Aldarion and Erendis - The Mariner's Wife

A discussion of Tolkien's Unfinshed Tales
Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:30 pm

I've finally managed to catch up and finish re-reading this story. I feel just as frustrated by it as I was the first time I read it! So many wasted opportunities for the two of them to resolve things, but they are two people who never really should have been together in the first place. Neither of them can take advice on what they should do, both are completely incapable of compromise. They're like the proverbial rock and hard place with first the King, and then their daughter inbetween.

When Aldarion eventually comes home for the last time in the story he's finally sick of the sea and has been longing for home, but Gil-Galad's need kept him away. He even, finally, sees the beauty of the Elven tree. But, frustratingly, Erendis never gives him the chance to explain (although she confesses to herself that she's ready to forgive him if he asks for forgiveness). But she makes sure there is no chance of that happening by barely receiving him, and he's too hot and hasty to be patient and wait for a thaw. They aren't exactly a great pair of communicators, are they?

What a pair!

If I was pushed to take sides I think I'd take Aldarion's. He's too hot headed, doesn't reveal his purposes in Middle-earth (which are good) and can't control his sea-longing, but he isn't cold and bitter. I can see why Erendis is bitter, but I don't think she even tries when he returns and the first move towards coldness is hers. And as for bringing her daughter up to be a self-centered, man-hating little madam. Well! Fat lot of good that did her!

Aladrion just about wins the sympathy race for me, but only by a short nose.
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Merry
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Post by Merry » Thu Jun 11, 2009 5:04 pm

I don't know about the history of his period well enough, but did Aldarion actually accomplish anything useful or important with all his sailing around?
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Thu Jun 11, 2009 7:07 pm

The only part of his sailing we hear about where there is something concrete to show for it is the advice he gives to Gil-Galad, and his failed attempts to build a permanent harbour and stronghold at Vinyalonde. It seems that a lot of his preparations failed, according to Christopher Tolkien's notes. Tolkien never had him, in any of his scribblings, actually sending an army to Gil-Galad's aid or battling in Middle-earth. Or establishing a Numenorean foothold on the mainland that actually remained there after his departure. Doesn't CT say somewhere that he was both 'too late and too early'? Too late to recognise and stop the rise of Sauron, and too early to do battle as the time for that wasn't ripe. But he says somewhere that it did lay down the foundations for his decendents (grandson?) to do it. If I had my book with me I'd quote it!
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Chrissiejane
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Post by Chrissiejane » Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:41 am

The pity of it for Aldarion is that his patient work building relationships with the inhabitants of middle-earth finally does result in a call for help from Gil-galad, which is then denied by his father Tar-Meneldur (only after much thought, it must be said; and it also triggers Meneldur's abdication). Even sadder, when she eventually succeeds him, his nation-building and diplomacy are both utterly ignored by his daughter Ancalimë:
she was proud and wilful. After Aldarion's death she neglected all his policies and gave no further aid to Gil-galad.
....her song released the sudden spring, like rising lark and falling rain, and melting water bubbling

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:39 pm

I can't help thinking that if Tolkien had finished his story, he would have written in scenes where Aldarion went to Gil-Galad's aid, even though he didn't sketch any of that out in his notes. Aldarion's father yields up the sceptre to his son's greater knowledge and wisdom in these matters so it seems a bit strange in the story that such a great gesture leads to nothing.

How that would have fitted in with the rest of his Middle-earth mythology, I don't know....
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Chrissiejane
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Post by Chrissiejane » Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:00 pm

Iolanthe wrote:...How that would have fitted in with the rest of his Middle-earth mythology, I don't know....
Maybe that's why this story never got finished.:D
....her song released the sudden spring, like rising lark and falling rain, and melting water bubbling

Chrissiejane
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Post by Chrissiejane » Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:43 pm

Merry wrote:I don't know about the history of his period well enough, but did Aldarion actually accomplish anything useful or important with all his sailing around?
I think the answer to this may not be as entirely negative as I had thought from my reading of the story of Aldarion. In the next chapter of this section of the book, concerning the history of Galadriel & Celeborn, we're told that Aldarion, in his adventures to Middle-earth, came upon the great forests of Minhiriath and Enedwaith and chose to establish a haven there, at the mouth af the Gwathló, from where he could conduct operations to fell the trees of these forested lands and transport the timber back to Númenor for buildings and ships.

This work continued after his death until the forests were utterly destroyed, causing much animosity between the peoples of the region and the Númenóreans, whom they saw as invaders and plunderers of the land.

Then, during the 17th centiury of the Second Age, in the wars against Sauron for control of the Rings of Power, it was at Aldarion's haven, the port of Lond Daer on the River Gwathló, that a force of the Númenóreans led by Admiral Ciryatur, having split away from the main force led by Tar-Minastir, finally landed. Fighting a rearguard action to support the embattled Elves led by Gil-galad, they ensured that Sauron's armies were defeated.

So eventually, perhaps there was some positive outcome to Aldarion's wanderings.

Source: Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Chapter IV, Appendix D.
....her song released the sudden spring, like rising lark and falling rain, and melting water bubbling

Merry
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Post by Merry » Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:36 pm

Thanks, Chrissiejane! A high price to pay for this haven, but Sauron might have had his way with Middle-earth in the end had it not been done. People criticize Tolkien for being two black-and-white when it comes to morality, but Aldarion really is a shade-of-gray 'hero'.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Chrissiejane
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Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2005 9:48 am
Location: Scotland

Post by Chrissiejane » Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:03 am

Unfinished Tales is a new discovery for me, I have never before had the time to pay proper attention to these stories, in the way they deserve. The more of Professor Tolkein's work that I discover, the more awed I am by his ability. It's one thing to be a wonderfully imaginative creator of entrancing fantasy lands populated with strange creatures and imaginary races: it's quite another to be able to weave that magical tapestry, and then use it as the backdrop to create a complete history peopled by such wonderfully deep, complex characters. His skill at portraying individuals so realistically, within the context of the history of their world, is truly magnificent.
....her song released the sudden spring, like rising lark and falling rain, and melting water bubbling

Merry
Varda
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Post by Merry » Mon Jun 15, 2009 3:51 pm

Well said, Chrissiejane. I've been thinking along the same lines myself. More specifically, I'm thinking of what it would take to create an imaginary map. As much as I was not enchanted by the chapter on the island of Numenor, I can see why it was necessary now. And how does one begin to create an island? Not to mention the whole of Middle-earth and all its detail--and twice, pre-cataclysm and post!

Simply amazing.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2005 2:21 pm
Location: Washing my hair in the Sundering Sea

Post by Iolanthe » Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:26 pm

He was a genius. Thank goodness Christopher Tolkien took it upon himself to publish as much of his father's work as possible. LotR is a magnificent book but when you start digging behind it you discover a world so awsome it's possible to lose yourself in it entirely. No matter how much I read I still feel I'm only scratching the surface of his creation.

Very interesting stuff about Aldarion's legacy! It's just as well one of us is reading ahead! It's ages since I read the book and I forgot that there is more to Aldarion's story there.

Aldarion and Erendis are such complex characters. As with all Tolkien's stories, they don't fit easy stereotypes and the story never follows an obvious route.
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

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