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Posts Tagged ‘Isengard’

Sam’s going off to go grab his father and bring him to safety. Our hobbits are splitting up!

Mitosis of hobbits.

Mitosis of hobbits.

That leaves Frodo and Merry, who listen to Farmer Cotton’s story of how Lotho Sackville-Baggins took control of the Shire.

It began shortly after Frodo and his friends left the Shire, with Lotho now entrenched as the owner of Bag End. He had quite a bit of money inherited from his father’s (Otho Sackville-Baggins) holdings of land in the Southfarthing. Lotho began to buy more property across the Shire, and Hobbiton in particular. He also started shipping goods out of the Shire, notably the pipe-weed. Hobbits started to be bothered by this, but that was when Lotho’s cavalry arrived in the form of the ruffians. They set about making rules and shutting the locals down. When the Mayor of the Shire, Will Whitfoot, had seen too much, he made up his mind to go to Hobbiton and have a talk with Lotho, but he was taken and locked up before he had the chance. Others soon followed him. Things got worse from then on, with Lotho ruling the Shire unchecked.

The structure of today’s page brings back something we haven’t seen in some time: storytelling! In the beginning, this was all over. Gandalf told stories of the earlier ages, and he, Elrond, and others told tales at the Council of Elrond. We got used to hearing stories of previous events in long form. It hasn’t happened so much lately, with little time to sit down and listen.

I got a little tired of the long tales early on, but now I welcome Cotton’s story. Storytelling is the root of all this, of course. Hey, don’t forget that the framing device of the entire novel is that it’s really being written down as Frodo’s memoir. It’s all just one big story-tell!

Did someone say framing device?

Did someone say framing device?

Finally, I want to have a little talk about political-economic themes. Yeah, let’s do that.

Lotho takes over the Shire with a simple act of capitalism. In a sense, he’s an old-money hobbit. He has lands to profit off of from his father, and it sounds like some of those must be some of the most profitable lands a hobbit could have: pipe-weed fields in the Southfarthing. When Saruman comes to power at Isengard, he needs an ally to supply his growing forces. He purchases pipe-weed, among other things, from Lotho, which makes Lotho a lot of money. Lotho then buys more land and goods. Saruman can then buy those goods from Lotho. The cycle continues until Lotho owns most of the Shire, and Saruman has himself a strong foothold there. He can send men to support Lotho when they no longer fit his needs at Isengard.

And so, Lotho buys the Shire. It’s all in the economics.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Thank’ee

Yeah, the very first word of this page betrays us all.

No one dies today.

“‘There wasn’t no smoke left, save for the Men; and the Chief didn’t hold with beer, save for his Men, and closed all the inns; and everything except Rules got shorter and shorter, unless one could hide a bit of one’s own when the ruffians went round gathering stuff…'”

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We arrive in Bywater. I forgot that it was quite close to Hobbiton, so the four hobbits have basically arrived. Unfortunately, things aren’t looking good. Houses that they remember are no more, and look to be burned. Ugly new houses have been built, and a hoard of men awaits their arrival.

Rabble, rabble!

Rabble, rabble!

The men block any progress forward. They laugh at the ineptitude of the absent Shirriffs.

First Mentions:

-the White Downs: A group of hills in the Westfarthing. Just another part of the Shire that we can learn about.

The hobbits note that these men look eerily similar to the one who ratted them out in Bree, as well as some that Merry and Pippin saw at Isengard. There can be no mistaking that these actually are dangerous folk. But…who are they? They bear resemblance to men more than anything, but it was suggested earlier that the man in Bree might have some orc or goblin in him. Is that a normal thing? Either way, this is a certain demographic, and one that Saruman seems to have employed for some time.

D&D has been employing it, too.

D&D has been employing it, too.

These men refer to a mysterious “Sharkey”. Who might that be?

Words My Computer Didn’t Know:

-Sharkey

HINT: If you’ve been following along pretty much at all, you probably know who Sharkey is. That was a question written for mystery, suspense, and intrigue.

No one dies today.

“‘We are not used to footpads in this country, but we know how to deal with them.'”

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What does Bilbo do when he’s done singing? Fall asleep, of course! That’s what Bilbo does now.

Sam offers some quiet criticism of Bilbo while he sleeps, and that perks the old hobbit up to prove that he isn’t asleep quite yet. In fact, he has one last gift: he gives Frodo some notes and his diary, in hopes that he might be able to organize them all together. When next they meet, Frodo can give Bilbo the completed documents.

A glamorous end for Frodo.

A glamorous end for Frodo.

The hobbits and Gandalf set out the next morning. Elrond pulls Frodo aside alone, telling him to look for him and Bilbo in the Shire come fall. This conversation is secret from everyone else.

Why secret? Well, I don’t rightly know. I don’t go around pretending to understand Elrond’s motives. I don’t think I’ve ever tried.

And that’s the end of the chapter! It began in Minas Tirith, brought us to Edoras, Isengard, and Rivendell, and now finally comes to a close. I’m pretty sure that’s the most physical ground we’ve covered in a single chapter so far. Right?

Of course, I guess calling it “physical” ground is sort of a stretch. Fiction…physicality…you know what I mean.

This came up with my search results, so here you go.

This came up with my search results, so here you go.

I think we also learn that Bilbo still isn’t as daft as we might think. I don’t quite think all that sleeping has been fake, but I think he’s taking some tactical naps when he needs to.

Well, maybe I’m giving him too much credit. Perhaps the phrase “tactical naps” is a bit too academic for this discussion. I like the concept of tactical naps, though.

No one dies today.

“These words no one else heard, and Frodo kept them to himself.”

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It just wouldn’t be Saruman without some never-ending quips and threats, which he delivers when he passes by the four hobbits. He asks, somewhat, for some of their pipe-weed, which Merry obliges him, since, after all, it did come from his ruined stores. Saruman takes it, but continues to chide them for stealing his possessions.

So much for Saruman the White.

So much for Saruman the White.

Merry tries to swipe his pouch back (since it wasn’t Saruman’s to begin with), but Saruman just laughs and takes it. He then offers some vague threat about the harvest being poor in the Shire.

This sets the hobbits off, and they wish to head home. Not so, says Frodo, who wants to head to Rivendell and see Bilbo.

First Mentions:

-the Swanfleet: I’m amazed that there’s still a river we haven’t met yet in this region, since it feels like that’s all we talked about the first time through. Well, here’s a river, and swans live on it!

The argument here is that, though Merry and Pippin did in fact “steal” that pipe-weed from Isengard, it was Saruman who had them captured and slogged across the countryside for a few days. Up to that point, Merry and Pippin hadn’t done anything to wrong Saruman, so why should he feel so injured? He started it!

Always a wise defense.

Always a wise defense.

And there’s no doubt that Saruman intends to screw with these hobbits for as long as he can. I don’t know why he directly places so much hate on them. After all, it’s not like they were really driving events against him. Frodo had the ultimate victory, to be sure, but it was never in opposition to Saruman. He really hardly knew of Saruman’s treachery at all. Why so angry, buddy?

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Swanfleet

That would be a great name for an army of beautiful boats, or something…

No one dies today.

“Far to the west in a haze lay the meres and eyots through which it wound its way to the Greyflood: there countless swans housed in a land of reeds.”

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All our friends are leaving now.

At least not in that way.

At least not in that way.

With Legolas and Gimli off on their way yesterday, and Treebeard literally on the way out at the top of today’s page, Aragorn joins them in absence when the group reaches the Gap of Rohan. I’m still not sure why he came all this way, even after the business at Isengard, but whatever. He’s the king.

This leaves our group as the four hobbits, Gandalf, and the combined parties of Elrond, Galadriel, and Celeborn. Not gonna lie: that’s a strange group. They’re entering into mostly barren lands, too, so there isn’t much more to note.

I’m mostly lost time-wise, but we do get almost a full week of travel (six days) onward from the departure of Aragorn. And that’s just in the last half paragraph. We saw these lands ever so briefly when the Fellowship (Hey, look at that!) traveled this way long, long ago. It hasn’t gotten any more interesting, but at least the Gap of Rohan has become safe enough for travel. It’s the easiest way to go.

The Gap of Rohan also sells horse armor.

The Gap of Rohan also sells horse armor.

So, yeah. Not much to it. Is it safe to say that this, at least in terms of the journey, is the home stretch? Sadly, I feel like I’ve been looking for a “home stretch” for a while now. Basically, any “last” counts as the beginning of a possible home stretch. But it’s almost March, and that’s where we’re going to find our end.

No one dies today.

“As they came out…”

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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.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Treegarth

-evileyed-blackhanded-bowlegged-flinthearted-clawfingered-foulbellied-bloodthirsty

morimaite-sincahonda

WHAT.

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.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Holdwine

-engraven

-Scatha

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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Up and up Sam goes, until he comes to something of a landing before the doorway to the tallest tower. The fighting must have been bad here, as the courtyard is strewn with more bodies. From the darkness of the door that Sam intends to go through, he hears voices.

Somebody's still home.

Somebody’s still home.

A wounded Shagrat is arguing with a lesser orc. This orc, Snaga, is afraid to go downstairs. They’ve been trying to get word out about the battle at Cirith Ungol, but Gorbag’s forces have killed their messengers. The two orcs that Sam saw shot outside the gate were a part of this very plan. Shagrat isn’t too happy, and it seems like they’re doomed either way.

First Mentions:

-Snaga (of Mordor): This is our second Snaga, and I’ve learned that that name is commonly used to name orcs that are somehow lesser. The first one was from Isengard, and was a part of the group transporting Merry and Pippin.

-Radbug: An unfortunate orc, probably under Shagrat’s command. Shagrat killed him from what sounds like insubordination.

-Lagduf: One of the orcs shot outside trying to deliver the message of the battle.

-Muzgash: The other orc shot outside.

-the Black Pits: Sound to be punishment holding cells (or an execution method) for traitors to Mordor.

Eavesdropping can be useful, like for instance how Sam learns that Shagrat is injured. He also seems to have killed off Gorbag, and it seems nearly positive now that these are the only two orcs left alive in Cirith Ungol. At first I thought that it must have been Radbug who stumbled into Sam, and Shagrat killed him for his stupidity, but now I’m thinking that it was Snaga. By now, he must know that no other orcs are left, just this intimidating figure that he saw. The scream Sam heard a while ago while down in the lower levels was probably Shagrat killing Radbug, and thus motivating Snaga to head downstairs. Now the argument that probably happened earlier is going on again. Orcs are not that smart.

Though times are changing.

Though times are changing.

That’s a long way of saying that things are still working out incredibly well for Sam. This is almost too much luck for one person to have go their way. I’ll take it.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Radbug

-Lagduf

-Muzgash

Orc names are actually some of the best around. They lack the pretentiousness that a lot of other races’ names possess, except for the dwarves. Dwarves tend to win every time.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 3

No one dies today.

“‘You won’t escape by skulking here.'”

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It’s a parley party, partially!

Got your hat!

Got your hat!

The Mouth of Sauron demands that Aragorn (and his friends) accept Sauron’s terms, or else their captive (presumably Frodo) will suffer greatly. The terms are that all lands east of Anduin will be ceded to Mordor, and those west of the river to the mountains will be under tributary rule of Sauron. They may field no army, and Isengard will be rebuilt to instill the Mouth as an overseer. And this is all in exchange for merely Frodo.

Yeah, Gandalf doesn’t see that as fair. However, it looks like he doesn’t have much of a choice. All are downcast, presuming Frodo’s demise and the ring’s capture.

Of course, the Mouth continues to refer to Frodo as a spy. A spy he was not. In addition, if Sauron already had the ring in his possession, I don’t think he would be asking for a deal. He could just run over everyone and take what he wanted. So, it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t have the ring. What’s up with Frodo? LET’S JUST GET TO A FRODO CHAPTER ALREADY, MAN.

The suspense is killing me.

The suspense is killing me.

For hope’s sake, Gandalf catches the Mouth taking a long pause when asked if Frodo can be presented. Yeah, something’s up.

Days Until The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 15

No one dies today.

“He cast aside his…”

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