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The Transience of Human Connections in GRRM’s The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr

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Several covers of George R R Martin's books

Part of the GRRM Reading Project.

First published in Fantastic in 1976, The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr is considered by George R. R. Martin (GRRM) as his first pure fantasy story as a professional writer.

“Keen-eyed readers will notice certain names and motifs that go all the way back to ‘Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark,’ and other names and motifs that I would pick up and use again in later works.” (GRRM in Dreamsongs: A RRetrospective)

Sharra and her powers were originally meant for the Doctor Weird mythos, but by the late ‘70s Martin had moved away from his fanfiction days. He eventually moved away from Sharra as well; his plans to create more stories for her never came to fruition.

Not that it matters: the beauty of The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr is precisely how it values the transitory, and how something doesn’t need to last to be touching.

The girl who goes between the worlds

Sharra knows the gates between worlds, and traverses them in her quest. Little we know of how her journey begun or how it will end, only of the brief time she paused in the world of the lonely singer Laren Dorr.

She arrives wounded and weak, after a conflict with one of the guardians that watch the gates. Laren Dorr, the only person living in this world, finds and heals her. Long ago the Seven told him of Sharra and that he would love her. She has to go, to continue her search, but Laren asks her to stay with him for just a month. In exchange, he can show her where the next gate is. Sharra agrees.

Soon we learn of their origin stories: Sharra had a man she loved, one with powers like hers, that was taken away by the Seven. She’s been searching for him from world to world over centuries. Laren scarcely remembers his story: in some memories he was a god, in others he was a king. Whatever he was, he bothered the Seven and they took him away from all those he knew and loved. He’s been in this world for centuries, unable to leave.

They spend their days together, and at night Laren sings about them, who they might have been and who they were, with songs that come to life in beautiful visions. They explore the world together, and talk, and walk, and eat, and make love. But nothing has changed, and eventually it is time for Sharra to go.

The farewell is hard, and Sharra’s story is now lost in legend. All we know is that in an empty castle below a purple sun, Laren Dorr still sings of her.

A month, a moment; much the same

One of the points of the GRRM Reading Project is to identify patterns. Stylistic choices, recurrent themes, preferred tropes, character types, you name it. Being a non-native English reader hampers my understanding of linguistic subtleties, and the lack of a bigger background with genre fiction means that several references will be lost to me. Themes, however, are for eighth-grade book reports, so hopefully I can handle those.

If you’ve been following this project for a while, you know I’ve been pointing out the repetition of certain themes in Martin’s stories. Here we see them again: loneliness, love, loss, the brevity and importance of human connections.

Now, I may have a biased interpretation since I’m only reading the stories collected in Dreamsongs: A RRetrospective. If so, it’s at least telling that so many of the tales selected for a career-spanning retrospective approach similar topics. These are supposed to represent Martin’s body of work, after all.

Repeated as the themes may be, each story shines over them a new light. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work with me, sometimes it works like a charm. The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr falls into the same group as A Song for Lya, where I find the story touching and effective. This is entirely subjective, and I can see different readers having different responses.

So what makes some of these narratives work better than others?

In part it’s because stories like A Song for Lya and The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr have two lovers who are more or less equally important to the story. This creates a balance of perspectives, and we can see how they interact with and affect each other. In stories like The Second Kind of Loneliness, This Tower of Ashes, or Meathouse Man, we follow mainly a male perspective over a lost love, but little we know of the love itself. We have the aftermath of the connection and its mainly negative impact, but we see little of why it mattered in first place.

Furthermore, romances focusing on a male perspective risk having two-dimensional or idealized female characters, which is a pet peeve of mine and one that can still be found in Martin’s writing to this day. Lya or Laren Dorr may not be perfect in that regard, but they at least give you a sense of who these characters are and why we should care about their relationship.

Finally, both A Song for Lya and The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr are not negative stories. I’m not fond of grimdark, so of course I tend to appreciate that. But I would like to elaborate on this aspect.

How they briefly touched

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not talking about happy stories here. A Song for Lya is a romance that ends in suicide by being eaten alive for one of the parties and presumably perpetual emotional scars for the other. The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr also doesn’t strike me as particularly cheerful. Neither characters may ever achieve the goal they spent their immortal lives pursuing, both are profoundly lonely and literally damned by the gods, and their presence in each other’s lives is explicitly meant not to last.

And yet. Yet. The emphasis is not on loneliness and the weight of loss, but on the human connections that mitigates these feelings even if just a bit. The emphasis is that these connections matter.

When we talk about Martin’s approach to fantasy in A Song of Ice and Fire, we often praise his deconstruction of fantasy tropes. More than that, I would say that he denies the easy answers that such tropes often provide. Lesser stories will give you social rewards just because you are the hero, but Martin argues that it’s not so simple. The same happens when he writes romantic relationships: there are no easy answers, love does not last forever nor does it magically solve all problems.

A Song for Lya argues that even when two humans are as together as humans can be, they still can’t complete each other. They can’t eliminate the negative feelings, the loneliness, the emptiness, at least not entirely:

I didn’t want to be here anymore, ever, in this place, this awful place. I would have been, Robb. Men are always here, but for brief moments.

A touch and a voice?

Yes, Robb. Then darkness again, and a silence. And the darkling plain.

In The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr, love motivates both characters to a god-defying point. But there’s also a recognition of its limitations, even when the relationship has the possibility of literally lasting forever:

“I remember love vaguely, I think I can recall what it was like, and I remember that it never lasts. Here, with both of us unchanging and immortal, how could we help but to grow bored? Would we hate each other then? I’d not want that.’ He looked at her then, and smiled an aching, melancholy smile. ‘I think that you had known Kaydar for only a short time, to be so in love with him. Perhaps I’m being devious after all. For in finding Kaydar, you may lose him. The fire will go out some day, my love, and the magic will die. And then you may remember Laren Dorr.’”

(that was a dick move, Laren!)

I’m not as cynical as to think all love stories end up in boredom, but the main problem with the concept of “happily ever after” is that all love stories do end—even if it’s till death do us part. And what matters is not that the relationship ended, but that it existed. Even a brief encounter is worth cherishing, remembering, celebrating. Not because it fixes everything or completes us, but because it makes the night less dark and less lonely.

The relationship between Sharra and Laren has its problems, and the above quote illustrates that well. However, its power resides in its impact for both characters. From the beginning we are warned this is just a brief moment in Sharra’s journey, but it’s no less real or important because of that. It’s still a story deemed worth telling.

In contrast to Meathouse Man’s conclusion that love is a lie, what strikes me as positive in stories like A Song for Lya and The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr is that human connections are worth celebrating even if they’re not perfect, even if they don’t last. Lasting forever is not the point.

Martin here doesn’t just celebrate imperfect human connections, he values them for what they are. Imperfect as they are, they matter. They still have the power to change us, to comfort us, to make us better or happier. We celebrate these connections because they make us stronger, because when the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.

Maybe I’m giving Martin too much credit or reading too much into his stories. But his most sublime writing happens when he finds beauty even through painful experiences. Folks that stick to a grimdark reading of his works are missing something precious.

Final thoughts:

  • Talking about loneliness and human connections in Martin’s work always brings me to A Song of Ice and Fire, specifically in how isolated the characters are. I don’t think that’s an accident. In fact, I can’t wait for 2050, when we finally have The Winds of Winter and those characters find each other.
  • I’ve talked about Martin’s approach to genre fiction before. Here, again, he uses a genre background to explore universal experiences and existential questions, something he continues to do.
  • The ending heavily implies that Laren Dorr was the guardian of his world. It’s established that all worlds have a guardian, and “There are some who hold you with weapons, some with chains, some with lies. And there is one, at least, who tried to stop you with love. Yet he was true for all that, and he never sang you false.” Anyone else shares this impression?
  • The idea of songs bringing visions to life reminds me of the elvish songs in The Lord of the Rings. Martin is a Tolkien fanboy, so I wonder if this was actually an influence for him.
  • Martin is notorious for his food descriptions, dividing readers between those who like them and those who don’t. I’m not particularly fond of them, but it amuses me to see how far in his bibliography we can trace them. So many interactions between Sharra and Laren happen during meals!

Next time: the much awaited moment when we’ll tackle “Dying of the Light”, Martin’s first novel.

Priscilla is a Brazilian writer, art student, psychologist, feminist and fangirl. Sometimes too passionate about stuff.

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Andi Schiller
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Andi Schiller

This one of my favorite shorts by Martin. I really liked the twist that Lorren is also a Guardian.

Kevan
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Kevan

Funny that the Seven are here gods of evil, compared to their relative benevolence in ASOIAF mythos.
I understood it as Laren being forced into the role of a guardian, with the Seven warning him of Sharra’s arrival to tempt him.

Analysis

Tragedy in Lady Knight

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Image courtesy of Random House

The dedication to Lady Knight reads “To the people of New York City, I always knew the great sacrifice and kindness my neighbors are capable of, but now the rest of the country knows, too.” It’s a somber beginning to a book about the tragedy of war. Obviously, it talks about the events of 9/11, and the book was published in 2002, barely a year afterwards. It’s the grimmest of Pierce’s books so far, but like the dedication, it also shows the most kindness.

Spoilers for Pierces previous work. Warnings for mentions of abuse and the murder of children.

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Creator Corner: An Interview with Author Lee Blauersouth

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Do you like superheroes who are queer? Found family? Complicated family dynamics? If so, meet Lee Blauersouth, author of Secondhand Origin Stories, a book with all of the above, plus so much more. I met Lee at WisCon—at Alex Acks’ book release actually—and my conversations with them were some of the most interesting and fun I’ve had in a while. So of course, I just had to have an interview to learn more about their history as a writer, their book, and their experiences as a queer, disabled writer. 

Gretchen: So, are you a lifer or a recent convert when it comes to writing? What inspired you to start writing?   

Lee: I think I started writing fanfiction at around age 28. After several years of that, I realized that the stories I most wanted to tell really didn’t fit with the characters and universes I was drawing from in my fanfiction, so I decided to try my hand at original writing.

G: Speaking of original writing, your novel Secondhand Origin Stories is about superheroes, what made you want to write a superhero novel?

L: Is it awful if I say spite? I’ve ingested a lot of superhero stories in various formats over the years. And there were things I kept waiting for them to do that they just weren’t doing. So eventually I got fed up and wrote the queer, disability-focused, US systems-aware, superhero family drama I’d been craving.

G: Similarly, YA gets a lot of flak from some corners of the internet for being a ‘lesser’ genre (which is bullshit), what made you want to write YA rather than for another audience?

L: I don’t think I ever decided “I’m going to write YA” so much as that I wanted to write this specific story, which was best told through the points of view of the 4 teen characters. I’m not even sure “YA” is the most accurate descriptor, given that by the end of the book half the main characters are 18 years old. I just remember my late teens and early 20s as being this really complex, exciting, stressful time of my life and that’s just such an obvious source of story material. Especially in a genre traditionally obsessed with origin stories, transformations, and identities.

G: Absolutely. So with DC and Marvel churning out many superhero films and TV shows, do you think books still have a strong place in telling stories about superheroes?

L: I wouldn’t be writing them if I didn’t! Each medium has its strengths and drawbacks, but I love superhero novels because of how easily they let you slide into the characters thoughts, emotions, bodily experiences, and point of view. Prose is just great for getting into a character’s head for a super intimate experience. Since superheroes have traditionally been mainly represented in more visual mediums, I think there’s a hunger for this sort of point of view in the genre. The AO3 tags of Marvel and DC properties would certainly seem to suggest so, anyways.

G: Tell me about writing superhero stories as a queer person. What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to face? Any unexpected blessings or silver linings?

L: I think being queer (and disabled) informs a lot of the way I think about bodies, changes to bodies, social vs private spaces, and family. I hope this gives my work a flavor and a focus that sets me apart from a lot of the mainstream superhero stories. On the other hand, it’s really hard to figure out how to work that into an elevator pitch when the expectation for superhero stories is much more action-packed.

G: How did your experience as a queer person influence the story you wanted to tell in Secondhand Origin Stories?

L: I think the biggest thing is the idea of found family. I’m one of those fortunate queer folks who’s very close to their family or origin—they’re very accepting (we’ve often commented that my wife is my mom’s favorite daughter). But even so, I have a fairly extensive queer found family, too.

I think found family narratives are a big part of why superhero team stories mean so much to so many queer folks. It feels homey and reassuring to have these characters we love living with found families. When I started writing Secondhand Origin Stories, my wife and I had just started the adoption process, so I was thinking a lot about what these found families look like when you take them out multiple generations. So, in my story you have a superhero team acting as found family, and then a 2nd generation of queer teenagers, building their own networks on top of that base.

G: You’re also a comic book artist, right? Tell us more about that!

L: I’ve been writing since my late 20s, but I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon. I actually have much more experience drawing than writing. I fell into comics specifically because above all, I love telling stories. Weirdly, I’ve never written a comic beyond one schmoopy autobio comic. My wife wrote all the other comics I’ve drawn!

And being able to make my own cover is pretty fun.

G: I wish I had that skill, for sure! On the topic of other projects, society likes to tell us that we can ‘have it all,’ but that can seem really hard to do these days. How do you balance your writing, drawing, work, and being a parent?

L: I just have to let every day be what it is. Some days I get to write or draw and some days I don’t. On the days I can’t, I try to at least give the story or project a little space in my brain- while I’m waiting between clients or driving or washing bottles. It helps keep my enthusiasm up so that when space does open up in my schedule, I’m more likely to feel ready to dive in.

But a lot of credit goes to my wife and my family (origin and found) for how much they help—especially with taking the baby for a while.

G: What stories/authors inspire you when you’re feeling out of steam or the creative juices aren’t flowing?

L: There are a ton of stories that have inspired my creative works over the years, but when I need to work up my own creative energy I actually tend to go to nonfiction. Shows like “Abstract” or “Chef’s Table” are nonfiction shows about creators working in different mediums than me, but it’s all about their creative journeys and what inspires them to reach for excellence. I find their pre-recorded enthusiasm contagious.

G: I love that. So what’s coming up next for you? Any other projects you’re working on that you can tell us or hint to us about?

L: Right now my creative life is consumed by the sequel to Secondhand Origin Stories, which is going to be placed largely in a huge medical clinic in rural Minnesota. In my day-job life I’m a therapist who works with a lot of clients embroiled with the criminal justice system. That means I see a lot about the way the power structures of the medical world play out, and I intend to apply that to the world of superheroes.

G: That sounds exciting, inspiring, and challenging all at once. Anything else you want to share with us before we go?

The audiobook version of Secondhand Origin Stories will be coming soon! Follow me on Twitter for more updates and to see my drowning my sequel-writing pain in large mugs of tea: https://twitter.com/AmmoniteInk

G: Thanks again for chatting, Lee!

L: You’re welcome!

Secondhand Origin Stories is available for purchase online and in retail stores. Make sure you check out Lee’s website for more information and stay tuned for my review of Secondhand Origin Stories coming later this month!


Images Courtesy of Lee Blauersouth

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The Last Debate and the Ending of an Age

Katie

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legolas

“The Last Debate” is more like a “last discussion,” a “last planning meeting,” or perhaps a “last Gandalf monologue with which everyone is quickly on board.” This isn’t a criticism. A debate at this point would feel out of place. Our heroes have just been granted a miracle, an impossible reprieve. But what can you do next? What to do when you’ve been given a miracle, you’ve survived, but you simply immediately require a bigger one?

The whole chapter is tinged with a sense of giddiness, fear, hope, and confusion. People like Legolas look to a future beyond the war, but one that is different, uncertain, even frightening. Cut off from what had come before. Éomer’s eucatastrophe is built on the back of Gimli’s week of horror, a time he came barely bring himself to recall. And when the captains gather together to plan a course for what’s to come, they quickly agree that the most hopeful path is virtually indistinguishable from self-annihilation.

The Last Debate

“Hardly has our strength sufficed to beat off the first great assault,” Gandalf begins at the meeting of the captains. “The next will be greater.” It might come across as a narratively jarring moment for those uninitiated to Tolkien’s pacing. We’ve shifted quickly from a moment of narrative and emotional climax to one where… our heroes aren’t even entirely the protagonists anymore. Of course, they still are in a certain sense. But it’s still an interesting and rather bold move on Tolkien’s part to follow up such a vibrant, effective set piece as Pelennor Fields with its stars scrambling to fill a supporting role to quieter characters who have been off screen for so long.

From a thematic point of view, of course, this is essential. Tolkien’s physical battles, as important as they may be, are always secondary, always a corollary to something more key. We saw this last chapter when Aragorn gained renown in Minas Tirith for his healing powers rather than his ghost brigade, which he didn’t even both to bring. It would make little sense to have this strand of narrative culminate in a big battle before shifting over to Frodo and Sam, implying an equivalence in their missions despite the fact that they are playing dramatically different roles.

It’s also thematically on point in its skewering of Sauron’s lack of imagination. Sauron has always struck me as the sort to be quite proud of himself for being able to see the weaknesses in others. He probably thinks he’s a goddamn scholar of the human (elven/dwarven/you get it) condition because of his ability to see how others could fail. How intelligent! How edgy. Of course, Sauron’s certainty in himself is his own undoing (Aragorn’s certainty, hard-earned and open-minded, sounds nicely as its counterpoint). Non-Saurons are simply Lesser-Saurons: they would hide without the Ring or fight rashly with It. Playing into this isn’t quite prudence, as Gandalf notes. But it’s a solid play predicated on Sauron’s weakness and their own tentative, tottering strength.

legolas

Seen and Unseen

Now that we’ve gotten our spaghetti plate of plot threads all (relatively) back together, I’d be curious to see what everyone thinks about Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli’s adventure happening almost entirely off screen. Much like the Ents’ assault on Isengard, I do think that it loses a bit from being told in retrospect.

We hear Legolas and Gimli describe the moments they saw Aragorn really come into his own as an open leader of large numbers of people (and ghosts) rather than see it happen ourselves. We don’t see Legolas and Gimli for a very long time! And, from what snippets Tolkien does give us, we missed some very cool and atmospheric ghostiness. I was especially a fan of Gimli, ever the wordsmith, describing the army right before Aragorn released them. “The Shadow Host withdrew to the shore. There they stood silent, hardly to be seen, save for a red gleam in their eyes that caught the glare of the ships that were burning.”

But in the end I think it was a good choice to keep the focus away from Aragorn, and instead give us Eomer’s moment on the Pelennor. It’s a more thematically important moment than the taking of the fleet at Pelagir, despite the cool, ghostly atmosphere of the latter. I do sometimes wonder, though, at what story would have emerged had the choice been reversed.

Legolas, Gimli, and Future Might-Have-Beens

While there’s good stuff all over, I do have to say that my favorite part of the chapter, by a long shot, is simply Merry, Pippin, Legolas, and Gimli hanging out by the Houses of Healing. They’re among the funniest characters in The Lord of the Rings and they are very well-paired here. Merry and Pippin so often bring out the best and most honest in others, and the tension between Legolas’s and Gimli’s wildly disparate approaches to the world creates a nice sense of dynamism and tension. Tolkien delightfully plays it up almost to the point of parody as they enter Minas Tirith: “Legolas was fair of face beyond the measure of Men, and he sang an elven-song in a clear voice as he walked in the morning; but Gimli stalked beside him, stroking his beard and staring about him.”

Beyond that, though, their conversation also strikes a tenor that new in this section of The Lord of the Rings. Legolas and Gimli immediately begin discussing how, after the war, they could call on some good dwarven stonewrights to fix up shoddy Minas Tirith masonry and some trusty elves to plant some flowers and make the place less drab and lifeless. There’s a sense of hope, of the future, of time expanding outward and the world improving from what it currently is. But there’s also the sense of that hope being suddenly and somewhat truncated.

“It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in the Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise.”
“Yet seldom do they fail of their seed,” said Legolas. “And that will lie in the dust and rot to spring up again in times and places unlooked-for. The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli.”
“And yet come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess,” said the Dwarf.
“To that the Elves know not the answer,” said Legolas.

It’s clever that the first look at the future, of a post-Sauron world, comes from an elf, a dwarf, and two hobbits sitting around the citadel of Men that is likely to be the focal point of the future. It’s such an ambiguous future: obviously better than the immediate present, but still heavy with the sense of loss. The world will be Different. That’s very sad in a lot of ways, and a lot of people over the rest of the story are gonna be sad about it. But it’s not—or not necessarily—bad. This becomes even clearer when Legolas sees some seagulls, the Middle-earth brand of wildlife doomed to launch mid-life-crises for elves whose lives have no mid.

legolas

you too would love the sea if you were an elf

“Look!” he cried. “Gulls! They are flying far inland. A wonder they are to me and a trouble in my heart. Never in all my life had I met them, until we came to Pelagir, and there I heard them crying in the air as we rode to the battle of the ships. Then I stood still, forgetting war in Middle-earth; for their wailing voices spoke to me of the Sea. The Sea! Alas! I have not yet beheld it. But deep in the hearts of all my kindred lies the sea-longing, which it is perilous to stir. Alas! for the gulls. No peace shall I have again under beech or under elm.”

I’ve always liked that Tolkien’s “dying world” (hmm) atmosphere is predicated not on death but on movement. The elves aren’t… disappearing, or dying, or Losing Their Magic. They are simply going somewhere else, to a new place. That is super sad in a lot of ways! I am a historian and I cry into my tea every morning that I can’t chill with medieval scholars in Timbuktu or scratch crass graffiti into Pompeiian walls with Roman bros or learn to paint pretty landscapes in Song China. Gimli gets it.

“Say not so!” said Gimli. “There are countless things still to see in Middle-earth, and great works to do. But if all the fair folk take to the Havens, it would be a duller world for those who are doomed to stay.”

definitely only wonderful and beautiful things happen there

But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Tolkien’s world is not a world of consistent linear decline. Things don’t start beautiful and get bad. I mean—they get bad a lot if you read The Silmarillion, but it is very hard to be kind in a world with so much beautiful jewelry up for grabs. But in the large scheme of things, for Tolkien, change is sad but fundamentally neutral: as in all things, it depends on the choices that you make. There’s ample space made for sadness and loss, but at its core I think it’s a rather optimistic way to view the world.

wait, no, shit—

In any case, more on this later. I am very interested in Tolkien’s sense of nostalgia. But I think I’m going to save any more thoughts for a later chapter (or just a later essay in general). It’s more complicated and optimistic than it’s often painted to be, at any rate.

Final Comments

  • “Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” I didn’t quite fit this in anywhere above, but it’s a nice quote, kind and comforting. Except when you think of it for too long and realize that we’ve messed things up enough now that the weather, uh, is kind of ours to rule now only in the sense that we’ve made it so bad and its just always a hundred degrees now and oh my god WHAT HAVE WE—
  • It was interesting to me that Denethor appeared so frequently in Gandalf’s sales pitch at the meeting of the captains. This works to re-emphasize the works thematic beats. But I also do wonder if it’s meant to indicate that Denethor is, simply put, still very much on Gandalf’s mind. Gandalf is very good at talking people away from despair, presenting them the choice and allowing them to make the hopeful one. Denethor not only rejected Gandalf’s philosophy, he did so bluntly and brutally. We never delve all that far into the deeper folds of Gandalf’s psyche, but I do wonder if it did a bit of a number on him.
  • Speaking of Denethor—it continues to be a fun thought experiment to imagine how much more difficult the dude would have made everything for the last two chapters. You want a last debate? Denethor would have given you a last debate.
  • I thought that Legolas’s comment about Tolkien at Pelagir to be intriguing: “In that hour I looked on Aragorn and thought how great and terrible a Lord he might have become in the strength of his will, had he taken the Ring to himself. Not for naught does Mordor fear him. But nobler is his spirit than the understanding of Sauron; for is he not of the children of Lúthien?” It’s another nice parallel / contrast between Aragorn and Sauron.
  • Imrahil has always felt like an odd character to me. He feels very… illustrious, like a high medieval courtly knight in a story where those are in short supply. So when he calls Aragorn his liege lord and says that “his wish is to me a command” like some kind of Disney Prince, I was a half-way through a powerful, extended eye roll. But then my boy Imrahil steps in to be the voice of reason and reminds everyone that some heed should be given to prudence that that it’d be a shame to survive their maniac run at the Black Gate only to turn around and find the whole country burned and ravaged. Sorry, Imrahil, you’re good. Do your thing.
  • I’m not sure it’s intentional or meaningful, but I was struck by the fact that when Gimli and Legolas are discussing how they can spiff up Minas Tirith, Gimli phrases it as “when” Aragorn comes into his own. Legolas phrases it as “if.”
  • Prose Prize: For a while they walked and talked, rejoicing for a brief space in the peace and rest under the morning high up in the windy circles of the City. Then when Merry became weary, they wen and sat upon the wall with the greensward of the Houses of Healing behind them; and away southward before them was the Anduin glittering in the sun, as it flowed away, out of the sight of even Legolas. In the context of this chapter’s hope and uncertainty this has that that sense of a kind of lovely moment frozen in time before everything changes. You know the sort—if this made it into the film version it would have been shot during the golden hour.
  • Contemporary to this Chapter: Frodo and Sam walk, and keep walking. My poor little dudes.

Art Credits: The film still is from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), courtesy of New Line Cinema. All other images, in order of appearance, are courtesy of Lorenzo Daniele, Ted Nasmith, aegeri, and, introducing, the “Beleriand” article on The One Wiki to Rule them All.

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