Ch. 81 – King

King – Denethor POV – 1 of 2

In which Denethor attends a festival, digs holes, begs forgiveness, confronts a mystery, receives a gift, discharges a debt, searches for things lost, and learns more than he really wanted to know.


Denethor completes his first year of rule, and is angry that everyone still longs for Thorongil.  Especially himself.

This chapter takes place from June 2985 through December 2985.  There are only three more years left for him and Finduilas.

I take a little time to have him reflect on his children, countering the fandom obsession with having him be a cold, hateful, uncaring parent.

Denethor has a chat with Laanga and the painfully obvious finally hits him smack in the face. Several smacks, come to think of it. His helplessness in the face of Doom will only become more stark.

The mariner tries to help, but his stubborn mortal just won’t relent.

Four more chapters after this one.


3 thoughts on “Ch. 81 – King”

  1. Ack! Too soon, too soon for another chapter!

    Soooo…. what lie, or rather which part of it, makes Denethor so hurt and angry, exactly? Fostered by Elves rather than totally alone, OK, no big. That Thorongil was in love with Finduilas? Not actually a lie, and I would think Denethor could tell that. Also — did the mariner not want him to see Arwen because it was some devastating sign of betrayal or because Denethor might accidentally reveal this couple’s existence to Sauron? (Which, by the way — I’m surprised he’d look for Thorongil more than once…) (sorry if I’m being dense)

    It’s interesting that Finduilas feels somewhat aloof from her kids, though jealous at times when they go to someone else for comfort, while Denethor is steady and generous in his love. Basically the opposite of fanon! While I have no objection to the way Finduilas feels, I wonder — is this another symptom of heart-hole or messy fate or true dreams, or just the natural way of things?

    It was about time for the Palantir to come into play again. I do agree with Denethor — he needs it, now. (Though he should not have slapped his wife.) What a great way to bring the key back.

    Kinda with Finduilas on the Maiaberiel thing… obviously evil is bubbling up from her pot. But then again there have been other pots active before.

    “…perhaps grace has been granted.’
    ‘It is not enough.’
    ‘It is what is given, and is sufficient to the moment.’

    Hmmm, I think I know what he means. Interesting!

  2. (from last chapter): All knew, at some point, that they would lose what they loved, but what she knew made the prospect of loss into mockery. Finduilas was glad Denethor knew nothing of the northern Elf.

    OK, so is it that Denethor recognizes, when he sees Arwen, that he and Finduilas are essentially being used as decoys?

  3. Hi Wheelrider,

    It’s not so much that Arwen exists as that Thorongil and Mithrandir knew all along that she did, yet:

    • Did not acknowledge that they knew this to the two other people who were obviously part of this fateful twinning and pairing.
    • Kept up romantic pursuit of Finduilas (Mithrandir tells her to be his friend, Thorongil is clearly wooing her) when they both should have understood that she was for Denethor and Arwen for Thorongil/Estel.
    • Did not interpret the signs of the twinned pairs as a prompt to join forces with Denethor & Finduilas, but continued to hold them at arm’s length. To his credit, Thorongil’s response seems now to be more trying to defend them from the doom that clings to him. Mithrandir flatly treats Denethor as an obstruction to evade and Finduilas as a pawn to be manipulated, just as he will treat Faramir.

    The mariner didn’t want Denethor to see Arwen and understand just how badly he was being jerked around. He needs his obstreperous mortal for certain tasks, and this will complicate matters. No, he never worries that Denethor will betray the King. Denethor is incapable of doing so. He loves his king, even when he really doesn’t want to. In this, he’s somewhat like Brandir, who wishes he could hate even one of the people who have treated him so badly.

    It’s bigger than just understanding that he and Finduilas are decoys for the true king and queen. He (they) could live with that, could actually find strength in it (our role is to defend Hope, though it will end in our own destruction), if they were made equal partners in it. What they resent and reject is the way in which they are being strung along, being forced to go blindly into this Doom, when they could be taken into the counsel of the other actors in that same story.

    If Thorongil had said to Denethor – there is something bigger than both of us afoot. It can’t be a mistake that we are so alike, and there is also a woman in the north who is as like to Finduilas as I am to you. I don’t know what this means, but it is BIG, and we need to be in accord. I trust my steward. – then Denethor would have been able to claim agency. Even if everything is going to Hell at fast clip, we’re in it together.

    Heh, yeah, the relationship to their children is partially an inversion of fanon. She just isn’t very maternal. Kids aren’t her thing. She does love them and she would fight Sauron himself to the death to defend them, but she doesn’t have any deep bond. Had she lived, I suspect she would have grown closer to them, especially Faramir, as they became their own people and not just noisy, snotty little rug-rats. You’ll get a bit more of her perspective on her feelings for the boys in the chapter after next. She wants to love them more deeply, but she knows better than to pretend feelings she doesn’t have.

    Yes, Denethor had to get the palantír back at some point. From the very start, I knew it was Boromir who would return the key, and he can do so because he is innocent of its implications. It is just an old brass key to him.  Ironically enough, he turns away from the good reasons to hand over the key (the reasons Faramir in his more cerebral relationship to the world and to Denethor would have accepted), and seizes on a reason that is dangerous – pure love. Love is what will move him to try to take the Ring decades later. Yes, sigh, Denethor does what he should not, but there is restraint and balance in it. Finduilas makes him pay in the right way – losing her favor. She also knows that she defied her lord and deserves some punishment.

    Grace – One of the things JRRT said in his letters was that Frodo would always fail to throw the ring into the volcano. There was no way he could be allowed to succeed because it would mean he had done this under his own power. Since he was carrying Evil and was subject to its corruption (as all but Eru/God would be), he could not withstand the temptation to seize it. As long as he had the faith and fortitude to continue walking to Orodruin, Eru would grant him the grace to continue. The moment he faltered in his faith, he would lose the grace, and would be allowed to fail. Once he had almost completed the task, he was deliberately allowed to fall to corruption (grace was lifted) so that he would be humbled and chastised, unable to perform the great deed. Only Eru/God could do this (destroy Evil), and he did so by giving it to Gollum and allowing Gollum to perish for his wickedness. In short, Frodo was set up as an object lesson – you are a worthless worm without me holding you up. Only God can bring good. If you are humble, obedient, and self-sacrificing, you may be allowed to be the vehicle, but never, ever, not once, think that you have done this by your own hook. In the end, you will fail. I guarantee it.

    This is why Denethor dies so horribly, both in LotR and in my universe. The difference is, in HotK, the gods are called to task for pretending that they are doing anything except exercise power and punish mortals for wanting a different story to be told.


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