Ch. 17 – Encroachment

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?



3 thoughts on “Ch. 17 – Encroachment”

  1. Hi! So this post kind of answers one of my questions… I was surprised at the attitude of the other Lost towards Thorongil. (I would guess that in your story, as it seems to in the canon stuff, their attitude changes over time… or at least later survivors aren’t quite so disapproving.) But yeah, it makes sense — going off on side-quests instead of taking care of things at home is cause for disapproval. But why then do others venture south and serve as mercenaries? Are they sternly disapproving simply because Aragorn the Heir could get himself killed?

    Another one of my questions is sort of answered here (and in the chapter) but maybe you can elaborate… I’m not sure where the ill will of the Elves toward the southern Dúnedain comes from. Is it because they didn’t think Eärnil had a legitimate claim to the throne, being only a “victorious general” with distant descent from a past king? (And is this related to the the current-to-the-story seeming ill will, or suspicion, of the Lost toward Elves, or the idea of them?) Somewhat related — was Eärnur lying when he said Arvedui’s sons perished, or was Círdan trying to hide the heir for fear of strife? And why DID knowledge of Imladris become lost? — obviously Elrond didn’t want it to be on every common map, but I was always surprised that nobody in Gondor knew (or there wasn’t some little-seen scroll in the secret part of the archive that Denethor would at least show to his son before sending him off)…

    I don’t mind if you don’t want to answer this last cascade of questions — the historical murkiness adds realism, and draws this reader in, just like in the original.

  2. Hi Wheelrider,

    A lot of your questions are going to get answered as the story continues, but the biggest problem is that Thorongil is in Gondor at all, plus why he has gone racing off like he did. He has pissed off a lot of his elders, and he is scaring them shitless at the same time, because his actions are endangering everyone, not least of all himself. Be patient and learn about this disapproval as Denethor and Finduilas do.

    As for the Elven ill-will, well, Eärnur was kind of a rude son-of-a-bitch to them, so they aren’t cutting him any slack. I think it’s less ill-will, however, than it is wariness of what the future holds. The Elves’ first impulse is to quietly vanish into the woodwork. Elrond and the others of the Wise have a sense that it’s time to lie low and wait for events to shake themselves out. If Sauron thinks all the northern heirs are dead, he won’t be poking his nose into things. They couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Gondor.

    As for what Denethor does and doesn’t know about the north, heh, you’ll have to keep reading.

    Thank you for commenting!


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