A Bit of Rope: 67. Appendices

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67. Appendices

Appendix I: Bird List

List of birds noted by one or more major characters (a mix of new and old world species): Golden cheeked warbler, green winged teal, snow goose, black swift, bufflehead, greylag goose, blue winged teal, wood duck, great grey heron, snowy egret, European robin, common ptarmigan, American crow, common raven, golden eagle (the Middle Earth sub-species, much bigger than the modern variety...and talks, too!).

(I didn't include the big mixed flocks mentioned in a few later chapters since those birds were listed by name.) My thanks to Glirnardir, the reader who suggested that a have the Raven Clan of Isen (from The Kindness of Strangers) play a cameo role in A Bit Of Rope—a brilliant idea!

Appendix II: Music as character illustration

When I am writing and noodling about in my head, I very often try to imagine a musical background for each character and sometimes for relationships or scenes, just like in the movies! Here are some of the themes that came to me during the writing of this long long work. I'd recommend finding recordings on YouTube and listening and imagining...

Theme music for main characters:

Frodo Baggins: "Farewell To Stromness" Peter Maxwell Davies

            Made "popular" again at a recent royal wedding, this was originally a lament for the environmental destruction of a small town in the Orkney Islands and is poignant, sweet music

Sam Gamgee: "My Cape Breton Home," traditional

            A simple lovely traditional melody

Peregrin Took: "The Fertile Fields of Peebles," traditional

            A bit more sprightly and lighthearted traditional Irish dance tune

Meriadoc Brandybuck" "Finale, St. Paul's Suite" op. 29, #2, Gustav Holst

            A dance tune that has bittersweet elements

Gandalf the Grey: "Symphony #3 in F major, final movement" Johannes Brahms

            Majestic music that builds to a stupendous quiet conclusion

Aragorn (alone): "La Forza del Destino" – from the Overture to "Manon L'Escault", Giuseppi Verdi

            Exciting, romantic and thrilling, full of angst and adventure

Arwen (alone): "Vocalise" op. 34, #14, Sergei Rachmaninov

            Extraordinarily beautiful and otherwordly

Aragorn and Arwen (united): "Berceuce and Finale, from The Firebird Suite" Igor Stravinsky

            I imagine them simply gazing into one another's eyes as a huge force field of love spins around them

Legolas: "Mercury, The Winged Messenger" from "The Planets," Gustav Holtz

            Energetic, mercurial, mystical

Gimli: "Symphonic Dances, I, non allegro" Sergei Rachmaninov

            Thunderous, strong and steady, but always unpredictable

Boromir: "Academic Festival Overture" op. 80, Johannes Brahms

            Magnificent, proud and heroic music

Faramir: "Adagio for String Orchestra," Samuel Barber

            Contemplative, sad and thought-provoking

Denethor: "Praeludium and Allegro," Fritz Kreisler

            Noble and precise, and ultimately triumphant music

Elrohir and Elladan (together): "Fantasia in F minor for piano, Four hands," Franz Schubert

            Impossible to tell where one piano begins and the other ends, this music has themes that are both happy and sad

Elrohir (alone): "Prelude in C-sharp minor," op. 9 #1, for the left hand, Alexander Scriabin

            Lonely, spare and grieving

Halbarad: "Menuet Pompeux," Emmanuel Chabrier

            A piece of nobility and celebration

Sharkglub/Iaurel: "The Feeling Begins" Peter Gabriel (music from The Last Temptation of Christ)

            Full of wild energy and unleashed emotion

Appendix III: Original characters

Original Characters, more or less in order of appearance or mentioning (and I've probably forgotten a few):

Graga: Orc of Isengard

Uznak: Orc of Isengard

Berengil: officer of the Mering outpost in Anorien

Baranor: Commander of the City Regiment of Minas Tirith

Aratan: Baranor's lieutenant

Rosdolog: officer of the Citadel of Minas Tirith

Mab: orphan boy

Damir: orphan boy

Ivreniril: Master Herbalist

Mareyn: healing woman apprentice

Brand: Mareyn's brother

Meneldil: prosthetics craftsman

Turin: Master Healer

Maerod: Boromir's squire

Ulbar: swordsmaster of Dol Amroth

Harnion: engineer

Borthand: forge-master

Bastir: wounded soldier of Gondor

Gwaeleth: wife of Prince Imrahil

Aerin: new mother, wife of Faeron

Hargam: officer from Cair Andros

Daerlin: officer from Cair Andros

Ephedril: soldier of Minas Tirith

Marwhini: soldier of Rohan

Harmund: lieutenant of Rohan

Frema: lieutenant of Rohan

Harwine: physician of Rohan

Frear: taster of the Royal table of Edoras

Brega: squire to Theodred

Indor: Ranger of the Northern Dunedain

Halmir: youngest son of Halbarad

Thavron: Dunedain swordsmaster

Lathron: healer of Minas Tirith

Candir: healer's assistant

Maedgam: healer's assistant

Faeron: soldier of Gondor, husband of Aerin

Broghur: Osgiliath commander

Irinon: soldier of Gondor

Talphir: officer of Dol Amroth

Galúvegil: soldier of City Regiment of Minas Tirith

Sador: son of Angbor of Lamedon

Shârkglub: Chief Pit Orc of Barad-dûr=Iaurel: Elf returned from Namo's halls

Estelion: son of Aerin and Faeron

Appendix IV: Author's notes on the story

This long work basically asks one question:

What would have been the unexpected outcomes of Gandalf the Grey surviving Moria and Gandalf the White never existing?

And related questions: Did he have any sort of plan for the quest after Lothorien that might have been able to play out if he'd survived? Would others fill in for what Gandalf the White did in the original? Would the shadow presence of the living but missing-in-action Gandalf the Grey of this version have an important impact?

In the writing, I evolved a strong secondary interest in presenting JRRT's main characters as changed from his originals: bending the archetypes he presented mostly by allowing them to have more flaws and doubts, using the trigger of events altered by Sam's having a rope. Also, I always thought that Tolkien's Ring-War was a bit too neat. My version of war is lots uglier and is definitely inspired by the Silmarillion's much darker conflicts and tales. And in later chapters I also did a little exploring about the nature of the survivor's burden.

Here are my alterations in the plot and character development, with some rationale where I felt an explanation of my thinking was in order.

Sam brings rope and Frodo remembers it; the Fellowship saves Gandalf the Grey from falling into the abyss in Moria. The Balrog falls into the water at the bottom of the chasm beneath the Bridge of Khazad-dum, and also survives.

The slight but important pause at the Bridge, necessary to haul Gandalf out of the chasm, results in Boromir being seriously wounded.

Boromir's near-death experience, coupled with his realization that both Gandalf and Aragorn saved his life, changes him significantly. The Ring's influence over him is broken. He becomes a "true believer" that the Ring is utterly evil and cannot be used. He never attempts to take the Ring and so, adhering to Tolkien's sense of justice, he no longer must die to atone for that sin.

The Company's arrival in Lorien occurs a few hours later because of delays at the Bridge, when the Company stops to tend to their wounded, and because Gandalf and Boromir arrive later. Haldir and Rumil are on the flet with Aragorn and Boromir for a longer time. Rumil joins the rest of the Elf patrol later, thus he encounters Gollum in the forest and kills him.

Gandalf sends a "telepathic" plea to Elrond almost immediately after their arrival in Caras Galadhon, that the Dunedain of the North and the sons of Elrond to come south to Aragorn's aid. Therefore, the Grey Company arrives twelve days earlier.

Most members of the Fellowship have some forewarning of what is to come by looking in Galadriel's Mirror, and their subsequent actions are guided by this knowledge to a greater or lesser degree. Thus, Aragorn is ultimately convinced he must go south to intercept the Corsairs, Merry sees that he can't go to Minas Tirith with Pippin, Pippin shuts his eyes before the vision is complete and the groundwork is laid for Legolas and Gimli's eventual deep friendship. In the end, it is Frodo and Sam who are least warned about what is coming.

Aragorn's suspicion that Gandalf intends to use himself as a diversion increases the absent wizard's seeming influence over him and drives many of his decisions.

Boromir grows closer to Gandalf on the journey down the river, solidifying his change of heart.

Denethor may well be the character most changed by the ripple effect of Sam's rope. (I purposefully wished to rectify what I saw as ridiculous character assassination that occurred in the movies, and the original is none too kind to the poor Steward either.) Boromir's return and defiance of him starts to crack his beliefs. His realization that he has made crucial mistakes in preparing Minas Tirith for war erodes his self-confidence. He is secretly moved by the knowledge that Gandalf helped save his son's life after he was wounded in Moria, though he initially denies this, even to himself. When the Steward sees Gandalf at Minas Morgul in the Palantir, he is shocked into questioning his long-held opinion that the Grey Wanderer is purely a manipulator who only acts to serve his own interests. His decision to set the Palantir aside before the siege shields his mind from Sauron at a critical moment and speeds his recovery from despair. Does the spirit of Finduilas actually return to influence Denethor, or is his rapidly healing soul simply more open to hope? Your belief is as good as mine on this one. His transformation continues when he slays the Nazgul's flying beast. He demonstrates to himself that he is still the valiant man and brilliant warrior that he once was. The act of saving Faramir's life opens his heart toward his younger son, similar to the Wood Elves belief that saving a mortal's life makes you responsible for it. The sequence of close interactions between Denethor and Faramir during the days leading up to the siege finally melts the chill between them.

The awakening of the Ents starts with Quickbeam and may happen a bit faster.

Aragorn and Gimli do not have to "side track" all the way to Parth Galen before going to Rohan, therefore they can arrive at the Fords of Isen in time to save Theodred.

The hunting party of Uruks waits an extra day at Parth Galen and thus enters Rohan later. They are not as far into the country when Eomer's men find them, and with the help of Legolas, destroy them. However, Eomer and Legolas pursue them much farther east and north and thus have a longer journey back to Edoras. Theodred, as the grandson of Morwen of Gondor, realizes that the name Aragorn indicates royalty. Theodred is popular and powerful enough to convince the nobility of Rohan to allow him to rule while his father is still alive but incapacitated. Theodred gives Shadowfax to Aragorn in gratitude for saving his life. A wounded Aragorn on Shadowfax is the logical man to ride around the Westfold and gather the troops that come to Helm's Deep, and he convinces the others that helping Theodred and Rohan is helping the overall cause of the West. (I originally had planned not just one but three wounds for poor Aragorn. Small consolation for what ultimately happens, I know…) I like using "supporting actor" characters to describe things, so Gimli, Halbarad and Elrohir all have lots of "time on the stage" in my version and we see much of Aragorn from their points of view.

Because they travel separately, Merry and Pippin must act much more independently, and they each mature significantly—and differently. Pippin is brought to Minas Tirith by Boromir, not by Gandalf the White, and as Boromir immediately develops a rift with his father, Pippin is not introduced to the Steward and has no opportunity to be Denethor's page. I decided to place him in the Houses of Healing to put him right in the action without making him bear arms, which would have seemed less than believable. And Merry's sole journey to the Ents (and exposure to the Ent-draughts) and longer, more personal exposure to a strong-willed, attractive woman (Eowyn) sets the stage for later events that might otherwise strain credulity.

I decided that having only one Peredhel survive after Helm's Deep would simplify my later plot complications. I chose Elrohir to survive because he was leaning a bit more toward gloomy in my interpretation of the twain, and that happened to work better for me in the long run.

Wormtongue murders Saruman months earlier than in the original book, because he is truly in love with Eowyn and can't bear the thought of an Uruk having her. His announcement to Eomer of Saruman's death allows Aragorn and the others to investigate the destruction of Isengard without fear. Aragorn, Elrohir and the Dunedain have extensive knowledge of the historical significance of Isengard and thus suspect that a Palantir remains there, making their brief detour to Isengard reasonable.

Theoden is alive but too weakened to ride to war; he remains behind in Dunharrow to rule the people in hiding. Eowyn matures and grows significantly compared to the original. Theodred is in command of the muster of Rohan. He understands his cousin better than does her brother, and has no qualms about allowing Eowyn to ride to battle and permits her to do so openly, though dressed as a male knight, for her protection in the coming battle. She in turn takes pity on Merry and allows him to ride with her, as in the original. I decided that as young as Eomer actually was in the original, he would probably act less maturely than the original described, and since I had Theodred as a foil for him it allowed me to magnify these differences. Eomer also doesn't meet Aragorn until after the battle of Helm's Deep and thus is not influenced much by him in this version. Eomer is distraught at the idea of his beloved sister taking on the risk of going to war, which leads to his rash behavior.

Gandalf's "last stand" forces the Witch King to recall the other Nazgul, so they are not present before the siege starts. When the Nazgul do join the attack on the retreat and at the siege, their number is initially reduced by three (two that Gandalf "released" and the Witch King, who is occupied in taking Gandalf to Barad-dur.)

With both of the Steward's sons alive and well and back in Minas Tirith, and with the renewed vigor of the Steward himself, the spirits of the defenders are greatly bolstered. Ulmo's gesture of sympathy for Olorin—the middle-of-the-desert rainstorm that heads west from Barad-dur—reduces the damage done by the fires. The better preparations and defences of the City mean that the siege causes fewer losses to Gondor and allies. Eowyn and Merry kill Gothmog (aided by Pippin, who wounds him first). The Witch King still meets his end "not by the hand of man," arriving late, but for the purposes of the good guys, at just the right place at the right time. Halbarad survives just because I wanted him to.

Frodo and Sam arrive in Mordor with better supplies, more food and the ability to carry more than three times as much water. The rainstorm is instrumental in turning away the attack of the spiders. Frodo arrives at Mount Doom in better physical condition, though Sam is much weaker due to the spider venom. The belief that his failure will lead to Gandalf's eternal imprisonment and torment in Barad-dur helps strengthen Frodo's resolve to find a way to destroy the Ring. He is willing to do anything to accomplish this, and Narya gives Sam strength of will and the hope that life without a hand is better than no life at all, helping him find the only way the Quest can be fulfilled without also sacrificing both of their lives. I chose to have only Frodo come out alive to explore the burdens of surviving.

Boromir is wounded seriously enough that his abdication to the title of Steward to Faramir is reasonable. Faramir is not wounded, and so has no chance to fall in love with Eowyn. She marries the elder son of Gondor instead of the younger, and after the death of Theoden, Eomer and Theodred, assumes the throne of Rohan with Boromir as King-in-all-but-name. BTW, the flowers of the high valleys of the White Mountains smell just like the fields of Ithilien, so that's why Boromir's tea smelled to him like Ithilien. Steward of Gondor Faramir marries Steward of Arnor Halbarad's daughter Faeleth, strengthening the ties between the two kingdoms of the Dunedain.

The Balrog's survival and rage-filled desire for revenge ravages the Elf strongholds of Lothlorien and Rivendell. Thranduil's kingdom fares better, because Khamul, the Nazgul of Dol Guldur, goes to Mordor before the battle for Mirkwood is finished, and the Wood Elves destroy the Orc army that remains.

All three Elven Ring-bearers die in this version of the War of the Rings, as do a large part of the Elves, for no particular deep reason other than that war really sucks, and I follow the Professor's general belief that the past (and the people who are essentially part of the past) was more beautiful and extraordinary than the mundane, dirty present, and they are swept away by terrible events.

No one in the Fellowship, not even Legolas, escapes this war without at least one wound or injury.

Radagast the Brown does what he can, and far more than in the original.

Aragorn comes to embody the truth that strength is not merely a physical attribute, and Arwen comes to embody the truth that beauty comes from within.

Elrohir's decision to be mortal, marry Ivreniril and stay with his sister and foster-brother follows the precedent of Elros and Elrond before them, though of course Elros made his decision while his twin brother was very much alive (must have been even more difficult).

Death still catches up with all the 'mortals,' of course – some deaths just happen at different times than in the book. Of the major characters, Gandalf the Grey still dies (as the indirect result of a confrontation with another Balrog, and just as violently), three months later to the day. Denethor still dies at almost the same moment as in the original, but honorably, fighting the Nazgul and not his own demons. Theodred still dies on the battlefield, just a different one. Boromir and Halbarad still die, but of old age, after full lives.

Sharkglub/Iaurel was invented solely to have a means to describe what was inevitably happening to Gandalf without describing it too directly. In this I follow the advice of Isabel Allende who says that torture should not be described or shown directly, only indirectly, otherwise it is voyeurism. The voice of the Orc was purely a means to an end at first, then he became a character on his own, and it was only in the writing that the idea evolved that he was one of the original Elf-Orcs and that Gandalf would immediately be able to see that and ultimately use it to his own advantage. I had to somehow unite Gandalf and Aragorn at the Black Gate (once Aragorn blurted out that he would "wait {for him} at the Black Gate, if need be" – I certainly didn't plan that, but once it was there, I liked it and had to figure out a way to make it happen…) and the really awful idea that emerged was vaguely inspired by a really awful novel I read about a Moorish siege of an Iberian/Roman city and what horrible stuff the besiegers did to their captives. Gandalf's starry death – the obverse of Saruman's smoky death, in the original – was in my head from the moment I realized that Aragorn and Gandalf would meet again on the plain of Dagorlad, in other words, when I wrote chapter 2, hundreds of pages earlier.

The final chapters about Frodo, Farmer Maggot, Iaurel, Bombadil and the reappearance of Gandalf were the most difficult for me to write, in part because there is almost no real action to carry things forward. I didn't even try to mimic the delightfully goofball Bombadil of the original—the thought exhausted me, so he comes off as rather ordinary in his speech. Depression is depressing to write about and to read about, and I didn't want any Deus Ex Machina solutions, ie, a White Ship to sail off to Never Never Land for healing. Frodo and Iaurel needed, in my mind, to find healing from their wounds and mistakes in the real ways that real people do: on their own, by living through it, learning from it and surviving… at least in the pre-psychotropic drug/ECT days of yore. Gandalf was in many ways merely a foil for Frodo to talk to in those final chapters, and I strongly considered leaving him out altogether… but that would have been even more boring and action-less!

And besides, the whole darn thing is all about Gandalf, isn't it?


This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Aiwendiel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 01/06/12

Original Post: 02/25/09

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