Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King’: Chapter 2

In the second chapter of The Return of the King, a grim message reaches Aragorn, and he takes Gimli and Legolas on a dangerous detour. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.

CHAPTER TWO: THE PASSING OF THE GREY COMPANY

Lords and Stuff
A Play

Act 345
Scene 1

 

[MERRY watches as GANDALF leaves with his best friend, PIPPIN. As they pass out of sight, he returns to ARAGORN.]

ARAGORN: Well, it’s time for us to be off. Who’s coming with me?

[LEGOLAS and GIMLI both affirm excitedly.]

MERRY: Well, don’t forget about me! I would like to come.

ARAGORN: I will never forget about you, Merry! I promise.

MERRY: Really?

ARAGORN: It is physically impossible for me to forget about you, dear hobbit.

[As the group prepares to leave, a RIDER gallops upon them.]

RIDER: Sooooooooo there might be a bunch of horses coming behind us, and there’s no way we can outride them.

THÉODEN: Fucking hell. Can I catch one break?

MERRY: Well, I feel useless right now. I suppose I’ll just stand here with my sword.

LEGOLAS: You’re not useless! You’re just not useful right now.

MERRY: Wow, I feel so much better.

[A group of thirty riders arrive, and HALBARAD is the first to speak up.]

HALBARAD: We are seeking someone who might be in the land of Rohan! Is there an Aragorn with you?

ARAGORN: SWEET BABY GANDALF, HALBARAD. IT’S ME, BRO! HOW ARE YOU, BRO?

HALBARAD: OH, BY ISILDUR’S BANE, IT’S YOU! LET US HUG UNTIL WE FALL TO THE GROUND AND THEN LET’S ROLL AROUND SOME, TOO.

ARAGORN [To THÉODEN]: These are my own kin, king! We aren’t going to be slaughtered where we stand! [To HALBARAD] Wait, why are you here?

HALBARAD: Dude, didn’t you summon us? We all got the message, man!

ARAGORN: Well, I mean I thought lots of manly and totally heterosexual thoughts about y’all, but it’s not like I can make wishes come true. So no, that has nothing to do with me.

THÉODEN: Well, this isn’t suspicious or weird at all, so let’s all just go together to Helm’s Deep instead of figuring out how this is possible! This is a good plan, no?

ARAGORN: I couldn’t agree more!

Scene 2

[They group has arrived at Helm’s Deep, and we cut to MERRY, who is waking from a short bout of sleep. LEGOLAS and GIMLI are rousing him.

LEGOLAS: Wake up, Master Sluggard!

MERRY: I hardly think three hours of sleep is deserving of that nickname.

GIMLI: It has a nice ring to it.

MERRY: So what’s going on? Where’s Aragorn?

LEGOLAS: You know, he’s off talking about the fact that his kin were summoned by someone other than him. Which isn’t weird at all.

MERRY: Yeah, I thought that seemed odd. Who do you think sent the summons? Gandalf?

LEGOLAS: Probably Galadriel?

GIMLI: I want to marry her.

LEGOLAS: Gimli!

GIMLI: What? She’s spectacular.

LEGOLAS: But what about us?

GIMLI: Fine, I’ll marry you, too.

MERRY: What.

Scene 3

[MERRY, LEGOLAS, and GIMLI arrive at the hall of the Burg for midday meal.]

THÉODEN: Merry, come sit with me! We have much to discuss.

MERRY: Wow, I’m flattered! Thank you!

THÉODEN: I even got you a pony you can ride on later! No riding alongside someone else. Can we get this goddamn hobbit a weapon?

MERRY: No, it’s okay, I have my own! [MERRY draws his sword and offers it lovingly to THÉODEN.] May I offer this to you to pledge service to you?

THÉODEN: Yes, you may! Rise, good sir!

MERRY: As a father you shall be to me.

THÉODEN: For a little while.

MERRY: What?

THEODEN: I said, “For a little while.”

MERRY: That’s a really awkward thing to say. Like, do you mean you’ll tolerate me for a little while? Or that one of us will die in a little while? Or are you just placating my excitement?

THÉODEN: I have no idea. It really is a weird thing to say.

MERRY: Let’s pretend it never happened.

THÉODEN: Yes, let’s.

Scene 4

[The entire group prepares to depart Helm’s Deep.]

THÉODEN: So, uh, where’s Aragorn? Can someone go get him? We have a war to fight.

[ARAGORN arrives minutes later with LEGOLAS and GIMLI. MERRY watches ARAGORN as he gets closer and realizes the man is forlorn, aged, and weary. Something is wrong.

ARAGORN: So. Change of plans, my lord.

THÉODEN: You’re kidding me.

ARAGORN: I won’t make it to Minas Tirith in time if I follow you. So I’m going to take the Paths of the Dead there.

[Everyone gasps except MERRY.]

MERRY: What.

THÉODEN: How dare you even speak the name, Aragorn! No living man can pass through such a place.

MERRY: What the hell are the Paths of the Dead? Can someone explain this to me?

THÉODEN: Well, I am not following you on such a folly. I guess this is where we part ways.

ARAGORN: I suppose so. Farewell, my lord! Oh, and we’re ditching you, Merry. Have fun!

MERRY: Wait, what? But you said –

[THÉODEN makes a motion and all the horses, including the one MERRY is on, take off.]

MERRY: HEY CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.

[MERRY disappears, and we focus on the remaining characters.]

LEGOLAS: So, why the change in heart?

ARAGORN: I may have used the Stone of Orthanc.

GIMLI: WHAT THE FUCK.

ARAGORN: Maybe.

LEGOLAS: You better have a good reason for this.

ARAGORN: It’s sort of complicated.

HALBARAD: Bro, you better believe we will sit here and listen to the whole thing right this instance.

ARAGORN: Okay, so… [ARAGORN takes a deep breath.] I used the Orthanc to confront Sauron. In the process, I was able to use my own mental strength to wrestle the stone away from Sauron’s power. Did you even know I had this power? No. But Sauron saw me, and despite that I didn’t speak a word to him, he knew I existed and he knew that I was Isildur’s heir to the throne of Gondor. This was all done as a way to hopefully trick Sauron into releasing his soldiers sooner than he planned on it, exposing a possible weakness. Also, it’s really not that clear why me being Isildur’s heir is all that important, but I’m sure it relies on some minuscule detail from 450 pages ago.

LEGOLAS: Wow.

GIMLI: This seems like a bit of a disaster. Like, a huge disaster.

ARAGORN: I haven’t even told you about the Paths of the Dead yet.

HALBARAD: There’s more?

ARAGORN [Taking another deep breath]: So, long ago, Isildur but a great big stone on top of a hill called Erech, and all the Kings of the Mountains swore their allegiance to Isildur there. Years later, when Sauron came back, Isildur called on his allies to assist him; unfortunately, they’d all turned on him and started worshipping Sauron. So Isildur cursed them, making it so they could never rest until they fulfilled their oath. Well, it just so happens that I am Isildur’s heir, and I can activate the Stone, so we are going to pass through the Paths of the Dead and call back the original allies.

LEGOLAS: Wow.

GIMLI: Wait, if only the heir of Isildur can pass through the Paths of the Dead, how are we going to be exempt from that?

ARAGORN: Shhhhh, it’s time to leave.

Scene 5

[ÉOWYN, THÉODEN’s daughter, greets the riders in Eldoras. She has been basically running the city since they all left many days before.]

ÉOWYN: It is good to see you, lord Aragorn. I am glad you have returned.

ARAGORN: I trust you have been well.

ÉOWYN: I have. I have heard of the many battles you have survived.

ARAGORN: That’s cool. So tomorrow I’m passing through the Paths of the Dead.

ÉOWYN: What.

ARAGORN: Yeah, it’ll work. I’m positive of it.

ÉOWYN: You know it’s called the Paths of the Dead, right?

ARAGORN: Yeah, I’m sure it’s just an exaggeration.

ÉOWYN: So take me with you.

ARAGORN: What.

ÉOWYN: I’m sick of being worried here in Eldoras. I want to fight. Take me with you.

ARAGORN [who laughs first]: Your duty is heard to take care of Eldoras.

ÉOWYN: I piss on my duty. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean. I’m sick of waiting.

ARAGORN: But you agreed to govern while the men were away.

ÉOWYN: Will I always be stuck here while the men go off and fight? They get the best of both worlds, and I don’t see a reason why I shouldn’t go.

ARAGORN: Look, one day we may need you, but for now, your duty is in –

ÉOWYN: THE KITCHEN.

ARAGORN: No, I was –

ÉOWYN: YOU WERE GOING TO SAY IT. I KNOW YOU WERE. YOU BIGOT.

ARAGORN: No, I swear –

ÉOWYN: I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear pain or death. I fear living life in a cage and accepting that the world is just passing me by.

ARAGORN: Didn’t you just try to convince me not to do that?

ÉOWYN: Touché. But the point still stands. I want to go.

ARAGORN: No. You have no business going.

ÉOWYN: Oh, like Gimli and Legolas do. They’re only going because they loooovvvvveeee you.

ARAGORN: YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH ABOUT MY FRIENDS.

ÉOWYN: Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli, in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…

ARAGORN: BY GANDALF’S BEARD, YOU BETTER SHUT IT.

ÉOWYN [She turns to walk away]: You mad, bro? ÉOWYN OUT.

Scene 6

[It is the following day, and the Riders are preparing to leave.]

ARAGORN: Farewll, Lady of Rohan! May we see you again.

ÉOWYN: Are you going to let me ride with you?

ARAGORN: No.

ÉOWYN: Your face is butts.

ARAGORN: What?

ÉOWYN: Seriously, you’re a butthead. Don’t talk to me.

[The group leaves ÉOWYN behind.]

Scene 7

[Arriving at the Dimholt, the riders disembark their horses at the sight of a stone that none of the animals will pass.]

GIMLI: This idea is a fucking foolish waste of time, by the way.

HALBARAD: I’m inclined to agree with you. Exactly how is it that we’re allowed to pass behind you?

ARAGORN: Just follow me and don’t talk.

[HALBARAD and ARAGORN walk in immediately. After some coaxing, LEGOLAS gets his horse inside, leaving GIMLI alone outside the entrance.]

GIMLI: I hate all of you. You will pay for this one day, I swear.

[GIMLI enters.]

Scene 8

[The passageway is so dark that only the torches can be seen. They slowly trudge along until they come upon a space so wide that it doesn’t seem to have an end. There, ARAGORN finds the bones of a huge man.]

GIMLI: Why the hell is he just wandering about? Surely, this place gives him the creeps, too?

[ARAGORN inspects the body before speaking]: I summon you to the Stone of Erech.

LEGOLAS: Wait, is that one of the King of Mountains?

[He receives no answer. They instead continue slowly through the Paths of the Dead; GIMLI constantly fears that someone or something is going to grab him out of the darkness. After some time, though, they finally pass out of the mountain. At one point, as they descend down the chasm, LEGOLAS turns back to see what look like ghosts pouring out.]

LEGOLAS: Should we be concerned that there are a bunch of dead spirits following us?

ELLADAN: No. They were summoned.

GIMLI: Who the hell are you???

ELLADAN: I’m Elrond’s son! Duh. My bother Elrohir is over there.

LEGOLAS: Oh. Right. I should know that.

ELLADAN: Our introduction was kind of rushed.

GIMLI: Dude…, there are ghosts following us.

Scene 9

[Finally, the riders arrive at the Hill of Erech. ELROHIR hands ARAGORN a silver horn once they find the black stone at the top, and ARAGORN blows the horn. Everyone else is shocked to hear unseen horns respond nearly immediately. A great host of spirits surrounds the hill.]

ARAGORN: Oathbreakers, why have ye come?

GIMLI [to LEGOLAS]: WAIT. ARE THESE SPIRITS THE OATHBREAKERS?

LEGOLAS: HOLY SHIT THAT’S SO COOL.

GIMLI: I KNOW.

HALBADAR: Shhhh!

ARAGORN: You will find peace if you serve me and rid this land of the servents of Gondor.

GIMLI [to LEGOLAS]: I mean, it kinda sucks when you think about it. They haven’t been able to rest for a long time. But I suppose I don’t feel bad for them. They did betray Isildur.

LEGOLAS: Are we seriously going to have ghost allies on our team? Oh, we are going to destroy Sauron.

GIMLI: Hey, you realize we just ditched Merry, right?

To be continued….

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.

313 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King’: Chapter 2

  1. Becky_J_ says:

    Bahahaha. Mark. Can we just talk about this for a moment

    "There will be zombies? Look, I don’t know. I’m grasping at straws here."

    Look. The Dead are more like ghosts in my mind than zombies, but they are THE LIVING DEAD. Which pretty much equals zombies, when you think about it. Which means that you truly are a TRUE SEER. Seriously, this was us when we read that prediction…..
    <img src="http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lowxc9fv3U1qie3i0.gif"&gt;
    ….and we wondered if you were really just trolling us. Because you may have been grasping at straws, but you must be REALLY GOOD AT GRASPING THEM (look, I don't know what that means, but it was the only thing that made even a little bit of sense here)

  2. Becky_J_ says:

    This chapter really is kind of consumed by the Paths of the Dead (which. omigod. TERRIFYING), and we kind of lose some of the other moments in this chapter:

    ~One of them is the all-consuming sadness of leaving Merry behind!! He already feels like a burden, his soul-mate-forever Pippin is gone off with Gandalf and he misses him terribly, and now his last three friends are leaving him to go ride off to this place that people seem to think they will never come back from. If I was Merry, I would be so depressed! Think about it…. Frodo has Sam, Pippin has Gandalf, and Aragorn has Legolas and Gimli (lol sorry Boromir, I think the short end of the stick seems to permanently belong to you). MERRY IS ALL ALONE. The only consolation I have is that he's with Theoden, and they seem to have this cool little friendship going on.

    ~Speaking of that…. SADNESS FOREVER when Merry's all "Yeah, you can be my father!" and Theoden's all "Uh, yeah, okay, I guess we could go with that….. FOR A LITTLE WHILE." what do you mean. THAT IS SO UPSETTING TO ME. Either Theoden's not excited about it and thinks it's weird, in which case ALL MY CREYS, or there is something looming on the horizon that will mess everything up, in which case…. well… ALL MY CREYS ANYWAYS. Thanks Tolkien.

    ~I'm not gonna lie, I laughed when Eomer is all "LOL you're going where?? Yeah, I like you and all, buttttttt not enough to even consider following you there. But good luck with that bro!" Every time the Paths of the Dead are mentioned, I picture people repeating it and looking horrified with their hands over their mouths in shock, and it turns into this ridiculous, comical thing to me. I think my brain could not handle all the awfulness and horror and sadness that these books contain, and therefore broke, and is turning this into a comedy as a defense mechanism.

    ~Eowyn. Oh, Eowyn. I feel for her, I really do… but more than anything I pity her. First of all, she is stuck as this housewife-type woman when what she really wants to do is be a warrior with the men; she is stuck in this cage, as she puts it, which is what she fears most. Second of all, I think she wants it for the wrong reasons…. for glory and renown. Which, don't get me wrong, that's always part of the equation, but I think she forgets the real reason these men are riding to war, and the horrors that go along with it. And most of all, I pity her because of Aragorn's pity for her. When it mentions the fact that those close to him see his pain when he's riding away, I don't think that pain is because he loves her or doesn't want to leave her or anything like that…. I think he is upset that he is hurting her by a. leaving her and not taking her with them when she so wants to go and b. not loving her back. It makes me cringe inside just thinking about it. I have been that girl, and I HATE the pity, and it …. IT JUST SUCKS.

    ~I FEEL BAD FOR THE HORSES. And Gimli. Because he has to be the freaking last one in this horrifying, horrifying place. Look, I can't even be the last one in a corn maze, because I have a panic attack and think I'm going to die. If I had to be the last one in this awful land of the Dead….. Well, I would be joining them permanently.

  3. Jenny_M says:

    You know, Mark, you predicted zombies. I think we have to give you half a point on that one.

  4. rabidsamfan says:

    Zombies!

    Well, not exactly….

    😀

  5. Alice says:

    * Aragorn really nails it for me when he says that the fellowship is yet again,broken. All the sad…
    *Oh,Merry you give me all the :(…you're not a burden!!Hugs for this hobbit,please!
    * The dunedains have come to be with Aragorn!!!And Arwen's bishie brothers are here too…glee…
    * Dunno why but whenever I read about the gift that Arwen has sent to Aragorn my mind always makes a strange connection:that of Penelope ,the wife of Odysseus.
    *I loooove the way Theoden treats Merry!!Maybe he's from a lesser race of men,not like the noble numenoreans,but in my eyes he's greater than Denethor. And Merry…oh,Merry all the <3,he's like mirroing what Pippin has done to Denethor.
    * Stybba..how cute is that name!!! I imagine him to be a white poney with brown-golden big spots 😀
    * The Path of the Dead…yeah.I will not go there,thank you very much!!! Aragorn looked in the palantir!!!!! afxcza54e2347ugnvn,myw %^^# And he WON the duel with Sauron!!!!111!!!!!BAMF!!!
    * huh…Mark's army of zombies
    *oh,Eowyn…my heart breaks. :'( "What do you fear,lady?" "A cage.To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire." My favourite lines ever!!

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/22/FF-Dunlending-port.jpg"&gt;
    John Howe – Dunleding (just a poor excuse for me to post a pic with them :p)

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/22/Aragorn-Ranger-port.jpg&quot; width="600">
    John Howe – Aragorn

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_iii-5-02_the%20passing%20of%20the%20grey%20company.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Alan Lee – The Passing of the Grey Company

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/Calendar%202007/alan_lee_cal2007_03.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Alan Lee sketch – The Path of Dead

    <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_14_the%20armies%20gather06.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Alan Lee sketch

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/22/Gimli-port.jpg&quot; width="600">
    John Howe – Gimli

    <img src="http://img-fan.theonering.net/~rolozo/images/sweet/paths.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Darell Sweet – Paths

    <img src="http://www.tednasmith.com/lotr3/TN-The_King_of_the_Oathbreakers.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Ted Nasmith – The King of the Oathbreakers <3 <3 <3

    <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_14_the%20armies%20gather08.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Alan Lee sketch – Army of the Dead

    <img src="http://img-fan.theonering.net/~rolozo/images/mcbride/ghost_warriors.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Angus McPriders take on the Ghost Warriors (note the highlander look 😉 )

    <img src="http://www.john-howe.com/portfolio/gallery/data/media/22/ARMYOFTHEDEAD.jpg"&gt;
    John Howe – Army of the Dead

    <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_14_the%20armies%20gather07.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Alan Lee sketch

    GREAT REVIEW!!!

  6. rabidsamfan says:

    Eowyn always strikes me as being so very young in this chapter. She's been entrusted with the care of a kingdom, but she really doesn't understand how much of an honor that is. No one sings songs about the glory of keeping the babies fed and the old people comfortable, and Eowyn — who has been trained as a shieldmaiden (and she can't be the only one) — wants the kind of glory that will be sung about. Loving Aragorn is almost beside the point.

  7. knut_knut says:

    ALL THE AWESOME THINGS (minus talking ponies) CRAMMED INTO ONE CHAPTER- the remainder of the fellowship , EOWYN BEING A BAMF, AND THEN DEAD PEOPLE. AL;SDFJ;ASLDJKF;S AND a play review! With Gimli shipped with everyone <3

    LET US BASK IN EOWYN’S GLORY
    And she answered: "All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death."
    "What do you fear, lady?" he asked.
    "A cage," she said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire."

    I LOVE HER SO MUCH

  8. Becky_J_ says:

    ÉOWYN [She turns to walk away]: You mad, bro? ÉOWYN OUT.

    Lost it. I lost it here. It's 7am, I am sitting in my bed in a house with three sleeping roommates, and I'm trying not to wake the whole house up with my laughter.

    THANK YOU MARK.

  9. Katie says:

    Zombies! Mark was prepared! World is going to end soon!

  10. cait0716 says:

    That was a delight to read, Mark.

    I realized while reading this chapter that Legolas and Gimli really don't live that far from each other. I mean, if they both survive and make it home, then Logolas will be in Mirkwood and Gimli will be in the Lonely Mountain and they can totally hang out all the time. It made my shipper heart happy.

  11. Ryan Lohner says:

    From your review of the last chapter of The Hobbit:

    “There aren’t ghosts in Middle Earth. No spirits of that sort.”

    Now, don't you feel silly?

  12. Saphling says:

    Awwww yeah, dead person army. *is eloquent today, apparently!*

    Also, I feel bad for Gimli. He's a dwarf, and notes that he should be totally fine going underground, but the Paths of the Dead rightfully give him the creeps.

    I had to recite this to myself as they passed through, gubhtu vg'f sebz gur arkg puncgre, naq V'z fher srj bs lbh jvyy arrq gb qrpvcure vg….

    Gur jnl vf fuhg.
    Vg jnf znqr ol gubfr jub ner Qrnq.
    Naq gur Qrnq xrrc vg.
    Hagvy gur gvzr pbzrf.
    Gur jnl vf fuhg.

  13. Dreamflower says:

    Ah, Mark! I love the "play" format here! And it's brilliant how you catch all the essential points in a totally LOL-some way!

    Poor Merry– he misses Pippin as much as Pippin misses him! But I am always touched by his offering his allegiance to Theoden.

    And think how hard it must have been for him to part from Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. Even though he loves Theoden, those three are his last ties to the Fellowship.

    'There go three that I love, and the smallest not the least,' he said. 'He knows not to what end he rides; yet if he knew, he still would go on.'

    'A little people, but of great worth are the Shire-folk,' said Halbarad. 'Little o they know of our long laour for the safekeeping of their borders, and yet I grudge it not'.

    It reminds me of what Aragorn said at the Council of Elrond, of guarding "simple folk". I really like the Dunadain that we get to see.

    The Paths of the Dead. Really, the name itself is shuddery!

    Eowyn! Her scenes with Aragorn are eloquent!

    V guvax gung jr frr urer gur ernfba jul Rbjla sryg fhpu n obaq jvgu Zreel naq gbbx uvz jvgu ure. Obgu bs gurz jrer srryvat nonaqbarq naq hfryrff; Rbjla fgvyy gelvat gb pnfg bss gur ynfg bs gur funqbj gung Jbezgbathr unq pnfg ba ure jvgu uvf fyl naq fgnyxvat jnlf, naq Zreel phg bss sebz nyy gur crbcyr ur ybirq orfg– rfcrpvnyyl uvf pbhfvaf jubz ur'q yrsg gur Fuver gb cebgrpg.

    V'ir tbg n ybat gurbel nobhg Zreel naq nonqbazrag vffhrf, OGJ. V guvax gurl fgnegrq ybat ntb jura Sebqb yrsg Oenaql Unyy gb tb yvir va Ont Raq. Vg jbhyq rkcynva uvf ybat jngpu bire uvf pbhfva sebz nsne jura ur gubhtug gung Sebqb *zvtug* yrnir gur Fuver bar qnl.

    Nyfb, V unir n gurbel nobhg jul ur ybbxrq hc gb Gurbqra nf n sngure-svther. V'z thrffvat gung fbzrguvat nobhg gur xvat erzvaqrq uvz bs uvf bja sngure. Naq jura V guvax nobhg jung gung pbhyq or, V ernyvmr ubj zhpu Zreel nccerpvngrf gung Gurbqra frrzf gehyl vagrerfgrq va uvf gubhtugf– creuncf gung'f jung erzvaqf uvz bs Fnenqbp.

    In the actual Paths of the Dead we get Gimli's POV again. Sbe gur zbfg cneg, V jnf bayl zvyqyl naablrq ol Tvzyv orvat pbzvp eryvrs zbfg bs gur gvzr, ohg V ernyyl qvfyvxrq vg va gur Cnguf bs gur Qrnq, rfcrpvnyyl va gur BGG cnegf bs gur RR.

    Gur svefg gvzr zl uhfonaq naq V fnj gur RR, V jnf xvaq bs fghaarq ol gung fxhyy ninynapur. Gura gurl unq gur fprar bhgfvqr jurer CW unq gb zvyx gur natfg ol univat Nentbea jbeevrq gung gur Qrnq unq abg pbzr. Jura gur Qrnq Xvat svanyyl pnzr bhg gb fnl "Jr svtug", zl uhfonaq ghearq gb zr naq fnvq jvgu n cresrpgyl fgenvtug snpr: "Ur unq gb gnxr n urnq pbhag svefg."

    Anyhow, it's great to see the Grey Company, and Halbarad and Elladan and Elrohir.

  14. Katarina_H says:

    I laughed so very hard at this review, especially when Eowyn started sassing Aragorn. Because she's awesome in the book, but not quite THAT awesome.

    On this re-read, it really sunk in how little time has passed, and it made me feel even more for Merry. Two weeks ago, the Fellowship was still together, and since then he's been kidnapped by Orcs, left behind by all three of his old-time friends, and now he's being left behind ONCE AGAIN all alone among people he has barely met. No wonder he rushes to offer his service to the first person offering him any kindness.

  15. Lugija says:

    What is it with dark places you have to get through and Tolkien? Mirkwood, Moria, Shelob's Cave and now the Paths. Which one is the best?

    The old heir to the throne whose skeleton will always lie in the Paths still terrifies me. Especially the finger bones between the door and the wall.

    Jung vf oruvaq gung qbbe?! Bar bs gur ovttrfg aba-nafjrerq dhrfgvbaf (nybat jvgu gur qhqrf haqre Zbevn) va gur jubyr abiry (vs lbh qba'g pbhag gubfr jub unir nafjref va gur Fvyznevyyvba).
    Ohg jung vf va gurer? Aneavn? Gur dhrfgvba gb gur Yvsr, Havirefr naq Rirelguvat?

    Movie talk: Gur qrnq ner gur ovttrfg ceboyrz V unir va gur zbivr. Gurl ner irel qrhf rk znpuvan, naq V fgvyy guvax gung gurl jbhyq unir orra orggre va tenl. Naq gung fxhyy guvat? Jung gung rira jnf?

  16. Tauriel_ says:

    LEGOLAS: Probably Galadriel?

    GIMLI: I want to marry her.

    LEGOLAS: Gimli!

    GIMLI: What? She's spectacular.

    LEGOLAS: But what about us?

    GIMLI: Fine, I'll marry you, too.

    MERRY: What.

    *snort* BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! 😀 😀 😀

  17. Sinnive says:

    I just read this review for the third time and I am still laughing so hard.

    But … I hope the Zombies won't rid anything of the servants of _Gondor_, right?

  18. Ryan Lohner says:

    Bar punatr va gur zbivrf gung arire frrzf gb trg zragvbarq vf zbivat Nentbea naq Rbjla'f qvnybthr urer gb Gur Gjb Gbjref, nf gurl cercner gb tb gb Uryz'f Qrrc. Naq V guvax vg jbexf cresrpgyl, rfgnoyvfuvat ure nf jnagvat gb or n fbyqvre sbe n tbbq ovg ybatre, fb vg qbrfa'g dhvgr pbzr bss nf ure fhqqrayl rkcerffvat n jvfu, naq gura qbvat vg (frrvat nf gurer jnf ab jnl gb uvqr gung vg jnf Rbjla haqre gur uryzrg).

  19. Tauriel_ says:

    Be gung bar bs hf jvyy qvr va n yvggyr juvyr?

    Bu, Znex, Znex, lbh unir ab vqrn… :'(

  20. Hailey says:

    Oh MARK! You never cease to amaze!

    Anyway! This just occurred to me, but I think when you finally watch the movies, you should definitely go for the extended editions. I own all of them and without watching the extended editions a lot is really missed out on.

  21. stormwreath says:

    When Aragorn confronted Sauron in the palantír, he showed him his sword. Elendil's sword reforged. The very same sword that Isildur used to cut the Ring off Sauron's finger all those years ago. Do you wonder Sauron was unhappy at that, knowing the sword is back in the hands of Isildur's long-lost heir?

    (And yes, all that has been explained in earlier books.)

    ***

    Something I want to mention about Éowyn's dialogue here:

    "Yet I do not bid you flee from peril, but to ride out to battle where your sword may win renown and victory. I would not see a thing that is high and excellent cast away needlessly."

    "Nor would I. Therefore I say to you, lady: Stay! For you have no errand in the South."

    "Neither have those others who go with thee. They go only because they would not be parted from thee – because they love thee"

    All along, Éowyn and Aragorn have been addressing each other as 'you', which is the normal, formal polite English pronoun. But suddenly in that last sentence Éowyn starts calling Aragorn 'thou' – which in Early Modern English was the familiar, intimate pronoun you used for family members and lovers.

    Tolkien, of course, was a Professor of the English Language, so he knew exactly what he was doing with that. It's not just random "olde worlde" speech.

  22. castlewayjay says:

    many things I love in this chapter – I love the contrast between Pippin/Denethor and Merry/Theoden, each swearing their loyalty to a very different leader.
    Eowyn literally on her knees begging Aragorn to take her with him. I weep for her every single time I read this.
    and I always wish we knew Elrond's sons better. I bet they are swashbuckling and have left many heartbroken maidens in the wake of their adventures. which we will never know cause Tolkien didn't write them down. bitter.
    Love the reminder that the Rangers have been guarding the Shire. the little guys are worth it.

    and the dead followed…

  23. Time to ramble about… Eowyn! I love her so much, and here in this chapter is definitely a good place to talk about why.
    We see her here, gaurding Meduseld until Theoden can return, and when Aragorn appears, it's rather obvious that she admires him very much- possibly even loves him, if her words about why his friends are going with him are anything to go by. And I understand why she wants to go to war- she feels desperate and trapped by her position in Edoras, especially since she's seen her brother and her uncle go and participate in all the battles and engagements that she's been trained for. It would be horribly confining to have to watch the halls while they're away, but someone needs to do it. And technically Aragorn has a point- she accepted the position of guarding Edoras from Theoden, and Aragorn really doesn't have the authority to release her from that. And I think when he says that she has no errand in the south, he also has a point. Her reasons for going, while well and good up to a point, aren't really the best ones for which to risk her life, because glory is really only a sidenote in what's for the most part, carnage and tragedy. But I like that Tolkien doesn't ever seem to be dismissing or belittling Eowyn for thinking this- it's probably an attitude with which he had some experience and which he probably saw as more sorrowful than anything else.

    But for Eowyn, how can she be expected to see things that way when she's never actually seen a battlefield? I believe her completely when she says she's not afraid of death, but she's never seen people's limbs get hacked off or their guts spilling out- I think she's just not quite seeing the larger picture when it comes to where the glory of war truly lies. It's not necessarily in the song. It's those who struggle on, and fight, and go through hell without any hope of seeing the next hour. But for her to want only the song and the honor is completely understandable, since all she's seen to this point is her relatives going off and winning honor for themselves. And I think for her, she's having a very hard time seeing what the point of her staying at Edoras is when no one else seems to care or even have a hope of coming back. Which is something I can really relate to, having gone through some really similar times where absolutely nothing seems worthwhile. I understand why she wants what she does, and I feel awful for what she's going through. It doesn't make her reasons right, but nor does it make them any easier for her to bear.

  24. settledforhistory says:

    Oh god, this review. I'm giggling like an idiot and I'm still at work, fortunately my colleagues aren't here at the moment.
    This is so beautiful, this honestly made my day.
    Can you do this for all the chapters, for all the books, Mark? I want to see this in theaters!

    Anyway, I liked that Merry and Eowyn's situations are so similar, both feel that they can't really help fighting this war. Merry really misses Pippin and he has no idea how to help out.
    Eowyn though knows exactly how to help, but Aragorn won't let her leave because of her duty to Rohan. She is a great character and she wants in on the action and heroics, so let her Aragorn!
    What good is she in Rohan if all the men die in the war? And how hard is it to be left behind when your whole family leaves and may never come back?
    I want her to fight, that would be so awesome!

    It's funny that now both Merry and Pippin are real warriors, though in different parts of Middle-earth and in the service of really different lords. Merry and Theoden are so adorable, a complete contrast to Pippin's situation. I'm worried for both hobbits, their lives are getting much more serious now.

    The Path of the Dead, nice. We already have the Dead Marshes and now we get a Path of ghosts.
    Middle-earth sure has it's share of unbelievably creepy places. I mean even Gimli gets scared.
    I love that Legolas is completely at ease "I'm not scared of the dead". Is there anything that elves fear?
    How can the dead help in the war? What is that standard Arwen sent Aragorn?
    This is so exciting, I already love this book.

  25. Mandy says:

    Mark you are so PRECIOUS!
    i love so much to read your reviews! I'm laughing so hard, I think I'm gonna read this review again. 😀

  26. Icarus says:

    "Also, it’s really not that clear why me being Isildur’s heir is all that important, but I’m sure it relies on some minuscule detail from 450 pages ago."

    Sauron lives in the past? He's old so….

    It's probably in The Shadow of the Past, when Gandalf tells Frodo about the ring. Everything else is. Gandalf seems to have a done a "just in case I die" data dump.

  27. rubyjoo says:

    Let's hear it for the Dunadain! Two of them appeared when Frodo and Sam met Faramir and they were set to guard them – but I don't remember anyone mentioning them. Mark hasn't mentioned them properly either (except for naming Halbarad) and yet here are 30 of them, the Grey Company, willing to follow Aragorn on the Paths of the Dead. "Stout men and lordly they are, and the Riders of Rohan look almost as boys beside them."

    We see the PotD through Gimli's eyes and it's all the scarier because of it. If the way underground almost defeats Gimli, then you can imagine just how really, REALLY scary it must be. I've almost been left behind in a cave system when the people with the torches went on ahead and I lost them. Panic mode!!! I empathise, Gimli!

    We see Aragorn at his finest here, a real leader of men: "Then Aragorn led the way, and such was the strength of his will in that hour that all the Dunadain and their horses followed him." And, again: "…and only his will held them to go on."

  28. lexypoo says:

    "HALBARAD: OH, BY ISILDUR’S BANE, IT’S YOU! LET US HUG UNTIL WE FALL TO THE GROUND AND THEN LET’S ROLL AROUND SOME, TOO."

    LOL hot.

  29. msw188 says:

    Hahaha, I'm just glad Mark stuck with the line "Wake up, Master Sluggard." I'm also glad he considers this Act 345. Like, there's been a LOT of acts so far. Does anyone even remember how fun it was to say BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR anymore?

  30. msw188 says:

    Oh, and although I can certainly see Eowyn as being immature here, I still think she is fully justified at being pissed at being left out of all the fun stuff, regardless of how she feels about Aragorn. And then that last scene before they leave for the Paths, and she literally begs Aragorn to take her, well, it pretty much breaks my heart, and I can't read it any other way.

  31. Kiryn says:

    And Theoden, be still my heart, you just jumped onto my favorites list…fulfilling your promise to sit next to Merry and talk to him…and everything…. <3

    Naq ntnva, njrfbzr pbagenfg jvgu Qrargube gung jr whfg fnj va gur ynfg puncgre…

  32. fantasy_fan says:

    ZREEL: Jryy, V srry hfryrff evtug abj. V fhccbfr V’yy whfg fgnaq urer jvgu zl fjbeq.
    YRTBYNF: Lbh’er abg hfryrff! Lbh’er whfg abg hfrshy evtug abj.

    BX, fb Yrtbynf qbrfa'g npghnyyl fnl nalguvat yvxr gung va gur obbx. Fb gung zrnaf, Znex vf orvat ntnva fgenatryl cerfpvrag. Zreel jvyy or irel, irel hfrshy va n yvggyr juvyr.

  33. monkeybutter says:

    YESSSSS MORE LORDS AND STUFF

    My heart is warmed by the knowledge that you were as delighted by Master Sluggard and the appearance of thirty scruffy, stout Rangers as I was.

    ‘What do you fear, lady?’ he asked.
    ‘A cage,’ she said. ‘To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.’

    The best. I love Éowyn, and her part of the chapter was the most touching. There's so much passion in her exchanges with Aragorn. Still, ÉOWYN OUT and Your face is butts are beautiful additions to the text.

  34. SteelMagnolia80 says:

    "Your face is butts."

    … SERIOUSLY??? I died. Mark, I'm adding this to my Funniest Lines to Use When I Have Nothing Else. It joins Scrubs' "So's your face." Apparently I like face comments. They amuse me.

  35. James says:

    I don't find Theoden's comment weird or ominous or anything. I mean, it has the potential to be, but I always read it as eventually we'll part ways, whether it's by death or Merry going back to the Shire, because assuming he survives, that's what he'd want to do. Theoden's happy to have a close relationship with Merry, he's just smart enough to know that, however things turn out, it's not going to be for a long time.

    Also, Halbarad is my bro and all of the love for Eowyn because she is the best forever.

  36. lexypoo says:

    HALBARAD: You want to go WHERE? You're shitting me…

    ARAGORN: I shit you not.

  37. Wheelrider says:

    Another one for the list of memorable lines.

  38. They should film this story and show it every Christmas.

  39. BetB says:

    My favorite parts were Mark's misspelling of Edoras (Eldoras!?!?). I kept thinking of a Eowyn riding in a pink Cadillac Eldorado instead of on a horse.

    [youtube aeGUE8dS5LY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeGUE8dS5LY youtube]

    Also, Halbadar? chuckle…

    "ARAGORN: Well, I mean I thought lots of manly and totally heterosexual thoughts about y’all, but it’s not like I can make wishes come true. So no, that has nothing to do with me."

    Yes, he does come across as a manly heterosexual guy, doesn't he?

    "Also, it’s really not that clear why me being Isildur’s heir is all that important, but I’m sure it relies on some minuscule detail from 450 pages ago."

    You can be that detail was in one of the big info dumps! 450 pages may be about right. Qvqa'g jr whfg ebg13 nyy bire gur cynpr nobhg Tnaqnys gryyvat Cvccra gur Xvat vf ergheavat gb fhccynag Qrargube? Fbzrqnl fbba vg jvyy pyvpx sbe uvz, be vf ur gebyyvat hf?

    "ARAGORN: Look, one day we may need you, but for now, your duty is in –

    ÉOWYN: THE KITCHEN.

    ARAGORN: No, I was –

    ÉOWYN: YOU WERE GOING TO SAY IT. I KNOW YOU WERE. YOU BIGOT.

    ARAGORN: No, I swear –"

    Thank you for a satisfying reaction to this scene! I LOVE it! <3

    I could go on and on! I'm still chuckling…

  40. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    We jump back in time again, to see what the remainder of the Company has been doing since the end of “The Palantír”. They meet Aragorn’s Ranger buddies from the North, and Aragorn decides to take the Paths of the Dead to Gondor, and see if he can recruit an army of ghosts along the way. (It’s interesting that Aragorn apparently knows the way, even though there have been no living travelers on that road for thousands of years.) Gimli and Legolas go with them; Merry stays with Théoden and his men.

    As this chapter is taking place, Gandalf and Pippin ride to Minas Tirith; Frodo and Sam come to Ithilien, meet Faramir, visit Henneth Annûn, and begin their journey to the Cross‐Roads.

  41. Kudz says:

    Well, if no one else is going to be nitpicky, I'm on it:

    Éowyn is actually Théoden's niece (his sister-daughter), not his daughter.

  42. edinburghlook says:

    ARMY OF ZOMBIES, MARK. You were SO PREPARED!

  43. BornIn1142 says:

    Theoden is fairly old at this point, isn't he? I assume he had his age in mind with that "for a little while."

  44. LarrikJ says:

    So many errors! :)

    Isildur is responsible for ending Sauron's reign initially (along with his father). Clearly Sauron should be concerned about another.

    I also believe you used Isildur's name in a few more places than he belongs (I don't recall him having a ton to do with the initial treaty with the Dead, for instance).

    Also, Eowyn is not Theoden's daughter, but I believe his niece (he calls her his sister-daughter, and Eomer his sister-son, I'm assuming that means "of my sister" and not something else).

    This review was super epic, though.

  45. clodia_risa says:

    You have captured the pure essence of Eowyn and why she is one of the greatest characters ever created. And this was written how long ago? I cannot explain how much she spoke to me as a teenager.

  46. JustMalyn says:

    PLEASE DO THESE REVIEWS MORE OFTEN. "I piss on my duty!"
    And the bromance between Aragorn and Halbarad, and just everything.

    EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL AND NOTHING HURTS.

  47. ZeynepD says:

    Vg jnf.

  48. etherealclarity says:

    I have not been commenting on MarkReads because, well, I wasn't that big of a Lord of the Rings fan. I got 42 pages into the Hobbit before giving up. Later I attempted to read these three after I watched the movies, but I still never finished… gave up mid way through the last book.

    But Mark… if you wrote a version of Lord of the Rings that was exactly like today's review, I would read the whole thing cover to cover because that shit was HILARIOUS and AWESOME.

  49. Mark, if you could rewrite EVERYTHING I HAVE EVER READ OR WILL READ in this format, I would pay you big money. Brilliant!

    NICOLE OUT.

  50. stefb4 says:

    One correction Mark: Eowyn is Theoden's NIECE, NOT his daughter. She and Eomer are brother and sister, and they were raised by their uncle.

    I see that mistake alot and why it's easy to make, but for some reason it bothers me more than other things lol

  51. jne says:

    Brilliant Mark! ÉOWYN OUT.

  52. Delta1212 says:

    In Mordor, you kill men dead.

    In Soviet Gondor, dead men kill you!

  53. mangoface says:

    I WANT TO MARRY GALADRIEL TOO.

  54. Tul says:

    The dialogue between Éowyn and Aragorn is the best part of this chapter, as far as I am concerned. So well done! But, really, I feel like Aragorn greatly mishandled this. He just sounds SO patronizing with her, treating her like a capricious child.

    1) She expressed great worry about him going through the Paths of the Dead, convinced he’s going to his death. Why doesn’t he take 3 seconds to explain to her the reason he thinks he might be able to do it? It might have made her feel just a little better. More hopeful.
    2) Jul qvq ur abg zragvba Nejra? Fur’f orra tvivat uvagf fur jnf vagrerfgrq va uvz, ur pbhyq unir znqr vg pyrne ur jnf gnxra, whfg va pnfr, vafgrnq bs gryyvat ure guvatf yvxr “ab zna jbhyq pbhag fhpu n wbhearl [=gb fcrnx jvgu ure] jnfgrq”. Vg jbhyq unir nibvqrq ure gb srry crefbanyyl erwrpgrq.
    3) He compares himself to her, saying that they must all do their duty and he doesn’t like it any more than her. Except *he* got to decide what his duty is. He chose to fight this war and attempt to claim the kingship. No one orders him around.
    In Éowyn’s case, her whole life has been dictated to her by men, who gave her the tasks they deemed appropriate for her. She tells him she felt reduced to a dry-nurse, while she could be much more. Because of her gender, she never had a choice, but she obeyed without protest nonetheless for years. Now, it has just become too much for her, she’s tired.
    Their situation are *not* the same.
    4) When she asks if she may not decide herself for once what she should be doing, he answers that ‘few may do that with honor’. Worded like that, it sort of implies he doubts she would make the honorable choice if left on her own, which seems rather unfair, since she is only asking for the right to do her part in this war as Aragorn is doing his: by fighting instead of waiting behind.
    5) He says that if she wants to fight, she can wait: if all is lost she will be allowed to do a last stand in defense of their home, even if no one will know of it. Really the greatest consolation prize ever!
    He doesn’t even try to convince her that her task is worthy one. Éowyn just wants to be active.
    6) ‘All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honor, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more.’ He doesn’t deny this, nor does he give it any heed. He changes the subject, asking her irrelevant questions instead.
    7) During all the discussion, she opens her heart to him, tells him about how she is living (and has been living for a long time) her greatest nightmare: being a prisoner. He doesn’t once acknowledge this. He doesn’t recognize her situation is in the least unfair. He keeps changing the subject and he chides her for not being dutiful enough. I think that even if he doesn’t agree with her he could have shown a little more sympathy before her desperation.
    8) ‘I would not see a thing that is high and excellent cast away needlessly’
    ‘Nor would I,’ he said. ‘Therefore I say to you, lady: Stay! For you have no errand to the South.’
    ‘Neither have those others who go with thee.

    I rather agree with Éowyn. Why would her going to war be a waste if it isn’t for her brother or Aragorn’s friends? Because she is a woman and her part is in the house? ^^
    9) What Éowyn wanted most was recognition and freedom. He essentially tells her she belongs to her uncle and brother.

    I really feel he just contributed to make things worse for her with this attitude. I understand the points he was trying to make, but mostly I believe he botched it. Well, I know that I, at least, would have felt even more frustrated with my life after this. Really, she answers all his arguments, trying hard to make him understand her viewpoint before giving up.

    Oh and, remember the scene where she was given that very honorable and important duty? It went a little like this:
    – Théoden: Oh I forgot! Someone should stay behind to take care of the people.
    – Nobody answers.
    – Théoden: Come on, I need someone. Name anybody.
    – Háma: We trust in the House of Eorl.
    – Théoden: But I can’t go without Éomer!
    – Háma: You forget the very existence of Éowyn. (It’s not like if she spent the five past years or so taking care of your old decaying self!)
    – Théoden: Well, if that’s what you want, why not? Let it be Éowyn!
    So it really seems like she’s being gifted the tasks no one else wants. Actually her uncle initially doesn’t even include her in his plan at all, until Hama points out that she can do something. I really feel sorry for her.

    Edit: Sorry if this feels a little muddled. Wrote it quickly.

  55. arctic_hare says:

    "ARAGORN: You will find peace if you serve me and rid this land of the servents of Gondor. "

    ARAGORN YOU DAMN TRAITOR GTFO

    xD

    Er, just had to. LOL. I LOVE THE PLAY FORMAT! <3 I was super-excited to see it return and you did NOT disappoint!

    Srs stuff:

    – Oh, Merry. :( He's missing Pippin so much, just as Pippin is missing him, and now he's entered into the service of a lord too. Personally, I think Merry got the better one, but that's just me – Denethor is not coming off as being terribly nice right now, while Theoden is kindly and awesome. I <3 Theoden. I don't think his "for a short while" statement is that odd, actually; he's an old man who en't getting any younger, and they're about to ride off into a battle from which they may never return, plus Merry will probably want to go back to the Shire afterwards if they do survive. I think it's not dislike on Theoden's part for Merry, but grim, resigned knowledge of the terrible battles ahead. It all looks pretty hopeless from his POV, so I can't fault him for being a bit pessimistic, morbid even. That's how the line reads to me, anyway.

    – Speaking of battles, Merry also feels like baggage, much as Pippin did earlier, which breaks my heart. The image he gets in his head as the strangers ride up to meet them, of himself being lost in the wilderness all alone, the only survivor of an attack he thinks might be imminent, is so chillingly sad and awful. Poor Merry! He's so brave and so sad here, with everyone leaving him like this. First he almost got left behind in the Shire, then almost left behind in Rivendell, then Frodo and Sam left, and Boromir died and he got kidnapped, then Pippin and Gandalf took off, and now Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas are leaving him behind too.

    – The trip through the Paths of the Dead is the kind of creepy I really dig. I know what it's like to have that sense that someone – or something – is behind you, and to be followed by it through such dark tunnels? SUPER CREEPY. LOVE IT. <3

    – Saving the best for last: EOWYN. Oh, how I adore her. <3 I feel so bad for her – she hates being left behind all the time (just like Merry) to do a duty she doesn't want to do. There's value, of course, in what she's been assigned to do, and a great need for it, but it's not something she desires to do. Moreover, I think that the task she's supposed to be doing, while greatly important, is undervalued by the people of Rohan. They seem to place higher value on glory in battle and having songs sung of you. Eowyn values that too, and wants it for herself. I think she definitely has a point when she says that her gender is why she's getting this treatment. Aragorn is right about not having the authority to release her from her duties, on the other hand. It's a tricky situation. Plus the books have never put forth the idea that battle is this glorious wonderful thing to be prized: it's a terrible thing, full of horrors, so there's a feeling to me of Eowyn and the rest of the Rohirrim having misplaced priorities.

    That doesn't stop me from feeling deeply for her, or wanting her to be able to go off into battle as she desires. She may wish it for the wrong reasons – compare it with Faramir's statements about valuing not the sword, but the people it protects – but it doesn't make her wishes any less valid or undermine the good she could do. It's her life, she should be able to do with it as she pleases. I don't think she should go with Aragorn, as that would be severely irresponsible, but when Theoden returns she should speak with him and make her case for being released from this duty, and be allowed to go with them if she wishes. BASICALLY I LOVE HER AND I WANT TO SEE HER GET A CHANCE TO BE BADASS BECAUSE I LOVE BADASS FEMALE CHARACTERS MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN FICTION. <3

  56. Flowerry Pott says:

    LET US HUG UNTIL WE FALL TO THE GROUND AND THEN LET’S ROLL AROUND SOME, TOO.

    Oh, thank you so much Mark! That made me spit out my corn flakes! 😀

  57. Noybusiness says:

    I really like this script!

  58. @RadagastWiz says:

    The biggest point I always take from this chapter and the one previous, is that Pippin and Merry, independent of each other, each swear their sword and service to a head of state of a power foreign to them. I guess they really are two peas in a pod.

  59. blossomingpeach says:

    I don't think I've seen this mentioned before, and forgive me if it's redundant. It's off-topic, but only a little?

    I noticed at theonering.net they're having a Middle-Earth March Madness Competition, and want help narrowing down their original list to a list of 32 for a bracket.

    Go vote for your favorite Tolkien characters!!
    http://www.theonering.net/torwp/2012/02/22/53759-

    It's not overly spoilery (just a list of names, most of whom have been mentioned already), but I wouldn't go over there unless I'd already finished LOTR and The Hobbit at least.

  60. GamgeeFest says:

    I'm at work… and people are staring at me… because I'm laughing so hard! Excellent review, bro! LOVE TO ALL OF IT!

    And all the hugs for Merry.

  61. thimbledore says:

    ÉOWYN: Your face is butts.

    Between that and all the flat "what"s , I laughed the top button of my pants open. WELL DONE, MARK. I am glad it didn't pop off. XDDDD That's what I get for eating a big ol' bagel sandwich for lunch!

  62. bugeye says:

    I loved the “mind fight” comment last chapter between Denethor and Gandalf. We have also witnessed another mind fight between Saruman and Gandalf. In both cases Gandalf won but it was a struggle, and the antagonists were on a pretty level playing field. So a Steward of the race of Numenor can go mano-a-mano with a wizard. In this chapter we have Aragorn in a mind fight with fucking freaking Sauron and who blinks first.

    The race of the Lords of the West, the men of Numenor are different. Aragorn is the heir of this race and Tolkien spends a lot of time in LotR and his other works on this back story. Bloodlines, DNA if you will, are important in this world. Aragorn has the DNA to use the Stone, wield the Sword, and call the dead. We only see him as a friend of Gandalf, of elves, kind/unkind to hobbits and Eowyn. We do not value his lineage or position, or even care what this means until we, like Sauron, are hit in the face with it. He has is a responsibility, a duty and he will either die or have his life irrevocably changed.

    He too carries a burden.

  63. Rassilauren says:

    So, I have a confession to make. I had read The Lord of the Rings before I saw the movies. So had my dad. But when it got to the part about the ghosts, neither of us could remember it.

  64. Tiffany says:

    I have only one thing to say about the awesome that is this review:

    Just you wait, Mark, you are SO UNPREPARED.

    “V nz ab zna!”

  65. eyelessgame says:

    I always figured Eowyn had a good point, when Aragorn told her she might see battle after all, as the home guard. "All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your place is in the home. But when men have died in honor and glory, you have leave to be burned in the home, for the men will need it no more." Buuuuurn.

  66. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    ZOMBIES

    FUCK, Y'ALL. I TOTALLY KNEW IT.

    i mean half zombies but whatever.

  67. Aris Katsaris says:

    Tolkien had originally drafted an even nastier (but quite amusing) response by Aragorn to Gimli: "What did you fear the I should say to him? That I have here a rascal of a rebel dwarf, that I would gladly exchange for a serviceable orc?" before deleting the second sentence when he revised the text.

  68. rubyjoo says:

    I'm sorry if I've missed this is any one else's post but Aragorn's decision to look into the Palantir is right for a number of reasons. Although it means that Sauron might take action a bit more quickly (bad news), the good news is that he has drawn the Eye away from Frodo. Sauron now thinks that Aragorn has the Ring and is really concerned because he knows that Aragorn might have the strength to wield it. Aragorn has made the decision on behalf of the Men of the West, rightly or wrongly, (and I think rightly), that they must take the flak of an early attack in order to give the Ring-bearer a chance.

    The other thing is, he has seen a danger from the South in the stone and this is what prompts him to take the Paths of the Dead as the only way to counter this: "A grave peril I saw coming unlooked-for upon Gondor from the South that will draw off great strength from the defence of Minas Tirith." The only way to save MT from destruction is to get to the coastlands through the PotD and thereby try to put an end to this threat. Well done, Aragorn, and well done all those who believe in him enough to go with him!

  69. notemily says:

    This chapter is when we see that, despite there being approximately three named women in Middle-earth (that was hyperbole please don't correct me), one of them is actually consciously trying to break out of her gendered role, and I have to give Tolkien props for that. Eowyn is awesomesauce. Aragorn is trying to get her to stay by telling her she has an important job she has to do protecting her people, and she's like "funny how I'm always the one stuck with that job while the MEN go off and fight." She seems fully capable of fighting alongside the other Riders but because she's a woman, she's supposed to stay behind and take care of the house. And she's fully aware of this and pissed off about it. I love her.

    [Lbh xabj ubj Gbyxvra onfvpnyyl vairagrq gur zbqrea snagnfl traer? V'ir orra ernqvat gur Nynaan obbxf yngryl naq V pna qrsvavgryl frr gur frrqf sbe Nynaan va Rbjla. V xabj vg'f orra qbar fb znal gvzrf ohg "tvey qerffrf hc nf obl va beqre gb qb guvatf jbzra nera'g nyybjrq gb qb" vf bar bs zl nyy-gvzr snibevgr gebcrf.]

    I love how they make this huge deal out of Aragorn's banner, and then when it's unfurled you… can't see what's on it. "behold! it was black, and if there was any device upon it, it was hidden in the darkness." Hee. Behold! Nothing!

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