Encroachment – Finduilas POV – 3 of 3
In which we see Denethor be a loremaster, a visitor, a creature out of legend, and a friend, while Finduilas wishes she did not see anything.
What good is sitting on top of the most extensive library in the human world if you can’t research historical stuff using original sources? Denethor shows off his chops as an archivist, while opening up a whole can of dynastic worms. That done, it is time for a field trip. As William Faulkner liked to say, the past is not dead. It is not even past. Finduilas finds this out, much to her dismay.
We wrap up with a little Touch o’Romance ™ to keep the plot moving along.
This chapter was really just a big excuse for me to do a bunch of gap-filling. What kind of communications happened between the northern and southern kingdoms? Why didn’t anyone know that an heir of Arvedui lived? Why was knowledge of Imladris lost? What did the Elves do during the battles with Angmar? Etc.
It also lets me talk about the arbitrariness of a male-line descent of divine rulers. I mean, really? These heirs of Isildur, as far as the tale of years is concerned, spent most of their time ripping their own kingdom(s) apart, mucking with each other, and generally failing to be decent stewards. Not that the heirs of Anárion did much better, mind you. In short, the people who actually have done the (arguably) best job of running things are getting kicked out because they lost the ovarian lottery of being born to the right parents.
Divine right is a fucked up and shitty way to run things. Period. Full-stop. LotR is, whether Tolkien intended it that way or not, a case study of why it sucks. It is morally and politically wrong that Aragorn has a greater claim on the throne of Gondor than Denethor.
Back to HotK. We get to see Denethor in both of his best modes in this chapter – scholar and warrior-king – first with the arguments in the archive then in a field trip out to Osgiliath. She sees him for the bad-assed sea-king he really is, as no one else seems able to do. And she totally falls for him. Or perhaps its just the fumes.
Halmir provides another voice, that of the north, looking at Thorongil’s adventure, and it is sternly disapproving. He will be a voice of reality – bitter, sharp and weary – for much of the rest of the story. How do the northern Dúnedain feel about their lord faffing about the south?