Pearl Took here with the second of my three weeks of doing Marigold's Recommendations. I hope you all enjoyed last weeks selections.

This week I give you two Best Bets as I really think these are both . . . well . . . Best Bets! Both have to do with people one needs to be cautious of. Stay alert! Watch your step!

The first is "Much Ado About Nothing" by GamgeeFest. Now, in her summary she says this was for Marigold's Challenge #44, but I couldn't see that it had been posted at the Challenge, so I felt free to recommend. If I'm wrong, then I beg Marigold's forgiveness. This is a wonderful story of growing up in the Tookland. Pippin isn't in it much, but our siblings and mother are featured :-)

Next is a dark tale of an adventure on the Quest. Frodo is the focus, but the whole Fellowship is in the story. A work in progress. Be careful of going into unfamiliar waters . . .
"Dangerous Folk" by Budgielover
Read :-) Enjoy :-) Respond :-)

See you next week!

Pearl

Selected by Guest-Recommender Pearl Took! My "Best Bet" is "Circumstantial Heroes" a marvelous story that takes place while the Fellowship is still in Minas Tirith after the War of the Ring. It features Aragorn and Pippin having a very interesting late night discussion about a serious subject. I love how Gwynnyd handles both of these characters. I was absolutely thrilled that I found this story!

Circumstantial Heroes by Gwynnyd

Pippin's Secret by Shirebound

This is a lovely scene between Pippin and Gandalf as they sit at Frodo's bedside in Rivendell. I really like the characterisation of Pippin that Shirebound shows us here; he is young but he is, and has been, able to keep his own counsel.

I thought that their quiet conversation had just the right tone, and really enjoyed the contemplative way that Gandalf is obviously considering the possibilities now that Pippin and Merry have accompanied Frodo and Sam.

Please review, and check back next week for Pearl's Recommendations! Hopefully we will all be posting our ScotMoot adventures on our LJ's so keep an eye out there too!

A Fool's Errand by PipMer

This is a stunning story, don't miss it! On Caradhras, the Ringbearer considers the journey that he has undertaken, and his attitude and thoughts are spot on. I loved the reflections about each of his companions and his contemplation of his unexpected destiny. The descriptions and moods are will written too.

The ending was so startling that it caught me totally by surprise - I didn't see it coming at all!

Llinos has at last started a new home for her poetry and drabbles and such like at Stories of Arda! It's called Bits And Bobs and there are currently nine pieces posted with lots more to come.

First up is Galadriel's Lay, one of my all time favourites! It's a very funny introspective look from Galadriel's pov about getting older and changing times. The first stanza will make you laugh out loud and you won't stop all the way through!

Next is Ddraigspelt - An Orc Love Poem. This was actually written by Smagnu, the Uruk-hai made famous in Llinos' epic story Recaptured! but Llinos did give him a hand. This is an amazing poem and I have no trouble believing that an Uruk wrote it. It's stunning!

A Father's Day Card to Denethor from Faramir is next and it is just what the title suggests. Poor Faramir! Even though he is hardly the apple of his father's eye he tries very hard to please his dad! He should try for a job with Hallmark, lol!

Romancing the Smut is a funny and rather wicked poem about Merry trying to write a serious love poem for Eowyn. But Pippin isn't taking his cousin's efforts seriously at all and is full of unhelpful (and rather blunt) suggestions!

I think that the next offering is exceptionally clever. In Drabbles for Lord of the Rings, Llinos has taken The Prologue and a chapter each from The Fellowship of The Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of The King and done an extraordinary job of summing them up as drabbles.

It would be hard enough to do justice to an entire chapter in regular drabble form, but these drabbles not only are each in a style perfect for the individual chapters they are also all in rhyme! As someone who writes drabbles myself I find this inconceivable! She is hoping eventually to do every single chapter in a rhyming drabble and I am really looking forward to that!

Bilbo's Nursery Rhyme for Merry and Pippin is wonderfully hobbity! As you can guess from the title Bilbo used to sing this to Merry and Pippin when they were very young, and I especially like the bits that tiny Pippin used to shout out during the song; I can just picture an enthusiastic Pippin sitting on Bilbo's knee and joining in, cheerful little Merry sitting at Bilbo's feet.

This next is wonderful proof of the skill Llinos has with every style. Hiraeth is an elvish poem, quiet and peaceful and filled with longing. The emotions and descriptions are lovely. The word Hiraeth is Welsh and means "deep longing" and it is the perfect title for this lovely poem.

The Yuletide Festival Feast Song is by Merry and Pippin and transcribed by Llinos. This one will make you hungry! I can really see Merry and Pippin singing this at the Yule Feast! I feel sorry for whoever has to carry in the shopping though!

Last, but definitely not least, is Watching and Waiting. It is a set of two heartfelt poems, one spoken to Merry by Pippin in the Houses of Healing and the other to Pippin by Merry in Cormallen. The similarities and differences of the two poems are exactly appropriate to each character, their bond with each other, and the events that they have endured. The yearning ache each hobbit feels as he longs for the awakening of the other is palpable and so is the longing for their innocent past.

I get tears in my eyes whenever I read these and I think that they are spot-on perfect.

At long last there has been an update to The Great Hobbiton Race of 1435 by Llinos!

Chapter 7 - Tell Me Mr Dandelion is well worth the wait between posts! In this chapter Sam reveals some tricks that he has been keeping up his sleeve, although whether he really needs them with Pippin involved in the competition is questionable. The Great Steam Vapour Spindle Activated Vegetation Dissection and Lubrication Apparatus isn't holding up too well under Pippin's enthusiastic operation and though Merry has taken over the controls he may have left it a little too late! Neither side is backing down and by the end of the chapter even Pippin worries that the level of competition is becoming too intense!

There is a terrific and very hobbity song in this chapter, written by Llinos of course!

I hope that the next chapter will be posted soon - I am privy to where the plot is heading and can promise you that there is even more excitement to come!

Next, there was such a good response to the recent RPS Billy/Dom alternate-universe story that I recced recently that I am going to point you to another, or rather another two, by Dylan Dufresne.

Slash Warning - NC-17

The first is called Mistake Number Three and is followed by the sequel, With A Little Help From My Friends.

In the first story Billy moves to a new neighborhood to pursue his dream of running his own bookstore. Dom is a local resident and befriends him at the pub on his first night. But Dom and his situation are not what it would seem at first glance and there is plenty of angst before things work out for the two of them.

The sequel takes off directly after the first story. Thanks to Billy's intervention Dom has his life back on the right track. As time goes on however, Dom's success becomes a threat to their relationship. The story has just taken a very exciting twist, as there are those in the neighbourhood who aren't at all happy with the changes that Dom is making.

Both of these stories together make for a long and compelling read!

This is something a bit different, for those of you that like RPS - to be more specific, Billy/Dom portraying fictional characters RPS.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Librairie by v_angelique and rainbowcobweb

NC-17 Slash Warning!

This is an addictive story. It features Billy as a Scottish bookstore owner and British Dom as a primary school teacher, both of them lonely and living in Paris. This is the story of how they come to meet and how their relationship grows.

There is sex - this is Monaboyd after all - but it is set within a wonderfully thought-out and complex universe and while the sex is central to the story it is not the story's whole purpose for being. In addition to watching the evolution of the characters as their relationship matures, I am really enjoying the descriptions of Paris. The authors' obviously know it well, and do an excellent job with their descriptions of the locations and attitudes of the locals.

Dragons and Manicures by Llinos

Everyone that is familiar with Llinos' stories knows that she has a real gift for humour and this new tale is a superlative example! I don't want to tell you too much about it and give away the plot but I will say that Frodo and Sam have a very close encounter with a dragon! Our other favourite hobbits also make an appearance, and I think that there needs to be a sequel!

I am poking at Llinos for the next chapters of The Great Hobbiton Race of 1435 and Recaptured! too! Hopefully she will be able to update these stories very soon : )

By Chance or Purpose by Shirebound

This is one of my favourite Shirebound tales and one that I reread often! It tells the story of the journey from Bree to Rivendell, and is set in the author's Quarantined universe, in which Frodo and Sam already know Aragorn. In some of her later Quarantined tales Merry and Pippin have also met Aragorn, but they had not done so in this one.

In fact, I'd love to see a version of this story in which that new twist of Shirebound's is taken into account, and all of the hobbits know the Ranger. That past relationship would affect some bits of the story in a very interesting way. Hint, hint to Shirebound!

I love the characterisations in this and Shirebound has done a brilliant job in capturing everyone. Her Merry and Pippin are just wonderful; they are written appropriate to their ages and upbringing and she does a spot-on job at getting into their heads and showing us their thoughts. The dialogue is natural and believable and the descriptions of events superb.

There is a lot of drama and excitement here, tempered with warm and thoughtful moments with all of the characters. If you haven't read this story yet you must, and if you have, definitely read it again!

I am pleased to announce that Llinos has posted two more chapters to her Challenge 40 tale, The Great Hobbiton Race of 1435! Things are really beginning to heat up and it's hard to say at this point who will be the winners! The story is posted now on Stories of Arda and will be updated there.

Llinos has a real talent when it comes to putting her hobbits in unusual situations and making it credible. I love her characterisations of all of the hobbits but I think that she especially captures Merry and Pippin just right! I particularly like the way that Pippin is portrayed in this story - his enthusiasm and high spirits jump off the page and I can easily picture him, grinning and his eyes all twinkling, having a grand time! Merry is wonderfully written too, a combination of assured cockiness and exasperation.

There will be a very surprising twist to this story coming up soon that you won't want to miss!

Next is a filmverse story, Missing by ConnieMarie. This is a wonderful series of vignettes from the point of view of our favourite hobbits whilst on the Quest, as well as those of some of their loved ones back home. The theme, as you can guess from the title, are the hobbits missing those dear ones that they have been parted from. My favourite here is the one featuring Paladin but I was particularly taken with the one about Marigold and Rosie; I had never imagined hobbit society having knowledge of the sort that they seek to learn about from the Widow Rumble, but it fits perfectly and seems very natural. The vignettes featuring Merry and Pippin and Frodo and Sam, are spot on as well. I really enjoyed the style of this and thought that it was very well written!

Dark Horizons by Littlefish

This is among the very first stories that I ever recced on this page, way back in 2003. I like this tale so much that I thought that I should bring it to the attention of readers that might not have been around so long ago.

Here is what I said back then:

"This is an AU post-Quest tale featuring all of the Fellowship, minus of course poor Boromir, but including Faramir and Arwen. Overall it is pretty exciting, and all of the familiar characters have their moments. There are original characters, a scary original villainous creature and armies of orcs to overcome, and Pippin has some great action in a few later chapters. The battle scenes are good and so are the interactions of the Fellowship. I could wish for more content concerning the hobbits, but I really enjoyed this story regardless."

Since then I have reread it several times and my favourite bits (the chapters with Pippin, lol!) even more than that. He is exceedingly brave in this story, but the best thing is that his character is written realistically; he is a hobbit and so he doesn't understand how brave he is being. The other characters are well written too, and there is lots of action and angst. Do give it a read!

Window Watching by Pipwise Brandygin

The author does an excellent job of capturing Tolkien's voice in this story. It might almost be a missing scene from the book. After arriving in Rivendell, Gandalf pokes his head in on a conversation between Merry and Pippin and lectures Pippin on his lack of seriousness. Pippin remains characteristically unquashed, until Merry explains the probable reason for Gandalf's worry. The conversations are wonderfully natural and relevant, and the relationships between Pippin and Gandalf, and Pippin and Merry, are very well done indeed!

Riddle Game by Leah Beth

This is a wonderfully hobbity story! In Minas Tirith, Merry discovers that it is Eowyn's birthday and that Big Folk receive gifts on their birthdays rather than give them. Frantic to honour her properly, Merry seeks Frodo's help to procure the perfect gift and enlists his fellow hobbits' aid in making the presentation much more interesting than simply handing the present over! A very nice story about friendship that will leave you with a smile!

You Must Remember This by Grey Wonderer

Grey Wonderer has a real knack for making folks laugh and this story is no exception! Pippin has decided that he is in desperate need of some special tutoring and has enlisted the expert guidance of Merry's cousin, Amethyst. He is rather hopeless at learning this new skill at first, to Amethyst's dismay and frustration, but he carries on doggedly with Tookish determination! I loved the ending of this story! Pippin is very Pippinish in this, and Amethyst is a very likable OC.

Llinos submitted a wonderful first chapter of a longer tale to Tale Challenge 38, called Are You Going To Leave Me?. I am very excited to announce that Chapter Two and Chapter Three have now been posted!

The story is a gapfiller in filmverse, explaining just how it was that Merry went from being wounded in the Battle of the Pelennor to riding to the Black Gate behind Eomer.

Chapter 1: I'll Manage Somehow deals with Pippin finding Merry and using his wits to get his injured cousin to the Houses of Healing.

In Chapter 2: But I Was Not Alone Aragorn heals Eowyn, and Eomer is startled to learn that the simple halfling whom he felt had no place in a battle is in fact one of the great heroes of the day. Eowyn's despair is written very believably, and I love the way that Eomer's previous assumption about Merry is so thoroughly disproved!

Chapter 3: Will He Find My Grave? picks up directly after Pippin's arrival at the Houses of Healing with Merry, and is just full of angst and worry! I love the care that Eomer shows his newest Rider of Rohan and I can't wait for the next chapter to be posted!

The Adventures of Frodo Gardner by Dreamdeer

Many thanks to Dreamflower for pointing me in the direction of this story! It is fascinating.

The story is an AU, and is, as the title says, for all intents and purposes a story about Frodo-lad. There are of course many other familiar characters. The premise is really intriguing. Though he is young, just about the age that Pippin was when he went on the Quest, Frodo-lad is sent to Mordor, to make the land green and growing, and to save the wretched inhabitants - mostly former slaves - from starvation.

He has many adventures as you can imagine, and assisting him in his endeavours is a grown-up Bergil. He also has invisible help from Gandalf now and again. But not everyone wants to help; the last remnant of Sauron's thought is working on ways to sabotage Frodo-lad's already nearly impossible mission even before he can get started. Add to that un-arable soil, leftover monstrosities that want to devour him or possess him or both, and the ignorance and pathos of those he is trying to help and Frodo-lad has his work more than cut out for him.

The story gets off to a slow start, but after several chapters I was quite caught-up in the tale, and reading like mad. The story is full of gems and revelations, like the origins of hobbits, and the realisation that Frodo-lad is helping to make Sam's Ring-vision of a blooming Mordor come true, and many others. The author has also skilfully introduced several modern-day woes into the story, and these fit perfectly into the setting of Middle-earth.

Despite the fact that the language is occasionally jarring (hobbits would not say "dadburned", "okay", "yeah", "buddy" and quite a few other inappropriate words often used in the tale) and sometimes OOC, in particular Sam, who sounds very American throughout, and the appearance of non-Shire foods like blueberries, I still find the story engrossing. Those of you that know how nit-picky I am about authors staying true to Tolkien's voice and his Middle-earth, even in an AU, should know from the fact that *I* am enjoying this story regardless of those incongruities that it must be good!

Llinos has posted a very exciting new chapter of my favourite story, Recaptured!

Chapter 133 is called Ilúvatar Adiuvante and is packed with action, angst, and danger! This chapter features Frodo and Pippin and Eroo, Merry and Sam, Smagnu and Majdi, Bloggin and Gandalf, Sauron, Gollum, and of course the Ring! Some important things are resolved in this chapter, but I don't want to reveal any details about what happens! I will say that the events are most thrilling and I was on the edge of my seat!

If you haven't begun this amazing story yet, you can find Chapter One Here!

Are we ready? Right! The first story you have to read is "Moments in Time" by Larner.(This was actually recommended to me by GreyWonderer - or possibly Errol - it's hard to tell). It is a story which features Merry (the most excellentest hobbit of all time) and gives a detailed description of his marriage to Estella Bolger. But it may not be quite what you think. Nevertheless, you will have to read it to find out as I have no intention of telling the whole story here as that would just be silly - yes it would.

You can find the story right here . So off you go and then come back for my second recommendation.

Finished? Good wasn't it!

Now, then for story number 2, I have chosen something a little out of the ordinary. I am told that I need to put a warning on it, so here goes:

DEATH WARNING!

Right! Happy now?

Here goes. This is a beautifully written series of three droubles by Mordelhin, all from Merry's pov - which is of course the best pov anyone can wish for. I particularly liked this because, although the ending is rather AU, the writing is true to Tolkien and, much as I love our errant colonial cousins, it is written in Tolkien's English.

Hurry and read it right here

And So It Begins by Dreamflower

This terrific tale chronicles some of the events in Buckland set in motion by the attack of the Black Riders on the house at Crickhollow. I really like the descriptions of Saradoc directing the Bucklanders to action - it is a good glimpse of him as a decisive and influential leader, not to mention father, cousin, and uncle to the disappeared Merry, Frodo, and Pippin.

I like Dreamflower's take on the relationship between Merry and his father, that he would leave Saradoc a note and not just go off without a word. I think that Merry would do something like this if it were at all possible. This detail fits in with other stories in Dreamflower's universe and I really enjoy when an author ties all of their stories together like this.

I hope that this is just the first chapter of a much longer story but it can certainly stand on its own!

Bucklebury Faire by Thuri and Sunhawkaerie

Slash: Rated G through NC-17

This is a fascinating and highly addictive romance/hurt-comfort AU. It focuses on the relationship of Merry and Pippin, and I have never read anything quite like it. It is not Lord of the Rings as such; I'd guess that the best way to describe it would be Merry and Pippin (and Frodo, Sam, baby Faramir, Eglantine and lots of others from LoTR) as they might be if they lived in the present. But that description really doesn't do justice to this epic at all.

It's amazing how the authors have managed to imbue these characters with personality traits that enable the reader at once to recognise the LoTR characters that we know so well, but at the same time evolving them into modern people, living modern lives.

The story revolves to a great extent around the yearly activities of a summer-long Renaissance Faire, but also includes lots of home life. The growing relationship between Merry and Pippin is the main theme, with a strong focus on hurt/comfort. One or the other of them, and Frodo too, almost always need some looking after! The slash is well done, reminiscent of Daisy Gamgee's writing but not so flowery, and the backstories are just fascinating, especially Merry's. Throughout the chapters we learn who he used to be, who he is now and how he became so, and watch him grow and change and gain confidence again thanks to Pippin's love.

The episodes are broken down by year, and should be read in order, so after you click on each year make sure to go back to the first post. They are all dated chronologically as to when the events took place, so make sure that you look at that date (on the top left) and not the posting date. Here are the links: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. You can also find the link to each year by clicking on the Memories and it will be easier to manoeuvre around by doing that, as this is not a tale that can be read in one sitting. The number of entries for the various years range widely.

Do give this very unusual but worthwhile story a try. There are a very few inconsistencies, and the story ends in a spot that left me wanting more, but I hope that if the authors get some nice new comments that they will post again soon! Even if they don't I have made up a very satisfactory conclusion to the tale in my head and I am sure that you will do the same. And besides, these are glimpses into people's lives and it would be impossible to go on forever, so I will be quite content to just enjoy what Thuri and Sunhawkaerie have shared with us here!

Shadowfax, Lord of All Horses is my first recommendation. It is a story written by Grey Wonderer and I'm a little nervous about recommending this, since I understand that the author has a strange companion called Errol, and that he is a grey rabbit and not a real one you understand, I mean it's not like he's knitted or anything!

But I digress, the story is especially gratifying since it features the Magnificent Meriadoc as the hero of the piece, well aside from Gandalf, Aragorn, Eowyn, Faramir, Frodo, Sam, Gimli, Legolas and Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all. Oh and of course Pippin, who is in considerable trouble with a certain equine, although not a mare and certainly not grey!

Oh and did I mention it is also very funny!

Relics is my second recommendation, a story by Nickey. I was particularly drawn to this as it brought back memories of my own, sitting and watching KnittedSam through the window repairing Llinos' garden. I couldn't have watched him from outside as it was far too cold and I didn't want my tea to get cold.

It is a very poignant and sad snapshot of Sam and was very touching. This is probably because it's well written and nicely told, but I'm no expert (well I am but I like to be modest too occasionally) so you will have to judge for yourselves.

Rohan Tapestry by Shirebound

There is one chapter of this tale posted so far and I am eagerly awaiting the next one. The body of Theoden King, with Merry by his side, is brought home to Edoras at last. The other hobbits are present too of course, and quite a few other familiar characters as well. I really enjoyed Eomer's descriptions of the traditions of Rohan here and the hobbits' reactions to them.





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