Ch. 26 – Kinship

Kinship – Denethor POV – 2 of 6

In which Denethor deals with his relatives and their mutual love of Finduilas as he embarks on a great journey that will change him forever.


Denethor interacts with his biological and emotional families, with varying degrees of success. There is a little more information about his time in Umbar. See if you can find the reference to Emerson, and to a famous work of art.

This chapter, frankly, is mostly an infodump, though I could not resist a certain line. When you read it, you’ll know which one I mean.

The previous chapter was mostly dealing with his legitimate family, while this one deals with the side of the clan that can’t be acknowledged, yet is just as important to Denethor as the first set. His affection and respect for Marach and Ragnor is just as real as what he bore for his now deceased uncle Belemir.

I also delve into Thorongil’s political problems, though obliquely, through what Denethor can glean from the reports of others. Thorongil has learned a few lessons, and has ended up holding onto things he did not want or expect, and does not have what he thought he most wanted. Even so, he’s not really in a position to protest any of it. His last conversation with Finduilas has ripped off any rosy view he may have held about the prospects of him rising and reclaiming the throne. He knows, now, that he is not so much a rival to Denethor as the greatest danger to the High Warden – and thus to the stability and resilience of the kingdom. We’re going to see a somewhat different attitude from Thorongil from now on.



4 thoughts on “Ch. 26 – Kinship”

  1. Ooh, a challenge! I have quickly raced on to read the other chapters but had to come back here to play.

    Well, the only thing Lark is missing is an earring… 😉 I thought it was a bit odd that you described her attire with that much detail, but chalked it up to establishing that she was adapting the style of the area.

    Emerson… I confess I’m not up on him and couldn’t spot the reference. No points there.

    Two lines might be THAT line:
    ‘And to dissuade you from borrowing things that never manage to be returned’ Ouch.

    ‘You aren’t our Yusil. You are Denethor, High Warden, and may not always follow your heart. Or even good sense.’ Ain’t that the truth.

    But I suspect it’s actually something from the Silm or other that I’m not seeing…

    But anyway — infodump, hooray. Chapters like these can quickly get tedious in the wrong hands, but I enjoy reading about the minutiae of these characters’ lives and welcome more.

  2. Hi Wheelrider,

    Heh, well, if I had included that earring, it would have made it a bit too obvious, yes? 😉

    The Emerson quote is obscure. When Denethor walks through the gates of Pelargir:

    The walk through the streets to the garrison was different this time. Denethor paused as they passed the gate in the Haven Wall and touched the black stone. It felt – familiar. Suddenly, he knew the city the same way he knew Minas Tirith or Osgiliath. He recalled his eagle’s view of Pelargir when he had first sought Finduilas in the palantír, and understood the deep order that lay in the stone of the city. Just as he had always known where the streets of Osgiliath ran – without seeing a map or even seeing the streets long-drowned – he now knew with certainty the ways of Pelargir as they once had been. For a moment, he wished to drop his pack and simply move about this known yet unapproachable place and try to touch all that had been and would not be again

    Emerson wrote, in “Experience”

    I do not make it; I arrive there, and behold what was there already. I make! O no! I clap my hands in infantine joy and amazement, before the first opening to me of this august magnificence, old with the love and homage of innumerable ages, young with the life of life, the sunbright Mecca of the desert. And what a future it opens! I feel a new heart beating with the love of the new beauty. I am ready to die out of nature, and be born again into this new yet unapproachable America I have found in the West.

    No, *that* line is “All you lack are the cats.” Queen Beruthiel was sent into exile on a ship with her cats who spied on others at her bidding, and Maiaberiel’s nickname is “Beruthiel” after the Queen. I like that she is truly amused by the jibe.

    The other two are snort worthy, to be sure.

    I love writing up the backstory (if I didn’t love backstory, would I be this big of a JRRT geek?) so I’m glad that it comes across well and not just some big infodump.

    I’m preparing the next set of chapters, which are all from Finduilas’ POV, and will cover the actual wedding and the first few months of their married life.


  3. Ah, the cats… also a great line. (Somehow I figured that was too obvious.) I enjoy — in a squirmy sort of way — Denethor and Beruthiel going after each other.

    Also, one thing I forgot to mention — I very much appreciate your treatment of prostitution, and the various characters’ believable and nuanced takes on it. It’s pretty rare to read something that deals with it both frankly and with subtlety. (My personal headcanon is that whores would have been de facto PTSD counsellors, among other things, so it’s nice to see a similar thing here.)

  4. Heh, yes, the cats. Once I knew that Denethor was making an ocean voyage, well, I had to get Maiaberiel onboard, too.

    It is a squirmy kind of relationship. There’s an implication in the story that if Finduilas had not appeared on the scene, capturing Denethor’s libidinal interest, something might have started between the siblings. Maiaberiel & Denethor have always harassed and insulted each other, but I don’t think she really considered him fair game until he taunted her about having a mistress who was a stand-in for her (Ch. 13 – Relations). Looking back on that exchange, I think poor Denethor may have revealed a little too much of his unconscious. Tall, beautiful, forward women are attractive to him, plus there is the pleasure of dominating a rival, and well, ick.

    Maiaberiel, once she got past the initial outrage at the crack over sleeping with Ecthelion, has been thinking carefully, and has decided she rather likes the idea. After all, she likes tall, handsome men, and humiliating her little brother has always been one of her favorite things to do. It was clear that she was trying to seduce him when she threatened to bring him down (CH. 18 – Threat). Denethor’s own reactions to her have been equivocal; mean-spirited but also (in a weird way) flirtatious. It’s definitely a high ick-factor situation.

    There will be a lot more about prostitution and its place in Gondorian society as the story goes forward. Madam Morwen refuses to be pushed out of the tale. Yes, they are very much the people who see and tend the ordinary wounded soldiers – mental as well as physical damage. It’s a little in conflict with the rigid moralism of the Ardaverse, which would see pre-marital sex with multiple partners as a path to depravity and evil, but there is also the deep strand that sex in a universe free of the concept of original sin is an inherently good thing, without taint. This is the effect Galdor the surgeon sees, and why he’s pissed at Thorongil’s puritanical approach. Denethor is more subtle, identifying infidelity as what causes corruption in what is otherwise a good thing.

    Thanks for the comments!


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