Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King’: Book 2, Chapter 6

In the sixth chapter of the second book of The Return of the King, the time comes for the fellowship to return home. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.

CHAPTER SIX: MANY PARTINGS

That chapter title is the start of a test. I am going to pass this test.

‘For you know the power of that thing which is now destroyed; and all that was done by that power is now passing away. But your kinsmen possessed this thing longer than you. He is ancient in years now, according to his kind; and he awaits you, for he will not again make any long journey save one.’

Don’t fucking cry, Mark. Don’t you fucking cry. It’s a test.

And she took a white gem like a star that lay upon her breast hanging upon a silver chain, and she set the chain about Frodo’s neck. ‘When the memory of the fear and the darkness troubles you,’ she said, ‘this will bring you aid.’

Nope. Not going to cry. I refuse to.

‘Alas!’ said Éomer. ‘I will not say that she is the fairest lady that lives.’

‘Then I must go for my axe,’ said Gimli.

‘But first I will plead this excuse,’ said Éomer. ‘Had I seen her in other company, I would have said all that you could wish. But now I will put Queen Arwen Evenstar first, and I am ready to do battle on my own part with any who deny me. Shall I call for my sword?’

Then Gimli bowed low. ‘Nay, you are excused for my part, lord,’ he said. ‘You have chosen the Evening; but my love is given to the Morning. And my heart forebodes that soon it will pass away for ever.’

NO TEARS. NO TEARS ARE ALLOWED.

…and Frodo and Samwise rode at Aragorn’s side, and Gandalf rode upon Shadowfax, and Pippin rode with the knights of Gondor; and Legolas and Gimli as ever rode together upon Arod.

STOP IT. I WON’T CRY. I WILL NOT.

‘Théoden King, Théoden King! Farwell! As a father you were to me, for a little while. Farwell!’

Oh, fuck you, Tolkien. I am not going to allow my tears to fall. I WILL NOT.

Then Éowyn looked in the eyes of Aragorn, and she said: ‘Wish me joy, my liege-lord and healer!’

And he answered: ‘I have wished thee joy ever since first I saw thee. It heals my heart to see thee now in bliss.’

No, I will push through all of these feels I have, and I will emerge on the other side unscathed. I will. I will not let this beat me.

Then Merry took the horn, for it could not be refused, and he kissed Éowyn’s hand; and they embraced him, and so they parted for that time.

I don’t do goodbyes well. But I will persevere. No tears. No more tears!

I felt I was able to get a grip on my emotions when the group returns to Isengard to see what the Ents have been up to, which answers my question from earlier about where they’ve been. Treebeard has been leading the effort to create Treegarth of Orthanc! TREEGARTH! Then my brain instantly went to TREEGARTH AND TREEWAYNE and I’m sorry, but I had to share that with y’all. It’s one of the only sections that didn’t make me feel particularly sad that this was all coming to an end. I think Treebeard’s general behavior just makes me so happy because he’s always so relaxed and calm. On top of that, I was surprised (but satisfied) with the revelation that Treebeard tired of keeping Saruman in the Orthanc, so he set him free. Well, first of all, I HAD FORGOTTEN HE WAS STILL ALIVE. WHOOPS. To be honest, though, I wasn’t all that worried about Saruman and Wormtongue. What exactly could they do at this point? Say mean and catty things?

I wasn’t even that sad when Treebeard bids each of them goodbye, despite that Treebeard offers Merry and Pippin one last draught before they leave. Okay, it was a little sad, but it’s absolutely nothing compared to the parting of Aragorn:

With that they parted, and it was then the time of sunset; and when after a while they turned and looked back, they saw the King of the West sitting upon his horse with his knights about him; and the falling Sun shone upon them and made all their harness to gleam like red gold, and the white mantle of Aragorn was turned to a flame. Then Aragorn took the green stone and held it up, and there came a green fire from his hand.

That’s the last of Aragorn, isn’t it? Fuck, this is the opposite of what I wanted. The exact opposite. Stop it, Tolkien. Stop it!

There’s another brief respite from Sadness Party in Middle-earth, and it’s when the host actually comes upon Saruman and Wormtongue. I feel weird saying this was a pleasant surprise because these two characters aren’t exactly pleasant. It’s just that I did not expect to ever see either of them again. I wasn’t surprised that the two are bitter, reduced to just a fragment of who they used to be after the destruction at Isengard. But his comment about buying leaf in Southfarling reminded me of an unresolved comment from earlier. So…are the hobbits going home to something that I’m going to be even more upset about? Could they not? Thank you, Tolkien. I thank you in advance for this.

‘I was invited to the wedding, of course,’ he said. ‘And I have waited for it long enough. But somehow, when it came to it, I found I had so much to do here; and packing is such a bother.’

Oh, great. We’re back to sadness again. Just everything regarding Bilbo brought me to the brink of full-on sobbing. Bilbo is now one hundred and twenty-nine years old, and he’s nearing the end of his life. Not only that, but all of the hobbits’ interactions with him are this wistful reminder of how unbelievably long this journey has been, all the way from that cave back in The Hobbit until this moment many years later. And now I really can’t ignore that this is the end of all of this, and I can’t ignore that I have to say goodbye to these characters, never to see them again. Well, I do have the movies, BUT IT’S NOT THE SAME.

‘Anyway it’s too late now; and really I think it’s much more comfortable to sit here and hear about it all. The fire’s very cosy here, and the food’s very good, and there are Elves when you want them. What more could one want?’

I am both saddened and overjoyed by your very existence, Bilbo Baggins.

‘I think, Frodo, that maybe you will not need to come back, unless you come very soon. For about this time of the year, when the leaves are gold before they fall, look for Bilbo in the woods of the Shire. I shall be with him.’

These words no one else heard, and Frodo kept them to himself.

No, stop it. I was doing so good there for a while. Stop it.

About Mark Reads

Vegan cyclist, Internet community nerd, atheist bookworm, high-five purveyor.
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