Ch. 3 – Burial

Burial – Denethor POV – 1 of 2

In which Denethor contemplates beauty, reflects on sacrifice, prepares for boredom, and argues with a bird.


So, a question to be answered in HotK is just how did Denethor become the person he is? Too often the starting point for characterizations of him is A) Thorongil/Aragorn is the good guy, B) Denethor doesn’t like the hero, therefore C) he must be eeeviiillll (or at least an awful person). There’s not a lot of thought given to what his own upbringing might have been, who he interacts with on a daily basis, who his relatives are and how they affect him, and so forth. This chapter and the next one are attempts to give Denethor a background as rich and complex as what Thorongil can claim. Chief among these will be his siblings and his parents. We’ve already met Aiavalë and had a glimpse of Emeldir. Now is time for Denethor to interact with Maiaberiel and Ecthelion. Continue reading Ch. 3 – Burial

Ch. 2 – Water

Water – Finduilas POV

In which a family trait is considered, a monster is revealed, and someone changes his mind.


One of the challenges of writing HotK was creating a female protagonist who could stand up to the towering personality of Denethor. Given that the character dies young and, according to Tolkien, wastes away pining for her childhood home, horrified by the shadow in the east, this was not a simple task. Fandom tropes have her being a doormat, an abused spouse, a sickly angel of the house, a weak and fragile creature.

Bah, humbug.

I set out to create a heroine in the mode of other powerful women in Tolkien’s writings, like Galadriel, Éowyn, and (yes) Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. I also started adding in the women who Denethor would have been interacting with as a regular occurrence – his two elder sisters, his mother, and what will be a growing panoply of no-nonsense dames.

Finduilas has a special talent, dreaming things that are true, which will be a source of strength and grief as the story goes on. I take as a hook the emblem of her house, the Swan, to tie her and her kin to the legacy of Tuor and his special relationship with one the Powers. It is not a gift. This is, after all, a tragedy.


Ch. 1 – Assumptions

Assumptions – Denethor POV

The start of an epic. The quotes that open the tale will be echoed at the very end. The Book of Job, Leviathan, Moby Dick and Othello; all are favorites of mine and each has something to say about the characters we are about to encounter.

The first is the challenge of the Powers, demanding to know why some mortal dares to question the way things are. With Hobbes, he points out that it is power (the sword) that makes men keep their covenants, and that it is power that secures peace. Melville begs us to look upon the twisted Ahab and try to see the man beneath the fury, one who has won the love of a young woman. Finally, Desdemona tries to explain why she would bind herself to this strange, fearsome man – she sees not the face, but the imagination behind it, and gives herself wholly to it.

Answering and exploring these four passages will take about 85 chapters.

In this chapter, we meet Denethor and Finduilas as they meet each other, along with a host of secondary characters, in particular Thorongil, Adrahil, Luinil, Aiavalë and Maiaberiel.


Hands of the King

This post is for general comments about the story.

Hands of the King took me seven years to write. I didn’t mean to write that much.

Originally, it was an eight to ten chapter story on how Denethor and Finduilas fell in love, and was supposed to end with their betrothal. Then it took on a life of its own, with the characters demanding to be written and not always as I had intended.

I hadn’t touched it or re-read it in a long time until I rebuilt Rómenna, so it’s a bit of an amazing re-discovery. I had forgotten a lot of the details, particularly in these early chapters.

My goal when I set out with the story was to offer, if you will, a secular humanist take on Denethor, one that refuses to demonize him, but who treats him as a tragic character who would not accept the fate set for him. He dared to challenge the divine.

With the current state of religious fanaticism in the world, I grow increasingly revolted by the pietists who promote a vision of their deity that excuses the various acts of inhumanity they choose to perform and/or allow. I read LotR and am entranced by the world building and horrified at the philosophy. HotK is a rebuttal of that treatment of the world and the mortals who inhabit it.


A Place for Comments

Since I’m not allowing comments on Rómenna, I’m going to use this WordPress site as the place for them.

I won’t post all of my stories on A03 because the site doesn’t work well and allows people to publish my works into PDF with a single click. Nice for readers but bad for authors. You want my whole story? Click through each page so I at least know you’ve been there.

I’ll keep comments open for now and see how problematic they get.