Archive for the ‘2 – The Riders of Rohan’ Category

Wait…Dad? DAD?!


No, no, no! The old man is nobody’s dad. Aragorn shouts out to him, but nothing happens. He has disappeared. So have the horses, which Legolas is the first to notice. They sit there, dumbfounded, and Gimli grumbles a bit. They all think that it must have been Saruman, stealing their only means of transportation and leaving them stranded in this desolate area. The rest of the night is uneventful and depressing.

Poof! Magic disappearing horses! So much for Hasufel and Arod. I thought they were going to be so much more. Although, Gimli jokes about eating them, which is both weird and unexpected. You would think that the Rohirrim are one of two ways: they either love horses way too much to eat them, or they’re like the Dothraki, and only eat horsemeat because they view it with some sort of godlike power. Either way, I’m pretty sure horsemeat isn’t typical dwarf-fare.

Meanwhile, I finally saw Hugo for the first time today, which is just another film in which Christopher Lee is clearly making plans for his Uruk-hai army behind the scenes.

“The hour grows late, and Hugo Cabret runs to my library seeking my counsel.”

However, was this really a visit from Saruman we’ve just experienced? Why only steal the horses when he could destroy these three with his mind? Maybe it’s not Saruman…maybe it’s SOMEONE ELSE! Besides, Éomer mentioned that Saruman walks in Fangorn hooded. This man had a hat. A HAT!

(That last sentence best spoken with the inflection of “And they call it a mine. A MINE!”)

When all is said and done, this is the end of the chapter. Times is bad, folks. Times is bad.

“The old man did not appear again, and the horses did not return.”

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Strange things are a-happening. This is definitely NOT the kind of place where I’d like to stay up late and keep watch.

Everything’s fine. Nothing wrong at all.

The three hunters talk about how they were warned not to venture into Fangorn. Why is that? Well, nobody knows for sure. Legolas recalls old stories of ents living in the ancient wood, but knows nothing more. Time for sleep!

Gimli draws the short straw and has to take first watch. Aragorn warns him to stay vigilant, before falling asleep himself. Looking out into the night, Gimli suddenly sees an old man on the edge of their firelight. His start wakes Aragorn and Legolas, and the three of them stare at the figure. Saruman?

Aw, the fact that I know who this is is ruining everything for me! Let’s act like we don’t know yet.


They’re everywhere!

There’s no doubting that Fangorn has an eerie feel to it. Generally speaking, anyplace that is known best for its old tales of creepy things is going to make you feel uncomfortable. Even more so when the stories are mostly forgotten by the people you’d expect to know them: Aragorn and Legolas.

I guess that makes Gimli (and dwarves in general) pretty ignorant. Well, there’s no questioning the fact that they love to stay underground and deal with their own business. Heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

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“Onodrim” is the elvish term for “ents”, which, as you should know, are old, mysterious, and mostly only known of in tales of yore. They’ll totally stay that way, right?

“The old man did not speak or make a sign.”

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The length of this chapter is surprising. We’ve now left the riders of Rohan behind, but the chapter with that name drags on. However, it ends in two more pages, as I discovered in turning the page after typing up today’s. It’s the little things like that that keep me going.

Like Twinkies, I guess.

We start today with a conversation about how hard this news (Merry and Pippin’s deaths) will be for people like Frodo and Bilbo. While Elrond insisted that the two be left out of the Fellowship Company, Gandalf wanted them to come. He certainly didn’t mean for them to meet their ends like this.

“He didn’t mean for a lot of things to happen, Sam.”

Yep, he definitely didn’t intend on falling into a dark pit either. Oops.

The night wears on, and Gimli wants to build a fire. Aragorn warns him against doing that, as the woods of Fangorn are full of evil tales. Since their path will likely take them into the forest, he doesn’t want to risk angering the trees. But no need, because Gimli finds sticks already broken from the branches, and uses these instead of harming the living matter. He puts a fire together, while Aragorn broods and Legolas again stares off into the middle distance.

If I didn’t know better, I’d call Aragorn heavily superstitious. However, he has a point. And, as a baseball fan, I actually look pretty favorably on superstitions.

Because having a clean helmet means you’ll never get a hit again.

Strangely enough, the tree above their camp seems to be reacting favorably to the fire. Honestly, this is the opposite response that I would expect, but we’ll go with it. Trees have feelings too.

The supposed state of Merry and Pippin? Still dead.

“It may have been that the dancing shadows tricked their eyes, but…”

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And…we’re back on the trail. Upon their two horses, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli ride along the path of the orcs, but it’s been ridden over already by the riders of Rohan, and the tracks are muddled. Éomer had mentioned a group of orcs that had joined the main pack from the east, and Aragorn rides alone up that trail just to check it out. There’s nothing exciting to see there.

Just like driving through Ohio.

They ride slowly back on the larger trail, as Aragorn thinks that the orcs might have tried to squirrel their captives away here once they knew they were being followed. There’s still nothing, until they reach a clearing just a short way within Fangorn forest. There’s the pile of burned orcs! A burial mound for the Rohirrim slain in battle lies nearby. The three hunters search around the area, but by nightfall they have found no sign of Merry or Pippin.

Nothing says “grisly” like a veritable bonfire stack of charred remains. A head on a stake sits at the height of the pile of ashes, which is done pretty darn accurately in the movie:

World’s worst kebab.

In contrast, the burial mound of the Rohirrim is quite respectful. Near where the Entwash flows out of the forest, it has been recovered with grass. Fifteen spears stand around the mound, presumably one for each of the fallen. Not a bad location to be buried at all, if it weren’t for the steaming pile of evil just across the way.

Meanwhile, still no sign of Merry or Pippin. Our heroes are now considering the very real possibility that they’re just as charred underneath all the orcs. Oops.

“‘It will be hard news for Frodo, if he lives to…'”

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Aw, Éomer turns out nice in the end! Instead of being a jerk about it, he’s going to allow Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli to continue their journey. Even better, he’s going to give them his extra horses!


Gimli, however, refuses. He doesn’t feel comfortable riding a horse, and now he’s going to be grouchy about it.

But that’s okay! Legolas will allow Gimli to sit behind him on the same horse, which is somehow less humiliating for him. As a part of the bargain, Éomer makes Aragorn promise that he will make his way directly to Edoras, the capital of Rohan, once their purpose is served. With that, the two horses are handed over, and the Rohirrim ride swiftly away.

First Mentions:

-Meduseld: The house of the king in Edoras. Basically a mead hall. Read your Beowulf.

-Hasufel: A dark grey horse, given to Aragorn.

-Gárulf: A late rider, killed in the recent battle with the orcs. Hasufel was his horse.

-Arod: Another horse. Lighter than Hasufel, but with a quick temper.

Oh, that Arod. I don’t know if his mood will be a factor at all later, but Legolas uses his elven powers to subdue the horse. He responds to Legolas’ commands at a word. Legolas even discards the saddle and reins, preferring the more natural approach. I doubt that Gimli likes this one bit.

Like this, but without the saddle.

So, all of a sudden, Éomer trusts Aragorn with his life. Yep, he’s a bit worried that letting the three hunters go will cost him his life. That’s a dear price for a rather minor overlooking. Especially since Aragorn does have a favorable relationship with the men of Rohan, no matter that he hadn’t met Éomer before today.

And Gimli means to re-educate Éomer on the ways of Galadriel. Don’t you bet against him.

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Were those surprising? No, those were not surprising.

“When after a little Gimli looked back, the company of Éomer were already…”

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Now let’s debate the possibility of Merry and Pippin’s survival. Could they have been carried away before the riders were able to fully encircle the orcs? Éomer finds this unlikely, unless the two were able to magically slip past their vigilant watch.

Deathly Hallows: level 1 of 3.

But wait! Aragorn reminds Éomer that Merry and Pippin would be clad in elven cloaks just like the three hunters are. And the riders went right by them in broad daylight. It’s highly likely that two similarly veiled hobbits could pass through unnoticed at night in the forest.

And now things get dicey. Éomer turns an unfriendly eye, and explains that the laws of Rohan do not permit strangers to wander the countryside. If Aragorn will not come with him willingly, he must be taken by force. Naturally, Aragorn takes offense to that, laying out how he’s been friendly to the people of Rohan in the past.

Speaking of the laws of Rohan, one must not forget that Éomer IS THE LAW.

Stallone can sub in for now.

And only one man can stand against THE LAW, and that’s Aragorn. His all-caps phrase is way better. HE’S JUST THAT GOOD.

Perhaps by the time this is all said and done, I’ll give everyone an all-caps phrase. Keep an eye out. So far, we’ve got Aragorn (HE’S JUST THAT GOOD), Éomer (IS THE LAW), and, sadly, Boromir (HE’S JUST NOT THAT GOOD). I think that’s all I’ve got for now.

Should Boromir’s change to “HE WAS JUST NOT THAT GOOD”? Past tense, womp womp.

Oh, and what’s Aragorn’s threat as to why Éomer shouldn’t forcibly detain him and his friends? If he does so, there will be less men to return home. That’s right, appeal to his sense of not-wanting-anyone-to-die. Works pretty much every time.

“‘My company chafes to be away, and every…'”

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Is it rude to say that I’m getting a little bored with this conversation? This is the sixth page, and I’m getting sick of the “times is bad” rhetoric. Perhaps this is my punishment for doing this even while I already know the story so well.

Oh, dear.

Anyway, Éomer begs Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli to come aid his people in their quarrels with Saruman. With the way things are going, Rohan is likely to find itself hemmed in from both sides when the war against Sauron is begun. At the moment, Éomer needs to return south, as his job cutting down the orcs passing through the north is completed.

Unfortunately, Aragorn declines to ride with Éomer. He must discover what has become of Merry and Pippin!

First Mentions:

-the Westemnet: Like the Eastemnet, but to the west. The western part of Rohan, for those of you who have no sense of context.

In terms of new names, Éomer calls Fangorn “the Entwood”, which follows the pattern of everything in this region being called the “Ent-something”. Entwash, Entwade, Entwood…it goes on and on. It’s like this must be a good part of the world to find ents or something…

This is ENTirely possible!

Éomer brings up the worst-case scenario of the moment: the possibility that Sauron and Saruman will ally with each other. In fact, that was his worry as he pursued the orcs moving through the north. Some bore Saruman’s White Hand, while others did not, and must have crossed Anduin from the east. That alliance is scary, and is where “The Two Towers” gets its name, or at least that’s what most believe.

Speaking of believing, Éomer strongly believes that Merry and Pippin are dead and gone. Oh no, suspense!

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Say what now? “He is a wizard both cunning and dwimmer-crafty,” says Éomer, “having many guises.” Is that to mean that Saruman, being “dwimmer-crafty”, is a master of disguise? Sure, because that’s exactly what I thought that phrase would mean…

“‘But between the wall and the downs we have found no other trace of…'”

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The bad news keeps on coming. Now Aragorn has to explain Boromir’s death, and Éomer is greatly surprised.

But wait, how long ago did that happen? And how far have these three come in that time?

They’ve run. They’ve run so far away.

And that impresses Éomer. Meanwhile, Gimli confirms that Rohan does not pay tribute to Sauron. They don’t. In fact, this rumor started because Sauron once asked Rohan for horses. When they refused, he sent orcs to pillage horses (black ones only!) from the countryside. This was the chief concern of the riders until Saruman started acting up.

First Mentions:

-the East-mark: The eastern part of Rohan, probably including the Eastemnet. The Third Marshal (currently Éomer) is in charge of its defense.

The most important note of the day is that Aragorn gets a new nickname. Éomer dubs him “Wingfoot”, for his flight over leagues and leagues of land. While that’s all well and good, does he really need another nickname? Éomer laughs at Strider, yet he just bestows another name.

And, in the end, I only can think of Hermes.

But at least we finally get the confirmation that Rohan hasn’t turned to the dark side. The longer this conversation goes on, the more it becomes a friendly chat. Éomer doesn’t seem to hold the suspicions he did at the start. I can’t really point to when he trusted Aragorn, but that switch has definitely been flipped.

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Surprisingly, “herdfolk” are not cow-people. But they sound like they might be cow-people. You always have to be on your toes for cow-people.

“‘He has claimed lordship over all this land, and there has been war between us for…'”

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I’d say that relations are getting smoother. Éomer seems to believe Aragorn, and, when Aragorn brings up Gandalf, Éomer explains how the wizard’s appearances in Rohan have coincided with strange times. King Théoden no longer trusts Gandalf.

But I don’t trust Théoden, so all’s fair.

Most of this stems from Gandalf stealing the best horse in Rohan: Shadowfax. To add insult to injury, Shadowfax returned without Gandalf, long after he went away. Unfortunately, this leaves Aragorn to explain Gandalf’s fall.

First Mentions:

-Éothain: Éomer’s sassy friend. Every major character needs one.

-the Entwade: A ford of the Entwash, which makes total sense. Always choose the definition of least resistance.

-the Mearas: Horses that are better than your horses. Smarter, better, faster, stronger. Shadowfax is their king!

That dirty horse thief, Gandalf! He really isn’t looked on that fondly in Rohan right now. To be fair, Éomer seems to still have faith in the wizard, and he reacts with sorrow at his loss. But since weird things happen around every time Gandalf shows up, it appears that the Rohirrim have just connected the dots.

Whatever could it be?!

At least Éomer is coming around to Aragorn’s cause. He even dismisses Éothain from his side, as he’s throwing way too much snark around. He can go get the rest of the riders ready to go while Éomer and Aragorn discuss big boy stuff.

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Gandalf gets a new last name! “Gandalf Greyhame”, because alliteration is fun!

“‘It is tidings more grievous than any in this land can understand,…”

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Hey there, backstory! We’re learning about some things that have been going on behind the scenes.

Normal-size hobbit door, or hobbit-size Peter Jackson?

Aragorn explains the war coming to Rohan. Soon, Théoden will have to pick a side.

But, for now, what happened to the orcs? The riders slaughtered them all. Dismayed, the three hunters ask after Merry and Pippin. Were there any small people around? In the (gasp!) pile of bodies, maybe? Éomer does not recall seeing any such people, and one rider laughs at the possibility of hobbits actually existing.

So, what is it that we learn today?

First of all, the Rohirrim lent Boromir a horse on which to travel to Rivendell. That horse returned alone.

That’s sad. They don’t know about Boromir’s death yet, but still. The horse returned because, after the Fellowship Company left Rivendell, they traveled by foot. Boromir did not use the horse from that point on.

Kind of like how I felt about my Razor scooter after a year or so.

However, the big takeaway is that relations between Rohan and Gondor must be rather good right now. You don’t just give out horses to folks unless they seem likeable, and the people of Rohan must have enough trust in the “royal” family of Gondor at the moment. That’s good. It will make things easier.

Second thing learned: the Rohirrim have legends about hobbits. That’s adorable. Utterly ignorant, but incredibly quaint. It just goes to show you how secluded and self-sufficient the hobbits are in the Shire. In truth, Rohan is the nearest kingdom to them, but even they have no idea that they have happy little homes up there.

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Because having more than one “s” is for lossers.

Yep, lossers.

“‘Time is pressing,’ said the Rider, not heeding Aragorn. ‘We must…'”

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