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Altariel's Journal
All shall love me and despair



Story meme

 November, 11 2005

Future histories


Here is a meme that did the rounds on LJ recently; not only was it fun, it was a source of ideas:

Ask me what happens after the end of one of my stories.

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34 replies

 [31] I've always been a bit confused about the palantíri -- I've always conceived of them more as videphones; minus, as Denise points out, the sound. The point being that they weren't crystal balls, or even Galadriel's mirror -- which could show things that "had not yet come to pass," or things from the past that its mistress had not witnessed herself. I thought that the info conveyed by the palantíri had to be info "entered" into the "system" by a user of a palantir. If I'm making sense, which I might not be.

Am I wrong in my understanding? I thought that Denethor was mistaken in believing that his skill was what showed him the things he saw through his palantir; rather everything he saw was being fed to him by Sauron. I figured that Sauron probably lured him to relying more and more on the palantir by showing him things that helped Denethor, or at least seemed to help him, perhaps even sometimes at small cost to Mordor in the years before the Ring War. It would have given Denethor a false sense of confidence in his abilities, and blinded him to the fact that Sauron was poisoning him. If Sauron had spies in Minas Tirith, they could have discovered Boromir and Andrahar's secret; Sauron would have known about Denethor's great love for his eldest son, and driving a wedge between them would have doubtless been right up the Dark Lord's alley. My larger question/point being: could the palantíri show a user something that neither he nor any other palantíri user knew about?

Posted:Feb 17, 2006 23:31 GMT  Reply to this Comment

 [32] Good question! I'm pretty sure (without doing a lot of rereading) that Denethor was misled by Sauron. He was shown "truth" but only part of it (for example, black Corsair sails coming up the Anduin, but not that Gondor's salvation was on board). But I also had the impression that Sauron, being so much more powerful, had control over the palantir, something that would not be the case in his absence. Didn't Aragorn wrest control of the Orthanc palantir away from Sauron when he revealed himself as Elendil's heir somewhere in "Two Towers"? I did find in RotK Ch. 6 where Aragorn tells Pippin "the Palantir of Orthanc the King will keep, to see what is passing in his realm, and what his servants are doing." So it would seem to allude to Aragorn being able to see events he wouldn't otherwise know about. (He also alludes to Denethor's palantir being irrevocably damaged and showing only the image of burning hands and flames - does anyone know the explanation of how it became "altered" like that?) I assume Aragorn could also see people that he had no previous knowledge of. But again, things are always open to interpretation - you'd have to be careful about making decisions based solely on knowledge gained via the palantiri...

Posted:Feb 18, 2006 03:52 GMT  Reply to this Comment

 [33] There's a section in UT about the palantíri, but I find it a bit hard to follow, and I'm not sure Tolkien had worked out entirely in his mind how they'd worked. Definitely people could see things that neither they nor others knew about. I think of them as soundless TV monitors (the word palantír means "far-seer" after all), and that Sauron's influence is, in Denethor's case, like interference with the picture and, in Saruman's case, like watching propaganda.

Tolkien is quite explicit that Denethor had an inherited right to use the palantír as the Steward. Also that in legitimate hands, and with sufficient skill, someone could see people as clearly as being able to make out details as small as a ring on the finger. But I think it's also implied that Denethor had not been trained to use the palantír (that kind of knowledge had been lost as Gondor waned), and that the strain of holding off Sauron's influence would have affected the quality of the information he was able to get from it.

Posted:Feb 18, 2006 09:27 GMT  Reply to this Comment

 [34] Denise wrote: Poor Angrim, caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. He seems like such a decent fellow, too.

Yes, I think he was a decent man. How he found himself in the position of being chosen by Denethor for this particular assignment I'm not quite sure. Perhaps he'd performed a similar function in the past. It must have become harder and harder as the war went on and the Rangers were pulled closer and closer together. Plus I think Faramir rather than Denethor would ultimately have attracted the larger part of Angrim's loyalty and love.

Posted:Feb 19, 2006 03:42 GMT  Reply to this Comment
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