The Atlantic gets the ‘record’ hilariously wrong on Aragorn, son of Arathorn.

Didn’t read the books, huh, Richards?

Imagine a man, one who lives in a stretch of vaguely frightening forest somewhere up north. And imagine that he wants to be your benevolent dictator. His pitch: Remove the current leadership. Destroy a neighboring nation and kill its populace. Then, conquer most of the continent. And somewhere in there, he’d also like to restore traditional values to the country, whatever that means. And he says he gets to do so because, 40 generations ago, some of his ancestors were in charge. His name is Aragorn, and he’s the good guy.

Game of Thrones is one thing, but this would be libel if Aragorn had been a real person. In reality, the character was profoundly reluctant to go south to Gondor and challenge the dynasty ruling it (whether they called themselves Stewards, or kings). He had zero interest in conquering anybody; it took the full-bore invasion of Gondor by the literal forces of Beelzebub* to make Aragorn intervene. I’d also say at this point that ‘if there was a scene of Gondorian/Rohirric forces slaughtering civilians I missed it,’ except that I distinctly remember the bit when the captured Dunlending troops were sent home and told ‘Stop invading us,’ to their absolute shock**.

Oh, and the things that Aragorn used to establish his legitimacy to rule started out with bringing a relief force made up of angry ghosts who everybody knew could only be commanded by the True King of Gondor, followed by acts of healing that could only be done by The True King of Gondor, and taking a force to the gates of Mordor in a clear suicide mission that might provide enough of a distraction to let the Ring-bearer succeed. After all of that the populace was happy to acclaim him king, particularly after Aragorn demonstrated via Faramir that the kingdom’s prerogatives and customs would be respected under the restored dynasty.

Oh, and Sauron destroyed his own damned nation; or more accurately, mass breeding pit and war-slave camp. That’s what happens when you get sloppy and sustain everything you build with your own life force AND create a power-boosting item that kills you when it gets destroyed. And although I feel as bad about what was originally done to the orcs as everybody else is in these more enlightened times; they weren’t exactly sympathetic characters in this series.

But I’ll give ‘traditional values,’ in the sense of ‘hey, wouldn’t it be awesome if people weren’t at war all the time and we could rebuild stuff?’ And I won’t actually bother to sit down and work out the genealogical tables for Aragon, because I’ve spent far too much ranting on this topic already. Suffice it to say: having neither read nor watched Game of Thrones, I am unaware if it’s an authoritarianism-a-looza (wouldn’t be surprised if it was). Stick to that line next time, dude. Don’t drag other IPs into it.

Moe Lane

PS: Yes, I’m one of those persnickety and grumpy Tolkien fanatics. What’s it to you?

*Morgoth’s Satan; Sauron was one of his minions.

**Aragorn also, in his youth, snuck into Gondor under an assumed name and led a raid that burned a Umbarian pirate haven. Why didn’t he do it as Elessar? Because it would have caused friction with the current dynasty if he had.

17 thoughts on “The Atlantic gets the ‘record’ hilariously wrong on Aragorn, son of Arathorn.”

  1. Encyclopedia of Arda has 40+ generations from Isildur to Aragorn. But only 15 from the last king of Arthedain (part of Arnor). Did the Atlantic not realize that most of the land West of the Misty Mountains and Mordor was part of either Arnor or Gondor anyway?

  2. Id you can find the time give GoT a try. What Tolkien was doing with language – telling a story in a world where his main interest was linguistic evolution – GRRM is similarly doing with history – resetting several hundred years of Britain’s past into a neo-medieval world with fantastical elements – so much so that his must recent publication was a 700 page volume of a history for his imaginary land, and one that reads like a history, with messy endings, missing information, and few happy deaths.
    With a consistency suprising in a series that has been worked on for a quarter century, GRRM has avoided obvious political parallels or modern moral peudery, and the various government’s exist not just to be different but because ‘history’made that that way.
    Finally, every narrator is unreliable, clear answers are rarely known, and the text rewards rereading and contemplation, such as all of the classic Universal Monster Movie antagonists making veiled appearances in the series – and in story-appropriate manner, not jammed in just to be there.

    1. All of this applies to the books of course. While the author personally is a lefty, but it doesn’t shine through in his work(or at least not to the point it bothers me). However the producers and main cast are diaper reds unable to think on their own or not spout propaganda, and the quality of the series has fallen greatly since they were forced to write their own stuff after passing the current stopping point of GRRMs published canon

  3. The first three books of A Song of Ice and Fire are worth reading (the second’s worth is mostly as a bridge to the third). After that, not so much. But the first and third were brilliant.
    Imagine The Wars of the Roses (the major characters are literally various interpretations of historical figures from the Wars of the Roses, at least at the start) add blood magic, an army of undead, magic swords, and dragons.
    (Also, illicit sex and soup.)
    It isn’t so much authoritarian as it is a crapsack world where the strong do as they will, and the weak suffer what they must. The common folk exist for kick/pet the dog moments so that characters can display their depravity/generosity. Beyond that, they’re invisible.
    I mean, the major thrust of the story is that there isn’t a stable central authority, and that the characters are vying for power.
    You’d think a writer would have better reading comprehension.

  4. As a fellow persnickety and grumpy Tolkien fanatic (like it wasn’t blatantly obvious from my pseudonym), that’s a most righteous fisking. Well done.

  5. I can’t say that I am a Tolkien fanatic, but I did read The Silmarillion. That has to count for something.

    It’s a good thing that the Very Smart People at The Atlantic are working hard to educate poor, illiterate smallfolk like me about what Fantasy is supposed to be.

    Actually, what the guy is really doing is talking to other Very Smart People about a subject that would generally be considered beneath them. Something like “I figured out the deeper meaning about this Fantasy stuff so that you don’t have to.”

    I would pay money to watch Mr. Lane educate the Very Smart Atlantic Writer about Middle Earth. I think I would enjoy that very much.

    1. I don’t know that Mr. Richards is capable of being educated. Humiliated for his ignorance, perhaps, and I might enjoy watching that. But having read his article and seen what he also said about C.S. Lewis I got the impression that he has given us the benefit of his wisdom on this subject without having bothered to read any fantasy books at all or really much of anything beyond his own bellybutton lint. πŸ˜›

      1. I’m sure if you were to demonstrate his profound ignorance, it would somehow “prove” his intellectual superiority.
        There are a lot of people nowadays who take pride in knowing next to nothing about what they claim they’re so very passionate about.
        And evidently, there are a lot of people that take succor in the thought that you can be an expert without effort.

        1. The utterly depressing part is .. this has always been so.
          Rarely, knowing next to nothing does become shameful .. historically, quite often during wartime, where the difference between being knowing and not knowing can be fatal .. leading to other fields aping the military.
          I fear it’s going to take a heavy dollop of Heinlein’s “bad luck” to get back to where knowing nothing is shameful yet again .. and then, it won’t last.
          p.s. “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded β€” here and there, now and then β€” are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
          This is known as ‘bad luck.’ ” — RAH
          p.p.s. I don’t mean to be a downer, it’s just that .. the good old days weren’t always good.

  6. I’m not a very good person, so I think that I too would pay money to watch Moe humiliate The Very Smart Atlantic Writer. Preferably in high quality video that I could re-watch at my leisure.

    1. That’s all very flattering, folks, but: I am retired, remember? πŸ™‚ Besides: I’m not that great a debater, in fact.

  7. For the record, Aragorn showed up with a relief force using the boats the besieging army had intended as their relief force, crewed by former slaves who had been freed when the undead ghosts who only the true king could command had stormed the ships. The undead ghosts didn’t actually show up at the battle of Pelenor Fields.

      1. I’d have to go re-read it but .. I don’t recall Aragorn dismissing the ghosts until after they’d landed .. a contested landing at that.
        While the ghosts did not fight at Pelenor Fields, they were still .. there ..

    1. And finding the “Aragorn snuck in under an assumed name to prop up Gondor until Denethor started to get wise” in the appendices made my day.

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