7. Author's Notes
I've been told that people have questions and I should add these notes to clarify things.
How old is Estel here?
The 'eleventh year', of course, is between the 10th and 11th birthdays. Estel thinks he's ten, but he's really eleven. If the 'in my eleventh year' comment misled you to the conclusion that he is the age he really is and not the age he thinks he is, well, I hoped it would. For the reasons why this is the case in Gwynnyd!verse, see the arguments in Not Without Hope. They are really too complicated to get into here and not necessary for this story.
Why does Estel never get lembas?
In the essay "On Lembas" in HoMe 12, The Peoples of Middle Earth, Tolkein says:
"The Eldar did not give it (lembas) to Men, save only to a few whom they loved, if they were in great need.*
(* This was not done out of greed or jealousy, although at no time in Middle-earth was there great store of this food; but because the Eldar had been commanded to keep this gift in their own power, and not to make it common to the dwellers in mortal lands. For it is said that, if mortals eat often of this bread, they become weary of their mortality, desiring to abide among the Elves, and longing for the fields of Aman, to which they cannot come.)"
If this is true, it seems to me that they would be rather careful to keep Estel away from lembas, and also that Estel probably managed to filch some anyway once in awhile. Lure of the forbidden and all that.
How old are the elf kids?
The boys he wants to hang around with appear to be only slightly older than Estel. Tolkien says elves reach maturity around age fifty. Taking that as equivalent to age twenty-one for a man gives us… 12/21 as x/50 = 28.5. Imros and Edracar are between 25 and 30 years old. They've had fifteen to twenty years more experience. The younger elves he's outgrown appear to be no older than seven, making them between ten and seventeen years old.
Does that trick with the hand really work to measure distance?
It's supposed to! I first heard of it as something Julius Caesar used to estimate the width of a river he wanted to bridge. As far as I can tell, the math works. I have not actually gone out and tried it. I'm a city girl.
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