"Purists might wish for a corpus with fewer contradictions, a canon less amorphous—one that allows them to declare, without equivocation, 'Thus saith Tolkien.' Yet, perhaps the good professor did not intend it to be so...the mythologies of our ancestors are not received in tidy, set form. They are based on oral traditions that took on new flavor as they passed from bard to bard, hamlet to hamlet. Over time, stories changed to reflect the needs and challenges of their tellers. Tolkien knew this; perhaps his greatest gift to us lies in all those unfinished manuscripts, for what we have is a fictional legendry that truly resembles the myths of the real world. And perhaps the greatest tribute to his work is the humble fan's attempt to add her vision to that legendry, for by her efforts, Tolkien's dream of an enduring mythology proves not so fanciful after all."
—erunyauve (erunyauve at ) 2004
"The Sword of Elendil" is written in the spirit of the above quotation as the story of the young Aragorn finding his way in the world of the Dúnedain after his childhood in Rivendell. The story is for the most part book canon, with some specific exceptions. Generally the exceptions have to do with the relationship between Aragorn and Arwen, which is different enough to qualify as Alternate Universe. Canon purists will find this story a rampant violation of LACE. My apologies to those who might find this jarring.
My intention in "Sword" is to tell the story of Aragorn's coming of age—how he learns to deal with various conflicts and problems facing him as a young man of twenty who has just discovered his true destiny. The matter of Arwen is central to his emotional life, and so I have significantly increased the angst level of his feelings toward her.
Certain events are interpreted differently from the standard canon view. I have done this in the spirit of looking for the "real" story behind the official chronicles of the legend. For example, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" was written after the death of both. Who is to say that the story as recorded was not adapted to the purpose of the historian? I am looking for the emotional truth of the story, rather than a rigid reading of the text.
The description of the Keep and how the Dúnedain organize their affairs, as well as all the characters beyond the few named in the canon, are entirely my invention, but do not contradict anything that Tolkien wrote, to my knowledge. I have named their Hidden Fortress "Thurnost"; it is located at the joining of the Hoarwell and Loudwater. In the portrayal of the life of the Northern Dúnedain I have been influenced by the many other writers who have written so imaginatively and beautifully about this obscure subject, in particular Anoriath, Gwynnyd, Meckinock and Dwimordene. We are all greatly in debt to Michael Martinez's research.
Most of the poems quoted in this story are the work of the great English poets. Please see the chapter notes for specific information.
My heartfelt thanks to Oshun, Pandemonium, and DrummerWench for their friendship and sound advice; and to the folks at the Lizard Council for enduring, and answering, my endless requests for assistance; to all my readers who have waited for five years for the completion of this tale; and last but not least, Dwimordene, without whose browbeating and encouragement this tale would never have come into being.
Prologue: The Legend of Narsil
Tolkien tells us that Telchar the Dwarf smith made Narsil. Nothing is known of how it came to Elendil. I have invented what seems to me a probable backstory.
Chapter 2: Arathorn's Son
Tolkien says in The Fellowship of the Ring ("Strider") that Narsil was broken a foot below the hilt. For the purposes of this story it is broken two feet below the hilt.
Tolkien does not say that Elrond took Gilraen and Aragorn to Rivendell against the will of the Dúnedain. But for any fanfic writer dealing with this part of Aragorn's life, there is an immediate problem of explaining how such a secret could be kept. This is my take on the matter.
Chapter 3: Taking Leave
The poem is shamelessly adapted from John Keats' splendid "La Belle Dame Sans Merci."
Chapter 5: Shadow of Angmar
Ivorwen is of course a canon character and appears in "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen." There is a fragment in "Peoples of Middle-earth" crediting her with "seeing" a green stone when Aragorn was born. I have made this into a dream.
Chapter 8: Wise Heart
Saelind, Argonui's wife, and the story of the falcons are my invention.
Chapter 9: Harvest Festival
That there was trouble over Arathorn's marriage to Gilraen is told in "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen." I have recast the story in a more dramatic version.
Chapter 13: The Dagger
To learn more about the terrible incident at Strathen Brethil, see the wonderful tales of Adaneth. The sonnet is shamelessly adapted from the great John Milton.
Chapter 15: The Evenstar
In my Alternate Universe, Arwen has not been in Rivendell since her mother's kidnapping and torture by the Orcs some five hundred years earlier. Because of fear for her safety, Elrond has kept her very existence a secret. Thus Gilraen as well as Aragorn did not know of her until she arrived.
My description of Elven sexual mores violates "The Laws and Customs of the Eldar," according to the views of most canon purists. I find that strict interpretation very cold-blooded, and prefer to see the Elves as much warmer creatures, free of the strictures and rules that bind human society. Aragorn himself shares Elven views, since he was raised in Rivendell.
Chapter 23: The Servant of Mordor
Ahando is entirely my invention, but Tolkien describes in The History of Middle-Earth
the heinous activities of some disembodied Elves.
Chapter 26: Shadow of the Elder Days
In The Sword of Elendil, Maedhros and Maglor are co-foster fathers to Elrond and Elros. See Oshun's inspired work for the source.
Much of the following chronology is taken from Tolkien's "Tale of Years." Birth and death dates of the chieftains are from "Peoples of Middle-Earth." I repeat that material here to help orient the reader regarding the characters, their ages, and their experience of the past. Ages for most of the characters, including of course all "original" characters, are my own invention, but are compatible with canon. Please note there are no plot spoilers in this chronology.
The events described in The Sword of Elendil begin in late September 2951 and end three years later in early August 2954.
2740. Orcs renew their invasions of Eriador. Arassuil is chieftain of the Dúnedain at this time.
2747. An Orc-band invades the Northfarthing.
2757. Birth of Argonui son of Arathorn I.
2758. Rohan attacked from west and east and overrun. Gondor attacked by fleets of the Corsairs.
2758-9. The Long Winter follows. Great suffering and loss of life in Eriador and Rohan. Gandalf comes to the aid of the Shire-folk.
2759. Saruman takes up his abode in Isengard.
2770. Smaug the Dragon descends on Erebor. Dale destroyed. Thror escapes with Thrain II and Thorin II.
2775. Birth of Saelind, wife of Argonui.
2784. Death of Arassuil son of Arahad II. Arathorn I becomes chieftain.
2790. Thror slain by an Orc in Moria. The Dwarves gather for a war of vengeance.
2793. The War of the Dwarves and Orcs begins.
2799. Battle of Nanduhirion before the East-gate of Moria. Dain Iron foot returns to the Iron Hills. Thrain II and his son Thorin wander westwards. They settle in the South of Ered Luin beyond the Shire (2802).
2800-64. Orcs from the North trouble Rohan.
2803. Birth of Goenor.
2820. Birth of Arador son of Argonui.
2825. Birth of Ingold.
2841. Thrain II sets out to revisit Erebor, but is pursued by the servants of Sauron.
2845. Thrain the Dwarf is imprisoned in Dol Guldur; the last of the Seven Rings is taken from him.
2848. Death of Arathorn I son of Arassuil. Argonui becomes chieftain.
2849. Birth of Hallor.
2850. Gandalf again enters Dol Guldur, and discovers that its master is indeed Sauron, who is gathering all the Rings and seeking for news of the One, and of Isildur's Heir. He finds Thrain and receives the key of Erebor. Thrain dies in Dol Guldur.
2851. The White Council meets. Gandalf urges an attack on Dol Guldur. Saruman overrules him. Saruman begins to search near the Gladden Fields.
2862. Birth of Dírhael.
2870. Birth of Hawk (Herion).
2872. The White Tree of Gondor dies, and no seed ling can be found. The Dead Tree is left standing.
2873. Birth of Arathorn II son of Arador. Birth of Beleg husband of Ariel.
2879. Birth of Ivorwen daughter of Gilbarad.
2885. Stirred up by emissaries of Sauron the Haradrim cross the Poros and attack Gondor.
2887-2895. Arathorn and Beleg are fostered in Rivendell.
2901. Most of the remaining inhabitants of Ithilien desert it owing to the attacks of Uruks of Mordor.
2902. Birth of Daeron.
2907. Birth of Gilraen mother of Aragorn II.
2911. The Fell Winter. The Baranduin and other rivers are frozen. White Wolves invade Eriador from the North.
2912. Great floods devastate Enedwaith and Minhiriath. Tharbad is ruined and deserted. Death of Argonui. Arador becomes chieftain.
2916. Birth of Iorlas son of Dírhael.
2920. Birth of Ríannon, Iorlas's wife.
2921-2927. Arathorn and Beleg hunt Orcs with Thranduil's Elves in Mirkwood.
2928. Birth of Halbarad.
2929. Arathorn son of Arador of the Dunedain weds Gilraen. Birth of Damrod.
2930. Arador slain by Trolls. Arathorn II becomes chieftain. Malbeth, Hawk's grandson, born.
2931. Aragorn son of Arathorn II born on March 1.
2933. Arathorn II slain. Aragorn becomes chieftain. Gilraen takes Aragorn to Imladris. Elrond receives him as foster-son and gives him the name Estel (Hope); his ancestry is concealed.
2936. Birth of Fíriel.
2937. Birth of Rodnion and Rodnor, Hawk's grandsons.
2939. Saruman discovers that Sauron's servants are searching the Anduin near Gladden Fields, and that Sauron therefore has learned of Isildur's end. He is alarmed, but says nothing to the Council.
2940. Ariel daughter of Arador dies in childbed.
2941. Thorin Oakenshield and Gandalf visit Bilbo in the Shire. Bilbo finds the Ring. The White Council meets; Saruman agrees to an attack on Dol Guldur, since he now wishes to prevent Sauron from searching the River. Sauron having made his plans abandons Dol Guldur. The Battle of the Five Armies in Dale. Death of Thorin II. Bard of Esgaroth slays Smaug. Dain of the Iron Hills becomes King under the Mountain (Dain II).
2942. Bilbo returns to the Shire with the Ring. Sauron returns in secret to Mordor.
2943. Marriage of Iorlas and Ríannon.
2944. Bard rebuilds Dale and becomes King. Gollum leaves the Moun tains and begins his search for the "thief" of the Ring.
2946. Birth of Lalaith daughter of Iorlas.
2949. Gandalf and Balin visit Bilbo in the Shire.
2951. Sauron declares himself openly and gathers power in Mordor. He begins the rebuilding of Barad-dur. Sauron sends three of the Nazgûl to reoccupy Dol Guldur.
Elrond reveals to Estel his true name and ancestry, and delivers to him the shards of Narsil. Arwen, newly returned from Lorien, meets Aragorn in the woods of Imladris. October 1. Aragorn leaves Rivendell for the Angle.
2953. Last meeting of the White Council at the Grey Havens.
List of characters (age at time of opening of story, September 30, 2951)
Dúnedain of the North
Aragorn (20), Heir of Isildur, son of Arathorn (d. 2933) and Gilraen
Beleg (78), Ranger captain, Aragorn's uncle by marriage to Ariel, Arathorn's sister (d. 2940 in childbed w. infant son)
Daeron (49), Ranger captain, master-at-arms
Damrod (22), Ranger
Dírhael (89), Aragorn's grandfather, Ranger captain
Fíriel (14), a servant girl
Gilraen (43), daughter of Dírhael and Ivorwen, Aragorn's mother
Goenor (148), Ranger
Halbarad (23), Hallor's son, Aragorn's second cousin
Hallor (102), acting chieftain, grandson of Argonui by Nimlach (Arador's older sister), Arathorn's first cousin.
Hawk, aka Herion (81), Ranger captain
Ingold (126), Ranger captain
Iorlas (35), Aragorn's uncle, Gilraen's brother, Ranger
Ivorwen (72), daughter of Gilbarad, Aragorn's grandmother, midwife, warden of the Commons
Lalaith (5), daughter of Iorlas and Ríannon, Aragorn's cousin
Malbeth (24), Hawk's grandson, Ranger and minstrel
Ríannon (31), Iorlas's wife, Aragorn's aunt by marriage
Rodnor and Rodnion (14), Hawk's twin grandsons, Rangers in training
Saelind (176), Aragorn's great-grandmother, wife of Argonui, mother of Arador, grandmother of Arathorn, Ariel and Hallor
Elves of Rivendell
Arwen, Elrond's daughter
Elladan, elder twin son of Elrond
Elrohir, younger twin son of Elrond
Erestor, Elrond's counselor
The Sorcerer of Rhudaur
Various Men, Elves, Orcs, Trolls and Wolves
Appendix: From the Red Book of Westmarch
In the days of Argeleb son of Malvegil, since no descendants of Isildur remained in the other kingdoms, the kings of Arthedain again claimed the lordship of all Arnor. The claim was resisted by Rhudaur. There the Dúnedain were few, and power had been seized by an evil lord of the Hillmen, who was in secret league with Angmar. Argeleb therefore fortified the Weather Hills; but he was slain in battle with Rhudaur and Angmar.
In later years it was revealed that the evil lord of the Hillmen was none other than the sorcerer of Rhudaur, who had possessed the body of a chief of the Hillmen. He was a sorcerer of great power, the chief servant of the Witch-King, and led the forces of the enemy in the assault on the Weather Hills when Argeleb was slain.
When Angmar was at last vanquished by the forces of Gondor and all who remained in the North of the Dúnedain and the Elves of the Grey Havens and Imladris, the sorcerer too vanished from the North. But while it was known that he was not a Ringwraith, the Wise did not know of what kind he truly was, and believed, wrongly as they came to see, that the sorcerer had perished in the body of the Hillmen's lord. But this proved not to be so, and when Sauron rose again, and Mount Doom burst into flame, he sent the sorcerer from Dol Guldur, where he had hidden in the intervening years, back to the North. For the death of Smaug, as Mithrandir had foreseen, was a terrible blow to Sauron's plans, and he sought to regain a base from which to assault Imladris and to continue his search for the Heir of Isildur, if any remained upon the earth.
In this the sorcerer was in part successful. Through evil magic he lured the chieftains Arador and Arathorn II to their deaths, and would have brought about the death of Aragorn II as well, if Elrond had not protected him in Imladris. But the Rangers were aware when the sorcerer returned, and they rode against him in company with the sons of Elrond and Lord Glorfindel. With the aid of Gandalf the Grey his lair was cleansed of all Orcs and evil Men.
Then it was revealed that the sorcerer was none other than Moredhel, the cruel servant of Celegorm who had left the sons of Dior to starve in the woods. This Elf was already far down the road to evil when he met his death at the hands of Maedhros son of Fëanor. For Maedhros sought to find the boys, but when he could not, he took his revenge upon Moredhel. Thus he lost his Elven body and became a lost spirit, refusing the call of Mandos. As the Wise later came to know, he took over the body of another, forcing out the rightful spirit into death. It is not known how many bodies he inhabited over the Ages. But at last he took refuge in the body of a wolf, and for many years the Ettenmoors were ravaged by these beasts. The danger was not ended until the days of Elessar.