Chapter of the Week: The LOTR, Bk 2 Ch 7: Helms Deep

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RoRowe

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Aug 16, 2004, 12:41:07 AM8/16/04
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Chapter of the Week: The LOTR, Bk 2 Ch 7: Helms Deep

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.

Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli together with King Théoden,
Éomer, and all of the Rohirrim that could be summoned in haste, rode
out from Edoras toward the fords of the Isen river. Tolkien's language
is rich with descriptions of the landscape and imagery that conveys a
powerful sense of urgency and foreboding.

The host camps out on the western plain for a few hours before
pressing on again at dawn. The riders sense a "darkens" coming down
from the mountains. Legolas looks toward Isengard at shapes moving in
a darkness but he cannot tell what they are. He says there is a
"veiling shadow" laid upon the land that marches slowly down stream.
[1] Gandalf notices that a storm is coming and says foreshadowingly
"It will be a black night."

At sundown, a rider approaches bearing news of recent events. He tells
of heavy losses at the ford as more enemy comes over the river out of
Isengard. The rider says that Erkenbrand, Captain of the Westfold, has
gathered his scattered forces and moved toward Helms Deep.

The rider is convinced there is no hope until he sees that Théoden
himself is with the riders. Théoden addresses the rider by name and
states that "the last host of the Eorlingas has ridden forth', and
that 'it will not return without battle." [2]

Suddenly Gandalf tells the King to ride to Helm's Deep and not to the
Fords. Gandalf tears away across the plain on Shadowfax saying "Await
me at Helm's Gate!"

At the end of the valley where the Deeping Stream cut a gorge between
the mountains there are vast caves guarded by a two-ringed fort set
upon a vast rock. The entire refuge is known as Helm's Deep. Earlier,
Erkenbrand had brought in supplies and made fast the walls.

As the riders approach the mouth of the Deeping-coomb, their scouts
report that wolf-riders are abroad and that Orcs and wild men are
moving down from the fords. The scouts found many allies of Rohan
either slain or scattered and leaderless making their way toward Helms
Deep.

(Note: for more information about events at the Ford, read "The
Battles of the Fords of Isen" in UT.)

Theoden's riders are being followed hard by the enemy. They are
singing with harsh voices, carrying torches and burning rick, cot, and
tree as they go. Aragorn says "it grieves me to fly before them."
Éomer assures him that once they come to Helm's Dike, they can turn
and give battle. [3]

When they enter through the Dike, the King learns from Gamling that
the fortress is well provisioned and the gate well manned although
Erkenbrand is not there. As the riders pass on to the causeway,
dismount and are cheered by those on the walls.

Once inside the walls, Gimli and Legolas chat about their position.
Gimli likes the mountains and the walls. Legolas says, "You are a
dwarf, and dwarves are strange folk. I do not like this place, and I
shall like it no more by the light of day. But you comfort me, Gimli."
[3] [4]

Soon the rear guard is forced up from the Dike. "But we have taught
them not to carry torches." [5]

Once the Dike is breached, the enemy advances to the outer wall. Just
before the battle begins, thunder rolls in and a storm flash shows the
defenders that the entire valley is filled with Orcs. Finally the
enemy begins their assault. They are answered from the walls with a
hail of arrows and stones.

Early in the battle, Orcs use trees as battering rams. Aragorn and
Éomer exit through a postern door to disrupt the assault on the gate.
They are successful, but as they retreat, Éomer is tripped and
attacked by Orcs. All of a sudden, an axe-wielding Dwarf appears from
the shadows. Two Orcs lose their heads and the others flee.

Once Gimli is inside the wall, he begins a game with Legolas to count
their kills. At this point the score is Gimli 2 / Legolas 20. It has
been knife-work up here.' [5] [6] Soon, a sortie of Orcs attack by
entering behind the wall through a culvert. Gimli shouts to Legolas
"there are enough for us both". They kill the Orcs and repair the
culvert. (G-21 / L-24)

Up on the wall, Aragorn wonders how long before the dawn. Gamling says
the dawn will not help their situation. Aragorn says 'Yet dawn is ever
the hope of men'. Gamling recognizes the Dunlan tongue in the battle
cries from outside the wall. He laments that the men fighting for the
enemy hate them so bitterly. He says their grievance with Rohan is
over five-hundred years old and that Saruman inflamed that old hatred.
[7]

Next, the enemy creeps into the culvert and uses blasting fire to
breach the Deeping Wall. Some of the defenders come up from the Deep
and enter the Burg with Aragorn and Legolas. Others escape into the
caves with Gimli and Éomer. (G-?? / L-39)

Aragorn reports their situation to the King. Théoden seems to regret
his decision to ride out and meet the forces of Isengard. "How shall
any tower withstand such numbers and such reckless hate." The King
decides to mount a charge at dawn. He prefers to die at the front of
his army rather than in the Hornburg "like an old badger in a trap."
Aragorn agrees to ride out with the King at dawn.

Outside the Hornburg, the fight continues on the walls. The enemy uses
grappling-hooks and ladders, the defenders cast them down. [8]

Just before dawn, Aragorn stands out above the gate and speaks to the
Uruk-hai. He warns them to be gone before the dawn. "Depart, or not
one of you will be spared. …You do not know your peril."

So great a power and royalty was revealed in Aragorn that some of the
men among the enemy paused and looked over their shoulders and up
toward the sky. Aragorn leaps down just as the archway of the gate is
blown away. [9]

As strange news of the dawn came from behind the Orcs, a horn rings
out and the riders charge forth with Théoden, Aragorn and the Lords of
the House of Eorl. The sound of the horns and the King's charge put
the enemy in full retreat. As dawn breaks all can see that the
Deeping-coomb is now full of trees. The enemy is trapped in terror
between the dike to the north, the trees to the south, and the stone
wall of the valley to the east.

At that moment, another horn sounds and Gandalf the White appears from
the west with Erkenbrand and his fighters. The wild men fall in terror
and the Orcs flee into the forest where they all perish under the
trees.

Final score: (G-42 / L-41).


[1] What does Legolas see here? Is it the march of the Hurons or
something else.

[2] After Ceorl said "You come at last, but too late, and with too
little strength", what do you make of him "lighting up with joy and
wonder" when he sees Théoden?

[3] It grieves Aragorn to fly before the enemy. He would like "ride
down upon them like a storm out of the mountains". Gimil prefers to
get behind the walls and kick their butts from there. What do you make
of this contrast?

[4] The relationship between Gimli and Legolas is growing. What makes
their friendship so strong when each to the other is "strange folk".

[5] Which line is better: "We have taught them not to carry torches".
or "It has been knife work up here." Explain your answer.

[6] What do you think of Gimli and Legolas' counting game?

[7] Why are men so easily pursuaded to fight over old grievances. Has
anything like this happened in Middle-earth since the third age?

[8] How cool was the scene in the movie when Orcs brought the ladders
up to the wall? (TTT movie lovers smile.)

[9] What do you make of Aragorn's speech here. Was he issuing
propaganda to scare the enemy? Did he have reason to believe the
battle could still be won? Did he have foresight?

[10] Why is Aragorn so anxious for the dawn?

Michelle J. Haines

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Aug 16, 2004, 10:07:51 AM8/16/04
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In article <a0dc4d0a.04081...@posting.google.com>,
roro...@netscape.net says...

>
> [1] What does Legolas see here? Is it the march of the Hurons or
> something else.

The Huorns was always my assumption.

> [2] After Ceorl said "You come at last, but too late, and with too
> little strength", what do you make of him "lighting up with joy and
> wonder" when he sees Théoden?

I rather got the impression that the captains of Rohan expected their
King to be incapacitated throughout the war.

> [6] What do you think of Gimli and Legolas' counting game?

It certainly shows an element of playfulness, even in the midst of
grimness, and has a bit of "boys will be boys" feeling about it.

Michelle
Flutist
--
Drift on a river, That flows through my arms
Drift as I'm singing to you
I see you smiling, So peaceful and calm
And holding you, I'm smiling, too
Here in my arms, Safe from all harm
Holding you, I'm smiling, too
-- For Xander [9/22/98 - 2/23/99]

Georg Schönegger

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Aug 16, 2004, 12:53:31 PM8/16/04
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>
> > [2] After Ceorl said "You come at last, but too late, and with too
> > little strength", what do you make of him "lighting up with joy and
> > wonder" when he sees Théoden?
>
> I rather got the impression that the captains of Rohan expected their
> King to be incapacitated throughout the war.
>

also, since the king was with them, he could infer that the strength was
greater than he first thought (and said) and not just some patrol or
fugitives. iirc, sight was not too good - the air was gloomy, and night
falling.

georg

Christopher Kreuzer

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Aug 16, 2004, 10:11:12 PM8/16/04
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Crossposted to AFT. I left the 'Book Number' as 2...

> one of you will be spared. .You do not know your peril."

Troels Forchhammer

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Aug 18, 2004, 4:49:48 AM8/18/04
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in <4PdUc.1657$3N1.20...@news-text.cableinet.net>,
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:

>
> Crossposted to AFT. I left the 'Book Number' as 2...

There's few enough chapters left to get it right in ;-)

I have volunteered for the first chapter of book 4, and I will promise
(to do my very best) to remember to get the book number right from the
beginning ;-)

--
Troels Forchhammer

Taking fun
as simply fun
and earnestness
in earnest
shows how thouroughly
thou none
of the two
discernest.
- Piet Hein, /The Eternal Twins/

Shanahan

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Aug 18, 2004, 7:06:21 PM8/18/04
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RoRowe <roro...@netscape.net> declared:

> Chapter of the Week: The LOTR, Bk 2 Ch 7: Helms Deep

> The rider is convinced there is no hope until he sees that


> Théoden himself is with the riders. Théoden addresses the rider
> by name and states that "the last host of the Eorlingas has
> ridden forth', and that 'it will not return without battle." [2]

I always wonder why they stop and wait for this weary battle-torn
rider on an exhausted horse to come to them. Why don't they keep
riding up to him? Sheesh.

> Once inside the walls, Gimli and Legolas chat about their
> position. Gimli likes the mountains and the walls. Legolas says,
> "You are a dwarf, and dwarves are strange folk. I do not like
> this place, and I shall like it no more by the light of day. But
> you comfort me, Gimli." [3] [4]

"...and I am glad to have you standing nigh with your stout legs
and your hard axe." Great dialogue, and it sets up the difference
between dwarves and elves in very few words. I also love the bit
where Gimli says "We do shape stone with battle-axes, nor with our
fingernails." All this is a beautiful setup for the conversation
between Leggy and Gimli in the next chapter, as they ride through
the Huorn-wood; Legolas wants to get off Arod and explore the wood,
and then Gimli has that lovely passage about the Glittering Caves.

> [2] After Ceorl said "You come at last, but too late, and with
> too little strength", what do you make of him "lighting up with
> joy and wonder" when he sees Théoden?

The men get their hope from personal loyalty to their commander.
Recalls the passage last chapter when Theoden Ednew comes forth
from his hall standing straight and tall, and the guards "looked at
their lord in amazement, and then as one man they drew their swords
and laid them at his feet. 'Command us!' they said."

> [6] What do you think of Gimli and Legolas' counting game?

This is one of the places critics of Tolkien point to, to
illustrate that his 'good guys' are no different from his 'bad
guys'. I see it as a slight moral weakness, but there's certainly
enough counter-evidence to refute the argument. Eomer's letting
the Dunlendings go, for ex.

> [7] Why are men so easily pursuaded to fight over old
> grievances. Has anything like this happened in Middle-earth
> since the third age?

I never fail to think of Ireland when I read "not in half a
thousand years have they forgotten their grievance..." <sigh>

> [8] How cool was the scene in the movie when Orcs brought the
> ladders up to the wall? (TTT movie lovers smile.)

I thought the Horn of Helm Hammerhand and Theoden's charge from the
Hornburg were way cooler than that scene!

> [9] What do you make of Aragorn's speech here. Was he issuing
> propaganda to scare the enemy? Did he have reason to believe the
> battle could still be won? Did he have foresight?
> [10] Why is Aragorn so anxious for the dawn?

Same question. Note how many times the word 'hope' comes up in
that passage. This is Aragorn in his role of Estel:
Andreth: "What is hope? An expectation of good, which though
uncertain has some foundation in what is known? Then we have none."
Finrod answers her: "That is one thing the Men call 'hope', Amdir
we call it, 'looking up'. But there is another which is founded
deeper. Estel we call it, that is 'trust'. It is not defeated by
the ways of the world, for it does not come from experience, but
from our nature and first being."
Finrod: "This is the last foundation of Estel, which we keep even
when we contemplate the End: of all His designs the issue must be
for His Children's joy."

Ciaran S.
--
"One is always considered mad when
one perfects something that others cannot grasp."
- Ed Wood, Jr.

Christopher Kreuzer

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Aug 18, 2004, 6:16:32 PM8/18/04
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Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> in <4PdUc.1657$3N1.20...@news-text.cableinet.net>,
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>>
>> Crossposted to AFT. I left the 'Book Number' as 2...
>
> There's few enough chapters left to get it right in ;-)

Well, I'm down to do the last chapter of the book.
I'll never hear the end of it if I get it wrong... :-)

> I have volunteered for the first chapter of book 4, and I will promise
> (to do my very best) to remember to get the book number right from the
> beginning ;-)

It is probably because people are used to seeing 'Book 2' in the title
from the end of Volume 1, and then it gets carried over to Volume 2 and
the volume and book numbers get confused.

Of course, it is not really anything to worry about. Much more important
is the actual discussions. Speaking of which, I'd better get back to
thinking about this chapter and contributing something on topic!

Christopher

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

AC

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Aug 18, 2004, 10:38:22 PM8/18/04
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On 15 Aug 2004 21:41:07 -0700,
RoRowe <roro...@netscape.net> wrote:
>
> [3] It grieves Aragorn to fly before the enemy. He would like "ride
> down upon them like a storm out of the mountains". Gimil prefers to
> get behind the walls and kick their butts from there. What do you make
> of this contrast?

Dwarves are smarter than Man.

--
Aaron Clausen
mightym...@hotmail.com

WOODY: How's it going Mr. Peterson?
NORM : It's a dog eat dog world out there, Woody, and I'm wearing
milkbone underwear.

Georg Schönegger

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Aug 19, 2004, 2:23:23 AM8/19/04
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AC schrieb:

>
> On 15 Aug 2004 21:41:07 -0700,
> RoRowe <roro...@netscape.net> wrote:
> >
> > [3] It grieves Aragorn to fly before the enemy. He would like "ride
> > down upon them like a storm out of the mountains". Gimil prefers to
> > get behind the walls and kick their butts from there. What do you make
> > of this contrast?
>
> Dwarves are smarter than Man.
>
> --

... and they're not good at riding!

georg

Dirk Thierbach

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Aug 19, 2004, 3:38:08 AM8/19/04
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Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> RoRowe <roro...@netscape.net> declared:

>> [6] What do you think of Gimli and Legolas' counting game?

I always liked it. It has also the same air of grim cynicism one can
find in the nordic sagas. And many of the more laconic parts of the
dialogue, like the "we do not shape stone with battle-axes", have
the same quality.

> This is one of the places critics of Tolkien point to, to
> illustrate that his 'good guys' are no different from his 'bad
> guys'.

Huh? Because they kill the enemy in a battle without any compassion?
What are they supposed to do, turn the other cheek and let themselves
be killed instead? Weep why they kill them? None of this fits the
"heroic tone". Political correctness is clearly out of place here.

If I was looking for quotes that show that the 'bad guys' are no
different from the 'good guys', I would point out the dialogues
between the Orcs, where we can see that they are ill-mannered and
nasty, but they are very "human" after all. IMHO, the Orcs just
represent the evil side of beeing human, in the same way the Elves
represent the artistic side, etc.

> I see it as a slight moral weakness,

Not in this context. They didn't ask the Orcs to attack the
Hornburg, after all.

>> [10] Why is Aragorn so anxious for the dawn?

> Same question. Note how many times the word 'hope' comes up in
> that passage.

And I guess this answers it: The dawn is a symbol for hope.

- Dirk

Taemon

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Aug 19, 2004, 1:51:58 PM8/19/04
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Dirk Thierbach wrote:

> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> > RoRowe <roro...@netscape.net> declared:
> > > [6] What do you think of Gimli and Legolas' counting
> > > game?

> > This is one of the places critics of Tolkien point to,
> > to illustrate that his 'good guys' are no different
> > from his 'bad guys'.
> Huh? Because they kill the enemy in a battle without any
> compassion?

No: because they make a game out of it.

T.


Shanahan

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Aug 19, 2004, 8:20:26 PM8/19/04
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Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> typed:

> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>
>> This is one of the places critics of Tolkien point to, to
>> illustrate that his 'good guys' are no different from his 'bad
>> guys'.
>
> Huh? Because they kill the enemy in a battle without any
> compassion? What are they supposed to do, turn the other cheek
> and let themselves be killed instead? Weep while they kill them?

> None of this fits the "heroic tone". Political correctness is
> clearly out of place here.

That's a bit disingenuous, isn't it? The distinction critics of T.
make is between killing of necessity, and taking pleasure in that
killing. They (please note the "they"! I am *not* agreeing with
their assessment, merely noting it) see L&G's counting game as
evidence that the good guys are actually taking pleasure in
killing.

Tolkien on this matter:
"That is, that though of necessity, being the fingers of the hand
of Morgoth, they must be fought with the utmost severity, they must
not be dealt with in their own terms of cruelty and treachery.
[...] If any Orcs surrendered and asked for mercy, they must be
granted it, even at a cost. This was the teaching of the Wise,
though in the horror of the War it was not always heeded." (MR,
'Myths Transformed', X)

<snip>


>>> [10] Why is Aragorn so anxious for the dawn?
>
>> Same question. Note how many times the word 'hope' comes up in
>> that passage.
>
> And I guess this answers it: The dawn is a symbol for hope.

Yes, hope in the sense of Estel. As I said.

Ciaran S.
----
Coulrophobia. It's nothing to clown about.


Raven

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Aug 23, 2004, 4:32:52 PM8/23/04
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"RoRowe" <roro...@netscape.net> skrev i en meddelelse
news:a0dc4d0a.04081...@posting.google.com...

> [1] What does Legolas see here? Is it the march of the Hurons or
> something else.

I don't think that the Hurons even existed at the time - that tribe would
have formed in later ages. I suppose that Legolas sees the Huorn-dark.

> [2] After Ceorl said "You come at last, but too late, and with too
> little strength", what do you make of him "lighting up with joy and
> wonder" when he sees Théoden?

In Tolkien's subcreation, as well as in many myths that he was inspired
by, a leader, and especially a king, was more than just a bloke who told the
soldiers where to go and when to fight. "King" was more than a mere job
function in the army such as "horsed archer", "spearman", "scout" or
"sutler". There was a power of strength about him. Théoden leading the
army was worth more than if he had sent a thousand extra spears but remained
home at the hearth, fearing hurt to his own hide. Whether that power was
some actual magic that gave strength of heart and hand to his own men and
caused dismay among the enemy, or it was some sort of psychological placebo
effect - a Royal Chalk Pill - that had nothing to do with the king himself
and everything to do with how the Rohirrim viewed him, is another discussion
point. But Ceorl lit up with joy and wonder because his King, whom he had
last seen as a decrepit and half-senile old coot with a bent back on him and
a crooked tongue by him, was now an erect leader, brave, strong and
commanding. The appearance of Théoden leading an army turned despair into
hope.

> [6] What do you think of Gimli and Legolas' counting game?

Presumably Tolkien's concept of Orcs when he wrote and published that was
that they were not persons like Elves, Dwarves and Men. If they were mere
automatons then there would be nothing wrong with making a game out of
slaying them. But later in his life Tolkien mused that Orcs might be
rational beings capable of redemption, and that in the wars of the Eldar and
Edain against them, if Orcs surrendered and sued for mercy they must be
granted it - though in the anger and cruelties of war this moral requirement
was not always observed. In this light the counting game would be at least
somewhat wrong, both by (presumably) Tolkien's standards and by mine.
If Coalition soldiers in Iraq made similar counting games with slain
al-Mehdi warriors, would this be acceptable? It might be understandable.

> [7] Why are men so easily pursuaded to fight over old grievances. Has
> anything like this happened in Middle-earth since the third age?

Old grievances are especially strong if there is a profit in fighting
over them. At Helm's time there had been at least some friendship between
Dunlendings and Rohirrim, and intermarriages, as evidenced by Freca. But at
all times there must have been resentment among the Dunlendings that the
Rohirrim had seized part of their land and driven them off it, and a desire
to move back. Presumably many Dunlendings must have looked longingly at the
fertile lands of Westfolde, knowing that if they could take that for their
own, they could settle it and become richer by cultivating it. Their memory
that their ancestors had owned it but been driven off it by force by the
Rohirrim because the distant lord in Minas Tirith had said that they could
would then have been far more meaningful than if they had lost their desire
for that land, perhaps because their new land was as good as or better than
their old land.
A millennium and a half ago, during the Migration Age, one of the tribes
that moved was the Haruds: part of them moved from Jutland in Denmark to
western Norway, from modern Harsyssel to modern Hordaland, or so I heard
from my late grand-uncle. I descend in part from those Haruds. There is no
desire among Norwegian "Haruds" to return to their lost land; for that
matter, I have never seen any trace whatsoever of any specific Harud
identity among modern western Norwegians, even though (according to my late
grand-uncle, at least) there are still physical differences between the
descendants of the Haruds and the descendants of the earlier population.
The corelands of the Haruds was Hardanger, and there people still tend to be
tall and blond, while the islands north of Bergen have somewhat smaller and
more brown-haired people, descending perhaps from the first wave of
immigration during the Stone Age. I don't know if this was my grand-uncle's
personal observations, or he got it from a professional survey of some sort.
At any rate the old tribes have been quite assimilated, and even such of my
countrymen as know about these things identify themselves as Norwegians, and
certainly not as Haruds or not-Haruds.
But I could imagine a hypothetical situation in which western Norway for
some reason became uninhabitable - let's say a small asteroid strike with
sufficient warning for evacuation, or a large area becoming laced with
radioactivity - and there were no place where the locals would let the
refugees stay. Then somebody might revive the memory that the Haruds had
once inhabited parts of what is today called Jutland, and an old grievance
might be revived, or at least invented, followed by a demand that the Jutes
accept the return of the people who were once driven off their lands. Or if
the land remained inhabitable for a fraction of the population currently
occupying it, those who descend mainly from the older population might want
to push the descendants of the Haruds "back home", off their "usurped"
lands, in the squabble over who could stay and who must go away.

Hrafn.


Belba Grubb from Stock

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Aug 31, 2004, 3:29:23 PM8/31/04
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On 15 Aug 2004 21:41:07 -0700, roro...@netscape.net (RoRowe) wrote:

<snip excellent summary>


>
>[1] What does Legolas see here? Is it the march of the Hurons or
>something else.

It is the Huorns, pursuing the Orcs of Saruman's army while the Ents
remain behind at Isengard:

But, though I could not see what was happening in the dark, I
believe that Hurons began to move south, as soon as the gates
[of Isengard] shut again. Their business was with Orcs I
think. They were far down the valley in the morning; or at
any rate there was a shadow there that one couldn't see
through.
Merry, "Flotsam and Jetsam"

That is the shadow that Legolas also sees from the distance at about
the same time, I think.

>[3] It grieves Aragorn to fly before the enemy. He would like "ride
>down upon them like a storm out of the mountains". Gimil prefers to
>get behind the walls and kick their butts from there. What do you make
>of this contrast?

It presents both as grim fighters in their own way. The dwarves have
always, whenever possible, fought underground, surrounded by rocks --
they're not made for the sort of charges that Aragorn would like to
lead. They're more "street fighters."

>[4] The relationship between Gimli and Legolas is growing. What makes
>their friendship so strong when each to the other is "strange folk".

The bridge of words and understanding that Galadriel built in Lorien.
And probably both Legolas and Gimli are self-confident enough that
seeing strangeness arouses each individual's curiosity rather than
defensiveness. It's amazing how often those who hate
something/someone are those likely to be most interested in and
fascinated by that object or person, given the right circumstances and
the lifting of hate, even for a little while.

>[5] Which line is better: "We have taught them not to carry torches".
>or "It has been knife work up here." Explain your answer.

They're both very descriptive. I like the first because it's used by
someone in the rearguard that has been driven from the Dike -- he's
still ready to fight and not discouraged by that setback. See below
for the second.

>[6] What do you think of Gimli and Legolas' counting game?

It shows that they're both sane individuals, able to maintain
themselves in the midst of nightmare horror. Gimli and Legolas are
friends and are worried about each other's safety, but if they allowed
their civilized selves expression in these circumstances, they would
bleed psychically (and probably also physically as they are most
definitely in a kill-or-be-killed situation with hundreds upon
hundreds upon hundreds of little Ugluks shouting: "We are the
Uruk-hai: we do not stop the fight for night or day, for fair weather
or for storm. We come to kill, by sun or moon").

Think of all that lies behind Legolas' simple statement: "It has been
knife work up here." He's just killed four Orcs, who probably didn't
line up and wait patiently for their turn to go at him, in
hand-to-hand combat in the midst of a fierce battle and in the dark.
And think, too, of what Gimli has just experienced after the Orcs
broke through into the Deep. He's just hewn down 19 Orcs under
similar circumstances. Neither one can spare a drop of decent
reflection just then as the next attack will come at any moment and
they must be emotionally and physically ready for it.

Both because of that and also because they're "manly men," when they
meet at times during the battle they can't just simply say
"Gimli/Legolas! I'm so glad you haven't been killed yet!" They
invent this game instead, one that requires each of them to report to
the other one on his count -- it keeps them going during the horrible
fighting and gives them something "safe" to say to each other when
they do meet at times during lulls. It's a game, you see, and each is
required to hold up his end, so as long as they play it neither will
get killed (drop out of the game).

Look how Legolas reacts to Gimli's disappearance: "Where is Gimli?"
Aragorn tells him the enemy swept them apart. "Alas! That is evil
news," said Legolas. This is his gut reaction, one that he hasn't
shown so far during the night to Gimli. Seeing it, Aragorn comforts
him, saying that Gimli has probably escaped back to the caves and
there he would be safer, likely more safe than Aragorn and Legolas are
just then. Legolas then puts his mask back on: "That must be my
hope. But I wish that he had come this way. I desired to tell Master
Gimli that my tale is now thirty-nine," drawing a laugh from Aragorn.

The whole thing resolves itself in the next chapter when Gimli appears
bloodied but still sound and Legolas says "You have passed my score by
one. But I do not grudge you the game, so glad am I to see you on
your legs."

He can finally say it, you see: the battle is over now.

It's an interesting study of men under stress and how they react;
consciously or not, JRRT perhaps drew on his own and/or secondhand
descriptions of war experiences to write the Legolas/Gimli game.

>[7] Why are men so easily pursuaded to fight over old grievances. Has
>anything like this happened in Middle-earth since the third age?

The elf/dwarf resentment comes to mind first of all.

>[8] How cool was the scene in the movie when Orcs brought the ladders
>up to the wall? (TTT movie lovers smile.)

They made a movie? ;^)

>[9] What do you make of Aragorn's speech here. Was he issuing
>propaganda to scare the enemy? Did he have reason to believe the
>battle could still be won? Did he have foresight?

He was psyching himself up for the charge, having no reason whatsoever
to believe that he and Theoden and many other brave men were going to
accomplish anything more than to ride to their deaths. Also there
probably was some foresight that came to him, though he was unaware of
it. But mostly he was showing himself to the enemy one last time
before he joined in a hopeless charge against them -- machismo stuff.

This whole chapter is one of my favorites, and this sequence, starting
from the conversation with Theoden right through the charge and the
unexpected arrival of Gandalf and Erkenbrand gives me goosebumps every
time I read it.

>[10] Why is Aragorn so anxious for the dawn?

He will finally be able to ride out and kick butt.

Barb

Igenlode Wordsmith

unread,
Aug 31, 2004, 7:46:21 PM8/31/04
to
On 23 Aug 2004 Raven wrote:

> "RoRowe" <roro...@netscape.net> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:a0dc4d0a.04081...@posting.google.com...

[snip]

> > [6] What do you think of Gimli and Legolas' counting game?
>
> Presumably Tolkien's concept of Orcs when he wrote and published that was
> that they were not persons like Elves, Dwarves and Men. If they were mere
> automatons then there would be nothing wrong with making a game out of
> slaying them.

It's no more 'wrong' than medical students' notoriously tasteless jokes
about sickness and death - it's a normal human (and evidently dwarven
and elven!) coping mechanism for the experience of battle. You make a
game out of slaying the enemy to take your mind off the fact that (a)
people on both sides are dying all around in a messy manner and (b) they
may well end up killing *you*.

(I wonder, actually, if it echoes some half-remembered episode from
Tolkien's own brief service in the Great War - but probably not. One
doubts that he would be inclined to find much humour in that, though
I'll warrant there were black jokes and competitions enough in the
trenches at the time.)

[snip]

> > [7] Why are men so easily pursuaded to fight over old grievances. Has
> > anything like this happened in Middle-earth since the third age?
>
> Old grievances are especially strong if there is a profit in fighting
> over them. At Helm's time there had been at least some friendship between
> Dunlendings and Rohirrim, and intermarriages, as evidenced by Freca. But at
> all times there must have been resentment among the Dunlendings that the
> Rohirrim had seized part of their land and driven them off it, and a desire
> to move back.

It reminds me of the Picts attacking over Hadrian's Wall, actually - or
the Celts trying to drive the Saxons back into the sea, or the Saxons
fighting a losing battle against the Danes... It's made pretty clear,
isn't it, that the men of Dunland were the original inhabitants of the
Mark, and that the Rohirrim were brought in over their heads to defend
the overlords' flank - much like the unhappy Vortigern and his
/foederati/? :-) So they have a pretty hefty grievance against both
Rohan and Gondor, and are presumably perfect tools for Saruman to raise
against Theoden. In modern ideology, the Rohirrim are 'colonialists'
dedicated to oppressing the natives' language and culture :-)

[snip]

I still don't understand what exactly *is* the point of Aragorn's
'parley' - unless it's simply a time-wasting device to ensure the
Hornburg survives long enough for Theoden to make his planned
charge at dawn :-) The Orcs are quite right - he has nothing to say, no
conditions to propose, and it's not a proper parley at all -
effectively, he's abusing the rules of war in order to hold up the
attack! (Not that they care anything for the rules of war...)


What is it that causes "fear and great wonder" among the
previously-victorious Orcs at dawn? Is it just the echoing of the
horns, announcing a possible unknown number of fresh enemies? Can it
be the Huorns all the way back beyond Helm's Dike? (Theoden and his men
don't seem to notice the new wood until they have ridden all the way
from the Deeping Wall down to the Dike - how far is it?)
--
Igenlode <Igenl...@nym.alias.net> Bookwraith unabashed

The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

Shanahan

unread,
Sep 3, 2004, 8:07:41 PM9/3/04
to
Igenlode Wordsmith <Use-Author-Address-Header@[127.1]> creatively
typed:

> On 23 Aug 2004 Raven wrote:
>> "RoRowe" <roro...@netscape.net> skrev i en meddelelse
<snip>
>>> [7] Why are men so easily pursuaded to fight over old
>>> grievances. Has anything like this happened in Middle-earth
>>> since the third age?
<snip>

> It reminds me of the Picts attacking over Hadrian's Wall,
> actually - or the Celts trying to drive the Saxons back into the
> sea, or the Saxons fighting a losing battle against the Danes...
> It's made pretty clear, isn't it, that the men of Dunland were
> the original inhabitants of the Mark, and that the Rohirrim were
> brought in over their heads to defend the overlords' flank -
> much like the unhappy Vortigern and his /foederati/? :-) So they
> have a pretty hefty grievance against both Rohan and Gondor, and
> are presumably perfect tools for Saruman to raise against
> Theoden. In modern ideology, the Rohirrim are 'colonialists'
> dedicated to oppressing the natives' language and culture :-)

Oooh, nasssssty! And applicable. I like the comparison to
Vortigern.

> I still don't understand what exactly *is* the point of Aragorn's
> 'parley' - unless it's simply a time-wasting device to ensure the
> Hornburg survives long enough for Theoden to make his planned
> charge at dawn :-) The Orcs are quite right - he has nothing to
> say, no conditions to propose, and it's not a proper parley at
> all - effectively, he's abusing the rules of war in order to
> hold up the attack! (Not that they care anything for the rules
> of war...)

I think it's (story-internally) Aragorn being heroic. He is in
part trying to stall the attack, but he's also warning the Orcs off
in the classic manner of a hero spouting heroic stuff before wiping
the enemy off the map. <g> It's also just good propaganda, and
it works, at least on the Dunlendings.
On a more story-external level, it's the dawn/hope/Estel thing.

> What is it that causes "fear and great wonder" among the
> previously-victorious Orcs at dawn? Is it just the echoing of the
> horns, announcing a possible unknown number of fresh enemies?

It's mostly Théoden and the Lords of the House of Eorl's charge,
which is unexpectedly effective. It's also the fear engendered by
the ever-echoing horns, and by the simultaneous attack from within
the caves, and by the sight of the wood appearing where there was
no wood before (the Orcs hear a murmur from behind them, where the
wood has been discovered: "and it grew to a great clamour of many
voices crying strange news in the dawn": this is *before* Théoden's
charge).

I think the horns are so fearful because the echoes make them seem
magical. Tolkien uses the phrase "the sound of the great horn of
Helm rang out." Is Helm's horn really still around? Would it be a
huge horn mounted on the tower, like, dare I suggest, in the
movie??

Ciaran S.
--
"It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that
most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused,
not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad,
but by people being fundamentally people."
- gaiman and pratchett


Shanahan

unread,
Sep 3, 2004, 8:26:30 PM9/3/04
to
Belba Grubb from Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> creatively typed:

> On 15 Aug 2004 21:41:07 -0700, roro...@netscape.net (RoRowe)
> wrote:
>
> <snip excellent summary>

>> [6] What do you think of Gimli and Legolas' counting game?

Thank you, Barb! I'm so glad someone *finally* explained this
properly! Guess it takes a gal to do it... <g>

Ciaran S.
--
Hobbits! No report that I have heard does justice to the truth.


Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Sep 3, 2004, 7:14:21 PM9/3/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> Igenlode Wordsmith creatively typed:

<snip>

>> I still don't understand what exactly *is* the point of Aragorn's
>> 'parley'

<snip>

> I think it's (story-internally) Aragorn being heroic. He is in
> part trying to stall the attack, but he's also warning the Orcs off
> in the classic manner of a hero spouting heroic stuff before wiping
> the enemy off the map. <g> It's also just good propaganda, and
> it works, at least on the Dunlendings.
>
> On a more story-external level, it's the dawn/hope/Estel thing.

I can't remember if anyone has mentioned the "it was the right thing to
do" explanation. That was proposed (and this used as an example) when
discussing various other 'heroic warnings': Gandalf's warning to the
hound of Sauron (wargs) and Gandalf's warning to the Balrog in Moria.

>> What is it that causes "fear and great wonder" among the
>> previously-victorious Orcs at dawn? Is it just the echoing of the
>> horns, announcing a possible unknown number of fresh enemies?

The echoing of the horn is definitely meant to suggest the arrival of a
larger number of reinforcements than are actually arriving.

<snip>

> I think the horns are so fearful because the echoes make them seem
> magical. Tolkien uses the phrase "the sound of the great horn of
> Helm rang out." Is Helm's horn really still around? Would it be a
> huge horn mounted on the tower, like, dare I suggest, in the
> movie??

I would say that the horn is more likely to be like the horn that is
used later in the Shire by Merry, the one that he is given from the
hoard of Scatha the Worm by Eomer and Eowyn. It is 'magical' in that
sense, whatever that means.

I also get the impression that only a small part of the area in front of
the Hornburg can be seen (at least in the dark), with the rest possibly
obscured behind a rise (maybe where the Deeping Wall and the Dike is).
Thus when Aragorn and Theoden ride out, they cleave through the orcs
present there, and then discover that that is quite possibly _all_ that
is left of the orc army. The rest has been swallowed up by the Huorn
forest.

Either that, or the entire orc army flees and is packed in the "two
furlongs" between the Dike and the "nameless wood" of Huorns, in which
the orcs were packed like "swarming flies". Assailed on one flank by
Theoden and the sally from Helm's Deep and the Hornburg, on another
flank by Erkenbrand and the White Rider and those Riders, on another
flank by a sheer cliff, and only one exit under the eaves of that dark
wood. <shivers> Scary!

It is definitely worth re-reading the bit on the approach to the
Hornburg. That really gives you an idea of the topography and layout of
the fortress and the wall and dike. This helps understand the final
stages of the battle.

Shanahan

unread,
Sep 4, 2004, 12:10:08 AM9/4/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:

> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>> Igenlode Wordsmith creatively typed:
>
> <snip>
>
>>> I still don't understand what exactly *is* the point of
>>> Aragorn's 'parley'
>
> <snip>
>
>> I think it's (story-internally) Aragorn being heroic. He is in
>> part trying to stall the attack, but he's also warning the Orcs
>> off in the classic manner of a hero spouting heroic stuff
>> before wiping the enemy off the map. <g> It's also just good
>> propaganda, and it works, at least on the Dunlendings.
>> On a more story-external level, it's the dawn/hope/Estel thing.
>
> I can't remember if anyone has mentioned the "it was the right
> thing to do" explanation. That was proposed (and this used as an
> example) when discussing various other 'heroic warnings':
> Gandalf's warning to the hound of Sauron (wargs) and Gandalf's
> warning to the Balrog in Moria.

Yes, this is very much what Aragorn is doing. I was making gentle
fun of that oh-so-heroic notion.

<snip>

>> I think the horns are so fearful because the echoes make them
>> seem magical. Tolkien uses the phrase "the sound of the great
>> horn of Helm rang out." Is Helm's horn really still around?
>> Would it be a huge horn mounted on the tower, like, dare I
>> suggest, in the movie??
>
> I would say that the horn is more likely to be like the horn
> that is used later in the Shire by Merry, the one that he is
> given from the hoard of Scatha the Worm by Eomer and Eowyn. It
> is 'magical' in that sense, whatever that means.

I seem to recall that Éomer and Éowyn take that horn from the
treasury/armory at Edoras. It wouldn't be kept at Helm's Deep, or
carried around in battle, I don't think. And Tolkien specifically
says "the sound of the great horn of Helm rang out". That seems to
indicate a specific horn, known to have been Helm's, or used by
him. Since the echoing effect of the valley would be well-known,
it seems likely that it would have been used to good effect long
before this particular battle. And the top of the Hornburg would
be the perfect placement for maximum echo effect. I think it's
very likely a large, permanently mounted horn placed on the tower
long ago.

Ciaran S.
--
"From Surrey Docks to Somers Town with a KMRIA..."

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Sep 4, 2004, 4:13:00 AM9/4/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:
>> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

<snip>

>>> I think the horns are so fearful because the echoes make them
>>> seem magical. Tolkien uses the phrase "the sound of the great
>>> horn of Helm rang out." Is Helm's horn really still around?
>>> Would it be a huge horn mounted on the tower, like, dare I
>>> suggest, in the movie??
>>
>> I would say that the horn is more likely to be like the horn
>> that is used later in the Shire by Merry, the one that he is
>> given from the hoard of Scatha the Worm by Eomer and Eowyn. It
>> is 'magical' in that sense, whatever that means.
>
> I seem to recall that Éomer and Éowyn take that horn from the
> treasury/armory at Edoras. It wouldn't be kept at Helm's Deep, or
> carried around in battle, I don't think. And Tolkien specifically
> says "the sound of the great horn of Helm rang out". That seems to
> indicate a specific horn, known to have been Helm's, or used by
> him.

Well, yes. I did say "like" the horn, not "the same as". I was
referrring to the possibility of it being 'magic', rather then where it
was placed or where it came from originally.

> Since the echoing effect of the valley would be well-known,

Though even the Rohirrim were surprised that the echoes did not die
away, and they interpreted it as Helm having arisen again... Maybe they
hadn't blown the horn in a long time and they themselves forgot how
powerful it was.

> it seems likely that it would have been used to good effect long
> before this particular battle. And the top of the Hornburg would
> be the perfect placement for maximum echo effect. I think it's
> very likely a large, permanently mounted horn placed on the tower
> long ago.

Most likely. I liked the film depiction of it, but I find it strange
that Gimli was able to reach it to blow it. Maybe Helm was of dwarf
stature??!

Belba Grubb from Stock

unread,
Sep 5, 2004, 4:25:21 PM9/5/04
to
On Fri, 3 Sep 2004 17:26:30 -0700, " Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com>
wrote:

<snip>

>> It's an interesting study of men under stress and how they react;
>> consciously or not, JRRT perhaps drew on his own and/or
>> secondhand descriptions of war experiences to write the
>> Legolas/Gimli game.
>
>Thank you, Barb! I'm so glad someone *finally* explained this
>properly! Guess it takes a gal to do it... <g>

Thank you, but I learned about that while reading things written about
and by Vietnam combat vets mostly, and also some WWII vets. It's a
terrible cauldron, war in general and combat in particular, and no one
who has not been there can ever grasp the magnitude of the thing and
its effect on those caught up in it -- only hope to gain some insight
second-hand. There, perhaps, a gal (and anyone, really) can learn
something, if she can bring herself to be quiet and to just
listen...yet even that's not easy to do.

Barb

http://www.timelineic.org

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