CotW: LOTR, Bk.VI, Ch.1: The Tower of Cirith Ungol

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Shanahan

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Feb 21, 2005, 4:38:07 PM2/21/05
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Sorry so late, folks. The following is a discussion in the Chapter of
the Week fora. For more info/sign up to discuss a chapter yourself,
go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org!

Lord of the Rings
Book VI, Chapter One: The Tower of Cirith Ungol

THE TRANSITION:

After the tumultuous events of Book V with its high heroism and often
high language and poetry, the beginning of Book VI takes us back into
Samwise's homely POV. This change, which could be rather wrenching
or unbelievable if handled less adroitly, Tolkien accomplishes almost
invisibly. Pippin's POV closes out the battle before the Morannen,
as he wishes to "draw even with old Merry", and finally sees in
wonder that:
"'The Eagles are coming!' For one moment more Pippin's thought
hovered. 'Bilbo!' it said. 'But no! That came in his tale, long long
ago. This is my tale, and it is ended now. Good-bye!'

So we are drawn back onto the grounded earth of a hobbit POV even as
the high events of Bk.V end. We're also reminded of Bilbo and his
adventures, leading us back to the Ring-story that began it all, and
that we're returning to with Bk.VI. Pippin's thought links up with
the lovely discussion Frodo and Sam had about tales, especially this
one great Tale in which they've all been landed. "'Why, to think of
it, we're in the same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great
tales never end?' 'No, they never end as tales....but the people in
them come, and go....'"

How these two passages echo each other. Both move with common-sense
facility from the high to the low, the realization that it's ordinary
people who live out all the extraordinary tales, the remembrance of
childhood hearthfire stories recalled at the moment of death on the
battlefield... And, of course, being that this is Tolkien, despair
and hope lie here side-by-side like lovers, along with the idea of
Fairy Tales making sense of it all.
All this with a little hobbit-ramble.

And so we begin with Samwise's POV, carried back to *his* tale on the
wings of Pippin's 'final' thought, with Sam deep in the darkness of
Torech Ungol, but refusing despair. Sam's despair has been resolved:
Frodo is alive, there's no choice any more between warring duties,
and Sam has "thrown away the Quest, and all his doubts and fears with
it". (Luckily for Middle Earth, Sam has already done his bit for the
Quest, by saving the Ring from the Orcs.) He resolves to rescue his
master, or perish in the attempt, grimly noting that the perishing is
both easier and more likely!

We have jumped back in time in terms of the story-line, and Tolkien
gives us a lovely passage to orient us, as Sam leaves Shelob's tunnel
and turns up the pass to the Tower:

"Out westward in the world it was drawing to noon upon the
fourteenth day of March in the Shire-reckoning, and even now Aragorn
was leading the black fleet from Pelargir and Merry was riding with
the Rohirrim down the Stonewain Valley, while in Minas Tirith flames
were rising and Pippin watched the madness growing in the eyes of
Denethor. Yet amid all their cares and fear the thoughts of their
friends turned constantly to Frodo and Sam. They were not forgotten.
But they were far beyond aid, and no thought could yet bring any help
to Samwise Hamfast's son; he was utterly alone."

This device not only orients us in regard to the other story-lines,
it keeps the tension simmering in the plot; we are reminded of how
little time is left, and how close defeat is.

THE BORDER of MORDOR:

"He felt that if once he went beyond the crown of the pass and
took one step veritably down into the land of Mordor, that step would
be irrevocable. He could never come back. Without any clear purpose
he drew out the Ring and put it on again. Immediately he felt the
great burden of its Weight, and felt afresh, but now more strong and
urgent than ever, the malice of the Eye of Mordor, searching, trying
to pierce the shadows that it had made for its own defence, but which
now hindered it in its unquiet and doubt."

Is Sam right? Would Sauron immediately perceive him if he stepped
over the border wearing the Ring? Can a geographical border be that
important? We have text to support the idea that it is:

"He ran forward to the crown of the climbing path, and over it.
At once the road turned left and plunged steeply down. Sam had
crossed into Mordor....He took off the Ring, moved it may be by some
deep premonition of danger...."

But I rather doubt it, myself. It seems more likely to me that the
decision to 'take' the Ring, to try to use it or bend it to Sam's own
will, would be the trigger that Sauron would perceive, not mere
geographical proximity.

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF SAMWISE:

"He felt that he had from now on only two choices: to forbear
the Ring, though it would torment him; or to claim it, and challenge
the Power that sat in its dark hold beyond the valley of shadows.
Already the Ring tempted him, gnawing at his will and reason. Wild
fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of
the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and
armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of
Barad-dur. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun
shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of
flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the
Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be."

This is, of course, ridiculous. As much as I love Samwise, I have to
snicker a bit at this passage. But Sam snickers at it too, I think;
he knows he's too small for this kind of power, and once again the
tough, realistic sensibilities of the common man (or hobbit) save the
day:
"In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped
most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still
unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart
that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such
visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of
a free gar- dener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a
realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command."

THE EYE?

"[Sam] felt that if once he went beyond the crown of the pass
and took one step veritably down into the land of Mordor, that step
would be irrevocable. He could never come back. Without any clear
purpose he drew out the Ring and put it on again. Immediately he felt
the great burden of its Weight, and felt afresh, but now more strong
and urgent than ever, the malice of the Eye of Mordor, searching,
trying to pierce the shadows that it had made for its own defence,
but which now hindered it in its unquiet and doubt."

How do you folks envision Sauron? I've always conceived of him as a
cyclopean figure, shaped like a man, but with one eye in the middle
of his forehead, taking the 'Eye' concept a bit literally. But then
the movie took it *really* literally, and it made me wonder how
metaphorical the Eye is intended to be. Then I read these
early-version passages of this chapter, from HoME IX, /Sauron/
/Defeated/, Chapter One:
"The /Eye/ becomes suddenly like a beam of fire stabbing sheer
and sharp out of the northern smoke."
"[Frodo] feels the weight of the Eye. And behold the mantle of
shadow over Baraddur is drawn aside: and like a window looking into
an inner fire he sees the Eye."
There is a similar passage near the climax of LotR (pub. version),
where the Eye is described as a beam of red light stabbing northward
through the smokes surrounding the Barad-dur.

Thoughts?

TO KEEP PEOPLE IN:

"As he gazed at it suddenly Sam understood, almost with a shock,
that this stronghold had been built not to keep enemies out of
Mordor, but to keep them in."

I've always loved the way Tolkien phrases this. It seems to me that
this is the way that insight often works: with a shock, an almost
physical reaction like ice-water that runs through the body at the
moment of understanding. This, as much as the Watchers and the
bodies, is what makes Cirith Ungol so very creepy.

Sam creeps down to the gate of the Tower, notes that it is eerily
quiet, and sees two orc figures run out of the gate only to be shot
down from within. The orc-companies are indeed at war with each other
over the 'swag'. Sam grips his courage and tries the gate, but is
forbidden by the Watchers:

"They were like great figures seated upon thrones. Each had
three joined bodies, and three heads facing outward, and inward, and
across the gateway. The heads had vulture-faces, and on their great
knees were laid clawlike hands. They seemed to be carved out of huge
blocks of stone, immovable, and yet they were aware: some dreadful
spirit of evil vigilance abode in them. They knew an enemy. Visible
or invisible none could pass unheeded. They would forbid his entry,
or his escape."

Were these figures added after treachery had yielded up the Tower to
Mordor, or were they built by the Numenoreans, and later perverted to
Mordor's uses? I'd always thought the Two Watchers were additions to
the Tower by minions of Morgul, perhaps the Witch-King himself, but
then I considered the following passage, Snaga to Shagrat about
Gorbag:

"'Well, you put his back up, being so high and mighty. And he
had more sense than you anyway. He told you more than once that the
most dangerous of these spies was still loose, and you wouldn't
listen. And you won't listen now. Gorbag was right, I tell you.
There's a great fighter about, one of those bloody-handed Elves, or
one of the filthy /tarks/. He's coming here, I tell you. You heard
the bell. He's got past the Watchers, and that's /tark's/ work."

It's that last sentence that makes me wonder if the Watchers might
have been work of Gondor. A /'tark'/ is a Numenorean, the appendices
tell us. Why would getting past the Watchers be the work of a
Numenorean? Unless it was their art and magic that built them in the
first place... Otherwise, I'd expect only Elves would have the power
to break the barrier. (In early versions, Tolkien apparently had
trouble with this too; he went back and forth between Numenoreans,
Elves, and wizards in this passage.)

A BIT TOO CONVENIENT:

"'Well, well!' he said. 'If only they all take such a dislike to
me and my Sting, this may rum out better than I hoped. And anyway it
looks as if Shagrat, Gorbag, and company have done nearly all my job
for me. Except for that little frightened rat, I do believe there's
nobody left alive in the place!'"

This has always struck me as one of the weakest plot devices in LotR,
this incredibly convenient and complete mutual destruction of the
orcs in Cirith Ungol. It snatches me out of the story every time. I
*hate* that! <g>

THE POWER OF SONG: ESTEL and RESCUE

"And then softly, to his own surprise, there at the vain end of
his long journey and his grief, moved by what thought in his heart he
could not tell, Sam began to sing. His voice sounded thin and
quavering in the cold dark tower: the voice of a forlorn and weary
hobbit that no listening orc could possibly mistake for the clear
song of an Elven-lord. He murmured old childish tunes out of the
Shire, and snatches of Mr. Bilbo's rhymes that came into his mind
like fleeting glimpses of the country of his home. And then suddenly
new strength rose in him, and his voice rang out, while words of his
own came unbidden to fit the simple tune.

In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey's end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell."

(The original version of this song, found in Ch.2 of /Sauron/
/Defeated/, is too sentimental even for fangirly me.)
Once again, Sam follows his heart ("moved by what thought in his
heart he could not tell"), which refuses to despair. And is repaid by
Providence, for Frodo hears his forlorn singing, calls out, and Snaga
comes to shut him up, thus showing Sam the final steps of his way to
Frodo. Sam kills the orc and finds Frodo in the topmost chamber.

It has been Frodo's turn to despair, for he thought the orcs had
taken the Ring, along with everything else. But Sam quickly tells
him that Sam took the Ring and that he has it there; Frodo demands it
back; Sam hesitates and offers to help bear the burden. Is Sam's
offer pure, or tainted by desire for the Ring?

"'No, no!' cried Frodo, snatching the Ring and chain from Sam's
hands. 'No you won't, you thief!' He panted, staring at Sam with eyes
wide with fear and enmity. Then suddenly, clasping the Ring in one
clenched fist, he stood aghast. A mist seemed to clear from his eyes,
and he passed a hand over his aching brow. The hideous vision had
seemed so real to him, half bemused as he was still with wound and
fear. Sam had changed before his very eyes into an orc again, leering
and pawing at his treasure, a foul little creature with greedy eyes
and slobbering mouth. But now the vision had passed. There was Sam
kneeling before him, his face wrung with pain, as if he had been
stabbed in the heart; tears welled from his eyes."

Whose vision this time? Frodo's alone, or is the Ring interfering
again, as it did in Rivendell with Bilbo?

RING, RING, WHO'S GOT THE RING?

Frodo thought the orcs, and therefore Sauron, had the Ring.
Sauron thinks Aragorn has it, since the revelation of the Heir of
Elendil in the Orthanc-stone.
Denethor, as has been recently discussed, most likely thinks Sauron
has it, as he has probably seen Frodo captured in the Tower of Cirith
Ungol.
I wonder what Gollum thinks at this point?

FAVE QUOTE:
"No, they eat and drink, Sam. The Shadow that bred them can only
mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own. I don't think
it gave life to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them; and
if they are to live at all, they have to live like other living
creatures."

-------------
- Ciaran S.


Raven

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Feb 21, 2005, 4:35:02 PM2/21/05
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"Shanahan" <pogu...@ITbluefrog.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:cvd9s...@enews3.newsguy.com...

> A BIT TOO CONVENIENT:

> "'Well, well!' he said. 'If only they all take such a dislike to
> me and my Sting, this may rum out better than I hoped. And anyway it
> looks as if Shagrat, Gorbag, and company have done nearly all my job
> for me. Except for that little frightened rat, I do believe there's
> nobody left alive in the place!'"

> This has always struck me as one of the weakest plot devices in LotR,
> this incredibly convenient and complete mutual destruction of the
> orcs in Cirith Ungol. It snatches me out of the story every time. I
> *hate* that! <g>

This would be a little too convenient a coincidence, if we don't take
Providence into account. For one thing the orcs in Cirith Ungol did not
completely destroy each other, since Shagrat and Snaga remained alive.
Perhaps Sam could have prevailed even if one or two more had survived, or
even more if they were scattered, and he could frighten them off like he did
Snaga, and escape with Frodo before they could reassemble and discover that
they were still a match for the "great tark". But this great mutual
slaughter, which did not end with one side winning so much that they were
left in too considerable numbers for Sam to prevail against, may be one of
Eru's little nudges. Just as that very convenient misstep of Gollum's in
Sammath Naur, or that very unlikely find of Bilbo's in the orc caves.

> Whose vision this time? Frodo's alone, or is the Ring interfering
> again, as it did in Rivendell with Bilbo?

I imagine it was the blasted Ring again.

> RING, RING, WHO'S GOT THE RING?

[...]

> I wonder what Gollum thinks at this point?

Gollum probably knows that Frodo still has the Ring, or at least that it
remains with Frodo and Sam, because he knows that Sam escaped after
"plundering" Frodo. Also as attuned as he must be to the Ring he would
probably know if Sauron took it up again. After a time in which Shagrat
plausibly would have reached Barad-dûr he does not sense Sauron regaining
the Ring, and so becomes more confident that Frodo still has it. The more
so because Frodo and Sam keep plodding on towards the heart of Mordor rather
than turning back, even though it may be only at the last that he perceives
Frodo's true errand, when he realizes that they are making for Mount Doom.

Karasu.


AC

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Feb 22, 2005, 12:47:44 PM2/22/05
to
On Mon, 21 Feb 2005 13:38:07 -0800,
Shanahan <pogu...@ITbluefrog.com> wrote:

<snip>

> A BIT TOO CONVENIENT:
>
> "'Well, well!' he said. 'If only they all take such a dislike to
> me and my Sting, this may rum out better than I hoped. And anyway it
> looks as if Shagrat, Gorbag, and company have done nearly all my job
> for me. Except for that little frightened rat, I do believe there's
> nobody left alive in the place!'"
>
> This has always struck me as one of the weakest plot devices in LotR,
> this incredibly convenient and complete mutual destruction of the
> orcs in Cirith Ungol. It snatches me out of the story every time. I
> *hate* that! <g>

I dunno. Judging from the way that the Orcs marching Merry and Pippin to
Isengard behaved, this seems perfectly reasonable. This seems to be the way
Orcs behave, an anarchic lot who seem to be forced into obedience by fear
alone.

<snip>

> RING, RING, WHO'S GOT THE RING?
>
> Frodo thought the orcs, and therefore Sauron, had the Ring.
> Sauron thinks Aragorn has it, since the revelation of the Heir of
> Elendil in the Orthanc-stone.
> Denethor, as has been recently discussed, most likely thinks Sauron
> has it, as he has probably seen Frodo captured in the Tower of Cirith
> Ungol.
> I wonder what Gollum thinks at this point?

I would like to know what Gollum thought from the moment Frodo told him that
he was going to Mordor. That, to me, is one of the bigger mysteries of
JRRT's writings. Did Gollum simply not care what Frodo's intentions were,
and saw an opportunity for treachery to regain the Ring? Did he think Frodo
was taking it to Sauron? Obviously he had no idea that Frodo intended to
destroy it, so what was Gollum thinking?

<snip>

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

Derek Broughon

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Feb 22, 2005, 1:16:28 PM2/22/05
to
On Tue, 2005-22-02 at 17:47 +0000, AC wrote:

> > I wonder what Gollum thinks at this point?
>
> I would like to know what Gollum thought from the moment Frodo told him that
> he was going to Mordor. That, to me, is one of the bigger mysteries of
> JRRT's writings. Did Gollum simply not care what Frodo's intentions were,
> and saw an opportunity for treachery to regain the Ring? Did he think Frodo
> was taking it to Sauron? Obviously he had no idea that Frodo intended to
> destroy it, so what was Gollum thinking?

It was always my belief that Gollum thought Frodo was going to give the
ring to Sauron. Gollum didn't like that idea, didn't have the nerve to
try to take it himself, and felt that his best bet was to feed Frodo to
Shelob and then take it.
--
derek

Natman

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Feb 22, 2005, 4:43:21 PM2/22/05
to
On Mon, 21 Feb 2005 13:38:07 -0800, "Shanahan"
<pogu...@ITbluefrog.com> wrote:

[snip]


>
>THE BORDER of MORDOR:
>
> "He felt that if once he went beyond the crown of the pass and
>took one step veritably down into the land of Mordor, that step would
>be irrevocable. He could never come back. Without any clear purpose
>he drew out the Ring and put it on again. Immediately he felt the
>great burden of its Weight, and felt afresh, but now more strong and
>urgent than ever, the malice of the Eye of Mordor, searching, trying
>to pierce the shadows that it had made for its own defence, but which
>now hindered it in its unquiet and doubt."
>
>Is Sam right? Would Sauron immediately perceive him if he stepped
>over the border wearing the Ring? Can a geographical border be that
>important? We have text to support the idea that it is:
>
> "He ran forward to the crown of the climbing path, and over it.
>At once the road turned left and plunged steeply down. Sam had
>crossed into Mordor....He took off the Ring, moved it may be by some
>deep premonition of danger...."
>
>But I rather doubt it, myself. It seems more likely to me that the
>decision to 'take' the Ring, to try to use it or bend it to Sam's own
>will, would be the trigger that Sauron would perceive, not mere
>geographical proximity.
>

Georgraphical proximity to Sauron seems to be very important. Consider
the powers of the Nazgul in ROTK. They inspire paralyzing fear
wherever they go. Any close contact with one gives a bad case of Black
Breath. This is while they are just on the other side of Mordor on the
Pelennor Fields.

Now consider their power when they are farther away in FOTR, on
Weathertop. Aragorn chases FIVE of them away with a burning stick.

Sauron's influence must be like light, diminishing with the square of
the distance. <g>

the softrat

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Feb 22, 2005, 8:57:34 PM2/22/05
to
On 22 Feb 2005 17:47:44 GMT, AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>I would like to know what Gollum thought from the moment Frodo told him that
>he was going to Mordor. That, to me, is one of the bigger mysteries of
>JRRT's writings. Did Gollum simply not care what Frodo's intentions were,
>and saw an opportunity for treachery to regain the Ring? Did he think Frodo
>was taking it to Sauron? Obviously he had no idea that Frodo intended to
>destroy it, so what was Gollum thinking?
>
Probably Gollum does as little thinking as possible: he has a certain
Ring on his mind.

the softrat
"Honi soit qui mal y pense."
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--
'Sarcasm: the last resort of modest and chaste-souled people
when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively
invaded' - Dostoevsky (after Paddy)

R. Dan Henry

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Feb 23, 2005, 1:16:25 AM2/23/05
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On Tue, 22 Feb 2005 21:43:21 GMT, nat_...@yahoo.com (Natman) wrote:

>Now consider their power when they are farther away in FOTR, on
>Weathertop. Aragorn chases FIVE of them away with a burning stick.

No, he doesn't. Five leave after they think they've done what they
came to do; they depart more from the invocation of Elbereth than
anything Aragorn does. Furthermore, at Weathertop they are still
trying to be as subtle as Nazgul can be. Even if they took physical
posession of the One, it is a long way back to Mordor.

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

Natman

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Feb 23, 2005, 11:03:30 AM2/23/05
to


If you prefer that the Nazgul left because a hobbit swears at them
rather than Aragorn waves a burning stick, that's fine with me. Why
were the Nazgul being "subtle"? Because they had no real power.

All this simply reinforces my point; that the Nazgul at Weathertop
were working with smoke and mirrors and were a far cry from the
terrors they were in ROTK. The difference? Physical distance from
Sauron.

Typical weakness of a over-centralized bureaucracy; the remote offices
can't do anything without orders from home.

P.S.
If Frodo had become a wraith, would it be shorter to Mordor?

Öjevind Lång

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Feb 23, 2005, 12:35:31 PM2/23/05
to
"Natman" <nat_...@yahoo.com> skrev i meddelandet
news:421ca6e5...@netnews.comcast.net...

[snip]

> All this simply reinforces my point; that the Nazgul at Weathertop
> were working with smoke and mirrors and were a far cry from the
> terrors they were in ROTK. The difference? Physical distance from
> Sauron.
>
> Typical weakness of a over-centralized bureaucracy; the remote offices
> can't do anything without orders from home.

You know, I have never seen this point made so well before.

> P.S.
> If Frodo had become a wraith, would it be shorter to Mordor?

Huh? Because a hobbit is shorter than a man? [PUZZLED FROWN]

Öjevind


Natman

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Feb 23, 2005, 1:42:16 PM2/23/05
to

The "Shorter to Mordor" reference is in reply to the first poster's
point that the Nazgul acted as they did because it was a long way back
to Mordor (see below). I don't see how the long return trip to Mordor
influences their actions on Weathertop and was prompting him for a
response.

In my view the Nazgul didn't take possession of the ring because they
couldn't. The trip back to Mordor would be the same length regardless
of whether Frodo was a wraith or if they had the ring.

Another thought: Perhaps the Nazgul wanted Frodo to carry the ring as
a wraith under thier control for the same reason Gandalf wanted him to
carry it as a living hobbit; he was strong enough to carry the ring,
but not strong enough to claim it. Like Gandalf, the Nazgul did not
dare take the ring themselves.

>>Now consider their power when they are farther away in FOTR, on
>>Weathertop. Aragorn chases FIVE of them away with a burning stick.

>No, he doesn't. Five leave after they think they've done what they
>came to do; they depart more from the invocation of Elbereth than
>anything Aragorn does. Furthermore, at Weathertop they are still
>trying to be as subtle as Nazgul can be. Even if they took physical
>posession of the One, it is a long way back to Mordor.

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

R. Dan Henry

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Feb 24, 2005, 1:26:40 AM2/24/05
to
On Mon, 21 Feb 2005 22:35:02 +0100, "Raven"
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

>But this great mutual
>slaughter, which did not end with one side winning so much that they were
>left in too considerable numbers for Sam to prevail against, may be one of
>Eru's little nudges. Just as that very convenient misstep of Gollum's in
>Sammath Naur, or that very unlikely find of Bilbo's in the orc caves.

I don't think so. That would be denying the Orcs their free will; not
something Eru would do. Unless they are really just automatons, but
there are enormous problems with that idea, not least of which is that
it makes Morgoth and Sauron less wicked.

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

R. Dan Henry

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Feb 24, 2005, 1:26:39 AM2/24/05
to
On 22 Feb 2005 17:47:44 GMT, AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>On Mon, 21 Feb 2005 13:38:07 -0800,
>Shanahan <pogu...@ITbluefrog.com> wrote:

>> A BIT TOO CONVENIENT:
>>
>> "'Well, well!' he said. 'If only they all take such a dislike to
>> me and my Sting, this may rum out better than I hoped. And anyway it
>> looks as if Shagrat, Gorbag, and company have done nearly all my job
>> for me. Except for that little frightened rat, I do believe there's
>> nobody left alive in the place!'"
>>
>> This has always struck me as one of the weakest plot devices in LotR,
>> this incredibly convenient and complete mutual destruction of the
>> orcs in Cirith Ungol. It snatches me out of the story every time. I
>> *hate* that! <g>
>
>I dunno. Judging from the way that the Orcs marching Merry and Pippin to
>Isengard behaved, this seems perfectly reasonable. This seems to be the way
>Orcs behave, an anarchic lot who seem to be forced into obedience by fear
>alone.

The Orcs there have conflicting orders and goals, belonging to three
different armies, all nominally loyal to Sauron in some respect, but
only the Mordor Orcs really concerned with Sauron's command structure
and the orders from it. It is unlikely that humans in this situation
would have been much more cooperative.

In contrast, Gorbag and Shagrat command forces within the same
military, although there may be some rivalry, they supposed to be on
the same side and answer to the same command structure. They also
appear to be on, for Orcs, personally friendly terms. Their massive
falling out, when they know the Nazgul and the Eye won't be distracted
for long, is extraordinary. That is not to say it cannot be explained,
but it certainly does call out for some better explanation than,
"well, they're Orcs".

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

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Feb 24, 2005, 1:26:48 AM2/24/05
to
On Wed, 23 Feb 2005 18:42:16 GMT, nat_...@yahoo.com (Natman) wrote:

>In my view the Nazgul didn't take possession of the ring because they
>couldn't. The trip back to Mordor would be the same length regardless
>of whether Frodo was a wraith or if they had the ring.

If the got the Ring without calling undo attention to themselves, they
could avoid ambush. That was the point. Calling more attention to
themselves would make getting the Ring back more difficult; nothing to
do with having Frodo-wraith carry it be more convenient. The more
flash and bang involved, the more likely that someone who would like
the Ruling Ring for himself, say some guy in the multicolored robe
based on the easiest route home and with spies everywhere, would be
able to make a grab for it.

And your speculation about distance is utterly unsupported by the
text.

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

Natman

unread,
Feb 24, 2005, 12:26:39 PM2/24/05
to


Yes, my theory of distance from Sauron diminishing the Nazgul's power
is unsupported in the text, in the sense that Tolkien didn't come out
and say "They were too far away from Sauron to use the full extent of
their power" or some such thing. However, the model of Sauron as the
central force guiding all his servants is well established. He was not
a good delegator.

We have two facts that are from the book:

The Nazgul on Weathertop are far less powerful than they are at the
Pelennor Fields.

Weathertop is much farther away from Sauron than the Pelennor Fields.

Therefore it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that the difference
in power is caused by the difference in distance.

It certainly makes more sense than your explanation that the Nazgul
were trying to keep a low profile, which is directly contradicted by
the book.

Let's see, the Nazgul just finished terrorizing Bree (where Saruman
had spies), then had an encounter with Gandalf where "lightning lept
from the hilltops"; but they don't take the ring from Frodo on
Weathertop because they don't want to draw attention to themselves?
Sorry, but it just doesn't hold up.


Raven

unread,
Feb 24, 2005, 4:59:56 PM2/24/05
to
"R. Dan Henry" <danh...@inreach.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:r9ln11d5lp7eiet91...@4ax.com...

Then Gollum was denied free will when he danced into the fire, and Bilbo
was denied free will when he placed his hand on the Ring and not one of a
billion other spots of equal area on the floors of the goblin caves - or
Gollum again when he dropped the Ring precisely where Eru foresaw without
error that Bilbo would place his hand.
If Eru had caused hobbits to engage in similar internecine slaughter,
then he would have had to make far greater intrusion into their minds. But
the orcs were fare more likely to behave that way, and only subtle prodding
was needed to effect the desired outcome - if this was indeed how it
happened. Perhaps seeing to it that arrows went wide which would otherwise
have caused one faction to win and survive in sufficient number to stop Sam,
or some orc on the winning side slipping in the gore who would otherwise
have brought home a sword-thrust.
In the fiction, I suppose Eru primarily grants free will when he permits
any rational creature to make moral choices. This includes the orcs at
Cirith Ungol choosing to fight each other. Following that choice on the
part of the orcs, it may have been by Eru's intervention that the fighting
ended with so few survivours.

Voron.


R. Dan Henry

unread,
Feb 24, 2005, 11:35:41 PM2/24/05
to
On Thu, 24 Feb 2005 17:26:39 GMT, nat_...@yahoo.com (Natman) wrote:

>The Nazgul on Weathertop are far less powerful than they are at the
>Pelennor Fields.
>
>Weathertop is much farther away from Sauron than the Pelennor Fields.
>
>Therefore it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that the difference
>in power is caused by the difference in distance.

Except that Tolkien's own words imply that it was a *specific action*
of Sauron to strengthen the Witch-King.

"There, put in command by Sauron, [the Witch-King] is given an added
demonic force." (letter 210)

That does not sound like "he was closer" to me. Some have taken it to
mean he was given his own ring back, but that's speculative. And the
other Nazgul do not appear more powerful -- they are limited to the
use of fear and the Black Breath, both of which they have in plenty
earlier.

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

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Feb 24, 2005, 11:35:42 PM2/24/05
to
On Thu, 24 Feb 2005 22:59:56 +0100, "Raven"
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

>"R. Dan Henry" <danh...@inreach.com> skrev i en meddelelse
>news:r9ln11d5lp7eiet91...@4ax.com...
>
>> On Mon, 21 Feb 2005 22:35:02 +0100, "Raven"
>> <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:
>
>> >But this great mutual
>> >slaughter, which did not end with one side winning so much that they were
>> >left in too considerable numbers for Sam to prevail against, may be one
>> > of Eru's little nudges. Just as that very convenient misstep of
>> >Gollum's in Sammath Naur, or that very unlikely find of Bilbo's in the
>> >orc caves.
>
>> I don't think so. That would be denying the Orcs their free will; not
>> something Eru would do. Unless they are really just automatons, but
>> there are enormous problems with that idea, not least of which is that
>> it makes Morgoth and Sauron less wicked.
>
> Then Gollum was denied free will when he danced into the fir

No. Making him *jump* into the fire would have over-ruled his free
will. Tripping him up only spoils his freedom of action.

>and Bilbo
>was denied free will when he placed his hand on the Ring and not one of a
>billion other spots of equal area on the floors of the goblin caves

Or else the Ring was made to be where Bilbo would put his hand down,
which seems more likely in any case -- it is the Ring that is acting
more extraordinary by moving along. Hobbits on adventure are rare,
true, but not once-in-a-millennium events.

>- or
>Gollum again when he dropped the Ring precisely where Eru foresaw without
>error that Bilbo would place his hand.

Gollum was not *made to choose to drop it*. If I lock you in your
room, you can't leave, but I've only restricted your freedom of
movement. If I put an inhibitor in your skull that prevents you from
even thinking of going out the door, *then and only then* have I
violated your freedom of will.

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

Natman

unread,
Feb 25, 2005, 1:14:42 AM2/25/05
to

What letter is this? In my copy of Letters (by Carpenter), #210 is to
Forrest J. Ackerman, comments on a film treatment. I can't find the
passage quoted.

????

AC

unread,
Feb 25, 2005, 1:36:03 AM2/25/05
to
the softrat wrote:
> On 22 Feb 2005 17:47:44 GMT, AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>>I would like to know what Gollum thought from the moment Frodo told him that
>>he was going to Mordor. That, to me, is one of the bigger mysteries of
>>JRRT's writings. Did Gollum simply not care what Frodo's intentions were,
>>and saw an opportunity for treachery to regain the Ring? Did he think Frodo
>>was taking it to Sauron? Obviously he had no idea that Frodo intended to
>>destroy it, so what was Gollum thinking?
>>
>
> Probably Gollum does as little thinking as possible: he has a certain
> Ring on his mind.

I suppose, but Gollum does recognize what Frodo is up to when he catches
up with them as they start on the final road to Sammath Naur. He's not
ignorant of that fact, and neither is he ignorant of what Sauron's
reclaiming of the Ring will mean, at least for him.

I think, personally, that Gollum had planned treachery of one kind or
another all along. He couldn't defy Frodo when they first met, it seems
the Ring (whether Frodo was using it or not) was too daunting. I doubt
he had any true intention of ever leading them into Mordor, but he
needed time to figure out how to get it. Leading them to the Black
Gate, all the while knowing that that was no entrance into Mordor, gave
him the time for a more inspired plan, to feed Frodo to Shelob.

Under no circumstances did he want Sauron to get It back, and I suspect
that he, like Sauron, could not fathom until the last moments that
someone would actually destroy the Ring.

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

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Feb 25, 2005, 5:09:32 AM2/25/05
to
In message <421ec1e2...@netnews.comcast.net>,
Natman <nat_...@yahoo.com> enriched us with:

>
> On Thu, 24 Feb 2005 20:35:41 -0800, R. Dan Henry
> <danh...@inreach.com> wrote:
>>

<snip>

>> "There, put in command by Sauron, [the Witch-King] is given an added
>> demonic force." (letter 210)

<snip>

> What letter is this? In my copy of Letters (by Carpenter), #210 is to
> Forrest J. Ackerman, comments on a film treatment. I can't find the
> passage quoted.

It's in the passage numbered nine -- close to the end:

"9. Leaving the inn at night and running off into the dark
is an impossible solution of the difficulties of
presentation here (which I can see). It is the last thing
that Aragorn would have done. It is based on a
misconception of the Black Riders throughout, which I beg Z
to reconsider. Their peril is almost entirely due to the
unreasoning fear which they inspire (like ghosts). They
have no great physical power against the fearless; but what
they have, and the fear that they inspire, is enormously
increased in darkness. The Witch-king, their leader, is
more powerful in all ways than the others; but he must not
yet be raised to the stature of Vol. III. /There, put in
command by Sauron, he is given an added demonic force./ But
even in the Battle of the Pelennor, the darkness had only
just broken."
[Letter #210, 210 From a letter to Forrest J. Ackerman Not dated; June
1958] (My emphasis)

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

Men, said the Devil,
are good to their brothers:
they don't want to mend
their own ways, but each other's.
- Piet Hein, /Mankind/


JimboCat

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Feb 25, 2005, 1:50:12 PM2/25/05
to
On Wed, 23 Feb 2005 18:35:31 +0100, "Öjevind Lång"
<dnivej...@swipnet.se> wrote:

>"Natman" <nat_...@yahoo.com> skrev i meddelandet
>news:421ca6e5...@netnews.comcast.net...
>
>[snip]
>

>> P.S.
>> If Frodo had become a wraith, would it be shorter to Mordor?
>

>Huh? Because a hobbit is shorter than a man? [PUZZLED FROWN]

What I wonder is whether his heart would then speak "clearly".

Jim Deutch (JimboCat)
--
The great danger of
Hydrogen cyanide is
Not to be sniffed at

Natman

unread,
Feb 25, 2005, 2:36:26 PM2/25/05
to

Thanks for the pointer. It was late last night.

The relationship of distance to power is well documented in the case
of the Ring. As Frodo approaches Mordor, specifically Mt. Doom, the
power of the ring grows. The distance theory explains the observed
difference in he Nazgul's power, is consistent with the relationship
between distance and the ring's power and Sauron's management style.

So I should give it up because of what the *author* says? <G>


Shanahan

unread,
Feb 25, 2005, 5:45:52 PM2/25/05
to
Natman <nat_...@yahoo.com> creatively typed:

> On Wed, 23 Feb 2005 18:35:31 +0100, "Öjevind Lång"
>> "Natman" <nat_...@yahoo.com> skrev i meddelandet
>>
>>> All this simply reinforces my point; that the Nazgul at Weathertop
>>> were working with smoke and mirrors and were a far cry from the
>>> terrors they were in ROTK. The difference? Physical distance from
>>> Sauron.
>>> Typical weakness of a over-centralized bureaucracy; the remote
>>> offices can't do anything without orders from home.
>>
>> You know, I have never seen this point made so well before.

I don't agree that the Nazgul were "working with smoke and mirrors."
As has been noted before, the Nazgul are not physically powerful; they
are not warriors. Their power lies in the fear they inspire.

<snip>


> Another thought: Perhaps the Nazgul wanted Frodo to carry the ring as
> a wraith under thier control for the same reason Gandalf wanted him
> to carry it as a living hobbit; he was strong enough to carry the
> ring, but not strong enough to claim it. Like Gandalf, the Nazgul
> did not dare take the ring themselves.

No doubt the closer they are to Sauron, the more powerful they become,
and the greater fear they inspire. However, it's not a matter of them
not daring to take the Ring. They would be utterly unable to take the
Ring. They can only act according to Sauron's will, and there is no
doubt that he made his will clear to them before sending them after the
Ring. It is explicitly said to be so, when Gandalf explains why Sauron
used the Ringwraiths to pursue the Ring in the first place: because
they would be unable to steal it from him.

Ciaran S.
--
Parody it all


Raven

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Feb 25, 2005, 2:32:47 PM2/25/05
to
"R. Dan Henry" <danh...@inreach.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:soat11laornk0k35q...@4ax.com...

> On Thu, 24 Feb 2005 22:59:56 +0100, "Raven"
> <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

> > Then Gollum was denied free will when he danced into the fire

> No. Making him *jump* into the fire would have over-ruled his free
> will. Tripping him up only spoils his freedom of action.

And the difference between this and causing the orcs of Cirith Ungol to
almost totally wipe each other out is?

> >and Bilbo
> >was denied free will when he placed his hand on the Ring and not one of a
> >billion other spots of equal area on the floors of the goblin caves

> Gollum was not *made to choose to drop it*. If I lock you in your


> room, you can't leave, but I've only restricted your freedom of
> movement. If I put an inhibitor in your skull that prevents you from
> even thinking of going out the door, *then and only then* have I
> violated your freedom of will.

I did not propose that Eru commanded the orcs subliminally to fight, only
that he affected the outcome. So the difference between that and locking me
in without removing my desire to bust out is?

Cuervo.


Natman

unread,
Feb 25, 2005, 9:05:57 PM2/25/05
to
On Fri, 25 Feb 2005 14:45:52 -0800, "Shanahan"
<pogu...@ITbluefrog.com> wrote:

>Natman <nat_...@yahoo.com> creatively typed:
>> On Wed, 23 Feb 2005 18:35:31 +0100, "Öjevind Lång"
>>> "Natman" <nat_...@yahoo.com> skrev i meddelandet
>>>
>>>> All this simply reinforces my point; that the Nazgul at Weathertop
>>>> were working with smoke and mirrors and were a far cry from the
>>>> terrors they were in ROTK. The difference? Physical distance from
>>>> Sauron.
>>>> Typical weakness of a over-centralized bureaucracy; the remote
>>>> offices can't do anything without orders from home.
>>>
>>> You know, I have never seen this point made so well before.
>
>I don't agree that the Nazgul were "working with smoke and mirrors."
>As has been noted before, the Nazgul are not physically powerful; they
>are not warriors. Their power lies in the fear they inspire.
>

You call it "power inspired through fear"; I call it "Smoke and
Mirrors". Same thing. The point is that the Nazgul, at least in their
Bree / Weathertop incarnation, don't DO much of anything. They
vandalize a hotel room. They make Merry get a bit dizzy (a hobbit
dizzy after an evening in a pub, like that's never happened before).

On Weathertop FIVE of them are chased away, although whether that is
because Aragorn was waving a burning stick or because a hobbit swore
at them is a matter of debate. They botch the attempt at stabbing
Frodo even though he makes it easier for them by putting on the ring,
and as a result he gets away.

If your goal is to insprire fear send the Nazgul. If you want to get
something accomplished, five Orcs could have done a better job.

>No doubt the closer they are to Sauron, the more powerful they become,
>and the greater fear they inspire. However, it's not a matter of them
>not daring to take the Ring. They would be utterly unable to take the
>Ring. They can only act according to Sauron's will, and there is no
>doubt that he made his will clear to them before sending them after the
>Ring. It is explicitly said to be so, when Gandalf explains why Sauron
>used the Ringwraiths to pursue the Ring in the first place: because
>they would be unable to steal it from him.
>

This would be the only reason to send them, because Sauron doesn't
trust anyone else with the ring. Where does Gandalf's explanation take
place?

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Feb 26, 2005, 6:07:20 AM2/26/05
to
On Fri, 25 Feb 2005 20:32:47 +0100, "Raven"
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

>"R. Dan Henry" <danh...@inreach.com> skrev i en meddelelse
>news:soat11laornk0k35q...@4ax.com...
>
>> On Thu, 24 Feb 2005 22:59:56 +0100, "Raven"
>> <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:
>
>> > Then Gollum was denied free will when he danced into the fire
>
>> No. Making him *jump* into the fire would have over-ruled his free
>> will. Tripping him up only spoils his freedom of action.
>
> And the difference between this and causing the orcs of Cirith Ungol to
>almost totally wipe each other out is?

That you are claiming Eru did the one and not the other -- or do you
think Gollum was made to decide to go into the fire, rather than
having happened to have fallen in (by chance or with a nudge)?

>> >and Bilbo
>> >was denied free will when he placed his hand on the Ring and not one of a
>> >billion other spots of equal area on the floors of the goblin caves
>
>> Gollum was not *made to choose to drop it*. If I lock you in your
>> room, you can't leave, but I've only restricted your freedom of
>> movement. If I put an inhibitor in your skull that prevents you from
>> even thinking of going out the door, *then and only then* have I
>> violated your freedom of will.
>
> I did not propose that Eru commanded the orcs subliminally to fight, only
>that he affected the outcome. So the difference between that and locking me
>in without removing my desire to bust out is?

Okay, that's a completely different claim, then. But it is that they
would fall to fighting so fiercely under the circumstances that is
strange. That there are few survivors and most of those have left the
tower is hardly odd given the fighting. I don't see a credibility
problem there.

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

Michael Ikeda

unread,
Feb 26, 2005, 7:38:38 AM2/26/05
to
R. Dan Henry <danh...@inreach.com> wrote in
news:02m021dmr5qg33p42...@4ax.com:

> On Fri, 25 Feb 2005 20:32:47 +0100, "Raven"
> <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:
>

(snipped)

>> I did not propose that Eru commanded the orcs subliminally to
>> fight, only
>>that he affected the outcome. So the difference between that
>>and locking me in without removing my desire to bust out is?
>
> Okay, that's a completely different claim, then. But it is that
> they would fall to fighting so fiercely under the circumstances
> that is strange. That there are few survivors and most of those
> have left the tower is hardly odd given the fighting. I don't
> see a credibility problem there.
>

As far as the fighting is concerned I see a combination of factors:

1) The natural quarrelsome nature of orcs (seen later on when the
warrior and tracker are tracking Frodo and Sam).
2) The mithril shirt.
3) Sauron's attention being elsewhere.
4) There is also a hint that there may have been a rivalry between
the two units.

--
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

Pete Gray

unread,
Feb 26, 2005, 3:50:16 PM2/26/05
to
In article <cvd9s...@enews3.newsguy.com>, pogu...@ITbluefrog.com
says...

>
> THE EYE?
>
> How do you folks envision Sauron? I've always conceived of him as a
> cyclopean figure, shaped like a man, but with one eye in the middle
> of his forehead, taking the 'Eye' concept a bit literally. But then
> the movie took it *really* literally, and it made me wonder how
> metaphorical the Eye is intended to be. Then I read these
> early-version passages of this chapter, from HoME IX, /Sauron/
> /Defeated/, Chapter One:

Well, yes, but of course these did not make it to the final version.
And for the movie take on it, my vocabulary of invective is just not
sufficient for me to be able to adequately describe quite how stupid
it was.

I imagine the Eye as a metaphor for the will of Sauron, something that
you can sense beating down upon you even if you can't actually see it
- much in the way that you can sense the power and direction of the
sun on a sunny day even with your eyes closed.

> There is a similar passage near the climax of LotR (pub. version),
> where the Eye is described as a beam of red light stabbing northward
> through the smokes surrounding the Barad-dur.
>

It ends '...the the shadows were furled again and the terrible vision
was removed' leaving it open not to be interpeted literally (and I
prefer it that way).

[The Watchers]

>
> Were these figures added after treachery had yielded up the Tower to
> Mordor, or were they built by the Numenoreans, and later perverted to
> Mordor's uses? I'd always thought the Two Watchers were additions to
> the Tower by minions of Morgul, perhaps the Witch-King himself, but
> then I considered the following passage, Snaga to Shagrat about
> Gorbag:

Like you I always have imagined that the Watchers were a Sauronian
addition. 'Tark's work' because only a Tark (or similar) would be able
to pass the Watchers surely strengthens that interpretation -
Numenoreans are also seen as special (sort of Man+, though not as
special as elves). In any case the Watchers are described as
'hideous' with a 'dreadful spirit of evil vigilence' and a 'glitter in
the black stones of their eyes, the very malice of which made him
quail.' So I think it's safe to say _not_ Numenorean.

[snip]

>
> It has been Frodo's turn to despair, for he thought the orcs had
> taken the Ring, along with everything else. But Sam quickly tells
> him that Sam took the Ring and that he has it there; Frodo demands it
> back; Sam hesitates and offers to help bear the burden. Is Sam's
> offer pure, or tainted by desire for the Ring?

I think the latter. 'Now that it had come to it, Sam felt reluctant to
give up the Ring and burden his master with it again.' As Gandalf says
in 'The Shadow of the Past':
'...Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness
and the desire of strength to do good...'
--
Pete Gray

Say No to ID Cards <http://www.no2id.net>
<http://www.redbadge.co.uk/no2idcards/>

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Feb 28, 2005, 5:05:37 AM2/28/05
to
R. Dan Henry <danh...@inreach.com> wrote:
> On 22 Feb 2005 17:47:44 GMT, AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>>Shanahan <pogu...@ITbluefrog.com> wrote:

>>> This has always struck me as one of the weakest plot devices in LotR,
>>> this incredibly convenient and complete mutual destruction of the
>>> orcs in Cirith Ungol. It snatches me out of the story every time. I
>>> *hate* that! <g>

>>I dunno. Judging from the way that the Orcs marching Merry and Pippin to
>>Isengard behaved, this seems perfectly reasonable. This seems to be the way
>>Orcs behave, an anarchic lot who seem to be forced into obedience by fear
>>alone.

> In contrast, Gorbag and Shagrat command forces within the same


> military, although there may be some rivalry, they supposed to be on
> the same side and answer to the same command structure. They also
> appear to be on, for Orcs, personally friendly terms. Their massive
> falling out, when they know the Nazgul and the Eye won't be distracted
> for long, is extraordinary. That is not to say it cannot be explained,
> but it certainly does call out for some better explanation than,
> "well, they're Orcs".

For me, that explanation works fine. After all, Orcs (like Elves)
represent an (exaggerated) part of the human character. And the "two
similar, but rival groups fight each other" is a motive that's
frequent enough, from the conflicts during the feasts described in
Irish and Nordic sagas, to the stereotype brawl between Army and Navy
soldiers in movies. Add to that some real booty (the mithril-coat),
and the exaggeration mentioned above, and I think a major fight is
quite possible.

What surprised me in this scene is that they more or less annihilated
each other completely; but then I think the survivors probably
disappeared quickly enough, because they didn't want to be connected
with the incident (as all low-ranking soldiers quickly learn :-)

- Dirk

Shanahan

unread,
Feb 28, 2005, 3:30:22 PM2/28/05
to
Michael Ikeda <mmi...@erols.com> creatively typed:

> R. Dan Henry <danh...@inreach.com> wrote in
>> <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:
>
>>> I did not propose that Eru commanded the orcs subliminally to
>>> fight, only
>>> that he affected the outcome. So the difference between that
>>> and locking me in without removing my desire to bust out is?
>>
>> Okay, that's a completely different claim, then. But it is that
>> they would fall to fighting so fiercely under the circumstances
>> that is strange. That there are few survivors and most of those
>> have left the tower is hardly odd given the fighting. I don't
>> see a credibility problem there.
>
> As far as the fighting is concerned I see a combination of factors:
> 1) The natural quarrelsome nature of orcs (seen later on when the
> warrior and tracker are tracking Frodo and Sam).
> 2) The mithril shirt.
> 3) Sauron's attention being elsewhere.
> 4) There is also a hint that there may have been a rivalry between
> the two units.

All well-taken points. The problem I see is the fact that they all
killed each other off so neatly. No one (okay, two) left alive, out of
two hundred orcs fighting each other? The two forces just happened to
be that equally matched? Strikes me as improbable at best, and it
always snatches me out of the story.

Ciaran S.
--
Put everything in quotes


Shanahan

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Feb 28, 2005, 3:47:51 PM2/28/05
to
Natman <nat_...@yahoo.com> creatively typed:

> On Fri, 25 Feb 2005 14:45:52 -0800, "Shanahan"

<snip>


>> However, it's not a
>> matter of them not daring to take the Ring. They would be utterly
>> unable to take the Ring. They can only act according to Sauron's
>> will, and there is no doubt that he made his will clear to them
>> before sending them after the Ring. It is explicitly said to be
>> so, when Gandalf explains why Sauron used the Ringwraiths to pursue
>> the Ring in the first place: because they would be unable to steal
>> it from him.
>>
> This would be the only reason to send them, because Sauron doesn't
> trust anyone else with the ring. Where does Gandalf's explanation
> take place?

Sorry, I was thinking it was in the Council of Elrond chapter. But now
that I've looked, I see it is in UT, in the 'The Hunt for the Ring'
chapter. 2nd page:
"At length he [Sauron] resolved that no others would serve him in
this case but his mightiest servants, the Ringwraiths, who had no will
but his own, each being utterly subservient to the ring that had
enslaved him...."

Ciaran S.
--
Pursue multiple narratives that neither explain nor unify


Michael Ikeda

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Feb 28, 2005, 4:53:04 PM2/28/05
to
"Shanahan" <pogu...@ITbluefrog.com> wrote in
news:cvvmd...@enews2.newsguy.com:

There appear to have been at least some other survivors. Someone
shot the two orcs that run toward Sam from the gateway and later
Snaga tells Shagrat "Gorbag's swine got to the gate first, and none
of ours got out. Lagduf and Muzgash ran through, but they were
shot." (Lagduf and Muzgash were probably the two orcs that Sam saw
apparently being shot.)

What seems to have happened is that there were a few survivors from
Gorbag's group but they fled the area, leaving only Shagrat and
Snaga alive inside.

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