Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Chapter 7

In the seventh chapter of The Two Towers, BY GANDALF’S BEARD THIS IS SO INTENSE. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.

CHAPTER SEVEN: HELM’S DEEP

I ASKED FOR A BATTLE, AND THEN I GOT ONE, AND THEN I SORT OF REGRETTED ASKING FOR ONE BECAUSE THE ONE I GOT MAKES MY HEART FEEL LIKE IT IS GOING TO BURST.

I will forever be unable to understand how I never read this book before now, and I will forever refuse to forgive myself for thinking it was terrible. I am now in complete awe of this book and how frightening, shocking, and entertaining the first seven chapters are. Tolkien is not taking any breaks here, and in chapter seven, we get perhaps the most tense scene in the whole novel. The riders press on for hours in their journey towards Isengard, and I could sense their determination in Tolkien’s words. They might already be too late to help out what men they have. We’re reminded of this constantly right up until the moment that they arrive. Oh, and of course there’s this:

‘I can see a darkness. There are shapes moving in it, great shapes far away upon the bank of the river; but what they are I cannot tell. It is not mist or cloud that defeats my eyes: there is a veiling shadow that some power lays upon the land, and it marches slowly down stream. It is as if the twilight under the endless trees were flowing downwards from the hills.’

‘And behind us comes a very storm of Mordor,’ said Gandalf. ‘It will be a black night.’

Just what the fuck? What the fuck is that? What has Saruman done? WHAT SORCERY IS THIS? Also, can I just say that I’m really starting to appreciate how Tolkien uses the weather to signify evil and darkness? It’s such an appropriate step towards setting an atmosphere. I know that it’s using the familiar trope of lightness and darkness, but sometimes I just like how an author uses an archetype in their own way, and this is one of those times.

It takes just two days for doom to come upon the Riders when one of the guards/soldiers of Rohan arrives on horseback to tell them of the bad news: things are not looking well for those opposing Saruman. They’re overwhelmed, and Ceorl recommends they return to Edoras immediately. So Théoden does what any good king should do: reveal himself right after this to give the man hope, and order the Riders to continue on. FUCK YEAH. Does this strike you with hope? Of course it does! So now we all get to watch as that hope is slowly and definitively crushed from here on out. The first time it’s chipped away is when Gandalf orders them all to ride to Helm’s Deep to meet him there, and then fucking leaves. Gandalf, oh my god, please stop doing this. Every time you leave, I am convinced you are going to die. And you can only come back from the depths of the middle of the earth ONCE before it becomes permanent. Plus, what the hell is more important than helping your friends and the men of Théoden? Ah, I DON’T LIKE THIS. I mean, I totally get how it gives a new tension to the story and I find it brilliant, but I’m already stressed enough about this book at this point. Why are you adding more to that?

Helm’s Deep is a fascinating place to me, and it’s clear Tolkien wanted to up the stakes here. Every description of the place and of the Riders moving into that valley adds an element of danger. They’re essentially riding into a self-set trap because there’s nowhere to escape. While it will provide a much safer form of defense, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. But, again, they’re desperate to defeat the armies of Saruman now before heading to Isengard. Does it help that they’re news that Gandalf is riding to and fro across the plains? No, because what the holy fuck are you doing Gandalf? Actually, wouldn’t it be hilarious if he departed from the Riders just because he wanted to spend more time riding Shadowfax? Like, he clearly loves that horse and he wants to take Shadowfax on one last frolic before battle. Look, this is my own personal head canon and I refuse to let you take it away from me.

What’s actually terrifying to me, though, is that the “rumour of war” grows behind them. (God, I love that term. Not the sound, but the “rumour.” THAT IS SO BRILLIANT. I love your vocabulary, Tolkien.) They are heading into a closed valley and bringing their enemy behind them. Not only that, but this is AT NIGHT. How horrifying is this? Sure, in the caves, there’s food , but with just over a thousand fighters against a host of untold number, up against a cliff in a gorge, how is this going to end well? Tolkien’s set this up to be a slaughter, and I started worrying. PLEASE DON’T LET THIS ADD BADLY. (PS: The Deeping Wall reminded me of The Wall. Obviously they’re not the same, but I can see where GRR Martin may have been inspired.)

I became increasingly worried when Tolkien started writing cuteness into the book. Look, Legolas and Gimli’s bromance is just one of the most beautiful things in all of fiction. I won’t apologize for loving this:

‘But you comfort me, Gimli, and I am glad to have you standing night with your stout legs and your hard axe. I wish there were more of your kin among us.’

Just stoooooppppppp. Stop it, you two! Stop being cute! I DON’T WANT TOLKIEN TO TAKE YOU AWAY FROM ME. Granted, it’s not like this is a GRRM novel, and Joss Whedon certainly had nothing to do with it. But in face of one of the most brutal battles in the novel so far, this sort of stuff sets off every one of my alarms. It’s like my heart is telling me STOP SHIPPING STOP LIKING JUST STOP IT THIS WILL ONLY HURT STOP IT MARK. But for now, I will allow myself this one moment of wanting to reach through the pages and just hug these two so tight.

That moment is brief. Very brief. The battle of Helm’s Deep arrives just a few paragraphs later, and from this moment until the end of the chapter, I simply held my head in my hands, waiting for the inevitable tragedy. It’s written in such a way that nearly all hope is impossible to experience. The only time I felt it? That brief bit of pure silence after the first attack by the Orcs. The immensity of the gorge is just so frightening in that moment of time. Having it answered with the cries and screams of the enemy is even more upsetting because of how uncertain this feels. The storm of darkness is literal in this case, too, another example of the use of weather to denote evil. Oh god, and the flashes of lightning that accompany it, lighting up the whole valley. The imagery of this assault is so important to the storytelling, and it’s how Tolkien is able to make it so emotional for the reader.

When it comes time for Éomer and Aragorn to fight, I just lost it. I felt terror. I felt joy. I felt fear. I felt the thrill of the battle. I felt confused by the lightning. Did the Orcs bring that, too? How is it striking them? Oh my god, they’re trying to ram down the great gate to enter the wall. Oh shit, GÚTHWINË and ANDÚRIL ARE CUTTING DOWN ORCS OH FUCK THIS IS SO INTENSE.

They turned and ran. At that moment some dozen Orcs that had lain motionless among the slain leaped to their feet, and came silently and swiftly behind. Two flung themselves to the ground at Éomer’s heels, tripped him, and in a moment they were on top of him. But a small dark figure that none had observed sprang out of the shadows a gave a hoarse shout: Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu! An axe swung and swept back. Two Orcs fell headless. The rest fled.

GIMLI YOU BIG LOVABLE DWARF. YOU ARE MY HERO. YOU ARE THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS. I DON’T EVEN HAVE WINGS AND YOU ARE STILL THE WIND BENEATH THEM.

‘Two!’ said Gimli, patting his axe. He had returned to his place on the wall.

‘Two?’ said Legolas. ‘I have done better, though now I must grope for spent arrows; all mine are gone. yet I make my tale twenty at the least. But that is only a few leaves in a forest.’

I swear to Gandalf, I will write you the angriest letter that has ever been written if you separate these two, J.R.R. Tolkien. I don’t fucking care. I will install a headstone next to yours wherever you are buried that says, “THIS DUDE WROTE SOMETHING THAT UPSET ME,” and everyone will know this forever. Seriously, this is like the blueprint for all bromances to ever come.

And it’s right about here where this chapter just takes a nosedive into pure awful: the battle starts to turn sour for the men of Rohan. Out of arrows, tired, aware that they really don’t have anywhere to go, and with the threat of Orcs behind the wall, I felt so terrible reading this. Sure, it was reassuring that Gimli slaughtered NINETEEN MORE ORCS, but what’s nineteen to the hundreds more that arrive afterward? What about the half-orc and goblin-men? I mean, I can’t get over the fact that Sarumen BRED THESE CREATURES FOR WAR. Like, what kind of fucked up existence is that? You are created by a wizard to do his evil deeds. What the hell?

OH RIGHT. THEN THE ORCS USE SOMETHING TO BLOW A HOLE IN THE WALL. What does this?? Is this like wizard dynamite? Either way, WHAT THE FUCK. Oh my god, the orcs are raising ladders to the wall. A HUNDRED OF THEM. HOW. HOW ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO FIGHT THIS? OH MY GOD THIS IS SO AWFUL. Oh fuck, Legolas only has one arrow left. OH MY GOD ARAGORN JUST TRIPPED AND THE ORCS ARE ON HIM OH MY GOD HE WAS SAVED BY A BOULDER HELP ME THIS IS TOO MUCH TO BEAR.

‘Where is Gimli?’

‘I do not know,’ said Aragorn. ‘I last saw him fighting on the ground behind the wall, but the enemy swept us apart.’

‘Alas! That is evil news,’ said Legolas.

I SWEAR. I WILL DO IT, TOLKIEN. YOU BETTER NOT DO THIS. STOP IT. JUST STOP IT. GIMLI IS FINE AND THAT IS THE END OF IT.

Aragorn now passed into the citadel. There to his dismay he learned that Éomer had not reached the Hornburg.

AH, YOU’RE JUST FUCKING WITH ME NOW. Éomer as well?!?!?!?! DAMN IT, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME? WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?

When Legolas and Aragorn speak with Théoden inside Hornburg, the news is grim. No Gimli, no Éomer, and almost no hope that the enemy is close to stopping. I respect the fact that given this news, Théoden decides he isn’t just going to sit back and go out while hiding. He recruits Aragorn to ride out of Hornburg at dawn for one last attack against the Orcs swarming outside. But before this happens, Aragorn teases the Orcs below the wall for a bit. Bless his heart. I’d forgotten that Orcs could talk, though, so for like half a second, it was like this was a brand new development for me. But the real importance of this scene is how Aragorn can create fear in others just by talking with confidence in his voice. He can be such an unassuming character sometimes because he’s not quick to speak, so it’s one of the reasons why he’s so impressive when he does.

Then the great horn of Helm rang out. And all hell breaks loose. It’s one of the most chaotic scenes I’ve ever read in literature, and Tolkien handles it so well. Théoden rides out in a splendor on the back of Snowmane, with Aragorn at his side, and all the men of Rohan that are still alive pour out of Hornburg behind him to make one last assault. It’s just so impressive. But it is pretty much nothing to what they all discover in the Deeping-coomb:

The dale is gone. THERE’S A FOREST IN ITS PLACE. WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!? HOW CAN THE LAND CHANGE OVERNIGHT? Is that even fucking possible?

There suddenly upon a ridge appeared a rider, clad in white, shining in the rising sun. Over the low hills the horns were sounding. Behind him, hastening down the long slopes, were a thousand men on foot; their swords were in their hands. Amid them strode a man tall and strong. His shield was red. As he came to the valley’s brink, he set to his lips a great black horn and blew a ringing blast.

HOLY SHIT!!!!!! Gandalf, you got Erkenbrand and a thousand more men? YOU BEAUTIFUL GODDAMN WIZARD. I don’t know how you did it, and I don’t care. BLESS YOU. BLESS YOU FOREVER. Oh my god, just when I thought this was going to be a disaster, you save everyone. The Orcs have fled and the way is now clear to head to Isengard.

Just holy shit, y’all.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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382 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Chapter 7

  1. Jenny_M says:

    The idea of a forest just appearing overnight is so endlessly cool to me. I think the first time I read this chapter I thought it was boring, but now that I'm older I can appreciate the way Tolkien sets up a battle that isn't confusing at all. I have to say, most fantasy authors lose me in battle scenes, but Tolkien never does. I think it's because he introduces just a few key players, instead of trying to give me the name of EVERY KNIGHT FIGHTING (sorry GRRM, but eventually all the Sers just blur the fuck together).

    • Castlewayjay says:

      And that appears to be an Orc-eating forest ….

    • cait0716 says:

      I tend to skip battle scenes. I just can't follow them and I don't quite care. I skim them to find out if anyone dies but I can't make the details stick in my brain. I skipped entire chapters of ASOIAF because of this and could never quite get into The Iliad. Following them in movies is equally hard because for some reason directors like to have lots of cuts and cameras swooshing all over the place and I just get dizzy and have to close my eyes. I'm probably one of the few people who was actually really happy that they didn't include the big battle in the Game of Thrones TV series.

      • plaidpants says:

        I'm the same way – battle scenes get very chaotic and confusing for me, so I'm glad when they don't last too long. I forget who is doing what and how these things matter. I think on film it is a bit better for me, because I can visually see what is happening, but on paper I just get lost.

      • Jenny_M says:

        On film, I have a hard time unless the actor is a Famous Actor (IE: facial recognition famous). Like, if Brad Pitt is on the Good Guy's side, I recognize when he's getting hurt/succeeding. However, if it's infantryman number four, I'm like…unless one side has a neon green uniform and the other side has a neon pink uniform I HAVE NO IDEA WHO JUST DIED.

        • cait0716 says:

          I have such a hard time telling people apart unless I actually know them as "famous actor". My brain encodes characters either at the level of "Brad Pitt" or as "tall brunette man". If two people happen to fit the same general description I spend the entire movie thinking that they're the same character unless they have a scene together. It actually took me 4 or 5 viewings to be able to tell the difference between Merry and Pippin because they look so similar.

        • PArcadia says:

          I always wondered if that's the reason that on film, the Famous Actors rarely wear helmets. Because HELMETS GOOD, and yet they're mostly bareheaded.

          But someone told me that that was common for army leaders, and as Famous Actors in Battle Scenes are often army leaders, well.

      • Geolojazz says:

        Oh yay for the Iliad! The Catalogue of Ships, anyone? So there's this ship with this many dudes and this guy's the captain, here's a bit about him. Now there's this ship with this many dudes and that guy's the captain…

        • cait0716 says:

          I was supposed to read it for a mythology course in college, and the professor actually told us to skip that portion. I ended up skipping the whole book. I still want to read it some day, but finishing a book in a week when you're taking 18 credits is nearly impossible

        • roguebelle says:

          I am enough of a nerd that I counted them up once. Helen's is actually the face that launched 1076 ships. ;D

        • Angie says:

          That's definitely a snoozer bit, but it's generally believed all the lists of ships and captains and guys were added as the poem moved around; whenever someone was telling it in a town or village or wherever, if there wasn't already someone in the Iliad from that area, they'd add in the name of whatever local heroes, to make the locals feel a connection, cheer, and tip better. :) If you're really into Ancient Greek history, at the local level, you'll notice that some of the people who supposedly sailed off to Troy together lived a century or three apart. Or so I've read; I'm not quite that into Ancient Greek history. It makes sense, though, from the POV of a bard-type who wants to make a few coins. And so that part of the poem grew and grew until it was ridiculously long by the time someone wrote it down.

      • Summeriris says:

        Battle scenes can be hard to follow. I like David Gemmel's battle scenes. I have no problem following them. I think it helps that I read a lot of miltary history. I think if anybody really wants to study how to follow a batle scene you can't do better than reading about Gettysburg. The Union if up on the hieghts (Helm's Deep), the orcs make many sorties, (Devils Den, Little Round Top and Early's assault on the left), and then you have Theoden and Aragon do someting like a Pickett's Charge down into the body of orcs. Only they have horses, they win, they get reiforcements and Robert E Lee is nothing like Saruman.

        • cait0716 says:

          I actually read The KIller Angels by Michael Shaara last year in an attempt to understand this a bit better. But I had a really hard time with that book, and it ended up just making me angry. I've tried reading a variety of military history, from Caesar's account of the Gallic War to descriptions of The Vietnam War. It never seems to get easier or more interesting. I think my brain just wasn't made to understand battle strategies and tactics.

          • flootzavut says:

            The one military history book which I enjoyed and (more or les) understood was one called The Hinge Factor – I don't even remember the author. It's about the deciding points of various battles. I think I found it more edible (I'm sure there is a word more appropriate to reading, but can't seem to find it, and you'll catch my drift I'm sure!) because it wasn't all about ONE battle or ONE war. Though reading about war is never exactly fun, it gave me an appreciation of some of the events in the book that I am sure I wouldn't otherwise have.

    • eruonna says:

      > The idea of a forest just appearing overnight is so endlessly cool to me.

      To Tolkien as well. The story is that when he read Macbeth, he was disappointed that the woods did not actually come to Dunsinane and resolved to include such a scene in his own work.

      I'd imagine that Tolkien's battle descriptions are strongly influenced by his experience in WWI.

    • JustMalyn says:

      And again, "When Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane" ;) I WILL NEVER NOT THINK ENTS WHEN I READ MACBETH.

  2. Sindragosa says:

    Anyone who enjoys Tolkien's vocabulary should read 'The Lay of Leithian'. Aloud.

  3. Castlewayjay says:

    My only comment- Mark when u do watch the films watch them on the BIGGEST SCREEN POSSIBLE. Ok ?

    • Smurphy says:

      We have a projector in our basement… I mean not as cool as originally in theatres. (especially 2 towers when my family got there entirely too late and we were way too close and this scene made me ridiculously motion-sick). Anyway when we got this projector and I had to pick a movie to watch on it for the first time I specifically picked lord of the rings. It. Was. Awesome.

      • msw188 says:

        Haha, when I went to see Two Towers for the first time I was with a group of friends, and because four of us tried to sit together we ended up in the front row too. It was awful, and I remember being surprised when I finally saw the opening sequence and realized its not just a huge clusterfuck, and you CAN sort of tell what's going on.

        • Smurphy says:

          Just the memory of it is making my stomach churn… or maybe I'm just hungry.

          A couple days later I went to see it in theatres again. I made sure to get there early and it was a much more enjoyable experience. But yes, the movie does help put some of these more complex scenes in order.

      • Jenny_M says:

        When Fellowship was still in theaters, I had a friend who had an honest-to-God screening room in her house. I remember going over there and we were watching some movie on it, and I started crying because I was like "when LotR is over, I will NEVER be able to see it on the big screen again. I wish I were rich so I could have a screening room!"

        So now my goal in life is to have a screening room just so I can watch LotR!

        • eregyrn says:

          Little did you know about the future studios' penchant for re-releasing films in theaters! (This past summer's EE Trilogy Tuesdays was AWESOME.)

          • Jenny_M says:

            Would you believe I missed ALL THREE OF THEM? It was a dastardly combination of work and more work.

            • tari says:

              Oh gosh! I was nine and a half months pregnant when Two Towers came out. But there I was on opening day. Missing all three? That is a tragedy!

          • flootzavut says:

            I'd love to see the EE on the big screen. That would be fabulous.

      • cait0716 says:

        Very cool. When the extended editions came out on DVD, one of my teachers hosted screenings using the projector in his classroom. It wasn't as big as a movie theater, but it was bigger than a TV screen and lots of fun.

      • notemily says:

        I remember once I was in an electronics store waiting for some friends to be done shopping, and EVERY SINGLE TV was playing the scene from Fellowship in which Frodo says they should get off the road because the Black Rider is coming–you know the one with the [jrveq mbbz rssrpg.] And it was on repeat. So I just sat there watching the hobbits be terrified over, and over, and over…

    • Jordan says:

      Yes – biggest screen possible.
      Also, after you watch all the films, you should liveblog the extended editions and bonus material (which adds up to many many days)

  4. cait0716 says:

    My favorite part of this chapter is Legolas and Gimli's competition to see who can kill the most orcs.

    • Kudz says:

      Yes! And when Gimli gets up to twenty-one Legolas is all "LOL except I killed a bunch more since then, sorry!" Bless their hearts.

    • Sarah TX says:

      Honestly, this is probably my favorite part of the whole series. OK, it's in my top 5 favorite parts. Legolas is just such a jolly old elf! Like, "LOL why everyone so grim, let's have a contest!"

  5. Becky_J_ says:

    Here are a couple of my thoughts on this chapter….

    ~WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU GOING GANDALF. I swear, he leaves at the worst possible times.
    ~Yeah, WHY DO YOU MISS WORMTONGUE, THEODEN. Were you not AWARE that he is the scum on the shoe of a slimeball?
    ~"Aragorn and Legolas were now with Theoden in the van."Alright, monkeybutter, I have to blame you for this one…. I AM QUITE LITERALLY PICTURING THE THREE OF THEM IN THE MYSTERY MACHINE. My brain… I think it broke.
    ~Okay, Mark, STOP BEING A TRUE SEER. There has been at least two, possibly more, times in the last couple of reviews that you have mentioned something that then happens in the next chapter. BIG BATTLE SCENE, HERE YOU GO!
    ~Speaking of…. I get we have to have a battle, but does it have to be in the dark AND while it's raining? Really, Tolkien? Is it just too easy to fight on a nice, sunny day?
    ~Tolkien provides such cool imagery for this battle…. like a black sea breaking upon a cliff in a wild storm. Awesome. It makes it that much more better when dawn comes, and brings with it The White Rider and victory!
    ~GIMLI. You badass you. "Excuse me, I don't THINK any gross Orcs like you are going to slay my friend here. I mean, really, we JUST agreed to be friends…. I wouldn't want to be losing him so soon!"
    ~Great son of a hobbit, Legolas, do you HAVE to boast? Yes, we get that you have great eyesight, we get that you are really old, and we get that you can kill a ton of Orcs. Can you just let Gimli have his moment here??
    ~Okay, I changed my mind, the battle-count between Legolas and Gimli is now MY FAVORITE THING EVER. Just another teasing sign of affection from my favorite bromance!
    ~Yeah, fighting Uruk-hai, WE GET THAT YOU ARE THE FIGHTING URUK-HAI. You don't have to say it in every sentence. Good lord
    ~THANKS FOR SHOWING UP GANDALF (Okay, I'm sure he did more to help than meets the eye, BUT STILL)
    ~……Look, I know the forest is on our side, but THAT THING IS TERRIFYING. There are many, many things I would run from, but a host of conscious, moving trees is probably near the top of my list.

    but YAY WE WIN HELM'S DEEP!!!! And now for some Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli love, in honor of Legolas and Gimli's scorekeeping:
    <img src="http://30.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lyn0616Nnp1qjzpqto1_500.jpg"&gt;

    Also, I found this, and I can't NOT share it. I mean, seriously, HELMS DEEP IS THE BEST
    <img src="http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lymv8iB2v41qc5r60o1_500.png"&gt;

    Okay, fine, ONE MORE. Only because IT WAS PRETTY MUCH MADE FOR YOU MARK
    <img src="http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lykqm82yUl1r5hj55o1_500.jpg"&gt;

    • cait0716 says:

      I think Gimli would take offense at being referred to as half a man. Dwarves are clearly worth two men at least.

    • monkeybutter says:

      muahahahaha

    • Fiona says:

      '~Speaking of…. I get we have to have a battle, but does it have to be in the dark AND while it's raining? Really, Tolkien? Is it just too easy to fight on a nice, sunny day? '

      I'm guessing the cast and crew of the film really want to thank him for that. Ah filming that looked like hell on earth. I probably would have disappeared home after a couple of hours and quit. Then again Viggo and the rest are complete BAMFs so of course they would survive it :). Gur fgbel nobhg Ivttb oernxvat n gbbgu naq nfxvat sbe gurz gb whfg tyhr vg onpx gbtrgure fb ur pbhyq xrrc srryvat pbzrf gb zvaq :D.

      • flootzavut says:

        Gung zna vf NJRFBZR naq ZNQR BS NJRFBZR naq fghss.

        <img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v172/sarahce/viggo_awesome.gif&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos" />

        • Fiona says:

          I ship the hell out of those two every time. So much homoerotic subtext it's almost text :).

          • flootzavut says:

            Who is the guy on the left? I *KNOW* I recognise him, but I have NO idea why.

            I laughed so much when I found this pic, it was a must-post :D I don't even know what film it's from… I assume the one with the Russian mafia?? :$ yeah I just thought it was brilliant :D

            • Fiona says:

              He's Vincent Cassel, a French actor. I don't think there were many Russians playing the Russian characters in that film but I love it anyway.

              • Fiona says:

                I think he was in Black Swan so that may be where you recognise him from, unless you haven't seen it of course.

              • flootzavut says:

                Ahhhhhh now I remember both why I know him, and why I assumed it was the Russian mafioso movie: I've seen him in a few things and also he played a Russian guy in a slightly odd Nicole Kidman movie "Birthday Girl"… as far as I recall, his Russian accent is pretty good :)

                I haven't seen Black Swan – having read about it, I'm wayyyyyyyyyy too chicken :o :$ :D

              • Patrick721 says:

                He was also in Ocean's Twelve.

    • flootzavut says:

      "Aragorn and Legolas were now with Theoden in the van."Alright, monkeybutter, I have to blame you for this one…. I AM QUITE LITERALLY PICTURING THE THREE OF THEM IN THE MYSTERY MACHINE. My brain… I think it broke.

      BWAHAHAHA I literally just laughed so hard I scared my mum…

    • flootzavut says:

      The living moving trees things scares the crapola out of me… I'm mildly botanophobic, I've literally had nightmares about plants getting me, so THANK YOU FOR THAT, TOLKIEN (not)…

    • tardis_stowaway says:

      ~Speaking of…. I get we have to have a battle, but does it have to be in the dark AND while it's raining? Really, Tolkien? Is it just too easy to fight on a nice, sunny day?

      Tolkien served in WWI. Given what I've heard about that war, I think fighting conditions at Helm's Deep were practically pleasant compared to what Tolkien and his friends may have experienced.

      Aragorn and Legolas were now with Theoden in the van."Alright, monkeybutter, I have to blame you for this one…. I AM QUITE LITERALLY PICTURING THE THREE OF THEM IN THE MYSTERY MACHINE.

      LOL! Now I'm picturing Saruman saying "And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

  6. knut_knut says:

    LEGOLAS AND GIMLI!!!<3 That is all. This slightly lulzy picture is the cover of my copy of TTT, and I’m assuming it takes place at Helm’s Deep.
    <img src="http://i1168.photobucket.com/albums/r489/knutiscute/ttt2.jpg"&gt;
    Look at Gimli’s rippling muscles and Legolas’ golden hair! No wonder they fell in love became bffs.

    And now for the question everyone else will probably ask, but I don’t want to feel out of the loop so I’m going to ask it anyway: Jung qvq lbh thlf guvax bs gur punatrf va gur zbivr znqr gb gur onggyr bs Uryz’f Qrrc, cnegvphyneyl gur ryirf? Rira gubhtu gur ryirf ner ernyyl pbby naq birenyy, gung onggyr vf bar bs zl snibhevgr zbivr onggyrf rire, vg gbbx zr n ERNYYL ybat gvzr gb trg hfrq gb. V thrff CW jnagrq gb qvssreragvngr orgjrra Gur Onggyr bs Uryz’f Qrrc naq Gur Onggyr bs Cryraabe Svryqf, naq guvf jnl gur ObCS ERNYYL frrzrq ubcryrff. Znlor.

    • Jenny_M says:

      OMG that cover looks like my cover of Flowers in the Attic, which was all the rage in my 6th grade class (apparently flowery incest came back into vogue in the early 90s – who knew?). Legolas even has Cathy Dollanganger hair!

      • gonzoron says:

        You all take that back, right now! That's my cover picture too, and it's badass and cool, and for the 15-odd years or so between when I first read the books and when the movies came out, that's exactly how I pictured Leggy & Gims. There's nothing cheesy about it. (ok, maybe the feathered hair…) Viva la 80's!

      • arctic_hare says:

        I might be able to explain that, sorta? I regularly read this blog because lulz, and apparently V.C. Andrews died in 1986, and yet the publishers didn't announce her death until 1990. Wut. So maybe there was some kind of resurgence of interest after that news broke?

        Also, in a hilarious coincidence for this site, the actress that played Cathy later went on to play Buffy in the 1992 movie.

    • hansfish says:

      That was the edition I got from the library when I was reading LotR for the first time. It took me a truly shameful amount of time to figure out that was Legolas standing behind Gimli.

      • knut_knut says:

        Have you seen the ROTK cover to go with this one? I can’t figure out if the blonde person is Legolas or not… or who anyone other than Aragorn or Gandalf is. I don’t know if it’s a spoiler to post it, but I’ll wait until we get to RoTK

    • stingingpetals says:

      Zl vzcerffvba bs gur Onggyr bs Uryz’f Qrrc vf gung Fnehzna’f sbeprf fubhyq unir jba. Gurl unq gur fhcrevbe ahaoref naq grpuabybtl. Vg ernyyl ybbxrq nf gubhtu gurl pbhyq’ir jbea gur Ebuveevz qbja, fgneirq gurz naq riraghnyyl gnxra Gurbqra “yvxr na byq onqtre va n genc” nf ur fnlf fb jryy.

      Ubjrire, gur Ebuveevz ner gur “Tbbq Thlf” fb gurer jnf n arrq sbe fbzr Qrhf Ryirf Znpuvan gb znxr gur svtug zber rirayl zngpurq.

      V’z irel cebhq bs Qrhf Ryirf Znpuvan. Urr!

    • blossomingpeach says:

      The first Middle Earth romance novel!

    • Zoli says:

      lol, what is that picture? The sad sad quality of 70's and 80's cover art never fails to impress me with how bad it is. XD

      V qba'g guvax gur nqqvgvba bs gur ryirf znxrf n jubyr ybg bs frafr va gur ovttre pbagrfg– jnfa'g gur cbvag gung zbfg bs gur ryirf unir yrsg Zvqqyr Rnegu nyernql va gur snpr bs Fnheba'f eriviny? Fb V qba'g xabj jurer gur uryy gurl tbg nyy gubfr rkgen jneevbef sebz. Ohg vg qbrf znxr gur onggyr n ovg qvssrerag, naq birenyy Uryz'f Qrrc vf fb rcvp gung V xvaq bs qba'g pner.

      • flootzavut says:

        I think your last sentence pretty much sums up my feelings :)

      • ARITHMANCER says:

        Va gur obbxf gurer ner ersreraprf gung fhttrfg gur Ryirf *ner* svtugvat Fnheba. Qnyr, gur Ybaryl Zbhagnva, naq Zvexjbbq (na rys-xvatqbz ehyrq ol Yrtbynf' sngure), naq nyfb Ybguybevra. Guvf jnf abg va gur zbivrf.

        V guvax Wnpxfba jnagrq gb unir Ryirf va bar bs gur onggyrf gb fubj gung gur Ryirf jub jrer fgvyy va Zvqqyr Rnegu, jrer fgvyy svtugvat gbb, naq abg whfg tvivat nqivpr naq zntvpny vgrzf sebz gur fvqryvarf.

        Ab qjneirf, gubhtu. Ohg V guvax gung jnf ybtvfgvpf. Ybguybevra vf pybfr gb Ebuna. Gur Ybaryl Zbhagnva, gur Veba Uvyyf, naq gur uvyyf gb gur jrfg bs gur Fuver…abg fb zhpu.

        Naljnl, vg jnf n punatr, ohg vg yrq gb fbzr ybiryl zbivr fprarf fb V nz svar jvgu vg.

    • vivelabagatel says:

      … I now desperately want that edition, whether or not it is in a language I understand. Please tell me where it's from!

    • stellaaaaakris says:

      OH.MY.GOD.

      Thank you for posting this. It's like the cover of Fabio romance novel. Gimli has the rippling muscles and is gazing intently off to the side, and Legolas has the flowing Farrah Fawcett hair.

      This is a thing of beauty.

    • monkeybutter says:

      <img src="http://i44.tinypic.com/28gtl6o.gif"&gt;

      OH MY GOD.

      LEGOLAS HAS FEATHERED HAIR.

      ALSO: TOLD YOU ABOUT THE TANNING.

      FEATHERED.

      HAIR.

      I NEED A VAN TO AIRBRUSH THIS ON.

      BLESS YOU KNUT_KNUT.

    • Geolojazz says:

      I've always been partial to the feathered look.

    • Dreamflower says:

      OMG! That COVER! I thought I'd seen most of the LotR covers, but I never saw THAT one!

      Gur Ryirf qvqa'g znxr n ybg bs frafr, rira jvguva gur pbagrkg bs gur zbivr– Unyqve fnlf Ryebaq frag gurz, ohg Unyqve vf bar bs gur Ybguybevra Ryirf. Naq nz V gur bayl bar jub gubhtug bs Ihypnaf?

      Ohg vg jnfa'g bar bs gur punatrf gung vexrq zr.

    • platoapproved says:

      YES I still have a copy of that edition lying around somewhere back home …. in addition to that truly glorious cover, it's also BRIGHT, TACKY PURPLE, is it not?

    • Leah-san says:

      WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN
      LOOK AT THE LOOK LEGOLAS GIVES HIM
      <img src="http://i39.tinypic.com/xpprg2.gif"&gt;
      THIS IS THE BEST

    • Leah-san says:

      WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN
      LOOK AT THE LOOK LEGOLAS GIVES HIM
      <img src="http://i39.tinypic.com/xpprg2.gif"&gt;
      THIS IS THE BEST

    • Sarah TX says:

      Crefbanyyl, V guvax gur punatrf gb Gurbqra'f punenpgre naq gur Ovt Onggyrf ner zl yrnfg snibevgr cnegf bs gur zbivr – abg whfg guvf bar ohg gur Onggyr bs Cryyrabe svryqf. Gnyx nobhg Qrhf rk Znpuvan!

    • Smurphy says:

      Legolas's hair… lols.

    • msw188 says:

      Ok, first of all, that Legolas is just flat out awful, haha.

      Nf sbe gur zbivr, V nterr gung vg qbrfa'g ernyyl znxr culfvpny frafr. Naq vg'f rira jbefr jura lbh nfx lbhefrys, "jnvg, jurer qvq gurl nyy tb?" nsgre gur onggyr. V guvax vg jnf qbar sbe n pbhcyr bs ernfbaf. Svefg, orsber gur ryirf neevir, gur vaperqvoyr ubcryrffarff vf ernyyl oryvrinoyr, naq gura nsgre gurl neevir, gur cbffvovyvgl bs fhpprrqvat (be ng yrnfg ynfgvat nf ybat nf gurl qvq) vf nyfb oryvrinoyr. Frpbaq, gurer'f n jro bs vffhrf urer gung ehaf zber be yrff fb:

      -Rexraoenaq vf n gbgny haxabja, naq vg jbhyq unir orra bqq va n svyz gb unir uvf neeviny zrna nalguvat gb nalbar. Fb Rbzre vf chg va gung ebyr.
      -Guhf Rbzre pnaabg or ng gur onggyr vgfrys, naq Nentbea qbrf abg unir n 'enyylvat' sevraq
      -Chggvat Unyqve va gung ebyr znxrf fbzr xvaq bs frafr, fvapr Nentbea boivbhfyl xabjf uvz; vg nyfb nyybjf sbe na rzbgvbany qrngu fprar, juvpu vf urycshy va svyz vs lbh jnag n jne gb pbaarpg jvgu crbcyr

      Svanyyl, V guvax gur svyzznxref jnagrq gb erzvaq hf gung Ryebaq naq Tnynqevry znggre. Guvf frrzf gb or gur zbfg qverpgyl bafperra jnl bs qbvat fb. Fvzvyneyl jvgu Nejra, naq nqqvat gur jubyr fprar bs ure zlfgrevbhfyl urycvat uvz fheivir uvf "ghzoyr bss gur pyvss".

    • sudden_eyes says:

      Cannot. Unsee.

      Must go look at photos of Orlando Bloom now!

    • threerings13 says:

      V guvax gur ryirf ng Uryz'f Qrrc ner haarprffnel naq qba'g znxr zhpu frafr jura lbh guvax nobhg vg, ohg ng gur fnzr gvzr gurl arire ERNYYL obgurerq zr. V ernyyl ybir gur onggyr va gur zbivr.

    • ravenclaw42 says:

      LOOOOOL you beat me to it! And your picture quality is way better than the one I was going to post. XD I have that whole set – karmic balance for my lovely Michael Hague Hobbit, I guess? I also have a much nicer set with Tolkien's watercolors for cover art, but I always read these copies because they're so awful I don't care how much they get abused. So all the dogeared pages, underlines, broken spines etc are inflicted on poor L'Oreal-ad Gimli and Farrah-hair Legolas. The RotK cover is a thing of terror beauty as well.

      Gur punatrf gb Uryz'f Qrrc va gur svyz qba'g obgure zr – gur jubyr frdhrapr ehaf ba cher Ehyr bs Pbby, ohg V pna'g ernyyl or obgurerq gb avgcvpx orpnhfr FUVRYQ-FHESVAT. Gur bayl guvat V ernyyl zvff vf gur rkpunatr orgjrra Yrtbynf naq Tvzyv gung unccraf va gur arkg puncgre, jurer Tvzyv thfurf bire gur pnirf naq gurl nterr gb ebnqgevc gbtrgure nsgre gur Dhrfg vf qbar. Ohg gung cebonoyl jbexf orggre ba gur cntr naljnl.

      Vf vg jebat gung zl snibevgr guvat nobhg zbivr!Uryz'f Qrrc vf nyy gur nznmvat gnyrf sebz gur frg? V ybir gur oruvaq-gur-fprarf fghss yvxr oheavat. Rira gur Ryirf ner jbegu vg sbe gur raqyrff cenaxvat orgjrra "enprf."

      • flootzavut says:

        V ybir oruvaq gur fprarf fghss fb zhpu vg'f haurnygul :D V'ir abg cebcreyl frra gur RR oruvaq gur fprarf fghss sbe ntrf orpnhfr V ybnarq zl QIQ bhg, ohg V erzrzore vg sbaqyl…

    • notemily says:

      OH MY GOD. "Slightly" lulzy?

    • arctic_hare says:

      OMG THAT'S MY COPY TOO. IS IT NOT HORRIBLE AND HILARIOUS? HILARRIBLE! xD xD xD

      • knut_knut says:

        I keep trying to buy a new set, one that isn't hilarrible, but I can't seem to let these ones go! THEY'RE TOO RIDICULOUS! Plus, they came out the year I was born- it's a sign, we're meant to be.

        • arctic_hare says:

          The funny thing for me is that I got them new, many many years later, so they were clearly in print for a long long time. xD WHY. For Mark Reads FOTR, I didn't have access to my copy because my sister's been borrowing it for like… well over a year now, I think, so I had to get a copy from the library that was this nice hardcover that had an Alan Lee picture on the cover. At some point I'll splurge on something similar for myself for all three, and let her just have the loltastic editions (much the way I did with the similar edition of The Hobbit after I got my Alan Lee hardcover copy).

        • Rheinman says:

          OK, now I feel old.

    • Alice says:

      OMG!!!!They are so cute!!<3 <3

    • episkey825 says:

      Oh my… that cover is amazing! I keep scrolling back up to look at it again and then I feel guilty? Like I'm intruding on their private moment or something.

  7. atheistsisters says:

    Agh, we watched this on the theatrical version last night. I'm a total wuss and always have been about movies, so I'm constantly shutting my eyes and covering my ears in the Helms Deep battle. One is tempted to do that when reading it, though, which is a real feat of storytelling.

    Qba'g jbeel, znex, sbe bapr na nhgube unf yvfgrarq gb lbhe cyrn. Gur qjnes funyy or erhavgrq jvgu gur rys, fb qba'g jbeel!

    Bu, naq lbhe ynfg cnentencu? Lbh'ir tbg lbhe snpgf n ovg zvkrq hc gurer, YBY.

  8. stefb4 says:

    I will forever be unable to understand how I never read this book before now, and I will forever refuse to forgive myself for thinking it was terrible.

    It's okay now, Mark. You've learned your lesson.

  9. rabidsamfan says:

    Landscapes and weather. It's like Tolkien makes them into characters in this story.

  10. stefb4 says:

    Also, seeing Legolas at Helm's Deep in the TT trailers for the first time in theaters is what actually made me interested in seeing LotR. HE WAS VERY PRETTY AND I WAS TWELVE AND IT WAS ALL THAT MATTERED.

    <img src="http://i1141.photobucket.com/albums/n588/stefb1/PhotoTTTLegolasHelmsDeep.jpg"&gt;

    • stingingpetals says:

      V ungrq gur fhes-qbja-gur-fgnvef-ba-n-fuvryq-qhqr! guvat. Vg gbbx zr evtug bhg bs gur zbivr.

    • CoyoteSister says:

      Oh thank you, I am so glad I'm not the only one.

      I was only kind of into him, but then my sister bought me a six-foot poster of him with a bow, to hang over my bed. And then it was like falling asleep with an elf guarding you! And, you know, they can see for MILES! Everything!

      As an adult, I must concede it's dwarves who are the truly hot ones in LotR.

      • flootzavut says:

        Haha that is kind of awesome, to have Leggy guarding you!

      • ABBryant says:

        I have a 12 foot long hanging poster for RotK hanging on my bedroom wall… It takes up the entire wall. It also has BZTUBG!Nentbea, BZTUBG!Yrtbynf naq BZTUBG!Tnaqnys placed prominently. And Abg fb Ubg Tbyyhz as well, but that's why I have a really tall thin bookcase.

      • adlerism says:

        i drive around with an Aragorn cardboard cutout in the passenger seat.

      • @silmerin says:

        I had the Legolas and Arwen cardboard stand-up figures standing over my bed. CREEPY AS FUCK in hindsight, I'll admit.

        I also had a friend who pretended to make out with said Legolas on more than one occasion. Another time, I came home from swim practice only to find that my brother had taped Arwen to the ceiling, upside-down.

        In conclusion, character stand-ups are weird and encourage people to engage in bizarre behavior.

    • JustMalyn says:

      So gorgeous <3 Billy Boyd may be my favorite LOTR crush, but Orlando is not far behind.

    • enchantedsleeper says:

      Aaaaah…. my first film crush <3

  11. Zoli says:

    Yeah, honestly, I skipped over this chapter when I was rereading TTT. I was like "Mm, fighting, whatever, when are we going to catch up with Merry and Pippin? I want hobbits!" I came back and read it later, but… I found it really, really hard to follow any of the action. It all seemed very rushed and I couldn't get a clear picture of what was going on. I much prefer the movie version for clarity and epic visuals.

    Also! Look what I found! They're going to make Lord of the Rings Legos!: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/lord

    (Shouldn't be any spoilers in the link: they feature one set of Orcs/Nazgul/Gollum and then the Fellowship figures)

    • Saphling says:

      Ohhhh, I hope they make a Lego LotR video game. *shinyeyes* Preciouusss…

    • cait0716 says:

      My first time through I spent most of this chapter wondering where the hell Frodo and Sam were.

      • flootzavut says:

        V svaq vg ernyyl vagrerfgvat gung Znex vf fb pnhtug hc va gur npgvba ur frrzf gb unir sbetbggra nobhg Fnz naq Sebqb, ng yrnfg n yvggyr – V guvax gung'f n ovt pbzcyvzrag gb Gbyxvra'f jevgvat bs gur ynfg srj puncgref!

  12. Robin says:

    I must have a strange mind.
    When Eomer siad Guthwine for the Mark, I thought how do Eomer know Mark but realised a second later that he mean Riddermark=)

  13. chikzdigmohawkz says:

    So that forest that just appears – apparently Tolkien saw a production of 'The Scottish Play' when he was younger and he was just so excited to see 'Birnam wood…come to Dunsinane'. And then…he found out that it wasn't the actual forest that was moving, it was soldiers pretending to be trees in order to sneak up on Dunisnane Castle. Which was quite the disappointment. So then years later he wrote this scene because a walking forest is awesome, which is something Shakespeare should have known. Clearly.

    • Rheinman says:

      "Gung Fpbggvfu Cynl" jnf cebonoyl na vafcvengvba sbe gur cebcurpl bs gur Jvgpu-Xvat nf jryy. "Ab zna bs jbzna obea funyy qrsrng ZnpOrgu."

      • Ryan Lohner says:

        Lrf, vg jnf. Gbyxvra unq rkcrpgrq vg gb or n jbzna jub xvyyrq Znporgu, naq gubhtug Funxrfcrner'f fbyhgvba jnf purngvat. Naq abgvpr whfg ubj jryy ur pbiref uvf onfrf: Rbjla vf n Zna ohg abg n zna, Zreel vf n zna ohg abg n Zna, naq gur fjbeq gung fbsgraf gur Jvgpu-Xvat hc jnf znqr ol n oneebj-jvtug.

  14. Mariska says:

    This battle is one of my favourite battles EVER put to screen…thank you Tolkien.

    Also: Gubhtu V nz unccl jvgu rirel frpbaq bs rkgen-rbjla va gur zbivrf; V nz qvfnccbvagrq gung gur obbx'f pbasvqrapr va ure nf n yrnqre vf punatrq vagb gur svyzf' qvfzvffny bs ure novyvgvrf. V guvax EBGX jnf gbb cnpxrq fgbeljvfr, naq gurl chg gur znva bs ure pbasyvpg nyernql va guvf svyz. Jvfu gurl nyfb unq nqqrq gur fprarf bs ure svtugvat va gur pnirf, gubhtu.

  15. plaidpants says:

    Guvf onggyr fprar vf zl nofbyhgr SNIBEVGR va gur ragver zbivr frevrf. V ybirq jngpuvat gur oruvaq gur fprarf fghss, naq gur "V fheivirq Uryzf Qrrc" g-fuvegf, gur snpg gung gur thlf cynlvat gur bepf vzcebivfrq naq fgnegrq gnhagvat gur crbcyr cynlvat gur Ryirf, gur nznmvat "ovtngher" gung gurl ohvyg. Gur bayl ceboyrz V unir vf rirel gvzr jr jngpu guvf fprar, jvgu Tnaqnys pbzvat va ng gur raq, zl Zbz nyjnlf fnlf "Ubefrf jbhyqa'g or noyr gb evqr qbja gung!"

  16. Leah-san says:

    "I became increasingly worried when Tolkien started writing cuteness into the book. Look, Legolas and Gimli’s bromance is just one of the most beautiful things in all of fiction."

    YES YES!
    DEAR GOD, YES! THESE TWO ARE THE CUTEST.

    <img src="http://i43.tinypic.com/vysgie.gif"&gt;

    I love how this conversation between the two mirrors the one they had in Fangorn, where Gimli was all like: "Yeah, Fangorn is weird, and Elves are weird, but I like you besides me anyways", and here Gimli fanboys over the stone they are standing on and Legolas is totally saying the same, only the other way around. THEY ARE SO DIFFERENT AND YET SO SIMILAR AND THAT THEY ARE BEST FRIENDS FOREVER IS A BEAUTIFUL THING YES.

  17. monkeybutter says:

    Oh, Gandalf. Don't you know that bad things happen every time you disappear? It always makes me nervous when he has to run off on some side-errand. I trust he'll be back, but things will get unpleasant in the interim. I love that he came back at sunrise, though. I think it's a neat parallel to him returning with the sunrise when Bilbo and co. get captured by the trolls. Gandalf and sunrise give us hope.

    A thousand times yes to Legolas and Gimli's bromance, especially as it manifests itself in a kill contest. I WILL CONTRIBUTE TO THE “THIS DUDE WROTE SOMETHING THAT UPSET ME" FUND. We should probably start one for GRRM while we're at it; maybe we can get a two-for-one deal.

    Fringles OT: All of the mentions of "Mark" in the past few chapters have caused a theory about last Friday's glyphs. I know the preceding week was "DEATH," so we have the gruesome "DEATH MARCH" if you read them together, but what if it's meant to be the same usage as here where Mark/March mean a borderland. Like, the borderland between two universes. Because there's gonna be an awesome crossing of said border next week (EEEEE!).

  18. Ryan Lohner says:

    V pna vzntvar Znex trggvat cerggl pbashfrq nf Uryz'f Qrrc va gur zbivr xrrcf tbvat naq tbvat, abg xabjvat gung gur fgbel phgf bss urer. "Qnza, ubj zhpu ybatre VF guvf zbivr?"

    • redheadedgirl says:

      Ur'yy cebonoyl svther vg bhg fvapr gur zbivr qbrf vagrephg Fnz naq Sebqb'f fgbelyvar jvgu Zreel naq Cvccva'f jvgu gur Tebja Hcf. Jung ur znl or qvfznlrq nobhg vf zbivat Furybo sebz GGG gb EbGX. Juvpu, sbe n ivfhny aneengvir znxrf frafr, ohg nf V haqrefgnaq, hcfrg gur chevfgf.

      • sudden_eyes says:

        Fuvsgvat Furybo gb EBGX qvqa'g obgure zr ng nyy. Univat Ryirf neevir sebz Ybevra gb svtug ng Uryz'f Qrrc naq abg fubjvat Fnehzna trggvat bssrq, ubjrire ….

        (V guvax gur jnl Wnpxfba unaqyrf Fnehzna'f qrngu va gur RR qbrf jbex; ab jnl ur pbhyq qb gur Fpbhevat bs gur Fuver naq pbzr va ng haqre 8 ubhef.)

        • Ryan Lohner says:

          Jngpu gur zbivr Ornfgznfgre sbe n grkgobbx rknzcyr bs ubj gelvat gb qb nabgure npgvba pyvznk nsgre gur znva cybg vf erfbyirq qbrfa'g jbex ng nyy.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Jryy, ng yrnfg jvgu CW, jr xarj gurer jnf nabgure zbivr pbzvat. V pna fgvyy erzrzore zl frafr bs orgenlny ng gur Onxfuv qronpyr jura gur jubyr guvat raqrq nsgre Uryz'f Qrrc. Ab bgure zbivr gb erfbyir vg, hagvy gur engure erterggnoyr Enaxva-Onff EbgX.

  19. Clamarnicale says:

    Here's a rather brilliant map of Helm's Deep. Be warned, there are minor spoilers regarding that suddenly appearing forest. http://larsen-family.us/~1066/maps/chelmsdeepmapc

  20. stellaaaaakris says:

    I love Legolas and Gimli's contest slaying orcs. Legolas wonders where Gimli is and Aragorn tries to comfort him, because he obviously knows of their bromance, and says he may be safe in the caves and Legolas is like, "Yeah, that's good. But I want him to know how many orcs I've killed. I'm sure I've got more than him!" They're so cute.

    <img src="http://www.cedmagic.com/featured/tolkien/lotr-2-1408-legolas-gimli.jpg"&gt;
    (Sidenote: Googling "Legolas and Gimli bromance" images brings up lots of epic bromances through the ages, including one between Viggo and Orlando. They're all quite lovely.)

    I also enjoyed how Gimli saves Eomer and explains how he got there: I decided to stalk you because I was getting sleepy but the enemies are too tall for me so I decided to just sit down and hang out in the dark corner and watch your little sword fight. It was quite entertaining.

    • @MeagenImage says:

      This is why I never remembered LotR as particularly dark or grim. Everybody's friends and cracking jokes and making contests as to who can kill the most bad guys. It's all good fun!

      • Rheinman says:

        It's definately a coping strategy. When all you can do is laugh or cry, choose to laugh.

        My problem is that I tend to overdo it and laugh at inappropriate places: funerals, certain scenes in Pulp Fiction, etc…

        • CoyoteSister says:

          Huh; that makes me think it's more of what Tolkien remembered from WWI coming into play. I know being able to laugh in the darkest moments, like there, is part of what my dad used to refer to as 'soldier's humor,' because laughter is a coping mechanism as you said.

          But it definitely doesn't escape the trauma, and if you lean on it too hard, you wind up laughing instead of crying, which is… bad. In the long run. V yvxr gung Gbyxvra nyfb fubjf gung gur riragf gurfr punenpgref jrag guebhtu punatrq gurz, gung gurl'er noyr gb pbcr ohg gung gurl pna nyfb or fbeebjshy, nsgre nyy gurl'ir orra guebhtu.

          • flootzavut says:

            Yes, I was thinking the same, that it seems something that would have happened in WWI – and also, speaking AS a Brit, we do tend to be prone to the whole stiff upper lip, no one must see you cry thing, naq va gur ybat grez gung pna or irel qnatrebhf, fb vg'f tbbq gung ur qbrfa'g tybff bire gung.

            V nyfb guvax gung Sebqb riraghnyyl ernyvfvat gung ur pna'g tb ba va Zvqqyr Rnegu vf yvaxrq va, gbb… V pna'g trg ng zl obbx evtug guvf zbzrag (Xvaqyr vffhrf) ohg ubcr lbh xabj jung V nz gnyxvat nobhg…!

    • flootzavut says:

      I just found this alt!bromance image and I larfed :D enjoy!

      <img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v172/sarahce/623b74e3a9gimli.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos" />

  21. Ryan Lohner says:

    One of the most effective moments in the movie for me:Gur fubg bs gung yvggyr xvq chggvat ba n uryzrg gung'f jnl gbb ovt sbe uvz. Evtug gurer, vg'f qevira ubzr whfg ubj qrfcrengr gur fvghngvba vf.

  22. Blab says:

    When I was a little boy, I thought Gimli and Legolas were in love…ng gur raq jura V ernq gur nccraqvprf V npghnyyl gubhtug gurl zneevrq. But somehow, I've seen Sam and Frodo as "only friends". How curious.

    • misterbernie says:

      That's… pretty awesome, actually. I like your mind.

      QUEER ALL THE THINGS

    • stormwreath says:

      Maybe because Legolas and Gimli are obviously equals, while Sam is Frodo's employee, and acts like a loyal servant. A relationship between them would be icky because of the power imbalance.

  23. Dreamflower says:

    Thank you so much, Mark, for doing this! It is so hard to restrict myself to one chapter in this re-reading, but I am really able to find new things this way! I'm enjoying this re-read immensely.

    The night, the rain, the mud– the hopelessness– I think part of the intensity we have here is JRRT writing out his own feelings from his experiences in WWI and the Battle of the Somme, which by all accounts was horrifc and miserable.

    And I loved Legolas and Gimli's counting game from the first time I ever read it!

  24. Leah-san says:

    I KNOW I KNOW
    I thought that too.
    And everytime they had cute moments I was all like

    <img src="http://i43.tinypic.com/2itsy7r.gif"&gt;

    keep in mind I was seven. Yes Mark, I read it at seven. Mostly because my parents didn't wanted me to read it because they thought it would scare me. So because I was curious, I snatched them from under my big brothers bed. Best time of my life. The next day, I roleplayed with some of my friends in elementary school a particular scene. Vg jnf gur bar jvgu gur fcvqre.

    • Leah-san says:

      ARGH this is in reply to Blab. My pc ate it.

    • ARITHMANCER says:

      You had awesome 7 year old friends, I hope you realize! I had to wait for high school to have friends who'd talk Tolkien with me. (By which time I'd read the books maybe 14 times…)

    • JustMalyn says:

      Hilarious gif is hilarious.

    • Seumas the Red says:

      Silly parents. I have just finished reading the Lord of the Rings to my sister who-was-seven-right-up-until-I-finished-the-books-and-who-was-six-when-I-started-reading-to-her-the-Hobbit. Not scared one bit. I then let her see the films and she laughed with maniacal joy at all the bloodthirsty battlescenes. I was scared then. WHAT HAD I DONE?

  25. Geolojazz says:

    And this is where Bakshi's movie ended.

    Sadly, since Bakshi's movie's what got me to read the books, it meant I was spoiled until this point. :(

    NO WAIT. I was spoiled for the end too by Rankin Bass' terrible Return of the King (I think tis even worse than Bakshi's, imo).

    Play me a violin.

    • ZeynepD says:

      One of the great moments of Bakshi's movie was in this scene, too. You know the one. When the orcs bring a battering ram and try to break down the wall, with the gate right next to them.

      No, really.

      I may have meant something else by "great."

    • Dreamflower says:

      I had been so excited to hear about the Lord of the Rings movie that Bakshi was making, and went to the theater with great anticipation, only to leave feeling furious and betrayed at the end.

      It's why I actually went looking for spoilers when I heard about PJ making LotR, because I was afraid of being burned again.

  26. Smurphy says:

    You really need to learn to stop asking for things…. I love how there is this huge battle and Tolkien in the midst of it all still manages to put in some of the best lines of the whole book. Everything between Gimli and Legolas for one (I agree best bromance ever) and Theodon's speech before riding out with Aragorn? Beautiful.

    "Gur qnyr vf tbar. GURER’F N SBERFG VA VGF CYNPR. JUNG GUR SHPX!?!?!? UBJ PNA GUR YNAQ PUNATR BIREAVTUG? Vf gung rira shpxvat cbffvoyr?" Ernyyl Znex? Orvat sbetrgshy bs lbhe snibevgr punenpgre rire? Qvq lbh sbetrg lbhe nyy pncf erivrj gung dhvpxyl? *ynhtuf*

    27 DAYS! … also … I had a dream about meeting you last night. The cafe we were at was immense and I'm proud of myself for creating such a complex landscape for my dream… anywho you were late and we got really nervous that we wouldn't recognize you because you would come in a disguise. Which in retrospect is very silly of me. Anyway all these people in these ridiculous costumes kept walking in and we had to go up and talk to each person to make sure it wasn't you … I woke up before you got there too… Boo. ANYWAY 27 DAYS!!!!

  27. Suzannezibar says:

    So I know I keep talking about the difference between reading this at age 12 and reading it as an adult, but god, THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS I FOUND TO BE SO MUCH MORE BEAUTIFUL upon the years-later re-read. This chapter is one of them.

    12-year-old Suz: "La la la, they're fighting, this is kind of boring, LOL Gimli and Legolas are competeing to see who can kill the most orcs, oh good Gandalf is back so now the interesting stuff can happen again."

    Adult Suz: "HOLY SHIT how did I miss how tense this was the first time *even though I know what's going to happen*, damn Tolkien can write battle scenes better than most authors, LOL GIMLI AND LEGOLAS ARE COMPETING TO SEE WHO CAN KILL THE MOST ORCS, and GANDALF BROUGHT THE FOREST WITH HIM?!?! HOW DID I MISS THIS THE FIRST TIME???"

  28. I don't care what anyone says, I freaking adore Tolkien's battle scenes. They aren't glamorized in any way, they're horrible places to be. The setting and the fighting and the sounds all combine to make this place inherently chaotic. There's no upside to being caught here, and Tolkien knew that from experience. I love Legolas and Gimli being awesome. I love Theoden's charge out into the battle and the moment where they burst out to find the wood there is equal parts awesome and horrifying.

    Movie stuff: V UNGR gung gurl tnir Nentbea gur vqrn gb unir gur ynfg punetr va gur svyz. Ybbx, V ybir Nentbea naq ur'f njrfbzr va rirel erfcrpg, ohg guvf jnf Gurbqra'f zbzrag naq ur fubhyq unir unq vg. V ubarfgyl unir ab vqrn jul gurl unq gb znxr Gurbqra frrz jrnx sbe Nentbea gb ybbx tbbq. Vg znxrf zr shevbhf- jbhyq vg ernyyl unir xvyyrq gurz gb yrg Gurbqra npghnyyl fgnl gur jnl ur jnf va gur obbxf? Vg'f bar bs uvf punenpgre-qrsvavat barf naq vg jnf phg naq tvira gb nabgure crefba ragveryl. Abg bxnl ng nyy.

    • Fiona says:

      V thrff vg zvtug unir orra gb nibvq gur Nve Sbepr 1 jnl bs jevgvat juvpu V'z fher Wbff Jurqba'f zragvbarq ba pbzzragnevrf orsber, jurer onfvpnyyl gur znva punenpgre vf n thl jub'f fgebat naq gbhtu naq ur whfg fgnlf gung jnl. Gurer arrqf gb or fbzr punenpgre tebjgu. Boivbhfyl gung'f fvzcyvslvat guvatf n ovg naq V'z abg fher gung jung gurl qvq jvgu uvf punenpgre jnf evtug rvgure ohg V'z whfg fcrphyngvat.

      • Vs nalguvat gubhtu, vg tnir gung gerngzrag gb Nentbea jura vg fubhyq unir tbar gb Gurbqra nyy gur zber. Jr xarj sebz "Gur Xvat bs gur Tbyqra Unyy" gung Gurbqra jnf jrnx, naq jr xabj ur jnf rkcrevrapvat qbhogf nobhg jung Tnaqnys unq nqivfrq uvz gb qb. Vg'f jul V guvax gung punetr jnf fb vzcbegnag sbe uvz- ur jnf fgvyy qbhogshy, fgvyy hafher bs uvzfrys, lrg ur unq gur pbhentr gb beqre gur punetr gb orng onpx gur nggnpxref. V qba'g yvxr tvivat vg gb Nentbea orpnhfr vg fgrnyf n ovg bs Gurbqra'f punenpgre gung V guvax vf engure vzcbegnag gb uvz.

        Naq V'z fbeel vs V fbhaq cergragvbhf jvgu guvf. Zrffvat hc gur punenpgref evyrf zr va n jnl gung srj guvatf pna.

        • ARITHMANCER says:

          Ur vf fubja va gur zbivrf gb fgvyy or fgehttyvat jvgu frys-qbhog nsgre Uryz'f Qrrc, fbzrguvat gung jbhyq znxr yrff frafr vs gur ivpgbel jrer gehyl uvf. Va gur RR Fnehzna cynlf ba guvf va uvf qrngu fprar. Nyfb va gur RR Gurbqra'f punenpgre rkcerffrf n erpbtavgvba gung vf jnf abg ur jub jba gur qnl ng Uryz'f Qrrc. Naq va obgu gurngevpny naq RR irefvbaf, vg vf fgvyy va qbhog jura Tbaqbe nfxf sbe nvq, jurgure Ebuna jvyy nafjre.

          Vafgrnq, gurl znqr Gurbqra'f ovt zbzrag va gur zbivrf, uvf njrfbzr punetr bagb Cryraabe svryq naq fhofrdhrag yrnqrefuvc/svtugvat va gur onggyr. Naq vg vf rkcyvpvgyl erfbyirq sbe uvf punenpgre va uvf ynfg jbeqf. "V tb gb zl snguref, va jubfr zvtugl pbzcnal V funyy abg abj srry nfunzrq."

          • flootzavut says:

            V qb ybir gubfr ynfg jbeqf <3

          • Gurbqra'f qbhog vfa'g jung'f gur ceboyrz sbe zr; V xabj ur unq gubfr. Jung obguref zr terngyl vf gur snpg gung gur qrpvfvba gb znxr gur punetr jnf uvf. Abg Nentbea'f. Gur punetr jnfa'g jung frpherq gur ivpgbel sbe Ebuna ng Uryz'f Qrrc. Gung jnf Tnaqnys, naq guvf vf jul Gurbqra'f frys qbhog vf haqrefgnaqnoyr. Ohg gur irel snpg gung Gurbqra jnf noyr gb svaq gur pbhentr gb zhfgre gur punetr, rira juvyr ur qbhogrq, oryvrivat gung ur jnf irel yvxryl tbvat gb qvr vf fbzrguvat gung fubhyq abg unir orra phg sebz uvf punenpgre. Rira jura cynthrq ol qbhogf, ur jvyy fgvyy tb sbejneq naq svtug. Guvf vf n znwbe fgrc sbejneq sebz jura jr svefg zrg uvz, jurer uvf qbhogf jrer n ynetr cneg bs jul Jbezgbathr jnf noyr gb tnva fhpu vasyhrapr bire uvz. Gung'f jul V gnxr vffhr jvgu gur zbivr tvivat guvf vqrn gb Nentbea, orpnhfr guvf qrpvfvba gb tb sbejneq naq svtug vf n fvta gung Gurbqra gehyl vf ba gur ebnq gb erpbirel sebz uvf fgngr rneyvre. Vg nyfb fubjf uvf fgeratgu bs punenpgre va gung ur pna znxr fhpu n qrpvfvba rira nsgre univat fcrag zbaguf haqre gur vasyhrapr bs Tevzn. V ubarfgyl qba'g haqrefgnaq ubj gur zbivrf pna whfgvsl phggvat vg sbe gung ernfba. Vg'f n zbzrag gung fubhyq unir orra Gurbqra'f; vg fubjf zber nobhg uvz guna nalguvat ryfr jr'ir frra gb gung cbvag.

            • rabidsamfan says:

              Lrf, vg qbrf. Naq ybbxvat ng vg abj V unir gb nterr jvgu lbh. (Nygubhtu gurl cebonoyl qvq vg orpnhfr gurl'q fperjrq bire Nentbea'f punenpgre naq arrqrq gb fubj uvz qbvat fbzrguvat xvatyl.) Ohg V'yy pbasrff gung Gurbqra arire ernyyl znqr zr ybir uvz va gur obbxf, fbzrubj. Vg jnf Oreaneq Uvyy jub tnir zr Gurbqra, naq V funyy nyjnlf or tengrshy sbe gung.

  29. settledforhistory says:

    I have a confession to make: I really don't like battle scenes.
    Now, what we saw in Becoming Part two on Buffy yesterday is fine, I even enjoyed the artistic aspect of it. Anything with more than five people is just to confusing to me though. I get lost in all the little fights and war zones, the bodies pile up and I have no idea who is where and who is still alive.

    Reading about the battle of Helm's Deep did not feel much different at first. What I liked about it so much that I`m willing to read it again and again:

    The characters are just as overwhelmed, constantly lose track of who is where and they actually ask other characters if they have seen this and that person somewhere, just as I want to turn back a few pages to look for him. [Of course him, as there are no women on the battlefield : ( ]

    Little breaks from the over all attack, like Aragorn talking to Theoden give me time to breath after all the tension.

    Gimli and Legolas counting their kills, their's is a wonderful bromance!

    The respect everyone has for each other. Thinks like "Master Gimli", the way people treat Aragorn when he fights with his ancient sword and the fact that seeing Theoden gives people so much hope are so interesting and make me really happy.

    Culture info during the battle; more names, families, heroes like Helm and Erkenbrand amid all the action, Tolkien doesn't even stop the world building during a freaking war and that is so awesome.

    All in all this is probably the best battle chapter I've ever read and I can't wait for more.

  30. DrummerWench says:

    "Rumour of war", uh, isn't actually Tolkien's! It's from the Bible (the King James)–Mark 13:7 "And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled." There's a similar passage in Matthew, but I quoted "Mark" thinking it more appropriate …

    • Senna says:

      I though the use of rumor in the KJ Bible was actually the current meaning, like people talking about something they don't know for sure, whereas the Tolkien quote above is using the archaic meaning similar to murmur?

    • CoyoteSister says:

      I think it's both, really. Or neither. The King James Bible was written in an archaic dialect, which is the same dialect Tolkien pulled from when writing this book.

      It's a beautiful, beautiful language, even in its dark places– some of the Psalms, for example, are really… well, he's asking for his enemies to die horribly. But it's poetry, and beautiful, nonetheless. I think that's partly why Tolkien wrote this the way he did– he used this archaic dialect that just conveyed the poetry of this world he was creating so very well.

      • Senna says:

        I can definitely agree its often a beautiful language! I still can't agree that the meaning the Bible was conveying and the meaning Tolkien was conveying were at all similar, but I suppose that's why we've had the Bible for thousands of years and there's still scholars debating almost every point :)

        • CoyoteSister says:

          Oh, I'm not going to argue that. :P I never claimed to be a Bilblical scholar– too many years of watching people make the most ludicrous claims about every word they want have made me wary of declarations of fact (though, being Christian, I maintain that the point of the entire book, start to finish, can be summed up as "Love each other, all of you; do this by helping those around you, whenever you can." Filthy hypocrisy on my part, I'm aware.). I just wanted to point out that the phrase wasn't necessarily taken from the Bible– more that Tolkien used a phrase that happened to also be in the KJV.

    • eyelessgame says:

      "This is a quote from Mark, but there's a similar passage in Matthew" is true for just about all of Mark. :)

  31. Fiona says:

    I get the feeling there's going to be as much rot13 today as there was yesterday somehow. The films are just so good and there are so many stories attached to the filming that they always end up linked in my mind, especially as it's been a while since I've done a proper read through of the books. Anyway, battle scenes in books always seem to lose me as my brain switches off a bit. I think they're much better done visually, although my brain tends to disappear in battle scenes in manga as well. That may be due to how repetitive they can get though (Bleach comes to mind, which I gave up on after what seemed like 50 chapters of fighting).

    Film stuff: V nz fb tynq gurl qvqa'g chg Nejra vagb guvf onggyr. Vg znqr frafr gb chg ure va fbzrjurer fb crbcyr qba'g sbetrg gung fur rkvfgf ohg vg jbhyqa'g unir orra evtug. V pna qrny jvgu gur nqqvgvba bs gur ryirf zbfgyl orpnhfr bs Unyqve'f qrngu juvpu vf fb vaperqvoyl jryy qbar. Jura ur qvrf vg znxrf vg frrz yvxr nyy ubcr unf npghnyyl orra ybfg naq hcf gur fgnxrf n ovg. Gur hfr sebz gur cbrz va gur ynfg puncgre nyjnlf tvirf zr puvyyf nf jryy.

    • redheadedgirl says:

      V qb yvxr gung CW vfa'g fb rtbgvfgvpny gung ur guvaxf NYY uvf vqrnf ner gur orfg guvat rire, be gung "jryy, jr fgnegrq svyzvat guvf, fb V thrff jr fubhyq xrrc ba jvgu vg…" Pbasvqrapr vf tbbq, gur vanovyvgl gb tb, "….uhu. Guvf vf npghnyyl n GREEVOYR VQRN" vf onq.

      • Fiona says:

        Rknpgyl. Gurer'f fb zhpu tbvat ba va ybge gung V guvax vg jnf n cerggl pbzcyvpngrq cebprff gb jbex bhg jung gurl gubhtug pbhyq or vzcebirq ba juvyr fgvyy xrrcvat rirelguvat gurl jnagrq. Gung'f jul rira jvgu gur punatrf V fgvyy ybir gur svyzf sbe gur znffvir npuvrirzrag gurl jrer. Yrffre svyz znxref jbhyq unir tvira hc ng gung cbvag pbzcyrgryl. Gbyxvra qvq nsgre nyy fnl gung vg jnf hasvyznoyr.

        • flootzavut says:

          LRF GUVF FB ZHPU!

          Gurer ner punatrfV ybirq, punatrf V ungrq, naq guvatf V nz abg shffrq nobhg rvgure jnl, ohg V YBIR gung gurl jbexrq FB UNEQnaq gevrq FBUNEQ gb znxr gurve zbivrf jbegul nqncgngvbaf. V svaq vg ernyyl uneq gb fgnl pebff nobhg rira punatrf gung V qvfyvxr jura V yvfgra gb gur jevgre/qverpgbe pbzzragnevrf, naq jngpu gur rkgenf, naq frr ubj zhpu ybir gurl chg vagb gur zbivrf. Crbcyr pna nethr gung gurl qvq n onq wbo jvgu guvf be gung punenpgre, ohg ab bar pna qral gung gurl qvq rirelguvat gurl pbhyq gb znxr gur orfg irefvbafgurl pbhyq. Juvpu V ybir. Gurl'er abg cresrpg, ohg gurl ner oybbql oevyyvnag VZB :D

          • ARITHMANCER says:

            Guvf vf ubj V srry gbb. Jr pna qvfnterr jvgu vaqvivqhny pubvprf gurl znqr, whfg nf jr pna qvfnterr jvgu rnpu bgure nobhg bhe vagrecergngvbaf bs qvssrerag guvatf va gur obbxf. Ohg va gur raq Wnpxfba naq uvf grnz ner snaf gbb. Gurl xabj gur obbxf, naq gur Fvyzneevyyvba, naq ybir gur jubyr jbeyq naq gur punenpgref, naq gurl oebhtug gung gb gur svyzf.

            • flootzavut says:

              Vf vg jrveq gung guvf vf znxvat zr srry fgenatryl cngevbgvp sbe Zvqqyr Rnegu??? :-/ :$ V guvax nybarfvqr gur onggyr naq nyy vg'f whfg znxvat zr jnag gb purre, naq tb unir n srnfg va gur Tbyqra Unyy, rgp…

    • ARITHMANCER says:

      "I get the feeling there's going to be as much rot13 today as there was yesterday somehow. The films are just so good and there are so many stories attached to the filming that they always end up linked in my mind, especially as it's been a while since I've done a proper read through of the books. "

      Nonsense! We are of course doing it to TORMENT MARK! Mwahahahahaha.

    • flootzavut says:

      Ohhh I meant to say – Gur cbrz gung Gurbqra erpvgrf? Gung jubyr fprar, urpx, rira GUVAXVAT nobhg gung fprar, tvirf zr puvyyf. Vg'f fb cresrpg, naq gur cbrz vf fbbbbb ngzbfcurevp <3

    • rabidsamfan says:

      V ybirq gur neeviny bs Unyqve naq gur erfg bs gur ryirf ng Uryz'f Qrrc ba svefg ivrj, ohg V pbasrff, jngpuvat gur zbivrf ntnva V jbaqre jung gur uryy unccrarq jvgu gur fheivivat ryirf nsgre gur onggyr. V zrna, Yrtbynf pna'g or gur bayl cbvagl-rnerq jbaqre va gur ybg. Gubfr sbyxf jrer jneevbef! Naq gura yngre Ryebaq fubjf hc, fubirf n fjbeq vagb Nentbea'f unaqf nsgre evqvat uhaqerqf bs zvyrf, naq gura nccneragyl jnirf olr-olr gb nyy gur Ebuveevz naq fpbbgf bss onpx gb Eviraqryy juvyr gur Zra tb qbja gb trg fynhtugrerq va sebag bs Zvanf Gvevgu.

      *onatf urnq ba gnoyr*

  32. SweetVerda says:

    Yesterday I posted this on the MarkSpoils blog, but I don’t know how many people go onto it, so I’ll post this here.

    First, a brief history lesson. I lurk. A lot. I’ve been following along with Mark Does Stuff back in the Firefly days. I love Mark Does Stuff; it’s introduced me to some great works and really broadened my horizons. Generally, I didn’t read the comments sections simply because I didn’t have the time. Then ATLA came around, and the comments section was one of my favorite parts of the day. All the gifs, glee, and general happiness drew me out somewhat, but not enough to post or make an account.

    Then came LOTR, and I thought of something that I wanted to say, a post I wanted to make, and so I signed up. And the post was well received, and compelled me to make more posts. Most of my posts were in response to someone else, often times disagreeing with them on a small point, but I didn’t think that it had gotten malicious. I believed that we were just several friendly people on the Internet, with different opinions and backgrounds, which is necessary to form a healthy community.

    As it turns out, one of my posts were misinterpreted, and someone thought that I meant to say a terribly stupid thing. I actually expect that this happens a lot, and is one of the reasons I’m hesitant to post on the web. My communication skills aren’t all that great. But I had no clue that my post had been misinterpreted. Instead of saying something like, “But surely you don’t mean this,” or “You’re an idiot because…” or even, “Behold Isildur’s Bane! GTFO!”, nobody replied to it.

    On Sunday the website went down, and I remembered people mentioning the spoils blog, so I went to see if there was something wrong. I had no idea just how wrong things were. I saw last week’s “Awful Comments of the Week” thread, and the subject of the thread struck me as a terrible idea. It creates a sub-class of commenters, and alienates and skews opinions against anyone who gets named in this thread. Hoping that it wouldn’t be quite as bad as my initial fears, I scrolled through it. To my horror, I saw one of my own posts mentioned, taking a few details from it and twisting it to mean something that I hadn’t said.

    Yikes! Mostly the Sweet in my name is because I have a ginormous sweet tooth, but also because it takes a lot to make me mad (or even less happy). But I felt my blood boil. (I know people think that it’s just an expression, but I swear, if I had gotten even a paper-cut, my room would have burned down.) I hadn’t been this angry since my best friend’s parents had gotten deported. People that I had once had the utmost respect for were misinterpreting me, face palming, and posting gifs declaring what a terrible fool I am. And I never would have even found out.

    • SweetVerda says:

      And then I realized just what bothered me the most about this thread. The people that you have issues with will never know what you are taking offence at. This weekly thread serves no practical purpose. It does not help or instruct, only deride. It cannot make a community, only break one.

      Mark Does Stuff is growing. It’s covering more popular books and shows, and word of mouth is getting around. And a lot of what Mark covers and talks about in his reviews is controversial, even if you and I may think it shouldn’t be. The people attracted to this site will have opinions different than you, with varying abilities to articulate what they want to say. If you would like to persuade them and point out the error of their ways, you can’t talk behind their backs. Tell them to their face, and give them a chance. People may surprise you.

      I understand that this community is incredibly insular, with it’s own ways of speaking and thinking and makes inside jokes. But I also know for a fact that it is possible for an insular community to grow without losing it’s identity. If this is your goal, you would discontinue the “Awful Comments of the Week” thread, accept and argue with people who disagree with you, and try to integrate new people instead of alienating them.

      As for myself, I will still follow Mark Does Stuff, but I will avoid the comments sections until you want new and diverse people. This post wasn’t written in anger, only regret, with the hope that you’ll understand a few problems that you may not have realized before. A few of you might think that this comment itself will belong in the Comments of Stupid and Evil People thread, so I’ll spare you the hassle and post it there.

      Best wishes,

      The Lurker formerly known as SweetVerda

      • threerings13 says:

        Wow, I'm really upset to know a thread like that exists, but I did know that people were talking shit about other posts on the spoils blog, from some comments made here and there. I think it's a really hurtful and petty and immature thing to do. It's the reason I've never been over there, because I know I would get SO ANGRY I probably wouldn't be able to come back to Mark Does Stuff again.

        • threerings13 says:

          Weird. In my email I received the following response to my comment, but it appears to have disappeared.

          "notemily replied to your comment on Mark Reads 'The Two Towers': Chapter 7 / Mark Reads:

          A lot of the people who post over at Mark Spoils are mods. We don't always have the patience to engage with a frustrating comment on the blog itself. Sometimes we just need a place to vent. "

          I'm not sure how it's supposed to make me feel better that the people acting petty and immature are mods. I've been a mod, and if you just need to vent, you do that in email to a fellow mod or in a private locked journal entry. If there is a real issue that needs to be addressed, you do so in response to the comment or if there's some reason not to make it public, in private with the poster.

          You don't publicly bash people who post in the forums you mod because it make YOU look bad, makes the SITE look bad, and it's hurtful to the people you're talking about. Whether or not that person "deserved" to be hurt because they said something stupid or ignorant or whatever isn't a defense. It's trashy behavior, period.

          • arctic_hare says:

            I think part of the problem is that it's easy to forget that that blog ISN'T a private space. It often feels that way, so we have to work on remembering that it's public.

            I'm not comfortable with what I'm seeing in this thread, not just your comment but the original one too, this undertone of what seems to be judgment against those who don't call out a problematic comment when they see one. Not everyone feels comfortable doing that, even here (especially of late when even calling out things on the show/in the book is met with hostility and the same circular, derailing arguments over and over and over again, to say nothing of how calling out other commenters is treated), and that's okay. I do agree that mods need to vent somewhere private, though, and I regret my misstep.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        I would feel bad for you, but I just went back to your comments to discover that you said you understood racism because people around you spoke Spanish when you don't. No, you don't understand racism.

        I don't run Mark Spoils and I've truthfully never even been there. I don't know what it looks like, and I don't know who posts on it, so there's pretty much nothing I can do about it? So it bothers me even more that you would bring this up there as if this is something I need to deal with. I can't. It's not my website!

        Here's the thing: I can't presume to know anything about what goes on there, and just from your comment, it sounds as if people are complaining about shitty things that other people say. Would it be more constructive to actually point these things out? Sure. I can't disagree with that. However, the way that this comment is framed ignores the responsibility of whatever you said that might have been rude or irresponsible, and makes it sound like the more important thing is that someone complained about you.

        I don't want to ignore the latter issue, though I still don't know I can do much about it, but please take a moment to understand that by framing it in this way, you're sort of disavowing your own actions. You still need to be held accountable for things you say and do in life, and while it's sucks, it's not less important than your feelings towards it.

        Basically, I don't know what to do after this. It's not my site! Does anyone who posts here post there?

        • Jenny_M says:

          Mark, I want to own up to the fact that I was the person who posted on the Spoils blog about SweetVerda's comment. There are quite a few of us who post here that also post there, and I know I found the blog when it was linked from another comment. The thread in question was started, I believe, as a response to some of the more problematic things being argued in the Buffy threads.

          The reason I chose not to engage with the comment directly was because I knew it was problematic, but I also didn't feel that it was my place to call the commenter out, being as I'm not affected by racism and am not qualified to argue on that issue. I posted it in the spoiler blog because the way it was worded made me angry. I could have chosen to say nothing, and for that I apologize. I also apologize that you've been dragged into it, when it really shouldn't affect you and should have been contained to the blog in question (where, in point of fact, a moderator has already addressed the poster's complaints quite succinctly).

          Again, sorry, and I hope I can go back to posting silly .gifs from here on out!

          • xpanasonicyouthx says:

            Look, this whole thing is awkward and uncomfortable, but thanks for owning up.

            And look, for anyone else in the community, I'm totally cool if you're not a person of color and you speak out against racism. I know that may not be the case with other people, but let this just be my definitive statement about it.

            I don't know, I get that you want a place to vent, but making it public like that helps no one but yourselves, and it certainly won't change the way others think.

        • Delta1212 says:

          A lot of people who post here post there. I go mostly to check the episode schedule for the week. I don’t remember whether I’ve actually posted there at all myself, but I have skimmed through the comments a few times especially when a post didn’t go up when I expected and I wanted to find out if I’d missed a holiday or something…

          And yeah, I’ve seen the thread and it makes me really uncomfortable. I have enough personal experience with managing loosely connected online communities to know how responsibility works in terms of who can and can’t do what, so I’m not saying this with the expectation that you’ll get directly involved. I realize that the very nature of the blog makes it a place you can’t really participate in let alone have any control over.

          That said, since the subject was raised, I felt I should chime in. Right now, I’m more or less content to ignore the existence of the thread, but I know that if thudded five or ten years ago, when I was still in high school and had some major anxieties about social acceptance and self-worth that I hadn’t learned to cope with yet, finding out that such a thread existed would absolutely have made me stop posting in the comments here.

          I’m not really looking to cast blame or point fingers or anything, and I understand the catharsis that I assume underlies the activity, but making fun of people behind their backs always feels like “otherizing” others to bolster feeling of group inclusion to me and it makes me intensely uncomfortable regardless of the reasoning for it.

          I probably won’t touch this subject again, but I guess I felt like I needed to comment on it at least once.

        • SweetVerda says:

          Like I said, the comment was worded poorly. I speak Spanish. My best friend is Hispanic. I never said that I was discriminated against. What I meant was that I had seen what racism had done to the people I love around me.

          And again, it was worded poorly. But I didn't notice. And if I offended some people, I would have loved to have been told that, if only I could have explained myself.

          I didn't know how closely affiliated MarkSpoils is with Mark Does Stuff, so I'm sorry that I unjustly brought it to your attention.

        • clawsight says:

          I think this is my first time posting on any of the Mark Does Stuff besides once posting in the suggestions thread.

          I lurk. A lot. I found the Reads/Watches site right before Mark started with the third season of Avatar, and worked my way through a bunch of the Dr. Who archives, the Twilight archives the Hunger Games archives, and the live posts for Avatar. Mostly I was just here for the reviews until shit went down concerning the use of ableist language and how it is not acceptable. I was delighted to discover that -ist language, behavior, and comments did not appear to be welcome here. At that point I started reading the comments and they were so beautiful and everything was wonderful and nothing hurt.

          I felt I'd finally found a safe space to geek out over pop-culture. The ENTIRE REST OF THE INTERNET felt — and still feels — like a place where input from marginalized groups is, well, marginalized. Watches and Reads seemed to be sites that went out of their way however to provide a haven where voices often shouted down could be heard and where people from marginalized and oppressed groups would be heard out and taken seriously.

          It also seemed to be a place where commenters were expected not to derail, and many seemed to be well versed in what I will call Social Justice And Privilege Checking 101 for lack of a better term. The ability to discuss media without having to constantly regurgitate Social Justice 101 type topics is something I regard as a huge thing. It means that one can geek out and critique popular media without being expected to constantly defend their very right to exist and to speak from a viewpoint that may be less privileged in almost every other space to discuss this media out there.

          Anyway. I took some time off for BSG, only coming by the site to read Dr. Who… and I think Sherlock? i think at least one of the Sherlock reviews went up near the end of BSG? IDK. Point is, I was out of the loop for a bit.

          But I came back for Buffy. I'd seen the first coupla seasons and was looking for an incentive to rewatch, and, this seemed like a good one. I really looked forward to the comments, and discussions that were to come.

          And then the comments devolved into feminism 101 bingo as endless, circular arguments went down. Mostly regarding Xander. I cannot adequately put into words how frustrating it was to read what I considered to be a well thought out feminist critique of BtVS only to see it followed by dozens of comments railing against the very existence of that critique. It made me feel that the blogtariot, or base of commenters or whatever you want to call it, had changed to the point where this was no longer a safe space. I have no idea if being a safe space is part of the mission of these blogs (I don't think I've seen it formally stated anywhere? I COULD TOTALLY HAVE OVERLOOKED SOMETHING. If so, mea culpa), but, it was a fundamental shift for me as a reader and potential community participant. It basically guaranteed that I wouldn't be coming out of my shell to comment on BtVS, and made me really hesitant to participate in the community as a whole.

          (Continued)

          • clawsight says:

            At some point I started going to the spoilers blog. I posted there exactly once(and it was outside of the awful comments thread, for the record). The post was to thank the mods for putting up with all the crap over on Watches, re: Xander, and to let them know I appreciated their efforts. I did, however, read the Awful Comments thread and toss out the occasional upvote. I've got to admit that the thread made me specifically feel better. It reminded me that at least a portion of the readership was on the same page I was on, and was as hurt and fed up as I was with all the anti-feminist comments. BUT THAT IS JUST ME. I can totally understand how other people would feel troubled by the existence of the thread — especially if they were not reading it, and getting to see the content*. I can see why it would feel like bullying or appear immature to some.

            Thing is, I kinda feel like the thread was created as a response to bullying. I know from reading stuff over on the spoiler blog that at least one person writing feminist critiques over on Watches dropped out of the writing specifically because they were just too tired to keep up with dealing with the responses those critiques garnered. And as time has gone on I've noticed fewer and fewer posts on the Watches site from some of the others offering feminist critiques, making me wonder if others are purposefully dropping out too. It sorta felt like as the comments on the main sites became less and less a safe space, the spoilers blog became more and more a safe space for people approaching things from a certain viewpoint. All the suggestions to take the venting to a private place have kinda bugged me — because then it becomes a situation where to get to the safe space then you have to know the right people to get allowed into the club.

            I can't say I have any valuable input on how to fix the situation. It's obviously gotten incredibly messy, and a lot of people have gotten hurt. It's been super sad to watch what I felt were some of the best commenters post less frequently, or drop out entirely, apparently because of the way the discussion has shifted.

            At this point I've rewritten and reread everything on here several times. I still feel uncomfortable with how often I'm using 'I' statements — but I don't really see how to get out of them in this case, as, well, I'm giving an opinion on the situation not stating any sort of immutable facts. And I certainly don't want to try and speak for anyone but myself — not that I think my feelings are particularly important. I just… a lot of people here have been talking about how the existence of the Awful Comments thread here bugs them without discussing, uh, what the Awful Comments thread actually popped up in response to, or what it contained.

            For the record, I don't think the Awful Comments thread was actually the best solution to what's been going down at Watches and to a lesser extent Reads, since just by existing it's created a rift. On the other hand I can't claim I know what said better solution to the feelings of alienation and silencing I've seen people expressing over on the spoiler blog would look like. I wish I did. :(

            *From what I can tell the content of the awful comments thread has not really been discussed here. For the most part it was venting about the rampant sexism in the comments over on Watches and the racist kersplosion over here on Reads. I didn't see well, any, mocking of spelling, ability to write, intelligence etc. At one point it DID devolve into people talking about how cute cats were for like, half the thread that week.

            EDITED to clarify that I'd only posted once on the spoiler blog AND that it was OUTSIDE of the Awful Comments thread, not, er, that I only posted once besides a beiberillion theoretical posts in the Awful Comments thread. Grammar, I fail at you so hard.

            • arctic_hare says:

              I have no idea if being a safe space is part of the mission of these blogs

              You're not imagining things, it most definitely is. It's all in the site rules.

              Which is why, yes, it's distressing to see that atmosphere going away during the Buffy commenting. You're right that the thread in contention was created as a response to bullying, to the frustration of the endless rounds of 101 bingo, derailing, circular arguments, etc. As you say, it wasn't perhaps the best solution, but it's also a good idea to think about why people felt they needed the thread. It's a complicated situation.

              (And yes – I can't speak for anyone else, but I did indeed stop commenting over there because it just got too exhausting to go through all that practically every day and get nowhere, despite a shitton of repetition, often to the same people. It wasn't just talking to a brick wall, it was talking to this. )

              Also, I want to offer all the hugs and say that you are more than welcome here and on the spoiler blog. <3 I genuinely appreciate the support.

              • clawsight says:

                There was one particular comment I remember wigging me out over on Watches, where somebody was griping about the 'radical feminist' reviews and why oh why must we have them?

                This comment made me, personally, feel unwelcome in so many ways. I felt unwelcome as a feminist. I felt unwelcome as a feminist who leans more towards radical feminism than liberal feminism in my own personal interpretation of feminism. It made me feel unwelcome as a woman who's lived experiences have borne out the existence of a kyriarchy. It was really upsetting to see a group who's ideology I identify with — to whatever extent — used as a slur to try and shame other commenters into not talking like those nasty old radical feminists.

                It is fantastic to know that so many of the mods agree with me to some extent. It is fantastic to know that the people running the site would likely protect me from the worst comments.

                However.

                I know if I posted a critique from an actual rad fem viewpoint*, I'd get piled on like nobody's business. I know I'd have to face the choice of either not replying period (and leaving open the option for them to think that THEY'VE CERTAINLY SCHOOLED ME LOL, whoo they're right [insert character]'s behavior is totally cool), or going over concepts and arguments that I've already had to go over a bajillion times elsewhere. Hell, they're likely arguments that the MODS have had to rehash 50 times already. It isn't a productive debate. It isn't a healthy debate. It isn't fun. It isn't an environment that I want to comment in. I don't blame you in the least for not wanting to comment in it yourself.

                With that comment though — the one about radical feminism — If I engage it (I don't know if it eventually got deleted or not and am REALLY TOO LAZY TO LOOK IT UP AT THE MOMENT, though I will if anyone asks) I'm going to end up having to defend my very existence as a feminist, much less one who thinks rad fem might have some legit points, and argue for my right to participate in the discussion as such. That's… not what I'm here for. So, my other option is to then not engage it and go about my day feeling that much crappier about daring to exist. The Awful Comments thread felt like a kind of… space to deal with the upset caused by those comments without getting into all of YICK that directly engaging those comments would cause.

                I really appreciate the kind words and the welcoming sentiments. But an episode is coming up that I know is going to be triggering for me**, and while I'd dig a space to talk about it in, I know that, given the current state of the Buffy comments, that I would not feel comfortable doing that here. And with apparent death of the Awful Comments thread I'm probably going to just skip reading all the comments but like… enigmaticscully's***, because I'm pretty sure those comments are just going to be one big fest of upsetting things, and there's no space to deal with that upset.

                I want to clarify real quick that I'm not DEFENDING the Awful Comments thread, or even being like… WE NEED THE AWFUL COMMENTS THREAD. What I am doing is trying to indicate that A ) it appeared because, well, people needed a safe space to deal with things like the aforementioned comment on the eevviiiill radfems, and B ) it would be really helpful if there as some sort of SAFE SPACE field that can be thrown up if the goal of this site is to, er, be a safe space. Like some sort of signal that can be flashed to indicate that you're not in the fucking mood for this bullshit and that ALL FURTHER COMMENTS OUGHT TO CONTAIN PUPPIES AND HUGS AND RAINBOWS IN GIF FORMAT or something.


                * Not that my own viewpoint is 100% rad fem. But. I could probably call upon the spirit of Andrea Dworkin long enough to hash out something that could fit under the label if you kind of squint and tilt your head.

                ** Ornhgl naq gur Ornfgf — Bu tbq, bu tbq. Guvf rcvfbqr. Wbff Jurqba ANVYF GUR WRPXLY NAQ ULQR NPG BS NOHFVIR FVTAVSVPNAG BGUREF FB QRNQ BA. Guvf rcvfbqr vf onfvpnyyl jul V'ir arire tbggra cnfg F3.

                *** I have to know how she deals with Natry'f erhavba jvgu Ohssl.

                EDITED to clarify why I'd be reading enigmaticscully's comment in particular. &gt;.&gt;

                • arctic_hare says:

                  Yeah, I don't blame you at all for not wanting to deal with that. Feel free to come over to Spoils and hang with us, though, it'll never happen over there. It's a damn shame that things have come to this, where people like you and even one of the mods doesn't feel comfortable talking about episodes from that viewpoint on this site, because of those people. They've come in and wanted us to change the way we do things here just to suit them, and it bothers the hell out of me that they seem to be succeeding because they're exhausting and frustrating us all so much. Thank you so much for commenting about this, because I think it's important that this issue be discussed and people know what this change is doing to others.

                  As for that person that was tired of the "radical feminist" reviews, they got banned pretty quickly for that.

                • monkeybutter says:

                  I really appreciated reading your comments. Thank you.

                • xpanasonicyouthx says:

                  I just want you to know I love your comments dearly. Thank you so much for them.

            • notemily says:

              Thank you for these comments.

      • Castlewayjay says:

        This happened to me to so now I use a different name and never post about anything remotely controversial

      • @miranda486 says:

        I have too many emotions about these posts and the thread.
        Mostly I am confused.

        I think Mark felt that he was "helpless" (?). That's kind of sad and fucked up. This is his own blog, he should be able to express his opinions freely. (remember when people were against the IM reviews, -what? don't like them -don't read them (!))

        I completely get where Mark is coming from with the Orcs and actually I had NO IDEA they had some Mongol features at all, I guess when I read the books I was 15 and using them to learn English so clearly I missed a few things, but I am white and I am also hispanic, I don't believe in races at all and I think I can speak up against something I believe is racist. Why should I limit myself because my skin is not dark? That to me is like saying, I can't be against male abuse because I'm a woman or something.

        My mom is the kind of racist person that will say something horrific like "I don't want my grandchildren eating bananas" as if being black (I like that word and it is not offensive to ME at all, I think all skin colors are beautiful, much like the fur of adorable puppies if we were all the same color I think it'd be unnatural, I hope I'm not offending people by using it, where I come from it is a compliment that is often used instead of "honey" or "sweetie" … also I often tell my mom she's an idiot and that I am 100% certain most monkeys are my cousins and I like knowing that I once had a tail and could swing from trees, she doesn't like it though.) was proportional to being on a tree. And at the same time, she has a black brother and a ton of black friends.
        (ctd)

        • @miranda486 says:

          I love my mom, I know she is wonderful in many ways but also horrible in many others. Like the fact that she kept telling me to pull my nose up and forced me to study things that are not normal at like 4…but she's, like everyone else, complex and multifaceted and even though she drives me crazy I respect her, she believes in chastity and I don't, she doesn't realize that she is not a feminist at all but still claims to be one, but that is who she IS. I can talk to her about it and try to make her see reasons, but it's up to her to be.

          I think the comments are sometimes like that. We should understand that this community does great things, like teach me the real meaning of the word lame (thanks notemily you did that) and now I don't think it means boring and don't use it anymore.

          Sometimes people will say things that we don't agree with, they will say things that we might think are funny or they might upset us. Sometimes when that happens in the "real" as in "not in the computer" world, we will not address it and talk straight to a person but simply tell a friend, complain about something, sometimes abuse them (I abuse my president daily, and I know he's probably not as horrible as I think he is, but I abuse the man none the less with my friends) -is it wrong? probably. We all say don't judge a book by its cover, but designers would be out of work if the cover didn't matter at all.

          The inside is what is the most significant, but sometimes we let the covers drive our impulses or actions. Should we think about who we hurt with our words and actions? yes we should, we would all probably be a lot nicer if we did. But you can't really try to make other people be nice. Life doesn't work like that.

          But that said, and I think I'm not making much sense…

          This is what I think: people, if you want to say something that is not spoilery, not intentionally and purposely offensive, not mean and petty and said just to spite people, then you should be able to say it.

          Especially Mark.

          We can't control the Internet, or other people's opinions, but when we start to self-censure, we start to lose our ability to evolve. Because it's like we're afraid to talk about the important things, how are we to eliminate racism if we don't discuss it, if we don't try to understand it? if we don't try to change it.

          The same goes for countless other things.

          I trust the mods here, and I can't speak for that other site because I have no intention of visiting it. I like Mark, I like his work and I support THIS site. Don't really care about any other that crops up.

          I would say, why can't we be friends, but that would be too cheesy for me. So, if you don't like something say it, if it's offensive or wrong chances are the mods will do something about it.

          If you don't like what other people are saying about you try to talk to them, if that fails. Move on -are they feeding you?

          I have been bullied, otherizesd, ostracized and a whole bunch of other stuff this is not the place to talk about , but it's not what happens to me that matters is what I learn from it and do about it.

          If we all start refusing to participate because we're afraid to deal with the dislike or opinions of others, then people, we are in for some hermit lifestyle in this mother.

      • rissreader says:

        I went over to the spoiler blog to check things out and I thought it was clear that you were being mocked behind your back. That is not okay; especially not when it's done by mods, and not when it's done by people with three digit long yellow highlighted points. I'm angry about how you were treated in that thread and about some of the responses you have gotten here.

        You've explained both that you misspoke and that you were misinterpreted. I quote you here so any reader doesn't have to scroll-search to find it.

        Like I said, the comment was worded poorly. I speak Spanish. My best friend is Hispanic. I never said that I was discriminated against. What I meant was that I had seen what racism had done to the people I love around me.

        And again, it was worded poorly. But I didn't notice. And if I offended some people, I would have loved to have been told that, if only I could have explained myself.

        This is perfectly understandable and forgivable to me. I hope you get real apologies in reply.

        I don't know if this will help any, but I've done feminist and anti-racist community/political organizing since the 1970's. — I don't know quite how to explain this, (I give talks but I don't write papers) –but my political instincts are telling me that you may have gotten flack because of others' guilt about racism. I've seen this phenomenon in predominately white groups before, when the issue of racism comes up — it's a form of scapegoating. Folks are uncomfortable with the subject; they don't want to be, or appear to be racist, so someone gets singled out to be the bad example… the one who just doesn't get it. It's diversionary. And it gives relief and pleasure to the group to have someone to put the tension on. The pleasure comes from the feeling of superiority of being able to think at least I'm better than that, and the relief comes from feeling safe from being singled out yourself.
        (Apologies for the creative punctuation. I'm in thinking-out-loud mode.)

        I'm sorry that this has happened to you. That gif would have turned my stomach if it had been aimed my way. If this had happened to me I honestly don't know if I would have been brave enough to follow-up the way you did.

        I want you to keep posting and participating. I am a woman of color and I need and appreciate white allies here.

        • Hidden_Hi says:

          Can she even come back after stirring up this hornet's nest? Can anyone?

          (Buffy ROT13)
          Jurer qb jr tb sebz urer?
          Jurer qb jr tb sebz urer?
          Jul vf gur cngu hapyrne?
          Jura jr xabj ubzr vf arne?
          Haqrefgnaq jr'yy tb unaq-va-unaq
          Ohg jr'yy jnyx nybar va srne.
          Gryy zr!
          Jurer qb jr tb sebz urer?
          Jura qbrf gur raq nccrne?
          Jura qb gur gehzcrgf purre?
          Gur phegnvaf pybfr ba n xvff, Tbq xabjf
          Jr pna gryy gur raq vf ar – ne ….snqrf
          Jurer qb jr tb sebz urer?

  33. clodia_risa says:

    Trr, V jbaqre ubj gurer pna or n sberfg jura abar jnf gurer gur cerivbhf avtug. Vg’f abg yvxr jr’ir rfgnoyvfurq gung gurer ner gerrf gung pna jnyx, unir jr?

    V fanex orpnhfr V ybir!

  34. Katarina_H says:

    I have to admit, this isn’t one of my favourite chapters. My mind isn’t visual enough for battle scenes. In fact, after watching TTT, I went, ”There was a battle at Helm’s Deep?” and had to go back and check, because it had been lost in my mind among all the other stuff that happens in the book. But there’s still plenty of interest for me in this chapter, now that I have to pace myself and only read five chapters a week. (I’ve started on the Silmarillion to keep me busy between chapters.)

    V fjrne gb Tnaqnys, V jvyy jevgr lbh gur natevrfg yrggre gung unf rire orra jevggra vs lbh frcnengr gurfr gjb, W.E.E. Gbyxvra.

    Arire rire. Va gur orfg cbffvoyr jnl. :-)

    Also, fun trivia: ”Gamling” means old person in Swedish. So Gamling the Old is a tautology. (And also a bit rude; calling an old person a gamling isn’t quite like calling them a geezer, but it’s not the most polite way of expressing it.)

    • Alberthe says:

      'Gamling' means 'old man' ('gamla' for old woman) in Norwegian as well (and is slightly derogatory here too). And Vestfold is a county in Norway:D I feel right at home;)

      • Katarina_H says:

        I hope it's an appropriate association! I have a world of trouble taking ASOIAF seriously since I realized that Westeros could be seen as a fancy spelling of Västerås (a large but not terribly interesting town in Sweden).

        Though I'm glad that at least I'm not a David Eddings fan having to deal with a knight named Berit…

    • flootzavut says:

      That's brilliant :D

  35. Patrick721 says:

    The "rumor of war" thing always reminds me of the creature Rumor from the Aeneid, which is described as having "great wings" and at the base of every feather there is an eye, and ear, and a mouth, so that she can see, hear, and spread her rumors and lies.

    And I'm not sure if anyone's mentioned this, but the sudden appearance of the forest at the end is partly due to Tolkien reading/seeing Macbeth, and being disappointed that Burnham Wood didn't actually get up and move.

  36. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    This map doesn't show any detail of Helm's Deep, but we can see where it is (about halfway between Edoras and Isengard, very convenient. :P)

  37. Squibke says:

    I first read this series as a wee little queer child who didn't understand that early 20th century fantasy novels were usually very light on the canonically queer characters, and I simply assumed that Legolas and Gimli were falling in love. This was the late '80s/early '90s and I was well-acquainted with the trope of 'two people from very different worlds, with bickering leading to love.'

    …I still ship it.

  38. Sure, in the caves, there’s food , but with just over a thousand fighters against a host of untold number, up against a cliff in a gorge, how is this going to end well? Tolkien’s set this up to be a slaughter, and I started worrying. PLEASE DON’T LET THIS ADD BADLY.
    I think you should be more worried about subtraction.

  39. Peg says:

    I wrote a long blog post here when I was deciding whether to see the movie "United 93," about the fourth plane that crashed in Pennsylvania during 9/11. I wrote:

    Should it [the movie] be seen? It's tempting to twist the story to enhance the passengers' heroism, because it is so desperately powerful, resonating deeply in the gut. Offering us the seductive consolation of vicarious heroism, too. Example: The movie's slogan is, "40 people sat down as strangers. They rose up as one." Very powerful, if true. And yet, maybe not all the passengers voted to attack, and some weren't rushing down that aisle, but cringing back, doing nothing more than hoping desperately that somehow, they would survive. [more]

    • peg says:

      And yet–there were still those who fought, knowing that hope was slim to nonexistant. One of the things that Tolkien admired most about Anglo-Saxon culture was the courage that they honored in battle, that rises up when all hope is lost. He wrote about that in the tale of the battle of Helm's Deep:

      "The end will not be long," said the King. "But I will not end here, taken like an old badger in a trap…When dawn comes, I will bid men sound Helm's horn, and I will ride forth. Will you ride then with me, son of Arathorn? Maybe we will cleave a road, or make such an end as will be worth a song–if any be left to sing of us hereafter."

      "I will ride with you," said Aragorn.

      I am sure Todd Beamer would have followed Theoden. And Tom Burnett, Jr. And Mark Bingham. And Jeremy Glick, brandishing his butter knife. And Cee Cee Lyles, flinging her pots of boiling water. The Flight 93 movie is like the song Theoden longed to have told of his end, after his death. Understanding it that way, I think I can go see it. [Remembering, however, that as far as the other side is concerned, we're the orcs.]

      • Rheinman says:

        [Remembering, however, that as far as the other side is concerned, we're the orcs.] I can live with that.

        I can also see the point of view of the Empire in Star Wars.

        Regardless of the ultimate right or wrong of your cause [if there is such a thing], having the courage and valor to stand up to fight for your beliefs, your way of life, your civilization , and your friends and family is noble in and of itself, especially in a hopeless situation.

        I remember a comment about the teachings of Sandhurst, that no matter how bleak the situation, there is always something constructive you can be doing to help your side.

        Arise Riders of Theoden! I can hear the horns sounding in my head when I read it.

  40. peg says:

    Also! See the battle of Helms Deep as a gumdrop diorama! http://missedmanners.wordpress.com/2007/01/12/wha

  41. flootzavut says:

    The Leggy/Gimli bromance is cute as puppies and kittens <3

    Vf nalbar ryfr nzhfrq/vzcerffrq ol gur snpg gung Znex vf FBBBBBB vagb guvf gung ur unfa'g rira erzrzorerq gb or jbeevrq nobhg Sebqb naq Fnz? Gung'f fbzr frevbhf vzzrefvba va gur zbzrag gurer. Fjrrg :D

    "V fjrne gb Tnaqnys, V jvyy jevgr lbh gur natevrfg yrggre gung unf rire orra jevggra vs lbh frcnengr gurfr gjb, W.E.E. Gbyxvra."

    Fb hacercnerq sbe ubj zhpu zber nqbenoyr gur oebznapr jvyy or. Naq – vg'f orra n juvyr, ohg qbrfa'g Tvzyv tb gb Inyvabe jvgu Yrtbynf? V fhfcrpg Znex znl pel…

    • VoldieBeth says:

      Va gur nccraqvk Yrtbynf naq Tvzyv ner gur ynfg gur gnxr gur obng ng gur Terl Uniraf. Nsgre geniryvat gbtrgure sbe gur ybatrfg gvzr gurl qrcneg sebz Zvqqyr Rnegu gbtrgure. V nofbyhgryl ybir gur oebznapr orgjrra gurfr gjb!!

    • sudden_eyes says:

      "Qbrfa'g Tvzyv tb gb Inyvabe jvgu Yrtbynf?"

      LRF! Lrf, ur qbrf. Vg'f va gur Nccraqvprf. Tbq, V ybir gur Nccraqvprf.

    • JustMalyn says:

      The use of the nickname "Leggy" puts some rather suggestive pictures in my head…and I won't deny being okay with that.

  42. flootzavut says:

    I LOVE the image of them riding out! V xabj vg'f qbar n yvggyr qvssreragyl va gur zbivr, naq bs pbhefr gur vzcrghf gura pbzrf sebz Nentbea, ohg vg tvirf zr PUVYYF, V gryy lbh, PUVYYF!

  43. ThreeBooks says:

    "Every time you leave, I am convinced you are going to die."

    Jesus, Mark, you remind me of my first puppy and my first girlfriend all in one go! I understand that feel, though, because last night when reading this I just kind of went, "Oh shit" as soon as Gandalf started to get distracted. It's never a good thing when your Wise Old Guy senses things on the wind or asks Legolas what his elf-eyes see.

  44. threerings13 says:

    I remember being really bored by this stuff when I first read it at age 12. And now, yesterday I was all "I get to read HELM'S DEEP! THIS IS SO AWESOME!" Although I DID always like Legolas and Gimli's competition. They are too adorable.

  45. wildered_dream says:

    Helms Deep was so nervewracking. I approve of your love for Legolas and Gimli's epic bromance.

    "I swear to Gandalf, I will write you the angriest letter that has ever been written if you separate these two, J.R.R. Tolkien."

    V ernyyl ubcr Znex ernqf gur nccraqvprf pnhfr Tvzyv naq Yrtbynf fnvyvat gb gur Haqlvat Ynaqf gbtrgure whfg znxrf zr fb rzbgvbany.

  46. tanbarkie says:

    Film spoilers:

    Uryz'f Qrrc vf zl snibevgr onggyr fprar va gur svyzf. Vg'f whfg fb enj naq ubeevsvp, va n jnl gung vfa'g nccebnpurq ol nal bgure fprar va gur gevybtl. Vg'f tenaq ba n fpnyr hazngpurq ol nal onggyr va SBGE, ohg jvgubhg gur fgenvarq PTV furra gung bppnfvbanyyl znef Cryraabe Svryqf. Naq qnzzvg, V YBIR RYIRF NG URYZ'F QRRC, V QBA'G PNER VS ABOBQL RYFR QBRF.

    (Frevbhfyl, gubhtu, V yvxr gung Unyqve'f nccrnenapr naq fhofrdhrag snyy tvirf gur onggyr n gbhpu bs trahvar gentrql gung V'ir nyjnlf sryg vf… jryy, abg zvffvat cre fr, ohg abg ng yrnfg greevoyl cerfrag va gur obbx.)

    Naq gura gur qnexarff naq gur enva naq gur pehapu bs obar nyy tvirf jnl gb gung tybevbhf qnja, nf gur Ebuveevz punetr qbja vagb gur inyyrl yrq ol gur Juvgr Evqre, juvyr Fuber'f fpber ernpurf vgf nofbyhgr ncbgurbfvf, naq ubyl fuvg whfg GLCVAT nobhg vg tvirf zr gur tbq qnza fuviref.

  47. valmarkont says:

    As George R. R. Martin borrows heavily from the history of England, his Wall was also quite obviously inspired by the real-life Hadrian's Wall and not by Tolkien. That minor correction aside, great review, as usual.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      Hahaha, I know you probably didn't intend this, but the way you used the word obviously, it sounds like there's an emphasis on the word. You know, like someone wearing librarian glasses at the end of their nose and saying QUITE OBVIOUSLY IT WAS BASED ON THIS, YOU UNINTELLIGENT SWINE.

      so therefore this is now my favorite comment of the day and I will read all other comments in this voice.

  48. Delta1212 says:

    You know, reading this review of the Helm’s Deep chapter made me remember something.

    You know how difficult it is to take an incredibly awesome book and adapt it successfully to an incredibly awesome film? Or to take an incredibly awesome film and successfully adapt it to an incredibly awesome videogame? How many times has anyone managed to adapt an incredibly awesome book into an incredibly awesome movie which was then adapted into an incredibly awesome game?

    I don’t know the answer but I do know they somehow managed it with The Two Towers (and Return of the King). Seriously, how amazing were those games?

  49. menegil says:

    It is one of the main reasons, in fact, why I rarely post myself, despite being a great lover of all things Tolkien (and a great lover of much of what Mark covers). I find it is incredibly easy for opinions to get twisted and for people to be demonized, even if a post is written well, with clear and concise arguments and in response to matters which are disconnected to people, and thus should ideally be based on some form of neutrality mid discussion.

    I do believe that the participants in said commenting section should, quite simply, cease to do this sort of thing. SweetVerda's words are words I echo.

  50. Zoli says:

    Honestly, it's disappointing but it kind of doesn't surprise me? I have felt for some time that this community tends to be very quick to judge, and if you don't agree with the general reaction you get called out, like a different opinion makes you a terrible person somehow. It's why I now pretty much limit my commenting to "I like this part" and nothing more, because it seems like anything I might want to say would only start an argument. I have often written out long comments and then just canceled them without posting because I am that afraid anything I say will be misinterpreted. :/

    I went and read the Awful Comment threads in question, and am equally disappointed that the response to SweetVerda was "Well, our community wanted this thread and we feel it's needed, so we're keeping it." If people are that frustrated with certain commenters or ideas, the place to rant about it and vent steam is a private blog or journal, not a public forum which is supposed to be devoted to talking about the book/show in question plus spoilers. I have had those moments where I get very frustrated. I've even written rants. You know what? They're all in private-locked posts on my LJ, where they belong and where no one will ever see them besides me.

    This community prides itself on being super-friendly and inclusive to everyone. Isn't it a bit hypocritical to have an extension of that community that pokes fun and says nasty things about people?

    • notemily says:

      The Mark Spoils blog is one place to discuss spoilers, but now that the Forums are open, I don't think it's unreasonable to simply post in the spoiler threads there instead of demanding that Mark Spoils be inclusive of everybody's opinion. Mark is not affiliated with Mark Spoils and has no say over what goes on there–instead, it's run by some of the commenters here, and they can make it whatever kind of blog they want.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I don't disagree with you, but it is not an extension of this community. I did not make it. It propped up all on its own.

      • In a sort of random offshoot, Mark, I just wanted to say thank you for raising this sort of issue in all your posts.

        I live in a ridiculously largely white majority place, and I hardly know anybody who is not white, or not heterosexual. I've lived here all my life, and I feel like I am having to fight a sort of apathy from people around me. We don't see racism so it isn't here. We don't see homophobia so it isn't here (except for casual homophobia because it is OMG SO FUNNY to call a guy named Daniel 'Danielle' because he's gay – nobody else seemed to notice that, or care and it made me so mad!). I raised sexism and gender roles as an issue in literature during my latest university course, and the lecturer said 'Is that really an issue now?' to which I ranted at him and my entire tutor group for ten minutes.

        Everybody around me is so consumed with the thought that 'we live in an enlightened culture' that they fail to see how entrenched discrimination is in our lives. Your blog helps me to think about issues more than I otherwise might – ableism, racism, sexism, homophobia to name but a few – and it's SO important to have these discussions, even if some of us are going to be asshats about it. So thank you. Don't feel helpless – you're teaching.

  51. elyce says:

    Here we go again, Mark! Ask and ye shall receive!

  52. t09yavosaur says:

    I hate this level of the video game with a burning passion. I can handle the ladders ok but once the wall is breached I am always overwhelmed. There are just too many orcs.

    • Lugija says:

      I just restarted the Battle for Middle-Earth, because I remembered that this level was awesome in it. And yes it was. With the clock ticking, you just want to hold your positions for long enough, and the enemy just keeps coming, until you have to retreat from the Wall to the fortress, waiting for Gandalf.

      It's fairly easy level, though, and last two times I played that level I didn't even lose the Wall, but still, the sense of dread is great.

    • stormwreath says:

      I just replayed that level a few days ago! I was inspired by this blog.*g* And yeah, it's really, really difficult. My archers on top of the wall were getting killed by enemy archers, then when I was distracted they managed to breach the gate to the Hornburg. I ended up having the entire army there wiped out, but Éomer's reinforcements arrived and saved the day for me just in time.

  53. arctic_hare says:

    I don't really have much to say today because battle scenes don't really inspire tl;dr in me. SORRY, TOLKIEN! IT WAS LIKE THIS IN AVATAR TOO, SO DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY! The best damn part of this chapter is Gimli and Legolas' contest over who can slay the most foes. BRILLIANT BEAUTIFUL BROMANCE. <3 MAY IT NEVER END.

    V ybir gur onggyr va gur zbivr fb zhpu, gubhtu. Hggreyl snagnfgvp.

  54. Tauriel_ says:

    I don't think it's a spoiler to say that after filming this battle, everyone who participated in it (cast, crew, extras) got themselves T-shirts that said:

    I SURVIVED
    HELML'S DEEP

    :D

    (They're in the DVD extras, but I don't have my copies with me at the moment, so I can't post a snapshot – perhaps someone else can?)

  55. Aris Katsaris says:

    "It was impossible for me to ignore that a largely white audience was telling me that I was a fool, that I didn't understand context, that I was too sensitive, that I was too angry, that I didn't know how to have fun (!!!!), etc."

    Question: Is a white person allowed to ever disagree with you on any topic concerning racism? Because the sense I got from some commentators in that thread was "how dare white people disagree with a person of color about an issue concerning racism." — not anything about how rudely or politely white people expressed that disagreement, but the mere fact of disagreement seemed to be considered a violation.

    It's your forum, it's your site, and you can obviously set whatever rules you want here. But please clarify the rules you're setting: Are white people allowed to express a different opinion from yours on topics that touch on issues of racism?

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      what the fuck man

      question: are you ever going to not take something I've said and twist it into some absurd strawman that posits that reverse racism inherently exists?

      I mean, the fact that you seem to think that if a white person nicely tells a person of color their opinion on a system of oppression is wrong means they have to totally stop and accept that idea is bad enough.

      But that you seem to think it's a "rule" of the site and not basic human decency is beyond me.

      So no, it's not a rule, but if you'd like to be a GOOD PERSON, I would say that any human being who is not part of a marginalized group should exercise extreme caution when trying to tell someone of that group how their oppression works. Spoiler warning: ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it ends in a disaster.

      • Aris Katsaris says:

        "are you ever going to not take something I've said and twist it into some absurd strawman"

        I'm not twisting your words, you're twisting mine. E.g. when I said that I do believe Tolkien racist according to modern standards, and that I do believe LOTR does contain racism, you twisted my words to mean that I had somehow accused *you* of calling Tolkien racist. Now when I'm asking for a clarification of the rules of this site, you're talking about how I twisted your words in some fashion I don't even understand.

        "So no, it's not a rule, but if you'd like to be a GOOD PERSON, I would say that any human being who is not part of a marginalized group should exercise extreme caution when trying to tell someone of that group how their oppression works. "

        Since you say it's not against the rules to disagree with you, let me just state that I disagree with you about what is required for someone to be a good person. My own opinion is that battling oppression is indeed a requirement for being a good person, but a requirement for being a good person is to battle oppression to the BEST OF ONE'S ABILITY. To automatically submit to anyone else (whether white or person of Color) about how best to battle oppression when in reality you don't agree with them, is mere avoidance of personal responsibility, shirking one's duty.

        E.g. when LAMBDA some years back banned non-GLBT authors from receiving awards, even if their books were pro-GLBT, I criticized that act, believing it counterproductive. For that criticism, I was ofcourse immediately considered an ENEMY. But if I had NOT criticized it, I would *not* have battled oppression against GLBT to the best of *my* ability in my own eyes, because I would not have offered my opinion in regards to how best anti-GLBT oppression could be battled. That would have been a failure of responsibility on my part, merely because I wouldn't wanted to avoid the criticism and bashing as supposed "concern troll" or whatever.

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:

          Are we really going to do this?

          You feel a need to act on the part of others. You did it in the chapter 3 comments, and you're doing it here. Your intent ultimately doesn't matter, because in the process of you doing your "duty," you can and probably have hurt people along the way.

          Here's the problem with what you are doing: you don't know what's counterproductive to the gay movement in the way we do because you are not gay. We do not need more straight people telling us how to live our lives. We do not need to hand out more Social Justice Ally Cookies to straight people just to award them for being decent human beings. It is not anything special for a straight person to write a positive gay character because they should have been doing that all along. Now they've met the standard for Decent Human Being. Hooray! Now what about all the queer authors who are never getting published, never getting money, never getting attention? What happens to them?

          Do you see the system you're setting up? You are not fighting oppression to get rid of that oppression. You just demonstrated that it's more important to center it on YOUR feelings and YOUR beliefs than on queer folk. This is not about you doing your duty or feeling good or ameliorating your guilt. If those things happen, great. But anti-oppression work generally is uncomfortable and involves those of us who aren't marginalized shutting up, listening, and supporting when we're asked.

          • Aris Katsaris says:

            > You feel a need to act on the part of others

            Yes.

            > Your intent ultimately doesn't matter, because in the process of you doing your "duty," you can and probably have hurt people along the way.

            I've not been convinced of that fact. If I'm convinced of the fact that my voice hurts people, it will of course be my duty to shut up. But when I think my voice helps them, it's my duty to speak up.

            > It is not anything special for a straight person to write a positive gay character because they should have been doing that all along.

            Who cares about whether it's "special" or not? The point would have been to reward good portrayals of GLBT characters and issues, to encourage the authoring of such books, regardless of whether it's "special" or not, regardless of whether people should have been doing it without the reward or not.

            And currently the LAMBDA awards have *reallowed* straight people to get awards. So in short they returned to *my* position. They may have done so, (possibly — no certainty here) because they saw how the year they hadn't let them, the production of pro-GLBT young adult literature fell by more than half (http://www.malindalo.com/2011/09/i-have-numbers-stats-on-lgbt-young-adult-books-published-in-the-u-s/) — this may be just a coincidence because of the economy dip on the whole, but the dip is clear.

            "Now what about all the queer authors who are never getting published, never getting money, never getting attention?"

            The obvious solution would have been to have separate awards for queer authors (regardless of book content) and for pro-GLBT content (regardless of author orientation). Then you'd have both queer author role-models getting fame, and queer character role-models. Which BTW is what are the *current* guidelines, perhaps because the Lambda awards saw the wisdom of it.

            So, shall I apologize for saying back in 2009 that Lambda awards was making a wrong decision, when even they themselves saw they were making a wrong decision? No. I was right. They soon saw that too.

            • Danny_SAP says:

              Oh yes thank you great straight ally for your wisdom.

              I'm pretty sure that now you're both wrong. Shocking that I disagree with a mainstream LGBT organization and a straight person over how to proceed with fighting my oppression.

              • Aris Katsaris says:

                > Shocking that I disagree with a mainstream LGBT organization and a straight person over how to proceed with fighting my oppression.

                Another question arises — if I'm supposed to shut up and listen until and unless marginalized groups ask me for assistance, which side should I take when different members of that marginalized group have different opinions?

                Perhaps I should use my judgement in order to figure out who is right and therefore which side to support? But if I use my judgement, I am *gasp* making myself have a say. Which is supposed to be a no-no.

                • Danny_SAP says:

                  If there's a situation where you're sitting in on an LGBT organization meeting where they are divided on how to proceed… and they, for some reason, are curious what the straight guy thinks and ask you your opinion, then by all means give it. But otherwise I think your best bet is to keep your opinion to yourself.

                  You seem to be conflating your "support" with your "opinion." And I'm seriously done with this.

            • xpanasonicyouthx says:

              Let me then state this unequivocally: You are hurting people. Maybe they haven't said anything because, as is clear from this thread, you position yourself as the ultimate resource.

              You are not a resource ever. That is the most offensive, self-centered, everyone-look-at-me thing I have ever seen on this fucking blog. I don't even understand how you claim to have read or learned anything on being an ally or fighting oppression and not learned the cardinal rule:

              THIS IS NOT FOR YOU.

              I do not exist to make you feel better. Activism doesn't exist to make you feel better. You are not a pinnacle of knowledge on being queer. In fact, it's very clear that you have almost no knowledge whatsoever! The fact that you have framed the LAMBDA awards as being an issue where you were right all along is fucking ludicrous and disgusting. I can't even believe you just tried to say that pro-GLBT literature fell in numbers BECAUSE LAMBDA DIDN'T AGREE WITH YOU.

              You should apologize because THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. It never was. It never will be.

              • Aris Katsaris says:

                > You are hurting people.

                So, I'm hurting people whenever I support same-sex marriage in political forums, because I didn't first opt ask for the opinion of gay people before I dared state my opinion?

                Back when I was in highschool and alone battling the casual Greek antisemetism in class, I was hurting people because I didn't first find some Jewish guy to tell me about how I should proceed?

                Yeah, if I was forever waiting to get approval from some member of a marginalized group before I stated my opinion, I'd never be battling any oppression whatsoever.

                > I can't even believe you just tried to say that pro-GLBT literature fell in numbers BECAUSE LAMBDA DIDN'T AGREE WITH YOU.

                You can disbelieve and take offense at lots of things that are true. But taking offense at things doesn't make them false.

                >The fact that you have framed the LAMBDA awards as being an issue where you were right all along is fucking ludicrous and disgusting.

                There's two options: Either I was right all along, or the LAMBDA awards committee is doing wrong now,. Reality demands that one of the above is true.

                • arctic_hare says:

                  guess what, asshole?

                  it's the latter

                  • Aris Katsaris says:

                    "guess what, asshole? "

                    I never insulted you nor called you names. I merely dared express a different opinion to yours, after explicitly asking whether that was allowed by the rules of the site and being told that it wasn't against them.

                    "it's the latter "

                    As a straight person I'm not supposed to disagree with the GLBT people that form the LAMBDA awards committee, so if I'm not supposed to disagree with them *now*, I must disagree with what they did in the past, which must mean I must agree with *my* position of disagreement towards them in the past.

                    • @silmerin says:

                      Why are you even talking about the LAMBDA awards committee?

                      This is the VERY DEFINITION of derailing.

                      "If I'm convinced of the fact that my voice hurts people, it will of course be my duty to shut up."

                      You've been told that you're hurting people — goodness, what does it take? Look at the upvote distribution in this thread. I think you'll notice a pattern.

                    • Aris Katsaris says:

                      > Why are you even talking about the LAMBDA awards committee?
                      > This is the VERY DEFINITION of derailing.

                      To me it was just the definition of "giving an example".

                      > You've been told that you're hurting people — goodness, what does it take?

                      Well for starters, in order to convince me of that fact, it would help if I was told *how* I was hurting them.

                      So far I've been called names, insulted, treated with indignation, etc. Just because I expressed a different opinion about what people's duties are in regards to their opinions — that their duty is "share them if you believe them beneficial" istead of "stay silent until you're told to speak"

                      Not even a different opinion on GLBT or racial issues themselves — just a different opinion on the handling of opinions.

                    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

                      You are without a doubt the most dense and stubborn ally of anything I have come across. You do not make me feel safe, you do not make me feel as if you have my best interests as a Mexican guy or a queer dude in mind, and your constant need to use your privilege as a way to keep yourself in control and power is horrifically damaging. It is terrifying. You have taken the fight against oppression that you will never experience and made it all about yourself. That is so hurtful to me because it shows me you do not understand it, and you've made no attempts to.

                      You are wrong, plain and simple, and the chorus of voices telling you that are being ignored because you believe you understand the world BETTER than we do. I can't imagine a more hurtful thing to do to marginalized folk: tell us that our opinions of how to fight oppression and what that oppression is do not matter.

                      Is that spelled out enough for you?

                    • Aris Katsaris says:

                      Mark, I've never said that your "opinions of how to fight oppression and what that oppression is do not matter." I've said that your opinions are MORE important than mine. I said that your opinions "must be weighted accordingly, with the INCREASED WEIGHT their personal experience grants them."

                      You keep pattern-matching me to something I'm not, you keep accusing me of saying things I'm not saying. In fact you often accuse me of saying THE EXACT OPPOSITE thing than I actually said.

                      "Politics is the mind-killer" proven yet again– you see someone who has a different opinion than yours on *any* related issue whatsoever, and then you automatically assign them ALL the opinions you assume of whatever enemy category you thrusted me into.

                      Your model of me isn't the reality thereof. In fact I've rarely seen anyone who has managed to model me more differently than what you've managed.

                    • arctic_hare says:

                      <img src="http://i40.tinypic.com/qozqfk.jpg&quot; width= "400" height= "400">

        • Danny_SAP says:

          The reason LAMBDA did that was because LGBT authors don't get the exposure that straight/cis people do. They wanted to use their fairly loud voice within mainstream discourse to promote LGBT authors. The mainstream does a good job of promoting straight/cis authors who write about LGBT issues. In a similar vein, think about all the press that The Help has received as a book dealing with "race issues" but it's written by a white woman. Authors of color run into similar issues as LGBT authors with being considered "too close" to the material and thus not neutral enough to really educate anybody.

          And nobody is asking you to "automatically submit" which is a really strange and power-centric word choice… like you feel like you're being asked to prostrate yourself before people of color. What you're being asked to do, with regards to discussions of racism or other marginalized/majority power structures is that you should first listen to what the marginalized individual is saying. Really listen to it and see where it's coming from. If you disagree with them, think about why. Think about where the gaps in your experience might affect you to see things different then them.

          For example: Some people within the lgbt community don't like the reclamation of the word "queer" some do. I respect when a member of the community asks me not to use it in front of them, but if a straight/cis person tried to tell me not to use it I would be incensed that they felt a need to tell me how to properly be oppressed so as to not make people uncomfortable.

          This is getting long so I'll wrap it up. You're welcome to disagree, but be aware that many people of color, or members of other marginalized groups, are welcome to be pissed off that somebody who doesn't know their life is trying to tell them how best to stay alive. You should listen to the people who actually take time to educate you as to how they think you're mistaken. White folks are not the experts on racism and POC have a wide variety of opinions. It'd be smart to can the I'M AN ALLY LISTEN TO ME. And listen to the people who you are supposedly allied with.

    • clodia_risa says:

      Hi, I’m obviously not Mark, nor am I a mod, but I’d like to comment upon your question. Obviously, what Mark says goes. But your question is an interesting one and one I’ve had to think about myself, as a white woman who likes to have conversations about racism and social inequity and such.

      I think that the conclusion I’ve personally come to is that if I decide I want to disagree with someone on a topic, any topic, I have to consider whether or not 1) I know what I’m talking about and 2) how much my conversation partner knows what they’re talking about. Therefore, when it comes to racism, I know less than people who have experienced it directly, and thus my opinion is, if not less valid, less likely to line up with the facts. On the other hand, I hope that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to have an opinion. It just means that I need to be more thoughtful about laying it out there.

      This is even more important when it comes to racism, classism, homophobia, feminism, etc. – these are issues that can and will hurt. Quite frequently, people who haven’t directly suffered from these issues will take the space to disagree as the space to deny.

      I really think that therein lies the main point – can I disagree with someone while acknowledging the validity of their experiences and feelings? If I cannot, then I need to decide if I’m in wrong or if they are. And as I’m doing that, I have to pull out that initial question: “Who is more likely to know what they’re talking about?”

      I hope you don’t mind that I essay’d all over your comment. It’s simply a question I see posed frequently and have had to wrangle with myself.

      • Aris Katsaris says:

        > Therefore, when it comes to racism, I know less than people who have experienced it directly, and thus my opinion is, if not less valid, less likely to line up with the facts.

        I understand that the oppressed is much more likely to know how oppression feels like. And therefore their opinions must be weighted accordingly, with the increased weight their personal experience grants them.

        But let's say one *has* weighted appropriately the words and opinions of a member of that oppressed class — listened respectfully and so forth — and yet the member of the oppressor class still disagrees about e.g. which tactics are most appropriate to combat oppression, or whether a deed was motivated by covert racism. Are they then allowed to express disagreement or not? Or is the mere fact of their disagreement an "act of oppression"?

        I vote the former.

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:

          God, could you talk about this in any creepier terms? I don't think so. It just sounds so manipulative and ME ME ME ME ME all the time.

          There is no rule here, there's no set guideline, and there's no direct answer without an example. That's why I said to exercise extreme caution AND warned you that it usually ends in disaster 99% of the time. I don't understand why you need to do this. If a PoC is "wrong" about some aspect of racism, if it's that glaring, I'm sure another PoC will bring it up. Why do you need to? Why does this have to be about you?

          • Aris Katsaris says:

            > Why do you need to? Why does this have to be about you?

            Because I'm the only one whose actions I control. So I'm responsible for my actions and my inactions alike. Who else can I be about?

            • msw188 says:

              Will I regret entering into this? MAYBE. I've only spent the last half hour or so thinking about this, so my post here could have some gaping holes that are not occurring to me.

              I think I might see part of the issue here. It seems that Aris is claiming that an individual, being ultimately responsible for his or her own action/inaction alone, must view all decisions from that perspective. I think this is okay! Aris also seems to believe that a person who has opinions or advice about a problem, EVEN IF HE OR SHE DOES NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM, has a right and perhaps even a responsibility to voice those opinions or that advice. Taken in full generality thus far, I agree with this too. And so we approach the idea of racial oppression.

              An individual who is NOT among the racially oppressed must be able to admit that he or she does not fully understand the problem. This is because the problem is largely psychological and emotional, making it both unmeasurable and unknowable without direct personal experience. For this reason, the individual in question is forced to TRUST THE RACIALLY OPPRESSED to both define and measure the problem, in as much as they can measure it.

              Now this should not stop the individual from offering opinions and/or advice. If nothing else, if the individual believes his or her opinions or advice is helpful towards the solution of the problem, he or she may feel obligated to give it.

              HOWEVER the individual must not forget that he or she cannot define the problem itself. If a member of the racially oppressed makes the case that THE GIVING OF THE SPECIFIC ADVICE/OPINION IS A PART OF THE DEFINITION OF THE PROBLEM, then the conscientious individual, having been informed of the nature of their contribution to the problem, has no choice but to step down. This is not reverse oppression. It is a fundamental imbalance that is central to the very nature of the problem. Only one group can be the racially oppressed, therefore only that group can define the problem. The fact that this imbalance gives the racially oppressed the ability to control the discussion is unfortunate, but it only exists because the initial problem exists.

              To sum up, an individual who believes that racial oppression exists and is a problem must, through this very recognition, admit to an imbalance in any discussion about the problem. Any advice or opinions can be mentioned, but only individuals within the oppressed group can dismiss them, and the individuals not within this group have ultimately no say in this decision, because they cannot define the problem itself. At best (from a logical standpoint), they can instead claim that the problem as defined by the oppressed does not exist, in which case their argument changes to existence of the problem as opposed to solution to the problem.

              • xpanasonicyouthx says:

                look at this.

                look at this being a boss on the internet

                whomever you are

                let me buy you a cookie or a cup of coffee or a drink on tour this year.

                • msw188 says:

                  Haha, I know I said at the top of the post that I only spent a half hour thinking about it, but that was when I started the post. I'm pretty sure I was pushing an hour by the time I hit submit. In any case, I'm hoping to make the Pittsburgh date on the tour, and we can discuss buying and/or sharing cookies then!

                  PS: Does it make more sense to buy your ebooks online through this site, or in person somehow? I will be purchasing pdf, if that makes a difference. I've never seen anyone sell ebooks in person before, but I thought I'd ask while we were discussing your tour.

                  • xpanasonicyouthx says:

                    It's best to do it on markdoesstuff.com!

                    I hopefully will have OTHER stuff for sale when I'm tour. I'm working on that now!

              • Cakemage says:

                I regret that I am only able to give you one thumbs up. Here, have some kitty hugs.
                <img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v129/sadisticferret/kittyhugOMGOMGOMG.gif&quot; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

              • Aris Katsaris says:

                Thank you for the polite and thought-out comments.

                I disagree with you on some specific particulars, which make some of our conclusions likewise different. For example I believe very often oppression can be specifically quantified, and injustice be measured — not merely "defined" by people. I believe there's *objective* oppression, and objective injustice, and objective problems — poverty, and social stratification, and all the various ways white people are privileged — not merely "definitions" of problems, but objectively quantifiable problems.

                So, though some aspects of racial injustice may be subjectively perceived, other aspects can be objectively measured. And when something can be measured, when it's part of quantifiable reality, not mere subjective taste, then there's correct opinions and false opinions, *no matter who's stating them*,

                If two people have the same terminal value, let's say "prosperity and abundance of food for Zimbabwe", then e.g. Mugabe who expelled white farmers and their knowhow was *objectively* wrong, though he himself was black, because it led to an objectively bad reality (starvation for his people) — and if a person (whether white or black) had told him he was wrong to expel white farmers, and that it wouldn't lead for prosperity for Zimbabwe, that white person would have been again right, even though Mugabe thought that his definition of the problem was the correct one.

                • msw188 says:

                  "I believe very often oppression can be specifically quantified, and injustice be measured"

                  That right there is the issue. It may be true that there are some forms of oppression that CAN be quantified and measured, and thus defined by members outside of the oppressed group. But, and please think about this carefully, THESE KINDS OF OPPRESSION ARE NOT ALL THAT THE OPPRESSED ARE FIGHTING AGAINST, ESPECIALLY IN FIRST WORLD NATIONS.

                  The majority of the posts responding to you here seem to be trying to emphasize this point, some of them possibly without even realizing it. The measurable things you talk about, like the number of pro-queer stories or whatever, aren't really what matters to a lot of these people. What matters most are the psychological and emotional aspects of FEELING oppressed. (Before I go on, this is an open invitation for anyone who has posted to tell me that I am misrepresenting what they are saying).

                  And so you, as an individual, have a few choices to make. The first would be to decide whether or not you believe that this psychological, emotional problem is real or not. It's logically consistent (though not very compassionate) to say you don't believe in it, because you will never directly observe it. If this is what you believe, you should be honest with yourself about it and admit, at least to yourself, that you are NOT on the side of those trying to fight this kind of oppression; as such, you really don't have business discussing means with these people.

                  If you believe that this problem is real, although you will never directly observe it, then you are in the situation I described earlier. At this point, you have another even stranger choice to make. The question is, how serious do you feel this problem is, especially in relation to the more "quantifiable" aspects of oppression you discuss? BUT REMEMBER, YOU CAN'T OBSERVE OR KNOW THE PROBLEM WHOSE SERIOUSNESS YOU ARE TRYING TO JUDGE. And so it actually makes a lot less logical sense to say "Hey, I believe that psychological and emotional oppression is a problem, but I don't think it's as important as some of the others things that I consider oppressive" than it would make to just deny the existence of the problem outright. But in either case you are bound to piss off the members of the oppressed group who wish to fight to end that oppression, and leaving the realm of logic to enter the realm of manners and being polite and respectful, your best bet is to simply shut up when asked.

                  But if you are willing to believe that it IS a part of the problem, and recognize that you really can't assign a weight to it because you can't observe it, then you have no choice but to trust the members of the oppressed group to assign that weight for you. It's a kinda weird situation actually! Certainly imbalanced. But it's the reality of what it means to be a member of the non-oppressed group who is "fighting" for ending the oppression.

                  (PS: I have taken several assumptions and presented them as definite assertions in this post, and all of these assumptions are about things that I have little to no direct experience with. I apologize if any of these statements offend anyone, and I would like to be corrected on any of the assertions that are false. These assumptions are largely the result of reading this thread, as well as some other posts on this site, and noticing certain patterns in the arguments. But I recognize that noticing a pattern does not make it true; again, if I have misrepresented anyone or anything here, please feel free to call me out right away)

                  • Aris Katsaris says:

                    Apologies for taking so many days to respond to you. Some of it was being busy at work, some of it was being without Internet for a few days. This will also be my last post in the thread (possibly in the forum), whether anyone responds back to it or not. Just a few last things I need be said.

                    Everyone pattern-matches to a lesser or greater degree, and assigns rightness or wrongness based on abstract categorization rules, because frankly we don't have the processing-power to judge every single event individually. So here's what the treatment of outsider opinions pattern-matches to me. As a Greek it pattern-matches to other Greeks dismissing every idea coming from the mouth of a foreigner as imperialist — "imperialist" is pretty much the word for oppression in regards to international affairs.

                    The consequence of that type of Greek behaviour is that you get a state as Greece as a result. Emotionally and psychologically my fellow Greeks may feel very very proud when they dismiss as imperialist such silly foreign ideas as "industrial development". But psychology and emotions won't save them.
                    " from bankruptcy.

                    Argument and discussion (and above all discussion of *evidence*) is the best way of distinguishing good ideas from bad ones. When, in treating an idea, ones brings up *where it came from*, let alone dismissing it and rejecting it *solely* based on where it came from, then one correspondingly loses some measure of capacity in telling good ideas from bad ones.

                    And the truly nonsensical thing is that e.g. GLBT issues are making so much sense, that the *moment* discussion of GLBT issues becomes non-taboo, the rise in support for them becomes exponential in growth. The GLBT community has thus every interest in *encouraging* discussion and argument. And yet some seem to think they ought learn all the wrong lessons from the those groups that needed to *stifle* and *taboo* discussions with outsiders because those groups (e.g. churches) were irrational or completely the wrong.

                    The end result is bad all-around. By not deigning to respond to outsider opinion, outsiders are merely left to their own opinions — and insiders are no longer capable of dealing with outsider opinion. In this very thread, the "insiders" to minority community, have so untrained themselves in the art of meaningful discussion, that they end up responding with namecalling or images of cats, or complete lack of comprehension of what I was speaking about.

                    And the most eloquent response, the most convincing response, one of very few response that could ended up coming instead by *you*, a fellow outsider. There's something awfully sad and ironic about that. That the people so dismissing of outsider opinion end up as a result highlighting your likewise outsider opinion. But it's those things that make me want to scream "IT'S COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO DISMISS OUTSIDER OPINIONS".

                    But I don't think many Americans even understand the concept of a counterproductive action. And most of the people above *are* Americans tI think, You mentioned "the First World" — but I think it's mainly *American* who have a very monotonic type of thinking in regards to the history of oppression, as if defeating it is just a matter of uniting against oppressor groups. It's all those successful fights against it, that Americans don't even notice the experience of other nations; what about the worker revolutions , what about the Balkan nationalisms. What about when progressive ideas get entrapped in reactionary structures of thought? And there's few structures of thought more reactionary than "no outsider opinion is welcome".

                    Thank you again for the polite and well-thought out response.

            • notemily says:

              In that case I think your best action in such situations is to listen, not to speak. You can be responsible for that instead.

        • Danny_SAP says:

          To use an example… some POC don't think that things like legacy admittance to colleges and extremely disproportionate home ownership are aspects of white privilege. I do, so do other POCs. But I don't feel like it's my place to get into it with another POC when I don't have a personal relationship with them. The internal community can take care of that discussion and I can benefit by sitting back and listening to the variety of viewpoints I'm being exposed to. I -do- feel like it's my place to correct other white people… as I think one of the major functions of majority group activism is to police ourselves and take that load off of the marginalized people.

          Hence… this.

          Now, if you're friends with somebody and you really have weighted appropriately their words and opinions, there is much less of a chance for disaster by disagreeing with them, as they know where you are coming from and you know where they are coming from… with strangers the dynamic is way different and there is a long history of majority group members swooping into marginalized communities and telling them what to do.

        • clodia_risa says:

          I’m going to address one part of your reply, and then move on to a more generalized reply. “whether a deed was motivated by covert racism” – In this case, I think that the white person 99% of the time should not comment. It is so easy to be blind when it comes to “covert racism” because most of us haven’t trained ourselves to see it. I try, and I know I still miss tons of it. So yes, I would say that this is a circumstance to hold one’s tongue.

          As for the more general question, “Or is the mere fact of their disagreement an ‘act of oppression’?” That’s a bit of a loaded question, isn’t it? I live in the USA, and so am guaranteed the freedom of speech (by the government, not by private individuals or organizations), and we are trained that our individuality and expression thereof is of the utmost importance (especially those who fall into the mainstream). By those standards, of course simply disagreeing cannot possibly be an “act of oppression”.

          However, it can be. If you’re reinforcing the institution whereby oppression is enabled by denying the validity of those who disagree with you to have an opinion, then you are. I can’t give a definitive answer, because it depends on context.

          However, I will say this. You can say whatever you want. And the person you are talking to can take it however they want. And that’s just how it is. If you disagree with someone, they don’t have to care about your opinion at all. They can dismiss it for what you may call the most spurious of reasons and it doesn’t make their opinion less valid. It just means that you don’t agree.

          Further, I find your use of the word “allowed” to be interesting. Let me see if I can express why. I don’t “allow” myself to speak. I decide if my opinion is worth someone else’s time and then decide if I wish to express it. My conversation partner doesn’t “allow” me to speak. To do so would inherently grant that the person who “allowed” me to speak cared about my opinion. As I said earlier, no one is entitled to have anyone care about their opinion.

          Your conversation partners have the right to weigh your words as well as you have to weigh theirs. If yours are found to be lacking, then they’re found to be lacking. You’ve expressed your opinion, you do not have to be found to be in the right.

  56. stormwreath says:

    So: The Battle of Helm's Deep in easy bullet point form.

    This picture may help understand it, although it's not exactly how I imagine Helm's Deep – I think of the Deeping Wall on the left being longer, stretching across the entire valley for maybe half a mile.
    <img src="http://onyxworkshop.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/helms-deep-sml2.jpg?w=630"&gt;

    * Legolas and Gimli start out on the wall on the left. Aragorn and the others are in the castle on the right. The army of Saruman is advancing up the valley from where we're looking, towards the fortress.

    * Orcs and Dunlendings advance up the causeway on the right with battering rams to try and smash down the main gate. Aragorn and Éomer (and Gimli) sneak out through a hidden side-door, drive them away, then go back inside the castle.

    * Orcs try and climb over the (lower) wall on the left using ladders and grappling hooks. The defenders fight them off.

    * The same thing happens again and again. Each time the Orcs are driven back with heavy losses, but the defenders are getting tired and running out of arrows.

    * Aragorn and Éomer are still defending the gate, but it is finally smashed down after constant attacks. They organise for a barricade of stones and timber to be piled up in the entrance instead to keep out the Orcs.

    * Some Orcs sneak through that little tunnel where the stream flows underneath the wall. Gimli and Gamling defeat them, then Gimli blocks the tunnel with rocks. (Thus damming the stream, which slowly spreads into a lake behind the wall.)

    * More Orcs sneak into the now blocked-off tunnel with what I assume is a barrel of magic gunpowder, and blow a huge hole in the wall. The enemy rush through the gap.

    * Gimli and Éomer are separated from the others by the Orcs charging in through and over the broken wall, and pushed back up the valley. The Hornburg castle is now surrounded on all sides; Aragorn and Legolas only just make it back inside.

    * Dawn comes: Aragorn talks to the Orcs.

    * Saruman's army uses more of its gunpowder to blow up the main gate of the castle and its barricade (right where Aragorn had been standing a minute earlier). They start to charge in through the gate…

    * … Only to find Théoden, Aragorn and the cavalry of the Riddermark charging right back out towards them. At the same time, the people at the back of Saruman's army see the sinister forest that just mysteriously appeared behind them (and remember, in Middle Earth, trees can eat you). They're trapped in the valley. Also it's now daytime, and Orcs hate the Sun; and there's that clearly-supernatural echoing of the horns sounding all around them. Their morale crumbles: they realise they're not going to win this one.

    * Théoden and his men charge down the causeway and right through the middle of the enemy army. They're probably still badly outnumbered – Tolkien doesn't say – but Saruman's army is now in a full-scale panic. They're not standing to fight: they're running away.

    * Then Gandalf and his army show up to complete the rout. The humans in Saruman's army surrender; the Orcs run away into the 'waiting shadow' of the forest and are never seen again.

  57. roguebelle says:

    Does anyone else think it's hilarious that Znex unf orra fb genvarq ol NFbVnS (nzbat bgure zrqvn) gb oryvrir gung, vs fbzrguvat tbbq unccraf, fbzrguvat GREEVOYR NAQ UBEEVSVP zhfg or nobhg gb vzzrqvngryl sbyybj vg? V zrna, va grezf bs obql pbhag bs znva punenpgref, YbgE pbzrf abjurer arne NFbVnS, ohg ur'f pyrneyl nagvpvcngvat gung vg jvyy, juvpu xvaq bs ragregnvaf zr. :D

  58. MajorWhoa says:

    Mark, have you ever read "The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allen Poe? It's a short story- only about 20 pages, but it also makes EXCELLENT use of setting and weather to enhance the story- to the point where the setting itself acts like a character. Re-reading LotR and your reaction to Tolkien's use of setting reminded me of it.

  59. Cakemage says:

    ‘But you comfort me, Gimli, and I am glad to have you standing night with your stout legs and your hard axe. I wish there were more of your kin among us.’

    This is the part where I stopped seeing Legolas and Gimli as a "bromance" and started seeing it as a full-blown romance. I mean, come on, Legolas basically just admitted he loves Gimli's "hard axe" and stout legs. Clearly he is a twink who's craving some hot dwarven bear-meat. The orc-killing competition is basically foreplay.

    On a cleaner note, I totally wouldn't blame Gandalf if he did want to take Shadowfax on one last ride before battle. Hell, sometimes when I'm riding I like to pretend my horse is Shadowfax, and I haven't had to fight orcs in at least a year.

    • Katarina_H says:

      I think the biggest hurdle for Gimli would be that Legolas is so much more feminine than anyone he's ever dated before. And that can clearly be overcome. :-)

      • Cakemage says:

        Well, Gimli's undying courtly love of Galadriel is what made him realize that elven femininity can be beautiful. From there it's not too hard to extrapolate that he would eventually realize that Legolas' only slightly less feminine and very slightly more masculine elven nature and form is equally beautiful to hers, just in a slightly different way. And when that happens, it'll only be a matter of time until they're consummating their relationship atop a pile of dead orcs.

    • notemily says:

      hee hee, "hard axe."

  60. eyelessgame says:

    Juvyr guvf vf n tbbq svtug, vg pbzcyrgryl cnyrf orsber gur Cryraabe Svryqf – abg whfg va fpnyr ohg zbfgyl orpnhfr FB ZHPU NJRFBZR pbzrf bs bs Cryraabe.

    Znex vf fb irel abg cercnerq.

  61. windsparrow says:

    "I will forever be unable to understand how I never read this book before now, and I will forever refuse to forgive myself for thinking it was terrible. "

    And when you are done, you may find yourself grieving for the fact that no matter how much you enjoy re-reading it (if you do), you will never be able to read it for the first time again. Having read The Lord of the Rings more than twenty times (it was how *I* survived an urban public high school as a smart, fat girl, and how I got through my early adulthood, and how I got through almost a decade of living alone – isolated geographically as well as emotionally – in the Arizona desert, with my sanity relatively intact) I still wish for surprises that awaited me that first time. Your reviews of each chapter are delicious because I am getting to relive it vicariously through you.

    • Wheelrider says:

      Exactly! I had the same "I never understood why I haven't read this" thought at 15, and the same wish I could read it again for the first time. But honestly, this one-chapter-per-day experience is pretty close.

    • Castlewayjay says:

      Yes if I could re read any book for the first it would be this one. Reading along with mark and the other first timers is the next best thing

    • bugeye says:

      I do agree with the first time comment, but this book has been "there for me" for over 45 years. I have to spend time in Middle Earth every year, and have found that it provides what you need. It may be excitement, romance/bromance, struggles with loss and change, even the songs come to matter.__
      I guess I question 7 year olds reading this. Really, you have the vocabulary, experience, patience for all of this? _
      Now is the time for Mark to read this, his life experience, his study, his writing talent, all come together and he "gets it" Thank you Mark for waiting, it is for your own enjoyment and mine._

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      omg thank you! <3

  62. Alice says:

    The Great Battle at Helm’s Deep!Gimli’s and Legolas killing orcs contest XD!!Gur Uhbeaf!!! And that’s all I can say about this. :)

    (In this order : Hildebrandt Bros-Helm’s Deep, Alan Lee-Helm’s Deep, John Howe-Aragorn, John Howe-Theoden, Cavini-Theoden, 2 John Howe’s- Legolas and Gimli, Darell Sweet-The Battle at Helm’s Deep, John Howe- Helm’s Deep, Alan Lee-Helm’s Deep, Angus McBrides)

    …the last lines of the chapter-brrr!chilling…

  63. Mikan says:

    When I was a little girl (like, twelve) I googled Legolas and Gimli. Somehow, I managed to end up finding a site that had photoshopped their heads to various, uh, explicit photos of men. Doing things.

    I was very amused. XD

    And they were very good photoshops! Classy even.

    I kinda don't want to credit too much to the site (since I've mostly forgotten it), but I tend to automatically ship those Legolas and Gimli, even now. XD

  64. Katie says:

    What I love most about LOTR is that Tolkien has managed to write a book, where we haven't heard a word about the main character for seven chapters now, and we kind of don't mind. We're quite happy to go running and riding across the fields with the tertiary characters (who we only met halfway through the book), while the secondary characters (who were at least present from the beginning of the book) are also off somewhere else doing something we don't know about for a few chapters. Testament to the absolute talent in world and character building.

  65. Hotaru_hime says:

    The most chilling thing is that the orcs ran into the trees and nothing was seen of them ever again.
    Sentient plants are terrifying.

  66. stormwreath says:

    Look what I've found:

    <img src="http://tolkiengateway.net/w/images/a/a9/J.R.R._Tolkien_-_Helm%27s_Deep_and_the_Hornburg.jpg"&gt;

    A drawing of Helm's Deep by Tolkien himself. So now we know what it 'really' looks like in the book. :)

  67. nie hundred says:

    Hey. Just curious — but are you reading the Percy Jackson series next? READ THE PERCY JACKSON SERIES NEXT. I know that people either love it or hate it or have no interest in it. ><

    • arctic_hare says:

      Mark is reading the Sandman series next, that'll start in April.

      • Katarina_H says:

        Oh, I didn't know that! That's brilliant! (Of course, it also means I may have to buy them, since they're next-to-impossible to get from the library in order in a timely fashion.)

        • arctic_hare says:

          Yeah, Mark has started putting up a schedule, which you can find linked below the banner. He's going to do a standalone breather after LOTR, as he always does (this one will be Princess Bride), and then the next big series he's doing is Sandman. so excited, eeeeee~

          • Katarina_H says:

            Excellent! I love TPB so it'll be fun to see those posts as well. And there will be Angel, yay! I wasn't sure whether the Buffy schedule would include an Angel schedule (though it's clearly best to watch both shows).

  68. Aris Katsaris says:

    > It's not your place to tell PoC how best to fight racism or to tell GLBT people how to battle homophobia and related issues.

    I don't have a vote on how they'll act, but I have an *opinion* and *advice* . My opinions and advice are a resource. If I don't offer that resource in situation when I think they may do good, that's passively hurting marginalized groups by my inaction.

    > Because you have not lived those experiences, you don't get a say.

    By that argument Harriet Beecher Stowe shouldn't have written "Uncle Tom's Cabin"?

  69. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    No, your opinions and advice are never a resource. Ever. Do you know what a resource is? No, you don't. A resource is not your mind.

    I can't even believe you think this way. You are not hurting people by keeping damaging thoughts to yourself.

  70. notemily says:

    By that argument Harriet Beecher Stowe shouldn't have written "Uncle Tom's Cabin"?

    Oh, Jesus Christ. Really?

  71. Aris Katsaris says:

    That statement follows directly from your position that "Because you have not lived those experiences, you don't get a say"

    Do you think I'm exaggerating? Nowadays it's not rare to hear arguments in anti-racist communities that white people should *not* write any POC characters, because the white authors have not lived the experience of POC people, and therefore shouldn't put their words in the mouths of POC characters, that they don't have the standing to do so.

  72. arctic_hare says:

    They were supposed to come out with comics continuing the storylines and it's TOTALLY NOT THE SAME but STILL. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ANSWERS AND I WANT TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS. But they never actually came out as far as I know. :(

    and everyone was so perfect :( some of the best casting ever

    and it was so pretty

    and the music

    it was like a fairy tale

    with beautiful dialogue

    AND WHERE IS MY DIGBY

    PLUS MUSICAL MOMENTS WITH BROADWAY STARS

    I can go on like this for aaaaaaaaaaaaaages :(

  73. notemily says:

    apparently the imprint that was supposed to be publishing the comics got shut down :(

    I think season one was better-written than season two, but I don't blame the writers, I blame the pressure of imminent cancellation clashing with with their obvious desire to write longer story arcs. mostly I'm just like WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN

  74. arctic_hare says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO :( That explains a lot, but – nooooooooooooooooo :'(

    I love the writing in both seasons, so I cannot pick! One of the things I really loved about season two was their willingness to just have the arc move along at a nice pace (no pun intended). None of this dragging things out nonsense that grates on me. PLUS THE CHARACTERS BEHAVED LIKE ADULTS AND OWNED UP TO THEIR MISTAKES it was amazing.

    I also know they wanted to do a full musical episode and omg all my tears for what could have been. :'(

  75. Aris Katsaris says:

    So this is the sort of 4chan-like behaviour that's acceptable in this site? Good to know. It cuts my stay short, which is what you probably desired.

    You follow a blind deontology without even being able to see it from a consequentialist's perspective — you can't actually *justify * the consequences of your deontology when they're brought to your attention, and so you merely *laugh at* anyone who so brings them up *as if* they said something stupid.

    Because when you laugh at something, you don't actually need to demonstrate it was stupid, that would take effort and intelligence. You can just act *as if* it was stupid, and then "JOB ACCOMPLISHED" though you don't actually manage to convince anyone who wasn't already convinced.

    But what do you care about convincing people — that would be a *consequence* and what the hell does a deontologist care about consequences.

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