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Jumping ahead doesn’t do this page service.

We’re rocketing ahead, learning all about how the hobbits rebuilt the Shire. When organized, they do a pretty good job.

No word yet on hobbit construction unions.

No word yet on hobbit construction unions.

By Christmastime (or Yule, as they call it), all the “new” buildings put up by the ruffians are torn down. Those bricks are put into new use in rebuilding and strengthening structures that were taken down or harmed by the ruffians. At least they can do some good! An entirely new Bagshot Row is built, allowing the Gaffer to live once again at the foot of Bag End.

The greatest loss is in plant life, specifically trees. This hurts Sam greatly. For a while, he can’t think of a way that the Shire will ever be regrown anytime soon. Then, he thinks of the gift given to him by Galadriel: soil of her land, to be used to grow great gardens wherever the land is barren.

Hey! The Shire is barren! What better use could there be for this soil? How appropriate! It’s almost as if Galadriel could see the future

Yeah, she can see the future. That’s what that whole mirror thing’s about. No doubt she saw this coming, and knew that this soil was exactly what Sam would need to make his garden grow. Remember, the scouring of the Shire is even briefly seen through the Mirror of Galadriel in the film. That’s its one onscreen reference. Galadriel easily could have seen it herself.

Make your garden grow, Sam.

Make your garden grow, Sam.

It’s no surprise that Sam is in charge of the rebuilding efforts. With Frodo off doing administrative duties and Merry and Pippin hunting down ruffians, Sam’s the one with the technical ability, heart, and nostalgia to take on putting the Shire back the way it was. He’s like Captain Planet for Middle-earth.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-levelled

Captain Samwise, he’s the hero! Gonna build the Shire back from zero!

No one dies today.

“‘On what?’ said Sam.”

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I believe this is our last chapter. In fact, it should be the last chapter, considering there are so few pages left, and the title of this chapter concerns our final set piece. It’s page 1021. It’s the Grey Havens. It’s the end times.

But much happier than that.

But much happier than that.

This page is centered on the cleanup from Saruman’s reign in the Shire. Frodo’s first act is to head to Michel Delving and release the hobbits imprisoned in the Lockholes. He finds Fatty Bolger, Will Whitfoot, and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, among others unnamed. Until Will Whitfoot is fit again to be the Mayor of the Shire, Frodo assumes the position of his Deputy Mayor. Merry and Pippin go around rooting out the remaining ruffians.

Most notable is Lobelia’s exit from the Lockholes, to great applause. She’s never been popular before. Unfortunately, she must learn of her son’s death, and she refuses to ever go back to Bag End, leaving it to Frodo. She also leaves him all of her money upon her death in the spring. The Bagginses and the Sackville-Bagginses can be friends again.

First Mentions:

-the Brockenbores: Tunnels in the north of the Shire where Fatty Bolger had holed up with some rebels.

-Scary: A small village in the hills where the Brockenbores are.

-Hardbottle: Another northern Shire village where the Bracegirdles live.

Reconciliation is nice, even when it’s with the Sackville-Bagginses. I have to admit, it’s a nice way to tie up the ownership of Bag End. With Lotho dead, and his father Otho gone some time before, Lobelia wants no part of Frodo’s belongings. It only feels right that Frodo can go back to living at Bag End after everything. After all, Lobelia wasn’t the one with the Baggins blood to make a claim on it. She does request that her money goes towards helping those hobbits left homeless by the ruffians, and that shows a kind side to her. Perhaps the terrors of Saruman’s occupation and her time in the Lockholes changed her.

And curiously, Lobelia’s umbrella is indeed referred to as such – her “umbrella”. The term “umberella” was used by Young Tom Cotton in telling the story of Lobelia’s capture. It must be a ruralism!

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Brockenbores

-Hardbottle

I have yet to find myself a softbottle. I’ll let you know.

“Before the Year’s End the few survivors were rounded up in the woods, and those that surrendered were shown to the borders.”

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And so, he’s had enough. After Wormtongue is offered the chance to stay in the Shire, Saruman mocks him. The fallen wizard says that Wormtongue isn’t such a nice guy. Everyone’s wondering where Lotho is, and Wormtongue knows. In fact, Wormtongue killed him.

Wormtongue won’t deny that, but he’s unhappy that Saruman made him do it. After Saruman kicks him in the face, Wormtongue lunges, pulling a knife, and slits Saruman’s throat. Wormtongue is killed as well by hobbit archers as he runs out.

Bag End sure isn't as nice as it used to be.

Bag End sure isn’t as nice as it used to be.

Saruman’s body decays rapidly, and his death creates a foggy smoke that rises above Bag End before being blown away. Again, he was a Maia, and in truth a very old and powerful being. We don’t get to see firsthand what happens with Gandalf’s “death” at the summit of Zirakzigil, but perhaps something similar occurred. Whatever it was, I find this line interesting: “For a moment it wavered, looking to the West; but out of the West came a cold wind, and it bent away, and with a sigh dissolved into nothing.” Saruman’s soul, or whatever it is, looks to the west, where the Valar dwell in Valinor. He hopes to return there, but is denied. His evils have taken their toll, and a force comes from the west to blow him away. It’s very symbolic, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this could be what happened.

And this brings an end to this chapter. I fully believe that only one remains. We have merely 11 more pages!

“‘And that’ll take a lot of time and work.'”

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Remember those times in high school (or around those younger years) when things would go down at school? Everybody would crowd around, of if it was one of those times you got called down to the principal’s office, they would all go: “Ooooooooohhhh!” really obnoxiously? This is one of those times, but for hobbits.

The hobbits are pressed against the windows of Bag End to see what happens inside.

Hey.

Hey.

Inside, Frodo holds serve with Saruman. Frodo very much wishes that no harm comes to Saruman, even through all the evil that he’s done. In fact, Frodo commands Saruman to leave, and Saruman agrees. He calls for Wormtongue, and the two begin to shuffle out.

BOOM! Saruman tries to knife Frodo. Thankfully, Frodo’s wearing mail under his clothes, and no harm is done. Sam and other hobbits jump Saruman with intent to kill. Frodo still refuses this, and Saruman does actually walk out. On the way, Frodo calls for Wormtongue to stop following this toxic wizard.

So, just in case you were wondering, Saruman is indeed very good at sleight of hand.

"I wasn't trying to kill you at all! I promise!"

“I wasn’t trying to kill you at all! I promise!”

Though I highly doubt that the hobbits outside are all applauding his tricks. Rule #1: don’t turn around and stab the dude who just gave you your freedom and your life. It reflects poorly on your character. And people probably won’t like you anymore.

No one dies today.

“‘You can have rest and food here for a while, until you are stronger and can go your own ways.'”

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For a brief moment, I entertained the idea of starting today’s post off with some admission that I’m actually Mark Zuckerberg or something, and this has all been an elaborate social media experiment. April Fool’s! But no, I decided not to do that.

BUT WHAT IF I REALLY AM MARK ZUCKERBERG…OR WORSE?

Please, be my friend.

Please, be my friend.

I’m not. Let’s talk about Lord of the Rings.

The four hobbits arrive at Bag End, but not before Ted Sandyman accosts them with mockery. The profiteer off the new mill laughs at them, calling Sam soft, and hiding behind his friendship with “the Boss”. He cowers when the full escort of hobbits march up behind Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, and that’s that. They approach Bag End, its yard filled with rubbish and hastily built huts.

One more thing: Sam notices that they cut down Bilbo’s party tree.

Gasp! The party tree! I have a special place in my heart for this tree, because one of my roommates, on a trip to New Zealand in college, collected a pinecone from the enormous tree that the scene in the movie was filmed under. We had it in our apartment for quite some time. It was awesome.

You know the tree.

You know the tree.

Meanwhile, Ted Sandyman fills in as one of our early antagonists who continues to suck. He’s benefited greatly from the changes in the Shire, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Thankfully, he’s just as cowardly as all the ruffians (well, Bill Ferny, at least), and backs down at the first sign of trouble. Too easy.

No one dies today.

“The place stank and was full of filth and disorder: it did not appear to have been used for some time.”

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No, no, not the book and everything. We still have two more weeks of that. What’s over? Just this battle. The Battle of Bywater! Epic.

The page begins with the cleanup of the battle. Some 70 (70!) ruffians were killed, along with 19 hobbits. The ruffians are buried unceremoniously in a pit, and the hobbits in a grave that would later be marked with a stone and garden. Hobbits like gardens.

Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin ride back to Bywater with the Cottons, and discuss their next steps over lunch. It’s clear that they must now strike out against Sharkey, and Farmer Cotton prepares an escort to bring them to Bag End. The road there is depressing, with familiar buildings in disarray or completely torn down, and new ones rising bleak from the rugged earth. The Shire is in a bad way.

Sometimes, that one new building just doesn't fit in with the rest.

Sometimes, that one new building just doesn’t fit in with the rest.

First Mentions:

-the Battle Pit: The mass grave of the ruffians, which gets a way cooler name than it deserves.

-the Battle of Bywater: That was this battle! It has a name now, so it’s official.

-the Greenfields: A battle in the Shire some 300 years ago. It was here that, through victory, Bullroarer Took invented the game of golf.

-the Red Book: What a meta moment! The Red Book of Westmarch is the volume in which Bilbo and Frodo’s adventures are detailed. This is the first time we’ve heard about it in a direct, official sense.

-the Old Grange: A granary in Hobbiton that’s been torn down.

As I noted above, the mention of the Red Book of Westmarch is a strangely meta-textual moment. On the page, we’re talking about the way that the hobbits remembered the participants in the Battle of Bywater, which becomes legend. The names of all present are written in the book, and historians vow to commit them to memory. Of course, the book is much more than that. Bilbo’s “first edition” contained his story of the journey to the Lonely Mountain, edited in part to detract from the importance and treachery of the ring, which he was keeping secret from many at the time of his writing. He entrusts this book to Frodo at their last meeting in Rivendell in hopes that he will edit things up a bit. (We saw this not too long ago!) A second edition is created, this time with Frodo’s story added. Numerous other editions are made and passed down, until supposedly the book (or a copy of it) comes into J.R.R. Tolkien’s keeping. He translates it to English, and these great stories are told.

The cover of Bilbo's book is indeed subtly red.

The cover of Bilbo’s book is indeed subtly red.

Of course, this is all a fiction. The stories came from Tolkien’s imagination, not an ancient book in a strange language. However, there’s nothing wrong with finding some magic in it.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Greenfields

I mean, after all, what if it were true?

No one dies today.

“Bagshot Row was a yawning…”

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More hobbits fighting! You’d never have guessed this would happen from the beginning of the book, what with all the hobbits living such peaceful lives. When angered, they can put up quite the fight.

It's probably a lot like this.

It’s probably a lot like this.

Hobbits arrive in number from Tookland with Pippin at their head. They vastly outnumber the ruffians headed their way, and it’s discovered that the ruffians lack leadership and any ounce of battle sense. Merry devises a quick plan to trap them, and it works like a charm. The ruffians find themselves hemmed into a spot on the road blocked by hedges on either side, and upturned carts in front and behind. Hobbits encircle them, and Merry calls for their surrender. It doesn’t work so easily. Some ruffians break out, fighting and killing hobbits in desperation. Many are shot or hewed down, and those escaping towards a wooded area for cover will soon run into more hobbit hunters. Merry and Pippin lead a charge that captures the remaining fighters.

So, this isn’t without some loss. Despite Frodo’s insistence on peace, some ruffians must be killed, and they take some hobbits with them. It isn’t a slaughter on either side, but some do fall. In truth, these men are loose cannons, desperate to stay alive at all costs. They live and die by the sword.

Unfortunately for the ruffians, their lack of knowledge is their greatest weakness. Without tactics, they are easily outnumbered and outmanned. Merry might not be the greatest military tactician, but he learned enough in his time with the army of Rohan to outsmart a few score brigands and scoundrels. That’s all it takes.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-hobbitry

This is a fantastic word. That is all.

“Then he drew his forces off, encircling the last remnant of the Men in a wide ring of archers.”

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