Your prologue is great: tantalizing and vivid in its details. I wish you had broken up the chapters a little more, though, because I can only read a little bit at a time and I find it hard to refind my place if I have to stop part-way through a chapter.
I'm definitely with you on the canon question. You don't have to know anything about canon to write AU, but generally what comes up will be something so warped it has nothing to do with the original universe. Not at all interesting, in my opinion. But when someone knows all his facts and *then* sits down and writes an AU something fascinating will surely come out. Because only then you can do the source and the characters justice.
I'm also reccing the hell out of this story, so I hope a few readers will stop by:)
When looking for a good story, you know your usual suspects. But then coming across an author whom you've never before seen in fandom, only to find that she managed to write a story with so many fresh and gripping ideas: Priceless! I enjoyed this *so* much - well, apart from the days when I refused to read on because I was a wee bit afraid of where you were going to take the plot. But with me that's always a good sign, storywise, because it's saying a lot about the talent of the writer!
I'm a fan of AUs, and this one was convincing from beginning to end. It's a LOTR in fast-forward, everything happens a lot faster (or much earlier) than it's supposed to be and I guess that factors into the tidalwave of evil and hopelessness. I can see all of that happen, all the characters were in-character for me. And even Elrond, whom I tried NOT to despise so much was a logical extension of his canon-self. But especially I liked Legolas in this. I love when he's written as a strong character. And I guess he doesn't get any stronger than in this story. He's determined and loyal to the point of giving himself up. He's admirable...
I'd love to see more of this. I have a few suspicions about where this story might turn (I tend to believe Arwen in this - a lot of darkness before the light), but I'm sure you already know how the story end. This is such a heavily plotted story, I can't imagine you haven't come up with the final scene yet:)
Thank you for such a fantastic read! Your story blew me away!
Re Chapter 11: I was wondering why Saruman was able to deceive both Galadriel and Elrond. But now I think it has to do with the rings. It would explain the slow death of the elven realms that Gandalf (Rivendell) and Legolas (Lorien) note. And it would explain why Legolas and obviously Arwen see a different future for Estel. By the way, I loved that you included Arwen - had not expected that. It's a mix between canon and your own ideas and that read very natural. Estel's awestruck reactions and Arwen's etheral appearance, all in all it was a beautiful scene!
LOL, how is your German? Did you know that "Esel" means "donkey" in German? I tend to misspell it constantly when I write and my fanfic usually looks like a story about an adventurous donkey. It's rather funny:)