CotW, LOTR, Book 5, Chapter 10 - The Black Gate Opens

58 views
Skip to first unread message

Sean McFee

unread,
Feb 11, 2005, 10:49:38 AM2/11/05
to
Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
Book 5, Chapter 10: The Black Gate Opens

To read previous Chapter of the Week discussions, or to sign up for a
future
chapter, go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org

*****************************************************************

In this fairly straightforward chapter, a force of 6,000 men makes the
journey from Minas Tirith to the Black Gate as a feint to aid Frodo's
progress into Mordor.


CHAPTER SUMMARY

The chapter opens with a description of the force to be launched
against Mordor. Merry is to stay behind in Minas Tirith due to his
injuries, but Pippin, Legolas, and Gimli will all join "King" Elessar
in battle. Merry is very disappointed and is comforted by Bergil.

The forces arrive at Osgilliath and Tolkien describes the
reconstruction taking place. They proceed to the crossroads, where the
vandalism of the orcs is reversed and the statue king recrowned (or
re-headed I suppose). An attack is considered against Minas Morgul, but
is ruled against on the grounds of it being too close to where they
think Frodo might be.

The journey to Dagorlad and the Black Gate is described. The Minas
Tirith force attempts psychological warfare by having the heralds shout
that King Elessar is coming to claim the lands. In Ithillien, an enemy
force drawn up mainly to test their strength is routinely dispatched.
Six days from Minas Tirith, entering finally into the devasatation
before the pass of Cirith Gorgor, some men lose faith and Aragorn has
mercy upon them, saying that those with heart remaining may reclaim
honor by retaking Cair Andros. At last only six thousand remain for the
assault on the Black Gate.

They arrive finally to the Black Gate. A delegation rides to the gate
to call for Sauron to receive justice. They are met by Sauron's
ambassador, said by Tolkien to be perhaps one of the Dark Numenoreans.

The negotiation is swift, with both sides seeking to mislead the other.
Gandalf states that the forces of Sauron are in grave danger. The
ambassador takes shots at Aragorn and Gandalf, and then displays the
tokens from Frodo and Sam. Pippin's reaction betrays the conspiracy,
and the ambassador laughs at this. He states that Frodo's task has
failed and that he will endure many years of torture unless his terms
are agreed to. His terms are that the forces pull back, that all lands
east of the Anduin will be Sauron's, and lands west will be tributary
thereto. Gandalf demands that they produce Frodo himself, perhaps
calling the bluff, and the Mouth of Sauron sneers back a refusal.
Gandalf produces a white light and snatches the tokens. Then Aragorn
cuts off his- oh, right. Actually the ambassador is moved to great
anger, but seeing the strength of the force with which he is
negotiating, gives out a cry and returns to the Gate.

The enemy forces move out swiftly and the Men of Minas Tirith have no
escape route. Beregond falls in battle, and Pippin slays a troll with
his blade of Westernesse, but is crushed under by its weight. As the
chapter ends, Pippin hears a cry that the eagles have come, and all
fades to black.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Discussion Points:

* A very linear chapter. Necessary to move things along to the "end" I
suppose. The anticipation is nicely built up.

* Seems a bit of black humour that Tolkien has Bergil comfort Merry,
pointing out that the Men of Minas Tirith include "Beregond of the
guard", when upon re-reading one knows that Beregond has but a few
pages before being removed from the narrative.

* The cross-roads scene is nice. Nothing more to say.

* I find it curious that Gandalf and Aragorn topple the bridge and raze
the fields near Minas Morgul. If the point of not attacking it is to
keep the enemy's focus away from it, does this act not work against
that aim? Or would the enemy suspect something if they made no move
whatsoever towards it? Or would the enemy conclude it a logical (and
futile in the long run) move to make the next assault on Gondor out of
Minas Morgul less convenient?

* I know this has been talked about before, but does Tolkien talk about
the Black Numenoreans in his other writings? Were they long-lived as
Aragorn? What relation to Elendil and others might they have had? Or
are they descended from those arrogant Numenoreans who came to
Middle-Earth to demand tribute and dominate others during the height of
the island kingdom's arrogance?

* When the Mouth of Sauron determines that the "Shire rat" was known to
them, should he not have been concerned about what such a one was doing
in his lands with elf blade and dwarf armor? Or was he just not showing
it?

* Also at this point the fellowship must know the deception being
attempted. If the enemy had the ring it is doubtful that this charade
would take place. When the ambassador says "What use you find in
[hobbits] I cannot guess", and then that his errand has failed, but
there is no mention of the ring, it would be a pretty confusing set of
facts to be confronted with, especially under such duress. If Frodo
doesn't have the ring, and the enemy doesn't have the ring, then who
does?

* Is Gandalf's production of light an overt show of "magic"? It appears
to be one of the few such displays, although Gandalf the White was
given more leeway than Gandalf the Grey.

* Pippin's thoughts to himself at the end seem overly verbose for the
situation, but that's Tolkien for you. My own thoughts in such a
circumstance would likely be slightly less literate, and slightly more
profane.

Raven

unread,
Feb 11, 2005, 9:35:40 PM2/11/05
to
"Sean McFee" <se...@nexus.carleton.ca> skrev i en meddelelse
news:1108136978.5...@l41g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...

> * Seems a bit of black humour that Tolkien has Bergil comfort Merry,
> pointing out that the Men of Minas Tirith include "Beregond of the
> guard", when upon re-reading one knows that Beregond has but a few
> pages before being removed from the narrative.

Not quite. Beregond is stunned, not slain. Pippin saves him from death
by slaying the troll that bonked him on the head, as the troll is about to
grab the stunned Beregond and bite his throat. Beregond is later judged by
Aragorn for his part in the bloodshed before and at Rath Dínen.

Cuervo.


Shanahan

unread,
Feb 12, 2005, 4:02:57 AM2/12/05
to
Sean McFee <se...@nexus.carleton.ca> creatively typed:

> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
> Book 5, Chapter 10: The Black Gate Opens

<snip>


> The negotiation is swift, with both sides seeking to mislead the
> other. Gandalf states that the forces of Sauron are in grave
> danger. The ambassador takes shots at Aragorn and Gandalf, and
> then displays the tokens from Frodo and Sam.

Only the tokens that were found on Frodo -- Sam leaves nothing for
the orcs to find.

[...]


> Gandalf
> demands that they produce Frodo himself, perhaps calling the
> bluff, and the Mouth of Sauron sneers back a refusal. Gandalf
> produces a white light and snatches the tokens.

[cut and paste]


> * Also at this point the fellowship must know the deception being
> attempted. If the enemy had the ring it is doubtful that this
> charade would take place.

I've always thought that it was Sam's Arnorian sword that gave the
game away to Gandalf. Or to put it more precisely, it is the
*absence* of Sting that gives it away. If Frodo had truly been
captured, then Sting would be there, and perhaps even the Phial,
along with the mithril coat. Of course, we know that Frodo gave these
things into Sam's keeping *before* he was captured, but the Enemy
doesn't. The presence of Sam's sword, rather than Frodo's, must raise
some suspicion in Gandalf's mind, and I think he plays on it rather
skillfully in calling the MOS's bluff.

> * I know this has been talked about before, but does Tolkien talk
> about the Black Numenoreans in his other writings? Were they
> long-lived as Aragorn?

This one was, at least: the text mentions that he rose quickly to
power once Barad-dur had been rebuilt, so he's at least 2,000 years
old. Of course, one assumes that his lifetime has been unnaturally
extended by sorcery.
The history of Numenor mentions that the lifespans of the Numenoreans
grew shorter, and also more prone to illness and madness, after their
corruption by Sauron. So I would guess that they were not as
long-lived as the Faithful. Too lazy to go look it up at 1 am,
though! <g>

Ciaran S.
--
I will show you fear in a handful of dust


ste...@nomail.com

unread,
Feb 12, 2005, 2:19:29 AM2/12/05
to
In rec.arts.books.tolkien Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
: Sean McFee <se...@nexus.carleton.ca> creatively typed:
:> * I know this has been talked about before, but does Tolkien talk

:> about the Black Numenoreans in his other writings? Were they
:> long-lived as Aragorn?

: This one was, at least: the text mentions that he rose quickly to
: power once Barad-dur had been rebuilt, so he's at least 2,000 years
: old. Of course, one assumes that his lifetime has been unnaturally
: extended by sorcery.

This comes up somewhat often and has been hashed about a bit.
The Barad-dur was rebuilt in 2951, about 70 years before
the War of the Ring. That was the only time the Barad-dur
"rose again", and is most likely the time the Mouth entered
Sauron's service. Being a Numenorean, he could be 100 years
old and not require any magic.

The idea that the Mouth must be real old is a common one,
but it really does not seem to be supported by the text.

Stephen

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Feb 12, 2005, 7:13:47 AM2/12/05
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

<snip>

[MoS and his tokens]

> I've always thought that it was Sam's Arnorian sword that gave the
> game away to Gandalf. Or to put it more precisely, it is the
> *absence* of Sting that gives it away. If Frodo had truly been
> captured, then Sting would be there, and perhaps even the Phial,
> along with the mithril coat. Of course, we know that Frodo gave these
> things into Sam's keeping *before* he was captured,

Actually, Frodo used Sting to slash through Shelob's web, and then
dropped Sting when Shelob attacked him. Sam picked up Sting from the
ground where it lay next to Shelob and Frodo.

Before slashing through Shelob's webs with Sting, Frodo had given the
phial to Sam. Frodo then runs off, and Sam puts the phial in one of his
pockets when he fears the orcs might see the light. This is fortunate
because he has his hands free when Gollum attacks him.

But Sam then has to be reminded (again, presumably by Galadriel or some
subconscious thought) to use the phial when attacking Shelob. So at the
end of the fight, Sam has Sting and the phial.

While weeping over what he thought was Frodo's body, Sam decides what to
leave and what to take:

"Then at last he began to weep; and going to Frodo he composed his body,
and folded his cold hands upon his breast, and wrapped his cloak about
him; and he laid his own sword at one side, and the staff that Faramir
had given at the other."

"'If I'm to go on,' he said, 'then I must take your sword, by your
leave, Mr. Frodo, but I'll put this one to lie by you, as it lay by the
old king in the barrow; and you've got your beautiful mithril coat from
old Mr. Bilbo. And your star-glass, Mr. Frodo, you did lend it to me and
I'll need it, for I'll be always in the dark now.'" (The Choices of
Master Samwise)

All this, the reader should know, if he or she has been attentive, but
it is important to remember that at this point in the book, the
first-time reader does _not_ know what has happened to Frodo and Sam.

Can the reader, like Gandalf, work out what has happened?
Remember that the reader knows _more_ than Gandalf.
But in some senses, the reader knows less about what is possible.

Sam left the elven cloak, mithril shirt and his barrow blade with Frodo,
and the reader also knows that Sam took the Ring. In this chapter, we
read about the tokens that the Mouth of Sauron produces: namely the
elven cloak, mithril shirt, and barrow blade.

At first sight, we might think that this confirms that Frodo is indeed
being held captive, since we know more than Gandalf does, knowing a bit
more of the history of these things than Gandalf does. But Gandalf might
have the advantage of knowing, given the properties of the Ring and the
effects on a Ring-bearer, what is more probable. The reader might know
this as well, but might not realise all of that kind of thing.

> but the Enemy doesn't. The presence of Sam's sword, rather than
> Frodo's, must raise some suspicion in Gandalf's mind, and I think he
> plays on it rather skillfully in calling the MOS's bluff.

Indeed. And there is a big clue here.

After Gandalf says: "Where is this prisoner? Let him be brought forth
and yielded to us, and then we will consider these demands."

We read this:

"It seemed then to Gandalf, intent, watching him as a man engaged in
fencing with a deadly foe, that for the taking of a breath the Messenger
was at a loss..."

I can only presume that Gandalf perceives that however the Enemy
obtained these tokens, Frodo is _not_ a captive of the Enemy.
Furthermore, the Ring has not been taken, Sting and the phial was not
there, and the MoS consistently refers to only _one_ spy. Either Sam had
died earlier or was not captured, or Gollum betrayed them in some way
and delivered these tokens to the Enemy, or Frodo was captured and
escaped (to retrieve the Ring from a hiding place) or was rescued.
Several of these speculations are suspect, such as Frodo being able to
voluntarily leave the Ring in a hiding place before capture, and being
able to escape - it is far more likely that if Frodo was captured, that
he was rescued by Sam. But there are still scenarios where Gandalf is
not sure whether Frodo is alive: Frodo could have died much earlier, at
some point after leaving Faramir, and Sam could have been carrying all
these tokens in a backpack, and been forced to flee with just the Ring
and phial and Sting.

The conclusion would still be that at least one of the hobbits Sam and
Frodo are still bearing the Ring into or through Mordor, and Gandalf
realises this and decides they must play their part to the end,
declaring to the MoS that "death is near to you" (ie. we have the Ring -
Sauron's greatest fear).

He does say in reply:

"These we will take in memory of our friend..."

But that is just agreeing with what the Mouth said.

Though in the next chapter, the puzzle is soon solved when we see
Shagrat escaping through the gate carrying that bundle. Though this
raises another puzzle, which is that Shagrat, and hence Sauron, must
realise that there are _two_ spies loose. But this is not clear as we
hear later from the tracker orc and the soldier orc hunting Sam and
Frodo:

Tracker: "Garn! You don't even know what you're looking for."
Soldier: "Whose blame's that? Not mine. That comes from Higher Up. First
they say it's a great Elf in bright armour, then it's a sort of small
dwarf-man, then it must be a pack of rebel Uruk-hai; or maybe it's all
the lot together."

It seems like Shagrat _did_ say he ran away from an Elf-warrior, rather
than admit to running away from Sam. That, plus the speculation about
the great Elf-warrior that pricked Shelob. And the dwarf-man bit is from
the mithril shirt. Though the MoS does clearly mention that the spy is
from the Shire, so it looks like they do eventually work this out or are
told (maybe during Frodo's torture).

<snip>

Christopher

--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard

Shanahan

unread,
Feb 12, 2005, 2:04:22 PM2/12/05
to
ste...@nomail.com <ste...@nomail.com> creatively typed:

<snip>


> This comes up somewhat often and has been hashed about a bit.
> The Barad-dur was rebuilt in 2951, about 70 years before
> the War of the Ring. That was the only time the Barad-dur
> "rose again", and is most likely the time the Mouth entered
> Sauron's service. Being a Numenorean, he could be 100 years
> old and not require any magic.

Ah, quite right. My bad.

Ciaran S.
--
Watch your critical gaze slide into ironic self-consciousness


Shanahan

unread,
Feb 12, 2005, 2:16:32 PM2/12/05
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:

> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>
> [MoS and his tokens]
>
>> I've always thought that it was Sam's Arnorian sword that gave the
>> game away to Gandalf. Or to put it more precisely, it is the
>> *absence* of Sting that gives it away. If Frodo had truly been
>> captured, then Sting would be there, and perhaps even the Phial,
>> along with the mithril coat. Of course, we know that Frodo gave
>> these things into Sam's keeping *before* he was captured,
>
> Actually, Frodo used Sting to slash through Shelob's web, and then
> dropped Sting when Shelob attacked him. Sam picked up Sting from
> the ground where it lay next to Shelob and Frodo.
<snip>

> All this, the reader should know, if he or she has been attentive,

Oooh, snarky! <g>

> Can the reader, like Gandalf, work out what has happened?
> Remember that the reader knows _more_ than Gandalf.

Yes -- it seemed obvious to me in early readings, but as you say, we
know more than Gandalf does about events. OTOH, he's *Gandalf*!

>> but the Enemy doesn't. The presence of Sam's sword, rather than
>> Frodo's, must raise some suspicion in Gandalf's mind, and I think
>> he plays on it rather skillfully in calling the MOS's bluff.
>
> Indeed. And there is a big clue here.
>
> After Gandalf says: "Where is this prisoner? Let him be brought
> forth and yielded to us, and then we will consider these demands."

> "It seemed then to Gandalf, intent, watching him as a man engaged
> in fencing with a deadly foe, that for the taking of a breath the
> Messenger was at a loss..."

I love that bit.

> But there are still scenarios where Gandalf is not sure
> whether Frodo is alive: Frodo could have died much earlier, at
> some point after leaving Faramir, and Sam could have been carrying
> all these tokens in a backpack, and been forced to flee with just
> the Ring and phial and Sting.
> The conclusion would still be that at least one of the hobbits Sam
> and Frodo are still bearing the Ring into or through Mordor, and
> Gandalf realises this and decides they must play their part to the

> end, declaring to the MoS that "death is near to you" (i.e. we have


> the Ring - Sauron's greatest fear).

Excellent reasoning. Gandalf would've been a great poker player.

Ciaran S.
--
Plagiarize yourself


Larry Swain

unread,
Feb 12, 2005, 1:34:19 PM2/12/05
to

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>
> <snip>
>
> [MoS and his tokens]
>
>
>>I've always thought that it was Sam's Arnorian sword that gave the
>>game away to Gandalf. Or to put it more precisely, it is the
>>*absence* of Sting that gives it away. If Frodo had truly been
>>captured, then Sting would be there, and perhaps even the Phial,
>>along with the mithril coat. Of course, we know that Frodo gave these
>>things into Sam's keeping *before* he was captured,
>
>
> Actually, Frodo used Sting to slash through Shelob's web, and then
> dropped Sting when Shelob attacked him. Sam picked up Sting from the
> ground where it lay next to Shelob and Frodo.
>

Nice post Christopher, enjoyed it very much. I have to say though that
there is only one thing that "gave the game way to Gandalf": the
absence of the Ring. If both hobbits were taken, then Sauron would
already have the Ring, and would undoubtedly have put it on. And once
Sauron donned the Ring, the wearers of the 3 would immediately know.
The fact that Gandalf knows that Sauron is not wearing the Ring is
enough to let him know that there is yet hope.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Feb 12, 2005, 2:07:56 PM2/12/05
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:
>> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>>
>> [MoS and his tokens]
>>
>>> I've always thought that it was Sam's Arnorian sword that gave the
>>> game away to Gandalf. Or to put it more precisely, it is the
>>> *absence* of Sting that gives it away. If Frodo had truly been
>>> captured, then Sting would be there, and perhaps even the Phial,
>>> along with the mithril coat. Of course, we know that Frodo gave
>>> these things into Sam's keeping *before* he was captured,
>>
>> Actually, Frodo used Sting to slash through Shelob's web, and then
>> dropped Sting when Shelob attacked him. Sam picked up Sting from
>> the ground where it lay next to Shelob and Frodo.
> <snip>
>> All this, the reader should know, if he or she has been attentive,
>
> Oooh, snarky! <g>

LOL!

Seriously, I wasn't thinking of you there! It was a general comment, but
it did turn out to be rather apt!

I'm now trying to remember places where I've made little slips, or had
long-standing errors corrected: like thinking that the army that
Treebeard and the Ents destroyed on the Wold was the same as the army in
Anorien. Troels recently thought that it was just fright that made
Snowmane rear up and fall on Theoden, when a dart contributed as well
(or the other way around).

I also vaguely remember someone's mini-theme a while back of having the
disconcerting experience of finding themselves agreeing with people's
interpretation of some passages from LotR, despite it being different
from theirs...

Aha! Found it:

http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/msg/fc2958adf4fcf5ae

"And now there YOU go! [...] showing me a rich, believable alternative
to my viewpoints. Will you people STOP THIS?? How am I supposed to
make up my mind?" - Shanahan (19/09/2004)

:-)

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Feb 12, 2005, 2:20:14 PM2/12/05
to
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:

<snip>

> Nice post Christopher, enjoyed it very much. I have to say though
> that there is only one thing that "gave the game way to Gandalf": the
> absence of the Ring. If both hobbits were taken, then Sauron would
> already have the Ring, and would undoubtedly have put it on. And once
> Sauron donned the Ring, the wearers of the 3 would immediately know.
> The fact that Gandalf knows that Sauron is not wearing the Ring is
> enough to let him know that there is yet hope.

You know, I totally forgot that Gandalf was wearing one of the Three
Rings! In fact, I hardly ever remember that. I suppose it is because we
only learn this right at the end. The fact that Gandalf is bearer of
Narya is a much simpler and clearer explanation for him knowing that the
fate of the Ring is not yet decided (though the fate of Frodo and Sam
still remains unclear[*]). Thanks! I suppose this also explains how
Gandalf can tell the Men of the West to stand and wait at the moment of
Doom.

[*] Of course. Gandalf still doesn't know whether or not Sam and Frodo
have died of thirst and hunger in Gorgoroth. Or whether they will get to
Mount Doom in time to save any of the army that is distracting Sauron.
Time for a bit of deep thinking by the leaders:

"Aragorn stood beneath his banner, silent and stern, as one lost in
thought of things long past or far away; but his eyes gleamed like stars
that shine the brighter as the night deepens. Upon the hill-top stood
Gandalf, and he was white and cold and no shadow fell on him." (The
Field of Cormallen)

Ooops! I'm sliding forwards again to future chapters.
A slippery slope that's hard to avoid! :-)

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Feb 12, 2005, 2:24:28 PM2/12/05
to
>> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:
>>> All this, the reader should know, if he or she has been attentive,

Another thought on this: Tolkien himself made a few little slips and
didn't achieve perfect consistency (see the Letters he sent to people
who spotted these mistakes and the many emendations made to later
editions of LotR).

The one that always makes me smile is the one where he put a bridle on
Glorfindel's horse in the first edition. Despite Elves riding without
saddles and bridles.


Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Feb 13, 2005, 12:42:58 PM2/13/05
to
In message <news:cuk66...@enews2.newsguy.com>
"Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
>
> Sean McFee <se...@nexus.carleton.ca> creatively typed:
>>
>> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>> Book 5, Chapter 10: The Black Gate Opens

Has anyone commented that the title of the chapter obviously refers
back to Frodo and Sam's earlier encounter with the Black Gate in 'IV,3
'The Black Gate is Closed' -- or is that too obvious for comment ;-)

>> The negotiation is swift, with both sides seeking to mislead the
>> other. Gandalf states that the forces of Sauron are in grave
>> danger. The ambassador takes shots at Aragorn and Gandalf, and
>> then displays the tokens from Frodo and Sam.
>
> Only the tokens that were found on Frodo -- Sam leaves nothing for
> the orcs to find.

Except of course his sword, which was found on Frodo as you note.

For the Mouth of Sauron, the tokens were from one person, but for those
who, as Gandalf so eloquently put it, "know them all and all their
history" there were tokens from two.

> I've always thought that it was Sam's Arnorian sword that gave the
> game away to Gandalf. Or to put it more precisely, it is the
> *absence* of Sting that gives it away.

That -- and of course Gandalf knows that Sauron has not regained the
One: Gandalf is, after all, merrily wearing one of the Three and would
be instantly aware of it if Sauron once more took up the Master Ring.

> If Frodo had truly been captured, then Sting would be there, and
> perhaps even the Phial, along with the mithril coat.

But Frodo was truly captured. He was robbed of all his gear, and the
gear was carried off to end there in the hands of the Mouth of Sauron.

Of course the absence of some things, and in particular the fact that
Sauron had not regained the One Ring would tell that at least one
Hobbit remained loose, but at that point I think Gandalf feared the
worst for Frodo personally (found dead, perhaps), even if he knew that
the Quest itself had not failed yet ("[...] to the wonder and dismay of
all the Captains [...]").

> Of course, we know that Frodo gave these things into Sam's keeping
> *before* he was captured, but the Enemy doesn't.

And neither does the Captains of the West, though they will probably
guess that the Hobbits either traded swords or mail -- swords being the
more likely, I'd say.

> The presence of Sam's sword, rather than Frodo's, must raise some
> suspicion in Gandalf's mind,

I quite agree -- in particular in connection with his certainty that
Sauron had not taken up the One Ring. But suspicion of what? That both
Hobbits had escaped, or that one was dead and the quest was being
continued by the other?

> and I think he plays on it rather skillfully in calling the MOS's
> bluff.

I wonder . . .

In one of the films Gandalf, encouraged by Aragorn, listens to what his
heart tells him with respect to Frodo's survival, but was this actually
possible for Gandalf (in particular on short notice etc.) Could Gandalf
tell that Frodo and Sam weren't dead (a hunch), or did he merely guess
that none of them were prisoner, whether alive or dead?

>> * I know this has been talked about before, but does Tolkien talk
>> about the Black Numenoreans in his other writings? Were they
>> long-lived as Aragorn?
>
> This one was, at least: the text mentions that he rose quickly to
> power once Barad-dur had been rebuilt, so he's at least 2,000
> years old. Of course, one assumes that his lifetime has been
> unnaturally extended by sorcery.

It has been much discussed. Basically it depends on which 'rebuilding'
we're talking about.

The ToY for 2951 has, "Sauron declares himself openly and gathers power
in Mordor. He begins the rebuilding of Barad-dûr. Gollum turns towards
Mordor." (Actually this is the only rebuilding of Barad-dûr mention in
the Tale of Years in LotR) If the Mouth joined Sauron at that time (let
us, for convenience's sake say that he was 32 at the time), then he
would be 100 years old in 3019 -- definitely not unbelievable for one
of the Black Numenóreans (who, I could well imagine, would have tried
to keep their bloodlines 'purer' than the Gondorians).

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great
men are almost always bad men.
- Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887.

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Feb 21, 2005, 3:34:19 PM2/21/05
to
On 13 Feb 2005 17:42:58 GMT, Troels Forchhammer
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

>In message <news:cuk66...@enews2.newsguy.com>
>"Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
>>
>> Sean McFee <se...@nexus.carleton.ca> creatively typed:
>>>
>>> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>>> Book 5, Chapter 10: The Black Gate Opens
>
>Has anyone commented that the title of the chapter obviously refers
>back to Frodo and Sam's earlier encounter with the Black Gate in 'IV,3
>'The Black Gate is Closed' -- or is that too obvious for comment ;-)

Oh, I noticed. Given there is some discussion of the "Closed" chapter
in its own COTW thread lately, it has been obvious. Any of our
list-happy members want to make a list of paired chapter titles
(including the Hobbit, for the party chapters)?

R. Dan Henry
danh...@inreach.com

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Feb 21, 2005, 3:34:10 PM2/21/05
to
On 12 Feb 2005 07:19:29 GMT, ste...@nomail.com wrote:

>The idea that the Mouth must be real old is a common one,
>but it really does not seem to be supported by the text.

I think the idea that he's had time to adopt anonymity and from there
forget his own name helps create the impression of great age. Seems
that would take a long time, forgetting your own name. But
side-effects of his sorcery could speed that along.

R. Dan Henry
danh...@inreach.com

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Feb 21, 2005, 3:34:13 PM2/21/05
to
On Sat, 12 Feb 2005 12:13:47 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

>It seems like Shagrat _did_ say he ran away from an Elf-warrior, rather
>than admit to running away from Sam. That, plus the speculation about
>the great Elf-warrior that pricked Shelob. And the dwarf-man bit is from
>the mithril shirt.

I think "dwarf-man" in this case is an Orc interpreting what little he
was told of halflings. I don't think anyone thought it was Dwarves
(not the small case letters) and "dwarf-man" is a perfectly good
description of a Hobbit using "dwarf" as an adjective.

R. Dan Henry
danh...@inreach.com

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Feb 21, 2005, 3:34:16 PM2/21/05
to
On Sat, 12 Feb 2005 12:34:19 -0600, Larry Swain
<thes...@operamail.com> wrote:

>Nice post Christopher, enjoyed it very much. I have to say though that
>there is only one thing that "gave the game way to Gandalf": the
>absence of the Ring. If both hobbits were taken, then Sauron would
>already have the Ring, and would undoubtedly have put it on. And once
>Sauron donned the Ring, the wearers of the 3 would immediately know.
>The fact that Gandalf knows that Sauron is not wearing the Ring is
>enough to let him know that there is yet hope.

Gollum! Gollum! Yes, my precious, *we* could have it, we could!

Knowing that Sauron does not have the Ring is not enough to know there
is still a Hobbit out there trying to destroy it. There are only clue
suggesting that, but even if Sauron did not recover the Ring for some
reason, if both Frodo and Sam were captured, it would have been all
over.

R. Dan Henry
danh...@inreach.com

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Feb 21, 2005, 3:34:03 PM2/21/05
to
On 11 Feb 2005 07:49:38 -0800, "Sean McFee" <se...@nexus.carleton.ca>
wrote:

>Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>Book 5, Chapter 10: The Black Gate Opens

>The forces arrive at Osgilliath and Tolkien describes the


>reconstruction taking place. They proceed to the crossroads, where the
>vandalism of the orcs is reversed and the statue king recrowned (or
>re-headed I suppose).

Recapitated. It's a nice tie-in with the Ring-bearing part of the
story.

>The journey to Dagorlad and the Black Gate is described. The Minas
>Tirith force attempts psychological warfare by having the heralds shout
>that King Elessar is coming to claim the lands. In Ithillien, an enemy
>force drawn up mainly to test their strength is routinely dispatched.
>Six days from Minas Tirith, entering finally into the devasatation
>before the pass of Cirith Gorgor, some men lose faith and Aragorn has
>mercy upon them, saying that those with heart remaining may reclaim
>honor by retaking Cair Andros. At last only six thousand remain for the
>assault on the Black Gate.

Note also that the Nazgul fly overhead and wear away at morale while
out of not only bowshot, but out of sight. There was discussion awhile
back of Gondor's ability to retreat into other strongholds if Minas
Tirith fell and someone was claiming archers could prevent the Nazgul
from bothering the defenders. It is clear that this is not the case
for their most important power, the ability to attack the spirit.

>They arrive finally to the Black Gate. A delegation rides to the gate
>to call for Sauron to receive justice. They are met by Sauron's
>ambassador, said by Tolkien to be perhaps one of the Dark Numenoreans.

What's with his horse? I could see the fire in its eyes as
metaphorical, but the nostrils? Seems we've got a supernatural evil
horse creature seen nowhere else.

>The negotiation is swift, with both sides seeking to mislead the other.
>Gandalf states that the forces of Sauron are in grave danger. The
>ambassador takes shots at Aragorn and Gandalf, and then displays the
>tokens from Frodo and Sam. Pippin's reaction betrays the conspiracy,
>and the ambassador laughs at this.

Well, it isn't as if there was much doubt. How many companies of
halflings is Sauron supposed to think have come South?

>He states that Frodo's task has
>failed and that he will endure many years of torture unless his terms
>are agreed to. His terms are that the forces pull back, that all lands
>east of the Anduin will be Sauron's, and lands west will be tributary
>thereto.

Pretty sweet deal for Sauron. He could have tried something more
reasonable sounding, but still with a sting in it. I don't think he
wanted the West to accept. I think he wanted to go through the
formalities to see if they'd slip something about their spy and to try
to wound morale, but he wanted to crush his rival by force and take
back his Ring.

>The enemy forces move out swiftly and the Men of Minas Tirith have no
>escape route. Beregond falls in battle, and Pippin slays a troll with
>his blade of Westernesse, but is crushed under by its weight.

Should have taken some "not being fallen on" lesson from Merry.

>As the
>chapter ends, Pippin hears a cry that the eagles have come, and all
>fades to black.

JRRT in a rut or trying to make a link to the Hobbit to strengthen the
plausibility of his deus ex machina?

>Discussion Points:

>* I find it curious that Gandalf and Aragorn topple the bridge and raze
>the fields near Minas Morgul. If the point of not attacking it is to
>keep the enemy's focus away from it, does this act not work against
>that aim? Or would the enemy suspect something if they made no move
>whatsoever towards it? Or would the enemy conclude it a logical (and
>futile in the long run) move to make the next assault on Gondor out of
>Minas Morgul less convenient?

There is a difference between a quick strike and withdrawal compared
to actually taking one's army that way. If they had assaulted Mordor
by that route, then Sauron would have started scrying intensively in
that area, including in advance of their approach to see where they
might go and where to lay ambush. Drawing his Eye to the Morgul Vale
itself for a brief while is not a danger.

>* When the Mouth of Sauron determines that the "Shire rat" was known to
>them, should he not have been concerned about what such a one was doing
>in his lands with elf blade and dwarf armor? Or was he just not showing
>it?

He quite openly finds that evidence of "conspiracy". And it was elf
cloak and "blade of the downfallen West". Add in an Eagle-feather
headdress and a jug of entwater and you'd have had the full roster of
Sauron's enemies in one spy.

>* Also at this point the fellowship must know the deception being
>attempted. If the enemy had the ring it is doubtful that this charade
>would take place. When the ambassador says "What use you find in
>[hobbits] I cannot guess", and then that his errand has failed, but
>there is no mention of the ring, it would be a pretty confusing set of
>facts to be confronted with, especially under such duress. If Frodo
>doesn't have the ring, and the enemy doesn't have the ring, then who
>does?

Sam. He must have Sting and likely the Phial, as these tokens are not
shown. Gandalf must have some hope that if Frodo is captive, then Sam
is still on mission (or perhaps Sam borrowed the mail and it is Frodo
gone on alone). Sauron would have declared he had the Ruling Ring and
demanded surrender with that revelation. Gandalf would know if Sauron
wore the One through his own Ring. The talk of a single halfling makes
it clear half the Super Secret Ring Destruction Force was not captured
(although maybe dead in a spider web somewhere).

>* Is Gandalf's production of light an overt show of "magic"? It appears
>to be one of the few such displays, although Gandalf the White was
>given more leeway than Gandalf the Grey.

Maybe he's just wearing a radium vest. I'd say hobbits would call it
magic, although Galadriel might argue.

>* Pippin's thoughts to himself at the end seem overly verbose for the
>situation, but that's Tolkien for you. My own thoughts in such a
>circumstance would likely be slightly less literate, and slightly more
>profane.

Pippin was raised better than that. :-)

R. Dan Henry
danh...@inreach.com

Shanahan

unread,
Feb 21, 2005, 8:09:54 PM2/21/05
to

Oh, it's not being convinced my opinions are wrong that bothers me.
It's being convinced of *both sides* of the argument that's tearing my
deeply-beloved and long-held notions to shreds, that bothers me!
<cackles madly>

Ciaran S.
--
Read the text as you desire


Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages