If we go by the number of days that's passed since I began reading "On Merry Yule", I've spent more time on this story than Dalin did in Bilbo's company. It's not that I was so busy, or that the story was so long - this tale touched on some issues that were way too true to life. Yet I kept coming back because the treatment was so affective and true to life, that I found I just had to read on. It's a story I couldn't lay aside and kept coming back, and I'm thoroughly glad I did.
There is so much to praise in this story it is hard to know where to begin. Bilbo's voice is well captured, the plot is compelling, the emotional reactions seem compatible with my own experience, the fleshing out of canonical themes like how the Ring corrupts, and the way a whole world is invented that seems to dwell just on the edge of canon - touching it here, intersecting it there, and then going off into whole arcs that are wonderfully original - is a paradigm of what fanfic could be at its best.
But what really shines about OMY is how it uses the events of "The Hobbit". Bilbo is very much everyone's favourite adventurer as captured in those pages, and the things he remembers are very much like I imagined. What caught my attention both here and in the prequel was how Anglachel latches onto what might be conidered minor events like the incident with the Mirkwood spiders. There are hints from Lord of the Rings touched on here as well, such as the way that hobbits dreaded Bilbo's poetry. That part made me laugh out loud.
The other joy that came as a real surprise was how you developed the dwarven culture so much through Dalin. That wasn't what I expected given how much this is Bilbo's and Frodo's story, but every time Dalin comes on cene I learn a little bit more about his race, and it all feels so accurate to what Tolkien wrote. Dwarves are one of my favourite races, so I loved that.
In closing, I can't recommend this story highly enough - with one caveat. In the summary Ang writes: "Not a cheerful feel-good holiday story in any way." Take that seriously, because this is much darker than many people writes hobbits. It takes a while to absorb especially if the reader brings a bit of a dark past of their own to the story. But that darkness is masterfully told and still feels hobbity to this reader - their buoyancy really shines through.