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Brotherhood  by Bodkin 20 Review(s)
LarnerReviewed Chapter: 12 on 3/2/2007
A gosling among cygnets, is he? A nice metaphor indeed. Poor child--not having children of his own kind, and born too late to know many if any among Elves as well, as most children born in these days are born across the Sundering Seas or in secret to guard them from the depradations of an Enemy growing again in power.

And he is alone and will be mostly alone, save when he finds his brothers amongst other ones who have known loneliness in the midst of many, forging the Fellowship he will help lead to the salvation of all, and two of those brothers go to do alone the task an army could not accomplish.

Author Reply: Estel must have grown up pretty much without any contact with other children, I think. A child among adults - with most of those adults being - well - extremely adult. It probably helped him deal with spending so much time alone once he went out into the world - but I doubt it did much to help him learn to relate to others of his own age. The ... uproariousness ... of life in Rohan must have come as a real culture shock to him.

He and Arwen must have clung to each other, I think, in later years - the only two who shared an upbringing in Imladris, separate from everyone around them. The Fellowship will have been very important to Estel - a brief time when he was part of a brotherhood with a common goal.

meckinockReviewed Chapter: 12 on 3/1/2007
I can certainly understand Gilraen's frustration. Her son is growing up a fish out of water, and she knows it. And she's so right, about everything. He will be alone - even Elrond will tell him that later. How trapped she must feel in this reality that's been thrust upon her and her son, yet how else can he become the person he must be? Tolkien doesn't make anything easy, does he?

Author Reply: In the earlier episodes, Estel was too young for difference to matter - he was small and everyone else was big, so of course they could do what he couldn't. But, as he ages, it must become a problem. For all their (distant) kinship, he and his mother are of a different race - different species - and teaching him to value being a man rather than thinking of himself as a second-rate elf must have occupied Gilraen - and Elrond - rather a lot over these years. As it is, there is a lot of elf in Estel - otherwise I doubt he would have married Arwen (or she him) - but his mother managed to give him enough to help him learn to be true to himself.

And no - Tolkien doesn't make it easy - and the more you think about it, the harder it all gets!

perellethReviewed Chapter: 12 on 3/1/2007
A very intersting topic you raise here, Bodkin, but I will rather stop by the contrast between female, human concerns, faced against ageless and male approach.

Elrond believes that there will come a time for everything, while she has pressing concerns for what she perceives as her sonīs unhapiness right then. She wants to adress the actual prpnlem not the philosphy of it all.So a compromise betweeen the two of them will need be achieved, less the pace of long lived elves proves too slow for a young man to be proud of his heritage, and therefore interseted and caring of his people. A very, very thought provoking chapter.

Author Reply: Her view is so much more immediate - and she knows Estel won't have 6000 years to try to come to terms with his background. But it would be so much easier for Estel to be proud of his heritage if he knew his place in it - and he can't. It's all theory - which gets a bit like telling a lion in a zoo in Helsinki that it should be proud of what its ancestors did in Africa. And he is still young enough that it's the here and now that matters. Gilraen understands that - but, between age and foresight, Elrond is rather too detached from the concerns of a boy who is here (I think) about 7-10.

And I would love to work out how they dealt with it - because Aragorn did grow up to value who he was and where he came from. (Thanks in huge part, I reckon, to the strength of his mother!)

Linda HoylandReviewed Chapter: 12 on 3/1/2007
I found this very moving as I have often wondered if there were problems for Aragorn as a human amongst Elves.This is very appropriate for Aragorn's birthday.You write Gilraen well.

Author Reply: Thank you. I like Gilraen. In fact, the more I think about her, the more I appreciate her! She is a very strong woman, who raised her son to be a remarkable man under conditions that were not, for all the safety of the Last Homely House, ideal.

Did you see the tiger cubs being raised with orang-utan babies? It must have been a bit like that, in a way. At the moment they are completely happy together - but one day, they will turn round and realise that they are very different.

DreamflowerReviewed Chapter: 12 on 3/1/2007
Yes, what a true conundrum Estel's parents face. For his own physical safety, his continued *living*, even, they must maintain the secrecy of his existence.

But Gilraen's fears are well-founded, and it is clear that Elrond, though he understands them, has no solution to them, other than "what is, is".

Author Reply: So much of the story becomes so much more complicated when you take a slight sidestep and look at it differently. There is more to Estel in Imladris than camping trips and fun and games with the twins - and the thought of a small boy growing up among ancient elves, with no exposure to his own culture except his mother ... Well. It was bound to be difficult. I'm sure that, amongst them all, they strove to find solutions. I just don't know what they were! And, of course, Estel did grow up to devote himself to Arwen - and Galadriel dressed him up to look like an Elf-lord - and I suspect that, somewhere inside himself, he always hid the fact that he felt half-elven. Under a layer of dirt, quite often!

GwynhyffarReviewed Chapter: 12 on 3/1/2007
That was a powerful chapter, Bodkin, and something that surely came up during Estel's childhood. I love Gilraen - she really is his only concrete link to his own heritage.

Author Reply: So much of little Estel is happy and innocent and mischief-filled - well, it probably was! - but there are complications. And this must have been one of them. Gilraen is great - and a very strong and tenacious woman. Her son needed her.

MithLuinReviewed Chapter: 12 on 3/1/2007
The fact that Elrond finds it difficult to speak of his own childhood as a half-elf among elves speaks volumes to why Gilraen's concern is more than legitimate. Yes, he'll survive, and yes, it may be good for him....but that doesn't mean it isn't a *problem* Estel's identity is going to be a question all throughout a childhood - and when he asks "who am I?" no one will give him a straight answer.

Author Reply: Elrond, of course, had a terribly mixed up childhood. And the only constant, Elros, then decided to go off and become a king of men - grow old and die and leave his brother, like everyone else. Estel's childhood isn't like that - he has his mother and some very staunch substitutes for father, uncles and brother. But what real understanding can he have of his own culture when it is only taught to him as history? How can he not feel that 'men are weak', when he his raised among elves who remember the Last Alliance? And, actually, I think children need children. Only children can find it harder to relate to their peer group when they live in the normal world - but an only child who never sees other children?

I'm sure everyone with do their utmost to find compromises. At least compromises that won't compromise Estel's safety. If they can.

daw the minstrelReviewed Chapter: 12 on 3/1/2007
Happy birthday, Estel :-)

It's hard to think of the spoken and unspoken expectations this little boy tried to live up to. I can see how it would have been hard for him, and yet what were they to do?

Nice job conveying the complexity of the situation, Bodkin.

Author Reply: I wonder how old Estel is now...

I think it would have been easy for Estel when he was very small. Differences don't show as much - and the inhabitants of Imladris would have been star-struck by the delight of having a child around. But there comes the 'who am I?' period - and he has no points of comparison. But you're right - what could they do? He needed to be safe and unknown, which, by definition shuts him away.

So much seems so simple at first sight - and then a shift of perspective reveals complications you never thought of. Looking through Gilraen's eyes is fascinating - a whole different viewpoint on them all.

LiannaReviewed Chapter: 12 on 3/1/2007
Well, he cannot be Beren, but he will get his Luthien.

And maybe that is what will make it bearable. Aragorn, throughout his life, and Arwen, once she commits to him, must always be outsiders, never fitting perfectly into the worlds of either Elves or Men. But at least they have each other.

I liked seeing Gilraen's insights here. Some authors portray her as a sort of weakling blob. Your Gilraen is a real and intelligent person.

Author Reply: He will get his Luthien! Eventually. And I wonder if, had he not been reared among elves, he would have loved Arwen so devotedly over so long - and whether Arwen would have loved him. And feel that his elvish qualities, combined with the force of his personality (and fate), are what attracted them to each other. After all, Galadriel dressed him up like an Elf-lord from the Isles of the West ... And her (half)-elven presence is probably what makes him feel at home in Minas Tirith - after all, there is more than the elf/man thing to hold them apart. Elessar is king - and that is to be separate always.

I like Gilraen. She is the only Dunadan in Imladris with her son - she would have to be remarkably strong and determined. And, of course, he is her hope - and her only link to her husband. She would do her best for him. (And I reckon she did a pretty good job!)

French PonyReviewed Chapter: 12 on 3/1/2007
An interesting question of how to deal with Estel's emotional growth, and one that, honestly, Tolkien probably never even considered. Maybe it accounts for Aragorn's modesty and "plays well with others"-ness that we see later in his life. He comes across as being good at just about anything he tries, but it doesn't seem to go to his head. Maybe that's the result of growing up in a place where his very best was nothing special.

What this boy needs is to discover his talent, the particular thing that he's good at. Then he'll have some self-esteem and a reason to shine. And maybe he could go meet the Dunedain without necessarily being told who he is in relation to them.

Author Reply: A lot of the situations in - well - any novel/movie/whatever are superficially quite straightforward, but, like your story of Elros/Elrond/Maglor, once you think about it, they are far more complex than that! Tolkien was a boarding-school-educated product of the tag-end of the nineteenth century - I doubt he thought deeply about the harm that being cut off from his people could have done - probably thought more that it was part of making a man - but we look at child-rearing rather differently. Aragorn might have been quite surprised, when he went out into the world, to find how good he was - how well-educated, how knowledgeable, how skillful with weapons, how versed in strategy - but I do reckon he would have found it quite hard to relate to other people his own age. And not just because he was Arathorn's son.

It would be helpful for him to met other men from time to time - but possibly even better to meet other children, of whatever species. And I think his family must have resolved the difficulty somehow - he was definitely a well-balanced adult, with a pretty good idea of his own worth.

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