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.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.