Ch. 24 – Troth

Troth – Finduilas POV – 4 of 4

In which Finduilas’s choice becomes known to all and various vows are declared.

*****

The girl does know how to set things off.

Some notes added after the cut. Also, fair warning, I may not post another chapter for a few days due to Real Life.

This chapter caused some serious consternation when it was originally published because of Thorongil. The chief concern was that he is simply not the person we know from LotR, or even from the appendices. He comes across as immature and mean-spirited in his confrontation with Finduilas.

That’s intentional. He isn’t and can’t be the person we’ll meet in 40 years. The picture I present of him is not nearly as kind or sympathetic to him as most fanfic, but (as he politely requested), I’m willing to hear him out. This chapter marks a decision point for him as well as for Finduilas and Denethor. A path has been closed to him, one he thought was his destiny. What’s he going to do about it? That means thinking about what he was before, and what he can now become.

For 20 years, the Elves weren’t teaching him anything directly, but kept him in 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.

Now, he is in the thick of the most political, urbane, and sophisticated human society left in Middle-earth, or at least in his corner of the globe. He’s just had his ass handed to him by a woman half his age making him face up to the damage he has inflicted because of his cluelessness. He can no longer pretend to be innocent of the world and of his own choices.

He can:

  • Retreat north – but that means abandoning any hope of claiming Gondor, plus he will break some pretty serious oaths
  • Respond antagonistically – that’s his gut reaction, and one that many lesser men would follow. You take my girl away? Fine, see if I help you. That way lies civil war.
  • Reflect on what he’s seen and heard, and understand that there’s more to know if he would be king, and that his seeming rival may have his own destiny to follow.

But what about Arwen? Doesn’t he know he’s betraying that love when he pursues Finduilas. Not really. 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.

Anglachel

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4 thoughts on “Ch. 24 – Troth”

  1. And just when I thought I could tear my brain away, there’s another chapter! Thanks for that.

    “You show less regard to him than to me.” Wow, Thorongil is really seeing what he wants to see, eh? He and almost everyone else. It makes me nervous that she’s lying to him about her love, though. Doesn’t seem like a good idea, machinations aside.

    Also, in this chapter and the last, I appreciate your thoughtful (and correct!) usage of the second person familiar. So often it’s jarring in the wrong hands. I haven’t really attempted much of it myself… scared of doing it wrong… but here’s a good example.

  2. This is the last chapter for a few days, so you’ll have time to catch up.

    Thorongil is as blind as everyone else. Only Luinil suspected who Finduilas loved. Aiavalë had a clue, too. The rest saw what they wanted to see – including Denethor himself. Yes, the lie about love is troubling, but it will serve it’s purpose for now. The plot needs to thicken on that point.

    The second person familiar was a bit of a gamble as a mode of speaking, but it conveys the weird blend of intimacy and formality they had to reach for to make clear the seriousness of what they said. It could not be ordinary speech, could not be confused with anything mundane. Speech out of legend for a choice demanded by fate.

    Anglachel

  3. Hey thanks for the expanded comments, and for listening to relatively young Thorongil. I admit to being skeptical of how he was presented at first, but I figured this was a young and relatively untested Estel/Aragorn/Thorongil; it does make sense, as you say, that his Elven education would be focused on the long game, and that Elrond would expect him to pick up what else he’d need to know by learning on the job.

    I thought Thorongil was possibly also skewed a bit by biased narrators. Yet you had Finduilas and Denethor each give him a chance — especially Denethor, which is a nice touch and makes a lot of sense to me, them being so similar. (Note to Finduilas, now that hindsight is 20/20… befriending some guy who has a crush on you never works.)

    Thorongil’s reaction is harsh but consistent with his state of mind; he’s clearly still blinded, at least until he has time to further reflect on his talk with Finduilas. (Though I do admit to hoping that once his eyes are opened, he realizes that there’s more to F+D than political concerns.)

    It’s great how much trust there is between Finduilas and Denethor already at this point. A benefit of having a solid base as friends.

  4. Finduilas was right to befriend Thorongil, though it will take a while for that to unfold. They needed to have this air-clearing and a reset on their relationship. The bucket of cold water might have been unpleasant, but it will have a salutary effect on Captain Skulking Eagle.

    As for what he ends up seeing, keep reading.

    Anglachel

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