Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog – Lord of the Rings (Book V, Chapters 1-5)

Return of the King!  Guys, we are so close to being done, I can taste the ash from the fires of Mount Doom.  Okay, so maybe that’s a lie, but still.

If you read the second half of Mandy’s post about Tolkien the other day, you’ll know that Tolkien did NOT want this book to be called Return of the King because he considered it to be a spoiler.  I actually do like The War of the Ring much better,  just like I prefer this cover of the Deluxe Editions, (designed by Tolkien) which features the Empty Throne of Gondor, to the One Jacket to Keep Dust from Them All that we see on nearly every other hardbound edition.

[fangirl sigh]

ANYWAY.  We finished The Two Towers on a pretty major cliffhanger, but those of you expecting The Saga of Sam, Frodo and the Orcs to be wrapped up immediately with a pretty little bow are sure to be disappointed.

Where we DO start is with Gandalf and Pippin (and Shadowfax, of course) arriving at Minas Tirith.  The description of the city is pretty awesome, and even if I hate Peter Jackson’s adaptations with the fire of a thousand Amon Amarths…he at least did a very good job of getting scenery and sets mostly right.  As much as it pains me to admit it, Minas Tirith was even more impressive than I’d imagined it.

See?  I can make concessions!

Gandalf and Pippin are escorted to Denethor (after seeing the dead/dying tree in the courtyard), father of Boromir and Faramir, who is the the current Steward of Gondor.  Right, because since the king’s line went into hiding/died out, all that’s left for Gondor are the Stewards.  I’m sure that stuck in his craw more than a little, that he never got to sit on the big throne, but instead was relegated to a tiny chair down below.

Gandalf gets SOOPER impatient with Denethor because he wants to hear about his dead son instead of tending to the business of war immediately, but I can actually understand.  Even if talking about dead sons makes me want to shout inappropriately like in Heathers.

Pippin decides that since Boromir died trying to save him, he will pledge his service to Denethor.  When I was a kid, I thought this was stupid.  I still don’t know that I think it’s the smartest idea, but it does set Pip up to be in decent position for later events.

After Denethor gets all shouty at Gandalf for being a master manipulator (I think we’ve all realized this all along, haven’t we?), our friends leave and Gandalf tells Pippin that Denethor has the ability to read Men’s minds.

Also.  Contrary to what you might think with the movies in your head, Peregrin Took does NOT SING A MOURNFUL TUNE while Denethor stuffs his face.  Doesn’t happen.  Sorry.

Pippin makes friends with a member of the third company (who idolizes Faramir), and gets shown around by his son.  Gandalf is (of course) busy doing other things.  Pippin is taken down to the first gate and sees the reinforcements arriving, but there aren’t as many as anyone had hoped there would be.

Back with Legolas, Aragorn, Gimli, Merry and the Rohirrim (ROHAAAAAAN!) – Aragorn is telling his buds that he’ll be heading to Minas Tirith, but might have to take a darker road.  While everyone is puzzling over this, a large group of his Ranger friends show up, along with Elladan and Elrohir (Elrond’s sons).  Elohir gives Aragorn a message (“If thou art in haste, remember the Paths of the Dead”) and a gift from Arwen (a black standard).

Merry offers his sword to Théoden, and his friends all take off (after Aragorn consulted the palantir)- leaving him with a bunch of strangers.  Way to go, guys.  Nice.

Aragorn, Rangers, et al arrive at Dunharrow and Eowyn tries to convince them that to follow the Paths of the Dead is surely folly.  He’s all “Nah, babe.  I’m totally the heir of Elendil.  I got this ish.”

They follow the Paths of the Dead for what seems an eternity in the dark, come out on the other side and the Oathbreakers declare that Aragorn is King of the Dead.  I’m sure that’s not what he was hoping for, but that’ll do pig, that’ll do.

I realize I could go into more detail about the Oathbreakers, but we’re already at 700+ words here, so I’m trusting that you all did the reading.

ROHAAAAAAAAAN prepares for war.  Merry is told he’s being left behind because no one wants to carry him along, but Eowyn outfits him for battle anyway.

The next morning, a mysterious young warrior named Dernhelm offers to take Merry along and he giddily accepts.

Thank goodness for the Woses and Ghân-buri-Ghân, who show the Rohirrim (ROHAAAAAN!) a shortcut that takes them right past the armies of Mordor and lets them out right near Pelennor Fields.  Awesome.  Ghân-buri-Ghân, you rock.

BACK AT MINAS TIRITH, Faramir arrives, being chased by the Nazgûl on their wingéd steeds but Gandalf rides out on Shadowfax and shoots some light up into the Ringwraith  with his staff (cos he’s a mothersnaping wizard, bitches) and it goes cryin’ home to its momma.  Or something.

So, Faramir is all dazed, and doesn’t really understand what Pippin is doing there, but that doesn’t stop his father from berating him for being a stupid wizard’s pupil who refused to bring his father a MIGHTY GIFT when it was right there in front of him.  In case you didn’t figure it out, he was pissed cos he knew his favourite son Boromir would have brought him the damn Ring.  SEE, GUYS!  THE RING DIDN’T CORRUPT DENETHOR, I STILL DON’T THINK IT CORRUPTED BOROMIR!  He had major daddy issues.

The following morning, Denethor sends Faramir to hold Osgiliath and Faramir agrees, even though this is totes a suicide mission.  Okay, so maybe Boromir wasn’t the only one with daddy issues.

The Witch-King (whom no Man can slay) leads the armies from Mordor, Gandalf takes off to Osgiliath and returns with a bunch of the wounded.  There’s much battling on Pelennor Fields, but we’re not really privvy to that yet, only to Faramir refusing to leave his men and being shot by a poisoned arrow.

Denethor kind of loses his mind here (um, well, it was already gone, but this is totally the last straw) and has Faramir carried to the Hall of Kings and calls for a pipe, bowl and fiddlers three torch and kindling.  Pippin realizes that Denethor is going to set them both on fire while they’re still alive so he goes running to tell Gandalf.

Which is when the Gate is breached by the Witch-King…and our chapters for this section are over.

33 thoughts on “Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog – Lord of the Rings (Book V, Chapters 1-5)

  1. You guys have me tempted to read LoTR again. It has been too long and my mind is corrupted by Peter Jackson’s adaptations. I must say I love the reference to babe, brings back so many memories.

    • Heh, I only vaguely recalled referencing Babe, so I had to read my own post again.

      I hope you DO decide to read them again. Even if it’s not now, I’m sure I’ll be reading them again next summer. :)

  2. Finally! Someone else in the world with whom I can use the phrase “That’ll do, pig” without thinking I am a big, mean jerk! Yay!

    The whole Faramir thing made me sad. Poor, unloved and unappreciated Middle Earth Man!

    • I say it all the time, but my kids refuse to watch the movie with me!

      Husband and I also say “It’s possible, pig.” (from Princess Bride) pretty much every time we say “It’s possible,” but most people don’t get it and think we’re really mean to each other.


    Every once and a while while I was reading, I’d need to research this or that online, and I’d always stumble upon a comparison between the books and the movies. Every time I did, it made me want to watch the movies less. This time, it was that in the movie, Gandalf mocked Pippin for choosing to serve Denethor and thought the choice was so “Oh, PIPPIN! Wah, wahhhh” rather than a noble one. Really? Stupid, PJ. Stupid.

    • There are differences galore between the movies and the books, but I still like the relaltionship between Pippin and Gandalf in the Minas Tirith scenes, especially one in which the reality of the siege sets in for Pippin and Gandalf comforts him without sugar-coating anything.

    • 1. I’m glad you appreciated the Heathers reference, I had a feeling you would.

      2. Everyone knows by now how I feel about the movies, but I will say that up until RotK I was quite pleased with how Gandalf was portrayed. The third film was where he began to do things that were COMPLETELY out of character, and…well, I don’t know if you’re going to watch them, but I’m kind of interested to see if you experience the same outrage I do at one instance in particular.

      3. I wish you were participating in the drinkalongs with us. Somehow it’s easier/better with other people (mostly Kate and Heather) sharing my outrage.

  4. As soon as I read “dead son,” I was shouting “I love my dead, gay son!” in my head.

    I love the the description/picture of Denethor on the little chair. It’s like the kiddy table of Gondor.

    Gandalf mocking Pippin in the movie continues the theme of Pippin is a complete fool. :(

    • That’s just one of the many reasons I heart you!

      Agreed about Pip. He seems to be the primary perpetrator of hobbuffoonery (to borrow Kate’s phrase).

  5. After establishing that the Palantir is super-dangerous because Sauron’s using one & can extend his will over the others, the fact Aragorn wrests control of it by sheer force of will during a long night after which I bet he could really use some Dunedain coffee, is still mind-blowing. Strider goes head-to-head with the guy who used to be Morgoth’s number one guy… and wins! And he does it just to provoke Sauron to screw up and keep him from looking for Frodo! After that I can sort of forgive him for the way he brushes off Eowyn. (And, Eowyn calls him on it anyway: “You’re saying I can’t play cuz I’m a GIRL! I’ll show you, you dork.”)

    • Oh, agreed. And this section is where I really start to feel like I’m carrying Aragorn’s weight, as well. Also, the next few chapters make me cry in various places. Mostly with pride.

      I swear, I am so emotional after having kids. It used to take a lot to make me cry. Now, it only takes the Horns of the Rohirrim. ROHAAAAN!

      • I get kind of choked up in TTT when Theoden gets all interested in the little Holbytlan, for some reason. Not sure why! Maybe because even after all he’s been through he still shows Merry and Pippin some respect.

  6. BTW, I agree “The War of the Ring” would be a better title, but I bet they didn’t go for it in part because it repeats “Ring” after the first volume was already called “The Fellowship of the Ring.” They could have addressed that, though, by simply calling the first volume “Frodo and Friends Ignore All the Advice Possible” or “The Council of Elrond: No It’s Not the Whole Book But It’ll Feel Like It.” Or even “Bilbo’s Barely In this Sequel, Suckahs.”

  7. When Pippin starts singing I thought I was going to cry… and not in a “oh, it’s so moving way.” They’d come so far with so little singing and then they throw in a song that’s not even suppose to be there?? Come on!

  8. Did you almost say something nice about that Jackson dude?
    The path of the dead part always bothered me a bit. I love the idea, but with a horde of ghost warriors who can kill but not be killed… that is like having an army of Hulks and Supermen… do you really need all the living soldiers to help at that point?

  9. Minas Tirith is the only thing I like about PJ’s TT too! I remember seeing it when it came out in theaters and having a weird double-take because it was ezacktly what I’d always imagined when reading, like eerily weirdly close. Although maybe that was more striking because nothing else was anywhere near but I quibble.

    I’m confused by the point you’re making about Denethor’s non-corruption by the Ring. Was that snarkysauce? Am I clueless? Please enlighten.

    I’m so sad I missed the drinkalong. See, Friday night sare a big deal in my family; we light candles and eat a stupidly huge meal together at EXACTLY DRINKALONG O’CLOCK. I managed to sneak away last week, but I won’t sure when I’ll be back. SO SAD I WANT TO SNARK WITH YOU GUYS WAAAAH.

    • Re: Denethor – I was trying to make the point that Denethor wanted the Ring, but had never even been near it, so it wasn’t as if it had corrupted him. I still don’t think Boromir had been, I think he wanted to take it home to his daddy.

      There are only three more drinkalongs, if you can, try to make it for next week, when I’ll be getting THE MOST RANTY about the Battle of Hornburg.

      • Ahhh! I’ll try.

        But Denethor has been influenced by [redacted]! Hasn’t he? Are we there yet? You have a point about the daddy issues, but I think I’d say that the Ring is playing on those issues, not to mention Boromir’s general rashness and lust for Gondor-Glory. It seems to affect those who have a bit of either covetousness or desire for glory in them already – characteristics that echo You-Know-Who’s, maybe. I mean, there’s no denying that it makes the bearers cray-cray, even if they’re very briefly bearers, and it seems reasonable to me that it could act from a (short) distance on those who are somewhat easily influenced by the promise of power.

        This will be easier when we can talk about…well, you know.

  10. Told you I’d finish the reading today–AND I’m almost done with the next section. So.

    Love the Heathers reference. At first I was all confused (I’ve never yelled about anyone’s dead son), but THEN it hit me. Good stuff.

    • Hee! I’m almost done with the next section too! I’m always worried when I’m talking about Heathers (not the movie) because I know SO MANY OF THEM that I constantly have to clarify who I’m talking about.

  11. Hmmm, whether or not you can definitively say that the Ring itself corrupted Denethor… I don’t think you can separate it from the Palantir, which was connected to Sauron, who is connected to the Ring, and whipped both Saruman and Denethor into a frenzy. Boromir was following orders in a sense, but, you know, the Ring was right there… it does all make more sense when you find out what Denethor is about. Faramir must take after his mother. :)

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