I have no idea what it is about The Lord of the Rings books, but whatever it is, I cannot bring myself for to finish reading them. I have tried to get through The Fellowship of the Ring numerous times now, and each time I have given up after reaching Tom Bombadil. This probably wouldn’t be a problem for me if just skipped past him—which I guess I’ll try to do after writing this post—but dear Tom has been a giant roadblock in my reading experience since I first attempted these books ten years ago.
This is also endlessly frustrating, because I actually like just about everything else in the story. As such, since I can’t read the books, and I can only marathon the movies so many times before they get old, I turned to good old fashioned fanfiction to get my LotR fill.
A Long and Weary Way by Canafinwe is an epically long, but not wearying, read. It centers around Aragorn’s hunt for Gollum before the start of the trilogy, and chronicles his trip through Orc territory, capture of Gollum, and return to Mirkwood. Along the way, though, Aragorn doesn’t just have to deal with Gollum. At one point, he’s nearly killed by a giant spider, and at numerous others, he almost bleeds out and dies. And that’s not counting infected wounds, which almost kill him too. Early on in the story, he’s even captured by Orcs. Then, after escaping, Denethor’s Rangers nearly catch him as well.
This is not an easy journey for our king.
Surely it took no more than a quarter of an hour for the trackers to descend onto the plain, but to Aragon, huddling in the tinking mud and contemplation which of two grim fates was the more calamitous, it seemed an eternity. While he waited he berated himself. Fool, to believe he could accomplish what Gandalf could not. Doubly a fool, to press on even after losing the trail once again. And thrice three times a fool to be caught by four craven orcs because he was too dumbstruck to bestir himself! Fool he was, and he was about to suffer either a fool’s death or a fool’s humiliation.
He could hear them now. They were perhaps three hundred ells away. At that distance, the clamour of orcs would have filled the air. These folk were quiet, murmuring among themselves. The Rangers, then. Aragon felts a craven flutter of relief deep in his gut. He was not about to be slain like a dog in the muck. Then he remembered the disastrous consequences of capture by Denethor’s men, and that small comfort, too, abandoned him.
Nearer still; they were on the very brink of the Marshes, and now Aragon could make out their words.
‘There, clear as day; the same boot-prints we saw in the camp, and back by the creek bed,’ said one. ‘Well-made, but old and worn. Never a nail to be seen.’
‘That cannot be right,’ another put in. ‘If those are his tracks, he has made his way into the very heart of the fens. All living creatures shun this cursed place. Captain, let us leave here while the daylight lasts!’
‘We cannot leave! The man is a spy; else why would he have fled before our coming?’ argued a third.
‘A spy, or some sorry wretch who knew little of our ways and our skill,’ said a quieter voice. ‘He may have thought us unlikely to prevail, and snatched his chance for escape while he could. Who is to say how long he languished in the tender care of the orcs? Show pity for those less fortunate, Damrod, and you may find grace when most you have need.’
Thankfully for Aragorn, he manages to get away again and pick up Gollum’s trail once more. And even luckier, he manages to find and capture Gollum. I’ve mentioned in just about every Fanfiction Friday I’ve written before that I enjoy stories where enemies have to get along and work together—this is not one of those stories. While Aragorn and Gollum do go to Mirkwood together, it’s less of them working with each other and learning to get along, and more of Aragorn fighting tooth and nail to drag Gollum all the way to their destination. And they come out of this experience not with an understanding of each other, but with somehow even more disdain.
As of current, A Long and Weary Way is not finished, but the author is still actively posting. However, even if Canafinwe does happen to abandon this fic like many others have theirs, I don’t really foresee that as a problem. The last couple of chapters have each left off at what would be pretty good stopping points. A Long and Weary Way is also currently seventy-nine chapters in and nearly as long as Les Misérables. Seriously, it’s just shy of 500k words. What I’m saying is that the next chapter will probably be posted long before you need it to be, should you chose to undertake this story, which you can find here.