For some reason, every story I have told begins somewhere it will pick up again. My screenplay HERETIC: THE LEGEND OF AKHENATEN begins with Akhenaten becoming pharaoh after the death of his father, King Amenophis III and after the FADE TO BLACK, you are plunged back into time–to his childhood, when he didn’t have a care in the world.
I have no idea why I write like that. I don’t know if the point I’m making is before the character was forced to dramatically change his life, he had to “remember” what life was like before the event that took him to the end. With Heretic, the first scene reappears in the middle of the script and takes you to the end. With Thranduil, it happened the same way–sort of.
When I finally agreed to write about the single most elusive Tolkien character in all of Middle Earth, he decided he was telling his story. Book II: The Saga of Thranduil and Book III: To Eryn Lasgalen are all told from Thranduil’s point of view. All of it except on page and I knew the first reader was going to wonder about that one.
“Tall, with the broad shoulders of the high elves of the Teleri—of the Sindar—with the finest and longest of golden hair. Upon a face that seemed to trace every joy and every pain over many millennia yet it found upon it the eternal youth of the elven soul. Through soft grey eyes with specks of blue variants that seemed as minnows in shallow waters whenever something came to disturb them.
With a mouth that formed a perfect distraction beneath a nose that was as delicate as the face upon which they found themselves, this creature stood looking out toward the vast autumn colors of the trees that made up his kingdom–waiting for something–it would come as requested for this was an elf of immense importance.
Into the room came a figure clad in a grey cloak carrying with him his bow. He kneeled down. The figure did not move nor was it to be expected as all knew this elf would not think twice to take anyone to task for insolence.
“You come a great distance.” The voice was deep and resonant. Whenever it demanded to be heard it would, for no one ever forgot once it was heard. “Tell me, what news do you bring to me?”
“It is from Celeborn of Lothlórien, Your Majesty,” the messenger said weakly. He had never met this King before. Many rumors whispered across the lands of Middle Earth put fear in the hearts of elves and men alike. This young elf was not prepared for what he saw as the figure slowly turned around and faced him. The celebrated beauty was true—as was the fear the eyes could bring to all that saw them. The messenger began to shake fiercely as the figure walked with such grace, and seemed to glide rather than walk; stopping before the kneeling messenger.
“It is from Celeborn of Lothlórien, Your Majesty,” the messenger said weakly.
He had never met this king before. Many rumors whispered across the lands of Middle Earth put fear in the hearts of elves and men alike. This young elf was not prepared for what he saw as the figure slowly turned around and faced him. The celebrated beauty was true–and the fear the eyes could bring to all that saw them. The messenger began to shake fiercely as the figure walked with such grace, and seemed to glide rather than walk; stopping before the kneeling messenger.
“Fear not. I know well what news you bring to me from my kin in the West. I know what they say of me and my people here in the Woodland Realm and I do not hold you responsible for things spoken in whispers. Stand before me.”
Trembling in mortal fear, the messenger stood, never looking into the face of the one to which he was sent.
“Look at me.” The messenger slowly raised his head and when he saw the face in all its glory he was taken by how far from rumor it truly was.
“Yes, I am the mighty and feared Elvenking. I know well what message you bring to me. Why Celeborn and Galadriel dared to send anyone beyond their borders to tell me what I already know is not my concern. Perhaps they wanted a witness to what had became of us after the war. Now you know. Rest tonight and you will return to Lothlórien and tell them what you have seen.”
“What should I say, Your Majesty,” he stammered in fear. “What shall I tell those beyond these borders?” A smile came across the face of magnificence as perfect as the rest.
“Tell them I am more than the Elvenking. I have a name as they well know. They may not want to hear it nor say it, but you will tell them that I am Thranduil, Elvenking of Mirkwood.”
I made a gesture and the messenger bowed and two guards escorted him away.
“I am Thranduil,” I whispered to myself.”–Excerpt Book II, Chapter I: I am Thranduil by J.M. Miller.
Right: Literary 101–never change P.O.V–at least not on the first page of the story. Well, there was a reason for it. Earlier, I was writing descriptions of the characters from Thranduil’s point of view. Knowing that a person’s view of themselves could be either egomaniacal or devaluating, I had to find a way to describe Thranduil without him doing it himself. It was not easy to change POVs and make them seamless (and I don’t know if I have, though once most people get past this part, they get introduced to the royal court of King Oropher and move into 359 pages of Tharnduil’s view of his life from childhood until he sends Legolas away on a Fellowship. Book III takes you through the part of the War of the Ring that affected Mirkwood to the end of his adventures after his kingdom is renamed Eryn Lasgalen.
After working with Thranduil’s view of his world, I decided to make it official–Book I: The History of Eryn Galen that begins with Orothôn, his grandfather’s awakening at Lake Cuiviénen until he passes the baton to his son Oropher at his death would be in the first person. It would almost be like two books in one–one part told by Orothôn, the other told by Oropher. Not to be left out of the fun, Legolas has a tale of his own in the form of a journal which is in the Appendix.
Four generations of elves telling their story. It just made sense at the time. I don’t really know why. It is like the “wand” choosing the “wizard” you might say. I got a message one day from someone that said they normally hated first person narrative but this worked well for them. I beamed. Not that I would have changed it to impress anyone–but to have someone that had an opinion of POV that was changed was neat. I never was into first person myself–and even less into narrative. This first attempt at both was a learning experience. This scene returns once more–19 Chapters later where the story takes us from Eryn Galen to Mirkwood where all things begin in The Hobbit and LOTR.
As it starts gaining an audience from places I couldn’t have imagined, I realized having a “realistic” view of Middle Earth from the Elder Children of Ilúvatar was accepted–especially from Thranduil, one that little is known but gave a son to the Fellowship that brought down Sauron.–J.
Oh, yeah, and the editing goes ever on.