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Isabeau's Journal
The place to discuss my stories and other Tolkien-related topics.
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Isabeau's Journal

By:Isabeau
 November, 12 2005

OK, folks-this is the general forum now for questions that don't seem to fit in any of the other threads. I'm going to sort some of the earlier posts into the appropriate forums, but it might take a while, so bear with me. I'll delete the ones that have already been reposted by their authors.


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448 replies


 [231] But if you do let him keep in contact with the Eagles, you probably should address the reason why it was kept secret (or, at least kept secret from Hethlin). I guess the connection was known openly in the North? If so, you must have a reason why Halaran doesn't mention it the child who presumably is to inherit this link for 10 years.

Yes, I agree. If Halaran kept in touch with any of the Dunedain, it's hard to figure out why he didn't tell Hethlin about her heritage.

On the other hand it wouldn't be too hard to imagine, for me at least, Halaran keeping in touch with the Eagles periodically, but not telling Hethlin anything about it, if there was real bitterness on his part about his exile, his in-laws, and/or the Dunedain community at large. Do you think that if Halaran was estranged from the Dunedain he might have delayed telling Hethlin anything about recent or more distant family history because he just didn't want to have to explain and re-open those emotional wounds until it was necessary?

I guess another thing that I was wondering about, vis a vis the relative safety of Anorien and the unexpectedness(?) of the orc attack, is that Halaran must have felt pretty safe until that fatal moment. He seemed to have been keen on preparing Hethlin for a life where swordplay, hunting, and earning her own way would be important skills for her. But he didn't seem to feel any urgency about telling her about her family history -- either the Eagles or the Witch King. Doesn't that suggest that he didn't seem to think he was in any immediate danger? It also makes me wonder about Litharel's idea -- mentioned in this discussion by Denise -- that Halaran was perhaps thinking to confront the Witch King and that's why he moved to Anorien. Just seems a bit odd to think that might have been on his mind at all but he didn't think to tell Hethlin, who as we know *was* going to be affected by the curse. Some foreknowledge might have been very helpful for her -- what if Elrohir hadn't been on hand, or hadn't been inclined to take the risk that he did?

I guess in the back of my mind was the assumption that Halaran might not have even viewed the curse as a genuine threat -- it would be awfully hard to justify putting those you love most at risk like that. I guess the conclusion I'd unconsciously reached about that was that the curse was a convenient excuse trotted out by the former friend, and given credence by others in the Dunedain community -- including Litharel -- to justify having sympathy for/favoring the rejected suitor, who came from a more illustrious family, etc. I kind of had the impression that Litharel was disappointed by his daughter's choice of husband -- not because anyone really thought the curse was going to act upon them, but because Halaran wasn't so well-connected. But perhaps I've really misinterpreted that situation.

Rebecca
Posted:Feb 8, 2006 11:34 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [232] Correction & qualification:

A few posts back I wrote "... Eagles' Eyrie, Gwahir..." when I meant to write "Eagles' Eyre, home of Gwahir et al." Oops!

I must apologize if I post my thoughts, opinions & questions in too forceful a fashion. My thoughts & questions about Halaran are just a function of my interpretation of Isabeau's work, but even if I'm writing at length about my take on things I hope it's clear to Isabeau and everyone else that it's just my take. Although I don't insert the caveat "I could totally be wrong here," it's intended with every point or assertion I make.

Rebecca
Posted:Feb 8, 2006 14:08 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [233] Hmmm. More thoughts on the curse relative to Halaran's moving South and settling in Anorien. It seemed from what Aragorn told Heth (when they first talked in the gardens) that the curse was always sort of in the background for the House of the Eagle and the Dunedain around them. Not particularly dwelt upon but not completely out of mind either, and probably more urgent for the House of the Eagle (thus they were always in the forefront of battle to try to make up for it, etc.). Perhaps the betrayal by his friend and division of the Dunedain is what tipped the scale in Halaran's mind, and that's why he moved as close to MT/Mordor as he could (to try to force the prophecy) without putting his wife and eventual children in direct danger? He couldn’t really move to another settlement in Arnor, as they would still have the division within the Dunedain to contend with, although you could argue that seasoned adult warriors should be able to get over such a personal matter reasonably quickly. And he could have had Anorien specifically in mind because of things he’d heard or people he’d met in the past (ala Rebecca’s comment), and arriving found that it suited his needs quite well. Many if not most of our major decisions are not made because of just one big reason, but perhaps a couple of bigger reasons and a bunch of smaller ones, and sometimes they’re made as we go.

And Aragorn seemed to think that he’d done what he could to right the situation and persuade Halaran to stay, but maybe it wasn’t all that he COULD have done. Ala his confession of poor leadership in “Last Rites,” he’s still human, capable of mistakes in judgment, for all his wisdom and abilities, and Halaran leaving was undoubtably the path of least resistance.

I don’t question why Halaran didn’t tell Hethlin that she specifically would be able to speak to Eagles. In “Cage No Bird” he isn’t certain that a female of the House would be able to, as he couldn’t remember any of his forefathers having any daughters, and he was hoping/expecting that he’d have a son next who would likely be the heir to all that. So he wouldn’t want to tell Hethlin she could look forward to such a great ability if, in the end, she wouldn’t have it after all. And this would be true of the Witch King’s prophecy as well. But I don’t understand why he and Liranaiel don’t give her more information on her heritage in general. She’s 17-18 when the orcs come along, right? Even if her father and/or mother were especially bitter about it (re: Rebecca’s thoughts), it still seems strange that she’s in the dark about everything for that long. Like Imhiriel, I think that needs addressing more than the rest. But then, maybe it was just another issue of mistakes being made by her parents, who thought it better that Heth not know of her illustrious heritage until she was mature enough to handle it?

And orcs in Anorien. It seems like I too read somewhere that they did not live in the White Mountains. But as the years led up to the Ring War proper, Sauron would have been testing Gondor’s readiness and defenses. I could see parties of orcs periodically making scouting forays, and even the best fighter can be overcome by sheer numbers, especially if surprised. And I imagine it was a surprise, as Heth was out (hunting?) when it happened and I can’t imagine that would have been allowed if there was a rumor of orc activity. Also, Halaran may have had somewhat of a reputation with the successful destruction of the brigands many years earlier, although it’s not said if they were connected to Sauron at all.

Lastly, all this did remind me of a question about Heth’s age. She’s 21 in March 3019 (conversation with Eowyn), and in July 3019 she’s 22 (dinner with Faramir, and elsewhere?), so her birthday is somewhere in there. But in spring (?) 3009 she is 11 (Cage No Bird). Things seem off by a year, but I could be misunderstanding the timing of her birthday relative to events.

As a final comment - I personally enjoy reading all of your comments, Rebecca, as well as everyone else's. I think the caveat "IMO only" is understood for everyone except Isabeau!

Denise
Posted:Feb 8, 2006 14:43 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [234] s a final comment - I personally enjoy reading all of your comments, Rebecca, as well as everyone else's.

Thanks, Denise, and likewise! We might disagree on Certain Matters, but if nothing else it's interesting to see how something that seems to be so self-evident to me is not so to everyone else. Always worth bearing in mind whether in this discussion or in any other!

I agree btw about the reason behind the orc incursions -- Mordor testing Gondor's (and Rohan's) borders. Plus once Saruman got into bed with Sauron, so to speak, orcs would have been traveling between the two rather frequently in all likelihood. My point in the relative safety of Anorien was just that it might have appeared to be so when Halaran first moved there. Also it must have been, historically speaking, relatively safe, else the homesteaders would have probably congregated in a more central, fortified community. The early settlers of New England didn't live on scattered homesteads. Not trying for a second to compare Native Americans to orcs, just pointing out the way that wilderness settlers dealt with security against intelligent, weapons-bearing potential threats.

And I also agree that it seemed as though the Witch King curse was well-known throughout the Dunedain community. But there's a difference between knowing about it and believing it to be an imminent and relevant threat. Didn't the Witch King disappear for hundreds of years after the fall of Angmar? I guess it seems to me anyway that for the most part the curse affected the House of the Eagle by making them semi-pariahs among their own kind. Always having to go farther to prove themselves loyal ... when, with no Witch King around, there was no immediate or at least obvious chance that they were going to do any harm to the Dunedain. I understand that there was always the chance of the WK coming back, which could happen, in theory, at any time. But in the daily experience, and for that matter life-long experience, of successive generations of the House of the Eagle, the curse was an unreasonable bias against them.

Kind of like if schizophrenia runs in your family you're more likely to develop the disease than someone with no family history, but there's no guarantee that you will or your descendants will. Nonetheless people who know about your family history might attach more significance to your (normal) mood swings, or they might make assumptions about you and your fitness to wed and have children.

At the time of Halaran and Liraniel's wedding there was no sign of a resurgent Witch King. I can't help but wonder if fear of the curse wasn't a convenient excuse for baser motives in objecting to the marriage, not only on the part of the former friend/rejected suitor, but Litharel and his family too.

It's not, by the way, that I'm firmly against Litharel. Rather it's that what we know of him does not suggest someone who respected his daughter's choice in matters of the heart. Perhaps that's a common trait among fathers in the North, mortal or immortal ...? Anyway there are unanswered issues there, which could perhaps largely or even wholly be resolved if Isabeau can work out what lay behind Halaran's choice to remove to Anorien.

Rebecca
Posted:Feb 8, 2006 15:33 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [235] Yes, everyone’s different comments remind me that there can be many perspectives about a given situation, and very often other readers notice things that go right over my head. And a difference in perspectives can also explain discrepancies in the whole Halaran situation, should Isabeau choose explanations that are different than her stories indicate up to date. After all, we’ve heard Aragorn’s story about Halaran moving to Gondor, and some of Litharel’s, but nothing from Halaran himself. In fact, that’s one of the things I love best about Isabeau and Altariel’s collaborations! One character says or does something, and it’s seen in a slightly (or completely!) different way than intended by the other character. So like real life.

But I thought your comparison of the curse and schizophrenia was both humorous and apt. I don’t know what I think of Litharel and his family’s handling of the whole situation leading up to Halaran and Liraniel’s departure. I don’t think there’s enough non-Litharel perspective to get a good read on it, so I just “fill in” with my own conjecture at this point. However, I think Liraniel’s other suitor clearly seemed to use the knowledge and potential curse to his advantage for baser motives, as he was happy to ignore it until Liraniel chose Halaran over him. Maybe the other Dunedain were always more subtly uncomfortable about it so he knew he could get them worked up. In the end, not a nice guy and possibly not ever a true friend to Halaran either.

Denise
Posted:Feb 8, 2006 17:00 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [236] So annoying, I'd written out a response and my wide sweater sleeves inadvertently moved the browser window back several times, thus causing me to lose my reply! grrr... stupid sweater.

I think Liraniel’s other suitor clearly seemed to use the knowledge and potential curse to his advantage for baser motives, as he was happy to ignore it until Liraniel chose Halaran over him. Maybe the other Dunedain were always more subtly uncomfortable about it so he knew he could get them worked up. In the end, not a nice guy and possibly not ever a true friend to Halaran either.

Yes, I think that for Halaran this would have been a huge betrayal -- they were such good friend for so long, discovering that his friend was not the person he'd long believed him to be would have been a crushing blow to a loner like Halaran (who apparently had no living family by the time he was an adult).

And I think that's what has informed my assumption that Halaran felt bitter about his exile, and didn't tell Hethlin because he couldn't bear to talk about it until he needed to. I think Denise makes a good point about Halaran hesitating to tell Hethlin about the Eagles or the Witch King because by the time she was old enough to take that info on board she had a brother who would be the one to inherit his father's legacy, both the good and the bad (to add to the "how old was Hethlin when..." series of questions, I thought she was 16 when she was carried off by the orcs, and her little brother was 5; if so she'd have been 11 when he was born, just barely old enough to be privy to such serious things).

Continuing with my framework of assumptions, it makes sense to me that Halaran and Liraniel avoided talking about their family history at all with Hethlin, so that they wouldn't have to deal with awkward questions from her, so that they wouldn't have to explain to her that she had grandparents living up north who apparently didn't care enough to keep in touch, etc.

Another problem occurs to me with the notion that Aragorn and Halaran were working together. Actually two related problems, but I might be quite off about at least one of them. OK:

1. If Aragorn had actually sent Halaran down to Anorien (or agreed that Anorien could be a useful place for H. to relocate to), and Halaran had been keeping an eye on things for him, I think we end up with a rather different picture of Aragorn. The throne was always his goal, yes, but I always thought that the tragic irony of Denethor's mistrust of Thorongil/Aragorn was that D. suspected him of being capable of, in essence, a coup d'état. From Tolkien's depictions of Aragorn -- and I think that Isabeau's Aragorn is much aligned with them -- he was ambitious without being sneaky or grasping. Installing an informant in Denethor's domain (albeit on the neglected edge) seems like a schemming sort of thing for Aragorn to have done. I could see Gandalf doing it, perhaps! But Aragorn... I don't think so. But maybe I don't really understand what Tolkien conceived of for him.

2. If in fact Aragorn had sent Halaran down to send reports back north, or to just be on hand when and if he was needed, Halaran's disappearance should have raised alarms for Aragorn that would have caused him to investigate. Unless he knew that Halaran was killed in an orc attack, Aragorn might reasonably have feared that Halaran somehow drew the attention of the paranoid Steward, who guessed at the connection between them and had Halaran imprisoned. Given the possible danger from Denethor, could Aragorn have just let Halaran's silence pass without investigating?

Oh, one more thought. Say that Aragorn did keep in touch with Halaran periodically, and that he did note the silence from Anorien but had not been able to investigate. Do you think he would have questioned Boromir about any northerners that moved to Anorien? Boromir remembered Halaran from the time that H. went to MT to petition the Steward for assistance in Anorien. Boromir would have known who Aragorn was talking about, and moreover would have known that Halaran's daughter lived -- and where she was.

Rebecca
Posted:Feb 8, 2006 20:17 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [237] In Soledad's universe, Lady Tirathiel and Denethor were very close and even thought about marrying before Nimrien's parents died. Is this part of your universe as well?

Connected to that, do you adopt her idea (from "The Excercise of Vital Powers") that the ladies of MT more or less conspired to get Thorongil out of the city and Finduilas kind of blackmailed him directly to his face to leave after his victory at Umbar?

It's sometimes fun, but sometimes also puzzling, to figure out just how much your, Altariel's and Soledad's (and Dwim's) stories overlap, and where your ideas diverge. Sometimes the difference is just a little detail, a nuance, sometimes it's a whole concept or characterisation...

Imhiriel
Posted:Feb 11, 2006 19:23 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [238] Hi everyone! Not avoiding you guys-I'm just trying to finish a story. I'll try to get back to the Halaran discussion ASAP-the insights and ideas are very good!

Isabeau
Posted:Feb 13, 2006 06:40 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [239] Isabeau wrote: -I'm just trying to finish a story

HURRAY!!!

Rebecca
Posted:Feb 13, 2006 08:03 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [240] Please do fiinish your story, feel free to put your writing first any time, it always encourages discousion, or questions,

Looking forward to it,

Nargil
Posted:Feb 13, 2006 08:15 GMT  Reply to this Comment
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