Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Chapter 8

In the eighth chapter of The Two Towers, THIS IS THE BEST CHAPTER OF ANY BOOK THAT HAS EVER EXISTED. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.

CHAPTER EIGHT: THE ROAD TO ISENGARD

So look. I am trying to prepare myself for some inevitable tragedy. And for a while, I thought that would come to the group on their way to Isengard. I’m pretty sure Tolkien intended for me to feel this way. Yet for the time being, I am going to allow myself to experience a bout of joy. I deserve it, darn it! But chapter eight is perhaps my favorite chapter of the whole book so far. It’s well-written. It contains two ENORMOUS plot twists that made me smile so hard my cheeks hurt. It’s creepy. And the description of the landscape leading up to Isengard is just TERRIFYING.

Let’s start off with some celebration first:

There came Gamling the Old, and Éomer son of Éomund, and beside them walked Gimli the dwarf. He had no helm, and about his head was a linen band stained with blood; but his voice was loud and strong.

Oh, thank Gandalf. I ALMOST LOST IT THERE FOR A SECOND, Y’ALL. This reveal is made even better when Gimli finds out his final kill count – forty-two – ends up being one more than Legolas. I mean, this is literally the first thing Gimli brings up after being reunited with his friends. That’s so beautiful to me. But truthfully, I’m just glad these characters are alive after such a harrowing battle. Still, there’s something I’m confused about, and Tolkien is quick to address it.

Gandalf laughed long and merrily. ‘The trees?’ he said. ‘Nay, I see the wood as plainly as do you. But that is no deed of mine. It is a thing beyond the counsel of the wise.’

Wait. What? Wait, so someone else transformed the Dale into a forest? Why and, more importantly, how?

‘It is not wizardly, but a power far older,’ said Gandalf: ‘a power that walked the earth, ere elf sang or hammer rang.’

Oh.

Oh my god.

OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD GANDALF BROUGHT THE ENTS WITH HIM. 

HELP ME. THIS IS THE GREATEST PLOT TWIST I COULD POSSIBLY IMAGINE AT THIS POINT. HE DID NOT TRANSFORM THE DALE INTO A FOREST. HE BROUGHT A FOREST WITH HIM.

I can’t. I just can’t.

Gandalf announces that he’s heading to Isengard as soon as possible, and the various characters either decide to stay with him or stay behind. The core group obviously goes with Gandalf, Théoden included, while only twenty other Rohan men accompany them. Before setting off, though, there’s a rather somber scene where everyone helps to bury the dead from the Battle of Helm’s Deep after many of them sleep for a bit. There’s a few significant things that happen here, the first being the mercy that Erkenbrand shows the hillmen. I admit that even was surprised that Erkenbrand gave these people the chance to stay and swear an oath and return to where they came from. It shocks the men of Dunland, who realize that Saruman lied to them about Rohan. To me, that’s a much more powerful tool of war because now they know they were manipulated and used. It also continues the theme of reconciliation and choice. Like with Wormtongue, another character offers a choice instead of taking revenge.

The bodies are separated by where they came from (Rohan, Dunland, or Orcs) and then this sentence destroys me:

In a grave alone under the shadow of Hornburg lay Háma, captain of the King’s guard. He fell before the Gate.

Oh, goddamn it!!! Now I feel guilty for forgetting about him, especially since I considered it a victory that none of the main characters perished in the battle. DAMN IT.

Gandalf is typically cryptic about what to do with the bodies of the Orcs, which number so highly that it’s impossible to bury them or burn them. He advises that they just leave them be. “The morning may bring new counsel,” he says. YEAH, OKAY, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Oh god OH GOD.

The best way that I can describe the experience of reading the rest of chapter eight to you is that it was akin to watching the final half hour of a really good thriller. One of my favorite things about good fiction is that moment when you are so engrossed in the words that you forget where you are. You forget you are in a coffee shop and there are thirty people sitting around you and every time you gasp or make a ridiculous face at another plot twist, they can probably see you. You forget that when you shout “WHAT?!?!” at a book, other people might find it strange that you are yelling at an inanimate object.

It’s like that. Chapter eight, from the moment that the group left Helm’s Deep, is some of the most attention-grabbing literature I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. As soon as the characters enter the forest of Ents, I just forget where I was. This is powerful writing for multiple reasons. We all know by now that Tolkien concerns himself the most with world-building, so for page after page, the details of the road to Isengard are always there for us to add to our mental image of what this experience is like. But I also found the extended conversation that Legolas and Gimli have about Helm’s Deep, Fangorn, and their plans to basically go on an extended road trip after this is all over to be just as fascinating to me. World-building really is important to me, but I need characters to interact in believable, significant ways. I need to know that in a largely silent forest of walking trees, Gimli and Legolas will take time to explain the minutia of their own cultures to one another. It’s reliant on us having picked up different parts of their own personalities, too. Gimli started off as the stubborn, elf-prejudiced dwarf, reluctant to stray far from what he knew of his people and of Middle-earth. Now, he’s so eager to not only get Legolas to understand where he came from, but to experience what his friend has to offer as well. I know the bromance aspect of their relationship is entertaining, but watching their friendship spawn and grow is just so emotionally satisfying because I adore character growth so much.

This chapter is also heavy on the plot, of course, so it’s not all characterization and setting. Once the group leaves the cover of the forest, Legolas realizes that the trees have eyes. The secret of the Ents is then immediately revealed to everyone as three smaller trees call out to some of their fellow Ents, and the entire group of walking trees head back into the forest. I love this moment so much because it’s not like anyone aside from Gandalf has ever seen an Ent in their life. Not only is the old legend shown to be true, but these characters realize about fifty things at once: that trees walked to the Dale the day before; that they themselves just walked through a forest of Ents; that Ents have HERDSMEN; that Ents are off to go do something where the group just came from; that they have allies they never knew they had; and that ENTS ARE FUCKING REAL.

God, this is just so perfect. I can’t handle it.

And so they all continue their journey towards Isengard. The road to the land where Saruman rules is just fucked up. In this case, Tolkien uses another aspect of the setting to fill us with dread. Geography is deeply important to the construction of Middle-earth, and so much of what we’ve passed through is lush and green, even a place as ordinary-looking as Rohan. But as they approach Isengard, the wildlife disappears. The trees are less and less. The greenness of Middle-earth recedes from view. The river has dried up. Then they come upon the mound where Gandalf buried some of the Men of the Mark during the previous day’s battle, and it’s yet another sign of what they’re walking into. I didn’t necessarily believe they were walking into disaster. I felt confident that having Gandalf with them all meant that they were protected in some sense. Plus, Gandalf had made it clear that they were going to Isengard to parley, not to fight. This was not like the battle of Helm’s Deep. Well, at least I hoped that. I couldn’t say for certain that this would not happen.

Truthfully, I felt less confident as they got closer to Isengard. The signs in the distance were not at all hopeful. The steam coming from the Wizard’s Vale was a telling sign. That couldn’t be a good thing, could it? Éomer guesses that it’s some “devilry” of Saruman that he was preparing for the group, and I couldn’t disagree. Were they walking into a trap? Had Saruman already discovered what had happened with his army at Helm’s Deep?

THEN THE MIST ARRIVES. Okay, so I admit that my brain went immediately to Stephen King’s “The Mist,” which is absolutely my favorite short-story of his. (Though I suppose it’s technically long enough to be a novella, no?) But what were these black shadows drifting past that night’s camp? Why are their voices in the shadows? Is this another bit of wizardry of Saruman’s?

I’m not entirely sure, but the immediate section seems to suggest this might have to do with the Ents burying the Orcs and then LEAVING THE DALE. I kind of like that Tolkien doesn’t give us the answer, either. Oh god, WHAT HAS HAPPENED???? I mean, the river even starts to flow again. IS THIS A GOOD SIGN OR IS IT A TRAP? Admiral Akbar, where the fuck are you? I could really use your help right now!

It’s at this point that the road to Isengard is full of signs that these people are walking into the worst decision of their lives. I honestly believe this will remain as one of my favorite sections of Tolkien’s prose. It’s beautifully composed, a haunting portrait of a landscape rendered nearly inert by the effects of Saruman’s evil:

Beneath the walls of Isengard there were acres tilled by the slaves of Saruman; but most of the valley had become a wilderness of weeds and thorns. Brambles trailed upon the ground, or clambering over bush and bank, made shaggy caves where small beasts housed. No trees grew there; but among the rank grasses could still be seen the burned and axe-hewn stumps of ancient groves. It was a sad country, silent now but for the stony noise of quick waters. Smokes and steams drifted in sullen clouds and lurked in the hollows. The riders did not speak. Many doubted in their hearts, wondering to what dismal end their journey led.

It’s such a powerful thing to portray, and it’s what makes the end of this chapter so meaningful to me. I expect doom and gloom because that’s what Tolkien gives me. When he moves on to describing what Saruman built in Isengard, I stopped believing that there could be a good end to this. The city that he built is immense and overwhelming. It’s a design that’s specifically constructed to demonstrate power. It’s as much a function of what he can do and what he’d like to do. Tolkien pretty much acknowledges this when he discusses the Orthanc:

…so that what he made was naught, only a little copy, a child’s model or a slave’s flattery, of that vast fortress, armoury, prison, furnace of great power, Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, which suffered no rival, and laughed at flattery, biding its time, secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength.

Saruman wants to be like Sauron, but he’s just a pitiful copy. Ugh, this is just so goddamn perfect it hurts to think about.

When they do arrive at the gates to Isengard, it’s just some of the creepiest imagery in the entire book. There’s the blood hand that greets them; the doors to the city are destroyed; the chasm no longer has a roof; the walls of the cliffs are cracked and broken. It looks like the entire place has been destroyed by some unseen force. IT’S A TRAP, ISN’T IT? Why is this so much worse than if Isengard was normal? Why does this terrify me so much? I should be happy that Saruman’s home is in shambles, but it just feels wrong.

That feeling is validated when the group realizes they passed two creatures at the opening to Isengard; one is sleeping, and the other is smoking some sort of substance that gives off blue smoke. Oh fuck, it’s a trap. OH MY GOD WHO ARE THEY?

‘Welcome, my lords, to Isengard!’ he said. ‘We are the doorwardens. Meriadoc, son of Saradoc is my name; and my companion, who, alas! is overcome with weariness’ – here he gave the other a dig with his foot – ‘is Peregrin, son of Paladin, of the House of Took. Far in the North is our home. The Lord Saruman is within; but at the moment he is closeted with one Wormtongue, or doubtless he would be here to welcome such honorable guests.’

JUST LET ME DIE RIGHT HERE ON THIS PAGE. THIS IS THE GREATEST THING EVER AND I TAKE BACK EVERYTHING I SAID ABOUT THE ENTS EVEN THOUGH I DID LIKE THAT DEVELOPMENT BECAUSE HOLY FUCKING SHIT IT’S PIPPIN AND MERRY!12!2!!!!1!1!

I cannot even begin to describe the joy I felt at this exact moment. It was so exciting to read that I nearly fell out of my chair. I mean, yes, Tolkien tricked me. He made it so that I would expect nothing but tragedy, and instead HOLY SHIT IT’S MERRY AND PIPPIN AND TREEBEARD BROUGHT THEM THERE AND SARUMAN HAS BEEN OVERTHROWN HOLY GANDALF’S BEARD.

PS: The hobbits are potheads OMG LOL. Okay, I’m just kidding.

I am speechless. I don’t even know what to say aside from just smashing my hands onto my keyboard. This is such an unexpected pleasure that I don’t want to ruin it with my words. THE COMPANY IS BACK TOGETHER. Which then made me realize that it’s been a REALLY long time since we’ve heard from Sam or Frodo. Where the fuck did they go?

Also, can we discuss this line?

‘These hobbits will sit on the edge of ruin and discuss the pleasures of the table, or the small doings of their rathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, and remoter cousins to the ninth degree, if you encourage them with undue patience.’

LOOK IT’S VERY TRUE OKAY. Nothing about this is not 100% factual truth as demonstrated by SCIENCE. Also, holy shit, when Théoden meets Treebeard, his head is going to explode.

Oh god, Théoden and Gandalf are going to go hang out with Treebeard. THIS IS JUST THE BEST THING EVER.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

This entry was posted in The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

381 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Chapter 8

  1. enigmaticagentscully says:

    ‘If you would learn that, you should come with me to Isengard,’ answered Gandalf.
    ‘To Isengard?’ they cried.

    Oh lord, now I’ve got that song stuck in my head.

    I won’t post it, because of movie spoilers but…you KNOW what I’m talking about. Don’t act like you don’t.

  2. Becky_J_ says:

    I have one very important topic to discuss today… but first, I just want to revel in this for a moment:

    "Welcome, my lords, to Isengard! We are the doorwardens. Meriadoc, son of Seradoc, is my name; and my companion, who, alas! is overcome with weariness, is Peregrin, son of Paladin, of the house of Took. Far in the North is our home. The Lord Sauruman is within; but at the moment he is closeted with one Wormtongue, or doubtless he would be here to welcome such honourable guests."

    Bless you Meriadoc Brandybuck, and you, Peregrin Took. There is no other way I would rather be greeted ANYWHERE. I hope you are getting your fill of food, wine, and pipe tobacco…. YOU DESERVE IT.

    But now, I must get to the very important, and very serious, main point of my comment today. It has been hinted at, it has been touched on, but mostly, it has been skirted around without being properly discussed, which I think it deserves to be. As the chapters of this book wane on, it becomes more and more apparent, and more and more blatant. Which is why I think we really, REALLY need to discuss it:

    THE EPIC BROMANCE OF LEGOLAS AND GIMLI.

    Yes, I know, it is a difficult topic to discuss. But I am going to try. Here are my main points of focus:
    ~"You have passed my score by one. But I do not grudge you the game, so glad am I to see you on your legs!"
    Awwwww you guys Legolas was SO WORRIED ABOUT GIMLI that he didn't even care that he lost.
    ~Legolas and Gimli were now riding together on one horse.
    How cute would they be together on a horse. OH WAIT THIS CUTE
    <img src="http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_llgo4n3eAK1qi4o5t.jpg"&gt;
    ~"You move me, Gimli. I have never heard you speak like this before. Almost you make me regret that I have not seen these caves. Come! Let us make this bargain–if we both return safe out of the perils that await us, we will journey for a while together. You shall visit Fangorn with me, and then I will come with you to see Helm's Deep."
    YOU GUYS. How adorable is this. They are going to go on adventures together! Gimli and Legolas adventures! I HEAR THOSE ARE THE BEST KIND.

    But. There is a serious problem. Their love is true, and yet it could never work. Gimli would never leave the caves and wonders of the deep to live in the woods (unless it was maybe Lothlorien), and Legolas would never leave his trees to live underground. It is the classic problem of the bird loving the fish…. their love may be true, but where are they going to live?? It makes me SO SAD. I keep telling myself that by the end of the book, they will have found a way to be together forever….. TOLKIEN YOU BETTER NOT DISAPPOINT. THE ANGRY LETTERS WILL BE PROLIFIC.

    So, in honor of their amazing, beautiful, star-crossed, most epic of bromances, CAN WE PLEASE HAVE A LEGOLAS AND GIMLI FEST. We have honored Merry and Pippin and Aragorn well… now it is high time these two had their chance!

    Here are my two contributions:
    <img src="http://www.theargonath.cc/characters/legolas/animations/legolas27.gif"&gt;
    I'm sorry but IT JUST DOESN'T GET CUTER THAN THAT
    <img src="http://26.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lykptrrxmQ1qhvu0eo1_500.gif"&gt;

  3. flootzavut says:

    MERRY AND PIPPIN ARE BACK AND IT IS JOYOUS 😀

    I love those two. OK, back to reading…

  4. Becky_J_ says:

    Also, this:

    "In a grave alone under the shadow of the Hornburg lay Hama, captain of the King's Guard. He fell before the gate."

    WHAT THE FLYING FUCK TOLKIEN. I really liked Hama…. and then you KILL HIM OFF IN LITERALLY ONE THROWAWAY SENTENCE, as if it were some Orc we didn't like or something. Grrrrrr. It's a damn good thing I really like your books, or I would live in ETERNAL HATRED OF YOU.

    *excuse me while I crawl off to go cry FOREVER*
    <img src="http://xb0.xanga.com/9fbe04f018232279245591/z221077484.gif"&gt;

    • flootzavut says:

      :'(

      Also – sad gif is sad 🙁

    • rubyjoo says:

      Yes, just when you think that all the named characters are safe, Tolkien announces Hama's death in what appears to be a throw-away line. But it is typical of Anglo-Saxon poetry to honour someone in a brief, short sentence: Eg "That was a good king." It's shocking, unexpected and memorable. I liked Hama too.

    • sixth_queen says:

      It gets worse with Onggyr bs Cryyraabe Svryqf. Gbyxvra guebjf n unys-qbmra bs zvabe anzrq punenpgref vagb bar qrngu-fragrapr (Unyonenq Fgnaqneq-Ornere), naq n srj zber vagb n dhvpx fbat.

    • unefeeverte says:

      Bar fhpu bar-fragrapr qrngu gung ernyyl XVYYRQ zr jnf Unyonenq va EbgX. FNQSNPR SBERIRE.

      • Dreamflower says:

        N sevraq bs zvar unf jevggra n jubyr fgevat bs NH fgbevrf va juvpu Unyonenq yvirf– naq fur znantrf gb znxr vg "grpuavpnyyl" pnaba– orpnhfr nyy vg fnlf vf gung "Unyonenq pnzr abg ntnva gb gur Abegu". Fb fur whfg unf uvz fgnl va Tbaqbe, YBY!

        • baruchan says:

          Cyrnfr cbvag zr gb gubfr fgbevrf! V ybirq Unyonenq sbe gur oevrs puncgref gung jr zrg uvz.

          • Dreamflower says:

            OK, here's the link to the Author's Timeline of Stories:

            The King's Surgeon by Surgical Steel http://surgsteelfic.livejournal.com/19762.html#cu

            Rot-13'd for a few very minor fic spoilers:
            N ovg bs n urnqf-hc– nyzbfg nyy gur fgbevrf srngher gur nhgube'f BSP, n fhetrba. (Gur nhgube vf bar va EY.) Fur unf gjb frcnengr irefvbaf bs ure fgbel "Gur Xvat'f Fhetrba"– gur svefg sbyybjf pnaba, naq Unyonenq qvrf.

            Gur bgure irefvba qviretrf sebz vg, naq vf gur NH va dhrfgvba, juvpu lbh jvyy svaq yvfgrq nf "NH va juvpu Unyonenq yvirf", nobhg gjb-guveqf bs gur jnl qbja gur cntr. (Naq Unyonenq vf abg gur bayl bar jub yvirf va guvf NH, juvpu vf fbzrgvzrf pnyyrq "gur Unccl NH".)

            SS uses a much more modern style and tone than JRRT, but she meticulously researches her stories, and even when they seem canon non-compliant, she's usually found some sort of canon or quasi-canon justification for her divergence. Plus, when she writes medical stuff, she knows what she's doing! And I love her OFC!

            • baruchan says:

              I've actually seen SS before, I think she was a beta-reader for boz4PM's "Don't Panic!" and "Okay, NOW Panic!", but I didn't know she wrote stories herself! Now I'm sad that I wasn't able to read the stories as they come up (that's my favorite part of reading WIPs, heh).

              As for your rot-13: V npghnyyl qba'g zvaq BPf, rfcrpvnyyl va jbeyqf yvxr WEEG'f Zvqqyr-rnegu. V nyfb graq gb ernq zber Fvyznevyyvba svp guna YBGE svp, fb V'z hfrq gb BPf unatvat nebhaq. Naq gur gjb fgbevrf nobir ner aneengrq sebz na BSP, fb… 🙂

              Thanks for the link! *goes off to read*

    • Cakemage says:

      See, even Iorek is sad!

  5. rabidsamfan says:

    YAY! HOBBITS!

    • rabidsamfan says:

      Ohg lrf, vg unf orra n ERNYYL YBAT GVZR fvapr jr'ir urneq sebz gur Evatornere naq uvf snvgushy pbzcnavba…

  6. Becky_J_ says:

    Juvpu gura znqr zr ernyvmr gung vg’f orra n ERNYYL ybat gvzr fvapr jr’ir urneq sebz Fnz be Sebqb. Jurer gur shpx qvq gurl tb?

    Ununununun. LBH THLF. Ur znqr vg jnl snegure guna V gubhtug ur jbhyq. RVTUG PUNCGREF. V ernyyl gubhtug ur jbhyq or fnlvat guvf ol gur sbhegu be svsgu.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      Naq ol gur gvzr ur'f tbggra guebhtu n zvyyvba puncgref bs Sebqb, Fnz naq Tbyyhz penjyvat nebhaq terl qvatl ebpxf, ur'yy or *orttvat* gb unir gurfr sha onggyr naq onagre furanavtnaf onpx. Bu Gbyxvra, jul qvq lbh abg nygreangr puncgref yvxr gur zbivrf qvq? Jul?

    • flootzavut says:

      HAHAH SO TRUE!

      Vg'f whfg nf jryy V'z abg n tnzyore, V jbhyq unir org tbbq zbarl ur jbhyq or fgnegvat gb serg nsgre n puncgre be gjb 😀

    • Fiona says:

      V pna haqrefgnaq jul ur qvq vg, gb ohvyq fhcrafr naq nyy bs gung fuvmm, ohg vg qbrf frrz n ovg bqq. Vg'f bar bs gubfr guvatf lbh ernyyl pna'g qb va svyzf nf crbcyr jbhyq or jbaqrevat jurer gur uryy gur znva punenpgre jnf sbe unys bs gur obbx. Vg zhfg unir orra ernyyl naablvat sbe gurz jbexvat bhg juvpu ovgf jrer unccravat ng gur fnzr gvzr nf jryy nf fbzr guvatf gung Sebqb naq Fnz ner qbvat zngpu hc jvgu Erghea bs gur Xvat riragf engure guna guvf obbx sebz jung V pna erzrzore.

      • wahlee says:

        Gurl qvqa'g ernyyl unir gb jbex bhg gur gvzryvar, orpnhfr Gbyxvra nyernql qvq vg sbe gurz va gur nccraqvprf. Vg'f irel cerpvfr, juvpu vf jul Furybo tbg zbirq gb gur EbgX svyz vafgrnq bs GGG; gvzryvar-jvfr, gur raq bs Obbx 4 vf jnl nurnq bs gur raq bs Obbx 3.

    • jaccairn says:

      Znex qvq ynfg ybatre guna V rkcrpgrq, ohg guvf unq orra gur svefg erny yhyy gb guvax nobhg vg.

      Qb jr arrq gb fhttrfg gung Znex fgnegf pbhagvat qnlf cnfg fb ur pna xrrc genpx bs jub'f qbvat jung jurer? Nsgre nyy Znex qbrf yvxr znxvat yvfgf.

  7. @MeagenImage says:

    Gandalf is the one of the Wise most versed in Hobbit-Lore. He lived among the hobbits like Middle-Earth Jane Goodall. HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT HERE.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      That is hands down the best analogy I have ever read. Bravo. I take off my pointy wizard hat to you.

    • Patrick721 says:

      "Middle Earth Jane Goodall"

      That is a phrase I never expected to read, and yet it's kind of perfect.

  8. Tauriel_ says:

    Two things in this chapter really bring warm, fuzzy feelings to my heart:

    1. Gimli
    It's nice to know that he's all right, even though he's slightly hurt. I love his competition with Legolas over who killed more Orcs – and it's great that he won, even though just by a single Orc. And then there's this gorgeous scene where Gimli describes the Glittering Caves to Legolas – we've never seen Gimli this eloquent and poetic, and it's wonderful. Even Legolas is moved by his enthusiasm, and the two make an agreement to visit Fangorn and the Glittering Caves if they live through all the dangerous journey that lies ahead of them. BEST BROMANCE EVER OR BEST BROMANCE EVER??? <3 <3 <3

    2. Merry and Pippin
    Three cheers for the (partial) Fellowship reunion! 😀 😀 <3 *dances* The scene where Gandalf, Théoden and company reach Isengard and meet the two hobbits is one of my top favourites from all LOTR, and it always brings a huge grin to my face. I love how Merry trolls Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas by seemingly ignoring them – Gimli's reaction is just priceless!

    ‘And what about your companions? What about Legolas and me?’ cried Gimli, unable to contain himself longer. ‘You rascals, you woolly-footed and wool-pated truants! A fine hunt you have led us! Two hundred leagues, through fen and forest, battle and death, to rescue you! And here we find you feasting and idling – and smoking! Smoking! Where did you come by the weed, you villains? Hammer and tongs! I am so torn between rage and joy, that if I do not burst, it will be a marvel!’

    That last sentence is totally you, Mark, isn't it? :p

    (con'd below)

  9. Tauriel_ says:

    And then Merry gets carried away and starts what would be a VERY LONG tale about the origins of pipeweed, and Gandalf, bless his beard, being the sassy wizard, quickly cuts him short:

    ‘You do not know your danger, Théoden,’ interrupted Gandalf. ‘These hobbits will sit on the edge of ruin and discuss the pleasures of the table, or the small doings of their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, and remoter cousins to the ninth degree, if you encourage them with undue patience.

    I love my snarky Gandalf. <3 And that's a PERFECT description of the hobbits. They're like, "who cares if we're on the edge of ruin – FAMILY HISTORY!!!" 😀 😀 😀

    And then there's Pippin's last remark:

    ‘So that is the King of Rohan!’ said Pippin in an undertone. ‘A fine old fellow. Very polite.’

    I love how unfazed and matter-of-fact he is here – he's not overawed by the presence of a king, but rather judges him by his actions (and justly so – Théoden was polite to them, after all).

    EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL AND NOTHING HURTS. <3

    • flootzavut says:

      "I love how unfazed and matter-of-fact he is here – he's not overawed by the presence of a king, but rather judges him by his actions (and justly so – Théoden was polite to them, after all)."

      YES! And that's just one of the many things I love about hobbits 😀

      V nyfb ybir gung, vs zrzbel freirf, va zvnf Gvevgu gurl nffhzr Cvccva zhfg or fbzr xvaq bs uboovg cevapr orpnhfr ur nqqerffrf Nentbea jvgu fhpu snzvyvnevgl, naq gung "Grypbagne" pbzrf sebz gur uboovgf fgvyy pnyyvat Nentbea Fgevqre <3 V ybir gurve ynpx bs cbzcbfvgl, naq V ybir gung Nentbea gnxrf vg naq 'raaboyrf' vg, vg'f n fvta bs uvf tbbq frafr bs uhzbhe naq uvf nssrpgvba sbe gur uboovgf. Whfg trarenyyl ybir nyy gung hggreyl! <3

    • unefeeverte says:

      Nj, cbbe Cvccva… Guébqra gbgnyyl ehvaf uvz sbe nyy bgure xvatf. Fbba ur'f tbaan or va Zvanf Gvevgu naq unir gb qrny jvgu Qrargube. 🙁

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Qrargube vf abg n xvat, gubhtu. Gur bayl gjb xvatf Cvccva zrrgf ner Guébqra naq Nentbea. Jryy, guerr xvatf – nsgre Guébqra qvrf, Ébzre orpbzrf gur arkg Xvat bs Ebuna.

    • Katarina_H says:

      Yes, yes, yes to both of these posts! This chapter brings so much joy to my heart – first Legolas and Gimli being all adorable, and then Merry and Pippin being even MORE adorable, to a degree that only they can be. (On a sidenote, it felt weird to see "Pippin and Merry" in the review – to me, it's merryandpippin almost in one word, like Chip n Dale, or hasseåtage.)

      Also, from the review:

      PS: The hobbits are potheads OMG LOL. Okay, I’m just kidding.

      Why just kidding? It's so very clearly true. Sebqb yvirf!

      • flootzavut says:

        I agree sooooooooo much LOL, they are always Merry and Pippin, even though Pippin is my favourite <3 – writing Pippin and Merry is weird.

        And yeah, they're SO potheads. Rfcrpvnyyl va gur zbivr <3 Ovyyl naq Qbz sberinu 😀 <3

  10. Alice says:

    Oh,Legolas and the woods and Gimli with his glittering caves!And their mutual promise to visit them together… ^_^ That is the cutest image ever in my mind :p And do elves have family names? Legolas Greenleaf…I think this is mentioned for the first time.Or is it just a nickname?
    And sorry folks but I do have to say this:boo Tolkien for not showing the Isengard battle!!
    And…Merry!!!And Pippin!!!Yay!!The fellowship is almost complete. 😀 And their meeting with Theoden is made of so much WIN!!

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_ii-3-08_the%20road%20to%20isengard.jpg"width="600"&gt;

    <img src="http://www.tednasmith.com/lotr2/TN-The_Tree_Shepherds.jpg"width="600"&gt;

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

    <img src="http://www.dana-mad.ru/gal/images/Alan%20Lee/The%20Lord%20of%20the%20Rings%20Sketchbook/alan_lee_the%20lord%20of%20the%20rings_sketchbook_11_orthanc_color.jpg"width="600"&gt;

    (In this order: Alan Lee-The Road to Isengard, Ted Nasmith-The Tree Shepherds, John Howe-Orthanc, Alan Lee-Orthanc)

    • cait0716 says:

      oooh, the last picture is the cover of my book! I like how massive Orthanc is, you can't even see the top.

      • amandajane5 says:

        Agreed! For the movie they apparently had to have Alan Lee design the top of it, which he hadn't done before, because this was as much of Orthanc as he'd ever drawn.

        • cait0716 says:

          nice. I really love that Alan Lee was so involved in the movies. All my book covers tie right into the movies and are basically paintings of cool locations. But the book covers came before the movies which makes it all a lot cooler

          • flootzavut says:

            Yeah, I love how involved Alan Lee was, I've been watching commentaries, and they mentioned how one minute he'd be designing, and the next minute he'd be on set slapping paint on a wall to help get it finished in time.

    • monkeybutter says:

      I love the ent's thoughtfully raised pinky in the second picture.

    • vivelabagatel says:

      Ooh, great pictures!
      Greenleaf is the English translation of 'Legolas'. As far as I know, he doesn't have a family name per se, but you could call him 'Legolas of the House of Oropher', since his grandfather Oropher was the first king of Mirkwood.

      • Alice says:

        Yeah,I thought so too,that he would be called "Legolas,son of Thranduil" or something similar,but seeing that "Legolas Greenleaf" put together it made me doubt it.Thank you 🙂

        • flootzavut says:

          V'z jngpuvat GG evtug abj,naq vg'f vagrerfgvat gung jura gurl zrrg gur Ebuveebz, Nentbea vagebqhprf uvzfrys naq Tvzyv jvgu cngebalzvpf, ohg Yrtbynf ur whfg fnlf vf "bs gur jbbqynaq ernyz.

    • Fiona says:

      That last one is stunning. Gung'f gur bar gurl jrag pybfrfg gb sbe gur svyzf vfa'g vg, vs V'z erzrzorevat evtugyl?

      I think Alan Lee's work is my favourite, although John Howe's great at the darker side of things, along with armour of course.

      • Alice says:

        Yeah ,you do. 🙂 In fact,I always liked the fact that PJ was so enamored with the Orthanc that Lee created that when he joined the crew he said "can you now finish the rest of the tower,because I'm really curious how the rest is looking" or something among these lines 🙂

  11. Ryan Lohner says:

    Oh, there was a lot of rot13ing yesterday along the lines of "He seriously didn't figure out it was the Ents? Is he trolling us?"

    • JustMalyn says:

      I think I actually mentioned Ents in a comment yesterday…whoops. This is how obvious it seemed to me, apparently 🙂

      • ZeynepD says:

        …rkprcg zbfg bs gung jbbq gung nccrnef bireavtug _nera'g_ Ragf—fbzr Ragf ner jvgu gurz nf furcureqf, ohg gurl ner zbfgyl Uhbeaf. Gung'f jul Tvzyv (naq zbfg bs gur evqref) ner fb harnfl evqvat guebhtu gurz. Gur funcrf gung cnff gur Evqref va gur zvfg ner nyfb Uhbeaf. Ng gung gvzr zbfg bs gur npgvir Ragf gurzfryirf jrer ohfl grnevat Vfratneq qbja, oernxvat gur qnz, rgp.

        V'z pbashfrq nobhg guvf nfcrpg bs gur fcbvyre cbyvpl urer—jr'er abg fhccbfrq gb pbeerpg Znex nobhg fhpu guvatf, ner jr?

        • JustMalyn says:

          'Tis true. And…I'm not sure. It's kind of vague…?

        • flootzavut says:

          V zragvbarq uhebfa va n pbzzrag naq gur zbqf zbqvsvrq vg, fb V'z guvaxvat, qba'g zragvba gur uhebfa. V guvax onfvpnyyl, Qb Abg Pbeerpg, juvpu vf snve rabhtu 🙂

          (Vf vg jrveq gung gung fbhaqf yvxr n Snjygl Gbjref yvar? "Qba'g zragvba gur jne!" YBY :D)

    • castlewayjay says:

      jnfa’g gur sberfg znqr hc zbfgyl ol Uhbeaf, ureqrq ol gur Ragf? be jrer Uhebeaf abg zragvbarq lrg?

    • Alice says:

      Actually I thought so too,because when I first read the book,it was obvious to me that Gandalf has brought some Ents along with him,but that's why we love Mark 🙂

  12. MrsGillianO says:

    Which then made me realize that it’s been a REALLY long time since we’ve heard from Sam or Frodo. Where the fuck did they go?

    There has been much ROT13 speculation about how long it would take you to notice this, Mark. It speaks greatly for JRRT's narrative powers that it has been so long.

    It's just great to see them together again. Rira vs vg bayl ynfgf n puncgre.

    • flootzavut says:

      "Rira vs vg bayl ynfgf n puncgre."

      :'( vg'f nyjnlf urnegoernxvat gb frr gurz fcyvg hc… va gur svyzf vg nyjnlf znxrf zr jnag gb pel jura Cvccva vf fnlvat "Zreel? Zreel??" naq gura gurl'er tbar.

      • Fuchsia says:

        V pel RIREL GVZR. Naq V pel jura Zreel naq Cvccva svanyyl erhavgr nsgre gur onggyr. V xabj V'z pbzcyrgryl ovnfrq va zl Cvccva ybir ohg gur Zreel/Cvccva oebznapr vf rira zber ornhgvshy gb zr guna Tvzyv/Yrtbynf naq Fnz/Sebqb. V qba'g pner!

        • flootzavut says:

          Oh, me too, me too! V ybir nyy gur oebznaprf, ohg V whfg nqber Zreel naq Cvccva <3 znlor orpnhfr gurl ner gehr yvsrybat sevraqf, naq lbh trg gb frr gurz (rfcrpvnyyl Cvccva) tebj hc, naq rfcrpvnyyl ba fperra, gurl ner FB oryvrinoyr nf sevraqf jub'ir yvgrenyyl xabja rnpu bgure irel arneyl sebz ovegu. Va gur obbx naq ba fperra, gurl'er whfg fb qnza nqbenoyr!

          • Dreamflower says:

            Jryy, Cvccva UNF xabja Zreel sebz ovegu, nygubhtu abg ivpr-irefn, fvapr Zreel'f rvtug lrnef byqre. NAQ gurl ner svefg pbhfvaf. Vg'f n snfpvangvat sevraqfuvc gb zr, nf jryy nf Sebqb'f sevraqfuvc jvgu gurz– crbcyr sbetrg nyy guerr bs gurz jrer eryngrq. Fnz jnf gur bayl bar bs gur sbhe uboovgf abg eryngrq ol oybbq.

            • flootzavut says:

              V jnf sbetrggvat gur ntr qvssrerapr sbe n zbzrag 😀

              • Dreamflower says:

                V fbeg bs unir n gurbel nobhg gur ntr qvssreraprf: Sebqb vf 14 lrnef byqre guna Zreel. Ur ybfg uvf cneragf ng 12, naq yvirq gurer va Oenaql Unyy hagvy ur jnf 20. Zreel jbhyq unir orra obea gjb lrnef nsgre Sebqb'f cneragf qvrq, naq V vzntvar uvz guvaxvat bs Zreel nf zber yvxr n yvggyr oebgure guna yvxr n pbhfva. Zreel jnf frira jura Sebqb zbirq njnl, naq Cvccva jnf obea gur sbyybjvat lrne– naq V guvax gung Zreel qrpvqrq gb znxr Cvccva uvf "yvggyr oebgure" gbb, naq gung jbhyq unir oebhtug Sebqb vagb gur pvepyr bs *gurve* sevraqfuvc vs ur znvagnvarq uvf pybfrarff gb Zreel. Ng svefg, Sebqb jbhyq unir orra n ovt oebgure/zragbe svther gb gurz, nf ur jnf fb zhpu byqre. Ohg jura Ovyob yrsg naq tnir uvz gur Evat, ur prnfrq gb zngher nal zber, naq fb tenqhnyyl gur lrnef orgjrra gurz jrer renfrq, znxvat vg cbffvoyr sbe gurz gb or Sebqb'f orfg sevraqf jura Sebqb jnf ernql gb yrnir gur Fuver. Fnz jbhyq nyfb unir tebja vagb gung sevraqfuvc nf jryy, nygubhtu gur qvssrerapr va fbpvny fgnghf jbhyq unir bevtvanyyl znqr gung na hardhny sevraqfuvc, ol gur gvzr gur wbhearl raqrq gubfr vardhvgvrf jbhyq unir prnfrq gb znggre orgjrra gur sbhe.

                • flootzavut says:

                  I like this theory very much 😀

                • AmandaNekesa says:

                  This is an excellent theory and may now become part of my head canon. 🙂

                • feanna says:

                  Nyfb, tvira gung Uboovgf frrz gb (ebhtuyl) zngher ng unys gur fcrrq gung uhznaf qb gur nter qvssreraprf nera'g nf ovt nf gurl frrz gb hf ng svefg tynapr. Gurl'er fgvyy fvtavsvpnag, ohg vs jr qb rfgvzngr ol qrivqvat ol gjb gura ng guvf cbvag Zreel naq Cvccva ner jung? nobhg gur rdhvinyrag bs (V pna'g ernyyl erzrzore fbeel) 20 naq 24, fb abg gung ovt n qrny.

                  (Gur gvzr gurl fgnegrq jngpuvat Sebqb sbe fvtaf bs yrnivat jnf cebonoyl jura gurl tbg gb gur ntr gung zrnag gung gur ntr qvssrerapr orgjrra gurz orpnzr irel zhpu yrnff zrnavatshy.)

    • castlewayjay says:

      I think Tolkien's narrative choices are superb – I liked Mark's line today about, uh – where are Frodo and Sam anyway?

  13. cait0716 says:

    This chapter was a lot of fun. From the opening sentence that seemed lifted from some epic tale of yore and felt more like the beginning of a story than something that happened halfway through, to Legolas and Gimli's awesome friendship and romance, to the arrival of Merry and Pippin! Everything's just so happy (especially when you already know what's coming and every time Gandalf goes "we'll find out later" you just laugh at his epic trolling ability).

    PS: The hobbits are potheads OMG LOL. Okay, I’m just kidding.

    No, you're not kidding. The hobbits are totally potheads. And Merry is so obviously stoned in this scene. And then Pippin's assessment of Theoden "Very polite" is icing on the cake.

    • Laurelluin says:

      It isn't pot, it's tobacco. It's described elsewhere as having broad leaves, not spiky ones.

    • castlewayjay says:

      was it a surprise to Gandalf that Isengard was overthrown? I can't remember.

      • cait0716 says:

        Well, he seemed to know that the Ents would do something about the Orcs. And I got the impression that he knew they'd already attacked Isengard and been successful, since he was able to convince them to accompany him to Helm's Deep. If he thought there was still a threat at Isengard, he probably would have advised Theoden to bring more than 20 men. But he says they're going to a parlay, not a battle.

      • floppus says:

        Gandalf is never surprised. 🙂

    • wahlee says:

      Considering they've also been drinking beer, they're probably just a bit drunk. 😛

      • cait0716 says:

        I think they're both.

        • rubyjoo says:

          I know you're really enjoying the image of pot-smoking hobbits, caito, and I wouldn't want to take it from you, LOL – BUT, pot-smoking didn't become common for a small number of young people until the Swinging Sixties, after Tolkien wrote LotR. In the fifties and beyond, tobacco smoking was considered harmless and doctors would often offer you a cigarette to "clear your chest" if you went to the surgery with a bad cough. That's why Tolkien, a keen pipe-smoker, went on about it so much – because he was enthusiastic about the pleasures but knew nothing of its dangers. I often wonder what he would think if he were alive today and whether or not he would go through his work erasing everything about pipe-weed, either because of the now known dangers of smoking or because people were misunderstanding what this weed was.

          • cait0716 says:

            Marijuana was actually very popular in the 1920s and 30s as well, hence that absurd "documentary", Reefer Madness

            Also, you can throw as many facts and quotes at me as you want, and you'll probably be right. But I'm taking my image of stoner hobbits to my grave. I may be wrong, but I'm happy in my ignorance

          • Katarina_H says:

            I think there's a difference between the Doylist and Watsonian perspective here. From a Doylist perspective, Tolkien most likely intended it to be tobacco. From a Watsonian perspective, the hobbits could still be little stoners. 🙂

            • cait0716 says:

              I just realized that "Doylist" and "Watsonian" are derived from Sherlock Holmes and now I think I'll actually be able to remember which one's which now.

              • rabidsamfan says:

                *grin* Yes, indeed. And being a committed Watsonian, in all things, I look at the text and think that Gimli knows the joys of pipeweed as well! Now we know what Bilbo traded with the dwarves for all those toys from Dale!

          • Zoli says:

            They also didn't really know any of the dangers of smoking until the 60's or so, which is when the research papers started being published with the link between smoking and cancers. I seem to recall reading something that lung cancer was practically unknown until it started showing up in soldiers during/after WWI, when soldiers were given plenty of cigarettes. But they didn't make the connection until some time later.

            And now I'm thinking of hobbits with lung cancer and it is a SAD SAD THING. D:

    • Spinnaker12 says:

      Va gur svyzf, gurl unq gb xrrc ergnxvat guvf fprar orpnhfr obgu Qbzvavp naq Ovyyl xrcg rzcunfvfvat "jrrq". Va gur raq gurl phg gur jbeq bhg!

    • Wheelrider says:

      Don't forget the lore in the prologue… (rot13 because I'm not sure if Mark read it?)

      "Gurer vf nabgure nfgbavfuvat guvat nobhg Uboovgf bs byq gung zhfg or zragvbarq, na nfgbavfuvat unovg: gurl vzovorq be vaunyrq, guebhtu cvcrf bs pynl be jbbq, gur fzbxr bs gur oheavat yrnirf bs n ureo, juvpu gurl pnyyrq cvcr-jrrq be yrns, n inevrgl cebonoyl bs Avpbgvnan."

      But of course…

      "Uboovgf svefg ortna gb fzbxr vf abg xabja, nyy gur yrtraqf naq snzvyl uvfgbevrf gnxr vg sbe tenagrq; sbe ntrf sbyx va gur Fuver fzbxrq inevbhf ureof, fbzr sbhyre, fbzr fjrrgre."

  14. @RadagastWiz says:

    The closing paragraphs of this chapter are some of my absolute favourite in the whole trilogy. Merry and Pippin are just lazing about in the midst of death and chaos, and feel so comfy that Merry starts giving a king he's just met a history lesson on an obscure plant. It's a rare form of that accolade, but they are BAMFs here, too.

  15. JustMalyn says:

    I love how the hobbits remain their lovely sassy selves, talking about the history of that brand of pipe-weed and just not having a care in the world despite all they've been through. I LOVE HOBBITS. Also, Gimli+Legolas 😀

  16. BetB says:

    I must say that your reaction to Merry and Pippen greeting Theoden and his party to Isengard was immensely satisfying. It's one of the best surprises I can think of. I especially love the give and take between Legolas, Gimli and the Hobbits!

    Oh, don't forget that you aren't really halfway through the book! I can't wait for more CAPSLOCK Mark and keymashes!

  17. Tauriel_ says:

    that Ents have HERDSMEN

    Actually, Mark, the Ents ARE herdsmen. 😉

    • Curt says:

      Yup. From chapter 4: “We are tree-herds, we old Ents. Few enough of us are left now… Some of my kin look just like trees now, and need something great to rouse them; and they speak only in whispers. But some of my trees are limb-lithe, and many can talk to me.”

  18. flootzavut says:

    “One of my favorite things about good fiction is that moment when you are so engrossed in the words that you forget where you are. You forget you are in a coffee shop and there are thirty people sitting around you and every time you gasp or make a ridiculous face at another plot twist, they can probably see you. You forget that when you shout “WHAT?!?!” at a book, other people might find it strange that you are yelling at an inanimate object.”

    I so agree!

    I find the Ents genuinely scary… I am mildly botanophobic and EEK trees that are alive and malevolent…

    In the movies, V ernyyl yvxrq gur pbagenfg orgjrra Vfrathneq nf jr svefg frr vg, guvf ornhgvshy, jryy, TNEQRA rffragvnyyl, naq gur zrff Fnehzna znqr bs vg. Vg’f n irel ivfhny, ivfpreny ivrj bs jung gur yhfg sbe cbjre unf qbar gb gur ynaq.

    Vg’f fnq gung gur gerrf qba’g znepu gb Uryz’f Qrrc gubhtu… 🙁

    I can’t help but “hear” lots of Tolkien’s prose in a somewhat well spoken, British accent – I can’t offhand think whether this is based on hearing the man himself, or if it’s from an audiobook, but in my head it really suits the prose!

    “CF: Gur uboovgf ner cbgurnqf BZT YBY. Bxnl, V’z whfg xvqqvat.”

    Jryyyyyyy……….. YBY 😀 V fb jnag gb frr gur irefvbaf Qbz naq Ovyyl qvq bs gung nf qehax naq ernyyl uvtu!!

    V ernyyl ybir gung fprar va gur zbivr <3

    I love that Tolkien got you so engrossed you FORGOT about Frodo and Sam! I was betting on you starting to get antsy about them about 3 or 4 chapters ago 😀

    • sixth_queen says:

      "You forget that when you shout “WHAT?!?!” at a book, other people might find it strange that you are yelling at an inanimate object."

      But then they see that it's LotR you're shouting at, and they're like, "oh right, yeah no biggie, I did that too," and go back to whatever they were doing.

    • feanna says:

      Va gur RR jr QB trg gb frr gur gerrf (gubhtu ab Ragf) ng Uryz'f Qrrc! Gubhtu jr qba'g trg gb frr gur znepu gurer.

      V nz FB UNCCL gubhtu gung va gur zbivrf jr tbg gb frr gur npghny onggyr ng Vfratneq!

      • flootzavut says:

        Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh that explains a lot. V jnf qvfnccbvagrq gb abg frr gur sberfg ng Uryz'f Qrrc naq V jnf jbexvat ba gur cevapvcyr gung V jnf whfg zvferzrzorevat, ohg V ybnarq bhg zl RR bs GGG!

  19. blossomingpeach says:

    YAAAY! So much happiness! Thank you, Mark, for making the weekdays something to look forward to with new reviews!

    Billy Boyd, in the extras, on this scene: "I’m sure it has some sort of effect. Whether it’s tobacco or some sort of weed. So, you know, how high are we?"

    I think we need more Merry/Pippin Dom/Billy fests.

    <img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_lx5jmk6qlP1qboi9vo1_1280.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ6IHWSU3BX3X7X3Q&Expires=1328192276&Signature=%2F%2BNt8Qm48tyPsXxTN8ZoV5Ml%2Foc%3D"&gt;

  20. Tauriel_ says:

    Which then made me realize that it’s been a REALLY long time since we’ve heard from Sam or Frodo. Where the fuck did they go?

    Eight chapters into second part, and he asks now. 😀 😀 😀 That's what I call immersion in the story. 😉

    • blossomingpeach says:

      I think I did it in reverse. For the first few chapters, I kept wondering where Sam and Frodo were, and then I got so immersed in the story I forgot about them altogether!

  21. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Rot13 because it's sort of movie related…

    Bu zl tbq, V jnf fhqqrayl erzvaqrq bs gur fprar jvgu Zreel naq Cvccva va gur zbivrf. Unf nalbar ryfr frra gung oruvaq-gur-fprarf ovg jurer gur gjb npgbef ner gnyxvat nobhg rknpgyl ubj fgbarq gurl jrer tbvat gb cynl vg? Vg'f UVYNEVBHF.

    Can't find a link to the video of it now though, boooo…

    • flootzavut says:

      YES I LOVE THAT SO MUCH!

      V jvfu gurer jnf n ivqrbbs nyy gur qvssrerag gnxrf va shyy – V'z fher gurer jnf bar jurer gurl fnvq gurl jrer irel fgbarq naq irel qehax… org gung jnf ulfgrevpny 😀

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      YES! I love it! Sooooo hilarious! Gur ybbxf ba gurve snprf nf gurl'er qrfpevovat gur qvssrerag yriryf bs orvat uvtu/qehax gung gurl gevrq bhg ner fb sernxvat shaal.

  22. Dreamflower says:

    I cannot even begin to describe the joy I felt at this exact moment. It was so exciting to read that I nearly fell out of my chair. I mean, yes, Tolkien tricked me. He made it so that I would expect nothing but tragedy, and instead HOLY SHIT IT’S MERRY AND PIPPIN AND TREEBEARD BROUGHT THEM THERE AND SARUMAN HAS BEEN OVERTHROWN HOLY GANDALF’S BEARD.

    Oh, Mark! I love you! Except for the swearing, that was my exact reaction 44 years ago! I remember jumping up and down squealing aloud (nowadays we call that SQUEE! which is the best word the internet has ever spawned), and my mother poking her head in my room to ask if I was OK.

    I am so HAPPY that you loved that moment as much as I did!

    Several years ago my first experience of online fandom was in the usenet forums rec.arts.books.tolkien/alt.fans.tolkien. I mostly lurked but gradually became somewhat more active, and took part in the "Chapter of the Week Project", in which we dissected a chapter of Tolkien each week. One person would take the chapter and post a brief summary with a few observations and questions to get the discussions going. Once I got the nerve up, I volunteered to do this chapter and the one that follows. In those days my username was AElfwina.

    Anyway, a page has been set up with links to those discussions. Warning: spoilers abound! These are all posts and comments from people who've read the books before and there aren't any efforts to avoid spoilers, so Mark, you should not look at it yet:

    Tolkien Chapter of the Week Project: http://users.silenceisdefeat.net/aft-rabt/CotW_1….

    And I see my opinion of the chapter has not changed much between then and now, and THIS is still my favorite quote:

    "These hobbits will sit on the edge of ruin and discuss the pleasures of the
    table, or the small doings of their fathers, grandfathers, and
    great-grandfathers, and remoter cousins to the ninth degree, if you
    encourage them with undue patience."

    • rabidsamfan says:

      *tbrf bss gb ernq*
      *pbzrf onpx*

      Lbh znxr n tbbq cbvag nobhg gur snpg gung abguvat tebjf jurer gur Bepf ner ohevrq. Gung'f gehr yngre bs gur Jvgpu Xvat'f sylvat zbhag va EbgX gbb. Fb znlor gurer ernyyl vf yvgrenyyl n cbvfba ehaavat guebhtu gur irvaf be qrrc va gur gvffhrf bs gur perngherf, bepf vapyhqrq, juvpu Fnheba unf perngrq.

      • Dreamflower says:

        Oynpx oybbq. V guvax vg UNF gb or gur oynpx oybbq– jung qvq Zbetbgu qb gb ghea gur oybbq oynpx? Ubj qvq vg nssrpg gur oybbq'f znxr-hc? V unir fb sne gevrq hafhpprffshyyl vagb yhevat pregnva Fvyz snasvp jevgref vagb gnpxyvat gung fhowrpg, ohg fb sne ab unir unq ab gnxref…

    • rubyjoo says:

      Thanks for that interesting link, Dreamflower. You ask there if Tolkien based his Glittering Caves on any that he had seen himself and I reckon that he is describing Cheddar Caves in Somerset, probably the most popular and most visited cave system in the UK. I remember being taken as a child, years ago, and images of the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites still linger in my mind. There was one like a draped curtain which had a light behind it to show its translucence, "folded marble…..translucent as the living hands of Galadriel". And there was another series which was reflected in a very still pool and which looked like a fairy kingdom – "a glimmering world" – and I remember an odd drop of water going "plink" as Tolkien describes and shattering the image. The caves are in a famous gorge too and I wonder if this gave him the setting for Helm's Deep.

      Smug discovery: I've just checked on Wiki which says that Cheddar Caves were Tolkien's inspiration for Helm's Deep and the caves in The Two Towers. Thank you, Dreamflower, for prompting me to investigate. I've wondered for a long time.

      • Dreamflower says:

        Oh, THANK YOU so much for the info– I never had gotten that question answered! How wonderful! ((hugs))

    • Steve Morrison says:

      I had no idea you were Aelfwina! <waves>

      • Dreamflower says:

        *waves back* I drifted away from usenet when we got a new ISP that made it less easy to use; plus I was getting more involved at LiveJournal and writing fanfic, so it was harder to find time to keep up with the forums. But I had so much fun on r.a.b.t/a.f.t that I will never forget it. It was a wonderful intro to online fandom!

        • windsparrow says:

          Ah, RABT/AFT – I think I had started drifting away by the time the Chapter-a-Week discussions got started. But I remember you, Aelfwina.

          • Dreamflower says:

            *blushes* It's rather gratifying to know anyone there remembers me! I thought of myself as mostly a lurker there, and most of my posts were rather timid, although I do recall a certain spirited (but I hope mostly polite) exchange about Ybgub Fnpxivyyr-Onttvaf.

  23. I'll be back with something longer when I don't have to catch a train for class, but will leave you with one of my favorite lines from this entire chapter (though there are a lot more good ones than this)
    :
    "So that is the King of Rohan!" said Pippin in an undertone. "A fine old fellow. Very polite."

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen this is how the hobbits assess kings and heroes. I love them for it.

  24. thimbledore says:

    PS: The hobbits are potheads OMG LOL. Okay, I’m just kidding.

    Are you, though? Are you? Giggly hobbits eating pizza (piled high with mushrooms, natch) is totally part of my head-canon.

  25. Ryan Lohner says:

    One very awkward bit in the movie: Ba Cvccva'f yvar "Jr ner fvggvat ba n svryq bs ivpgbel," Ovyyl Oblq'f Fpbggvfu npprag pbzovarq jvgu gur oernq va uvf zbhgu znxrf vg fbhaq yvxr ur'f fnlvat "Jr ner fuvggvat." Anghenyyl, gur Evssgenk thlf whfg eha jvgu guvf.

  26. monkeybutter says:

    This review sums up my feelings pretty well! I love Gimli and Legolas bonding and planning future trips, and how expressive Gimli is about the beauty of the caverns of Helms Deep (the idea that the dwarves nurture the stone is beautiful.) I couldn't help but picture the Crystal Catacombs under Ba Sing Se, a beautiful, fluorescent underground city. And the Ents! I'd have thought that Legolas would be jumping up and down at the thought of meeting sentient trees. What Theoden says about them being children's tales made me think about American Gods. Not that the ents will disappear like the gods, but that over time, the stories about them aren't taken seriously, and the cultural memory of them is weakening.

    But then Pippin and Merry show up, and I realize I'm smiling because my face hurts. It's a reflex reaction to hobbits! Even though I knew they were okay, I was overjoyed to see them again. I hadn't realized just how much their presence improves the story.

    'You do not know your danger, Théoden,’ interrupted Gandalf. ‘These hobbits will sit on the edge of ruin and discuss the pleasures of the table, or the small doings of their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, and remoter cousins to the ninth degree, if you encourage them with undue patience.'

    And I'd probably find it more interesting than the battle yesterday. Hobbits! <3 <3 <3

    • castlewayjay says:

      I think LOTR works because of the presence of the hobbits and their point of view. without them the entire story would not be as special, imo.

      • Let's face it, Ents love hobbits, Gandalf loves hobbits, humans love hobbits, Elves love hobbits, Dwarves love hobbits… those little charmers!

        Seriously, in Treebeard's poetry he needs to make it clear that they are made of ALL the Nice Things.

        • Dreamflower says:

          Hobbits are essentially and innately lovable!!!!!!

          *happy sigh*

          <3<3<3 hobbits! hobbits! hobbits!

    • Fiona says:

      American Gods is my favourite book in the world, I was so happy when Mark did it. The idea of Ents disappearing makes me sad, especially the idea that if you take Middle Earth as the UK it could mean that there are Ents in every forest who've forgotten they're Ents :(.

      Merry and Pippin make everything better though :).

  27. settledforhistory says:

    Yay, finally we have our Hobbits back!
    Everything is less terrifying with Hobbits. ( I really miss Sam! )
    Theoden is so much fun when he talkes to Merry an Pippin and he knows what Hobbits are.
    This is awesome!
    I agree with Theoden, I want to hear the endless history of pipes and Pippin's great-grandfather, too.
    I'm happy and even though this is not written by Joss Whedon, I'm sure the happieness is not going to last long. But we'll meet Ents again, so at least the awesomeness will stay for a chat with Theoden.

  28. knut_knut says:

    IT’S A FELLOWSHIP REUNION!!!! <3 <3 <3 Merry and Pippin sassing kings while high, I LOVE IT!

    I admit that prior to this chapter, I wasn’t totally sold on the idea of living in caves. Moria was a total bust, and caves are fun when you’re on a tour, but LIVING in one? No thank you. I also admit that before this, I thought of the dwarves as…well, not as mole people exactly, but kind of like materialistic mole people. I love Gimli’s description of the caves and how he compares their treatment of them to that of the elves and their forests. They may have to mine a little, but they don’t want to completely destroy their surroundings. It was really beautiful.

    • You really see Tolkien's personal love of the natural world in how he has Elves and Dwarves model their architecture. Granted, Tolkien lived through some of the most beautiful (to me) art movements (The Craftsman Era and Art Nouveau) which generally celebrated Nature in a way many forms of architecture hadn't before.
      The idea of the Elves and Dwarves being able to bond over their mutual love of Middle Earth is just so beautiful to me, like they realize that their love of beauty and nature are very much the same, just with different "mediums".

      • flootzavut says:

        YES OH YES, especially to your second paragraph – it's a beautiful thing, man! (I came over a bit 60s for a second there. I don't think I can really pull that off :-/)

  29. @redbeardjim says:

    Time to plug one of my favorite fanfics — Repairs, a post-battle scene with Gimli and Legolas.

  30. ZeynepD says:

    This is another chance to bring up one of the themes of the Lord of the Rings, except this time it's an extension of a major theme in The Hobbit .

    "So that is the King of Rohan!" said Pippin in an undertone. "A fine old fellow. Very polite."

    This is something that comes up again and again in The Hobbit: Politeness, courtesy, hospitality—proper behaviour for the host and for the guest, the more elegant bits of the social fabric. Bilbo knows the "proper" way to respond to the dwarves' "At your service!" and much is made of this. The Elf King is chastised because, at the end of the day, he wasn't being hospitable. The three trolls were painted as louts mostly by emphasizing they are not polite company.

    Whereas Theoden treats the hobbits decently, respectfully, not looking down on them and being polite; and they pick up on this immediately and appreciate it.

    One gets the sense that Tolkien was exquisitely courteous, and appreciated the same.

    • Deimos says:

      "Politeness, courtesy, hospitality—proper behaviour for the host and for the guest, the more elegant bits of the social fabric"

      It's something that I've noticed comes up a lot in fantasy fiction in general. Hospitality and the relationship between guest and host is taken incredibly seriously. There are two examples that come immediately to mind from The Dresden Files. Turn Coat and Changes spoilers:

      Gur svefg vf jurer Uneel pbjrf Zbetna vagb orunivat va Ghea Pbng jura ur gryyf uvz gung gurer ner zbafgref jub ur jbhyq rkcrpg gb or orggre thrfgf guna Zbetna unq orra, naq jung'f zber, gung gurl jbhyq or.

      Naq gur frpbaq jura Uneel vaibxrf gur evtug bs ubfcvgnyvgl jvgu gur Reyxvat va Punatrf, ol gnxvat nqinagntr bs gur xvat'f cuenfvat, rafhevat gung gur snr pna'g qverpgyl uheg uvz.

      • MasterGhandalf says:

        It's not just fantasy- in a lot of ancient civilizations, hospitality was *huge*. It comes up a lot in classical Greek stories in particular (the reason Paris's kidnapping of Helen was considered so heinous, for example, was at least in part because he was a guest in her and her husband's home when he did it). In a course in Greek Civilization that I took last year, my professor explained it as being that in a world where travel is inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst, a traveller would greatly value someone who provides food and shelter, while the host would value the chance to hear news of the outside world. The importance on proper hospitality would have grown out of that, and became key in many different cultures.

        • flootzavut says:

          It's not even just ancient civilisations, either – it's something that tends to be more important (in my experience) the further East you go, at least till the Middle East anyhow.

          We as a family once lost about 3 hours sitting in this little old man's house in a tiny village in Cyprus. He was absolutely loathe to let us go, fed us to ridiculous degree, and talked our ears off. Considering we spoke no Greek and he spoke no English… 😀 it was interesting! Similarly in Russia, at least out in the sticks (not so much in the city), being hospitable is a big thing.

          • MasterGhandalf says:

            It's cool to know there are places in the world where those ideals still live:). Ancient or modern, it's pretty clearly something that's got a long and storied history in humanity, which makes it easy to understand why someone like Tolkien (who was trying to recapture the feel of epic, mythologized history) would put an emphasis on it and related ideas.

      • @RadagastWiz says:

        "It's something that I've noticed comes up a lot in fantasy fiction in general. Hospitality and the relationship between guest and host is taken incredibly seriously."

        Even in ASoIaF, the hospitality rule – if you eat of your host's bread and salt, you are safe from his intentions – is considered sacrosanct, and anyone who violates it is considered the lowest of scum.

      • Fiona says:

        I love The Dresden Files. It saddens me that Mark's said that he's not going to do them, although I understand if the fandom's made him uncomfortable somehow. I stay out of it myself and just enjoy the books by themselves.

        Anywho, I think there's a TV Tropes page for that kind of use of politeness (as there is for everything of course), called 'politeness judo', which seems about right as descriptions go.

      • You can really see why Gandalf and Bilbo's snark would keep everyone on their toes. They kind of swag around being Bosses of thinly-veiled sarcasm, and while it's highly entertaining, it can also lead to trouble with the wrong people.

      • Katarina_H says:

        Talking to Dragons is also very focused on politeness.

        And the destruction of Sodom has been chalked down to lack of hospitality as well. (Though that has always struck me as a bizarre understatement.)

    • Wheelrider says:

      So true! There's also the fact that Frodo was named an Elf-friend basically because he greeted Gildor politely and in his own language, no less.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      THIS. All the upvotes. <3

      My Mum comes from a pretty conservative family where a HUGE importance was placed on proper manners, bon ton, politeness and courtesy, and she raised me in the same way, so these things are ingrained very deeply in me, and I really appreciate them in both real life and in fiction. 🙂

      • I think it's a thing about the American South. Most places in the South I've gone have made a big deal about politeness, hospitality and friendliness toward strangers. My parents are delighted to open their home to just about anyone friendly who happens by, and we still live in an area where neighbors bring casseroles when someone moves in (or when someone dies, but that's neither here nor there).

    • PArcadia says:

      I believe he was. When you read his letters, you get the feeling that discourtesy not just troubles him, but puzzles him deeply. At some time of his life he got gazillions of letters and visitors and phone calls and he actually tried to reply to them all and also let everyone in. While he wasn't happy about it, he kept doing it, until people told him that he needed a secret address and an unlisted phone number.

      If he gets angry, though, his letters can be scathing – politely, which makes it even worse.

  31. atheistsisters says:

    Aaahhhhh. 😀 Your reactions to Merry & Pippin are extremely satisfying to watch – I love this moment so much, and Theoden is so cool the way he talks to the hobbits, and oh yes, Legolas and Gimli and their counting game and later their reactions to finding the hobbits again – basically, I love almost everything about this chapter.

    I also love the comments. It's really getting tiring hitting the like button and I want to reply to everyone but have to work. Nooo!

  32. Suzannezibar says:

    LOL okay so I first read this on my phone while waiting for the bus (I read these reviews in the *weirdest* places sometimes), and now I'm at a computer in the library commenting and seeing that the reaction text to Merry and Pippin IS ACTUALLY TEN TIMES LARGER THAN NORMAL TEXT.

    AS WELL IT SHOULD BE. BECAUSE THAT IS THE GREATEST MOMENT.

  33. Ashley says:

    I don’t think it’s a spoiler to clarify a few things for you, as they’re not really discussed later (mods, feel free to rot13 this if it is spoilery).

    1. Gandalf didn’t bring the forest, it brought itself.
    2. Gur sberfg vf abg znqr hc bs Ragf. Vg’f znqr hc bs Uhbeaf (gerrf gung guvax naq srry ohg pna’g zbir be gnyx gur fnzr jnl Ragf pna . . . naq vg’f gur Ragf’ wbo gb ureq gur Uhbeaf naq gnxr pner bs gurz). Gur rlrf gurl frr ner gur srj Ragf jub ner ureqvat gur gerrf onpx gb gurve evtugshy cynprf.
    3. Saruman didn’t build Orthanc. I can’t remember who did, one of the kings of old, but it wasn’t Saruman. Saruman took Orthanc and Isengard and then did all that stuff you said, about becoming Sauron’s mini-me.

    Reading these posts, by the way, is the very first thing I do when I get to work, and I’m always sad when it’s over.

  34. Lauren says:

    Oh Mark. I was so surprised yesterday when we see the forest and you didn't immediatly think ENTS. I remember reading that bit and being so joyful. Well, I was devouring this book by this point, so the ents were fresh in my mind. Also: MERRY AND PIPPIN PLEASE START EXISTING. They are so frakking wonderful, that scene was such a shock to me.

  35. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli ride with Théoden to Isengard (about 100 miles.) And, finally, the Fellowship (minus Frodo and Sam) is all in one place again. 😀

  36. castlewayjay says:

    Love the fairness of the men of Rohan toward their enemies – another important theme.

    Thoughts on Gimli/Legolas – love everything about their developing relationship (friendship or love, who cares?). They alone represent their peoples in this part of the war – in a way it was natural for them to gravitate to each other, after Galadriel broke the ice.

    Question: Qb nal bs lbh guvax Znex jvyy or qvnccbvagrq jura abar bs gur znwbe punenpgref ner xvyyrq? V qba'g guvax vg'f n purng ba Gbyxvra'f cneg fvapr jr frr gurve tebjgu & gung'f vzcbegnag. naq Sebqb qvrf gb Zvqqyr Rnegu. ohg naljnl, whfg nfxvat.

    • I don't think so. Ybgf bs fhccbegvat-punenpgre qrngu gb pbzr. Gurbqra'f qrngu vf tbvat gb QRFGEBL uvz.

    • flootzavut says:

      V guvax ur'f zber yvxryl gb or eryvrirq.

      Naq Gurbqra qvrf :'(

    • msw188 says:

      Obebzve unf nyernql qvrq. Tbyyhz qvrf, naq va n zrgncubevpny gubhtu irel pyrne frafr, Ovyob naq Sebqb 'qvr' nf jryy, nf lbh zragvbarq. Bu, naq Qrargube, nygubhtu ur zvtug abg or pbafvqrerq n 'znva' punenpgre.

      V jvyy znvagnva gung Tbyyhz vf nf zhpu n 'znva' punenpgre nf nal punenpgre orfvqrf Sebqb naq Fnz naq znlor Tnaqnys naq Nentbea. V xabj guvf vfa'g ernyyl jung lbh zrnag, ohg fgvyy.

  37. arctic_hare says:

    Things I took from this chapter:

    – LEGOLAS AND GIMLI BEST BROMANCE EVER. <3 I love them talking about their road trip plans and going into caves and forests and basically "I WILL GO INTO THIS PLACE THAT IS SCARY <i>FOR YOU" and Legolas being so happy that Gimli is okay that he doesn't even care that he lost the contest. <3 They are too freaking adorable!

    – MERRY AND PIPPIN! MY HOBBITS! YOU ARE MADE OF CUTE AND WIN AND FUNNY AND EVERYTHING GOOD IN THE WORLD! I <3 YOU!

  38. MissImpertinence says:

    Merry and Pippin are like the Fred and George of Middle Earth, I swear.

    And upon seeing Gimli/Legolas bonding, all I can say to Tolkien is, "LET ME LOVE YOUUUUUUUUUU!"

    • flootzavut says:

      Bar guvat V nz tynq va gung gurl ner qvssrerag sebz Serq naq Trbetr vf gung arvtug bs gurz qvrf. V'q nofbyhgryl oybj zl gbc vs rvgure bs gurz qvrq!

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        OMG YES! V guvax vs nal bs gur uboovgf unq qvrq, vg jbhyq or nyzbfg jbefr guna Serq'f qrngu. Pna lbh vzntvar Znexf ernpgvba vs bar bs gurz qvq qvr?

        • flootzavut says:

          V guvax vg jbhyq or jbefr – V ybirq Serq, qba'g trg zr jebat, ohg ur jnf abg nf prageny nf nal bs gur uboovgf, V qba'g srry yvxr jr xabj uvz nf jryy. Jurernf gur uboovgf ner gur znva punenpgref ernyyl, va fbzr jnlf rira zber fb fnl, Cvccva naq Zreel, guna Nentbea be tnaqnys. Gurl ner gur punenpgref guebhtu jubz jr rkcrevrapr gur fgbel zbfg bs gur gvzr, gurl ner bhe fgnaq-vaf, gurl ner gur "rirelzra" va rkgenbeqvanel fvghngvbaf. Vg jbhyq or zber rdhvinyrag gb vs Urezvbar be Eba unq qvrq, V guvax. V ungrq gung Serq qvrq, ohg V guvax nal bs gur uboovgf qlvat jbhyq whfg qrfgebl zr. Urpx, rira frrvat Sebqb fnvy bss gb Inyvabe vf rzbgvbany rabhtu… vs bar bs gurz unq orra xvyyrq?? AB GUNAX LBH! Jr zhfg or tengrshy gb Gbyxvra gung ur qvqa'g tb gung jnl!

  39. Anzel89 says:

    YEA!! The Fellowship is…mostly, back together again!!!

    Abg gung vg jvyy ynfg ybat, ohg LRN NALJNL!!

    V ernyyl qb ybir gur fpbcr bs gurfr obbxf, frevbhfyl va gur arkg obbx gurer'f n cbvag jrer jr'er sbyybjvat 4 qvssrerag tebhcf!

    1) Sebqb, Fnz, Tbyyhz

    2) Tnaqnys,Cvccva

    3) Rbjla, Zreel…V fhccbfr lbh pbhyq guebhtu Gurbqra va urer gbb

    4) Nentbea, Yrtbynf, Tvzyv

    Vg'f n perqvg gb Gbyxvra'f travhf gung vg arire trgf bireyl obevat be gung jr trg pbashfrq.

    Also….uh Tolkien….What's happening with Frodo and Sam, it been like 9 chapters or so since we've heard even a mention of them.

    • divAndRule says:

      Naq zl crefbany snibevgr cybg yvar gb sbyybj
      Tnaqnys, Cvccva
      Znvayl orpnhfr V ybir Tbaqbe naq gur Fgrjneq snzvyl fb zhpu. N pbhcyr bs puncgref ntb jura rirelbar jnf cbfgvat ba ubj zhpu gurl ybirq Ebuna, V pbhyq oneryl jnvg gb frr Znex'f ernpgvba gb Gur Juvgr Pvgl naq Tbaqbe. V qb ubcr n srj Tbaqbe snatveyf naq thlf pbzr bhg bs gur jbbqjbex. 🙂 Tbaqbe arire trgf rabhtu ybir… favss. Znlor orpnhfr gurl jrer jnl yrff njrfbzr va gur zbivrf guna va gur obbxf.

      • Katarina_H says:

        V'z n Tbaqbe snatvey (ohg gura, V'z n snatvey bs n ybg bs guvf fghss). Gubhtu zl snibhevgr ovg zhfg or ubj Cvccva qrpvqrf gb or sevraqf jvgu gur svefg enaqbz xvq jub guerngraf gb guhzc uvz. 🙂

      • flootzavut says:

        V ybir Tbaqbe, naq V YBIR gur jubyr Tnaqnys/Cvccva fgbelyvar <3 <3 <3 Zvanf Gvevgu vf njrfbzr!

  40. Katherine says:

    It's fun to see you get so excited about this chapter, because I'm used to just seeing it as filler, or at least as one of the less-eventful chapters. After reading the books uncounted numbers of times you forget that things like "the Ents have conquered Isengard" and "Merry and Pippin are fine" are supposed to come as surprises.

    I barely even remember my first reading of the books, so it's fun to experience it vicarious through your reading. Don't get me wrong – I love love love the books, but now it's mainly an appreciation of the writing quality, worldbuilding and characters more than the plot, given that I've basically got them memorized. Watching someone find the books suspenseful is fun.

    • rubyjoo says:

      I'd go along with that, Katherine. I always saw this chapter as some kind of interlude, a means of getting our heroes from one place to another. But, reading it last night in preparation for Mark's response, I found myself taking things very slowly and really appreciating Tolkien's skill in a way I hadn't done before. I enjoyed it all so much – and yet was still surprised at how Mark found this the best chapter so far. Perhaps he's right.

    • BetB says:

      I have the same reaction to Mark reading the books. I have read them so many times that I forget what it feels like to not know what will happen.

      This is another one of those times where Tolkien tells you that they are going to a parley and not a fight and then proceeds to ramp up the intensity of the journey with unknowns and strange occurrences. Even now I can feel the tension creep up on me like fog coming onshore when I pay attention to the text. Then suddenly, BAM! Hobbits being pert and trolling Legolas and Gimli! What a way to release the tension. 😀

    • Dreamflower says:

      As I read Mark's reactions I remember more and more of my own initial reactions, and how enthralled and excited I was. It has re-kindled that initial rush of feeling I had on first discovering M-e and hobbits. OTOH, his slow one-chapter approach has enabled me to notice many things I was far too young and in a hurry to appreciate then, and have somehow slipped by me in subsequent readings.

      I have to say that Mark has far more self-discipline than my 15-year-old-self, for there is no way on God's green earth I could have restricted myself to one chapter at a time– I virtually devoured all four books inside of a week and a half, and it only took that long because RotK was checked out of the school library at the time and I had to wait for it to be turned in.

  41. Fiona says:

    This is one of those times when you wish that Tolkien had described things as they were happening rather than reporting afterwards, like Boromir's death. I guess those kind of things are easier to do in film form though where you can cut between the different groups. Gurl cebonoyl pbhyq unir xrcg vg gur fnzr va gur svyzf ohg vg'f gbb pbby n fprar abg gb fubj cebcreyl. Gur fprarf jvgu Zreel naq Cvccva nyfb uryc gb onynapr fbzr bs gur qrfcnve naq qbbz bs Uryz'f Qrrc fbzrjung, engure guna univat n pbagvahbhf onggyr fprar.

    Guvf vf jurer gur obbx gb svyz cneg trgf n ovg pbashfvat, va gung guvf cneg fgnegrq bss Erghea bs gur Xvat va gur svyz. Vg'f cebonoyl n tbbq guvat gung V qba'g unir npprff gb gur svyzf evtug abj be V ernyyl jbhyq trg pbashfrq. Puebabybtvpnyyl vg cebonoyl znxrf frafr gubhtu.

    It's so good to have Merry and Pippin back and the hobbity interaction which gets lost a bit once everyone's split up. Their respect for everyone and enjoyment of life seems to become something which immediately makes them bond with everyone they meet. V cnegvphyneyl ybir ubj gur obaqf gurl znqr jvgu crbcyr va Ebuna naq Tbaqbe pbagvahrq guebhtu gurve yvirf naq gurl orpnzr erfcrpgrq jurerire gurl jrag, rfcrpvnyyl Cvccva'f sevraqfuvc jvgu Snenzve (V ernyyl yvxr Snenzve, V pna'g uryc orvat ovnfrq). Vg fubjf cresrpgyl ubj jbaqreshy gur uboovgf ner nf n crbcyr (enpr? Fcrpvrf? V arire xabj jung gb pnyy gurz).

  42. fourthage says:

    The way Tolkien writes about war is one of the things that his imitators consistently can't get right. I know it's been mentioned before, but his treatment of it is very much informed by his own experiences in the first World War. I don't know about other Americans here, but during my schooling, we did the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and then a very brief overview of WWI so we could focus on WWII. I finally sat down and read about the Great War on my own as an adult, and the first time I read LotR after that, I kept having to put the book down because I was crying so hard. Tolkien gets it. War isn't just the battles, it's the devastation to the countryside, the disruption of normal life.

    Sorry, I know this comment is kind of a downer among the hobbit squee and celebration of the epic bromance that is Legolas and Gimli (which I love, too!). It's just that this, along with a couple other things in the last book, is the reason why LotR transcends mere favorite book lists for me.

    • rubyjoo says:

      Yes, I find so much of what he says about war very, very painful too. You just know that he's speaking from personal experience and that he has been brave enough to open up and tell us all about it, even his most heartfelt and intimate thoughts. You just have to recognise them for what they are when you read them – and then I want to cry too. This fantasy is a vehicle for relating the most awful things that had happened in his own life as well as the most joyous.

    • castlewayjay says:

      dittos to this and rubyjoo's insightful reply

    • Wheelrider says:

      Hear hear. Growing up in the '80s, with the constantly implied threat of nuclear war, I got sort of obsessed with WWI because it seemed like the start of all the world's (then) current problems. I read stuff like The Falcons of France and Over the Top. So yes, then to read this (and later biographies of Tolkien) was heart-wrenching.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Have you ever read Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth? I can't recommend it enough to those who are interested in how Tolkien's life affected his writing. A brilliant and heartbreaking book, especially when you learn that only ONE of his close friends survived the War.

      • fourthage says:

        Yes, my brother gave it to me two Christmases ago. I thoroughly agree with your description of it.

      • JustMalyn says:

        That's awful 🙁 I really want to go back in time and hug him, especially cuz you never heal from that kind of stuff. I will check it out.

    • bugeyerita says:

      I admire Tolkien for his war imagery. The total devastation of landscape, dealing with thousands of dead rotting corpses. Really, who considers that and addresses the whole horror of warfare, clearly, succinctly, factually and without exploitive or prurient intentions.

      • fourthage says:

        Yes. That last bit especially. Movie spoilers: Gur jnl Crgre Wnpxfba unaqyrq gur onggyrf vf bar bs zl ovttrfg vffhrf jvgu gur zbivrf.

    • flootzavut says:

      The second time I read LotR – a bit more slowly and noticing more detail – I bawled in so many places.

      Gnyxvat bs onjyvat, V'z jngpuvat gur zbivrf bs gur tnmvyyvbagu gvzr naq Oreaneq Uvyy unf whfg fnvq "Ab cnerag fubhyq unir gb ohel gurve puvyq" naq ur XVYYF zr rirel gvzr :'(

    • JustMalyn says:

      I agree too. War is so devastating in all aspects, and Tolkien doesn't ignore that. It makes it x1000000 times sadder that he knows it from his life, like you've all said. I've been pondering today how strange humans are – we have such capacity for beauty and love, but then this other wildly destructive side, and sometimes none of it makes sense.

  43. kateydidnt says:

    "Which then made me realize that it’s been a REALLY long time since we’ve heard from Sam or Frodo."

    I was wondering how long it would take you to notice that!

    On the Ents coming to Helm's Deep–Vs V erzrzore evtug, vg vfa'g npghnyyl gur Ragf–vgf gur Uhbeaf. Ragf ner gur furcureqf naq Uhbeaf ner gur furrc, vs V unir gur nanybtl qbja evtug. Naq qnza gur Uhbeaf pna or perrcl!

    Naq V whfg unir gb nqq gung V pna'g jnvg sbe Znex'f ernpgvba gb Zreel naq Cvccva'f nppbhag bs gurve nqiragherf.

    • MasterGhandalf says:

      Lrnu- guvf sberfg jnf zbfgyl Uhbeaf (gur frzv-fragvrag, qrpvqrqyl hacyrnfnag zbivat gerrf) jvgu n unaqshy bs erny Ragf gurer gb xrrc gurz va yvar naq znxr fher gurl bayl nggnpxrq Fnehzna'f crbcyr. V guvax guvf vf pynevsvrq jura Zreel naq Cvccva gryy gurve fgbel arkg puncgre.

    • flootzavut says:

      Lrf, gur Uhebfa perrc zr bhg. V'z obeqreyva obgnabcubvp naq unq avtugznerf nf n xvq nobhg cynagf perrcvat vagb zl orqebbz. Gerrf gung pna zbir naq ungr uhznaf? uzzz gunaxf sbe gung…

  44. tardis_stowaway says:

    As an environmentalist, I really love this part. One of the methods that Tolkien shows us Saruman's evil is the way that he has devastated the land around him, removing the trees so the only growing things are thorns and weeds, species characteristic of disturbed habitats. Isengard constantly belched smoke. Then mysterious signs – a forest suddenly appearing outside Helm's Deep, the river stopping and suddenly starting again in the middle of the night – alert us to the fact that something astounding has taken place. The forest and its shepherds rose up against Saruman. It's a beautiful image to me that the power of wood and water can overcome his greedy industry. Knowing what's going to happen and not worried about a trap, the broken doors of Isengard aren't ominous. They have the same beauty as flowers coming up between the paving stones or an unnecessary dam being torn down to restore fish runs.

    Gandalf is great when everyone is marveling at him and he essentially says, "oh, you mean THESE trees? LOL, that wasn't me." What a sassy fellow. I will never cease to be amused that Merry and Pippin, having survived a kidnapping by orcs and met creatures out of legend, are basically kicking back on the remains of Isengard, being like OH HAI Y'ALL, WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG. I adore those tiny trolls.

  45. Leah-san says:

    GOODNESS ALL THESE BEAUTIFUL GIMLI/LEGOLAS PICSPAMS <3

    <img src="http://www.pictureupload.de/originals/pictures/010212193051_tumblr_lwry6tXAUH1qeq85ao1_500.gif"&gt;
    <img src="http://www.pictureupload.de/originals/pictures/010212193224_tumblr_lwp4n4S3331qhrwh9o1_500.gif"&gt;

    This chapter is probably one of my favourites too. First of all, those beautiful passages with Gimli and Legolas bonding even more, and then <big><big><big> MERRY AND PIPPIN ARE OKAY AND NOTHINGS HURTS </big></big></big> AND I CAN'T CONTAIN MYSELF <3<3<3

  46. blossomingpeach says:

    And the sky on that one is just gorgeous, wow!

  47. Cakemage says:

    One of the things I love most about this chapter, aside from Merry and Pippin being their sassy little selves, is that it shows that Tolkien was writing Green Aesops before it became cool.

  48. dazyndara says:

    Yay for Surprise!Merry&Pippin! 😀

    I'm in a marching band here in California where we are all given nicknames…and after my friends there learned that my ex back home in New Zealand played an Orc in ROTK, they decided that my nickname had to be Pippin 😀
    It was the Best Moment Evar! 😀

    (OH NO MARK I hope that's not a huge spoiler THERE ARE ORCS SOMEWHERE IN THE NEXT BOOK)

  49. Hotaru_hime says:

    Merry and Pippin! They've had a hard time of it, so you can't really begrudge them their vittles! And they're willing to share! That's fair miraculous.
    As far as the trees, unira'g Uhbeaf orra zragvbarq? Pna V fnl Uhbeaf? Anyway, they're not Ents. There aren't that many and I think most went to Isengard to toss Saruman from his perch.

  50. Alberthe says:

    Merry and Pippin just lying there with a pipe, being all 'oi, what kept you,' will never not be one of the funniest and most beautiful images I know<3<3<3 I've giggled to myself all the way through this portion of the novel, just waiting for this scene:D (destroying the tension of the battle somewhat; it all became blablablaOrcsblabla I want hobbits!)

  51. @RadagastWiz says:

    Is everyone aware of the Shakespeare connection here? Spoilers for Macbeth:

    Gurer'f n onggyr fprar jurer bar fvqr'f sbeprf (nggnpxvat n pnfgyr pnyyrq Qhafvanar) gel gb qvfthvfr gurzfryirf hfvat oenapurf naq yrnirf sebz n arneol sberfg (Oveanz Jbbq). Bar bs gur qrsraqref xvaq bs bireernpgf naq pevrf, "Oveanz Jbbq unf pbzr gb Qhafvanar!"

    Jura Gbyxvra svefg ernq guvf, ur jnf n ovg qvfnccbvagrq gung na npghny sberfg unq abg npghnyyl pbzr – vg jnf whfg n ohapu bs thlf jvgu fgvpxf ba gurve nezbhe – fb ur jebgr gur Qrrcvat-Pbbzo sberfg-neeviny fprar gb ernyyl fubj ubj vg jbhyq ybbx…

  52. MsSméagol says:

    "HE DID NOT TRANSFORM THE DALE INTO A FOREST. HE BROUGHT A FOREST WITH HIM."

    Ah yes, the Macbeth-part of LotR. Love it!!!

  53. Roxanne says:

    I really love this chapter. It’s possibly my favorite chapter of the whole series.

    I love that nobody has any idea of what the hell is going on except Gandalf.

    Pretty much up until the point of the breaking of the fellowship Merry and Pippin were mostly useless. (It pains me the say that because I love them so much), but now Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are seeing them for the first time since then , and Merry & Pippin are pretty much “OH HEY GUYS. Btw, we just totally sacked Isengard while you were gone. No big deal! Want some pipeweed?”

    Its my favorite Merry and Pippin moment.

  54. Novice says:

    It gives me such warm fuzzies to vicariously experience your journey through this book. I can’t remember my own journey – not in this kind of detail. It was too long ago and I was so young, and I have reread the book so many times that I anticipate the beautiful moments and cannot recall the epiphanies and exhilaration of my first reading.

    A couple of explanations which are NOT spoilers:

    1. The people of Rohan are called Rohirrim;

    2. Gur ureqfzra bs gur gerrf NER gur ragf; abg nyy gur gerrf va gung zbivat jbbq ner ragf – zbfg ner Uhbeaf (Gerrorneq fcbxr nobhg gurz gb Zreel naq Cvccva va na rneyvre puncgre, fb guvf vfa’g n fcbvyre rvgure). Zbfg Uhbeaf ner ragf jub unir tbar “gerrvfu” naq fbzr ner gerrf gung unir orra “jnxrarq” ol gurve ureqfzra naq unir orpbzr n yvggyr ragvfu.

    3. Tolkien was inspired by Birnam Wood in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

    • notemily says:

      Since the [Uhbea] thing is explicitly spelled out next chapter, it really shouldn’t be discussed in the comments for this one.

      ETA: Rot-13’d both comments to reflect this.

  55. flootzavut says:

    Yup!

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