Queen Berúthiel

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Queen Berúthiel
Tolkien's legendarium character
Race Black Númenórean
Book(s) The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
Unfinished Tales (1980)

Queen Berúthiel is a minor fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium.

Mention in Lord of the Rings[edit]

The Cats of Queen Berúthiel were at first mention used as a cognitive estrangement device in an off-hand remark in the Lord of the Rings. In The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn uses Berúthiel's cats as a byword for navigation in the dark:[1]

This suggests that Berúthiel and her cats have passed into popular legend by the time of the War of the Ring.

Story in Unfinished Tales[edit]

Outside of the brief reference in Lord of the Rings, Berúthiel was first described in Unfinished Tales. She was of Black Númenórean origin, from "the inland city", somewhere south of Umbar. Her marriage to Tarannon Falastur, the twelfth king of Gondor, is believed to have been arranged for political reasons. She is described by Tolkien as "nefarious, solitary and loveless", and she and Falastur never had any children. Queen Berúthiel had ten cats. The cats were her slaves whom she used as spies.[2] Queen Berúthiel was feared and reviled in Gondor, and at last her husband the King banished her from the realm. She was last seen aboard a ship, with all her cats, sailing away into the southern seas.[3]

Eventually, Falastur separated from her and sent her into exile, at which point she returned to her original home. It may well have been her continual intrigues that led Falastur to expel her. Her name was removed from the Books of the Kings (but not from the memory of Men), and Falastur had her sent out to sea in a ship with her cats:[2]

Discussion[edit]

The cats of Queen Berúthiel were mentioned by Tolkien in a 1956 letter as only one of the two references (besides the names of the Blue Wizards) in the whole Lord of the Rings that did not actually exist, on its own plane (of secondary or sub-creational reality.)[2] Before the publication of the Unfinished Tales in 1980, the cats were (in the words of Christopher Tolkien) "hitherto wholly mysterious."[4]

In an interview[5] Tolkien had in 1966 he added the following information on her:

Many things have been written about the cats of Queen Berúthiel. Tom Shippey says in J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century:

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), chapter "A Journey in the Dark", ISBN 0-395-08254-4 
  2. ^ a b c d Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, note 7 to The Istari, ISBN 0-395-29917-9 
  3. ^ "Cats of Queen Berúthiel". Encyclopedia of Arda. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  4. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien, ed., Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Introduction, ISBN 0-395-29917-9 
  5. ^ "The Realms of Tolkien". originally published in New Worlds in November 1966, reprinted in Carandaith in 1969 and again in Fantastic Metropolis in 2001. 
  6. ^ Shippey, Tom. J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. (London: Harper Collins, 2000; Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001). 

External links[edit]