Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King': Chapter 1

In the first chapter of The Return of the King, Pippin and Gandalf arrive in Minas Tirith, only to meet with the stern and craft Denethor. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.

CHAPTER ONE: MINAS TIRITH

Well, my predictions are just going to be universally wrong, aren’t they?

The arrival at Minas Tirith changes SO MUCH. It’s not only a massive moment for the plot, but Tolkien takes time to give us yet another fully-formed and imagined culture within Middle-earth. I will never stop thinking this is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever read. A WHOLE WORLD INSIDE ANOTHER WORLD. This is some Inception-level genius, I swear. But the opening chapter of The Return of the King really serves to make on key point: war has arrived in Middle-earth.

This is a lengthy chapter, one of the longer ones in a while, and it’s full of details of Gandalf and Pippin’s journey to Minas Tirith on top of the details of the people of Gondor. I really shouldn’t read chapters late at night because they make me tired. The characters always seem to be on the move, and I can feel the exhaustion leaking through the pages. There’s simply no genuine, effective rest for any of these people. But that’s one of many things that contributes to the sense of panic and doom that I got from chapter one. Gandalf feels that they’re already too late in arriving to speak with Denethor, so their stops are brief and unsatisfying. Pippin often takes the opportunity to sleep on the back of Shadowfax when he can. It’s one of those things I’m glad that the book addresses. This is such a physical experience for all the characters, and sleep has to factor into it.

The arrival within the city gates of Minas Tirith gives Tolkien a chance to expand on the physical arrangement of this city. I really adore that so many of you are willing to share either official or fan-created works that help me visualize a lot of the locations in Middle-earth. I don’t have a visual brain, especially when it comes to arranging or imagining things in physical space. I think I have an idea what the great city looks like, as well as Tower of Ecthelion, but it’s never fully-formed in my head. You know how some people feel that movie versions of characters ruin their head-canon? That never really happens to me at all. I have a hard time picturing people and places that are fictional! It’s just something I’ve always had to deal with.

Yet despite this, I understood the awe of this city, especially how it’s built with seven levels with seven different entrances to get inside each level. I WANT TO SEE THIS. I love that it’s set against the backdrop of the mountains. I love the design. But what I most love is how everything feels REALLY FUCKED UP. Gandalf and Pippin are in this place of grandeur, but there’s no time to stop and appreciate anything. They must move on from one moment to the next, keeping in mind that there’s a war brewing. Gandalf’s warning to Pippin heightens the tension, too, because it sets up Denethor in a way to give his meeting a new context. I’d forgotten that this was Boromir’s father, so there was suddenly this new concern I had. Pippin saw Boromir die. THIS IS GOING TO BE SO AWKWARD.

‘It is scarcely wise when bringing the news of the death of his heir to a mighty lord to speak over much of the coming of one who will, if he comes, claim the kingship. Is that enough?’

‘Kingship?’ said Pippin amazed.

‘Yes,’ said Gandalf. ‘If you have walked all these days with closed ears and mind asleep, wake up now!’

ARAGORN IS GOING TO CLAIM KINGSHIP? WHAT THE HOLY FUCK. WHAT THE HELL?!?!?! Oh my god, this book is going to destroy me, isn’t it? OH GOD, ARAGORN!!!!

So, I was right about one thing: this scene would be awkward. It is terribly awkward, especially since at one point, Pippin has to watch Denethor and Gandalf essentially have a mind fight. For real. The king grills Pippin relentlessly about his son’s death. To be fair, I understand his suspicion, so I don’t want to give off the idea that I think he’s an antagonist. I mean, the dude has never even seen a hobbit before, and now a hobbit is telling him how his brave warrior son died and this tiny Halfling survived? Pippin rises to the occasion, though, and speaks brilliantly of Boromir and gives Denethor his sword as a sign of good faith. Clearly, he took Gandalf’s advice and woke up his mind, because it works. Well, actually, he does end up having to swear service to Denethor and Gondor. So, what does that mean? I know he gets lesser passwords and is sort of inducted into the city in a way, and that Denethor can call on him to serve when he needs to. You know, I really hope Pippin doesn’t regret this, and I also hope that Denethor doesn’t take advantage of him. Look, I’m just trying to find ways that Tolkien can break my heart so I can at least attempt to prepare for it.

Could one of those things be the awkward, uncomfortable behavior of Gandalf and Denethor? Do they have some history we don’t know of yet? Reading their argument is like listening to your parents fight from the backseat of the car. You hate it and you wish it would stop, but you’re stuck and can’t go anywhere. Perhaps they’re so snappy with one another because their nerves are frayed. Both characters are well aware of the destruction that looms over the mountain and seems to grow brighter, redder, and closer every single day, and it appears they both have their own ideas on how to deal with it.

I think that’s why I’m so pleased with Pippin’s way of coping with all of this: he wants to find food. Bless. It’s also how he meets the lovely Beregond, a rather pleasant fellow who does something? Well, I’m actually not sure what his exact role is besides being a “plain man” in the Third Company, but, like Pippin, his presence is uplifting. Despite that he, too, knows that war is so close, he never seems jaded or panicked. As he takes Pippin around the grounds, he’s kind, polite, and genuinely interested in this strange hobbit. I like that he just accepts him outright. It certainly helps that he came with Gandalf and swore service to Gondor, but Beregond just seems so genuine in his interactions with Pippin.

There’s a lot of info-dropping for the remainder of this chapter, and it’s very pleasant to read. This whole section has the subtext of Pippin’s loneliness. He just went through a traumatic journey with his best friend, and now he has no idea if he’ll see Merry again, let alone Sam or Frodo. So he approaches a day of hanging out with Beregond by simply enjoying the experience. They visit Shadowfax, by Gandalf’s command; Pippin gets his first full meal in Minas Tirith on a picnic with Beregond; I start wanting to eat meals in this book; George R.R. Martin writes about food a lot, too; goddamn it, I am hungry.

Pippin’s little picnic also helps build this city more in my head, at least in terms of framing where he is and which mountain ranges surround him. It’s so frightening to me that they are so close to Mordor. Beregond puts it very plainly:

‘We seldom name it; but we have dwelt ever in sight of that shadow: sometimes it seems fainter and more distant; sometimes nearer and darker. It is growing and darkening now; and therefore our fear and disquiet grow too.’

What the hell is Sauron preparing? What is the glowing? UGH I NEED TO KNOW. It’s stressing me out! But Tolkien has been deliberating obfuscating this fact from us, hinting at something terrible, but always keeping it out of our grasp. I’m starting to realize that whatever big battle happens in this book is going to be apocalyptic or something. When a “shadow of doom” passes over them, it’s just another sign that this is all incredibly fucked up. I like how Beregond describes it: it’s the “deep breath before the plunge.” It’s the quiet before the cataclysmic storm. OH GOD I AM SO UNPREPARED.

I enjoy that Tolkien doesn’t ignore that Pippin doesn’t really fit into all of this. I’m not just referring to the oncoming war, though that’s a large part of it. Pippin does think that perhaps he’s not really the type of pawn that Gandalf referred to earlier. He’s just left out of everything at this point. Gandalf is off being all wizardly; Beregond leaves him at one point; and while the citizens treat him well, Pippin just doesn’t belong here. He’s entirely by himself the whole time. I think that’s why he takes up the chance to spend time with Beregond’s son, Bergil. Despite that disaster is imminent, the kid is just a good sport, a way for Pippin to put aside his worries and concerns for a few hours.

But he’s not Merry. Merry, where are you?

This is a fascinating chapter to me and a great opening to The Return of the King. It sets the tone for the book and explores Pippin’s character further. But it’s all just a set-up for the last paragraph, isn’t it?

‘You should sleep, in a bed while you still may. At the sunrise I shall take you to the Lord Denethor again. No, when the summons comes, not at sunrise. The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn.’

You’re kidding me. Why do I feel this is literal? Like, Sauron literally found a way to block out the sun with some sort of “Darkness”?

FUCK.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

293 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King': Chapter 1

  1. Alice says:

    * The beacons are lit,Gondor calls for help. It seems that Gandalf and Pippin will arive in the middle of war,so to say. V nqzvg vg,guvf fprar va gur zbivr,vf fb zhpu zber cbjreshyy: gur zhfvp…gur vzntrf…gur flzobyvfz bs ubcr er-vtavgrq. Vzntvar zr fvggvat va gur gurnger arne zl sevraq (jub ogj jnfa'g vagb YBGE yvxr V jnf) naq pelvat zl rlrf bss,juvyr orvat pnershy abg gb or frra. Naq guvf zbivr znqr zr pel n ybg,ohg jr jvyy trg gb gung nabgure gvzr :).

    * And we also get to find out more about the world that Tolkien created,and we finally see The Great Citadel of Men, Minas Tirith. How sad it is that the White Tree of Gondor is now dying,a perfect symbol for a citadel without a king.

    * Sassy Gandalf is back :D!

    * And we also finally meet Denethor, father of Boromir and Faramir.

    * Oh,Pip,you brave brave hobbit!!

    * Gandalf has met his match in sassyness :p.

    * I like Beregond very much :D.

    * I always think that I would be too afraid to live so close to a constant danger like the gondorians do.

    * The art post is going to be loooong,because I have so much beautifull stuff to show ^_^

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/22/FF-Beacon-port.jpg"&gt;
    John Howe – Beacons

    <img src="http://img-fan.theonering.net/~rolozo/images/hildebrandt/road2tirith.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Hildebrandt Bros – Road to Tirith

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/21/Gandalf-_MinasTirith.jpg"&gt;
    John Howe – Gandalf Approaches The Guarded City

    <img src="http://www.tednasmith.com/lotr3/TN-Gandalf_Rides_to_Minas_Tirith.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – Gandalf rides to Minas Tirith

    <img src="http://www.tednasmith.com/lotr3/TN-In_Haste_to_the_White_City.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – In haste to the White City

    <img src="http://www.tednasmith.com/lotr3/TN-Minas_Tirith_at_Dawn.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – Minas Tirith at dawn

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/21/Minas-Tirith.jpg"&gt;
    John Howe – Gandalf before the Walls of Minas Tirith

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings%20Sketchbook/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_sketchbook_13_minas%20tirith01.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee sketch of the main gate

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings%20Sketchbook/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_sketchbook_13_minas%20tirith02.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee sketch

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_iii-5-01_minas%20tirith02.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee – Minas Tirith

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/John%20Howe/Middle-Earth/john_howe_middle-earth_minas%20tirith.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    John Howe – Minas Tirith

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/John%20Howe/Middle-Earth/john_howe_middle-earth_minas%20tirith2.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    John Howe – Walls of Minas Tirith

    (continued…)

    • blossomingpeach says:

      P.S. What John Howe had to say on his rather castle-y Minas Tirith (second from the bottom) made me smile:

      Originally done as a companion piece for the Qnex Gbjre in the 1991 Tolkien Calendar
      Whatever was I thinking when I painted this picture? Must've forgotten to read the book or something, as ti really bears little ressemblance to Minas Tirith as described in the Return of the King. Admittedly, there are concentric walls, but the rest is a pretty… let's say liberal… interpretation.
      I've re-read the book since.Now all I need is an excuse to do it again.
      It wouldn't hurt, besides, the original was destroyed during the break-in and theft of my paintings from the mediatheque of Sedan

    • atheistsisters says:

      How is it that whenever I read the descriptions of the White City or look at pictures I feel homesick, even though I don't like city living and prefer the Shire or Rivendell? Naq obl bu obl, gung fprar va gur zbivr – fbzrgvzrf V tb jngpu vg ba LG jura V jnag n tbbq frffvba bs puvyyf.

      • ZeynepD says:

        That's a very good question. Movie impression spoilers: Qhevat gur vavgvny gvzr fnj _Erghea bs gur Xvat_, gur svefg gvzr grnef fcenat gb zl rlrf jnf qhevat gung frdhrapr jura jr jngpu Tnaqnys tnyybc guebhtu, yriry ol yriry, nyy gur jnl hc gb gur Pbhegf. V guvax n ybg bs zl ernpgvba unf gb qb jvgu Ubjneq Fuber'f zhfvp—"gur evatvat bs gur fvyire gehzcrgf," naq gung Tbaqbe gurzr—ohg fbzr jnf qrsvavgryl… whfg orvat gurer.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I LOVE THESE.

    • flootzavut says:

      HOW MUCH DO I LOVE ALAN LEE@S SKETCHES? A LOT!

      V gbgnyyl nqber gung fprar va gur zbivrf, whfg erzrzorevat vg tvirf zr fuviref, vg'f tbetrbhf!

      V nyfb ybir ubj, jura gur ornpba vf yvg gung Nentbea frr,f Ivttb ernyyl CRYGF qbja gubfr fgrcf. Fb bsgra va zbivrf naq ba GI ehaavat ybbxf snxr, ohg gung ernyyl fubjf gur hetrapl fb zhpu, naq V ybir gur yvggyr qrgnvyf yvxr gung gung znxr gurfr guvatf frrz fb erny.

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Lrf! V ybir obgu bs gubfr fprarf: jura Tnaqnys naq Cvccva ner evqvat vagb gur pvgl naq jura gur ornpbaf ner yvg. (Abg gb zragvba gur zhfvp vf nznmvat) V nterr nobhg Ivttb'f ehaavat gbb. Ur vf nyy bhg fcevagvat gbjneqf gur tbyqra unyy naq jr pna yrtvgvzngryl oryvrir ur jbhyq or bhg bs oerngu sebz vg gbb.

    • drekfletch says:

      Naismith's Minas Tirith strike me as extremely reminiscent of the Acropolis. Despite the fact that I've seen the images before, I never made the connection until now. Nccebcevngr, sbe gur Terrxf jrer jryy xabja sbe gurve Frntbvat.

      Nabgure pbaarpgvba V qvqa'g znxr qhevat gur zbivrf jnf gur obj bs gur pvgnqry, dhvgr yvgreny sbe gur frntbvat Ahzrabernaf. V'z fher vg'f fgngrq va gur obbxf, ohg V arire cvpxrq hc ba vg.

    • MzyraJ says:

      … And now I want to be able to wander around that place really badly. Or, for my closest equivalent: *pokes the Elder Scrolls makers to rip it off and plonk it in one of their games* I will settle for this.

    • wenuwish says:

      I've just had a revelation; Minas Tirith is totally the original Pride Rock.

  2. rabidsamfan says:

    Ah, Pippin! I love him so much in this chapter, because he's just as overwhelmed as I am, but he still knows that food and friendship matter.

    But that last line is so ominous…

    • Katarina_H says:

      I love Pippin so very, very much at all times, but especially here, where he's trying to stay cheerful despite everything, and making friends with a kid who wants to stand him on his head. It's among my favourite Pippin scenes. Gur nofbyhgr snibhevgr bs pbhefr orvat jura ur oevatf Zreel gb gur Ubhfrf bs Urnyvat – zl yvggyr u/p urneg fdhrrf ng gur zrer gubhtug.

  3. julianamoreli says:

    Mark….the book title is Return of the King…what did you expected??? lololol
    It's the most spoilery title ever haha

    It's a nice chapter…but I can't stop thinking, whathell was Pippin thinking when he offered his services…really…Denethor is a twisted man…you don't offer your services to a man like him…

    I was really afraid that he would get into a fight with Bergil…poor Pippin.

    In this chapter we get to see Minas Tirith, wich description kept me confused for a long time….like…I thinking about Petra in Jordania you know…the city that was carved in mountain…but the level stuff didn't formed properly in my head….and when I saw it in the movies I just got AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH…that's beautiful!!!!

    Movie stuff: BZT….JNYGRE OVFUBC…zhpu ybbbbbbbirrrrr…..Znex'f urnq vf tbvat gb rkcybqr!!!

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Naq uvf svefg yvar (va gur gurngevpny irefvba, ng yrnfg) vf nobhg uvf qrnq fba. Bu, Wbua Aboyr, lbh whfg pna arire ubyq bagb lbhe snzvyl, pna lbh? Ur'f yvxr gur Nhfgenyvna Uneevfba Sbeq.

      • julianamoreli says:

        Gung'f gehr!!! Vg arire bpheerq gb zr orsber yby

        Fbzr npgbe unir n sngr evtug…yvxr Frna Orna nyjnlf qlvat…unuunun

    • ZeynepD says:

      I vaguely seem to remember that Tolkien didn't like that title, actually, because yup, could not be any more spoilery.

      (Well, it _could_. But still. Pretty damn spoilery.)

      • Katarina_H says:

        Nz abj gelvat gb guvax bs zber fcbvyrel gvgyrf:

        Tbyyhz nppvqragnyyl qrfgeblf gur evat.
        Rirelguvat vf shpxrq hc va gur Fuver.
        Sebqb tbrf gb Inyvabe.
        Fnz trgf gur unccl raqvat (fbegn).

        • ZeynepD says:

          Hey, I like this game!

          Gur Zneevntr bs Snenzve naq Rbjla
          Rbjla: Anmthy-Onar
          Yrtbynf naq Tvzyv'f Rkpryyrag Zvqqyr-Rnegu Gbhe
          Gur Ryira Rkbqhf
          Zbeqbe Unf Snyyra
          Ynfg Fgrjneq bs Tbaqbe (Fbegn)

          (And thank you, I needed that laugh.)

          (Also, Tbaqbe: Wrongest ROT13 ever?)

      • julianamoreli says:

        Initially Lord of the Rings was to be one book only. But then the editor or someone of the sort decided that it was to dense and big to be printed, and decided to divide it into 3 parts. Tolkien didn't liked the name….but in TT it was already implied that Aragorn was to reclaim his kingship. I think that at the time, and I'm not sure of this, he didn't announced the name of the last book before the second one was long time released. Again, I'm not sure of this, but I also remember hearing it in a podcast.

      • GamgeeFest says:

        I seem to remember he originally wanted to title the book "War of the Ring" which would have been a much better title all around, but the publishers felt that "Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring" had too many Rings in it.

    • Icarus says:

      Denethor in the books is brilliant, strong-willed, an excellent if ruthless tactician, willing to sacrifice anything to save his city. If anything, his chief flaw is that he sees Gondor as the center of the universe, the rest of the world as the somewhat ungrateful (at best unknowing) beneficiaries of Gondor's sacrifices. I can see where Boromir got his pride.

      Denethor's dedication to preserving Gondor as it is ("Ten thousand years would not suffice" for the stewards to take the kingship he told Boromir) is admirable, and I understand his frustration and independence where Gandalf is concerned.

      Book spoilers: Ohg ur unf ab sevraqf, ab fhccbeg, bgure guna uvf fbaf. Fb jura Snenzve snyyf va onggyr, Qrargube'f qrinfgngrq, naq znxrf gur zvfgnxr bs ybbxvat vagb gur Cnynagve jura ur'f ihyarenoyr. Naq fb ur snyyf.

      Orne va zvaq, Fnehzna ybbxrq vagb gur Cnynagve naq jnf genccrq ol Fnheba. Tenagrq, ab qbhog Fnehzna ybbxrq zber bsgra naq bire n ybatre crevbq, ohg fgvyy. Qrargube jnf noyr gb jvgufgnaq Fnheba. Gung'f n fgebat jvyy. Fnheba unq gb gevpx uvz ol yvzvgvat uvf "enatr" fb gb fcrnx, nyybj uvz gb znxr nffhzcgvbaf sebz jung ur fnj. Gurer'f zhpu gb erfcrpg va Qrargube.

      Movie spoilers: Gur Qrargube bs gur zbivrf va haerpbtavmnoyr. Ur'f n pbjneq. Ur'f sbbyuneql naq ershfrf gb fraq sbe nvq sebz Ebuna (va gur obbxf ur'f abg bayl frag sbe nvq, ur'f frag sbe vg jrrxf va nqinapr hfvat gur vagry sebz gur Cnynagve). Uvf punenpgre vf fb gubebhtuyl nffnffvangrq, vf gung nyy V pna guvax vf rvgure Crgre Wnpxfba ernyyl ungrq Qrargube (sngure vffhrf, creuncf?), be ur srnerq gb or gbb fhogyr. Rvgure jnl, ur bcgrq sbe n pnegbbavfu ohssbba, fb gur gentrql bs Qrargube vf abg fnq, ohg engure znpnoer naq … fyvtugyl fnqvfgvp.

  4. castlewayjay says:

    love Return of the King so much. Please watch the movies on the biggest screen you can, Mark. Gandal and Pippin and Shadowfax entering the city of Minas Tirith will take your breath away.

  5. Alice says:

    ogj…jnfa'g fgngrq sebz gur SBGE gung Qrargube vf n Fgrjneq naq abg n xvat??o.O

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/John%20Howe/Middle-Earth/john_howe_middle-earth_minas-tirith%20sketch.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    John Howe sketch

    <img src="http://www.tednasmith.com/lotr3/TN-At_the_Court_of_the_Fountain.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – At the Court of the Fountain

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings%20Sketchbook/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_sketchbook_13_minas%20tirith03.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee sketch

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_iii-5-01_minas%20tirith.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings%20Sketchbook/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_sketchbook_13_minas%20tirith07.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee sketch – Kings of Old

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings%20Sketchbook/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_sketchbook_13_minas%20tirith08.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee sketch – Kings of Old

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/22/Boromir-not-used-port.jpg"&gt;
    John Howe – Boromir

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/22/WOTR-Denethor-port.jpg"&gt;
    John Howe – Denethor

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/22/Gandalf-the-White-port.jpg"&gt;
    John Howe – Gandalf the White

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_ii-4-05_the%20window%20on%20the%20west.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee – Osgiliath

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings%20Sketchbook/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_sketchbook_13_minas%20tirith11.jpg"width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee – Forlong (sketch)

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/22/WOTR-Imrahil-port.jpg"&gt;
    John Howe – Prince Imrahil

    • Dreamflower says:

      These are all so BEAUTIFUL!! And I've only seen about a quarter of them before.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      It's awesome that even though Ted Naismith wasn't able to take the time to help on the movies, they still took obvious inspiration from his work.

    • atheistsisters says:

      Gorgeous pics – that reminds me I've always jvfurq gurer jnf zber nobhg Cevapr Vzenuvy.

    • Lugija says:

      Alan Lee's Forlong looks exactly like my physics teacher. Exactly. I can picture him laughing heartily at me for using Planck constant in Js when it should be in eVs.

      Well, now I know who I would cast on that part.

    • settledforhistory says:

      Wow, thes are perfect.
      I love the Ted Nasmith painting of the Court, the coloring is breathtaking.
      And Boromir by John Howe looks just painful, like you can feel the arrows slowly killing him. So sad.

    • lexypoo says:

      Alan Lee is so bloody brilliant — love his pencil work.

      • flootzavut says:

        agree soooooooooo hard, not to dismiss the others who are all fantastically talented, but I love his stuff so much and he seems sooooooo adorable too, what a lovely man!

    • sudden_eyes says:

      Oh, gorgeous! Although I picture Imrahil as being more … dishy.

    • David M.B. says:

      I love the John Howe ones of Boromir and Denethor – they capture something the movies didn't have.

  6. Dreamflower says:

    ‘Kingship?’ said Pippin (Mark) amazed.

    ‘Yes,’ said Gandalf. ‘If you have walked all these days with closed ears and mind asleep, wake up now!’

    ARAGORN IS GOING TO CLAIM KINGSHIP? WHAT THE HOLY FUCK. WHAT THE HELL?!?!?! Oh my god, this book is going to destroy me, isn’t it? OH GOD, ARAGORN!!!!

    Oh, Mark! YOU WERE SO UNPREPARED!

    This chapter is one I always enjoy reading. Pippin's wide-eyed wonder and joy at seeing Minas Tirith for the first time, and then seeing everything through his eyes is delightful. We learn so much about him, such as his exact age (up until now we only know he's the youngest, but now we know he's 28, which for a hobbit is about equal to 17 years old for someone of the Mannish race) and that he has a certain amount of pride. We get to see more of his interactions with Gandalf. I love their relationship– sort of like a grandfather and a grandson.

    Fbzrguvat gung unq rfpncrq zr orsber vf gur uvag gung QRARGUBE ZHFG UNIR ORRA YBBXVAT VA GUR CNYNAGVE NG GUR FNZR GUNG CVCCVA QVQ!

    "Cvccva fng qbja, ohg ur pbhyq abg gnxr uvf rlrf sebz gur byq ybeq. Jnf vg fb, be unq ur bayl vzntvarq vg, gung nf ur fcbxr bs gur Fgbarf n fhqqra tyrnz bs uvf rlr unq tynaprq hcba Cvccva'f snpr?"

    Vg chgf n jubyr arj gjvfg ba uvf dhrfgvbavat bs Cvccva.

    Also, <3<3<3! Beregond and Bergil! I LOVE them so much!

    Fbzrguvat gung unq rfpncrq zr orsber vf gur uvag gung QRARGUBE ZHFG UNIR ORRA YBBXVAT VA GUR CNYNAGVE NG GUR FNZR GUNG CVCCVA QVQ!

    "Cvccva fng qbja, ohg ur pbhyq abg gnxr uvf rlrf sebz gur byq ybeq. Jnf vg fb, be unq ur bayl vzntvarq vg, gung nf ur fcbxr bs gur Fgbarf n fhqqra tyrnz bs uvf rlr unq tynaprq hcba Cvccva'f snpr?"

    Vg chgf n jubyr arj gjvfg ba uvf dhrfgvbavat bs Cvccva.

  7. blossomingpeach says:

    V jnf tbvat gb znxr gur rknpg fnzr pbzzrag ba gur yvtugvat bs gur ornpbaf! Gur svefg gvzr V fnj vg, V fgnegrq pelvat serryl: gur zhfvp, gur pvarzngbtencul–nyy bs vg jnf fb RCVP naq ubcrshy naq gbhpuvat. V fgvyy grne hc gurer.

    Mark asks to see Minas Tirith and his wishes are granted! Thanks for all these images. The Alan Lee Minas Tirith is the cover of my copy of ROTK.

    • Summeriris says:

      My copy has the last John Howe on the cover.

    • Rheinman says:

      Me too. Gets me every time.

      Ted Naismith's Minas Tirith at dawn is the closest to how I visualized it before seeing the movies. I remember enjoying the Hildebrand calendars in my youth, but thirty years later, they just look funky to me. If Minas Tirith is repeatedly called the white city, why would you think they would build the walls out of reddish brown stone?!?!?

      • MidnightLurker says:

        But everyone gets this bit wrong: the outermost wall is supposed to be built out of the same black stone as Orthanc.

    • sudden_eyes says:

      Yes! This and gur punetr bs gur Ebuveevz are the two bits that most reliably do me in.

    • Alice says:

      To your rot13 comment,I still do too :).I'm glad that you like the pics that I posted.

  8. floppus says:

    Guard: Okay, it looks like your papers are in order. Welcome to Minas Tir— hold on a minute, what’s with the dwarf?

    Gandalf: Dwarf? Oh, no, Pippin is a mighty hobbit warrior, here to help defend your city. He’s just exhausted after a long night of orc‐slaying.

    Pippin: What are you talking about? I’m not—

    Gandalf: Shut up, Pippin. [to the guard] He’s a Halfling. Didn’t you hear about Boromir’s riddle?

    Pippin: Oh yeah, Boromir. He was a great guy. Shame about how he got killed by all those Orcs, but man, you should have seen him, it was amazing.

    Gandalf: Shut up, Pippin.

  9. stingingpetals says:

    Hi Mark,

    Just a note, Denethor is the Steward of Gondor, not the king. The office of Steward is hereditary and has been passed down from father to son for at least a thousand years(off the top of my head.) Sort of like a substitute teacher?

    Also, the first exchange between Pippin and Bergil just lights up my life once we get to cold, grey and stoney Minas Tirith. I love Pippin acting so tough and dangerous. :)

    • stingingpetals says:

      Just to add, Gondor still respects and hallows the old kings, and I really like the detail of the lofty, ornate throne and Denethor sitting in a plain little chair at the base.

      • settledforhistory says:

        I love that detail. So for hundereds of years the Stewards have done this and not one of them thought "Oh screw this, I'm going to take the throne, it's not as if anyone is here to sit on it."
        These people are just wonderful.

        • stormwreath says:

          We've already heard Faramir talking about that, remember – Boromir as a boy wanted to know why the Stewards didn't just start calling themselves kings, and their father Denethor told him off for not respecting tradition.

          The detail of the huge ancient throne being empty, and the actual noon-King ruler of the city sitting in a smaller chair in front of it, is used by Terry Pratchett as well (though with his usual twist…)

          • stormwreath says:

            non-king, not noon-king. :)

          • Wheelrider says:

            "Ten thousand years would not suffice." :) Ng yrnfg Qrargube vf abg na nffubyr va gung erfcrpg.

          • Tul says:

            I think Denethor sort of takes pride in his humility. That first impression we have of him, sitting in his lowly chair in the Great Hall of Kings, the empty throne high and empty behind him, impressed me a great deal and really gave me a sense of true greatness. Far more than if he *had* been sitting on the throne. It's a more subtle sort of impressiveness.

            Well, my take on it :)

        • Tul says:

          Gondor was really lucky to have them. I mean, only one bad Steward with a little ambition could have provoked a civil war…which would have been a total disaster for the land.

          Naq ernyyl, jura lbh ernq gur nccraqvprf naq yrnea ubj zhpu orggre ehyref guna gur Xvatf gurl jrer, lbh ner arneyl unccl gubfr ynfg barf nyy qvrq (/xvyyrq rnpu bguref).

  10. knut_knut says:

    Not gonna lie, I don’t think this is the most exciting chapter ever, especially after the cliffhanger in TTT. TOLKIEN!! What happened to Sam and Frodo? Tell us now!! But noooooooo, we have to wait.

    Going to rot13 this because of reasons? I don’t have a good one but just in case: PBHYQ ABG FGBC YNHTUVAT ng Znex'f xvatfuvc synvy zbzrag. Vg'f va gur gvgyr!

    I love the rumor floating around Gondor that Pippin is a prince and the hobbits are going to war. Pippin may be the prince…of my heart <3 but I like the contrast between Pippin in the rumor and his loneliness. People think he’s this really grand figure, but more than ever he feels small and lost.

    WHAT IS THAT LAST LINE, TOLKIEN. WHAT DO YOU MEAN???

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      I actually said out loud "Oh goddammit!" when I realized Frodo was going to be left up in the air for a while.

    • Becky_J_ says:

      hahahahahah.

      I am now picturing a t-shirt or a mug with a picture of Pippin with a crown, and the caption "Pippin is the prince of my heart" on it.

      It's pretty much the best thing ever. Thanks for that.

  11. enigmaticagentscully says:

    "You’re kidding me. Why do I feel this is literal? Like, Sauron literally found a way to block out the sun with some sort of “Darkness”?"

    [youtube sRYNYb30nxU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRYNYb30nxU youtube]

    …sorry. Just, every time someone capitalises 'Darkness'…

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I FORGOT ABOUT THIS BAND

    • knut_knut says:

      AHAHA I completely forgot about them! I don't even think I knew they were called The Darkness

    • sirintegra42 says:

      Occasionally I still get Love on the Rocks stuck in my head. Ah, old shame.

      Personal favourite in terms of overblown drama though is this from Rainbow, which is almost relevant to Lord of the Rings as it is about a wizard: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6W7jMURpGU

      EDIT: It must be too long to work properly here but I urge you to listen to it if you have as shameless a love of cheesy prog rock as I do. It makes everything about five hundred times more epic somehow :D.

    • hpfish13 says:

      So, in the course of 10 minutes this song came up on my itunes and it was the song in the background of a commercial on hulu…..weird………………………………..

    • monkeybutter says:

      I don't know if I should be happy or sad that youtube froze…on a blurred butt, no less!

  12. ADB says:

    All I can hear is Howard Shore's magnificent Gondor theme.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      I get the same thing with Rohan.
      I have to watch myself when I'm reading these books at work, because I totally start whistling snatches of music from the movies if I'm not careful.

      • blossomingpeach says:

        Me too!

        • Saphling says:

          I was hearing the theme that plays during the yvtugvat bs gur ornpbaf all through this chapter.

          • ZeynepD says:

            That _is_ a development of the Gondor theme.

            Thing I didn't notice until I watched _Fellowship_ again after _King_ came out: Gur svefg gvzr lbh urne gur gurzr vf npghnyyl qhevat gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq, jura Obebzve fgnaqf hc gb tvir uvf fcrrpu nobhg ubj ol Tbaqbe'f inybe nyy gur ynaqf bs gur jrfg naq abegu unir orra xrcg fnsr. Naq V jnf synooretnfgrq jura V abgvprq gung. Qhqr. Cynaavat nurnq zhpu, Ze. Fuber?

            Howard Shore really went symphonic for the music in _Return of the King_; more so than in the other two, in my opinion, as far as taking themes and developing them is considered. I thought so when I heard the _Lord of the Rings_ Symphony; he plays around with material from the first two movies, but the stuff from _Return of the King_ make the transition the least changed, as far as I could tell.

            And yes, as Just Malyn says below, the music may very well be the best thing about the films. And that's saying quite a lot, and then some.

          • sixth_queen says:

            Okay, did anyone else NOT need to Rot13 what "yvtugvat bs gur ornpbaf " was?

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Naq gur jnl vg'f grnfrq guebhtubhg gur svyzf. Svefg gung fvzcyr neenatzrag qhevat Obebzve'f enag ng gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq, n zber urebvp irefvba va gur Gjb Gbjref synfuonpx, naq gura ohefgvat vagb shyy sybjre jura Tnaqnys naq Cvccva neevir.

    • Seumas the Red says:

      Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah. *Sigh of contentedness*

    • MsPrufrock says:

      For a long time, I had grand plans of being a composer and Howard Shore's scores for the movies definitely cemented that desire. I really wanted to compose and produce music as beautiful and as his. I've had to move on from dreams of composer-hood, but I just don't think I'll ever get over how perfect the LotR scores are.

      On a related note, in my orchestra and theory classes, we often joked about how Shore had an established theme for literally every character and everything on screen. Frodo? Has a theme, as does Aragorn and every member of the Fellowship. The Shire, Rivendell, Gondor, Rohan? They all have themes. Random orc shown for a second in Helm's Deep? Yep, you guessed it– he has a theme.

  13. BetB says:

    " ‘It is scarcely wise when bringing the news of the death of his heir to a mighty lord to speak over much of the coming of one who will, if he comes, claim the kingship. Is that enough?’

    ‘Kingship?’ said Pippin amazed.

    ‘Yes,’ said Gandalf. ‘If you have walked all these days with closed ears and mind asleep, wake up now!’

    ARAGORN IS GOING TO CLAIM KINGSHIP? WHAT THE HOLY FUCK. WHAT THE HELL?!?!?! Oh my god, this book is going to destroy me, isn’t it? OH GOD, ARAGORN!!!!"
    http://tinypic.com/?ref=207umo4

    I just love Mark's reaction to this! I can remember being amazed by this too. Tolkien hides things in plain site but they're buried under huge mounds of info dumping.
    (I hope the GIF works!)

  14. Jenny_M says:

    Movie stuff in rot13: Gur fjrrcvat pvarzngvp fubg bs nyy gur yriryf bs Zvanf Gvevgu nf Tnaqnys naq Cvccva evqr hc gb gur Pvgnqry? NYY ZL PERLF. Vg'f bar bs gur zbfg shpxvat nznmvat fubgf va gur ragver svyz NAQ vg cresrpgyl pncgherf gur jnl V jnagrq Zvanf Gvevgu gb or.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      I know! V ybir gung jubyr fprar fb zhpu! Tnuu…V ybir fb znal cnegf bs EbgX, sbe gung znggre:

      Gur yvtugvat bs gur ornpbaf fprar
      Cvccva'f fbat (ybir)
      Nal ivrj sebz Tbaqbe bagb gur Cryraabe Svryqf
      Fnz'f svtug jvgu Furybo (naq gur Fnz/Sebqb fprar gung sbyybjf) :'( :'( :'(
      Gur punetr bs gur Ebuveevz "Qrngu"
      Tnaqnys fcrrpu gb Cvccva nobhg "gur terl enva phegnva"
      Gur Penpx bs Qbbz fprar
      Fnz & Sebqb "gur raq bs nyy guvatf" *grnef, bu fb znal grnef* :'( :'(
      Gur erhavba bs gur Sryybjfuvc :)
      Nentbea'f pbebangvba: "Lbh obj gb ab bar" :'(
      Gur fprar jvgu uboovgf va gur cho onpx va gur Fuver (<3 lbh uboovgf!)
      "Gurer ner fbzr guvatf gvzr pnaabg zraq…"
      Gur Terl Uniraf
      Fnz "V'z onpx"

      Fb lrnu, V cerggl zhpu whfg ybir gur jubyr bs EbgX. Gurer'f n srj guvatf gung V'z abg n uhtr sna bs (zbfgyl n pbhcyr RR fprarf, naq Sebqb fraqvat Fnz njnl) – ohg nyy va nyy, V unir fb zhpu ybir sbe EbgX.

  15. floppus says:

    The Return of the Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    In this chapter, Pippin and Gandalf arrive in Minas Tirith – by far the largest city we’ve seen so far, perhaps the largest city in Middle‐earth at this time.

    Lots of new place names in this chapter, as we learn that each of Gondor’s various towns and provinces has sent a few hundred soldiers to help defend the city.

    Meanwhile, as Pippin is exploring Minas Tirith, Frodo and Sam are making their way from Henneth Annûn to the Cross‐Roads.

    • Jenny_M says:

      Oh my GOD, look how CLOSE Frodo and Sam are to Gandalf and Pippin in the grand scheme of things. THAT IS SAD ON SO MANY LEVELS.

    • Marie the Bookwyrm says:

      Every time I see one of those maps it hits me again–Gondor is right next door to Mordor! How can they stand living there?? (I know it's mentioned often in the book, but somehow the map makes it clearer to me.)

    • fantasy_fan says:

      By the way, just the other day Mark mentioned on his tour how much he loves your maps and how helpful they are to him in visualizing the story. I too love to look at where everyone is at different times. Just thought you might want to feel the love.

    • sudden_eyes says:

      I love your maps!! (Yes, repeating self, but I hope you don't mind.)

  16. Skyweir says:

    I have always loved the moment when the Captains lead their forces in the gate to reinforce Minas Tirith. The way it is described, with both hope and yet a shadow of despair as it becomes apparent that they are too few, always got to me.

    Minas Tirith in itself is just awesome of course, and it is the only real city we have yet seen. And yet, as everything in LoTR, it is thinged with sadness. The city is half empty and decaying subtly, and the White Three is dead.

    As for Denethor, I like him here. He is not Theoden, not a kindly old man. He is the lord of the greates nation of Men in middle Earth, from a pure line of Numenorian nobility. Gandalf may be a wizard, but Denethor do not cow-tow to him at all. He is stern, proud and yet subtly less than perhaps he should be, much like the city itself.

    Movie (RoTK) spoiler:
    Urer V guvax gur zbivr snvyf hggreyl. Qrargube vf pbzcyrgryl jebat, ur frrzf ovggre, jrnx naq vafnar. Gung vf abg gur Qrargube bs gur obbx ng nyy, naq vg qrfgeblf bar bs gur zbfg zbfg zrbenoyr punenpgref va gur obbx.

    Tbaqbe vgfrys vf nyfb jebat V srry. Fpnyr vf bs va gur ragver zbivr, ohg arire zber guna urer. Bftvyvngu vf ybpngrq unys n zvyr sebz Zvanf Gvevguf sebag tngr, naq nyy gur Evat bs Enzznf vf whfg pevpryvat fbzr xvaq bs tbys-pbheg? Jurer ner gur infg svryqf bs Tbaqbe naq gurve znal snezf vafvqr gur Evat? Gur pvgl frrzf fznyy, gurve nezl oneryl gurer. Guvf vf gur zvtugvrfg ernyz va nyy bs Zvqqyr Rnegu fnir Fnheba'f, lrg vg frrzf fznyy naq hfryrff va gur zbivr.

    Gur ynpx bs gur srry bs qrpnl naq fbeebj gung fubhyq fhsshfr vg vf nyfb cnycnoyr, ohg gung vf zber n ceboyrz va nyy gur zbivrf. V qba'g guvax gung Wnpxfba ernyyl haqrefgbbbq gung YbGE vf n gentrql va znal jnlf.

    • blossomingpeach says:

      V, sbe bar, sryg n frafr bs fbeebj naq qrpnl Ohg znlor gung'f whfg zr!

    • echinodermata says:

      Please don't use "insane" on this site.

      • sixth_queen says:

        I'm sorry, but va gur pnfr bs Qrargube, vfa'g gur jbeq hfrq nccebcevngryl urer, abg nf n crewbengvir? Yngre ba va EbgX, Tnaqnys qrfpevorf Qrargube'f fgngr bs zvaq engure fcrpvsvpnyyl.

        • echinodermata says:

          "Vafnar" vfa'g n zrqvpny be cflpuvngevp grez naq unf n ybg bs artngvir onttntr, fb cyrnfr hfr bgure jbeqf gb qvfphff zragny urnygu.

          The Ableist Word Profile on "crazy" discusses the rationale, even though it's discussing a different term. But "insane" an "crazy" are used similarly enough that it doesn't really matter for the purposes of this discussion.

          • LadyViridis says:

            I understand we don't want to be throwing the word around casually like "that was insanely awesome!" or something, but… even if it's not a specific medical term, the core meaning is just "not sane," which doesn't seem any more offensive than saying "mentally ill." (Which I haven't seen referred to as offensive? I could be wrong?)

            At some point there will be discussions of characters who are less than completely sane. Without knowing what specific mental illness they have, what would you suggest as a neutral term to be used in place of "insane"? I'm not trying to cause trouble or offense or anything, but using a word whose two parts are literally "not+sane" to describe a character who is not sane seems a perfectly correct use of the word, and not perjorative at all (in the way that using "insane" as a general term for bad/irrational/etc would be).

            • echinodermata says:

              You can use "mentally ill." Generally speaking, if such discussions come up and you're not sure how to talk about it, you can wait and look to how people – like Mark – might write about the matter.

              The word "insane" in its etymological construction may be generally neutral (I'd actually argue it's not because it sets "sane" as default and thus perpetuates the notion that people are assumed to be "sane" and those who don't fit that are weird and strange and abnormal), but the term itself when used in modern vernacular carries enough baggage that it doesn't really matter what the literal term means. To try to use another example, using the term "Jap" as an abbreviation for "Japan/Japanese" seems neutral at a glance, but it's a slur against Japanese people in the USA because of the historical baggage "Jap" carries.

              A word can seemingly look neutral but not actually be neutral when used.

              • Skyweir says:

                I have read the article you refer to, and I do not agree with the premiss presented there or it's conclusion. It is, to me, more important that words are used as spesificly as possible, or they lose their meaning. Mentally ill is in no way a synonym in this case, nor is irrational.

                If sanity is the apparence of "normal" behavioral patterns as set forth and expected by society, then the opposite behavior is what is meant in my post above. It was not meant as a judgment, but as an adjective describing a certain characters portrayal as it is presented on screen.

                That being said, I will of course respect Mark's wishes about what is posted on his site, and will refrain from using the word again.

    • Wheelrider says:

      And this place is only a "fortress" of what used to be the real main city, Osgiliath.

    • Icarus says:

      V oryvrir Cvccva uvzfrys hfrf gur grez "znqarff" va n srj puncgref.

      V nterr, gur punenpgrevmngvba bs Qrargube va gur zbivr jnf n ovt qvfnccbvagzrag. Urer jr unir n irel pbzcyrk vaqvivqhny, n pensgl yrnqre jub cynaf nurnq, ehguyrffyl "fcraqf rira [uvf] fbaf" va gur qrsrafr bs Tbaqbe naq fyrrcf va uvf nezbe, ernqlvat sbe jne. Jr yrnea sebz Snenzve gung ur'f fb yblny gb gur vqrn bs n xvat bs Tbaqbe, jura Obebzve nfxrq ubj ybat n xvat zhfg or tbar orsber gur fgrjneqf pbhyq qrpyner gurzfryirf xvatf, Qrargube fnlf va Tbaqbe, abg 10,000 lrnef jbhyq fhssvpr. Lrg jura na npghny xvat guerngraf gb pbzr, ur pnyyf Nentbea na "hcfgneg sebz gur abegu." Ur'f n qnex, qnatrebhf, fghoobea zna, bar jub vf n sbepr gb or erpxbarq jvgu. Ur ungrf gnttvat nybat jvgu Tnaqnys'f cynaf, ab znggre Tnaqnys'f vagragvbaf, naq senaxyl, Tnaqnys vf thnenagrrq gb cvff uvz bss orpnhfr gur jnl gb Qrargube'f urneg vf gb yrg Qrargube or va punetr. Naq Tnaqnys jvyy arire qb gung.

  17. Saphling says:

    I'm so glad that this chapter has references to what is happening to Frodo at the same time. It gives a good sense of the timing of all this. Can you imagine, it's only been thirteen days for Pippin – not even two weeks – since Boromir died?

  18. Dreamflower says:

    Yes! You really should. "The Errand Lad" is still a fave of mine!

    What can I bribe your muse with?

  19. PrefectSarah says:

    "You know how some people feel that movie versions of characters ruin their head-canon?"

    Umm… Yes. This is me. I CANNOT watch a movie before I read the book (granted, the books are always better anyway) but I hate my imagination to be spoiled :) It's also a part of the reason why I LOATHE books with movie covers. I find that sooo irritating.

    Also, movie spoiler:
    Bu Tbq, gur yvtugvat bs gur ornpbaf vf bar bs zl snibevgr fprarf va nyy bs gur zbivrf!! Tvirf zr puvyyf rirel gvzr!

    • msw188 says:

      I will agree that having covers from the movie sucks. I love the covers of my LOTR books – the ones drawn by Tolkien himself. Even if now they are creased and/or ripped and taped.

      • t09yavosaur says:

        My covers are all from the movies and the cover of my RotK looks more like Naboo than Minus Tirith (which I am assuming it is supposed to be.)

    • Wheelrider says:

      That's exactly why I've never watched the movies. I'm just not interested in someone else's vision, as awesome and impressive as it might be. The artwork people have been posting is less intrusive, somehow, but I even skim over that because I don't want it to replace my imaginings, even if, in some cases, they're pretty vague.

      Although I must admit that the artwork of Minas Tirith above is impressive and cool. Bits of that might get borrowed for my head canon. ;)

    • sirintegra42 says:

      I agree with you on the film covers of books being irritating, except with Never Let Me Go because a big landmark in my hometown's on the film poster so it makes me squee every time :D. I have my auntie's ancient versions of Lord of the Rings from the seventies so they've just got the drawing of the ring with Sauron's eye which seems to be on some hardback copies here too. They're much classier than the film cover versions.

  20. You are so much more forgiving of this particular chapter than I was; the outrage I felt when I saw that this book began with Pippin and Gandalf cannot be measured in earthly terms :)

    That said, once I finally stopped seething from that cliffhanger, I remember liking this chapter, and I think on the whole the main reason I like it is because of Denethor. He's not really like any character we've met up to this point; he's grief-stricken, he's angry, and he has every right to be, given that his son whom he loved is dead. I've always found it interesting that he reminds Pippin of Aragorn, and perhaps in a way that's not a bad comparison- this probably something of what Aragorn would be like had he lost everything he was seeking and still finding a way to go on.

    I think my favorite part of this chapter is when Pippin swears himself in fealty to the Guard of the City. It feels almost as though Pippin did it to honor Boromir's sacrifice, to prove to Denethor that though his son may have died, it was not to save someone who took no thought for it. And I think it's interesting that Pippin, of all people, feels this way. Compare and contrast this:
    Then Pippin looked the old man in the eye, for pride stirred strangely within him, still stung by the scorn and suspicion in that cold voice. 'Little service, no doubt, will so great a lord of Men think to find in a hobbit, a halfling from the Northern Shire; yet such as it is, I will offer it, in payment of my debt.'
    with the Pippin in The Two Towers who was complaining about being luggage for the orcs. Even from those two weeks or so he's already grown so much, and is willing to commit his life to something in honor and payment for the sacrifice he received from Boromir. And I like that Pippin, who is implied to have been friends with Boromir in particular, is the one to step up to fill the void left by his passing. It gives us a fascinating dynamic, one we haven't really seen in this point in the story- the other bonds we've seen have been the ties of friendship and kinship, and now we get to see the bonds on a sworn duty. And though I can't help but remember Elrond's caution that sworn word can break hearts back in Fellowship, I still find myself fascinated by this- the importance of promises and oaths, things made without contract and no bond other than the oathmaker's honor. It shows a lot about the city, and incidentally I think it explains a lot about Boromir as well. I've always wished he was alive at this point- seeing him in his home would be so fascinating.

    • sirintegra42 says:

      Trggvat gb frr Obebzve va Bftvyvngu vf bar bs zl snibhevgr nqqvgvbany fprarf va Gur Gjb Gbjref. Vg whfg nqqf fb zhpu onpxtebhaq gb gung snzvyl naq vg znxrf uvf qrngu rira zber gentvp fbzrubj nf lbh frr jung ur jnf yvxr orsber ur jnf cneg bs gur Sryybjfuvc. Nu, V pna'g jnvg gb jngpu vg ntnva nyernql naq frr Znex'f ernpgvba gb vg.

  21. ek_johnston says:

    This was the chapter where eight-year-old me realized that Boromir and Pippin have the same rank. It's still funny, every time I think about it.

    Vg nyfb rkcynvaf jul Zreel fgvpxf vg bhg jvgu gur Ebuveevz. Vs gur Gbbxf ner gur uboovg rdhvinyrag bs gur Tbaqbevnaf, guna gur Oenaqlohpxf ner ba cne jvgu Ebuna. Vg'f bar bs gubfr avpr, fbsg gbhpurf gung znxrf Gbyxvra'f fgbevrf fb znfgreshy.

    (V fhccbfr gura lbh pbhyq fnl gung gur Onttvaf ner fvzvyne gb gur snzvyvrf bs Qby Nzebgu? Vg'f abg nf arng, ohg gur vqrn bs orvat eryngrq gb obgu Tbaqbe naq Ebuna, ohg abg gur snzvyl bs urvef ubyqf gehr.)

    • fantasy_fan says:

      It's also odd to think that Faramir and Merry are approximately the same age (only a year different) while Pippin is actually a year older than Eomer. Because Hobbits don't come of age until later than men, they seem so much younger, especially when the men they are being compared to have been forced to grow up quickly (prematured ?) by war.

  22. settledforhistory says:

    Two things I especially enjoyed in this chapter:
    First: Pippin swearing an oath of service to Denethor. I just love it when characters take honor and duty so serious, that it doesn't stop at remembering everyone's father's name and giving them the right formal greeting, but they take time in the middle of the war for a proper burial for a friend, sing old songs to honor them and they repay a life debt even if it means that they go to war in the service of someone they don't even know. These things come so natural to them and it's wonderful that even Gandalf didn't try to stop Pippin, though he doesn't seem to trust Denethor completely.

    The other thing: Pippin exploring Minas Tirith and the friends he makes on the way.
    Beregond seems a nice tour guide and he certainly likes to help the hobbit, but I think a big part of this is Pippin himself. He is just such a likeable person and probably a welcome distraction from the seriousness of the coming war.
    The interaction between him and Bergil is so adorable. I love that Pippin doesn't get angry when being thought a child by both Bergil and his father and that he proves how height can be deceiving.
    Also we learn his age and that he with his 29 years is actually still a teenager. We have a teen in the Fellowship? This is so awesome!

    What I was wondering, given this line:

    The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn.

    Are Frodo and Sam simply nearer to Mordor and that is why they have experienced all these days without sunlight or does their story in the last chapters of TTT play before this one?

    About all the lovely fanart in the comments:
    Like Mark, I have a very bad visual imagination. I can picture only parts, but never the whole thing, so I can see a gate or fountain, but when it comes to piecing these parts together it just won't work.
    So I'm terribly grateful for all the pictures posted here, because even though I know the animated hobbit movie and have seen trailers of all LotR movies (hard not to when watching HP in cinemas at that time) I have almost no idea how anything looks.
    So thanks so much fellow commentors, I'm so happy be able to picture Middle-earth in all it's beauty.

    • Marie the Bookwyrm says:

      "Are Frodo and Sam simply nearer to Mordor and that is why they have experienced all these days without sunlight or does their story in the last chapters of TTT play before this one? "

      This chapter is at an earlier point in time. I believe Pippin's first day in Minas Tirith is supposed to be the same day that Frodo, Sam, & Gollum leave Faramir.

    • ZeynepD says:


      Are Frodo and Sam simply nearer to Mordor and that is why they have experienced all these days without sunlight or does their story in the last chapters of TTT play before this one?

      The latter with a bit of the former. We jump back a few days here with the point of view shift. The mention of the coming Darkness aligns the storylines, as it were. If memory serves, this is now the day Frodo and Sam reach the Crossroads in Ithilien, and notice that the day is not getting lighter but darker, and at sunset the dark unnatural clouds they saw over them have reached all the way to the western horizon. Somewhere between them and the western horizon would have been Minas Tirith, and the cloud would have gotten there a few hours later it passed over the Ringbearer.

    • ek_johnston says:

      What they said. If you check the appendices, it will tell you actual days. I think Book III takes 13 days and Book IV takes 11, and then they even out in RotK, but I am not positive those are the exact numbers.

      (There are lots of spoilers in the appendices, obviously, so you might want to wait.)

    • Alice says:

      I'm glad that you enjoy them too :D. I for one,have a very strong visual imagination (that's why I enjoyed so much playing when I was a kid, into imaginary worlds) ,and also a very good visual memory but I stink at visualizing or comprehending abstract things :p. My guess is that one thing compensates for the other ^_^.And thank you too,for your kind words.

  23. Darth_Ember says:

    The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn.

    That line. That line. It's just so simple, but so powerful. It's ominous in a way that doesn't rely upon specific threats of death or such; it is what it is. The Darkness has begun. The light has slipped away, and all the good things are memories; everything that can be concealed within shadow is approaching. It's evil's time; evil has the advantage, and our heroes are standing at one of the few remaining strongholds of good, waiting to weather the storm or be consumed by it – and they don't know which.

    But that just makes them all the braver, to me. They don't know if they'll get through this… but they have to fight. They cannot concede to evil, and they can't just bow their heads and let it sweep over them. Even if the bad guys win… these are the people who will make them pay dearly for it.

    And there's Pippin. One lone hobbit. So out of place. But he's made his gesture, and now he is part of this band of those who'll stand against the coming darkness.

    (Which is also, incidentally, amazing in terms of character development; he has to change. He can't just be the foolhardy inquisitive hobbit who has repeatedly irritated Gandalf with his habit of touching things he shouldn't. Pippin's made a decision he'll have to follow through on in ways that promise to show all-new sides of who he is.)

    • castlewayjay says:

      that line – is great, isn't it? It shouldn't but it reminds me of Churchill's line about "the lights going out" in Europe, from this 1938 speech http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index….

    • ek_johnston says:

      Gur bgure pbby guvat nobhg Cvccva va guvf puncgre vf gung ur npghnyyl gryyf fbzrbar ur vf abg na nqhyg lrg, ol Fuver erpxbavat. Ur tebjf hc irel dhvpxyl.

      Er…I think it's this chapter, anyway. It might not be, but I don't have my copy on hand, hence the cipher.

  24. JustMalyn says:

    I just want to hug Pippin. Is that too much to ask?

    • flootzavut says:

      ALL THE LOVE FOR PIPPIN!

      I love the PippinSass in this chapter, being really pissed off when Gandalf describes him as a man. Wonderful. I love him! <3

  25. Kiryn says:

    Ba guvf ernqguebhtu, V whfg oneryl ernyvmrq gung Qrargube cenpgvpnyyl bhgevtug fgngrf gung ur jvfurq Snenzve unq qvrq vafgrnq bs Obebzve: ur fnvq ur jvfurq gung Snenzve unq tbar gb Eviraqryy vafgrnq, zrnavat gung Snenzve jbhyq unir qvrq vafgrnq. Shpx lbh, Qrargube.

    I do love the contrast between Theoden and Denethor, though.

    • lexypoo says:

      LOL — seriously.

      Snenzve unf gb or bar bs zl snibevgr punenpgref, naq gur jubyr Qrangube orvat n fuvggl qnq -naq- n terrql fgrjneq wrex bss vf urnegoernxvat.

      • divAndRule says:

        Jryy .. ur vf abjurer arne nf unys onq n fgrjneq nf fubja va gur zbivrf. Va snpg ur qbrf gur orfg ur pna haqre gur pvephzfgnaprf, ubjrire fcbg ba nobhg gur fuvggl qnq cneg :)

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Lrnu, gnxr gung, crbcyr jub fnl gur punenpgre jnf ehvarq va gur zbivrf.

      • Tilly says:

        Hey, come on, you can believe both gung obbx!Qrargube vf n greevoyr sngure gb Snenzve *naq* gung zbivr!Qrargube vf n ubeevoyr naq zbfgyl haarprffnel pnevpngher bs n zhpu zber pbzcyvpngrq zna.

        Fgvyy: shpx lbh, Qrargube.

    • Wheelrider says:

      Unefu, naq vg bayl trgf zber fb…

    • ek_johnston says:

      Lrnu, Qrargube vf xvaq bs n wrex yvxr gung. Rfcrpvnyyl fvapr Snenzve jnagrq gb tb va gur svefg cynpr! Naq, sebz jung jr xabj bs uvz, ur zvtug abg unir qvrq. V xabj gur zbivr unq gb fznfu Qrargube'f rkcynangvba bs punenpgre vagb n irel fubeg fcnpr, ohg V qvq guvax gurl anvyrq vg: sbezreyl ybeqyl naq aboyr thl, qevira znq ol Fnheba.

      • Kiryn says:

        V nterr va gung V guvax gur zbivr qvq gur orfg gurl pbhyq jvgu uvf punenpgre va gur gvzr gung gurl unq. Ernyyl, sebz jung V pna frr, va gur obbx nyy gung ur unq zber bs vf fhogyrgl, juvpu ntnva, gur zbivr whfg qvqa'g unir gur gvzr gb rkcnaq hcba. Fgvyy, V'z yrnivat gur qvfphffvba bs Qrargube naq ubj tbbq n Fgrjneq ur vf naq rgp hagvy yngre, nf jr tb nybat jvgu Znex. Ohg nf n sngure, gurer'f whfg ab qralvat gung ur'f n greevoyr bar. *uhttyrf Snenzve*

    • GamgeeFest says:

      Lrc. Vg'f oehgny. Ab zber "Tbaqbe'f #1 Qnq" zht sbe uvz!

  26. lexypoo says:

    I hope this isn't spoilery, but the first time I read this chapter, I envisioned Venice sans smelly water. And, like the Harry Potter movies, I think the movie version of these books would've made Tolkien's supernova head canon very proud.

  27. snapsnzips says:

    On ruining head canon:

    The entire reason I watched these movies, and Harry Potter for that matter, is because I knew they would be beautiful renditions of places and people that I loved in my head and that they would add texture to my inner visuals. I watched them also for iconic scenes for the same reason – example from HP, the fight in the Ministry. I wanted to watch what happened because I knew it would add to the emotional impact of re-reading.

    I knew the movies would be, at best, montages of the books I loved and I was ok with that because, in the end, they added beauty to my future reading experience. Actually, a few things in the LotR movies really upset me(Snenzve jnf ARIRE RIVY naq Nentbea arire sryy vagb n evire naq unq n qernz dhrfg!!), but I got over it and learned to focus on the good parts: casting and sets which were stunning.

    So the movies never ruined my own headcanon – they totally enhanced it. It's a good attitude to have when going into movies about really long books that you love.

    • JustMalyn says:

      This is precisely how I feel! I know that there's many imperfections – them being mere montages is a good way to put it – but I HAD to see those scenes. Visually seeing books come to life is amazing.

    • Dreamflower says:

      YES! Most especially in regards to the people and characters. When it comes to settings and landscapes, my visual imagination is pretty good– in fact, zl svefg ivrjf bs gur Fuver, V sryg yvxr CW unq orra cvpxvat zl oenva!

      But I was never very successful in getting a clear vision of the characters and their voices. I was quite pleased with all of the casting, and glad to have faces and voices to pin on the characters in the books.

      • Wheelrider says:

        That's an interesting take… pretty much opposite of mine. The characters are very strong in my mind. Even if what they look like, in very specific terms, is a little vague, the impression… I'm not sure how to put it… is fairly solid. While I've never watched the whole movies, I don't live under a rock and thus have seen what most of the major characters look like on film, and in almost every case, I think "That's WRONG." (No disrespect to the filmmakers or those who like the movies! There's no accounting for taste.)

        Of course I have to credit the movies with bringing me into the fold of this fandom. I caught about five minutes on cable a little over a year ago, and was contemplating watching the whole thing, but there was enough clashing with my head canon in that five minutes that I thought, "No, I'll just read it again instead."

        • divAndRule says:

          The casting felt almost perfect to me except for Faramir and Aragorn (Fgevqre cresrpg… Nentbea Ryrffne Grypbagne abg fb zhpu) but its strange how on rereads my head keeps reverting back to its own canon ..especially Frodo. There is one exception to this though, Sir Ian Mckellan. He IS Gandalf. Erzrzore gur zbivr rkgenf jurer Atvyn Qvpxfba naq CW jrer gnyxvat nobhg Fve Vna gelvat ba gur cbvagl ung naq ubj fhqqrayl Tnaqnys jnf va gur ebbz.

          • Wheelrider says:

            I'll concede Sir Ian McKellan looked like Gandalf to me.

          • snapsnzips says:

            I love all the casting in the LotR. Loved it. Except I still always picture the elves a little more waif-like. But Ian McKellan, Viggo Mortensen and omg, Merry and Pippin especially, are all movie images in my head when I read now.

    • ek_johnston says:

      I think the other thing, too, is that I grew up with the Alan Lee etc illustrations. So…I focused on the LOOK and not the actual STORY in some places? Particularly in The Two Towers.

      That said, most of my disagreements with the movies were character based, and can be blamed squarely on Phillipa Boyens.

      • I have to agree with this- jung ohtf zr zbfg nobhg gur zbivrf vf gung fbzr znwbe punenpgref ner pbzcyrgryl zvfvagrecergrq, naq vg ernyyl obguref zr orpnhfr V'yy jnag gb yvxr gur npgbef cynlvat gurz naq V pna'g orpnhfr bs jung gur fpevcg vf qbvat.

        V nyfb unir gb nqzvg gung V'ir orra gelvat gb nibvq gur zbivrf orpnhfr vg'f gnxra lrnef sbe zr gb chetr Ryvwnu Jbbq nf Sebqb sebz zl urnq. V qba'g guvax ur'f n onq npgbe cre fr, ohg V guvax ur jnf ernyyl zvfpnfg (Sebqb vf svsgl, naq gb zr gung ernyyl qbrf znxr n ybg bs qvssrerapr gb uvf punenpgre- ur'f abg n jvqr-rlrq lbhat ureb) naq tvira gung gur fpevcg gnxrf fb zhpu sbphf njnl sebz uvz naq jung ur jrag guebhtu, V qba'g yvxr jngpuvat vg orpnhfr vg whfg srryf fb jebat.

        V qb nqber gur ivfhnyf naq zhfvp bs gur svyzf gubhtu. Gubfr fbhaqgenpxf ner fbzr bs zl snibevgrf.

        • Tul says:

          V'z fgvyy va gur cebprff bs frcnengvat Ryvwnu naq Sebqb…V ernyyl nterr gur ntr qvssrerapr vf terng rabhtu gb or ernyyl vzcbegnag gb gur creprcgvba bs uvf punenpgre.
          V'z ernyyl tynq gurl qvqa'g pnfg na byqre npgbe sbe *gurve* Sebqb gubhtu (gur irel qvzvavfurq bar V zrna). Vg jbhyq unir znqr uvz ybbx rira zber yvxr n jrnxyvat. Be creuncf vg jbhyq unir rapbhentrq gurz gb cbegenl uvz zber nf ur jnf va gur obbx?

          Naq lrf V nterr, gur ivfhnyf naq zhfvp bs gur zbivrf jrer terng (zbfgyl), ohg V fgvyy guvax gur fpevcg naq cbegenlnyf bs zbfg punenpgref ner njshy. Gung'f whfg zr.

          • snapsnzips says:

            V jbhyq unir jngpurq gurfr jvgu gur qvnybthr bss naq whfg gur zhfvp naq cvpgherf naq vg cebonoyl jbhyq unir orra rira zber njrfbzr. V nyfb qvq abg rawbl fbzr bs gur punenpgre vagrecergngvbaf naq fpevcg pubvprf, ohg V fgnaq ol ybivat zbfg bs gur pnfgvat. V'z nyfb n sna bs gur lbhat-ybbxvat fnq Sebqb gubhtu. Gur evat pnzr gb uvz jura ur jnf lbhat naq vg jbhyq unir cerfreirq uvz. Nqqvgvbanyyl, gur uboovgf ner qrfpevorq nf ybbxvat yvxr puvyqera gb Ovt Sbyx, fb V qba'g guvax vg'f gung rtertvbhf n zvfzngpu.

          • Dreamflower says:

            Yes, to both parts of your comment.

  28. ZeynepD says:

    Yes, what they said. And the volume.

  29. Lugija says:

    "You know how some people feel that movie versions of characters ruin their head-canon? That never really happens to me at all. I have a hard time picturing people and places that are fictional!"

    My head usually pictures entire thing whenever I read about a new place or character. Name could be enough. When I read a name "Captain Pellaeon", I picture a man with sharp features and a little wide chin. No mustache. Mustaches belong to those army fellows whose names have G or C. Someone named General Creek, for example, would have very long grey mustaches.

    Then when I read forward and find out that Pellaeon actually has mustaches, I tell to book that it's wrong and continue picturing him without mustaches.

    If there are suddenly many new characters introduced, one of them will mess with his/her hair constantly, one will pick his nose, one has an interesting mark on his shirt and so on, until I can recognize them without actually knowing anything about them.

    • ZeynepD says:

      I just have to mention in passing how much I appreciate your choice of character for an example name.

    • Katarina_H says:

      Jura V ernq Vaxurneg, V xrcg vzntvavat Qhfgsvatre nf oynpx-unverq, naq V pbhyqa’g fgbc hagvy V’q frra gur zbivr. V jnfa’g cnegvphyneyl sbaq bs gur zbivr bgurejvfr, ohg vg qvq ercynpr zl Qhfgsvatre creznaragyl.

      I have a hard time imagining places, though. I don’t tend to notice places even in real life.

  30. edinburghlook says:

    Well, my predictions are just going to be universally wrong, aren’t they?

    NEZL BS MBZOVRF. OJN-UN-UN-UN!

  31. Linzy says:

    Is it weird that I find it weird to read non-phonetically-written tengwar? (Banner text)

    • Laurelluin says:

      omg, I do too. So much. Except that even Tolkien's Tengwar in the frontsipieces of the Ballantine books aren't quite right phonetically!

  32. ABBryant says:

    You’re kidding me. Why do I feel this is literal? Like, Sauron literally found a way to block out the sun with some sort of “Darkness”?

    The night will last forever! Muahahaha!

    Lrf, V qb xabj gung V'z fxvegvat fcbvyre-greevgbel jvgu guvf dhbgr, ohg vg vf jvgubhg pbagrkg.

  33. rubyjoo says:

    When I imagine the city of Minas Tirith, a number of images leap into my mind. Of course, there is the lovely one created for the film, but I also think of Italian hill towns. It's already been said that, if you place a map of Middle-earth on top of Europe, then Minas Tirith would be in Italy. Did Tolkien want us to think of the decaying beauty of the Roman Empire? Certainly, a number of Anglo-Saxon poems talk about the ruined Roman buildings in England and, even after the fall of the Empire, there was still a lot of trading and travelling going on between England and Rome, providing images and stories for an English mythology. San Marino, a tiny republic in the middle of Italy, would provide some good images for Minas Tirith. Look at the fourth picture along here:
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=san+marino&h

    MT also makes me think of the English iron age hill fort of Maiden Castle (700 BC) which is built as a series of rings where the gates at different levels are not aligned in order to make it easier to defend. There would have been wooden "walls" all the way to the top but it is believed that some of it was faced in white limestone which would have created a White City.
    http://www.maidencastle.com/

    And finally, I think of the Seven Circles of Hell in Dante's Inferno. Well, MT is far from being a hellish place but perhaps its inhabitants can be said to live in Hell because of its proximity to Mordor.

    • ZeynepD says:

      Thank you so much for those images of San Marino! And the link to the Maiden Castle. Fascinating stuff.

      • rubyjoo says:

        Glad you enjoyed San Marino, ZeynepD. I think that the photos of the topmost towers look as though they're on an out-thrust keel of a ship – just like in Minas Tirith.

  34. Wheelrider says:

    Shoutout to more wonderful comic relief from Pippin, this time through Beregond:

    'We rise ere the Sun, and take a morsel in the grey light, and go to our duties at the opening hour. But do not despair!’ He laughed again, seeing the dismay in Pippin’s face. ‘Those who have had heavy duty take somewhat to refresh their strength in the mid-morning.'

    Even soldiers of Gondor sometimes get second breakfast.

    • Dreamflower says:

      I loved Pippin's friendship with Beregond and Bergil so much!

      V jvfu gurl pbhyq unir orra vapyhqrq va gur svyzf fbzrubj.

      V'ir nyjnlf gubhtug gung gur ryrira-lrne-byq Qnavry Enqpyvssr jbhyq unir znqr n cresrpg Oretvy. (Fnaf gur UC tynffrf naq jvgu ybatre, yrff haehyl unve).

  35. sixth_queen says:

    Now that Mark has met Denethor, is it allowed to post a cast picture?

  36. VoldieBeth says:

    Minis Tirith is my favorite city!! It's so beautiful and grand!! I absolutely loved how Jackson portrayed it in the movies!

  37. Katarina_H says:

    You have written Bergil? Where? How? This is such a bad time for my computer to be at repairs!

  38. stormwreath says:

    After the Battle of Helm's Deep chapter, I posted a step-by-step breakdown of what happened in the battle, and a lot of people said they liked it. So I'm going to do the same thing for this book… starting with this map. It's been carefully edited not to show spoilers, and I'll re-post it after later chapters if things change and armies start marching to war.

    <img src="http://www.mdd-marketing.co.uk/files/pelennorfields0.jpg"&gt;

    Minas Tirith is built up against the side of the White Mountains, in the bottom left corner of this map. Surrounding it is the Pelennor Fields, a fertile land of farms and small woodlands where the city's food is grown. A defensive wall has recently been built encircling the Pelennor; the scene near the start of the chapter where Gandalf is being questioned by Ingold is as he's passing through a gate in this outer wall. The Pelennor Fields are about twelve miles across, so it would take the average person five hours to cross them on foot. Obviously it takes much less time if you're riding Shadowfax. :)

    The road leading south from Minas Tirith leads to the rest of Gondor, and is the route that the 3,000-man reinforcements were marching up in this chapter. There's also a harbour, the Harlond, about three miles from the city on the banks of the River Anduin. Ocean-going ships can sail up the River from the Sea, which is still several hundred miles away off to the south-east. (The Great River is huge, like the Mississippi. This is the same river, incidentally, that the Fellowship sailed down in the first book.)

    Two more roads lead away from Minas Tirith. The one going north heads towards Rohan; this is the route that Gandalf and Pippin arrive by at the start of the chapter. Finally, the road going east heads towards the ruined city of Osgiliath, and beyond that to Ithilien on the other side of the River, and beyond that to Mordor.

    Osgiliath used to be the capital of Gondor, but it was ruined in previous wars with Sauron, and is now deserted by ordinary folk. The enemy occupies the eastern side of the ruined city, but the western side is still under Gondor's control, and soldiers are stationed there to defend it. Boromir used to be in command here until he was sent north to Rivendell.

    Minas Tirith and Minas Morgul (formerly called Minas Ithil) were originally built as sister cities, one either side of Osgiliath. So the fortress of the Nazgûl that Frodo and Sam were sneaking past in the chapters we read recently is just off the right hand side of this map, about 20 miles from the river, roughly the same distance as Minas Tirith.

  39. tzikeh says:

    Mark – now that you've met Denethor, I can do what I've been waiting to do SINCE YOU STARTED READING:

    Heeeeeeeere's DENETHOR!

    <img src="http://content9.flixster.com/photo/11/29/15/11291507_ori.jpg"&gt;

  40. Delta1212 says:

    You’re kidding me. Why do I feel this is literal? Like, Sauron literally found a way to block out the sun with some sort of “Darkness”?

    Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides for chapters, and characters fight and live and die all in darkness. That is the time for fear.

  41. @MeagenImage says:

    True Stories: When I was 15 and reading LotR I shipped myself with Bergil. I was still a magical princess exiled from a land conquered by Mordor thought.

  42. I know what you mean about not being able to visualize characters or settings. Before the movies came out, I pictured Harry Potter characters like their illustrated versions in the books. Until the movie version of Pride and Prejudice came out, I could never figure out which "Ms.Bennet" was being referred to (I mean, there was five of them, you can't call them all the same thing, freakin' 19th century literature*).

    I also tend to look up drawings on deviantart if I have a hard time picturing something and then choose my favorite piece as head canon.

    *I love Pride and Prejudice now. 13 year-old me couldn't handle the brilliance of Jane Austen.

  43. flootzavut says:

    "Look, I’m just trying to find ways that Tolkien can break my heart so I can at least attempt to prepare for it."

    If only it worked that way!

    "Jryy, zl cerqvpgvbaf ner whfg tbvat gb or havirefnyyl jebat, nera’g gurl"

    Vf vg onq gung V nz nzhfrq gung Znex vf abg pbeerpg va cerqvpgvat uvf cerqvpgvba fhpprff, pbafvqrevat ubj fcbbxvyl npphengr fbzr bs uvf cerqvpgvbaf ner? V ybir vg!

    I LOVE Minas Tirith, and it is SO SAD to me that the movie set was just a movie set, because I soooo want to visit that city :(

    Pippin is just plain adorable. I'm reminded once more just why I love this character <3

    "The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn."

    That line is sooooo chilling :-o

    My connection is AWFUL, as far as I can tell this has not posted, but if it appears several times please accept my apologies, folks…

  44. flootzavut says:

    OH MY YES THIS THIS THIS!

    I am seriously so excited for Mark to see these movies, is that weird?

    • saphling says:

      Not at all! :D:D

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Nope definitely not weird! If that's weird then I guess we can be weird together! :D Since I watched the movies before the books I am soooo freaking excited for Mark to see them. Also, I finally went out and got the bluray extended LotR and I am so excited to watch them. I'm trying to hold off until the live blogs, but it's proving a bit hard. For now I'm holding off by watching the extra documentary stuff and fitting in some Doctor Who. I'm near the end of S5 though so I don't have much more left to watch on Netflix. *peers over to LotR movies* I have little hope that I'll resist temptation.

      • julianamoreli says:

        I just watched The Return of the King…couldn't wait any longer…it's carnaval holiday here…and I hate it…sooooo, I just make my annual marathon of Lord of the Rings to escape of the constant disgusting music that keeps playing on tv…

        Everytime I watch it I'm all tears…the entire movie…it's pure emotion…

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          Oh yeah, I think I've watched the EE and Theatrical versions 1x each since Mark started LotR, but I told myself the last time that I'd get the bluray versions and then hold off until the liveblogs. My brother thinks I'm weird because I can so easily watch the movies a ton of times and still not get sick of them. The last 3 or 4 times we've had a LotR marathon he's fallen asleep!

          I'm sooo excited for the liveblogs, and since they are on Saturdays (and hopefully will start in the afternoon-ish, I should be able to do all three! They'll be my first liveblogs since I first joined in at the end of MRHP! Ahhh…soooo excited!! (and so many tears)

  45. arctic_hare says:

    So, I was going to post a John Howe picture from Realms of Tolkien, of Gandalf and Pippin getting to Minas Tirith, but I was beaten to it. Doesn't matter! I still have art for you all! In lieu of John Howe goodness, I will terrify you with the ROTK cover by the same person that drew that lulzy TTT one that looked like an old romance novel cover or something. ENJOY.

    <img src="http://img268.imageshack.us/img268/4901/002aly.th.jpg&quot; border="0"/>

    Okay… uh… the chapter itself. Bit of a shocker after that cruel as hell cliffhanger, but quite enjoyable. I love me some Pippin and Gandalf, after all, and FINALLY WE'RE IN GONDOR. AND IT IS AWESOME. <3 I've said this before, but I'm like you, Mark, I don't have much of a visual imagination, so I always appreciate movies and artwork for this reason. Very handy for someone like me.

    V ybir ybir ybir jura lbh svanyyl ERNYYL frr Tbaqbe va guvf zbivr, vg'f fb znwrfgvp naq ornhgvshyyl fubg. Cyhf jr trg gb urne gur shyy Tbaqbe gurzr sbe gur svefg gvzr; cerivbhfyl, jr'q bayl urneq n uvag bs vg va SBGE, jura Obebzve nqqerffrq gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq naq fcbxr bs uvf ubzr. Abj jr trg gb urne gur jubyr guvat, naq vg qbrf abg qvfnccbvag.

    Also, Sil stuff: Xabjvat gur Juvgr Gerr'f yvarntr tvirf vg fb zhpu zber zrnavat sbe zr jura jr svefg frr vg urer. <3

    • knut_knut says:

      that's my cover too! But I prefer the TTT one ;)

      Who are all the 3 people crowded into the corner? For the longest time I thought the blonde one was Legolas and the one with curly hair was Frodo, but I think that might be wrong.

    • misterbernie says:

      OMG lol what is that cover

      • arctic_hare says:

        A THING OF TERROR/BEAUTY xD AND LULZ

        • misterbernie says:

          YES
          YEEES
          it just looks like it should be for a different novel. TWO different novels, actually.

          Ace starship pilot Cale Gordon would have never imagined the stunningly queer world of Margumma Alpha, but when he crashlands his ship in the courtyard of the Temple of Z'hoorr-Mqra, the busty alien priestesses make him go on a quest to replace the Jewel of Mk'lur'lqq. If he cannot find it, his life is forfeit.
          Meanwhile, Grandpa Sterling is trying to enjoy his holiday in Egypt, but a pesky murder disturbs his sunbathing.

          • divAndRule says:

            That was brilliant… except I do not want to think about Grandpa Sterling/Gandalf sunbathing.

          • arctic_hare says:

            OMG I WANT TO READ THIS NOW <3 xD

            • misterbernie says:

              With the last strength left in his muscular arms, Cale pulled himself through the broken windshield. He tumbled over the edge, and fell down, landing in soft, yet spiky … it must be grass, even though it was azure blades stretching themselves towards a crimson sun hanging in the soft, light blood-ebony sky.
              He heard footsteps approach. Ere he could right himself up, his eyes saw two alabaster-skinned lithe feet in front of him, shaped as if carved from marble, the toes slender and soft like overripe bananas. Groaningly, he looked up, and saw firm, yet tender legs, long fleshy gams that were just barely covered by nearly sheer gauze where they met. The face of whoever had approached was obscured by ample, luscious bosoms that seemed suspiciously mammalian. Cale tried to think quickly. What would Grandpa Sterling do?
              “Fly, you fool!”, that’s what he would ejaculate at him!


              I regret nothing.

              • arctic_hare says:

                <3 <3 <3

                can't stop laughing

                ilu so very much <3

                • misterbernie says:

                  <3
                  my pleasure

                  His cobalt eyes met the stern stare of the honey-coloured orbs sitting in the heart-shaped face of the flimsily-clad woman – for she must be woman – standing before him.
                  "What creature are you? We have never seen your kind here!" she clamoured, and her voice was sonorant as the drumming on a fat man's belly, only hot, and as she spoke, her voice was full of suspicion and wonder, as if she could not fathom whom she saw before her eyes.
                  "I'm a man," Cale's voice replied, not betraying the growing hunger in his body. He had not seen a woman in over five parseconds, and now a darn fine specimen of one stood before him. "A human man."
                  "Man?" she cocked. "We have… heard of man. But long has it been since one has set foot on our planet, which in our language, we call Ngaktlar, which means Amazonia in yours, which I happen to speak because of translation minirobots implanted in my brain."

                  my pleasure, indeed

                  • Wheelrider says:

                    "…only hot,…"

                    Tea all over my keyboard now, thanks!

                  • stefb4 says:

                    wait i have no idea if this is real or not

                    is this real

                    like an actual published story

                    or are you just brilliant?

                    • arctic_hare says:

                      HE IS JUST THAT BRILLIANT

                    • misterbernie says:

                      I'll never reject the epithet "brilliant"
                      WHY AM I NOT PUBLISHED YET

                      "Who are you?" he asked, raising his voice at the end of the sentence. "Where am I? This world is strange to me."
                      The beautiful woman threw herself up to her full height, seemingly oblivious to the titilating jiggling of her alert breasts. "I am named Zulana, and I am the nduul urqrntz'tli of Z'hoorr-Mqra, that is, I am the high priestess of the father of this planet! And you have greatly dishonoured the honoured bounds of the temple of Z'hoor-Mqra, Man of Human! To step into temple grounds without permission would usually be met with death at the hands of the zm'lakqc, the Dread Guardian, at the fields of Mlek-Nugasht, the Black Maws."
                      As his stomach sank into his bottom, Cale swallowed and tried to keep his cool, so cooly, he said: "It was not my FAULT my spaceship CRASHED! I would NEVER – NEVER! – dishonour ANYTHING if I could help it!"
                      "Fear not, Man," Zulana smiled soothingly, "I cannot help but feel a strange feeling when my eyes meet your shape, so I will pardon you – for now. If you can do a task for me and the priestesshood of Z'hoor-Mqra, your life shall be safe. Fail the task, and your life shall be taken."

                    • stefb4 says:

                      You should totally publish trashy romance novels. I AM 100% SERIOUS.

                    • arctic_hare says:

                      I AGREE

                  • arctic_hare says:

                    flawless <3

          • knut_knut says:

            If you wrote that book, I would read it. And the cover would be EPIC

            • misterbernie says:

              …don't encourage me to write purposely bad fiction. Because I would.

              With lots of gratuitous sex scenes featuring the words "throbbing" and "moist".

              • knut_knut says:

                Dooooo iiiiiiiiit!! You must! You can’t just post those 2 passages and not write the rest! Also, I keep thinking Cale=Kale and picture a very sweaty and muscular leafy green. Vegetables have never been so sexy.

                • Wheelrider says:

                  Keep encouraging… it's being done right in front of us!

                  Most epic comment thread ever!

                • misterbernie says:

                  He stepped before Zulana and threw the Jewel of Mk'lur'lqq at her feet, where it bounced like a bouncy ball. "There, you treacherous snake! Here is your bauble, I hope you choke on it!" he said angrily.
                  "Are you angry?" Zulana asked, leaning her head to the side so that her long, dark tresses fell to the side, too, down her shoulder, and exposing her swanlike white neck. Cale could not stay angry when she was so beautiful, but her task had nearly cost him his life, and what he had discovered rested gravely on his soul! "You should not be angry, you should feel happiness for you have accomplished your task, and now, the reward is yours." She stripped the straps of her gown off her shoulders, which fell to the ground and exposed her naked shape.
                  Cale's eyes bulged out, but they were not the only thing that bulged.

                  • knut_knut says:

                    <3 <3 <3

                    This is amazing. You should do this for a living.

                  • arctic_hare says:

                    this is a thing of beauty and a joy forever <3 <3 <3 NEVER STOP

                    • misterbernie says:

                      …I better warn for really purposely awful sex prose and pulp scifi gender perception mockery below.

                      "What is this? Why is it changing colour and shape?" Zulana wondered, furrowing her perfectly shaped pencil-thin eyebrows which were just a shade darker than her hair the colour of an expensive wood.
                      Cale smirked knowingly, "Ooh baby, don't worry about that, it's a good sign. Means it likes you. Go on, touch it."
                      Zulana looked him in the eye and asked: "Why would you address me as an infant of your species? Why would you not answer a question I asked?"
                      Cale shook his head at the folly of women – they were the same everywhere, after all! "It's just a thing we say to girls we like. Don't worry your pretty head. But if you need to know, this is my cock. I'll put it inside you and believe me, you'll like it, that's as certain as the fact that I was the most experienced gunsel on my home planet!"
                      "Ooooh!" Zulana's eyes lit up in recognition of a thing she just realised. "You mean it is a sexual organ?" Her lips twitched into a hungry, lustful smile. "I do know how reproduction works!"
                      She leant over so that her lips almost touched his right earlobe. He could feel her hot breath breathing down his neck, and her right breast was pushing against his chest, while his right arm was now trapped between the cushions of her feminineness. She gently slid her hand around his spear of lust consummation, which quivered in anticipation.
                      She whispered in his ear with a lilt of luscious lascivity. "My reproductive orifice is moist."

                    • arctic_hare says:

                      <img src="http://i39.tinypic.com/90ncls.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

                    • monkeybutter says:

                      The good ol' spear of lust consummation. Bless you. Givin' me visions of Ms Perky
                      <img src="http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lof1yyhwzC1qcey8ko1_500.gif&quot; width="450">

                    • arctic_hare says:

                      <3 <3 <3

                      I love Ms. Perky, and that movie, and you :D

                    • monkeybutter says:

                      <img src="http://30.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lmsmg2tRi91qbz91wo1_400.gif"&gt;

                      I love you, and your ridiculous book covers, and Allison Janney!

                    • drippingmercury says:

                      Um…. did you happen to ghostwrite for Stephen Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: Lady Notcturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure?

                      PS this was the best thing to happen to me today, thank you <3

    • sudden_eyes says:

      That cover! Am in hysterics.

    • Rheinman says:

      Ugh! That cover. That may be the worst Aragorn ever. It doesn't look like "return of the king" or even, "return of the prime minister" It looks more like "Return of the Permanent Undersecretary for Seagull Control Operations."

    • Dreamflower says:

      Is that supposed to be Nentbea? It looks like Steve Correll with indigestion.

      V unir gb pbasrff gubhtu, gung’f gur svefg gvzr V’ir frra gur Pebja bs Tbaqbe npphengryl qrcvpgrq gur jnl WEEG qrfpevorq vg.

      Zhpu nf V ybir gur Cebsrffbe, ur qvq abg unir n synve sbe snfuvba qrfvta.

  46. Tauriel_ says:

    Gaaah, late with posting, I've had a very busy day at work… :(

    Tauriel's Linguistic Corner

    Sorry for yet another missed chapter, guys. :( My life has been EXTREMELY busy lately. But I have the missed stuff from the last TTT chapter here, so I hope you don't mind. :)

    THE CHOICES OF MASTER SAMWISE

    A Elbereth Gilthoniel
    o menel palan-diriel,
    le nallon sí di’nguruthos!
    A tiro nin, Fanuilos!

    This is a variation on the Elves' chant we've heard in Rivendell back in the chapter "Many Meetings". Here is the translation from Ardalambion:

    "O Elbereth Star-kindler
    from heaven gazing afar,
    to thee I cry now in (lit. beneath) the shadow of death!
    O look towards me, Everwhite!"

    (con'd below)

    • Tauriel_ says:

      MINAS TIRITH

      Soooooo many names in this infodump chapter… :)

      Anórien – "Sun-land". Sindarin origin, derived from Anor – "Sun". Just like the land east of the great river Anduin is called Ithilien (the land under Minas Ithil), the land west of Anduin is called Anórien (the land under Minas Anor).
      Amon Dîn – "Silent Hill". Sindarin origin: amon – "hill"; dîn – "silent".
      Eilenach – no translation available – Tolkien wrote about it: "probably an alien name, not Sindarin, not Númenórean, or Common speech." Probably pre-Númenorean.
      Nardol – "Fire-Hilltop". Sindarin origin: naur – "fire"; dol – "hill", "head", "hilltop".
      Erelas – no translation available. Despite looking rather Sindarinish, it's not of Sindarin origin. Probably pre-Númenorean.
      Min-Rimmon – "Peak of the Rimmon". Partially Sindarin origin: min – "mountain peak". Rimmon is probably a pre-Númenorean name, which would make sense, as this was the oldest of the Beacons.
      Calenhad – "Green Place". Sindarin origin: calen – "green"; had is a lenited form of sad – "place", "spot".
      Halifirien – "Holy Mountain". Rohirrim origin, Tolkien derived it from Old English.
      Belfalas – partially Sindarin origin: falas – "shore", "beach". Bel is a pre-Númenorean element of unknown meaning.

      (con'd below)

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Pelennor – "Encircled land" or "Fenced land". Sindarin origin: pel – "enclosure", "fence", "fenced field"; dor – "land".
      Rammas Echor – "Encircling wall". Sindarin origin: rammas – "wall", "great wall"; echor – "outer ring", "circle".
      Emyn Arnen – "Hills beside the water". Mixed origin: emyn – Sindarin word for "hills" (singular is amon – "hill"); arnen is combined from the Quenya elements ar- – preposition meaning "beside", "next to", and nén – "water".
      Harlond – "South haven". Sindarin origin: hâr – "south"; lond – "haven", "harbour".
      Lossarnach – "Valley of the flowers". Mixed origin – Arnach was the pre-Númenorean name of the region, and although loss is a Sindarin word for "snow", it's also the homophone for "flower" – loth, hence the probable spelling mistake.
      Lebennin – "Five rivers". Sindarin origin: leben – "five"; nîn is plural of nên – "water", "spring".
      Dol Amroth – "Amroth's Hill". Sindarin origin: dol – "hill", "head", "hilltop"; Amroth – name of the prince of Lórien – remember Legolas' song about Nimrodel? :)
      Tumladen – "Open valley". Sindarin origin: tum – "deep valley", and laden – "plain", "open", "flat".

      (con't below)

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Rath Celerdain – "Lampwrights' Street". Sindarin origin: rath – "street"; celerdain is plural for calardan – "lampwright" (derived from calar – "lamp").
      Ringló – "Cold fenland". Sindarin origin: ring – "cold"; – "fenland".
      Morthond – "Blackroot". Sindarin origin: môr – "black", "dark"; thond – "root".
      Anfalas – "Langstrand". Sindarin origin: and – "long"; falas – "shore", "beach".
      Lamedon – no translation available. Probably pre-Númenorean.
      Ethir – Sindarin word for "mouth of a river", "estuary".
      Pinnath Gelin – "Green hills". Sindarin origin: pinnath is plural form of pind – "ridge", "slope"; gelin is the lenited form of celin, which is plural for calen – "green".

      • Max (guest) says:

        Ahh, LOVE your Linguistic Corner. ^_^ I’m a bit of a Tolkien’s languages geek myself. Isn’t great how he use all those pre-Númenorean, not-Eldarin toponyms for Gondor? Such a subtle way to show that these are actually colonies, a kingdom of exiles. Fbzrjung sberfunqbjf gur Qehéqnva gbb… V thrff.

  47. Tauriel_ says:

    ARAGORN IS GOING TO CLAIM KINGSHIP? WHAT THE HOLY FUCK. WHAT THE HELL?!?!?! Oh my god, this book is going to destroy me, isn’t it? OH GOD, ARAGORN!!!!

    Come on, Mark. Surely with all the clues and hints at how he's the heir of Isildur and Elendil, how he's descended from the bloodline of the kings, how he carries Elendil's sword – and now the book is called "The Return of the King", probably the most spoilery book title in the history of book titles – did you really not put two and two together? :D

    (Now, I'm not saying if Aragorn is successful in claiming his kingship… ;) ;) ;) )

    • Johanna says:

      Not to mention the last two lines in the "all that is gold does not glitter" poem! Foreshadowing Tolkien style: give away lots of information, but hide it in huge infodumps that will make a new reader lose track anyway :)

      Well, I suppose "The Return of the King" could be about Theoden returning to Edoras? Or the Witch King to Angmar? :P

      • Tauriel_ says:

        So many kings to choose from! :D

        There's also Thranduil, the Elvenking of Mirkwood, Legolas' Dad – maybe he'll join the war against Sauron?

      • stormwreath says:

        Or even Sauron returning to his rightful place as King of Middle Earth after he takes back the Ring?

  48. divAndRule says:

    Hercule Poirot and LOTR, my two favorite things in the whole world in a single post. You just made my day :)

  49. Alice says:

    You guys are so lucky with such great ROTK covers!!My ROTK cover sux because vg'f n fprar sebz SBGE o.O…V zrna yvxr jung gur urpx!!!???Ohg V jbag cbfg vg lrg phm Znex qbrfa'g xabj juvpu punenpgre fheivirf be abg.

  50. Tauriel_ says:

    I'm sorry – what?

    • Wheelrider says:

      Meaning… who cares about busy-ness at work? We want to know about Sindarin names! ;)
      (How many of us are reading this at work?)

      • Tauriel_ says:

        WTF is this sense of entitlement???

        Well, excuse me for having a sense for priorities and putting my work, which is how I earn my living, first before posting translations from a fictional language on some blog's comments. I don't have to post them at all, you know.

        • Wheelrider says:

          Whoah, I didn't mean it that way at all. And I seem to have made it worse in reply, going off the rails a bit here… I certainly appreciate you posting, whenever you can. Both posts were meant as a joke.

        • Wheelrider says:

          Hoo boy, In the light of day my comments read even worse… I'm really sorry! In person that would have been delivered with a wink-nudge, but this is the internet. (Forgot the <wink_nudge> tags.)

          Please don't stop posting translations!

  51. AmandaNekesa says:

    Re your rot13 – V pbhyqa'g uryc ohg ynhtu ng gur snpg gung Znex jnf cerqvpgvat gung uvf cerqvpgvbaf jbhyq or fb jebat, jura va snpg, ur jnf nfgbavfuvatyl pybfr be evtug ba gnetrg sbe n ybg bs gurz. Vg'f shaal orpnhfr V guvax ng guvf cbvag, Znex qbrfa'g rira xabj jung gb guvax. Ur'f nffhzvat gung nalguvat ur pbhyq vzntvar jbhyq unccra jbhyqa'g unccra orpnhfr Gbyxvra vf n travhf naq unf pbzcyrgryl qvfbevragrq uvz. Guvf vf tbaan or terng! *rivy teva*

  52. AmandaNekesa says:

    Agreed! Without Howard Shore's score, it would have been a very different feel to the movies.

  53. Max (guest) says:

    Ok guys, I'm not a native English speaker so you must help me here: does English have a word for someone who's smart (and can be pretty insightful at times) but is NEVER clever? Because that's Mark. I mean, and I quote,
    "ARAGORN IS GOING TO CLAIM KINGSHIP? WHAT THE HOLY FUCK. WHAT THE HELL?!?!?!"
    *facekeyboard, while laughing like mad*
    IT'S IN THE FRIGGIN' TITLE!!! And in Bilbo's poem. And in the Council of Elrond. And again at Argonath. And when Aragorn tells Eomer who he is. Probably Galadriel spoke about that (I'm not 100% sure) and certainly other characters in other circumstances did too, and I don't remember.
    Mark ALWAYS miss these painfully obvious things. Like Gollum following the Fellowship or (another obvious thing, not a spoiler for pretty much everybody except Mark ) Gurer'f n tybjvat oruvaq Rcury Qhngu, naq orsber gung rnegudhnxrf fbzr puncgref ntb naq ur'f nyy JGS. Znex, zl orybirq, shaal, snagnfgvp Znex, sbe gur ybir bs Bppnz, vs Sebqb'f bowrpgvir vf n tbqqnzarq IBYPNAB jung pna cbffvoyl pnhfvat gurfr srabzran? (Nyfb gur qnexravat bs gur fxl bire gur rnfgrea Tbaqbe, ohg gung arrqf n ovg zber zntvp gb qb jvgubhg gur Bebqehva rkcybqvat fb abg thrffvat gung znl or fbzrjung erfbanoyr. So do we have a term for dear Mark chronic and fondamental… unpreparadness?

  54. GamgeeFest says:

    Pippin all along in Gondor is :'(. WHY, TOLKIEN?

    <3 to Beregond and Bergil

    Denethor – hm…. I don't know about him yet. *looking at you sideways*

    The beacons are lit!

    Pippin swears fealty. He's the youngest member of the Fellowship, and still considered a boy among his own people, but you can see in that scene with Denethor how much he's grown over the course of the Quest so far. And it hasn't even gotten real yet! All the hugs for Pippin, because he needs them.

  55. Mauve_Avenger says:

    For some reason I thought I'd posted this already, but apparently not. I do a double-take every time I see "Lossarnach," because it's the very first username I ever had (I don't even think I'd read this book yet; I just picked a random place on the map at the front of the last book). We learn from Beregond that Lossarnach is a valley where the civilians of Gondor have been taken for safety, and from his son Bergil that it's full of flowers in the spring. But I think this is the first time I've ever locked onto this detail:

    "Yet the herdsmen and husbandmen that dwelt there were not many, and the most part of the people of Gondor lived in the seven circles of the City, or in the high vales of the mountain-borders, in Lossarnach, or further south in fair Lebennin with its five swift streams. They were reckoned men of Gondor, yet their blood was mingled, and there were short and swarthy folk among them whose sires came more from the forgotten men who housed in the shadow of the hills in the Dark Years ere the coming of the kinds."

    This is the first non-negative use of the word "swarthy," I think? pleasedontbeevilpleasedontbeevilplease

    "Leading the line there came walking a big thick-limbed horse, and on it sat a man of wide shoulders and huge girth, but old and grey-bearded, yet mail-clad and black-helmed and bearing a long heavy spear. Behind [Forlong, Lord of Lossarnach] marched proudly a dusty line of men, well-armed and bearing great battleaxes; grim-faced they were, and shorter and somewhat swarthier than any men that Pippin had yet seen in Gondor."

    Yes! they're (probably) not evil!

    • rubyjoo says:

      Yes, I noticed that too and meant – but forgot – to bring it up. I think this might indicate that Tolkien didn't necessarily mean us to perceive the word "swarthy" in a negative way but just as a way of indicating a slightly darker skin. Traditionally, (although not necessarily historically) the Ancient Britons, the original peoples who were in England even before the tribes of "Celts" moved in from the continent, were short and dark. I wonder if this is what Tolkien is touching upon?

      • Tul says:

        Gondor is approximately around Italia geographically. It's the Shire that is around England. So I don't think it has something to do with that. Well, just saying. ^^'

        • rubyjoo says:

          Yes, Tul, I understand that and have spoken about Minas Tirith looking like an Italian hill town higher up the page. But I don't think it's as as simple as that. I think that Tolkien has thought about all the influences on England and all the different people who have settled in this country and who make up the English in order to provide his "English mythology" and then he has mixed and muddled everything up together. He wanted people to read LotR and feel a "familiarity" with things without making any absolute and direct comparison. The Romans lived in England for 500 years and Romano-Brits are our ancestors. Similarly, the Rohirrim reflect the Anglo-Saxon input in the English even though their position on a map puts them, rather peculiarly, down near Italy. I don't think you can just go on geographical positions. However, it's lovely to think that people from different parts of the world can make a connection with his book because they recognise themselves in his characters and his story.

    • rabidsamfan says:

      Nope, not evil.

      Did you notice that the only person whose skin (at least whose hand) is described as "brown" is Sam (who is most definitely Not Evil)? And even the orcs call Gollum "black" and he's running around pretty much nekkid. So Hobbits come in all the colors!

      ;D

  56. Icarus says:

    "Why do I feel this is literal? Like, Sauron literally found a way to block out the sun with some sort of “Darkness”?"

    Because it is Capitalized. Everyone knows that Darkness is a literal Thing.

  57. Icarus says:

    I agree, and there is so much to speak for the movies. But the music, oh.

    This YouTube video has a set shot from the film and no video, though there may be spoilerish video titles to the side. Hark, the theme of Gondor:
    http://youtu.be/h_JfHLs2Nc4

  58. notemily says:

    LOL ARAGORN HAS A CLAIM TO KINGSHIP WHAT. I love that Pippin has no idea and Gandalf is like "Where have YOU been for the past two books?" Because this is one of those things that Tolkien pretty much spells out for you OVER AND OVER AGAIN, but if you're not watching for it, you could miss the significance of all the little details we get about Aragorn and his backstory.

    I would have had no idea what Minas Tirith was supposed to look like if I hadn't seen the movies, Mark. I'm not great at visualizing this stuff either.

    Pippin's first thought is FOOD. :D I really like Beregond and his son. It's good to see some of the "normal people" who aren't huge players in this war, but just "pawns" like Pippin imagines himself.

    "Few, maybe, of those now sundered will meet again." :(

    I love the idea that Pippin would bring "five thousand swords" and that with every Rider from Rohan there would come a hobbit. That would be so awesome.

    Pheriannath is the best word ever.

    The thing is, Pippin kind of IS a Prince of Hobbits? I mean, they don't "do" royalty like the Men do, but he is a Took and the Tooks are a pretty important hobbit family.

    The Lighting of the Beacons is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. I love the idea that there are dudes just waiting on these remote mountaintops for the signal to light the beacons. How often does this happen? Getting to light them is probably THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT OF THEIR LIVES.

  59. Dreamflower says:

    Hello Pearl Took.

    Are you "my " Pearl Took? *waves if you are*

    (and even if you aren't)

  60. arctic_hare says:

    YOU SO DO. I have endless amounts of love for that series. <3

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