Forum: Hands of the King

Discussing: Ch. 64 - Forgive

Ch. 64 - Forgive

Ch. 64 - Forgive

2 of 2 Denethor POV. No warnings.

The shock of Umbar and Thorongil's departure are receding, while civil war has been averted. Denethor has time to reflect. How do you know if you love the right thing?

This is a quieter chapter than the previous few. It answers the question of what is in the last letter Thorongil sent to Denethor. It also puts in place a layer in Denethor's psychological foundation to create the person we meet in LotR. Both Laanga and the mariner have tried to warn him, but Denethor refuses to hear.

Significant scenes with Beregar, Laanga, Aiavale, Imrahil, Halmir and Ecthelion.

Big thanks to Julie, Nath, Roh_wyn, and DL7 for their unflagging beta reading and editing help.




Re: Ch. 64 - Forgive

I'm responding to comments in my forum so as not to hog the home page with long replies.

Fergus & Freyalyn,

Yes, this is the downward slope. There will be some very joyful moments between now and the ned, but the rest of the story is reasonably grim.

Fergus - It is sad when viewed this way. There are so many points at which the story could have been different, yet, would it have been any less sad? That's one of the things I'm playing with in HotK - acts have consequences. Long consequences.

Freyyalyn - All of Denethor's flaws are distortions of his greatest virtues. His integrity becomes harsh judgment, his rationality becomes calculation, his pride becomes arrogance. Yet, his reactions to the events around him are not unreasonable in their context. It's easy to write a cardboard villain, with a hard-heart and a shriveled soul, someone to boo and hiss when he appears on screen. It's harder to create someone who is, on one level, completely reasonable and acting from admirable motives. Denethor shows an amazing amount of restraint in the face of real physical threat to himself and his family.

But it's the small things, things that seem of a piece with earlier acts, yet which are places where a true break could be made. The refusal to accept Ecthelion's apology and plea for forgiveness is in keeping with Denethor's very smart strategy of isolating and disempowering previous enemies who are in a position to harm him. Even so, it simply repeats the pattern of distance and distrust rather than remake his world by doing something truly frightening - forgiving rather than avenging.

As for Thorongil, I'm glad you appreciate what is happening to the character. He's really pretty dull and tedious in LotR except in some rare Strider moments, when a much more interesting character shows up. It's typical in the fandom to have the noble Aragorn doing great deeds as Thorongil while the insanely jealous Denethor plots revenge and hates him through the decades. Aragorn pays no mind to the effect he has had on Denethor and Gondor, taking up rule without even a nod in the direction of the man who held the kingdom together for 40 years. It works, to a certain degree, but it is a thin gruel.

Umbar is the fulcrum of HotK. There is before and there is after. For Thorongil, it is the moment in which he can no longer deceive himself about what he faces and who he must become - but also who he might become if he is not careful. This part of the story is told obliquely. For Denethor, this is when he turns to self-deception, because he can no longer bear what he faces. It's not entirely irrational. How this comes about is the rest of the story.




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