Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King’: Chapter 5

In the fifth chapter of The Return of the King, Merry and the Rohirrim make their way to Gondor. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


I want to have hope, but I know I really shouldn’t do that. IT IS A BAD IDEA. There’s just so much to be upset about in The Return of the King that I kind of want to hold any hope close to my heart and just squeeze it lovingly. As frustrating as it is, I’m really enjoying the parallel stories between Merry and Pippin, two hobbits thrust into the middle of a war, both intensely lonely, and both frightfully unprepared for what is about to happen. If they only knew what the other one was doing! But Tolkien is tormenting us for now, and in this brief chapter, he moves Merry so much closer to his best friend.

Merry’s loneliness, though, comes from the fact that the Rohan pretty much despise him. His very presence in their group is a sign that he disobeyed Théoden, so he is largely ignored. At least Pippin has Gandalf and Beregond! Merry’s has… horses? That’s pretty much it. Wow, when I put it like that, that sounds horrific. I just mean that he’s bored, lonely, and anxious about the journey ahead of him.

What totally took me by surprise, though, was the fact that even all the way at the end of this epic tale, Tolkien still introduces a new group of characters in the story. Chapter five gives us the Wild Men of the Woods. I think they’re humans, but aside from a physical description, all we really know is that they’re a sort of primitive culture, low in numbers, and rarely eager to interact with any other people in Middle-earth. But it is in these Wild Men that Éomer and Théoden find an unexpected ally. Ghân-buri-Ghân is the headman of this tribe of men, and they have a marked interest in the riders of Rohan eliminating the enemy threat: they hate Orcs. (I can’t help but laugh at the idea that every creature in Middle-earth, including Orcs themselves, hate Orcs.)

Ghân offers a service that the riders don’t have if they can defeat the enemy. What little I could guess about the culture of these people I gleamed from this conversation. I could tell they weren’t exactly the biggest fans of anyone but themselves. Content to stick with their own, it seems to have made them excellent listeners and observers. Because of this, they have a beautifully efficient system of learning information about the surrounding area and then passing it along. It’s with this that the Rohan learn of the siege on Gondor, and that there is a secret route they can use to cut off the Orcs without rushing right into them.

And that’s something that works in this book. Middle-earth is so immense that I can’t wrap my head around how large it is sometimes. The world that Tolkien has created is dissimilar to ours because the characters in Middle-earth do not have the same knowledge of geography as we do. We have so many resources at our disposal and have had them for years in order to learn about land masses, paths, streets, roads, alleyways, and the like. Knowledge and information is either written down or passed by word-of-mouth. It’s one of the only things I’ve ever read where it is absolutely realistic that there would be a secret route that only one group of characters knows about. I kind of love that? Like a ridiculous amount. I also love Ghân laughing. You can’t take that away from me.

Even with this good fortune, though, the characters are quick to discover that this isn’t going to get any easier. The shortcut does provide them with a much better method of riding closer to Minas Tirith, but they discover so many horrific signs of war along the way. They find two messengers of Gondor, one whom was beheaded, and the evidence suggests they turned back from the city, as if something prevented them from getting there. As they inch closer, their own messengers return the same message, which I will paraphrase now: Y’all, shit is fucked up.

But perhaps this is a sign of hope, or at least something I can latch on to for a moment. As the whole group nearly sinks into the despair of the realization that they’ve arrived at Minas Tirith too late, there’s a gust of wind. And never has wind been so important! Because that wind gives way to a glimpse of light and clouds in the South, the only area not covered by the grim black sky of Mordor. I imagine that Gandalf is the one who causes the flash like lightning in the city, and that flash brings about this surge of power in the whole group. I love that this sort of confidence is always represented by characters appearing to grow in size; we’ve seen it happen to Gandalf, Frodo, and Aragorn before. This happens with Théoden, sitting upon Shadowmane, and the events at the end of the last chapter finally sync up in this chapter: Théoden blows the great horn, announcing the arrival of the Rohirrim, and then they begin to slaughter the fuck out of the Orcs.

Oh god, shit is so real right now and it’s barely begun to get real.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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236 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King’: Chapter 5

  1. Becky_J_ says:

    Awww, MAN, I missed the Siege of Gondor! *pouts lip and stomps foot* I blame you, University! All that homework and lack of sleep and stuff, ruining everything!!

    ANYWAYS……I really did want to talk about some serious things here.

    I really, really, REALLY love this chapter. Not that things have been light-hearted up till now, by any means, but now we're really getting into it. This could be the last chapter that some of these characters are alive! And yet there's still a feeling of hope in this chapter that seemed absent for most of the last. If the last chapter was filled with despair and darkness and the thought of a neverending night, this chapter is filled with hope and honor and the coming of dawn.

    Let's talk about Merry and Pippin for a moment. In these last couple of chapters (well, pretty much since they got split up, actually), they have both felt lonely, abandoned, and burdensome. They don't know what they can possibly do in this war full of bigger players, and they don't feel the courage they think they should feel. But if you ask me, this is really when they come into themselves. Just think about how different they are from what they were in the Shire! They were full of happiness and giddiness and all that, yes, and they had the courage and friendship to leave with Frodo, even though they could have no idea what they were getting into…. but I don't think that Shire-Merry and Shire-Pippin would be ready to go to war. When Merry questions himself in this chapter, when he wonders why he didn't take his out even when it was given to him, I think this is the answer: they are fighting for something worth fighting for. They can no longer believe that they can hide in their own corner of Middle-Earth and be left alone. They can't possibly see the darkness before them and think it won't spread to their Shire. And most importantly, they can't stand by and let their friends die without them. These strangers, they have grown to love them all. They've seen their friends die and they've seen their friends disappear and they don't even know if Sam and Frodo are alive or if this war is fought in vain. But it doesn't matter, because this is their world too, and when it comes right down to it, these hobbits have every ounce of honor and courage as any man. And when it comes down to it, their road is every bit as dangerous as the one Frodo and Sam are on…. and every bit as important. I love all the hobbits with all my heart.

    Gah. Sorry, that was longer than I intended, but I just can't control myself when I get to talking about my hobbit-love. I could write essays on that shit in a HEARTBEAT.

    Now, in closing, I just want to leave the last few paragraphs here… they don't need a whole lot of commentary, because they pretty much speak for themselves, but it is just such a moment of beauty that I wanted to highlight it, because I think things are about to get real. Way, way too real.

    Suddenly the king cried to Snowmane and the horse sprang away. Behind him his banner blew in the wind, white horse upon a field of green, but he outpaced it. After him thundered the knights of his house, but he was ever before them. Eomer rode there, the white horsetail on his helm floating in his speed, and the front of the first eored roared like a breaker foaming to the shore, but Theoden could not be overtaken. Fey he seemed, or the battle-fury of his fathers ran like a new fire in his veins, and he was borne up on Snowmane like a god of old, even as Orome the Great in the battle of the Valar when the world was young. His golden shield was uncovered, and lo! it shone like an image of the Sun, and the grass flamed into green about the white feet of his steed. For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wraths rode over them. And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City."


    • saphling says:

      That passage never fails to give me the chills. The imagery in it is so clear and iconic.

      "..and the first eored roared like a breaker foaming to the shore…" Sorry orcs, the tide's coming in to tear down your sandcastle. ^_^

      "…he was borne up on Snowmane like a god of old, even as Orome the Great in the battle of the Valar when the world was young…" FUCK YEAH, THEODEN. You're a king of men in the third age of the world, AND THE NARRATION JUST EQUATED YOU TO ONE OF THE VALAR.

      "…lo! it shone like an image of the Sun, and the grass flamed into green about the white feet of his steed." …How many times can I say FUCK YEAH, THEODEN.

      "…and the hoofs of wrath rode over them." *shivers*

    • @flourish says:

      More or less my favorite passage of all time.

    • Hey, I missed because of university too! It made me really angry- but this chapter is such a great setup chapter that I suppose I'll have to forgive real life for getting in the way of my internet pasttimes.

      And your point about the hobbits is spectacular. They would never have been prepared to face the things they have tackled in this war- Gandalf even said back in Fellowship that if they saw clearly where their path was taking them, they would be too frightened to go. I'm pretty sure things like this would be one of the reasons why.

    • jne says:

      Merry and Pippin were kind of my model for adult behavior. Do what has to be done. Even if you don't think you are up to the task, look it full on in the face and TRY! The bravery and resourcefulness they show breaks my heart every time. They are not enamored of death (Sorry Bella Swan), but they throw themselves into the battles because its the right thing to do. Ahh. Heroism.

    • flootzavut says:


      And just because we mentioned Merry and Pippin and I love this gif and who doesn't need gorgeous Billy Boyd infusions while all this shit is getting real?

      <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">


  2. Jenny_M says:

    Talk about the deep breath before the plunge. All the love for Theoden!!!

    Also, Merry = / = luggage. I'm pretty sure.

  3. Tauriel_ says:

    In this chapter FORTH EORLINGAAAAAAAS!!!! B-) B-) B-) <3 <3 <3 😀 😀 😀

    The charge of the Rohirrim is amazing. So full of epic epicness and other epic stuff. I get shivers every time I read it. 🙂 So uplifting, so heroic, so dramatic – makes your heart beat faster with excitement. Fuck yeah, Tolkien.

    And I love the comparison of Théoden to Oromë as he charged – everyone who has read the Silmarillion will know that it is a very high praise indeed. Rira gur Ryirf jrer irel eneryl pbzcnerq gb gur Inyne – gur zbfg abgnoyr rknzcyr vf Svatbysva, gur Uvtu Xvat bs Abyqbe, jura ur punyyratrq Zbetbgu gb n fvatyr pbzong, vg jnf fnvq gung uvf rlrf "fubar yvxr gur rlrf bs gur Inyne".

    It's very short, though, this chapter, isn't it? :p

  4. Katie says:

    I kind of always interpreted this chapter as the Rohan ignoring Merry not because they despise him, but because they don't want to draw attention to him: if they pretend he's not there, it's as if he never disobeyed orders. I always took it that they respect his decision to go to war with them and are helping him in their own way (by not snitching him out to Theoden).

    • rubyjoo says:

      I agree, Katie. That's how I read it too.

    • Dreamflower says:


      Nyfb V guvax vg zrnaf gurl xabj jub Qreauryz vf nf jryy, gubhtu gurer'f abguvat pbapergr ba gung. Ohg vs Gurbqra jbhyq or gvpxrq ng xabjvat Zreel unq qvfborlrq naq pbzr nybat whfg *vzntvar* uvz tbvat onyyvfgvp vs ur xarj uvf avrpr unq qbar gur fnzr guvat! Ohg gur rberq zbfg pregnvayl jnagf gb znvagnva gur vyyhfvba gung gurl *qba'g* xabj!

      • Wheelrider says:

        Agreed. Gurer'f gur "frrzrq gb or fbzr haqrefgnaqvat" orgjrra Qreauryz naq Rysuryz ovg (pna'g dhbgr qverpgyl evtug abj)… V tbg gur vzcerffvba gurl'er obgu orvat nyybjrq gb fxngr ol.

      • flootzavut says:

        Lrf, V'ir arire orra pregnva rknpgyl jub xabjf jung (yvxr, fbzrgvzrf V jbaqre vs fbzr bguref unir nffhzrq gung Rbjla/Qreauryz vf fbzr xvaq bs lbhatre zna jub _fubhyqa'g_ or gurer, be jub ernyvfrf fur vf FUR, ohg pregnvayl V srry yvxr gurer'f n zhghny qrgrezvangvba gb cergraq gung Zreel naq Rbjla ner rvgure abg gurer, be fubhyq or gurer!

    • Eregyrn says:

      Yes, for the record, I always read it that way. That the other Rohirrim actually DO respect his desire to go to battle, and they don't want to tattle on him, because all of them can sympathize with wanting to go and do battle rather than be left behind. And it's not like Merry was told to stay behind because he had a very important other duty, which he is shirking by coming along. I also tended to think — despite Eowyn's bitterness — that most of the Rohirrim would be unhappy but understand it if they were kept from going to battle by an important other duty. But there's no "good reason" for Merry to be left behind? Except to coddle him? And they can respect his desire not to be coddled, even if he LOOKS like a child.

      • @redbeardjim says:

        The reason Merry was left behind had nothing to do with coddling, but rather with speed. Merry's too short to ride one of the big horses, but too big to be carried double — except by someone light like Dernhelm.

        • Eregyrn says:

          Ah, I'm misremembering, then. But my point stands — while that's a "good reason" to have left Merry behind, I could see how it wouldn't have been seen as a "binding reason" (such as another important duty). And thus, if Merry could find a way around the reason for being left behind, then why object to his wanting to join the battle, a desire that the other Rohirrim would sympathize with.

    • LadyViridis says:

      Yeah, I don't think they hate him, they're just going along with Dernhelm's plot to bring Merry along. So they quietly ignore him, like "Hobbits? What hobbits. No hobbits here." I also imagined that everyone is kind of busy with their own worries and preparations, so there just isn't much time to talk to Merry even if they wanted to risk bringing attention to him. Still, it's gotta be lonely for Merry.

      • Anonymous says:

        Lrnu, ng yrnfg Zreel unf Qreauryz/Rbjla ba uvf fvqr, fb ur'f abg gbgnyyl nybar.

      • sirintegra42 says:

        Yeah, I thought that too. I would think that a war would be a more important thing to worry about than one tiny Hobbit. Plus it's not like they could do anything else with him, the Rohirrim are clearly good people so they couldn't just dump him somewhere. I doubt they could spare anyone to take him back to Edoras either.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Joining the chorus of "that's how I read it too".

    • flootzavut says:

      That's how I always read it, too.

    • Marie the Bookwyrm says:

      Yet another one agreeing with Katie. 🙂 Didn't it say that there seemed to be some sort of 'understanding' between Dernhelm and Elfhelm (the leader of that troop)? I just assumed it was to 'pretend Merry wasn't there' while letting him ride along.

  5. knut_knut says:

    Merry wished he was a tall Rider like Éomer and could blow a horn or something and go galloping to [Pippin’s] rescue.
    Pippin is a damsel in distress and Merry is his knight in shining armour y/y? (hmmm armor/armour is a very strange word and no matter how I spell it, it always looks wrong ARGH)

    I don’t actually remember much from this chapter other than AAAGH THE SUSPENSE! I don’t want these characters to go into battle and all die, but the suspense is too much!

    • monkeybutter says:


      And speaking as an American, only "armour" looks weird. Not just because of the US/UK spelling differences, but also because I read it as a "amour" for half a second.

      • saphling says:

        I was just about to comment with that exact same thought. Armour always looks like amour to me.

      • Dreamflower says:

        I'm American too, but I read so much Brit-lit that the "u" in "or" words looks fine to me. I grew up thinking it was just an optional spelling, and was a junior in high school before a teacher told me it was an "affectation" to use British spellings that I realized why some words had it and some don't. Even to this day, certain words look better to me with that "u". Armour is one, saviour is another. Also, I much prefer "grey" to "gray".

        • knut_knut says:

          That’s exactly what happened to me! I think colour and favourite look much better with the u, and the rhythm when writing them out feels so much better.

        • monkeybutter says:

          I use grey and gray interchangeably, I have a bad habit of doubling the l’s in “traveled” and “traveling,” and I refuse to use punctuation in Mr, Mrs, Dr, and any other abbreviated word that ends in the same letter as the original word. The latter is most likely due to taking French, though (they can, however, keep their extraneous “u”s. I’m used to seeing Brit spelling like you guys, but the American way scans fine.) I’m glad that the internets have quickened the decline of punctuation in abbreviation in the US. 😀

          • Dreamflower says:

            I write so much LotR fanfic that I am sometimes even more used to UK spelling than American– "traveler" actually looks wrong to me now! And I am also more used to typing "waggon" than "wagon" these days.

            It's affected a lot of other things too. I usually have to check carefully to make sure I don't type "hobbit" when I mean "hobby".

            • flootzavut says:

              "It's affected a lot of other things too. I usually have to check carefully to make sure I don't type "hobbit" when I mean "hobby"."

              LOL I LOVE THAT SO MUCH!

          • rabidsamfan says:

            I'm an American and I was *taught* to double the l in "traveller" etc. If you want the vowel to stay short before adding -ed or -er to a word ending in a single consonant, you have to double the consonant. Simple phonics.

            Something the people at Microsoft clearly never were told.

            • monkeybutter says:

              I wasn't taught one way or the other, and I guess just picked up the double l spelling, but then I had teachers in high school circle it and point it out as an error (not that it was a British spelling, just that it was wrong, and I felt so ignorant because I fucked up a first grade spelling word.) By that point, the single l just looked weird, so I got a lot of red circles for that one, and I fretted way too much about a simple spelling error.

        • msw188 says:

          For a while after reading this I didn't even realize that "gray" existed as a correct spelling.

        • fantasy_fan says:

          Same problem, including the doubled letters. And the one British guy I interact with in the department laughs at me, because it is unconscious now.

        • arctic_hare says:

          I am American and I REFUSE TO SPELL GREY WITH AN A. It just looks better!

        • blossomingpeach says:

          Jumping on this boat with everyone else to agree. I'm American, but I almost always spell things the British way the first time, then have to change them back. I'm a fan of grey, pyjamas, colour, favourite, the double l's, s's where we Americans use z's, and so on and so forth. 😀

          I was also a senior in college before I found out I'd been punctuating the British way my whole life, putting the punctuation outside of the quotation mark rather than within it. Not sure why no one bothered to mention that to me before…

        • Cereus says:

          Am I the only one who uses Gray and Grey for slightly different colors?

          Grey when it's a soft, brownish grey.

          Gray when it's a steel or true (or bluish) gray.

      • knut_knut says:

        I keep reading both armor and armour as amor/amour. The American way looked right until I second guessed myself (I'm a terrible speller) and added the u. Now they both look wrong o_O

    • jne says:

      Merry loves his friend. The war, is always personal for Merry. That's his strength!

    • flootzavut says:

      That's so cute that Merry wants to go rescue him <3 nyfb bs pbhefr Cvccva vf gur bar jub tbrf gb svaq naq erfphr Zreel, juvpu nyjnlf znxrf zr guvax gung vf nyzbfg n pbzvat-bs-ntr sbe Cvccva, uvz orvat gur bar gb qb gur erfphvat, jurernf Zreel unf hfhnyyl orra gur bar gb qb gung va gur cnfg. Gur fprar va gur zbivrf jurer Cvccva svaqf Zreel vfwhfg fbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb nqbenoyr :'( <3

    • sirintegra42 says:

      Armour's fine. The one American spelling which always sets my teeth on edge is 'disoriented', it's DISORIENTATED DAMN IT. Well that and 'gotten'. I swear I'm not a language snob but I'll never get used to that. It's just what you're used to I guess.

      Oh, and aluminum instead of aluminium, although I do know the reason behind that.

      • BetB says:

        I swear that I'm not trying to start a fight!

        Why disorientated and not disoriented? I was taught disoriented. I never heard disorientated until I was a bit older. Is it regional or "Queen's English" or something of that sort?

        I have long since accepted that it is correct but it still catches my attention. It's funny but the word disorientated always has rubbed me the wrong way since I was used to disoriented. I can't read Harry Potter without noticing this word negatively.

        Another one that bugs me is disenable (just say disable, please?).

        Again, I'm not questioning your use of any word. I really am just curious.

        • sirintegra42 says:

          I don't know really. I guess it's because orient instead of orientate would seem wrong to me too. I know it's a bit cumbersome as a word but I'm pretty fond of overly long words, like ridiculously :). Most of this language stuff is fairly illogical really if you think about it too much. It's probably more 'proper' but then I come from a region where 'where's that to?' is a valid question (it means 'where is it?' if you're wondering) so that shouldn't really bother me.

          Who uses disenable though? Definitely disable in that case.

      • Dreamflower says:

        "Aluminium" and "disorientate" are British words.

        "Aluminum", "disorient" and "gotten" are American words.

        One language is English, the other language is American English. They are close enough that speakers of both can understand one another, but there are enough significant differences between them.

        BTW, "gotten" is a word it's hard for me not to use, as I do my pitiful best not to have too many Americanisms in my fanfic. But I don't go overboard and beat myself up if I slip up once in a while.

        • sirintegra42 says:

          Yeah I know that. I just don't understand the reasons behind the changes sometimes. English is a pretty odd language and has loads of stuff which doesn't make much sense due to being tacked together out of various languages so some simplifications make sense. However those ones still seem odd to me.

          Gotten seems to have drifted into use in some places here but I don't see why, surely it's easier to just use got or went? If it has some use that I don't know of feel free to correct me but it doesn't make much sense to me to start making words more complicated to say.

          • _pickwick_ says:

            Jumping in – "gotten" is actually old British usage from before America was founded, and it's just that it's fallen out of use in Britain but not in America. It's some kind of specific tense that I can't remember (OK, I looked it up – it's the past participle rather than the simple past tense), but it's the same distinction as I forgot/ I've forgotten and I wrote/ I've written. And I have NO IDEA what the rules are for using them, I just kind of know which to use…

            • sirintegra42 says:

              Oh now that's cool. It's like how z used to be pretty interchangeable with s in things like realise until that got associated with being American somehow. That's what I can vaguely remember from my english language lessons anyway :).

            • Dreamflower says:


              Many words we use on this side of the pond really follow the older usages of Britain. A lot of words were changed by efforts to make them sound "classier". For example, over here we use the word "napkin" to mean that piece of cloth (or nowadays, paper) that's used at a meal to catch crumbs and wipe the mouth. In the UK that word is "serviette". But that's actually a much more recent word, and one influenced by France– before that the word was the same in both countries. In the UK, a napkin is shortened to "nappy" and means what we call a "diaper".

              JRRT himself preferred older usages, and didn't like words that had derived from the French, if I recall correctly. He still held a grudge on the Normans for 1066.

              • BetB says:

                Thanks for the discussion. I do like linguistics but I don't spend a lot of time researching this kind of thing. The use of "gotten" seems to be related to the use of "begotten", or at least my mind tells me so.

    • hazelwillow says:

      Hehe I like this thread.

      I'm Canadian, so I basically get to pick and choose. 🙂 Canadian English is a mixture between American and British, but the spellings of a lot of things are British (colour, grey, armour, favourite, etc). However, both are seen so frequently that you can kind of take your pick (I see both check and cheque, for instance). I've never actually appreciated that before, I've always been defender of one side (I hate color with a burning passion), but it is nice.

  6. Ryan Lohner says:

    Vg’f cerggl sha ernqvat guvf nsgre frrvat Znex va Arj Lbex, univat nyernql ernq n pregnva erirny va gur arkg puncgre.

    V’ir znqr zl gubhtugf ba gur Gbyxvra chevfgf cerggl pyrne ol abj, ohg V abj unir gb fnl gung V svaq gur jrnxrfg pbzcynvag bs gurz nyy gb or gur erzbiny bs Tuna-ohev-Tuna. Jvgu nyy gung Erghea bs gur Xvat unq gb jenc hc, fbzr crbcyr npghnyyl jnagrq gur svyz gb jnfgr gra zvahgrf be fb ba guvf punenpgre jub vf abg vzcbegnag gb nalguvat ohg guvf bar fhocybg gung pna rnfvyl or rkpvfrq ragveryl. Naq orlbaq gung, ur’f nyfb engure rzoneenffvat gurfr qnlf nf n 19gu praghel “Qnexrfg Nsevpn” fgrerbglcr, naq whfg erzrzore Gur Oyvaq Onaxre sebz Fureybpx gb frr jung unccraf jura lbh gel gb qb gung xvaq bs guvat gurfr qnlf.

    • monkeybutter says:

      While not really a problem for Mark, that was an expectation spoiler for the people who are reading along, so I rot13'd your first sentence.

    • Dreamflower says:

      V graq gb nterr ba gung cnegvphyne phg. Vg jbhyq or qvssvphyg gb vapyhqr gurfr qnlf jvgubhg orvat bssrafvir, naq vg qvq abg znxr n ybg bs frafr gb vapyhqr va na nyernql gvzr-fgenccrq fpevcg.

      Zl pbzcynvagf ner bsgra abg jung jnf phg, ohg jung jnf nqqrq.

    • knut_knut says:

      Jung'f gur erirny arkg puncgre? Jura ur jnf gnyxvat nobhg Cvccva ng gur raq bs Puncgre gra V jnf yvxr “jung gur uryy vf ur gnyxvat nob- bu…. BUUUUUUUUUU LBH UNIR AB VQRN”

      V’z ernyyl tynq gurl tbg evq bs Tuna-ohev-Tuna va gur zbivrf. V PBZCYRGRYL sbetbg ur jnf rira va gur obbxf

      edit: JNVG. V qvqa’g ernyvmr gbzbeebj vf gur Onggyr bs Cryraabe Svryqf. Evtug, GUNG erirny. FB RKPVGRQ SBE GBZBEEBJ!!

    • Tul says:

      Zl crefbany pbzcynvagf nobhg gur zbivrf ner eneryl nobhg jung jnf phg, V nterr Tuna, Gbz, gur Terl Pbzcntal, rgp… ner nyy haarprffnel (gubhtu gurl pregnvayl *nqq* fbzrguvat gb gur obbx) naq gur svyzznxref unq gb znxr pubvprf. Orggre gb phg fbzrguvatf va beqre gb sbphf ba jung'f vzcbegnag naq QB VG JRYY, guna gel gb vapyhqr rirelguvat juvpu jbhyq yrq gb n irel ehfurq erfhyg. Gbyxvra uvzfrys fnvq vg.

      Ab, V pbzcynva nobhg jung V whqtr gb or haarprffnel guvatf gurl nqqrq, naq gur terng qnzntr qbar gb punenpgref (Sebqb, Tvzyv, Snenzve, Qrargube, rgp…). Ohg V nyernql rkcerffrq zl bcvavba ba guvf cbvag.

    • sudden_eyes says:

      MREB ernfba gb xrrc guvf va gur zbivr, nterr.

      V nyjnlf gubhtu bs gurfr sbyxf nf gur rdhvinyrag bs Arnaqregunyf – gehyl qvssrerag sebz jung Gbyxrva ersref gb nf "Zra," ohg rdhnyyl uhzna.

    • flootzavut says:

      Unq Znex ernq vg nyernql??? Jnf ur, yvxr, fgvyy erryvat??? 😀

  7. castlewayjay says:

    always had a soft spot for ghan-buri-ghan.

    Rohan has come at last!

  8. julianamoreli says:





    Gurbqra'f fcrrpu vf bar bs gur zbfg cbjreshy guvatf va gur zbivr!!!

    • saphling says:

      I didn't even have to un-Rot13 your outcry. But indeed:


    • Alice says:

      *and a norvegian fiddle starts playing victoriously* 🙂

      • julianamoreli says:


        OMG, I love the soundtrack…I'll just listen to it now…

      • flootzavut says:

        duh duh duh dah dah dah dah daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

        OK, it sounds better on the Hardanger fiddle <3

        • julianamoreli says:

          Lol hahahahaha!!!!! I re-watched this scene today like 5 times and the music is still in my head!!!!

          • AmandaNekesa says:

            I was listening to it in my car, on my way to work today. 🙂 So beautiful!

            • julianamoreli says:

              I remember listening to the complete soundtrack during a year, every single day!!! And today, there is still some tracks that I listen to everyday, like: "Long ways to go yet", "Into the west", "The breach on the deeping wall" and " The tales that really matter"… These tracks have a greate importance on my daily life!!!

              • AmandaNekesa says:

                Oh yeah, definitely! Since Mark started on The Hobbit, I've kept my soundtracks in my car, and I'll go for weeks on end that I'll just listen to the soundtracks on the way to and from work. It's a good way to start and end work, I think! I don't have the complete soundtrack set, and didn't realize there was a larger soundtrack release out there, but since I heard about it a few weeks back I've been sorely tempted to go out and get them (even though I shouldn't). I do have the soundtracks for all 3 movies, but just the original (shorter) ones, not the complete soundtracks.

                • julianamoreli says:

                  They are worth the money you'll spent! I just hope that "The Hobbit" soundtrack is just as grandious as the Lord of the Rings was!!! Just by the trailer you can notice that Howard Shore is bringing some good tunes for us!!!!

                  • AmandaNekesa says:

                    Yeah, maybe at some point I'll splurge a little and buy them, but I should probably wait a bit. I just bought the bluray LotR EE's and I'm trying to hold off watching them until the liveblogs – I can't wait!!! I'm so excited to hear what Howard Shore has created for The Hobbit!! Vs vg'f rira unys nf ornhgvshy nf gur YbgE fbhaqgenpx, vg jvyy or nznmvat! <3

    • flootzavut says:


      Fantastic 😀

  9. saphling says:

    "For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wraths rode over them. And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City."

    Fuck yeah, Eorlingas! If I had to be a warrior of Middle Earth, I would choose Rohan in a heartbeat. HOW BADASS ARE THEY???

    Also, horsies. <3 <3 <3 ^_^ *has deep thoughts today, clearly*

  10. Opal says:

    I never had the feeling that the Rohirrim despise Merry. I think they only ignore him out of necessity because, technically, they would have to report his being with them to Théoden, so they simply choose to operate on the “need to know” level. The less they interact with Merry, the better for them (and him). And we also have to remember that they are all riding right into their doom, and are therefore probably not in a very chatty mood, especially Dernhelm who seems to be more of a taciturn kind of fellow.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      This is how I took it, too.

      I think it would actually be easier to interpret Dernhelm's silence as resentment (or at least something other than skin-safety) than it would anyone else's. The others are retaining plausible deniability by ignoring Merry (and possibly also Merry's carrier), so it's Dernhelm who's likely to get the most (if not the sole) punishment if Merry's found out. And while Dernhelm's mind might be laser-set on obtaining death and glory, I could see a person thinking that the punishment would involve turning away from death and glory to complete some more menial task (esp. since he seems so young compared to the others).

      Plus, if Dernhelm has assumed most of the responsibility for Merry's safety throughout all of this (which I'm not really sure if he has), then he also gets to assume most of the guilt in the likelihood that something happens to Merry along the way.

      V gevrq gb or irel pnershy va jbeqvat guvf, gebybyb.

      • bugeye says:

        plausible deniability, yes, and yes to the rest of your comment. I love comments that do not have to use Rot13 for the whole post. It means it is on topic and no spoilers, good job.

  11. Katarina_H says:

    I can't remember if it was in the DVD extras or elsewhere that I heard that Ghan-buri-Ghan and his wild men were created from a thought concerning the etymology of the word "Wodehouse", but I can't unthink it now. When he shows up, all I can think of is how very unfitting he would be to a Wodehouse story. 🙂

  12. @redbeardjim says:

    Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
    Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
    spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
    a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
    Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!


    • stingingpetals says:

      Gur cneg jura Gurbqra ebnef guvf va gur svyz, ng gur ortvaavat bs gur Onggyr bs Cryraabe svryq, nyjnlf znxrf zr pel. Pna'g jnvg sbe Znex gb frr vg!

      • Peg says:

        Lrf. Guvf znl or zl snibevgr zbivr zbzrag va gur RAGVERGL BS PVARZN. Vg qbrfa'g znggre ubj znal gvzrf V jngpu vg. Vg pna fgvyy znxr zr pel.

        • julianamoreli says:

          Nccneragyl rirelobql pevrf ng guvf fprar…V er-jngpurq EbGX ynfg jrrx naq pelrq zl rlrf bhg ntnva!!!

      • Andrew says:

        V pel rirel gvzr, gbb. V engr vg nf gur fvatyr zbfg rzbgvbanyyl cbjreshy zbzrag va svyz uvfgbel. Rirelguvat gung'f ohvyg hc gb vg, gur jnl vg'f fubg, gur zhfvp, naq Oreaneq Uvyy'f NZNMVAT qryvirel bs vg. Vg'f nofbyhgryl fghaavat.

    • ZeynepD says:

      I won't even bother pointing out the wordpower here. It's poking the reader in the eye with sharp spears and swords. Chills, indeed.

    • ChloeKEvil says:

      Hell yes.

      Check out that alliteration! The Rohirric poetry is my favourite in the series- I love all of it, but the power and force in the Anglo-Saxon style that he uses for the Rohirrim (and how cool is it that he uses different styles of poem for the different cultures?) is absolutely fantastic. You could see this as a few lines from Beowulf!

  13. Darth_Ember says:

    So back in the 'Muster of Rohan' chapter comments, I mentioned I'd been writing a poem for it, but feared it was spoilery, and was encouraged to post it as soon as was viable. It turned out less spoilery than I thought it would. And this chapter seems a fitting place for it. Just as my little tribute to Tolkien's writing.
    (Parenthetical note on relative spoilery-ness; yes, it mentions the expectation of casualties, but not how many. And let's face it – this is war, and written by Tolkien. Casualties were inevitable. 😉 )

    Here we are, then; my poem of the ride of the Rohirrim to Gondor.

    The Rohirrim Ride Forth

    Bold they ride and battle-ready
    Swift the horses, stern the Men
    Sounds of hooves like thunder rising
    Who shall ride homeward again?

    Gondor calls in hour of peril
    Rohan answers, ever brave
    Rohirrim ride, though each man knows
    Journey's end may be the grave.

    Forth they ride, the Eorlingas
    War's horn calls to Rohan's Men
    Bravely go they to the battle
    Some shall not ride homeward again.

  14. rubyjoo says:

    I feel rather uncomfortable that the last paragraph of this chapter makes killing other living things sound rather uplifting and even beautiful. "A sword day, a red day, ere the sun rises!" I just love it that they SING! I suppose that Tolkien is trying to get us into the mind-set of the Anglo-Saxon warrior – and he does it really well, doesn't he?

    • @redbeardjim says:

      Oh, yeah, the Rohirrim are a very warlike people. "The joy of battle was upon them", indeed.

    • Cassie5squared says:

      I've never seen it so much as "killing other things is beautiful" as "striking a blow for our homes, families and very way of life is honourable, noble and something for us to take pride in". But yes, in any case, Tolkien does pull off getting us into the mindset very well indeed.

    • emillikan says:

      Yes. I had to look up the word "fey" a minute ago. I don't think the "joy of battle" is joy as we'd normally use the word, but a thing with darkness behind it and before it. They fully expect to die, but as Cassie5squared said, they go with joy because of what they're defending. (Probably they also love battle, too, of course.) 🙂

    • Harper E. says:

      This is why I really LIKE the presence of the orcs and why it doesn't bother me that they aren't given much depth of character or anything – they exist to provide a sort of flat enemy with almost no redeeming qualities that we don't have to feel bad about hating. It's something that obviously doesn't exist in real life, but can exist in a fantasy novel. The advantage is double, I think: it draws more attention to the villains who ARE developed and multi-faceted, and it lets us cheer on the Rohirrim and Gondorians for instance in scenes like this without too many moral qualms.

      This is why I got sort of angry when I saw a book that was supposed to be from the perspective of the orcs, because the way I see it, being flat, unsympathetic characters is sort of their entire point.

      Sorry this got kind of long, and feel free to disagree~

      • rubyjoo says:

        I've always thought that the orcs were intentionally flat so that they could be the ones we love to hate. So, I'd go along with this.

      • Wheelrider says:

        Actually the Orcs do have a history and a depth of sorts — and to get into that openly here (all together now!) Mark would have to read the Silmarillion — but suffice it to say that their history has led them to be nearly totally unsympathetic characters, and as such they do serve a narrative purpose.

      • tardis_stowaway says:

        they exist to provide a sort of flat enemy with almost no redeeming qualities that we don't have to feel bad about hating. It's something that obviously doesn't exist in real life, but can exist in a fantasy novel.

        The problem is that this isn't obvious to everyone. For example, many in the US today would apply a similar description to radical Islamic terrorists, and some of those people would extend the nuance-free hatred to all Muslims. That's a dangerous attitude. When fantasy books create an entire race/species/culture so evil that killing them is a purely glorious deed, it makes it a little easier for folks to assume that similar categories of enemy can exist in the real world. I understand why Tolkien and many subsequent writers have the orcs and similar automatic bad guys, but I think it's still disturbing and maybe even dangerous.

        The orcs are sentient beings, and we see enough of their conversations to know that they have some level of individual personalities and hopes. Plus, while the forces of Mordor are predominately made up of orcs, there were also Southron and Easterling men, the sort of people about whom Sam wondered in the Two Towers what the dead warrior's name was and "what lies or threats had led him on the long march from home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace." As beautiful and stirring as Theoden's speech and Tolkien's writing about the charge are, I will never be entirely comfortable with taking joy in the killing of an army's worth of people. It is in character for the war-like Rohirrim, and by that point in the war it wasn't like there was a way to work this out without swords, but I wish the book didn't make battle victory quite so seductive. (Here endeth my semi-pacifist rant.)

        tl;dr I wish fiction would stop creating entire types of sentient beings whose deaths can be cheered without moral qualms.

  15. Alice says:

    ~ The continuous darkness,the fact that the rohirrimms seem to be traped between armies of orcs,the constant feeling of being lost and loneliness of Merry puts another weight on the already heavy athmosphere :(.
    ~ Another race of men appears,and Tolkien shows once again his genius in writing interesting characters.We are not given much info about him or his race,but yet in the few words of Ghan-buri Ghan you can "read" so much more.
    ~ the lines Forth, and fear no darkness! and
    Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
    Fell deeds awake, fire and slaughter!
    spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
    a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
    Forth Eorlingas!

    OH MY CREYES!!!!!!!!!! Everytime I cry when I read this scene.
    ~ Zbivr yvarf:Nevfr! Nevfr, evqref bs Guébqra! Fcrnef funyy or funxra, fuvryqf funyy or fcyvagrerq – n fjbeq qnl, n erq qnl, rer gur fha evfrf! Evqr abj! Evqr abj! Evqr! Evqr gb ehva, naq gur jbeyq'f raqvat! Sbegu Ébeyvatnf! Qrngu! naq gur nafjre tvira ol gur nezl "QRNGU!!!!" vg'f …*fuviref* bar bs gur terngrfg zbzragf va pvarzngbtencul. So when watching it at the theatre, at the arrival of the Riders of Rohan,Theoden's whole speech,the fact that with them comes the Sun again,and thus hope is renewed,it's the second moment I cried my eyes of,and this time the friend that I said in an earlier post that I was with,noticed it but didn't say nothing. Yet. :p

    <img src=""&gt;
    John Howe – Ghan-buri Ghan

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Hildebrandt Bros – Ghan-buri Ghan (NONE of the men behind Theoden are Eomer!!!! >:|Right?!)

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – The Aid of the Wild-men

    <img src=""&gt;
    John Howe – Servants of Sauron

    <img src=""&gt;
    John Howe – Rohirrim

    <img src=""&gt;
    John Howe – Theoden

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      There was a fun comment during Mark's time in New York where he said the maps were his favorite comments for these books, and the artwork was his second favorite. Then he had trouble remembering the artists' names, so someone in the front row offered Alan Lee and John Howe. Then I shouted from the back "Ted Naismith," and Mark pointed at me and said "YES! Hi, Ryan."

      • Peg says:

        V znqr gur fnzr pbzzrag hc nobir, gung Gurbqra'f fcrrpu naq gur punetr bs gur Eubuveevz vf bar bs zl snibevgr zbzragf vs abg GUR snibevgr va nyy bs zbivr uvfgbel. Naq cneg bs jung znxrf vg snagnfgvp vf Ubjneq Fuber'f rkgenbeqvanevyl ornhgvshy zbivr fpber ng guvf cnegvphyne zbzrag. Oevatf fuviref qbja zl fcvar naq grnef gb zl rlrf rirel gvzr!

        • Alice says:

          Sometimes when I write my comments I'm next to the X person,but when I hit post I end up next to the Z person 😀 :p and this things happen.Anyways,I saw it too and we know we agree 🙂

      • Alice says:

        😀 wow,so nice! I think that Mark is such a fun person to be around even in real life.I hope you had a fantastic time!

    • eyelessgame says:

      It's funny, because despite the "similar to the Pukel-men" line, I always imagined GBG as an old wizened almost-emaciated guy – the type of old bald guy who's all sinew and leather, and roughly Native American in appearance (because my imagination is horribly racial-stereotypey).

    • Beks says:

      That first one by John Howe the facial art looks very like Maori moku (tattoos) which is quite funny since the films were made in NZ. I see that that particular drawing is copyright 2002 which would be well into his time in NZ. Inspiration perhaps? Or maybe it's just a coincidence!
      Like this:

  16. So I got to miss one of my favorite chapters yesterday thanks to college and having to be an adult and keep appointments and run errands. But I'm back to ramble! And the only coherent thing I can come up with at the moment is Theoden and the sheer joy he gives me when he leads his army forth into the battle. That speech of his gives me chills every time I read it:
    Arise, arise, Riders of Theoden!
    Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
    Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
    a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
    Ride now! Ride to Gondor!

    It's a beautiful, amazing moment, but having just read both "Siege of Gondor" and this chapter on top of one another, I'm struck by the contrast between Denethor and Theoden. Denethor explicitly says to Pippin, that lords, if they are wise, will stay behind in a battle and send others to do their bidding. He would see what Theoden is doing as both reckless and out of keeping for what a lord and strategist should be doing. Yet we see pretty clearly here that in this moment, in this battle, Theoden is the better lord. He's facing the danger and hasn't been overwhelmed (in fairness to Denethor, what happened to Faramir is hardly something to just brush off). Theoden is riding at the head of his people, and they aren't desperately looking for his leadership; they are all trying to follow to what he has called them to do. The bond Theoden has with his riders is so close and apparent here- he's appealing to the history (albeit unconsciously), unlike Denethor, who seems to be embittered about his. Theoden loves Eomer deeply and makes sure he know it, even though he knows that they're going into a place where death abounds. Again, this is a stark contrast to Denethor's actions with Faramir, whom he sends out into a fruitless battle without thanks or honor.

    Overall I find it fascinating how the men of Gondor have been characterized as somewhat higher than the people of the Rohirrim- yet have such a contrast in their lords in terms of both quality, understanding, and outlook. Denethor is the kind of person who prides himself on looking at reality for what it is, but is so embittered and broken by it that he can't see any of the possible reasons why such things have to be any more. Theoden also looks at reality and sees full well that it's grim- he seemed to be crushed at the horrors of what had happened at the city- yet he remains strong and holds to the conviction that they still have a purpose and a reason for being there, and it's not one they should give up, even if death is staring them in the face. Just the parallels and divergence of the two leaders says a great deal, both about them and the places from which they came, and it's interesting seeing how that plays out in their actions and decisions in this particular war.

    • threerings13 says:

      Well also, Theoden lost his son, too. And maybe his reckless ride into possible death is a reaction to that, but if so it's still a superior reaction that might do some good.

    • flootzavut says:

      In short, Theoden is just made of all kinds of awesome <3

    • Carrie Ann says:

      Great points about Gondor/Rohan and their leaders. It's a common literary (and cultural) theme that the strength of a King is reflected in his kingdom. Fertility of the fields was once thought to be linked to the health and fertility of the king, for example. So Denethor's weakness (physical and mental) can be seen as both a symptom and a cause of Gondor's decline, in literary terms.

  17. Ryan Lohner says:

    Bu, naq V vagraq gb gnyx nobhg gung jura gur gvzr pbzrf. Bar jbeq: Ornfgznfgre.

  18. Dreamflower says:

    I really like the beginning of this. Merry being accidentally wakened by Elfhelm, who addresses him rather ironically as "Master Bag". Obviously Elfhelm knows who Merry is and why he's there, and is acknowledging him without actually saying so. I think it's a hint that the eored in which Merry and Dernhelm are riding know they are there and are colluding at Merry's presence among them. Perhaps they admire his courage and determination, but they are forced to pretend they don't know he's there because he's not supposed to be there.

    Bs pbhefr gung zrnaf gurl nyfb xabj jub Qreauryz ernyyl vf naq gurl qrsvavgryl unir gb cergraq gurl qba'g xabj *gung*; "cynhfvoyr qravnovyvgl" nalbar? Ohg V guvax vg fubjf gung ng yrnfg sbe Rysuryz naq uvf rberq, gurl qba'g ernyyl qvfnccebir bs pregnva crefba'f qvfborqvrapr– rvgure gung be gurl guvax rirelbar'f tbvat gb qvr nalubj, fb jul qral fbzrbar gur punapr gb fgevxr jung oybj gurl pna?

    I also love the Wild Men– Ghan-buri-Ghan is a canny old thing. It's clear that the Wild Men may have a primitive life, and speak Westron as a Second Language, but they are as sharp as can be. I love the part about being able to count men in the dark: "a score of scores counted ten times and five". (20×20=400×10=4,000+400×5=6,000; just the number that the Rohirrim have!)

    Poor Merry, so brave and so lonely. Of all the hobbits, he only is separated from everyone he knows! Even Dernhelm isn't talking to him. But he's ready to do what he can– I love that he puts down any fears for himself by remembering Pippin, trapped in a burning city. He's going to do what he can to help his cousin whether it succeeds or not.

    And now the battle is joined.

    • rabidsamfan says:

      I love Ghan-buri-Ghan counting them up too — and knowing that the army in their path has more fighters than they do gives me chills. I mean, just how many fighters are in Mordor's armies if that's only one group of them and the bulk are already besieging Minas Tirith?

    • ZeynepD says:

      To your rot13: Bu, V'z cerggl fher gurl xabj, naq nccebir ng yrnfg n ovg. Vg fgehpx zr guvf ernq-guebhtu ubj znal yvggyr uvagf Gbyxvra npghnyyl chg gurer—abg va qrfpevovat Qreauryz'f fgngher nf "fyvtug" naq jungabg, ohg nyfb "uvf" zbgvingvbaf ng "uvf" vavgvny nccebnpu gb Zreel—V qba'g erzrzore gur rknpg dhbgr, ohg vg jnf nybat gur yvarf bs "V creprvir gung lbh ner haunccl ng orvat yrsg oruvaq jura lbhe sevraqf unir nyy tbar njnl gb svtug," juvpu, jurer unir V urneq arneyl gur rknpg jbeqf fnvq gb Nentbea n srj cntrf orsber?

      • Dreamflower says:

        Bu lrnu, qrsvavgryl gurer ner fhpu oebnq uvagf gung rira nf n 15-lrne-byq svefg gvzr ernqre, V jnf nyzbfg pregnva bs Qreauryz'f vqragvgl. (Abg 100%, orpnhfr V unq nyfb yrnearq gung Gbyxvra pbhyq fhecevfr zr).

        V ernyyl jnf fhecevfrq gung Znex qvq abg cvpx hc ba gung bar– ur'f thrffrq fb znal cybg gjvfgf fb sne, vg fhecevfrf zr jura ur zvffrf bar yvxr guvf.

        • flootzavut says:

          V fnvq lrfgreqnl, V guvax zbfg bs gur Qreauryz uvagf ner ernyyl rneyl, fb vs Znex unfa'g jbexrq vg bhg, ur'f hayvxryl gb. Juvpu vf njrfbzr 😀 orpnhfr UVF ERNPGVBA JVYY OR RCVP!

  19. rubyjoo says:

    The flash that they see coming from the city and the boom they hear doesn't cheer them, Mark, but drives them on with renewed purpose. It's nothing to do with Gandalf but Grond, smashing down the gates of the city. "Thrice the great ram boomed….As if smitten by some blasting power (the gates) burst asunder; there was a flash of searing lightning and the doors tumbled in riven fragments to the ground."

  20. monkeybutter says:

    Merry wanting to ride off and storm Minas Tirith to rescue Pippin is my favorite thing in the story so far. And I also adore Merry for worrying about Pippin when he's all alone, moderately terrified by the drums, and about to ride into battle against the orcs. Hobbits, y'all. They're perfect.

    Okay, I guess Elfhelm gets his name because his helmet looks like that of an elf, or was made by an elf? But instead of fancy elf metalwork, I just imagine a barbute with Legolas's face stamped on the front. No regrets.

    The reveal at the end that Theoden's resolve was strengthened by a light from in the city (Tnaqnys jbexvat zntvp jvgu uvf evat ntnva?) was pretty marvelous, because the blowing of the horns of Rohan is what gave hope to the fighters inside Minas Tirith. They're stronger for each other.

    • knut_knut says:

      HAHAH that’s kind of how I pictured Elfhelm too, except he had a bust of an elf bursting majestically from the top of his head. I hope the version of Legolas stamped on his helm is the 1980s romance novel Legolas looking down on him fondly.

      • monkeybutter says:

        YES. That is even better head canon! And rather than a winged helmet, it will be a Farrah helmet, with gilded tresses streaming behind. God, I wanna go back in time and be an armorer.

        • knut_knut says:

          I would kill for a Farrah helmet. You can still become an armorer! You could become Hollywood's official armorer and all the movies would have Farrah helmets. I would gladly pay ridiculous movie ticket prices to see that.

          • monkeybutter says:

            Yes! All I need to do is learn how to work with metal, and I can get work with A Game of Thrones. (That reminds me, have you seen Renly's velvet armor? I kinda love it. Almost as much as his crown. Ugh, the costume design for that show is gorgeous.)

            • knut_knut says:

              I think Loras would look particularly lovely with a Farrah helm

              Yes! I love Renly’s armor! I think the costuming department did an awesome job at making it decorative and kingly yet practical. It also makes him look even more like an otter <3 But I’m not sure what’s going on with Brienne’s helmet (at least I think it’s Brienne). How can she see anything?

              • monkeybutter says:

                lol I know you don't get a perfect field of view while wearing a helmet, but that thing was sitting so low on her face! I didn't even notice it was her the first time I watched that video (which might have been their intent!)

      • flootzavut says:


    • lexypoo says:

      "I just imagine a barbute with Legolas's face stamped on the front. No regrets."


  21. ferriswheeljunky says:

    I think it's interesting to see all the different lights in which war is portrayed in the book. We've talked a lot about how Tolkien's descriptions of the utter horror and misery of war were influenced by his experiences of the trenches in WW1. But this bit just seems so glorious and joyful and life-affirming (when I read it first as a kid, I didn't want anything more than to grab a horse and ride around screaming and killing Orcs, and that seems to be a pretty common reaction). I wonder if Tolkien was struggling between his own experiences of modern war and the way war is portrayed in the old legends he loved so much, or if he was deliberately trying to give a more nuanced view, that there can be something wonderful about it even amidst all the horror?

    • @redbeardjim says:

      Sometimes I think he was just channeling the dreams of every cavalry officer, ever: a clear field and unprepared enemy infantry.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      I like to think at least part of it was his thinking that at least his sons were fighting in a just cause, against an enemy that truly needed to be defeated, unlike the way he and all his friends were fighting and dying because one guy got assassinated.

    • stormwreath says:

      "It is well that war is so terrible — lest we should grow too fond of it." – Robert E Lee, American general

      Faramir's conversation with Frodo is important here – "I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its switftness" – but he says that point of view is rare now even among the Gondorians, and the Rohirrim have always valued battle and glory for their own sake. And Faramir doesn't even really say they're wrong to do that: "And we love them… they remind us of the youth of Men, as they were in the Elder Days."

    • Dreamflower says:

      if he was deliberately trying to give a more nuanced view, that there can be something wonderful about it even amidst all the horror?

      I think that part of it was definitely tying in the bardic traditions he was drawing on, but I think you may be on to it with the last statement. The war that JRRT took part in– and in every war after that– things had changed, become mechanized and depersonalized.

      But in previous wars it most often came down to sheer physical skill and one-on-one fighting. Training for war was sport: sparring, tilting, racing, archery. There is always something exhilarating about being able to use physical skills in a situation in which the outcome matters. I am sure that there was something glorious in pounding along on an eager horse with a chance to make a difference in the end.

      Quite different than sitting in a miserable muddy trench waiting to find out if someone you cannot even see is going to kill you by lobbing a shell in your direction— or vice-versa.

  22. Ryan Lohner says:

    V'ir urneq gung n zvyvgnel rkcreg ba frg fnvq gung vs nyy gur ubefrf va guvf fprar bs gur svyz jrer erny, vg jbhyq unir orra gur ynetrfg pninyel punetr va uvfgbel. V oryvrir vg.

    • stormwreath says:

      At Waterloo, the French cavalry charge led by General Ney had 9,000 sabres. The Rohirrim army is big by Dark Ages/Mediaeval standards, but there have been bigger battles in history.

  23. stormwreath says:

    Tolkien's day-job was translating Anglo-Saxon poetry, and it really shines through in this chapter; especially the final scene. It's not *quite* poetry itself; the meter isn't consistent and he hasn't put alliteration into every line… but it's almost there, and I think it what makes it so powerful. This is a passage that I think would benefit from being read aloud.

    With that he seized a great horn / from Guthláf his banner-bearer
       and he blew such a blast on it / that it burst asunder.
    And straightway all the horns in the host / were lifted up in music
       and the blowing of the horns / of Rohan in that hour
    was like a storm upon the plain / and a thunder in the mountains.

    "Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!"


    • rubyjoo says:

      Yes,it's brilliant, isn't it? Well done for demonstrating that! From now on, I think you can set out a lot of the battle description in the same way. I always wonder if it took him hours to write – all those rhythms, all that alliteration – or did it just come naturally to him since he was so immersed in the language. Whatever, whenever I read these chapters, I go to bed with them ringing and pounding in my ears.

      • Dreamflower says:

        I think it came naturally to him. He was so steeped in language and its uses that he kind of absorbed the appropriate tone through osmosis. He clearly loved words, word-play, the sound of words– different ways of speaking were like music to him, I think.

    • bugeye says:

      I listen to a lot of spoken word. You can tell immediately if the author has any skill in vocabulary, pacing, conceptualization. I am again listening to RotK and as usual I am awed at how perfect Tolkien is. It is easy to follow the plot, characters, and concepts even with the formal and archaic language. The man is a true genius.

      Listen to the full text reading by Rob Inglis. The BBC production edits out so much of the good stuff.

      I cannot listen to anything for a couple of weeks after Tolkien.

  24. DrummerWench says:

    Here's a good place to share another of my Fairy tales of Middle-earth, "Cloak-Ties", a tale for the Druedain:
    Vs lbh'ir ernq "Gur Snvgushy Fgbar", sebz "Hasvavfurq Gnyrf", lbh'yy frr V qerj sebz gung, nf jryy nf gur Nccraqvprf.
    I hope you enjoy it!

  25. @redbeardjim says:

    As someone noted above, it wasn't Gandalf doing anything — the light they saw was the flash of Witch-King magic that broke the gates.

  26. msw188 says:

    This is a short chapter. It serves a couple specific purposes, setting up Merry's emotional state heading in (he thinks of Pippin – how adorable and yet heartbreaking is that?), and explaining how the hell Rohan could actually arrive when we've been told that another army of Mordor has already cut off the northern road. Plus, Ghan-Buri-Ghan is awesome. To be honest though, this chapter in and of itself doesn't do a lot for me, and it was VERY DIFFICULT, even knowing what will happen, to force myself to stop reading last night.

    • rubyjoo says:

      LOL, I read on too in bed last night – nearly to the end of the War of the Ring – and I knew what was going to happen as well. I feel shattered this morning. There's just so much to absorb in the story that I notice lots of new stuff every time. And, knowing that Mark and other newbies are reading it for the first time makes me look at it with fresh eyes, wondering what they're thinking about certain characters, ideas and passages and hoping that they will mention my favourite bits. And Mark STILL manages to point out something I hadn't considered before.

    • Dreamflower says:

      It is REALLY hard to rein myself in and keep to just one chapter. It's been worth it though– I am noticing SO much more than previous readings in which I kind of tend to race along, especially as we begin to near the end.

    • Wheelrider says:

      ME TOO! *c'mon, self-control, you can do it…*

      I just have to keep reminding myself (like Dreamflower says) how much I've gotten out of this slow read.

  27. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    Théoden meets Ghân-buri-Ghân, who shows the Riders an alternate route through the hills to Minas Tirith. This route lets them avoid fighting their way through a huge company of Orcs, but I don't think it's a shortcut exactly: it takes them a full day's riding, longer than they had expected to take on the road.

    In any case, the Rohirrim arrive at Minas Tirith, and none too soon, given what was happening in the last chapter.

    • msw188 says:

      If you have access to Tolkien's topographical close up map (it's what I have in my edition of the Return of the King), it's pretty clear that this IS a slight short cut in terms of distance, but in the book they make it clear that it takes longer because the road is so narrow and must be ridden slowly because it is not well maintained. Also, having to string out 6000 men means a LOT of reorganizing once they get to the other side.

      • floppus says:

        Ah, good point.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        You beat me to it. I think from this point on it would be much clearer to use the smaller scale topographical map, because it shows the area of Rohan, Gondor and west part of Mordor, where all the action is happening.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      And now Mark metaphorically makes out with you (anyone who saw the tour is laughing right now, trust me).

  28. stormwreath says:

    Movie stuff:

    Genqvgvbanyyl, jura svyz-znxref jnagrq gb fubj n onggyr fprar fhpu nf n ovt pninyel punetr, gurl tbg n pbhcyr bs qbmra rkgenf naq znqr gurz tnyybc cnfg gur pnzren zhygvcyr gvzrf. Bppnfvbanyyl, jura n qverpgbe unq rvgure n uhtr ohqtrg be gur fhccbeg bs n tbireazrag jnagvat gb znxr n cebcntnaqn svyz, gurl oebhtug va fbyqvref sebz gur ybpny nezl ertvzrag naq qerffrq gurz va pbfghzr – ohg qbvat gung sbe ubefrf jnfa'g ernyyl cbffvoyr.

    Ohg ol gur gvzr 'Erghea bs gur Xvat' jnf svyzrq, PTV jnf tbbq rabhtu gung gurl pbhyq chg nyy 6,000 Ebuveevz ba fperra ng gur fnzr gvzr, naq fubj jung na npghny pninyel punetr bs gung fvmr jbhyq ybbx yvxr…

    • @redbeardjim says:

      Gur bayl ceboyrz V unq jvgu gur zbivr irefvba bs guvf fprar vf gur gnpgvpf. Va gur obbx, gur Ebuveevz sbez hc pbiregyl, haqre pbire bs qnexarff, naq qba'g naabhapr gurve cerfrapr hagvy gurl'er punetvat, pngpuvat gur Bepf hanjnerf. Va gur zbivr, gurl yvar hc naq Gurbqra tvirf uvf ybat-nff fcrrpu bhg va gur bcra, va shyy ivrj bs rirelbar. Punetvat n ahzrevpnyyl fhcrevbe sbezngvba gung unf unq gvzr gb "Sbez enaxf! Cvxrf va sebag, nepuref oruvaq" vf n erny tbbq jnl gb trg n ybg bs ubefrf naq evqref xvyyrq, gb yvggyr tnva.

      Ybbxrq gbgnyyl onqnff, bs pbhefr. 🙂

      • stormwreath says:

        Gehr; Crgre Wnpxfba pyrneyl vfa'g n zvyvgnel gnpgvpvna.

        Ohg V pna haqrefgnaq vg urer: n tebhc bs vasnagel jvgu cvxrf pna ercry pninyel VS gurl'er qvfpvcyvarq naq srneyrff naq qba'g oernx sbezngvba rira jura 3,000 gbaf bs ubefrsyrfu vf urnqvat fgenvtug gbjneqf gurz ng 30 zvyrf cre ubhe. Bepf ner abg abgrq sbe orvat qvfpvcyvarq naq srneyrff. 🙂 Vaqrrq, lbh frr gung va gur svyz; gur tebjvat ybbxf bs greebe ba gur Bepf' snprf nf gur Ebuveevz trg pybfre, naq gurve enaxf jnirevat.

        • Ryan Lohner says:

          V ybir gur genafvgvba va gur trareny. Svefg n pbasvqrag "Sver!", gura jura gung qbrfa'g jbex, n zber qrfcrengr "Sver ng jvyy," naq svanyyl uvf snpr whfg gheaf gb cher "Bu penc, guvf vf tbvat gb uheg."

    • lexypoo says:

      V nyfb rawbl gung Wnpxfba qrpvqrq gb hfr gur fha nf n jrncba va obgu gur onggyr ng Uryzf Qrrc naq urer jvgu gur Ebuveevz. V ybir gur qnja oheavat bhg gur Bepf' ergvanf, juvpu bar pbhyq rira nethr gung gurl jrer npghnyyl oyvaqrq orsber orvat genzcyrq gb qrngu.

    • castlewayjay says:

      Qb lbh erzrzore ubj znal "erny" ubefrf jrer hfrq? V xabj vg jnf n qnza ynetr ahzore bs erny ubefrf & evqref, bar bs gur ynetrfg nffrzoyrq naljurer va n ybat gvzr.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        N pbhcyr bs uhaqerqf, vs V erzrzore pbeerpgyl – nccneragyl bevtvanyyl gurl unq nebhaq 500 evqre rkgenf fvtarq hc, ohg gura vg ghearq bhg gur furrc furnevat frnfba ortna naq bayl nobhg unys bs gur rkgenf npghnyyl qvq ghea hc sbe gur svyzvat. 😀 Gjb be guerr uhaqerqf, V guvax… (Vg'f orra n juvyr fvapr V ynfg jngpurq gur QIQ rkgenf…)

  29. Mandy says:

    Everytime now that I read a review, I keep imagining the scenes in the movie, and Mark reaction to them, and I can't waaaaait. Fb znal qrgnvyf gung V jnag uvz gb abgvpr!!!

  30. Tul says:


  31. ZeynepD says:

    OK, this rightfully belongs in the previous chapter, but since today we're also all about the Rohirrim—

    <img src="; WIDTH="400">

    ("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.")

    It's a sketch that I made… well, it predates the movies, and I don't remember when. I've made a few more sketches since then, but I always end up liking the lines and placement of this one the best (not so much the lettering, though it's all right in places). One of these days years I'll actually sit down and do the illumination, ink and all (this is mostly a pencil sketch). Sorry about the quality of the scan. For those who care, it's Tengwar written in the English mode very similar to the one JRR Tolkien himself uses in the inner cover of _The Lord of the Rings_, and I use his convention for the "e" and "i" diacriticals, not Christopher Tolkien's.

  32. rubyjoo says:

    Quite a few people have expressed delight in Ghan-buri-Ghan and I think he is a great character too – someone who is totally comfortable in his environment and able to help a supposedly more sophisticated group. Every time the reader or the Rohirrim make assumptions about him (like his ability to count) then Tolkien slaps them down in a very sharp but amused way.

    I think that someone has shown concern that he represents a tribal, African people but I think that Tolkien may be thinking of the Aborigines. G-b-G mentions that there have been times when his people have been hunted down like animals and this is, indeed, what happened in Australia. I think that Tolkien is making quite a powerful side-swipe at white colonialists – and therefore at his own people, the British – when he introduces this character and makes a big effort to show that people may look different and behave differently and yet be very sophisticated within their own environment. And they're certainly not animals. They're a very ancient and able people, deserving of respect.

    • atheistsisters says:

      Yes, I love the few pages featuring Ghân and his men. On this slower reread I paid more attention to this part and it is nice how well Tolkien gives them their own voice, their own dignity and contributions. They ask only to be free, and they mean it, that is all they want from other people. I love how organized and sharp they are.

    • rubyjoo says:

      Of course, I might be leading everyone up the wrong tree here, and there may be no connection with Aborigines. If you want to stick closer to home with an English mythology, then how about the mysterious, pagan and ancient Green Man of the woods, carved, surprisingly, in great numbers in English churches:

      And there were Wild Men of the Woods in medieval time who represented some kind of life force.

      • flootzavut says:

        Well if you want to get technical, Aborigine doesn't exclusively (or even originally) apply to the Native Australian peoples – it just means "the indigenous peoples", or the people (or indeed flora or fauna) who have been around the longest. Apparently the generally accepted etymology is "ab origine" which means "from the origin", and was first used in Roman mythology. Aboriginal is often assumed to mean the native Australians, but the word has a much wider meaning than that.

        TL:DR – for the wider usage of the word "aborigine" is a great word for the wild men: if GBG is from a tribe who are indigenous to the region, he and his tribes are in effect aborigines.

        • rubyjoo says:

          Yes, I was thinking of the "proper" meaning of "aborigine" as I wrote my post but decided not to expand upon it. However, I'm glad that you did because I think that the way you've explained things has really put a finger on Tolkien's real intentions.

  33. Icarus says:

    I don't get that the Rohirrim despise Merry. I think that he's just been included in whatever deal Dernhelm has with his leader, Elfhelm.

  34. @RadagastWiz says:

    It's funny how you don't notice it until you read a chapter a day like this – I never realized this chapter is so short!

  35. flootzavut says:


    V nz fb rkpvgrq sbe gbzbeebj…

  36. Wheelrider says:

    Have not read "Children" yet, obviously should! That bit says exactly what I was struggling to type.

  37. arctic_hare says:

    I read it as them being in on it and keeping quiet to cover everyone's backsides in case Merry was found out.

    Oh, Merry. I once again want to reach through the pages and hug him, because he's so lonely and sad and scared. And he wants to rescue Pippin! I LOVE THESE TWO. <3

    I love the charge of the Rohirrim too, especially Theoden's speech and the comparison of him to Orome of the Valar. That's a pretty damn big honor to be compared to that guy, believe me.

    Movie stuff: Gurer vf nyfb fb zhpu gb ybir nobhg guvf fprar va gur zbivr, gung pbzovarq znxrf zr grne hc rirel gvzr V frr vg. Gurbqra'f fcrrpu, gur fbhaq bs gur ubeaf, GUR ZHFVP, naq V ybir gung yvggyr zbzrag cevbe gb gurve neeviny jvgu Zreel naq Rbjla.


    • Alice says:

      To your last part * giggling in excitement*

    • flootzavut says:

      Vg'f whfg pbzr onpx vagb zl oenva – gur zbzrag jurer Rbjla gryyf Zreel gb fngl jvgu ure, naq fur'yy ybbx nsgre uvz. Ure pbaprea sbe uvz juvpu whfg oneryl pbiref gur snpg gung fur vf nyfb greevsvrq vf whfg n guvat bs ornhgl…

      V pnaabg jnvg sbe gbzbeebj FB ZHPU RKPVGRZRAG!!!!!!!!!

  38. flootzavut says:

    Naq V YBIR gung gung jnf Oreaneq Uvyy'f vqrn <3

  39. lexypoo says:


  40. monkeybutter says:

    Knowledge and information is either written down or passed by word-of-mouth. It’s one of the only things I’ve ever read where it is absolutely realistic that there would be a secret route that only one group of characters knows about. I kind of love that? Like a ridiculous amount.

    I meant to mention this in my original comment (and stop reading now if you hate seeing Tolkien compared to Rowling, because I'm about to do it), but I love that Voldemort loses a horcrux because he's so arrogant as to believe that he's the only person to have discovered the Room of Requirement. It's sort of a subversion of what you're talking about, as well as the Marauders' Map supposedly showing all of the secrets of Hogwarts (not that it does), and no one outside the users of the map knowing about them. It's a little inconceivable that the Marauders would be the first and only ones to attempt that sort of thing (and maybe there are other maps out there!), and I think the bit with Voldemort was a great way for Rowling to poke fun at the super-secretness of the map. Every generation of students probably discovers new things, and passes them along, no bid deal.

    Anyway, yeah, I love that in Tolkien, there actually are unplumbed depths, and so many insular communities that make this sort of thing possible.

    • Harper E. says:

      It's funny, I usually don't like Tolkien/Rowling comparisons, because usually they end up just cheapening both stories, but I really like this idea 😀 (it's far more interesting and intelligent than things like lol they both have a best friend who loves food omg, at least)

      • monkeybutter says:

        Which is really a silly thing to note because, come on, all hobbits love food.

        • sporkaganza93 says:

          Honestly it's not a good comparison from either end, because it's not as if Ron's love of food is some huge part of his character or something. He just likes eating as much as any other teenage boy. I mean, Harry loves to eat too – I'm thinking of the time when he ate so much at the feast that his belt was tight.

  41. lexypoo says:

    Can I just say:

    RE-READING LORD OF THE RINGS WITH YOU MARK HAS BEEN PURE JOY. I'm still about to enter Shelob's lair in the Two Towers (dying to catch up with you, stop going so friggin fast, just for ME!). But commuting has definitely been 100 x more enjoyable with Tolkien in my bag — like, I'm actually excited when a local train pulls up instead of an express, so I have more time to read. Seriously, hooray for books.

    • blossomingpeach says:

      There really is nothing quite like the sheer joy of being in the middle of a really good book!!

      • lexypoo says:

        Definitely. I'm actually mad when I get to my stop! Like FML and job, I need to know what happens next in GONDOR, people…

  42. bugeye says:

    Glad you brought this up. A good explaination of the different types of Men

  43. elsiekate says:

    wait, why can't i see chapter four's review on the main page?

  44. I LOVE THIS BOOK. And you make a really good point. The only quibble I have with it is that Denethor is described as "fey and dangerous," (I think) which doesn't really fit with what you describe in the rot13. But in the past, before we first meet him- I could definitely see that being a major factor for him.

  45. rabidsamfan says:

    I don't bother to stop. I read on until I'm tired and then read the next chapter again the next night. 😀

  46. great points altogether, you just won a brand new reader.

    What could you suggest about your put up that you made a few days in the past?

    Any positive?

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

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