Gondor the Beloved|
The Pelennor fields
had witnessed many fateful events in the last years of the Third Age.
It was on those fair and fertile lands that the Black Captain, the terror
from Angmar, descended like a falling black cloud. There it was
that a great number of brave men of Gondor and Rohan fell during the
Siege. But the fair fields have also witnessed happier events.
It was not the plains in the Riddermark, but the Pelennor, that saw
Théoden King of the Mark riding like Oromë the Great and clove
through his enemies like a fire-bolt. There it was that a prophecy
of old proved true: the Black Captain perished, slain by the hands of
no man. And on a bright day after the fall of the Enemy of all
free peoples of Middle-earth, the Pelennor witnessed another great event.
For it was there that Aragorn son of Arathorn, Heir of Elendil, declared
his claim to the crown of Gondor.
Near the north-eastern
side of Rammas Echor a pavilion was erected for the lords of Gondor
to meet the Lord Aragorn and listen to his claim. The Steward
Faramir came from Minas Tirith and with him were Imrahil the Prince
of Dol Amroth, and Húrin the Warden of the Keys. Many of the
Council of Gondor were absent; Gondor had the victory but it was dearly
bought. Forlong Lord of Lossarnach fell in the battle there, as
was Hirluin Lord of Pinnath Gelin. Their heirs had been summoned
to Minas Tirith but had not reached the City. Hador Lord of Lebennin
fell and Tuor his son was wounded in the battle in Morannon. He
was then still under the healers’ care in Cormallen, and so was Dervorin
of Ringlo Vale. Duinhir Lord of Morthond was unscathed but he
was too deep in mourning over his slain sons to attend any council.
Aragorn rode from Cormallen
with no companion but Mithrandir. Angbor Lord of Lamedon, who
was a member of the Council of Gondor, rode with them. Aragorn
declared his claim firmly but not arrogantly. The lore of earlier
days told how Elendil’s majesty was not tainted with pride, and it
was said in later days that in this particular virtue as in many others,
Aragorn of all his descendants resembled him the most.
“I am Aragorn, son
of Arathorn, the heir of Isildur, his descendant through an unbroken
line of father to son; and the heir of Anárion through the line of
Fíriel daughter of Ondoher. Long have I desired to return to
Gondor. Now is the time, and I am come as the King.”
Faramir was the one
who gave the reply, for the Steward was the head of the Council of Gondor.
“The Council of Gondor has listened and will consider the claim justly.
After the other lords of Gondor came to the City, the Council will meet
and give our answer.”
“I shall wait for
your answer,” said Aragorn.
Faramir spoke again,
“The Council of Gondor would like to speak of some matters with the
one who is come to be our King. Would my lord Aragorn be willing
to listen to us, who represent the Council?”
“I am willing.”
They all sat on stone
chairs that were brought from the City to the pavilion. Faramir
began his speech. “Aside from his claim to the throne of Gondor,
the Heir of Isildur is the King of Arnor. Now that the Enemy has
been overthrown – bless the brave Halflings – I believe
you and the Dúnedain of the North are eager to rebuild your realm in
the North. I do not presume to know much about Arnor, but at least
I know that much rebuilding is needed there if the kingdom is to be
established again, much more than what Gondor needs.
“But the greater
need of Arnor does not diminish the importance of rebuilding in Gondor.
Perhaps it is too early to think of the scouring of Minas Ithil, but
surely we can now turn our long-held hope of rebuilding Osgiliath into
a certain plan? My heart rejoices when I think that the ancient
Citadel may one day be restored to its former glory, tall and beautiful
with its dome reaching to the stars. We also need to make plans
about Umbar. Now that the Enemy is no longer there to support
the Corsairs, Gondor shall rightfully regain it. And what of Ithilien,
the garden of Gondor, now so desolate? Surely we can begin the
cleansing and planting there?”
As he spoke of his
hope for his land Faramir’s mien softened and his eyes shone.
He moved his hands spiritedly, perhaps without him realizing it.
His enthusiasm commanded their attention even more than his authority
as the Steward. Mithrandir and Imrahil did not hide their smile.
That was not the first time they listened to Faramir’s vigorous recitation
of his hope (though at those darker days it seemed more like a dream).
Angbor looked at the young Steward with a renewed curiosity. He
had rarely visited the City in recent years, thus he only met Faramir
few times before and never conversed much with him.
Faramir paused for
a moment. Looking earnestly at Aragorn, he continued, “Should
the Council of Gondor accept your claim, my lord Aragorn, you will be
the King of both Gondor and Arnor. Should this happy thought come
into fulfilment, will you give us your words that you will not neglect
the needs of Gondor? I do not accuse you of lacking in your regard
of Gondor – how can I, after you delivered her from the siege?
Yet it is only natural for every man to hold his land of birth as the
As Aragorn listened
to Faramir’s speech his expressions remained unreadable, save that
his eyes too glowed brightly when Faramir spoke of Osgiliath.
As Faramir questioned the place Gondor had in his heart, he gave them
a smile, which so rarely graced his grim face.
“You have a gift
with words, Lord Faramir. Your speech gladdens my heart, for now
I can be sure that my claim will be considered justly, and that even
if my rightful claim were to be rejected, Gondor would remain in the
hands of one who loves her dearly.
“The thought of Osgiliath
restored to its former glory makes you rejoice. I, too, have had
that dream many times, and my joy at that thought is no less than yours.
My forefathers built Osgiliath; is it a wonder that I long to see it
restored? You said that one holds the land of one’s birth as
the most important: that is true. But I have not spent all my
years in Arnor. I was raised in Imladris, the Elven realm of the
North. It is only after I came of age that I spent some time in
the company of the Dúnedain of the North. Then I travelled far
and wide to many lands, spent long years serving many lords, including
the Lord of Gondor.”
This revelation surprised
Faramir, but he did not interrupt Aragorn’s answer. Imrahil
and Húrin exchanged a glance, after which Imrahil nodded.
“I give you my solemn
words that I hold Gondor as dear as Arnor, for both are the realms of
Elendil, and I have spent many years in each realm, long enough to endear
both to me.”
For a moment no one
spoke. It was Angbor who broke the silence. “You served
Gondor in the disguise of Captain Thorongil,” he said.
“I only met you once and I was very young then, but I have not forgotten.”
“I took the name of Thorongil when I served Thengel King and the Lord
Ecthelion. It is an honour to be remembered by a valiant man,
He turned to Faramir.
“Have I answered my lord Steward’s question?”
“You have, lord,
but your answer raises another question,” said Faramir. As he
said that Mithrandir’s eyes twinkled, but the wise wizard suppressed
his chuckle remarkably well and said nothing. “Captain Thorongil
did many great deeds and his praise is still sung in Gondor. But
he left in a sudden, at a time when Gondor needed him. Would you
give me an answer to give to the Council, for I believe once they know
that you were here as Captain Thorongil, they will wonder at your reasons
of leaving your realm at the time of need?”
“There were some
reasons,” said Aragorn. “But let me just speak of one.
At that time the people had begun to give me respect and love more than
befitting a Captain. Some even whispered that Thorongil might
make a better ruler than Denethor. When that insolent whispers
grew louder, I decided it was time to leave. It was not yet the
time for me to claim the kingship, and I was loath to see Gondor torn
by kinstrife for the second time.”
“I remember that
time,” said Angbor. “In Lamedon I heard the same whispers.
My father had the highest regard for Thorongil, but he was relieved
when he left. He said that with the shadow at hand, kinstrife
was the last thing Gondor needed. It was most noble of you to
“I simply did my
duty,” Aragorn replied.
Húrin the Tall, the
Warden of the Keys of Minas Tirith, spoke next. “My lord Aragorn,
only a few know that you are Captain Thorongil. In the eyes of
most people, you are a king from the North. We are both the remnants
of the great Númenor, but the North and the South have different traditions,
as you know better than I do. Should the people accept your claim,
lord, will you be willing to listen to the Council of Gondor, at least
in the first years of your reign when you are still adjusting to the
ways of Gondor?”
“Will I be willing?”
asked Aragorn, his tone showed his amazement that such a question was
raised. “It is the King’s duty to listen to his Council.
And I believe that the Council will be most valuable to the King at
all times, not only in the period of adjustment. I have travelled
wide and experienced much, but I readily admit that the lords of Gondor,
in particular the Steward, currently know more about ruling Gondor than
I. I value their counsel highly.”
“So if you become
king,” rejoined Húrin, “you will preserve the office of the Steward?”
The reply came instantly
and firmly. “I have never thought of doing otherwise.”
The lords of Gondor
nodded approvingly, save for the Steward himself.
“As always you speak
wisely, lord,” he said. “Now as we are speaking of this matter,
I would like to remind my lord that the King is free to choose his own
Steward. Pelendur made the Stewardship hereditary, but the King
has the authority to give the office to whomever he deems suitable.”
Aragorn stared at Faramir,
as if inquiring why the Steward chose to remind him that he was free
to release him of his office. They looked at each other for a
moment, then as had happened few times before, they came to understand
“If I may ask, Lord
Aragorn,” said Imrahil, “should Gondor repeat the answer they gave
to Arvedui, what will you do?”
“I have no wish to
oppose the choice of the people. Should that happen, I will devote
myself to the rebuilding of Arnor. I would like to maintain our
tie of kinship, just as Arvedui and Eärnil did.”
Amiable silence ensued,
the rare kind of silence that occurred when all parties in a council
have spoken their thoughts and were pleased with what they have heard.
Aragorn rose and the others followed. They bade farewell and went
out of the pavilion.
Mithrandir had curiously
remained silent during the whole meeting, but presently he spoke.
“Now that you have finished your discourse, my lords, I wish to speak
with the Lord Aragorn and the Lord Steward.”
That was rather unusual
request, but having known his deeds in the Great War, the captains had
learned to trust Mithrandir. So Imrahil and Húrin left for the
City and Angbor rode back to Cormallen. Mithrandir walked back
to the pavilion; Aragorn and Faramir followed him.
Instead of returning
to his chair, he went to a corner, sat on the ground in a most relaxed
manner and began to light his pipe.
Aragorn and Faramir
waited for him to speak, but he did not seem to be in a hurry to do
The two men exchanged
glances. “Gandalf,” said Aragorn after some time, “of
what matter you wish to speak with us?”
Mithrandir sent beautiful
rings of smoke to their direction. “Nothing in particular.
I simply give the two of you the chance to speak together. I know
you want to, but neither of you want the other lords to think that you
are scheming something behind the back of the Council.”
The two men stared
at the wizard for a moment, then they all burst into laughter.
“O blessed Mithrandir,” said Faramir amidst his laugh, “what
will we do without your counsel?”
other,” Mithrandir answered. “Now speak all you need to say
to each other and let me enjoy my Longbottom Leaf.”
Aragorn and Faramir
moved to the centre of the pavilion. They sat on the ground, leaning
their backs on the stone chairs.
“How is your arm
and shoulder, Lord Faramir?”
“It is mending well.
And what about you, my lord? You appear unscathed, but surely you suffered
“Some harmless wounds,”
Aragorn replied. After a short pause he spoke again, “Now may
it be my turn to ask questions?”
“You are free to
ask anything of me, my lord.”
Faramir said the words
plainly, without embellishments, but even a less wise man than Aragorn
would have been able to read his sincerity. “Ah,” murmured
Aragorn, visibly moved by this answer, “perhaps I too can be as fortunate
Then he said, “You
mentioned that the King is free to choose his own Steward. Should
the Council accept my claim, and should I choose another lord as my
Steward, what will you do?”
“I will continue
to serve you as a Captain of Gondor.”
“And if the King
releases you from any duty to Gondor, what will you do?”
A look of horror was
in Faramir’s face, but it passed quickly. His composure regained,
he gave his reply. “I believe I have not done anything to deserve
that chastisement. But the King is a wiser man than me, and if
he thinks it is in the best interest of Gondor that I shall leave –
perhaps to avert another kinstrife – you know that I am ready
“So you also see
that there is a potential for kinstrife?”
“Yes, if we do not
act wisely. The people hold the Stewards dearly. It may
be difficult to win their hearts if there is another person they continually
look up to.”
“Unless ...,” said
Aragorn, “unless they see that that other person and the King are
Faramir looked at him
and slowly nodded.
“Should the Council
accept my claim, and should I ask you to remain in your office, will
you resent it?”
“I am afraid I do
not understand you. Why should I resent it?”
“Most people may
see it as being forced to serve someone who deposed you.”
Faramir laughed, and
it was not a bitter laugh. “But I am not most people,”
he said. “I see it for what it is: a steward surrendering his
charge and continue to serve his king. It is a reason for true
pride and joy, not resentment.”
“I knew you would
see it that way. So it is not because you did not wish to remain
as the Steward that you mentioned of the King being free to choose his
“My lord, you know
it is not.”
Again there was a smile
in Aragorn’s grim face. “Yes, I know,” he said gently.
“You mentioned that lest anyone thinks that your decision concerning
my claim is affected by my promise of the continuation of your office.”
Faramir looked surprised,
as one who was not accustomed to being understood so well. “My
lord is most thoughtful,” he murmured.
“Do you think you
are capable to rule Gondor without the King, Lord Steward?”
Looking straight at
Aragorn, Faramir gave his answer. “Aye.”
“The Stewards have
proved that for a thousand years, and I believe it is not too presumptuous
to say that I will not prove the least of my House.”
“That certainly you
are not.” Aragorn paused for a moment, then he continued, “Why,
then, did you not straightaway reject my claim? Why should you take
the trouble to adjust to a new king?”
his own duty. One may be able to do some parts of another’s
duty, but that does not mean that he should start usurping another’s
duty and authority. I believe I can rule Gondor well,”
said Faramir. “But I can never make the White Tree blossoms.
Gondor is meant to have king.”
His face softened and
he showed the same expression he had when speaking of Osgiliath.
He chanted softly. Soon Aragorn’s voice joined his.
Gondor, between the Mountains and the Sea!
Wind blew there; the light upon the Silver Tree
like bright rain in gardens of the Kings of old.
proud walls! White towers! O winged crown and throne of gold!
Gondor, Gondor! Shall Men behold the Silver Tree,
West Wind blow again between the Mountains and the Sea?
They turned to face
Mithrandir. He rose and said, “I say to you that Men shall again
behold the Silver Tree, and the West Wind is even now blowing, taking
the trace of the Shadow away.”
To the Steward and
the King to be, his words felt truer than a prophecy, they felt like
Mithrandir and Aragorn
sat side by side in the corner. Aragorn too had his pipe now.
Faramir had just left.
“How like Denethor,
and how unlike,” said Mithrandir.
“When he questioned me, I was reminded of Denethor. He would
have asked me the same shrewd questions. Whatever his faults,
Denethor loved Gondor and ever strived to promote her interests.
But he would have questioned me in a very different way from what Faramir
did. The young man seemed to care little for his own position.”
“Faramir is as selfless
as Denethor is proud,” Mithrandir assented. “So do you think
this selfless Steward will accept your claim, Aragorn?”
“If someone who loves
Gondor as truly as that rejects my claim, then perhaps I am not worthy
“Ah, but you are
worthy of Gondor, and I believe that Faramir will make the Council accept
your claim. From what I know of him, in this matter he is alike
to his father: they know how to bend their Council to their will.
He will accept your claim, though it may cost him some pains, poor lad.”
“What pains will
he have to bear?”
“Despite their differences
in many matters, he loves his father. He knows that his father
would have never accepted your claim. The knowledge that he is
going against his father’s wish may weigh his kind heart heavily.”
Aragorn was silent
as he pondered this. “Would that my return could have not caused
such pains on him!” he said. “I will do what I can to
lessen his burdens.”
The verse in italic
was the one sung by Aragorn when the glimpse of the White Mountains
made him reveal his deep affection for Gondor (The Two Towers, Book
Three, Chapter Two: The Riders of Rohan).