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Reconciliation

By:Dwimordene
 May, 4 2007

A journal for discussion of the story "Reconciliation."

   ~~~

Just what the hook says. I will try actually to reply to any comments in this journal.


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60 replies


 [41] I'm with Peloren in not understanding the Southron . Was all this parley only a a ploy for time (waiting still for the missing ship)? What did he mean when he said Peloren was no messenger? That this is somehow a justification for violating the parley?

No, it's not actually a ploy at this point - the delay doesn't actually help the Haradrim. Any delay is working in favor of Peloren and Andrahar, whose only real hope is for the cavalry to show up soon and finish what they started.

Bhasat was actually being sincere - he's being, as he sees it, polite to honorable enemies, rectifying the stupidity and arrogance he thinks his commander showed, and he is certainly curious about his opponents. After all, they took down a sizable company with some stones, a net, a lot of luck, guts, and fury. Peloren has experience of Andrahar and some book knowledge of Haradric custom in general, but that doesn't really prepare him for this sort of thing, which is a somewhat unusual manifestation of the Haradric warrior ethos. And while he does end the truce in a manner that could be called unfair, he probably felt it was clear that all had been said that could be said, and he had said it in Westron, so all would understand - the way he sees it, neither he nor Peloren are diplomats. So he's just saving Peloren a duty that is beneath him and returning them both to their proper roles as warriors.

Naturally, all of this passes right over Peloren's head, but I suspect that's at least part of why Andrahar was so quick to respond when Bhasat attacked Peloren - as someone who was raised more or less to the same ethos, he saw it coming and was ready for it.

I'm glad Elethil did not commit suicide after all. I was so sure he had, but it's good he managed to get through his worst despair to see a better path.

All in due time. He's not out of the woods yet. But I'm glad there was some suspense with regard to his status.

Isn't "lookout" one word?

Oops. I'll have to go back and correct it. Thanks.

though we've had a good pair of eyes among the Haradrim in the last year

Hee-hee. Two pairs of eyes, to be exact...

Yes, indeed!

Isn't that a great deal of effort on the side of the Haradrim, just to raid some poor fishing villages along the coast - warrior caste, minor lord etc.? Especially as this stretch of the coast is so poorly inhabited, as you pointed out? Or was there something more behind the plan?

I don't think Dol Amroth has seen the last of ambitious pirates. The Corsairs are building up their fleet and are becoming more active, more daring, trying new things and longer voyages. Ornendil is right to think that they will try again, and who knows? They may even start raiding around Anfalas if they're willing to land just north of Dol Amroth. All those second and third sons of lords have to be drooling over the opportunities to advance through the navy since they cannot all succeed in rising to a ruling position within their family or clan alliances (and Harad has to be happy to find a way to get rid of some of them usefully, rather than deal with the destabilizing internecine strife).

So this was just a taste of things to come, and as Peloren realizes at one point, if the Corsairs had managed to take Calardin, they'd have a nice, clear path south and inland, all downhill until Dol Amroth, where they could wreak havoc before being forced back or destroyed. They could also have chosen to head further north and maybe even gotten far enough to strike the edges of Anfalas. If they'd actually gotten their second ship's company, they'd have had a sizable company to play with.

It's good that Ornendil and the others in charge know there must be a drastic change to everything that happenend.
I suggest they begin with sacking that horrible spymaster.


Restitution will be made in good time. :-)

I don't care if he is charge of protecting Belfalas and Gondor, he had no right to abuse his position as teacher to erode Andrahar's already difficult position and insinuate things, particularly with Pelethil et al.

No, he doesn't. Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped the powerful and paranoid often.

(BTW, and completely off-topic, it reminds me of one of my pet peeves with Hogwarts - the teachers there are so high-handed, unfair and arbitrary - and not only "baddies" like Snape - that it is no wonder if the kids try to solve everything on their own: they can't trust the teachers to help.)

I hadn't actually thought of that, but that makes complete sense. Yet another reason not to invest too much money in the series! ;-)

Ah, one thing I forgot to ask you before: "Badhon" - is this an allusion to the Arthurian battle of Badon Hill?

Yes it is. I thought it'd be amusing.

Dwim


Posted:Jul 2, 2007 00:17 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [42] Oh, very glad to see Elya is alive and that hopefully he can now get help. This is my favorite scene - out of many favorites! :)

[snip scene]

I like the images you show there of the pain that Elya is going through and has been going through for such a long time... we know that but seeing it here through Pel's eyes is just moving and it made me tear up for some reason. I just so feel for these guys in such a tough situation.

I'm pleased that that worked out so well. It took quite a few drafts and a lot of revision to get it into that form, but I felt we needed some sense of just how deeply Elethil has been wounded, and at what level his vulnerabilities lie. They're not superficial, so it will take some work to dig him out of his personal hole.

I also really liked when Orenedil made the comment that Pel wouldn't have failed if he had felt he could trust any of his brothers.

Somehow all my Unabeauverse stories seem to end up being about becoming isolated and then emerging from isolation...

It's so very true, there were so very few people he could go to in his time of need and that's a horrible place to be in and it's ironic that he ends up with the person that should be his bitterest enemy in such a situation.

But of course! I do have my own nefarious purposes, after all, heh heh, for as much as this chapter is about Peloren and Elethil, ultimately Peloren and Elethil are where they are because of something that happened between them and Andrahar.

Thanks for your comments!

TTFN,

Dwim


Posted:Jul 2, 2007 00:33 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [43] Good chapter, Dwim. I'm still weirded out a bit by the Haradrim's parley. And I'm feeling sorry for Ornendil, who has quite the mess on his watch.

Thanks! Yeah, Ornendil is going to have to swallow pride and 'fess up to Adrahil about why a company of Swan Knights is occupying Calardin and they've got a new terce of invalids on their hands.

TFFN,

Dwim


Posted:Jul 2, 2007 00:36 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [44] Ahem! *looks pointedly at calender*

Just in case you didn't think anyone had noticed the late update... :)

On a different note, I had recently visited Kasiopea's site and found the beautiful "Both Beholden" artwork that she did. Wonderful! I thought it captured the atmosphere of your story (and it has to be for your story?) extremely well.

Denise
Posted:Jul 6, 2007 18:44 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [45] Ahem! *looks pointedly at calender*

Oops. Somehow, I've been under the impression that today is Thursday, even though on some level I obviously know it's Friday since I went to work on time...

Thanks Denise! Did you have a Happy Fourth?

On a different note, I had recently visited Kasiopea's site and found the beautiful "Both Beholden" artwork that she did. Wonderful! I thought it captured the atmosphere of your story (and it has to be for your story?) extremely well.

Oh good! I love Kassiopea's stuff, and yes, she did draw that for me - she did that for "Aiglos 8", got the piece translated by a friend of hers and then illustrated it. You should check out the magazine - even if you don't read Polish (which I don't), there are some lovely illustrations (and I think there is an English language version...?).

Dwim


Posted:Jul 6, 2007 19:35 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [46] Wonderful chapter, Dwim. Yes, it was on time on Friday, though for me it usually is here late Thursday night and so I was despairing that night! :) It's just a sign of how much I'm enjoying the story, though.

I was glad to see that Pel, Elya, and Andra finally talked, if not about the beating directly, then at least about why and who might want them out - almost everyone it sounds like! Though I know that is not true, there are always a large silent group of people who don't want to rock the boat either way and so say nothing.

I was glad that Elya finally apologized to Andra and that he didn't do it on the beach, but that he did it in front of the officers was quiet courageous on his part. Perhaps he will be able to recover from all of this, being a Swan Knight like Adrahil wants him to do seems difficult. Oh, and it's a relief that the three of them did finally come to a resolution about the beating and that there is nothing more between them regarding that... hopefully the three of them can move on now.

Pel was so right, how could ALL of that have happened? Little things add up over time and you don't even realize it until you look back at it like they're doing... you just become used to it in order to survive.

I was wondering when Adrahil or someone would discuss their part in what was going on - well, not so much Adrahil's part as Ornedil's and the other officers. I remember in Kin-Strife how Ornedil did not want Andra there at all because he would be a bad influence on Imrahil. That attitude had to leak over to the Swan Knights and that doesn't even take into account their not-so-subtle punishment of Pel and Elya when they came back.

Well, I've gone on way too long here! I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

By the way, the formatting is bad again! If it's not too much trouble, could you upload it again because I print these out and put them in a binder to read again. :)


Radbooks
Posted:Jul 10, 2007 13:17 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [47] Hi Radbooks -

Wonderful chapter, Dwim.

Thank you! I usually post just after midnight, CDT, right before I go to bed. I just didn't think of it last week, and then was confused about what day it was on some level.

I was glad to see that Pel, Elya, and Andra finally talked, if not about the beating directly, then at least about why and who might want them out - almost everyone it sounds like! Though I know that is not true, there are always a large silent group of people who don't want to rock the boat either way and so say nothing.

That is certainly the case. It's just that in the face of general antipathy, it isn't possible to rule anyone in particular out.

Not wanting to rock the boat in this case looks much the same as potentially having already rocked it; also, that segment of the population presents problems of another sort, alas. But in any case, at the moment, they're a sort of background noise that makes it impossible to pick out with confidence who might have told Harthil about the confrontation.

I was glad that Elya finally apologized to Andra and that he didn't do it on the beach, but that he did it in front of the officers was quiet courageous on his part. Perhaps he will be able to recover from all of this

Poor Elethil is still reeling, I fear.

I was wondering when Adrahil or someone would discuss their part in what was going on - well, not so much Adrahil's part as Ornedil's and the other officers.

This is definitely the time for that self-reflection to bear some fruit. And I think Adrahil, too, would think of his own involvement or disinvolvement, and consider how he fits into the picture. It's just that that isn't seen directly. Certainly, he, too, has gone through a period of not wanting Andrahar about (Kin-Strife, chapter 3), but he has long since admitted that's a mistake. Nevertheless, he is the prince, and so in a way, the ultimate captain, so I think he would ponder his own responsibility and what actions can be taken to redeem Dol Amroth.

I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

Thanks, Radbooks!

By the way, the formatting is bad again!

Hm. Well, I've re-uploaded. I'm not sure what causes it, so just let me know when/if it happens and I'll try to correct it within a reasonable amount of time.

Dwim


Posted:Jul 10, 2007 16:21 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [48] Hello, Dwim,

I've really been lax about reviewing the latest chapters, for which I apologize, considering how intensely I've enjoyed them. Looking back at the story as a whole, I can more readily appreciate the gradual and inexorable build-up, the constant pressure on our three "black swans" always increasing, so that we are carried along with what happens to everyone until, like Pel, we ask ourselves, "How did it get this far?" It could have been hard to swallow, but it felt all too believable to me with the wonderful supporting structure you carefully crafted.

Too, I can see "almost" moments in hindsight: pivotal points where chances for at least partial aid were lost. Ch. 4 in particular, when Pel and Elya don't end up getting out of that ugly atmosphere for a night at Aldan's home, and Andra doesn't get the chance to truly talk to Imrahil about all that bothers him. The trip to Calardin might not have happened; or at least some events could have been postponed, to what other end...

I loved Andrahar's grousing about the esquires' exam results at the beginning of Ch. 7. (Being married to a teacher, I have heard much along those same lines!) And his brutal self-honesty after the quarrel with Imrahil was perfectly in character.

The whole trip to Calardin seemed very well done, ending with the crucial placing of Pel and Andra together facing a common enemy. That entire setup, from the villagers to the mysterious enemy, to Albarion's revelations, all flowed very smoothly to me, and the political aspects (A Dwim Forte) blend so well with a lead-in to the Hurrhabi raid. Andrahar's struggle between worlds was very well depicted in the scene with the dead Haradrim on the beach: Very clearly, Harad may have rejected Andra, but he will never completely reject Harad. Plus, I can see how this points forward to his musings on his faith at the end.

A big sign of relief when Pel, Elya and Andra start groping their way to a mutual understanding. And Ornendil earned my respect in full for facing up to his own errors and actually suggesting a plan that included his own resignation.

Poor Elya! I thought you did a particularly fine job on his struggles, especially in that last chapter. His feelings towards Pel must have been mixed at the least, as Pel's concerns are what led ultimately to the masters learning of Elya's suicidal thoughts. Afterwards, he is not only still plagued by self-doubt, but faces doubt from his friends (naturally worried, yet those concerns only exacerbate his precarious mindset and shame). The additional information about his childhood helped flesh out the "why" of his personality a lot.

This was an amazing and shattering description: ...Elethil gave his friend a sideways look. At once too knowing and ambivalent, it perhaps said more than intended, for in it gaped a woundedness. It was as if a turn of the head had revealed another face, or another side of his face, scarred and misshapen—a map of the soul's fragility...

Loved Imrahil's conspiracy to get Pel and Andra's story out among the esquires during lunch. (So what do the other esquires actually know about why Pel, Imri and Andra ended up out there? And what was behind that look that Imri and Adrahil exchanged?) Loved even more Andra and Elya's conversation outside the Great Hall, when Elya tried to sneak out - being confronted was just what Elethil needed to shake him out of his despair-ridden rut, and just what those closer to him could never have done.

The switching between Andra/Imri and Pel/Elya worked out well, I think: Contrasting the different friendships, and issues that Andrahar and Elethil are facing; and letting Elya's confession build up to an even more forceful impact for me. Andrahar's thoughts about faith (or the lack of it) were very interesting - do you see it as symptom or cause of his feelings of rootlessness, of being caught between worlds? I would really like to see that aspect of him explored more fully; I can only remember it getting brief mention in other places.

But Elethil... His wish for things to stay the same was actually understandable, and his declamation of himself as yet a coward tore at me. To walk back and face living again takes courage, and then learning what he does with it: Overcoming his own ambivalence about Andra in particular and Haradrim in general, to embrace them! Well, that was moving, beyond my ability to describe. Well done.

A delightful, light-hearted epilogue, after the anxiety of the rest of the story. I laughed at the scenes on board ship, and was overjoyed at the receptions on the pier, especially Pel/Elya. Adrahil's remembered speech at Pel's knighting was the perfect touch to highlight what Elya still faced.

And that ending, so wonderfully described, had me grinning like an idiot just like Pel.

What do you think happened to Celdir, Faldion and all their "lads"? Did they make it? What attrition rate do you envision after Adrahil's final decree to the Knights about their individual attitudes towards racism?

Ah. *cough* Sorry about going on so long, but considering I was about 10 chapters behind in reviewing...

Believe it or not, the formatting is a bit wonky in Ch. 2 now. :-/

Denise
Posted:Jul 14, 2007 05:15 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [49] I've really been lax about reviewing the latest chapters, for which I apologize, considering how intensely I've enjoyed them.

No worries. I figure it's summer vacation - many people are off galavanting. Also, you know my reviewing habits are more than just lax! They're sadly, sadly deficient!

So thank you for reviewing - I do appreciate the time taken. I started responding to your comments, and discovered it was quickly becoming extremely long. So I decided to cut down to the bit about Andrahar, since there's more of a question there to respond to. Hope you don't mind!

Andrahar's struggle between worlds was very well depicted in the scene with the dead Haradrim on the beach: Very clearly, Harad may have rejected Andra, but he will never completely reject Harad. Plus, I can see how this points forward to his musings on his faith at the end. [snip/paste]

Andrahar's thoughts about faith (or the lack of it) were very interesting - do you see it as symptom or cause of his feelings of rootlessness, of being caught between worlds? I would really like to see that aspect of him explored more fully; I can only remember it getting brief mention in other places.


I'm not sure I can answer that question, since Andra's relationship to his faith is in fact sustained in a certain way, even though it is also transformed into something even he doesn't fully recognize. I don't think of Andrahar as essentially lacking faith. He isn't even really agnostic - or rather, I would say that his professed agnosticism is fundamentally in alliance with faith. In various places in other stories, it is very clear that whatever he might say about not believing, at the end of the day, and despite himself, he does believe - and his belief is very specifically Haradric, not Gondorian, in nature.

Haradrim, as I think of them, are a people marked by a shattering encounter with the divine, one that left fracture lines all through their collective psyche, resulting in a very elaborate ritual practice and organization of themselves into a society that is designed to minimize chaos in the collective body (if not necessarily in the lives of individual Haradrim), to canalize desires and relationships into a stable social matrix that is at marked odds with the world they inhabit. That's how they maintain a relationship to that divinity, which is both terrifying and desirable, illuminating and obscure at the same time – through social bonds that are highly differentiated and ritualized so as to keep at bay what would otherwise be overwhelming, but still maintain contact.

Andrahar is very clearly in my mind reflective of that way of looking at the world: his own devotion to Dol Amroth, to Imrahil, and the seriousness with which he takes his oaths, even when they put him personally at risk of the whim of the person to whom he swears - all of this is just an expression of the religious understanding that he has been formed by.

Being sent to Gondor was an upheaval, yes, but in some way, I think it almost makes him more authentically Haradric than many Haradrim who can count on the efficacy of the social bond to tame the threat of exposure to the divine within the world. Being an out-caste, and then going to Gondor puts him in touch, I think, with an experience of instability and precariousness that is at the heart of Haradric spirituality, and his sense of being uprooted and needing to find a place and an orientation are motivations that I would think very much in keeping with what drove the development of the more elaborate system of class, family, and religious life in Harad.

So by way of really long answer, I do see a connection between his sense of rootlessness and his feeling that Haradric ritual practice and creeds have failed him in a way, but I think it's a movement back to a way of experiencing the world and the divine that gave rise to those very practices and creeds. It doesn't make him less religious, it intensifies what is real about the Haradric religious experience, even as his new situation channels the expression of that experience into practices that lock him into Gondorian society.

Thus from a Haradric point of view, he seems like an 'atheist' – even to himself. He doesn't quite recognize what he's doing when he adapts himself to Gondorian customs. But when a crisis erupts, and Gondor fundamentally doesn't have the resources to let him give it an expression, I think Andrahar falls back on older habits and ways of relating that expose him as very much invested still in 'cradle creeds' and outlooks that simply are not Gondorian at the end of the day, no matter how much he may act the part otherwise. That's what happened in "Last Rites" and also in "Discovery" and even (a little bit) in "Kin-strife" (when he got worried about Imrahil looking into fires, and in his insistence that Imrahil not call upon the Sacred Fire when they swear the oath of blood-brotherhood). In this story, I'm reading that back into Andrahar and intensifying that habit (since he is younger and more unsettled and uncertain), so that later on, in "On Far Fields," his reaction there gets a clear basis.

[snip]

Poor Elya! I thought you did a particularly fine job on his struggles, especially in that last chapter. His feelings towards Pel must have been mixed at the
least […] he is not only still plagued by self-doubt, but faces doubt from his friends (naturally worried, yet those concerns only exacerbate his precarious mindset and shame). The additional information about his childhood helped flesh out the "why" of his personality a lot.


Thanks. I felt kind of bad about leaving all that 'til the end, but I didn't see a very good way of putting it nearer the beginning without, perhaps, telegraphing later moves a little too much. But yes, he is feeling very ambivalent towards friends right up until the epilogue, and a lot of his vulnerability traces back to his relationship with his father.

[snip description – glad you liked that. I owe inspiration to a story about a girl who believed she might be Anne Frank… alas, I cannot recall the name of the story!]

(So what do the other esquires actually know about why Pel, Imri and Andra ended up out there? And what was behind that look that Imri and Adrahil exchanged?)

I suspect the official story was that yes, Pel, Imri and Andra feared suicide. They just happened to be mistaken in this instance – obviously, Elethil didn't kill himself and wasn't in danger (white lie), but that didn't mean they didn't have good reason to fear for him, given how poorly Elethil has been treated.

[Elethil's] wish for things to stay the same was actually understandable

Glad to hear it! It would be too easy if Adrahil solved everything with his declaration.

What do you think happened to Celdir, Faldion and all their "lads"? Did they make it? What attrition rate do you envision after Adrahil's final decree to the
Knights about their individual attitudes towards racism?


I suspect Celdir got nailed at some point and sent home. Faldion—not as sure. He was more passive towards Andrahar, in my mind, and more active towards Pel/Elya. I think he'd have an easier time adjusting, somehow.

I'm not sure what the attrition rate would be – I imagine it would be much higher in the first year or so after Adrahil's decree, and then stabilize. There would be fewer young men coming to be trained, but those who did come would probably be more invested in the idea of trying to see things from the Prince's perspective.

Believe it or not, the formatting is a bit wonky in Ch. 2 now. :-/

Ugh! Well, I will attempt the cure Mike suggested, but otherwise, I will try to upload a clean version soon. But for now, I'm going to bed!

Thanks for your lengthy commentary, Denise! I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

Dwim


Posted:Jul 15, 2007 02:45 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [50] Thank you for expounding so much on Andrahar's religious beliefs, and that of Harad in general, Dwim! That was fascinating; I loved this in particular about the Haradrim: "[A] people marked by a shattering encounter with the divine." I've not seen it described that way before (although self-evident when I think about it), but it makes the subsequent development of their society within the Unabeauverse very logical; stronger, somehow, as opposed to transposing a real-world example onto them. Not that the latter is a problem, but I appreciate the in-Arda justification for things being the way they are. And it all added a further depth to my understanding of Andrahar's struggles, both within and without. Reading "On Far Fields" again, I can better see this developmental arc you are constructing. Andra's complexity is wonderful and makes him so real.

It's a another very interesting glimpse into the Haradric way of looking at things when Andra tells Elya, "Every man born a warrior has it in him to wish his own death. That is why there are lords and oaths." Especially in connection with the more accepted use of suicide in Haradric society to maintain honor. Would Andra have considered Elya's suicide an appropriate Haradric response to the injustice he was suffering? I have the feeling the answer is yes, but I might be misreading that section.

And why does Haradric honor demand the suicide/death of a lord's avenger anyway (re: Andra's thoughts/statements in Kin-Strife)? Would Andra somehow incur dishonor by killing someone who has caused Imrahil's death? Or, since Andra's blood oath is based on him owing his life to Imrahil, does his life have no value once Imrahil is gone? I admit I've never been clear on the reasoning behind his commitment to that line of thought.

You see, it all just brings up more questions... :D

I'm also still curious about the look that Imrahil and his father exchanged. Did Adrahil give his son a specific charge to fulfill during their post-Calardin meeting?

Denise
Posted:Jul 19, 2007 11:29 GMT  Reply to this Comment
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