Ch. 68 – Hallowed

Hallowed – Finduilas POV – 1 of 1

In which a snake slithers in, a prisoner is paraded, the Rohirrim show off, an inquiry is launched, a gift is offered, a fate is pondered, a friend is mourned, a queen triumphs, hope trumps certainty, and someone we love dearly is destroyed.

*****

On hallowed ground – a temple, a sacred place, a marriage, a friendship – choices must be made. When there is no right to be chosen over a wrong, how do you decide?

There are many characters doing many things throughout the chapter. It’s going back and forth between the Númenor tale-within-the-tale, and the events of present time. There’s action galore and a lot of stuff being laid for future chapters.

No big notes in the first post because they would all be spoilers.

Anglachel

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4 thoughts on “Ch. 68 – Hallowed”

  1. Aaaah, what a harrowing tale-within-the-tale! You blend the worlds so skillfully, simply and using confusion as a tool. It would be easy to get wrong.

    Of course Sauron would have tried to mess with other people’s lives via rings. Eeeee, more really creepy stuff there.

    I’m glad that Finduilas is still pondering “is it fate or not?” as I have been for many chapters now.

    I love the backstory of that scion found way up on Mindolluin… and while biologically speaking, the seed/fruit thing doesn’t normally work like that (in our world at least), here of course it would. It’s an excruciating choice. But of course she would choose to plant it.

    Ack, I hate the thought of Maiaberiel striking up a friendship with Saruman…

    “With her face so stern, she looked much older than her twenty-four years. The girl had cried herself to sleep that night.” Sounds like another Rohirric princess we know…

    I’m reduced to sound-words here, ha.

  2. Hi Wheelrider,

    I had a lot of fun with the story-inside-the-story-but-now-part-of-the-story aspect of HotK. It was nowhere in my original notes, but just grew out of the telling. That Sauron would use his ring-making talents in Númenor makes sense. He knows that he can prevent the departure of the feä using his rings, and he really doesn’t want to lose Míriel, but I’m not sure he understands or acknowledges that he can’t reverse the Gift of Men.

    The pondering of fate is, in some ways, the major point of HotK. I mean, if Aragorn’s ride with the Army of the Dead was foretold by Malbeth the Seer, then everything the preceded it had to have happened. So, wtf? This is the part of a predestined world (or history) that gets hand-waved away – all the agony and suffering that there must happen in order for the glorious victory to occur. All the structuring of choice that actually removes chance and choice from the lives of ordinary actors. The moralistic pedantry of the believers who drone on about how if you have suffered, it was because you resisted the will of the gods and didn’t trust. As if faith would have kept Saruman’s army from invading Rohan and butchering who knows how many. How about his fellow “wise” calling him on his shit and ousting his traitorous ass from his tower?

    Finduilas reflects on this in her ride to Minas Tirith when she goes to her wedding, and considers that the “gods” are similarly constrained in their actions; they can place choices before the actors, but may not force them to pick one or the other. She wrestles with it in relation to her own choices when she interrogates whether she chose freely or loves truly. Yes, but… There is a point when the structure of the actor’s environment, the stage of human action, has been so constrained and manipulated that the choices have little effect upon the larger outcome.

    The other pernicious theme in here is that to question the structuring of choice almost guarantees that your choices will be constrained further and the outcomes made worse. This is what Denethor does more than any other character, and is why his fate keeps getting darker, grimmer, more tragic. In an upcoming chapter, Brandir has a conversation with Finduilas where he talks about exactly this. Denethor will not merely accept what is handed to him and so his “pride” becomes the excuse upon which is hung the increasingly cruel choices placed before him. What amazes me is how many people have read HotK as a moral tale in criticism of Denethor’s alleged pride, and shake their heads about how blind he was to all the offers of salvation the gods put in front of him, instead of seeing it as a tragic tale of doomed defiance of a fucked up, inhumane divine plan. If Denethor is at fault, well, so to are the mariner, Manwë and Eru. Mithrandir/Gandalf is beyond hideous.

    I probably wouldn’t be quite so hostile to the idea that all this suffering is for our own good and well all be happy and content in the hereafter were it not for the last two decades of religious wars in Real Life. It is just a fucking excuse to brutalize, dominate and murder those weaker than yourself. PERIOD. If the idea of heaven (whatever the details) gives you some solace and lets you stagger on through the charnel house that the religious sadists have made of your life, I can’t deny that, but wouldn’t it be better to have, you know, peace? Rationale rule? Freedom from the terrorism of small minds and bullies?

    As for the planting of the fruit, the whole fruit is always planted in the Arda-verse, so it has to be planted whole here. There is a passage in the Silmarillion that Isildur was healed of his wounds received when he stole a fruit from Nimloth in Armenelos after the fruit was planted and the tree sprouted and sent forth a leaf. It’s from that I take the idea that it is a more powerful healing herb than Athelas.

    Even Saruman knows better than to get involved with Maiaberiel…

    Yeah, stern faces and backbones of steel run in the family for those princesses.

    “I’m reduced to sound-words here, ha.” Heh, so my nefarious scheme is working.

    Anglachel

  3. Dear Anglachel,

    Do you think Arwen and Aragorn will ever realize that Finduilas and Denethor took on this danger to protect the two of them, even if it was inadvertently? I suppose it is part of the final tragedy is that no one seems to remember Denethor as anyone other than the crazy man who tried to burn his son alive, rather than the shadow-sacrifice for the King.

  4. Hi Belovdpoet,

    Well, since the parallel between Arwen and Finduilas exists only in HotK, probably not. Within this universe? Yes, Aragorn definitely will know and he will have told Arwen and possibly Elrond. As to who else would understand, that would be a very small number. Anyone who knew Finduilas well and who is alive at the time of the Ring War (she dies in 2988 and the war is in 3019) would recognize that Arwen is a ringer for Finduilas. Who would actually know or figure out the role Denethor and Finduilas played? Probably only Mithrandir, Laanga, Imrahil and Beregar.

    It is curious to me that, in the Appendices, JRRT writes about how Aragorn and Éomer go out on military campaigns (under the banners of the White Tree and the White Horse) after the kingdom is restored, but the Swans of Dol Amroth are not part of these wars. My conceit is that Imrahil took one look at Arwen, really understood how much the Powers had been jerking Denethor and Finduilas around, packed his bags and went back to Dol Amroth, refusing to have anything to do with the returned king. Thus, Aragon has to rely on Rohan for cavalry.

    Mostly, the erasure of Denethor is JRRT’s own fury at the inept, heartless and ruthless political and military leaders who, in his lifetime, plunged vast swaths of the globe into not one but two pointless wars. I have a lot of sympathy for him on this point, but positing a divinely ordained hero who will rescue us from the slaughter just repeats the folly. It stands in stark contrast to the way the hobbits regained control of the Shire and managed not to raise up their leaders as kings or warlords, though giving them a lot of honor and respect.

    Thanks for reading and for your interesting comments!

    Anglachel

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