't more, LOL!

GryffinjackReviewed Chapter: 5 on 10/20/2005
"But this day looked to have a more hopeful ending. Pippin would live, and his Merry would not have to know the kind of grief and loneliness that had blighted his own life.

And Pippin’s bright spirit and great heart had been spared to them. In his fear for Merry’s sake, he had kept his own fear for Pippin at bay. But he knew what it would have meant to him to lose that precious little Took."

Poor Frodo! How he must have been silently suffering as he watched Pippin's life ebb away, hoping that it would return, and knowing what it would do to Merry as well. My word, I want to give him a hug!

That messenger must have really enjoyed delivering that message to Clodio, especially in the face of his rudeness. How Clodio could be related to Eglantine, much less to be her brother, is beyond me.

Merry at first was glad to see Pippin awake in the morning. He even seemed to enjoy to some extent the fact that Pippin had a hangover, probably considering it to be a well deserved punishment. Why else would he have been smiling as he opened up the drapes to let the sunlight in? What got Merry so upset with Pippin was not just his fear that he could have lost him, but that Pippin did not seem to even understand or care that he almost killed himself in his foolishness and was instead proud that he had topped his nasty cousins.

It really is at times like this that Frodo understands Pippin and is able to help him more than Merry. How like Frodo to put aside his own fears and hurt to help and comfort both Merry and Pippin. The more I see of Frodo, the more I like him.

I'm proud of Paladin for standing firm in what he had to do when he could have easily given into his son's pain and tears. It wasn't easy for him to do. Yes, he should have let Merry and Pippin at least say "goodbye", but he did stand firm on the one punishment that would really effect Pippin in a way that he would remember and learn from. I wonder if Paladin got the idea for the punishment from his brother-in-law, Saradoc. At least *he* let the two of them say "goodbye" to each other when Merry was punished.

Poor Merry must be crushed, to be torn away from his Pippin before he could explain or make up with him. Furious he may be, but he still loves Pippin with all of his heart and very being.

Author Reply: Yes, poor Frodo. Yet this in a way is the pattern of his life, to bear his own suffering in silence for the sake of other people. I think he must have had much exercise in this sort of strength, and it was what enabled him to resist the Ring for so long.

I had fun with that messenger. I had to be very careful not to let him have a name, for he was wanting to take over the whole chapter. Darn uppity OCs, LOL!

Yes, Merry at first is simply glad to have Pip alive to experience a hangover. Unfortunately, not being able to remember what happened or how serious it was, he had a typical adolescent reaction. For I do not think if he had realized what kind of trouble he'd caused that he would have been so blythe about it. And to Merry, hearing him boast of his stupidity was the last straw.

Frodo, of course, did realize that Pippin just didn't *know* what had happened, and could not have been expected to understand what he had put everyone through.

I'm thinking that for either father, keeping them apart for a time would be an obvious punishment--far more effective than "time-outs" or "grounding"--though in this case, Pip got those as well, LOL! It's quite clear that no other punishment would stick out in their minds as much.

Yes, he does.

GryffinjackReviewed Chapter: 4 on 10/20/2005
Pippin is very lucky to have such a fine healer as Poppy tend to him. It gives me the chills to think how close he came to dying.

The time you spent researching the details for this story is evident. Although I've never heard of burnt toast as a remedy for alcohol poisoning, it does make sense. I remember watching an emergency vet program where they poured liquied charcoal into the dog's stomach to absorb the poison someone had given the dog. I imagine the burnt toast works very much in the same way.

It's a good thing Reginard used his Took intelligence and thought to guard the Banks brothers to make sure they stay where they were instructed to wait.

“Clovis don’t be any more of an idiot than you have to be.”

I really am not certain that Cado is totally evil or cruel. To me, he seems more like a follower who has fallen in with the wrong crowd. The cruel or bad ideas seem to have been primarily Clovis' rather than Cado's, including this stunt. However, this is not to say that he does not take any cruel or bad actions on his own. But Cado has enough intelligence to understand that it is wrong and what the reprecussions are. It is most unfortunate that he does not use that intelligence to refuse to follow his brother. I'd like to think that there might be a bit of hope for Cado later on in life - say, *after* ten years in a story of yours that is currently still in the process of being written.

"Clovis stared at Cado in shock. His brother had never spoken to him like that before."

Shades of Merry getting so upset with Pippin here.

Frodo's quiet strength is something I really enjoy in all of your stories. The strength and understanding is there, but it is very quiet and controlled, which only makes it stronger. It is how I picture him as well.

Author Reply: The burnt toast was one of the few folk remedies that would have been available to hobbits, and kept cropping up with regularity. Most of the folk remedies involved more modern products, or were said to be ineffective. The idea of liquifying it, however was my own, since if Pip were unconscious there'd be no way to make him eat it. I'm glad to know that it would also have worked that way, as I was a tad uncertain about that.

Yeah, Reggie had the right idea about the brothers, and was just in time, LOL! And I suppose an evening spent watching them was no worse than an evening at home with Hyacinth.

Cado's not guiltless; as you point out, he does know it's wrong. He's always taken the path of least resistance with his older brother, and he has found a certain amount of entertainment value in the things Clovis comes up with. The fact that they have often gotten away with their shenanigans also hasn't helped.

Again, you spot it. "Anti-Merry and anti-Pippin".

"Quiet strength" is also how I see him. He's an adult, and though he enjoys his younger cousins' company, he also takes his responsibilities to them very seriously. I find stories where he doesn't act any older than the others a bit unrealistic.

GryffinjackReviewed Chapter: 3 on 10/19/2005
Breathe, Pippin, breathe! You sure do like to torture the poor lad! I don't like to see him like this! This chapter was quite frightening to read and you captured the anxiety and suspense magnificently.

Thank goodness Frodo took charge of the situation. Poor Merry was quite beside himself and unable to think clearly of what needed to be done. I could just picture that steely glare that Frodo gave Clovis. That poor excuse for a hobbit had no chance against one of those glares from Frodo.

I also really enjoyed when Merry took the Banks brothers to task in the hallway. It's a pity Paladin had to call him off. And this was before the Quest. Can you imagine what Merry would have done to them if this had been *after* the Quest and he really knew how to fight?

Three cheers for Poppy! She's fantastic, the way she handled the situation and correctly reminded Eglantine that Pippin knew better and bears a lot of the blame for his state.

“Oh dear me,” said Hyacinth with a gleam in her eyes, “I wonder, is it serious?”

I hate her! Can't we use her for Ork-bait?

"Paladin looked at the two brothers. “Go to my study at once, and wait for me there, no matter how long it takes.” They looked at him, not moving. “I said go at once, or I will allow Meriadoc and Frodo to escort you there!”

They glanced at Merry, who gave them a mirthless grin. “Please, let us do that, Uncle Paladin.”"

This was a great exchange! I can picture the scene very clearly in my head. And Paladin is fantastic in this entire chapter.

“You know, I feel like it’s my fault. I should never have let him go off with those two.”

Does Merry always have to be such a Merry? Can't we get him to understand that not everything is his fault?

“I should never have allowed those horrible nephews of mine anywhere near Pippin!”

Oh, great. Now Eglantine is acting like Merry, too! They're quite a pair!

This is not at all a pretty chapter to read - most responsible of you to allow us to see the dangers of alcohol abuse in all of its ugliness.

Author Reply: I did a lot of research for this story, and the symptoms and reactions he has are as true to life as I could make them.

Merry was raher frantic at this point, and needed an older head to give him a bit of direction. He's good in an emergency usually, but a threat to Pippin has him very off-balance. And he's still pretty young himself, and is not up on what needed to be done in this particular emergency. Frodo's an adult, and well up to acting on it. And I know *I* would not want to be on the recieving end of his glacial blue glare.

Well, I *know* what he'll do to them after the Quest--that part was written first, after all, in "A New Reckoning". He could have done a lot worse, but he restrained himself somewhat.

I like my hobbity healers. Poppy's a favorite of mine.

Orc-bait, huh? Well, it's a thought. Bodkin wanted her eaten by a passing troll, LOL! For some reason, she is not very popular.

"Does Merry always have to be such a Merry? Can't we get him to understand that not everything is his fault?"

LOL! Yes, I'm afraid that's a habit he never really grows out of. It stems from his need to protect and control what happens to those he loves. When he can't protect them 100%, he tends to blame himself automatically.

Eglantine's being a mother. It comes natural.

It's one reason for the rating and the warning. I didn't want to sugarcoat what could happen.

GryffinjackReviewed Chapter: 2 on 10/19/2005
Shame on Pippin! He knew better than to drink his father's wine and brandy with permission. Sure, he's as curious as a Took comes, but right now he's not only acting like a Fool of a Took, but like a disobedient one. For all that he's my favourite Tolkien character, I am quite disappointed with him right now, and I don't care how much his cousins put him up to it. He knew better. It's the Brandy Hall tunnels all over again with just as much possibility that he could lose his life. He's such a little thing that it's not going to take much alcohol to become toxic to his system and potentially lethal. Merry is going to be ticked!

Now, just because I'm disappointed with Peregrin does not mean that the Banks brothers are off the hook. They knew exactly what they were doing and what would happen to their younger and smaller cousin. While I don't think they mean to really injure or kill him, I'm sure they would be quite happy if Pippin ended up with the hangover of all hangovers in the morning. They, or at least Clovis, probably think it will teach him a lesson for going off with that Brandybuck.

I'm also disappointed with Pippin for going off with his Banks cousins in the first place. He should have known they were up to nothing but trouble. However, I guess that's to be expected, considering that being Pippin, he wanted everyone to like him, even his cruel Banks cousins. It's not fair when a very trusting soul must pay for having such a good quality. And Clovis and Cado are cruel enough to take advantage of that.

I do not envy those Banks brothers once Merry finds out whose fault it was in the first place. Nobody hurts or endangers his Pip and gets away with it. I'm just glad that Frodo is there to help Merry deal with the situation. Merry's going to need him.

This is a very important story. The dangers of alcohol abuse, especially among minors, is all too real.

Author Reply: Really, this is *not* one of Pippin's finer moments; it is the beginning of his tweenaged years, and his adolescence is a rocky one. I suppose that it's a bit of RL for me getting in there: my own son suddenly went from an impulsive but sweet child, whose scrapes were more or less amusing most of the time, to a moody and impulsive teen who got into apalling situations and butted heads with his dad at every opportunity. He gradually grew out of it as he neared adulthood, but for a good long time we wondered would he survive, or us, that long. So chalk that experience up for Pippin.

The Banks brothers are really awful. Merry's litany at the beginning of the story, and Frodo's comparison of them (especially Clovis)to Lotho pretty much nails them. They are hoping to see Pip with a nasty hangover, and possibly in trouble. Of course, since they are not the brightest candles in the box, they fail to consider their own trouble that will follow.

Pippin is easily bored; and he was still making an effort to get along with them. He wants to like people and he wants them to like him. He is also at this stage of his life, very much a follower, not a leader, and so prone to falling into trouble if he's in bad company. This comes from always being the youngest, and it will take the Quest for him to find his own leadership abilities. Clovis and Cado know they are taking advantage of it.

Of course, part of the reason that the brothers did this was not only for the amusement of tormenting Pip, but to get back at Merry for getting the better of them that afternoon.

Frodo will be there for his Merry, and for his Pip, whenever he can.

I was very gratified a few weeks ago, when a young person who had read the story told me in another story's review, that "The Dare" had made her decide never to take any dares related to drinking and alchohol--I had hoped it might make some think a little, but I never expected it to have that much of an influence.

GryffinjackReviewed Chapter: 1 on 10/19/2005
Finally! I love this story; it's so well written.

In a way, Clovis and Cado Banks remind me of Merry and Pippin - it's the older one, Clovis, who is always getting the younger one, Cado, into trouble. The difference, however, lies in the type of trouble and the intent behind it. While Merry and Pippin just get into a little mischief and Merry gets Pippin out of trouble, Clovis and Cado are nasty, mean-spirited individuals.

"Their time at the inn had been a pleasant interlude, and Merry and Pippin had started back to the Smials to be in time for afternoon tea. They were not talking much, but simply enjoying one another’s company without the presence of annoying outsiders."

That's the beauty of their relationship - they don't need to talk in order to have a good time together or to understand each other. And I'm so glad Frodo is part of this story, too!

Author Reply: I'm so glad that you spotted something that I was aiming at, and you are the first to notice. Just as I wanted Freddy and Folco to reflect how things might have been if either Merry or Pippin had died, I created the Bankses as kind of an "anti-Merry and anti-Pippin", two who are close to one another but who bring out the worst in one another instead of the best, two whose connection is due to blood ties and proximity, but lacking that depth of affection and heart that Merry and Pippin share.

The two of them don't really need to talk much. They know one another very well, and words are not always necessary.

Frodo had to be in it. I simply can't keep him out, no matter how I try, so I don't try anymore if he wants in.

PIppinfan1988Reviewed Chapter: 6 on 5/30/2005
LOL...I suppose Merry's revenge can wait a while! I'll wait on it for a bit as I want to read more of your work between here and The Road to Edoras. I did like how Paladin responded to Clodio when he arrived at G.S. Excellent story!

Hope you had a great weekend!


Author Reply: Yes, well, "A New Reckoning" takes place just before "Road to Edoras". There are several stories that take place in that time frame; check out my Chronology if you would like to.

Clodio *is* rather a nasty piece of work, isn't he?

I had a nice weekend, even though I did have to work Sat. and Sun. I was off Fri. and Mon. I hope you had the same!

yelenaReviewed Chapter: 6 on 5/26/2005
WOW!!! This was my *first* story on storiesofarda, and it was brilliant! Well, besides the one a close friend of mine wrote.Good thing there's more (I read some previous reviews for fun.) I, personally, would not be able to take a character already developed and make him or her my own. I prefer to create my own characters.

Author Reply: I am glad that you have liked it, and are enjoying the stories--I have a goodly number of stories besides this. And there are some brilliant hobbit authors here on SoA, such as Baylor, Larner, Budgielover, Shirebound and Lindelea, all of whom are just a very few of my own favorites.

I write about canon characters--especially Frodo,Sam, Merry and Pippin--because it is a way to explore a bit about them, and to try and use what JRRT hinted at in the books and expand on them. I want to know more about them than he told us, so I have to kind of figure it out as I write. But some of the minor canon characters, such as Paladin or Eglantine, for example, are no more than a mention on the family tree, so they might as well be original.

But there are a lot of very good writers who only write OCs (original characters) for the reason you mentioned--they like the latitude of creating all their own material.

I hope that you enjoy reading many more stories on this archive. Stories of Arda is my favorite archive, and the main one on which I post, and I think all of the authors here and their stories are of very high caliber.

I will keep my eyes open for *your* stories.

PIppinfan1988Reviewed Chapter: 5 on 5/26/2005
Hullo...I took two chapters today. :-) I liked how you had members of the family take turns caring for Pippin; very sweet and realistic. LOL...I also like your Paladin's firmness. In one of my tales, I simmered him down a bit when I brought it from to SOA, thinking I had portrayed him much too strict. I can't wait to see him react when Clodio arrives!

Which story is it that Merry gets the better end of the stick with those two numbskull brothers? I'd like to read that ;-), but trust me--I'm not violent in the least! My sister is a nurse, too--and yes, I've picked her brain on several occasions. Helps to have one of those in the family. :-) See ya tomorrow.


Author Reply: I think that would be the way hobbits would do it. In my Shire, at least, a sick or injured person is always attended by someone, usually a family member. But in this case, it was even more necessary than usual, since Poppy did not at that time have an apprentice. After this, she made sure to get a new apprentice before the other one moved on.

I have read a lot of stories where Paladin is downright *harsh* and very unreasonable. My Paladin *can* be that way, but it usually does not last once he has calmed his Tookish temper down. Stories in which Paladin and Pippin are estranged for years on end disturb me. But he can also know just when to lower the boom.

The story when Merry finally gets to act on the Bankses is "A New Reckoning". It is a very long post-Quest story (over 70 chapters) and about the middle of it the Bankses make an appearance and do something incredibly stupid. And Merry is in a postition to finally do something. Which he does with relish.

But it wasn't the *complete* end of them. My new story, "The Road to Edoras" deals with the rest of their punishment--at the hands of the King of Rohan and the King of Gondor and Arnor. Yes, it was *that* stupid!!

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