Episode 130 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member
SESSION 130

Comment on Boromir’s view of Isildur:
  • Since Boromir is the one of the brothers who generally espouses Denethor’s beliefs, it’s possible that he views Isildur with derision after hearing the story from Elrond.
  • Isildur is associated with the kings in the North, and Denethor will later look down on Aragorn’s claim. This is similar to the way Arvedui’s claim was also rejected by the Gondorians.
  • It’s possible that Isildur’s reputation has waned over the years, and Denethor say that it is perilous to use the Ring, so he may view Isildur taking it as foolish, instead of destroying it.
  • Boromir might think that he would have done differently in Isildur’s place, and that he would need to use the Ring now because his situation is more dire.
  • Denethor’s derision is probably not for Isildur himself, but for the waning of the northern line. While the line going back to Isildur continues unbroken, Arnor, as a kingdom, no longer exists.
  • He also wants to resist Aragorn’s claim for personal reasons, so Isildur’s line is just the excuse.
  • Given Denethor’s state of mind when he voices this opinion on Aragorn, it cannot be seen as the general lore in Gondor about the view of Isildur or his descendants.
  • Does Denethor know that Aragorn was once Thorongil? Probably, especially if he has since seen Aragorn in the palantir and recognized him from his time in Gondor.
  • When Arvedui claimed the throne, Eärnil II had already been offered the throne and acclaimed, though Eärnil was very diplomatic about his rejection of Arvedui’s claim.
  • There was an implication from Malbeth the Seer that if Gondor united the thrones under Arvedui, the kingship would’ve survived, though it didn’t look that way at the time.
  • Since the Argonath were built long after Isildur’s death, there was obviously still great respect for him on equal terms with Anárion. He is revered as one of the co-founders of the kingdom.
  • The White Tree is associated with Isildur going back to Númenor, and it is the symbol of Gondor.
  • Though Boromir tends to agree with Denethor’s views, he is not like Denethor in personality. Faramir is more like Denethor in mind and mood and abilities, though he is not the favorite.
  • Denethor is wiser than Boromir, so though he says that it would be foolish to use the Ring, Boromir may not have the wisdom to see it the same way.
  • Denethor seems to know about the Ring in a general sense, though we don’t know how much.
From the ruin of the Gladden Fields:
  • Why was Valandil in Rivendell, and not Annúminas? The primary concern was that they had marched out all of the fighting force of Arnor, and if they lost, he would be unprotected.
  • Did they call it the Last Alliance at the time? There may have been an understanding that this was the last time the Noldor especially would be able to march to war in this way.
  • There have been many more losses to the Dark Lords than victories, so it would seem prudent to take these precautions against their defeat. Rivendell is also on the way from Annúminas.
  • Isildur had four sons, three of whom died at the Gladden Fields, with only Valandil surviving.
  • How was Rivendell protected at this time without the power of Vilya? Elrond neither owned nor wore the ring, but it was safe due to the presence of other powerful people and its secrecy.
  • The decision to leave Valandil behind could have been made before or during the journey, but it is good statecraft to protect the last heir to the throne as a designated survivor.
  • Only three people of those who marched with Isildur to the North from Mordor returned. This probably represents great portion of more than one generation of Arnorians lost to the war.
  • This begins the decline of Arnor right away, as there are too few survivors to people the lands.
  • Note: In Unfinished Tales, we’re told that a portion of the army of Arnor, though small, and it was sent ahead to Arnor in advance of Isildur, who was only traveling with his own retinue. This is part of the revision process after Tolkien finished writing The Lord of the Rings.
Elrond’s unspoken agenda:
  • Why does Elrond tell this story of Valandil? It explains, in part, why almost no one in the South knows about this story. The few survivors only went to the North.
  • Elrond is establishing the provenance and significance of the sword of Elendil, along with the survival of Isildur’s line of heirs, and therefore setting up Aragorn’s reveal.
  • Since it seems that the public revelation of the line of the kings is on the agenda for the Council, Elrond needs to give this otherwise irrelevant information so that the reveal is understood.
  • It seems providential that Boromir, as son of the Steward of Gondor, would arrive in time for the Council, but it is also potentially a source of conflict, so Elrond must be careful in his approach.
  • Elrond knows that there are a few ways that the Council could go wrong, but Boromir adds to them. None of the other councilors would have resisted Aragorn’s claim, but Boromir might.
  • By taking the time to lay the groundwork, any resistance by Boromir will have to contend with the authority and counsel of Elrond himself, who is very much on the side of Aragorn’s claim.
  • This is also related to Boromir’s quest, as the poem includes the Sword that was Broken, too. It seems likely that he had shared the poem with Elrond prior to the Council when he arrived.
  • What is the light of Narsil? It’s likely that, given other swords in these stories that produce or reflect light in special ways, it would seem to fall in a similar category, though it is Dwarf-made.
(continued below)
 

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Tony Meade

Active Member
(continued)

A gap in their Ring lore:
  • It’s important to remember that the leaders of the Last Alliance have very little information about the One Ring, beyond its power to dominate the other Rings of Power.
  • What they know now is from hindsight and probably theoretical, based on what they have observed since, such as the foundations of the Barad-dûr remaining because the Ring survived.
  • The foundations could even be metaphorical, as they represent the base of Sauron’s power.
  • They would not know about the corruptive power of the Ring, as Isildur was the first person to possess it after Sauron, and he didn’t share what he experienced, nor did he have it very long.
  • They never knew that the Ring turned mortals invisible, as they never saw Isildur put it on.
  • The Numenoreans would have demanded the Ring had they known what it was capable of.
  • They couldn’t even be sure that Sauron had only been diminished after his body was slain.
  • They might have assumed he was destroyed, and though they knew the Ring was dangerous and probably should be destroyed, they couldn’t know that Sauron’s continuity was linked to it.
  • This would be a precaution, not an understanding that Sauron had poured his power into it.
  • Knowing that its function was to dominate the Rings of Power, it would seem like a risk to leave that available in the world, especially if they want to use their own Rings again.
  • The Ring was clearly evil, but they didn’t know their final victory hinged on destroying it, nor did they know that destroying it would end the power of their own Rings.
  • Even at this time, there are those who believe that the destruction of the One Ring will free the other Rings of Power from it, but this is only a theory, and as it turns out, not true.
  • Elrond clearly feels regret about not destroying the Ring when he could have, but in retrospect it would have required him taking it by force and that would have had unforeseen consequences.
A not wholly fruitless, but costly, victory:
  • They seemed to know in advance that the Last Alliance will end the Second Age, much as they can foresee the end of the Third Age now with the state of Elves and Men.
  • Elrond’s use of “no more” rather than “slain” to describe Gil-galad and Elendil is partly poetic, which sets them aside as the great heroes of the war that were lost.
  • This also wraps up Elrond’s long description of the events of the Second Age before moving on.
  • There’s a sense that Elrond is pointing to Gil-galad and Elendil as the last of great kindreds.
  • Why does Elrond rhetorically end with talking about the race of Númenor? This seems to be a part of leading toward the revelation of Aragorn, keeping it at the front of their minds.
  • Elves and Men generally don’t interact anymore, so this is what Elrond means by “estranged”. There were once close friendships between Elves and Men, such as Elendil and Gil-galad.
  • It’s unlikely that people in Gondor ever even see Elves, unlike the Rangers of the North, who are the exception rather than the rule. Many people now doubt that Elves even still exist.
  • Even the proximity of the three kindreds around Mirkwood is unusual, and not always smooth.
  • The Rohirrim are the best example of this estrangement, shown in the way that they view Lothlorien and Galadriel.
The separate paths of the North and South:
  • Elrond’s synopses of the Numenorean Realms in Exile are very brief, especially that of the North.
  • Why does Elrond talk about them? He is clearly following an agenda, not digressing, or sharing random bits of lore, and it seems to be to emphasize their decline, especially Gondor.
  • This decline proves that they will not have the strength this time to oppose Sauron directly.
  • Also, those who have been to the South are probably in the minority, and he needs to orient them all to the current state of Gondor, especially in relation to the power of Mordor.
  • Elrond needs to make sure that they understand that there will be no other Last Alliance, especially since the Elves do not have the numbers, but also since Gondor has declined.
  • The description of Gondor’s decline, especially the use of exclusively past tense terms, would certainly draw Boromir’s indignation, even if that is not the full intent.
  • Why does Elrond draw attention to Gondor’s links with the Elder Days, though in the past tense? This seems to be more setup for Aragorn, who is also a link to the Elder Days through Elendil.
  • Strider also emphasized this when he describes the story of the song of Beren and Lúthien.
  • Elrond wants to stress that Gondor’s importance is not just historical, as it is clear that it will be the primary theater of Sauron’s war, as their conflict with him also goes back to the Elder Days.
  • However, he also points to the tree as the sign that the light of Telperion, and therefore Valinor itself was reflected in Gondor, for at least a little while, and links them with the Elves.
  • This means that Gondor’s importance is more than just practical, but also spiritual. Though the destruction of the Ring is the lynchpin of their hope, the return of the king is also important.
END OF SESSION
 

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