Posts Tagged ‘Ents’

Why, raise the proletariat, of course.

This seems impractical.

This seems impractical.

Merry proposes the idea that they raise an alarm to urge hobbits into action. It’s clear that many don’t like this new regime, but they’re too afraid to do anything about it. They need leadership and coordination, which are the exact sorts of things that these four hobbits learned in their travels. Sam makes to ride off to the Cotton farm, while Merry blows the horn given to him from Rohan. Its call is answered by others from around the Shire.

Sam arrives at the Cotton household, and is met by the family. At first they prepare to defend themselves, but then see that Sam is no threat.

Unity for the hobbits! Instead of being a scattered, insular, yet peaceful people, perhaps they have it in them to organize and enact change. There might be some inherent political message here, but I’ve never thought of this book as one that has heavy-handed themes. In fact, I’ve heard that the only message Tolkien ever acknowledged is the theme of deforestation evident in the ents’ story. Hard to disprove that one.

Some of these trees were my friends.

Some of these trees were my friends.

Thankfully, the plan is working, and quite immediately. In a way, they’re the Paul Revere of hobbits…

Even though it’s been said that most of the Paul Revere legend is fabricated.

No one dies today.

“‘He’s here and his friends.'”

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So, Treebeard, keeping Saruman? How’s that going? Is he still sulking around? Treebeard? Saruman, is he still all locked up tight? All going well? Treebeard? Hey, answer me. Treebeard? Saruman, Treebeard?!

Everything's fine!

Everything’s fine!

Gandalf is dismayed to learn that Treebeard has let Saruman go free. Treebeard hates to see things caged up, and it seemed like Saruman could do no more harm. Why not let him go? Ah, Gandalf believes that Treebeard has been tricked by Saruman’s voice. It is true, Saruman can do little harm to the world, but having him roaming about at large isn’t exactly the best thing. More to come on that later.

As a matter of fact, this means that the tower of Orthanc will have a new owner. It is Aragorn’s by right, and he is given the keys. He will allow the ents to remain at Isengard and tend their works, so long as Orthanc remains locked and empty.

After the discovery of Saruman’s escape, the rest of this page is just procedural business. I can’t find much interesting to say about that. Saruman’s escape, of course, is mildly important, but there isn’t much note to it quite yet. It’s not surprising that Saruman wriggled out of Treebeard’s grasp. In fact, Treebeard mentions boring Saruman with long stories, and I’m sure that it was during those times that Saruman understood what it was that he would have to say to Treebeard to maneuver his release. Listening is where he can learn Treebeard’s weaknesses.

Drought, fire, parasitic insects.

Drought, fire, parasitic insects.

But hey, it’s page 980! 30 more to go, if my math’s right.

No one dies today.

“‘When this valley is filled there is room and to spare west of the mountains, where once you walked long ago.'”

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What happens when the ents find that they have a new playground? Well, they make it as gardenlike and foresty as they can.

By that I mean that they’ve torn down the ring wall of Isengard, filled in the center with trees, other plants, and a clear lake, and generally made the place friendly again.

It wasn't very friendly before.

It wasn’t very friendly before.

Treebeard greets those assembled, and explains what they’ve been up to since we last saw them. Most importantly, the ents happened upon a force of orcs that had crossed the river and was coming down behind Rohan after being held at the borders of Lórien. The battle was deadly for the hordes, as the ents left few alive. They can be nasty when provoked.

Aragorn (Hey! He’s still here!) thanks Treebeard for all that the ents have done. Amazingly, Treebeard already knows of the victory in the south, and welcomes the new age.

Now that I have my answer, I still wonder what this journey holds for Aragorn. He’s not going anywhere of use to him, unless he’s just taking that opportunity like I mentioned yesterday to make a last tour of people and places. Unfortunately, I don’t find that to be a very good motivating force. Well, he’s the king. He does get to do what he wants.

Among other news, Isengard has been renamed. It is now the Treegarth of Orthanc.

Party on, Treegarth.

Party on, Treegarth.

Orthanc, of course, is the name of the tower, and it was built long before Saruman ever took up residence there. It can remain as an ancient structure devoid of his evil.

But get ready, guys.

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I think that’s Treebeard partially translating the name for orcs into the Common Tongue, though he stops because it gets to be too long. What’s more fun is that those last two terms occur in succession, so there’s literally one and a half lines of PURE BLOOD RED UNDERLINE PANIC supplied by my computer. It’s just absurd. Treebeard has given us the best fake words.

No one dies today.

“‘The New Age begins,’ said Gandalf, ‘and in this age it may well prove that the kingdoms of Men shall outlast you, Fangorn my friend.'”

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Onward, bacchae, onward!

All obscure Greek tragedy references aside, that’s really what happens today.

That man in red is wearing turquoise contact lenses.

That man in red is wearing turquoise contact lenses.

By that, I mean that the feast ends. Revelry continues somewhat, but those that have traveled to Rohan start preparing to make their way home or onward in their journey. Arwen shares a private moment with Elrond, in what becomes their final meeting. Éomer and Éowyn gift Merry an ancient horn brought to Rohan by Eorl long ago. It is the only gift they feel fit to give him, and that he also will not refuse. It’s quite the treasure.

With that, those traveling northward set off. They arrive at Helm’s Deep after some time, and Legolas makes good on his promise to visit the caves there with Gimli. He notes that the agreement must be made whole with a walk in Fangorn, and they travel northward still towards Isengard, where the ents still hold fast.

First Mentions:

-Scatha the Worm: A great dragon of the north, killed by ancestors of Eorl before he led them all south to found Rohan.

One item troubles me here: have we seen the last of Aragorn? If they have left Edoras and traveled north to Helm’s Deep and Isengard, did he accompany everyone or return to Minas Tirith? Gondor is in the opposite direction, so it wouldn’t make much sense for him to keep riding north. Unfortunately, not much is said on this front, though it wouldn’t make sense for Arwen to say goodbye to Elrond and then still ride alongside him for some way. It’s awkward when you do something like that. We have joked about that as a society for a while now.

Socially Awkward Penguin understands this phenomenon.

Socially Awkward Penguin understands this phenomenon.

Anyway, the narrative is jumping ahead quickly now. Three settings on one page! I feel like we’re getting that last tour of characters important to the story. In some ways, it’s a lot like David Tennant’s last episode of Doctor Who, but I didn’t like that, so I try not to mention it.

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I’m excited to see what Treebeard has to say, because he holds the keys to the last little bit of plot we have left.

No one dies today.

“All the stone-circle had been thrown down and removed, and the land within was made into a garden filled with orchards and trees, and a stream ran through it; but in the midst of all there was a lake of clear water, and out of it the…”

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Believe it or not, this entire stay at Isengard is only lasting a total of a few hours. It’s time to go now. With Merry and Pippin saddled up behind Gandalf and Aragorn, respectively, the column rides off again. Ents line up at the ruins of the gate, wishing them well on their way.

That might look something like this.

That might look something like this.

It’s not long before Merry is being a petulant child in the backseat. He asks Gandalf how long they plan to ride tonight, more or less the “Are we there yet?” of Middle-earth. Gandalf dodges the question, instead informing Merry that Saruman probably is most confused about the two hobbits at his doorstep. How did they come there, and were they the ones that he tried to capture?

But…Gandalf dodged the question. Merry reminds him about that.

You can’t get anything past a hobbit! Gandalf laughs off Merry’s remark, but still doesn’t get around to answering. Tomorrow, maybe? I hate to say it, but Saruman’s assessment that Gandalf might be trying to control the world could have some bearing if he starts jerking poor Merry around like this.

Who am I kidding? No, he’s not becoming evil and horrible. But he does need to start answering some questions here.

Is this a band name? I want it to be a band name.

Is this a band name? I want it to be a band name.

It’s worth a mention that the ents have thrown down the large sculpture of a white hand that sat outside Isengard. One of its fingers is broken off and lays in the middle of the road. More importantly, which way is it pointing? These are important context clues for the average traveler. Were I to come across this finger in the road, I would take a great deal of information from its position.

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We’ll talk about that soon, I presume.

“‘I beg your pardon. But I have…'”

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With only a few short paragraphs today, we end the chapter.

Gandalf worries that Saruman may have underground ways of escaping Orthanc. Now that the water has fallen, those could be open again.

I'd feel conflicted if this were Saruman instead.

I’d feel conflicted if this were Saruman instead.

With added assurance from Treebeard that the ents will be vigilant, Gandalf must be satisfied. Treebeard plans on bringing many trees to live at Isengard once again, and they will watch over the land.

First Mentions:

-the Watchwood: The planned forest of Isengard. Does it count as a mention even in the hypothetical future sense? Sure, because I miss all the First Mentions we used to have.

By the way, the trees will act as sentinels for seven times the number of years that Saruman ravaged their kin. How many years is that, anyway, and why stop then? Clearly, Saruman just has to wait it out.

Does he have the food to make it? I hope so, for his sake, but I hope not, for the sake of Middle-earth.

Meanwhile, the trees will even report the movements of squirrels.

They're massing for attack!

They’re massing for attack!

Necessary? Sure.

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When do we get back to Frodo and Sam? Not yet, anyway.

“‘Until seven times the years in which he tormented us have passed, we shall not tire of watching him.'”

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Now, with the business at Isengard drawing to a close, Treebeard must face his toughest task yet…

Saying goodbye to his new friends!

As pictured: hanging out.

As pictured: hanging out.

Gandalf informs Treebeard that he will take Merry and Pippin with him. This saddens Treebeard, who has grown very fond of the two. He even believes that they have made him feel younger. Normally, he wouldn’t be this hasty to make close friends. However, he hopes to see them again should everyone come out of this conflict alive. And, most importantly, he implores them to be vigilant for any sign of the entwives in the Shire. Should they see any, send word immediately!

As one final item of business, Gandalf also makes sure that the ents plan to guard Saruman within Orthanc. Treebeard says that this was the plan anyway, which makes Gandalf feel a whole lot better.

Here’s one thing: are hobbits actually that charming that an ent will forget his caution, or are we over-hyping them? I really want to say that hobbits are just that cool. I really do. But, isn’t it a little presumptuous to believe that their presence could override several ages of conditioning that taught Treebeard not to be hasty? It’s more than just a saying: it’s his way of life.

True facts and questions, brought to you by the fact that I’m reading this just so darn closely.

Albeit with less cuteness.

Albeit with less cuteness.

On a side note, Treebeard has found time to add a verse in his old list of creatures for hobbits! Remember how he didn’t know what Merry and Pippin were at first, because his list didn’t include such things? Now it does! It’s like he’s finally turned that stub of a Wikipedia article into a full-blown page. Here’s to hoping the trolls don’t mess with it.

And, literally, I mean trolls.

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I’m getting better at not typing “Huron” first.

“‘This is what I hoped. Now I can go and…'”

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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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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.



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…

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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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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.



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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