Archive for the ‘3 – The Muster of Rohan’ Category

Is this really a page I have to deal with? Because there’s nothing here. We’re officially in Gondor now, with the peaks of the beacons flitting by. Their fires are out, dark in the foreboding sky.



It’s only three lines of text, so I’ve got nothing else. Come back for the expert criticism and analysis when tomorrow’s new chapter rolls around.

No one dies today.

“All the lands were grey and still; and ever the shadow deepened before them, and hope waned in every heart.”

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Just when Merry accepts his fate to be left behind…a wild helpful rider appears! A young-looking rider comes up to Merry unnoticed, and offers him a spot on…uh, his horse. Merry, amazed, accepts, and they ride off in the column across the fields of Rohan.


Collaborate and listen.

Collaborate and listen.

I’m not going to step around the true identity this rider. He calls himself Dernhelm. But he’s a she. It’s Éowyn, and it’ll just make things easier to accept that fact now and move on. I’ve been pretty clear about giving up spoilers before on this blog. I’m just going to keep doing it now.

First Mentions:

-Windfola: That’s Dernhelm’s Éowyn’s horse! Cool name.

Yeah, that’s just another term that I get to cross out and replace with the truth. Too bad Dernhelm Éowyn wasn’t a part of the Fellowship Company.

On an unrelated note, all the lands brought up yesterday that would be passed through are…being passed through. This is not unexpected, but I would have thought that we didn’t need a recap just one page later.

They're not very interesting, either.

They’re not very interesting, either.

Something I didn’t mention yesterday was that Merry noticed a certain young man looking back at him out of the ranks when they passed down the line. This man is the one that turns out to be Dernhelm Éowyn, so she was looking to take him on the entire time.

However, how has no one noticed her absence? Eh, I’ll chalk it up to secretive attendants.

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I don’t trust oakwoods. They’re shady.

No one dies today.

“And so King Théoden departed from his own realm, and mile by mile the long road wound away, and the beacon hills marched…”

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WOAH WOAH WOAH. Today is full of stuff, including our first song in, like, years.

Plot-wise, Merry is just riding down the line of people wishing the army well as they leave Dunharrow. It’s a silent march, and much of this is made into song later, though the people are too full of emotion now to think of it.

The ride passes swiftly, until the column reaches Edoras for lunch. Théoden takes his meal before denying Merry the right to come with them for one last time.

Merry just isn't ready for the open market.

Merry just isn’t ready for the open market.

First Mentions:

-Underharrow: Small town in the valley of Harrowdale. Under…harrow. It makes sense.

-Upbourn: Small town, also in the valley, along the Snowbourn river. This also makes sense.

-Folde: Region of Rohan, near Edoras. Most of their stuff has “fold” in it somewhere.

-Fenmarch: Eastern region of Rohan with some marshes, or fens. Get it? This is part of the eastern border with Gondor.

-the Firienwood: A forest literally on the border of Rohan and Gondor.

And that’s a lot of First Mentions! This is outlining the path that Théoden rides as he makes his way to Gondor. Of course, none of this has happened yet, but it is memorialized in the song that is shown today. Future song!

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

It’s been…very long. I had to refresh my memory on how to do this. That, and also I’m now recording out of my walk-in closet, which is different. (It sounds better, trust me.)

“From dark Dunharrow in the dim morning,

with thane and captain rode Thengel’s son:

to Edoras he came, the ancient halls

of the Mark-wardens mist-enshrouded;

golden timbers were in gloom mantled.

Farewell he bade to his free people,

hearth and high-seat, and the hallowed places,

where long he had feasted ere the light faded.

Forth rode the king, fear behind him,

fate before him. Fealty kept he;

oaths he had taken, all fulfilled them.

Forth rode Théoden. Five nights and days

east and onward rode the Eorlingas

through Folde and Fenmarch and the Firienwood,

six thousand spears to Sunlending,

Mundburg the mighty under Mindolluin,

Sea-kings’ city in the South-kingdom

foe-beleaguered, fire-encircled.

Doom drove them on. Darkness took them,

horse and horseman; hoofbeats afar

sank into silence: so the songs tell us.”

Back from the hiatus, I present:

The Funeral to War

(The Funeral – Band of Horses)

First of all, I just realized now that it was relevant to pick Band of Horses for this song. It is Rohan, after all.

Rock on, guys.

Rock on, guys.

Anyway, note how the song is a tribute to Théoden and the honor he has in fulfilling his oath with Denethor. You’d almost think that something is going to happen to him, or something…

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Wait, why no First Mention for Sunlending? It’s the name in Rohan for the region in Gondor known as Anórien. I like Rohan’s name better.

No one dies today.

“‘And in such a battle as we think to make on the fields of Gondor what would you do, Master Meriadoc, swordthain though you be, and greater of heart than of stature?'”

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Okay, okay, Merry can come along for PART of it. But only part of it. Because we’re being nice now.

That’s Théoden’s concession, allowing Merry to ride to Edoras, but then no further. Éowyn gets Merry outfitted in helm, shield, and knife, though no armor will fit him. It’s purely ceremonial, of course…

Like many things in life.

Like many things in life.

The army gathers in the gloom, and some five thousand riders set off. Merry rides behind the king with the messengers from Gondor.

Okay, I can live with Merry’s consolation prize. He gets to feel important, and we’re all about feeling here. Plus, the garb from Éowyn helps him play the part of warrior. And that’s purely for show. Éowyn has no plans of sending him off. Why would she do that? She knows her place. She won’t fight either. This totally isn’t a ploy.


This looks bad.

This looks bad.

For plausibility, Merry is able to ride with the column to Edoras because they won’t yet be able to get up to full speed. The mountain dales between Dunharrow and Edoras are not helpful for that. Speed will pick up after Edoras, where the plains open up. So, Merry, on his little pony, won’t be able to keep up then. For now, he’s okay.

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We didn’t have that already? Hm. Now you know.

No one dies today.

“But when they…”

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It’s time to get our fast animal walking on again, and, unsurprisingly, Merry won’t be allowed to join in the fun. Théoden informs him of this. Instead, Merry will be required to stay behind and help Éowyn rule the people of Rohan. Even though Merry threatens to run along anyway, Théoden argues that he can’t ride a full-sized horse, and wouldn’t be able to keep up with the march. Tie him on! That’s what Merry wants. It’s not going to happen.

And this isn't an Odysseus-on-a-boat scenario.

And this isn’t an Odysseus-on-a-boat scenario.

First Mentions:

-the Eastfold: The eastern part of Rohan. Surprisingly, this is the first time it’s come up.

So, Merry can’t come along, and no one is surprised. That’s what happens when you go to bed saying “I won’t be left behind” repeatedly to yourself. Foreshadowing was pretty apparent.

As seen here.

As seen here.

In other news, with the sun darkened today, the trumpets calling out to march are less than excited about their fate. Merry can hear the tentativeness in them.

As for the dark skies, take that as a marker to tell where we are with every bit of the story. Each of Pippin, Aragorn, and Merry’s storylines have remarked on the skies when the day dawned without a sun. It’s tying all together right now, since everyone’s scattered about.

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That makes me think of marshmallows.

No one dies today.

“‘Rather than that I would bear you with me on…'”

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It’s page 800! That’s exciting! It’s also the last 24 hours before Northwestern football returns! That’s less exciting to most of you, but it’s exciting to me!

This is a blog of many hats.

This is a blog of many hats.

In more relevant news, Théoden informs Hirgon that it may be a full week before Rohan can report in force to Minas Tirith. That will have to do. With that, he calls an end to the night. Everyone retreats to their tents to rest, and Merry is preoccupied with the thought that he might be left behind once again. He doesn’t want that to happen.

Merry is woken at “dawn”, though the sun has not risen on this day. He is being called to Théoden, as expected, and hurries to get ready.

Today features the return of a Rohirric term, “Holbytla”, that was referenced earlier. Apparently, the term for hobbits, halflings, or what have you in their language is “Holbytlan”, which is clearly plural. “Holbytla” is the singular form, and the man who wakes Merry refers to him by this name. You can see the etymological descent (Holbytla > Hobbit), though I can’t help but think that Merry can’t enjoy being called this. Pippin tells Théoden off when he uses the term for the first time at Isengard. Has no one learned from this? It’s very insensitive.

It's like they sell these shirts in Rohan.

It’s like they sell these shirts in Rohan.

I guess I’ll have to back off the poor guy today. He’s just an unnamed rider of Rohan, so he’s clearly not going to hang around. I’m sorry, nameless guy. I will remember you as best I can.

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There it is! We were talking about that!

No one dies today.

“With a sinking heart…”

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What follows is a debate between Théoden and Hirgon over the strength of Rohan, and how quickly they may be gathered and marched off to aid Minas Tirith. It’s kind of boring, actually.

Semantics, you know.

Semantics, you know.

Théoden believes that Denethor must realize that the armies of Rohan take a while to come together. It is a scattered country. Even though the call has been put out, not all have arrived yet. However, Théoden still plans to march as soon as possible. This call is urgent, and he did mean to go to war anyway.

On a further note (and especially telling of the disconnect between Gondor and Rohan), Denethor asks that Rohan arrive early enough to join the defense behind the walls of the city. He worries that a siege will soon be set, and Rohan would not have the strength to break it from the outside. Unfortunately, Théoden knows that his men would be less equipped to fight within Minas Tirith. The Rohirrim like to fight on horseback, and thus in open spaces. The cramped streets of Minas Tirith would harm their ability.

Only one horse has been known to fight well in a city.

Only one horse has been known to fight well in a city.

Additionally, Théoden remarks that the amount of men committed to the fight will be reduced by about four thousand due to Denethor’s urging for all speed. Four thousand! Perhaps it would be smarter to wait, you know. Well, Denethor hasn’t been known to be the smartest leader around, especially with respect to this war.

No one dies today.

“‘But it is a long road, and man and beast…'”

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Théoden is beginning a brief retelling of Brego and Baldor’s discovery of the Paths of the Dead way back when. So that’s cool.

A cranky old man sat on the doorstep of the darkness when they approached.

Stoop kid of Middle-earth.

Stoop kid of Middle-earth.

Stoop kid old guy utters some pretty foreboding things as they try to pass him, then dies. Like, right on the spot. Dead. That was enough to scare Brego and Baldor off, at least until Baldor came back some time later and found his death.

The conversation lulls, and a ruckus is heard outside. A guard bursts in to announce a messenger from Gondor. He introduces himself as Hirgon, coming directly from Denethor, asking for Rohan’s aid in the war with all speed.

First Mentions:

-Hirgon: This here messenger. Said to look like Boromir.

Wait, Merry thinks that Hirgon looks like Boromir? Well, that’s a red herring. At first, I assumed that this meant that the man was Faramir, since the brothers do share a resemblance to one another. I found this strange, since I had no memory of Faramir coming all this way to meet with Théoden. Of course, it would explain how he hasn’t yet returned to Minas Tirith, all the while leaving Gandalf to worry where he is.

There’s also something here with a red arrow.

As pictured.

As pictured.

No, actually, it’s a red-tipped arrow, like, one that you would shoot from a bow. It’s some sort of war summons, and Théoden looks at it with all the required gravitas. So…it’s a big deal. But what does it mean, exactly?

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Hey, it’s another cliffhanger to hold over until tomorrow!

No one dies today.

“‘The Red Arrow!’ said Théoden, holding it, as one who receives a summons long expected and yet dreadful when it comes. His hand…”

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Thus comes the last page that I can imagine might also be the number of an airplane model.

I've been doing this for a while.

I’ve been doing this for a while.

Merry asks a question about the Paths of the Dead. He has no idea what they are, but he sure has been hearing a lot about them. After some shuffling, Théoden responds that no one truly knows what they are. They were discovered when his ancestors moved from the north to Rohan in years past. They have always felt evil, and rumor has it that ghosts stray out of the doorway to haunt the valley when trouble is brewing. Merry asks why Aragorn may have gone to such a place. The thought is that no one living can know why. Éowyn noticed a change in him, and perhaps he felt called by death.

First Mentions:

-Baldor: Eldest son of Brego, second king of Rohan. Lost when attempting to take the Paths of the Dead. His was the body that Aragorn supposedly stumbled upon in the caverns.

So, mythologically speaking, the people of Rohan arrived after the Paths of the Dead had turned to evil, and they simply accept that they have always been that way. Since it was too foreboding to try and figure out the reason, they decided that they were better off not knowing what lurked there. Baldor tried, and he never came back, so their fears were basically affirmed.

Personally, I disagree that that’s the proper way to go about believing in something. The Paths of the Dead have clearly been oozing fear for a long time. But…no one knows or cares why, and they’re too afraid to find out. That’s like believing in a vengeful and evil god. What’s the point, then?

Unless it's Cthulu, of course.

Unless it’s Cthulu, of course.

If something is so terribly evil, shouldn’t it be worth getting rid of, or forgetting entirely? Don’t dwell on this, Rohan!

Anyway, Aragorn went there, so naturally all that anyone can assume is that he’s found a horrible end. It’s pessimism at its finest. They don’t even think that he had any sort of good reason to go in there! Sure, he’s a kingly man of destiny and all (they say that, in fact), but they can’t get over his inevitable death. That’s not a place to be in before riding to the great war of this time.

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I don’t like pessimism. It’s a general rule.

No one dies today.

“‘On the threshold…'”

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As I had predicted yesterday, Théoden catches Éowyn trying to hide her despair at Aragorn’s leaving. There isn’t much more to say about it, except that no one really wanted him to try his luck at the Paths of the Dead, and they must all alter their expectations of success if he is indeed lost.

Through all of this, Merry is confused. He doesn’t fully understand where Aragorn has gone, but he does know that all his friends have left him. I hadn’t even thought of this yet, but Merry is all alone, left without any single person that he set out on this journey with. He sits alone in his personal tent thinking about what will become of everyone when he suddenly feels hungry.

Merry is a lonely, hungry puppy.

Merry is a lonely, hungry puppy.

Before he can find food on his own, Merry is summoned to the king’s pavilion. For dinner! How convenient. Théoden invites Merry to sit at his side and tell tales to lighten the mood. However, as the page is ending, it appears that Merry has more inquisitive and foreboding ideas.

Did I not say that Éowyn’s “nothing is wrong” ruse was easy to see through? It was. In effect, her obviousness has made things worse, as it got Merry thinking about what horrible things his friends have gotten themselves into. Now, when he’s supposed to be lightening the air, he’s set instead to ruin it all with his brooding thoughts. Éowyn put this in motion by showing up in a bad mood. Kind of a buzzkill.

It's like going to hang out with your dad, but then realizing that he's Tony Romo.

It’s like going to hang out with your dad, but then realizing that he’s Tony Romo.

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As for Merry’s intentions, we’ll have to wait and see what he asks tomorrow. See how this works? There’s always something to lead us into the next day. It’s as if someone is hanging off of a cliff, but you don’t know what will happen!

No one dies today.

“There was indeed little speech, and they ate and drank for the most part in silence, until at last, plucking up courage, Merry asked the question that was tormenting him.”

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