Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King’: Chapter 4

In the fourth chapter of The Return of the King, this is severely fucked up and upsetting. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


It’s now more clear than ever that this book has both World War I and World War II as an influence. The sheer weight of war hangs heavy upon those in Minas Tirith, and Tolkien’s experiences with those wars is the unspoken subtext to this chapter. There is virtually no joy to be found in this chapter, and it’s a constant reminder of how disposable people can be during wartime, even if we don’t intend them to be. But it’s also a way for Tolkien to tell us that we can’t ignore the Dark Lord and Mordor anymore. They are not a distant threat. They’re not a tale on the tongue of travelers, or a rumor born of fear, or even a deliver from a messenger.

They’re here. And this is fucked up.

One of the ways that Tolkien conveys the atmosphere in this chapter is through the behavior of the characters involved. Aside from Pippin and Beregond, there is not one character that isn’t snappy, rude, condescending, angry, or frustrated. Warfare is a mental blight as much as it is a physical one, and I will forever be impressed with how this author is able to show me how an entire city turns to despair. Things start off this way with Gandalf. We’ve never seen him so impatient. Even typing that, it sort of feels wrong. The dude has waited years to see things materialize in the past, so how can you call someone like that “impatient”? Gandalf’s impatience materializes whenever he talks with Pippin. He’s short with the hobbit, and rarely engages him beyond a couple minutes or so. He’s occupied with the oncoming siege of Gondor, so much so that he kind of comes across as an asshole a few times. I get it, though, and I’m not pissed off at Gandalf, especially in the last third of the chapter when Denethor gives up and Gandalf is left to run the show. Who wouldn’t be frustrated by the events at Minas Tirith?

Denethor, however, is far more rude to Pippin, and it’s a sign in the beginning that he is unraveling. By the time he loses his focus at the end of the chapter, we get a chance to experience how brilliantly Tolkien set up this character arc from the very first moment we met him. (And I know that John Noble, who plays the lovely Walter Bishop on Fringe, portrays Denethor in the film, and I CANNOT FUCKING WAIT TO SEE HIM IN THIS ROLE.) He’s a man obsessed with his own power in a way, and he also clearly seems to favor one son over the other. Which also proves to be his downfall, I might add.

But I’ll get to that. Pippin’s assigned to basically be Denethor’s right hand man, and he’s soon set off to be clad in his new gear. I admit that there’s something adorable about Pippin wearing soldier’s gear, and I kind of wanted to see it REALLY BADLY. Then I read this and regretted that feeling:

In some other time and place Pippin might have been pleased with his new array, but he knew now that he was taking part in no play; he was in deadly earnest the servant of a grim master in the greatest peril. The hauberk was burdensome, and the helm weighed upon his head.

Pippin never really wanted this, and it’s kind of terrifying to think he might have to fight in this war, so far away from home. This whole culture in Minas Tirith is so unlike his own, too, and it gives him this innate sense of loneliness. Gandalf isn’t really frustrated at him as he his frustrated with life, and all of this is just too much to handle. Where are any of his friends? Are they still alive? How can a little hobbit fight a war with such monstrous and gigantic creatures? Of course, I can’t ignore the haunting reference to Tolkien’s experience with war either, and it gives the passage an unsettling vibe. UGH I LOVE THIS WRITING SO MUCH.

When the Black Riders chase Faramir towards the city and Gandalf heeds them off, the chapter constantly one-ups itself. Oh, what’s worse than the last reveal? THIS ONE. I was so happy that Faramir returned (and, admittedly, to read about Gandalf using magic HE IS SO BADASS) that I was extra dismayed that everything that followed it was AN UTTER DISASTER. Seriously, that moment when Faramir realized there was another hobbit in his city was so cute, and then IT’S ALL RUINED.

Because how am I supposed to feel good about this moment during Faramir Story Time?

As his story was unfolded of his meeting with Frodo and his servant and of the events at Henneth Annûn, Pippin became aware that Gandalf’s hands were trembling as they clutched the carven wood. While they seemed now and very old, and as he looked at them, suddenly with a thrill of fear Pippin knew that Gandalf, Gandalf himself, was troubled, even afraid.

Fuck. Gandalf is afraid? Does he know what’s at the top of Cirith Ungol? He has to know. Why else would it upset him so much? Does he know about Shelob??? WHY IS EVERYTHING BAD AND NEGATIVE AND NOT GOOD? Yet in hindsight, this isn’t even that bad. Nearly every plot twist and development that comes after this one is pretty much worse than the one before it. For example, there are few things more awkward in this book than Denethor’s argument with Faramir. I know exactly what it is like to feel like your parents treat you differently than your siblings, and that’s what happens here. Denethor treats Faramir with such a bizarre bout of disrespect. I get that he is grieving Boromir’s death, but that doesn’t mean you have to insult your own son as he heads out for battle. It’s with this idea – that Faramir hasn’t pleased or honored his own father – that Faramir believes he’s got to win his father’s respect.

It’s honestly a disaster, and I can’t imagine how Pippin feels in all of this, silently standing behind Denethor and watching as Gandalf, Denethor, and Faramir bicker. I think it’s possible that whatever that gloom is in the sky, it can actually affect the feelings of those in Minas Tirith. The threat of war is so close, so I don’t doubt it’s grating on everyone’s nerves, either. Denethor wants to protect himself and his city. It’s natural for him, then, to question those around him. So I understand why he clashes so much with Gandalf. However, the man is so positive he knows what’s best that he can’t see the errors he might be making. I mean, Denethor’s hypothetical plan for the Ring is certainly way more awful than what Gandalf did with it. OH GOD SAM IS WEARING THE RING FFFFUUUUUUU.

It’s just a mess, honestly. Faramir departs in a haste the next day, after a night of doubt and fear. No one is in a good mood. Even Gandalf expresses some doubt privately to Pippin, but he seems to be the only character here who holds on to the tiniest shred of hope for the future. Truthfully, I don’t blame anyone. It’s here that the waiting begins, and it is agonizing to read. Most of the time, the citizens of Minas Tirith must hope that the messenger who returns brings good news. He doesn’t. There’s news of retreats. of advancing enemy forces, and of doom. Gandalf even takes it upon himself to head out to assist Faramir’s men and bring back those who are wounded. Still, it’s not enough to quell the fear of anyone. THIS IS SO FUCKED UP. And then the Lord of the Nazgûl is on his way, too? Oh, this will be a grand time.

I think that one of the more unsettling and upsetting images that Tolkien provides is the start of the siege on Gondor. The fact that Pippin can see both the retreating forces and the oncoming enemy is so creepy to me. The siege, as sudden as it starts, is never truly a surprise. You can see it as it arrives. When it does come, it’s yet another chance to Tolkien to show us how well he can write thrilling action scenes. What’s different about this one, though, is that it felt even worse than the battle of Helm’s Deep. That progressed to a point where I feared loss, but this one starts that way. As the Nazgûl swoop down upon the retreat and the Orcs lay siege to everything in front of them, I expected disaster right from the beginning.

So Tolkien obliges me and hands me disaster.

Last of all he came. His men passed in. The mounted kings returned, and at their rear the banner of Dol Amroth, and the Prince. And in his arms before him on his horse he bore the body of his kinsman, Faramir son of Denethor, found upon the stricken field.

Oh, fuck you, Tolkien. This is the start of the siege, and this is what you give me? Well, this is going to be terrible, isn’t it? There was a slight burst of joy when I found out that Faramir wasn’t actually dead, but for the rest of the chapter, Tolkiend finds a way to give us a plot twist that’s pretty much worse than death on the battlefield. I don’t feel the need to summarize the siege itself to y’all, since you’re all familiar with it and the TERROR IT BRINGS. With no help from the Rohan, with no troops on the Pelennor, and with no hope of any miracle, the enemy begins to set up outside the city and they set up catapults and then there is a hail of fire and then this is just awful and terrible and I just started to wait anxiously for someone else to die. Oh, right, and this:

The Nazgûl came again, and as their Dark Lord now grew and put forth his strength, so their voices, which uttered only his will and his malice, were filled with evil and horror. Ever they circled above the City, like vultures that expect their fill of doomed men’s flesh. Out of sight and shot they flew, and yet were ever present, and their deadly voices rent the air. More unbearable they became, not less, at each new cry. At length even the stout-hearted would fling themselves to the ground as the hidden menace passed over them, or they would stand, letting their weapons fall from nerveless hands while into their minds a blackness came, and they thought no more of war; but only of hiding and of crawling, and of death.

Thank you. Thank you for this. I feel fantastic. I am brimming with hope.

This despair that settles over the city affects no one more than Denethor, who refuses to leave his dying son’s side. Because of this, Gandalf, the eternal badass, TAKES CONTROL OF THE DEFENSE. Oh my god, YOU ARE A WONDERFUL SOUL. I can’t even imagine what a fierce force that wizard is while in charge of all these men, and I love that he doesn’t even ask to be in charge. Unfortunately, the reason for that is IMMENSELY FUCKING DISTURBING. Denethor, having given up all hope, begins talking about his own pyre, breaking Pippin’s required servitude and telling him to leave. I believed at first that he was just saying that he knew the city would fall and that they would all die. But Denethor’s servants take Faramir’s dying body to Fen Hollen, a room for funerals. He’s not dead yet? So… what are you doing?

‘But do not send for the embalmers. Bring us wood quick to burn, and lay it all about us, and beneath; and pour oil upon it. And when I bid you thrust in a torch. Do this and speak no more to me. Farewell!’

WHAT THE HOLY FUCK. WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?! Denethor, what are you doing????? You’re going to kill your son and yourself in a FUNERAL PYRE? Naturally, Pippin freaks the fuck out at this because why the fuck wouldn’t you? So brave little Pippin runs down to the battle itself to find Gandalf, yet when he does, something else happens that pretty much puts the imminent death of Faramir and Denethor to shame: Grond.

I can’t. I can’t even deal with all of this. It’s a hundred-foot-long battering ram. And it takes just four rams before the Gate to Minas Tirith crumbles, and the Lord of the Nazgûl is the first to enter the city.


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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335 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King’: Chapter 4

  1. Dreamflower says:

    Well, the first thing I noticed in this re-read is that I've been remembering the title for this chapter incorrectly; for years I've been imagining it as "The Siege of Minas Tirith" instead. Shows how much attention I pay to the chapter headings when I'm reading I tend to plunge straight into the story!

    Poor Pippin, he is really feeling very much out of place here, even though he has pledged his allegiance to Denethor. And it must be all that much harder when it's quite clear that Denethor does not truly value his service. I've always thought that he took Pippin's oath more to annoy Gandalf than for any real reason of valuing anything Pippin could do for him.

    I do love the image of him looking very smart in his Gondorian livery. I used to get horribly frustrated trying to draw that as a teen. It never came out right.
    (Juvpu vf jul V jnf fb guevyyrq gb frr vg va gur zbivrf– ur ybbxrq fb fcyraqvq jvgu gur nezbe naq gur juvgr gerr ba uvf fhepbng!)

    The "second hour" would probably have been about two hours after sunrise if the sun had been visible. I assume the Gondorians had other methods of tracking the hours– perhaps bells as they did in the middle ages– and he is kept on duty until the eleventh hour, so he had about a nine-hour shift without a break.

    Faramir! I love Gandalf going out and chasing away the Nazgul! He really is showing much more of his power now than he did when he was the Grey!

    Bar bs zl snibevgr zbivr zbzragf vf gung oevrs vafgnag va juvpu Cvccva ernyvmrf gung Snenzve unf frra Sebqb naq Fnz fgvyy nyvir. Gur ybbx bs hggre wbl ba uvf snpr vf nofbyhgryl fuvavat! Naq ur ybbxf fb irel, irel lbhat ng gung zbzrag– n terng grfgnzrag gb Ovyyl Oblq'f npgvat fxvyyf!

    From here on out, Denethor just goes down and down in my estimation. I know that there are many Denethor apologists who point out his many good qualities, but for me– first his cavalier treatment of Pippin did not go down well, then his berating Faramir in a way that makes it clear that he's always preferred Boromir, and then finally his totally giving up to despair and deciding not only to end it all for himself but for Faramir too just cements my dislike of him.

    Thankfully Pippin didn't give up!

    And the end of the chapter– is there such a thing as a "good" cliffie? Because if there is one, it is this moment when the cock crows and the horns of Rohan are heard!

    Oh– I almost forgot this part:

    "So it was that Gandalf took command of the last defence of the City of Gondor. Wherever he came men's hearts would lift again, and the winged shadows pass from memory."

    V nz pbaivaprq gung urer jr ner frrvat n hfr bs Aneln! Gur evat bs sver jnf fhccbfrq gb xvaqyr zra'f urnegf.

    • flootzavut says:

      Buuuu lrnu V guvax lbh zhfg or evtug nobhg Aneln! Gung'f fb pbb gb abgvpr gurfr guvatf 😀

      V nofbhgryl nterr nobhg frrvat Cvccva va uvf trne, naq nobhg Ovyyl'f whfg nofbyhgryl tbetrbhfyl snagnfgvp npgvat nf Cvccva. Ur jnf fbbbbb cresrpg va gung ebyr. Vg qbrfa'g znggre ubj znal gvzrf V jngpu gung zbivr be erzvaq zlfrys gung ur jnf va uvf 30f, V'z nyjnlf nofbyhgryl pbaivaprq ol uvf Cvccva naq ubj lbhat ur vf. Nabgure zbzrag bs n cresrpg ernpgvba VZB vf jura ur unf fhpprffshyyl yvg gur ornpba – gurer'f guvf zbzrag bs "Lnl!" V'ir qbar vg!" sbyybjrq irel fjvsgyl ol "Bu penc, V'z fgnaqvat ba fbzrguvat GUNG VF OHEAVAT, ubj qb V trg qbja??" naq vg'f whfg n ybiyyl ovg bs npgvat. Buuuu V nz evqvphybhfyl sbaq bs Ovyyl nf Cvccva <3

      Pippin really shows his mettle in this chapter, he could so easily (and forgiveably) have cowered in a corner, he's so small, he has no experience of war or fighting, he has no idea what's going on with his friends, Faramir is in serious trouble, Gandalf is tetchy as hell, and yet he sees that something must be done and he tries his damndest to do it, no matter what. Pippin rocks! <3

      • Dreamflower says:

        Bu, naq va gur RR, jura ur fb gubhtugshyyl cbhef gung phc bs jngre naq gnxrf vg bhg gb Tnaqnys jura Tnaqnys pbhtuf. Gbgnyyl hanfxrq sbe freivpr orpnhfr ur ybirf Tnaqnys. N ornhgvshy zbzrag gung nyjnlf znxrf zr fzvyr naq guvax uvf zbgure jbhyq or cebhq. Cnynqva naq Rtynagvar envfrq n svar lbhat uboovg.

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Yes yes and yes!

        Ovyyl cynlrq Cvccva fb cresrpgyl. V'z pbagvahnyyl va njr ng ubj jryy gurl qvq jvgu gur pnfgvat sbe gurfr zbivrf, naq gung'f abg n fznyy gnfx, jvgu nf ynetr na rafrzoyr bs punenpgref nf guvf fgbel erdhverf.

        V jnf fb fubpxrq jura V svefg jngpurq gur RR rkgenf naq yrneare gung Ovyyl vf gur byqrfg npgbe cynlvat gur lbhatrfg uboovg. Ovyyl qbrf fhpu n snagnfgvp wbo bs cbegenlvat gur lbhgushy vaabprapr bs Cvccva, V arire qbhog ng nal cbvag va gur zbivr gung ur vf abg lbhat. <3

    • msw188 says:

      " I've always thought that he took Pippin's oath more to annoy Gandalf than for any real reason of valuing anything Pippin could do for him"
      What are you talking about??? Denethor wants him to sing. Who wouldn't hire a hobbit to dress up in armor and sing songs about taking a bath?

    • Wheelrider says:

      "Well, the first thing I noticed in this re-read is that I've been remembering the title for this chapter incorrectly; for years I've been imagining it as "The Siege of Minas Tirith" instead. Shows how much attention I pay to the chapter headings when I'm reading I tend to plunge straight into the story! "

      Same here… I thought at first it was just because the title "Minas Tirith" was already taken, but you know there had to be more thought behind it than that. Probably illustrating how this siege could be the end of the whole civilization of Gondor.

      • Dreamflower says:

        Yes. Also, at one point in the chapter Tolkien refers to M.T. as the "City of Gondor" — really without M.T. Gondor would not have much civilization. I suppose there is also a city at Dol Amroth but there really are not any other cities of much size in the whole country.

    • fantasy_fan says:

      I think if asked the question in a Tolkien trivia contest, I probably would have gotten the name of the chapter wrong too.

      My response to this chapter is usually mostly made of flail.
      OMG adorable and slightly whiny Pippin!
      Arghh crabby Gandalf!
      URGGGH WTF Denethor!
      OMG adorable although somewhat depressed Pippin!
      FlailFlailFlail Nazgul!
      Faramir! and mention of Frodo!
      No No No No Denethor don't say that to Faramir!
      Sad and lonesome Pippin! More mention of Frodo!
      Ugh and blech Denethor you are a jerk!
      Yay for Gandalf! SOMEBODY's got to be in charge!
      Fire! Foes! Terrible stuff!
      Bloody Denethor NOW you care about your son!??!! And this is how you're going to show it!!!
      Poor Pippin – so little, so lost, so determined, so scared!
      Grond! The Witch King! Gandalf! AAAGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!

      Horns of the North wildly blowing! Rohan!

  2. Jenny_M says:

    SO MUCH HAPPENS IN THIS CHAPTER. I don't know why I had forgotten that this all happens in one chapter but HOLY SHIT.

    • Wheelrider says:

      I had the same thought reading it last night! Had forgotten how things go from bad, to worse, to — as Mark puts it — "WHAT THE HOLY FUCK."

      We're all eternally unprepared.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Oh yeah I had the same thought: wow, I cant believe this is all happening on one chapter. V svaq vg vagrerfgvat ubj gur cnpr bs EbgX vf fb zhpu snfgre guna gur cerivbhf gjb obbxf. V guvax vg ernyyl nqqf gb gur frafr bs qernq, juvpu vf vagrerfgvat gb pbzcner gb Gbyxvra'f cerivbhf gbbyf sbe qernq-ohvyqvat: fybj, tehryvat, jnyxvat guebhug gur dhvrg jvyqrearff.

      • flootzavut says:

        Maybe it's a case of, BX, V'ir fcrag gjb obbxf jvgu gur fybj ohea, naq yhyyrq lbh vagb n snyfr frafr bs frphevgl… fb abj jngpu juvyr V PUNATR NYY ZL UNOVGF NAQ FPNER GUR PENC BHG BS LBH! zjnunununununun….

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          Bu lrnu Gbyxvra qrsvavgryl fhpprrqf ng fpnevat gur penc bhg bs nyy bs hf! Ur vf gehyl bar bs gur orfg gebyyf rire. Ur xabjf ubj gb hfr obgu fvyrapr naq pnyz, naq nyfb abvfr naq npgvba, gb fhvg uvf checbfrf.

          Nyfb: V pna'g oryvrir Znex'f nyernql ba EbgX – jnfa'g vg whfg lrfgreqnl jr jrer fdhrrvat nobhg ubj zhpu ur fgvyy unq gb qvfpbire bs YbgE, naq abj jr'er ba gur ynfg obbx, naq tnuu…V pna'g jnvg sbe uvz gb trg gb gur raq naq rfcrpvnyyl gb jngpu gur zbivrf. V'z fbbb rkpvgrq sbe gur yviroybtf!!! Fgvyy, vg'f uneq gb oryvrir ubj snfg guvf unf tbar ol!

  3. knut_knut says:

    – I love how Pippin is the butter-police <3 THIS PAT OF BUTTER IS INADEQUATE!
    Already it seemed years to Pippin since he had sat there before, in some half-forgotten time when he had still been a hobbit, a light-hearted wanderer touched little by the perils he had passed through. Now he was one small soldier in a city preparing for a great assault, clad in the proud but sombre manner of the Tower of Guard.
    I love this passage, and Pippin’s transformation from this Fool of a Took from the Shire to a soldier in Gondor.
    – DENETHOR, YOU ARE THE WORST. Naq guvf cneg va gur zbivr- NYY GUR GRNEF. NAQ GURA CVCCVA’F FBAT! NAQ GUR CNEG JURA TNAQNYS EVQRF BHG GB FNIR OBEBZVE SEBZ GUR ANMTHY! Guvf puncgre va trareny jnf ernyyl jryy nqncgrq va gur zbivr, V guvax.
    "Cirith Ungol!" he muttered. "Why that way, I wonder?"
    Um…do you know of another way, Gandalf? Why didn’t you make a general plan with Frodo at some point? This is what you get for hiding information from everyone!
    – Sauron is an evil genius.

  4. JustMalyn says:

    FARAMIR :'(

    I think Denethor is one of my least favorite characters. He's on the side of good, but he's so manipulative and then…this. Also,ur pna'g rira rng va n aba-erchyfvir jnl. WHY DO YOU THINK MURDER-SUICIDE IS A GOOD IDEA HERE?

    Denethor: Severely in need of a Sassy Gay Friend.

    • rabidsamfan says:

      He wouldn't listen if he had one.

    • msw188 says:

      Haha, you know, that just goes to show that he's really Boromir's father, isn't he? Boromir fell into madness because he didn't have a Sassy Gay Friend when he needed one; now it looks like Denethor is about to do the same. And the best part is, Pippin KNOWS this! He was there when Boromir died. So he goes in search of the most SASS and GAY he can find: Gandalf, the man who can threaten to uncloak himself to a male hobbit and nobody bats an eye.

    • sudden_eyes says:

      V ungr uvz, OHG – Uvf zvaq naq jvyy unir orra gjvfgrq ol Fnheba guebhtu gur Cnynagve.

  5. JonT says:

    The last paragraph of this chapter is one of my all time favorite passages in literature.

    • Ellen B. says:

      Mine, too. It is utterly magnificent.

    • eyelessgame says:

      This. this this this this omg I am a forty-five-year-old man and I cry like a little girl when I get to that moment. I can't read it aloud without choking up.

    • ZeynepD says:

      Yes, pretty much.

    • Laura says:

      "Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last."

      Never fails to give me chills.

      • Aimee says:

        Tolkien said that this bit about the horns of Rohan and the end of the chapter in Lothlorien (from FoTR) were the two passages of LoTR that moved him the most.

    • Tilly says:

      That paragraph, I can't even. Tears and gooseflesh every time.

      Dorky story: Jura V jngpurq gur EbgX RR sbe gur svefg gvzr ynfg lrne V tbg fb pnhtug hc va gur npgvba gung jura gur rkgraqrq fprar jvgu Tnaqnys naq gur Jvgpu Xvat pnzr hc, V sbetbg rirelguvat V xarj naq cynva pbhyqa'g guvax ubj gurl jrer tbvat gb trg bhg bs vg.

      Naq gura gur ubeaf fbhaqrq. *n;fqysxwfqy;sxwsynvy*

    • marie says:

      Me too, I'll never forget the feeling of reading that for the fist time, it'll stick with me forever.

  6. Ryan Lohner says:

    Theoden: Well, look at that. It seems we've arrived right in the nick of time. What does that make us?
    Eomer: Big damn heroes, Uncle.
    Theoden: Ain't we just?

  7. Pam says:

    "And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last."

    I seriously think this is my favorite passage in all of Prose. I never read it without dissolving into tears of joy. Because EVERYTHING is SO AWFUL, and at last there's some relief and hope.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      The special features talk about Tolkien's love of "eucatastrophe," the opposite of a catastrophe where there's a sudden change from bad to good. And this is one of his best.

    • AnnaEstel says:

      That whole passage, starting with the cock crow, just sends chills down my spine every time. I never skim it fast, I slow down and read every word. Naq vg'f qrpragyl qbar va gur Enaxva/Onff pnegbba, jvgu Tnaqnys aneengvat. V jnf fb ybbxvat sbejneq gb vg va CW'f svyz naq VG'F ABG GURER!!! (grnef)

    • roguebelle says:

      Came here JUST TO QUOTE THIS. I have been waiting for Mark to hit this passage for WEEKS. Possibly my favourite passage in the entire trilogy. (Except perhaps "Ohg ab yvivat zna nz V! Lbh ybbx hcba n jbzna. Rbjla V nz, Rbzhaq’f qnhtugre. Lbh fgnaq orgjrra zr naq zl ybeq naq xva. Ortbar, vs lbh or abg qrnguyrff! Sbe yvivat be qnex haqrnq, V jvyy fzvgr lbh, vs lbh gbhpu uvz." juvpu vf whfg gur zbfg pebjavat zbzrag bs onqnff gung rire onqnffrq.)

      It's just so beautifully evocative, and so desperate and triumphant at the same time, and FUCK YEAH ROHAN. 😀

      Naq bzt guvf zbzrag (naq gura gur arkg, l'xabj, unys ubhe) va gur zbivr!!! Nyy zl grnef naq wbl naq rkpvgrzrag naq nnnnnnnnuuuuu!!!

      • flootzavut says:

        "Naq bzt guvf zbzrag (naq gura gur arkg, l'xabj, unys ubhe) va gur zbivr!!! Nyy zl grnef naq wbl naq rkpvgrzrag naq nnnnnnnnuuuuu!!!"


      • eyelessgame says:

        Yep. "Except perhaps". That, and this.

      • ZeynepD says:

        And yet another quote I didn't need to rot13 to read (It was the "nz V!" that did it.) That one is amazingly strong for many of the same reasons that this one is…

        Gbyxvra ernyyl ybirq gur Ebuveevz; vg pbzrf guebhtu va ubj znal Pebjavat Zbzragf bs Njrfbzr vf eryngrq gb gurz, be tvira gb gurve cbvagf bs ivrj. Frr nyfb: Rbzre envfvat uvf fjbeq gb qrsl jung ur guvaxf vf bapbzvat qrngu naq vafgrnq frrvat gur Fgnaqneq bs Tbaqbe oernx bire gur sebagzbfg "pbefnve" fuvc.

        Bu Reh, arkg puncgre vf whfg bar PZbN nsgre nabgure, vfa'g vg?

        • flootzavut says:

          Rkpvgrq sbe gbzbeebj. NOFBYHGRYL TNTTVAT SBE JRQARFQNL. Gurer'f PZbN, naq gura gurer'f Rbjla… 😀

          • ZeynepD says:

            V guvax Znex jvyy ernq gung (jung ur'yy erivrj ba Jrqarfqnl) gbzbeebj avtug, nsgre ur tvirf uvf gnyx urer (V trg gb zrrg uvz!!!ryriragl!) naq cbffvoyl fgnlvat va qbjagbja? V jbaqre vs V'yy or noyr gb urne gur urnq-rkcybql….

    • Laura says:

      This this this this this!

    • Anholti says:

      I've been reading this with so much pleasure and emotion since Mark started LotR, but I finally have to sign up for an account just to comment on this one line. I'm so happy other people are responding the same way:

      "Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing."

      I've read LotR at least 50 times between ages 12 and (nearly) 30, and I think I've cried just about every time I've read that line… probably more with each successive read. Given that – and that it's not the phrase as it stands alone, but what it does in the story – I've tried to put some thought into what it is about that line that shakes my heart so.

      We've had increasing dread and despair for chapter after chapter, and now it's brought to almost unbearable intensity: the Sun blotted out, the outwalls overrun, brave men dropping their weapons under the Nazguls' shadow, Denethor burning his son rather than face what will come… the gate broken, the Witch-King entering in triumph; even Gandalf himself seeming about to be thrown down….. and then… something else. It's not hope; I don't think my mind actually goes as far as 'maybe we have a chance now' before my heart responds. It's just that there's /something else/ coming in, amidst all this despair and darkness; something that speaks of valour. I think it'd almost have the same effect if it were just one man running around the side of Mindolluin, waving a torch and bellowing defiance… but it's not. It's ROHAN – and the horns, horns, horns of their coming – whether it means we're saved or not – just does unspeakable things to my heart.

      I still don't know if I understand why this line does what it does to me… but God I love Tolkien for it.

  8. rabidsamfan says:

    So many things which frightened me in this chapter, but what frightened me the most was the image of the Enemy using their catapults to launch the severed heads of the dead Gondorians over the walls for their friends to see the dead faces.

    *shudders* Thanks, Tolkien, I'm never sleeping again.

    • flootzavut says:

      Yes, that is just completely horrific 🙁

    • ek_johnston says:

      V erzrzore jngpuvat gur zbivr jvgu n sevraq jub xvaq bs ernq gur obbxf, naq fur jnf nyy "Nf vs gurl znqr hc gung guvat nobhg gur urnqf! Pna'g Crgre Wnpxfba qb nalguvat jvgubhg tber?" naq V jnf nyy "Ubarl, gung jnf GBGNYYL VA GUR OBBXF. V qvqa'g fyrrc sbe JRRXF nsgre ernqvat vg."

      Rkcrevrapr, pnyy onpxf gb cynthr-gnpgvpf, jungrire: vg'f njshy. Naq gurersber cresrpg.

    • threerings13 says:

      That's the moment of this whole Battle that always stuck in my mind from when I was 12 and read this the first time. How awful is that? You're going along and suddenly there's the severed head of some guy you knew.

    • sudden_eyes says:

      I was waiting for someone to mention this! That is way, way up there on my Least Favorite Moments in The Lord of the Rings.

      "For the enemy was flinging into the City all the heads of those who had fallen fighting at Osgiliath, or on the Rammas, or in the fields. They were grim to look on; for though some were crushed and shapeless, and some had been cruelly hewn, yet many had features that could be told, and it seemed that they had died in pain; and all were branded with the foul token of the Lidless Eye. But marred and dishonoured as they were, it often chanced that thus a man would see again the face of someone that he had known, who had walked proudly once in arms, or tilled the fields, or ridden in upon a holiday from the green vales in the hills."


      • Skyweir says:

        Ohg vg qvq tvir zr zl snibevgr bep punenpgre va gur zbivr. Gur "Pngnchygf!" thl. Ur whfg penpxf zr hc, sbe fbzr ernfba.

  9. Trey says:


  10. Ryan Lohner says:

    Something that just came to me:

    Jvgu Znex jngpuvat gur Rkgraqrq Rqvgvbaf, ur'yy trg gb frr Wbua Aboyr nf Qrargube n jrrx rneyvre guna ur jnf rkcrpgvat. Gung fubhyq or na rkpvgvat zbzrag va gur yviroybt.

  11. flootzavut says:

    I know it gets said a LOT regarding LOTR, but I really really mean it:

    Denethor's rejection of Faramir, and telling him he will only think well of him if he returns victorious: ALL MY CREYS.

    Also: movie spoilers – bar bs zl nofbyhgr snibhevgr punatrf gurl znqr unf gb or gur snpg gung Cvccva QBRF fvat gb Qrargube, nf Snenzve evqrf bhg gb cebonoyr qrngu. GUNG QNZA FBAT. Rira guvaxvat nobhg vg tvirf zr fuviref. Nznmvat.

    And yeah, times like this, I can well imagine your regret, Mark, at reading one chapter at a time. Yet another Totally Evil Cliffhanger!

    • plaidpants says:

      Re your Rot13:
      LRF! naq V ybir gung Ovyyl Oblq vf gur bar jub pnzr hc jvgu gur ghar – jngpuvat gur oruvaq gur fprarf pyvc jurer gurl gnyx nobhg ubj ur pnzr ba frg naq znqr nyy gurfr crbcyr grne hc jura gurl urneq vg gur svefg gvzr vf whfg ornhgvshy.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Bu lrf! Cvccva'f fbat! Vg'f fb cbvtanag– naq gur punatrf gurl znqr gb gur bevtvany (engure wbyyl) irefvba bs gur irefrf znxrf vg rira zber fb. OGJ, V ybir gung Ovyyl Oblq npghnyyl znqr gur zrybql sbe gung hc uvzfrys!

      • Gan_HOPE326 says:

        Npghnyyl, gur guvat V fbzrubj ybir gur zbfg va gung fprar vf ubj Qrargube rngf gung puvpxra. VG GBGNYYL SERNXF ZR BHG. Lbh pna srry uvf znqarff va rirel ovgr, ur'f yvxr n ornfg qrfpraqvat vagb pbzcyrgr qnexarff bs gur zvaq, naq gur fznyy qrgnvyf nobhg uvz rngvat va fhpu n senagvp jnl tvir bss rknpgyl guvf srryvat.

        • flootzavut says:

          Gur jubyr fprar vf snagnfgvp – V guvax gur whkgncbfvgvba bs Cvccva'f vaabprapr naq gung SNAGNFGVP fbat ntnvafg Qrargube rngvat gung jnl juvpu vf fb… htu.

          Fbzrbar zragvbarq n srj jrrxf onpx gung gur jnl gurl phg gubfr fprarf gbtrgure jvgu Snenzve'f fnpevsvpr vg'f nyzbfg yvxr Qrargube vf rngvat Snenzve… juvpu whfg nqqf n jubyr qvfgheovat arj ynlre gb gur jubyr guvat…

        • sudden_eyes says:

          Yes yes yes, and gur erq whvpr ehaavat qbja uvf puva.

      • flootzavut says:

        Lrf, gur ylevpf ner fb… bu. Znxr zr pel. Naq va pbzovangvba jvgu gung ornhgvshy ghar <3

    • Dreamflower says:

      Lrf, naq Ovyyl Oblq ernyyl qryviref. Ur rira znqr hc gur zrybql uvzfrys. Uvf ornhgvshy cbegenlny bs Cvccva nf n fvatre unf nqqrq n ybg gb zl trarenyyl obbx-irefr snasvp Cvccva. "Zl" Cvccva vf qrpvqrqyl zhfvpny.

      • flootzavut says:

        V xabj, frevbhfyl gnyragrq gung zna. Gung zrybql vf fb vaperqvoyl unhagvat naq ornhgvshy, vg tvirf zr fuviref. Cerggl zhpu nyy gur pnfgvat va gur zbivrf jnf ernyyl terng, ohg Ovyyl Oblq nf Cvccva vf whfg ornhgvshy. V jvyy ARIRE trg gverq bs gung fbat, naq gur jnl ur qryviref vg. V whfg… jbj.

        CF V fnj n lbhghor ivq bs Ovyyl Oblq fvatvatf, V guvax vg jnf n Oevgarl Fcrnef fbat(!), naq jbnu, vg jnf nznmvat.

    • roguebelle says:

      BZT gung fbat. V'z gelvat gb erzrzore — V guvax gung znexf gur frpbaq gvzr (bhg bs nobhg 9) va gung zbivr gung V trarenyyl ohefg vagb grnef (gur svefg orvat gur Yvtugvat bs gur Ornpbaf).

      • flootzavut says:

        Totally!Gur yvtugvat bs gur Ornpbaf nyjnlf trg fzr gbb…

      • sudden_eyes says:

        For me, it's gur Ebuveevz cercnevat gb punetr. Gurbqra pynfuvat fcrnef jvgu uvf evqref, naq gur fpernz bs "Qrngu!" Juvpu bs pbhefr pbzrf yngre (naq sebz Rbzre) va gur obbx, ohg jbexf fb, fb jryy ng guvf cbvag va gur svyz.

        • flootzavut says:

          YES THIS TOO. Snagnfgvp, V ybir gung vg jnf Oreaneq Uvyy'f vqrn gb qb gur fcrnef guvat. Naq Zreel naq Rbjla pelvat "Qrngu!" ernyyl trgf zr gbb.

  12. @redbeardjim says:

    Grond crawled on. Such a feeling of looming, inevitable doom from those three words.

  13. Alice says:

    ~ This chapter is too intense.
    ~ I LOOOVE the short funny opening scene : because of sassy Gandalf and because of Pip when he sees what food he gets until noon. "Why have you brought me here?" line kills me!! Don't ever change Pip!
    ~ I don't get it,even today,why Denethor suddenly asks Pippin for a song.What's this?Is this really the time for singing?Is it a whim?Something to show off?Can anyone explain this,please?And Pippin has a uniform too! 🙂 *sigh* He's grown so fast.
    ~ O-M-G!!! The Black Riders!And they are not on horses but on winged beasts…and they're attacking Faramir!Sweet baby hobbit,Gandalf saves them….Phew!
    ~ How does Denethor guesses this things????
    ~ …..Gandalf is terrified……doom.DOOM I tell ya!!
    ~ FUUUUUUUUUUUUU Denethor!!!!!!How can you say that to YOUR son!!!??I hate you,dammit.You're cuckoo to think that the tool of the Enemy,that is even a PART of him,can help you or serve you …
    ~ oh,man…Frodo :'(.Yeah,Tolkien,thanks a lot for reminding us!!
    ~ oh,noes…Faramir…wth!!!! If something happens to him,Denethor,I swear… :@
    ~ So the Witchking of Angmar,the Lord of the Nazguls,leads Sauron's Army,and he seems to even be stronger than Gandalf.Srsly I hear louder and louder the drumbeats of doom :S
    ~ MY CREYES!!!!!!!!!!aj@$#%e6tycerw*&^ASFG Baka Denethor look what you have done! The sense of despair that rules the city,the anxiety over the coming or non-coming of the rohirrims is so palpable that it hurts my heart muscles. The power of inducing fear and terror,the pshicologycal war…ughhh.
    ~ Denethor has lost it…really.And yet,I can't pity him.It was his selfishness that brought Faramir in this state. What-is-he-doing?!?!?!WHAT…the tombs!!??Oh,no you don't!!
    ~ Tolkien please don't let Gandalf be a goner!!!What!!!! A rooster…and HORNS!!!!Rohan is here!!!!!1!!1! Fck yeah!!oh,my heart be still.

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – Nazgul at the Walls

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Donato Giancola – Faramir at Osgiliath
    "After his brother Boromir's death, Faramir vainly struggles to please Denethor, demonstrating admirable but nearly fatal loyalty. Boromir had acted as a buffer between father and younger son and in his absence, their relationship deteriorated."
    (yeah,yeah…I know,the image has a Roman Empire look to it,and it may be wrong,but I like the dynamic of the whole painting.)

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee – The Siege of Gondor

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee sketch – The Tombs

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee sketch


  14. Katarina_H says:

    Denethor really makes King Lear seem like a just and reasonable father, doesn't he? (As awful as this chapter is, I can't help recalling the fanfic writer who snarked about Denethor's "set oneself and one's next of kin on fire insurance policy," and that cheers me up a bit.) I hadn't even remembered ubj ybat vg vf orgjrra guvf frghc naq gur riraghny cler. Gnyx nobhg fhfcrafr!

    This chapter really is one of those that become more horrible the more you know, because as a kid, it's just not possible to imagine things as awful as what Tolkien describes (unless you've lived through war, of course). Books are more merciful than films in that respect; if it's too far outside your experience, it doesn't quite sink in.

    • T.J. says:

      Books are more merciful than films in that respect; if it's too far outside your experience, it doesn't quite sink in.
      Which is why I was allowed to read the books at 11/12 but was not allowed to watch the movies for another couple years. I can read scary and horrifying things and it upsets me but watching them disturbs me much more so good call on my parent's part I think. I watched them when I was maybe 14 and loved them but at 11 it would have scared me pretty bad.

  15. blossomingpeach says:

    On the other hand, I'd be happy to comfort Faramir anytime. Come here, Faramir dear; let me give you a hug. 😀

  16. castlewayjay says:

    what a great chapter! Denethor telling Faramir that he wishes he had died instead of Boromir ALWAYS makes me cry. And did you notice the tidbit, Mark, where the forces of Mordor are catapulting the heads of fallen men of Gondor? now there's an awful image. but people do crap like that in war…

    But that last sentence "Rohan had come at last" – That makes me cry for another reason – sheer joy.

    I love this book.

  17. Saphling says:

    Overshadowed quite a bit in this chapter is the comparison offered between Denethor and Theoden. Both have a hobbit freely offer their services to them. Both of them release them from that service when shit starts to get real.

    In this and the last chapter, we get a good look at Denethor and Theoden's characters by how they treat others – their family, their people, and especially their respective hobbits (I would like a hobbit of my very own, it's true). Theoden wants Merry to sit beside him, wants to talk with Merry, hearing tales of the Shire and telling tales of Rohan. Their relationship is one of mutual respect, and so it Theoden's relationship with those around him for the most part. In comparison, Denethor has Pippin wait upon him as a servant, and wants Pippin to sing for his lord's entertainment, and has little respect for anyone. Theoden releases Merry from his service because he want to save Merry from war, in a way, while Denethor releases Pippin from his service because he's given up hope.

    In conclusion…
    Score: Theoden: 5
    Denethor: 0

    HAIL THEODEN KING! *hugs him*

    • flootzavut says:


      <3 all the love for Theoden.

      FB FNQ gung ur qvrf, ohg ng yrnfg ur qvrf aboyl va jne.

    • castlewayjay says:

      i still feel bad for Denethor when toward the end of the chapter he realizes how cruel his last words to Faramir were.

      such a great chapter – the Denethor/Theoden Pippin/Merry parallels; Gandalf & Pippin learning about Frodo and Sam from Faramir; Denethor calling out Faramir for being that wizard's pupil; Pippin becoming aware of how Denethor is going mad; the love of the people for Faramir – what a charismatic guy he must have been.

    • roguebelle says:

      I would pledge my undying loyalty to Theoden any day of the week. <3

    • arctic_hare says:


      • flootzavut says:

        I'm not sure why it's your comment that's made me think of it (!?) but one of my favourite movie extras (of which, admittedly, I have a loooooooooong list) vf jura gur fghag thlf qb n Unxn sbe Ivttb naq Oreaneq. vg whfg frrzf yvxr fhpu n jbaqreshy naq svggvat gevohgr gb gur gjb Xvatf <3

  18. Ryan Lohner says:

    Qvq lbh xabj gung Snenzve’f punatr gb Bftvyvngu vfa’g gur svefg gvzr Crgre Wnpxfba qvq gung xvaq bs ivbyrag fprar jvgu qvntrgvp zhfvp cynlvat bire vg? Urer’f n yvggyr gnfgr bs gur xvaq bs zbivrf ur fgnegrq bhg znxvat.


  19. plaidpants says:

    So a ton goes on in this chapter, but the Boromir/Denethor/Faramir relationship is so heartbreaking it always takes my focus. "Do you wish it then, that our places had been exchanged?" "Yes, I wish that indeed." Oh ok, so you're basically wishing your one son had died so the other could come back. And then he's forced to go back to Osgiliath to try and retake the city, when it's clear that it is a vain attempt and many people will die doing so. And still Faramir tries to seek his father's love: "But if I should return, think better of me!" But what does Denethor do? Still shoots him down: "That depends on the manner of your return." Gah it's just all so heartbreaking!

    V ybir va gur Gjb Gbjref gung jr trg gb frr ubj Obebzve vagreirarq naq gevrq gb cebgrpg Snenzve. V jbhyq ybir gb frr fbzr snasvp be fbzr zber onpxfgbel jvgu gur guerr bs gurz vagrenpgvat!

    Also, its exciting for Pippin and Gandalf that they discover Sam and Frodo are in fact alive and still making their way – it has been a while since they last saw them, and its hard to remember that (unlike us) they have no knowledge of what those two are doing or if they are succeeding. Of course, such joy has to be tempered with the fact that they are going to Cirith Ungol, but still, you have to take what you can get!

  20. snapsnzips says:

    I'm always stupidly excited by a Faramir chapter and this one always makes me a little happy because it brings Frodo and Sam a little closer to Pippin and everyone else. Everyone knows they're not dead! It's been a worry and even though what's happening is still awful, I get a warm glow from it.

    I'm a fan of angst which makes me love Faramir even more. He's got that purity thing going on that just makes you ache when Denethor rejects him. Despite having read these 20 times, I always believe something terrible will happen when he leaves the city just because everything is so sad. Faramir gets all my love.

    movie love: Gur ubeaf bs Ebuna jvyy arire abg tvir zr puvyyf naq grnef, rira va zrzbel. Vg'f bar bs zl snibevgr sebz gur zbivrf, V guvax cnegyl orpnhfr V arire ernyyl xabj jung gurl fbhaqrq yvxr. Rcvp fprar jnf nccebcevngryl rcvp.

  21. msw188 says:

    If I start talking about this chapter, I'd probably just end up quoting the whole damn thing. Besides, Mark has summarized it well enough:
    "So Tolkien obliges me and hands me disaster."

    Yup, that's about it. "I've told you what to expect, so now I'm giving it to you, one bit at a time. Over and over." Thanks a lot, Tolkien. FUCK.

  22. stormwreath says:

    That final scene, from the appearance of Grond to the end, is just so powerfully written. The constant use of repeated phrases – 'Grond crawled on', 'the drums rolled', 'In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl', just adds to the mounting, inexorable sense of doom. Then come the horns… ♥

    My interpretation of why Gandalf is so terrified in the scene with Faramir and Denethor is this: he's panicking that Frodo has been captured by the enemy and that Sauron now has the Ring. (He's half right…) So this sudden, sooner-than-expected attack by the forces of Mordor might be because Sauron holding the Ring now believes he's invincible and his final triumph is at hand.

    But he's reassured, when he works out the timing, that Sauron's attack began before Frodo could have reached Cirith Ungol, so the two events must be unconnected. And then, rather cleverly, he guesses (correctly) that Aragorn must have used the palantír to challenge Sauron, and that's why the attack is happening now. Though note that Gandalf believes Aragorn will be arriving with the Riders of Rohan; he doesn't know about the Paths of the Dead.

    (I rather like that Aragorn is an independent agent making his own plans and decisions here; not just doing whatever Gandalf tells him. Which, of course, is what Gandalf wants; he's here to inspire people, not control them.)

  23. lexypoo says:

    Your reviews are going to make my heart explode. The Steward is clearly mad with grief and pain. One minute he virtually condemned his son to death by sending Faramir on a GUILT TRIP which leads him on a suicide mission to prove his quality.Then when the man returns half alive, Denethor is like…"Lets set him on FIRE. Best Idea!"

    Poor Pippin — I can't even imagine having to run through the many levels of a city overwhelmed by war to find Gandalf to tell him that Denethor is bat shit and going to kill his son. Like, can Gandalf get a break? Btw, the gates of Gondor are being blown open by a giant metal pig/boar beast made of iron and hey, there's the Witch King ready to bitch slap anyone that gets in his way. Like..Denethor, can you get it together, you jerk — you're clearly making life impossible.

    • flootzavut says:

      And not only is Pippin fighting through this city, but he's like, nearly four feet tall? So he's a good deal smaller and shorter than everyone else in the city. He has heart and courage and tenacity, but he's also basically like a little kid running through this maelstrom.

      • lexypoo says:

        I know! He's like a child in battle armor

        Va gur obbxf bs pbhefr lbh srry gur birejuryzvat fgngher bs gur pvgl orvat qrzbyvfurq juvyr zra ba gur iretr bs qrfcnve svtug juvyr gur Fgrjneq vf ab jurer gb or sbhaq…ohg ba svyz, V srry vg'f yvxr yvggyr Cvccva vf tbvat urnq gb urnq jvgu uryy tbvat guebhtu gur pvgl. V'z fb rkpvgrq sbe Znex fb frr guvf frdhrapr bs riragf, rfcrpvnyyl jura ur trgf nobhg gb gbepu Snenzve.

        Nyfb, jub pna sbetrg Tnaqnys ovssvat Qrargube jvgu uvf fgnss YBY..yvxr 'Chyy lbhefrys gbtrgure zna! TEBJ N CNVE! ::OBAX::'

    • arctic_hare says:

      Don't use the word "bitch" on this site. Or "batshit", as it is commonly used as a synonym for "crazy/insane".

  24. settledforhistory says:

    Wow, this chapter might be one of the most depressing pieces of writing I've ever read.
    It's not so much that I was sad for Pipping (though I was) or felt terrible the more I read about Denethor and Faramir (I want to hug the poor man), it's more the whole situation of the city at war.
    With every paragraph things got worse for the soldiers; not enough that there are Nazgul and the King of the Black Riders, then they have to deal with catapults and fires in the city, then the heads of the dead get thrown over the wall and that's the point were it got really hard to read on.
    The image of the heads of recently fallen soldiers being used as a kind of psychological warfare is so horrible and painful, I just want to hug all these poor people who recognize a loved one.

    Then we have Faramir, who tried so hard to be respected and loved by his father, who I really want to punch in the face right now. I was sure Faramir would get killed in that suicidal attempt to fight the Nazgul, but he is only wounded and might survive. But instead of getting Gandalf to cure him, Denethor prefers to die honorably in a fire and he takes his son with him, whom he has simply given up any hope for. WHAT ARE YOU DOING DENETHOR? YOU CAN'T JUST GIVE UP AND BURN YOURSELF! FIGHT; YOU BASTARD!
    Oh god, I want Pippin to save them, at least Faramir, because FARAMIR CAN'T DIE THIS WAY!
    At least dying in the fight against Mordor would be heroic and would probably be the way he would want to go, but BEING BURNED ALIVE? I don't think so.

    And when I was convinced that everything would go to hell and that there is no escape from all the horror we hear horns. Does this mean what I think it means? YES! YOU WONDERFUL RIDERS OF ROHAN, YOU ARE THE BEST PEOPLE IN MIDDLE-EARTH!!

    The whole chapter it felt like there were a couple of dementors in my room, taking all my happiness.
    Now the people of Rohan are here to the rescue, someone has cast a powerful patronus and there is hope again and everything is good.
    Oh this book and the rollercoaster of emotions. I will never nor love this.

    • Skyweir says:

      Inavgl. Sbe n qnl lbh znl gevhzcu hcba gur svryq, ohg ntnvafg gur cbjre gung abj unf nevfra, gurer pna or ab ivpgbel….
      Gehr jbeqf. Qb abg whqtr Qrargube gb unefuyl. Gur Cnynagvev qb abg yvr, naq unq vg abg orra sbe gur Evat bs Cbjre naq Tnaqnys'f frrzvatyl veengvbany cyna, Qrargube jbhyq or dhvgr evtug va uvf nffrfzrag.

      Gehr, ur vf n qhpur naq n ubeevoyr sngure. Ohg ur vf abg jebat jura ur pbapyhqrf gung Zvanf Gvevgu jvyy snyy ertneqyrff bs uvf npgvbaf.

    • marie says:

      That's a very good simile! I know the chapter (and its ending) made me react the same way the first time I read it.

  25. MzyraJ says:

    This is one thing I think I really missed out on, reading this when I was just a kid: I knew it was an 'old' book, but I don't think the actual time when it was written and the author's life and experiences sank in. So the whole terrible experience of war thing I kind of got, but in a 'it's just fiction' kind of way. Like lots of works of fiction where loads of people are killed or hurt, but it's all made up so the impact is softened a little. Except that in this case Tolkein had actually been through war, and maybe everything he wrote here had a lot more real life experience behind it. Man, if I reread it now, I get the feeling I am going to be so much more depressed about everything :/

    Having said that, Denethor's plan to burn himself and Faramir to death ALWAYS disturbed me. I mean… dude, WTF is wrong with you?!

    • Rheinman says:

      I have such an adversion to fire, I can not wrap my head around being so hopeless that setting yourself on fire is preferable to waiting to see what happens next.

      Pyrneyl gur vasyhrapr bs Fnheba guebhtu uvf hajvfr hfr bs gur Cnynagve bs Zvanf Nabe. Zber guna n fnffl tnl sevraq, V guvax ur arrqf n ovt fznpx gb znxr uvz fvg qbja naq erpbafvqre uvf npgvbaf. Gbb onq vg bayl pbzrf NSGRE ur vf ba sver.

  26. Patrick721 says:

    I love the scene with the Lord of the Nazgul. Of course, for years I misread the description of him when he pulls back his hood.
    The Black Rider flung back his hood, and behold! he had a kingly crown; and yet upon no head visible was it set. The red fires shone between it and the mantled shoulders vast and dark. From a mouth unseen there came a deadly laughter.
    I always read it to mean that there were flames where his head should have been, and a crown floating above the flames, instead of the flames being figurative. And you know what, I'm keeping that mental image, because it's badass.

  27. stormwreath says:

    As promised, here's a step-by-step guide to the military strategy and battles going on in this chapter. Because there are big maps, I'll post it as a response to this comment so it appears behind the replies tag.

    • stormwreath says:

      This is the strategic situation of the war by the mid-point of the chapter. Each rectangle is an army.

      <img src=""&gt;

      On 10 March 3019, Sauron sends out a cloud of darkness to cover the sky, and then his armies march forth to war.

      In gold, at the centre of the map: the armies of Gondor. The main force is defending Minas Tirith. Smaller detachments (a few hundred men) are defending the crossings over the River at Cair Andros (north of the city) and Osgiliath (east of the city). Faramir is sent to take charge of the garrison at Osgiliath. Prince Imrahil leads the forces inside the City, subject to Denethor's orders.

      To the south, the remaining forces of Gondor are defending against the Corsairs of Umbar – that's why they were only able to send 3,000 men as reinforcements to the city two chapters ago. They're probably more spread out than I show them here, to be honest, protecting the coastlines and river mouth.

      In green: the army of Rohan under King Théoden. It's riding to the rescue, but will it get there in time? It's about 300 miles from Edoras to Minas Tirith. Aragorn and his companions have recruited an Army of the Dead and are also heading south-east, but we know even less about their fate.

      In red: Sauron's forces. The biggest army of Mordor has marched out of the Black Gate, then split up. Some of its forces are heading south to attack Minas Tirith via Osgiliath. Others are attacking the ford over the river at Cair Andros. More are going west to invade Rohan.

      Further south, the Lord of the Nazgûl is leading his troops out of Minas Morgul (as watched by Frodo and Sam) to attack Osgiliath. Sauron has put him in overall command of his forces. This army is reinforced by large numbers of Men from Harad.

      Finally, the Corsairs of Umbar are sending a fleet full of soldiers to attack Southern Gondor from the sea.

    • stormwreath says:

      This shows the battle around Minas Tirith itself, covering three days of fighting.

      <img src=""&gt;

      On 11 March, Denethor sends Faramir to command the troops defending the river-crossing at Osgiliath. The armies of Mordor led by the Lord of the Nazgûl reach the opposite bank of the river and prepare for battle.

      On the morning of 12 March, Sauron's forces cross the river Anduin with many boats. ('1' on the map.) Faramir's troops, outnumbered 10 to 1, wage a fighting retreat back to the Causeway Forts by nightfall. More enemy troops arrive from the north (from the crossing at Cair Andros.)

      On 13 March Faramir is driven out of his second defensive position at the Causeway Forts and is forced to retreat back to the city. ('2' on the map.) He is badly wounded while trying to lead his men to safety.

      Gandalf and the cavalry of Gondor under Prince Imrahil ride out to cover Faramir's retreat and rescue him. ('3' on the map.) Minas Tirith is now surrounded, and the defenders are pinned inside. ('4' on the map.)

      This map shows the armies of Mordor laying siege to Minas Tirith on the afternoon of 13 March.

      <img src=""&gt;

      The orcs build trenches full of fire to prevent the soldiers of Gondor from breaking out or attacking them as they prepare siege equipment. ('1' on the map.)

      The rest of the Lord of the Nazgûl's army is waiting in the Pelennor Fields for the city's defences to fall, after which they can move in to attack and slaughter. Orcs and trolls from Mordor are mostly north of the road (group 2), humans from Harad (with cavalry and mûmakil) are to the south (group 3).

      A fourth group is back in Osgiliath in reserve, building a temporary bridge over the River Anduin.

      On the next day, 14 March, the Lord of the Nazgûl brings up his heavy siege equipment, such as catapults, mobile siege towers and battering rams, over the temporary bridge in Osgiliath which is now ready. The bombardment of the city begins.

      In the early hours of the morning of 15 March, the gate of the City is destroyed and the Lord of the Nazgûl rides in.

  28. rabidsamfan says:

    Err. maybe you should unrot-13 that warning for the link? Extremely not safe for work indeed!

  29. guest_age says:

    When I first read this at the tender age of 14, and was just discovering the internet and fandom, I got into an EPIC argument over Denethor and his funeral pyre because I was completely filled with rage over it. I think at one point I said, "If he wants to die, then burn, motherfucker, but leave Faramir out of it, you ungrateful, biased son of a bitch." I was apparently an angry, foul-mouthed teenager.

    But as the years have gone on and I've gained the ability to, you know, not be a jerk, I've found myself feeling more sorry for everyone involved than anything else. I still dislike Denethor for the way he treats Faramir, but as far as his desperation here goes, I've since come to look on it with pity–I can't imagine how it would feel to have been on the front lines of this battle for so long, watching your people die while other lands are kept safe by their blood, and to know the whole time that for all your effort, for all you love your city and its people, you are not the king, and you will never be the king, you are just a placeholder steward. So I feel really bad for him now, although much worse for Faramir.

    Age: it gives you perspective.

    • castlewayjay says:

      yes – Denerthor's greatest flaw was giving up – but I still find it hard to judge him. A child's death can drive a parent crazy . I've seen it.

    • sixth_queen says:

      Nyfb ng guvf cbvag jr qba'g xabj gung Qrargube unq orra hfvat gur Cnynagve sbe zbaguf. V'z cerggl fher gung Fnheba pbhyq genafzvg fbzr sbez bs gur Oynpx Oerngu guebhtu gur Fgbar, naq gung'f jung oebxr Qrargube'f jvyy.

      • flootzavut says:

        Yes, true, and yeah I always imagined that – gur qrcguf bs rivy Fnheba vf fgrrcrq va, naq n xvaq bs pbzzhavpngvba juvpu eryvrf terngyl ba n crefba'f zvaq naq fgeratgu bs jvyy… gnyxvat gb Fnheba ba gung vf arire tbvat gb or n cvpavp.

  30. Skyweir says:

    "Old fool", he said. "Old fool. This is my hour. Do you not know Death when you see it? Die now, and curse in vain!" And with that he lifted high his sword and flames ran down the blade.

    You got to hand it to him, the Lord of the Nazgul is pretty badass himself.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Of course, Gandalf already knows Death, and I think that the Lord of the Nazgul would have been very surprised by Gandalf the White!

      Gung RR fprar jurer gur J-X oernxf Tnaqnys'f fgnss vf fb jebat! Vg jnf whfg nf jryy yrsg bhg bs gur GE, naq fubhyq unir orra yrsg bhg bs gur RR. Ab JNL gur J-x, jub jnf gb chg vg oyhagyl n whzcrq-hc zbegny xvat, pbhyq qrsrng n Znvn jub unq gnxra bhg n Onyebt.

      • flootzavut says:

        Lrf – gurer ner ybgf bs fprarf juvpu V pna trg oruvaq rira gubhtu gurl bssraq obbx-chevfgf, ohg gung vf gur bar gung obguref zr gur zbfg.

        • Dreamflower says:

          V jbhyqa'g fnl vg obguref zr *zbfg*– vg'f gung fghcvq yrzonf/Tbyyhz/Fnz ohfvarff gung obguref zr *zbfg*. V'z abg n gbgny chevfg, naq gurer ner znal zbivr-irefr bayl ovgf gung V dhvgr yvxr. Ohg gubfr ner abg gurz.

          • flootzavut says:

            Well see, I can see the logic they used with that one, but V pna'g frrgur ybtvp bs gur J-X onawnkvat Tnaqnys'f fgnss. V qba'g zrna va n pnfrbs qb V yvxr vg be abg, ohg cheryl va grezf bs “V pna frr jul gurl qvqguvf be gung”, V guvax gung fgnss fprar vf gur bar jurer V ernyylpna'g frr NAL whfgvsvpngvba sbe vg. Jurernf (qvfertneqvat crefbanycersrerapr) V *pna* frr jul gurl jnagrq gb fcyvg Fnz naq Sebqb hc naqfraq Sebqb vagb Furybo'f ynve nybar. Qbrf gung znxr frafr?

            • Dreamflower says:

              "V *pna* frr jul gurl jnagrq gb fcyvg Fnz naq Sebqb hc naq
              fraq Sebqb vagb Furybo'f ynve nybar. Qbrf gung znxr frafr?"

              V qba'g qvfnterr jvgu gur qrpvfvba gb unir Sebqb nybar va Furybo'f Ynve, ohg V *qb* qvfnterr jvgu *ubj* gurl qvq vg. Gurer jrer bgure jnlf– Tbyyhz pbhyq unir yherq Fnz qbja n qvssrerag ghea va gur qnex, be fbzrguvat. Gung yrzonf ovg nyjnlf frrzrq n irel pbaibyhgrq naq vyybtvpny jnl gb qb vg.

              • flootzavut says:

                Bu lrnu, V gbgnyyl haqrefgnaq jul crbcyr unir n ceboyrz jvgu vg. Yvxr V fnl gubhtu, gung V pna ng yrnfg frr jul gurl qvq vg. Juvpu vf fbzrguvat V pna'g svther bhg jvgu Tnaqnys naq gur Jvgpu Xvat. Juvpu vfa'g gb fnl gung gurer vfa'g fbzr xvaq bs ybtvp (V qba'g erzrzore vg orvat zragvbarq va gur pbzzagnevrf). Ohg V fgehttyr gb frr nal ybtvp gb vg… vg qbrfa'g frrz gb znxr nal frafr ab znggre ubj V ybbx ng vg…

      • stormwreath says:

        Ab JNL gur J-x, jub jnf gb chg vg oyhagyl n whzcrq-hc zbegny xvat, pbhyq qrsrng n Znvn jub unq gnxra bhg n Onyebt.

        Tnaqnys uvzfrys frrzf gb qvfnterr jvgu lbh:

        "Be pna vg or gung lbh unir jvguqenja orpnhfr lbh ner birezngpurq?"

        Cvccva gerzoyrq, srnevat gung Tnaqnys jbhyq or fghat gb fhqqra jengu, ohg uvf srne jnf arrqyrff. "Vg zvtug or fb," Tnaqnys nafjrerq fbsgyl. "Ohg bhe gevny bs fgeratgu vf abg lrg pbzr. Naq vs jbeqf fcbxra bs byq or gehr, abg ol gur unaq bs zna funyy ur snyy, naq uvqqra sebz gur Jvfr vf gur qbbz gung njnvgf uvz."

        Tnaqnys qbrfa'g xabj vs ur'f fgebat rabhtu gb qrsrng uvz: ohg ur *qbrf* xabj gung gur Ybeq bs gur Anmtûy vf abg sngrq gb qvr ol gur unaq bs zna. Ur unf rirel ernfba gb or pbaprearq ng gur vqrn bs n pbasebagngvba.

        Orfvqrf, va Zvqqyr-Rnegu orvat n Znvn, be rira n Inyn, qbrfa'g znxr lbh vzzhar gb unez sebz Ryirf naq Zra. Nfx Zbetbgu jul ur jnyxf jvgu n yvzc, be jul Fnheba unf n zvffvat svatre.

        Naq gur Ybeq bs gur Anmtûy qbrfa'g bayl unir uvf bja cbjre cyhf gur cbjre bs uvf Evat; ur'f nyfb abj svyyrq jvgu Fnheba'f bja zvtug, juvpu vf qrqvpngrq gb qrfgehpgvba naq ivbyrapr. Tnaqnys'f cbjre vf zber nggharq gb pbhafry naq vafcver – yrff hfrshy va n fgnaq-hc svtug – abg gb zragvba gung ur'f ibyhagnevyl tvira zhpu bs vg hc jura ur nterrq gb gnxr ba uhzna sbez va Zvqqyr-Rnegu.

        • Skyweir says:


          Gurl unir abg ernyyl zngpurq gurzfryirf ntnvafg rnpu bgure orsber. Gurl sbhtug ng Jrnguregbc, ohg gung vf sne sebz Zbeqbe naq Tnaqnys jnf fgvyy Terl. Vg jbhyq unir orra na rcvp onggyr.

          V jbhyq org ba Tnaqnys, ohg V guvax vg jbhyq or pybfr ng gung zbzrag, jura Fnheba jnf ng uvf terngrfg naq srne naq qrfcnve ynl nobhg gur pvgl.

  31. Wheelrider says:

    It seems Mark is picking up some influence from this book in his own writing!

    "They’re not a tale on the tongue of travelers, or a rumor born of fear…"

    Even got some alliteration in there! Awesome.

  32. Tauriel_ says:

    Tauriel's Linguistic Corner

    Ernil i Pheriannath – "Prince of the Halflings". Sindarin translation: ernil – "prince"; i – definite article "the", or in this case, the plural genitive preposition "of the"; pheriannath – nasal-mutated form of periannath – "halflings", used after the definite article (singular form for "halfling" is perian, derived from the adjective prefix per- which means "half").
    Cair Andros – "Ship of Long Foam". Sindarin origin: cair – "ship"; and – "long"; ross – "foam" (ros in compounds).
    Fen Hollen – "Shut Door". Sindarin origin: fend – "door" (construct fen); hollen – "closed", "shut".
    Rath Dínen – "Silent Street". Sindarin origin: rath – "street", "path"; dínen – "silent".

  33. Tauriel_ says:

    ‘But not with your death only, Lord Faramir: with the death also of your father, and of all your people, whom it is your part to protect now that Boromir is gone.’
    ‘Do you wish then,’ said Faramir, ‘that our places had been exchanged?’
    ‘Yes, I wish that indeed,’ said Denethor.

    Let us welcome the latest addition to the "Worst Fathers in the History of Fathers" club.

    Fuck you, Denethor. :@

    ‘Then farewell!’ said Faramir. ‘But if I should return, think better of me!’
    ‘That depends on the manner of your return,’ said Denethor.

    Yeah, no pressure!

    • Saphling says:

      Fuck you, Denethor.

      This is always the right answer.

    • lexypoo says:

      Ugh GOD seriously, that is the worst answer a father can give…

      "That depends on the manner of your return"

      What a D-Bag.

    • flootzavut says:

      Of all the things Denethor says, it's Denethor basically saying "I don't give a shit whether you come back really, but if you don't get a glorious victory then no matter how hard you have fought I really don't care" is the bit that makes me :'( if finished after Faramir saying "think better of me" then it would be sooooo sad but when Denethor gives that reply, it's like ARGH. *anger*

    • Wheelrider says:

      This time around I took Denethor's reply to be essentially saying, "I'll think better of you if you end up dead." Like, if Faramir survives, that means he wasn't trying hard enough. *gnashing teeth*

    • Rheinman says:

      I get the feeling that even if Faramir had single-handedly saved the city, it still wouldn't have been enough. Bad parenting makes for great literature but crappy real life.

      I'm also amazed hat how so many parents assign roles like "the smart one" or "the athletic one" before they are old enough to walk. <rant, rant, rant> ^_^

      • Katarina_H says:

        Word on the assigning roles bit; it seems to be one of those things that adults do without even thinking.

        Of course, some examples are worse than others. Author Diana Wynne Jones was assigned the role of "the criminal one" by her mother. (Though she got her own back by putting her mother in as the villainess in half her books.)

    • arctic_hare says:

      Yeah, Denethor was reigning champ of that club until Ozai came along.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Pretty much this…

      • Max (guest) says:

        Well, if japanese media can be part of the competitions I can think of even shittier parents, like dr. Temna (Astroboy) Precia Testarossa (Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha) or Lordgenome (Gurren Lagann). Or the memetic terrible father, Traqb Vxnev (Neon Genesis Evangelion). (Actually I’m starting to think that Traqb’s memetic status vf nyzbfg haqrfreirq jvgu fhpu pbzcrgvgvbaf – ng yrnfg ur nxabjyrqtr ur’f n qvpx naq npgvat yvxr ur qbrf pnhfr uvz terng cnva, naq ur’f rira zber shpxrq hc guna Qrargube…)
        Between Ozai and Denethor the last gets n yvggyr fynpx univat orra cflpbybtvpnyyl gbegherq ol Fnheba, while Ozai is Yhxr Fxljnyxre nf gur Rzcrebe jub sevrf ercrngrqyl uvf bja fba so the Firelord wins the duel for who’s the worst father, I concur.

  34. Wheelrider says:

    One thing that strikes me on this slow re-read — aside from just how utterly horrible everything gets, so fast, in this chapter — is how well Tolkien can write scathing insults and intense debates (heh heh). Saruman is, of course, the master of cutting people down (V jnag gb fgenatyr uvz rirel gvzr, rfcrpvnyyl jvgu jung ur fnlf gb Tnynqevry ng gur raq) but Denethor is up there, too. And actually I have to give some points to Faramir for standing up for himself:

    "I would ask you, my father, to remember why it was that I, not he, was in Ithilien. On one occasion at least your counsel has prevailed, not long ago. It was the Lord of the City that gave the errand to him."

    So formal and so icy.
    I can only imagine referring to my dad by his job title in an argument — shoulda paid more attention to that tip as a teenager. Although it would only have gotten me grounded for longer.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Well, of course, here he is also speaking as a Captain to his Commander in Chief. In the days when aristocracy held sway, referring to one's immediate family by title was not unusual.

      Still, I can imagine the piercing look and as you say, icy tone of this exchange. Clearly, Faramir's learned how to respond to his father's insults.

      • flootzavut says:

        I don't know if this is just me, but I also wonder if Faramir referring to his father by his title, and also the icy tone, might also be a touch of self-protection. It would be very slightly less painful to have this crap fired at you by your CiC than your dad, you know?

        • Wheelrider says:

          Oh yes (to both of you), it's self-defense, a hard lesson learned.

          In combination with the title, the "my father" bit comes across as sardonic. He knows Denethor is only thinking of him as basically a pawn, not much as a son, while still mourning the loss of his other son. He can't resist pointing out this outcome is only the result of Denethor's earlier decision.

          • flootzavut says:

            All the sads 🙁

            I really love that Gandalf reminds Faramir his father loves him, because at this point, that's not something Faramir has any belief or trust in. However twisted and bitter Denethor has become, vg'f pyrne sebz uvf yngre npgvbaf (frafryrff nf gurl ner va fbzr erfcrpgf) gung guvaxvat uvf lbhatre fba unf qvrq oernxf uvz naq fraqf uvz bire gur rqtr. Rira gubhtu ur arire ernyyl erpbiref sebz Fnheba'f vasyhrapr, ur qbrf ng yrnfg ertnva fbzr qrterr bs uhznavgl va uvf tevrs sbe Snenzve…

            V nz enzoyvat…

    • Tul says:

      Faramir is definitively Denethor's son. That remark when his reserve at least broke…it is frighteningly well dosed in cold courtesy, and well-aimed to really hurt – essentially blaming Denethor for his first son's death.
      It's nearly cruel, except I don't think Faramir really wanted to hurt his father so much as it was self-defense, after he was himself very wounded. And he was very tired, having just barely escaped Nazguls and all – definitely not prepared for that discussion!

      • Tauriel_ says:


      • Wheelrider says:

        Faramir's "restraint gave way" not in the form of yelling, but in this cold and formal stirring up of bitterness, so to speak. Very much like dear old dad. Kind of scary, when you consider it.

        Like Mark said, everybody is affected by the pressure.

      • flootzavut says:

        I think this is absolutely spot on. It's like the lashing out of a wounded animal…

      • Skyweir says:

        Yeah, Faramir and Denethor are more alike than Boromir and Denethor. Boromir would have raged here, but both Faramir and his father internalizes, broods and cuts to the bone when they lash out.

  35. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    (I seem to be running out of colors)

    We learn what Faramir has been up to: shortly after Frodo left Henneth Annûn, Faramir and his men left as well. After camping briefly at the island of Cair Andros, Faramir returns to Minas Tirith, while sending most of his men to reinforce the defenses at Osgiliath. Denethor sends him to join them, just in time for Osgiliath to be completely overrun (presumably by the army that Frodo and Sam saw leaving Minas Morgul a few chapters ago.) He barely makes it back alive.

    Then shit gets real.

    Meanwhile, Merry rides with the Rohirrim from Dunharrow to Edoras, and from there on to Minas Tirith. Frodo and Sam pass the Cross-Roads and Minas Morgul, climb the stairs of Cirith Ungol, and pass through Shelob's lair. And Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, along with the Grey Company, and possibly some angry ghosts, have passed the Stone of Erech and are making their way through central Gondor (we don't know yet where they are.)

  36. Katherine says:

    Regarding Denethor – there's something I think needs pointing out:

    Gurer'f n irel tbbq ernfba sbe uvf qrfcnve orfvqrf jung vf fgngrq fcrpvsvpnyyl, juvpu V qvqa'g abgvpr hagvy erpragyl (juvpu vf fnlvat fbzrguvat, nf V'ir er-ernq gur obbxf qbmraf bs gvzrf). Ur guvaxf Fnheba unf bognvarq gur evat, lbh pna gryy vs lbh ernq jung ur fnlf pnershyyl: "Gur sbby'f [Tnaqnys'f] ubcr unf snvyrq…[Fnheba] unf sbhaq vg, naq frrf bhe irel gubhtugf."

  37. ZeynepD says:

    Sorry, it's time for me to gush about the language in the Lord of the Rings again. I have been waiting for this chapter since Mark started reading The Hobbiy, actually.

    And in that moment, away behind in some courtyard of the City, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear it crowed, recking nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.

    And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North, wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.

    That I quoted from memory. I can, because it is indelibly imprinted in my head, because seriously, folks. Read it out loud, slowly, and listen to the rhythm:

    welcoming only the morning / that in the sky far / above the shadows of death / was coming with the dawn

    Listen to the alliterations:

    "ShRill and CleaR it CRoWed, ReCKing nothing of WizaRdRy and WaR…" "…shadows of Death / Was coming With the DaWn" "…in Dark Mindolluin's siDes they DiMly echoeD"…

    This would be another one of the most beautiful passages in terms of pure sound in this book, and Exhibit 29 for the case "Tolkien had an amazing ear for the pure sound of the English language."

    After all that waiting, I hate myself for forgetting that today would be the day for this passage, because I have something about this passage that I wanted to scan and post, and I left it at home. I'll do it tomorrow, because even though it is based on this text, [spoiler elided].

    And movie impression spoilers: Show of hands, jub nyy ryfr unq gb jvcr njnl grnef jura gurl npghnyyl urneq gur Ubeaf bs Ebuna naq fnj guvf? uggc://jjj.rpr.hzq.rqh/~qvyyv/cvpf/negjbex/ybge/ebuveevzgrkg.wct

  38. Rheinman says:

    Tolkien does make you aspire to make better use of the rich languages he so clearly loved. It boggles my mind that at the same time over on Mark Watches he is being exposed to teh Buffy-speak.

  39. arctic_hare says:

    Aaaaaaaaaaand now you know why I think Merry got the better lord to pledge service to because HOLY FUCK. FUCK YOU, DENETHOR. AHHHHHH. YOU SUCK. Sorry, but I just can't get past the awful things he says to Faramir here, I just can't. Wishing that he had died instead of Boromir? His thinking better of him depending on the manner of his return? What the fuck, man? You fail. ESPECIALLY SINCE YOU'RE NOW GOING TO SET HIM ON FIRE??? NO NO NO NO. I'm sure you won't surprised to hear that John Noble is fantastic in the role, though.

    I don't really have much to add on the siege itself, since I always find it hard to talk about battle scenes. You're right, Mark, this is very different from Helm's Deep. This one feels hopeless right from the start, and keeps on getting worse and worse. The atmosphere is just so grim all through. Also, the catapulting of the heads is one of the most horrifying things ever. Ugh. That would fuck me up so badly, especially if I saw someone I knew.

    Movie stuffs: Svefg bs nyy, V ybir gung Cvccva *qbrf* fvat va gur zbivr. Naq obl qbrf ur rire. Gur fbat vf fb ornhgvshy, nf vf Ovyyl Oblq'f ibvpr, naq frggvat vg bire Snenzve'f punetr vf fb urnegoernxvat n zbzrag. V ybir gung fprar, gubhtu vg znxrf zr jryy hc rirel gvzr.

    Frpbaq, Qnivq Jraunz'f snpr jura Qrargube fnlf nyy gubfr njshy guvatf whfg qrfgeblf zr. NYY GUR GRNEF, frevbhfyl. V xrcg cvpghevat uvz juvyr V ernq gung fprar, naq vg znqr vg rira fnqqre.

    Guveqyl, gur neeviny bs Ebuna oevatf bhg gur grnef va zr gbb. Vg'f whfg yvxr va gur obbx, rirelguvat ybbxf fb onq, vg srryf fb qbbzrq naq qrfcrengr – naq gura lbh urne gur ubeaf. Ebuna vf svanyyl gurer! Gurer'f ubcr! Naq bs pbhefr, GUNG ZHFVP. FB CRESRPG. Ubjneq Fuber vf n tbqqnzarq travhf, V xrrc fnlvat vg, ohg vg ornef ercrngvat. Gur zhfvp vf cebonoyl unys gur ernfba V'z vzcngvrag sbe Znex gb frr gur svyzf, orpnhfr V whfg jnag gb gnyx bcrayl nobhg gur fbatf. Gur gurzr bs Ebuna vf bar bs zl snibevgrf. <3

    • flootzavut says:

      Basicaly, THIS I SO TOTALLY TOTALLY AGREE to every tiny bit of your ROT13. I mean, not that I don't agree with the non-cyphered stuff too, but ALL THE THIS regarding the movie stuffs.

      V guvax V pbhyq cebonoyl yvfgra gb Gung Fbat ba ercrng zber be yrff sberire. Vg'f fb fnq naq fb unhagvat naq fbbbbb ornhgvshy <3

      Naq qhr gb nyy gur pbzzragf nobhg vg, V'z cerggl zhpu urnevat gur Gurzr bs Ebuna va zl urnq naq unir orra sbe frireny ubhef…

    • castlewayjay says:

      "Frpbaq, Qnivq Jraunz'f snpr jura Qrargube fnlf nyy gubfr njshy guvatf whfg qrfgeblf zr. NYY GUR GRNEF, frevbhfyl. V xrcg cvpghevat uvz juvyr V ernq gung fprar, naq vg znqr vg rira fnqqre. " LRF !!! – V guvax Jraunz'f cresbeznapr jnf snagnfgvp, naq bsgra bireybbxrq jvgu nyy gur bgure terng cresbeznaprf.

    • msw188 says:

      V erzrzore orvat oybja njnl ol gur Cvccva fvatvat fprar. Nsgre nyy, gur vqrn vf xvaq bs n guebj-njnl ovg bs uhzbe va gur obbxf. Gur svefg gvzr jngpuvat gur zbivr, jura Qrargube nfxrq sbe gur fbat, zl wnj frevbhfyl qebccrq. "Ner gurl frevbhfyl tbaan qb guvf?" V gubhtug, naq V xarj orsber gur fbat fgnegrq gung guvf jnf cerggl zhpu tbaan jerpx zr. V jnf fvggvat jvgu zl irel tbbq sevraq, n svyz znwbe, jub ghearq gb zr qhevat gur fprar naq juvfcrerq, "Ubyl fuvg guvf vf njrfbzr."

      Naq V ybir gung gurl pubfr gb hfr bar bs Ovyob'f fbatf, bar bs zl snibevgrf ng gung. Rira gubhtu vg fbhaqf abguvat yvxr jung vg fbhaqf yvxr va zl urnq.

  40. tardis_stowaway says:

    I sat down to skim this chapter last night and ended up reading three chapters. Far too harrowing to quit, even on reread. I feel like shaking my fist while growling "Tolkien!!!"

    Also, I'm a wee bit disappointed that Mark already knows Denethor's casting so we can't watch him flip his shit upon realizing who was under that wig.

  41. eyelessgame says:

    One thing in Denethor's defense….

    Ng yrnfg ur snerf orggre guna Fnehzna qvq, snprq jvgu gur fnzr grzcgngvba. Nyy ur qvq jnf qrfcnve, abg fjvgpu fvqrf. Naq vg gbbx zber guna gur cnynagve gb trg uvz gb qb gung: ur nyfb unq gb trg uvg ol gur gjva unzzref bs Nentbea yvivat naq Obebzve abg.

    Orggre zra guna ur jbhyq qrfcnve. V npghnyyl srry dhvgr n ybg sbe Qrargube. Uvf snvyher vf bayl uhzna, naq gur snvyher bs n bapr-tbbq zna jub zreryl – jvgu n ybg bs pnhfr – ybfrf ubcr.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Guvat vf, n ybg bs guvf qrfcnve unf orra pnhfrq ol Qrargube uvzfrys jura ur hfrq gur cnynagíe bs Zvanf Gvevgu (juvpu jnf abg uvf gb hfr naq ur jnf abg cbjreshy rabhtu gb hfr vg – ur ovg zber guna ur pbhyq purj).

      Nyfb, abguvat pna rkphfr uvf oyngnag snibhevgvfz bs Obebzve naq pbafgnag oryvggyvat bs Snenzve'f rssbegf.

      • Skyweir says:

        Ur unq gur zbfg evtug bs nal va Tbaqbe, naq ur qrrzrq uvzfrys fgebat rabhtu. Nyfb, ur jnf qrfcrengr nyernql. Ur xarj gung Tbaqbe pbhyq abg orng Fnheba, fb ur fbhtug sbe fbzr bgure jnl bhg.

        Naq erzrzore, gur Cnynagvev qb abg yvr. Gur jne ntnvafg Fnheba jvgubhg gur Evat vf jvgubhg ubcr, naq gur Cnynagve bayl fubjrq uvz gung. Bayl ol hfvat gur Evat be qrfgeblvat vg pbhyq gurl jva, ohg Qrargube pbhyq qb aba bs gubfr. Ur qbrf abg rira xabj gur Evat unf orra sbhaq lrg (abbar gryyf uvz gurfr guvatf).

        Abe vf ur jebat, Tnaqnys vf hfvat uvz nf n fuvryq. Qrargube vf rkcrpgrq gb svtug ba jvgubhg xabjyrqtr be nvq, juvyr Tnaqnys gevrf gb qrfgebl gur Evat (fbzrguvat gung jbhyq frrz gb nyy gb or n pbzcyrgryl veengvbany guvat gb qb sbe nalbar, rira zbfg crbcyr va gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq).
        Naq jura be vs ur jvaf, ur vf gb or fhccynagrq ol n thl ur ungrq va uvf lbhgu, erqhprq gb n freinag jura ur unf ehyrq gur zbfg cbjreshy angvba va Zvqqyr Rnegu sbe qrpnqrf? Naq n zna jubfr yvarntr vf onfrq ba gur fnl fb bs fbzr ryirf naq n jvmneq?
        Ab jbaqre ur qvfyvxrf Tnaqnys naq ybfrf ubcr. Zbfg jbhyq.

        V unir n ybg bs flzcngul sbe Qrargube, naq V nyfb srry yvxr Snenzve vf n ovg gbb cresrpg (ernyyl, ur erfvgf gur Evat whfg yvxr gung?) Fgvyy, Qrargube vf n onfgneq gb uvf fba, naq gung vf abg rnfvyl sbetvinoyr. Gubhtu uvf pubvpr vf va gur raq uvf bja, naq Tnaqnys vf n ovg bs na neebtnag onfgneq ng gur raq (Gbyxvra'f pungbyvfvz fuvarf guebhtu urer). Ohg gung vf orggre qvfphffrq yngre, V fhccbfr.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Naq erzrzore, gur Cnynagvev qb abg yvr.

          Ab, ohg gurl pna gjvfg naq rknttrengr ernyvgl, naq gur fgebatre jvyy pna pubbfr jung gb qvfcynl gb n jrnxre jvyy. Naq Fnheba'f jvyy qrsvavgryl birecbjref Qrargube'f. Vg jnf cerggl boivbhf gung Fnheba jbhyq znxr hfr bs Zvanf Vguvy'f Fgbar jura ur pbairegrq vg gb Zvanf Zbethy – qvq Qrargube ubarfgyl guvax uvf zvaq pbhyq jvgufgnaq Fnheba'f cbjre? Be qvq ur sbetrg gung Fnheba unq na npprff gb n cnynagíe?

          Qrargube fnj gur ubfgf bs Zbeqbe, ohg abg gur Ebuveevz nezl ehfuvat gb Tbaqbe'f qrsrafr. Ur fnj gur Hzone syrrg pbzvat hc Naqhva, ohg abg gur zra bs fbhgurea Tbaqbe jub jrer abj ba obneq vafgrnq bs gur Pbefnvef.

    • castlewayjay says:

      very good points, I think

    • flootzavut says:

      Lrf, V guvax ur'f bayl uhzna – gubhtu sbe zr, fgvyy, gung fgvyy pbzrf haqre gur urnqvat bs n ernfba, abg na rkphfr. V pna frr jul ur unf snyyra gb gurfr qrcguf bs qrfcnve, ohg gur jnlur gerngf Snenzve vf fgvyy varkphfnoyr, vs lbh frr jung V zrna?

    • blossomingpeach says:

      Qrargube vf jbegul bs n Funxrfcrnerna cynl, V guvax.

      "Bu, jung n aboyr zvaq vf urer b'reguebja!"


    • eyelessgame says:

      Lrnu, V unir gb nqzvg V unir ab erny qrsrafr bs uvf snibevgvfz bs Obebzve – gubhtu Tnaqnys uvzfrys rkphfrq vg, gb na rkgrag, orsber gur snpg gb Cvccva: ernqvat orgjrra Tnaqnys'f yvarf, V frr Qrargube nf n org bs n frys-ungre, naq Snenzve vf gbb zhpu yvxr uvz, juvpu znxrf Qrargube gbb zhpu gur cresrpgvbavfg jvgu ertneqf uvf lbhatre fba. Qrargube ybirq Obebzve fb zhpu orpnhfr ur *jnfa'g* gur fnzr. Vg'f yrsg hafnvq ohg V fhfcrpg Obebzve gbbx nsgre uvf zbgure, jubz jr arire zrrg, naq erzvaqrq Qrargube bs ure.

      Naq V qba'g guvax Qrargube'f neebtnapr va hfvat gur Cnynagve jnf nal terngre guna rvgure Fnehzna'f be Nentbea'f – gur cnynagve bs Zvanf Gvevgu *orybatf gb gur pncgnva bs gur thneq bs gur Gbjre* naq vg'f nf zhpu Qrargube'f nf nalbar ryfr'f (rira vs gur xvat fubhyq pbzr ntnva: va n cresrpg jbeyq, gur xvat'f cnynagve vf gur bar ng Bftvyvngu, naq Nentbea'f vf cebonoyl zber yvxr gur bar ng Naahzvanf (fc?). Nyy guerr – Qrargube, Nentbea, Fnehzna – oryvrirq gurl jrer fgebat rabhtu gb hfr n Fgbar sbe gurve bja checbfr. Bayl bar jnf pbeerpg, ohg va n jnl lbh frr jul nyy guerr bs gurz qvq vg.

  42. fantasy_fan says:

    Can you sing?’
    ‘Yes,’ said Pippin. ‘Well, yes, well enough for my own people. …Pippin’s heart sank. He did not relish the idea of singing any song of the Shire to the Lord of Minas Tirith, certainly not the comic ones that he knew best; they were too, well, rustic for such an occasion. He was however spared the ordeal for the present. He was not commanded to sing.

    Tolkien passes up the opportunity to put another song in. Let this be noted!

    (Bs pbhefr, CW abgrq vg naq chg bar onpx va! Gbyxvra creuncf sryg n fbat bs gur Fuver abg nccebcevngr gb gur zbbq naq grafvba bs gur puncgre, lrg ur uvzfrys unq jevggra jbeqf gung svg ornhgvshyyl, zngpurq jvgu Ovyyl'f ibvpr naq Aboyr'f cbegenlny bs Qrargube)

    • flootzavut says:


    • Dreamflower says:

      V ybir gung eraqrevat bs gur fbat. Bs pbhefr, gurer ner nyfb ng yrnfg gjb bgure irefvbaf bs vg va gur zber purreshy bevtvany sbez gung V nyfb ybir.

    • ZeynepD says:

      Lbh xabj ubj, bppnfvbanyyl, lbh frr fbzrguvat naq <V>xabj</V>, sbe pregnva, jung vg'f tbvat gb pnhfr?

      Gur svefg gvzr V fnj EbgX, jura gung whkgncbfvgvba fprar unccrarq—Qrargube, hz, rngvat sbe ynpx bs n orggre jbeq, Snenzve naq pbzcnal guhaqrevat jvgu ab fbhaq bs gurve bja gb gurve qrnguf, naq Cvccva'f fbat bireynlvat vg nyy—V <V>xarj</V> gung guvf zbivr jnf tbvat gb trg gur Orfg Cvpgher sbe gung lrne'f Npnqrzl Njneq. Whfg xarj.

  43. Tul says:

    A note: Snenzve va guvf puncgre vf fnvq ercrngrqyl gb or noyr gb “znfgre obgu ornfgf naq zra”. Naq vaqrrq ur vf gur bayl bar jub znantrf gb xrrc uvf ubefr haqre pbageby jura Anmtûy ner va gur nve (rira gur Ebuveevz, gur ybeqf bs ubefrf, jba’g or noyr gb qb gung ba gur Cryraabe yngre), ncneg sebz Tnaqnys jvgu Funqbjsnk. Yngre ur xrcg uvf zra gbtrgure qhevat gur ergerng ntnvafg birejuryzvat bqqf.

    Abj uvf sngure vf n znfgreshy zna gbb, naq Nentbea ba gur Cngu bs gur Qrnq jnf fnvq gb or noyr gb xrrc uvf zra tbvat ol gur fgeratgu bs uvf jvyy nybar.

    Vf gung fbzr Ahzrabevna’f novyvgl, fbzr fbeg bs rkgrafvba gb punevfzn, be ner gurl whfg nyy rkgenbeqvanel?

    • bugeye says:

      Numenorians, Lords of the West, Men of Westerness, came to Middle Earth from over the sea a very long time ago and Aragorn is the last of the ruling bloodline. Their DNA is a bit different from the men of ME. They are mortal but live longer, have good reflexes, extraordinary mental acuity and they are more formally educated. This gives them an edge, and I guess a confidence that translates to commanding men. The Council of Elrond (FotR) and The Window on the West (TTT) explain this the best I think.

      This makes Denethor's fall the more tragic. He is a great man, a great leader, he fully comprehends what is going on, but he has been too long under siege. Constant war, loosing his sons, no heirs. He has lost that Man of Numenor confidence and he is just reacting and rejecting all hope. Even the Men of Numenor are human.

      • Tul says:

        V guvax gung'f n tbbq cneg bs jul Tnaqnys vf fb naablrq ng Qrargube – ur *pbhyq* unir orra ernyyl terng, naq ur zhfg guvax ur'f jnfgrq. Ur ercrngrqyl fnlf va gur Obbx ubj Qrargube vf n terng ybeq bs irel uvtu yvarntr naq bs gur hgzbfg Ahzrabevna dhnyvgl, n qnatrebhf naq erfcrpgnoyr nqirefnel, naq ur vf nyfb pbafgnagyl cvffrq ng uvz.

        • flootzavut says:

          Gung znxrf n ybg bs frafr. N pnfr bs Qrargube univat orra tvira fb zhpu, va grezf bs uvf naprfgel, trargvpf, rqhpngvba rgp. Ohg orgjrra sbbyvfu pubvprf (naq jnagvat gb xrrc uvf fgnaqvat nf gur yrnqre, abg jnagvat gur Xvat gb erghea), ur jnfgrf nyy gur tvsgf ur jnf obea jvgu be jnf tvira…

        • Rheinman says:

          Gb gubfr jubz zhpu vf tvira, zhpu vf nyfb rkcrpgrq.

    • Wheelrider says:

      All of the above!
      Actually that's a good question worthy of some more discussion. (Don't have much time myself right now…)

    • Darnaguen says:

      I've pretty much come to the conclusion that it's basically the amount of elf blood in your veins that determines how awesome and "magical" you are. Aragorn is the direct descendant of Elrdond's twin brother and Faramir (as well as Boromir, Imrahil and others lords of the Dol Amroth lineage) is descended from Mithrellas, Nimrodel's handmaiden who married a lord of Dol Amroth, which I suppose makes him/them a bit more "pureblooded Numenórean" than the rest of Gondorians even though the bloodline isn't as royal. So pretty much all the most awesome qualities of Faramir and Boromir come from their mother's side (though Boromir took after his father a bit more). 😀

      • Darnaguen says:

        Eep, forgot to rot13 this before posting, some Silmarillion/Appendixes spoilers. :/

      • Tul says:

        V qba'g guvax vg jbexf guvf jnl, orpnhfr gurer vf nyfb gur Ahzraberna oybbq gb gnxr vagb pbafvqrengvba! Ahzrabernaf (zra) jrer fnvq gb or "uvture" guna fbzr enprf ryirf, arneyl nf uvtu nf gur Abyqbe ("uvtu" orvat gur nzbhag bs zvaq cbjref lbh unir).
        Gur Fgrjneqf snzvyl unf n irel uvtu Ahzraberna urevgntr – naq gung vf jul Qrargube unf fb znal terng novyvgvrf, vaurevgrq ol uvf fba. Nyzbfg rirelguvat "zntvpny" Snenzve unf pna or sbhaq va uvf sngure, rkprcg, creuncf, sbe uvf qernzf.

        Naq npghnyyl, gur Fgrjneqf ner nyy qrfpraqrq sebz Ryraqvy, gur fnzr nf Nentbea, naq orsber gung gurve snzvyl jnf qrfpraqrq sebz Ryebf gbb VVEP (gubhtu va obgu pnfrf, abg sebz n qverpg znyr yvar boivbhfyl, be gurl jbhyq unir unq n pynvz gb gur guebar).
        Gur zna jvgu gur zber erprag vashfvba va ryivfu oybbq vf Vzenuvy va gur obbx, ohg ur qbrfa'g frrz gb or gur zbfg "uvtu" – Nentbea, Qrargube naq Snenzve pregnvayl ner zber vzcerffvir! Fb V qba'g guvax nyy gung "zntvpnyarff" pbzrf arprffnevyl sebz gur nzbhagf bs ryivfu oybbq bar unf.
        (Vg'f nyfb vagrerfgvat gb abgr gurl qba'g nyy frrz gb unir rknpgyl gur fnzr fbeg bs cbjref – Qrargube naq Snenzve unir gung zvaq-ernqvat guvat, Nentbea gung urnyvat-unaqf guvat, Dhrra Orehguvry gung gnyxvat-gb-pngf guvat, rgp…Gurl nyy funer gur eribyire-ybbx guvat gubhtu)

        • Darnaguen says:

          Bu lrnu, V'q sbetbggra ubj aboyr gur Ubhfr bs Uúeva'f bevtva jnf. V fhccbfr V jnf guvaxvat nobhg gur trareny qrpyvar bs gur Aúzraberna oybbq va Tbaqbe va gur Guveq Ntr, naq ubj vg vf zragvbarq frireny gvzrf ubj rkgenbeqvanel naq aboyr Obebzve, Snenzve naq Vzenuvy nccrne.
          Vg'f nyfb bs pbhefr birefvzcyvslvat gur fvghngvba n ybg, ohg zl ybtvp jnf xvaq bs guvf: Aúzrabernaf/Qúarqnva = rys-oybbqrq uhznaf naq guhf zber onqnff guna "abezny" uhznaf naq guhf Nentbea = qverpg qrfpraqnag bs fbzr irel rcvp ryirf (Yúguvra) naq bs eblny oybbqyvar = fhcre onqnff naq Snenzve = bs fnzr, vs fbzrjung yrffre naq cebonoyl zber zvkrq, yvarntr cyhf nabgure fyvtugyl zber erprag qbfr bs rys oybbq sebz uvf zbgure'f fvqr = nyzbfg nf onqnff nf Nentbea.
          V pbhyq or gbgnyyl jebat jvgu guvf, ohg gur jnl rfcrpvnyyl Snenzve naq uvf dhnyvgvrf ner bsgra qrfpevorq va gur obbx (arneyl gehr Jrfgrearffr oybbq, jvfqbz naq fnqarff bs gur Ryqne Enpr rgp.) nqqrq gb Yrtbynf erpbtavmvat ryivfuarff va uvf hapyr Vzenuvy xvaq bs znqr zr guvax gurer qrsvavgryl vf n pbaarpgvba. *fueht*

    • Dreamflower says:

      "Vf gung fbzr Ahzrabevna’f novyvgl, fbzr fbeg bs rkgrafvba gb punevfzn, be ner gurl whfg nyy rkgenbeqvanel?"

      V'q fnl nyy bs gung gb bar qrterr be nabgure

  44. jmhollow says:

    "Naq vs jbeqf fcbxra bs byq or gehr, abg ol gur unaq bs zna funyy ur snyy, naq uvqqra sebz gur Jvfr vf gur qbbz gung njnvgf uvz."

    Zvkrq va jvgu gur fcneevat orgjrra Tnaqnys naq Qrargube, Gbyxvra fyvcf va guvf yvggyr uvag, gung whfg ohvyqf zr hc rira shegure ba gur erernq sbe Rbjla'f ovt erirny. Bu V'z fb rkpvgrq sbe Znex gb trg gurer.

  45. rabidsamfan says:

    Off topic: V guvax gung vg zvtug or orarsvpvny va gurfr arkg srj puncgre qvfphffvbaf vs gur zbqf pbhyq cebivqr na npprcgnoyr grez gb qrfpevor Qrargube'f zragny fgngr jurarire vg'f arprffnel gb nfx fbzrbar gb abg hfr na hanpprcgnoyr grez. Guvf jbhyq nibvq frrzvat gb dhnfu nyy zragvba bs gur pbaprcg bs zragny vyyarff, juvpu, nf jr fnj n srj puncgref ntb, vf nf hcfrggvat gb fbzr ernqref nf gur qrebtngbel grezf ner gb bgure ernqref.

    Rapbqrq orpnhfr V qba'g jnag Znex gb srry yvxr ur'f tbg gb jrvtu va ba guvf. Vg'f whfg n fhttrfgvba sbe gur zbqf, obea bs zl bja rkcrevrapr jvgu gelvat gb trg lbhat crbcyr gb punatr ubj gurl cuenfr gurzfryirf. Cyrnfr srry serr gb qryrgr gur pbzzrag vs arprffnel.

  46. elk12429 says:

    I've read a lot of disturbing things over the years, but the one thing that terrifies me more than any other is Denethor's speech about the pyre. THAT QUOTE!! GAHHHH!

  47. Alice says:

    Oh,thank you.For my part,I don't consider the Roman influence a bad thing either,I find it very original,and it represents his take.I put that observation there just so that dunno… the "purist" won't go all like "wah,this is totally wrong!!it's supposed to have a medieval fashion…blah-blah-blah" and hang on this technicalities instead of just enjoying a really well made piece of art. :).
    And I think it's normal that Tolkien was sad for the decline of the British Empire,like all the people who were born and raised in that period. And Tolkien wasn't the only author to think like that,but the only example I can come up in this moment is Kipling,the author of "The Jungle Books".

  48. Tul says:

    I think this may be my favorite chapter of the whole book – well one of them in any case! Just so many things happen, the writing is amazing, and we have Faramir again!

    Denethor is my second favorite character, and one of the many reasons for that may be the fucked up relationship with his second son – there is really so much tension in there, love, anger and angst, I’m totally drawn to this sort of things.
    And you know, even if I love Faramir and my heart breaks for him in this chapter at his father’s words, it never translated into anger at Denethor, even on my first read. I think the main reason for this is that, really, I feel Denethor’s pain here. That, and I already liked him very much from his first chapter.

    Denethor lost his first son, and I think it’s unfair not to take that in consideration when judging him here. I feel it’s a very normal reaction to over-idealize your dead son – particularly if he was your special child, the one you had an easy relationship with. So I don’t blame him for refusing outright to recognize Boromir’s fault, and the fact he may have kept the Ring for himself. And a lot of what ensue in the conversation in this chapter comes from here.
    I also happen to think his relationship with Faramir is a very complicated one, both being very complex character, and that perhaps not everything should be blamed on Denethor alone (though he is certainly the one with the most responsibility here).

    In this scene, it is interesting to note Faramir is looking at Gandalf while talking of Frodo and Sam, “seeking whether he said well or too much?”, and I can understand why Denethor would feel hurt by that, particularly knowing Faramir’s previous relationship with Gandalf and Denethor’s own dislike of the man. I am not saying Denethor is right to feel jealous, but Fathers/Sons relationships are always very sensitive things. Sbe Qrargube zber guna zbfg, fvapr ur uvzfrys unq uvf bja sngure snibe n fgenatre bire uvz, uvf fba naq urve. Abj vg'f uvf fba jub frrzf gb cersre n fgenatre bire uvf sngure! Zhfg uheg.
    Gurer vf nyfb gur snpg gung Qrargube vf irel njner bs Nentbea – n cybl gb erzbir uvz ur xabjf Tnaqnys vf cneg bs. Vs Snenzve vf ernql gb uvqr snpgf sebz uvz gb cyrnfr gur jvmneq, ur pna'g or fher bs uvf fhccbeg, jurernf ur pbhyq unir sryg pregnva bs Obebzve'f. Ur'f abg ragveryl jebat urer OGJ, Snenzve *qvq* pnyy Nentbea uvf Xvat orsber rira xabjvat uvf sngure jnf qrnq!(V qba'g rira guvax ur jbhyq unir orra hawhfgvsvrq gb ershgr Nentbea'f pynvz ng gur gvzr – V fgvyy svaq vg engure gjvfgrq naq Qrargube unq nethzragf)
    BTW – What exactly did Faramir keep from his father? We know for sure he didn’t talk of Boromir’s attempt on Frodo, and he must have refrained from speaking of Aragorn too, I guess. But, if he did, why?

    (More to come, I could write a book about those two!)

    • Tul says:

      Also, Denethor isn’t just being an ass when he says it was folly to send two Hobbits and the Ring into Mordor, because it was! Everyone knows it, but Elrond and the others decided they had no choices anyway. Denethor disagrees, and would rather keep the Ring away from Sauron’s grasp so that they can at least hope to make a stand. Vg jnf bayl ol rkgenbeqvanel yhpx gung ur jnf cebira jebat naq gur Evat raqrq va Zbhag Qbbz, ernyyl. Tnaqnys unq snvgu, abg Qrargube.
      He thinks Faramir just doomed them all in order to appear generous, which may explain a little his anger.

      So really, Faramir didn’t choose well his moment when he asked his question – “Do you wish then, that our places had been exchanged?” – When Denethor was really most pissed at him, hurt, and seriously mourning his lost loyal golden boy. I of course don’t blame Faramir, he had enormous pressure on him and was probably just looking for reassurance –if so he didn’t get it!
      (Nyfb, V qba’g guvax gur “cynpr rkpunatrq” jrer rkcyvpvgyl nobhg Obebzve yvivat naq Snenzve qlvat, ohg engure nobhg jub fubhyq unir orra va Vguvyvra naq Vzynqevf, sebz gur rneyl qensgf va UbZR sbhaq ba gur vagrearg – ohg vg jnf pregnvayl vzcyvrq fb vg nzbhagf gb gur fnzr)

      Well, what I’m saying is that we only see them interacting under very extreme circumstances, when they are both under immense pressure in a very stressful situation, and both still in mourning. I think it is somewhat unfair to say they were always that way! If anything, we at least see in this scene that Denethor respects his son’s abilities, even if he’s pissed at his attitude: he considers him a good enough captain that he can trust him with all the most important commands even if Faramir’s a bit of a loose-cannon and doesn’t always obey laws or his father’s will, and asks for his opinion on those military matters. And he does say Faramir is a very good speaker, even if the compliment is shadowed by the criticism.
      (I also can read some affection in his words when he sends him to bed, but perhaps that’s just me?)

      That said, I of course don’t excuse Denethor entirely. He should have been more supportive, especially considering Faramir too was grieving, and that he was his Captain-General, always in the front lines. His last remark to him before he went away was especially cruel.
      But then again we know Denethor regretted those words as soon as Faramir was away. And that he was completely destroyed when Faramir came back gravely wounded. Tolkien thought that guilt over what happened between them was essential in sending Denethor over the edge. Truly, I can only feel pity for him, stern and proud old man that he was, when reading about him crying at his son’s bedside.
      Nobody deserves to lose both his kids, and parents can easily lose mental stability when it happens. Denethor also blames himself, and he is losing his country along with all he ever loved at the same time.

      • castlewayjay says:

        love your Denethor analysis.

      • flootzavut says:

        Yes, he certainly had masses of pressure on him, and we never see the relationship outside those parameters. I do feel pity for him, but I guess like I've said elsewhere, it's the fine line between "reasons" and "excuses". I can see the reasons for Denethor's actions and words – I just can't excuse them.

        • Tul says:

          I don't really excuse him either, but I guess I can understand and forgive him. We're all humans, we all make mistakes, and we can all be jerks sometimes if pushed too much.

          Well, I can also understand others not feeling that way though. I just feel the old man, after all he went through, deserves some defenders! 🙂

      • Wheelrider says:

        "He thinks Faramir just doomed them all in order to appear generous, which may explain a little his anger."

        Yes! And this brings up a corollary to the comment I made earlier about these stinging insults (and other examples in this book) — they sting so much because there's a kernel of truth to them. One could say that Faramir isgenerous and wise, or one could, under such extreme pressure, take the view that he's only concerned about appearances, not outcomes.

        "(I also can read some affection in his words when he sends him to bed, but perhaps that’s just me?)"
        I got that impression too… it's a sudden defusing of the situation. Something you often see with parents and children!

        • Tul says:

          'Ever your desire is to appear lordly and generous as a king of old, gracious, gentle. That may befit one of high race, if he sits in power and peace. But in desperate hours gentleness may be repaid with death'
          'So be it'
          'So be it! But not with your death only, Lord Faramir: with the death also of your father, and of all your people, whom it is your part to protect now that Boromir is gone.'

          *So much subtext it hurts*

          You know I really admire Faramir here: he has values, and he will hold by them, even if that means his death. His response is so short and clear: "So be it!"
          At the same time, I think Denethor *does* have a point – is honor always worth its cost? (At these words I am always reminded of Ned Stark, from "A Song of Ice and Fire" – I don't know if you read it) Faramir did say he wouldn't use the Ring presumably before knowing it WAS the Ring, even if Gondor was about to fall and he himself could save it.
          (here I was about to go on rambling about Good and Evil, but I think I'll just end it here)

          And yes, fascinating how family members can be at each others throat one moment and forget it in the next – (though neither Denethor nor Faramir forgot this argument!).

          • Wheelrider says:

            One of my favorite passages!

            It's also kind of a crumbling of pretext… Faramir had started out asking if he'd done well, and saying he wished he'd known what his father would want him to do. But really, he probably had a pretty good idea already, and once Denethor laid his cards out, so did Faramir. (Which also feeds into my opinion that Faramir didn't mention the Ring — he's talking at first about simple military strategy, without this huge piece.) (we discuss this further down! need a chart at this point!)

      • msw188 says:

        I'm not going to read through all the replies at the moment, but I'm just gonna put down quickly that I pretty much agree with everything here. Gurl birefvzcyvsl vg va gur zbivr, naq fbzrgvzrf V jbaqre vs crbcyr jub UNGR Qrargube ner nssrpgrq ol gung n ovg.

        As Tul and others have said, I think Denethor's bitterness comes mostly from the fact that he can easily view most of the key failures and losses as of his own design. HE chose to send Boromir away to his death (and Faramir even reminds him of this!). And then he does the same thing to Faramir! How can that possibly feel, to believe that you PURPOSELY sent BOTH of your sons, on SEPARATE OCCASIONS, to their deaths? And at the same time, the one choice that is most crucial (the choice of what to do about the Ring) is made without his consent, chiefly by a person (Gandalf) who has flat out admitted to him that his task will not be considered a whole failure, EVEN IF GONDOR FALLS. To Denethor's ears, that's like saying his people and bloodline are expendable!

        On top of all that, a chance does come to overturn that sassy gay asshole's plans and bring the Ring to Gondor, and Denethor's own son chooses otherwise. And the only reason Faramir was even there was because Denethor chose to send Boromir to Rivendell instead of Faramir. Basically, it is heartbreaking, but entirely believable, that Denethor would just be pissed at everything and everybody and could be slowly swallowed up by the beautiful phrase, "FUCK EVERYTHING."

        • Tul says:

          Yes. I so much agree!

          I think Denethor is the sort of man that has a really hard time forgiving – be it others or himself. When faced with his own guilt, he just can't deal with it. And really, we can feel his guilt in this chapter. He repeatedly says he shouldn't have sent his sons away.

          Gandalf always seemed most undiplomatic with Denethor to me. I mean, not only does he say he doesn't consider Gondor that much important, but he says it TWICE. In fact, he berates Denethor for being too focused solely on Gondor. I understand it's nice to see the big picture, but really that's not the way you talk with your most important ally.
          He also mentions the return of the king and Denethor's end of service without much restraint at all. I really think Denethor's knows how to bring the worse out of our favorite wizard!

          "FUCK EVERYTHING" sums Denethor's feeling very well, I think!

        • Wheelrider says:

          Yes. He's experiencing both the blowback of his decisions and a major loss of control. Which at this point, as things get critical, is crushing. Plus he's the kind of guy to want to be in absolute control all the time.

      • rabidsamfan says:

        Nope, sorry, you haven't convinced me. Some of what you say is true, perhaps, but Denethor shows himself even more foolish than Gandalf when he sends Faramir off to defend Osgiliath. Given that Rohan hasn't arrived yet, Minas Tirith is distinctly short of fighters. A better strategy would have been to destroy the bridges utterly, so that the Enemy couldn't easily bring siege engines, throw caltrops around the ruined city, and then retreat to the inner walls with as many men as possible for the defense of the city itself and not a bunch of empty fields. The only thing that defending Osgiliath will do is get a bunch of good men killed. Faramir knows it and says so. And Denethor sends him anyway, knowing perfectly well that it is, to all intents and purposes, a suicide mission.

        At least Gandalf tries his best to keep Frodo's quest a secret!

        • Tul says:

          Well, it wasn't a suicide mission: a third of Faramir's men returned (Faramir himself would have, and on his feet, if not for one arrow). And the bridges of Osgiliath were already all destroyed.
          And no, Faramir never says that.

          Whether staying behind Minas Tirith's walls would have been a better strategy is arguable, but Denethor's choice also makes much sense. It's that way at war: sometimes there is no clear cut best way, but you have to choose anyway. Sometimes you have to take risks.

          First there already were men waiting at Osgiliath: Faramir sent his rangers there to reinforce the already present company. The talk wasn't about defending Osgiliath at all, it *was* defended, but about whether they were going to give it a serious try or not. Denethor said yes.

          Holding Osgiliath is all about time: the host of Sauron are coming, and they cannot hope to hold them off forever, even barricaded behind their walls in Minas Tirith. They desperately *need* Rohan to come reinforce them (the whole chapter is about Rohan coming!). But if Osgiliath and the Rammas are taken, the siege would begun far too early, and Mordor's army could bloke the way to their ally (vg arneyl unccrarq, ohg gur Ebuveevz znantrq gb svaq fbzr frperg uvqqra jnl!).
          There's also the fact that Osgiliath is a highly defensible position – a river is a mighty obstacle for an army, above all if they are enemies on the other side, and even worse if there is a ruined city behind (a place full of possibility of ambushes and traps). Rammas too is a big wall and a man on a wall can kill many more men under him. Faramir's men killed ten times as many soldiers as they lost – the orcs paid dearly that passage, but they were just too numerous.
          Faramir still managed to buy Minas Tirith two precious days, which permitted the Rohirrim to arrive at just the last moment!

          Faramir himself was the best captain to have there, as he was the men's Captain-General. They knew him, trusted him, and he knew them and knew Osgiliath. He was also perhaps the only one who could have held them together under the Nazgul's wings with the Witch-King and all of Mordor's host at their back. Sending him out without blessing and much rest was a grave mistake, and a cruel one, though – I already said it.

          And really, if not for that arrow, it wouldn't have been that bad. Denethor wouldn't have been broken, and Faramir could have led the defense. They would have had much better results at this than Gandalf and Imrahil could – as things went, the men were deserting the walls, many of them unwilling to follow the wizard (it's one of the tragedy of Denethor's fall, really: his people trusted him. They ASKED him to come to the defense), all completely demoralized after Faramir's fall. If Faramir hadn't been wounded, they could have kept the troops under control and won even more time.

          So no, I don't think it was such a stupid decision who will only get a bunch of good men killed! Gur zbivrf ner, bs pbhefr, nabgure fgbel ragveryl.

          Well, perhaps this is all a bit muddled, but I'm tired! 🙂

          • msw188 says:

            Haha, we answer together! But I have to lean a bit more towards RabidSamFan's assessment of the strategic value of trying to hold Osgiliath; probably the only reason it was NOT more of a disaster was because Gandalf went out and made sure to get the injured away. And then Gandalf leads the sortie, which is the only reason given for why the Nazgul back off. This is not strategy on Denethor's part.

            Also, it is questionable how much time was bought at Osgiliath that would not have been gained, with less cost in lives, by having more men on the walls. The book makes it clear that the siege towers and Grond are only brought on because the Witchking recognizes that the will of the City is nearly broken. Could this have been delayed longer if there were more men, together with their leader, within the walls? It's speculation, naturally, but I think it's fair to say that Denethor is beginning to slip here, and this decision is as much a result of this as it is of any possibly sound strategy.

            • Tul says:

              Faramir took only the "men that could be sparred" with him. So I guessed that meant the city was still left well defended.

              Gandalf bringing back the injured permits Faramir to keep all men who can still fight with him, and him sending the Nazgul back *is* very helpful, however what really saved Faramir's men was the charge from Dol Amroth, and *that* was organized by Denethor before Gandalf even came back.
              I don't know if they could have won as much time by staying in the city with more men – with Faramir and Denethor functional, I think they would. But then again, Faramir and Denethor weren't supposed to turn nonfunctional in Denethor's plan! He perhaps didn't even meant for Faramir to stay out there until the end – he asks Gandalf if Faramir returned with him when he came back with the wounded (wishful thinking!).
              As you say, "the book makes it clear the siege towers and Grond are only brought on because the will of the city is nearly broken". The men on the wall weren't even firing, and many were deserting! And that problem, I think, could only be mended by functional Denethor and Faramir, with or without more men.
              But again, my point isn't to say it was the *best* strategy, more than it was sound enough.

              "I think it's fair to say that Denethor is beginning to slip here, and this decision is as much a result of this as it is of any possibly sound strategy."
              I don't *totally* disagree with this actually. I do in fact think we never met Denethor as he should have been – at his full efficiency. The death of Boromir was a enormous blow.

              ‘Less welcome did the Lord Denethor show me then than of old, and grudgingly he permitted me to search among his hoarded scrolls and books. “If Indeed you look only, as you say, for records of ancient days, and the beginnings of the City, read on!” he said. “For to me what was is less dark than what is to come, and that is my care. But unless you have more skill than even Saruman, who has studied here long, you will find naught that is not well known to me, who am master of the lore of this City.”’(Gandalf in the Council of Elrond)
              ‘Dark is indeed the hour,’ said the old man, ‘and at such times you are wont to come, Mithrandir. But though all the signs forebode that the doom of Gondor is drawing nigh, less now to me is that darkness than my own darkness. It has been told to me that you bring with you one who saw my son die. Is this he?’
              I take that as the first sign (along with the fact he seems to have been spending a good amount of time gazing at a broken horn) that the Denethor we meet has been severely affected by his son’s death.

              Even so, he is still functional enough until Faramir comes back wounded, I think. I definitely read some grief in his decision to hold Osgiliath when he mentions Boromir, and also a refusal to lose any more bits of his precious Gondor to the Enemy without making him pay the hell for it. But despite this, I still think there *was* a logical argument (as opposed to emotional ones) that came with that choice. After all, he does answer his lords objections soundly enough. And what I said.

              • msw188 says:

                Once again, I'd say we're in basic agreement. I just think that emotions are the heavier weight on Denethor even as early as the sending of Faramir to Osgiliath. After all,

                " what really saved Faramir's men was the charge from Dol Amroth, and *that* was organized by Denethor before Gandalf even came back."
                It is true that Denethor had this idea independently of Gandalf (or at least so he claims), but this was not part of the plan at the time of sending out Faramir. In my opinion, this is a (good) reactionary measure after seeing the full danger of the men that have been sent so far afield. Also:

                "He perhaps didn't even meant for Faramir to stay out there until the end – he asks Gandalf if Faramir returned with him when he came back with the wounded"
                I think this is very unlikely. If it were so, the entire conversation would, I think, have been handled far differently when the orders were given. In fact, this quick passage is just as likely indicating the opposite – perhaps Denethor has realized that he made a mistake in judgement due to his emotions, and his regret is beginning to compound upon itself. Even though Pippin's remark immediately brings back his more bitter attitude, and reminds him that he's pissed off at Gandalf.

                • Tul says:

                  About the second part – yes, I think the 'Is Faramir come?' must be regret, but more regret at his treatment of his son than regret at the military decision of sending the men away. He actually probably regrets this also, but the only giveaway we have (that I caught) is his "I sent my son forth out into needless peril", but at this point he thinks about everything is "needless", so…

                  But yes, apart from that, I think we just slightly disagree on the weight of emotions in his decision 🙂

        • msw188 says:

          Although it is true that Denethor's stubborn insistence on sending Faramir out might not be the soundest strategy, I do have to make a claim against one point:
          "A better strategy would have been to destroy the bridges utterly"
          In the world of Middle Earth, this is not a simple matter. The bridges are already at least partially in ruins (the book specifically mentions that "the River had been swiftly bridged"). To destroy strong structures such as bridges "utterly" is a serious undertaking, and Tolkien knows this; consider the passage in the Silmarillion jurer gur terng oevqtr va sebag bs Anetbguebaq cebirf gb or gung pvgl'f haqbvat orpnhfr vg "pnaabg rnfvyl or haznqr", be fbzrguvat yvxr gung; zl pbcl bs gur Fvy jnf FGBYRA (sevraq obeebjrq naq arire erghearq).

          It seems as though Denethor is already unraveling at this point, as he specifically mentions that Boromir was able to hold the western side of Osgiliath in the past. Faramir tries to point out that this is not the same thing AT ALL, but Denethor doesn't seem to bother with this. I guess in the absence of knowing about the boats in eastern Osgiliath, it might make some kind of risky sense to send the men afield to try to slow the progress of the enemy, assuming that there is no chance that they can cross the river in great numbers QUICKLY.

          • Tul says:

            Appendices stuff – Obebzve naq Snenzve pnfg qbja gur ynfg oevqtr bs Bftvyvngu oruvaq gurz va ynfg gur fhzzre orsber gur Evat Jne, jura gurl jrer nggnpxrq naq ybfg gur rnfg fvqr (gubhtu Obebzve znantrq gb erpbadhre gur jrfg bar). Vg vfa'g fnvq ubj gurl qvq vg gubhtu. Vg frrzf gb unir orra n zbfg vzcerffvir oevqtr, jvgu ohvyqvatf ba vg naq nyy!

            V nffhzr gurve naprfgbef yrsg fbzr fbeg bs vafgehpgvbaf creuncf, whfg va pnfr. Naq creuncf gur oebguref unq cercnerq sbe gung riraghnyvgl, n fbyhgvba gb qrfgebl gur oevqtr va fhpu na rzretrapl pnfr.

            • msw188 says:

              I'm not sure if this is a spoiler or not; Boromir mentions this at the Council of Elrond, and I don't think any more details are added in the Appendices. I've always looked at this as the men of Gondor breaking down the bridges, but the foundations remaining in place, allowing for a "swift bridging". To "utterly" destroy the foundations for the structures of a city like Osgiliath, built over a River, is just something that I think is not an easy option in Middle Earth.

              This is all a minor point, of course.

              • Tul says:

                I wasn't sure it was a spoiler either, but I ciphered it to be safe.

                I don't know much (like, at all) about how bridges are built and how you can bring them down, so I'll just believe you here! 🙂

    • Wheelrider says:

      Good points! Denethor is not entirely unfeeling, and his jealousy (crefbany naq va grezf bs uvf Fgrjneqfuvc) only adds to the pressure he's feeling. Gurer'f uvf njrfbzr naq urneg-fgbccvat fcrrpu yngre, jurer ur vapyhqrf "ybir unyirq" va gur guvatf ur'f erwrpgvat ol xvyyvat uvzfrys — "…V jvyy unir anhtug: arvgure yvsr qvzvavfurq, abe ybir unyirq, abe ubabhe nongrq."

      As to your last question — I think Faramir omitted any mention of the Ring in telling what happened at Henneth Annun. (Which had to be difficult, and would certainly make the story seem full of holes to even a normal listener…)

      • Tul says:

        Jung'f urnegoernxvat vf gung V guvax Snenzve qvqa'g va snpg gel gb ercynpr Qrargube ol Tnaqnys va uvf urneg ng nyy – ur *qvq* cebgrfg va n jnl naq pevrq uvf sngure'f anzr jura ur jnf srirevfu naq Tnaqnys gbbx uvz bhg bs gung cler…

        But I do wonder if Denethor isn't right that Faramir esteems the wizard's opinion above his father's? He *does* keep looking at Gandalf in that conversation, and in HA he does try to think of what Mithrandir would have wanted him to do, it's not his father's opinion that worries him then.
        Truth is that Gandalf shares his outlook on most think while his father, though also an intellectual with some very wise and sensible things to say, has a very different ideology. So I understand him being drawn to the wizard – but I can also understand Denethor being rather unhappy about this.

        I don't think Faramir *could* have omitted the Ring though. Firstly because as you say, it's too big of a hole – it would have been easier not to talk of the hobbits at all in that case! How could he explain their presence in Ithilien then? And he does admit they went to Mordor, and reassures Gandalf that the Darkness isn't they're doing (for the Darkness to be they're doing they must be pretty important). Denethor just *couldn't* have fallen for it, and Faramir must have realized this.
        Secondly, because it could almost be considered treasonous. Why would he keep that very important information from his lord? It's not like Denethor could do something about it anyway, but as the ultimate leader of Gondor's army he must know about this in order to plane their future strategy.
        (I already find it a little disloyal if he omitted to mention Aragorn's claim…)

        • Wheelrider says:

          It seems that after his initial suspicion of Frodo at HA, Faramir aligns himself with Gandalf's plan, even though he knows darn well that's going to piss off Denethor. So yeah, Denethor has a point, a big one.

          Part of that aligning, I think, is to keep quiet about the Ring. Yes, I agree, it does seem almost impossible, but I'm going on Denethor's response: "…little of what you have half said or left unsaid is now hidden from me. I know the answer to many riddles. Alas, alas for Boromir!" It seems he was left to guess what Frodo was carrying. (Faramir guessed too, before Sam let it slip, but slower.) I've often wondered at the fact that this bit of the "Faramir Story Time" (holy cow I love that phrase of Mark's!) is summarized rather than recounted in full. Yes, a summarization helps to move the plot along, but did Tolkien realize it could look a little bit absurd to have Faramir leave out the most important part if the story were laid out? Most definitely it's treason to not bring these captives back to the City, and what justifiable reason could he possibly give for doing so? He even mentioned Gollum?!? Yet I think he realized that Gandalf would not want the real nature of the Quest revealed to Denethor, at least not yet.

          As for Aragorn's claim, Faramir didn't make any judgment on that (lrg), he was simply going to wait and let the man make it himself. No need to stir things up before then. Although it could also be viewed as disloyal.

          Wizard's pupil indeed! But that's part of why he's admirable — doing what he thinks should be done despite the possibility of bad consequences for himself.

          • Tul says:

            Hmm, I remain unconvinced. I agree Faramir aligns himself with Gandalf's plan, but why keep Denethor out of it? It doesn't seem very wise. His father will need this information anyway sooner of later, in order to conduct the war once the assault on MT is broken, and it has better be sooner. It just doesn't make sense to me.
            Also, really, if he was to keep the Ring out of it, why talk of Frodo, Sam and even Gollum at all? He could have omitted their encounter more easily than the Ring! And I really can't imagine what he could have said about the Hobbits, and where they go, without mentioning the Ring! Too BIG!
            No, I really think the "half said or left unsaid" must be about something else. I don't know, Boromir's conflict with Frodo and Aragorn already makes two?
            (Tolkien and his summaries! He also doesn't let us know about Denethor's questioning of Pippin!)

            On Aragorn's claim – yes, I agree. I just though that such a thing (a claimant to the throne) could bring up a big mess, and perhaps it would be preferable to tell his father in advance, just so they knew were they stood, and could talk about it before Aragorn made his move?
            Jryy, nf vg unccra, Qrargube nyernql xarj naljnl.

            • Wheelrider says:

              Well we can agree to disagree on this point. 😉 But it's still fun, and illuminating, to debate!

              Faramir had already let slip that he's seen a Halfling, when he comes into the City gates. But more importantly all his men have seen Frodo and Sam, and Gollum as well. I wouldn't put it past Denethor to plant spies, or at least gather reports, on what Faramir is doing from among his own men. There's no way he could, or would, ask them all to keep quiet on that.

              But it was only in private conversation that the truth about the Quest came out, so that would be easier to conceal. Well, as we've seen, not so easy, but at least to not state openly from the beginning.

              So yeah… it all comes back to the fact that Denethor has some sound reasons to be angry! Faramir is more or less disobeying him.

              • Tul says:

                Debating has become one of my favorite pastime! Fun and illuminating, exactly! But yes, I think we can agree to disagree here 🙂

                Faramir didn't exactly let slip he saw a Halfling, he merely recognizes Pippin as one and express surprise. Also, he brought only three (four?) of his men with him, the others were sent to Osgiliath – if he had wanted to omit Frodo, only those three would have been asked to keep quiet.
                And surely Faramir couldn't possibly hope to tell the tale without it being glaringly apparent he left out some VERY crucial info, even if the interlocutor wasn't his very shrewd and very-difficult-and-dangerous-to-lie-to father and lord? What could he have said? The conversation that follows also makes more sense to me if he told Denethor of the Ring, but then that may be because I never considered he might not have before, so I'm used to reading the words with a different subtext and context.
                And again, I don't think he would keep this information from his father, even if he could have. It's too essential to the war effort.

                (You know, I think part of why we can't agree on this is perhaps because we have different view of the relationship between Faramir and his father? Because as I read them, I don't know why Denethor would "plant spies" among the Rangers. I think Faramir under normal circumstances would make fairly complete and honest reports, and I don't think Denethor would doubt this. He knows his son.)

                "So yeah… it all comes back to the fact that Denethor has some sound reasons to be angry! Faramir is more or less disobeying him."
                In any case, Faramir isn't being fully honest with him, yes, and he's acting against his will on Gandalf's behalf!
                (In fact, they are both being insecure in each other's love or at least respect here: Faramir is under the shadow of his brother's ghost, and Denethor feels displaced by the white wizard, they both react badly…funny how much similitude there are between those two!)

                • Wheelrider says:

                  (You know, I think part of why we can't agree on this is perhaps because we have different view of the relationship between Faramir and his father? Because as I read them, I don't know why Denethor would "plant spies" among the Rangers. I think Faramir under normal circumstances would make fairly complete and honest reports, and I don't think Denethor would doubt this. He knows his son.)

                  Coincidentally, one of your nine points happens to touch on why I think Denethor would spy on him — "4) Why is Gandalf waiting so eagerly for Faramir? He is worried, he wants someone with sense to talk to who isn’t Denethor…"
                  Denethor is not only jealous of this "wizard's pupil" behavior of his son, he's suspicious of where it might lead. Somewhat rightfully so, as we've pointed out, since all Gandalf expects of Denethor at this point is to provide a diversion (using all his men and resources!) for his own "foolish" plan. Maybe he wouldn't need to plant spies so much as do some careful questioning (using the revolver look of course!) of certain of the men later, but I doubt he would rely only on Faramir's view of things. He may trust that Faramir is honest in his basic reports to him, but he doesn't trust that Faramir shares his own goals. You could look at this as being pragmatic, or as more asshole behavior. (Often one and the same.) But the more things slip out of Denethor's grasp, the more he tries to keep control.

                  Whew! Day two, and still so much to talk about!

                  • Tul says:

                    Coming back to that…

                    Well, if Denethor had wanted to plant spies, he wouldn't have had a problem since he was the one choosing the Rangers in the first place (I give you that).
                    But before the Ring War, I don't think it would have been necessary since their use was only to fight Sauron and protect Gondor. Faramir and him share this goal at least. (Who would have guessed they'd come upon the Ring-bearer?). I also think he trusts in his own ability to detect whether Faramir is being totally honest with him or not.
                    But in fact, yeah, he certainly could "do some careful questioning" of some of his men later, if he suspects his son of wizard-pupiling again!

                    "But the more things slip out of Denethor's grasp, the more he tries to keep control."
                    Yes, I always imagined him as very meticulous, he's the sort to enjoy when things are in order.
                    But again, he did leave a lot of freedom to Faramir (who's some sort of "loose-canon" – I think I already said this), so I imagine he knows (knew?) where and when he should relax his hold on things, watch and analyse, at least until his world began to explode and he panicked.

    • JustMalyn says:

      That's true. Much as I hate him, he's extremely complex and well-written.

      • flootzavut says:

        Totally. And I guess the depth of feeling which the character inspires just shows how complex and well written he is – you can't hate a character if they don't feel real in the first place! Denethor is as complex, and his story, his reasons etc are as convoluted, as a real person. Kudos, Mr Tolkien!

        • Tul says:

          When reading a story, my first favorites are more often the ones I like as characters, that pleases my brain, than the ones I identify with or would like as persons.

          I really love Denethor as a character, and I've come to also really like him as a person, I think. Besides, the fact that he's my favorite character's father could only make me even more interested in him (and vice versa the fact that Faramir had such a father makes him even cooler!).
          Faramir I LOVE both as a character and as a person, of course. He's just awesome on so many level, and even though he's not a main character, I find him very "complete". Ur rira unf gur orfg ybir fgbel, gur zbfg onqnff tvey rire, naq gur bayl ebznagvp xvff bs gur jubyr obbx!

          I still find their story the most compelling one in the Book. To me! I'm really drawn to the complexity of it all… Well, what you said…
          Yep, Tolkien was a genius!


          • flootzavut says:

            I'm literally hightailing it to bed because I am EXHAUSTED and half past nine feels like about 3am, but just wanted to upvote your comment and also say ALL THE TRUTH to your ROT13 😀 – V ybir Snenzve, ohg chg uvz jvgu gur furre njrfbzrfnhpr gung vf Rbjla? ABJ lbh'er gnyxvat 😀

            (Gubhtu V zhfg pbasrff gb tvttyvat jura fbzrbar pbzzragrq, jrrxf ntb, gung Rbjla frrzrq gb raq hc jvgu Snenzve orpnhfr ur jnf gur bayl zna jub frrzrq gb xabj jung jbzra jrer sbe YBY V crefbanyyl srry gung'f n ovg uneq ba gur bgure thlf, orpnhfr yrg'f snpr vg, gurl qba'g trg zhpu punapr gb fcraq gvzr nebhaq jbzra guebhtubhg guvf gnyr, ohg vg qvq znxr zr tvttyr).

            Bu, nqqvgvbany: Bar bs zl snibhevgr yvarf vf "V jvfu jvfurq gurr wbl fvapr svefg V fnj gurr. Vg urnyf zl urneg gb frr gurr abj va oyvff." V qb ybir Nentbea, naq gung ornhgvshy guvat gung ur fnlf gb Rbjla, jubz V nyfb ybir gb qvfgenpgvba, whfg zrygf zl urneg rirel fvatyr gvzr <3

    • flootzavut says:

      I'm too tired to think about this properly (!) but just thoughts in my head:

      V guvax gung cneg bs gur ceboyrz jvgu Qrargube univat n ovt vffhrf jvgu Nentbea nf Xvat vf gung Qrargube VF bayl gur Fgrjneq, naq gung vf jung uvf snzvyl yvar VF. V zrna, qbrfa'g Snenzve rffragvnyyl xrrc gung ebyr? Gur Flrjneq unf arire orra n Xvat, V nyjnlf sryg yvxr cneg bs Qrargube'f ceboyrz, cneg bs uvf qbjasnyy, jnf gung ur jnagrq gb or zber – be ng yrnfg, abg gb or Fgrjneq HAQRE n Xvat. Snenzve pnyyvat Nentbea Xvat jurgure be abg Qrargube vf qrnq vf va gung frafr ragveryl ernfbanoyr – vg frrzf yvxr S unf zber frafr bs "uvf cynpr" guna Qrargube qbrf, Snenzve unf ab vyyhfvbaf gung uvf snzvyl'f pynvz gb Fgrjneqfuvc fhcreprqrf Nentbea'f pynvz gb gur Xvatfuvc. Nsgre nyy, Nentbea cebirf uvf jbegu abg whfg ol uvf oybbqyvar, ohg ol shysvyyvat cebcurpvrf naq urnyvat crbcyr naq orvat noyr gb pynvz nyyrtvnapr sebz gur qrnq nezl, rgp. V qba'g xabj, V pna'g frr Snenzve nqzvggvat Nentbea'f gur Xvat nf n orgenlny, naq Qrargube bayl frrf Nentbea nf n ceboyrz orpnhfr ur vf frrvat Nentbea nf n guerng gb uvf cbjre. Jurer, nf n Fgrjneq, ur "fubhyq" (naq V xabj, ur'f bayl uhzna naq vg'f abg nyjnlf gung fvzcyr!) or erwbvpvat ng gur erghea bs gur Xvat, ropnhfr gung'f jul gur guebar unf orra fgrjneqrq nyy gurfr lrnef. Gur irel zrnavat bs gur gvgyr, Fgrjneq, vf fbzrbar jub ybbxf nsgre/nqzvavfgref fbzrbar ryfr'f cebcregl be Xvatqbz, be jungrire. Nentbea vfa'g gnxvat Qrargube'f cynpr, orpnhfr Qargube vf abg naq pbhyq arire or gur evtushy Xvat…

      • blossomingpeach says:

        Gung'f bar bs zl snibevgr zbzragf: jura Snenzve jnxrf hc naq, jvgubhg onggvat na rlr, npxabjyrqtrf Nentbea nf xvat. Ur znl abg xabj Qrargube vf qrnq lrg, ohg ur qbrf xabj gung Obebzve vf tbar, ur vf gur shgher Fgrjneq bs gur Pvgl, naq uvf bja shgher naq cbjre jvyy or nssrpgrq ol gur cerfrapr bs n xvat. Vg'f zber n ersyrpgvba bs uvf bja uhzvyvgl guna nal xvaq bs orgenlny. (Gubhtu V nyfb nterr gung Qrargube jbhyq unir ernq vg nf n orgenlny.)

        Errm, basically, all you just said. You said it well. I love how complex these characters are, and I love that we all can have civilized, thorough discussion until the cows come home and never run out of material. <3

        • flootzavut says:

          Lrf, rknpgyl – Qaargube jbhyq gbgnyyl unir frra gung nf orgenlny, ohg vg'f ernyyl snenzve'f yblnygl gb fbzrbar (naq fbzrguvat, gur vafgvghgvba vgfrys) gung pbzznaqrq n uvture yblnygl guna ur bjrq gb uvf sngure.

          V thrff va n frafr, Snenzve vf fubjvat gung uvf yblnygl gb uvf pbhagel (nf ercerfragrq ol Nentbea) vf zber vzcbegnag guna uvf yblnygl gb uvf bja snzvyl yvar. V guvax, sbe crbcyr va gubfr cbfvgvbaf bs cbjre naq nhgubevgl – rfcrpvnyyl jura gung vf pbasreerq ol ovegu – gung'f n ernyyl tbbq dhnyvgl.

          V'ir erpragyl orra ernqvat n ybg nobhg gur Oevgvfu zbanepul, naq bar bs gur vffhrf gung crbcyr (dhvgr evtugyl, V zvtug fnl) unq jvgu gurz jnf gung gurl fubjrq zber yblnygl gb gurve snzvyl yvarf (juvpu jrer vagevpngryl vagregjvarq jvgu gubfr bs eblny snzvyvrf nyy bire Rhebcr) guna gb gur pbhagel.

          Gur Ubhfr bs Jvaqfbe jnf rfgnoyvfurq gb xvaq bs Oevgvfu-vfr gur Eblny snzvyl, naq gurl gbbx terng cnvaf gb frcnengr gurzfryirf, ernyvfvat gung gb cresbez gurve shapgvba va n zber zbqrea, yrff Zbanepul-sevraqyl jbeyq, gurl unq gb erqrsvar gurve ebyr, naq gnxr ba gur znagyr bs freivpr gb gur pbhagel.

          Jurgure gurl fhpprrqrq vf fbzrguvat crbcyr znl nethr nobhg, ohg vg'f vagrerfgvat gb zr gung vg'f npghnyyl dhvgr n erprag cbvag bs ivrj, va grezf bs eblny snzvyvrf. Gurer'f dhvgr n pbagenfg rira jvguva n irel fubeg crevbq bs gvzr, vs zrzbel freirf – onpx ebhaq gur gvzr bs JJV, gur yblnygvrf bs gur eblnyf jrer terngyl jvgu gur eblnyf jub jrer orvat qrcbfrq ryfrjurer. V'ir ybfg genpx bs jurgure vg jnf Rqjneq IVV be Trbetr I, ohg bar bs gurz znqr n pbzzrag nobhg eblnygl rssrpgviryl orvat "gur snzvyl ohfvarff", naq srryvat nobhg bgure eblnyf (va bgure pbhagevrf) nf orvat cneg bs gur fnzr svez/gur fnzr havba, va grezf bs gurve yvar bs jbex. Gur Oevgvfu eblnyf unq yvaxf jvgu gur Xnvfre va Treznal, nyy gubfr xvaq bs yvaxf.

          Naq gura ol pbagenfg, Gfne Avpubynf VV bs Ehffvn jnf npghnyyl ershfrq nflyhz va Oevgnva ol gur Xvat, jurer gur tbireazrag jrer unccl gb rkgraq gur jrypbzr. Gur Jvaqfbef jrer nyfb gur barf jub qrpvqrq gung, npghnyyl, zneelvat pbzzbaref jub jrer npghnyyl OEVGVFU zvtug or n jvfre cyna ba gur CE sebag guna pbagvahnyyl zneelvat sbervta eblnyf! Vg'f npghnyyl orra ernyyl snfpvangvat gb ernq nobhg, gubhtu pyrneyl zl zrzbel sbe gur svar qrgnvy vf, hz, fxrgpul…!

          Naq gura bs pbhefr, vg'f vagrerfgvat gb pbagenfg gur eryngviryl erprag rneyl 20gu P eblnyf jvgu gur nggvghqrf bs gubfr va gur 19gu P naq rneyvre. Gurer jnf n ybg bs zneelvat sbervtaref tbvat ba, naq gung znqr sbe vagrerfgvat sbervta cbyvpvrf naq punatrf bs bssvpvny eryvtvba naq gur yvxr, ohg bar pbhyq nethr gung Ryvmnorgu V fubjrq rabezbhf yblnygl gb ure pbhagel, fhpu nf orvat hajvyyvat gb zneel va n jnl gung jbhyq wrbcneqvfr gur fgnovyvgl bs gur pbheg (V sbetrg uvf anzr, ohg gur thl fur ybirq jubfr jvsr qvrq va pvephzfgnaprf gung jbhyq unir znqr vg ybbx njshyyl pbairavrag vs fur'q zneevrq uvz, fbeg bs guvat). Ohg gura ntnva vf gung orpnhfr fur jnf yblny be orpnhfr fur jnagrq gb ubyq ba gb cbjre (naq qvqa'g zhpu snapl orvat ybpxrq hc va gur gbjre ntnva??!). Jryy, vg'f vagrerfgvat pbawrpgher, uhu? Gur ovbf V'ir ernq bs ure qb fhttrfg fur jnf n pnaal byq oveq!

          Naq bs pbhefr Snenzve, Qrargube, Obebzve, Nentbea, nyy unir zhpu zber _npghny_ cbjre guna bhe Oevgvfu eblnyf qb. Fb gur snpg gung gurl unir erny cbjre, ohg gung N naq S'f yblnygl vf gb gurve pbhagel naq gb gurve crbcyr, frrzf yvxr n ernyyl tbbq guvat. Vg'f ynhqnoyr gung Snenzve'f svefg npg ba ertnvavat uvf pbafpvbhfarff vf gb qrpyner uvf yblnygl gb uvf Xvat, rira gubhtu uvf bja snzvyl unf orra ehyvat gur pbhagel sbe qrpnqrf (praghevrf)…

          And yes, it's good that we can talk about this all 1) without people getting personal about it and 2) without porbably running out of material or possible discussion for… well… years, probably!

          This comment did kind of get away from me… I think it's my bedtime!!

          • Dreamflower says:

            Really an excellent analysis of that particular issue.

            Noblesse oblige and the concept of service to the people and the nation on the part of those in charge is not a modern idea– but the idea of actually putting that concept into actual practice has historically not been common until recent times. Rather like chivalry, it had more lip service than real service.

            • flootzavut says:

              It's really interesting to be re-reading LOTR in the light of whatI've been reading about royalty from history books – I love howthere're so many layers to be discovered 🙂

          • msw188 says:

            This is definitely an interesting idea that never would have occurred to me. I think we also have to remember that Tolkien would have had personal experience with these concerns, living through World War 1 where there was still a great deal of this familial attitude intertwined with the various monarchies, as you point out. And a case could be made that this attitude was as much a cause of that terrible war as any others (besides, perhaps, sheer base racism).

            • flootzavut says:

              To be honest, I don't think it would have occurred to me had I not been reading a couple of books about related subjects! Much as I still don't understand all of the politics surrounding WWI, I have a much better understanding of how these kind of things contributed to it. It's been really interesting, especially reading them during this re-reading of LOTR which touches on a few of the same subjects!

        • Tul says:

          "I love how complex these characters are, and I love that we all can have civilized, thorough discussion until the cows come home and never run out of material."

      • Tul says:

        I don’t think Denethor wants to become King himself. Contrary to Boromir, who’s a bit of a glory hound, I think Denethor is only interested in the power, and he already has that. The title, now, would be useless ornamentation to him. He just sounds too…practical…to me. He isn’t much into shining things and ceremony, like Imrahil for example is. I sort of think he’s actually extremely proud of his family humility and respect of tradition, that they were able to govern Gondor so far better than the kings, and without the honors and glory of the kings.
        (On a rather unrelated note – he sleeps in chainmail because he’s afraid of becoming a dotard. That sounds so uncomfortable it hurts! Why would anyone do that to oneself? (I enjoy my sleep, ok?) Really the man has his faults, but gluttony, luxury and sloth are certainly not among them!)

        Jryy, jungrire, lrf, Qrargube vf pregnvayl abg vagrerfgrq va orpbzvat Nentbea’f Fgrjneq. Ohg V guvax ng gur gvzr, ur jnfa’g hggreyl qribvq bs nethzragf va uvf erwrpgvba bs uvf pynvz. Nf sne nf V’z pbaprearq, vg *vf* irel fvahbhf.
        Gur Pbhapvy bs Tbaqbe qrpvqrq ybat ntb gung gur urvef bs Vfvyqhe unq ab pynvz gb gur guebar bs Tbaqbe. Fb, haqre abezny pvephzfgnaprf, Nentbea *pbhyq* unir orra erwrpgrq ol gur Fgrjneq naq uvf Pbhapvy. Guvf vf jung guvf cnffntr vf nobhg va gur Cler: <v>‘V nz Fgrjneq bs gur Ubhfr bs Naáevba. V jvyy abg fgrc qbja gb or gur qbgneq punzoreynva bs na hcfgneg. Rira jrer uvf pynvz cebirq gb zr, fgvyy ur pbzrf ohg bs gur yvar bs Vfvyqhe. V jvyy abg obj gb fhpu n bar, ynfg bs n enttrq ubhfr ybat orersg bs ybeqfuvc naq qvtavgl.’</v> Nf vg tbrf, Nentbea cebirq ur jnf Vfvyqhe’f urve orpnhfr bs gur Qrnq, naq ur cebirq ur jnf gur gehr Xvat (gur bar gung pbhyq oevat gung fbeg bs zlfgvpny urnyvat gb gur ynaq naq eriviny bs gur Juvgr Gerr) jvgu uvf urnyvat unaqf. Qrargube unq xabjyrqtr bs abar bs gurfr gjb guvatf ng gur gvzr.
        Ohg V guvax uvf terngrfg zbgvingvbaf sbe uvf hajvyyvatarff gb xarry orsber Nentbea ner rzbgvbany, lrf. Ur *vf* n irel cebhq zna, naq unq orra va pbageby sbe n ybat gvzr abj: vg gnxrf n YBG bs uhzvyvgl naq trarebfvgl gb cnff sebz znfgre gb freinag jvyyvatyl naq jvgubhg ertergf. Orfvqrf, V urne vg tebjf uneqre gb npprcg punatr nf lbh tebj byqre, naq “punatr” (nobir nyy va gur sbez bs fhozvffvba) unq nyjnlf orra n qvssvphyg pbaprcg sbe gur Ahzrabernaf va trareny, nf uvfgbel fubjf. Gur snpg gung Nentbea jnf Guebebatvy, uvf byq eviny naq gur zna jub “fgbyr” uvf sngure’f ybir, qrsvavgryl znqr guvatf hanpprcgnoyr sbe Qrargube.
        Ohg, naq V fhccbfr vg’f orpnhfr V’z ybbxvat ng vg sebz zl zbqrea rlrf, V snvy gb frr jung’f fb rkpvgvat nobhg gur Xvat ergheavat. Gurer jrer Fgrjneqf, naq abj gurer jvyy or Xvatf vafgrnq, naq jryy, jung nobhg vg? Fb V pna’g snhyg Qrargube sbe abg srryvat n wbl V pna’g haqrefgnaq, juvyr V pna flzcnguvmr jvgu uvf ernfbaf naq srryvatf bs erwrpgvba.

        Nf sbe Snenzve, lrf, V fher qba’g oynzr uvz: 1) ur unq whfg jbxra sebz n irel onq srire, ur jnf cebonoyl fgvyy haqre pubpx naq va gbgny njr ng gur vqrn bs Gur Xvat (naq jr xabj ur qernzrq bs gur fvyire pebja ergheavat gb Tbaqbe!)- 2) jr qba'g xabj jung unccrarq va gur qernzjbeyq be jungrire juvyr Nentbea jnf urnyvat Snenzve.- 3) V nterr jvgu lbh naq oybffbzvatcrnpu, vg jnf n terng fubj bs uhzvyvgl gung ur jnf noyr gb tvir Nentbea uvf ernyz jvgubhg nal nffhenapr ur jbhyq rira xrrc gur wbo bs Fgrjneq be unir nal erjneq, na nqzvenoyr pubvpr. Snenzve unccvyl erabhaprq uvf pynvz gb cbjre, nsgre uvf snzvyl ehyrq Tbaqbe sbe trarengvbaf, naq ehyrq jryy gbb. Vg’f engure vzcerffvir.
        Ohg lrf, V nyfb guvax Qrargube jbhyq unir frra vg nf orgenlny. Va cneg, V guvax, orpnhfr, unq ur yvirq, vg jbhyq unir orra uvf wbo gb rknzvar Nentbea’f pynvz naq qrpyner uvz Xvat be abg. Ol pnyyvat uvz Xvat, Snenzve fbeg bs olcnff uvz?

        • flootzavut says:

          I'm knackered of brain 😮 but I just wanted to say it's sooooooooooo interesting to think of all these things from different POVs 🙂

        • Wheelrider says:

          There's a fic you would probably enjoy, if you haven't seen it already… by Nesta, actually two parts, "Black Hour" and "Strange Meeting":

          (probably my all-time favorites)

          • Tul says:

            Read them already, both! 😀 Thank you ^^ (Lbh xabj, guvf vf bar bs gur irel, irel, irel ener pnfrf jurer V rawbl gur svp irefvba bs gur riragf creuncf n ovg zber guna gur bevtvany – vg srryf zber ernyvfgvp fbzrubj, naq Oynpx Ubhe qrnyf jvgu dhrfgvbaf V nfxrq zlfrys orsber, nf n tbbq Fgrjneqvfg)

            Since we're in advertising mode, her "Day shall come again" and "Minas Tirith, 11th March , 3018: A Faramir story" are truly lovely and heartbreaking stories dealing with the events of this chapter.

            • Wheelrider says:

              To your ROT13: absolutely. Gurer jrer gvzrf V erterggrq gelvat gb cvpx guebhtu fb zhpu onq snasvpgvba (orsber V pnhtug ba gb juvpu cynprf gb ybbx naq juvpu nhgubef gb cnl nggragvba gb, naq V fgvyy qba'g ernq zhpu) — ohg gurfr cnegvphyne fgbevrf ner yvxr qvnzbaqf sebz gur zvar.

              Ha ha, I was next going to recommend "Day shall come again" to you as well! Best gapfiller ever. And yes, the other is excellent, so wrenching.

  49. flootzavut says:

    "I'm pretty sure I ended up explaining an entire Sherlock Holmes story once because I had to tell him what was so funny about the end :P"

    Oh, I've so done stuff like that!

    As a child I read fast – I mean really, REALLY fast, the speed most people would skim read. On a few occasions my mum accused (well not ACCUSED, but you know how it is when you're a kid) me of not reading thoroughly, and got detailed explanations of what was happening in the books (invariably plural) I was currently reading. It only happened a few times, she got the message LOL 🙂

  50. Meghan says:

    It's too big to post here as an image, but this was my face when I finished reading this particular entry.

  51. blossomingpeach says:

    This has nothing to do with my comment, but when I go to my intense debate profile (either logged in or out) to find my previous comments, this one doesn't show up. Has this ever happened to anyone?

  52. Ashley says:

    I had forgotten about the Rohirrim by the end of the chapter when I first read the book, so it was a delight to suddenly see them arrive in the nick of time!

  53. greeniebee says:

    Lbh xabj, V gbgnyyl haqrefgnaq gur cebuvovgvba bs gur jbeq penml ba guvf fvgr, ohg V nz jbaqrevat nobhg gur pbairefngvba urer. V zrna, Qrargube jnf qevira cnfg gur oevax bs qrfcnve ol uvf qrnyvatf jvgu gur cnyragve, ur orpbzrf n jbhyq-or snzvyl nauvynyngbe, uvf tevrs, naq gura uvf funzr naq erterg sebz uvf qrrqf naq jbeqf gb Snenzve qevir uvz vagb n fcveny bs qrfgehpgvir npgvbaf. Naq juvyr nyy fbegf bs crbcyr ner fnlvat "shpx qrargube" ba guvf fvgr sbe uvf npgvbaf, Gbyxvra gerngf uvz irel qvssreragyl. Abg nf n nffubyr gung fperjrq hc, abg nf n fbzrbar zragnyyl vyy gung pna gurersber or qvfzvffrq nf jbeguyrff (juvpu V tngure vf gur pbaabgngvba gung unf yrq 'penml' gb or onaarq) ohg nf n terng zna jubfr zvaq pbhyq abg, va gur raq, orne hc haqre gur pvephzfgnaprf bs gur jbeyq nebhaq uvz naq gur pbafgnag haqrezvavat sebz Fnheba guebhtu gur Cnyragve. Gurer vf fnqarff gung gurl qvqa'g vagreirar va gvzr gb fgbc uvf ynfg qrfprag, naq tbrf bhg bs uvf jnl gb fcryy bhg jung Tnaqnys'f qrpvfvba gb fnir Snenzve sebz uvf sngure pbfg. V sbe bar, nz vagrerfgrq gb frr ubj znex gerngf "gur cler bs Qraragube.

  54. Tul says:

    A few late comments:
    1) The People and Beregond’s devotion and trust in Faramir is touching really. But it’s also sad in a way how he is their last hope and they’re pretty much lost when he’s wounded.
    2) “When he saw the pale face of Faramir he caught his breath. It was the face of one who had been assailed by a great fear or anguish, but has mastered it and now is quiet.” That’s true courage, not being devoid of fear, but going on despite it. Faramir returned to his unhorsed men, and faced the Nazgûl on their fell beast for them, in spite of being dead afraid (Creating fear is one the Nazgûl’s most deadly powers). Which strikes me as a very foolish thing to do, but certainly also very brave and inspiring. Same as Frodo facing Shelob’s eyes in the Dark, snzr nf Zreel naq Rbjla arkg puncgre – very inspiring to me.
    3) “Yet suddenly for Faramir his heart was strangely moved with a feeling that he had not known before. Here was one with an air of nobility such as Aragorn at times revealed, less high perhaps, yet also less incalculable and remote: one of the Kings of Men born into a later time, but touched with the wisdom and sadness of the Elder race. He knew now why Beregond spoke his name with love. He was a captain that men would follow, that he would follow, even under the shadow of the black wings. ‘Faramir!’ he cried with the others. ‘Faramir!’” This is Pippin basically falling in love at first sight and it’s beautiful ok?
    4) Why is Gandalf waiting so eagerly for Faramir? He is worried, he wants someone with sense to talk to who isn’t Denethor, or he suspects he may have news about Frodo and Sam?
    5) Faramir thought Gandalf was dead, didn’t he? Must have been chocked to see him again coming to his rescue all in white and on Shadowfax!
    6) Pippin is the cutest and purest creature ever in this chapter!
    7) Denethor and Gandalf’s bickering is perfect, as always. Look how they fight (subtly) over who has the most knowledge constantly. Gandalf delivers bad news in the most depressing way possible, and Denethor replies by saying he already knew it and has already taken action. BTW Gandalf seems to enjoy reciting the WK’s many sweet pretty titles to Denethor (which I sort of interpret as taunting). Denethor’s reply – ‘can it be that you have withdrawn because you are outmatched?’ – made me anxious on first read, ‘cause I was afraid for a moment that Denethor had a point!
    8) Pippin’s pride and his refusal to leave Denethor’s service is touching. Denethor’s folly is horrifying.
    9) Lots of people already commented on it, but the end of this chapter is the GREATEST THING EVER‼! My imagination can’t handle all the excitement OK? The Gates breaking, the crown of the Nazgûl, the flames, Gandalf, and in the mist of all that, a cock crowed? And, OMG, the HORNS‼! Too much, this is just too much‼!
    (And I have 9 points again! *happy*)

  55. Merry says:

    I love that Tolkien created one of the most powerful chapter endings in the whole of LOTR in a sentence of only five words.

  56. Icarus says:


    How can you not read the next chapter immediately?

    Of course, what would happen then is you'll the next … and the next … and the next….

  57. Tul says:

    I just noticed, this post is under the "Fellowship of the Ring" category instead of "Return of the King". I don't know if that matters to anyone, but I just thought I'd say it! 🙂

  58. notemily says:

    OK, so I love the Pippin and Gandalf show. "Only one 'but' will I allow tonight." Hee.

    The Faramir and Denethor show, not so much. Denethor wishes that he and Boromir had switched places! He basically tells Faramir that he wishes HE had died instead of Boromir! WTF. Way to play favoritism and not notice how FREAKING AWESOME your remaining son is, dude.

    "If I should return, think better of me!" "That depends on the manner of your return." I hate you so hard, Denethor. *glares*

    And then he's like "The Dark Lord uses others as weapons. Because that's obviously what you SHOULD do. I have my armor on all the time, but I never fight because that would be foolish!" And meanwhile Theoden is getting ready to ride out with his company and fight the war himself. Once again I hate you so hard, Denethor.



    "Go now and die in what way seems best to you." Jesus Christ Denethor.

    I do love that Pippin takes charge. He's come so far. When he sees that Denethor's plan is to BURN HIMSELF AND HIS SON ALIVE without waiting for help or medicine, he knows he has to find Gandalf and he even takes the time to order the guards around and tell them that their lord is not exactly ruling the city anymore so it's Gandalf or nobody. I love you Pippin.


  59. flootzavut says:

    LMAO! That is brilliant 😀

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