Archive for the ‘7 – Helm’s Deep’ Category

Quick hit to end the battle of Helm’s Deep. So, Gandalf is leading the charge down the valley-side, and the orcs (and wild men, lest we forget them) have nowhere to go but into the trees.

No! Not the trees!

No! Not the trees!

Bad things happen in there. The orcs don’t come back.

And that’s the end of the battle, and the chapter! That was easy.

It is hard to get the scale of the battle right when reading it. Did you? I mean, I have so many images in my head that it might not matter anyway, but I wonder if the casual, non-educated reader would have troubled imagining the pure size of this battle. It’s big, mostly only on the orc side, but still.

Orc side.

Orc side.

We’ll return tomorrow with the aftermath, in addition to getting to move on from this death trap of a gorge.

“Wailing they passed under the waiting shadow of the trees; and from that shadow none ever came again.”

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They rode out. They met them. Good things happened.

Théoden’s charge has worked out pretty well, scattering the enemy into the forest. Wait…forest?

Surprise forest!

Surprise forest!

A forest has suddenly appeared at the opening of Helm’s Deep, and the orcs are trapped between it and Théoden’s army. They try to scramble up the walls of the gorge, to no avail. The western side might be gradually sloped enough to climb, but a white rider appears at its top. Men march behind him. It’s Gandalf! He’s found Erkenbrand, and together they charge down to flank the orcs. They’re gonna have a bad time.

By the way, the sounds of more men charging from the caves can be heard by the cavalry. They seem to have escaped the press of the orcs deep in the valley. And who are they led by? My money’s on Gimli and Éomer, of course.

The biggest surprise here, other than Gandalf arriving with Erkenbrand instead of Éomer, like the movie shows, is that Théoden’s plan actually deals quite a blow to the orcs. It’s not just cleaving a wedge into the mass of bodies, but actually driving the whole of the army backwards. Don’t ever deny the strength of a cavalry charge.



And the forest? No one knows. Legolas wants to go look at it. Did someone here order a forest? There’s going to be quite the delivery charge on that.

Except, this forest came on its own. It’s too bad no one thinks of taking this opportunity to use a new ally. Well, not that the trees would willingly participate in the various other battles of the moment.

New mercenary class: trees.

“Down from the hills leaped Erkenbrand, lord of Westfold. Down leaped…”

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And lo, the dawn is breaking.

"I can fix it!"

“I can fix it!”

Is that why Aragorn went to talk to the orcs, hm? Well, I don’t think they’re buying it, even with his veiled threats to their lives if they don’t turn around and leave right this minute. Aragorn looks kingly for a moment, but nothing really happens. Nothing, that is, until he jumps down and the orcs blow the gate to smithereens. A feeling comes over the orcs, strange and disheartening. Suddenly, the horn of Helm blows in the Deep, echoing, and yet…not echoing. It’s just plain loud. Théoden, Aragorn, and selected lords ride forth with the dawn.

A stall tactic? Maybe, but I don’t think Théoden knew about it. At least, it doesn’t sound like he did. It’s more likely in my mind that Aragorn just happened to come down off the wall right before the dawn, and, luckily, right before the orcs blew it up. I guess his horse was nearby?

Whatever, I’m right about the morale boost here. The horn probably does the trick, regardless of Théoden’s heroism. I have to admit, a canyon has to be one of the better places to sound a battle horn – it can echo for days.

Oh, sadness.

Oh, sadness.

But…is it just the one horn? Something about the noise seems to imply that there’s another horn sounding, stronger than just a returning echo. “Nearer now and louder they answered one to another,” the text says. Really good horn, or more than one?

Help is on the way? Only in Rohan can you definitively say that the cavalry is coming.

“Down from the gates they roared, over the causeway they swept, and they…”

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Things are looking bad, and Théoden is running out of options. Pretty much the only thing saving hope is that the Hornburg is nearly impervious to attack. If that was 100% sure, everything would be just fine.

Sometimes the hardest part is understanding the fortress in the first place.

Sometimes the hardest part is understanding the fortress in the first place.

Sadly, that’s not true. With orcs crawling everywhere, the caves have been nearly sealed up, and Théoden has nothing to do but wait until the end. But the end can be grand! He wants to ride out at dawn, and cut his way through as far as he can go. Perhaps that will be a death worthy of song. Aragorn agrees to go with him, but spends the next bit of time moving around the walls, giving aid to the men fighting. Grappling hooks and ladders are constantly thrown back time and time again.

Finally, Aragorn reaches the gate, where he holds up his hand in parley. The orcs laugh at him, wanting Théoden to come out.

Agree with him or not, but Théoden’s idea isn’t the worst thing that could happen. At worst, he dies, but the morale boost would be huge, right? Maybe even send everybody they can out. Cavalry riding at full speed has to make a significant dent in the orc army at least.

Ride out and meet them!

Ride, Snowmane!

Ride, Snowmane!

Now, what is Aragorn doing? Does he have a plan for this little chat? Good question. Let’s see how this plays out tomorrow. The battle of Helm’s Deep is extremely different in the text than in the film.

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The lack of respect for “enheartening” is hardly…enheartening.


“‘We are the fighting Uruk-hai.'”

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Let’s split up gang!

It would normally be a terrible idea, but I have a feeling that everything is going to work out okay. We do have some 500 more pages left in this book.

Elephant size!

Elephant size!

So, with Legolas giving him an arrow of covering fire, Aragorn works his way into the Hornburg, finding Théoden and Gamling. Théoden isn’t too happy about recent events. To add to that, Gimli and Éomer are missing. Most people believe that they probably fought their way back to the caves, though Legolas isn’t too happy because Gimli’s kill count is just getting higher.

Competition drives war. Both literally and comically. I mean, would Legolas and Gimli be killing so many orcs if they weren’t keeping track against each other? Well, probably. But, we don’t care about the lives of the orcs. Kill them all you want! We’ll only get upset if one of our heroes goes down. For the moment, they seem to be just fine.

Meanwhile, has Théoden even seen battle? He seems like he’s only been standing in the Hornburg, looking out of a window dramatically.

I must defend my homeland.

I must defend my homeland.

I personally would prefer a king who rode out to battle with his men. Is that too much to ask? However, I think we might be driving towards that. The movie does, anyway, even though he does fight a little bit before then.

Don’t forget, before leaving Edoras, Théoden did appoint Éomer as his heir, so he wasn’t entirely expecting to return alive. What’s wrong with putting it all on the line right now? Is he getting cold feet?

Nevertheless, the battle rages on today, even though the page is mostly talking and taking stock of the situation. Hey, we can only describe hewing, leaping, bow-bending, and assaulting for so long.

“‘But the Orcs have brought a devilry from Orthanc,’ said Aragorn.”

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The wild men of the hills are nasty, and Gamling’s going to tell us all about it. You see, when Eorl brought the Rohirrim down from the north, they settled in this area after it was granted to them by Gondor in thanks for their aid. However, this land wasn’t unpopulated. These hill men lived here. The Rohirrim took the lands right out from under them.

Oh, that sounds familiar.

Oh, that sounds familiar.

There you have all the reason for the hill men to rate Rohan, and that’s why they won’t let up in the assault on Helm’s Deep. Good luck trying to tell them and the stronger-than-average orcs otherwise.

However, as Aragorn preaches the history of the Hornburg being untaken by any enemies, an explosion rips through the air. The attackers have bombed the Deeping Wall at the drainage point, and the hordes are flowing in. Aragorn valiantly tries to hold the stairway into the Hornburg, with Legolas watching with one arrow left, as the men file into safety. Turning to get to safety himself, Aragorn bites it hard and falls down.

No, there isn’t an epic slow-motion here-comes-the-boom moment of a suicide orc running with the explosives. That’s not to say it didn’t happen, but it’s unlikely.

He's just trying to put a really big candle in a really big cake.

He’s just trying to put a really big candle in a really big cake.

There’s no denying that the attack is focused on this weak point, even though it hasn’t been defined as such yet in the text. Whether it’s crawling through or just blowing the whole thing up, these orcs (and hill men) knew to target this point in the wall. Again, they’re not just stronger, but also smarter-than-average orcs.

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These are insults that the hill men throw at the Rohirrim. I don’t know what “Forgoil” means, but “Strawheads” is a reference to the dominance of blonde hair among these people. You know the hill tribes have got to have the best blonde jokes in Middle-earth.

“Up came the Orcs, yelling, with their long arms stretched out to seize him. The…”

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Now is the sad part where I have to come down off of how great yesterday was. Please bear with me in this troubling time.

It’s just another day of battle. Ho hum.

With their victory over the sneaky orcs, Gamling asks Gimli if he can help stop up the hole in the wall through which the orcs got in. Sadly, dwarves don’t do their best stonework with axes and hands, but Gimli at least helps all the men pile up rocks to mostly block the drain. The Deeping-stream pools behind it in the valley, nearly dammed. Afterwards, Gimli returns again to Legolas, touting his 21 kills. Legolas smugly admits his 24 or so.

He didn't choose the smug life.

He didn’t choose the smug life.

Meanwhile, the battle has lulled a bit, as the orcs have realized their brief failure. Dawn can’t be too far away, though that hope is probably all for naught. These orcs, Gamling reports, have no fear of sunlight. Neither do the hill men, of course.

Um…so I don’t have another movie review today. I’m really sorry. What else can I say?

Is this where we learn about the Uruk-hai, and their strength under the sun? That is, of course, the reason why they were made: to be stronger than the average orc. These very orcs were the ones able to carry Merry and Pippin across long stretches of the Rohan plain in daytime. Saruman has bred them to his purposes.

Just like the best purebred Rottweilers.

Just like the best purebred Rottweilers.

However, it is nice to see a break in the action. Why not give everyone a minute to rest? With the dawn just breaking, the momentum could swing our heroes’ way. Not that they have much of an advantage anyway, but at least they can gain some hope. Gamling apparently doesn’t like hope, so he shoots that down.

Gosh…no more countdown! I guess I stopped yesterday, but I was too busy thinking about other things to care. Now, I care.

“‘Yet there are many that cry in the Dunland tongue,’ said Gamling.”

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I have a lot to say about that, but we’ll do that after I get through what I have to say about today’s page.

I'll get there as fast as I can.

I’ll get there as fast as I can.

So…Helm’s Deep battle! Gimli returns to Legolas on the wall, and the death count game is on! Gimli has killed two orcs. Legolas? More like twenty. He’s been shooting arrows at them all night.

Meanwhile, the storm is finally letting up, but the attack isn’t. More orcs are coming, and this time with ladders. They try to scale them up the wall, but most get pushed back down. The dead pile higher and higher. The men of Rohan are getting tired, arrows are running low, and not even Aragorn can continue rallying their confidence.

But some orcs have slipped in. Crawling through the drainage hole in the wall, a group has been hiding in the shadows. Now, they attack the horses and their guards, further up the valley. Gimli leaps to attack there, as does Gamling, bringing men from the Hornburg.

Woo! Things are getting tense. The orcs don’t care about much more than attrition. They clearly know that they have the men outnumbered, so all they have to do is wear the defense down. It’s working. Add in the little things that dismay the men: ramming the gates (new rams have shown up, by the way), sneaking in behind, and just plain persistence. It’s not a bad battle plan, when you don’t care about how many of your own forces you’re going to lose. Evil characters can get away with that.

Ah, the conveniences of nameless henchmen.

Ah, the conveniences of nameless henchmen.

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Yes, Helmingas. Like Eorlingas, but from Helm. Sons of Helm. Sons of Helm, helming Helm’s Deep. Helm it, you Helmingas!

But…today was never really about Lord of the Rings


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, And Why I Liked It: A Special Feature:

Oh, that was good. Were you worried? Have you been told off by too many people/critics that it doesn’t do the previous movies justice? They’re wrong.

I’m sorry, but were you expecting perfection just like the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy? No, that’s not what I expected, and it’s not what I needed. Bring me back, Peter Jackson, just bring me back to that wonderful world you showed us all. And you know what, he did. Easily.

The tone is there. The epic scale, which I’ve heard people gripe about because the story doesn’t necessarily call for it, is also there. Here’s what I think: The Hobbit as a book isn’t grand? No, not quite, but that’s really just because Tolkien wrote it before his world of Middle-earth was crafted. Does it fit into that narrative? Yes, but it wasn’t initially intended to. So, it has always felt a little smaller. However, there’s nothing stopping it from being connected right to that beautiful, grandiose world. It’s right there! So, I don’t have any problem with adding all that backstory. It doesn’t slow down the film too much, and, I like it, so I don’t mind it being there. I read one critic who said that the film was a bit too much like an encyclopedia of Tolkien’s world. And let it be! That sounds great! Let’s watch it.

Filler image to break up the text!

Filler image to break up the text!

That aside, the other complaint I was worried about was this whole frame rate thing. Hands down, this movie is gorgeous. I wasn’t jarred by the higher quality. The 3D was used pretty well, in my limited opinion. Everything just looks so darn good. Success!

As for the little added things, they mostly worked. Azog is everything that Darth Maul should have been. I saw a video about how Episode I could have been better, and it mentioned having Darth Maul live so that Obi Wan has a known antagonist that we get to follow and amp up tension about. Oh, we’re doing a prequel trilogy to a successful trilogy made some time ago? Let’s have that! Peter Jackson did what George Lucas failed to do. At least in that respect.

Other things…Lindir! We made fun of him earlier! He gets to show up. There’s that wonderful story about Bullroarer Took inventing golf, and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins stealing Bilbo’s spoons. Totally happened. Radagast has a rabbit sleigh, which is neat. His favorite hedgehog, Sebastian, may be my favorite character in the film. And why not have Radagast be the first one to notice something strange about Dol Guldur? He lives nearby anyway!

There’s one thing I was sad about: Thorin’s father Thráin isn’t found by Gandalf in the dungeons of Dol Guldur. Instead, the map of the secret door in the Lonely Mountain is obtained some other way. But why not put Thráin in Dol Guldur, thus further connecting this storyline to the “Necromancer” (Sauron) at Dol Guldur? Heck, Sauron takes Thráin’s ring there, one of the Seven.

All in all, I loved it. Was that unclear?

“Their onset was fierce and sudden, and the Orcs gave way before…”

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Is something happening tonight?

I have an exciting night planned.

I have an exciting night planned.

But our heroes are having an exciting time themselves! Aragorn and Éomer’s flanking attack has worked, and the ramming party has been driven back. Looking at the gates, they came not a moment too soon. It won’t take much more battering. They head back inside, but shenanigans ensue! Some orcs have been playing dead among the…dead. They attack, taking Éomer down. Suddenly, a wild dwarf appears! It’s Gimli! He fights the orcs off, freeing Éomer and getting them back to the gate. Éomer gives his thanks.

Now that’s battle! No tossing involved. Gimli just lays into the orcs, effectively saving Éomer’s life. He says that he held back from the group because the wildmen looked too big for him. And orcs are smaller? Well, I guess we haven’t specified that they’re Uruk-hai here. They would be big. Normal orcs aren’t always as thick.

Thick in the head? Yes, yes they are.

Of course, Gimli only came along so that he could “shake off sleep”.

Just like that other dwarf I know.

Just like that other dwarf I know.

I’m gonna go ahead and say that he didn’t necessarily need this fighting to wake him up. If there’s one person who’s up and ready for battle, it’s Gimli. That, building things, and treasure. Those are his things. He already talked about how much he would want to reinforce Helm’s Deep’s defenses.

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Okay, okay. I know what’s going on. TONIGHT IS WHEN THE HOBBIT COMES OUT! No, I’m actually not going at midnight. There’s all sorts of things to do between tonight and tomorrow, so the plan is to go tomorrow afternoon. I’m sure there will be plenty to talk about tomorrow night.

Days Until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: 1

“‘There may be many a chance ere the night is over,’ laughed the…”

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War! War! Battle battle battle! Go! Fight! Win!

What if I had a post where I only talked about war in sports metaphors, as opposed to the usual talking-about-sports-with-war-metaphors?

Like your everyday war-foosball table.

Like your everyday war-foosball table.

The orcs’ opening drive is a combination of arrow plays and ramming plays. With the lightning flashing, the men of Rohan stand their ground while the sea of bodies advances up the field. They finally counterattack with their own volley of arrows. The orcs, whose front line appears to have been stopped for a loss, push forward for a gain of a few yards each time. Eventually, they gain a first down at the gates of the Hornburg, and begin ramming the door.

Aragorn and Éomer have an idea. There’s a door along the side of the rock wall, adjacent to the ramp leading up to the gate. They lead some men there, and run a stunt around the offensive tackle.

Hey, some of those make sense!

First Mentions:

-Gúthwinë: Éomer’s sword. In Old English, that translates to “Battle-friend”.

Okay, I’m going to stop with the metaphors. They make this much more convoluted than it needs to be.

Anyway, regardless of the fact that this is Aragorn and Éomer leading the charge, and not Aragorn and Gimli, this sequence of events is just about spot on portrayed in the film. For simplicity’s sake, the movie only has orcs (Uruk-hai, specifically) attacking, while the text mentions wild men helping to carry the battering ram. Minor difference, overall.

Some wild men do look like this, though.

Some wild men do look like this, though.

Oh, and I’ve decided that the good money is on Gandalf arriving with Erkenbrand. Right?

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Days Until The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: 2

“‘Andúril!’ cried Aragorn. ‘Andúril for the Dúnedain!'”

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