Ch. 60 – Time

Time – Finduilas POV – 1 of 1

In which we learn it is not time, but is both too soon and too late.

*****

Also, it is too dry.

When I looked at the various timelines and genealogical chronologies, I realized that Thengel dies in the same year as the attack on Umbar, and I decided to put his death first, leading off the year. As you will see in the next chapter, it has caused things to happen out of order. This mistake will lead to others.

This is the last visit to Edoras in HotK, but far from the last of the politics between the kingdoms. Théoden’s choice after Denethor’s request will have decades of consequences.

The council with Ecthelion at the close of the chapter will also have consequences. Big ones. Bad ones.

I won’t post again for several days, possibly until next weekend, to allow readers to digest the last six posted chapters, from Compromised through Time, which is the immediate build up to the political and personal crisis of Umbar.

Hands of the King falls into four parts:

  • Courtship – This was the original story I planned to write, just their courtship, and it was only supposed to be 12 chapters and @ 75,000 words. Hah! This first section is 24 chapters, from Assumptions through Troth. It spans just over a year and a half, from the early spring of 2974 to Yestarë 2976. 13 chapters are from Finduilas’ perspective, 11 are from Denethor’s.
  • Betrothal – This covers their lives from their betrothal to the consummation of their marriage, 15 chapters, from Plans through Change. The time span is January 2976 though April 2977, and marks three years of them knowing each other. There are 6 chapters from Finduilas’ perspective in this set and 9 from Denethor’s.
  • Marriage to the King – This section, the final chapter of which is this one, looks at how they develop the relationship between themselves and with their hidden king, preparing him to rule. It’s almost three years, from April 2977 through February 2980. It is 20 chapters, starting with Wounds and ending with Time.  The perspectives are split equally between them, with 10 each for Finduilas and Denethor.
  • Marriage to the Steward – This section is the unwinding of everything that has gone before, and is 25 chapters long. Their king will not return and they realize that they must now prepare to face the darkness without him. It covers almost as much time as the previous three sections, 8 years, from early March 2980 through November of 2988. It starts with the chapter Umbar and ends with Demon. 11 of the chapters are from Finduilas’ perspective and 14 are from Denethor’s.

So, yeah, there’s a lot yet to come.

Anglachel

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6 thoughts on “Ch. 60 – Time”

  1. What a great heroine your Finduilas is, one to not only admire but actually emulate… rather than suddenly sprouting sword-wielding skills, she takes an honest look at what needs to be done and what she can do, and does it. And it leads to a great scene — her at the front of a thousands-strong caravan of average citizens.

    Love the peek into the social and political aspects of the Mark as well.

    “The council with Ecthelion at the close of the chapter will also have consequences. Big ones. Bad ones.” Euuurgh, yeah… while it was a definite “you go girl” moment and a fitting end to the march home, that snake has most likely not been defanged, only cornered. I’m afraid to find out what comes of it.

    The Powers are somewhat right about dire consequences, since the attack on Umbar ends up attracting the wrong kind of attention… if Thorongil and Denethor had switched places, that is one thing that would have been avoided.

  2. Hi Wheelrider,

    Thank you! Finduilas is a character that took a long time to develop, from being a smart, love-struck girl, to being a thoughtful, realistic and (appropriately) ruthless political actor. You don’t need a big sword to be a hero, as Bilbo showed, but you do have to be brave and willing to take risks.

    Sometimes, the tide of battle can turn because someone saddled the horses or took a message to get help. This also answers, obliquely, a story writing challenge on HASA many years ago on whether Éowyn was a hero for going to battle and killing the Witch-king, or a deserter for abandoning the charge laid upon her by Théoden to lead the Rohirrim after the war band left. The answer is, yes, both, but fate had chosen her path for her. She had to bring Merry so they could kill the WK. Here, Finduilas defies Denethor’s implicit order to get out of danger and stay out. Her fate is to be a leader, someone in whom her people have faith and trust. It’s akin to Merry and Pippin refusing to return to the Shire after they get to Rivendell, and Gandalf (rather ruthlessly) encouraging them to join the Fellowship so that he has a few extra hobbits to act as bait and draw attention away from Frodo and Sam.

    We’ll get more view of what’s happening in Rohan in several upcoming chapters. It ain’t pretty, either, and Théoden has some hard lessons to learn about rule.

    Yes, be afraid. While Thorongil’s departure ripped the rug out from under Denethor, the battle with Beruthiel will be even worse. Funny side note. I once had someone lecture me because her name is made up of two different linguistic elements (one Quenya, one Sindarin) and so they couldn’t take the story seriously because I had made that mistake. Like people don’t give their kids made-up names all the time. Sheesh.

    There’s a fun AU – what if Denethor had led the fleet instead of Thorongil? I wrote a few notes on that in a comment under the “Steal” post. I’ve tried playing it out in my head any number of ways – Denethor comes back victorious, Denethor come back defeated, Denethor is victorious but killed, Denethor simply vanishes after the battle (Hi, mariner!), Denethor comes back shattered by the desecration of Umbar, etc.

    Unless he comes back victorious, civil war breaks out (always over Thorongil’s protestations and attempts to stop it), and Thorongil is now in the situation of choosing to become king and try to stop the King’s Men, stay but refuse the crown and try to protect Finduilas and Boromir, or high-tail it for home and hope that his absence will remove the figurehead Beruthiel needs to complete her plan (which is much bigger than you yet know). If Denethor returns as the victor of Umbar, he is now a prime assassination target, plus the captain will be fighting his own major battle in Ithilien. The only hope in this situation is that Thorongil asks to leave once the campaign is done, whether by permission of the Steward or of Denethor, and leaves Denethor the uncontested ruler. If Thorongil leaves without an Umbar victory, he probably will go home the usual way instead of through Lórien, and he will think he has nothing to offer for Arwen – still not king.

    I also have the AU that Thorongil does not depart in Pelargir, but gets a letter from Denethor demanding that he go at once to the Harlond because of something critical only Denethor knows (Sauron using the palantír) and so they talk. Well, they yell. Anyway, they both understand Thorongil has to get the hell out of Dodge, and they agree that the captain will simply vanish in the Ithilien battles.

    You see how plot bunnies breed with abandon in my stories. That’s why they are so freaking long…

    Anglachel

  3. I’m glad, though, that Denethor didn’t have to go through using the Fire again… plus, he’s right, these kinds of heavy decisions (sometimes with no good outcome) constitute true rule, and Captain Skulking Eagle better get used to it. I’ve often thought that the battles after the War of the Ring would be more awful, in a way, since they’ll be dealing with — and killing — regular mortal Men (who’d rather be having second breakfast), not evil creatures (who are being done a favor by being done in).

    “…and so they talk. Well, they yell.” Ha! That would be an interesting one.
    Yes, so many delicious possibilities…

    Oh good grief — on the name thing.

    I remember seeing some of those stories from the HASA challenge long after (when I got into the fandom rather late to the party), and the question of “Éowyn: hero or deserter?” really irked me, and still does. Too many of the answers stink of female misogyny to me. Like you say, there are plenty of other examples in the book of people not following orders and ending up tilting things for the better — my favorite one to point out in this instance is Faramir letting the hobbits go. *ahem* “My life is forfeit” etc. I guess because he gets told off for it by big bad dad Denethor he gets sympathy from the same people that give her none. (I’ve always gotten the impression that Éowyn didn’t just take off, she left someone else in charge once everything was settled, i.e. once the hard part was done, and that at least a large chunk of the eored knew she was with them, and thus approved. Maybe that’s just me. But still, I agree with you — essentially she’s both.) Beregond is an even more striking example.

  4. Yes, reactions to Éowyn, from JRRT on down, are usually well-dipped in misogyny.

    Here you go:

    Thorongil slumped down in his chair in the ship’s cabin, face lined and weary, glaring at him. Denethor had to work at keeping his face calm and tone mild. ‘You need to return to the City, with Brandir and Imrahil, and rest, Captain.’ The man scowled more and shook his head. ‘The attacks from Morgul and the Morannon are no different than what we knew would be,’ *and the last place you should be is among them, within the Enemy’s grasp*, ‘and Halmir and Anbar are handling them perfectly well.’

    ‘And I’m back, so I need to go to my command and make sure our plans are executed…’

    ‘…properly, yes. You need not be the one…’

    ‘The senior captain should be in Osgiliath!’ Thorongil snapped, ‘and you are needed in the City more than…’

    ‘*I* am the senior captain, Thorongil, and I will see to Osgiliath. You will report to the Steward…’

    ‘Is there *no* stupid thing you will not do, Denethor?’ the captain snarled as he lunged to his feet. For a long moment, they glared at each other, then Thorongil slowly sat. No one else in the small cabin moved, frozen in place by the captain’s fury.

    ‘If the rest of you would please step outside, I need a private word with the captain.’

  5. Yay! They can argue better than just about any pair, except for Denethor and Finduilas, of course.

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