Archive for the ‘8 – The Road to Isengard’ Category

Not much here today, just Théoden bidding Merry and Pippin farewell, and inviting them to come talk with him in Edoras to their hearts’ delight. The hobbits bow to him, muttering about how nice this king is.

And that’s the chapter!

Let's celebrate.

Let’s celebrate.

Um…that’s nice that Merry and Pippin seem to like Théoden. Getting along is better than not getting along. And Théoden is certainly more willing to be interested in their long stories, regardless of Gandalf’s warnings. There’s nothing wrong with stories, in my book. I don’t understand why the wise Gandalf is so against a bit of talking.

Okay, okay, I guess there are more important things to do. And we’ll get to them.

But not right now. There’s nothing important here, anyway. Time to get ready for the next chapter.

“‘A fine old fellow. Very polite.'”

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Naturally, Théoden’s “information” about hobbits is completely wrong. Who said they could tweet like birds?



Nevertheless, Merry is here to educate him, commencing a monologue about the introduction of pipe-weed to the Shire quite recently. He’s cut off by Gandalf, who warns Théoden that hobbits will talk endlessly about such topics. There are more important matters at hand. Namely, Gandalf wants to speak with Treebeard, though he wants to get some food for the riders first. He begins scolding Merry for not being forthcoming about Treebeard’s location, but Merry counters back, saying that not only is Treebeard expecting him around on the north side of Isengard, but that there is food aplenty over there. And so their squabble is concluded.

First Mentions:

-Tobold Hornblower: Hobbit known for first growing pipe-weed. Also known as “Toby”. Sometimes, a normal name is alright.

-Longbottom: Where Toby Hornblower was from, a town in the Southfarthing. Thus, the best pipe-weed is known as “Longbottom Leaf”.

Ah, so now I know why Merry and Pippin aren’t reacting to Gandalf’s presence. It seems that Treebeard at least was aware of him, and told the hobbits such. I don’t believe that the two were laid at his feet, as the movie implies, but they clearly already have knowledge of his return. Treebeard left them with a message intended for Gandalf and Théoden, that being to meet him further north.

And Aragorn? No Aragorn.

Meanwhile, Isengard is guarded by the ents. You see, remember those broken pillars and such that were sticking up out of the floodwater? Ents. On watch.

They're actually just doing laps.

They’re actually just doing laps.

Well, the water is the first line of defense to keep Saruman from escaping, but ents are stationed around, tall enough to stand. Quickbeam is chief among them, because I guess that ents have suddenly realized that having some urgency is a good thing.

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Oh, I practised Tobold Longbottom good. Yes I did.

“‘For Treebeard is Fangorn, and the eldest and chief of the Ents, and when you speak with him you will hear the speech of the oldest of all living things.'”

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Merry hasn’t seen his friends quite yet, which upsets Gimli, who roars out his displeasure with the two hobbits’ easy situation. Why is it, when he has been running all over this land, that the two hobbits should be lounging back and smoking? Smoking! Pah. Legolas feels the same way, but both are chided by an awakening Pippin. Why not wonder why and how Isengard has fallen? Isn’t that more important? Théoden, meanwhile, is simply amazed to see more creatures that he had thought were legends.

And not a word is said about Gandalf.

Does anyone remember what happened to Aragorn? He hasn’t said or done anything in days. And not just book-days, actual timeline-days. I assume he’s still kicking, somewhere in this column of riders. In truth, I don’t think we’ve noted him at all since before leaving Helm’s Deep. Is he smoldering over his eventual ascension to his rightful kingship?

Here, he smolders in poorly animated form.

Here, he smolders in poorly animated form.

So those are two things that I’m missing right now: Aragorn, and any realization of Gandalf’s reincarnation by Merry and Pippin. If these things don’t happen (or, resurface) soon, I’m going to get more and more confused. And I don’t like being confused.

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That would be the word in Rohan for “hobbits”. Yes, it sounds a bit like “hobbits”, but slightly different. You see, as the people who eventually founded Rohan came from the north, they knew distant tales of these little people, living simply and peacefully. They have been passed down in legend now, hardly remembered.

Wait a second…hobbits seem vaguely Amish. Hobbits are Amish.

“‘But there are no legends of their deeds, for it is said that they do little, and avoid the sight of men, being able to vanish in a twinkling; and they can change…'”

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So much for how pretty Isengard once was. And so much for how evil and edgy it has become. It’s all over now.

That’s right, it’s been destroyed!

Just add Orthanc.

Just add Orthanc.

Upon entering the Ring of Isengard, Théoden and his men see its demise. Everything is underwater, except for broken pieces of stone and wood jutting out. No fighting needed! On a pile of rubble nearby sits two strange figures. One seems to be sleeping, and the other is peacefully smoking a pipe, unaware of their presence. He quickly jumps to, and introduces himself as one of the doorwardens. Kicking Pippin awake, Merry introduces himself to the Rohirrim.

First Mentions:

-Saradoc Brandybuck: Merry’s father, if knowing that is important to you.

-Paladin Took: Pippin’s father. Paladin! That’s a familiar fantasy term, right? But…different than normal here. Quite different.

Yep, Merry and Pippin, just casually sitting on a pile of rocks. If you were wondering if the battle was truly over, it must be, if those two can be found chilling on the battlefield, one asleep and the other smoking.

Funny thing is, Merry doesn’t even see Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, or Gimli among the party. Perhaps he isn’t looking for Gandalf, so I’ll forgive him that, but my first instinct upon seeing an unexpected band of folks would be to see if any friendly faces are among them. No such luck for Merry so far.

But Gandalf is alive! That should be a big deal. I bet it will be.

It hasn't worked out quite as well for Tupac.

It hasn’t worked out quite as well for Tupac.

Oh, and did I mention that Isengard has gotten the SMACKDOWN laid on it? This place, recently crawling with orcs, is silent and as still as a lake. In fact, it is a lake.

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I return to blaming the English.

“‘The lord Saruman is within; but at the moment he is closeted with one Wormtongue, or doubtless he would be here to welcome such honourable guests.'”

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Raging aside, it’s page 555! That has to count for something, right? Just another pointless milestone, I guess.

See? No point.

See? No point.

Today, we get a description of Orthanc, the tower at the center of Isengard. Carved from four enormous rocks and fused together, the tower is black, pointed, and…well, the movie has it on point.

It looks like that.

It looks like that.

However, with Saruman’s recent reshaping of the area, it has grown to look more and more like Barad-dûr, Sauron’s tower in Mordor. Little does Saruman know that his version is just a mockery in comparison.

Back with our heroes, Gandalf leads the riders on into the mist. They slowly come to the great doors in the Ring, but they are broken down. Strange pools of water are lying about as well.

So, something’s afoot… Whatever could it be?

During today’s page, or, at least, the part where the action is actually happening, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would feel like to be one of the men blindly following Gandalf to Isengard. They must think that they’re going to their deaths! This place is dark, gloomy, and horribly suspicious, yet Gandalf forges ahead as if going to see an old acquaintance. He isn’t letting on to the fact that he isn’t worried, but the men probably are scared pretty thoroughly.

Nevertheless, we cut the tension with this wonderful description of how beautiful Isengard once was, so there’s that.

Previous reactions.

Previous reactions.

Let’s hope that everyone isn’t just wandering into their own doom. Because I’m really worried about that right now. YOU NEVER KNOW, YOU GUYS.

“But the doors lay hurled and twisted on the ground. And all about,…”

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This is one of those pages that’s almost entirely out-of-body.

Which may or may not be awesome.

Which may or may not be awesome.

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.

First Mentions:

-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!

Well that would get boring.

Well that would get boring.

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…”

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I have a whole lot of feelings today. Unfortunately, they really don’t have anything to do with Lord of the Rings, so we’re just going to say that I have a whole lot of feelings, and leave it mostly at that.



Anyway, while Théoden’s company sleeps unsoundly with the darkness moving about them, the scene back at Helm’s Deep is similar. Men there hear loud noises in the night, and by the morning the forest, along with the pile of orcs, has vanished. Much of the grass is brown and dried up, and a hole has been dug and filled with rocks. Are the orcs in there?

In the morning, those going to Isengard ride on. The river Isen is suddenly running strongly again, though the valley around them is desolate. They continue to make their way to Isengard, but now riding on the paved road.

First Mentions:

-the Death Down: That’s what they call this new mound of rocks at Helm’s Deep. Nothing grows on it, ever, and no man touches it. Would you?

Yeah…it’s filled with dead orcs. It’s really nice of the ents to dispose of them, but I wish they could have done something a little less ominous. Can you imagine looking out in the morning and seeing a strange, dead-looking, rocky pile? And it’s not going anywhere.

To be fair, I don’t think that ents really understand the customs of other races. They just go ahead and feast on the grass in Helm’s Deep, which probably isn’t very nice to the people that live there, and then they go ahead and leave the creepy mound. The thing with ents is, I think they just do what they want. They don’t bother trying to please anyone, because, well…no one tries to please them either.

We've covered this.

We’ve covered this.

I should probably go have my feelings now. Happy New Year, everybody! May it bring wonderful things, and probably another Hobbit movie.

“After they had ridden for some miles, the highway became a wide street, paved with great flat stones, squared and laid with skill; no…”

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It’s really pretty impressive, with this whole show dedicated to their survival on the island since the plane crash, that some people have actually gotten off of it. What happens now? Farewell, island!

Behold, the Argonath!

Behold, the Argonath!


The riders make their way across the river, and travel for a few more hours into the night. The smoke rising from Isengard isn’t quite smoke: it’s steam. This is strange, and most people think that Saruman has something evil planned for their arrival. Nonetheless, Théoden wearies, and a halt is called for the night. Some can sleep, others not, before the alarm is sounded. Darkness approaches, but Gandalf calls for everyone to stay calm. Some strange gloom passes on either side of the camp, while mumbling is heard.

Gosh, all this is just fine! Steam? Nothing bad. Darkness moving along accompanied by a strange rustling noise? Totally okay and friendly. Gandalf probably gets what’s going on, but he’s the only one. Everyone else is scared out of their wits.

Observe: kitteh.

Observe: kitteh.

And I really want a good reason as to why the riders aren’t using the road, instead opting to ride on the turf just beside it. Is the road all torn up? Do the horses not like it? Are they trying to avoid the road? Tell me! I honestly don’t know why any of these things would be important, but since we’re told specifically that the column isn’t riding on the road, there must be some reason for it, right?

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You can never groan in multiplicity. Only one is allowed.

“Long it seemed to them that they sat and were afraid; but at last the darkness and the rumour passed, and vanished between the mountain’s arms.”

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Hey, remember when I was speculating if the dead Rohirrim had been piled and buried and so on and so forth? Answered today.

They have been! How convenient! As it turns out, Gandalf had a part in that, too. While he was rounding up the scattered riders and bringing them to Erkenbrand, he left some behind to deal with the cleanup, provided that they made their way to defend Edoras afterward. Well, they did that, and now Edoras is also better off. Two birds!

One very stony stone stone.

One very stony stone stone.

First Mentions:

-Grimbold: A man of Westfold, who led those sent from Gandalf to Erkenbrand.

-Elfhelm: A Marshal, who Gandalf gave the lead to take the burial men to Edoras.

So it turns out that Gandalf has been working behind the scenes to make everything better the whole time. I can’t say I’m surprised. All in all, he went and got every rider that had survived the battle at the Fords, and sent most to Erkenbrand. There were less dead than had been rumored, so he just sent a handful of men to handle the burial. Thinking that looters might head to an undefended Edoras, Gandalf sent them there, where they can meet up with Théoden when he rides back. Oh, and sometime in that Gandalf managed to make it to Isengard and check out what’s going on there.

World traveler! Don’t forget that this was all in the span of a day and a half or so. Maybe less.

Gandalf, seeing the world.

Gandalf, seeing the world.

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Meanwhile, it’s almost New Year’s Eve, and I have a lot to do! Time to go.

“‘And glad shall I be to see it again,’ said Théoden, ‘though brief now, I doubt not, shall be my abiding there.'”

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We continue to ride, leaving the forest and Helm’s Deep behind. Gandalf lets Théoden know that the ents are fighting against evil just like the people of Rohan are. They all must conquer the evil of Sauron, though his wrongdoings cannot be undone.

Deep, man.

It's so deep, I'm rolling in it.

It’s so deep, I’m rolling in it.

And they ride on. As the sun sets, and darkness deepens, the sky to the west (by Isengard) still glows red. Birds picking at the remnants of battle circle above the Fords of Isen, where a battle raged not too long ago. Théoden’s son and heir fell here, and the people grow downcast as they come to the crossing.

Oof, this is hard. They’ve all just made it out of the horror of Helm’s Deep, and now they’re going to walk right through where the worst fighting had been previously. Those birds are having their go at the bodies, and I hope they’re just finding orcs. The Rohirrim seem to be good at piling and burning or burying their dead. Although, if the battle were horrific enough, maybe no men remained to do so. They could very well have retreated as quickly as possible.

So, who wants to take a stroll around here?

Casual Terminator future-times.

Casual Terminator future-times.

And that red glow in the distance has to be the sacking of Isengard. Something’s going on, anyway. The sky just doesn’t generally glow red unless something big is going on. That’s basically the “Hey! That thing you’re looking at has something important happening at it!” signal.

It’s just about as good as the Bat-Signal. Better, even. I’d like to see Batman respond to every red glow. He’d never be able to do that, and that’s a challenge.

“The riders looked down upon the crossings,…”

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