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Old 11-30-2017, 09:26 AM   #139
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Location: The north-west of the Old World, east of the Sea
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Huinesoron is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Huinesoron is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.

Vladimir - I think you're onto something! I've made something of a sad little study of this weird thread over the last couple of weeks, and I'm pretty sure you've found something no-one has pointed to before.

First things first: Tolkien was very clear that he never wrote the Entwives into the books. Teleporno was almost certainly wrong. But we can still try and figure out what he was looking at - and I think you've done just that.

So what do we need to be looking for? Ardamir collected it all in the first post: Teleporno believes the Entwives are 'alive and living' in Book 4, that they're a sort of in-joke referencing the Suffragists or women like them, that we need to look at clusters of certain types of words, and that they're in danger from the Nazgul.

There are five passages in The Two Towers which people have pointed to (I said I'd looked into this... I've combed all three threads in case someone came up with something):

The Taming of Smeagol

The cleft was longer and deeper than it seemed. Some way down they found a few gnarled and stunted trees, the first they had seen for days: twisted birch for the most part, with here and there a fir-tree. Many were dead and gaunt, bitten to the core by the eastern winds. Once in milder days there must have been a fair thicket in the ravine, but now, after some fifty yards, the trees came to an end, though old broken stumps straggled on almost to the cliff's brink.

For a long time, this was my favoured option. Treebeard is originally described as looking like a stump, there are references to both fir and birch at the Entmoot, and the Emyn Muil is directly adjacent to the Brown Lands. The idea of Suffragists being on the edge of a cliff, or willing to throw themselves off a cliff out of spite, sounds plausible as a Tolkien opinion. There's also the notion that Sam's rope (which was tied around one of the stumps) was untied by a kindly Entwife.

Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit

All about them were small woods of resinous trees, fir and cedar and cypress. and other kinds unknown in the Shire, with wide glades among them; and everywhere there was a wealth of sweet-smelling herbs and shrubs. The long journey from Rivendell had brought them far south of their own land, but not until now in this more sheltered region had the hobbits felt the change of clime. Here Spring was already busy about them: fronds pierced moss and mould, larches were green-fingered, small flowers were opening in the turf, birds were singing. Ithilien, the garden of Gondor now desolate kept still a dishevelled dryad loveliness.

The plants of Ithilien are strongly anthropomorphised - the word 'dryad' is a key one, as are the green 'fingers' of the larches. Nearby paragraphs also specifically reference the Northfarthing of the Shire (which is where Sam's tale of a walking tree comes from, plus Treebeard thought the Entwives would like the Shire). It's inarguable that the Entwives would feel right at home here. But... there is also a specific mention of 'falling into untended age', and (of course) no suffragist jokes.

Journey to the Cross-roads 1

"[The staves given by Faramir to Frodo and Sam] are made of the fair tree lebethron, beloved of the woodwrights of Gondor, and a virtue has been set upon them of finding and returning."

This is a quite horrifying idea I came across... 'lebethron' means something like 'polished fingers' or 'finger-tree', which is highlighted as a perfect name for an Ent, and the link to finding and returning is a good one. But I can't quite believe that Teleporno believes the Entwives were being chopped up for use in walking sticks...!

Journey to the Cross-roads 2

For the most part it was covered with a thick growth of gorse and whortleberry, and low tough thorns, though here and there clearings opened, the scars of recent fires. The gorse-bushes became more frequent as they got nearer the top; very old and tall they were, gaunt and leggy below but thick above, and already putting out yellow flowers that glimmered in the gloom and gave a faint sweet scent. So tall were the spiny thickets that the hobbits could walk upright under them, passing through long dry aisles carpeted with a deep prickly mould.

On the further edge of this broad hill-back they stayed their march and crawled for hiding underneath a tangled knot of thorns. Their twisted boughs, stooping to the ground, were overridden by a clambering maze of old briars. Deep inside there was a hollow hall, raftered with dead branch and bramble, and roofed with the first leaves and shoots of spring. There they lay for a while, too tired yet to eat; and peering out through the holes in the covert they watched for the slow growth of day.

But no day came, only a dead brown twilight.

As discussed by Vladimir immediately above. I would add that the 'hollow hall', 'stooping', and specific use of 'dead brown' as a descriptor in the following paragraphs are words that could easily evoke the Ents/Entwives - and also that the idea that suffragists could easily be 'prickly' when confronted with 'foolish, boorish men' (per Teleporno's description). The presence of a suffragist joke which isn't a massive stretch is what's convinced me that this is the best candidate.

Journey to the Cross-roads 3

Presently, not far ahead, looming up like a black wall, they saw a belt of trees. As they drew nearer they became aware that these were of vast size, very ancient it seemed, and still towering high, though their tops were gaunt and broken, as if tempest and lightning-blast had swept across them, but had failed to kill them or to shake their fathomless roots.


At length they reached the trees, and found that they stood in a great roofless ring, open in the middle to the sombre sky; and the spaces between their immense boles were like the great dark arches of some ruined hall.

Suddenly, caught by the level beams, Frodo saw the old king's head: it was lying rolled away by the roadside. `Look, Sam!' he cried, startled into speech. `Look! The king has got a crown again!'

This is one of my favourite passages of The Two Towers, and the conspicuous formation of living trees - specifically noted to be ancient - at a location associated both with attacks from the Nazgul and a gardening-type miracle caught my eye. I really wanted this to be Teleporno's reference - perhaps suffragists liked to hang out in circles? - but I don't think it can be. These are gigantic trees with massive roots, which... isn't how the Entish folk are described. Alas.


Finally, since we're doing Entwife theories: my personal pet theory is that Treebeard (and Tolkien) got their fate precisely backwards. The Brown Lands and their inhabitants were burned during the War of the Last Alliance - but not by Sauron. Whose country did they live right next to? Who did the men they taught agriculture to serve, obey, and worship? Who would absolutely sympathise with the Entwives' efforts to bend their entire country to their will, setting it all into neat rows with nothing out of place? Who, in point of fact, would be utterly wasting his time trying to stop the Last Alliance by burning the Brown Lands, seeing as most of his enemies would probably come up from the south (by way of Gondor and the Gap of Rohan)?

Exactly. The Brown Lands were the Breadbasket of Sauron, and were burned by the Men and Elves to stop them from supplying his armies any longer. When the Ents came looking, they would have looked around shiftily and said, "Er, yeah, I've seen them, they went... south. I mean west! Definitely west. Go back that way."

(What, you don't think? ^_^)

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