Google Groups no longer supports new Usenet posts or subscriptions. Historical content remains viewable.
Dismiss

CotW, LOTR, Book 5, Chapter 6 - The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

69 views
Skip to first unread message

Belba Grubb From Stock

unread,
Jan 10, 2005, 5:54:41 PM1/10/05
to
Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 5
Chapter 6 - The Battle of the Pelennor Fields


To check out the other Chapters of the Week or to sign up to do a
chapter of your own, go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org

_____________________

"Hope oft deceives," says Eomer toward the end of this chapter in
which despair and hope struggle for mastery on the battlefield and in
men's hearts. Finally the embodiment of Hope arrives, unfurling his
royal standard for the first time and leading the gathered armies to a
hard-won and costly victory. Yet Eowyn, mastered by despair, has
suffered a deadly wound and is untouched by Hope's triumph, while all
alone a brave but very ill hobbit walks off the battlefield, following
the bier of his dead king through the rain and grey haze. And where
is Gandalf?
_____________________

CHAPTER SUMMARY :

Things start off on a dark note as the Witch King, "still in command,
wielding great powers," turns away from his confrontation with Gandalf
at the Gate and vanishes.

On the Pelennor Field Theoden and the men of his household, along with
Dernhelm and Merry, have outrun the rest of the Rohirrim. The
chieftain of the Haradrim sees this and attacks only to be charged by
Theoden and overthrown; the rest of the Haradrim cavalry flees. As
hope is running high at this new triumph the Witch King suddenly drops
down out of the sky, mounted on a fell beast. Snowmane, pierced by a
dart, falls on Theoden and the Lord of the Nazgul and his mount perch
on the dead horse's body over the mortally injured King of Rohan. All
of Theoden's men have either been slain or carried off by their
panicked horses, but Dernhelm and Merry are still there; Windfola
threw them and ran away. Merry is terrified in the Witch King's
presence, but wonder and courage stir in him when he sees that
Dernhelm is none other than Eowyn, beautiful and desperate, defying
the Witch King and refusing to let him touch her kin. The chief
Nazgul then attacks her, but she slays the fell beast, bringing the
Witch King crashing to the ground. Furious he rises and strikes her
shield with his mace, shattering it and breaking her arm, but before
he can strike the killing blow he stumbles forward, having been
stabbed by Merry. Merry calls out to her, and with her last strength
Eowyn stabs the Witch-King and then collapses on his mantle and
hauberk, all that remain of her vanquished enemy.

In the meantime Eomer has gathered the Rohirrim and now returns to the
King even as Prince Imrahil and his cavalry start to drive the enemy
away from the city's Gate. Theoden orders the standard to be given to
Eomer and hails him as king before dying. There is a moment of grief
and silence, but when the new King of Rohan sees the body of his
sister lying there he freaks out and leads the Rohirrim off in a
mighty death charge against the many foes still unfought in the
southern half of the field.

Merry remains with Theoden and Eowyn and the men of Theoden's
household, who pick up the two bodies and carry them in honor toward
the city, with Merry trailing behind. They meet Prince Imrahil and
the cavalry of Gondor on the way, and Imrahil discovers that Eowyn is
still alive and bids them hasten her in to the city. He then rides
out to help Eomer, who has ridden too deeply into the enemy ranks and
is now surrounded by the Haradrim as well as the reinforcements
Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, has thrown into the battle.

Things are looking bad, and then all hope vanishes as the ships of the
Corsairs of Umbar are seen speeding up the River on the south wind.
In Minas Tirith alarm bells are rung and the retreat is sounded, but
the call can't be heard on the field because of the wind. From the
little hill on the field where he has chosen to make his last stand,
Eomer also sees the ships coming, but his mind is now clear again. He
laughs at despair as he rallies his men and lifts up his sword to defy
the oncoming Corsairs, but wonder takes him and he tosses up his sword
in great joy and sings as he catches it again. A mighty standard with
the tokens of Gondor and of Elendil is unfurled from the foremost
ship, and

Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur's heir, out
of the paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the
kingdom of Gondor; and the mirth of the Rohirrim was a torrent of
laughter and a flashing of swords, and the joy and wonder of the
City was a music of trumpets and a ringing of bells. But the
hosts of Mordor were seized with bewilderment, and a great
wizardry it seemed to them that their own ships should be filled
with their foes; and a black dread fell on them, knowing that the
tides of fate had turned against them and their doom was at hand.

The soldiers and allies of Mordor will find no hope, but among them
the Southrons and the Easterlings are grim fighters and "fierce in
despair" and make many last stands as they are hunted down all through
the day. Finally at day's end no living foe is left within the
circuit of the Rammas Echor. Aragorn, Eomer and Imrahil, "now weary
beyond joy or sorrow," ride back toward the Gate of the City, but many
others have fallen or are hurt or maimed.

Death in the morning and at day's ending
Lords took and lowly. Long now they sleep
Under grass in Gondor by the Great River.
Grey now as tears, gleaming silver,
Red then it rolled, roaring water:
Foam dyed with blood flamed at sunset;
As beacons mountains burned at evening;
Red fell the dew in Rammas Echor.

DISCUSSION:

The first few times through this work I skipped the poems, but then
this "Song of the Mounds of Mundberg" caught my eye and really sank
home. It embodies so well in poetry what JRRT has described in heroic
over-the-top prose earlier in the chapter. The two, prose and poetry,
complement each other perfectly. That's hard to explain, but that is
why this is my favorite chapter in the whole work.

Some points here have already been discussed in detail elsewhere (who
killed the Witch King, what happened to him afterward, what sort of
beast did he ride, Gothmog, etc.) and I'll move on other things, for
instance, the major circle that closes here: the whole story of Angmar
and Glorfindel's prophecy finally plays out, and there is present a
blade of Westernesse, "wrought…slowly in the North-kingdom when the
Dunedain were young." The whole North Kingdom saga seems to complete
itself here, and it happens before Aragorn arrives, not from the north
as we had expected, but as Elendil did, "borne upon a wind from the
Sea." Comments, thoughts on this?

Before he departs the Witch King makes a very specific and unpleasant
threat to Eowyn. It reminds me of something Frodo has felt (I don't
remember where it is described), a fear of the Eye seeking him out and
there being no refuge from it. What exactly can Sauron do to you? I
wouldn't want to end up in Mandos' houses of lamentations, but they
sound much better those of Sauron! And what is JRRT saying here about
that which is "beyond all darkness"? There certainly is no light
there, but we have had such a lot of descriptions of Evil in terms of
darkness up until now, I wonder where the author is heading with this:
perhaps preparing us for the plain of Gorgoroth?

Some structural comments. First, this being JRRT, he telegraphs the
happy ending here just as he did in "The Hobbit" in a couple of
places: here, he tells us that when it is all over (no more detail of
the future than that) men will come and bury Snowmane on the field
where he fell and set a stone over his grave in the languages of
Gondor and the Mark (not those of Mordor, note). Why does he do that?
From "On Fairy-stories," we know that he counts the happy ending as an
integral part of any tale of Faerie: is he maintaining the reader's
belief in his Secondary World here? Is he just giving the reader a
break from the intense pace and drama of the story in this chapter?
Or

There is also a foreshadowing of what will happen in front of the
Black Gate as the orcs and other "spooky" critters (specifically,
troll-men, Variags and orcs - this has probably been discussed
elsewhere but what is a Variag again?) are driven easily but the
various groups of Men resist and stand their ground and must be
defeated everywhere they resist. With a look toward the appendices,
this also gives us probably the clearest detail we are going to get of
what the kings of Gondor and Rohan will be spending a lot of time
doing after the war is over.

Comments about the make-up of the forces of Mordor here?

There is so much going on in this chapter, but if required to name the
chief characters I'd say Merry and Eomer. After the Witch King's fall
Merry just kind of pins the whole emotional story to the board and
keeps it from being blown up by all its power and action as he stands
there and events swirl around him, and then he leads us toward the
future by walking off the field "weary and full of pain," keeping us
aware that there is much, much more to be resolved than just this one
battle. If the first half of the chapter belongs to Merry, the second
half is Eomer's, so young and passionate and powerful. He is able to
gather the 5000-strong army of the Rohirrim after their charge and
subsequent dispersal during the horror of the Witch-King's arrival,
which is no small feat in itself. Then he infects everybody with his
mood, first the Rohirrim in the death charge, and later everybody on
the field when he tosses his sword up in the air and rejoices. He is
a very magnetic individual and a born leader. And in terms of the
struggle between hope and despair, while his sister has given in to
despair, he laughs at it and is rewarded by an early premonition
(*before* the standard is unfurled from the lead ship) of the arrival
of Hope. This is also perhaps a sign of the closeness there has
always been between Eomer and Aragorn since the moment they met -
Eomer just knows his friend has arrived to save the day.

Stars: What are the stars (gems) borne by Elladan and Elrohir, and are
they related at all to the Star of Elendil that Aragorn wears? This
is probably a very dumb question, but why does he wear the Star of
Elendil? Granted he's not king yet, but he will be and the crown is
the token of his kingship. What then is the meaning of the Star of
Elendil? This perhaps also has been discussed elsewhere, but I had to
ask.

Blades: The Morgul knife at Weathertop vanished in the light of dawn,
but the blade of Westernesse here smokes for a while and then is
consumed as Merry watches. Two different processes seem to be going
on here. Any more thoughts on "weapons magic"?

Not to go into a lot of tactical detail, but what is the best way to
tackle a mumak on the battlefield? Leading bowmen close in to shoot
at their eyes is fatal, after all.

Eowyn is very much a woman here, defending her kin and forbidding even
the chief of the Nazgul from touching him. JRRT would never have
gotten much into the "dumb blonde" jokes of today, I suspect (g). Her
eye is as sharp as her blade, for she knows the exact spot to aim for
in the creature's neck, and she is strong enough to kill it with just
one blow. Much is made of Eowyn's hair as she removes the Dernhelm
(as I think of it):

…the helm of her secrecy had fallen from her, and her bright
hair, released from its bonds, gleamed with pale gold upon her
shoulders.

It sounds like one major way she was recognized by Merry as a woman
was because her long hair was flowing loosely on her shoulders. I've
always thought of her wearing braids as the men do, and she is shown
that way in images people create of the encounter. It would seem on
further thought, however, that she rode into battle, anyway, with her
hair tucked up under the helm.

Your thoughts, comments, additions, corrections, and…?

Barb

Raven

unread,
Jan 10, 2005, 6:42:33 PM1/10/05
to
"Belba Grubb From Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net> skrev i en meddelelse
news:la16u0td4ejjcmhie...@4ax.com...

> Before he departs the Witch King makes a very specific and unpleasant
> threat to Eowyn. It reminds me of something Frodo has felt (I don't
> remember where it is described), a fear of the Eye seeking him out and
> there being no refuge from it. What exactly can Sauron do to you?

There is a cultural background for the concept of the "evil eye". In
more than one tale you will find creatures that can kill you or turn you
into stone merely by looking at you. Especially if there is eye contact
between you and the monster. Medusa, Balor of the Evil Eye. Though in
Sauron's case I somehow doubt that you could turn his gaze upon himself with
a bathroom mirror or something ---
I take the Witch-king's threat to mean that she will not merely be killed
in body, but she will be held under Sauron's gaze, and he will shrivel and
torment her very soul and mind merely by gazing at her with all his malice.

> Not to go into a lot of tactical detail, but what is the best way to
> tackle a mumak on the battlefield? Leading bowmen close in to shoot
> at their eyes is fatal, after all.

Hamstring them from behind? Or frighten them with fire? The Romans used
the latter tactics against the elephants that Hannibal managed to get across
the Alps, IIRC, which the Karthaginians found rather unsportsmanlike.

Corvus.


Michael Ikeda

unread,
Jan 10, 2005, 6:56:10 PM1/10/05
to
"Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote in
news:BAEEd.2784$0l....@news.get2net.dk:

> "Belba Grubb From Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net> skrev i en
> meddelelse news:la16u0td4ejjcmhie...@4ax.com...
>

(snipped)

>
>> Not to go into a lot of tactical detail, but what is the best
>> way to tackle a mumak on the battlefield? Leading bowmen close
>> in to shoot at their eyes is fatal, after all.
>
> Hamstring them from behind? Or frighten them with fire? The
> Romans used
> the latter tactics against the elephants that Hannibal managed
> to get across the Alps, IIRC, which the Karthaginians found
> rather unsportsmanlike.
>

I suppose the answer "attack them with a bigger mumak" would be
considered cheating.

:)

--
Michael Ikeda mmi...@erols.com
"Telling a statistician not to use sampling is like telling an
astronomer they can't say there is a moon and stars"
Lynne Billard, past president American Statistical Association

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Jan 10, 2005, 7:47:48 PM1/10/05
to
Belba Grubb From Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> wrote:
> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 5
> Chapter 6 - The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

<snip>

> "Hope oft deceives," says Eomer toward the end of this chapter in
> which despair and hope struggle for mastery on the battlefield and in
> men's hearts. Finally the embodiment of Hope arrives, unfurling his
> royal standard for the first time and leading the gathered armies to a
> hard-won and costly victory. Yet Eowyn, mastered by despair, has
> suffered a deadly wound and is untouched by Hope's triumph, while all
> alone a brave but very ill hobbit walks off the battlefield, following
> the bier of his dead king through the rain and grey haze. And where
> is Gandalf?

Lovely introduction!

> CHAPTER SUMMARY :

<snip most of very nice summary>

But I want to insert some quotes here, as you omitted what was said, and
they are my favorite lines!

> Dernhelm is none other than Eowyn, beautiful and desperate, defying
> the Witch King and refusing to let him touch her kin. The chief
> Nazgul then attacks her

And they both speak as well!

Eowyn: "Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in
peace!"

WK (cold voice): "Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will
not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of
lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and
thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."

Eowyn (draws sword): "Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may."

WK: "Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"

[Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel]

Eowyn: "But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am,
Eomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if
you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if
you touch him."

[cue fight scene]

Adding a comment: the word 'dwimmerlaik' should probably be discussed
here, and maybe its relationship to the word 'dwimmer-crafty' that Eomer
uses to describe Saruman (when Eomer first meets Aragorn on the plains
of Rohan).

<snip>

> Imrahil discovers that Eowyn is still alive and bids them hasten
> her in to the city. He then rides out to help Eomer

On this re-reading, I was most impressed that Imrahil had been ready to
ride out and join the battle:

"...out of the City came all the strength of men that was in it, and the
silver swan of Dol Amroth was borne in the van, driving the enemy from
the Gate."

And then the bit from "And now the fighting waxed furious on the fields
of the Pelennor..." to "...and they [Aragorn and Eomer] rode back to
battle together", is an absolute joy to read.

<snip>

> DISCUSSION:

<snip>

> Aragorn arrives, not from the north
> as we had expected, but as Elendil did, "borne upon a wind from the
> Sea." Comments, thoughts on this?

Very appropriate and entirely intentional.

> Before he departs the Witch King makes a very specific and unpleasant
> threat to Eowyn.

"...thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked
to the Lidless Eye." (WK to Eowyn, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)

> It reminds me of something Frodo has felt (I don't
> remember where it is described), a fear of the Eye seeking him out and
> there being no refuge from it.

Several quotes spring to mind:

"...far more he [Frodo] was troubled by the Eye [...] The Eye: that
horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to
pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to see you: to
pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable." (The Passage of the
Marshes)

And Frodo feels this again later, though it is arguable that he is
referring to the Ring, and not the Eye, but the point is the same:

"I am naked in the dark. Sam, and there is no veil between me and the
wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my waking eyes, and all else
fades." (Mount Doom)

<snip>

> Stars: What are the stars (gems) borne by Elladan and Elrohir, and are
> they related at all to the Star of Elendil that Aragorn wears?

Not sure. Probably. They are elven-royalty after all, also descended
from Earendil (which the stars undoubtedly signify), and Arwen has stars
on her brow when she arrives in Minas Tirith (and when she first meets
Aragorn), though in her case it could be to do with the Evenstar
epithet. And Elrond wears a circlet of silver when we first see him in
Rivendell. Also, the captains of Elendil had stars (see the index entry
for 'star'), and this might signify the role of the sons of Elrond as
two of Aragorn's captains. But I prefer the 'elven-royalty' and
'descendents of Earendil' explanation.

> This is probably a very dumb question, but why does he wear the Star
of
> Elendil? Granted he's not king yet, but he will be and the crown is
> the token of his kingship. What then is the meaning of the Star of
> Elendil? This perhaps also has been discussed elsewhere, but I had to
> ask.

The LotR index entry for 'star' says that the Star of Elendil was made
of diamond and represented the Star of Earendil. It is part of the crown
jewels of the North Kingdom, and is also called the Elendilmir:

"[The kings of Arnor] wore no crown, but bore a single white gem, the
Elendilmir, Star of Elendil, bound on their brows with a silver fillet."
(Footnote 25, Appendix A)

The Elendilmir is also mentioned in the tale of the 'Disaster of the
Gladden Fields' in Unfinished Tales. That is a nice bit of backstory to
the Elendilmir, and will tell you about the history of it from Isildur
onwards.

It is also called 'the Star of the North Kingdom' and is referenced
twice, once after the battle: "...he did off the Star of the North
Kingdom and gave it to the keeping of the sons of Elrond."

And also when Aragorn is crowned, Faramir declares that he is:

"...bearer of the Star of the North..."

Also, Thorongil (Aragorn when he served Denethor's father) was known as
"the Eagle of the Star" and bore a silver star upon his cloak.

Finally, Sam is given the 'Star of the Dunedain' by Aragorn in S.R.
1436, though there is a note about this in UT as well (the Disaster of
the Gladden Fields bit).

<snip>

Christopher

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

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Jan 10, 2005, 7:52:59 PM1/10/05
to
Raven <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:
> "Belba Grubb From Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:la16u0td4ejjcmhie...@4ax.com...
>
>> Before he departs the Witch King makes a very specific and unpleasant
>> threat to Eowyn. It reminds me of something Frodo has felt (I don't
>> remember where it is described), a fear of the Eye seeking him out
>> and there being no refuge from it. What exactly can Sauron do to
>> you?
>
> There is a cultural background for the concept of the "evil eye".
> In more than one tale you will find creatures that can kill you or
> turn you into stone merely by looking at you.

And it is noticeable that both Eowyn and Merry avoid looking at the WK's
eyes:

"...she raised her shield against the horror of her enemy's eyes."

"The face of their enemy was not turned towards him, but still he hardly
dared to move, dreading lest the deadly eyes should fall on him."

Though the narrator seems to be oblivious to the effect... :-)

"...between rim and robe naught was there to see, save only a deadly
gleam of eyes [...] his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill."

Natman

unread,
Jan 10, 2005, 9:28:35 PM1/10/05
to

This is one of my favorite scenes too. Reading it aloud gives me
goosebumps.

Dwimmerlaik means "sorcery-body" from the Old English "gedwimer" -
sorcery. I don't know the *exact* derivation of "laik" but the Dutch
word "lijk" (pronounced "like") and the OE word "lic" both mean body
or corpse. I think what Eowyn is shooting for is sorcery-corpse. A
colloquial English equivalent might be "zombie" .

TT Arvind

unread,
Jan 11, 2005, 3:48:46 PM1/11/05
to
Wes šu Natman hal!

> Dwimmerlaik means "sorcery-body" from the Old English "gedwimer" -
> sorcery. I don't know the *exact* derivation of "laik" but the Dutch
> word "lijk" (pronounced "like") and the OE word "lic" both mean body
> or corpse. I think what Eowyn is shooting for is sorcery-corpse. A
> colloquial English equivalent might be "zombie" .

I would have thought it was rather a modernised form of Middle English
"dweomerlayk", which meant sorcery (from ME "dweomer", illussion and
"layk", play, related to the modern Norwegian "leik"). But I guess your
explanation fits better.

"Dweomercraft" is also found in Middle English, and it also means
sorcery ("dweomer" + "craft"), and I'm pretty sure that was the source
for Tolkien's "dwimmercrafty".

I rather like the way Tolkien inserts these old Anglo-Saxon derived
words into the speech of the Rohirrim.

--
Arvind

Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Jan 11, 2005, 4:53:56 PM1/11/05
to
in <LrFEd.8114$GG1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>

<snip>

> And it is noticeable that both Eowyn and Merry avoid looking at the
> WK's eyes:
>
> "...she raised her shield against the horror of her enemy's eyes."
>
> "The face of their enemy was not turned towards him, but still he
> hardly dared to move, dreading lest the deadly eyes should fall on
> him."
>
> Though the narrator seems to be oblivious to the effect... :-)
>
> "...between rim and robe naught was there to see, save only a deadly
> gleam of eyes [...] his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill."

Very nice catch! I was just about calling for the omniscient narrator
(the authorial commentator), but Gandalf looked at the Witch-king at the
ruined gate, and he probably didn't avert his eyes.

Éowyn probably also did note what was 'between rim and robe' -- why else
raise her shield against 'the horr of her enemy's eyes'?

--
Troels Forchhammer

This isn't right. This isn't even wrong.
- Wolfgang Pauli, on a paper submitted by a physicist colleague
(Thus speaks the quantum physicist)

TT Arvind

unread,
Jan 11, 2005, 5:18:57 PM1/11/05
to
Wes ðu Troels Forchhammer hal!

> Éowyn probably also did note what was 'between rim and robe' -- why else
> raise her shield against 'the horr of her enemy's eyes'?

I'd raise my shield too if the witchking's eyes looked like horrkaker
*shudder*

--
Arvind

Law of Probable Dispersal: Whatever it is that hits the fan will not be
evenly distributed.

Michael Ikeda

unread,
Jan 11, 2005, 6:08:51 PM1/11/05
to
Michael Ikeda <mmi...@erols.com> wrote in news:q8adnaMVwriHi37cRVn-
h...@rcn.net:

> "Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote in
> news:BAEEd.2784$0l....@news.get2net.dk:
>
>> "Belba Grubb From Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net> skrev i en
>> meddelelse news:la16u0td4ejjcmhie...@4ax.com...
>>
>
> (snipped)
>
>>
>>> Not to go into a lot of tactical detail, but what is the best
>>> way to tackle a mumak on the battlefield? Leading bowmen close
>>> in to shoot at their eyes is fatal, after all.
>>
>> Hamstring them from behind? Or frighten them with fire? The
>> Romans used
>> the latter tactics against the elephants that Hannibal managed
>> to get across the Alps, IIRC, which the Karthaginians found
>> rather unsportsmanlike.
>>
>
> I suppose the answer "attack them with a bigger mumak" would be
> considered cheating.
>
>:)
>

Seriously, though, Raven is on the right track. Research what
historical armies did against elephants and modify them for mumakil.

Morgil

unread,
Jan 11, 2005, 8:25:56 PM1/11/05
to
Raven wrote:
> "Belba Grubb From Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:la16u0td4ejjcmhie...@4ax.com...

>>Not to go into a lot of tactical detail, but what is the best way to


>>tackle a mumak on the battlefield? Leading bowmen close in to shoot
>>at their eyes is fatal, after all.
>
>
> Hamstring them from behind? Or frighten them with fire? The Romans used
> the latter tactics against the elephants that Hannibal managed to get across
> the Alps, IIRC, which the Karthaginians found rather unsportsmanlike.

More likely that would be Pyrrhos of Epeiros, who attacked
Rome few years ahead of Carthagenians. He was a sporty sort
of fella, while Hannibal was much too much of a professional
to complain about something like that.

But against Mumaks - mice! Huge baskets of mice, catapulted
in front of them would drive them to panic, and they would
grab nearby soldiers and slam the mice with them, or climb
up to nerby trees.

Morgil

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Jan 11, 2005, 9:22:44 PM1/11/05
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> in <LrFEd.8114$GG1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>>
>
> <snip>
>
>> And it is noticeable that both Eowyn and Merry avoid looking at the
>> WK's eyes:
>>
>> "...she raised her shield against the horror of her enemy's eyes."
>>
>> "The face of their enemy was not turned towards him, but still he
>> hardly dared to move, dreading lest the deadly eyes should fall on
>> him."
>>
>> Though the narrator seems to be oblivious to the effect... :-)
>>
>> "...between rim and robe naught was there to see, save only a deadly
>> gleam of eyes [...] his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill."
>
> Very nice catch! I was just about calling for the omniscient narrator
> (the authorial commentator), but Gandalf looked at the Witch-king at
> the ruined gate, and he probably didn't avert his eyes.

Actually, at the Gate of Minas Tirith, the narrator sees nothing. Only
the red glow of the fires in the background burning in the space between
crown and cloak (mantled shoulders):

"A great black shape against the fires beyond he loomed up [...] The
Black Rider flung back his hood, and behold! he had a kingly crown; and
yet upon no head visible was it set. The red fires shone between it and
the mantled shoulders vast and dark." (The Siege of Gondor)

Though I agree, Gandalf would not need to avert his eyes.

> Éowyn probably also did note what was 'between rim and robe' -- why

> else raise her shield against 'the horror of her enemy's eyes'?

I assumed she actually _didn't_ see her enemy's eyes, and that is one
reason why she was not overcome. Much like Perseus with the gorgon
Medusa, she was sensible enough to avoid that deadly gaze. But I'm
probably reading too much into that sentence.

Actually, this is all academic anyway, as Eowyn's shield is shattered by
the WK, but she then sticks her sword into his face. I'm now having to
imagine how she does all that without looking at his eyes. Though his
shoulders were bowed by that point, and maybe Merry's sword thrust
extinguished his eyes?

Hmm.

Merry killed the WK because he cut the wires from the battery in the
WK's foot that powered the WK's eyes?

Maybe not. :-)

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Jan 11, 2005, 9:34:03 PM1/11/05
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
> Belba Grubb From Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> wrote:
>> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 5
>> Chapter 6 - The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

<snip>

[Aragorn wears the Elendilmir into battle]

>> This is probably a very dumb question, but why does he wear the Star
>> of Elendil? Granted he's not king yet, but he will be and the crown
>> is the token of his kingship. What then is the meaning of the Star
>> of Elendil? This perhaps also has been discussed elsewhere, but I
>> had to ask.

<snip>

> Also, Thorongil (Aragorn when he served Denethor's father) was known
> as "the Eagle of the Star" and bore a silver star upon his cloak.

I forgot to say that this is highly unlikely to be the Elendilmir, which
might have been the impression I gave. Just a symbolic star to give
Denethor some food for thought. This bearing of a star though, makes me
think that Aragorn's sojourn as Thorongil was not really that secret. He
was essentially flaunting his ancestry to anyone who cared to think
about it.

> Finally, Sam is given the 'Star of the Dunedain' by Aragorn in S.R.
> 1436, though there is a note about this in UT as well (the Disaster of
> the Gladden Fields bit).

And having looked up the note (it's one of those footnotes again), it
says that this 'Star of the Dunedain' is also unlikely to be the real
Elendilmir, but just some symbolic thing. Aragorn wouldn't have given a
thing as ancient and revered as the Elendilmir to Sam.

Reverting to my speculation, maybe this 'Star of the Dunedain' was
similar to how Elendil's captains had stars (like a traditional award or
medal among the Dunedain), or maybe Aragorn even gave to Sam the star he
had as Thorongil?

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Jan 11, 2005, 10:00:08 PM1/11/05
to
Belba Grubb From Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> wrote:
> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 5
> Chapter 6 - The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

<snip>

> [a major circle] closes here: the whole story of Angmar


> and Glorfindel's prophecy finally plays out, and there is present a
> blade of Westernesse, "wrought slowly in the North-kingdom when
> the Dunedain were young." The whole North Kingdom saga seems
> to complete itself here, and it happens before Aragorn arrives, not
> from the north as we had expected, but as Elendil did, "borne upon a
> wind from the Sea." Comments, thoughts on this?

The circle may start to close with Merry stabbing the WK, but the
closure is not complete until Aragorn arrives at the battle.

> Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur's heir, out
> of the paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the
> kingdom of Gondor

[Aragorn wear the Elendilmir into battle - part 2]

"...before all went Aragorn with the Flame of the West, Anduril like a
new fire kindled, Narsil re-forged as deadly as of old: and upon his
brow was the Star of Elendil."

This is the Elendilmir, effectively the crown of the kings of Arnor (the
North Kingdom). So Aragorn arrives at the battle, unfurling a standard
with "the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond
count" and bearing the Star of Elendil. He is arriving as the King of
Arnor (the North Kingdom) and coming to save Gondor (the South Kingdom)
from great peril.

Does this not parallel the arrival of Earnur in the North to save Arnor
from great peril? Admittedly, Earnur was not King of Gondor at the time,
and he actually arrived too late to save Arvedui, but he (and the Elves)
did defeat the armies of Angmar (led by the Witch-King).

But still, the North Kingdom symbolisms ('blade of Westernesse wrought
in the North-Kingdom' and 'Star of Elendil') are there, and the old
alliance is renewed.

Earnil (father of Earnur and King of Gondor) had said to Arvedui (last
King of Arnor): "I do not forget the loyalty of Arnor, nor deny our
kinship, nor wish that the realms of Elendil should be estranged. I will
send to you aid when you have need, so far as I am able." (Appendix A,
LotR)

And now Aragorn is bringing aid from the North (the Dunedain), though
this is actually a symbolic force as the main force is men from the
fiefs of the South. And unlike the last time, this time the kingdoms are
reunited.

John Jones

unread,
Jan 11, 2005, 2:49:12 PM1/11/05
to
"Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote in message
news:BAEEd.2784$0l....@news.get2net.dk...

> "Belba Grubb From Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:la16u0td4ejjcmhie...@4ax.com...
> > Not to go into a lot of tactical detail, but what is the best way to
> > tackle a mumak on the battlefield? Leading bowmen close in to shoot
> > at their eyes is fatal, after all.
>
> Hamstring them from behind? Or frighten them with fire? The Romans
used
> the latter tactics against the elephants that Hannibal managed to get
across
> the Alps, IIRC, which the Karthaginians found rather unsportsmanlike.
>

It is perfectly possible to kill ordinary elephants with arrows just by
shooting them through the heart or lungs (though I wouldn't like to be
around if you don't kill then clean ... ). The mumakil are much bigger than
elephants, though, so I suppose that the archers found that the eyes were
the only vulnerable spots.

John Whistler

unread,
Jan 12, 2005, 3:30:40 PM1/12/05
to
From an anglo-saxon dictionary:

dwimmer : OE dwimor
Dwimor, dwimer, dwymer, es; n. An illusion, delusion, apparition,
phantom;
dwimmerlaik/dwimmerlock : ME dwimmerlaik, from dwimmer + -laik (liar,
deceiver; as in 'warlock')

Also Wormtongue (and Gandalf) refer to Lorien as "Dwimordene". "Dene"
is old English for "valley", so that would probably be "Valley of
Illusion".

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Jan 14, 2005, 7:40:50 AM1/14/05
to
in <la16u0td4ejjcmhie...@4ax.com>,
Belba Grubb From Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> enriched us with:

>
> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 5
> Chapter 6 - The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

I feel almost like cheating -- answering the chapter introduction without
reading the other (longer) replies first ;-)

> "Hope oft deceives," says Eomer toward the end of this chapter in
> which despair and hope struggle for mastery on the battlefield and in
> men's hearts. Finally the embodiment of Hope arrives, unfurling his
> royal standard for the first time and leading the gathered armies to a
> hard-won and costly victory. Yet Eowyn, mastered by despair, has
> suffered a deadly wound and is untouched by Hope's triumph, while all
> alone a brave but very ill hobbit walks off the battlefield, following
> the bier of his dead king through the rain and grey haze. And where
> is Gandalf?

I couldn't bring myself to snip that -- very well written, indeed.

> CHAPTER SUMMARY :

<snip>

> Snowmane, pierced by a dart, falls on Theoden

Oh, shatterer of illusions!

By an immense exercise of wishful thinking and seeing what I wanted to
see, I have managed to convince myself that Snowmane reared in fright
because of the Witch-king. I've only believed that for little more than
half my life now, and then you shatter it ;-))

<snip>

> Merry calls out to her, and with her last strength Eowyn stabs the
> Witch-King and then collapses on his mantle and hauberk, all that
> remain of her vanquished enemy.

I'm a bit curious about the details of Éowyn's strike at the
Witch-king -- it seems to be the time for setting a few of my
misconceptions right ;-)

"[...] with her last strength she drove her sword between
crown and mantle, as the great shoulders bowed before her.
The sword broke sparkling into many shards. The crown
rolled away with a clang."

Does this imply that Éowyn stabs (a straight motion point first) at the
Witch-king ('between crown and mantle' would be in the face somewhere)?
Striking 'as the great shoulders bowed before her' has always made me
think that she slashed (swinging motion striking with the edge) at his
neck/backhead somewhere. With his shoulders bowed before her, striking
him from his front would be very awkward, I'd say, as it would mean that
she would have to strike from beneath him, though I suppose she may have
stabbed him in the neck -- the first line could evoke the image of Éowyn
holding the sword in two hands with the point down and driving it, 'with
her last strength', directly into the neck of the Witch-king.

So, how did Éowyn actually hit the With-kings -- lots of details, please;
they won't be gory anyway, as there is no blood spilled.

> In the meantime Eomer has gathered the Rohirrim and now returns to the
> King even as Prince Imrahil and his cavalry start to drive the enemy
> away from the city's Gate. Theoden orders the standard to be given to
> Eomer and hails him as king before dying.

A moment that invariably causes a lump in my thread and moisture in my
eyes.

"when the turn comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting
of the heart, near (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen
as that given by any form of literary art, and having a
peculiar quality."

Indeed!

> There is a moment of grief
> and silence, but when the new King of Rohan sees the body of his
> sister lying there he freaks out and leads the Rohirrim off in a
> mighty death charge against the many foes still unfought in the
> southern half of the field.

"/Death/ they cried with one voice loud and terrible"

/The Battle of the Pelennor Fields/ is definitely one of my favourite
chapters. Not, as with other of my favourite chapters, because it
encourages thought and meditation (about Middle-earth of life in
general), but because of the stirring quality of the writing. I have to
wipe my eyes regularly while reading this chapter as it keeps giving me
that 'catch of the breath' that is, in Tolkien's opinion at least, 'the
mark of a good fairy-story'. I say without shame that he did, for me,
succeed beyond his own hopes.

<snip>

> Gothmog, the lieutenant of Morgul, has thrown into the battle.

Gothmog. Nazgûl, Orc, Black Numenórean or something viler?

I know it has been discussed more than once, so my basic question is just
if there is any evidence at all that pertains directly to this (not just
evidence about First Age Gothmog or Nazgûl and Orcs in Minas Morgul)?

<snip>

> DISCUSSION:
>
> The first few times through this work I skipped the poems, but then
> this "Song of the Mounds of Mundberg" caught my eye and really sank
> home. It embodies so well in poetry what JRRT has described in heroic
> over-the-top prose earlier in the chapter. The two, prose and poetry,
> complement each other perfectly. That's hard to explain, but that is
> why this is my favorite chapter in the whole work.

I don't know about 'favourite chapter in the whole work' -- that depends
much on my mood, sometimes this chapter and sometimes another. At some
times 'The Shadow of the Past' or 'The Council of Elrond' make for
favourite reading, while at others perhaps 'The Stairs of Cirith Ungol'
or the Mordor chapters, and at yet other times this chapter.

This chapter is, however, definitely the one that most often (and most
certainly) moves me to tears; that 'beat and lifting of the heart.'

> Some points here have already been discussed in detail elsewhere (who
> killed the Witch King, what happened to him afterward, what sort of
> beast did he ride, Gothmog, etc.) and I'll move on other things, for
> instance, the major circle that closes here:
> the whole story of Angmar and Glorfindel's prophecy finally plays out,

A mere millennium after Glorfindel's prophecy, and about 1700 years after
the establishment of the Witch-king's reign in Angmar.

> and there is present a blade of Westernesse, "wrought.slowly in the


> North-kingdom when the Dunedain were young."

Giving finally, though by proxy, the revenge over the ancient enemy to
the descendant of Arvedui.

> The whole North Kingdom saga seems to complete itself here,

Not quite, I'd say.

I don't think it is really complete until the Fourth Age when King
Elessar rebuilt Fornst Erain and took up the reign of the North Kingdom
as it were of old. Then is the circle complete -- Elessar, the descendant
of Elendil, is then High King over all the lands that were Elendil's
(except, of course, for Calenardhon).

> and it happens before Aragorn arrives, not from the north as we had
> expected, but as Elendil did, "borne upon a wind from the Sea."

Symbolism? ;-)

There have been some discussion at times about the various usages of
'heir of Elendil' and 'heir of Isildur' (and variations), but here, I
think we're treated indirectly to the author's comment -- Aragorn is
truly the heir of Elendil.

> Before he departs the Witch King makes a very specific and unpleasant
> threat to Eowyn.

It's . . . horrifying, creepy.

> It reminds me of something Frodo has felt (I don't remember where it
> is described), a fear of the Eye seeking him out and there being no
> refuge from it.

Later, I suspect, in VI,3 'Mount Doom':

"I am naked in the dark. Sam, and there is no veil between
me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my
waking eyes, and all else fades."

> What exactly can Sauron do to you?

I'm not sure that I'm really in the mood to contemplate that in detail --
or that I ever will be . . .

Recall also Pippin's descriptions, "Then he gloated over me. I felt I was
falling to pieces. No, no! I can't say any more."

And then we have the cases of Gollum (who wasn't broken completely) and
Thráin, who did not even remember his own name . . .

> I wouldn't want to end up in Mandos' houses of lamentations, but they
> sound much better those of Sauron!

Very nearly apples and oranges! One is for the ultimate betterment of
your soul, the other for the ultimate destruction of your soul.

> And what is JRRT saying here about that which is "beyond all
> darkness"?

Sauron, I suppose. The Darkness comes from Sauron, and behind the
darkness is the cause for the darkness, the Dark Lord himself on his dark
throne ("in the land of Mordor where the Shadows lie".

> There certainly is no light there,

No. Darkness is the absense of light -- evil is the absense of good.
Here, I think, we are introduced to the idea of something which is worse
than that -- a darkness which is something in itself, a palpable thing to
devour the light, a darkness that cannot be driven out by the
introduction of light.

I think I've seen references to Sauron claiming, to his subjects, that he
was Melkor, God or Middle-earth (I can't find the reference at the
moment) -- possibly we're seeing a vague echo of that idea here: Sauron
as a source of darkness and possessing of an internal Darkness that
cannot be driven out by any Light.

> but we have had such a lot of descriptions of Evil in terms of
> darkness up until now,

I suppose that this is partly because darkness is such an accepted
metaphor for evil (at least in western culture), and yet one that 'wears'
better -- 'evil' is still a strong word, which might lose potency when
used too often, darkness, however, derives its potency from our own
fright of the dark (and from the potency of evil), and so is less likely
to lose that potency.

> I wonder where the author is heading with this: perhaps preparing
> us for the plain of Gorgoroth?

The part about being 'thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless
Eye' surely ties in with Frodo's later statement to Sam as quoted above.

Both here and in his earlier confrontation with Gandalf I sense a
self-confidence in the Witch-king, which he didn't display earlier at
Weathertop and the Ford of Bruinen. At Weathertop Gandalf had kept all
nine Nazgûl at bay for an entire night, but here the Witch-king declares,
'This is my hour.' Surely this is a reflection of the 'added demonic
force' he was given there, put in command by Sauron (letter #210).

> Some structural comments. First, this being JRRT, he telegraphs the
> happy ending here

So he does. I can't say that I have been consciously aware of it before;
it is, of course, clear from the beginning that the ending will be happy,
but just what might come out of that ending -- which realms will stand
and which will fall, who of our heroes might die etc. is not clear. This,
at least, reveals that Gondor and Rohan will persist.

> Why does he do that?
> From "On Fairy-stories," we know that he counts the happy ending as an
> integral part of any tale of Faerie:

What he calls the 'eucatastrophe', "the sudden joyous 'turn'" -- "a
sudden and miraculous grace: never to be counted on to recur." My
impression, however, is not that he meant that the eucatastrophe should
be unexpected as such: the details of both how, where an when, of course,
shouldn't be predictable by the reader, but that the story will have a
happy ending must, since he thinks it the mark of a fairy-story, surely
be predictable by the reader. Thus I don't think that this comment
reveals more than what could be guessed from the mere fact that Tolkien
was writing a fairy-story.

> is he maintaining the reader's belief in his Secondary World here?
> Is he just giving the reader a break from the intense pace and drama
> of the story in this chapter?

Both, certainly. At least it has both effects on me. We have just been
through a very emotional passage here, and I, at least, have a need both
to catch my breath (and wipe my eyes) and to find some reassurance and
comfort.

At the same time it is part of that "literary pretence of historicity and
dependance on record" (letter #129) that he wanted to maintain.

> Or


Was something lost somewhere, or was this just a loose word that escaped
deletion? I get a feeling of interesting speculations lost to me ;-)

> There is also a foreshadowing of what will happen in front of the
> Black Gate

[how dark creatures react to opposition vs. the reaction of Men]

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 'foreshadowing' in this context.
My impression is that there is a consistent portrayal of the behavioural
patterns of Orcs, Trolls etc. and Men. Clearly they behave similarly in
the face of defeat both at the Pelennor Fields and in front of the
Morannon, but I'm not sure that I'd call it 'foreshadowing' myself . . .

That Orcs behave in the same manner in the same kind of situation is not,
as I understand and use the word, foreshadowing, but rather part of the
'inner consistency of reality' that should be the aim of the sub-creator.

<snip>

--
Troels Forchhammer

Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to
anger.
- Gildor Inglorion, 'LotR' (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Larry Swain

unread,
Jan 14, 2005, 3:23:25 PM1/14/05
to

Troels Forchhammer wrote:

>
>>Merry calls out to her, and with her last strength Eowyn stabs the
>>Witch-King and then collapses on his mantle and hauberk, all that
>>remain of her vanquished enemy.
>
>
> I'm a bit curious about the details of Éowyn's strike at the
> Witch-king -- it seems to be the time for setting a few of my
> misconceptions right ;-)
>
> "[...] with her last strength she drove her sword between
> crown and mantle, as the great shoulders bowed before her.
> The sword broke sparkling into many shards. The crown
> rolled away with a clang."
>
> Does this imply that Éowyn stabs (a straight motion point first) at the
> Witch-king ('between crown and mantle' would be in the face somewhere)?
> Striking 'as the great shoulders bowed before her' has always made me
> think that she slashed (swinging motion striking with the edge) at his
> neck/backhead somewhere. With his shoulders bowed before her, striking
> him from his front would be very awkward, I'd say, as it would mean that
> she would have to strike from beneath him, though I suppose she may have
> stabbed him in the neck -- the first line could evoke the image of Éowyn
> holding the sword in two hands with the point down and driving it, 'with
> her last strength', directly into the neck of the Witch-king.
>
> So, how did Éowyn actually hit the With-kings -- lots of details, please;
> they won't be gory anyway, as there is no blood spilled.


Great chapter summary.

Turning to Troels, here's my image:

Merry stabs the ol' boy below the knee, he falls forward at least onto
his knees (perhaps all fours, but I think his knees), trying to keep it
together. Eowyn, noting that she isn't dead and her foe isn't moving,
uses her sword to get herself up, stands, takes sword, and with point
down, drives it with one hand (her other arm would have been broken by
the W-K's blow that smashed her shield and sent her to the ground), and
with her strength and weight forces it downward. So she's standing in
front of him and pushes the sword downward point first into his neck area.

Natman

unread,
Jan 14, 2005, 4:21:38 PM1/14/05
to

The verb "drove" certainly implies a straight thrust rather than a
swing. Remember at this point Eowyn is exhausted and has a broken arm.
A one handed thrust with her body weight behind it seems far easier
and less painful than a one handed swing, which would cause her to
flail her broken arm around.

Raven

unread,
Jan 14, 2005, 10:15:33 PM1/14/05
to
"Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> skrev i en meddelelse
news:m5PFd.34778$k4.6...@news1.nokia.com...

> > Snowmane, pierced by a dart, falls on Theoden

> By an immense exercise of wishful thinking and seeing what I wanted to


> see, I have managed to convince myself that Snowmane reared in fright
> because of the Witch-king. I've only believed that for little more than
> half my life now, and then you shatter it ;-))

Both are true. "But Snowmane wild with terror stood up on high, fighting
in the air, and then with a great scream he crashed upon his side: a black
dart had pierced him. The king fell beneath him."
So first he rears in fright, and then he is shot. If he had been shot
while still on all fours, the king would very probably not have fallen
beneath him. Where the arrow comes from is not told. It could be the
Witch-king, or somehow commanded by him to one of his archers on the ground,
or one of his archers took heart at seeing him and decided to fight again,
targetting a suddenly very visible horse with a king on it, or it could even
have been a stray arrow.

> "[...] with her last strength she drove her sword between
> crown and mantle, as the great shoulders bowed before her.
> The sword broke sparkling into many shards. The crown
> rolled away with a clang."

> Does this imply that Éowyn stabs (a straight motion point first) at the
> Witch-king ('between crown and mantle' would be in the face somewhere)?
> Striking 'as the great shoulders bowed before her' has always made me
> think that she slashed (swinging motion striking with the edge) at his
> neck/backhead somewhere. With his shoulders bowed before her, striking
> him from his front would be very awkward, I'd say, as it would mean that
> she would have to strike from beneath him, though I suppose she may have
> stabbed him in the neck -- the first line could evoke the image of Éowyn
> holding the sword in two hands with the point down and driving it, 'with
> her last strength', directly into the neck of the Witch-king.

> So, how did Éowyn actually hit the With-kings -- lots of details, please;
> they won't be gory anyway, as there is no blood spilled.

I have always imagined that she stabbed him with the sword. She fell to
her knees as he shattered her shield and broke her left arm with his mace,
and when his second stroke went wide because he was wounded, she got back on
her feet and struck him in the head or neck. So much is described in the
book.
Try to imagine holding a sword in your hand. You hold it low, with the
arm pointing down; the sword points forwards from about your hip height.
This is natural, if you have just been suddenly weakened by a terrible blow.
Then you bend your wrist so that the sword point rises, as well as drawing
your elbow back so that the hand also rises, carrying the whole sword
upwards. This poises your sword-arm for a thrust. If now you thrust
forward at some bloody annoying witch-king who has been bothering your cat
or something, then the point of your sword will meet his body somewhere
between his abdomen and his rib cage, unless you stab upwards. In this case
you will strike him in the throat or under his chin, from below.
But if he is at the same time bending forward, you may catch him right in
the face, piercing it at about the same angle as if he had been standing up
and you had held your sword at shoulder height when you began your thrust.
If he stands at some distance from you, so that your elbow is at an angle of
somewhat more than 45 degrees when the sword-point reaches his face, you
will both have had time to build up the speed of the thrust and your arm
will be stronger to drive the thrust through. If your sword-point connects
with his face already when your hand is level with your kidney, you will
have less strength to push with - use your knowledge of sine functions for
why. :-)
I'm not saying that this is precisely how she did it. She might have
raised her sword to shoulder height before thrusting, and hitting him at a
good angle in his face as he bowed before her only because he was rather
taller than she, or because he hadn't in fact bowed very low yet.

> No. Darkness is the absense of light -- evil is the absense of good.
> Here, I think, we are introduced to the idea of something which is worse
> than that -- a darkness which is something in itself, a palpable thing to
> devour the light, a darkness that cannot be driven out by the
> introduction of light.

Regularly, darkness is the mere absence of light. You may shut light
out, causing darkness; you may not shut darkness out, causing light. You
may make a light in the darkness; you may not make a darkness in the light.
And anyway we know that light is an electromagnetic wave within a certain
frequency range - corresponding in vacuum to wavelengths between about 400
to 700 nanometers. Other wavelengths are not light, in normal usage of the
word, because we cannot see them. If these electromagnetic waves are
absent, we have darkness.
But I can't say that evil is the mere absence of good. You can say so if
you define evil as the absence of pity and compassion, of empathy with
others, in a being that has an intellect capable of hosting these things.
But evil can also be defined as the presence of something - namely the
presence in the mind of the concept that other people are mere tools to be
used or mere obstacles to be removed.
Some of the darknesses described by Tolkien are *not* the mere absence of
light. It is a dark light in itself, so to speak. Just as light may be
made in the dark, so can certain darknesses be made in the light in this
subcreation. The Witch-king causes such unlight when he descends upon
Théoden. Ungoliant did when she invaded Aman and attacked the two Trees.

> Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to
> anger.
> - Gildor Inglorion, 'LotR' (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Nor in the affairs of ducks, for they are not so subtle and quack to
anger.

Brân.


Belba Grubb From Stock

unread,
Jan 15, 2005, 1:21:12 PM1/15/05
to
On Mon, 10 Jan 2005 17:56:10 -0600, Michael Ikeda <mmi...@erols.com>
wrote:

<snip>

>I suppose the answer "attack them with a bigger mumak" would be
>considered cheating.

Oh, I can see the idea appealing to Boromir. :-)

Barb

Belba Grubb From Stock

unread,
Jan 15, 2005, 1:22:53 PM1/15/05
to
On Tue, 11 Jan 2005 00:47:48 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

>Belba Grubb From Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> wrote:
>> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 5
>> Chapter 6 - The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
>
><snip>
>
>> "Hope oft deceives," says Eomer toward the end of this chapter in
>> which despair and hope struggle for mastery on the battlefield and in
>> men's hearts. Finally the embodiment of Hope arrives, unfurling his
>> royal standard for the first time and leading the gathered armies to a
>> hard-won and costly victory. Yet Eowyn, mastered by despair, has
>> suffered a deadly wound and is untouched by Hope's triumph, while all
>> alone a brave but very ill hobbit walks off the battlefield, following
>> the bier of his dead king through the rain and grey haze. And where
>> is Gandalf?
>
>Lovely introduction!

Thanks -- it's a difficult chapter to summarize and for a while there
I was wondering why I'd ever wanted to try. Eomer's comment opened up
the way to the hope-despair theme, which was very helpful. The
author, while consciously shaping it up and directing things, must
have been in close to total flow here - the story was "writing
itself," I'll bet.

>
>> CHAPTER SUMMARY :
>
><snip most of very nice summary>
>
>But I want to insert some quotes here, as you omitted what was said, and
>they are my favorite lines!
>
>> Dernhelm is none other than Eowyn, beautiful and desperate, defying
>> the Witch King and refusing to let him touch her kin. The chief
>> Nazgul then attacks her
>
>And they both speak as well!

Yes, it's significant that this is the second time we have heard the
Nazgul voice now -- quite a change from the spooky but mysterious and
vaguely threatening Black Riders we saw in the Shire and at Weathertop
(where their threat, of course, was not vague at all). We're much
closer to Evil's face now but still only hearing its voice; there is a
way to go before we catch a swirling glimpse of the Eye, and the path
leads away from the heroic confrontation on the battlefield and into
the personal walk into dreary, deadly Mordor.

>
>Eowyn: "Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in
>peace!"
>
>WK (cold voice): "Come not between the Nazgul and his prey! Or he will
>not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of
>lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and
>thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
>
>Eowyn (draws sword): "Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may."
>
>WK: "Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
>
>[Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel]
>
>Eowyn: "But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am,
>Eomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if
>you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if
>you touch him."
>
>[cue fight scene]

What a wonderful way to describe it -- JRRT wasn't a big fan of drama
(at least in terms of "On Fairy-stories") but this scene certainly
lends itself well to a script format.

>> Imrahil discovers that Eowyn is still alive and bids them hasten
>> her in to the city. He then rides out to help Eomer
>
>On this re-reading, I was most impressed that Imrahil had been ready to
>ride out and join the battle:
>
>"...out of the City came all the strength of men that was in it, and the
>silver swan of Dol Amroth was borne in the van, driving the enemy from
>the Gate."

Yet if he had been the one required to deal with Denthor's madness,
rather than Gandalf, this charge might never have come about. So
indirectly Gandalf might be said to have aided the battle.

Externally speaking, this is the first reference we've had to the Gate
since the start of the chapter, isn't it? We would expect to see
Gandalf coming out as he was last seen there, firmly established on
that immovable "rock," Shadowfax; once again the reader's curiosity is
piqued by the unexpected.

>
>And then the bit from "And now the fighting waxed furious on the fields
>of the Pelennor..." to "...and they [Aragorn and Eomer] rode back to
>battle together", is an absolute joy to read.

Yes!!! :-D


>> Before he departs the Witch King makes a very specific and unpleasant
>> threat to Eowyn.
>
>"...thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked
>to the Lidless Eye." (WK to Eowyn, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields)
>
>> It reminds me of something Frodo has felt (I don't
>> remember where it is described), a fear of the Eye seeking him out and
>> there being no refuge from it.
>
>Several quotes spring to mind:
>
>"...far more he [Frodo] was troubled by the Eye [...] The Eye: that
>horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to
>pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to see you: to
>pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable." (The Passage of the
>Marshes)

Yes, that's the quote I was thinking of. Thanks!

>> Stars: What are the stars (gems) borne by Elladan and Elrohir, and are
>> they related at all to the Star of Elendil that Aragorn wears?
>
>Not sure. Probably. They are elven-royalty after all, also descended
>from Earendil (which the stars undoubtedly signify), and Arwen has stars
>on her brow when she arrives in Minas Tirith (and when she first meets
>Aragorn), though in her case it could be to do with the Evenstar
>epithet. And Elrond wears a circlet of silver when we first see him in
>Rivendell.

His "star" perhaps is his wisdom.

> Also, the captains of Elendil had stars (see the index entry
>for 'star'), and this might signify the role of the sons of Elrond as
>two of Aragorn's captains. But I prefer the 'elven-royalty' and
>'descendents of Earendil' explanation.

That explanation works quite well.

Barb

Belba Grubb From Stock

unread,
Jan 15, 2005, 1:24:21 PM1/15/05
to
On Tue, 11 Jan 2005 00:42:33 +0100, "Raven"
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

>"Belba Grubb From Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net> skrev i en meddelelse
>news:la16u0td4ejjcmhie...@4ax.com...
>
>> Before he departs the Witch King makes a very specific and unpleasant
>> threat to Eowyn. It reminds me of something Frodo has felt (I don't
>> remember where it is described), a fear of the Eye seeking him out and
>> there being no refuge from it. What exactly can Sauron do to you?
>
> There is a cultural background for the concept of the "evil eye". In
>more than one tale you will find creatures that can kill you or turn you
>into stone merely by looking at you. Especially if there is eye contact
>between you and the monster. Medusa, Balor of the Evil Eye. Though in
>Sauron's case I somehow doubt that you could turn his gaze upon himself with
>a bathroom mirror or something ---
> I take the Witch-king's threat to mean that she will not merely be killed
>in body, but she will be held under Sauron's gaze, and he will shrivel and
>torment her very soul and mind merely by gazing at her with all his malice.

Yes, that's probably it. And gloating. I suppose we were given a
hobbit's-eye view of at least a hint of it through Pippin's experience
with the Palantir.

Hmmm -- the more one thinks about it, the more amazement there is at
Gollum's survival of his captivity and torture in Mordor.

>
>> Not to go into a lot of tactical detail, but what is the best way to
>> tackle a mumak on the battlefield? Leading bowmen close in to shoot
>> at their eyes is fatal, after all.
>
> Hamstring them from behind? Or frighten them with fire? The Romans used
>the latter tactics against the elephants that Hannibal managed to get across
>the Alps, IIRC, which the Karthaginians found rather unsportsmanlike.

The Asians also used them a lot -- I don't know the details of their
war chronicles, other than that the favorite elephant of a very famous
Vietnamese general** got mired in a river and drowned, to the
general's great grief. Probably very similar tactics against them
were used.

The mumak's hide was close to impervious, I think, but now that you
mention fire I recall reading that many of them were driven into the
fire pits the enemy had dug on the field.

Barb

**Hung Nao Vuong, who was riding the elephant across the river on his
way to stop an advancing Mongolian army. He watched the elephant
drown, as there was nothing anybody could do to rescue it, and then
swore that he would not cross the river again until the Mongols were
defeated. They were defeated and on the way back Hung Nao Vuong had a
monument built on the bank at the site of the elephant's death, and I
believe that still stands today.

Belba Grubb From Stock

unread,
Jan 15, 2005, 1:27:09 PM1/15/05
to
On Fri, 14 Jan 2005 12:40:50 GMT, "Troels Forchhammer"
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

>in <la16u0td4ejjcmhie...@4ax.com>,
>Belba Grubb From Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> enriched us with:
>>
>> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 5
>> Chapter 6 - The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
>
>I feel almost like cheating -- answering the chapter introduction without
>reading the other (longer) replies first ;-)
>
>> "Hope oft deceives," says Eomer toward the end of this chapter in
>> which despair and hope struggle for mastery on the battlefield and in
>> men's hearts. Finally the embodiment of Hope arrives, unfurling his
>> royal standard for the first time and leading the gathered armies to a
>> hard-won and costly victory. Yet Eowyn, mastered by despair, has
>> suffered a deadly wound and is untouched by Hope's triumph, while all
>> alone a brave but very ill hobbit walks off the battlefield, following
>> the bier of his dead king through the rain and grey haze. And where
>> is Gandalf?
>
>I couldn't bring myself to snip that -- very well written, indeed.

Thank you, Troels. See note above re: difficulty in "getting a
handle" on this powerful chapter.


>
>> CHAPTER SUMMARY :
>
><snip>
>
>> Snowmane, pierced by a dart, falls on Theoden
>
>Oh, shatterer of illusions!
>
>By an immense exercise of wishful thinking and seeing what I wanted to
>see, I have managed to convince myself that Snowmane reared in fright
>because of the Witch-king. I've only believed that for little more than
>half my life now, and then you shatter it ;-))

:-D

Well, let's try a little epoxy for the illusions here: Snowmane's
vital organs wouldn't have been exposed to the dart had he not first
reared in fright at the Witch-king's arrival.

>> Merry calls out to her, and with her last strength Eowyn stabs the
>> Witch-King and then collapses on his mantle and hauberk, all that
>> remain of her vanquished enemy.
>
>I'm a bit curious about the details of Éowyn's strike at the
>Witch-king -- it seems to be the time for setting a few of my
>misconceptions right ;-)
>
> "[...] with her last strength she drove her sword between
> crown and mantle, as the great shoulders bowed before her.
> The sword broke sparkling into many shards. The crown
> rolled away with a clang."
>
>Does this imply that Éowyn stabs (a straight motion point first) at the
>Witch-king ('between crown and mantle' would be in the face somewhere)?
>Striking 'as the great shoulders bowed before her' has always made me
>think that she slashed (swinging motion striking with the edge) at his
>neck/backhead somewhere. With his shoulders bowed before her, striking
>him from his front would be very awkward, I'd say, as it would mean that
>she would have to strike from beneath him, though I suppose she may have
>stabbed him in the neck -- the first line could evoke the image of Éowyn
>holding the sword in two hands with the point down and driving it, 'with
>her last strength', directly into the neck of the Witch-king.
>
>So, how did Éowyn actually hit the With-kings -- lots of details, please;
>they won't be gory anyway, as there is no blood spilled.

"Drove" is in the "stab" family of meanings in this context, I think,
and while the argument that has been made here for a downward stab is
persuasive, my impression had always been that she was too weak and
the Witch-king not yet severely enough incapacitated for her to be
standing above him. Raven's mechanical analysis of her blow is very
good -- I would add to it only that the Witch-king's momentum in
falling forward may have significantly increased its effect.

(snip)

>> The whole North Kingdom saga seems to complete itself here,
>
>Not quite, I'd say.
>
>I don't think it is really complete until the Fourth Age when King
>Elessar rebuilt Fornst Erain and took up the reign of the North Kingdom
>as it were of old. Then is the circle complete -- Elessar, the descendant
>of Elendil, is then High King over all the lands that were Elendil's
>(except, of course, for Calenardhon).

That is a good point, as is Christopher's about it not closing in this
chapter until Aragorn's arrival. I still have this sense of a circle
closing right at this point, though perhaps it should be limited to
the past: a circle within circles, as it were. It sets the stage (in
the greater story of which the readers, at the time this work was
published, were unaware) for Aragorn's arrival in Gondor.

>> and it happens before Aragorn arrives, not from the north as we had
>> expected, but as Elendil did, "borne upon a wind from the Sea."
>
>Symbolism? ;-)

Hmm, am not sure that is the correct word for it, but close. Again, a
link to the past which the first readers in the public could not have
known about. These two points, perhaps, indicate just how much the
story was "writing itself" in this chapter.

>There have been some discussion at times about the various usages of
>'heir of Elendil' and 'heir of Isildur' (and variations), but here, I
>think we're treated indirectly to the author's comment -- Aragorn is
>truly the heir of Elendil.
>
>> Before he departs the Witch King makes a very specific and unpleasant
>> threat to Eowyn.
>
>It's . . . horrifying, creepy.
>
>> It reminds me of something Frodo has felt (I don't remember where it
>> is described), a fear of the Eye seeking him out and there being no
>> refuge from it.
>
>Later, I suspect, in VI,3 'Mount Doom':
>
> "I am naked in the dark. Sam, and there is no veil between
> me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my
> waking eyes, and all else fades."
>
>> What exactly can Sauron do to you?
>
>I'm not sure that I'm really in the mood to contemplate that in detail --
>or that I ever will be . . .
>
>Recall also Pippin's descriptions, "Then he gloated over me. I felt I was
>falling to pieces. No, no! I can't say any more."

JRRT was wise to follow Pippin's lead in all his descriptions of Evil
by not saying any more than he had to. It didn't turn off the reader
and yet also enhanced the effect.

>And then we have the cases of Gollum (who wasn't broken completely) and
>Thráin, who did not even remember his own name . . .

Ah, I had forgotten Thrain. Quite so.

>> I wouldn't want to end up in Mandos' houses of lamentations, but they
>> sound much better those of Sauron!
>
>Very nearly apples and oranges! One is for the ultimate betterment of
>your soul, the other for the ultimate destruction of your soul.

The halls of Mandos also expand, don't they? One imagines that those
of Sauron would get more and more cramped and claustrophobic -- all
part of the torture, of course.

(snip)

>> I wonder where the author is heading with this: perhaps preparing
>> us for the plain of Gorgoroth?
>
>The part about being 'thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless
>Eye' surely ties in with Frodo's later statement to Sam as quoted above.

The author's consistency all across this huge work is truly amazing.

>Both here and in his earlier confrontation with Gandalf I sense a
>self-confidence in the Witch-king, which he didn't display earlier at
>Weathertop and the Ford of Bruinen. At Weathertop Gandalf had kept all

>nine Nazgűl at bay for an entire night, but here the Witch-king declares,


>'This is my hour.' Surely this is a reflection of the 'added demonic
>force' he was given there, put in command by Sauron (letter #210).

That would explain the two confrontations with Gandalf. At the Ford,
though, he was self-confident enough to silence Frodo and affect his
heart, as well as break the hobbit's sword, just by raising his hand.

>> Some structural comments. First, this being JRRT, he telegraphs the
>> happy ending here
>
>So he does. I can't say that I have been consciously aware of it before;
>it is, of course, clear from the beginning that the ending will be happy,
>but just what might come out of that ending -- which realms will stand
>and which will fall, who of our heroes might die etc. is not clear. This,
>at least, reveals that Gondor and Rohan will persist.

I never noticed it either until doing this summary. JRRT had a very
good understanding of the power of simple words used appropriately in
a fairy tale. He had referred in "On Fairy-stories" to formulaic
beginnings and endings as frames, as well as serving as a "sharp cut
in the endless tapestry" of the World of Story; here perhaps he is
working a variation of that in the middle of the story to produce "at
a stroke the sense of a great uncharted world of time." Why? Because
it is artistic.

"When all was over" is as elegant and evocative as "once upon a time"
(which JRRT had also worked with earlier in the story through Bilbo
and his book).

>> Or
>
>
>Was something lost somewhere, or was this just a loose word that escaped
>deletion? I get a feeling of interesting speculations lost to me ;-)

A confession: I did it by accident in an earlier chapter summary quite
a while ago, and it seemed to spur people to come up with their own
thoughts and comments. When done intentionally, though, it doesn't
seem to be as effective. ;-)

>> There is also a foreshadowing of what will happen in front of the
>> Black Gate
>[how dark creatures react to opposition vs. the reaction of Men]
>
>I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 'foreshadowing' in this context.
>My impression is that there is a consistent portrayal of the behavioural
>patterns of Orcs, Trolls etc. and Men. Clearly they behave similarly in
>the face of defeat both at the Pelennor Fields and in front of the
>Morannon, but I'm not sure that I'd call it 'foreshadowing' myself . . .
>
>That Orcs behave in the same manner in the same kind of situation is not,
>as I understand and use the word, foreshadowing, but rather part of the
>'inner consistency of reality' that should be the aim of the sub-creator.

When writing a story you have to do both, of course. But I should
probably hold off on detailed discussion of that until "The Field of
Cormallen."

Barb

Belba Grubb From Stock

unread,
Jan 15, 2005, 1:30:59 PM1/15/05
to
On Sat, 15 Jan 2005 04:15:33 +0100, "Raven"
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

(snip)

>> No. Darkness is the absense of light -- evil is the absense of good.
>> Here, I think, we are introduced to the idea of something which is worse
>> than that -- a darkness which is something in itself, a palpable thing to
>> devour the light, a darkness that cannot be driven out by the
>> introduction of light.
>
> Regularly, darkness is the mere absence of light. You may shut light
>out, causing darkness; you may not shut darkness out, causing light. You
>may make a light in the darkness; you may not make a darkness in the light.

Well, there is also Dark Sucker Theory:

http://paul.merton.ox.ac.uk/science/darksucker.html

But I digress. ;^)

> But I can't say that evil is the mere absence of good. You can say so if
>you define evil as the absence of pity and compassion, of empathy with
>others, in a being that has an intellect capable of hosting these things.
>But evil can also be defined as the presence of something - namely the
>presence in the mind of the concept that other people are mere tools to be
>used or mere obstacles to be removed.

:-)

> Some of the darknesses described by Tolkien are *not* the mere absence of
>light. It is a dark light in itself, so to speak. Just as light may be
>made in the dark, so can certain darknesses be made in the light in this
>subcreation. The Witch-king causes such unlight when he descends upon
>Théoden. Ungoliant did when she invaded Aman and attacked the two Trees.

Well said! This clearly suits the mental impression I have of the
Witch-king's description of 'beyond darkness" and is quite consistent
with this subcreation.

>
>> Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to
>> anger.
>> - Gildor Inglorion, 'LotR' (J.R.R. Tolkien)
>
> Nor in the affairs of ducks, for they are not so subtle and quack to
>anger.

ROTFL! Again a digression, but I know of a dachsund who would agree
with you -- said dog, belonging to a friend's brother, had a very
unpleasant experience with ducks and came out the loser. Now I know
why. (BG)

Barb

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Jan 15, 2005, 3:50:51 PM1/15/05
to
On Tue, 11 Jan 2005 00:42:33 +0100, "Raven"
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

>"Belba Grubb From Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net> skrev i en meddelelse
>news:la16u0td4ejjcmhie...@4ax.com...
>
>> Before he departs the Witch King makes a very specific and unpleasant
>> threat to Eowyn. It reminds me of something Frodo has felt (I don't
>> remember where it is described), a fear of the Eye seeking him out and
>> there being no refuge from it. What exactly can Sauron do to you?
>
> There is a cultural background for the concept of the "evil eye". In
>more than one tale you will find creatures that can kill you or turn you
>into stone merely by looking at you. Especially if there is eye contact
>between you and the monster. Medusa, Balor of the Evil Eye. Though in
>Sauron's case I somehow doubt that you could turn his gaze upon himself with
>a bathroom mirror or something ---

Well, it might buy you some time to run away why he was busy laughing
at your stupid gimmick.

> I take the Witch-king's threat to mean that she will not merely be killed
>in body, but she will be held under Sauron's gaze, and he will shrivel and
>torment her very soul and mind merely by gazing at her with all his malice.

Sounds good. Well, not good, but right.

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

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Jan 15, 2005, 3:50:51 PM1/15/05
to
On Tue, 11 Jan 2005 19:49:12 -0000, "John Jones"
<jo...@jones5011.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:

>It is perfectly possible to kill ordinary elephants with arrows just by
>shooting them through the heart or lungs (though I wouldn't like to be
>around if you don't kill then clean ... ). The mumakil are much bigger than
>elephants, though, so I suppose that the archers found that the eyes were
>the only vulnerable spots.

Or, as often happens in real life, they were using a suboptimal
strategy when faced with an unfamiliar situation. If Denethor had
still been in command, he might have been able to provide pointers
based on past battles involving mumakil, and perhaps Faramir or
Gandalf would have stumbled across some mentions in their own reading.

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

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Jan 15, 2005, 4:01:44 PM1/15/05
to

Boromir would kill mumakil with his bare hands!

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

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Jan 15, 2005, 6:59:39 PM1/15/05
to
On Fri, 14 Jan 2005 12:40:50 GMT, "Troels Forchhammer"
<Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

>Does this imply that Éowyn stabs (a straight motion point first) at the
>Witch-king ('between crown and mantle' would be in the face somewhere)?

Yes.

I would say a simple forward thrust. The Witch-King was likely taller
enough than Eowyn that when she rose to her feet and he was on his
knees, his head and throat were at a very convenient height, too. So a
thrust, ending with the sword-arm fully extended and the shoulder
forward, having thrown the weight of her shoulder behind the blow,
with the sword about level and at shoulder height for her, penetrating
the head or neck of the wraith completely.

>Gothmog. Nazgűl, Orc, Black Numenórean or something viler?

I can't see it being a human's name, especially the Nazgul, from far
earlier times. Naming your kid after a Balrog seems more a Creature of
Darkness sort of thing. I'll go with Orc or something viler.

>Both here and in his earlier confrontation with Gandalf I sense a
>self-confidence in the Witch-king, which he didn't display earlier at
>Weathertop and the Ford of Bruinen. At Weathertop Gandalf had kept all

>nine Nazgűl at bay for an entire night, but here the Witch-king declares,


>'This is my hour.' Surely this is a reflection of the 'added demonic
>force' he was given there, put in command by Sauron (letter #210).

At Weathertop, the Nazgul may well have been holding back, feeling
Gandalf out rather than risking a fully-pressed attack. After all,
once they determined that the Ring was not there, it was really a
sideshow. Their mission was to get the Ring, with as little fuss and
attention as possible. The fight at Weathertop may have been in
anticipation of a later, final encounter. If so, the Witch-King's
judgment was based on experience with Gandalf the Grey and the fight
with Gandalf the White would likely have surprised him.

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

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Jan 15, 2005, 6:59:40 PM1/15/05
to
On Sat, 15 Jan 2005 04:15:33 +0100, "Raven"
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

>"Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> skrev i en meddelelse
>news:m5PFd.34778$k4.6...@news1.nokia.com...
>
>> > Snowmane, pierced by a dart, falls on Theoden
>
>> By an immense exercise of wishful thinking and seeing what I wanted to
>> see, I have managed to convince myself that Snowmane reared in fright
>> because of the Witch-king. I've only believed that for little more than
>> half my life now, and then you shatter it ;-))
>
> Both are true. "But Snowmane wild with terror stood up on high, fighting
>in the air, and then with a great scream he crashed upon his side: a black
>dart had pierced him. The king fell beneath him."
> So first he rears in fright, and then he is shot. If he had been shot
>while still on all fours, the king would very probably not have fallen
>beneath him.

Yes, I think both factors are important. As a trained mounted warrior,
Theoden would have been taught to avoid injury if his horse was killed
under him (a fairly frequent occurrence, as horses are large targets
and rarely as well armored as the rider). But with Snowmane rearing in
panic, Theoden would have been focused on trying to get him under
control.

>Where the arrow comes from is not told. It could be the
>Witch-king, or somehow commanded by him to one of his archers on the ground,
>or one of his archers took heart at seeing him and decided to fight again,
>targetting a suddenly very visible horse with a king on it, or it could even
>have been a stray arrow.

I think, however, it is the Nazgul. Faramir, too, was pierced by a
"dart" and I don't recall any other "darts" mentioned.

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

Michael Ikeda

unread,
Jan 16, 2005, 7:22:14 AM1/16/05
to
R. Dan Henry <danh...@inreach.com> wrote in
news:al9ju0dsvpepmvnaq...@4ax.com:

> On Sat, 15 Jan 2005 04:15:33 +0100, "Raven"
> <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:
>

(snipped)

>
>>Where the arrow comes from is not told. It could be the
>>Witch-king, or somehow commanded by him to one of his archers on
>>the ground, or one of his archers took heart at seeing him and
>>decided to fight again, targetting a suddenly very visible horse
>>with a king on it, or it could even have been a stray arrow.
>
> I think, however, it is the Nazgul. Faramir, too, was pierced by
> a "dart" and I don't recall any other "darts" mentioned.
>

The "dart" that struck Faramir was apparently an ordinary arrow shot
by an ordinary soldier. In "The Houses of Healing", Aragorn said
that Faramir would have "died that night" if he had been stricken by
a "dart of the Nazgul". He then asks if anyone kept the arrow.

Imrahil replies that it wasn't kept, but he remembered it being "just
such a dart as the Southrons use". He adds that he believed it came
from the Nazgul because otherwise there didn't seem to be any reason
for Faramir's fever and sickness.

Aragorn then explains that Faramir's illness was due to the influence
of the Nazgul (aggravated by other factors).

John Jones

unread,
Jan 16, 2005, 7:35:07 AM1/16/05
to
"R. Dan Henry" <danh...@inreach.com> wrote in message
news:al9ju0dsvpepmvnaq...@4ax.com...

Just another word for an arrow.

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Jan 16, 2005, 10:51:15 PM1/16/05
to
On Mon, 10 Jan 2005 16:54:41 -0600, Belba Grubb From Stock
<ba...@dbtech.net> wrote:

>On the Pelennor Field Theoden and the men of his household, along with
>Dernhelm and Merry, have outrun the rest of the Rohirrim.

Throughout much of the chapter, but especially in describing the
assault of the Rohirrim, there is a rhythm to the text much like that
of the alliterative verse of the Rohirrim. (There is also some
alliteration, too.) It helps add to the feel in several ways. Like a
piece of theme music, it gives a "Rohirric mood" to their battle
scenes. It has something of the pace of horses, too, and a sense of
the charge. Finally, it allows short, action-centric sentences,
without the loss of mood that a more modern Hemmingwayesque style
would. I've mostly been reading aloud to myself this time through and
this sort of thing becomes more obvious than if reading silently.

>The chieftain of the Haradrim

And we know he's evil, because his symbol is a black snake on a red
field.

>In the meantime Eomer has gathered the Rohirrim and now returns to the
>King even as Prince Imrahil and his cavalry start to drive the enemy
>away from the city's Gate. Theoden orders the standard to be given to
>Eomer and hails him as king before dying.

Very convenient in a Shakespearean way that Theoden lasts just long
enough to say farewell to both Merry and Eomer. It doesn't bother me,
but it is mighty convenient.

>Merry remains with Theoden and Eowyn and the men of Theoden's
>household, who pick up the two bodies and carry them in honor toward
>the city, with Merry trailing behind. They meet Prince Imrahil and
>the cavalry of Gondor on the way, and Imrahil discovers that Eowyn is


>still alive and bids them hasten her in to the city. He then rides
>out to help Eomer

Imrahil only gets a little space in this chapter, but he uses it to
good effect. Plus his symbol is a swan, so you know he's a good guy
who lives near water.

>Things are looking bad, and then all hope vanishes as the ships of the
>Corsairs of Umbar are seen speeding up the River on the south wind.

If it weren't explicitly stated otherwise (the wind brings a break in
the Darkness prior to schedule), I'd have thought Sauron planned the
weather this way, to bring *his* force up the Anduin. I figure once
you set weather in motion, it isn't something that could be changed
instantly. Would have been another nice case of evil shooting itself
in the foot, but unfortunately, the text doesn't support this idea.

So, action of the Valar?

>Eomer also sees the ships coming, but his mind is now clear again. He
>laughs at despair as he rallies his men and lifts up his sword to defy
>the oncoming Corsairs, but wonder takes him and he tosses up his sword
>in great joy and sings as he catches it again.

Is juggling really appropriate battlefield behavior?

>DISCUSSION:
>
>The first few times through this work I skipped the poems,

Boo!

>The two, prose and poetry, complement each other perfectly.

More than you may have realized. See my comments above.

>Some points here have already been discussed in detail elsewhere (who
>killed the Witch King,

Eowyn, but with a major assist from Merry and the barrow blade,
vengeance of the North Kingdom come round at last. [Not just the
sword, but Merry, too -- the Shire is the last surviving state which
was under the King.]

>what happened to him afterward,

He was never heard from again. His spirit *may* have been held in the
world until the destruction of the One, but after that, nothing could
have held him back from the Fate of Men.

>what sort of beast did he ride,

Pteryldoctyldon.

>Gothmog,

Orc or other unnatural creature.

>What exactly can Sauron do to you?

What can the Lidless Eye do? Well, picture the most intense staring
contest you've ever lost. Now, imagine that, only not being able to
look away. At all, ever.

>Some structural comments. First, this being JRRT, he telegraphs the

>happy ending here just as he did in "The Hobbit" in a couple of
>places: here, he tells us that when it is all over (no more detail of
>the future than that) men will come and bury Snowmane on the field
>where he fell and set a stone over his grave in the languages of
>Gondor and the Mark (not those of Mordor, note). Why does he do that?


>From "On Fairy-stories," we know that he counts the happy ending as an

>integral part of any tale of Faerie: is he maintaining the reader's
>belief in his Secondary World here? Is he just giving the reader a


>break from the intense pace and drama of the story in this chapter?

>Or

Or there wasn't any place this information could better be fit,
without tacking it on like an afterthought and anticlimax after the
battle.

>There is also a foreshadowing of what will happen in front of the

>Black Gate as the orcs and other "spooky" critters (specifically,
>troll-men, Variags and orcs - this has probably been discussed
>elsewhere but what is a Variag again?)

As stated elsewhere, consistent behavior isn't foreshadowing. It's
also the case that not all of those who panic are "spooky critters".
The "troll-men" seem to me to just be large black men, as seen by
biased enemy chroniclers. Variags are the people of Khand, southeast
of Mordor, and little is said of them in LotR (the two index entries
are for this chapter). While not specifically stated to be human, that
would seem to be the default assumption.

>Comments about the make-up of the forces of Mordor here?

There's a mix of diverse forces both from Mordor and from allied
states. Without strong central leadership, working together would be
very difficult. Who manages to make a stand may have as much to do
with who has a good command system and who does not. The orcs probably
haven't got anyone to tell them what to do after Gothmog, as there was
no expectation that the Witch-King could be eliminated.

>There is so much going on in this chapter, but if required to name the
>chief characters I'd say Merry and Eomer.

As far as who provides the viewpoint, I'd agree, although I'd say that
Theoden and Aragorn are the most dramatic movers of most of the
chapter, with Merry, Eowyn, and the Witch-King having a very big
scene.

>Blades: The Morgul knife at Weathertop vanished in the light of dawn,
>but the blade of Westernesse here smokes for a while and then is
>consumed as Merry watches. Two different processes seem to be going
>on here. Any more thoughts on "weapons magic"?

The Morgul knife melts because it is evil, I suppose, and so much of
the evil of Sauron cannot endure daylight. Or perhaps it is a design
feature, to prevent smarty-pants healers like Elrond from being able
to study it. Merry's sword dies because that happens to all blades
that pierce the Witch-King. Personally, I think it's a spell he placed
on himself, probably even before he became a wraith. Pretty cool
defense. If you get hurt, the enemy is disarmed. Eowyn's blade breaks
almost instantly. I think Merry's sword lasts longer because of its
strong spells.

>Not to go into a lot of tactical detail, but what is the best way to
>tackle a mumak on the battlefield? Leading bowmen close in to shoot
>at their eyes is fatal, after all.

Well, panicking them among their own troops is always fun, if you can
do it. If it were a cartoon battle, I'd use mice. In real life, I'd
try fire, but it seems the mumakil were trained to be pretty tolerant
of fire, given that there were fires all over the battlefield and no
sign of mumak problems.

Killing at range still seems like a good idea, but artillery would be
safer than archery.

>Your thoughts, comments, additions, corrections, and…?

There is little hint that Merry is as hurt as it will turn out to be.

We again see the good = flowering, evil = barrenness trope as
Snowmane's Howe is said to grow with plentiful grass (grass fed the
horse, now the horse feeds the grass), while "ever black and bare was
the ground where the beast was burned."

Merry get forgiven his disobedience as Theoden gets the first of his
two farewells. Sneaky Theoden, getting two final speeches, one to
Merry and then again to Eomer.

It is a bad day for banner-bearers.

We get a good taste of the thrill of battle and fey warrior glory, but
close with a solemn account of the cost. This is no glorification of
war; many are the dead and many have been named just so we have some
identification of them when they are counted among the dead. Theoden
may well have found peace and self-esteem in his charge, felling the
black serpent, but many young lives have been cut short.

"red fell the dew in Rammas Echor."

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

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Jan 16, 2005, 10:52:18 PM1/16/05
to
On Sun, 16 Jan 2005 06:22:14 -0600, Michael Ikeda <mmi...@erols.com>
wrote:

>R. Dan Henry <danh...@inreach.com> wrote in


>news:al9ju0dsvpepmvnaq...@4ax.com:
>
>> On Sat, 15 Jan 2005 04:15:33 +0100, "Raven"
>> <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:
>>
>
>(snipped)
>
>>
>>>Where the arrow comes from is not told. It could be the
>>>Witch-king, or somehow commanded by him to one of his archers on
>>>the ground, or one of his archers took heart at seeing him and
>>>decided to fight again, targetting a suddenly very visible horse
>>>with a king on it, or it could even have been a stray arrow.
>>
>> I think, however, it is the Nazgul. Faramir, too, was pierced by
>> a "dart" and I don't recall any other "darts" mentioned.

>The "dart" that struck Faramir was apparently an ordinary arrow shot
>by an ordinary soldier.

Oops. Serves me right for not reading ahead. And my memories are a bit
rusty.

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

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Jan 16, 2005, 10:52:32 PM1/16/05
to

Yes, I know, but it was the particular word choice I was pointing out
(while being wrong about Faramir's attacker).

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

aelfwina

unread,
Jan 17, 2005, 6:23:46 AM1/17/05
to

"R. Dan Henry" <danh...@inreach.com> wrote in message
news:lrdlu0pb387sangcg...@4ax.com...

> On Mon, 10 Jan 2005 16:54:41 -0600, Belba Grubb From Stock
> <ba...@dbtech.net> wrote:
>
> >On the Pelennor Field Theoden and the men of his household, along with
> >Dernhelm and Merry, have outrun the rest of the Rohirrim.
>
> Throughout much of the chapter, but especially in describing the
> assault of the Rohirrim, there is a rhythm to the text much like that
> of the alliterative verse of the Rohirrim. (There is also some
> alliteration, too.) It helps add to the feel in several ways. Like a
> piece of theme music, it gives a "Rohirric mood" to their battle
> scenes. It has something of the pace of horses, too, and a sense of
> the charge. Finally, it allows short, action-centric sentences,
> without the loss of mood that a more modern Hemmingwayesque style
> would. I've mostly been reading aloud to myself this time through and
> this sort of thing becomes more obvious than if reading silently.

I remember, not my first reading, but when the book was still new to me
(second or third maybe) noticing the poetic rhythm of the prose. This is
not the only chapter he does this--remember Tom Bombadil? When he does do
it, it lends a certain something to the mood that a more prosiac style does
not.


>
> >The chieftain of the Haradrim
>
> And we know he's evil, because his symbol is a black snake on a red
> field.

Definitely a use of stereotype as a shortcut. Not every character gets a
personality, but it is an indication.


>
> >In the meantime Eomer has gathered the Rohirrim and now returns to the
> >King even as Prince Imrahil and his cavalry start to drive the enemy
> >away from the city's Gate. Theoden orders the standard to be given to
> >Eomer and hails him as king before dying.
>
> Very convenient in a Shakespearean way that Theoden lasts just long
> enough to say farewell to both Merry and Eomer. It doesn't bother me,
> but it is mighty convenient.

I wonder at his injuries. What kind would have been caused by having a
horse fall on one? And it's interesting in this light: a horse falling on
him kills a full grown warrior of Men, but a troll (lots bigger than a
horse) falling on a hobbit is not ultimately fatal. Hobbits really are
tough.


>
> >Merry remains with Theoden and Eowyn and the men of Theoden's
> >household, who pick up the two bodies and carry them in honor toward
> >the city, with Merry trailing behind. They meet Prince Imrahil and
> >the cavalry of Gondor on the way, and Imrahil discovers that Eowyn is
> >still alive and bids them hasten her in to the city. He then rides
> >out to help Eomer
>
> Imrahil only gets a little space in this chapter, but he uses it to
> good effect. Plus his symbol is a swan, so you know he's a good guy
> who lives near water.

It's funny, but the first time I read this, I expected Eowyn to fall in love
with Imrahil. I was a bit disappointed, actually that it turned out to be
Faramir instead.


>
> >Things are looking bad, and then all hope vanishes as the ships of the
> >Corsairs of Umbar are seen speeding up the River on the south wind.
>
> If it weren't explicitly stated otherwise (the wind brings a break in
> the Darkness prior to schedule), I'd have thought Sauron planned the
> weather this way, to bring *his* force up the Anduin. I figure once
> you set weather in motion, it isn't something that could be changed
> instantly. Would have been another nice case of evil shooting itself
> in the foot, but unfortunately, the text doesn't support this idea.
>
> So, action of the Valar?

Possibly a combination?


>
> >Eomer also sees the ships coming, but his mind is now clear again. He
> >laughs at despair as he rallies his men and lifts up his sword to defy
> >the oncoming Corsairs, but wonder takes him and he tosses up his sword
> >in great joy and sings as he catches it again.
>
> Is juggling really appropriate battlefield behavior?
>
> >DISCUSSION:
> >
> >The first few times through this work I skipped the poems,
>
> Boo!
>
> >