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Old 09-11-2005, 02:25 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
The Eye LotR -- Book 5 - Chapter 10 - The Black Gate Opens

With this chapter, we finish our discussion of Book 5! The narrative is taken up to the very final point, keeping the (first-time) reader in suspense before going back to catch up on the events concerning Frodo, Sam and Gollum in Book 6.

Interestingly, the account begins from the point of view of one character who does not go along. Merry must stay in Minas Tirith, still in need of healing, and feels horribly alone when all his friends leave. I find one detail interesting; here - and later at the Black Gate - Pippin is called "Peregrin" by Aragorn! That happens so seldom that it is noteworthy; I should think it's because of the 'official' role he plays here, as the only representative of the Shire and of his people.

The beginning also has one of those curious turns of phrase that sounds funny to us nowadays, though it was certainly not meant so; it has inspired some cartoon drawings that show Aragorn, Gandalf, the Dúnedain and Elrond's sons - in a van!

Rereading the passages describing the troops' journey to the Black Gate, I was conscious of details that I didn't remember from previous readings: the happenings at Osgiliath and the Crossroads, the debate about attacking Minas Morgul first, and the Orc/Easterling ambush. Nature and the weather are again described in ways that make them seem almost like living characters.

Once more Aragorn shows his excellent character and leadership ability in his handling of the men who are too afraid to carry on. He shows pity, not anger, and does not shame them, giving them "a manful deed within their measure" to accomplish. Not everyone in Middle-earth is a hero.

The central scene is the encounter with the Mouth of Sauron. The changes Peter Jackson made to this scene in the RotK EE DVD make the book passage all the more interesting! First of all, we are told that he is an ambassador. What do you make of the description of his horse? Is it a Horse-Wraith? We are told of his nature and background, at least enough to make discussions on that topic interesting.

I think the way Aragorn stands up to him, battling him with only his eyes, is much stronger than the movie's decapitation. Do you remember your first reading of this passage? Did you despair when Frodo's possessions were displayed? To see even Gandalf seemingly falter must have been the worst thing for those with him. Do you think he realized that Sauron would have acted differently if he had already possessed the Ring? Or would he still have toyed with his enemies?

Gandalf shows his strength briefly in taking the tokens from the Mouth of Sauron, but even then, there is no violence on his part. Yet the enemy ambassador fears him, Aragorn, and the Captains! Why?

Aragorn and his army prepare for battle - despite being so obviously outnumbered, they will not give up without a fight. After reading most of the passage as told by a neutral narrator, we return to a Hobbit point of view at the end of the chapter - Pippin's. It's interesting that he mentions understanding Denethor better at that point. Yet he stands up and fights despite his despair. He is given his opportunity for an heroic deed, killing the troll, though that causes his own fall. Did you think him dead when you first read this passage?

For those final moments, he is not speaking or even thinking himself - his thought appears to have become independent of him! It ends with a deja vu - the coming of the Eagles, and the thought of Bilbo, connecting this story with The Hobbit. What significance do you think that has?

I've only touched on what this chapter holds - which parts do you find most interesting? Which affect you the most powerfully?
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Old 09-11-2005, 03:20 PM   #2
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This chapter divides up into three sections - the journey to the gate, the confrontation with the Mouth of Sauron & the attack on the Gondorians/Rohirrim by Sauron’s forces seen mainly from Pippin’s point of view.

During the journey east to the Gates three things stand out for me. First is the episode at the Crossroads:

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Then Aragorn set trumpeters at each of the four roads that ran into the ring of trees, and they blew a great fanfare, and the heralds cried aloud: 'The Lords of Gondor have returned and all this land that is theirs they take back.' The hideous orc-head that was set upon the carven figure was cast down and broken in pieces, and the old king's head was raised and set in its place once more, still crowned with white and golden flowers; and men laboured to wash and pare away all the foul scrawls that orcs had put upon the stone.
‘Men laboured to wash & pare away all the foul scrawls that the orcs had put upon the stone.’ At first sight this may seem like a waste of time & effort. It doesn’t sound like an easy task - the word ‘labouring’ implies a good deal of effort. These are warriors heading for a battle. Setting them to mend the statue seems like something that should have been taken care of afterwards, if they had achieved victory, because if they had failed & been defeated, such an action would have been a waste, as the victorious forces oof Sauron would simply have knocked of the head again & replaced it with their mocking replacement.

Yet, it doesn’t seem like a waste of time & effort in the context- it seems exactly the sort of thing that they ought to do & in many ways it is part of the task they have set themselves. They are marching out to defy Sauron & play their part, not simply in defeating him, but in removing all traces of him from Middle-earth. Also, & maybe more importantly, it is a symbolic ‘coronation’ of the king - in fact it is a restoration of the king. It is yet another act of defiance, of provocation, on the part of Aragorn.

Not long after this provocation is emphasised:

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Ever and anon Gandalf let blow the trumpets, and the heralds would cry: 'The Lords of Gondor are come! Let all leave this land or yield them up!' But Imrahil said: 'Say not The Lords of Gondor. Say The King Elessar. For that is true, even though he has not yet sat upon the throne; and it will give the Enemy more thought, if the heralds use that name.' And thereafter thrice a day the heralds proclaimed the coming of the King Elessar.
Gandalf seems to hold back a little here - he commands the heralds to proclaim the presence of the Lords of Gondor: it is Imrahil who states that they should rather order Sauron to depart in the name of the King. Why was Gandalf so reticent, especially after his words in the Last Debate? My own feeling is that he felt Aragorn should be hailed king by one of his own people. For all that Gandalf is their ‘spokesman’ & guide he knows that he is not the one to push forward Aragorn as king. In a real sense he is beginning to step back & let Men decide for themselves, rule their own house.

Next, we have Aragorn sending away those too terrified to go on:

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Aragorn looked at them, and there was pity in his eyes rather than wrath; for these were young men from Rohan, from Wesffold far away, or husbandmen from Lossarnach, and to them Mordor had been from childhood a name of evil, and yet unreal, a legend that had no part in their simple life; and now they walked like men in a hideous dream made true, and they understood not this war nor why fate should lead them to such a pass.
As is made clear, these are ordinary men facing an extraordinary situation. Aragorn shows both compassion & a sharp wit. These men would have been unable to face what was ahead. If he had commanded them to go on they would have been worse than useless - they would very probably have seriously disheartened the rest of his forces. Yet at the same time he displays compassion & understanding by giving them another task to perform:

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Then some being shamed by his mercy overcame their fear and went on, and the others took new hope, hearing of a manful deed within their measure that they could turn to, and they departed.
He shows his true royalty here - not simply his martial prowess & his authority to command, but just as importantly, his concern for hiis people - even if the result of that is that he himself is put at a disadvantage:

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And so, since many men had already been left at the Cross-roads, it was with less than six thousands that the Captains of the West came at last to challenge the Black Gate and the might of Mordor.
The second part of the chapter is the confrontation with the Mouth. This is a bluff on Sauron’s part - but we only realise that later, or on a second reading. On a first reading we are in more or less the same position as the Captains. The last we heard of Frodo was that he had been captured by the orcs of Cirith Ungol. Everything the Mouth says may well be true. Frodo has been taken & stripped & the Ring is now in/on the hand of Sauron & the Captains about to die in a pointless battle.

Yet...Sauron does not have the Ring & suspects that Aragorn may have it, so why the elaborate game? Why would he send his servant out to offer the release of Frodo if the West surrenders? Precisely because he doesn’t know for certain that Aragorn has it. This is a test. Back Aragorn into a corner & force him to show his hand. If he has the Ring he will tell Sauron where to get off as far as surrender is concerned. On the other hand, if he does surrender that will confirm beyond doubt that Aragorn does not have the Ring (at least that would be Sauron’s take on things. Wisely, Aragorn does not speak to confirm or deny, but he does use his greater ‘will’ to daunt the Mouth - an ambiguous action which neither confirms nor denies Sauron’s suspicions.

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Before them towards Mordor lay like a moat a great mire of reeking mud and foul-smelling pools. When all was ordered, the Captains rode forth towards the Black Gate with a great guard of horsemen and the banner and heralds and trumpeters. There was Gandalf as chief herald, and Aragorn with the sons of Elrond, and Eomer of Rohan, and Imrahil; and Legolas and Gimli and Peregrin were hidden to go also, so that all the enemies of Mordor should have a witness.
This is almost a repetition of what happened in the confrontation with Saruman. Representatives of all the free folk go to the parley, but Gandalf serves as spokesman.

The Mouth is an interesting figure. He is not a monster but a man:

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At its head there rode a tall and evil shape, ..The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dur he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: 'I am the Mouth of Sauron.' But it is told that he was a renegade, who came of the race of those that are named the Black Numenoreans; for they established their dwellings in Middle-earth during the years of Sauron's domination, and they worshipped him, being enamoured of evil knowledge. And he entered the service of the Dark Tower when it first rose again, and because of his cunning he grew ever higher in the Lord's favour; and he learned great sorcery, and knew much of the mind of Sauron; and he was more cruel than any orc.
‘No Ringwraith but a living man.’ He is not a slave, but a willing servant, one who has chosen to serve Sauron. He has not been seduced, or conned into that service. He has chosen it in full knowledge ‘being enamoured of evil knowledge.’ He ‘worships’ Sauron (we were told earlier that Gollum ‘worshipped’ Shelob, & Gollum was originally driven by his desire for hidden knowledge, for ‘secrets’). He sneers at those gathered before him, mocking their intelligence & already treating them as the slaves he is convinced they will soon be. Yet he is a typical coward - as soon as he is challenged he breaks & begs for ‘mercy’:

Quote:
Aragorn said naught in answer, but he took the other's eye and held it, and for a moment they strove thus; but soon, though Aragorn did not stir nor move hand to weapon, the other quailed and gave back as if menaced with a blow. 'I am a herald and ambassador, and may not be assailed!' he cried.
Churchill’s words come to mind: ‘The nazi is always either at your throat, or at your knees.’ The fate held out for Frodo is very close to the fate of Hurin at the hands of Morgoth & its pretty certain that some at least among those present would have had that story very much in mind:

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And now he shall endure the slow torment of years, as long and slow as our arts in the Great Tower can contrive, and never be released, unless maybe when he is changed and broken, so that he may come to you, and you shall see what you have done
Gandalf seems broken by the threat to Frodo: 'Name the terms,' said Gandalf steadily, but those nearby saw the anguish in his face, and now he seemed an old and wizened man, crushed, defeated at the last.’ It seems that Sauron’s bluff is about to work, but at the last moment Gandalf calls it:

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Where is this prisoner? Let him be brought forth and yielded to us, and then we will consider these demands.'
It seemed then to Gandalf, intent, watching him as a man engaged in fencing with a deadly foe, that for the taking of a breath the Messenger was at a loss; yet swiftly he laughed again.
'Do not bandy words in your insolence with the Mouth of Sauron!' he cried. 'Surety you crave! Sauron gives none. If you sue for his clemency you must first do his bidding. These are his terms. Take them or leave them!'
‘Collapse of stout party’:

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(Gandalf) cast aside his cloak and a white light shone forth like a sword in that black place. Before his upraised hand the foul Messenger recoiled, and Gandalf coming seized and took from him the tokens: coat, cloak, and sword. 'These we will take in memory of our friend,' he cried. 'But as for your terms, we reject them utterly. Get you gone, for your embassy is over and death is near to you. We did not come here to waste words in treating with Sauron, faithless and accursed; still less with one of his slaves. Begone!'
Then the Messenger of Mordor laughed no more. His face was twisted with amazement and anger to the likeness of some wild beast that, as it crouches on its prey, is smitten on the muzzle with a stinging rod. Rage filled him and his mouth slavered, and shapeless sounds of fury came strangling from his throat. But he looked at the fell faces of the Captains and their deadly eyes, and fear overcame his wrath. He gave a great cry, and turned, leaped upon his steed, and with his company galloped madly back to Cirith Gorgor.
Finally, battle comes, & we see it, in the main, through Pippin’s eyes:

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He drew his sword and looked at it, and the intertwining shapes of red and gold; and the flowing characters of Numenor glinted like fire upon the blade. 'This was made for just such an hour,' he thought. 'If only I could smite that foul Messenger with it, then almost I should draw level with old Merry. Well, I'll smite some of this beastly brood before the end. I wish I could see cool sunlight and green grass again!'...
Then Pippin stabbed upwards, and the written blade of Westernesse pierced through the hide and went deep into the vitals of the troll, and his black blood came gushing out. He toppled forward and came crashing down like a falling rock, burying those beneath him. Blackness and stench and crushing pain came upon Pippin, and his mind fell away into a great darkness.
'So it ends as I guessed it would,' his thought said, even as it fluttered away; and it laughed a little within him ere it fled, almost gay it seemed to be casting off at last all doubt and care and fear.
Pippin runs the gamut of emotions - he begins in defiance, goes through feelings of regret, defiance, & ends, strangely, happy & at peace. On a first reading we are pretty certain he has died there before the Black Gates.

Quote:
And then even as it winged away into forgetfulness it heard voices, and they seemed to be crying in some forgotten world far above:
'The Eagles are coming! The Eagles are coming!'
For one moment more Pippin's thought hovered. 'Bilbo!' It said. 'But no! That came in his tale, long long ago. This is my tale, and it is ended now. Good-bye!' And his thought fled far away and his eyes saw no more.
This, obviously, is a reference to Bilbo’s experience at the Battle of Five Armies. The appearance of the eagles is far more moving here, as befits what is a much more serious work. Also, the appearance of eagles of Manwe at times of hopelessness runs through The Sil. This appearance of eagles is meant, I think, to make us recall what happened to Bilbo - Bilbo was knocked unconscious but woke up none the worse for it. It is another instance of Tolkien attempting to tie in the earlier book to the Legendarium.

Some of us (a very few, I accept) have to struggle at those points to recall only certain things from TH at that point. It is a potentially dangerous manouvre on Tolkien’s part to remind us too strongly of TH at this point - the image of the attacking trolls here being called Bert & Tom & speaking in bad ‘Cockerney’ risks turning the incident into farce:

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But through them there came striding up, roaring like beasts, a great company of hill-trolls out of Gorgoroth. Taller and broader than Men they were, and they were clad only in close-fitting mesh of horny scales, or maybe that was their hideous hide; but they bore round bucklers huge and black and wielded heavy hammers in their knotted hands. Reckless they sprang into the pools and waded across, bellowing ‘Poor little blighters!’as they came.

Last edited by davem; 09-11-2005 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 09-14-2005, 10:48 AM   #3
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Then Aragorn set trumpeters at each of the four roads that ran into the ring of trees, and they blew a great fanfare, and the heralds cried aloud: 'The Lords of Gondor have returned and all this land that is theirs they take back.'
This brings to mind Wiccan rituals. The Men are in a circle, which is reminiscent of the magical circle cast for protection; that it is one of trees makes this more significant. But what really caught my attention was that Aragorn had trumpeters at the four roads. In Wicca there are the four corners, or guardians of the four towers, each of which are invoked at commencement of the ritual and then thanked at the end. Here each of the roads heads North, South, East and West, and this also corresponds to the Wiccan corners or towers.

I'm sure Tolkien would not have intended this as to be seen as specifically Wiccan (not least because this would have been fairly arcane knowledge at the time), but otherwise, I'm not sure where he would have gained this image from, and what the significance of it is. I'd be interested to hear what other 'Downers think.

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The hideous orc-head that was set upon the carven figure was cast down and broken in pieces, and the old king's head was raised and set in its place once more, still crowned with white and golden flowers; and men laboured to wash and pare away all the foul scrawls that orcs had put upon the stone.
This is a touching moment as time is given up to the restoration of this monument, and as a statue of an 'old king' it must be something deserving of respect, particularly by the Gondorians. I wonder which King this statue commemorates?

Again, this moment reflects upon real world activity; statues are often torn down after revolutions/wars, and it is considered a great dishonour to deface a memorial or statue - as seen when a Churchill statue was spray painted during a demo in London a few years back. The demonstrators wished to deface the icon, while to others it was an act of disrespect; it is not the statue, not the thing, which is at fault/venerated, but what it represents, and here this is what the Gondorians are doing, reasserting their rule.

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It was near the end of the second day of their march from the Cross-roads that they first met any offer of battle. For a strong force of Orcs and Easterlings attempted to take their leading companies in an ambush; and that was in the very place where Faramir had waylaid the men of Harad, and the road went in a deep cutting through an out-thrust of the eastward hills. But the Captains of the West were well warned by their scouts, skilled men from Henneth Annun led by Mablung; and so the ambush was itself trapped. For horsemen went wide about westward and came up on the flank of the enemy and from behind, and they were destroyed or driven east into the hills.
Did anyone else get the suspicious feeling that some of these assailants might have been here before? Or at least that the tale of what Faramir's men had done there previously has spread amongst the enemy? Either that or this must have been a well known skirmish/ambush point. I noted how well the men led by Mablung knew the lie of the land and were able to stop the attack.

Was this an opportunistic attack? It surprises me that Sauron did not send more forces out to attack the group heading his way; they would have ben incredibly easy to pick off at many stages, and the Nazgul were watching them all the way. this only serves to underline just how much Sauron thought they were walking into a trap. Maybe he thought that the forces of the West were mistaken in believing they had won the whole war at Pelennor and wished to spring his surprise on them, but I don't think even Sauron in his arrogance would underestimate Gandalf's attention to strategy.

It seems, with all the stops to mend statues, blowing horns, sending out lieutenants and the like, that both sides are playing games with one another at this point. Which then leaves you at the end of the chapter, with Pippin possibly dead, wondering where on earth is Frodo?
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Old 09-14-2005, 11:40 AM   #4
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Gandalf shows his strength briefly in taking the tokens from the Mouth of Sauron, but even then, there is no violence on his part. Yet the enemy ambassador fears him, Aragorn, and the Captains! Why?
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Old 09-15-2005, 04:25 AM   #5
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Aragorn said naught in answer, but he took the other's eye and held it, and for a moment they strove thus; but soon, though Aragorn did not stir nor move hand to weapon, the other quailed and gave back as if menaced with a blow. 'I am a herald and ambassador, and may not be assailed!' he cried.
What happens when Aragorn does this works on two levels. It can simply be seen that Aragorn's presence or hard stare is the thing which makes the Mouth of Sauron quail, but it could also be that Aragorn is using (my old favourite ) osanwe. This 'mental strife' happens on several occasions in LotR, and to view it as osanwe of course depends upon whether you know about/have read the Osanwe Kenta, which I am beginning to think was written by Tolkien to 'explain' these occurences to some extent.

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At its head there rode a tall and evil shape, mounted upon a black horse, if horse it was; for it was huge and hideous, and its face was a frightful mask, more like a skull than a living head, and in the sockets of its eyes and in its nostrils there burned a flame. The rider was robed all in black, and black was his lofty helm; yet this was no Ringwraith but a living man. The Lieutenant of the Tower of Barad-dur he was, and his name is remembered in no tale; for he himself had forgotten it, and he said: 'I am the Mouth of Sauron.' But it is told that he was a renegade, who came of the race of those that are named the Black Numenoreans; for they established their dwellings in Middle-earth during the years of Sauron's domination, and they worshipped him, being enamoured of evil knowledge. And he entered the service of the Dark Tower when it first rose again, and because of his cunning he grew ever higher in the Lord's favour; and he learned great sorcery, and knew much of the mind of Sauron; and he was more cruel than any orc.
I wonder if the description of what the MoS wore reminded anyone else of the uniforms worn by the Guards in Minas Tirith? He wears a 'lofty helm' as they do, minus the wings. And he too is descended from Numenor. That he and Aragorn may share a common ancestry makes their 'struggle' more interesting.

The MoS is obviously a descendant of the Black Numenoreans ('who came of the race of those that are named the Black Numenoreans'), which hints that they, like the Gondorians, must have preserved their culture to a certain extent.

This culture 'worshipped' Sauron, rather than Eru which brings me to another thorny idea. It is not obvious that there is any organised religion in Middle-earth and it is not clear if anyone actually 'worshipped' Eru; there is the instance where Faramir's men 'look to the west', but this is not an overtly ritual moment and could easily be in remembrance of Numenor. Yet now we know that some people in Middle-earth do have some kind of religion, except it is of an evil bent, and they worship Sauron. Why do they do this? Because they are 'enamoured of evil knowledge'.

I'm not sure if there is some kind of message in this, but what it does show is how Sauron may have tempted followers to him, through his 'evil knowledge'.

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And now he shall endure the slow torment of years, as long and slow as our arts in the Great Tower can contrive, and never be released, unless maybe when he is changed and broken, so that he may come to you, and you shall see what you have done.
I wonder if this type of torture is any different to what the WK threatens Eowyn with? The MoS seems to have been bestowed (cursed?) with unnatural long life, and though this cannot have been for the same length of time as those lives which the Nazgul have 'lived', I do wonder how this can be. Surely the MoS will lead a tortured existence if his life has been extended? When he says that Frodo 'shall endure the slow torment of years, as long and slow as our arts in the Great Tower can contrive', it is clear that Sauron knows how to extend life; but there must also be some kind of palliative which means they do not live a tortured existence.

I think one of Sauron's temptations for Men may be that he can extend life, and thus many will flock to his 'side'; perhaps he then keeps them in line with the promise of something which will also ease the suffering they would endure as they entered unnatural lifespans.
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Old 09-16-2005, 03:09 AM   #6
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this might be better discussed in the field of cormallen chapter discussion, but I've always thought Pippin DID die, and was brought back to life through the 'Grace of the Valar' because of his great deeds. I have this view because of Gimli's line to him on the field of Cormallen
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I love you, if only because of the pains you have cost me, which I shall never forget. Nor shall I forget finding you on the hill of the last battle. But for Gimli the Dwarf you would have been lost then. But at least I know now the look of a hobbit's foot, though it be all that can be seen under a heap of bodies. And when I heaved that great carcase off you, I made sure you were dead.
Now, I suppose we could put this down to a mistake by the dwarf, but why would Tolkien write it like this? Why wouldn't he say 'I thought you were dead' for example - Anyway, may resurrect this when the Cormallen chapter comes up, but raised it here as Pippin died at this point. I remember first reading Pippin's demise as a young teenager in my bedroom at home late one night, and falling to sleep balling my eyes out......
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Old 09-16-2005, 06:22 AM   #7
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Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
Essex, I think it's a matter of use of language - "I made sure you were dead" means "I was sure you were dead" - that's how we would say it today. We may often be mistaken even though we are sure of something. I also think the Valar were a bit more exclusive in their use of resurrection - Pippin is no Gandalf; he's not absolutely necessary to the success of the Quest, so there would have been no reason for him to die and come alive again.
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Old 09-16-2005, 07:23 AM   #8
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Most of the quotes I was going to use have been touched upon. I like this chapter especially because of the Mouth of Sauron. Throughout the work thus far, Sauron is an Eye, a character that dominates the story, yet never really seen physically. The author uses this tool to great effect in the story, enhancing the evil doings and strategies of the character of Sauron. But with the MoS, we are placed as close as we ever will be to Sauron himself. Here we have an entity who, unlike a Wraith, is cogent and communicates excellently.

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Aragorn said naught in answer, but he took the other's eye and held it, and for a moment they strove thus; but soon, though Aragorn did not stir nor move hand to weapon, the other quailed and gave back as if menaced with a blow. 'I am a herald and ambassador, and may not be assailed!' he cried.
Before the Oswane Kenta came to light, I read that passage as some kind of mental \ psycho struggle. After all, the MoS faces and works for Sauron Gorthaur. I dont think a hard stare from anyone would affect him in any way....
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Old 09-17-2005, 08:50 PM   #9
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There are a few things I would like to point out about the MoS. When I read through the book I really enjoyed this scene btu I knew that Sauron did not have the ring, because we left off from book four with Sam taking the ring in "The choices of Master Samwise." However this would be torture to the men of the west not knowing if Sauron had retrieved the ring. I beleive Gandalf at first was mortified, but then realized, wait, they brought out Sam's sword with all Frodo's gear. The trained observer could tell that Sauron did not have the ring, even if they skipped book four and read from 3 to 5 to 4 to 6. The reason Ia m bringing this out is because a blade of Gondolin woul dbe more telling than a blade of the downfallen west. Even the MoS's words point to the fact that Sam is still free if Frodo is not. I do not have my books on me, but the MoS says something along the lines of
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and a spy out of that rat-land called the shire
or something along those lines. If Sauron had caught them both, he would have said some spies. I b eleive Gandalf after thinking about everything realized this and knew that Sam was wise enough to realize that the quest cannot fail. evidenced by the fact that he would have taken Galadriel's light and Frodo's sword, this can be seen by the fact that Galadriel's light was not a token brought out to be shown. This is why I think Gandalf rejected the terms.
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Old 09-19-2005, 09:41 AM   #10
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When the Mouth of Sauron brought out Frodo's belongings, I felt my heart sink. I flashed back to the image of Sam banging on the doors of the Orc tower at the end of TTT and thought that he had been unable to rescue Frodo. I also found myself wondering even more what had happened to Sam after the fateful events of Cirith Ungol. At any rate, those who were not present at that scene might have thought Sam was captured as well.

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He signed to one of his guards, and he came forward bearing a bundle swathed in black cloths. The Messenger put these aside, and there to the wonder and dismay of all the Captains he held up first the short sword that Sam had carried, and next a grey cloak with an elven-brooch, and last the coat of mithril-mail that Frodo had worn wrapped in his tattered garments.
Since Gandalf et al would have no way of knowing that Sam traded swords with Frodo, the appearance of Sam's sword with the other "tokens" would have been an alarm signal that they had both been captured. But as the conversation progresses, I agree with arcticstorm that it becomes more apparent that the Mouth was only referring to Frodo in his bluff. And I think that Gandalf was aware of the bluff.

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It seemed then to Gandalf, intent, watching him as a man engaged in fencing with a deadly foe, that for the taking of a breath the Messenger was at a loss; yet swiftly he laughed again.
Gandalf has been watching the Mouth's responses closely throughout. His last exchange with MoS almost seems to have been a test to see if he was bluffing about having Frodo prisoner or not. When MoS is at a loss to respond, I think that was all Gandalf needed to figure out the bluff. Of course, I wasn't as quick and needed to charge on to the next chapter to find out what happened to Sam, all the while mourning Frodo in the Dark Tower.

Some interesting discussion on the age of MoS:
Magic in Middle Earth

I'd always thought the horse was a real one, possibly one of the horses stolen from the Rohirrim, then made to look frightening by sorcery. No real evidence for that theory though, other than Éomer's speech to Gimil in TTT.

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Some years ago the Lord of the Black Land wished to purchase horses of us at great price, but we refused him. for he puts beasts to evil use. Then he sent plundering Orcs, and they carry off what they can, choosing always the black horses: few of these are now left. For that reason our feud with the Orcs is bitter.
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Old 09-24-2005, 12:23 PM   #11
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This is one of my favorite chapters in the book. There are many emotions through each of the characters that catch my eye. A few months ago, I became very obsessed with those who would not fight
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Originally Posted by The Black Gate Opens
So time and the hopeles journey wore away. Upon the fourth day from the Cross-roads and the sixth from Minas Tirith they came at last to the end of the living lands, and began to pass into the desolation that lay beofre the gates of the Pass of Cirith Gorgor; and they could descry the marshes and the desert that stretched north and west to the Emyn Muil. So desolate were those place and so deep the horror that lay on them that some of the host were unmanned, and they could neither walk nor ride further north.

Aragorn looked at them, and there was pity in his eyes rather than wrath; for these were young men from Rohan, from Westfold far away, or husbandmen from Lossarnach, and to them Mordor had been from childhood a name of evil, and yet unreal, a legend that had no part in their simple life; and now they walked like men in a hideous dream made true, and they understood not this war nor why fate should lead them to such a pass.

'Go!' said Aragorn. 'But keep what honour you may, an ddo not run! And there is a task which you may attempt and so be not wholly shamed. Take your way south-west till you come to Cair Andros, and if that is still ehld by enemies, as I think, then re-take it, if you can; and hold it to the last in defense of Gondor and Rohan.
Well that hurt my hands typing This passage that I have just quoted keeps on intriguing me with possibilities every time I read it. One of them being 'What if Aragorn was not full of pity for the men, but full of wrath. Would he, or could he, cast upon them a curse of the proportion used by Isildur to curse the men that woudn't come to his aid?'. Of course, this brings up many questions, as the famous curses in Tolkien Lore (Curse on the Children of Hurin, and the curse of Morgoth) seem to occur just by the Valar merely speaking them. But as I have said, this involves that which belongs on another thread. Mercy seems to be a key thing throughout the works of Tolkien, and I can only assume Aragorn's mercy was put to good use. Other questions about the matter arise, such as: If the orcs had emptied Cair Andros to fight in Minas Tirith, where would the men go, were they successful in reclaiming the fort (A thought I almost based an RPG off of), and who would have control of the island after the war (Gondor seems the obvious answer, but Aragorn includes Rohan in a manner that could be debated).

Just a quick scratch of the surface. I'll try and analize The mouth later


Edit:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar
Essex, I think it's a matter of use of language - "I made sure you were dead" means "I was sure you were dead" - that's how we would say it today. We may often be mistaken even though we are sure of something.
I've learned the lesson of watching words every since I came across "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo, which of course means "Romeo, Romeo, why are you Romeo?" Quick lesson in English literature!


Edit 2: Oh, and I did think Pippin died the first time I read this. Not just because of his injuries, but because he had seemed to lose the will to live.
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Old 10-23-2005, 06:54 PM   #12
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Here's an old one I didn't have anything to say about before, but upon randomly selecting it for reading this afternoon (a long story, involving two card decks, a dark green felt pen, and a calculator...), I noticed a detail about this chapter that had eluded me in past readings.

It's not a big theological, philosophical, or sociological insight, merely a detail of the battleground's terrain that I had never noticed before. I present, therefore, a couple of quotes:

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Therefore Aragorn now set the host in such array as could best be contrived; and they were drawn up on two great hills of blasted stone and earth that orcs had piled in years of labour. Before them towards Mordor lay like a moat a great mire of reeking mud and foul-smelling pools. When all was ordered, the Captains rode forth towards the Black Gate with a great guard of horsemen and the banner and heralds and trumpeters.
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Then even as he thought these things the first assault crashed into them. The orcs hindered by the mires that lay before the hills halted and poured their arrows into the defending ranks. But through them there came striding up, roaring like beasts, a great company of hill-trolls out of Gorgoroth. Taller and broader than Men they were, and they were clad only in close-fitting mesh of horny scales, or maybe that was their hideous hide; but they bore round bucklers huge and black and wielded heavy hammers in their knotted hands. Reckless they sprang into the pools and waded across, bellowing as they came. Like a storm they broke upon the line of the men of Gondor, and beat upon helm and head, and arm and shield, as smiths hewing the hot bending iron. At Pippin's side Beregond was stunned and overborne, and he fell; and the great troll-chief that smote him down bent over him, reaching out a clutching claw; for these fell creatures would bite the throats of those that they threw down.

emphasis mine

A small detail, perhaps, but one of those details that I didn't notice in my dozen-odd previous readings, and one that totally changes my mind's-eye view of the battle. (And, incidentally, something totally absent from PJ's version.)

It raises a couple of small questions, however, that I'll mention. The first is where did the water come from to make the pools and mud? The rest of this region seems quite waterless. But that's really a minor question.

My second question is a minor one as well, but it deals with the movement of the embassies: on which side of the pools and mud did the meeting between Gandalf, Aragorn, et al, with the Mouth of Sauron take place? My assumption would be on the outer side. If so, how did the Mouth and his escort go through? The description seems to be that these were pretty deep pools if TROLLS were wading through them.

Again, these are minor questions, and I can think of any number of possible answers, but I thought I'd toss them out and see what other people think. Assuming they deign to revisit this old thread...

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Old 11-06-2005, 04:11 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar
Did you think him dead when you first read this passage?
re your question on Ppins 'death'

Funny thing happened yesterday - After 66 years my Mum has finally decided to read the Lord of the Rings (after a fair bit of cadjoling from me) - She came round yesterday and saw me reading TT and it reminded her to update me on where she was in the book (it's taking her a long time!) - She told me she's almost finished, and just got past the bit 'where Pippin dies'. I had to turn away with a wry smile on my face!
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:14 PM   #14
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Not a lot struck me as I finished Book V this time--beyond the thought that that may mean this is the most expendable chapter of Book V, the very one in which the host of the West assaults the Gates if Mordor! In any other book, indeed in the movie renditio , this would be a centerpiece. Here it's a denouement and a cliffhanger, one that's only to be resolved through being overshadowed by the true climax in Book VI.

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This is a touching moment as time is given up to the restoration of this monument, and as a statue of an 'old king' it must be something deserving of respect, particularly by the Gondorians. I wonder which King this statue commemorates.
Given it's location on the road to Minas Ithil, it's just possible it was Isildur. Granted, there's no proof of this at all in the text, it would sharpen Aragorn's point to Sauron to restore it: the Heir of Isildur is come.
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:46 PM   #15
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This chapter brings repetition and contrast to Pippin and Merry's stories. Yet again Pippin is taken onward by Gandalf (and Aragorn) while Merry is stuck behind alone. This time though Pippin is the one who has to fight in battle. And interestingly, though he thinks even killing the Mouth wouldn't quite put him "level" with Merry, he is a lot more proud and happy about his troll kill later on, and arguably gets some pleasure out of boasting about it now and again (like he does to scare away the ruffians). I don't believe Merry ever speaks about his moment of glory. Having touched the "shadow world" in that fashion brings him closer to what Frodo has become, even though he never bore the Ring. So of the four Hobbits, only Pippin remained whole. Pippin's story mimics Bilbo's in TH: there's maturation and wisdom but without the damage - the price Frodo has to pay, and to a lesser extent Sam and Merry.


Every time I read this chapter I can't believe how lucky all the events were in terms of timing. Sure, timing was important in the Ride of the Rohirrim and the Grey Company, but they had a specific target to aim for. Here, Aragorn doesn't know what's happening to Frodo and Sam. He doesn't know if they're alive, or where they are within Mordor (if they even got that far). His timing ends up being perfect, but it hangs so close. A day too late and the Ring might have never made it to Sammath Naur, a day too early and regardless of what happened to the Ring the whole army would have been dead and who knows what forces would be sent out to pillage the poorly defended west. Gandalf sounds very logical and convincing when he pushes this course of action in The Last Debate, but the whole magnitude of their risk - that all the men who go are knowingly setting themselves up to die - only becomes evident in this chapter. The amount of coincidence and good luck in this chapter is overwhelming considering the consequences of failure.

I suppose that plays in to Aragorn's choice to leave so many people behind and not to encourage more to overcome their fear and follow him onto the "doorstep" of Mordor. Everyone who goes, goes willingly because they trust their commanders that this battle is necessary, but a certain death can't be forced onto people.

I find the splitting of the army atop two hills an interesting tactical choice. Hills are good because gravity works for you and against the enemy, and you have more advantage of height, etc. But splitting into 2 parts? If any tactician/historian can explain the value of this decision, I am very curious to know. It seems to me that by analogy of the speed of dissolving of a round piece of ice in water, breaking the volume into two pieces of ice means more surface area and the pieces dissolve faster - which is the opposite of what you want in battle. Clearly the tactic had to have some advantage - the challenge was a suicide mission but not that suicidal.


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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
A small detail, perhaps, but one of those details that I didn't notice in my dozen-odd previous readings, and one that totally changes my mind's-eye view of the battle. (And, incidentally, something totally absent from PJ's version.)

It raises a couple of small questions, however, that I'll mention. The first is where did the water come from to make the pools and mud? The rest of this region seems quite waterless. But that's really a minor question.

My second question is a minor one as well, but it deals with the movement of the embassies: on which side of the pools and mud did the meeting between Gandalf, Aragorn, et al, with the Mouth of Sauron take place? My assumption would be on the outer side. If so, how did the Mouth and his escort go through? The description seems to be that these were pretty deep pools if TROLLS were wading through them.

Again, these are minor questions, and I can think of any number of possible answers, but I thought I'd toss them out and see what other people think. Assuming they deign to revisit this old thread...
Funnily enough, I failed to notice this detail too, presumably too influenced by PJ's landscape to ever think about it, until today. My [new] impression was that the pools were irregular and probably discontinuous in some regions - unlike an actual moat that implies a continuous strip of water - and thus had passages between them of relatively shallow mud.

As to the side of the parley meeting, it says Gandalf&co rode up to shouting distance of the gate. I'm not sure what that implies of the relative distance between the army and the gate, or where along that length the pools and muck would be. If it's really moat-like, I would expect it to be closer to the gate, but then again Mordor can be as huge and overbearing and out-of-proportion as Sauron wants, so who knows - maybe he wanted the mud away from his doorstep.

Edit: crossed with Form. Darn! I meant to get this in before you commented on the chapter.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:53 PM   #16
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Dividing your force between two hills: not optimal, but if the hills aren't very big, too small to get your whole force on just one, then you have a choice: deploy them as Aragorn did, or deploy them in a continuous line with the flanks on the hills. There is merit in that, but on the other hand, it creates a weak spot in the middle of the line where the enemy can break through. Moreover, when you are grossly outnumbered, you want to present as small a front as possible to the enemy, so he can't bring his numbers directly to bear (think Thermopylae).

Of course Aragorn's little army was still doomed barring a miracle (which happened), but if the idea was to buy as much time as possible then two schiltrons on elevated ground make a lot of sense.

What makes ZERO sense is the movies' suicidal banzai charge, which would have been wiped out in five minutes.
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Old 03-10-2019, 08:00 PM   #17
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Thanks!

I still feel that one big circle makes for a "longer death" alternative, but I suppose it comes down to the size of the hills as you said.
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