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 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.

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!


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