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Archive for the ‘6 – The Battle of the Pelennor Fields’ Category

This is one of those nights where I’m sitting here, all ready to knock out a quick blog post about the end of a chapter, and then I’m like, “SHOOT. SONG TODAY. AND A COMPLICATED PAGE. THIS IS THE WORST.”

Just the absolute wurst.

Just the absolute wurst.

Suffice it to say that the summary of the page is actually quite easy. Aragorn, Éomer, and Imrahil lead the men back to Minas Tirith, where they can celebrate a victory, though at great cost. A song forever memorializes the fallen.

First Mentions:

-Grimslade: The town in Rohan where Grimbold hailed from. He did not survive the battle.

-the Mounds of Mundburg: Burial mounds for all those slain in this battle. Mundburg, if you remember, is the name in the language of Rohan for Minas Tirith.

-Harding: Man of Rohan. Did not survive. Unknown otherwise.

-Herefara: Also from Rohan. Did not survive.

-Herubrand: Same as above. Why are they even in the song?

-Horn: Still the same.

-Fastred: ONCE AGAIN. These guys have the unfortunate status as filler in the song.

There are a lot of other terms that just end up being shortened names or nicknames for things we already know. Stoningland for Gondor, Arnach for Lossarnach, et cetera. I’m very glad I don’t have to go and list each of them.

Though I just talked about them…so what’s the gain, really?

Not much plot, again, so let’s song it up!

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

I’ve really fallen out of practice with these things. We had chapters in the beginning that were delivering songs every week or two, and sometimes songs that went on for two or three days! Now, this is only the 13th day of song since starting Two Towers. There were 46 days of song in Fellowship!

“We heard of the horns in the hills ringing,

the swords shining in the South-kingdom.

Steeds went striding to the Stoningland

as wind in the morning. War was kindled.

There Théoden fell, Thengling mighty,

to his golden halls and green pastures

in the Northern fields never returning,

high lord of the host. Harding and Guthláf,

Dúnhere and Déorwine, doughty Grimbold,

Herefara and Herubrand, Horn and Fastred,

fought and fell there in a far country:

in the Mounds of Mundburg under mould they lie

with their league-fellows, lords of Gondor.

Neither Hirluin the Fair to the hills by the sea,

nor Forlong the old to the flowering vales

ever, to Arnach, to his own country

returned in triumph; nor the tall bowmen,

Derufin and Duilin, to their dark waters,

meres of Morthond under mountain-shadows.

Death in the morning and at day’s ending

lords took and lowly. Long now they sleep

under grass in Gondor by the Great River.

Grey now as tears, gleaming silver,

red then it rolled, roaring water:

foam dyed with blood flamed at sunset;

as beacons mountains burned at evening;

red fell the dew in Rammas Echor.”

Somber and tired, I present:

Skinny Loss

(Skinny Love – Bon Iver)

Blerg. A depressing song doesn’t make for a good end to your night, especially when you’re trying to rush to get to bed at a reasonable time. Not that I’m good at that. In fact, I’m terrible at getting to bed at a reasonable time, but I really wanted to tonight!

On its way.

On its way.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Grimslade

Stoningland

Thengling

Herefara

Herubrand

Fastred

Arnach

This chapter really just ends with the song. No other narrative. On to the next!

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 56

Grey now as tears, gleaming silver, red then it rolled, roaring water: foam dyed with blood flamed at sunset; as beacons mountains burned at evening; red fell the dew in Rammas Echor.

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And the rout is on.

Poor Georgia State.

Poor Georgia State.

With Imrahil leading one charge, Éomer another, and Aragorn leading his force off the boats, the orcs and men caught in the middle don’t stand much of a chance. Aragorn meets Éomer in the middle, happy as they can be in the heat of battle. Éomer mentions the losses of Rohan, but Aragorn encourages him to avenge his pain for now, and they can talk when the fighting is done.

The battle rages on for the rest of the day, until sunset brings a red glow to everything strewn on the fields. All foes are either slain or fled.

I noticed that, in the rundown of forces rallying from the boats (which includes men from the regions that Aragorn undoubtedly saved from the corsairs), no ghosts are mentioned. So, apparently, even though a large part of his reason for journeying through the Paths of the Dead was to gain a risky strike force, they aren’t the reason that he turned the battle. Perhaps they were spent and released after attacking the corsair fleet. I expect that this will be touched on at some point, but it’s such a large part of the movie that Aragorn arrives with an undead menace. Again, it’s been a really, really long time since I read through this text. Are they really that unimportant in the long run?

Don't hurt their feelings!

Don’t hurt their feelings!

Unrelated, but I love the visual at the end of the page when the battle is finished. Red light touches everything, though it sounds like a lot of things are red anyway. Yeah, blood. I mean blood. It’s also another moment where the red sun marks death. That’s an important symbol in Middle-earth.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 57

“Few ever came eastward to Morgul or Mordor; and to the land of the Haradrim came only a tale from far off: a rumour of the wrath and terror of Gondor.”

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I’m really glad that the text doesn’t beat around the bush in revealing the ships. Sure, when you’re reading this thing one page at a time, it feels slow, but your average reader blows through this moment in a few minutes, and maybe the whole chapter (and some more) in less than an hour. There isn’t much room for suspense unless you’re some idiot like me.

Why, thank you!

Why, thank you!

Yes, as Éomer gathers his men on a hill for their last stand, he sees a standard unfurl from the lead ship. It’s the White Tree, classic banner of Gondor. Not only that, but it bears the crown of the line of kings. Aragorn has arrived. Men from the field and Minas Tirith alike cry aloud in joy.

BOOM. Instant morale. While Gondor has been floundering in the absence of any sort of real leadership, Aragorn can fill that role. It’s important that Denethor has already fallen into madness (though still, technically, leads Gondor), and has left a gaping hole at the top of the food chain. Imrahil has been doing his best, but in a land where right-of-rule matters so much that even Denethor feels degraded as only a Steward, Imrahil is never going to be heralded as the true ruler.

To be fair, Gandalf has even done his best as the de facto leader, but some men won’t accept him in that role.

It’s good to be the king.

Unless you're Joffrey.

Unless you’re Joffrey.

Note that this banner is what Arwen had made for Aragorn. Halbarad brought it to him, but we never saw it. No better time than now to see it unfurled and blowing in the breeze. It must be huge to be seen at still quite a distance!

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-enheartened

I’m skeptical about that one.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 58

No one dies today.

“But the hosts of Mordor were seized with bewilderment, and a great wizardry it…”

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This is a complicated page! Forces are marching, fighting, arriving, coming, going…there’s a lot to cover. In a nutshell, though, when I said yesterday that it feels like something bad has to happen soon, I was right. It does.

It was only a matter of time.

It was only a matter of time.

Let’s just go through what happens and who goes where.

Men of Gondor (led by Imrahil) ride to the aid of Éomer. They fight against the Haradrim, but have no hope against the towering oliphaunts. To make matters worse, more men and orcs are sent from Osgiliath. A new captain, though not as terrifying as the Witch-king, rules the forces of evil. He has less restraint.

Meanwhile, the men still in Minas Tirith see black ships arriving at the docks on Anduin.

First Mentions:

-Húrin the Tall: Leader of a force from Minas Tirith. Has some position as the “Warden of the Keys”. That sounds semi-important.

-Gothmog: Lieutenant of the forces of evil, now in charge. He’s that deformed pink dude in the movie.

-Variags: Men from the southeast. Allied with Mordor. Vague Variags!

-Khand: Land from which the Variags hail. Somehow similar to Rohan.

And that felt like a lot of new stuff! None of these people (or that one place) are horribly important, though it’s just another example of how detailed this world is. So detailed, in fact, that we can trace ages back to see that Húrin the Tall was named after Húrin, one of the legendary men of old. We call today’s Húrin “the Tall” because the other Húrin is definitely the better one. Tolkien wrote a whole separate book about him!

And it looks surprisingly Greek.

And it looks surprisingly Greek.

Of course, if you’ve seen the movie, you have no fear about these ships rolling in. It only makes sense that every man in Minas Tirith assumes the worst, and that every town down Anduin to the sea must have fallen to the pirates. Let’s watch what happens.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-succour

-Gothmog

-Variags

-Khand

-dromunds

Sorry if I spoiled anything.

No I’m not.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 59

No one dies today.

“‘Come back to the City before all are over-…'”

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Brief aside to explain what happened to the bodies of both Snowmane and the fell beast. Snowmane gets a burial mound, and the beast gets burned. In true “this thing is evil” fashion, the ground where the beast was consumed remains black and barren afterwards.

Middle-earth needs some landscapers.

Middle-earth needs some landscapers.

At present, Merry is walking with the men back towards Minas Tirith as they bear Théoden and Éowyn. They are met by Prince Imrahil, leading the charge of Gondor. He observes their burdens, and pays his respects to Théoden. However, he notes that Éowyn shows faint signs of life. The men rush to bring her to some aid while the battle continues behind them.

First Mentions:

-Lightfoot: Snowmane’s father. When you’re the royal horse of Rohan, you get an epitaph on your grave mentioning your father. The epitaph does not mention Valentine or Paul Revere, who were clearly also important.

-Snowmane’s Howe: When you’re the royal horse of Rohan, even your burial mound gets a name!

Of course, considering that the worst wound suffered by Éowyn was a broken arm (at least that was mentioned), it’s no surprise that she’s alive. Few people saw her battle with the Witch-king, and all they saw was her laying motionless on the ground. Assume death! Éomer was too wrought with emotion to check her clearly, and it takes someone of authority like Imrahil to convince the men that she’s not dead yet. Gosh! That’s the second time in this battle that someone has been mistaken for dead and brought to Minas Tirith! Perhaps they’ll meet each other and fall in love!

Spoiler alert: they do.

Spoiler alert: they do.

Unrelated to anything, it starts raining, which quenches the fires burning in and around the city. Convenient! It’s starting to feel like this battle is needing to hit another turning point soon. Things are going…too well.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 60

No one dies today.

“Horns were blown and trumpets were braying, and the mûmakil were bellowing as they were goaded to war. Under…”

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Though Théoden died without knowledge of Éowyn’s actions, her brother is not so lucky. Éomer surveys the fallen, and sees Éowyn lying among them. After she threw down the Witch-king, she collapsed, and it looks like she is dead as well. Cue fury.

ÉOMER SMASH.

ÉOMER SMASH.

Éomer immediately rallies the Rohirrim for battle once again, and leads them screaming into a charge. A few men remain behind to tend to the king’s body. Merry still stands alone, seemingly unnoticed. He watches Théoden and Éowyn be carried away.

Looking at his sword, Merry sees it burn up. Though it was strangely crafted by the ancient men who once warred with the Witch-king’s realm of Angmar, the blade cannot handle the evil energy released by his death.

First Mentions:

-Déorwine: Chief of the household guard of Théoden, which seems kind of complicated. He’s dead already, so there’s that.

I’m always confused by the nature of the Barrow-blade, and reading this description (probably as detailed as the narrative goes into it) doesn’t answer a lot of my questions. So, was there a spell laid on the blade, or was it just happy coincidence that this blade, forged to combat Angmar, happened to throw down its lord? Was it truly Merry that slew the Witch-king? If he had not stabbed the Witch-king in the leg, and Éowyn still stuck a sword through his face, would he have survived? Dangerous times we would have had, but we don’t have to deal with them.

Thanks, traffic cone!

Thanks, traffic cone!

Strangely enough, Merry’s ambiguous state reminded me of…the ring! He’s in the middle of everything, wandering around the very site where the king of Rohan was slain, and nobody notices him. What’s hiding him here? What black magic is this?

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Déorwine

Day, or wine? Day wine? Sure! Why not have both?

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 61

No one dies today.

“But the men of the king’s household they could not yet bring from the field; for seven of the king’s knights had fallen there, and Déorwine their chief was among…”

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Today is a day of sadness. Not, like, really awful painful sadness, just that dull sadness that kind of sticks with you and makes you not want to do anything. I’m going to solve this sadness with a cookie.

Please enjoy this representational image of my current actions.

Please enjoy this representational image of my current actions.

There. That feels a little better.

And yes, there is more sadness to the world than just college football and the fact that it’s raining like crazy here right now. There’s sadness in Lord of the Rings, and that’s the point of this all anyway.

Merry’s time for mourning over Théoden must be cut short. This battle is still going on, by the way, and he’s right in the middle of where a new clash will be joined. Éomer rides up, having recollected the scattered horsemen, and stops to do his own mourning. Théoden manages consciousness for long enough to indicate that Éomer will be the next king before passing away, never knowing that it truly was Éowyn who defended him.

Meanwhile, a charge is coming from another force of Haradrim, and a vanguard has received enough space to issue an attack from Minas Tirith itself.

So yes, today, page 843, marks the death of Théoden, great king of Rohan. Guthláf, his standard-bearer, is also noted to have fallen, bringing him to the wholly expected end of one who was named ever so briefly before the great battle.

433-843

433-843

The page also serves to snap us back to the war, as there’s still a lot to be done. This can only be a brief break. In fact, the narration makes the point that, even though these last few moments have felt long and pressure-packed, they still have only truly been a few moments. Life (and, in this case, war) goes on undaunted.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-carcase

We’re already thinking of Théoden as a carcass? That was fast.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 62

War now calls us!

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If you’re at all familiar with this scene in the movie, I hardly have to describe anything; it’s a very true adaptation. The beast (I disdain that there is no official name for these things) lunges at Éowyn, and she cuts off its head in one fell swoop. The Witch-king advances with his mace, striking a blow that shatters Éowyn’s shield and her arm. As he moves in for the kill, Merry stabs him in the back of the leg, giving Éowyn just enough of a window to stick her sword in his face.

Oh, dear.

Oh, dear.

Éowyn collapses, the Witch-king’s empty robes crumpled beneath her. Merry stands dumbfounded. He moves to Théoden, broken under his horse. As Merry weeps and mourns the king, Théoden opens his eyes, and confirms that he is not at all upset that Merry broke his orders.

Such an important moment in the book, and it’s over instantly. Perhaps that’s the power of it, that such a great evil can fall so simply and quickly. Once the realization is made that Éowyn, as “no living man,” can destroy the Witch-king, the board is set. However, if it weren’t for Merry, she’d be dead under the power of the great black mace. (Also, that mace is on-point in the film.)

It’s a moment that probably feels like an eternity to the characters involved, but really takes no more than a minute or two.

Time flies when you're having fun!

Time flies when you’re having fun!

Lost among the madness is Merry. Here he is, small and alone, and he stands unhurt in the middle of this chaos.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 63

“‘Grieve not! It is forgiven. Great heart will…'”

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This is a standoff, and for the first time, an evil power doesn’t know what to do.

Cue tumbleweed.

Cue tumbleweed.

While Merry listens with his eyes closed, Dernhelm Éowyn confronts the Witch-king. His will is bent on Théoden, but he she stands in his way. Upon the Witch-king’s assertion that no man can stop him, Éowyn reveals herself. Even within his malice, the Witch-king gives pause.

In this moment, Merry opens his eyes, the fear receding. He sees the Witch-king’s beastly steed in front of him, with the Ringwraith’s back to him on the ground. He crawls slowly, courage welling in him to give Éowyn whatever kind of aid he may be capable of giving.

So, the cat’s out of the bag, and I can stop using the strikethrough. YES, IT’S BEEN ÉOWYN ALL ALONG. Don’t be surprised.

There are other things to worry about.

There are other things to worry about.

Here’s a spot where destiny’s role in this world takes center stage. Even in all his power, the Witch-king understands the gravity of his situation. With Éowyn no man in front of him, he realizes that his time may have come. Minas Tirith gave him no qualms. Even Gandalf, the great, powerful, and reincarnated, didn’t stop the Witch-king from marching in. Éowyn is different, and he knows this. Fate is a power greater than his own.

Speaking of different, she’s the one of only two female role models in this story. I’m giving Galadriel the benefit of the doubt.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-dwimmerlaik

I thoroughly endorse any use of the word “dwimmerlaik” forever and always.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 64

No one dies today.

“Again it leaped into the air, and then swiftly fell down upon Éowyn, shrieking, striking with beak and claw.”

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That was fast.

As quickly as the Haradrim try to turn the tide of the battle, Théoden stomps them. That would all be well and good, if it weren’t for that pesky Witch-king who vanished at the gate. A shadows falls over the area around Théoden, sending his men and horses into madness. Down comes the foulest dragon-bird-steed thing ever.

Basically.

Basically.

Even Snowmane rages. Théoden can’t control his own steed any longer, and he’s trapped beneath the falling horse. All seems lost, and most men have fled. One person remains…well, two. One is Dernhelm Éowyn, along with Merry, though he’s dazed after being thrown from their horse.

So begins a standoff between the unlikeliest of foes. Once again, no one’s seemed to notice (or cared), that Dernhelm Éowyn broke away from his her company to ride with Théoden. At this point, the battle is so chaotic that it doesn’t matter. For Merry’s part, he’s been kept safe by the simple nature of riding behind someone else. That’s been nice, but his position is much more vulnerable now.

In truth, the fear that the Witch-king inspires is helping Merry right now. Since even orcs are afraid of the evil power, there’s got to be a wide berth forming around this confrontation.

Apt.

Apt.

Also, Merry probably isn’t running for his life simply because he was thrown from the horse. He’s actually too stunned to feel fear. That’s a scary kind of stunned.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-unslain

We’re really gunning down the “un-” prefix. “Unfought” yesterday, and “unslain” today. We have fought and slain them!

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 65

“He dared not open his eyes or look up.”

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