Posts Tagged ‘Rohan’

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.

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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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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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More to come of the conversation with Butterbur, which is really just catching us up on the goings on of the northern lands.

It would seem that Bree is safe from marauders for the time being. They must be afraid of the five companions who rode into town in armor and heraldry, and, more importantly, the rangers who have been returning north. I had forgotten about this, but I finally realized why it made sense for Aragorn to continue riding north for a while: the rangers were leaving Gondor. They traveled north with the four hobbits and numerous elves, and have now returned to the lands that they were long protecting.

And yes, the people of Bree have finally noticed that the rangers were actually doing something good for them.

Pretty much.

Pretty much.

Gandalf makes sure to tell Butterbur that times will improve. Aragorn will be sending more men north to the old kingdom of Arnor to rebuild it. He will come himself, sometime, and there will be many folk passing by Bree. Good for business!

Strangely enough, I can actually reconcile some of the changes made in the film adaptation. Bear with me here…

So, in the films, no rangers ride to meet Aragorn in Rohan. Halbarad and his Dúnedain do not feature in the events of the story. Let’s think logically from that point. If no rangers ride south, then they must all still be in the North. If they remain in the North, they continue to protect the lands around Bree and the Shire. With the rangers still about, wayward bandits cannot come unchecked into the area and terrorize its inhabitants. Thus, the events of the Scouring of the Shire cannot happen. The rangers would not allow it. That’s why it doesn’t happen.


Of course, some would argue that the films kill off Saruman, thus further negating any possibility of his occupation of the Shire. However, Saruman’s death only appears in a deleted scene added to the Extended Edition of Return of the King. So, it’s not necessarily a part of the films!

Okay, okay, I’m stretching here. But why not try and make sense of the cuts? I have little else left to do.

But I can't make sense of these cuts.

But I can’t make sense of these cuts.

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Both added/different names for Fornost, old capital of Arnor. Because more is better!

No one dies today.

“‘And the King will come there again one day; and then you’ll have some fair folk riding through.'”

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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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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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Get ready for a lot of info. Most of it will seem useless.

Well, no. Most of it probably is useless.

Keep them shoes dry!

Keep them shoes dry!

Théoden’s funeral leads into a great feast. There is another tradition here where a minstrel recites the list of the kings of Rohan, and then the current king drinks a cup of wine to their honor. All assembled hail Éomer as the next king. He then announces Éowyn’s intent to marry Faramir, and then either actually marries them or just officially marks them as betrothed. Unclear, but good for them.

Here we go.

First Mentions:

-Aldor: Third king of Rohan, son of Brego, grandson of Eorl, and brother to that guy Baldor who went and died in the Paths of the Dead.

-Fréa: Fourth king of Rohan! Here’s where this gets super interesting.

-Fréawine: Fifth king of Rohan!

-Goldwine: Sixth king of Rohan.

-Déor: Seventh king.

-Gram: Eighth king. I hear he was light.

-Fréalaf: Tenth king. Wait, tenth? Yeah, we skipped Helm, because we already heard of him. Fréalaf was actually Helm’s nephew, breaking the direct line from Eorl.

-Léofa: Eleven.

-Walda: Twelve. No one ever knew where he was.

-Folca: Thirteen.

-Folcwine: Fourteen.

-Fengel: Fifteen.

This makes Thengel sixteenth, Théoden seventeenth, and Éomer eighteenth. When you think about it, that’s no too long of a line. Okay, well, it’s a lot of generations, but surprisingly easy enough to remember them all, I’d think. I can never do all the US Presidents, for my part.

Millard Fillmore: never forget.

Millard Fillmore: never forget.

And I forgot to mention the other day that I figured out exactly what it is that Faramir is going to be over in Ithilien. He’s a prince, just like Imrahil of Dol Amroth. Basically, I see it as being a secondary leader of Gondor, second in command should anything befall Aragorn, with a relatively autonomous little region to himself. Not too bad.

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We have nice little bookends there to break up that WALL OF NAMES. The spellcheck on WordPress isn’t having problems with “trothplighted”…although, now that I type it down here, we’re having issues. “Folca” isn’t underlined when I type it above, either, along with some others. I’m confused and distressed.

No one dies today.

“‘It heals my heart to see thee now in bliss.'”

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So, there’s two weeks of riding. We jump over that swiftly, with a brief pause in the middle when Aragorn arrives in the forest of Ghân-buri-Ghân and announces that it is to be given to him and his people.

Unsurprisingly, renderings of Ghân-buri-Ghân are quite strange.

Unsurprisingly, renderings of Ghân-buri-Ghân are quite strange.

The ride then lasts for two weeks, followed by a three-day planning period in Rohan for Théoden’s burial. He is interred in a mound among others for the prior kings of Rohan, and his minstrels and knights lead the Rohirrim in song.

First Mentions:

-the Barrowfield: Proper title of the field that contains the burial mounds of the kings of Rohan. No wights here!

-Gléowine: Théoden’s personal minstrel, in charge of writing his funeral tune. He will write no other songs.

It’s a cool tradition, having each king’s minstrel’s final song be for the king’s burial. I’d hope there’s some sort of great retirement package that the minstrel gets once his services are no longer required. Of course, I would also assume that a new minstrel has been appointed for Éomer already. How early do they start work on their final piece? You’ve got to plan well for it, I’d think.

Let’s have the song!

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

I like the short ones.

“Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day’s rising

he rode singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.

Hope he rekindled, and in hope ended;

over death, over dread, over doom lifted

out of loss, out of life, unto long glory.”

Hoping to be forgiven for the white noise, I present:


(Hurt – Johnny Cash)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, this song was originally done by Nine Inch Nails, but the Cash cover is so much better. I had heard it before today, not realizing that it was a cover, but it truly is amazing. You should listen to it sometime if you’ve never heard it. Heck, listen to it anyway.

In the end, I like Johnny Cash because I can sing his octave easily. No dropping down needed! Too bad I’m not old, grizzled, and rebellious. I need to work on that.

Pictured: not Johnny Cash.

Pictured: not Johnny Cash.

So, we lay Théoden to rest, one of the more likeable characters, in my opinion. Goodnight, sweet prince.

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No one dies today.

Hope he rekindled, and in hope ended; over death, over dread, over doom lifted out of loss, out of life, unto long glory.

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So, then Arwen gives Frodo this jewel that’s hanging around her neck on a chain. WAIT, IS THAT THE SAME THING THAT THE MOVIE MAKES SUCH A FUSS OVER?

Yeah, it probably is.

Yeah, it probably is.

Anyway, Éomer does indeed come in a few days time, and the ride is set out to Rohan. Before that, though, Éomer and Gimli argue over whether Galadriel or Arwen is prettier.

Worthwhile argument…I guess?

First Mentions:

-Merethrond: Minas Tirith’s Great Hall of Feasts. Because every castle/city/stronghold/school for wizards needs one.

Now, there is no true mention of this necklace that Arwen gives to Frodo. She hasn’t been noted to have any special jewelry earlier (I mean, she’s hardly been brought up earlier), and certainly hasn’t had some sort of quasi life-force connection to Aragorn through some loaned necklace. Instead, she gifts this item to Frodo to give him strength when his old wounds give him pain. Seems like a nice thing to do.

Suffice it to say that Frodo is starting quite the collection of elven jewels. Kind of makes up for that horrid other piece of jewelry that he carried around for so long. Remember that?

Poop diamond ring!

Poop diamond ring!

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And we soldier on. Every few pages feels like a landmark now. With today being page 975, you think about only 25 more pages to 1000, and then, of course, 10 more after that. We ride.

No one dies today.

“For the other Companions steeds were furnished according to their stature; and Frodo and Samwise rode at Aragorn’s side, and Gandalf rode upon Shadowfax, and Pippin rode with the knights of…”

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Take a quick look now to notice that this chapter’s title is a direct response to Book Two, Chapter 1 of Fellowship of the Ring, “Many Meetings”. That was back towards the beginning, and this is where we’re starting (if we haven’t already) to tie up loose ends towards the conclusion.

In short, today Frodo goes to Aragorn to request that he be given leave to return home. Aragorn and Arwen sit and talk with Frodo. Aragorn says that they will leave in one week, as Éomer will be returning shortly to retrieve Théoden’s remains. Aragorn intends to ride back to Rohan with Éomer, and since that will be the direction that Frodo will take, it only makes sense for him to leave along with them.


Because I guess the only people who care about logic puzzles also are the only people who care about horse racing.

Because I guess the only people who care about logic puzzles also are the only people who care about horse racing.

Arwen remarks that she actually has a gift to give to Frodo. Since she won’t be traveling across the sea with Elrond and all the rest of the elves, she allows Frodo to take her place. It’s a small note here, and totally skipped over in the movie, but WAIT. Is that something that actually makes the character of Arwen important? Oh, it is!

You see, Frodo’s ultimate decision (um, spoilers, I guess?) to leave Middle-earth is only made possible because Arwen gives him this chance. Seeing as Frodo never truly heals from his hurts suffered at the behest of carrying the ring, traveling to Valinor is one of the few things that can give him rest. And it wouldn’t be possible but for this small moment.

Aragorn has nothing to give Frodo, so I guess he’s a terrible friend.

And so this note sits on Aragorn's desk for the rest of forever.

And so this note sits on Aragorn’s desk for the rest of forever.

To be fair, Frodo admits that his chief desire is not to return immediately to the Shire. He wants to head to Rivendell to see Bilbo. For some reason, he expected Bilbo to arrive with the rest of the elves from Rivendell, but he did not make the journey. Bilbo’s health is deteriorating with the destruction of the ring that gave him long life. Sad to say, but the silly hobbit who started most of this doesn’t have much time left.

In slightly unrelated news, I was given a link tonight to a survey that might be of interest to some of you. Some universities are doing a study on the reception of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. So, if you’ve seen it, you might want to help out. It’s not the shortest survey (maybe took 20 minutes), but if you’re interested, the link is here:


I don’t care if you feel one way or the other. This is just something that I feel is worth putting opinions forward for. Say all that you like. I probably said too much.

No one dies today.

“‘If your hurts grieve you still and the memory of your burden is heavy, then…'”

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