Forum: Hands of the King

Discussing: Ch. 63 - Abandoned

Ch. 63 - Abandoned

Ch. 63 - Abandoned

1 of 2 Denethor POVs.  Warnings: Not work safe. Violence, threats of violence, graphic sexual content, several disturbing scenes.

Denethor tries to come to terms with Thorongil's departure.

Major scenes with Finduilas, Morwen, Echtelion, Brandir and Maiaberiel. Minor scenes with several others.




Re: Ch. 63 - Abandoned

Fergus here,

Anyone who is reading this, there are chapter spoilers in my post.

Whoa. This chapter hit me hard. I thought you coouldn't top the previous two, but you did, and not in an entirely good way.

Brandir is the weird character here. He knows (or suspects) what Denethor will do, yet he goes through with it. This isn't the Fool anymore, yet it fits the character. Of all the people in HotK, I think I have the most sympathy for Brandir and now you've damaged that. Why didn't he just leave Minas Tirith with her anyway when he knew what Denethor intended? Instead of taking her to Denethor? Without really saying anything, you've exposed something ugly about Brandir. He *wants* to take his wife there.

You really manipulated your readers here, Ang. I have been waiting since the second chapter, when Beruthiel went after Wren, to see her get her just rewards, and you delivered. I felt sick to my stomach reading that scene. You made me look at what I wanted done to her. Could I really cheer on Denethor doing this? Could I really want my favorite character in all of the fandom to torture someone else? Making the violence less than it could have been and refusing to glamorize it was a good move. I can't help but think of the way torture is being condoned by the current US administration. You meant that, too, I bet.

"There were not enough blows in the world to make it less dim."

I don't know why, but this line resonates with me, and not just in the context of the story. You've caught something about the times we live in.

As always, your presentation of Denethor makes him so real. All his flaws and unpalatable impulses on full display, yet he is more than some villain or blind dictator. The dilemma of what he knows should be done for the good of the kingdom vs. what he is willing to do as a moral being leads him into something that is somehow worse than murder. I shudder to think where this will go.

More than any other chapter, this one has made me think about my own assumptions. It's not a pretty picture.



Re: Ch. 63 - Abandoned

This is a difficult chapter. I read Brandir's actions differently: it wasn't until Denethor ordered Brandir to go away that Brandir switched Denethor's plan and, in a way, called Denethor's bluff. He is "not leaving you alone with other". He wouldn't give Denethor time to thing & plan, rather Denethor had to do whatever he was going to do immediately, knowing Brandir was there in the same building. He probably saved his wife's life. It's ugly. The inter-family relationships there are aweful & toxic. I wish Brandir had found someone better to fall in love with.



Re: Ch. 63 - Abandoned

Hi Fergus,

Yup, yup, and yup.

Brandir is one of the stranger characters in HotK. He is both the most "good" person we meet because he is so incredibly selfless, yet his moral compass is seriously out of whack. There are times he creeps me out.

Waiting since chapter 2 for Maiaberiel to get hers, eh? As Denethor would say, be careful what you wish for.

Something that really sickens me in this fandom (and not just here) is the glamorization and eroticizaton of violation. Sexualizing torture. Valorizing brutality. Coupling abuse of characters with emotionally manipulative comfort. Then I see pictures of Abu Ghraib or read stories about the bodies turning up almost daily in the streets of Baghdad, and the gap between the puerile titillation of [insert character name here] rapes/beats/tortures/murders [insert character name here] and what that looks like in this world really hits home. It isn't that we shouldn't dramatize such inhuman acts, but that there are ways of doing so that do not end up performing yet more violence upon the fabric of our world in common. Not all ways of presenting violation are salutory, and the lies told in the pursuit of giving the reader an erotic buzz have a pernicious effect. Words matter.

The blows in the world. The fantasy that we can force the world to put itself into accord with our wishes.

I'm trying to show Denethor from a worldy and humanist perspective (you, know, reality), which does not overlook his failings, but neither does it try to moralize about the mere fact of his humanity. I'm someone who values politics far, far above religion, since it is only through solving the very real challenges of sharing the world that anything of worth can persist - ethics vs. morals. Politics is how we negotiate difference. But there are situations where there are no pure ethical responses available, or at least none at a personal level.

Denethor has always been between the Devil and the deep blue sea, and has tried to avoid choosing for as long as he could. Was there ever another option? Should he have killed his sister? When does political obligation trump personal ethics? Can it ever? He did what his character was capable of doing in that moment.  Whether that was the right thing to do I leave as an exercise for the reader.

Thanks for the comments,



Re: Ch. 63 - Abandoned

I know it probably sounds insane - but I wish Boromir had outright killed her instead of the brutality of what did transpire.  *shudders* It took away from him, much as Aragorn's attack upon Umbar took from the one day to be King.

She committed high treason - besides all her other miserable qualities. She caused more to die than should have - both friend and foe... and her machinactions have weakened the future Steward.



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