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Author's Notes

For Imhiriel's birthday, January 2008.

Renewal (Nominee 2008)


The name of this drabble was inspired by a line from the staves that Bilbo wrote in honor of Aragorn:
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 10, Strider
I have recently become fascinated by the process of Japanese sword-making. Though that process differs from making a straight sword, I derived much inspiration for this drabble from step-by-step pictures of a true master making a samurai sword here. (The Japanese sword visual glossary is a helpful reference to the terminology.)

In addition, I have once again stumbled upon a fine short story that I had enjoyed several years ago and since forgotten: Repairs, by Isabeau of Greenlea. It is a vignette about Gimli repairing his notched axe while Legolas watches; both characters are exceedingly well-drawn, and the deft use of repetition really draws in the reader. I believe that it also subconsciously influenced this drabble, and highly recommend seeking it out to read.
The Sword of Elendil was forged anew by Elvish smiths, and on its blade was traced a device of seven stars set between the crescent Moon and the rayed Sun, and about them was written many runes; for Aragorn son of Arathorn was going to war upon the marches of Mordor.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South
The last phrase of the above quote always struck me as somewhat of a non sequitur, until I finally interpreted the runes as being intended to protect Aragorn in his upcoming battles. I was intrigued by the idea of imbuing a weapon with magic to ward off evil, guarding it and by extension also its owner. Tolkien employed this concept not only with Andúril, but also the matching scabbard that Galadriel gave Aragorn, the knives that Tom Bombadil found in the Barrow-downs for the Hobbits, and the Morgul-knife of the Witch-king:
'The blade that is drawn from this sheath shall not be stained or broken even in defeat,' [Galadriel] said.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 8, Farewell to Lórien

[Aragorn] picked out from the pile of grim weapons two knives.... 'Doubtless the Orcs... feared to keep the knives, knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about with spells for the bane of Mordor.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 1, The Departure of Boromir

So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of Westernesse. But glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the North-kingdom when the Dúnedain were young, and chief among their foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 6, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

Glorfindel shuddered as he took [the Morgul-knife], but he looked intently at it.

'There are evil things written on this hilt,' he said; 'though maybe your eyes cannot see them. Keep it.... But be wary, and handle it as little as you may!'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford
Anar and Isil are the Quenya names for the Sun and the Moon; the name of Elendil's sword, Narsil, is a combination of the roots of these two words. I liked the idea of the sword inheriting its radiance from the Sun, and its resilience (which I interpret as flexibility — the opposite of brittleness — so it would not break) from the Moon... after all, the Moon may disappear every month, but it always returns to its former glory. Tolkien often used imagery of light or fire to describe the reforged sword; indeed, the name Andúril means Flame of the West:
Very bright was that sword when it was made whole again; the light of the sun shone redly in it, and the light of the moon shone cold, and its edge was hard and keen.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South

But before all went Aragorn with the Flame of the West, Andúril like a new fire kindled, Narsil re-forged as deadly as of old....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 6, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

Andúril rose and fell, gleaming with white fire. A shout went up from wall and tower: 'Andúril! Andúril goes to war. The Blade that was Broken shines again!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

... Andúril came down upon his helm. There was a flash like flame and the helm burst asunder. The orc fell with cloven head.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 5, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm

Then he drew Andúril and held it up glittering in the sun. 'You shall not be sheathed again until the last battle is fought,' he said.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 9, The Last Debate


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