Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King’: Chapter 8

In the eighth chapter of The Return of the King, characters are reunited and Aragorn is ridiculous. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


Lords and Stuff
A Play

Act 3,451
Scene 1

[MERRY slowly makes his way to the Gate of Minas Tirith, or at least what is left of it. He sees that the ground is littered with bodies, and he is weary. Many people pass him by in a flurry of activity, but he just seems lost and a bit forlorn. It isn’t until his best friend PIPPIN appears suddenly in front of him that he even looks up from the ground.]

PIPPIN: Merry! You’re alive!

MERRY: Dude, I am exhausted. [MERRY sits down at the doorstep of a building, and then he starts to cry.

PIPPIN: Aw, Merry, I am just glad we are back together! I know you are tired. You must be! I cannot imagine what this experience has been for you. Are you hurt?

MERRY: Not really, but I can’t seem to feel my right arm. I stabbed a Black Rider! But apparently it fought back emotionally or something.

PIPPIN: Come with me! I was just at the Houses of Healing, and I think they can help you.

[The two walk arm in arm, Merry stumbling and swaying.]

Scene 2

[MERRY and PIPPIN have stopped, and they are on an otherwise empty sidewalk.]

MERRY: I feel fucked up.

PIPPIN: I know, I know. We will get you healed.

MERRY: This is worse than that time we smoked the really good stuff, you know?

PIPPIN: Yes… yes this is probably the same.

MERRY: You know what I want to do when this is all over?

PIPPIN: What’s that, Merry?

MERRY: Smoke Gandalf’s beard.

PIPPIN: …what.

MERRY: No, no, hear me out.


MERRY: I bet that is some magical shit, man.

PIPPIN: His beard?

MERRY: I’m positive that’s what gives him all his magical powers.

PIPPIN: I think we need to get you to the Houses of Healing now.

[Just then, GANDALF arrives. He leans over the sick hobbit, caressing him gently. MERRY reaches up and caresses GANDALF’s beard for a few strokes before passing out.]

GANDALF: This hobbit has done so much to help us. He should have been carried into this city with honor and respect.

PIPPIN: Will you be able to help him?

GANDALF: I do not know. Come, let us make haste and get Merry into bed!

Scene 3

[Interior of the Houses of Healing. MERRY is laid alongside FARAMIR and ÉOWYN. FARAMIR has shown no signs of waking, and ÉOWYN is suffering from the same affliction as MERRY, known as the Black Shadow to the local healers. ÉOMER and ARAGORN soon arrive.]

ÉOMER: I’m telling you, man, you should just make your claim in a blaze of glory. It’ll be impressive. Get Gandalf here to set off some of his legendary fireworks.

ARAGORN: No, I think it best if I wait until things have calmed down before I do something that might upset the whole city again. Personally, I think Gandalf should rule until we beat the Enemy.

GANDALF: Well, I’m flattered, but we have more important things to deal with. We have three friends and loved ones who are sick.

[PIPPIN notices that ARAGORN has arrived.]

PIPPIN: Sweet baby Gandalf, Strider! You’re alive!

ARAGORN: I am indeed.

PIPPIN: How the hell did you manage to steal the Enemy’s ships from him???


PIPPIN: Really????

ARAGORN: No. It’s not the time for us to swap war stories. Let us heal your friend!

[ARAGORN looks upon the still bodies of MERRY, ÉOWYN, and FARAMIR, before turning to the head healer, IORETH.]

ARAGORN: Do you have a store of herbs, Ioreth?

IORETH: I do, yes. What do you have need of?

ARAGORN: Do you have athelas?


ARAGORN: Athelas.


ARAGORN: Are you not hearing me correctly or do you not know what it is?


ARAGORN: Well, it’s also called kingsfoil as well.

IORETH: Oh, yes! Yes, I am very familiar with kingsfoil!

ARAGORN: Well, this is good news!

IORETH: Indeed!

ARAGORN: So do you have any kingsfoil?

IORETH: Oh, no, not at all!

ARAGORN: Seriously?

IORETH: Yeah, we don’t have any at all. Such a strange herb, my lord. It smells rather sweet doesn’t it?

ARAGORN [Clearly irritated.]: Yes, well, it does, but it is all that I need.

IORETH: It makes a rather good addition to a hot bath, Strider!

ARAGORN: I know what it is good for. Can we send someone out to find any in the city?

GANDALF: I can ride upon Shadowfax to find some if need be!

[ARAGORN nods, and IORETH departs. He turns his attention to FARAMIR.]

ARAGORN: I am guessing this man was struck by some sort of arrow.

PIPPIN: How do you know all of this?

[He ignores PIPPIN.]

ARAGORN: The darkness is creeping inside Faramir, and would I were here sooner!

PIPPIN [To GANDALF]: No, for real, when did Aragorn know how to do all of this?

[PIPPIN’s inquiry is interrupted by the HERB-MASTER, who arrives for ARAGORN.]

HERB-MASTER: Were you the one who requested kingsfoil?

ARAGORN: Yes, that was me.

HERB-MASTER: This herb is also know as athelas.

ARAGORN: I know.

HERB-MASTER: Clearly, you are a lore of herbs!

ARAGORN: Okay, I get it.

HERB-MASTER: Did you know that those who know somewhat of the Valinorean are also familiar with the word athelas?


HERB-MASTER: Oh, no, not at all.

[ARAGORN throws up his hands in exasperation.]

HERB-MASTER: We just don’t keep it around. It smells good, and that’s about it. We did find out that it’s the only thing that keeps away the body odor of a certain guard of the steward, but he went through our entire stores in about a month.

ARAGORN: This is just great.

HERB-MASTER: Did you know there is a song about athelas, too?

ARAGORN: I don’t really care. You don’t have any. It serves me no purpose.

HERB-MASTER: We’ll I’m going to sing it anyway.

ARAGORN: Could you not?

GANDALF: I will smite you on the spot if you don’t go find some of this herb and stop regaling us with stories. And I have been itching to smite someone lately.

[The HERB-MASTER bows and then leaves the room.]

PIPPIN: Strider, what are you going to do if you don’t get any kingsfoil? I’m worried.

ARAGORN: I’ll think of something. There’s always amputation.

PIPPIN: ……………….

ARAGORN: I’m kidding.

PIPPIN: I hate you right now.

[BERGIL suddenly bursts into the room.]

BERGIL: Sir! I found some kingsfoil!!!! [He looks at FARAMIR and instantly starts crying.

[ARAGORN snatches the leaves from BERGIL.]

ARAGORN: Well, don’t cry on the leaves, dude. You’ll ruin everything.

[ARAGORN begins to heal FARAMIR. He takes two leaves, lays them in his palm, and then breathes on them. PIPPIN looks completely lost. ARAGORN then crushes the leaves, and the entire room feels instantly renewed. He drops the crushed leaves into a bowl of steaming water, and holds the bowl under FARAMIR’s face. Just a few moments later, FARAMIR wakes up.]

PIPPIN: Oh, what the fuck. What the fuck just happened?


PIPPIN: How did he do that??? Has Aragorn been hiding this power this whole time?

FARAMIR: Good day, my king. What do you command?

ARAGORN: It is time for you to awake from your dreaming. Rest some, and then join us again.

FARAMIR: Cool, I’m down with that. [FARAMIR then falls back asleep.]


GANDALF: Shush, Pippin.

PIPPIN: No, for real, does he possess other magical powers, too?

GANDALF: Pippin, we are in Aragorn’s rightful place. I believe that his destiny and lineage bestows upon him such powers.

PIPPIN: That’s kind of inconvenient. So he can never leave the city to use his mysterious magic? Those are shitty powers.

GANDALF: May I remind you that you don’t have any powers.

PIPPIN [Thoughtfully]: Touché, you wizard.

[ARAGORN moves to ÉOWYN next, examining her broken arm, and the shield arm that is affected by the Black Shadow. He turns to ÉOMER first.]

ARAGORN: This shall be more difficult, my friend. Her darkness has attached to her own sadness. What do you know of this? What has she been ailed by in the past? I knew when I first set eyes on her that there was an unhappiness within her.

ÉOMER: I am not sure I know, sir.

GANDALF: Allow me to help: this woman has the strength, the spirit, and the courage to match your own, but y’all forced her to watch over an old man who increasingly ignored her and made terrible decisions while everyone else was out being majestic and shit. And it’s all because she’s a woman.


ARAGORN: Well, it’s true.

ÉOMER: I cannot deny that this is the honest truth, as hard as it is to hear.

ARAGORN: Look, I can do my magic powers and shit, but she really needs you to pull out of the darkness.

[ARAGORN begins the same ceremony on ÉOWYN that he used on FARAMIR, crushing the leaves and ordering her awake. While she does stir slightly, it does not work. ARAGORN grabs ÉOMER’s arm.]

ARAGORN: You must call her back!

ÉOMER: I am sorry I was a total douche! Come back Éowyn!

ÉOWYN: Oh, hey! What’s up? How long have I been asleep?

ÉOMER: Oh, sister! Not very long.

ÉOWYN: Man, I’m still tired. Dad’s dead, isn’t he?

ÉOMER: Yeah. Sucks, doesn’t it?

ÉOWYN: I guess. Where’s that hobbit, by the way? That dude rules.

ARAGORN: Speaking of him, I must go tend to him. He’s the last one that remains asleep.

ÉOMER: No worries. We’re going to continue not making a huge deal out of the fact that our father died. See ya!

[ARAGORN, GANDALF, and PIPPIN then turn their attention to MERRY. PIPPIN notices that MERRY looks the worst out of the three.]

PIPPIN: He’s going to die, isn’t he?


PIPPIN: What??? Really?

ARAGORN: No, no, he’ll be fine.

PIPPIN: I don’t understand you. And that scares me.

[ARAGORN ignores the hobbit before him. He repeats the same process with athelas, and MERRY finally wakes.]

MERRY: I’m hungry.

GANDALF: Why am I not surprised that’s the first thing you would say upon waking up?

PIPPIN: We’re hobbits. You’re all basically starving us on this journey, you assholes.

MERRY: I need food stat. And maybe a pipe. No, actually, I don’t think I’ll smoke again.

PIPPIN: What? But that’s what we do!

MERRY: I promised Théoden that I would smoke with him, and I saw him die. I think I’m a bit turned off to the idea now.

ARAGORN: Unless you smoke in memory of him.

MERRY: Okay, that’s a good idea. Well, only if you’ve got something to smoke, Aragorn.

ARAGORN: I’m going to give an overly long little monologue about how absurd this request is and inform you that what you usually smoke isn’t available anywhere, and then tell you I’m too busy to smoke with you, even though I basically suggested it in the first place.

MERRY: Oh. Sorry?

ARAGORN: I’m just trolling you. Your pack is right there.

PIPPIN: I’m going to need you to stop this right fucking now.

ARAGORN: I’ve got to go do more healing, you silly hobbits. You’ll have food soon enough. Until then, try not to hurt yourselves.

[ARAGORN and GANDALF leave the room.]

PIPPIN: Well, I was rather worried about you. That Strider is a giant mystery. Who knew he could do all of that? I’m tired and hungry.

MERRY: Man, just get that pipe out. It’s time to light it the fuck up.

To be continued…….

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

156 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Return of the King’: Chapter 8

  1. blossomingpeach says:

    Yay, Lords and Stuff!

    I love this chapter. Favorite bits of the non-comical variety (comical in its own list):

    1. "Are you going to bury me?"
    2. Pippin waiting with Merry's head in his lap holding his hands. Aw hobbit friends. <3
    3. When Gandalf says he is glad Elrond let Pippin and Merry come because otherwise "far more grievous would the evils of this day have been." All the hobbit love!!
    3. Ioreth weeping when she sees Faramir feverish and probably dying "….for all the people loved him." Me too, Ioreth, me too.
    4. Theoden's body surrounded by twelve guards, both of Rohan and Gondor. I love how honored he is by Gondor, and rightfully so.
    5. Eomer: Where's Eowyn? She should be honored too!
    Imrahil: Umm, she's still alive. Can't you guys, like, take pulses or anything?
    And then this beautifully poignant bit: "Then hope unlooked-for came so suddenly to Eomer's heart, and with it the bite of care and fear renewed." How true of a sentiment is that? Hope and fear all at once.
    6. Aragorn's assessment that Faramir is ailing not because of his wound only, but because he was emotionally and physically drained on top of everything else is heartbreaking.
    7. "My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?" Love the striking juxtaposition of Faramir against his father. So alike and so very very different.
    8. "Eomer, I say to you that she loves you more truly than me; for you she loves and knows." And indeed, it is Eomer calling Eowyn that wakes her. I always wanted a brother, so I like seeing loving brother/sister relationships.
    9."Naq vs gb qrfcnve, gura fur jvyy qvr, hayrff fbzr bgure urnyvat pbzrf juvpu V pnaabg oevat."
    Uryybbb Snenzve! V'z rira abg arprffnevyl ersreevat gb gurve ebznapr, ohg gb gur urnyvat gurve sevraqfuvc fgnegf gb tvir ure orsber fur ernyvmrf fur unf srryvatf sbe uvz, gbb.
    10. "His grief he will not forget; but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom." And again, all the hobbit love. Then Merry refuses his pipe because Theoden wanted to talk about pipes with him and I start crying. ow ow ow. It hurts.
    11. Then I cry more when Merry kisses Aragorn's hand and apologizes to him for being a nuisance because it's the way of hobbits to say less than they mean.
    12. More Merry love for his beautiful speech to Pippin about those who keep the Shire safe.
    13. On this reading, I was particularly touched by Aragorn's love and leadership of the people. He tells Merry he hasn't slept in a bed in a week and hasn't eaten all day. He does get to eat a little, but after that he allows himself no rest. Instead he works far into the night trying to heal the wounded, then slips out of the city asking for no credit. You can come be my king, Aragorn, if Gondor won't accept you.

    Lots of snark and adorableness in this chapter. Favorite quotes that make me chuckle:

    1. Pippin seeing Aragorn again and greeting him like an old drinking buddy, and Imrahil kind of side-eying Pippin for being so informal with the possible king.
    2. "And Shadowfax will show her the meaning of haste." I see war hasn't broken up Gandalf and Never-Ending Sass.
    3. Gandalf Snark #874: "Then in the name of the king, go and find some old man of less lore and more wisdom who keeps some in his house!"
    4. Merry's first words? "I am hungry. What is the time?" I LOVE YOU, MERRY. Thank you for surviving and being hobbity and wonderful!
    5. Love how Aragorn sasses Merry. "If you think I've come all this way to bring you your pipeweed…" PLUS his snark about the herb-master. I think Aragorn has been hanging with Gandalf for too long.
    6. Pippin's sass to Merry about his pack being right by him the whole time. Merry and Pippin together again! YAY!

  2. knut_knut says:

    – People in Gondor are REALLY chatty (looking at you, herb-master)
    But who knows what she spoke to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all her life seemed shrinking, and the walls of her bower closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?
    I really love that Gandalf points out how suffocated Eowyn is, and that these feelings of inadequacy and frustration aren’t easily cured. V guvax vg’f vagrerfgvat gung va gur zbivr n inevngvba bs gurfr yvarf jrer tvira gb Jbezgbathr, jub cynlrq ba ure vafrphevgvrf onpx jura ur jnf va Rqbenf. Vg znxrf Jbezgbathr nyy gur zber qvfgheovat gb zr. Vg’f bar guvat sbe Tnaqnys gb xabj rirelguvat nobhg rirelbar orpnhfr ur’f Tnaqnys, ohg vg znxrf Jbezgbathr frrz nyy gur zber znavchyngvir fvapr ur’f gur bayl bar jub xabjf ubj fur srryf naq ur’f cnegyl erfcbafvoyr sbe vg.

  3. Jenny_M says:

    Merry and Pippin are my OTF (one true friendship), y'all, and this chapter right here is everything that I love about them. Frodo and Sam are amazing and Legolas and Gimli are great but something about Merry and Pippin just fills me up with happiness. TASTE THE HAPPY, EVERYONE.

  4. Dreamflower says:

    LOL! I never expected a "play" review for this chapter, but it works really well. I know the hobbits would appreciated it, anyhow!

    This is another favorite chapter! We finally see Merry and Pippin reunited! ("Are you going to bury me?" Oh, Merry! My heart just broke!)

    We also see Pippin and Merry are rejoined by Aragorn. I adore Pippin's exuberance on seeing Stider once more, and Prince Imrahil's confusion, LOL!

    This is another chapter I summarized several years ago for the r.a.b.t./a.f.t. usenet forum's Chapter of the Week Project. (There are spoilers in these threads; all the participants had read the books before.) So I won't do it again, but I'd like to repeat a few of the questions I posed there, just to get a few more opinions.

    Tolkien Chapter of the Week Project, Book VI, Chapter VII, "The Houses of Healing"

    "Once more we see the POV from the inside. Merry's despair is so vividly
    described, this whole first passage is from *his* POV, then the next passage
    begins with Pippin's POV. This is not something that I would have
    particularly taken notice of before our discussions about it here. It
    certainly lends even more immediacy and poignancy to their reunion."

    "What do you think of all this conversation at cross-purposes? Everyone
    is misunderstanding, because no one is yet in possession of all the facts. I
    've always shaken my head at Imrahil's response to É omer, since it was the
    Prince who found out she was not dead–if he did not tell her brother
    himself, who did he expect would have? What does this say about the
    importance of communications in battle and its aftermath?"

    "It is interesting to note that this major decision [to put Gandalf in charge] was not made in any
    kind of council or debate at all, but was instead made at an impromptu and
    unforeseen encounter on the steps. I'm not sure *what* this says about the
    state of things."

    "How do you suppose Pippin came to guess it was Strider in the corsair
    ships? At the time he was separated from them there was no hint of the Paths
    of the Dead, or that Aragorn and the others would be taking any other way to
    the City than with the Rohirrim. Was this another bit of the kind of
    "knowing in the heart" so often found in the books, or just wishful thinking
    on Pippin's part that just happened to come true?"

    (I'll add quite frankly that I personally think it's the latter, and another example of the sort of prescience Pippin displayed during his and Merry's captivity among the Orcs.)

    I am so happy to be back with two of my hobbits again! No matter how many times I read this chapter, it never fails to make me cry at the beginning and laugh at the end.

  5. avonleaapples says:


  6. LarrikJ says:

    Before reading this chapter, I always forget that Aragorn used athelas to save Frodo on Weathertop. (So this isn't some new twist in the story, even though it was so long ago it feels like one)

  7. cait0716 says:

    Ok, this chapter was entertaining. I think my favorite part was when Gandalf is warning everyone that Faramir and Eowyn are going to need at least ten days of bed rest, but Merry will probably be just fine tomorrow. Hobbits are badass.

  8. julianamoreli says:

    Mark…Theoden is not Eowyn and Eomer's father. He is their uncle.

  9. unefeeverte says:

    This chapter always makes me think that I really, really want some athelas perfume.

  10. castlewayjay says:

    This is one of my very favorite chapters because of the beautfiully drawn characters the reader has come to care about so much. I find myself close to tears, not laughter, whenever I read it.

  11. Katie says:

    PIPPIN [To GANDALF]: No, for real, when did Aragorn know how to do all of this?

    Um, when he cured Frodo with athelas at Weathertop? 🙂 (seems forever ago, I know…)

  12. Saphling says:

    Things start looking up, and suddenly everyone's overcome with an overabundance of sass. Best sign of hope ever.

  13. Tauriel_ says:

    "I'm hungry. What is the time?"

    Typical hobbit!!! x-D x-D <3

    Also, love Aragorn's snarky reply. <3 <3 😀

    Sorry, guys, no linguistics corner today – I had absolutely no time to prepare it… 🙁 I'll make it up over the weekend and include it in Monday's review.

  14. ADB says:

    I thought Théoden was Eomer and Eowyn's uncle? I am…confused.

    Great post, though.

  15. Hyaroo says:

    He was, though he was like a father to them.

  16. Alice says:

    + I will say it from the start: I was a weeping fountain while reading this chapter.
    + srsly…like nobody helps Merry!!They just ignore him :@ :'(
    + the meeting of Merry and Pip is so saaad…
    + aww…Aragorn has come to love the name of Strider,since his House will have that name in elvish
    + omg…these healers with all their talk are killing me!!!hurry u fools!less talk more healing!
    + they are all healed!!yes!:)

    It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are things deeper and higher; and not a gaffer could tend his garden in what he calls peace but for them, whether he knows about them or not.

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

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Hildebrandt Bros – Healing Eowyn

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Bradley Williams – The Healer (uuuugh Pip 🙁 )

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee sketch of the Houses of Healing

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee sketch of the Houses of Healing

  17. LadyViridis says:

    It's worth mentioning that Aragorn has actually done this kind of healing before– he used athelas to heal Frodo after he was stabbed by the Nazgul on Weathertop. It didn't work as well for Frodo, however, because there was still a piece of the blade in his shoulder, whereas Faramir, Merry, and Eowyn were mostly overcome by the Witch King's fear aura.

    Also, when you're Isildur's Heir, you're Just That Awesome.

  18. Katarina_H says:

    This review made me giggle a lot, especially the condensed version of how troublesome it can be to find athelas.

    This is such a great chapter, because of things like Ioreth (chatty old woman of win), and Aragorn sassing Merry, but most of all because of Pippin finding Merry in the street, which is only my favourite h/c moment of all time. And I say that as someone who has read and loved a lot of h/c.

    Also, Eowyn, don't lie moping over Aragorn, he's not worth it. Gurer'f orggre sbe lbh, naq ur'f EVTUG VA GUR ARKG ORQ. Which, speaking of, is anyone else fond of the LotR fanvid to "Disappearing Man" made by Melina and Jo? It's one of my favourite LotR vids. (Link: – spoilers, obviously.)

  19. Tauriel_ says:

    Also, the "Valinorean" language that the herb-master mentions is really Quenya. 🙂 The "noble tongue" is Sindarin.

  20. Mavketl says:

    "NENTBEA: V’z tbvat gb tvir na bireyl ybat yvggyr zbabybthr nobhg ubj nofheq guvf erdhrfg vf naq vasbez lbh gung jung lbh hfhnyyl fzbxr vfa’g ninvynoyr naljurer, naq gura gryy lbh V’z gbb ohfl gb fzbxr jvgu lbh, rira gubhtu V onfvpnyyl fhttrfgrq vg va gur svefg cynpr."

    Am I remembering it wrong, or qbrf guvf ovg unir njrfbzr zrtn-sberfunqbjvat bs gur jubyr FNEHZNA GNXRF BIRE GUR FUVER guvat yngre ba? V ernyyl ubcr V'z erzrzorevat vg evtug, fb pbby.

  21. Tul says:

    Oh Mark, That's such a GREAT review!

    (How much coaxing would it take to make you do this for the whole book?)

  22. Suzannezibar says:


    Things I love about this chapter:

    -Ioreth. Need I say more?
    -That speech Gandalf makes about Eowyn–aaaaah.
    -"I am hungry. What is the time?" BLESS YOU FOREVER MERIADOC BRANDYBUCK
    -Aragorn trolling the shit out of Merry.

    That is all 🙂

  23. msw188 says:

    This chapter was one of my favorites when I was younger. I wouldn't say so now; it's sort of a jumbled mix of tones, which fits the events, but ultimately cannot be as hard-hitting or mind-blowing or fun to me as my very favorite chapters. Still, "Are you going to bury me?" This line will never fail to make me tear up. It's almost a matter-of-fact despair. There's no grandeur or sass. Merry honestly believes he is going to die. Can you imagine if Tolkien was asked this exact question by people, even friends, during the Great War?

    Aragorn's healing abilities came as a bit of a surprise on my first read too, maybe because they've gone unremarked up until this point. For example, even though he uses athelas to tend Frodo at Weathertop, it isn't really made clear just how important that was, as opposed to Elrond's work once they reach Rivendell. Similarly, when Aragorn tends Frodo and Sam after Moria, it is a bit rushed and more about the reveal of the mithril coat than it is about Aragorn's skill in healing. His tending of Gimli's wound after Helm's Deep is glossed over as nothing.

    I don't have much to add that Act 3,451 doesn't address, except that I will always love "Was there ever any one like him? Except Gandalf, of course. I think they must be related."

  24. Ryan Lohner says:

    The most moving part to me is when Merry doubts he'll ever be able to smoke again, as it will just remind him of how he never got to smoke with Theoden. It reminds me of the series finale of MASH, where Winchester trains some South Koreans to play classical music, and then they're all killed by a mine. "Music has always been my refuge from this place. Now it will always be a reminder."

  25. rabidsamfan says:

    On a serious note, I've been reading a book called "Asleep: the forgotten epidemic that remains one of medicine's greatest mysteries," by Molly Crosby, which is about encephalitis lethargica. The disease was pandemic between 1918 and 1927, and its victims either fell asleep and never woke up again, or fell asleep (for months or years) and if they did wake up, had personalities which had irrevocably changed. A lot of them ended up on asylums, trapped inside their own heads. And I can't help wonder, looking at the descriptions, if the memory of the pandemic was in Tolkien's head when he devised the Black Breath.

  26. JustMalyn says:

    Merry and Pippin remain extremely adorable <3 I love that Faramir is so beloved that his people weep over him, and he's such a contrast from Denethor.

    Also, someone with songwriting skills: Please write a song about athelas. Actually, more than one song, because why not 🙂 Let's celebrate this awesome little plant.

  27. Depths_of_Sea says:

    And this is the chapter where we meet Ioreth!

    I ridiculously love Ioreth. She is just so… talkative and rambly and gabby and she'll chat with you all day long about the most inane things. I just love her interactions with Aragorn in this chapter. One of my favorite minor comic relief characters in the book.

  28. Mart says:

    And once again we get proof that Aragorn is not the boring flawless Good Guy(tm) that people make him out to be.

    I really love the way he lays on the sarcasm as thick as possible (va snpg, Vbergu rkcyvpvgyl pnyyf onpx gb guvf zbzrag va n yngre puncgre, fnlvat gung ur vf abg tragyr va uvf fcrrpu)

  29. msw188 says:

    Oh yes, and I wanted to bring this back, from Mark's review of the Fellowship, Book1, Ch5:
    "What I can tell at this point is that there’s a pervasive darkness settled over this story, and the joy and loyalty of the hobbits is what allows them to break through it."
    We still have over half of this book to go, but I think this is a fair point at which to point out that Mark had this shit figured out 700 pages ago or so. This has been a continuing theme in all aspects of the book, especially with Frodo and Sam, but also with Merry and Pippin surviving the captivity with the orcs and things, and now finding each other here. Remember, it was thinking of Pippin in Minas Tirith that kept Merry from panicking before the actual battle, where some measure of adrenaline and EOWYN IS AWESOME took over. And now Pippin has found Merry, and is able to take him to the Houses of Healing, where his "gay spirit" are what allow him to survive (whereas Eowyn's life is in danger specifically and explicitly because she has lost joy).

    This is not because Mark is the ultimate seer ever (although he obviously is – ZOMBIES). It is also not because Tolkien spoils or simplifies his own books. It is because these books, despite people's complaints about their flowery prose and meandering length, ultimately do have a powerful thematic unity that runs throughout, even while Aragorn is off talking to ghosts or Sam and Gollum are trading songs about Oliphaunts and fish. This is not a theme involving the power or wisdom of someone like Gandalf fighting evil. Nor is it really the refusal of corrupt power; refusing the Ring is certainly of continuous importance to the plot and to certain characters, but I will claim that it is not the main THEME of the novel (abjurer vf guvf zber rkcyvpvg guna va Fnz'f onggyr jvgu gur Evat, jurer vg vf gur ybir bs Sebqb gung "urycrq zbfg gb ubyq uvz svez"). The main theme is precisely what Mark already knew back in the first book, and that's why these books are so beautiful.

  30. Katie says:

    i think the "king's hands are healer's hands" is a bit of a two-way prophecy like the one in Harry Potter. Harry will kill the dark lord because he has the scar, but he also has the scar because the dark lord fears he will kill him and by giving him the scar really makes sure Harry has enough motivation to kill him….Aragon can be recognized as a king because he can heal, but perhaps he can also heal because he is finally worthy to be a king and his kingdom needs a healer? it is true that the healing has not been as obvious before this chapter.

  31. flootzavut says:

    "I will smite you on the spot if you don’t go find some of this herb and stop regaling us with stories. And I have been itching to smite someone lately."

    Literally SNORTED with laughter!

    Also: I can't decide if this counts as a spoiler under Mark's spoiler policy, so I'm erring on the side of caution, but maybe if it's NOT someone can repeat it non-ROT13'd?

    Ngurynf be Xvatfsbvy jnf jung Nentbea hfrq JNNNNNNNNLLLLLLLLLL onpx va SbgE gb uryc Sebqb jura ur jnf cbvfbarq ol gur Jvgpu Xvat'f oynqr. Naq ur sbhaq vg ol FZRYY, l'nyy. Fb uvf nffbpnvgvba jvgu gur ureo (naq gur snpg gung vf vg XVAT'F SBVY!) vf fbzrguvat tbbq byr Gbyxvra gebyyrq hf jvgu jura jr unq uneqyl rira ZRG Nentbea. Gbyxvra gehyl vf gur Xvat bs Gebyyf.

    Anyway, like I say, I'm torn as to whether this would count as trolling (and sadly have no time to check if it's been mentioned, sorry :() haqre gur "qb abg erzvaq zr bs fghss V unir sbetbggra urnqvat". So if not, then please someone help Mark out 🙂

  32. Atrus says:

    Ah, Ioreth, so lovably annoying. Or annoyingly lovable. Or both.

    GANDALF: Allow me to help: this woman has the strength, the spirit, and the courage to match your own, but y’all forced her to watch over an old man who increasingly ignored her and made terrible decisions while everyone else was out being majestic and shit. And it’s all because she’s a woman.


  33. stormwreath says:

    "The hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and so shall the true king be known."

    Historical trivia: mediaeval Europe also had this bit of folklore. The kings and queens of both England and France were believed to have the power to cure disease with a touch of their hands.

    Now maybe I'm just cynical, but I have a nagging suspicion about Gandalf's actions here. He surely knows about Aragorn's healing abilities, and it would surprise me greatly if he didn't also know the saying about the hands of a king. Yet he says nothing, he doesn't ask Aragorn to help… until Ioreth, a citizen of Gondor, remembers the prophecy. At that point he springs into action and goes to fetch Aragorn immediately. So… was he waiting for someone to say that? Did he want the words to come from a person of Gondor, so it wouldn't look like he was trying to force Aragorn onto them as king? Was he standing there getting frustrated, thinking, "Come on, come on, Ioreth, remember the prophecy"! Do I have to start dropping hints here?"

    Or am I just being too Machiavellian? 🙂

    Another point: the green stone that Aragorn's wearing here, that causes the citizens of Minas Tirith to give him the name 'Elfstone'. If you remember back in 'Fellowship', that stone was given to him by Galadriel – who said it was a gift from her granddaughter Arwen, that had been left in Lórien for safekeeping until Aragorn should next pass through there.

    <img src=""&gt;

  34. QoB says:

    Théoden's not their dad, he's their uncle? Father-figure, yes, but father, no….


  35. nanceoir says:

    Okay, so beyond enjoying every moment of Aragorn's sass and cheekiness (seriously, Aragorn, please be cheeky like you were with Merry all the time; it is wonderful), one thing that struck me is the difference in how the scent of the kingsfoil is described each time.

    For Faramir, it is described as "like a memory of dewy mornings of unshadowed sun in some land of which the fair world in spring is itself but a fleeting memory." For Eowyn, it's "a keen wind [that] blew through the window, and it bore no scent, but was an air wholly fresh and clean and young, as if it had not before been breathed by any living thing and came new-made from snowy mountains high beneath a dome of stars, or from shores of silver far away washed by seas of foam." (Note: that's kind of awesomely beautiful.) And for Merry, it's the "scent of orchards, and of heather in the sunshine full of bees."

    By the time I hit the description of Merry's athelas, I had this thought: the athelas somehow smells like whatever the person being healed thinks of as fresh and clean and wholesome and homely. For Faramir the ranger, it smells like a dewy spring morning; for Eowyn of Rohan, fresh mountainy air; for Merry of the Shire, it's fields and orchards and growing things.

    I don't know if there's any meaning beyond that, but I think it's pretty neat.

    Also, this chapter continues to prove that hobbits are the best and my favorite. Pippin is wonderful, and Merry is wonderful, and I love them both so much.

    Nf V jnf ernqvat, V irel qrsvavgryl urneq Ovyyl Oblq'f ibvpr (be n ernfbanoyr snpfvzvyr) va zl urnq sbe Cvccva sbe cerggl zhpu nyy bs uvf qvnybthr. Tnaqnys jnf bppnfvbanyyl Vna ZpXryyra, ohg arvgure Zreel abe Nentbea jrer irel zbivr-ibvprq. Vg jnf rfcrpvnyyl fnq orpnhfr, whfg yvxr Cvccva naq Zreel ner n cresrpg grnz, fb ner Ovyyl Oblq naq Qbzvavp Zbantuna. Zl urnq fubhyq abg or gujnegvat zr va guvf. Pbzr ba, urnq, trg jvgu gur cebtenz urer!

  36. monkeybutter says:

    HDU Mark, Pippin has the power of love. And Merry has the power of perfect words:

    'But it is the way of my people to use light words at such times and say less than they mean. We fear to say too much. It robs us of the right words when a jest is out of place.’

    That right there is why hobbits are my favorites.

  37. Little-known fact: athelas is Chinese for "frozen frogs." If only Aragorn had sent Aang out to find some!

  38. elyce says:

    Theoden is their uncle, Mark, not their father.

    I personally like Ioreth's little interjections, and the song about kingsfoil. I mean, seriously, people, it's called kingsfoil for a reason. Use your brains a little!

  39. redheadedgirl says:

    HEY MARK HEY Theoden is their uncle not their father, and clearly we need about 28 people to tell you this.

    V xabj gur Ubhfrf bs Urnyvat trg n fubeg ovg va gur RRf, ohg gur cna bire Rbzre'f snpr- thggrq naq oebxra- vf fb urnegoernxvat V jnag gb tvir uvz n pbbxvr naq n oynaxvr naq gryy uvz vg jvyy or bxnl.

  40. feminerdist says:

    More Lords and Stuff!!!!!!


  41. arctic_hare says:


    Much of this chapter was significantly less funny to me than your wonderful play. We start off with Merry wandering around the city in a haze of PTSD, or shellshock as they called it in Tolkien's day. The battle and all that he's seen and done have taken a toll on him, and it hurts to see, as much as it hurts to think of the real people who must have done something similar. It's probably that this was an experience of Tolkien himself, that dazed wandering. 🙁 When Pippin finally found him, I got tears in my eyes of relief and joy that these two friends were at last reunited. I'd been waiting for this! And then Merry asks if he's going to bury him, and I just… :'( But where I really started crying for real was this line from Gandalf: "He should have been borne in honor into this city. He has well repaid my trust; for if Elrond had not yielded to me, neither of you would have set out; and then far more grievous would the evils of this day have been."

    PREACH IT, GANDALF. FUCK YES HOBBITS. <3 And how perfect is it that Merry asked for food immediately upon waking up? xD ILU, Merry and Pippin. I also love what Eowyn says to Eomer about making Merry a knight of the Riddermark because he is so valiant. DAMN STRAIGHT. His sadness over Theoden makes me sad again, though. But Aragorn's epic snark about the herb master is hilarious. He's definitely picked up some sass from Gandalf. I like how Pippin says that they must be related. 😀 Also a fan of what Merry says about how hobbits couldn't live in places like Gondor or Rohan, but at least he and Pippin can see them now, and honor them, and know of what they do to protect places like The Shire so that most people can live in ignorance of the horrors of Mordor. It's a beautiful little moment.

    Eowyn's words upon awakening about the dark days when it seemed to her that "the House of Eorl was sunk in honour less than any shepherd's cot" are very telling and put the truth to what Gandalf said about Wormtongue repeating Saruman's poison to Eowyn as well, only cloaked in more subtle and insidious words. It explains so much – her desperation to get away from Rohan, leading to her infatuation with Aragorn, and then to her seeking death, as Merry saw in her eyes as they left for the battle. I would ascribe her suffering both to this, and to what Gandalf so accurately points out to Eomer: he had things she didn't have, simply because he's a man and she's a woman. She's no less brave than he is, but because of their genders, she had restrictions on her freedom that he did not have, and that he likely takes for granted. Ah, male privilege. Her line about waking to health, but not being sure about hope breaks my heart all over again. 🙁

    So good to see Faramir awake too! It's a hell of a relief. We also see yet another contrast between him and his father here: he immediately accepts and is respectful to Aragorn, calling him the King and asking him what he commands. Doubtless this readiness to serve a king, rather than rule the city himself, was already seen in him by Denethor, and contributed to his being loved less than Boromir, and I feel like I can see Denethor side-eying his son from the great beyond or whatever. But I don't think there's any lack of honor in Faramir's willingness to step aside and hand over the ruling of Gondor to Aragorn. Quite the opposite. He understands the role of the Steward, and doesn't desire power for himself; he only wants what is best for the people of Gondor. Recall his words about not loving the sword, but the people it protects. He places those people above any possible desire to rule, and to my mind there is little more honorable. This is what Gandalf meant when he said that a Steward that faithfully surrenders his charge is not diminished in love or honor, and I agree with him.

    Lastly, I want to express my love for the fact that the ultimate proof of Aragorn's heritage and rightful kingship over Gondor isn't through an old sword or deed in battle, but in the ability to heal others. It's easy enough to hurt others, but to heal is more difficult and is, or should be, more valued, and I'm not surprised but I am gratified that Tolkien did place a high value on it. Should Gondor survive this war, the land and its people will not need weapons or deeds of valour in after days, but the healing of wounds. Aragorn is off to a good start by saving Faramir, Eowyn, and Merry.

  42. sixth_queen says:

    Please may I swoon a little bit. Pippin falls in love with Faramir at first sight. Now Faramir falls in love with Aragorn at first sight. <3 :$ <3

  43. LadyViridis says:

    Which, you know, is why I didn't name any specific work. >:/ Honestly said author has a big enough body of work that I think mentioning he incorporated the sleeping sickness into ONE of them is vague enough not to be spoilery.

    It is this kind of overly paranoid stuff that continually makes me wonder if I should even bother posting comments. :/

  44. lexypoo says:

    MERRY: Man, just get that pipe out. It’s time to light it the fuck up.

    A-MEN. I would need a whole lot of long bottom leaf (aka CANNABIS) after a battle like that…

  45. Geolojazz says:

    Movie Stuff:
    V ybir jung gurl qvq va gur zbivr, Cvccva urnqvat bhg naq svaqvat Zreel. V ybir rira zber Qbz naq Ovyyl'f Pbzzragnel:

    Ovyyl: "Bu ybbx, gurl znqr vg ybbx yvxr V'ir orra frnepuvat sbe lbh sbe ubhef naq ubhef. Va erny yvsr, uzz, 15 zvahgrf naq V'q'ir tvira hc."

  46. AmandaNekesa says:

    Whenever I see "Lords and Stuff " at the start of a review, I cant help but grin widely and giggle a little. I absolutely love these play reviews; Mark you are brilliant!

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

    The exchange between Aragorn and Ioreth, and then the herb master is all kinds of wonderful ridiculousness, and I always read it the same way as you've written in "Lords and Stuff."

    Whenever I read this chapter though, it always breaks my heart how disoriented and exhausted Merry is, and how Pippin reacts to it. We actually have a moment where Pippin, and us readers, wonder if Merry could die. After all they've been through, it's a horrifying thought. Thankfully Tolkien doesn't leave us hanging but rather gives us the most beautiful two words: I'm hungry! Gahhh, I love you, Merry! <3

  47. evildevilgirl02 says:

    I’m sorry I missed the comment party. 🙁 School trip.
    When I saw that it was in play format I clapped my hands together in excitement. For real.
    Mark, you should publish Lords and Stuff. For real.

  48. Meltha says:

    Thought for the day: If I ever own an all-you-can-eat buffet, I will put in writing that this does not include hobbits.

  49. Laura says:

    Come, let us make haste and get Merry into bed!


  50. sporkaganza93 says:

    ARAGORN: I’m going to give an overly long little monologue about how absurd this request is and inform you that what you usually smoke isn’t available anywhere, and then tell you I’m too busy to smoke with you, even though I basically suggested it in the first place.

    MERRY: Oh. Sorry?

    ARAGORN: I’m just trolling you. Your pack is right there.

    PIPPIN: I’m going to need you to stop this right fucking now.

    Not gonna lie, this made me laugh my ass off.

  51. eyelessgame says:

    Something to keep in mind about Aragorn, at the end of the chapter: in his magnificent snark to Merry he is expressing exhaustion, annoyance, relief, grief, and more than a little giddiness (his ancestors have been waiting for someone in the family to do this for, what, fifteen hundred years? And HE IS IN GONDOR NOW AND THEY ALL KNOW HE IS THE KING.) Put yourself in his place, and that little emo-dump he indulges in packs, to me, so much understated character that you basically never otherwise get to see.

  52. DrummerWench says:

    "Was there ever anyone like him? Except Gandalf, of course. I think they must be related."

    Npghnyyl, vs gur Znvne ner eryngrq, gura Nentbea naq Tnaqnys /ner/ eryngrq, guebhtu N'f sberzbgure Zryvna, zbgure bs Yhguvra.

  53. M_B says:

    Favourite part: "Few other griefs amid the ill chances of this world have more bitterness and shame for a man's heart than to behold the love of a lady so fair and brave that cannot be returned." Aragorn! <3

  54. Tul says:

    I forgot about this but, about Aragorn's healing powers, nera'g gurz va cneg qhr gb gur terra fgbar Tnynqevry tnir uvz? Gur Ryrffne? Vg jnf znqr ol Pryroevzobe sbe urnyvat naq cerfreingvba bs guvatf, VVEP. Vg jbhyq rkcynva ubj zhpu zber cebabhaprq uvf urnyvat cbjref ner abj guna gurl jrer orsber Ybevra. Ab?

    I'm not sure the ciphered part is a spoiler, since it doesn't deal with future events of the Lord nor events of the Sil; it's some information about a detail in the book – does it count mods?

  55. sirintegra42 says:

    I have been reading along but I got a little bit behind due to university getting pretty hectic as I'm in my final year. Anyway, this is quite possibly my favourite chapter and section of the books, ever since I first read them. It strikes the right balance between funny moments, plot and beautiful description and I love it for that. Plus after all of the depression of the siege and Pellenor Fields it's great to have a bit of a break. Of course there are still heartbreaking moments but in all it feels much more hopeful by the end than any of the chapters of this book before it.

    Cyhf bs pbhefr V xabj abj gung Rbjla naq Snenzve'f eryngvbafuvc'f pbzvat fbba naq gurl znl jryy or zl snibhevgr cnvevat va gur ragvergl bs Ybeq bs gur Evatf, rira bire Nentbea naq Nejra. V xabj bgure crbcyr zvtug frr vg nf n 'cnve gur fcnerf' xvaq bs fvghngvba ohg V guvax gung gurl'er cresrpgyl fhvgrq sbe rnpu bgure.

    Movie stuff: V'z fb tynq gurl ervafgngrq gur gval nzbhag bs guvf frpgvba bs gur obbx onpx vagb gur rkgraqrq rqvgvba. V jnf fb hcfrg jura V ernyvfrq gurl unq phg vg bhg, nygubhtu ernyyl vg vfa'g nyy gung eryrinag gb gur birenyy cybg. Yvi'f fvatvat vf tbetrbhf naq nygubhtu zl vaare Rbjla naq Snenzve fuvccre jvfurf gurer jnf zber bs vg gurve gval zbzrag gbtrgure vf cresrpg.

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