I can't really see from either a gameplay or theme standpoint how a character should stay exhausted for the length of the round. Thematically, every character in Middle Earth (and all RPG's for that matter) is on a quest in which they need to attack and defend simultaneously. The whole adventure seems stunted if you have to choose between questing, attacking or defending. Gameplay-wise, why muddy up the table with sideways cards--it's inelegant and messy. I think they could've kept the same basic concept and just allowed the characters to remain standing throughout the round. Let the player decide how they want to quest, attack or defend. As it is, it kind of removes the strategy (i.e. thinking) for you, eliminating player choice. For example, if you commit everyone to a quest--you're done for the round. If you want (or need) to defend against an attack--done for the round. Maybe you'd like to actually attack with someone--you can, but have to skip questing and defending. It's like going to an all you can eat buffet and only getting to eat one item. I'm kinda bummed by this.
(Granted, on my first disastrous playthrough solo, I rarely had more than 2 allies in play. It seems as though a multitude of them is required to win. Can it be that allies make or break this game?)