This is one of those pages that’s almost entirely out-of-body.
If you know what I mean, great! But probably not…
The riders are approaching Isengard, but the mists obscure their vision. A creepy stone carved into the White Hand sits on a pillar just before them.
But, further ahead lies Isengard, and we’re going to learn about what it looks like! It’s kind of a depressed bowl within a great ring of stone. Only one gate allows entry, from the south, and its doors can be barred tight or allowed to open freely with a simple push. Convenience at its finest! Though once a green and lush place, the inner circle is now covered with shafts and pillars. Fires work under the earth, and all of Saruman’s servants live in homes built into and jutting out of the inside of his great encircling wall. Nowadays, the place is frightening.
-the Ring of Isengard: It’s the name of the wall. Just that, simply. No one is the lord of it. Well…maybe Saruman.
And there you have it. Are we seeing this right now? No. This description is purely forward-thinking, setting up what most people would expect to see upon entering Isengard.
I do like that we get a little of both descriptions, though: both of the old, beautiful, and wise place, and also the evil fortress it has become. However, I was wondering: how long has Saruman been at this treachery? Gandalf didn’t know about it until a short time before he arrived back in Rivendell, but who knows how long Saruman had him captive on the top of his tower? Gandalf was unaccounted for for so long, he may have been up there for months, or years!
Needless (probably) to say, Isengard isn’t going to look like this when everybody shows up. Things are happening in this world, and even the narration can fall behind. That’s…hard to do.
“At night plumes of vapour steamed from the…”