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!

    • majere616 says:

      There is no such thing as "too long" when it comes to hanging out with Gandalf.

    • castlewayjay says:

      Lots and lots of dittos from me!, esp to your non-comic list. so many great moments and lines.

    • julianamoreli says:

      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.

      IKR!!!! V ernyyl ybirq gung Gbyxvra tnir n ornhgvshy raqvat sbe gurfr punenpgref. Gurl'ir orra gebhtug fb zhpu fnqarff naq greebe, abg bayl sbe gurzfryirf, ohg sbe gurve crbcyr…gurl qrfreir rnpu bgure, gurl qrfreir nyy gur unccvarff ba gur jbeyq!!!

    • Tul says:

      You already said nearly all I wanted to say! I love both your lists!

    • settlingforhistory says:

      I agree with everything in this comment.
      I really didn't want this chapter to end, because of how beautiful and positive and snarky it all was.
      Reading about awesome Aragorn and annoyed Aragorn and totally sarcastic Aragorn while Middle-earth is at war and there is so much sadness is such a relieve. After losing both Theoden and Denethor it was simply necessary to meet hilarious people like the herb master and Ioreth, so that the reader can cry tears of laughter for a change.
      Bless those hobbits, by the way. It's so adorable how fast these little guys heal and regain their hunger.
      Maybe they are what our world is missing; people who say less than they mean, but somhow always the right thing.

    • ZeynepD says:

      I wish I could upvote once for every item in the list, because that, essentially.

    • eyelessgame says:

      I absolutely loved the prattling herb-lady.

  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.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Your rot.13: Vg nyfb punatrf gur jubyr gbar bs gur jbeqf. Sebz Tnaqnys, gurl fbhaq pbzcnffvbangr naq jvfr. Sebz Tevzn, gurl fbhaq fvavfgre, perrcl naq fgnyxrevfu– yvxr ur xabjf ure gubhtugf orpnhfr ur'f orra bofrffrq jvgu ure.

  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.

    • Patrick721 says:

      "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."

      I think it says that they are all really busy, and Gandalf's all wise and stuff, and he probably knows more about running a kingdom or whatever than any of them do. I mean, Legolas is an elf, and they don't really view stuff the same way as humans, what with being magic and immortal. And Aragorn, while he's the rightful king, has no experience with that. Gandalf Knows Things.

      Either that or it was a decision based entirely on beards, and would've gotten ugly between Gandalf and Gimli really quick if Legolas hadn't intervened.

      I'm going with the beards. (Sorry about the strangeness of this comment. All-nighters make me ramble and stuff.)

      • stormwreath says:

        I've always taken it to mean, "We should listen to Gandalf's advice and follow his suggestions, because he knows what he's doing", rather than literally appointing him head of the government or whatever. 🙂

        • Tul says:

          Yes, that's how I took it too. Imrahil gets to be officially in charge until Faramir is healed enough.

        • Patrick721 says:

          Right, yeah. That's sort of what I meant. Like I said, all-nighters make me ramble-y and decrease my ability to properly communicate what I'm trying to get across.

          In retrospect, not a good idea when I have papers to write. But when you're a chronic procrastinator, sometimes it's the only way to get stuff done.
          (I do not make good choices.)

  5. avonleaapples says:


    • majere616 says:

      Though he did basically take on the role of a surrogate father.

    • Jenny_M says:

      In defense of Mark, I believe he wrote all of these reviews before he went on tour, and they have been auto-posting every morning. You'll notice he hasn't been in the comments as much for the same reason. I am sure when he gets back he will see and acknowledge that he was mistaken about Theoden being their uncle, not father, but with pre-written reviews there is very little he can do.

      • Mairead says:

        Adoptive father! He functioned as their father ever since their own parents died. And after Theoden's own son died, Eomer and Eowyn are Theoden's only heirs. The relationship was, emotionally and socially, much more father/child than uncle/nephew. Or niece.

        Theoden's been calling Eomer his son for pages upon pages by now!

        Although– I don't have the book with me right now– I believe both Eowyn and Eomer refer to him as "lord" rather than either father or uncle right now? It's the leader of the people who has fallen– which in fact is the literal translation of the name "Theoden."

        Their private grief is mixed up with that public sorrow.

        • Jenny_M says:

          I know that, I was just responding to the comment that Mark keeps making the error in his reviews. I was just pointing out that he's probably not in a position to correct or comment on it at the moment. 🙂

          • Mairead says:

            Sorry, I actually meant to add that comment at a higher level since this keeps coming up, and I used the wrong button. Didn't mean to point fingers at you. 🙁

        • stormwreath says:

          Bear in mind that Théoden doesn't start calling Éomer his son until after Helm's Deep and the downfall of Saruman – it's actually in the chapter 'The Muster of Rohan' in RotK that he says, "Nay, my son, for so I will call you…" Before then, Éomer was always, "Sister-son".

          In fact, having checked Appendix B, Théoden only called Éomer his son during the last six days of his life. 🙁

          • sudden_eyes says:

            And Theoden had a living son, Eomer and Eowyn's cousin Theodred, until not very long before that.

        • Cereus says:

          Yep, adoptive fathers definitely count as "Dad". 🙂

  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)

    • wahlee says:

      He also used it on Frodo and Sam after Moria, but so much else is going on in that chapter that it's easily forgotten.

  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…)

    • rubyjoo says:

      Aragorn is quite an old man – even if he doesn't look it – and has lived with and learned from the Elves. He's also of part-Elven descent himself. Knowledge of herbs etc must have been quite useful out with the Dunadain on the northern borders.

    • GamgeeFest says:

      Except he didn't actually cure Frodo on Weathertop. He could only slow the poison and progress of the blade from reaching Frodo's heart, which is still an amazing feat.

      • Flourish says:

        Right, but Frodo was also actually stricken with the blade, whereas Merry, Éowyn and Faramir are suffering the effects of the Black Breath, not physical damage. (I know Faramir was physically damaged, but IIRC they talk about how that’s not what’s putting him in danger—it’s that he doesn’t seem to have the will to live.)

        • Tul says:

          Faramir has the will to live, but his sorrow, fatigue and above all the Black Breath, plus his wound, accumulated until he was at the doors of death.

        • CRB says:

          Plus, on Weathertop, he hadn't accepted his kingship yet. He was still a ranger – the leader of the rangers, sure, and the heir of Isildor, but not planning on ever being anything more. The sword was still broken. He wasn't at his full potential.

  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

    • @MeagenImage says:

      The second one there, I know it's evoking classic paintings where people are all in elaborate poses and such, but I can't help but think "healing with the power of interpretive dance!"

    • Geolojazz says:

      Oh Hildebrant Brothers. Why did you draw it to look like Gandalf's waiting to club Eowyn the minute her eyes open?

    • Katie says:

      The Hildebrandt bros one makes me think who would have been an awesome casting for Eowyn: the girl who plays Daenerys on game of thrones. She's so tiny, yet fierce. The actual casting unfortunately doesn't match my idea of Eowyn: I always imagined her to be more steely and angular, not all round-cheeked and kind of common. I suppose she doesn't look royal enough for me, whereas Emilia Clarke somehow is.

  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.

    • blossomingpeach says:


      Also, Aragorn mentions wishing that Elrond was there, because he's the best healer there is. Later Aragorn gets Elrond's sons to help him. Seems clear to me this is a skill Aragorn picked up from Elrond….

      • bugeye says:

        OK, Aragron has his own powers, not just Elronds teachings. "The hands of the King are the hands of a Healer and so the Rightful Heir shall be known"

        There is a real "so what if he is a king" attitude out there. We are constantly dismissing Aragorn, his title, his lineage, his powers. :Oh yeah, some ruler wannabe, so what". Read the entire title of this work of Tolkein, Aragorn is a major character here not just some wanderer hanging out with a few elves and a wizard. The question should be why do Elrond, Galadriel, and Gandalf spend so much time and resources on Aragorn if he is just some token king?

        • blossomingpeach says:

          Heh, well I can't speak for anyone else, but I definitely wasn't dismissing Aragorn; I think he's pretty awesome. Just because he has a certain measure of lineage and power vested in him by virtue of who he is (he is the only one to be able to rightfully use the palantir, for example), doesn't mean he doesn't have actual skills he picked up places. I think we were just sort of discussing Aragorn's powers to heal in light of Mark's question (not just in this thread, but in many others today). No diss on Aragorn at all.

        • seumasofur says:

          The way I saw it was that the "The Hands of the King are the Hands of a Healer" was a prophetic piece, rather than a descriptive thing. So, it was no magical power granted to the Heir of Isildur, but rather that the minor prophecy in this case predicted that the heir long lost who would reclaim the throne would be one who was learnéd in the healing arts. So he is one skilled Dúnadan.

      • Amir says:

        Naq nyfb gur snpg gung Nentbea vf n qverpg qrfpraqnag sebz Ryebaq'f oebgure 🙂

      • eyelessgame says:

        Also, when he was healing Frodo, he wasn't king yet.

  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.

    • stormwreath says:

      I believe Tolkien went backwards and forwards on whether the Valar had a language of their own, or if they communicated by a kind of angelic telepathy or whatever, didn't he? I'm not sure which he thought when he wrote this passage.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        No, Valarin is a completely different language – although it did have some influence on Quenya…

        But this is really a discussion for Silmarillion, as the Valar are mentioned only in passing in LOTR, without specifying exactly who or what they are… 🙂

  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.

    • You Are Not Alone says:

      V qba'g erzrzore vs vg'f oebhtug hc va guvf puncgre, ohg rneyvre, jura Zreel naq Cvccva svaq Ybatobggbz Yrns ng Fnehzna'f fgberf, gurer'f fbzr zhfvat nobhg ubj fgenatr vg vf gb svaq n cebqhpg sebz gur Fuver ng Vfratneq.

  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.

    • LadyViridis says:

      It’s quite possible. Crefbanyyl V cersre Arvy Tnvzna’f rkcynangvba, nf sne nf svpgvba tbrf. Ohg vg vf na vagevthvat zlfgrel.

      • Saphling says:

        V cersre Arvy Tnvzna’f rkcynangvba…

        I was about to say… >_>


      • rabidsamfan says:

        Oh? Link please? Or explanation — I don't know that one.

        • LadyViridis says:

          Arvy Tnvzna vapbecbengrf gur 'fyrrcvat fvpxarff' nf cneg bs Gur Fnaqzna. V jba'g fnl nalguvat shegure, ohg vs lbh ernq vg lbh'yy frr jung V zrna.

    • sudden_eyes says:

      Never thought of that. It's an interesting possibility.

      I don't know Molly Crosby's book, which I'll have to find. Though you may already know it, I can also recommend Oliver Sacks's fascinating, tragic Awakenings. (The book, emphatically, not the movie.)

      • rabidsamfan says:

        "Asleep" is a good book. I liked "Awakenings" too, although I read it so long ago I've forgotten the details of it. Never saw the movie, though.

    • jne says:

      Really perceptive! I never thought of the connection!

  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.

    • flootzavut says:

      Ioreth and the Herbmaster are both so capable of rambling on about inconsequential things, it's actually hilarious. A bit of Tolkien's dry sense of humour coming through 😀

      • Depths_of_Sea says:

        I think my favorite Tolkien snark is one that's not actually from the books. It's his response to someone asking that age-old annoying question about why the Fellowship didn't just take some of the Giant Eagles to Mount Doom. I think he first gives the standard wry comment that there wouldn't have been any story and then he adds:

        "The Eagles are not a taxi service."

        I like to use that one too. 😀

  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.

    • Tul says:

      Wonderful post! The Hobbits really are wonderful creatures!

      Though I would argue there is no main theme in this book, and that the running together of all those great ideas makes them even more beautiful.

    • castlewayjay says:

      I think the existence of hobbits – not children, but creatures that have an interesting, naive point of view that the reader can identify with, are what make these books special. (well, one of the many reasons). So many Tolkien imitators failed in part because they had no hobbit-like characters to hang their story on.

  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.

    • Cereus says:

      And it's also an interesting bit of an idea of what a king *should* be like.

    • ZeynepD says:

      Here is an interesting thesis summary that addresses some of those questions: About how Tolkien associated good kingship (read: leadership) with healing, and how it is not only physical and mental healing as well, and even the wounding / falling sick of the land and its subsequent healing. (Scroll down to the heading ""The Hands of a Healer"—Tolkien’s Understanding of Kingship") and read from there; that section down to "Summary of the Text" has no spoilers, but I didn't read past that so no guarantees.)

      It comes up again and again, hence Overarching Themes in the Lord of the Rings time: Wounds and healings. I'm going to be missing a few I'm sure:

      1. Frodo's shoulder wound. Physical healing started by Aragorn, assisted by Gandalf and ended by Elrond, but it's worth pointing out that he never got any specific treatment from anyone for his mental wound, and when the Lord of the Nazgul is near him physically (in the Morgul Vale is the most recent example I remember) the old wound specifically bothers him. Naq bs pbhefr gurer'f gur snyybhg: "V unir orra jbhaqrq, ol xavsr, gbbgu naq fgvat…" naq ubj gung nyy cynlf gb gur jbhaqvat bs uvf fbhy guebhtubhg gur Dhrfg; ubj gur bayl urnyvat ur pna svaq vf va gur Jrfg. Jung Ryvwnu Jbbq qvq jvgu gung fprar jnf fghaavat, ol gur jnl: Gur jnl uvf snpr yvg hc naq ur fzvyrq nf fbba nf ur fgrccrq ba gur Tenl Fuvc….
      2. What Saruman did to Isengard and the Isen Valley, and how Treebeard took over the healing of that: Flooding for cleansing, bringing in new trees to make the valley green again.
      3. Theoden's malady (and depression) under the influence of Saruman and Gandalf's treatment of the same.
      4. Not precisely healing, because no wound exists there thanks to constant vigilance, but "On the land of Lorien no blemish lay—" it's healthy.
      5. The contrast between Ithilien and Morgul Vale; the latter is outright called "diseased" in the narration, as I recall.
      6. "The hands of a king are the hands of a healer, and thus shall the true king be known." Healing Faramir of poison, both that on the arrow and that which had been working into his soul for years and years while watching his father and his brother and their long defeat and feeling helpless; healing Eowyn's physical hurts and not being able to do anything for her depression because he cannot relate to her the way his brother can, nor can he set her free in the way she desires given the constraints of their society (he says as much to Eowyn when she begs leave to ride with him, remember); healing Merry of his physical hurt and not needing to do much for his mental problem because Merry has his innate resilience to help him there.
      7. Gur Fpbhevat bs gur Fuver. Naq jung Fnz qbrf jvgu Ynql Tnynqevry'f tvsg nsgrejneqf.

      • JustMalyn says:

        CONSTANT VIGILANCE! 🙂 This is a really neat theory. It's also a very Christ-like idea of a king, and while LOTR is not at all a religious narrative in the way Narnia is, I think Tolkien's Catholicism probably influenced him a bit there 🙂

        • Alice says:

          Yeah and this idea of "king's hands are healer's hands" is way old,and it relates to monarchy,in particular. I read somewhere,a long time ago,that this belief/tradition was also present in the french monarchy,and it was said that for example,King Louis the XIV-th was also believed to have healer's hands,an attribute just for the king,and it was said that he arranged that in certain days he will receive at his court sick people and he lay his hands upon them,or washed their feet,or smth like that (I don't remember it quite well) but I knew of this saying when I read LOTR so that aspect didn't surprise me at all.

  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 🙂

    • LadyViridis says:

      It's already been mentioned on the previous page of comments, so I think you're okay.

      • flootzavut says:

        Ahhh I didn't see it, I didn't manage to catch up with everything yesterday. In which case, on the offchance Mark hasn't already been caught up by the time he gets down this far, I'll repost unciphered:

        "Athelas or Kingsfoil was what Aragorn used WAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY back in FotR to help Frodo when he was poisoned by the Witch King's blade. And he found it by SMELL, y'all. So his assocaition with the herb (and the fact that is it KING'S FOIL!) is something good ole Tolkien trolled us with when we had hardly even MET Aragorn. Tolkien truly is the King of Trolls."

  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.


    • JustMalyn says:

      Basically. She's such an intriguing and enjoyable character. I feel like in less stressful times she'd be really interesting to sit down and chat with.

  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;

    • castlewayjay says:

      love that point about Arwen's gift of the Elfstone

    • ZeynepD says:

      No, I think you are dead on about Gandalf's semi-political semi-machinations there.

      • JustMalyn says:

        He's so clever and sneaky in a wonderful Sassy Gandalf way. I agree that it's pretty darn accurate, although I'd never though that deeply about it before 🙂 I love all the awesome analysis on this site 🙂

    • sudden_eyes says:

      The belief in a healing monarch persisted, at least in England, until the 18th century. Samuel Johnson, as a small boy suffering with scrofula, was taken to Queen Anne, who touched him with a coin. According to the Wikipedia article on scrofula, the first Hanoverian king, George I, put a stop to the practice on the grounds that it was "too Catholic."

      • rubyjoo says:

        For hundreds of years, people believed that Scrofula, also known as the King's Evil, could be cured by the laying on of the hands of the true King. Therefore, on a regular basis, English and French kings had the less than enviable task of going along a line of their sick subjects, all suffering from horrible skin diseases and touching them in an effort to effect a cure.

      • stormwreath says:

        And it continued in France until 1825, although Wikipedia does say the practice was meeting with "universal derision" by then…

        • MirandaW says:

          Didn't they get rid of their kings in 1789?

          • stormwreath says:

            In 1789 they forced their king to be a constitutional monarch with a National Assembly to limit his power. In 1792 they got rid of him entirely (and fatally).

            But then in 1815, they got a king back again, and remained a monarchy until 1848. (At which point they proceeded to have a president, then an emperor, then a president again, then a Chief of State, and finally a president once more.)

    • Dreamflower says:

      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?"

      It's possible. I think it more likely that Ioreth's words reminded him of what he knew. He knew a great many things, but he could not always keep everything he knew in the forefront of his mind at all times. In fact, jura gur Znvne jrer pbzzvffvbarq nf gur Vfgnev naq frag gb Zvqqyr-rnegu, gurve zvffvba jnf abg gb bireguebj Fnheba, ohg gb *nffvfg* gur Serr Sbyx bs Zvqqyr-rnegu gb bireguebj Fnheba. Gb gung raq, zhpu bs gurve cbjre jnf yvzvgrq, naq zhpu gung gurl xarj jnf bofpherq, naq gurl jrer tvira gur npghny culfvpny yvzvgngvbaf bs byq zra, rkprcg gung gurl qvqa'g ntr nal zber guna gurl jrer gb ortva jvgu.

      Fb V guvax gung Vbergu'f pbzzrag cebonoyl whfg tnir Tnaqnys na "N-Un!" zbzrag, nf gur xabjyrqtr ur unq xvpxrq va.

  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!

    • Sinnive says:

      Like Amortentia, isn't it? I thought so, too 🙂

      • blossomingpeach says:

        Vs jnf Nzbegragvn, gura Snenzve'f fprag jbhyq unir fzryyrq fgenatryl yvxr Ebuna… 😉

      • Katie says:

        Yep, the list of things that JKR very carefully and artfully lifted from this book continues. At least it isn't giant spiders this time…

    • fantasy_fan says:

      In Aragorn's earlier uses of athelas, after Weathertop and outside Lorien, it is just described as pungent and refreshing, not smelling like anything in particular. So either it just wasn't worth mentioning at the time what it smelled like for Frodo and Sam, or whether it was different for the two of them, or Aragorn's use of it here is somewhat different. Is this a characteristic of it being used against the Black Breath, or is it that Aragorn has now more right to the claim of kingship by virtue of his deeds (as opposed to simply his bloodline)?

      I think it's neat too.

      • stormwreath says:

        Alternatively: while Faramir's characteristic scent is a dewy meadow, Éowyn's is a fresh mountain breeze and Merry's is heather in bloom, Frodo and Sam merely have a pungent aroma…

        • rabidsamfan says:


          That could be true, or it could be that Aragorn was using the herb differently when he was treating physical injuries than when he was treating injuries to the spirit.

        • fantasy_fan says:

          LOL! I imagine they do, after everything they've been through. A definite lack of strawberry bubble bath on this trip.

    • Tul says:

      Oh great catch! Thank you for mentioning this!

  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.

    • rubyjoo says:

      LOL, a reference to the famous British understatement perhaps. Here's a clip from Wiki:

      Understatement is a staple of humour in English-speaking cultures, especially in British humour. For example, in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, a suburban dinner party is invaded by Death, who wears a long black cloak and carries a scythe. He is the Grim Reaper; the party is over; the guests must all go with him. "Well," says one party guest, "that's cast rather a gloom over the evening, hasn't it?" In another scene, an Army officer has just lost his leg. When asked how he feels, he looks down at his bloody stump and responds, "Stings a bit."

  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!

    • Saphling says:

      Foil: A literary device used to highlight particular qualities of a prominent character.

      Literally, it's the king's foil!

      • Anonymous says:

        I don't know if I should laugh or groan….

        Anyway, on topic, this is a break from all the epicness. Can't wait to see what happens on Monday.

  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.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      On the tour, he talked about the multitudes of emails he got correcting him after he called Denethor a king, and said that when he makes that kind of mistake, ONE person gets to correct him in the comments. That's worked out well.

      • redheadedgirl says:

        Yup. He said that in Boston and I was super tempted to make the case for the Extended Editions. And that he should watch the movies after he's finsihed the books.

        I'm kind of a brat. 😀

    • arctic_hare says:

      Hey, that's how we roll around here.

      <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">


  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.

    • rubyjoo says:

      I think it's horrible too, arctic hare, the way that Merry tries to follow the torches into the city but gradually gets more and more exhausted until he seems to go blind and the lights appear to go out. Pippin finds him in a state of confusion, walking as if asleep. It made me think of the effects of mustard gas in WWI (the Black Breath?) which blinded soldiers. The way Pippin tries to lead Merry up to the houses of Healing is like the scene depicted in the painting by John Singer Sargent, an American whom the British employed to paint scenes from the war. Here's a link:

      I'm sure that Tolkien would have seen people suffering from the effects of mustard gas or knew the painting or the famous war poem by Wilfred Owen:

      Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
      But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
      Drunk with fatigue.

      War isn't all about the fighting on the front line. It's also about what's going on in the background and the aftermath of the fighting.

    • lexypoo says:

      Great comment — I was getting emotional reading your run-down of Eowyn and how the darkness clings to her the most. I mean Eowyn is like the Rudy of Rohan — she has the heart and valor of any warrior, but suffers the station of being a daughter of kings.

      Movie stuff:

      "Yrnir zr nybar, fanxr!"
      "Ohg lbh -ner- nybar…..abj gung lbhe oebgure unf qrfregrq lbh."

    • fantasy_fan says:

      Merry asks, "What is the time" and Pip answers "Past supper-time". This is an entire culture that tells time by food.

  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.

    • fantasy_fan says:

      Yes. "Hobbits may eat here except for breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, supper, late supper, afters, filling up the corners, or any feast such as 1st Yule or 2nd Yule, 1 Lithe or 2 Lithe, Midyear's day, or Overlithe. Actually, they may eat here only on Friday the First of Summerfilth."

    • Dreamflower says:

      OK, I just could not resist this. Several years ago, one of my friends wrote a crack!fic in which the four hobbits came to visit me in my home. Chaos reined for several chapters as I ( and two other LiveJournal friends) tried to cope with them. (It was very eerie seeing myself and my husband written as characters in a story! LOL!).

      Anyway, she had them eating me out of house and home. So I wrote a response chapter, in which we all took the hobbits out to a local all-you-can-eat buffet. It was all very silly. She posted it in her own LJ.

  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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