43. Responses to A/N... FYI
Inkling Reviewed: 5/21/2008
What to do when you've fallen way behind on a story? Read the author's notes, of course! :)
I've not read many Denethor fics, but am surprised to hear that some consider yours AU. Your Denethor seems completely canonical to me. Tolkien's Denethor was such a complex, fascinating, and intelligent character...not the boorish jerk of the film. It's been a while since I read ROTK, but my memory is not that he was mad...not even at the end, but rather that pride and despair drove him to suicide. His reasoning was actually quite logical, based on what he thought was happening. I think Gandalf's point was valid, though...that as Steward he should "go down with the ship," and die in battle defending his people. Their conversation in the pyre scene is wonderful, one of the book's most memorable, and one of the best articulations of Tolkien's own views on honor and resistance in time of war. And the scene Pippin witnesses at their first audience with Denethor, when he and Gandalf exchange that electrified look...marvelous! Your Denethor is right in keeping with this, I think, even though I haven't gotten to the death scene yet. (BTW, you might want to date these notes, or indicate which chapters they pertain to, as I think your story has gone well past this point now, right?)
And as for Alqualondë, rather than AU I'd say he falls into the realm of what I like to call "speculative canon"! :)
Hope to catch up with the rest of this soon...
Author Reply: Oh good grief, Inling! I've got to figure out what chapter those notes were for too - though they really encompassed the whole tale - they were also quite specific for the canon discussion. I'll go back eventually and do something.. drat
I would have thought Denethor would have 'gone down with the ship' too - but I think his overall concern was for Faramir now. He had to 'protect' his son. *shivers* Faramir was really the only thing left to him... Gondor, in his opinion, was lost already and all its people.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the story - I think we're coming down to the wire. *giggles* but I've said that before about other stories... and they are still going strong... but this one feels different.
Soledad Reviewed: 5/19/2008
I might get back to individual chapters to comment them later - this is a very lovely story which I enjoy greatly - but I wanted to thank you specifically for this one. I'm one of those rare people who actually like Denethor a great deal, despite everything, and I'm getting tired of having to defend him all the time. Had Tolkien not deleted a few significant lines from the earlier drafts - perhaps to make it easier for the readers to side with Aragorn - people might see him differently... although, knowing poor Thranduil's treatment, not even that is sure.
Anyway, great story, and I love your Denethor.
Author Reply: Very glad you are enjoying Denethor and I know EXACTLY what you mean about being tired of defending him.
After I saw ROTK - I thought I would see red! I began an epic tale that still continues - though now that I'm approaching the end... I am finding it more difficult to write.
It is very long - but begins at Denethor's birth and goes all the way till the end... I have stayed as close to canon as possible, merely creating gap-fillers... I hope you get a chance to read it. I would value your comments - as one Denethor lover to another.
The title is Ten Thousand Years Will Not Suffice... it is archived here at SoA.
Blessings and keep the faith!
daw the minstrel Reviewed: 4/13/2008
Good for you, Agape. I think you're absolutely dead on.
When I first started writing fanfic, abusive Thranduil was all the rage and reviewers sometimes accused writers of being "wrong" if they showed him any other way. That struck me as profoundly un-Elvish and without canonical backing, but the canon info on him is slim.
Denethor's much trickier to get right than Thranduil because he's a very complex character and there's much more canon to weigh and analyze. You're doing a good job.
Author Reply: Bless you. You know I am an avid fan of your writings and am most humbled by your kind words....
As for Denethor - he is a challenge, but once PJ castigated him, I really took his side. IMHO - he is the underdog.... usurped in his father's love, tricked by a wizard, disrespected by his son, and dried up with his sacrifices... at least in his mind's eye.
Though I do love your Thranduil.... and I'm glad you don't partake in the Thranduil beats his son tales!!! I've seen them and they are about as odious to me as the Denethor beats his son tales!
Again - many thanks for your kind review. It is most appreciated!
Dreamflower Reviewed 4/12/2008
I have to admit, I had never been particularly sympathetic to Denethor (nothing to do with the movies; it dates back to my earliest readings of the books over forty years ago) but in recent years, reading *other* people's interpretations of his character my attitude has mellowed a bit, and I find it easier to allow for a kinder interpretation of the motives for his actions.
Whether one believes in a "harsh" Denethor, or simply a "misunderstood" Denethor, is, as you point out a matter of interpretation. However, I am in full agreement with you on those who portray him as being physically abusive--that's not on! I do not believe that for *any* of those people aligned with the forces of freedom that physical abuse of their children would ever be remotely conceivable as canon. And anyone who believes *that* it is, is stretching the limits of "interpretation" to the breaking point.
This goes not only for Denethor "abusing" his son, but for fics depicting Frodo's guardians "abusing" him, or Thranduil "abusing" a young Legolas. Sorry folks. That's *NOT* just "interpretation" that's flat out slander.
What is canon about Denethor is that he allowed his pride and his fear for Gondor drive him to use a tool of the Enemy. JRRT says he allowed himself to be motivated "politically", rather than by having the good of *all* the West in mind. His lack of faith drove him to the sin of despair, and eventually over the edge into madness.
What is interpretation is how long that process took, when it happened, and what sort of person Denethor might have been before it took place. And all we have to go on for that is that Gandalf deemed him as one who was "high" and "noble".
(And I have to say, I'd not thought about the role Gandalf himself might have played in that process, but given the Wizard's propensity for keeping things to himself at times when it might have been better not to, it's quite possible. Gandalf might have been a Maia, but he was not perfect by any means.)
A question for you that *I've* pondered from time to time: do you think that it is possible that at any time Denethor had any contact at all with Saruman? I'm thinking either prior to, or early on, in his use of the palantir?
Author Reply: You speak wisely in many respects, Dreamflower.
I don't think though, that the Palantir was a 'tool of the Enemy.' In Denethor's mind, as a true descendant of Numenor, it was a gift from the Elves to the Faithful. Denethor, as Steward (I believe), had every right to use it. However, was it a wise decision... hindsight always makes things appear clear, however, for Denethor it seemed the only thing to do. This is an odd area though - for some believe that Denethor began to use it because he was being usurped by Thorongil in his father's affections and used it to gain knowledge so that HE could look good. There is nothing in canon that I see that would support that - but nothing that wouldn't. So I'm not saying anything about that. I believe he might have begun using it immediately after his father died. Perhaps because he didn't feel 'good enough' as Steward because of his father's lack of faith/love for him??? So many questions to ask Tolkien when next we meet!
I'm meeting with two different groups of author friends tonight... one at dinner and one via Skype... I definitely plan to ask them their thoughts on your final question. I have my own thoughts, but I'd like to see what others think too! I'll reply tnen.
Thank you ever so much for the thoughts you give here!
Neilia Reviewed: 4/11/2008
Yes, I agree with you whole-heartedly. Your Denethor is more canon than many that I have read. Grief is a destroyer...and that terrible palantir was under Sauron's control - not Denethor's. He loved his two sons. He did not rightly know how to express himself to them after their mother died. One parenting is more than difficult. I am awaiting the next chapter. I adore the cat.
Author Reply: The Cat thanks you for your adoration as it is fitting.... the scribe smirks!
I don't know if the Palantir was totally under Sauron's control - I think he definitely manipulated it many times, but I think that Denethor still had control over it himself. What Sauron did was 'show' him the Dark Side of things. As I've said before, the Palantiri were gifts from the Elves... Difficult to believe a gift would be turned to evil....
As for his sons, I agree 100% - parenting is incredibly difficult. To have to do it by yourself... and run a HUGE kingdom... and fight a foe that even the Elves could not defeat.... well, we are talking about a real reason for despair... I wonder if Denethor ever thought it might be best if he stayed far from his sons to keep them from that despair?
Hmmmm - now that brings up another thought - because Faramir definitely has NO hope when he's speaking with Frodo... "What hope have we?' said Faramir. "It is long since we had any hope. The sword of Elendil, if it returns indeed, may rekindle it, but I do not think that it will do more than put off the evil day, unless other help unlooked-for also comes, from Elves or Men. For the Enemy increases and we decrease. We are a failing people, a springless autumn.' TTT: Ch. 5: The Window On The West.
Edlyn Reviewed: 4/11/2008
I personally have had no problem with the portrayal of Denethor in this fic. In fact, I'm very pleased at how very book-based he is and of course I think Alqualonde definitely could have been there during hte events in Minas Tirith. Why not? Despite Beruthial using her cats as spies for nefarious purposes it doesn't mean that the Gondorian people developed a phobia of cats like that which ended up helping to condemn Europe to rat and vermin transmitted plagues in our Middle Ages and early Renaissance. And somehow, Denethor has always seemed to me to be a man who would have a cat as a companion regardless of how many hunting hounds he may have had. The hounds are working animals, whilst a cat who isn' a kitchen or barn cat is a companion and in this case also a spy.
Author Reply: Thanks, Edlyn!
I loved your thoughts on the Europeans and cats - yes, one should definitely keep cats around - if nothing more than for vermin control. When I was very young, we lived in a farm-type suburb of a big city. There were definitely vermin around. We always had what my grandmother called a 'ratter' around the house... blessed wondrous beings who protected us.
Denethor doesn't think the cat protects him... but I think Alqualonde does!
Thanks for your great comments!
Pearl Took Reviewed: 4/11/2008
Thank you for all the work on this explanation Agape :-) It does help. I don't necessarily see him as mad through out, just harsh, cold, and unloving. I see him as negatively affected by his use of the palantir, which we know has been going on for awhile, but also by his own life. His father preferring Thorongil to Denethor and the death of Denethor's wife have a lot to do with the man we see in LOTR.
I think many of us never have read between the lines very much where Denethor is concerned and so have not seen the man you and some others see. You are opening my eyes in this regard, but I'm still not sure I can see him as intentionally hiding his loving feelings while acknowledging them to himself.
I will say, I would never have seen the way Faramir's actions could be seen as traitorous and such. I would never have thought to see the actions of the story from Denethor's POV - I think because Tolkien never takes us there. I can see where it would have all looked that way to him and so Faramir would be deserving of much of the cold (and to me), cruel attitude shown by his father saying he did wish Faramir had been in Boromir's place.
All that said, I am now anxious to read more of this story with an intent on my part to see things through other eyes :-)
Author Reply: Glad this broadened your perspective, Pearl Took.
I'd just like to say one thing about the thing with Faramir taking Boromir's place. I truly hope you don't think he meant what PJ had him say in the movie - which Faramir does NOT say in the ROTK... Denethor wished more that Boromir had taken Faramir's place - not vice-versa - because Boromir would not have let Frodo go - nor let the Ring go into Mordor. At least, bless him, that's what he thinks! The part that he wishes Faramir was dead instead of Boromir is pure PJ..................... Sometimes I get sooooo angry!
Tari Reviewed: 4/11/2008
Beautiful said. I totally agree with you. I always get upset with people who come down hard on Denethor. It is the palantir they should be directing their anger at. I love the insertion of a cat into the story. Were he human, he would be a wonderful counselor for Denether. Still, he is doing a very good job for a mere feline.
Author Reply: Thanks, Tari - Denethor was not 'faultless' though. He was definitely a flawed being... which is one reason why I love him. He is real... he makes mistakes... unfortunately, his great love for Gondor and his great pride caused a lot of nasty repercussions. However, Mithrandir had a lot to do with this too. I wish he had been more supportive of Denethor back when Thorongil was in the service of Gondor. I think that began most of Denethor's problems. But he had the ability and the chance to change things... we all do... and he did not. Therein lies the sadness of the tale. A great man who should not have fallen, but did.
Fiondil Reviewed: 4/11/2008
It is a pity that you even have to resort to this, Agape. I suspect most people claiming this is AU are basing it solely on movie!Denethor and not on Tolkien's depiction of him. And you are correct that PJ's Denethor isn't Tolkien's. How many people, having never read the books or even glanced at the Tale of Years would guess, just from watching the movies, that Denethor, who is of Númenórëan descent same as Aragorn, though of a less noble degree, is only one year older than Aragorn?
I'm sure that Eiluj is correct that Denethor went searching for Frodo through the Palantír on his own once he learned of the Hobbit's existence, but the image of what he found coupled with what Sauron shows him later (the Black Fleet) on top of the news that Théoden might NOT be able to reach Minas Tirith was enough to drag him down into a spiral of despair that merely deepened when Faramir returned more dead than alive. The thought that he had lost both his sons on top of everything else, I suspect, was the proverbial straw. Denethor was not insane, merely driven into a state of despair so deep (and partly through his own arrogance, I fear) that he could not listen to reason and saw no hope.
Those who depict Denethor as abusive and violent are the one's writing AU. Maybe if they actually bothered to read the book....
Author Reply: Because others don't agree usually doesn't bother me. However, I have spent so much time researching Denethor... for this tale and others... that I really had to put my foot down and say - Listen, this is not an AU. When I write an AU, I proclaim it.
The odd thing about all this (sans the part about Denethor not loving Faramir which I think is hogwash) is that Denethor had the right to go to the House of the Stewards and lay down and say, 'this is it. I've chosen my time to die.' It's one of the gifts of the Valar to those of Numenor. So the argument that he is committing suicide isn't true. He would have lain on that table until his spirit left him... That he chose to not wait for the 'long slow death' was his choice also. I don't think anywhere it said how they could end their lives.
The problem with this was that he chose for Faramir - and he had no right to do that....
I wrote to eiluj about Frodo and the Palantir below... I definitely think that Denethor, knowing from Faramir's account which way the Hobbit was headed, would have tried to find him!!!
Thanks ever so much for your support! Now to continue the tale... and you will be happy to see that the next chapter is rather long - for this tale (tail). :-)
Irene Reviewed: 4/11/2008
You are absolutely right! And a good thing you stated all the facts here for those who think Peter Jackson to be the author of LOTR. His movie, sadly, is very much AU...
Author Reply: As most movies do not follow the books they are taken from - we have to just grin and bear it. The movies were spectacular and mostly great... mostly...
Unfortunately, PJ did much damage, IMHO, to the characters... Denethor being only one destroyed by this movie for those who have never read the books.
Thanks for your comments! Most appreciated!
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