North – Denethor POV – 2 of 2
In which Denethor reflects on the concept and reality of north, and comes to a decision.
Thorongil makes a promise he really should not have made. Denethor takes oaths seriously.
The boys are starting to find some common cause that is not so oppositional. It’s mostly Thorongil doing the conceding, which is probably something he should have been doing more of earlier on. In my mind, the captain is pondering the possibility of not becoming king.
I bounce between debates about theology and economics in this chapter, trying to draw attention to the usual fandom idiocy about both. In some ways, the religious argument reflects arguments in current Real Life events. The idea that punishment or harm is something a “good” power would willfully inflict (the plague as punishment for the wickedness of Umbar) is heresy, and Thorongil, the representative of an uncorrupted view, sharply rebukes Ecthelion for claiming such. Denethor offers a more subtle, and more phenomenologically accurate, account – if there is evil about, the good can punish by simply refusing to protect. Thorongil really doesn’t have an answer to that, because it isn’t, at base, an argument about good and evil, but about exercise of power.
With the economics, I’m just tossing some cold water on stupid fangirl arguments that divine kingship is enough to justify Thorongil’s ascent, and to condemn anyone who offers any resistance. Kingdoms have to be paid for. People need stable mediums of exchange. Etc. The Stewards have been doing this shit for as long (and in the case of Arnor, longer) than any ruling house, and are far better suited to ordering a kingdom than some scruffy mercenary from the north. It’s one of the reasons Thorongil is taking a step back from the kingship route and offering Denethor more respect. He’s finally really seeing the sausage being made.