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Archive for the ‘9 – Flotsam and Jetsam’ Category

Yet another day, and yet another chapter done.

Now that Merry and Pippin have finished their tale, Aragorn questions the one thing on his mind: how did Saruman get that pipe-weed? Not only are there not known dealings between the Shire and Isengard, but the lands connecting them to each other are barren. No travelers have been seen there in a long time. Aragorn wants to tell Gandalf about this, even though it may seem like a small thing right now.

Small, like this tiny knit ice cream cone.

Small, like this tiny knit ice cream cone.

The biggest problem could be that Saruman has a friend in the Shire. Is some hobbit turning traitor?

Ah, that reminds me of that one part of the book that no one who’s only seen the movies really knows about. There’s this thing that Saruman does… Could this be the start of the Scouring?

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Wormtongues

-Théoden’s

For a page that’s not even a half-page long, we have a high frequency of disliked words. Dearie me.

“‘But it is not a very cheerful sight.'”

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Today, Treebeard makes his biggest mistake of all. He puts Merry and Pippin in charge of Isengard.

This is definitely the best decision.

This is definitely the best decision.

Treebeard needs a bath, so he gives Merry and Pippin guard of the front gate, and orders to find food fit for Théoden, as the king of Rohan. Treebeard doesn’t understand these silly man-folk. Thus ends the full tale, although naturally they’ll talk for a bit more. Ents arrived to take all the food that the hobbits found. However, they didn’t take any drink, and the hobbits hid their best find: the pipe-weed. Merry hopes that the feast over at the north side of Isengard is going well, and that Treebeard whipped up some more of that draught he shared with them in his home.

Remember that drink? It was probably a strong liquor. Merry wants to see Gandalf after a few rounds of that. Heck, I would, too.

Meanwhile, the hobbits believe that Treebeard maliciously sent Wormtongue to Orthanc. No, I don’t believe either that Saruman is happy to see him right now. But, he picked his poison. Apparently a beating from Saruman is better than a thrashing from Théoden. Scratch that: a spearing from Saruman is better than a thrashing from Théoden. Alliteration, homes.

I hope you're heartened by happy homes.

I hope you’re heartened by happy homes.

Let it be known: if I make a promise, I will keep it. I promised alliteration, and homes. I gave you that. There is no more I can give.

“‘”Pipe-weed is better after food,” said Pippin; that is how the situation arose.'”

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While it would be nice if this horseman turned out to be a friendly face, arriving much earlier than expected, it is not so. A bedraggled Wormtongue rides up to Isengard, completely unaware of its destruction.

He may, in fact, live under a rock.

He may, in fact, live under a rock.

Upon seeing Merry, Pippin, and Treebeard, he tries to awkwardly turn around and flee. Not so fast, my friend! Treebeard easily picks him up and deposits him in a whining heap on the ground.

Trying desperately to convince the angry ent that he’s a messenger from Théoden to Saruman, Wormtongue instead convinces everyone around that he’s a scheming liar. The hobbits don’t even buy the story. Treebeard, having heard some news about Wormtongue from Gandalf, gives him a choice: either hang out here until Théoden arrives, or join Saruman in imprisonment in Orthanc. With much whining, Wormtongue starts wading towards the tower, with Treebeard following.

Of course, anyone who knows anything probably has heard that Théoden and Saruman have had a bit of a falling out. Who could miss the huge army marching to destroy Rohan? Even if Gandalf hadn’t warned Treebeard, I don’t believe this story would work. The only thing worse than a liar is a bad liar. Good luck with that, Wormtongue.

Liar, liar, you used to have pants, but now they are a burnt pile of ashes.

Liar, liar, you used to have pants, but now they are a burnt pile of ashes.

Wormtongue doesn’t help his own case by complaining about having to make his way to Orthanc through water. Oh, is that so bad? Pro-tip: when you’re already labeled a scumbag, don’t do things like whine about your circumstances. Does Treebeard take pity? No. Would I take pity? No. For a lesson in pity, please see Bilbo’s non-execution of Gollum.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 86 – “I’m taking pity on you today, dude.”

But that is not this day.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-grovelled

I don’t like groveling either, to be totally honest. Stop it.

“‘But Treebeard waded after him, and watched his progress.'”

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In the end, Merry and Pippin get the best view of the flooding of Isengard. Worried that they’ll be caught in the rising water, they find shelter on top of the guardhouse. Steam rises from the newly-formed lake.

This goose knows that feel.

This goose knows that feel.

Since then, the water has been finding a way to drain, but the bowl of Isengard is still mostly filled. Merry and Pippin awoke this morning to the dreary and lonely dawn. They try to end the story there, but Gimli reminds them of Wormtongue, who they had mentioned was in Orthanc somewhere. Gimli wants to know when and how he arrived.

Well, Pippin continues, Treebeard walked over to he and Merry this morning, wanting to tell them that some people would be arriving during the day, along with some of the hobbits’ companions. Just as he says that, they hear a horse approaching.

Needless to say, this horse isn’t from Rohan. You might recall that Merry and Pippin were lazing about on a rock pile when Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and the Rohirrim arrived. Treebeard also wasn’t around. Easy guess: this is Wormtongue, who took way too long to make his way here from Edoras.

Seriously, he was booted out of Edoras the day before the battle at Helm’s Deep. That was…three days ago? Something like that. How does he only manage to make it to Isengard the same day that Théoden does, who stopped on the way for an all-night battle?

Traffic?

Traffic?

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-moisty

-hooming

As if most people didn’t already have a big problem with “moist”, now we get “moisty”, the uglier, nastier cousin to the world’s most uncomfortable common word. Want to make something creepier? Just add “y”.

“‘We rushed out before the gates, and I stood and stared,…'”

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SO MANY QUOTATION MARKS. Settle down, y’all.

Nevertheless this story is being recapped by Merry and Pippin, so they’re telling us (and Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli) what happened to them. Treebeard wanders off after his meeting with Gandalf, leaving Merry and Pippin once again on their own. They hear more Huorns moving off, and the distant rumble of thunder to the south along with another rumbling of the ents at work in the hills. The dams break at midnight, flooding Isengard.

Oops.

Oops.

Of course, many of these moments sync up with what Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli were going through. The thunder is from the storm shellacking Helm’s Deep, and lightning, too. Could some of that noise and light have come directly from the battle? Absolutely. Those orcs pounding the ground must have made quite the noise, decibel-wise. It’s too bad no one here can actually measure it.

Also, a great steam cloud rises from Isengard as the water floods in. Yes, that was seen by the column riding on their way, and most people thought that Saruman was brewing something new and evil for their arrival.

I love when things match up! We all have a natural urge to put everything in order, and here we go, doing just that.

Maybe Noah took it a little too far...

Maybe Noah took it a little too far…

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-creakings

-Huorn-dark

-spouthole

I’m too tired to take issue with this right now, but rest assured, I do take issue. Grumble.

“‘We thought we were going to get…'”

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Surprise Gandalf!

He's good at that.

He’s good at that.

He rides suddenly into Isengard. Merry and Pippin are flabbergasted, and Treebeard acts as if he was just waiting for the wizard to arrive. Treebeard wants help concerning the capture of Saruman, though Gandalf is looking for aid for Helm’s Deep. The two talk together for a while, and return shortly with their needs apparently fulfilled. With a cursory nod to Merry and Pippin, advising them to stay away from Saruman and Orthanc, Gandalf rides off again at great haste. That’s that.

So…that’s how Merry and Pippin knew about Gandalf’s resurrection. He doesn’t say anything about it, but they certainly knew he was alive before he and Théoden rode to Isengard. I’m sure at the time the two hobbits wanted to know much more, but they’re too taken aback to say much, and Gandalf is most definitely not in the mood to sit and chat.

Did you need any more proof that Shadowfax is the fastest horse of all? No, you shouldn’t need any more now. Gandalf arrives at Isengard just before the battle at Helm’s Deep begins, and returns there the next dawn. How many days did it take to travel from one to the other after the battle? Oh, many more.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

However, among all this talk, it does not seem like Treebeard immediately sends Huorns to Helm’s Deep. In fact, remember that Gandalf admitted that their appearance was none of his doing. They make their way on their own, following the marching army. Ultimately, I’m not sure what Gandalf hopes to get out of this meeting, other than the knowledge that Isengard has fallen. Which is good news, anyway.

Ain’t a-that good news?

“‘”You said much less than you might, and no more than you…”‘”

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Are you having as good a day as the ents? I’d like to hope so

Though Saruman is not captured, Treebeard has a plan. He gathers the other ents around him, and they suddenly and silently move off north. A few remain to guard Orthanc, nearly invisible when they stand still. Merry and Pippin observe all this.

Woah.

Woah.

Abandoned, the two hobbits spend the next day wandering about. They look for food and talk, all the while hearing the ents at work smashing rocks or something far away. Eventually, they come round to the north side of Isengard, and see a great grove of Huorns. They can hear the ents at work inside, but Merry and Pippin fear to enter.

Treebeard returns at dusk, warning them to not stay near the gate. Water will be coming. You don’t want to get caught up in that.

Oh, and Saruman can be heard laughing from a window in Orthanc. Laughing. Strangely, that calms the ents down. This is after Treebeard yells at the tower, and just before he calls all to him. It’s unclear to me whether the gathering was part of the plan all along, or just a reaction to Saruman’s mockery. Either way, I find it more frightening to see angry creatures go suddenly silent and still. Anger and rage is one thing, but cold, calculated plotting is something completely different.

Perhaps it's the same thing the ents do every night.

Perhaps it’s the same thing the ents do every night.

I wouldn’t doubt that Treebeard has had at least a similar plan all along. Even Pippin remarks that this is “a plan he had made in his old head long before.” Yep, he’s had time to think about this, and flooding Isengard was clearly the best decision for him. I’m not going to second-guess Treebeard. He has just a little bit more life experience than me.

Just a little.

“‘We were just wondering where it would be safe to lie and get some sleep, when the most amazing thing of all happened. There…'”

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Of course, in all this battle, Saruman is unseen. But not anymore! There’s a white figure seen running away from the gate, towards Orthanc. Quickbeam spots him first. A chase ensues, with Saruman just barely making it into his tower before being grabbed.

Come here!

Come here!

Once he’s back in the tower, Saruman sics some fires on the ents. Some get burned. One even goes up entirely in flames. The scene sounds pretty violent, but they still roam about, tearing down the walls. Rocks are thrown at Orthanc, to little avail.

First Mentions:

-Beechbone: This poor ent, known as handsome, loses in the battle with the fire. He’s gone to greener forests.

Through all this, Pippin remarks that only Treebeard is able to keep his cool. Sure, he’s angry, but not to the point where he’s throwing himself at the tower. It’s the fire that sets all the ents off; they’re not really fond of flames. If you thought the ents were scary while just getting ready for war, or even in tearing down the front gates, this apparently trumps everything. They’ve gotta get mad. They’ve gotta get mean.

This example brought to you by Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

This example brought to you by Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

Ents at war are a terrible thing to behold. I wouldn’t want to get in their way, not one bit. Thankfully, I don’t have to. That will brighten up any day.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Beechbone

-Saruman’s

Oh, we’re having problems with possessives now? Come on.

“‘Some wizardry is in it, perhaps, older and stronger than Saruman’s.'”

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And so the assault on Isengard begins.

Treebeard is knocking (banging) on the gates, looking for some response from Saruman. All he gets is arrows from the walls. This, while not being dangerous really at all for him, angers Treebeard such as he’s not used to. He calls more ents, and they tear everything down.

Mr. Gorbachestnut, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL.

Mr. Gorbachestnut, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL.

With all the force of deep tree roots, the ents make quick work of the gate and wall. Saruman, meanwhile, does nothing, apparently completely unaware of the power of the ents’ rage. Is the White Wizard even that powerful? Merry truly wonders. Aragorn says, in fact, that he is, or was. Few exist who he could not persuade.

I have to admit, the image of the ents attacking is AWESOME. And nearly perfectly described: “It was like watching the work of great tree-roots in a hundred years, all packed into a few moments.” Truly, the strength of an ent grabbing onto something must be immense, as roots can wrap around and hold tight. I’m kind of just imagining an octopus destroying a coral reef or something. But that reef is stone. And those octopi are made of wood.

To Isengard!

To Isengard!

All this exacerbates Saruman’s greatest folly: forgetting about the ents. Did he really think that he could get away with tearing down most of a forest without them noticing? He once walked in Fangorn and spoke with Treebeard, but apparently his existence slipped Saruman’s mind somewhere during his “become totally evil” phase.

Don’t ever forget about the ents. Moral of the story. They’ll tear your stuff up.

Oh, and, somehow, the ents digging into the walls remind Merry of “rabbits in a sand-pit”. Sure. Rabbits love to tear things up when they’re trapped in a pit of sand.

Pictured: a rabbit in a sand-pit.

Pictured: a rabbit in a sand-pit.

“‘The Ents let the Men go, after they had questioned them, two or three dozen only down at this end. I don’t think…'”

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You know that scene in the third movie, where Frodo and Sam watch as Minas Morgul empties armies marching to Gondor?

This one.

This one.

In all honesty, I don’t remember if that actually happens in the book. But it definitely happens here, with Merry, Pippin, and Treebeard.

The ents creep up to the wall of Isengard. A trumpet sounds, and while they think they’ve been discovered, they’re actually in the clear. The gates open, and some ten thousand orcs and men march out. For an hour they issue out, heading to war. At the time, Merry and Pippin have no idea what their goal is, but Merry is reminded of that Southerner back in Bree, who was probably a spy from Saruman. Some of his orcs, an eerie blend between goblins and orcs and possibly men, look similar.

Meanwhile, Isengard empties. The Huorns, above direction from ents, slink off the follow the army. Treebeard senses the opportunity is theirs to take Isengard.

And there you have some loose ends tied up! The Huorns follow the march to Helm’s Deep, where they arrive behind Saruman’s army, setting up in the night to close off the valley. With Isengard mostly unguarded, the assault is going to be easy.

So, you know what pays off big time? Entish patience.

No, not patients.

No, not patients.

Since Treebeard decides to sneak up to Isengard, he doesn’t barrel headlong into the army. That would have been the end of that. Can you imagine? That’s good writing, in my opinion. The ents are saved by their best characteristic: being slow. All of that time taken earlier is now validated.

Sometimes, I feel like an ent reading this book and writing this blog. So slow.

“‘Treebeard put us down, and went up to the gates, and began ham-…'”

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