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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


 [1] Sorry about the spam, but very glad to be reading more (I hope ultimately)about Andrahar and Imrahil.

I was wondering about how Andrahar and Peloren adjusted to their friendship/cameraderie as shown in the Brandmir and later stories so I am looking forward to the developments here in this story.

First of all, I am enjoying this. My comments I hope will not discourage you as the author from continuing the tale but maybe provide some input from a reader who is a keen follower of the Isabeau/Altariel/Dwimordene sequence of tales.

In this story I find the esquire code somewhat hard to swallow, in that Peloren/Eletheryl cannot seek outside support/assistance when it is obvious that they are being bullied. I know that they should be able to sort out their difficulties without resort to senior officers. But why are the masters so blind, aloof,and uncaring, until fairly late in their first year (if I have got the timing right)? Especially given that these two are operating under rather unusual circumstances - of which the masters are aware - as they are rising through the ranks following a very public punishment?

These are the masters' students, and successors. They are part of a cohort who will ultimately support their masters and other older knights in battle as their brothers. You stress the need for the stronger to support the weaker in your story, to retain their overall strength.

Does the oath of the brothers not work downwards as well as across - i.e. do the officers (and knights, including the trainers of the esquires), who have their white belts, not have a responsibility for the men at arms/esquires, as well as the esquires have for their "brothers" ((including the qualified knights and other soldiers)? I am reflecting on the oaths that the probationary knights are mindful of here.

I am a manager of people and I was always taught and practise that responsibiity works in both directions.

These remarks are meant as positive input as I very much enjoy your stories (all three of you) and would be very sad not to read your further writings. Thank you for all the many stories I have enjoyed to date!

I look forward to your next chapters (and any comments on what i have said here).

insignia
Posted:May 4, 2007 16:43 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [2] Hi insignia!

Sorry about the spam, but very glad to be reading more (I hope ultimately)about Andrahar and Imrahil.

They do interact, but the story is more about Andrahar and Peloren, and also about the problem of exterminating something as deep-seated as prejudice and institutional inertia.

In this story I find the esquire code somewhat hard to swallow, in that Peloren/Eletheryl cannot seek outside support/assistance when it is obvious that they are being bullied.

It's not that they can't seek it -- it's that they aren't seeking it. The masters would be happy if they would, because that frees them up to take a much more active role in this. As it stands, oaths and institutional habit are combining to lock people into positions they would rationally distance themselves from.

But why are the masters so blind, aloof,and uncaring, until fairly late in their first year (if I have got the timing right)? Especially given that these two are operating under rather unusual circumstances - of which the masters are aware - as they are rising through the ranks following a very public punishment?

Well, I wouldn't say they're uncaring. But they, no less than the esquires, are members of an institution that values stoicism, toughness, and word-as-bond - if someone who's of age keeps repeatedly insisting he's fine, and refuses to ask for help, then by the rules of the game, there's only so much the masters can do, especially if to ask for help means admitting Peloren and Elethil were lying before. At least, that's how they see it at the moment, with the notable exception of Theorwyn, though he, too, ends up bowing to the way things usually go.

It's not unusual for people to accept contradictory positions, or to feel caught in a trap that, viewed from the outside, you'd say, "Just don't play by the rules! If the rules are a problem, change them!" But an institution with as much emphasis on tradition, hierarchy, and obedience as the Swan Knights is not an institution I'd mark as easily changing, which is in part why the nuzgul interests me.

I think we are probably approaching this from different assumptions. What interests me is the possibility of reconciliation where racism has been permitted, is even in many ways accepted as part of Gondor versus Harad, and where it takes a very ugly form under the guise of honor precisely because all these young men are being trained to war. Training for war is not training for a modern office environment - endurance in the face of adversity, group identity, hierarchy, honor, and the underbelly ways of getting around the constraints these should impose in the very name of these same ideals - all of this, I think, is a reasonable context in which Swan Knights are formed.

That sense of tradition that holds it all together (especially the tradition of informal 'correction' that can bleed over into abuse, but which is maintained by all who pass through that system), the institutional inertia (to use an anachronistic phrase) that goes with it, and the all around difficulty of dealing with incidents that are as extreme as the one that occurred in "Kin-strife," are what interest me about this nuzgul.

So yes, oaths do bind knights to esquires, but not equally, and it's not always the case that even recognizing that something is wrong will move someone to correct it. The esquires also, having seen that the masters are making the term a hard one for P&E, and being less well equipped to make more nuanced judgments about people who have violated not just any rule, but *the* rule of brotherhood that founds the group's identity, are not going to accept P & E back easily or without using the resources available to them to show their displeasure in ways that make sense given the very physical, martial environment they are in.

All of this is, if you like, a modification of Isabeau's universe - I do tend to go for the nastier side of life in fanfiction, so long as it doesn't outright contradict what's there. So yes, Isabeau's Swan Knights are concerned with honor and fraternity - what they're seeing now is the dark underbelly of the things they think they value most, and which is going to require much more of a change to defuse than anyone imagines at the moment. They saw it once already, when Peloren and Elethil participated in the attack on Andrahar - that kind of thing is seen as sudden only because the conditions that lead to it are seen as in some way normal. The Swan Knights and masters are trying to deal with those conditions, but dealing with them will expose another set of conditions that works to create more crises. It's never as simple as just knowing what the problem (mostly) is.

Anyhow, that's what I'm doing. Hopefully, it'll be interesting enough, and plausible enough by the end that the skewed logic proper to a scenario like this will be recouped and dealt with in a way that blends more easily with Isabeau's style.

Thanks for reading and for your comments!

Dwim

Dwimordene
Posted:May 4, 2007 19:44 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [3] You know, even before you went into the details of The System (that officers know of some/most hazing and turn a blind eye to the milder forms of esquire self-correction) - during Ornendil's opening lecture to P & E, in fact - two things popped into my mind.

The first was the opening scene of Kin-Strife, where Ornendil is discussing Andrahar with Adrahil, and noting his extreme displeasure at being forced to accept the Haradrim into the program. The second was Andrahar's thoughts in Reparation about Hethlin: "Sensing that Andrahar did not wish her among them, it was possible that the esquires might do something that would cause her actual harm, and that must not be allowed."

Of course, Andrahar benefits from actual experience here, but it feels from the last part of Ch. 2 that Ornendil must have at least some sense of his own part in what happened to Andrahar. Is this an accurate reading on my part? How much discussion has there been between the officers and/or Adrahil about their own racist attitudes and the contribution this made to the extreme measures taken by Valyon's crew? And how ironic, that the officers’ disapproval of Andrahar (did he face the same attention and extra duties as P & E?) which led in part to his beating, is now what is exacerbating the esquires’ treatment of Andra’s attackers, when in fact the officers seem to want Pel and Elya to succeed.

On a much different note, is the Canticle of the Sun recorded anywhere? Or were you thinking of our Real World example? Adrahil’s comments were a marvelous embellishment of Haradrim custom. I really love the complex and interesting Haradic peoples that’s been created for the Unabeauverse.

Denise
Posted:May 6, 2007 16:50 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [4] Hi Denise,

I'm very glad you've enjoyed 'Reconciliation' thus far!

You asked:

it feels from the last part of Ch. 2 that Ornendil must have at least some sense of his own part in what happened to Andrahar. Is this an accurate reading on my part? How much discussion has there been between the officers and/or Adrahil about their own racist attitudes and the contribution this made to the extreme measures taken by Valyon's crew?

Yes, Ornendil has come to realize that he personally has contributed to Andrahar's situation. And there has been discussion - you'll get a sense of how much discussion there has been in later chapters, although because this is a lower-decks story, the viewpoint of the masters, and especially of Adrahil, is not given nearly as much attention. But there is definitely a sense of "Something Must Be Done" and "We Aren't Innocent, Here," among the officers.

On a much different note, is the Canticle of the Sun recorded anywhere? Or were you thinking of our Real World example?

I personally am thinking of the Canticle of the Sun of our real world, which has some elements (and is elemental enough to fit, in its way) that seem appropriate to me for Yavanna. ANd to the best of my knowledge, there is no Canticle of the Sun in Tolkien's work, though if there were, it obviously would differ.

I'm glad you're enjoying the Haradrim - I love playing with that area of Tolkien's world, and Andrahar is a fun person to write just because of his straddling of two worlds.

Thanks for your comments!

Dwimordene
Posted:May 6, 2007 19:01 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [5] Do Ornendil or the other officers ever clarify for Andrahar just how bad things have been for Peloren and Elethil? I mean, saying, "We had hoped the Prince's justice would suffice to convince others they had paid their debt, but it has not" does not even touch on the extra work the sergeants put on them, much less the cruelty of their peers.

Not that Andrahar is likely to say in return, "Oh, OK, you poor guys - I forgive you," but it would go a long way towards explaining the cringing that he's so disgusted by. It felt to me like the officers left Andrahar a bit too much in the dark about the past year, unless there's been more debriefing behind the scenes. But from the end of Ch. 4 it doesn't sound like it...

Denise
Posted:May 18, 2007 03:27 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [6] Hi Denise!

Do Ornendil or the other officers ever clarify for Andrahar just how bad things have been for Peloren and Elethil? I mean, saying, "We had hoped the Prince's justice would suffice to convince others they had paid their debt, but it has not" does not even touch on the extra work the sergeants put on them, much less the cruelty of their peers.

*thinks ahead to chapter 5* Not really. I think they think that Andrahar is clever enough to understand what's really going on. Things are bad if the senior officers are asking the most junior knight in their company to give them a hand with a couple of esquires he has no reason to like. And he was an esquire not that long ago himself, and one who was definitely not popular, either with his peers or with at least some of the instructors - he might be a wizard with weapons, but instructors are Gondorians with prejudices too. Andrahar knows the score, and in a deleted line, was momentarily feeling a bit satisfied with it as it currently stood in a "Suffer Pel and Elya - see how *you* like it!" way.

This is not to say the masters and captain might not have owed it to Andrahar and everyone to be more explicit about what the problems have been. On the other hand, they need Andrahar to do two, and only two, things - instruct fairly, and do something to try to make a liveable peace with Peloren and Elethil. He's not going to be privy to the ins and outs of the masters' discussions - he *is* a junior knight, after all. And in the end, this is the first time they've had to confront this kind of problem, rather than a purely interpersonal one (somebody's personal but non-racialized grudge against somebody else).

Not that Andrahar is likely to say in return, "Oh, OK, you poor guys - I forgive you," but it would go a long way towards explaining the cringing that he's so disgusted by.

Hm. It might, or it might not. Peloren and Elethil, all apart from feeling harassed and put-upon by their peers and the heavy discipline, are very much unhappy to confront Andrahar personally because they're not sure what he's going to do. After all--he's just *not* Gondorian. They could handle it if Andrahar were in some sense, but he's one of *those* people still, and *those* people have some scary ways of settling scores.

Peloren and Elethil don't yet see a reason to think Andrahar won't do something awful to them or run them beyond ragged, nor have they quite managed to take that step back and go, "Hey - we're already enduring that. It's not actually any different, so either something's wrong with the system, or else Andrahar isn't any worse than anyone else." If they could, it might help things enormously. But at the moment, they can't be that rational about matters and getting absolutely smashed probably didn't help.

Dwim

Dwimordene
Posted:May 18, 2007 14:20 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [7] Dwim Said: But at the moment, they can't be that rational about matters and getting absolutely smashed probably didn't help.

No, not really, I love this chapter so much.

I really wory about El though, he's having a rough time of it. I hope they start to get better soon, before he does somthing drastic he has no-where to turn, Pel has more friends and his horses, El has a bottle of dodgy boose (I think it's a contest between that and Damrod's brandy in Blackbow).

Andra is also great in this, his reaction to Imrahil's return, the way Imri put's him on the spot and how he struggles with t are great. He's grown up a lot in the last two years where as Imri has a way to go even after the whole dream thing, the way you write it is really good.

He still has a lot of growing up to do though, regards dealing with all three of them, me thinks Imri is his best friend but also his student and he is stuck between two cultures regarding P+E and somehow seems a bit out of his depth is dealing with them

I'm looking forwards to seeing how all this turns out, I can't wait for next Friday, dont supose we could have the next chapter early *Please*

Nargil

Nargil
Posted:May 18, 2007 16:09 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [8] Hi Nargil!

I really wory about El though, he's having a rough time of it. I hope they start to get better soon, before he does somthing drastic he has no-where to turn, Pel has more friends and his horses, El has a bottle of dodgy boose.

Elethil's definitely the weaker party in the Peloren-Elethil relationship.

Andra is also great in this, his reaction to Imrahil's return, the way Imri put's him on the spot and how he struggles with t are great. He's grown up a lot in the last two years where as Imri has a way to go even after the whole dream thing, the way you write it is really good.

He still has a lot of growing up to do though,


Yes, he certainly does. Everyone does, really, and I should include the masters in this claim, too. Harkening back to Denise's question about what was said and what wasn't said between the masters and Andrahar, I should add to my response: it is not enough even to situate Andrahar as opposite and frightening to P & E because of his cultural background, although that plays a not in significant role. More crucial to me is that if you beat the crap out of someone, and have gone through a trial for it - do you really want to confront that trauma again in the very person of the one you wronged, especially when he is in no way ready to forgive you and you know it (or even if he were, it's still a really hard thing to handle)?

The trial in some way might well have been a psychological blessing in disguise for P&E (in the short term, obviously, not the long term) - it meant that all their interactions with Andrahar passed through the mediation of lord and masters - they never had to look him in the eye and admit what they'd done. Now they're faced with just that possibility and the need to do so, and they don't know how to react, caught up in their own problems as they are. The return of the repressed is not pretty.

The same factors can operate in a different form with those who did all the mediating, i.e., the masters in particular. They've figured out that they were material contributors to Andrahar's predicament, and they're slowly approaching the difficult question that necessarily has to be posed in the wake of something like this: how do I undo the damage that I've done to the thing I thought I cared most for (the Swan Knights, the esquires)? They don't know, precisely, and more to the point, they haven't been doing a good job of fixing things.

There's something ludicrous and frustrating in the fact that you could go forth and sacrifice your life and well-being for lord and land, but for all the power and courage that implies, you're helpless to prevent the abuse of your own code of honor or the stain of racism from upsetting your efforts (even if they are ineffective because they don't know how to kill the particular beast they're battling) - and it's also humiliating and shameful, and Andrahar's return is in its own way the opening of the possibility of having that failure judged. If anyone is going to recognize that the more things change, the more they stay the same, it's going to be Andrahar who has always borne the failure of the Swan Knights' fraternity to handle the anti-Southron sentiment.

Of course, Andrahar has his own problems, insecurities, and neurotic investments that interfere with his ability to be an effective critic on his own behalf or anyone else's. The masters do know this, and so are hoping Imrahil can be of assistance on this very point. Imrahil is in some way the one best suited to deal with the need to forgive--from innate disposition and also from unhappy practice, he's got experience in doing so.

But he's also not yet quite mature enough (and won't be for some time, as we know from "Ultimatums'" story-line) to recognize the root causes of problems. He's good at cleaning up messes with band-aids; he has not learned to exterminate problems at their origin yet, and in any case, his judgment tends to be strongly affected by his sentiment. He likes Pel and Elya - not without reason, despite the ugliness of their foray into vigilantism - and he can't act the part of the judge with them until they throw something newly unredeemable in his face. As Andra says in later stories: "You know Imrahil--he can deny nothing to those he loves."

Since, as Imrahil goes, so goes Andrahar in many ways, if Imrahil doesn't handle matters well, it's going to make matters harder for Andrahar, too.

So, yes, lots of growing up still to do for everyone involved.

I'm looking forwards to seeing how all this turns out, I can't wait for next Friday, dont supose we could have the next chapter early *Please*

Nope, it's a weekly release - no early viewings. I'm glad you're enjoying it, though! Thank you for your comments, Nargil.

Dwim

Dwimordene
Posted:May 18, 2007 18:46 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [9] 12:13pm tis friday!


Posted:May 24, 2007 19:11 GMT  Reply to this Comment


 [10] 12:13pm tis friday!

It's only 8:22 pm on Thursday my time. Patience, my love, we've still gots 4 hours...

Dwim


Posted:May 24, 2007 21:22 GMT  Reply to this Comment
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