Archive for the ‘11 – The Palantír’ Category

This is it, the final page of Book Three. So…what’s exciting?

Not too much, really. Gandalf tells Pippin that they’re headed for Minas Tirith, as quickly as possible, before war catches up with them. He points out some other things, and tells Pippin to sleep for now. They’ll stop sometime near dawn, hopefully at Edoras. Pippin falls asleep, with Shadowfax running swiftly on into the night.

Just like this.

Just like this.

First Mentions:

-Mount Mindolluin: The easternmost peak of the White Mountains, towering next to Minas Tirith. Cities like to be at the ends of mountain ranges, I’ve noticed.

I don’t know why Gandalf had originally said they were going to Helm’s Deep. He doesn’t explain, even when Pippin asks. Sudden change of mind? Perhaps he meant to mislead even Théoden into thinking they were heading to the same place, just faster. The less people know of their intentions, the better.

Looking back, Gandalf never explicitly said he was going to Helm’s Deep, just ahead. He implied that he and Pippin would see the Deeping-coomb, but, again, never said that they would actually go there. Subtle.

Gandalf's subtlety PALES in comparison.

Gandalf’s subtlety PALES in comparison.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:



And that’s the end of that. Theoretically, as I said yesterday, I’m halfway through. We’re more than that, page-wise, but I’ve completed three of six books. Not bad! Here’s to finishing up three more.

And…here’s to the next few months of my life only being about Frodo and Sam.

“As he fell slowly into sleep, Pippin had a strange feeling: he and Gandalf were still as stone, seated upon the statue of a running horse, while the world rolled away beneath his feet with a great noise of wind.”

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599, folks! Tomorrow is the big 600, and, as a bigger deal, the end of this chapter and Book Three. Theoretically halfway through! In truth, the literal halfway point was some time ago, since this book isn’t 1200 pages long, but still. Big deal.

Anyway, since Gandalf is feeling generous with knowledge right about now, Pippin decides to take advantage. He tries asking some more questions before Gandalf gets a little fed up with it all. Either way, he has nothing better to do, and explains to Pippin they the black shape flying over them must have been one of the nine Nazgûl, but this time with a winged steed.



Undoubtedly, the rider was on its way to Isengard, not to try to catch Pippin, but to consult with Saruman as to why he hasn’t been checking in with Sauron through the palantír. In other words, the destruction of Isengard is about to be discovered. From there, Gandalf can only guess at how Saruman will try to wriggle out of his trap. Sauron won’t be pleased with his failure, if he admits it, but it is more likely that Saruman will try to stay safe in Orthanc, and lie his way out of things. Will he reveal Gandalf’s return? Stay tuned.

Ah, the travails of being evil. I’m very glad that I don’t have to deal with that in my everyday life. I trust most people, so I don’t worry about being betrayed at the drop of a hat.

Unless… Oh no.



Pippin worries that the Nazgûl may have been coming for him. Could Sauron have sent someone to look for this mysterious hobbit he saw so quickly?

In fact, no. You can’t travel from Mordor to Isengard that quickly! But…Gandalf says that it only takes a few hours. A few hours? But it’s taken days to get anywhere! Do those beasts really fly that fast?

Nazgûl: the way to really fly.

“‘Or that an heir of Elendil lives and stood beside me. If Wormtongue…'”

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Programming alert! I did finally get that song uploaded late last night (early this morning?), no thanks to SoundCloud. Again, whatever they did to their site was a horrible, horrible idea. But now I got it working, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, Gandalf is giving Pippin all sorts of history lessons, which the hobbit is gobbling up eagerly. It all concerns the palantíri, which were once scattered across the two kingdoms of men. In Gondor, stones were set at Minas Ithil (now Morgul), Minas Anor (Tirith), and the chief stone at Osgiliath. Orthanc had its own stone, too, and three more were in the north. One of those was at Weathertop.

Weathertop didn't used to be so bad a place.

Weathertop didn’t used to be so bad a place.

When Sauron took Minas Ithil, Gandalf presumes that he took the seeing-stone there with him. It can be easy to see from there how Saruman would have been curious about his own stone, and slowly opened up his view to see deep into Sauron’s land. Sauron lured him in, and made him his puppet easily. In fact, Gandalf is amazed how the palantír draws people in. Not only did Pippin succumb, but Gandalf himself feels the need to look into its depths.

First Mentions:

-the Dome of Stars: A large dome dominating the skyline of Osigilath. Well, it once did. It’s been destroyed in the long wars over the city, and its palantír lost.

-the Gulf of Lune: A gulf on the western coast, where the Grey Havens can be found.

Basically, these stones were everywhere important. However, with the chief stone at Osgiliath, it could always be viewed from the other stones in the south. Apparently, it takes a great deal of thought to decide what you want to see. For example, Saruman could probably only see things of the past in his stone until he started using his power to look further. This is what Sauron eventually took advantage of.



And don’t forget…even Gandalf is drawn to look in the palantír. That power that Sauron imbued it with is immeasurably strong. Don’t give in!

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:


Wait…is that a new thing? First Mention? No. It’s just the Grey Havens. Boring.

“‘I did not tell you all this before, because it is only by musing on all that has happened that I have at last understood, even as we…'”

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Ah, yes. The majestic Thrihyrne peaks. Remember those? HAVE YOU BEEN LISTENING?!

You know...those mountains.

You know…those mountains.

Pippin is quiet for a while during the ride. He hears snippets of Gandalf singing and humming to himself, and asks what that’s all about. Gandalf responds that he is refreshing his memory of some historical events, primarily concerning the seeing-stones. He explains to Pippin that they were once made by elves long, long ago, and are beyond the power even of him or Saruman. Long forgotten except to a few men who retained bits of memory, Sauron was able to turn some to his evil uses. This must have been how Saruman was corrupted. He never told the Council about his palantír, and has since paid the price.

First Mentions:

-the Rhymes of Lore: In a society where books aren’t as easily accessible, songs and poems have been remembered to pass down knowledge. How very Greek.

-the Noldor: Ancient elves who lived in Valinor. Counted as the best craftsmen, they were the second clan of elves to awaken into the world.

Interestingly, “Noldor” is spelled as such in the text, but I most commonly see it around other sources as “Ñoldor”. I’ve never been sure how to pronounce that, and I’m going to stick with the spelling that it looks like the original Lord of the Rings uses.

But…wait. What’s this? A song! We haven’t had one of those since like November!

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

Of the many songs Gandalf seems to be going through, this is the only one we see lyrics to, as it is the only one that Pippin can understand.

“Tall ships and tall kings

Three times three,

What brought they from the foundered land

Over the flowing sea?

Seven stars and seven stones

And one white tree.”

With the debut of my new mandolin, I present:

Watch On

(Carry On – Fun.)

SoundCloud? What did you do? Your new website design is horrifically slow. Please try again.

Anyway, I got a mandolin! That’s fun. I’ve been holding out for the next song to come up to use it to record, but that was a really long break in between there!

Wow…this experience with the new SoundCloud is really bumming me out right now. I’m forgetting what I wanted to say.

My rating.

My rating.

Ah! Pippin does mention that hobbits may have some recollection of these Rhymes of Lore. They’re not much for history, but apparently some things do get passed down. However, he says Gandalf wouldn’t be much interested in the hobbit lore.

Um…has he met Gandalf?

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:



Every word needs a strange plural form ending in “i”.

“‘What did the Men of old use them for?’ asked Pippin, delighted…”

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There are times when I wonder if waking myself up earlier to do this blog is really worth it. But I still do it anyway.

Run like the wind, Bullseye Shadowfax!

Child, you're doing it wrong.

Child, you’re doing it wrong.

Before anyone can say much else, Gandalf runs off, grabs Pippin (literally – he picks him up), and throws everything on Shadowfax. They ride off, with Aragorn readying Merry to get going as well.

In less than an hour, Gandalf and Pippin are across the Isen, and going swiftly across the plains. Pippin is astonished by the great horse’s speed, and Gandalf tells him that one does not simply ride Shadowfax – he is allowed to be carried by him. And, to top it off, this isn’t even as fast as he can go.

Of course, Pippin is also still recovering from his ordeal just now. Gandalf’s presence is warming him, because good wizards have that effect I guess. However, flying on horseback isn’t exactly helpful overall. I think, at this point, getting Pippin away from here is more important than giving him all the time to himself that he needs, so Gandalf is not overly concerned about his well-being. He’s alright? Great, that’s good enough.



For convenience’s sake, Shadowfax takes full responsibility for the safety of his riders. He does not allow saddles or bridles, but once he takes you as his rider, he makes it his job to keep you from falling off. I think that’s a great courtesy, but it also could be interpreted as one of those weird elitist rules that you might find at a hipster coffee house.

Do we have any hipster horse enthusiasts in the house to shed some light on this?

“‘But see how the White Mountains are drawing near under the stars! Yonder…'”

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Yes, indeed, this is how Saruman communicated with Mordor. That’s clear now, right? Gandalf had thought to test the stone out for himself, but was saved from that ordeal by Pippin so eagerly taking it upon himself. Bad things could have happened if Gandalf became revealed to Sauron, so…thanks?

Someone's gotta take one for the team.

Someone’s gotta take one for the team.

Gandalf finds a way to take this advantage. Sauron probably thinks that Pippin (who must have the ring) is at Isengard. He’ll focus his attention there until he learns of its downfall. For now, Gandalf will take the time he can to ride ahead with Pippin. Théoden and his men, meanwhile, must ride with all speed to Helm’s Deep.

Suddenly, a dark winged shape passes over the moon. Time to go!

Aha! Look! A reason that this scene takes place outside! It doesn’t seem to notice everyone huddled on the ground, but a Nazgûl casually flies by. You can’t do that inside Meduseld at Edoras. Take that, film interpretation!

Didn’t I mention the other day that there would be some advantages to be gleaned from this situation? Well, here you go. If Sauron is focused on trying to pry the ring off Saruman, he won’t be looking for it to come from somewhere else. Especially not from two dudes just walking into Mordor. As you may know, you can’t just simply do that. As if it already wasn’t unlikely, it’s more unexpected if Sauron thinks that the ring is somewhere completely different.

Such as...in space!

Such as…in space!

It’s all going to work out just fine. As long as Pippin stops doing stupid things.

“‘Let not the swift wait for the slow! Ride!'”

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Final verdict: nothing’s gone wrong. Sauron must have become too engrossed in marveling at Pippin to interrogate him further. With a hobbit in front of him, he thought he’d found his ring. But, no.

Had he thought to question Pippin more, what information could have gotten loose?

Saying too much: it could kill Frankenstein.

Saying too much: it could kill Frankenstein.

Gandalf lays Pippin down, and allows him to get some rest. Returning to everyone else, he asks that the orb be taken by someone other than him. Why not Aragorn? He will guard it from Pippin’s advances, and, as it turns out, is actually the rightful owner of this thing. It was passed down from the kings of Gondor to Orthanc, where Saruman took ownership of it.

First Mentions:

-a palantír: This black stone-ball-thing! A seeing-stone, of which many were made, and many were lost.

So…what does this entire episode mean? It appears to Gandalf that nothing has been done to ruin their chances at survival, but no discernible advantages have popped up. Yet. Pippin will recover, as all hobbits have that strange ability to withstand great evil, and now the palantír will be kept out of his reach. That’s what’s happened as a result of this, but what was the true point?

Ah, yes, that will be discovered later. Yes, complex narratives like to do that.



We can always learn more later. This will connect to other things, and suddenly become way more important than it seems right now.

At least, I hope that happens, and I seem to remember that it does. If it doesn’t, I will look like a fool. That isn’t a good look on me.

“‘But my mind was bent on Saruman, and I did…'”

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Today, Gandalf interrogates Pippin…about his interrogation. You see, that’s what happened when he looked into the orb. After some sights of fire, darkness, and nine strange winged things, someone appears.

Basically just like that.

Basically just like that.

It’s Sauron! G’day, mate! Without actually speaking, he questions Pippin about who he is. Pippin reports that all he said was that he was a hobbit. Sauron gloated, and caused Pippin serious mental anguish, but it doesn’t seem like anything truly horrible happened. Gandalf is glad of this.

So, no plans ruined? Seems that way. It’s not every day that you get to talk to the Dark Lord, and even rarer that you can talk to him without things going horribly wrong. Kudos to Pippin for his oddly pragmatic foolishness. If only all of us could be so lucky.

Lost in this shuffle so far is the notice of the nine winged shapes. Hello, Nazgûl? Even though we keep seeing glimpses or hearing about these dark new terrors, no one will come out and say that they’ve taken winged steeds. It’s clear to me. There were nine of them. That’s always how they work. Will someone just admit it already?

Similarly, will no one admit how good this movie is?

Similarly, will no one admit how good this movie is?

In the end, Gandalf is just glad that Pippin’s okay. Merry seems to be very shaken up by this, although he’s also probably cursing Pippin for following his curiosity that he tried to dissuade him from. Sadly, there seems to be nothing that will stop a hobbit from poking his nose into things. That’s just in their nature. That, and being lazy. Sometimes, hobbits are just cats without the desire to be petted. In fact, some cats don’t have the desire to be petted anyway. Nevermind, hobbits are just like cats.

This explains why there are so many cat pictures already on this blog, clearly.

“‘A fool, but an honest fool, you remain, Peregrin Took. Wiser…'”

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Here’s where Pippin does everything wrong.

So, he’s taken the black orb. Replacing it with a rock in Gandalf’s sleeping arms, he slinks away, doubting whether this was a good idea.




He stares into the depths of the blackness…and sees a fire glow. It holds his vision, pulling him in, until he can’t look away. He cries out, and all the camp is alerted.

Gandalf finds him lying there motionless, and scolds him justly. He doesn’t know what is worse: the damage to their plans, or to Pippin himself.

Whoops! Moral of the story: don’t look into mysterious dark things. I can’t think of a single time in any story where that turned out well for anyone. It’s one of those unfortunate things where characters are always drawn to things that they really shouldn’t be looking into. As a general rule in suspenseful moments, it’s best to not follow your instincts. Evil powers like abusing you like that.

No! Bad!

No! Bad!

At the very end of today’s page, Pippin starts talking to Gandalf as if he thought he was Saruman. Reason? I’m not sure. Perhaps the trauma has made him forget that Gandalf reincarnated as a white wizard, but also it’s possible (and seems likely to me so far) that this is a voice coming from this recent experience, like a message being passed along through Pippin. Let’s find out tomorrow, shall we?

I guess…it looks like it’ll be apparent soon. That’s what I get for reading the first few lines of the next page occasionally.

“‘I will send for it at once. Do you…'”

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Yesterday, I may have made a little bit of fun out of the fact that there was no way I thought that Gandalf sleeping with his eyes open was actually Tolkien’s creation. Something that silly must have come from film additions, right?



But, first, we hear Merry put an end to Pippin’s late-night worry session. Well, not an end to it, but Merry won’t hear any more. He wants to sleep, and does so after a moment. Sleep doesn’t come so easily for Pippin, however, and he lays awake for a long time thinking about this black stone. Finally, he can take no more. He gets up and quietly wanders the camp. He finds Gandalf, yes, sleeping with his eyes open, holding a ball wrapped in his cloak. Pippin sneaks up and grabs it.

So…that’s almost exactly what happens in the move, just in a field instead of in Edoras.

What if Edoras is a metaphor for a field…and Rohan is just one big plain? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!

Bah. Whatever. I’m done trying to come up with interesting reasons for things like this. Fact of the matter is, the scene’s the same however you slice it. The only thing that’s really bothering me at this point is how Merry reacts to Pippin’s needs. By pushing him away so brusquely, he doesn’t help anything. Pippin is just extremely curious right now, and saying it can wait until later isn’t going to help.

And we all know where curiosity leads.

And we all know where curiosity leads.

Should we also be scolding Gandalf for not putting this thing in a more safe place? I don’t actually know where else he could hide it, but maybe he should at least look into being a little more aware of the things he’s closely guarding while he sleeps. As a wizard, you’d think there might be a seminar on these sorts of things.

“He tiptoed away, found a large stone, and came back.”

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