Forum: Hands of the King

Discussing: Ch. 49 - Contest

Ch. 49 - Contest

Ch. 49 - Contest

After a long hiatus, I am back to writing.

First of three Finduilas POV chapters.

Warnings: One expliit erotic scene. Grief/sorrow, discussion of menstruation, allusions to incest, discussion of prostitution. Probably not work safe.

Finduilas deals with the physical and psychological effects of a miscarriage as she is also battling to wrest control of informal politics from Maiaberiel.

Multiple scenes with Denethor. Extended scenes with Thorongil, Maiaberiel and Master Laanga.

Toodles - Ang 

 

 

Re: Ch. 49 - Contest

I have great trouble with the concept of an Aragorn who is so terribly naive and black-and-white with regard to brothels. Especially considering that is already 47 and had lived among the Rohirrim (who I have always seen as a bit more relaxed) for some years before coming to Gondor. I already said in an earlier comment that I can't quite believe that he would be so naive socially and politically. But this is more general, presuming a grave, foolish, even dangerous lack of knowledge about Men in the first place. How not to (pre)judge them. To be capable of mercy and forgiveness, as Finduilas says. To understand the grey shades of life etc.

'He is a whoreson. Is he a wicked thing, the child of evil acts?' Thorongil dropped his eyes, thinking, then nodded once. 'You do not pity my Borthand? His father will not give him a name and his mother may not keep him. Get rid of whorehouses and still you will have children like my pup.'

'It is enough that such places are evil.'


Does he really need Finduilas to see and learn these things? And, especially, to see them as a lack/fault in himself?

I love and am totally fascinated by Master Laanga. I hope he will be around a bit longer. Briefly, I even had the thought he might be one of the Istari. But I don't think he is, truly. Is he?
It seems he has a connection to growing things as well as to stone - did I interpret it correctly that he somehow felt Denethor's worry when he couldn't find Finduilas?
I think that, in any case, he is a benign character to set against the mariner, who makes the characters (and me) uneasy and slightly suspicious.

Imhiriel

 

 

Re: Ch. 49 - Contest

Imhiriel,

I have great trouble with the concept of an Aragorn who is so terribly naive and black-and-white with regard to brothels. 

Well, that's probably because you don't seem to understand what is going on in the scene and in the story.

Thorongil is not naive. He is a moral absolutist. There is nothing ignorant about this demand to stop prostitution. He firmly believes that is is evil. His relentless opposition to it is meant to demonstrate the degree to which his ethical/religious/moral world-view is grounded in his elvish upbringing.  If you take LACE seriously, not just as some fuddy-duddy bit of Edwardianism on the part of JRRT, a nuisance to write around, but take it utterly seriously, then Thorongil's stance is the only ethical one in the story. Indiscriminant sex, particularly for money, is evil, abhorrent, and does damage to the souls of those who engage in it. That such behavior is not fatal to humans in the way it is to Elves does not mean it is OK by Eru. It just means that the effects are not as immediate and may be even more insidious. It is one of the ways in which Men become fallen. The fact that there is prostitution in Minas Tirith is a Big Symbol By The Author™ that the shadow has darkened the hearts of the people living there, even characters like Denethor and Finduilas. They dislike it, but cannot quite give up exploiting it for their own interests. Thorongil has his own errors of judgment, though they are in the opposite direction. Even so, what he wants done is in greater accord with the design of Eru than what Denethor is willing to allow or what Ecthelion has indulged in.

Also, I take exception to the way you say I am portraying Thorongil. I am showing him through Denethor and Finduilas's eyes. They began the story seeing him one way. Their perceptions of him have changed and will continue to change, for better and worse, as the story continues. Thorongil himself is changing as he allows himself to become close to these people, learning to trust, understanding how what he does affects others, and beginning to see himself as something other than a monarch out to reclaim his throne. He is subject to doubt and he doesn't always handle it well, any more than Denethor does. He is being transformed by love and that is not an unequivocally good thing.

There is in this scene the fact that he knows he has been unfaithful to Arwen in some way because of his attraction to Finduilas, or so (in his confused philosophy) he considers it. There is an internal struggle going on and it is not simply to be resolved by saying "I luv da Elf-chick." But is he unfaithful if the one he loves doesn't love him back? Is he right to love Arwen? Is it destroying the Lost, as Halmir has no doubt told him? What the hell is he doing here, bringing danger down upon these two poeple he loves so much? This one issue seems so clear to him - whoring is bad. Get rid of it. Do something that appears to be an unequivocal good. And then Finduilas smacks him down, confusing him further. To see this scene just as Thorongil talking about prostitution misses what it says about the entire situation of him in Gondor in the first place. It overlooks the ways in which seemingly simple or "naive" stances are windows into far more complex motivations.
 

I love and am totally fascinated by Master Laanga. I hope he will be around a bit longer. Briefly, I even had the thought he might be one of the Istari. But I don't think he is, truly. Is he? It seems he has a connection to growing things as well as to stone - did I interpret it correctly that he somehow felt Denethor's worry when he couldn't find Finduilas? I think that, in any case, he is a benign character to set against the mariner, who makes the characters (and me) uneasy and slightly suspicious.

Laanga will continue to appear. I'm not saying who or what he truly is, or even if he is more than he appears, but will let readers puzzle that out. He is deeply connected to growing things and so found the Crone. What he listens to will become more clear in the next few chapters. There are no benign characters in HotK, not even Brandir. Everyone has an interest and all of them are pursuing a goal. There are also no unsympathetic characters, at least among the major ones, though it may be difficult to find any empathy for a few of them.

Sorry you don't seem to "get"  what I'm doing with the story. If how I portray Thorongil bugs you, you should probably stop reading. He does not end up being a hero or even behaving in unequivocally commendable ways. He is treated as a fallible being in a tremendously complex socio-political situation where the gods are taking sides and there is validity (and falsehood) to the arguments of all the protagonists.

Ang 

 

 

Re: Ch. 49 - Contest

Well, that's probably because you don't seem to understand what is going on in the scene and in the story.

I see that Thorongil is prejudiced, and lacking in discernment and compassion.

Thorongil is not naive. He is a moral absolutist. There is nothing ignorant about this demand to stop prostitution.

I respect his goals. But he seems to see only the end-result, without looking towards the victims left and right that already exist and might be added by his absolute measures. For someone who aspires to be a Renewer and Healer, he lacks in compassion towards fallible human beings, especially innocent ones who had nothing to do with the situation they're in.

Also, I take exception to the way you say I am portraying Thorongil. I am showing him through Denethor and Finduilas's eyes.

I'm sorry if you're offended by my comments. But if what you seek is to portray him through the somewhat distorting lens of another's perception, the questions I have raised still exist: because of his own words and actions which the readers sees directly, without an intervening filter. He did let himself get manipulated by Maiaberiel and the Steward, without realising the damage that did, and he did condemn the bastards out of hand.

Sorry you don't seem to "get" what I'm doing with the story. If how I portray Thorongil bugs you, you should probably stop reading.

Yes, I have doubts about his portrayal, but there are enough aspects that still intrigue me about the story, so I will probably continue reading. But I shall cease commenting in future, if this is your manner of response to any criticism.

Imhiriel

 

 

Re: Ch. 49 - Contest

Imhiriel,

What story are you reading?  I simply do not recognize in your complaints the character I have been reading for over a year. I think Thorongil in HotK is one of the best you will find in the fandom.

The Thorongil I have been reading is a humane, loving, decent, thoughtful man. He is also startlingly blind to certain things, as are many other characters in the story. It is a good presentation, playing on readers' knowedge of the backstory, but never simply regugitating it, always adding things to make attentive readers go "hmm". I am on the edge of my seat, waiting to see how much of his secret Finduila will uncover, what she will say to him, what Denethor will puzzle out, if Thorongil will trust them, and so forth. I find this Thorongil much more believable than the typical fandom fare, where he marches out of Rivendell at 20 the same person we meet in the Prancing Pony at almost 90. I know Ang has explained in past posts why he seems so blind to certain social and political situations, yet very sharp about others. I have always found her explanations reasonable and consistent with the story. I enjoy watching him become the person we will encounter in LotR.

This scene that you object to so much, for example, actually shows us the moment in which a self-righteous and internally conflicted Throngil has to confront unexamined prejudices. You know, it is possible to be a decent person and live a long time, yet carry around some really stupid beliefs. I'm living proof of that (or so my kid tells me). Why should it be inconceivable that Thorongil hasn't really thought out the full implications of his opinions? For me, the moment when Finduilas asks him about Borthand, and he nods, but has lost all of his eloquence and is obviously thinking, is perfect. He knows he's wrong now that he must think in concrete not abstract ways. In a month, two months, the man will answer differently. He'll be no less opposed to prostitution (And, as an aside, I agree with Thorongil 100% on that issue and am pained by Finduilas's political calculation) but he will have a different answer about Borthand. As a reader, I don't need to have that made explicit. Just the hesitation, then the nod, conveys volumes.

In short, Imhiriel, your criticisms aren't valid. You have set up a strawman.

Regards,
Fergus

 

 

Re: Ch. 49 - Contest

Come on you guys, lighten up. All polite comments are valid. As far as I am concerned, you can write Aragorn as a blood-sucking vampire if you wish. But the fact remains, the onus is on the author to persuade the reader that a characterization rings true. Arguing that it is convincing outside of the story with such acrimony doesn't accomplish that.

Oshun

 

 

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