Forum: Hands of the King

Discussing: Ch. 24 - Troth

Ch. 24 - Troth

Why did you take my beloved story down?? Lucky that I know where you hide and found the next chapter anyway!

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

EDIT: HotK is available on HASA. Here's the link: Troth I'm not sure how I will be handling the story from here out. I have plenty of new material, but it is in somewhat rough form and I don't want to simply throw it at the public. I am thinking of creating a copy of the story and putting that in a Workshop where I can get critical comments and tweak it before publishing new chapters. *** Since I just got the offical notice I can say what's up. I put HotK into review and it was approved this AM. It will be out of sight for a little while longer as it has to wait its turn to be posted to the site home page. In the meantime, if anyone who is a regular reader wishes to get chapter 24 right away, you can go to my personal site, www.romenna.net and read it there. It is on the home page. I'm working on the next chapter, but am writing slowly due to the Worskhop launch this coming weekend. My sincere thanks to everyone who reviewed the story and to those who are reading along. I greatly appreciate the time you are giving to this work. Toodles - Ang

 

 

Re: Chapter 24 - Troth

Poor Thorongil!!! I feel his pain. Those elitist nobles! Well, there is more to life than money! *runs away sobbing* Someday-- someday, you'll all be sorry! I'll show you! I'll show all of you!! How depressing!

 

 

Re: Chapter 24 - Troth

I put HotK into review and it was approved this AM. *applauds* Congrats, Ang! Thanks for this heads up because without it, I certainly wouldn't have checked your website for the next chapter. *shakes head at herself* And geez, what a great new instalment I'd have missed! While I wanted to scream in frustration at Adrahil's reaction, the rest of ch. 24 made me deliriously happy. I'm always impressed at how disciplined Fin is - in contrast to me. Addendum: I'd really have loved to be an unnoticed witness of the conversation of Adrahil and Luinil...

 

 

Re: Chapter 24 - Troth

Thanks for another enjoyable chapter and the directions to your website! spoiler space * * * * * * * * * In this chapter there surely were some comic moments amidst all the romantic drama. The irate father Adrahil changing his attitude from "Never!" to "Let's do it now" in the matter of hours seemed pretty funny to me. The "forward" mother Luinil, saying "It's a pity you haven't slept together yet" got me dumbfounded as successfully as her daughter. The ever-so-pleasant Thorongil and Finduilas baring teeth at each other was also pretty shocking and even a bit scary. And of course, Thorongil getting a lesson of "Teach yourself politics in ten minutes" was the most priceless of all. It seems to me he hadn't even suspected he had been a pawn in a political intrigue until Finduilas outlined it all for him. Which made me wonder if the Elven society he was raised in had politics at all. Maybe politics is too fleeting an occupation for people who think in term of centuries and millennia. A trivial comment: when Ivriniel says Finduilas "doesn't deserve such a man", it sounds as if she means Denethor is too good for Finduilas. However, her previous comments are all about her being too good for him. So, what does she really have in mind? I am looking forward to the next chapter

 

 

Re: Chapter 24 - Troth

Congratulations on the story's approval! S P O I L E R S P A C E I'm not wild about this chapter . The quality of the writing is, in general, good - but I had two major problems with the dialogue and plotting: I found Thorongil's characterisation in TROTH quite out-of-character with the original version of Aragorn (Tolkien's) - and while I can definitely concede that pre-LOTR Aragorn shouldn't be depicted as a walking Sir Galahad (ick!), he seemed very whiny and resentful in his reaction to Finduilas' decision. I can see Thorongil as being shocked and angered, but I cannot see him whining like that, or accusing the House of Dol Amroth of playing him false. He might go all cold and chill and smoldery all at once, but I doubt that even a younger Aragorn would be so graceless and adolescent in his behavior - he is, after all, in his 40's, not a snotty teenager being rejected by his first True Love (who was Arwen)....And Aragorn is a man who is almost as self-controlled as Denethor. Also, I couldn't understand how Denethor went from nobly-stubbornly holding to his oath not to marry anyone, and the next day asking Adrahil for Finduilas' hand. That seemed to me too important a step to be made between chapters, with little or no explanation, too essential to the entire story to skip. I really, really wanted to see the process by which Denethor changed his mind and decided to go for what he wanted rather than keep to a very limiting oath he'd made to himself. Looking forward to the next chapter. RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: Chapter 24 - Troth

Hi Raksha, I always enjoy your posts on various boards where I lurk. Have to respectfully disagree with you this time, however S P O I L E R S P A C E I found Thorongil's characterisation in TROTH quite out-of-character with the original version of Aragorn (Tolkien's) - and while I can definitely concede that pre-LOTR Aragorn shouldn't be depicted as a walking Sir Galahad (ick!), he seemed very whiny and resentful in his reaction to Finduilas' decision. I can see Thorongil as being shocked and angered, but I cannot see him whining like that, or accusing the House of Dol Amroth of playing him false. He might go all cold and chill and smoldery all at once, but I doubt that even a younger Aragorn would be so graceless and adolescent in his behavior - he is, after all, in his 40's, not a snotty teenager being rejected by his first True Love (who was Arwen)....And Aragorn is a man who is almost as self-controlled as Denethor. Why could not Thorongil get whiny and unreasonable as a teenager just this once? I think even the nicest and noblest people might get out-of-character nasty and graceless on occasion, when severely provoked or out of their depth. Though LotR Aragorn would not behave like this, of course. Also, I couldn't understand how Denethor went from nobly-stubbornly holding to his oath not to marry anyone, and the next day asking Adrahil for Finduilas' hand. That seemed to me too important a step to be made between chapters, with little or no explanation, too essential to the entire story to skip. I really, really wanted to see the process by which Denethor changed his mind and decided to go for what he wanted rather than keep to a very limiting oath he'd made to himself. Well, the canonical Denethor does have a moment when his previous attitude --of the duty to his city-- is overthrown in a few hours, and he goes and kills himself to everyone's total surprise. Concerning this chapter, I actually thought that such a sudden change of mind after much stubborness is quite in character for him. The convictions of the mind collapsed under the onslaught of emotions, so to speak. And we still might see these crucial mind processes in a chapter of his POV (hopefully) Anyhow, I don't see any problem with both these moments.

 

 

Re: Chapter 24 - Troth

Anyhow, I don't see any problem with both these moments. Same here. As to Denethor changing his mind so quickly, I didn't feel that an explanation was necessary. This isn't to say that I don't want to know his line of reasoning, and like Twoflower I'm hoping that Ang is going to provide us with some of its details later. Denethor is given to extremes, so like Twoflower, I found the switching of his position perfectly natural after he was kind of forced to accept Fin's insistance on her feelings. After all, this is what for many months he has been longing for deep down inside, so I can see him finally saying to himself, "Why not?" I bet he hardly got some sleep before he went to see Adrahil! The one thing that kind of puzzled me was that Denethor was downplaying his emotions (though on second thought, that's nothing nwe with him) when asking for Fin's hand. But then it - sadly - made sense, even for Fin to go along with it, in order not to challenge Beruthiel. A trivial comment: when Ivriniel says Finduilas "doesn't deserve such a man", it sounds as if she means Denethor is too good for Finduilas. However, her previous comments are all about her being too good for him. So, what does she really have in mind? I thought that Ivriniel meant the comment as her sister deserving better than "that nasty old man." *snort*

 

 

Re: Chapter 24 - Troth

I'm new to this story, (and to HASA) but I absolutely love it so far! I prefer your Denethor to the psychotic pyro in the movies, and your characterization neatly foreshadows what Tolkien later does with the character in LoTR. Also, I liked your portrayal of Denethor as a Ranger and an expert with the longbow. That means that Faramir is basically Denethor without the cynicism and despair. Cool...I like it! I'm a little sad that the Finduilas-Denethor romance will ultimately have a tragic ending. And oddly enough, nobody ever writes "Finduilas lives!" AU stories. I really can't wait to see what happens next. Hopefully, we'll get some Denethor POV on the betrothal too.

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

Wow, I go away for a day and a debate breaks out! I can see validity in all of the persepctives here. I'm definitely making characters stretch when compared to the JRRT's own treatment - though I will always argue that JRRT, like all great writers, created a work more self-interrogating than he intended (which is what makes it worth reading, after all) - but I also think the characters are consistent within the terms of this particular story. One reviewer commented that Denethor and Finduilas in HotK could be "alienating", which I took to mean off-putting or unsympathetic, and have to agree. There are times when each of them (but far more often Denethor) does something that I intensely dislike. Deenthor is a protagonist, not a hero, in this story. Readers are free to disagree with me on all counts, of course. The next chapter is Denethor POV and it is not a spoiler to say that it opens with him trying to make sense of the tumultuous events of the preceeding week. As for Thorongil's immaturity in Ch. 24, I think I'll let the story demonstrate the reasons why this rejection hit him so hard. It's not a spoiler to say it never happens again. He keeps ingratiating himself with me, the sly fox, and is getting more page time than originally allocated. As always, agree or disagree, I appreciate your time and comments, Ang

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

One reviewer commented that Denethor and Finduilas in HotK could be "alienating", which I took to mean off-putting or unsympathetic, and have to agree. Interesting. I don't think they're particularly "alienating," although the characters (esp. Denethor) do have those moments that make you cringe. Frankly, the story wouldn't be quite so "real" without such elements...and I think it would be very difficult to reconcile Denethor's ultimate fall, if we didn't see at least something unsympathetic in his earlier life. By and large though, both Denethor and Finduilas in HoTK come off as more sympathetic than they do even in JRRT's hands. Speaking of which, I wonder what the good professor would have thought of fanfiction in general?

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

One reviewer commented that Denethor and Finduilas in HotK could be "alienating", which I took to mean off-putting or unsympathetic, and have to agree. There are times when each of them (but far more often Denethor) does something that I intensely dislike. Deenthor is a protagonist, not a hero, in this story. Liking Denethor doesn't come that easy, but has Fin so far into the story done anything which you disapprove of? I don't remember anything, but then I've got too involved in their story to be objective, I'm afraid (and frankly, I don't care. I'm enjoying myself too much. ) The next chapter [...] opens with him trying to make sense of the tumultuous events of the preceeding week. I read the chapter again yesterday, and only then it struck me what a sensational thing indeed the confession of love to Fin and the asking for her hand were. The following sentences say it all: "There was no joy in his face; rather, something akin to dread. ‘I chose love.’ She shivered and stepped into his embrace, letting his cloak wrap them both. Denethor buried his face in her hair. His tattered whisper was in her ear. ‘I chose love.’" Small wonder that he's so shaken. He threw a good part of the rules overboard according to which he's been living so far. I mean, Denethor choosing love??!! Woohoo! As to your Thorongil, I must say I'm really, really glad that he didn't become king forty years earlier. He just wouldn't have been up to the job then. In many fields he's so inexperienced up to the point of being clumsy that he appears to be only half his actual age, while Denethor sometimes seems to be an old man. As Twoflower has already hinted at, it makes you wonder what exactly Elrond and Co. were teaching Aragorn in order to prepare him for the kingship. I'm a little sad that the Finduilas-Denethor romance will ultimately have a tragic ending. I totally agree, roh_wyn. Actually, I've been thinking about writing a "Fin lives!" AU, but I doubt it'll ever see the light of day (for various reasons). Being a hopeless romantic, the idea appeals greatly to me, but on the other hand, what can beat a tragic love story? Nobody would talk about Romeo and Juliet if they had lived happily ever after. So the lonely Steward who never really got over the death of his beloved wife is the more romantic tale, too.

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

I enjoyed it immensely. I found Denethor very consistent with previous chapters, and it was a treat to see him finally come to grips with Finduilas' love and strong will. My conception of Thorongil would be different. I had thought he might take the rejection as proof that he should never have looked at anyone but Arwen. He keeps ingratiating himself with me, the sly fox, and is getting more page time than originally allocated. He is rather insinuating, isn't he? Looking forward to further chapters! Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

Ok, so I reread all of the HoTK chapters (an excuse not to do other things I'm supposed to be doing)...and I'm very curious as to why other members of the Lost (i.e. Halmir) react the way they do to Thorongil. I have a guess what the problem is, but I hope you explore that in a new chapter soon.... Speaking of new chapters, is there going to be one soon? I think I'm having some kind of HoTK withdrawal. (I know...pathetic!).

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

Sorry I haven't replied until now. Liking Denethor doesn't come that easy, but has Fin so far into the story done anything which you disapprove of? I don't like the way she spies on Thorongil, or how she flirts with him to get information out of him. She speands a lot of time trying to convince herself that she isn't doing this, even though she is. From here on out, that particular dynamic is off the table, and she relates to Thorongil in a more honest way. I read the chapter again yesterday, and only then it struck me what a sensational thing indeed the confession of love to Fin and the asking for her hand were. Love is not the same as happiness for Denethor - indeed, almost the opposite. He thinks what he has done is *wrong* for any number of reasons. It really is a violation of everything he thinks is his duty, and it goes against all of his self-protective impulses. As Twoflower has already hinted at, it makes you wonder what exactly Elrond and Co. were teaching Aragorn in order to prepare him for the kingship. For 20 years, they weren't teaching him anything directly, but kept him is ignorance of who and what he was. I think the lessons learned in Rivendell only become useful after he's been out and about in the world - how to think, an existential center, a trans-historical sense of destiny, an immortal perspective on being. He's perfectly trained to be a divine warrior-king, but has no sense of the mundane and ordinary above a very simple level. The way I think of Thorongil (and later Aragorn) is he isn't very urbane. The life of the mind doesn't interest him, he's happier tromping through the woods than looking at art, and he does not have an analytical eye. While I know anti-intellectualism is a popular stance, it doesn't do much to preserve and expand sophisticated civilizations. In a society where transmission of intellectual capital decreases with every generation, the role of people like Aiavale or Denethor is crucial because they preserve knowledge that is not easy to transmit orally. If you have a society of immortals, preservation of knowledge is in the individuals. In the end, I guess I *like* the character of Thorongil since he seems like a good person, but I don't have much use for him, since he has almost no connection to the kind of humanism that I value. Even though Denethor is an SOB (and how!) to deal with, he is an intrinsically more engaging character - fascinated by the past and by invention, proud of the quality of life the Gondorians enjoy compared to the people surrounding them, preferring dynamic urbanity to bucolic petification, appreciating the productive power of politics, and so forth. Ang

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

My conception of Thorongil would be different. I had thought he might take the rejection as proof that he should never have looked at anyone but Arwen. He will, eventually. However, be fair - when he leaves Rivendell, he has even less proof of affection from Arwen than he does from Finduilas *when he is being rejected* and has no reason to believe that Arwen will ever look at him with love. Right now, what he has received is a clear message that he can't daydream his way into happily ever after. Two part-elven women have been put in his path and both are (as far as he knows) unattainable. Time to do some serious thinking on what the future holds. Which he will do, and will do well. Ang

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

Ok, so I reread all of the HoTK chapters (an excuse not to do other things I'm supposed to be doing)...and I'm very curious as to why other members of the Lost (i.e. Halmir) react the way they do to Thorongil. I have a guess what the problem is, but I hope you explore that in a new chapter soon.... I'll get to it. Eventually. Keep your eye on Halmir. Speaking of new chapters, is there going to be one soon? I think I'm having some kind of HoTK withdrawal. (I know...pathetic!). I am almost ready to post a new one, but I'm figuring out how to arrange things. I have about 20 more chapter already written and in rough form. I don't want to publish them like this to the public. What I am thinking of doing is creating a Workshop with an off-list version where I'll post upcoming chapters, and get typo patrol and comments. Thus, the internal version will be a few chapters ahead of the public, but a few behind the orginal alpha writing. I'll figure out how I'm going to handle it sometime tis week. Ang

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

For 20 years, they weren't teaching him anything directly, but kept him is ignorance of who and what he was. I think the lessons learned in Rivendell only become useful after he's been out and about in the world - how to think, an existential center, a trans-historical sense of destiny, an immortal perspective on being. He's perfectly trained to be a divine warrior-king, but has no sense of the mundane and ordinary above a very simple level. The way I think of Thorongil (and later Aragorn) is he isn't very urbane. The life of the mind doesn't interest him, he's happier tromping through the woods than looking at art, and he does not have an analytical eye. While I know anti-intellectualism is a popular stance, it doesn't do much to preserve and expand sophisticated civilizations. In a society where transmission of intellectual capital decreases with every generation, the role of people like Aiavale or Denethor is crucial because they preserve knowledge that is not easy to transmit orally. If you have a society of immortals, preservation of knowledge is in the individuals. In the end, I guess I *like* the character of Thorongil since he seems like a good person, but I don't have much use for him, since he has almost no connection to the kind of humanism that I value. Even though Denethor is an SOB (and how!) to deal with, he is an intrinsically more engaging character - fascinated by the past and by invention, proud of the quality of life the Gondorians enjoy compared to the people surrounding them, preferring dynamic urbanity to bucolic petification, appreciating the productive power of politics, and so forth. I respectfully beg to differ here. There's no indication in LOTR that Aragorn was the L'il Abner of Rivendell, or Gondor, when he was Thorongil or at any other time. He may have been raised in a sheltered environment and then learned to live off the land as a Ranger, but Aragorn's never been an ignorant backwoodsman. Aragorn was taught at least some of the bardic arts; and knows the longer version of the Lay of Luthien. It's implied he knows other songs and lays as well. He speaks Quenya, probably better than anyone in Minas Tirith, as well as Sindarin, Westron, and presumably the language of Rohan. He grew up in an elven haven renowned for being a place of healing and some culture as well. I'm sure they have a library in Imladris; and it's likely that Aragorn used it. He's well-versed in herblore and Elven-lore. What he doesn't know at the time of this story is the art of political management; but there's no reason to suppose he couldn't learn it, if placed in a position of authority. JRRT says in THE TALE OF ARAGORN AND ARWEN: "Elrond looked at him (20-year-old Aragorn) and was pleased, for he saw that he was fair and noble and was come early to manhood, though he would yet become greater in body and mind...he (Aragorn) became a friend of Gandalf, from whom he gained much wisdom." After the time period of HANDS OF THE KING, Aragorn traveled to the East and South, "exploring the hearts of men" (which is not what you'd expect an anti-intellectual simple-minded hick to want to explore)..."Thus he became at last the most hardy of living Men, skilled in their crafts and lore...he was elven-wise". This doesn't sound like a big 'ol country boy ignorant and suspicious of book-larnin' and lacking an analytical eye. I think Aragorn probably has a very analytical eye, mostly used to read situations and people and strategy, or he wouldn't have survived. As for being happier tromping through the woods than looking at art - well, Aragorn hasn't had much choice. He was the chieftain of the Dunedain, and they had to protect Eriador and fight for their own survival; they didn't have that much art (or any as far as we know) or the time to lovingly study it. For all we know, Aragorn would have loved to have been raised as an urbane prince of the City that Elendil founded; but he didn't have that option. I find nothing in LOTR that says or implies that Aragorn is anti-intellectual. Tolkien himself valued trees and nature, as well as learning; and Aragorn, who is one of Tolkien's ideal characters (though as Strider, he's grim and more real), seems to respect both - later, Aragorn will speak of himself as "the last of the Numenoreans" (at that time, Faramir is long dead; so the statement is accurate, Faramir strikes me as very Numenorean too)...And the Numenoreans valued culture and wisdom and learning... I enjoy HANDS OF THE KING; and regard you as a very skillful writer who could write professionally in SF/fantasy or wherever you want. But when you label Aragorn as someone uninterested in "The life of the mind", then I have to mentally label this story AU. I'll still read and enjoy it though... RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

The thing about both canon Aragorn (or HotK Thorongil) that he seems to be guided by hope, faith and inspiration rather than by rational. His wisdom is in being sensitive to the will of the Valar, rather than in making calculations, though he is more than capable of making them, when needed. I think Aragorn often does display an analytical approach to situations during the Fellowship quest. However, analysis for him is a tool, not a credo. Denethor, on the contrary, displays a lack of faith (in Gandalf), relies on reason (his own, primarily) and is punished for this, ironically, by the loss of sanity. Faith triumphing over Reason might be Tolkien's message here. I am not sure I like it at all.

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

IMO, Denethor puts a lot more faith in what he sees in the palantir, a tool influenced by an extremely powerful and malevolent entity, then in rational intelligence. But the events of LOTR are a testament to the triumph of faith and hope! Perhaps that's Tolkien's Catholic faith talking, but the instinct to cherish hope and faith is a powerful one. If one looks coolly and rationally at the plot, at the situation, one would think that Sauron's triumph is pretty much inevitable and that two hobbits have almost no chance of surviving until they get to Mount Doom, let alone accomplishing their mission. If Faramir had relied totally on reason, he'd have grabbed the ring and tried to take it to Mount Doom himself, or brought it home for safekeeping...Faramir's decision seems to me to be a combination of faith and reason - because reason was making it clear that Sauron's triumph was inevitable, and the only thing they had left was this tiny chance that the two hobbits could sneak through Mordor, if their guide didn't kill them first...In other words, Faramir, who had run out of hope by then, made a decision combining reason (the idea that the small and stealthy hobbits could manage to destroy the Ring which had a tendancy to corrupt Men) and a desperate, final surge of the hope he'd disavowed...In the absence of a reasonable strategy that would assure Gondor's survival, Faramir chose a strategy that relied on a faint hope and a certain amount of faith, which seems to me very human and 'reasonable'... As to Aragorn's being guided by hope and faith, well, his existence was a testament to it, not to mention his original name. Hope and faith was all that the Northern Dunedain had, for years. Aragorn had lived most of his life in hope and faith in his role and in his fate; that, and luck, and skill and intelligence, kept him alive in a world where some very powerful forces wanted to annhiliate him. I think JRRT's message might be more along the lines of 'when reason fails, you have to cherish hope and faith', rather than 'when reason fails, give up hope and fall apart', or 'Faith trumps Reason'. I think both are necessary. The plan to send a hobbit into Mordor with the One Ring does have a rational basis as well as one of hope/faith - a small, stealthy creature had a lot better chance of getting there than a force of hundreds of Men. And hobbits had greater immunity to the Ring's lure than did Men, though they were still vulnerable to it. Rationally, even if Minas Tirith could have been saved by the combined forces of Gondor and Rohan, Sauron had a far greater number of troops. Orcs were evidently easy to breed and grew quickly, and he had a huge supply. And the Nazgul were unkillable by most means - the WitchKing might have been vulnerable to hobbits and women, but there's no indication that the other RingWraiths were. Inevitably, Sauron would have worn down Gondor/Rohan's defenses, or at least kept them in constant war until both realms dwindled into shadows of their former greatness (which is, to some extent, what happened to Gondor) and the people would have ended up on the run and hiding in the wilderness with the Northern Rangers...And Reasonably, trusting to an army of dead, accursed traitors to destroy the Corsairs doesn't make much sense - but it was the best option that Aragorn had. Not being a fool, he took it. To me, Denethor himself turned away from Reason as well as Hope - rationally, he should not have relied on the palantir as his main source of information - even if it had shown him true things before, he should have remembered that it was tainted by Sauron's mind, and held on until the ships came and it was revealed that the Corsairs weren't in them. But by then, he was well along on the path of mental disintegration, too much stress over many years, Boromir's death a crushing blow to his sanity, and Faramir's imminent death the last straw. Denethor's main flaw was his pride, not his reliance on Reason - if he'd been more willing to reach out to cement old alliances and make new ones instead of trusting only in his own strength (considerable as it was), he might have found ways to lessen Sauron's strength in earlier years...He might have had the Corsairs eliminated, or stalled, years ago. He might have made up with Gandalf (even if he hated the guy, Gandalf has his wrinkled fingers on the pulse of Middle-earth and knows what's going on all over, and is friends with Elves and Dwarves, all of whom were potential allies or at least sources of useful intelligence/info), but, because of his dislike of Gandalf, he chose to distrust him and consult or at least prefer Saruman...If I had been in Denny's position, I'd figure that even if Gandalf wanted to push my House out of power in favor of a scruffy Ranger, better for that to happen than Gondor fall to Sauron, and swallow my pride. Things might have been different if Finduilas had lived, though as I recall, it was indicated that Denethor was a self-willed and prideful fellow before he married, too... RAKSHA THE DEMON

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

I'd figure that even if Gandalf wanted to push my House out of power in favor of a scruffy Ranger, better for that to happen than Gondor fall to Sauron Well, first of all, the Stewards aren't interested (at least not openly) in perpetuating their own rule. They're interested in perpetuating the rule of the sons of Anarion. There are very good political reasons why a Gondor-educated Denethor might think of Gandalf's Ranger buddy as a "usurper." Furthermore, the erstwhile kings of Arnor didn't do too great a job of keeping their kingdom together in the face of the enemy. They allowed faction and kin strife to divide and weaken them and left themselves open to attack and dominance by the enemy. I think a rational Denethor could be genuinely concerned that Thorongil might not be the best person to lead Gondor, as Sauron consistently grows in power. Actually, this is something that Ang does a good job of explaining in HoTK. I also think a 40-ish Thorongil isn't quite ready to be king of Gondor and Arnor. He's a charismatic military leader with a gentleman's education, but I don't think he has much of a handle on statecraft, and the fact that the Elves don't meddle in the politics of Men means that he has not been effectively trained in that arena either. Thorongil's a man of action and not one given to spending hours in council discussing how to politically manipulate his allies in the best interests of Gondor. IMO, Denethor's pride by itself isn't such a terrible flaw. It makes him intractable, yes, but I think it helps him a fairly effective ruler for the 40 odd years he runs Gondor. It's the combination of pride and the despair that comes later that leads to his downfall.

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

Raksha: This is a brilliant essay on hope and faith in Tolkien. I feel quite happy having provoked you ;) Hmmm... It's difficult to argue with someone so articulate. And actually I do agree with most of it. When reason fails, you have to cherish hope"--yes, that's what LotR is about. And yet... Does it work in a real society? I have no idea. Middle-Earth is something of an ideal society, where normal social processes don't exist (are not described). In RL if a Mordor is strong, it does prevail, and then people just have to try and survive for a few generations until the pendulum swings back and the normal course of history takes place. Does Hope & Faith come into it? I don't know. People are usually preoccupied by small everyday concerns to think much about such things during bad times. (I am a Russian and grew up in Soviet Union, which history is much more morbid than is normally known). On Denethor: my perspective is very much like yours, but somewhat differently tinted. I think that he does rely on the rational, rather than on being tuned to the ineffable plan, does spurn higher forces (represented by Gandalf) and is punished for this by being brought to insanity by a powerful magic object. I think that the fact that Denethor gets undone by the Palantir shows the Valars' disapproval of Denethor's non-pious attitude. But I know that in RL I would like to have a government which would rely on reason rather than on divine guidance. I also think that D's infamous pride is not such a bad thing. In LotR "pride" seems to mean holding oneself to high standards rather than having an over-sized ego. It's only when Denethor's personality starts disintegrating, his pride becomes a damaging force. To return on topic--HotK-- I think that Ang quite successfully creates realistic social processes in Tolkien's mythological society.

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

Thanx, Two-Flower. And yes, Anglachel does create realistic social processes within the framework of Gondor. But she loses me in terms of HOTK being a 'regular', as opposed to AU, story, when she says that Aragorn is an unintellectual nature boy who has no 'life of the mind' - to me, that is AU. Nothing wrong with that, I love a good AU story. When I read LOTR and LOTR fanfiction, I am not looking for interpretations on Tolkien's philosophy, at least not in terms of the characters' actions. I think of them as characters; and what their actions say about them, rather than whether Tolkien was trying to punish or reward anyone, at least in an obvious way. (at least most of the time - there's a fine line that I don't cross that often, because it would taint my enjoyment of the story if I over-analyze - though I guess I do, occasionally, especially in terms of family relationships and psychology) I don't think the Valar had anything to do with Denethor's undoing - it was Sauron and to some extent Denethor himself. The Valar rarely interfere, and when they do, it's on a far bigger scale; I've never heard of them trying to destroy someone like that, or tempt someone to destroy himself. Except for Melkor, but he's out of the picture, unless one thinks of his evil lingering in the hearts of everybody, in which case Denethor was no more vulnerable to self-destruction than Boromir, Faramir, or the street-sweepers of Minas Tirith. Tolkien said in UT, btw, that Denethor had the legal/moral right to use the palantir, as the legal deputy of the King, all the Stewards did. The Kings used to have appointed deputies for palantir-viewing. He also said that if Denethor had ever gone mind-to-mind with Saruman via their palantiri, Denethor probably would have prevailed, being both strong of mind and being the rightful user of the palantir (which Saruman was not). The earlier Stewards had not used the palantir, fearing (or knowing, can't remember exactly) that Sauron was on the other end. That Denethor dared to use the palantir frequently and contend with Sauron is both incredibly gutsy and rather unwise. I think that Denethor didn't set out to become a palantir/Sauron mind-wrestling addict; but I think he relished having a source of secret intelligence to which only he had access. Denethor could have, and should have, used the palantir very sparingly, knowing who was at the other end. His own pride undid him there, he thought he could continue to spar regularly with Sauron and remain unscathed. Pride is often a good thing in Middle-earth (previous post). One of the things that endeared me to Gondor is the pride of its people, from the Hurinionath to Beregond. Even Ioreth is gutsy. I like their high standards. That being said, over-weening pride is a common theme in classical literature, and it turns up in the SILMARILLION in Feanor (where it sows the seeds of terrible disaster) and in LOTR in Saruman and Denethor. I can't find my copy of ROTK at the moment, but I believe it was implied and said that Denethor's particularly self-willed pride led him into error - there's also Denethor's self-isolation, emotionally and in terms of alliances. People respect him, but he doesn't take anyone else's advice, and he seems to have no friends. It's a dangerous thing for a man with so much power and responsibility and under so much stress to have no friends, and follow only his own counsel. Not that I'd want a leader who would need the consensus of 10 committees for every decision he/she makes; but I think a good leader has to be open to the possibility of taking others' advice, and occasionally do so. Back to Two_flower2... Personally I would want a president of my own country (the US) to be a God-fearing person. I don't particularly care which religion (well, as long as it doesn't involve sacrificing animals). I think it's a humbling thing to believe that there's another authority to which one has to answer. I don't want too much mixture of church and state; but a god-fearing president is fine with me, as is the occasional ceremonial mention of God, etc...But that has nothing to do with Middle-earth. I can't equate RL too closely with M-e in terms of a realistic society. Medieval or Dark Age Europe is not a place I'd care to even visit. I have to think of M-e as a different and better version of it; with the best elements of medieval and Roman and Other (hobbits, dwarves, Elves) social processes. Not knowing what your situation was growing up in the Soviet Union, it's hard to compare it to that of the people of Gondor in the years leading up to and in the Ring War, or even the poor human slaves in Mordor. But I hope, and assume, that you were not living constantly in imminent fear of horrible death and destruction, slavery, etc., in the shadows of a realm whose ruler wanted to annhiliate you and everyone else. I know that during some periods of Soviet history, there was mass chaos, starvation, state-ordered mass murder, but I didn't think it was that bad since the 60's or so - but then, I'm hardly an expert on Soviet history. I feel very lucky never to have personally known hardship. There is a difference between possible - maybe Sauron will return and turn the orcs into an army again - probable - are the Nazgul back in Barad-dur or is it the Dark Lord, they're gonna attack Minas Tirith eventually - and imminent - sending one's only child at the head of a few hundred brave souls to hold off the thousands of enemy forces who are gathering across the river to come and destroy your home, your realm, everything you hold dear, and praying they can hold out long enough for the allies to arrive. RAKSHA

 

 

Re: Ch. 24 - Troth

Again to Raksha Some random answer thoughts, proceeding from the end of your post to the beginning: I hope, and assume, that you were not living constantly in imminent fear of horrible death and destruction, slavery, etc. Thankfully not! But--my grandparents were for a few decades. Only their own ruler was trying to annihilate a big part of their generation. (In part that's why I so much appreciate an effective and caring ruler like Denethor, pride or not. ) There is a huge collective memory of looong bad times, which still colors everyday life, attitudes, literature etc. in Russia. I guess it colors my attitude to Tolkien. About Denethor's uber-pride: I am not entirely sure he had this condition that bad. Tolkien seems to be of two minds about this character. If you read LotR, you get the impression that using the Palantir, Denethor overstepped some boundaries, and brought the madness on himself. After this, "The Palantiri" essay is a surprise: Tolkien writes there that Denethor, indeed, used the Palantir legally, was strong enough to withstand the mental struggle with Sauron, and was proud in the good sense of the word--an entirely positive picture. From "The Palantiri" I didn't get an impression that Denethor's personality had these glaring flaws which would eventually make him fall apart. I got the impression that he ever so needed a deus ex machina like a Palantir to bring him him to madness. To return on topic, I don't know where is a boundary between an AU or non-AU(?). HotK certainly has elements which endow it with a distinct flavor: lots of well-developed OCs and semi-OCs; professional women playing a big role in Gondor's society; Ecthelion's bastards, who are so important for the Steward family dynamics; politics and economy issues, and even "lust", the big Tolkien's no-no. And still, all this is gracefully kept within the outline of the canon world. For example, I wouldn't be able to make a case as to *why* women archivists or Steward's bastards couldn't exist in Tolkien's Gondor Equally, I don't see why Aragorn can't be developed the HotK way. If a realstic character has to be created out of the ideal mythology king Aragorn, he has to be expanded and endowed with some flaws. I think the HotK Thorongil with his flaws is consistent both in the context of HotK and with the canon outline of his character. In RL it would be logical to assume that somebody is not urbane enough after the lifetime in the woods

 

 

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