Forum: The Heart is Highland

Discussing: Welcome to the Highlands!

Welcome to the Highlands!

Hello, all--come and sit by the fire, and take a sup. The weather can be bracing out there, and save you come by sea, getting here can be as good as a battle.

Inspired by Tolkien's use of the English past, I have been moved to try my hand a bit further north. I doubt you will meet any of your loved friends out here in the wilds (although some of those Southrons and the uncanny folk do get 'round and about), but here where the mountains mingle with the sea, all manner of folk find themselves neighbors.

So, enjoy the glow and fragrance of the peat fire, and I hope my tales wile the evening pleasantly away.


The blood is strong, the heart is Highland,
and we in dreams behold the Hebrides.

 

 

Re: Welcome to the Highlands!

I've just read the first chapter of this story, and I love the world you evoke - the sea, the fragrant herbs & the smell of the cooking!

I noticed that you, like the 'Beowulf' poet, use a lot of hyphenated words - kennings, I think they're called? 

 

 

Re: Welcome to the Highlands!

Actually, pv, most of the hypenated words are phrasal adjectives (also called compound modifiers).  "Water-carved rock" is an example.  The hyphen makes it clear that the noun is modified by both words together.  If you said "white winged bird," is that a white bird with wings or a bird with white wings?  A white-winged bird clearly has white wings.

While there's a definite strain of Old English in my writing, it's in the alliteration ("white-crested waves washing high on the shore" sort of thing).  There may be some kennings in there, but if so, they weren't deliberate.  A kenning is a form of poetic word-play, where you refer to something obliquely: calling a bear a "bee-wolf," or the ocean the "swan's road."

I'm glad you like my story, and be sure to keep checking--the next chapter will be up soon.  Are you going to share something you've written with us?

Cheers--

 

 

Re: Welcome to the Highlands!

I understand now!  I don't have anything up on this site yet.

 

 

Questions from the Dûnhebaid Cycle

Hello, Adaneth,

Some minor questions which struck me as I've been reading:

Do the Dwarves share what they trade for, amongst the other members of their community? If so, how does this occur? For example, Vitr and Vitnir bargain with Maelchon to receive part of the harvest in exchange for plowing equipment. Is part of the grain tithed into a communal pot, so to speak, for the support of everyone - especially since the overall welfare of the community impacts an individual's ability to work? It has become part of Vitr and Vitnir's personal wealth, and yet, what else can be done with foodstuffs except to pass them on to the kitchens? How are individual Dwarves compensated for their contributions?

And is it a similar system in Habad-e-Mindon, or how are Maelchon's grain and beasts managed for all while still allowing him the freedom to increase his personal wealth, vs. those who hunt for the cook pot? Is there a limit to how much of his harvest Maelchon is allowed to barter with? How are servants paid such that their loyalty keeps them around? I am uncertain how this works in such a small and fragile community, as opposed to a larger, more prosperous one - with a tithe being given to a lord who offers official protection, and more individuals around to either work for or sell to/barter with.

What does Vingenáro mean? I am guessing "foam-flame"? I'm am not very adept at translations from any language, and forgive me if I've missed it in "Of Like Passion."

I forgot to mention in my review that I really enjoy the apt titles and introductory quotes that you use, and I love author's notes. Thank you for sharing these wonderful stories!

Denise

 

 

Re: Questions from the Dûnhebaid Cycle

Denise, be careful: I need little encouragement to go on about such things for hours and hours.  (As bad as a Dwarf when talking about his works.  Wink )  And here I was, just last week, wondering if anyone would care about the domestic economy of Dwarves.

To give fair warning, and explain my copious author's notes, I am an archaeologist whose graduate work focused on the Late Iron Age and Early Medieval West Highland Coast.  My area of particular interest is political economy, especially maritime trade.

Let me start with the economy of Habad-e-Mindon, since that's simpler.  There are, in essence, two households: Saelon's and Maelchon's, with everyone else some kind of dependent.  As Lady, and by right of long occupancy (recognized among her fellow Men and respected by the Dwarves), Saelon controls the land; she and Maelchon both have decent herds of stock (he has better cattle, she has better horses).  Maelchon owns the plow and is the skilled husbandman; Saelon supplies cottar labor--so harvests are presently equally divided.  What Maelchon does with his half is his business, as long as he doesn't have to ask for help . . . and Fransag will make sure they aren't more beholden to Saelon than they already are.  Grin

Each household is ideally self-sufficient in basic crafts: cloth, leather, woodworking, basketry; but in practice someone is always better at something than everyone else and there is a good bit of bartering, belts for buckets, say.  The only thing a traditional West Highland village didn't make for itself was metal, and they had precious little of that: knives and kettles, mainly.  Saelon's household is lacking in cloth because there are more men wearing it out than there are women making it; she does hardly any spinning or weaving any more herself.

There is little actual distinction between the cottars and servants at the moment, but that will begin to change as we go on.  A cottar must have his cott, after all, and his little plot, for which they owe set labor duties and in-kind rent.  (Freemen owe rent only; their time is their own.)  Servants live in the household of their master (or mistress) and depend on them for food and clothing; they are not paid.

Because the community is so small and tightly knit (because of what they've been through), the "bookkeeping" is awfully casual.  Partalan gets a boar, and Saelon sends a quarter to Maelchon; he makes her a large brewing tub and sends his boys over with some trout.  Saelon brings something to ease Fransag's mother's cough and the baby's colic, and Fransag sends her a leg of mutton.

The Dwarves are no doubt bemused by this near-communism, or at least as much of it as they've seen.  They are the quintessential craft specialists, taking raw materials and turning them into valuable things through the application of skill and labor, and they love to bargain.  They most certainly are trading with each other, the Dwarves back in the mansion, and anyone else they happen across as they travel about.  Grin 

When I say Veylin is the founder of Gunduzahar, that means he paid the start-up costs.  He paid Nordri to come with his crew and delve it; Rekk probably did the plumbing gratis, which earned him a serious stake in the place; Vitr and Vitnir came along to support their cousin (who ought to leave them piles of dosh but might not if he isn't pleased with them).  When they found copper, Veylin got the lion's share as founder; Rekk got a share; and Veylin probably gave Nordri some as a bonus and offered to let him buy in.  Then Veylin used his copper to tempt his friend Bersi to come and buy in.

Because they prefer to be specialists, you need a goodly number of Dwarves to have a relatively autonomous community, and Veylin is working on building it up to that level.  It's expensive to have to pack everything in, especially since they're so far from most of the people they would trade with, so the more they can produce--and buy (hence the importance of the Men to Veylin's plan)--locally, the better.  Food is the biggest problem, because you need so much of it (roughly a pound of grain per person per day, so 25 Dwarves need about 5 tons a year), and Dwarves would much rather play with metal or stone than grow or find their own.  Right now, most of Gunduzahar's food is coming from the mansion (expensive, because you're paying middledwarves), and some from the Shire and Breeland.  (Rekk will come back from Stock with a long pack-train of ponies.)

So, as an example of how the Dwarven economy works, let's look at Rekk's goods.  He rebuilt the dam for the mill at Stock, and probably repaired significant damage to the mill and some odds and ends downstream.  Not all by himself, of course; his prentice works for his keep and the opportunity to learn the secrets of the craft, but there would also have been a gang of dwarf-navvies and masons.  They would have worked for coin (and found their own food and lodgings) or more likely keep and coin.  The Hobbits would have paid Rekk in coin or, more likely, partly in coin and partly in grain (since millers have a lot of that commodity).  Rekk would pay off his crew (and try to recruit the best to join them in Gunduzahar), buy some goods he knew he could sell to the other Dwarves (pipeweed, cloth, cured meat and cheese, etc.), and bring his pack-train to Gunduzahar.  There, he would sell the grain: mostly to Bersa, but also to others who would like to have their own personal stores (being hoarders, most Dwarves do).  Bersa would also buy most of the other foodstuffs; since he loves to cook (and eat), the others leave him to it, and pay him for their meals.  They could cook for themselves and get their own foodstocks, but then they'd have to share the kitchen with Bersa.  Wink  Rekk sells the cloth to Auð; if someone needs clothes, they come and pay her for them; she uses the coin to pay her tab with Bersa.  If you want to move to Gunduzahar, you negotiate with Veylin for the right to a given volume of stone, pay Nordri to delve you some chambers in it, pay Grani to make you doors and Vitnir for the hinges and locks, and so on--or you can come on contract and live in the chambers set aside for visiting Dwarves, like Siggr.

At present, the internal economy is developing nicely, but without gems and copper to keep the pump primed, Gunduzahar would fall apart fairly quickly, as the Dwarves scattered to more profitable places.  That's why Veylin is so anxious: he's sunk a lot of gold into the place, and not only would he look foolish if it failed, but he'd be a lot poorer!

That was probably more than you wanted to know, but it was nice to have an excuse to put it down in black and white, and make sure it looked logical.  At least it makes sense to me.  If you see anything that doesn't make sense to you, let me know, please!

Yes, Vingenáro means "spindrift of flame," more or less.  Not the spray of water that comes from a breaking wave, but the spray of sparks that comes from a breaking fire.  The Sindarin version means the same thing.

Glad you're enjoying the ride--

Adaneth

 

 

Re: Questions from the Dûnhebaid Cycle

Thank you for the explanations! I am by no means an expert on socio-economic models, but to me it all seems logical and self-supporting. The Dwarven aspects are naturally the most fascinating, but they fit in very well with what little canon we have (and that I know of).

"Near communism" - yes, I think that's why Habad-e-Mindon confused me a bit, since everyone wants to eventually better their own circumstances, and yet the community's needs must be met as well. I can see how this is evolving from total concern for the community to more emphasis on the individual families (Maelchon's house, etc.) as the settlement grows more prosperous. It will be interesting to see if tensions develop between a resettled Srathen Brethil and Habad. Obviously Saelon is not getting her lone privacy back anytime soon - and I no longer think she would entirely welcome it.

I loved this comment: ...and Fransag will make sure they aren't more beholden to Saelon than they already are. It made me think of Veylin's thoughts about Saelon not sharing her cooking secrets with Fransag (How Dwarvish!) and laugh all over again. Surely Veylin knows that Dwarves are not the only close-mouthed bunch when it comes to trade secrets? Although of course they carry it to the greatest extremes, since it involves the greatest wealth potential.

That was probably more than you wanted to know...

Not at all! I love details and backstory.

I'm going to enjoy seeing the growth and change of the two settlements (or maybe three?) as we go along, but this gives me a firm understanding to start from. Thank you!

Denise

 

 

"Of Like Passion" comments, Ch. 17/18

Hello, Adaneth,

I had some more questions/observations that seemed appropriate for the forum.

I noticed that Bersa took command of all the foodstuffs at the conclusion of the trading, and since Auð did not protest they must have some understanding per your discourse further up-thread. I assume that Bersa is at least partly so grumpy because Auð will now expect eight pennies for her part of the honey? *g*

The latest chapter is wonderful as usual: my expectations turned on their head, some answers allowed but many more pending, such that I'm waiting more eagerly than ever for the next installment...

Did Gwinnor and Gaernath get more wolves? If my time count is correct, it seems like they came back at least one day early, I assume due to the approaching storm.

How long do you think Dúnedain women of those times were capable of childbearing? Saelon's dismissal of her being able to have children seems... out of place? For such long lives (past 200, yes?) I always assumed that there would be correspondingly longer times that a woman is fertile, even though they still apparently bore few children despite starting sometime in their (late?) 20s.

I admit, Saelon's reaction to Dírmaen's confession startled me, coming so soon after her thoughts about her dream and speculations about him. Is it a case of, "be careful what you wish for", and now that she has it she finds she does not want it? Or that she is in denial? (I am recalling that she only belated realized the double life of secrecy that she's been carrying on.)

I'm more than a bit disgruntled on Dírmaen's behalf, actually: noone seems to acknowledge his own part in getting those wolves (tracking them down, and training Gaernath); and Saelon is so terribly harsh with him, even to the point of worrying over wealthy Veylin getting to his darned ocean-side gems vs. the pain of Dírmaen's waiting for an answer from her.

Which is a nice job of character development, by the way - I've switched completely from finding Dírmaen's attitude overbearing and tiresome to him having almost all of my sympathy!

Denise

 

 

Re: OLP Ch. 17, "Fabric of Society"

Amazing how much difference your perspective makes, hm?  Smile

. . . and since Auð did not protest they must have some understanding per your discourse further up-thread. I assume that Bersa is at least partly so grumpy because Auð will now expect eight pennies for her part of the honey?

How obliging of you to ask about this.  I had hoped to give the reader a better idea of what was going on here, but couldn't from Saelon's pov.  Yes, Auð did have an understanding with Bersa--the reason Auð was looking at Bersa more than the goods while Saelon examined the linen is that they were bargaining with each other, through iglishmêk (the secret Dwarvish gesture language).  The quantities of cloth Auð gives Saelon are based on the price Bersa will give her.  Bersa, of course, undervalues Saelon's goods; he doesn't care if she's shorted, and Auð's attitude is that if Saelon will pay so high, well, it's no skin off Dwarvish noses.

But then Auð respects Saelon more when she balks at the deal, and browbeats a better price from Bersa.  No, Auð won't be able to go back and renegotiate her agreement with Bersa; he's so cranky because Saelon got the better of him.  For the record, Saelon ended up only a little down on the deal.  (And if you think it was easy to get some realistic idea of the relative early medieval costs of honey and linen . . . . Grin )

How long do you think Dúnedain women of those times were capable of childbearing?

Oh, I don't think Saelon is that old--but she's roughly in the position of an Edain woman in her late 30s.  (The Chieftains, the direct line of Isildur, were living to about 150 at this point; their women probably managed a couple of decades longer.)  Having a first child so late is much riskier, and even if there are no complications, she simply doesn't have time to have many children.

I will not spoil what is to come by saying much about Saelon's state of mind, except to point out that you may have noticed that, when "attacked," she had a decided tendency to counterattack rather than retreat.  One of Saelon's other faults is that she is awfully selfless--and expects others (at least other Dúnedain) to be as noble.  Little wonder that almost everyone vexes her! Wink

Cheers--

Adaneth

 

 

OLP Ch. 20

Hello, Adaneth,

One of Saelon's other faults is that she is awfully selfless--and expects others (at least other Dúnedain) to be as noble.

I think I'm only just now catching on. I had applied it to her taking the news of the unusual tide to Veylin with no thought of reward, but now I also see it echoed in her comment to Dírmaen: "Do you think I do not see all you do, every day?"

I want to counter with, "Well, perhaps, Saelon - but how are people to know of such appreciation if you don't tell them?" (Although it seems that she's hinted at it - or maybe I'm just recalling some of her unspoken thoughts?) And then I wonder, am I applying 21st-century custom to their situation? Is it more expected in their society that you should just keep your head down, do your duty, and not expect thanks or acknowledgment?

Another part of me wants to point out after: "Would you be jealous of my brother, if he were not dead?" that: well, frankly, yes - if he became an ever-present third in what should be a two-person relationship. Time will tell if or how her friendship with Veylin is handled, I guess, whether it helps or hinders more... She's given some pretty stringent demands to Dírmaen without any promise of reward for his meeting them (although it will "build character" regardless, heh), and time will also tell if he's strong enough for Saelon after all...

On that last, I realize that you will not reveal anything before its time *g*, but I'm looking forward to more about Dírmaen's family and past history. (I haven't forgotten that hint about his possible southern fighting experience.) And Saelon's as well!

Thanks for an enjoyable and intriguing story, Adaneth!

Denise

 

 

OLP Ch. 19

Oops, one I forgot: in Ch. 19, Auð references her "kinswomen". Who is she speaking of?

 

 

Re: OLP Ch. 20

Thank you for your comments and questions, Denise: it's very helpful to see what readers make of a story, especially when you're doing something a bit unusual, like I am.  It's good to see what works for people, and where they interpret things differently than I do.  (There are places where that's great, and there are places where that might be a problem.)

I had applied it to her taking the news of the unusual tide to Veylin with no thought of reward . . . .

No, Saelon didn't expect a reward, but she was repaying a debt.  Veylin has given her plenty of advice that has helped keep her by the sea, but what advice could she ever give him?  (Or so she thinks.)  Frankly, she never considered what the material value of her news might be--what is the material value of Veylin arguing with Gwinnor on her behalf?

One of the things you see in later historical descriptions of Highlanders is that they are all just this side of destitute, and proud as kings.  This particularly bemused Early Modern travelers, coming from capitalist cultures where one earned respect by accumulating wealth.  But in the socially embedded economy of the Highlands, you wanted to be generous, to lay people under obligation to you, so you would have markers you could call in when things got bad.  Saelon does not want to be under obligation to Veylin; Veylin does not want to be under obligation to Saelon.  This is a very difficult and precarious balance to try and maintain, especially when their wealth is so unequal.  Veylin is not trying to put Saelon in his debt, but--although it sometimes irritates him--he profoundly respects her desire, and even more her ability, to repay him for his help.

We'll see if they can keep things square or not.  Smile

. . . you should just keep your head down, do your duty, and not expect thanks or acknowledgment?

Isn't this the Rangers' motto or something?  Wink  Butterbur certainly didn't have many kind words for that ragamuffin, stick-at-naught Strider.  Actually, I think the hardest part of what they do is that people take it for granted--but that's what happens when you don't tell them who you really are and what you're really doing.  Saelon has been trying to show more appreciation lately by feeding Dírmaen better, but that's hard to do when he's avoiding you; and she got linen for him, too.

"Would you be jealous of my brother, if he were not dead?" that: well, frankly, yes - if he became an ever-present third in what should be a two-person relationship. 

Apparently I've done a splendid job with the friendship between Saelon and Veylin.  Grin  Do you realize that the longest they have been in each other's company was while she tended his wounds and then while the Dwarves delved the hall in Rock and Hawk (about 10 days each)?  Otherwise, I don't think they've ever spent more than 3-4 days together at a stretch, and often go months without seeing each other.  Dírmaen has to go out of his way not to see Saelon every day--he needs to make more of his opportunities!

I'm looking forward to more about Dírmaen's family and past history. 

Have you been reading my rough drafts?  Wink

Cheers--

Adaneth

 

 

Trading Pledges

Hello, Adaneth,

If Auð's mother never felt that Auð showed the required wisdom and discretion, would Siða have taken the knowledge of those secret spells of protection to her grave? And from your Dûnhebaid Cycle in general: Auð is a seamstress, but buys her linens to sew from. Do Dwarves weave?

This prequel definitely fuels my curiosity about whether Veylin ever sought to marry, and what might have happened to leave him still single. Do your Dwarven men reach an age where they will not wed, or is it that the women will not marry older Dwarves with so many males to choose from, no matter how wealthy?

Denise

 

 

Re: Trading Pledges

Hi there, Denise--

Ah, Dwarves!  A pleasant change from the Elves vexing Saelon in Mithlond.  Wink

Do Dwarves weave?  Almost certainly, but I suspect not a lot.  They don't grow flax or raise sheep, so at what point do they acquire their textiles?  Turning flax into bast for spinning, and spinning itself, are time-consuming, low-skill jobs.  So I doubt they are buying up the local woolclip.  They could buy spun thread and weave their own cloth, and I expect they do this for certain specialized textiles, but I think they let other folk do most of this work as well.

Why?  Well, two things: first, if they wove on a significant scale, they'd be selling the surplus to outsiders, and Dwarves are associated with "hard" material crafts like stone and metal, not "soft" ones like textiles.  Secondly, textiles and needlework have long been very closely associated with women in Europe, and if Dwarves produced a significant amount of cloth, people would assume there were dwarf-women doing the work . . . and common belief is that there are no dwarf-women.  If they are always buying cloth instead of selling it, that supports that belief in people's minds.

Craft secrets, especially magic: this is what makes a master's reputation, and why self-willed Dwarves will work for someone else for years, to gain access to this knowledge.  Sometimes, certainly, "trade secrets" are taken to the grave, because a master is too jealous of the knowledge, or can't find a worthy heir, or is killed unexpectedly.  There is a preference, most likely, for passing these secrets to close kin--but if Auð couldn't be trusted with them, her mother undoubtedly had worthy prentices.  Some of them might also have been given some of the lesser spells, but the "pattern pieces" (aids to memory) stayed in the family for another generation.  Because not every couple would have a daughter, I expect "women's magic" also commonly passes to daughters-in-law.

Now I'll leave you to wonder who Auð might pass the box on to.  Wink  But it's a couple of decades yet before her boys are old enough for serious courting.

Ah, Veylin.  Why is such a nice, rich Dwarf-chieftain still single?  Grin  The short answer is that he loves his work more than the women he's met.  Tolkien tells us that Dwarves normally wed between 90-100 years of age.  Now, it's true that he said Elves normally marry by 100, and Elrond and Celebrian wed much later than that, but if you look at Dwarvish life-spans, there probably is a strong preference for someone of the "ideal" age.  If Dwarves wed around 90, and have three children 10 years apart, they will live just long enough to see their grandchildren grow up.  (Dwarves rarely live to be older than 250.)

I think there are circumstances under which older Dwarves might still get hitched, but Veylin's biological clock is running out.  If he found his soul mate ASAP and they promptly had a son, Veylin might live long enough to see him wed.  That's cutting it awfully close.

But then Saelon thought she was safely an old maid, and look what she's having to deal with!  Laugh out loud

Cheers--

Adaneth

 

 

After Stormy Seas, Ch. 10

Hello, Adaneth,

More re: Dwarves and your thoughts on their naturally-closed minds. Do you think that Dwarves actually have the ability to "open" their minds if they wish? Or are they like (apparently) most Men, who don't even seem to know that they have "the same capacity as the Quendi"? I could even see Dwarves having lesser ability than Men, as Aule crafted them with only a vague understanding of the Eruhini to come.

Again, very fascinating extrapolation.

Denise

 

 

Re: After Stormy Seas, Ch. 10

Ah, it's been a while since I've seen one of your questions here, Denise!  Smile

Do you think that Dwarves actually have the ability to "open" their minds if they wish? Or are they like (apparently) most Men, who don't even seem to know that they have "the same capacity as the Quendi"? I could even see Dwarves having lesser ability than Men, as Aule crafted them with only a vague understanding of the Eruhini to come.

Warning: rampant hypothesizing ahead.

If anything, I think the average Dwarf probably knows less about mind-communication than the average Man, because Men (default setting open) get creeped out and tell spooky tales about "the Witch of the Golden Wood," while Dwarves (default setting closed) have never felt any reason to be insecure in the privacy of their own thoughts.

Yes, I think Dwarves can "open" their minds, but it requires an effort of will, as Elves or Men have to will their minds "shut."   I'm not sure about their ability being weaker than that of Men.  Pengolodh says the limited control Men's wills have over their hroa is what restricts their ability, and I don't think Dwarves have less will or control.  I expect their ability would be about equal, but that Dwarves are "constitutionally" disinclined to commune this way.

The supposed inversion of the "open-normal" Eruhíni pattern is my biggest leap: Aulë created Dwarves' hröa, but their fëa came from Eru, so they needn't be significantly different mentally.  In Adaneth!verse, I interpret "And Aulë made the Dwarves even as they still are, because . . . the power of Melkor was yet over the Earth; and he wished therefore that they should be strong and unyielding" (Silm, Ch. 2) to mean that Dwarves are not only tough and obstinate, but also profoundly security-conscious.  (Why else live deep underground and keep the women-folk out of sight?)  "Closed-normal" would be part of that defensive mindset, perhaps Eru respecting Aulë's design, and help explain the reknown secretiveness of the breed.

Consequently, I believe a Dwarf must "peek out" for anyone to get a sense of "connection" with them.  I think Galadriel knew precisely what she was doing when she used all those Khuzdul place-names in speaking to Gimli at their first meeting: she was evoking affinity to get her foot in the door.  Wink  Any "meeting of the minds" would require a deliberate gesture of trust on the Dwarf's part, or desperate urgency . . . and that would be among Dwarves, as well as between Dwarves and other races.  Maybe that's why they are so quarrelsome!  Grin

Cheers--

Adaneth

 

 

Re: After Stormy Seas, Ch. 10

Hello, Adaneth,

it's been a while since I've seen one of your questions here

It's not because I don't have them, but most are of the "I must be patient and let the author unveil things in her own time" variety. Smile

Thank you for the rampant hypothesizing - not only is it enjoyable, but I think it remains very cohesive. And it does indeed open up interesting extrapolations for Legolas and Gimli's strong friendship...

Denise

 

 

Hand to Hand, Ch. 1 question etc.

Ah, well: Aldarion and Earendil would have been second and third guesses, respectively, but hopefully you'll forgive me for being too lazy busy to count it out the first time! So, tentatively *looks askance at her reckoning* Earendil? That's just from counting kings and chieftains to a likely mariner, of course; there might be other genealogy sources for Elendil's line that I missed. Or miscounted.

And I forgot to mention in my recent review:

I love how Dírmaen's thoughts wondered off into romantic territory even as he was standing ready to initiate his painful errand; the perfect poem at the start; and the neat reversal of the titles of the first two chapters. Your attention to detail is awesome and one of the many, many reasons that I love your stories.

Edit: My, I'm scatterbrained this morning. One more thing: When Dírmaen thought of the result of Gaernath's one-time infatuation and Murdag's latest reaction, I wanted to boot Dírmaen in the rear and say, "Are you paying attention? Hello!!" *g*

You get me so involved in these people's lives, they feel just like good friends that you want to shake some sense into...

Denise (again)

 

 

Re: Hand to Hand, Ch. 1 question etc.

It's always good to hear from you again, Denise.

*looks askance at her reckoning* Earendil?

Well, I doubt Cairrâd knows the details of later Dúnedain genealogy; and maybe he thought they didn't know the earlier ones!  Wink  I've just been laying out the pertinent details for Saelon's descent from Arvedui, myself: if anything, as a junior and presumably somewhat less long-lived branch of Isildur's descendants, there's an extra generation or two, which might put the 64th among the earlier kings of Númenor instead.  Frankly, it was a nifty number to occupy a kid with, and then a good excuse for a history lesson.

I'm glad you enjoy all the geeky details; I have great fun Niggling away at such things.  And I got a good laugh out of the image of you booting Dírmaen in the rear and shaking him by the scruff--are you tall and amazonian, or closer to Saelon's stature?  Grin  (More, I ought not say.)

Cheers--

Adaneth

 

 

Hand to Hand, Blue Devils

Hi, Adaneth,

I think one thing that really struck me in this chapter is how subtly yet more firmly I came away with the image of Veylin as a Dwarf that thinks "out of the box". His seemingly odd willingness to live by the unsettling sea and extreme respect for Saelon is padded by his thoughts in the beginning about the differences between him as a gemsmith and his fellow craftsmen (and delightful that it was initiated by banter about ponies, of all things - nice touch!), and later by noting that he puts off some of his elder clansmen by innovations.

Is he really that different from his fellow Dwarves in thoughts, approach and craft? Are there not that many Dwarven gemsmiths, for example, and are the majority of Dwarves typically rooted in traditional ways? Is it from Tolkien himself, or your own worldbuilding?

Details - always interested in more!
Best,
Denise

 

 

Re: Hand to Hand, Blue Devils

I think one thing that really struck me in this chapter is how subtly yet more firmly I came away with the image of Veylin as a Dwarf that thinks "out of the box".

Good, because Veylin is an unusual Dwarf, as Saelon is an unusual woman . . . but no more so.  His cleverness is mostly lateral thinking, a knack for seeing what is not obvious, and his boldness the confidence to act on those ideas.  This goes along with his talent for prospecting new sources of gems: all the obvious sources were worked out long ago, but he is willing to go places others aren't, and so he is rewarded.  That's how he thinks of his "innovations," but it's easier to agree on the value of a ruby than the value of behavior.  If Dwarves are keen on security and reliability, changes that don't bring obvious benefits are probably viewed with suspicion.  Peer pressure is a very powerful force.

Is he really that different from his fellow Dwarves in thoughts, approach and craft? Are there not that many Dwarven gemsmiths, for example, and are the majority of Dwarves typically rooted in traditional ways? Is it from Tolkien himself, or your own worldbuilding?

Yes and no.  One of the things that bothers me about how Dwarves are portrayed in fan fiction is how stereotyped they often are.  Elves are, too, a little, but I think the problem is worse for Dwarves because so many people who are riffing off of movie-verse only have Gimli for a model . . . and aside from my own dissatisfactions with how Peter Jackson portrayed him, Gimli himself is an extraordinary Dwarf.  It will be interesting to see if and how things change once The Hobbit comes out.  (Surely they can't play all the Dwarves for comic relief!  Grin )

So I try to show a variety of personalities in my Dwarves, by taking a normal-ish range and shifting it towards those characteristics that are supposed to set Dwarves apart.  Dwarves are, generally speaking, very, hm, capitalist  Wink --but that doesn't mean there aren't generous Dwarves.  ("Your hands will flow with gold, but over you gold will have no dominion.")  Dwarves are, generally, very secretive/reserved--but some are less so than others, or at least with some people.  (Otherwise we would not have the notation, in collections of dwarf-lore, "So said Legolas.")

How much of this is Tolkien's, and how much is mine?  *scratches head*  It's getting hard to keep it straight without my great file of quotes in front of me, after more than two years of ever-more audacious extrapolation.  The bits of straight dwarf-lore that Tolkien left are easy to sort out, but I've also based my interpretation on the dialogue and actions of Dwarves in his writing, from Mim's peculiarly just resentment to Thorin's obnoxious arrogance in the "Quest for Erebor" fragment to Gimli's gruff fondness for Merry and Pippin.

I suppose it's a very ethnographic approach.  Dwarves really are the Other in Tolkien's writing: very different from the other Free Peoples, not easily known except on a superficial level.  I think most of us are familiar with that from minorities in our own cultures: we know enough about them to get by, we're sure we know that they're like, but how often do we listen to them as individuals, and get to know the person under the label?  The individuals--the words and actions--that served as my touchstones are Tolkien's, but the interpretation of Dwarvish culture I have drawn from them is my own.

Veylin and his crew are, however, mine.  Smile  Mea culpa.

Cheers--

Adaneth

 

 

Re: Hand to Hand, Blue Devils

Hi again, Adaneth, 

Veylin is an unusual Dwarf

I'd always had a bit of that impression from your writing, but it was definitely heightened in this chapter - seeing his thoughts and interactions with other Dwarves who did not follow and/or believe in his "mad" venture, or who were not wrangling with him over heirship issues.

I love the tidbit about new chieftains (usually) getting 100 years to prove themselves, btw, and the all the hereditary issues are fascinating - if almost as frustrating for me as they are for Veylin! (Vitnir. Grrr...)

Your likening of Dwarves to The Other strikes me as a particularly apt way to view them. Personally, I am totally engaged in your interpretations and extrapolations of Tolkien's few detailed facts and scattered hints. Even his evolving and sometimes contradictory views make sense when I view them through the lens of your fanfic.

To touch back on one facet of my questions: Veylin's thoughts in the beginning of this chapter make it seem like he is a rarity even in his choice of profession. Naturally I'd never questioned him being the only gemsmith in Gunduzahar, aside from apprentices. (Competition! Though I note his close friendship and prospecting with Thekk...) Of course, thinking about it, the local market would not be large enough in those hard days to support many gemsmiths anyway; but I guess I wondered if that too was part of his personality and/or more unusual nature.

Best,

Denise

 

 

Re: Hand to Hand, Blue Devils

To touch back on one facet of my questions: Veylin's thoughts in the beginning of this chapter make it seem like he is a rarity even in his choice of profession. Naturally I'd never questioned him being the only gemsmith in Gunduzahar, aside from apprentices. (Competition! Though I note his close friendship and prospecting with Thekk...) Of course, thinking about it, the local market would not be large enough in those hard days to support many gemsmiths anyway; but I guess I wondered if that too was part of his personality and/or more unusual nature.

There certainly are fewer gemsmiths than, say, ironworkers or coal miners, although I believe there's a pretty good market for "bling" in the dwarven community.  Grin  There would be competition, but each smith would have his own style and/or particular expertise, which would spread business around.  Veylin and Thekk's talents were complementary: Thekk produced work in a "classic" style--very Dwarvish aesthetics--while Veylin's stuff is "edgy," with more influences from Elvish work (which is why he has a fair number of Elvish clients).  Veylin gets a kick out of prospecting and is good at it; Thekk not so much, and he needed a supplier for good quality stones.

How does a Dwarf come to a particular craft?  I think that, like us, it's a combination of upbringing, opportunity, and desire.  If you look at Nordri and his sons (and many of his cousins), they're all masons: family tradition.  You just naturally go into the business as you grow up, unless you have a burning passion for something else.  Prenticeship gives those who have a gift for something else the opportunity to learn the craft, if they can convince a master to take them on.  How easy that is depends on the craft, I expect: a blacksmith--whose materials are cheap and easily reworked--would probably give nearly anyone a try (they can always stoke the furnace and keep the bellows going), but a gemsmith might require real proof of talent and/or skill.  Dwarves from richer or higher-ranking families would have more opportunity to break into a different craft, but I believe that in the end, with Dwarves, what matters is ability.  If a coal miner's son has a genuine gift for goldsmithing and true dwarven grit, he might die a very wealthy Dwarf.

Cheers--

Adaneth

 

 

Hand to Hand, Ch. 8 & 10 Qs **Spoiler warning!**

Hello, Adaneth,

In the midst of my *cough*slight*cough* emotional involvement in the last few chapters, I did have time to wonder a bit about the Rangers.

Again, spoilers follow for those who have yet to read the latest "Hand to Hand" installment.

At the end of "Wolf's-Head":
The fear that had suddenly bloomed in Dírmaen's breast was no more than anxiety in the troll-slayer's eyes.

Why isn't Halgorn more concerned about Habad-e-Mindon? Is it professional detachment vs. Dírmaen's personal involvement? It felt like he should have been a bit more worried, given what he knew of the outlaws.

And I can't wait to find out who the unnamed Ranger is in "Blood-dimmed Tide", so I can curse him by name. Why did he seem so reluctant to go to Dírmaen's aid? Some sort of warrior's precedence?

Thanks for making my heart race!

Best,
Denise

 

 

Re: Hand to Hand, Blue Devils

I also intended to mention a while back that I appreciated the chapter title "Blue Devils" even more, after I found the old RL meaning of the term. Again, I adore your many layers woven throughout the stories - most of which I'm sure I've yet to find!

 

 

Followup to comments

Hello, Adaneth,

From the comments:

Me: ...who the leader of the brigands was, if there was some history between him and the folk at Habad-e-Mindon that led him to be so callus in harming or allowing harm.

You: No, no personal history at all: it is easier to treat utter strangers as if they were things rather than people.

Ah! Maybe I misunderstood, or the Rangers didn't give the hillmen enough credit; I was thinking of this from "Wolf's Head": Halgorn sighed.  "I do not know.  Meagvir suspected some had come from the hills west of Carn Dûm, but others are surely men of this valley.  Who else could have led them to escape?..."

Of course, there was a time-lag of several days (although I admit to being fuzzy as to how many exactly) between the hillmen being harried into the mountains and Dírmaen's arrival. And they've not found all the men either...

Also, what happened to the other Rangers?

And an excellent point about heroes; it's unfair for me to impinge the Rangers so deeply, and I don't think of them as terrible people, certainly. It's their misogynistic tendencies that grate for me as they do for Veylin and Saelon, though realistic for the time/place of your universe.

Thank you again for this wonderful, involving, evolving story!

Denise

 

 

Re: Hand to Hand, Ch. 8 & 10 Qs **Spoiler warning!**

So sorry I missed these, Denise!  *blush*  RL has been unrelenting, but now the crush is over and I can catch up here and with my writing.

**SPOILER ALERT for my story "Hand to Hand"**

Why isn't Halgorn more concerned about Habad-e-Mindon? Is it professional detachment vs. Dírmaen's personal involvement?

A large part of it is personal involvement versus the lack thereof, but Halgorn probably thought it unlikely the outlaws would survive crossing the mountains, at least in numbers and in a condition that would make them a problem.  Also, when Halgorn was last at Habad, everyone was tucked tidily into the highly defensible dwarf-hall.  Dírmaen, on the other hand, was probably imagining a worst-case scenario: Halpan and Partalan already gone, Saelon out collecting early herbs . . . .

The unnamed Ranger is Dírmaen's good friend Randir, who was sure Dírmaen had his part under control and started dealing with the clearly traumatized victim.  Don't be too hard on him. 

Of course, there was a time-lag of several days (although I admit to being fuzzy as to how many exactly) between the hillmen being harried into the mountains and Dírmaen's arrival. And they've not found all the men either...

Also, what happened to the other Rangers?

It was about two weeks, maybe a bit more, between the time the Rangers already in Srathen Brethil harried the Rangers into the mountains and Dírmaen's arrival.  The outlaws did not make straight for Habad, but eventually came to the oakwood, where Fokel happened upon them.  It's not easy to find so few people in such an empty landscape, unless you are a keen-eyed Ranger or an Elf.  And no, none of the "good guys" are sure exactly how many outlaws there were, or how many are left.  All they've got is a body count and estimates of how many men they saw in a running fight.  In a blizzard.

There were five Rangers in Srathen Brethil once Dírmaen arrived.  Three went after the outlaws, and two remained in Srathen Brethil in case the outlaws doubled back.

Now, let me go post the next installment in the saga, in hopes of answering a few more questions!

Cheers--

Adaneth

 

 

Hand to Hand, ch. 17

Hi, Adaneth,

Now I'm curious as Dírmaen: Did Gaernath's great-grandmother and ggfather wed by choice or necessity? It sounds from Dírmaen's thoughts as if Edain/Dúnedain bonds were very rare on his side of the Lhûn.

And: How did the custom of handfasting come about among Saelon's folk? I admit, my first reaction is as Dírmaen describes other Dúnedain reacting. I also wonder if it ends up somewhat mirroring real life: that statistically, people who make a "trial marriage" (live together first) end up with a higher divorce rate than those who don't. As Saelon says herself, you can put up with almost anything knowing that there will be an end to it; remove the end and you can remove the tolerance...

Thanks!

Denise

 

 

Re: Hand to Hand, ch. 27

Let's see if I can answer some of your questions, Denise.

It sounds from Dírmaen's thoughts as if Edain/Dúnedain bonds were very rare on his side of the Lhûn.

I don't know about Gaernath's great-grandmother--I haven't got quite that much backstory yet!  But yes, I think Dúnedain/Edain unions, especially involving high-born Dúnedain, were disapproved of . . . by other Dúnedain.  Class/ethnic snobbishness and pride of race, that kind of thing.  And high-status males always disapprove of low-status males taking their wimmen.  Wink

Now, handfasting.  Gwynnyd's given me a little grief about this, because a strict reading of the primary historical sources does not interpret this interpretation of handfasting.  Handfasting was a North British (Cumbria and the Borders, later attested in the Highlands) custom, variously described as a form of betrothal, private or uncanonical marriage, or probationary marriage.  The probationary interpretation may stem from Sir Walter Scott, that great Romantic mangler (and preserver) of history.  However, there are recorded traditions of probationary marriage in other cultures--and after all, realist though I am, I think I am allowed some fantasy in stories about Middle-Earth.  Grin

Basically, the custom legitimizes people living together before marriage to test compatibility and commitment, a pragmatic and rather common practice today.  "Lower-class" people--i.e., those with little to squabble about inheriting--have always done these kinds of things.  It's only elites, with all those rights and privileges and resources--or those who ape them--who demand unbreakable contracts.

Cheers--

Adaneth

 

 

Hand to Hand, ch. 29

Hmmm... This grew so long that I thought it might better serve here.

Gosh, I can't decide if I should read the opening quote as ominous or not...

Again, my first delight simply comes from the excellent writing; descriptions and turns of phrase that make me shiver with happiness at the lovely use of language and ability to conjure such clear scenes in my head. It shines in particular with Veylin's PoV because it unerringly captures the unique view of "The Other", in the similes and metaphors of his thoughts to his own misunderstandings and biases.

Great opening scene! A bit later after my first reading it came to me how perhaps fortuitous Veylin's absence was to the success of Dírmaen's "campaign", even to the delay in Veylin's arrival until days after the proposal was accepted. A close thing, or his arrival/counsel and/or presence in the background might have swayed Saelon's considerations. So I'm afraid I'm much more forgiving of dull-as-lead Haust's ineptitude! Even though it unfortunately put Veylin in a grumpier frame of mind when confronted with the news.

Dírmaen having ale on hand in that particular skin makes me believe he scouted out far enough to get wind of Veylin's arrival, or at least was quietly preparing for a bit of "scene-setting" each day, knowing that Veylin would be returning sooner or later. A bit silly of him to think that he could surprise Veylin into a poor visible reaction upon hearing of the betrothal - sometimes I think that the Men must have no clue how old and experienced Veylin really is. But good for Dírmaen to realize when private discussion is called for, and to leave them to it.

Still, the end leaves me with hope that even with all their differences, Veylin and Dírmaen will both have the sense to realize that each desires happiness for Saelon, in their own ways, and to build a mutual understanding based on that - even if they can't stand each other outside of that understanding! Now if only Saelon would give Dírmaen the same benefit of the doubt as she gives Veylin.

Veylin's thoughts about marriage certainly mirror my own. I wonder what he'd think if he knew that Dírmaen's own feelings about the matter more closely mirror his vs. Saelon's.

So much of Saelon's reaction to Dírmaen is contained in her final words to Veylin. (sigh) I was so disappointed that she felt she needed to double-check on Dírmaen's truthfulness by asking Veylin about a statement Dírmaen had made. How difficult it is to love and trust in the love of another when you cannot see worth in yourself...

 

 

Re: Hand to Hand, ch. 29

Thank you for so much feedback, Denise, although I was baffled for a bit by Thanwen's comment referring to this.  (Comments are relayed via e-mail, but forum posts aren't.)

Dírmaen having ale on hand in that particular skin makes me believe . . . .

Laugh out loud  Ah, no.  The ale was meant for Saelon (and himself).  Plying her with booze was a long shot though, so he doesn't much regret sacrificing it to gain ground in other ways.  Wink

. . . sometimes I think that the Men must have no clue how old and experienced Veylin really is.

Not really, no.  I suspect both races have significant problems making sense of each other's age unless they think about it, and they usually don't care enough to bother.  Veylin's thought more about the aging of Men than Saelon's thought about the aging of Dwarves, that I know.  But Saelon's never seen a Dwarf she wouldn't consider a mature adult, nor an elderly Dwarf, whereas Veylin's seen the whole range for Men.

Glad you're still enjoying the story--

Adaneth

 

 

In Forums

Discussion Info

Intended for: General Audience

We're sorry. This is a closed discussion. Content is available only to invited readers.

« Back to The Heart is Highland