Archive for the ‘7 – The Pyre of Denethor’ Category

Let’s split up, gang! Gandalf bids Pippin to come with him to the gate, while Beregond should go back to the Citadel to explain the situation to his captain. Gandalf fully expects Beregond to be relieved of his duties, but he hopes that he will be allowed to guard Faramir as he recovers. Beregond did save his life, after all. Rains come to douse the fires of Minas Tirith.

Rain: sometimes a good thing.

Rain: sometimes a good thing.

Remember, we saw this rain from the other side. In fact, we’ve seen most of these big events now from two perspectives. This is the first time that I can think of when we’re looking at the same event from multiple angles. Usually, we’ll stick with one person, getting that character’s version of things, and a lot will happen off screen, so to say. This battle is big enough that we have to jump around within it, catching the same events a few times around.

And like I said yesterday, this is the end of the chapter. Only about 7 and a half pages total! That might be the shortest we’ve had.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 48

No one dies today.

“And even as they hastened on their way the wind brought a grey rain, and all the fires sank, and there arose a great smoke before them.”

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Let’s sync this sucker up. The terrible scream heard is the death wail of the Witch-king rising up from the battlefield. Gandalf takes a moment apart from Pippin and Beregond, looking out over the fields. Apparently, he can see far out to know exactly who has fallen, and returns to them (having deposited Faramir) in grave sadness. Though a great evil is dead, more death has befallen the forces of good than Gandalf had hoped. If not for Denethor’s madness, he could have prevented some of this.

So, yeah...

So, yeah…

Meanwhile, Gandalf explains that he knew, somewhat, that Denethor possessed a palantír. The Stewards thought it to be hidden, but it was all too obvious. Even Beregond and the other guards noted strange lights coming from Denethor’s chamber, and Pippin noted his mood swings whenever he would go away.

Suffice it to say, though perhaps Denethor was at one time a very wise man, he wasn’t very smart by the end, as Sauron playing with his mind made him worry constantly. Of course, some visions in the stone would be helpful, but that only served to make Denethor more obedient to it. His chief worry was always over the growing army that was set against him. Sauron ate his mind using that.



Mostly, this page is just a lot of Gandalf-being-stoic time. It’s also the second to last page of this chapter, which makes this the second rather short chapter in a row. We’re moving!

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 49

“‘But we have seen that light before, and it has long been rumoured in the City that the Lord would at times wrestle in thought with his Enemy.'”

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Moving on…

Denethor isn’t around to berate anymore, which makes things a lot easier. We can all get behind each other now!

Not that the servants are entirely okay with all this. They’re standing in shock. As Gandalf and Beregond carrying Faramir out (Pippin follows), the dome of the House of the Stewards collapses in flame and ruin. Denethor’s last hurrah.



Our heroes rush Faramir off to the Houses of Healing, but not before Beregond stops to express remorse over the gatekeeper he slew in order to get into the tombs. As they reach the Houses, a dreadful cry is heard from the battlefield.

First Mentions:

-the Houses of Healing: Proto-hospital buildings in Minas Tirith. The only women allowed to remain during the war are workers here.

The simple existence of the Houses of Healing tells us a bit about Minas Tirith’s structure. Remember, “Minas Tirith” means “Tower of Guard”. They have, more or less, been at some kind of war for many years, defending the west against Mordor and other wild men. Though the Houses of Healing deal with both sickness and injury, it’s no surprise that Gondor is the most advanced kingdom medically. They’ve had to use it constantly since their inception, and now they have a full-on triage center ready for casualties from this great battle.

Hopefully staffed by this bunch.

Hopefully staffed by this bunch.

Also worth noting is that Faramir is the new Steward of Gondor! It’s kind of meaningless, since Aragorn is arriving and Faramir’s unconscious and on the threshold of death anyway, but it’s good to know. Meanwhile, there’s a line of succession, as Imrahil will act as ruler (not that he knows Denethor is dead) for now. Newt Gingrich is next in line after him.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 50

No one dies today.

“So terrible was the cry that…”

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Ugh. Nothing makes me want to write less than…writing. I have a new job where I’m writing most of the day, and when I take a break to get to this, well… At least I don’t want to set myself on fire.

Shame does that.

Shame does that.

Yeah, maybe you guessed it: Denethor sets himself on fire. He grabs a torch from one of the servants who steps forward to prove his loyalty. Denethor lights himself up on the table, clutching the palantír. The door shuts as Denethor screams, and Gandalf and the other men can only sit in silence.

It is said that Denethor’s palantír now only shows an image of burning hands. Creepy.

Although, who else is using these things? Sauron is, we know that, but Saruman isn’t anymore. The others? They’re lost. So, Sauron can only see burning hands. But he likes burning. Perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing.

I can use this!

I can use this!

And even though that servant (along with another) stepped forward, everyone truly understands Denethor’s madness now. I don’t know what they expected, but when you see a man burn himself alive, you have to know that something’s up. Now it’s time to follow someone else.

How convenient that Aragorn is arriving, possibly right at this moment!

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:



Just proof that Denethor’s high-falutin’ language is all made up. His points don’t matter.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 51

“Then he turned to Beregond and the Lord’s servants that stood there aghast.”

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I just spent my entire day typing. So, naturally, let’s type some more!

Today, Denethor truly breaks.

And hey, fire!

And hey, fire!

He suddenly speaks in a very high tone, berating Gandalf for thinking that there is any hope left. He runs back to the table, and grabs his pillow. Within it is hidden a palantír. As he holds it, a fire glows inside it. Denethor says that he has seen the full power of Sauron, from the growing east to the black sails floating up Anduin. He can also foresee Gandalf’s desires, to supplant him and install Aragorn as a king working fully under Gandalf’s counsel.

Of course, because this all must be a conspiracy to gain power! Such is the plight of the cowardly ruler. Everyone must be against them. If everyone has terrible counsel, I’m not sure where Denethor expects to turn, with Minas Tirith at siege around him. He’s going full selfish. You never go full selfish.

Meanwhile, we already know that the black sails coming up the river aren’t to be feared at all! I’m sure that this has been set in this order to fully show Denethor’s madness. He sees something that looks bad and has absolutely no room for optimism. Although, since those black sails officially belong to Aragorn, even his arrival would be taken poorly by Denethor. You can’t do anything right.

Denethor is Middle-earth's Derek Zoolander.

Denethor is Middle-earth’s Derek Zoolander.

Don’t even get me started on Denethor’s holier-than-thou speech. All of his “thees” and “thous” and “wouldsts” just serve to make him look like a buffoon. SPOILER: he is a buffoon.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 52

No one dies today.

“‘But I say to thee, Gandalf Mithrandir, I will not be thy tool! I…'”

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For all that’s said about Gandalf never using his magical powers, when he does decide to, it becomes an incredibly stronger moment. In this case, it’s almost purely for intimidation purposes. And, boy, does it work!

But it's not THIS type of magic.

But it’s not THIS type of magic.

When Denethor bursts out of the tomb threatening to kill Beregond himself, Gandalf uses the opportunity to push himself into the room. He finds Faramir resting on a table, covered in oil, and surrounded by kindling. He then shocks Denethor by jumping straight up on the table (Gandalf is very old, remember), and a light bursts from him, even through his grey cloak. It isn’t until Gandalf, Beregond, and Pippin are carrying Faramir out that Denethor comes to his senses. He hears Faramir call to him in his fever dream. I can’t tell if that’s a good thing or not.

What I mean is that either Denethor is going to take this as a “He wants me!” sign, and further push his case, or Gandalf will just use it to show that Faramir isn’t dead yet. It does seem to be leaning that way, as Gandalf strongly suggests that Denethor go out to the battle, while Faramir must be rushed to the healers. Ha. Just picture Denethor on the battlefield.

Come at me, bro.

Come at me, bro.

Not only would Denethor making an appearance in the battle possibly give a morale boost to the men (But could they get any more boost than the one just given by Rohan?), but I’m pretty sure that Gandalf does want Denethor to go and find his death on the battlefield. It’s more honorable, at least, than burning yourself and your still-living son.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 53

No one dies today.

“‘Battle is vain. Why…'”

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So Gandalf and Pippin ride from the battle up to where Denethor is holed up. Beregond has left his post (Huzzah for him!), and the guard at the door to the tombs has been killed. As Gandalf and Pippin walk down the road, they hear a scuffle of arms break out. As they arrive, they see Beregond holding the door against the servants bearing wood and oil.

You make that stand, Beregond!

He's been working hard.

He’s been working hard.

This implies that Beregond was the one who killed the guard, and he’s already taken down two of the servants. I have to admit, I didn’t expect this from him. Not just the willingness to leave his post, but the violence as well. Instead of trying to reason with anyone, he’s just going for it. All that time earlier that he made a big fuss over how much Faramir was a leader to be loved? Beregond is proving it now.

On another note, where does Beregond rank in this hierarchy? He seems to be a pretty powerful guy. Wouldn’t you think that his authority could possibly overrule the servants who are just going about their orders? Sure, the orders are from Denethor himself, but can’t they see the madness of them? If Beregond arrives and shows that something very wrong is going on, it shouldn’t take that much effort to change their minds.

But apparently not, since the servants are more than willing to attack Beregond.

Now, that's just immature.

Now, that’s just immature.

True though, men in Minas Tirith have been hesitant to listen to Gandalf as well. No one here may have the ability to reach these guys. Sheeple!

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 54

“Even as Gandalf and Pippin ran forward, they heard from within…”

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