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The Best-Loved Son cycle

 February, 23 2006

Anything dealing with this cycle of stories can be discussed here: Andra and Boromir as a couple, the Denethor/Imrahil/Andrahar rivalry, the politics of Gondor in the last days of the Third Age.

I've always thought it a bit peculiar that Denethor figured out very early that Sauron was going to make his move on Minas Tirith at some point during his stewardship, yet hadn't seemed to have physically shored up the White City's defenses at the time of ROTK - they're only just repairing the Rammas, their cavalry consists mainly of Imrahil's Swan Knights (when Denethor had decades to create one for the White City itself), there are no alliances other than Rohan, etc. Denethor's preoccupation with mano-a-mano Palantir-wrestling with Sauron might explain his lack of attention to trying to physically defend Minas Tirith, not to mention Ithilien and the rest of Gondor.

I see Ecthelion as a very different and less subtle type than Denethor, who probably basically loved Denethor, but had no clue how to handle his brilliant, possibly shy, and rather prickly son.

Denethor is also one of the most isolated, if not THE most isolated Men in LOTR. He doesn't seem to have any friends, much less valued advisors; it's just him and his palantir, plus beloved, but dead, Boromir. And Faramir is caught between being Denethor's scapegoat and Boromir-replacement; Denethor can't seem to see him in different terms, as his own man.

But then, I still think Denethor is something of a control freak by nature; and much of his tragedy was self-instigated, sad to say.

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