Posts Tagged ‘Saruman’

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!

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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.



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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Cue dramatic entrance.

This is an appropriate time for a gif.

This is an appropriate time for a gif.

As our four hobbits sniff around the mess of Bag End, Saruman appears, laughing. He details how he made plans to come conquer the Shire after meeting the hobbits on the road. They all seemed so pleased with themselves, happy to return home. But Saruman? He has no home to return to. TIME TO MESS WITH THEIRS.

That’s basically the logic. He also goes on to say that he could have done much worse with more men and more time. Blah, blah, blah, monologue, monologue, monologue.

I find humor in the fact that this is all that Saruman is reduced to. He was once one of the most powerful beings in Middle-earth, but now he finds himself pleased with making mischief for revenge on four hobbits. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

He also totally fails to comprehend how his plans are already unraveling. The Shire is reuniting, and it won’t take long for the hobbits as a whole to rebuild what’s been destroyed. Saruman really wants to see the hobbits suffer, and he hopes that it will take more than their lifetimes to undo what he’s done. Too bad. It won’t take all that long at all. Hobbits are resourceful folks.

Everything is cool when we're part of a team.

Everything is cool when we’re part of a team.

What else is Saruman wrong about? He thinks his nickname, Sharkey, is a term of endearment. It’s not, really. Today there’s a small footnote that explains what I said earlier: “sharkû”, in the Orc-tongue, means “old man”. I don’t exactly see that as endearing. Blinded by pride, this one is.

No one dies today.

“‘Go at once and never return!'”

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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.

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

No one dies today.

“Bagshot Row was a yawning…”

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The ruffians are bad enough that they can even make Lobelia Sackville-Baggins a pitiable victim. That’s no small feat. Let’s learn how.

In short, logic has been used seldom in the takeover of the Shire. Lotho’s plans originally seemed to be making things run more efficiently, even if they meant lost jobs and destruction of trees and homes. Some people were fine with changing their ways. Others weren’t. However, things have only gotten worse since the arrival of the mysterious “Sharkey”. Pollution is growing, and more and more hobbits find that distasteful.

You tell 'em.

You tell ’em.

Even Lobelia Sackville-Baggins has some concerns. She sees some ruffians one day heading up to Bag End, and gives them some scolding. She ends up getting hauled away just like all the other agitators, but I think that Lotho is powerless at this point to help his own mother.

Would Bilbo find this funny? Yeah, probably. He really hates those Sackville-Bagginses. They were our first true antagonists, remember.

This seems to bring to an end the story being told by Farmer Cotton. In fact, it’s his son Tom who brings up Lobelia’s predicament. It was a nice story-time while it lasted.

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It’s very, very important to note that “umbrella” has an extra syllable in the Shire. I have no idea how this would translate into a hobbit-Rihanna cover, but I would assume that concessions would have to be made.

No one dies today.

“‘They’ve took others we miss more, but there’s no denying she showed more spirit than most.'”

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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.

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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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If this were a military film, we’d be trudging our way through a scene where the highest ranking officers would look over a map of delicately placed pieces. They’d grumble and debate, but they would eventually come up with a crafted plan. You know the scene, right? Now, imagine it with hobbits.

Or, cats.

That was…interesting. Moving on.

Sam rides up to join Frodo, Merry, and Pippin in talks with Farmer Cotton. He relays information about the numbers and locations of ruffians in the Shire. There may be some 300 scattered about. While that may seem like a large amount, the numbers of hobbits joining in rebellion is growing. The Shirriffs arrive, and most of them forsake their duty and join in the gathering.

Cotton also tells the hobbits of the rebellious nature of the Tooks, who took (ha…oops) the fight to the ruffians at the start. A few have been slain, but the Tooks have their holes to hide in.

Ah, but now it’s personal.

First Mentions:

-Waymeet: A small town in the Westfarthing at the meeting of a few roads. Its name is, thus, not surprising.

-the Thain of the Shire: Somewhat of a military leadership office for hobbits. It has been passed down for ages through the Took bloodline. Pippin’s father, Paladin, is Thain of the Shire himself.

We have too many leaders in the Shire! We know of the office of Mayor, held (at least before all this hubbub) by Will Whitfoot in Michel Delving. There is also now “the Boss” that Lotho Sackville-Baggins has coined himself, though no doubt in part at Saruman’s behest. Now, there is also the Thain, whatever that means. Even looking it up did little to help me understand what the Thain does. However, I did get some future knowledge that Pippin goes on to become a sort of ambassador to the northern kingdom when it is rebuilt. So, eventually, it does have some use. Now, it just means that Paladin Took feels some right to bother the ruffians. Go get ’em!

Only if it's not too cute.

Only if it’s not too cute.

And so, the hobbits plan for war. It sounds like the unlikeliest of circumstances, but they’re finally moving to defend their homes. You can’t deny their love of home. Sure, they may be easy people to subjugate quickly, but they can be an angry sort. With this organization going on, it won’t be long before they take their anger out on their captors.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about space lately. Not that that has anything to do with all this, but I figured someone should know. Space is cool.

No one dies today.

“‘Tooks shot three for prowling…'”

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I hope you like bravado. We have plenty.

And footpads. We have those, too.

And footpads. We have those, too.

That is to say that the leader of this group of men has stopped Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin on the road, and seems intent on lecturing them about what the Shire needs. It needs guidance, he seems to think, and he and his pals are going to provide it. Their boss, the mysterious Sharkey, has control over Lotho Sackville-Baggins, but he can remove him as “Chief” at any time if he wishes. Frodo reminds this man that his boss (we all know it’s Saruman) has no power anymore. He was thrown down. A new king reigns, and his people will reclaim the land scoured by these ruffians. The man laughs at that.

This makes Pippin mad. As a sworn man of Gondor, he stands up for Aragorn. Swords are drawn.

I want to jump back a bit and cover something that I meant to do earlier. Sharkey is not some random name meant to refer to sea creatures. Very little is made in Middle-earth of sea creatures, so that hardly makes sense as a reasoning. In fact, Sharkey is a bastardization of “sharkû”, meaning “old man” in the orc tongue. Saruman is indeed an old man, and I would expect that these men (part-orc/goblin or not) are using that term in a more colloquial sense. Thus, Sharkey.

However, he's less friendly than Jabberjaw.

However, he’s less friendly than Jabberjaw.

BUT, for those of you who may have super-fanned the films, you may recognize this word. Sharku (note the dropped “û”) is the warg-riding orc who fixes to throw Aragorn of the cliff in Two Towers. This scene is not in the book. Sharku, the character, is not in the book. This is a re-appropriation of a known term into another context.

Of course, you can then make matters worse by noting that the actor who played Sharku also plays Snaga, an orc in the company transporting Merry and Pippin, and…oh, yeah, he’s also the guy who plays Nori in the new Hobbit films. Jed Brophy is Peter Jackson’s…um, BROphy.

No one dies today.

“Fearless hobbits with bright swords and grim faces were a great surprise. And there was a…”

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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?

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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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