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Discussing: Ch. 4 - Faithful

Ch. 4 - Faithful

Faithful In which many messages are exchanged. This chapter contains an extended scene between Denethor & Thorongil, and another betwen Denethor & Ecthelion. This is very much a work in progress. I have about half of it set down in some form, but a great deal remains to be written. To keep myself focused, I'll be posting a beta chapter here on HASA after I've completed an alpha chapter. Doing things that way will give me strong incentives to keep working on the new material. Ang

 

 

Re: Ch. 4 - Faithful

not much to criticize in this chapter, and i'm too sleepy now to do more than simply read it, believe it entirely, enjoy it, and notice typos. critical faculties seem to be shutting down for the night, and so shall I after this. ‘Called a break. Sent the other out to get dinner. Named me traitor. "others", I assume. Am enjoying immensely. Please post more soon.

 

 

Re: Ch. 4 - Faithful

I'm creating more typos as fast as I can! ;-) Ang

 

 

Re: Ch. 4 - Faithful

Yay!!!! I like your typos because they're wrapped in about 4,000 words of excellent story apiece.

 

 

Re: Ch. 4 - Faithful

Typos finally fixed. Thanks for catching this one. Ang, busily making more!

 

 

Re: Ch. 4 - Faithful

I like the corrections, clarifications, amendments, etc., but remain confused by this bit: Ecthelion leaned a shoulder on the wall and crossed his arms. ‘Good fortune has come to us unlooked for and has destroyed our enemies. We should be grateful.’ ‘Grateful? Well, yes, I suppose, but would it not be better to be prepared? What if fortune had not smiled upon us, if the season were mild and dry, and we looked at two years instead of three before an invasion?’ I thought they had just worked out that it was six years... :-.

 

 

Re: Ch. 4 - Faithful

I like the corrections, clarifications, amendments, etc., but remain confused by this bit:
Ecthelion leaned a shoulder on the wall and crossed his arms. ‘Good fortune has come to us unlooked for and has destroyed our enemies. We should be grateful.’ ‘Grateful? Well, yes, I suppose, but would it not be better to be prepared? What if fortune had not smiled upon us, if the season were mild and dry, and we looked at two years instead of three before an invasion?’
I thought they had just worked out that it was six years...
Denethor is offering a the alternative to what has happened. The storms came, wiped out all of the Cosairs work *and* destroyed the shipyards. Thus: 3 years to recover from the damage + 3 more years to finish their work = 6 years until they will probably attack. Vs. 3 years to finish their work = 3 years to an attack or, worst case scenario 2 years to finish work = 2 years to an attack. Key here is that Umbar is already half-way to a completed fleet, or was before the storms came and ripped it apart. Denethor is countering Ecthelion's "reprieve" with two things - one, given what we know for certain, shouldn't we be putting together a plan to stop them? and, two, why isn't there a plan in place right now, since this year could just as easily have brought mild dry winter weather as humongous storms, and we would have lost a year rather than gained six. Hope that clears it up, Ang

 

 

Re: Ch. 4 - Faithful

Reading this chapter, I also got mixed up in 3 vs 6 years just the way the previous reviewer was. It is a little surprising why Denethor the great politician could not understand for himself Ecthelion's attitude toward the Umbar problem, why Ecthelion had to spell it out. And vice versa, why Ecthelion had to keep both Denethor and Thorongil in the dark about his intents. What did he want to achieve? Get two his best captains wasting their time and energy on the fruitless struggle with him? Not that it doesn't happen in RL ;)

 

 

Re: Ch. 4 - Faithful

It is a little surprising why Denethor the great politician could not understand for himself Ecthelion's attitude toward the Umbar problem, why Ecthelion had to spell it out. And vice versa, why Ecthelion had to keep both Denethor and Thorongil in the dark about his intents. What did he want to achieve? Get two his best captains wasting their time and energy on the fruitless struggle with him? Not that it doesn't happen in RL ;) Part of this demonstrates how the two simply don't communicate, and how Denethor can wilfully misunderstand what the Steward is trying to do. Ecthelion uses silence as a way to cover up his own indecision and to test loyalty - things Denethor himself does and will do. At root, the Steward has given up in the fight against Sauron, which is why Gandalf spends so much time & energy on him when the wizard ordinarily had nothing to do with the Stewards. Ecthelion believes resistance is futile, has given in to despair, and does not wish to expend resources in what he thinks is pointless. Better to enjoy what little good time is left to us and let the end come when it will. His answer to Denethor is reasonable (We can't attack them there, so we must wait for them to come within our grasp) until you realize that he has no contingency plans and no intention of exploring other possibilities. There is a very real possibility that without Denethor & Thorongil pushing hard, Ecthelion might abandon all substantial defense of Gondor. The situation is exacerbated by the hatred between father and son. To some degree, Ecthelion chooses a plan of action based on whether it will piss off Denethor, jealous of his son's briliance and military successes. Thorongil is both smart and decent enough a person that he won't exploit this division to get the Steward to do things his way. In Ecthelion's words, I think you can hear some of Gandalf's counsel coming through, though filtered by the man's own resentments and misgivings. Ecthelion is never simply wrong or bad. We see him through Denethor's prejudices, but part of what we're seeing *are* those prejudices and how they do harm to both men and to Gondor. While the Steward may behave like a jerk at times, the Warden is not without fault himself. Then there is Thorongil, who is trying to keep the situation from going into total meltdown. There are things he admires and respects in both of these men and he knows picking sides will only make matters worse. Yes, the years are confusing, but they are accurate. Ang

 

 

Re: Ch. 4 - Faithful

Interesting chapter. Aiavale certainly believed in tough love when dealing with her little brother, didn't she?! How do we know that Gandalf normally had nothing to do with the Stewards? I'm not disputing that you're right, but don't remember reading that bit for myself and would like to... I liked the part with Denethor and Thorongil sharing a bath and a shower - they seemed very physically used to sharing intimate space - have they done it before, after a battle? If I was ever to write a LOTR slash story (which I have sworn not to do), I would try Denethor and Thorongil - there's no sexual tension between them in your story, but they're such a great pair of hunky Numenorean alpha males - it could be quite a tale... I did, I confess, wish for a camera during the shower scene. I'm not sure why Thorongil called his superior officer "Denethor". Is he interpreting the shared bath and breakfast and clothes as Denethor's moving towards a less formal relationship? Or is he just being a bit pushy? I can't see Aragorn being pushy in that type of situation, not with the man he was born to supplant... RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: Ch. 4 - Faithful

How do we know that Gandalf normally had nothing to do with the Stewards? I'm not disputing that you're right, but don't remember reading that bit for myself and would like to... I take it mostly from Unfinished Tales, "The Istari" very close to the end, where Tolkien talks about where Gandalf traveled and with whom he spoke. Here is the entire paragraph for context:
But his province was 'the North', and within it above all the North-west, Lindon, Eriador, and the Vales of Anduin. His alliance was primarily with Elrond and the northern Dunedain (Rangers). Peculiar to him was his love and knowledge of the 'Halflings', because his wisdom had presage of their ultimate importance, and at the same time he perceived their inherent worth. Gondor attracted his attention less, for the same reason that made it more intresting to Saruman: it was the centre of knowledge and power. Its rulers by ancestry and all their traditions were irrevocably opposed to Sauron, certainly politically: their realm arose as a threat to him, and continued to exist only in so far and so long as his threat to them could be resisted by armed force. Gandalf could do little to guide their proud rulers or to instruct them, and it was only in the decay of their power, when they were ennobled by courage and steadfastness in what seemed a losing cause, that he began to be deeply concerned with them.
In the Appendices, only Ecthelion is identified as a Steward that took significant counsel from Gandalf. The above passage is ambiguous - while it speaks of rulers plural, the sense of being faced with a losing cause would probably only have arisen when Sauron returned, which was during the reign of Turgon, Ecthelion's father and Denethor's grandfather, which limits the number of rulers Gandalf could have counseled to those three and Faramir as a future Steward. He may have spoken to Turgon, though it isn't chronicled. His success/failure with the other three is known. As a political theorist by training, Tolkien's antipathy towards all things political makes me roll my eyes, of course. The bathing scene was a small salvo in my ongoing war with slashitis. While not the slightest bit purturbed by positive persentations of homosexuality and gladly working towards the day when homophobia will be the obnoxious bias of a few individuals rather than a government policy, I do tire of seeing same sex pairings for no good reason. I feel this way about a number of fandoms, btw. Also, public and semi-public nudity has been considered normal in any number of societies, particularly in bathing facilities. Hot running water is a precious thing, even where you might expect indoor plumbing. I expect that Denethor and Thorongil have probably scrubbed each other's backs on several occasions. I have a scene much further on when Denethor thinks about touching other men (vs. touching Finduilas) and what there is to know about the male form. It is part of my larger reaction against the over-sexualization of physical and sensual interactions between people, regardless of gender, that is so prevalent in today's infotainment. I'm not sure why Thorongil called his superior officer "Denethor". Is he interpreting the shared bath and breakfast and clothes as Denethor's moving towards a less formal relationship? Or is he just being a bit pushy? I can't see Aragorn being pushy in that type of situation, not with the man he was born to supplant... Slip of the tongue, really. Thorongil looks at Denethor's actions and reads the best in to them, and responds ungardedly. Thorongil is enough of a judge of character that he can see the ways in which Denethor is treating him like a kinsman and knows that there is good at the heart of the gestures, even as the Warden can't help but revert to suspicion. Then there is all that hidden king stuff, where he can't help but act as an equal towards Denethor because they *are*. Watch the story and see where Thorongil slips. It is not arrogance, but affection that spurs most of it. Toodles - Ang PS - Yes, Aiavale firmly believes in spare the rod, spoil the child.

 

 

Re: Ch. 4 - Faithful

The bathing scene worked for me mainly (when I wasn't mentally salivating over the images) because it had the Mediterranean/Roman feel that I associate to some degree with Gondor and Minas Tirith. And that type of society would have had less taboos than modern America about men scrubbing each other's backs, especially with public bathing being the norm. Turgon seems to have been something of a go-getter in terms of military preparations...I personally think that Gandalf began his friendship with Faramir because he liked the kid, rather than from political motives; since Faramir didn't have much political importance while Boromir lived. Oh, I can definitely Thorongil letting down his guard because he feels he's Denny's equal and he likes the Steward's son, or at least appreciates him. RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Getting caught up

Well, finally decided to join in the fun properly, so I wanted to let you know I'm slowly getting caught up with the fic. So far, I've reached chapter five, and, as I was expecting, I'm enjoying this a lot! I'll come back and comment once I'm up to speed with the rest, but for now there are some general comments I can make from the early "prologue" perspective. Well, coming straight from Legacy and OMY, I saw some similarities, as well as interesting differences, in the characterizations. Aiavale immediately reminded me of the strong matriarchal figure, laid low (or perhaps strengthened?) by illness or deformity, that was Gilda; while Maiaberiel (Beruthiel, *snork*) and Brandir fell very easily into my "Esmie and Sara" spots. Ecthelion became an instinctive "Rory" - if only because of his role as pater familias and ruler over family and politics - though, of course, here we're talking much bigger politics. The differences in all these characterizations were quite fascinating however - such as Ecthelion's somewhat sinister and almost licentious behavior, or Brandir's dumbed-down and well-intending husband. But I think you've really struck gold on your protagonists - Denethor and Finduilas (along with Thorongil) are entirely new and quite exciting. There's much to their characterizations that, superficially, could seem "stock fanon" - Denethor's natural severity, for example, or Finduilas's frailty - but you've infused a surprisingly subtle humanity in all of it. For example, there's something wonderfully strong and intelligent, while also youthful, about Finduilas - and she's a refreshingly feminine character in a fandom where, more often than not, we have either 90% male casts, or somewhat garrish, attention-seeking female characters (ie, the Mary Sue, or even some portrayals of Eowyn). Denethor is certainly a loaded figure, and you're doing quite well in beating the movie version out of my head. In Legacy and OMY, it was quite easy to "cast" Bilbo and Frodo as Ian Holm and Elijah Wood - if only because the characterizations were complimentary and more of an "expansion" of the movie versions (maybe because those were two characters who were handled better than Denethor's "FLEE! FLEE FOR YOUR LIVES!" ranting lunatic). In this fic, I'm at times frustrated with Denethor - his infamous pride and hard head, rrgh - though I'm also quite touched by some of his reactions. For example, the council scene where Denethor lets loose on Ecthelion (re: Ecthelion's faux grief) was unexpectedly poignant - if only because I had imagined Denethor cold and politicking enough to not let himself have such an emotional outburst, yet I suppose the exhaustion lent some vulnerability. (As an aside, Ecthelion's also becoming a very interesting character in that regard... the paradox of his severe, bordering on cruel, chastisement of Denethor with his weary escapist attitude is awesome!) Thorongil is, as always, an enigma. I'm curious to see how he develops - to be superficial, does he really fancy Finduilas? And Maiaberiel? Hmm. Anyway, I'm greatly looking forward to the rest of these chapters. Wheeeee! Fun fanfic! I'll be back when I'm caught up. Aeneid Edit: Oh yeah! I was reminded of this point after re-reading some of Raksha's comments re: the bathing scene. This actually doesn't have to do with the bathing scene in particular, but with the interesting sociocultural aspects (eep! I sound academic!) you've got here in HOTK, but also in Legacy and OMY. The bathing/being naked stuff slipped past me, as I didn't find it particularly jarring, though I'll admit that all three of these stories feature a fair amount of quotidian violence, and that's always fascinating (and disturbed) me. With the hobbits, it was easy to attribute a more "hands-on" rough-housing nature, though I had expected much more restraint in high-level Gondor - if only because everything else is so buttoned up. So when Aiavale and Maiaberiel got in their little catfight, goodness! That was somewhat startling. Yet it was another interesting detail which fleshes out Gondorian social norms and society - quite different from our own!

 

 

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