Ónen i-Estel Edain, ú-chebin estel anim.
— Gilraen, “The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen”,
The Lord of the Rings Appendix A
Gilraen was born to Dúnedain parents more than one hundred years before the War of the Ring. Her mother and father were of high lineage, but like the rest of their kindred since the fall of Arnor they lived in a hidden fastness in the wilds of Eriador and were called Rangers by lesser folk. When Gilraen was a maiden of twenty-two years, she wed Arathorn son of Arador. Though Arathorn was a noble man, the son of the Chieftain of the Dúnedain, Gilraen’s father had initially been against their union, for Gilraen had not yet reached the age at which women of the Dúnedain were accustomed to marry, and Arathorn was stern, and many years her senior. Nevertheless, a foresight was on Gilraen’s mother and she predicted that hope would be born to their people if Gilraen and Arathorn were wed. When they had been married for only a year, Arathorn’s father Arador was slain by trolls in the Coldfells, and Arathorn became the new Chieftain of the Dúnedain. The following year, Gilraen bore their son, and they named him Aragorn. Just two years later, Arathorn rode out against a band of Orcs, but his eye was pierced by one of their arrows, and he too was slain. Gilraen took the young Aragorn, now the heir of Isildur at just two years of age, to Rivendell, there to be fostered in the House of Elrond.
Here Gilraen is seen walking the paths of Imladris in the autumn. Befitting her high lineage, she is dressed in a gown in the Elvish style, woven by the maidens of Elrond’s house. Though it is a rich garment, its colours are sombre by her choosing, for she is prematurely aged by many cares and sorrows. She wears a simple travelling hood and a cloak emblazoned with the star of the North-kingdom, the same garb she wore out of the wilds eighteen years earlier. Since coming to Rivendell her son Aragorn, now a young man, has been known as Estel, meaning “hope” in the tongue of the Elves, and has recently been told of his true name, his heritage, and his destiny. He has set his sights high, seeking the hand of Arwen, the daughter of Elrond, and has departed Rivendell on errantries that will take him far from home. With Aragorn departed, the time has come now for Gilraen, too, to leave the fair valley and return to her own folk.
Before going any further, I must give full acknowledgement to Hymne of Cosmetic Lotro for the foundation of this outfit. Last year Hymne put together an outfit to match the Steed of the Rune-keeper, and I thought it was a wonderful combination, composed of the dress and shoulders seen here in today’s outfit. I adopted it for one of my characters, and over time I added the hood and cloak to match the colours of the dress. With the addition of those pieces, I started to think of the whole outfit as really suitable for a lady of the Dúnedain, combining an Elvish influence in the dress with the Ranger aesthetic of the hood and the Arnorian reference in the cloak’s star design — perfect for a portrait telling the story of Gilraen. I hope Hymne won’t mind my using the inspiration of her outfit as the foundation of this post!
Gilraen is an interesting peripheral character in Tolkien. Her role as the mother of Aragorn is an important one, but like Arwen, the other woman who plays a large role in Aragorn’s life, her story is related only in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings. After Aragorn left Rivendell during his years of errantry, Gilraen returned to her own people in the wilds of Eriador. She did not remarry, lived alone, and saw little of her son since he was travelling in distant lands. One year, Aragorn returned to the North and visited her for a time. But before he took his leave of her, Gilraen told him that it would be their last parting, for she could not bear to face the darkness gathering in Middle-earth, and would soon leave it. Aragorn tried to comfort her, saying that there may be a light beyond the darkness, and that he wished for her to one day see it and be glad. But she replied saying only the verse quoted above, in translation: “I gave Hope to Men, I have kept no hope for myself.” Note the capitalisation of hope in the first instance but not in the second. The Elvish word for “hope” is estel, the name Aragorn was given as a child in Rivendell. Gilraen died before the following spring and thus did not live to see her son’s eventual triumph. It is very interesting to compare Gilraen with Arwen, the other important woman in Aragorn’s life. Both Gilraen and Arwen, faced with death, are invited by Aragorn to look past darkness and uncertainty and see the light which lies beyond, both women speak parting words to Aragorn playing on the double meaning of estel as “hope” and as a name of Aragorn, and both prematurely die of despair.
- Head: Worn Ranger’s Hood (quest reward — epic  Volume 3, Book 5, Chapter 1: Separate Ways – Corunir), black
- Shoulders: Pauldrons of the Wandering Bard (bartered — Glân Vraig Minstrel trader), grey
- Back: Cloak of the Silver Star (bartered — skirmish camp cosmetics quartermaster/cosmetic items; or purchased — LOTRO Store), grey
- Chest: Long-sleeved Elven Dress (purchased — Imlad Gelair Elves of Rivendell reputation vendor), grey
Tips: The Pauldrons of the Wandering Bard are a former PvMP item that are unfortunately no longer available in-game. I hope this will be addressed at some point, but until then you could use the Shoulders of the Mighty Verse (Vile Maw token barter reward — Minstrel) as an alternative with slightly different colouration. [UPDATE: Shoulders with this appearance are available in game once again: the Mathom-hunter’s Mantle (looted — Hobbit presents/light armour).] The Long-sleeved Elven Dress is available from the Elves of Rivendell reputation vendor in Imlad Gelair once you have reached kindred status, and you can also find a short-sleeved version inside the anniversary event gift boxes.
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