Tolkien Tuesday #49…Another Double Post

~ 28 March 2023 ~

I aim for this to be the last double post in this series (at least for now!), and next week we will resume our weekly posts for half a chapter’s worth of reading. I’m so sorry that I’ve been unable to maintain that for a while, but I hope to get back to our usual schedule from April. Thank you all for patiently putting up with me. ❤️

This morning, I was making a potato and leek soup, and it got me thinking once more of foods, meals and recipes that we make, bake and eat today which feel very much like they would be regular fayre in The Shire. I wouldn’t be surprised if potato and leek soup, served with a slab of fresh bread or a crusty roll, naturally, would be on the menu in The Green Dragon, The Ivy Bush or The Prancing Pony…What do you think?

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we will read the whole of Book 3, Chapter 4: Treebeard, in an attempt to keep to the schedule I had set out. It felt like a long chapter, running to 27 pages in my copy, but I don’t know if it is really that much longer than other chapters we’ve read or just my perception from trying to condense down my thoughts into the one post…

Photo by Artem Zhukov on

Merry and Pippin move further and further into Fangorn Forest, following the stream as it led them in the direction of the foothills of the Misty Mountains. The atmosphere of the forest was oppressive but they pause for a drink and spot the sun has broken through the tree canopy, and follow it to see what they can see. They eventually reach it, but have to climb when they get there. Only for it not to be tree nor stone up which they scrabble but an Ent named Treebeard.

Surprised by this encounter, Merry and Pippin must explain that they are hobbits, and as they talk, they become friends. Treebeard looks after them, and regales them with ancient stories and lore as he carries them a great distance back to one of his homes in the forest. There is what he can remember of the list of living creatures, and what he knew of Lothlorien, then, what Ents are.

When they reach his home, they realise that Treebeard possesses some kind of tree magic, where big jars of water and leaves and trees begin to glow with light of green, gold and red. They settle down to rest, and it is now the turn of Merry and Pippin to regale him with their own tale of all the things that have happened since they left home (without compromising the details of the quest to destroy the Ring). As they speak, Treebeard learns of the evil which is unfolding out there beyond the borders of his forest, yet he knows about Saruman and the darkness he has been wreaking on Fangorn. Something inside him suddenly stirs, and he knows something must be done about the wizard. So he decides to call an Entmoot the following day.

When he is once more calm, Treebeard tells Merry and Pippin about the Entwives. Whereas the Ents prefer wild nature, the Entwives had preferred ordered nature, like gardens. And so they had wandered away and became separated.

The following day the Entmoot is called, and so Treebeard carries the hobbits to Derndingle for this meeting. It takes a few days to discuss and vote for a course of action, and so Treebeard gives Merry and Pippin into the care a younger Ent named Bregalad, who is known for being a happy, hasty Ent, and they get along well.

Once the Entmoot is concluded, a decision has been made. The Ents have decided to go to war with Saruman. They won’t stand by while he destroys the forest, yet Treebeard knows there is a good chance they won’t survive it. However, he believes, if they did nothing, the war would eventually reach them. This way they might help others out in the world before the end.

They leave immediately, gathering those Ents who want to join them on the way, swelling their numbers. By the time night falls, they are looking down on Isengard.

When I was younger, I was probably too hasty to read this chapter and get to a part of the story with a little more action. Not because I didn’t care about nature, I most certainly did, but I could feel how slow the pace was here. Which was the point! What can I say, twelve year old me was an impatient reader. Yet as I’ve gotten older, I so appreciate this chapter more and more and wish Ents were real and could protect our countryside and forests from being cut down and built upon. A green and pleasant land, indeed! (Rant over, but I feel so sad when I see another field give way to a new housing estate or warehouse complex or retail park…)

I loved all the descriptions in this chapter, especially the description of Treebeard’s home and the approach to it. Forest and mountain and hill and stream…Wonderful reading.

Next week we will begin Book 3, Chapter 5: The White Rider.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

Treebeard is an interesting character. I got the impression as I read, that Tolkien really enjoyed writing this chapter. It is long, and flowing, and even a little meandering, I found. Restful, unhurried and peaceful are terms which also come to mind.

It also has echoes of Tom Bombadil and The Old Forest, but whereas Tom Bombadil feels somewhat of enigma, Treebeard is grounded a bit more in what we can understand, I think.

I had originally thought to discuss here what I thought Treebeard might represent, yet on spotting that my word count had reached over 1400 words, I thought this post might be getting a little too long. So briefly, three main areas jumped out at me, (but there were other ones too). They were earth magic, ancient wisdom and ancient knowledge and lore.

Another point I wanted to mention, is that Treebeard also has a wonderful way with words. My favourite quote of his is probably this one where he tries to explain what Ents are, in relation to Elves and Men:

“For Ents are more like Elves: less interested in themselves than Men are, and better at getting inside other things. And yet again Ents are more like Men, more changeable than Elves are, and quicker at taking the colour of the outside, you might say. Or better than both: for they are steadier and keep their minds on things longer.”


ICYMI: This Saturday just gone, the 25th of March was Tolkien Reading Day.

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The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

Fangorn Forest and The Old Forest, both have areas of oppressiveness and darkness within them. They seem to remember the past and have a power all of their own. And, both of them have powerful figures who represent “goodness” (or even “ancient goodness”) who reside there, Treebeard in Fangorn, and Tom Bombadil in The Old Forest. If you had to travel through one, which would you pick and why?

First, I always feel like the oppressiveness and darkness in both of these forests are justified (on the whole) reactions to the wickedness that has been done to them. That evilness appears to be the only thing nature has to fight back with.

Second, in a perfect world, my answer would be a mash-up of the two answers: The Old Forest with Treebeard. But I know that isn’t an option, so…

The Old Forest would be my answer, and this is why:

The Old Forest always felt to me like it was a forest to be found in a fairy tale, whereas Fangorn, the forest from a fantasy story. Now I know there is little distinction between the two, but I can imagine a witch’s cottage in The Old Forest, but not in Fangorn. I can imagine whimsical toadstools in The Old Forest, but not in Fangorn. You get the picture, but you might not agree with me…?

And, I think the biggest selling point, at least in terms of when we have encountered these locations, is that although there is danger within The Old Forest, it doesn’t have that feeling of being surrounded by it, which Fangorn, on occasion does, due to its proximity to Isengard, and therefore Saruman and his mean Uruk-Hai…They’re not really the same as the Barrow-Wights on Barrow-Down…yet I suppose if they got you, the ending might very well be the same!


13 thoughts on “Tolkien Tuesday #49…Another Double Post

  1. I would choose the Old Forest too. I think as Merry pointed out the more dangerous areas are in the Withywindle valley, as long as you kept away from there you should be okay, though that said, the four hobbits were steered in that direction by the forest itself…
    I guess I chose the Old Forest was the chance I might encounter Tom Bombadil and get to stay in his house for a few days, as I’ve always dreamed of staying there. In the House of Tom Bombadil is one of my favourite chapters. As an aside, Tolkien based Treebeard’s way of speech on his friend C.S. Lewis.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Staying in Tom’s house would be a dream! The opportunity to talk with and learn more about Goldberry would be wonderful.

      I had heard that about C.S.Lewis being the inspiration for Treebeard. Apparently he taught down the hall from Tolkien and his booming voice carried into his own classroom. I just love that 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I spend a lot of time walking through woodlands, ancient and some not so old. And every time, Treebeard comes to mind. And when “I swear there was a tree there but now it’s not” we always say it must be an Ent. And sometimes those Ents do try to confuse us, moving and relaying the once familiar footpaths. But for all that, I’d rather have Fangorn than the Old Forest where the Grimmen might hide 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I agree with you. This was a lovely chapter that, while long in pages, didn’t feel long in reading. It meandered without feeling lost. I was so happy to find myself with Merry and Pippin and Treebeard.
    Now, which forest would I like to find myself in? That is a tough question.
    For some reason, this here Fanghorn Forest feels so much more welcoming – but that’s because of the Ents. And, to be honest. Old Forest feels so long ago, already! And I cannot forget how that forest was more than willing to take prisoners, so to speak. Tom was great and all.
    I am stuck.

    Liked by 2 people

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