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Princes of Dol Amroth
February, 25 2006
Questions about the life and times of Imrahil and his family can be asked here, including questions about Ultimatums, Kin-Strife and the shorter stories. Discussions about Brand can go either here or in the Best-Loved Son thread, since his stories sort of overlap both cycles.
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 I don't think the foreshadowing is definitive about anything except Imrahil falling for Hethlin. (And I didn't mean to imply otherwise!) Even if he doesn't hook up with Heth in the end, I was sure that "Fin" would be a good big sister and ride him mercilessly about his attraction to someone young enough to be his granddaughter.
Ohhhh, I see. Sorry, my mistake -- from the questions you were asking about Hethlin's possible daughter, etc., I got the sense that you were sifting through the "past" and "future" of the time described in CMC/Silver Swan for signs that Hethlin was destined to be a part of Imrahil's future. And it looked like you'd finally gotten confirmation of that! But you're right, now that I re-read what you said, and Isabeau's reply, that's just one possibility. And of course, we all know that Hethlin is part of his future, regardless of whether they actually end up together.
I kind of get the sense that Isabeau isn't being coy with us, that she hasn't worked out an elaborate storyline well in advance that she's just feeding us slowly, piece by piece. Her stories feel like they evolve with the characters, that the characters are not necessarily on a pre-ordained trajectory where every chapter just connects the dots to an ending that was known from the start. Perhaps I'm wrong about the way Isabeau writes, but I like the sense that things are more open-ended. I think it makes the stories more interesting! I don't like it when authors strew their writing with Big Hints About Future Developments, as the plot's direction is often painfully obvious without the Significant Foreshadowing. Don't find that in Isabeau's stuff, fortunately.
If Heth is not for Imrahil, let me restate the fervent wish that he does find someone to bring him happiness. Angst makes for good reading, but Imrahil deserves a break by the end!
Amen to that!
Posted:Mar 9, 2006 21:15 GMT Reply to this Comment
 I got the sense that you were sifting through the "past" and "future" of the time described in CMC/Silver Swan for signs that Hethlin was destined to be a part of Imrahil's future.
Well, actually... I do do that. *sheepish grin*
But it's for my own benefit/enjoyment - I'm clear-eyed enough to realize that we're not going to find anything definitive until Isabeau specifically allows it. No accidental confirmations found yet! Elrohir and any other worthies are still in the potential husband pot! :)
I don't like it when authors strew their writing with Big Hints About Future Developments, as the plot's direction is often painfully obvious without the Significant Foreshadowing. Don't find that in Isabeau's stuff, fortunately.
I agree. Isabeau puts hints in, alright, but they are ambiguous enough that you can't sit back in your seat and say, "Yes, that's who The Man is going to be." (Among other developments.) Lots of hoping going on over here, of course, and liberal interpretation on my part as to Where Things Are Going. *grins*
Posted:Mar 9, 2006 22:21 GMT Reply to this Comment
 Denise: Angst makes for good reading, but Imrahil deserves a break by the end!
Rebecca: Amen to that!
Actually, I have the same wish for Elrohir, too... Can you and Altariel write happy endings for everyone, Isabeau?! This is what you get for making us all care about your characters so much.
Posted:Mar 10, 2006 00:01 GMT Reply to this Comment
 Isabeau puts hints in, alright, but they are ambiguous enough that you can't sit back in your seat and say, "Yes, that's who The Man is going to be." (Among other developments.)
True. Actually, I get the sense that it's not just that her hints are ambiguous, but that they're not always hints. For example, Isabeau, was Finduilas's retort to Imrahil's ribbing about her much-older suitor a deliberate instance of foreshadowing? If it was, it was so subtle and so naturalistic that I didn't even notice the foreshadowing -- it just seemed like something that would naturally pass between a woman in love with an older man and her slightly bratty younger brother, who can't at that point in his life ever imagine being "old."
That's what I like about Isabeau's writing, and also Altariel's and Soledad's. I don't get the sense that they set out to write a story that will take a given Tolkien character on a Path of Their Choosing, but rather they seem to write to explore that world and its inhabitants in a way that doesn't feel contrived or forced. I think that Hamfisted Foreshadowing is often employed to compensate for the fact that the plot is going in implausible directions, as if inserting hints in advance will justify any silly innovation!
Posted:Mar 10, 2006 08:07 GMT Reply to this Comment
 On the foreshadowing, I think I am overzealous in my naming it such, because I agree with you - their writing is natural and flowing, and never seems to force a certain character development or situation. I didn't initially read the line in question and think, "Oh, she's definitely trying to tell us something here." At least, not until I became a rabid Heth/Imrahil puller, and started rereading things with an eye for "clues"... *another sheepish grin*
My personal impression about the Unabeauverse Plan is that Isabeau and Altariel have a general goal in mind for their characters - that such-and-such is expected to happen at a certain time, for example. (Case in point: Hethlin will become a Swan Knight.) But the path that the characters take to get there is pretty open, and sometimes unexpected things come along (like Elrohir and Heth becoming lovers) and they follow their muses. They are such good writers that they manage to make even the unexpected seem... well, expected. An excellent example is Andrahar hitting Hethlin in DAY. When I first read that, I thought - NO WAY. Then Isabeau writes Reparation, and not only does his striking out fit into character, but by the end of the story his powerful sense of honor has been reasserted. I guess what I am trying clumsily to say is that their writing and treatment of their characters is always consistent. To me this consistency - and their general but not Hamfisted desires for the plot - is what perhaps gives an impression of hints and foreshadowing, when such may or may not be deliberately placed.
Of course, I think you pretty much said the same thing. This is just my perhaps slightly altered take on it...
Posted:Mar 10, 2006 11:45 GMT Reply to this Comment
 I think we are saying the same thing, Denise, and it sounds like we value Isabeau's writing for the same reasons.
They are such good writers that they manage to make even the unexpected seem... well, expected.
I think here I would not say that the unexpected becomes expected, but rather that the unexpected becomes believable -- surprising but, as you've said, consistent with the characters' development. There are no ridiculous twists that conveniently push characters into each others' arms, no mind-blowing alterations of character that appear to exist solely to accommodate implausible plot developments.
That's why I'm staying tuned, even though I rather suspect that the person whom I see, right now, as being the right choice for Hethlin isn't going to be whom she ends up with. There have been many Tolkien fan fictions that I started to read, and enjoyed until suddenly one of the characters started sounding like he or she was in the hands of a seven-year-old acting out a scenario with Barbie dolls. I fully trust that wherever Hethlin ends up, and whomever she ends up with, Isabeau will make her journey completely plausible. Right now I have my opinion about that, based on what I know from what has been written so far, and also my own personal take on larger issues in Tolkien's world. I also have my own opinions about what's right for Imrahil. But I'm really not pulling for any one outcome, although it might sound like I am.
Like you, Denise, I really dislike the thought that Imrahil is going to have to suffer from unrequited love for very long. Sure, he was an arrogant, privileged young man during the time of Kinstrife or Ultimatums, but he subsequently put himself second to his children, always cared for Andrahar, even when doing so made things much more difficult for him. So when I plead for mercy for Imrahil, it's not because I want a particular outcome (e.g. for him to not end up with Hethlin) but because, like you said, angst makes for good reading (for a short while anyway) but Imrahil deserves better. And so too does Elrohir. Even though Lord E. can be a total nuisance at times, I think he's a really good apple, faced with some extraordinarily difficult choices, and his self-doubts are so touching.
Now, a bit of angst for Lorend wouldn't go amiss! And the (very mild) tortures Imrahil suffers during his rather brief and not-too-quelling wait while proving himself to Nimrien are totally deserved. As I think I might have commented in my review of the last chapter of Ultimatums, I get the sense that Isabeau enjoys thwarting Imrahil's romantic inclinations. In Ultimatums, I find that thoroughly enjoyable, because at that stage in his life our boy needed to be taken down a few pegs!
Posted:Mar 10, 2006 12:26 GMT Reply to this Comment
 Nargil wrote: Little chillie peppers are EVIL, my cousin talked me into trying one once and it nearly blew my brains out.
They truly are. My father gave me a seed once when I was seven and it tore me up. We lived in San Diego at the time, and he would go over the border to Mexico to get the really, really hot ones because he loved them and what we had on our side wasn't hot enough for him. I, on the other hand, am a total wimp about spicy food.
As for the Minas Tirith numbers I always thought it depended on where you live, those who live in the citadle count that as level 1 (so this would be Imrahil as well) but those who live in the first circle count that as one, in the middle people it probably depends on wether they see themselves as uper or lower class.
Oh, I like this, Nargil! A perfect explanation for my inconsistencies!
Yet another question, Why did Elphir not write to Imrahil about Brand, he wouldn't have known about him looking like Boromir but even so by the time Andra is bringing him to Swan knight meetings he must be quite well in?
Elphir might very well have mentioned to his father that Andrahar had picked this stable-boy up on the way home from Pelargir. But Elphir doesn't know about the wave dream or any of the evidence that Andra has, because Andra is keeping that to himself at present. So it's not quite the matter of urgency to Imrahil that reading "Andra found a boy he thinks is Cousin Boromir's illegitimate son!" would be. Andra has taken an interest in the odd waif or stray before.
Posted:Mar 12, 2006 07:34 GMT Reply to this Comment
 Rebecca wrote: I kind of get the sense that Isabeau isn't being coy with us, that she hasn't worked out an elaborate storyline well in advance that she's just feeding us slowly, piece by piece. Her stories feel like they evolve with the characters, that the characters are not necessarily on a pre-ordained trajectory where every chapter just connects the dots to an ending that was known from the start. Perhaps I'm wrong about the way Isabeau writes, but I like the sense that things are more open-ended.
I usually have an idea of the direction in which I want to go, but the longer stuff is by no means as scripted as the shorter stuff. Certain things are going to happen, but the scenes in between those key events just seem to come to me. Altariel is much more focused and better at outlining her work in advance than I am.
But sometimes even the big stuff slips away or gets changed, due to the machinations of evil characters. Elrohir was never supposed to sleep with Heth, and Imrahil was never supposed to propose to her at the time in which he did. Both gentlemen insisted on stomping all over my plot line.
Posted:Mar 12, 2006 07:44 GMT Reply to this Comment
 But sometimes even the big stuff slips away or gets changed, due to the machinations of evil characters. Elrohir was never supposed to sleep with Heth, and Imrahil was never supposed to propose to her at the time in which he did. Both gentlemen insisted on stomping all over my plot line.
What a coincidence, I'm a sucker for bad boys -- if they periodically put themselves in the driver's seat, it's no wonder I'm hooked on your stories, Isabeau!
I really, really like your style. Altariel's also has the ease and flow that allows me to get immersed in that world without being conscioius of the the author's hand. I understand that of course you must have some notion of what's going to happen, or else it would be impossible to write! But I have yet to encounter from you a chapter where I think, "oh I know where this is going, and the only reason it's happening at all is so that 'X' can happen." I'm never entirely sure what's going to happen in the installations of your stories, which is good of course, but moreover I always find it to be completely natural and uncontrived, which is so important too!
And that's why I come here on a daily basis with questions -- your world and characters are psychologically realistic and invite further thought. We're lucky you're gracious about fielding our questions!
Posted:Mar 12, 2006 09:17 GMT Reply to this Comment
 Ultimatums: In ch. 11, Andrahar says to Boromir: But if you should cause men to die defending you because you stupidly put yourself into peril as you did today, then you are no better than a murderer.
I wonder if Andra has similar thoughts about Imrahil's foolhardy exploits preceding Ultimatums. And if Imri winces inwardly at hearing those words.
In re-reading Ultimatums, I was struck with just how different Andrahar seems there in contrast to earlier in Kin-Strife or again in later stories. He is so... carefree is perhaps too strong, but he jokes with Imrahil and laughs a lot and so on. And I think this is because in the intervening years since K-S he has finally found a place, a home, a surety he did not yet have in K-S. And when we seem him later, all sorts of things will have happened to make him the grim man of his later years; Nimrien's death, Boromir, Adrahil's death, the imminent war. I like it a lot that you show this development; that it isn't simply a straight line, but a curve with ups and downs.
Did I tell already you how much I adore your Adrahil? If not, consider it told now *g*.
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