Tolkien Tuesday #57

~ 6 June 2023 ~

The weather has turned slightly colder here these past few days. Perfect weather then for curling up on the sofa with a good book and a cuppa…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we will be reading Book 3, Chapter 9: Flotsam and Jetsam.

As Gandalf and Theoden, and the rest of the entourage go off in search of Treebeard, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas remain behind with Merry and Pippin. The five of them together, they share a meal, have a drink and smoke some pipe-weed (from the Southfarthing in the Shire), before they begin to catch-up properly.

Photo by Leah Kelley on

Merry and Pippin explain all that had happened since their capture, speaking briefly of what the reader already knows and what Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas deduced along the way. When it comes to where their trail went cold as they entered Fangorn forest, the three hunters learn of how Merry and Pippin met Treebeard, and how they attended a Entmoot, and how all them came to be at Isengard. It is here that we are told how Isengard came to be the state it is currently in.

The Ents had watched Saruman’s army empty out of Isengard as they made their way to attack Rohan. With few guards remaining, the Ents set about breaking into the walled settlement, whilst the Huorns (like Ents, but a little more wild and dangerous), set about destroying any orcs they find. Saruman locks himself inside Orthanc, which withstands everything the Ents throw at it.

The Ents then turn their mind to other matters as Saruman isn’t going anywhere. They dam the Isen and all the other streams in the area. Merry and Pippin are told to wait somewhere safe. Then the dam is removed and the water course diverted into Isengard itself, so the water can wash away all that Saruman has created and put out any fires. Its original course is eventually reinstated.

Gandalf arrives that night, and speaks briefly with Merry and Pippin, and has a mini conference with Treebeard. This is the first time they have met him since Moria. However, Gandalf is in a hurry, and later Treebeard tells them of the approaching battle at Helm’s Deep and that Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are there. After Gandalf leaves, the Huorns also depart.

The last thing they have to share concerns Wormtongue, who arrived at Isengard that morning. On seeing what had befallen the place, he hastily concocted a story about being a messenger sent by the Theoden with an important message for Saruman, a message that was now nullified as Isengard had already fallen. He also attempted to make out that he was the only man brave enough to go on this errand for his master. However, Gandalf had already warned Treebeard that Wormtongue was on his way, so his ruse had failed and he was captured. Treebeard gave him the option of waiting at the gate for Gandalf and King Theoden to arrive, or to go to Saruman in Orthanc. He chose the latter.

Once Merry and Pippin have concluded their tale, Aragorn is a little preoccupied with how pipe-weed from the Southfarthing made it to Isengard. Concerned with what this might mean, he says that although it might only be a small matter, given all that is going on in Middle Earth, he would like to mention it to Gandalf.

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As I read this chapter, one of the things that stuck out was the effect the experience Merry and Pippin had at the hands of the orcs had on them. You can hear in what they say that although they might already be recovering from it, aspects of it had such an effect that they don’t feel comfortable talking about them, and so won’t. In the past, I think I had read this chapter so quickly that I only acknowledged their resilience and how quickly they seemed to bounce back to their usual selves.

In the next Tolkien Tuesday post, in two weeks, we will be reading Book 3, Chapter 10: The Voice of Saruman.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

Reading this chapter felt like taking a breath and pausing, after all that happened at Helm’s Deep and subsequently, the, at times, uncertain, ride to Isengard.

The interactions between Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas were light and gentle, even though they were discussing some rather big events.

I couldn’t help but smile as Pippin recalled seeing Gandalf outside the walls to Isengard:

‘Did he say: “Hello, Pippin! This is a pleasant surprise!”? No, indeed! He said: “Get up, you tom-fool of a Took! Where, in the name of wonder, in all this ruin is Treebeard? I want him. Quick!”‘

Then there was Treebeard, pulling down some more of Isengard, because, why not?

‘He began to pull down a bit more of the walls, in a leisurely sort of way, just to amuse himself.’

And then, Legolas making a joke with Merry and Pippin, who had set about putting a meal together for the other three, and decided to join them:

‘We must keep our guests company,’ they said.

‘You are full of courtesy this morning,’ Legolas laughed. ‘But maybe, if we had not arrived, you would already have been keeping one another company again.’


I’ve nothing to add here this time round…

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

If you were in Wormtongue’s shoes, would you rather wait at the gate for Gandalf and Theoden, or be inside Orthanc with Saruman? Where do you think it’s safest for him to be?

I think if I was Wormtongue, I would not expect to be well-received by Theoden and Gandalf. After all, he was warned that if he should be seen again, he was unlikely to be met with mercy. And, given Saruman’s a powerful wizard, there’s still a chance he can get out of this tight spot. So, I can understand why he chose to go to Saruman. If you’re in self-preservation mode, which he clearly is, I think the odds are more slightly in your favour when you’re standing next to a wizard… That’s of course, if Saruman actually cares what happens to you.

Another point to note is that, if Theoden and Gandalf are given to mercy, it can still be offered to you inside Orthanc. If, on the other hand, they are in a compassionless mood, given all that had happened on the road to the Fords, then at Helm’s Deep, you will be more than a little vulnerable and exposed, waiting for them at the gate.

Tolkien Tuesday #56

~ 23 May 2023 ~

Sorry for the no-show last week. If you saw the last Whispers and Echoes update a couple of weeks ago, you will know that I’m working through a bit of a reset at the moment. What this means is that I’m trying to slow down and do a little less before I burn out. I also need to find the right balance between my online writing commitments and my actual writing work (novels, short stories, etc; the work I aim to submit and get published), which is something I’ve been struggling with of late, but is improving steadily as a result of this shift in focus.

With that in mind, I’ve decided that for next few weeks, my Tolkien Tuesday posts will be every other week, rather than weekly. The reading output will still be the same, half a chapter per week, but the discussion in the posts will cover a whole chapter. This is starting today, with this post…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we will be discussing Book 3, Chapter 8: The Road to Isengard.

The chapter opens with Gandalf reuniting with Theoden, Aragorn and Legolas, before Eomer and Gimli, who had been trapped in the caves, join them. Gandalf says that he must next go to Isengard, and Theoden says he will go with him. Those who are to accompany them try to rest, whilst those who are staying behind bury the dead. There are too many dead Orcs for the men to deal with, and so Gandalf suggests they wait and see what answer comes with the day.

The newly appeared forest down the valley causes concern amongst some of the onlookers. Some believe its the result of a wizard spell of Gandalf’s, yet Gandalf denies it, saying the truth of the matter is to be found at Isengard.

As the evening draws on, those going to Isengard, leave, and they must pass through the forest, which makes some of them uneasy, especially Gimli, but Legolas can hear the trees talking and wants to spend time amongst them so that he can learn their language. Gimli would rather have spent more time in the Glittering Caves in the mountains behind Helm’s Deep, which Legolas doesn’t like the sound of. But the two make a pact: if they both should survive the coming peril of war, Gimli will accompany Legolas to Fangorn, after which Legolas will go with Gimli to see the Glittering Caves.

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When they reach the Fords of Isen, the water appears to have run dry. They follow the road that for a time follows the Isen. When they stop for the night and make camp by the streambed, Aragorn thinks he sees smoke hanging over the Wizard’s Vale. Eomer corrects him, and says he thinks it is steam. That night a strange mist appears, and the ground shakes.

The ground shaking is also felt back at the Hornburg. When those at Helm’s Deep wake that morning, the trees are gone, and so are the dead Orcs. Yet a hill of stones, where there was none before, can be seen, and it is covering a pit where the Orcs have been buried.

The next morning, before dawn, they are woken by rushing water. The Isen is flowing once again. They go on, and the closer they get to Isengard, the stranger things become. The once fair country is fair no longer. The fields furthest out have not been tended and are now full of weeds and brambles, and all the trees in the vicinity have been cut down.

When they reach Isengard, they could see some damage had been inflicted upon it. All within the walls was filled with steaming water. Yet Orthanc remains untouched. Inside are Saruman and Wormtongue, and Treebeard is now in control of the rest of Isengard.

It is here where Merry and Pippin are finally reunited with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, and they appear to be enjoying themselves; eating, drinking and smoking. It is a sweet meeting, and Theoden can immediately see the bonds of friendship between them.

Theoden goes with Gandalf to speak with Treebeard, of whom the wizard says, “…and when you speak with him you will hear the speech of the oldest of all living things.” The chapter ends with Pippin passing the following judgement on Theoden, “A fine old fellow. Very polite.” Wonderful reading! ❤

Next time we will be discussing Book 3, Chapter 9: Flotsam and Jetsam.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

There were so many good lines in this chapter, from wonderful descriptions to funny outbursts. My favourite has to be this quote from Gimli:

‘You rascals, you woolly-footed and wool-pated truants! A fine hunt you have led us! Two hundred leagues, through fen and forest, battle and death, to rescue you! And here we find you feasting and idling – and smoking! Smoking! Where did you come by the weed, you villains? Hammer and tongs! I am so torn between rage and joy, that if I do not burst, it will be a marvel!’

That one quote pretty much sums up everything we have read in Book 3 up to that moment, and I just love how you can hear in those words exactly how Gimli is feeling.

Do you have a favourite quote from this chapter?


In recent news, a new group of butterflies has been given a name inspired by Sauron, Saurona, after studies conducted by experts at The Natural History Museum in London…

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

In this chapter, Legolas and Gimli make a pact that, should they survive the coming trouble, they will journey together and visit a location chosen by the other. Fangorn is the pick of Legolas. The Glittering Caves is Gimli’s choice. If you could only visit one, which would you choose?

This is a tough choice, and I’m sure that if I made it on another day, my choice could very well be different, because I really would like to visit both.

However, if I could only pick one, it would have to be the Glittering Caves. The geographer in me could not pass that up…

The way Gimli speaks of it is pure poetry: the ‘everlasting music of water’, ‘columns…fluted and twisted into dreamlike forms’, and tending ‘these glades of flowering stone’… Yep, that’s my mind made up!

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on

Tolkien Tuesday #55

~ 9 May 2023 ~

I hope all those in the UK had a lovely bank holiday weekend. For the past two weekends, we’ve been binge-listening to True Crime & Mystery podcasts here at Sammi Scribbles HQ, which I will probably pen a post about at some time in the not-too-distant future…

But for now, it’s time to grab a cup of tea, and a copy of The Two Towers, and check in with our weekly Tolkien read along…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we finished reading Book 3, Chapter 7: Helm’s Deep.

Photo by Jaggi on

Night deepens. Lightning brightens the sky, illuminating the valley before the Deeping Wall. The defenders can see how easily outnumbered they are. The battle proper, and the defence of Helm’s Deep begins. Arrows whistle over the walls. Big, strong orcs carry battering rams up the ramp leading to the gates. Aragorn and Eomer, with a small group of men, make their way secretly out of a small side door. Taken by surprise, the attackers flee, though they have done great damage to the gates.

They make to return behind the walls as the orcs are mustering once again at the bottom of the ramp, when they themselves are surprised. Eomer only survives because Gimli is there with his axe. And so begins Gimli and Legolas’s friendly competition of keeping score of those they fell.

The assault continues. The gate is attacked once more. Ladders and ropes attached to grappling hooks are thrown over the wall. Orcs gain access to the culvert beneath the wall. The fighting is fierce and tiring. Once the orcs who made it inside are dealt with, the culvert is blocked.

Aragorn and Eomer must continually rally the men, and inspire them to hope. Yet things take a turn for the worst when fire is used to weaken the Deeping Wall, creating a hole through which pour the enemy. Some of the defenders are pushed back towards the caves, whilst others make it into the Hornburg, the access to which Legolas and Aragorn hold until all who can get their do so. However, once inside, they do not know the whereabouts of Gimli, nor of Eomer.

Theoden isn’t happy cooped up in the Hornburg. He wonders if Gandalf’s counsel might have been in error, but Aragorn says not to be too hasty in judgement. Theoden fearing the end, would rather ride out to meet it, fighting, at dawn. Aragorn says he will go too.

Aragorn goes up to look out from the walls. When he is there, the wall is blasted out from beneath him, and not long after the sound of the horn of Helm rang out. The horsemen of Rohan ride out through the gate trampling their enemies, and fighting men on foot follow behind. As the light gets brighter, they can a see forest of trees now stands in the valley. Gandalf and Erkenbrand with his men, arrive. The army of Isengard, having nowhere else to go, flee into the trees, but none come back out.

Photo by Markus Spiske on

In this half chapter we are reminded that it is not only orcs that the men of Rohan must fight in order to survive, but other men also, who hold ancient grievances against them. This illustrates that Saruman has used his powers of manipulation widely across the region, not only in Edoras.

Next week we will begin reading Book 3, Chapter 8: The Road to Isengard.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

One of my biggest issues in terms of book versus film, occurs here. And that is the arrival of a contingent of Elvish warriors, sent by Galadriel to help out the men against whom the odds are so heavily stacked.

It isn’t so much that it doesn’t happen in the book and so is a completely fabricated addition which bothers me. Actually, in terms of tension, visual effects, and even storytelling it’s good watching. After all, Haldir is a fan favourite, and watching the Elvish warriors fight is always a treat. So, in terms of the movie, it is a great addition, and I do enjoy watching it.

But, there is something greater at stake here, I think. In the book, the men at Helm’s Deep face the same foe, unaided, and win. On their own. They didn’t need that extra help. By sending in the Elves the movie is actually diminishing what Men are capable of achieving. After all, in the face of such hopelessness, they triumph against the odds, and rout the enemy.


In this half chapter we learn the name of Eomer’s sword. So I thought it would be fun to re-cap the name of the swords we have encountered so far.

Narsil / Anduril – Aragorn’s sword

Guthwine – Eomer’s sword

Glamdring – Gandalf’s sword

Sting – Frodo’s sword

Herugrim – Theoden’s sword

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

What do you think of Legolas and Gimli’s competition? Does it sit easy with you? Can you understand it?

On the one hand, I understand that it brings a little levity to a very dark passage. This is a battle, and that means there is a lot of death and wounding and maiming, which isn’t always nice to read, even though Tolkien doesn’t write graphic descriptions here.

Yet I can’t say that it sits well with me. It’s a little unpleasant.

As I pondered this question I wondered if there might be a parallel to be found here in the two world wars, for example, in counting the number of planes a fighter ace might have shot down, or how many ships a submarine might have sunk?

Tolkien Tuesday #54

~ 2 May 2023 ~

This week we are reading the first half of probably one of my favourite chapters from The Two Towers, certainly my favourite chapter from Book 3. So grab a cup of tea , or your beverage of choice, and your copy of the book, and let’s begin…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we began reading Book 3, Chapter 7: Helm’s Deep.

The horsemen, with Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas and Gimli, have left Edoras and are riding towards Isengard, which is days away. Their intention is to meet up with more of Rohan’s fighting men at the Fords of the Isen before they press on to confront the threat of Saruman.

Late on the second day, they are met by a lone horseman, looking battle weary. His news isn’t good. Saruman has sent out a great force, and they have been overrun. Erkenbrand of Westfold has tried to round up who he can and has headed for Helm’s Deep. Theoden makes the decision to ride to Helm’s Deep, and the aid of Erkenbrand and his men.

Gandalf sensing things have changed, urges Theoden to make for Helm’s Deep immediately, and not to tarry. He himself will meet them there, but for now must go off alone. His departure is seen as suspicious by some but not all.

So they make for Helm’s Deep but they have yet to reach it, when they are harried by arrows (there are wolf-riders nearby) and scouts report that a great number of Orcs and wild men are heading for Helm’s Deep. There is no news of Erkenbrand, Wormtongue was seen riding to Isengard and Gandalf had been spotted riding upon the plain.

As they press on to Helm’s Deep, luckily not many of the enemy is before them, but they are starting to fill the valley behind. They reach Helm’s Dike, and make their way into the Hornburg. They immediately prepare to defend it, with most of the warriors placed on the twenty-foot hight Deeping Wall.

Photo by Djordje Petrovic on

That night the battle commenced. The defenders of Helm’s Dike are driven back behind the Deeping Wall. The news they bring with them is that the enemy host is vast beyond count.

One of my favourite parts of this half-chapter is the conversation between Gimli and Legolas up on the wall, waiting for the battle to start. In it, you can see how their friendship has developed. This I find, is a moment of warmth and honesty juxtaposed against the sense of waiting, the sense of impending danger, and potentially death.

Next week we will finish reading Book 3, Chapter 7: Helm’s Deep.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

My musings this week, and probably next week too, are all about comparisons between this chapter in the book and how it was adapted for the film. This week I’m focusing on the differences in character and motivation of Theoden.

Interestingly, in the film, Helm’s Deep is seen as a refuge, somewhere to run to because it has never fallen to an enemy. Theoden makes the conscious decision to take his people there. His mind is set on defence, and perhaps, you could argue, survival.

Yet, in the book, Theoden is far more pro-active. His mind is set on riding to Isengard, and dealing with the problem of Saruman, as per the guidance of Gandalf. There is no delay, and they know time is pressing. Like Theoden in the film, he knows what he is up against, but is choosing to tackle it head on. Theoden and the company end up at Helm’s Deep (which is seen as a refuge in the book too, of course), but through circumstance, not intent.

So the Theoden of the movie is more cautious after the wearying manipulations of Wormtongue, and happy to let battle come to him, whereas in the book he is more conscious of time lost due to the wearying manipulations of Wormtongue, and is energised and focused to make up for it. He will go out to battle, not wait for it.


Did you know that Helm’s Deep was inspired by Cheddar Gorge?

I came across that little nugget on Wikipedia, on the article for Battle of Helm’s Deep, where you will find a list of sources and references.

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

If you were riding with the men of Rohan, how would it have effected you to see Gandalf ride off after learning of the the battle ahead? Would you have found it demoralising, may be considering it a sign of a lost cause? Or would you have found it heartening, perhaps believing he was using his wizard’s powers to help in some way?

How you view Gandalf riding off in this situation comes down to faith in him, I think. The conversation between Hama and the guard illustrates this. If you are already well predisposed towards Gandalf, which we are, you will not think he is riding off and abandoning you. Yet, if you’ve been in Edoras during the time Wormtongue has been influencing things, you might not be ready to trust Gandalf just yet. Seeing him ride off could very well spark doubt in your heart.

It doesn’t help that Gandalf doesn’t say why he is going, or what he intends to do. But then, wizards answer to no-one…You just have to trust him.

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Tolkien Tuesday #53

~ 25 April 2023 ~

A shorter post today as, for some reason, this half chapter seemed easier to condense down…But still a fun mix of words, quotes and observations. And next week, to Helm’s Deep!

Let us begin…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we finished reading Book 3, Chapter 6: The King of The Golden Hall.

Photo by Maria Pop on

With Theoden broken free of his malaise and in more control of himself, Gandalf proceeds to tell him what he can about what is happening out in the wider world. It makes for grim telling and grim hearing, but Theoden is resolved not only for Rohan to play its part, but he will lead his men and die if he must. Eomer is released, and the call to ready for war is given.

All who can carry arms and ride are summoned. They are to depart the same day, heading west as Gandalf has counselled, to try and remove the threat that is Saruman at Isengard. Those who cannot fight are told to head for the mountain refuge of Dunharrow, and in Theoden’s stead, Eowyn will lead their people.

As for Grima, his duplicity and deceit is made clear. When given the option to ride beside Theoden and fight to defend Rohan, or to take a horse and go where he will, he chooses the latter. Theoden makes it clear, should they meet again, he will not be so merciful.

Theoden owes a debt of gratitude to Gandalf, and gives him Shadowfax in thanks. As for Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, he says they can have whatever they wish from his armoury. When all the riders are armed and the horses ready, they leave Edoras with Eowyn looking on. Theoden and Gandalf lead the mounted host, with Aragorn, Eomer, Gimli and Legolas behind them.

Next week we will begin reading Book 3, Chapter 7: Helm’s Deep.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

A mish-mash of musings this week:

I don’t think I realised that Aragorn is troubled by Eowyn’s attention so early in their meeting. And, although not surprising that any woman would be drawn to Aragorn, I don’t think I realised how instant her attraction to him was.

Interestingly, even when Wormtongue is, in effect, in custody, and surrounded by those who think terribly of him, he still has the ability to attempt to continue to manipulate Theoden, by asking to be made steward of Meduseld if the king must ride off to war. And it is noteworthy that only the king calls him “Grima” whilst everyone else uses “Wormtongue”.

My favourite quote from this half chapter:

‘Alas!’ he said, ‘that these evil days should be mine, and should come in my old age instead of that peace which I have earned. Alas for Boromir the brave! The young perish and the old linger, withering.’


Reading this week’s half a chapter, I came across a new-to-me word (which I do believe shows just how quickly I had read these pages in the past, no doubt in a hurry to get to one of my favourite chapters, Helm’s Deep).

The word is: FROWARD, and means

habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition


The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

Photo by Victoria Akvarel on

In this chapter we meet Eowyn, one of the few strong female characters to feature in the story. What were your first thoughts of her?

Strong and clever. Enough to remain close to King Theoden, knowing as she must, what Wormtongue is up to.

Compassion is another word I would associate with Eowyn. She manages to find the right balance in caring for her uncle without undermining his position and authority.

Then, as the chapter progressed, we see that she is loved, respected and held in high esteem by those in Rohan, who are happy to have her as a leader in the absence of Theoden and Eomer. (It’s interesting that someone had to suggest this to Theoden, rather than him coming to it on his own).

Tolkien Tuesday #52

~ 18 April 2023 ~

How can it be that we have already reached the middle chapter of Book 3? I can honestly say I was surprised when I noticed that this morning…So let us begin…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we will begin reading Book 3, Chapter 6: The King of The Golden Hall.

Photo by Jonathan Schmer on

Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, travel as quickly as they can to Edoras, barely stopping on the way. When they arrive, the reception is a little frosty. None are to be welcomed inside the gates if they don’t speak the native tongue, but both Aragorn and Gandalf know it. Gandalf asks the gatekeeper to announce their arrival to King Theoden, who grants them entry, but only if they leave all weapons outside the hall. Gandalf manages to keep his staff.

Once inside, Gandalf notices the change in Theoden (he is aged and withered) and how Wormtongue seems to have a great deal of authority. With them is the tall and slender Lady Eowyn. Eventually Gandalf shrugs of his old grey robes, revealing the bright white ones beneath. With the power of his staff, he shows Theoden the world has not fallen completely into darkness yet, and he incapacitates Wormtongue (whether through force or fear, I’m always unsure, but tend towards the latter). Gandalf then persuades Theoden to step outside and look upon his land and people, which dispels some of the negativity surrounding him, allowing him to look and feel more like himself. Yet there is still a depressing air about him. His son died less than a week previously, he has had his nephew Eomer imprisoned for disobeying his orders, his dreams have been full of darkness, and he fears that his hall, his home and his people will fall in the coming conflict as it will be too late to counter it.

Although I love how dramatic this scene is portrayed in the film, there is something immensely powerful about it in the book. In the film, Theoden is seen to be under a spell by Saruman, but in the book, something more insidious is at play. Theoden is depressed, withdrawn, withered and feels far older than he is, because of the negative whisperings of Grima Wormtongue, and the king is increasingly cut off from those around him. In the modern world, it is not unheard of for people to fall victim to the same kind of controlling people, who isolate, manipulate and dominate them.

Next week we will finish reading Book 3, Chapter 6: The King of The Golden Hall.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

I found Aragorn’s behaviour particularly noteworthy in this half a chapter.

He is no longer shying away from his ancestry, as we see when Gandalf has him introduced as “Aragorn son of Arathorn, the heir of Kings”.

Also he is the most reluctant to be parted from his weapon, Gandalf and his staff notwithstanding, yet there is no denying Anduril is more than a re-forged sword. It is a symbol that can unite disparate groups under a common cause.

Yet I thought when he said,

“It is not clear to me that the will of Theoden son of Thengel, even though he be lord of the Mark, should prevail over the will of Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elendil’s heir of Gondor.”

…that he came across as a little haughty, and I found it to be a little out of character in a man who has hitherto worn his ancestry and potential destiny with humility and grace. My thinking here is that he is just finding his feet as he gets used to wearing this new mantle about his shoulders… And for generations this heirloom has been kept safe. You really wouldn’t want to be the one that lost it… 😉


Following on from the discussion these past weeks about the ages of characters, I thought it interesting that we get to see the history of the Rohirrim through Legolas’s eyes when Aragorn explains, “Many long lives of men it is since the golden hall was built.” And Legolas responds with:

“Five hundred times have the red leaves fallen in Mirkwood in my home since then…and but a little while does that seem to us.”

Photo by Ben Cheung on

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

Were you surprised at the power Wormtongue was able to wield in Rohan?

A little, given there were three other strong characters around Theoden: Theodred, Eomer and Eowyn. And yet, this just goes to show how devious and cunning he became. Of course, it helps that he had been a true and trusted advisor in the past, giving him a platform of reliability, honesty and credibility. At first, there would have been little to question. And with repeated negative whisperings in the king’s ear, out of earshot of the others, it’s not hard to see how Theoden became isolated and perhaps even turned towards despair.

Tolkien Tuesday #51

~ 11 April 2023 ~

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter weekend for those who celebrate it, or just a nice, relaxing long weekend for those who don’t.

It’s a lovely spring morning here, perfect to while away an hour or two, reading The Lord of the Rings, drinking tea…and yes, I did have a biscuit with that. 😉

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we finished reading Book 3, Chapter 5: The White Rider.

Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas sit together and discuss what has occurred in Gandalf’s absence. When it comes to Boromir’s passing, Gandalf’s word are kind and non-judgemental, implying that he redeemed himself in the end by falling in defence of Merry and Pippin. He also knows that Aragorn is holding something back.

Gandalf declares that Merry and Pippin have their own part to play in this drama and they have brought to Fangorn for a reason. He shares what he knows of Sauron’s thoughts and plans. He is fearful and so has rashly decided to act before he is ready. It hasn’t even crossed his mind that anyone would destroy the ring, but suspects they would take it to Minas Tirith, as that is what he would do.

He goes on to explain that although Saruman’s treachery doesn’t help them, Saruman is also a traitor to Sauron now, which gives Sauron someone else to fear, and Saruman trouble of his own, having gambled and lost on attaining the Ring. Yet, if it were not for Saruman’s treachery, Merry and Pippin would not have come to Fangorn, where they have played their part in awakening in a sleeping power in the Ents.

Having relayed Merry and Pippin’s whereabouts to the other three, Gandalf goes on to say they do not have time to meet up with the young hobbits. Time is pressing, and they must fulfil the promise made to Eomer to go to Edoras, and Gandalf will accompany them.

Before they go, it is clear to the three that Gandalf has undergone a change, and his true nature and power can be seen (his hands fill with light, and a light is seen as if kindled from within). Furthermore, before they are ready to leave, they would like to hear what befell Gandalf. He battled the balrog from the lowest levels of the world, to the highest peaks before he defeated his enemy. Though afterwards he drifted out of time, he was sent back, and the eagle Gwaihir found him, sent by Galadriel. He spent some time healing in Lothlorien, from where Galadriel sent a message each for Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli.

Photo by Helena Lopes on

Then it is time to go. When they eventually reach the grassy plains beyond the edge of Fangorn, Gandalf calls Shadowfax, the greatest of all horses, and with him are the horses given the other three by Eomer. They then ride towards Edoras, seeing smoke rise in the distance from Isengard.

Next week we will beging reading Book 3, Chapter 6: The King of The Golden Hall.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

My musings this week are a mix of observation and favourite quotes…

Something I noticed on this re-read which I haven’t noticed before, is the similarities between, and echoes of, The Council of Elrond in this chapter. They are both “catch-up chapters”, where characters talk together to fill each other – and the reader – in on where they’ve been and what they’ve learnt, thus moving the story forward.

It allows us to know what has been going on off-page, and even categorically explains what has up to this point only been implied, hinted at or gone without explanation. An example of the latter here would be of Legolas spotting the eagle flying high above them as he, Aragorn and Gimli came down out of the Emyn Muil and entered Rohan, and Gandalf explaining what it was doing there.

Of course, we already know what has happened to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, but what happened to Gandalf once he fell from the Bridge of Khazad-dum needed explaining in terms that make his presence there possible. Gandalf is also able to share a little information about Merry and Pippin, allowing them to change course without having caught up with the two hobbits.

Favourite Quotes from this half chapter:

“A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to; the long explanations needed by the young are wearying.” My Nanna would agree wholeheartedly with this, I think!

“Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things.”

Photo by Julia Volk on


After discussing Legolas’s age in last week’s post, I thought it would be fun to find a list of all the ages of the members of the Fellowship. I knew a handful of them off the top of my head, Frodo and Aragorn’s. I also knew the other hobbits were younger than Frodo with Pippin being the youngest, and I remembered reading that Gimli was roughly 50 years older than Aragorn, whilst Legolas and Gandalf are thousands of years old, Gandalf being of a much, much, much greater age than the Elf, but we won’t go into what Gandalf is here.

This is what I found after a quick google search.. Reference link below.

Frodo – 50

Sam – 38

Merry – 36

Pippin – 28

Gandalf – 2000+

Aragorn – 87

Legolas – 2000+

Gimli – 139

Boromir – 40

Fellowship of the Ring (group) | The One Wiki to Rule Them All | Fandom

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

In Book 3, we have two different narratives: Merry and Pippin’s, and Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli with Gandalf now accompanying them. If you could choose to join one of the groups, which one would you pick, and why?

Although going with Merry and Pippin, and being in the presence of the force of nature which is the Ents, would be amazing, I would be pick Aragorn et al, and head to Edoras, without hesitation. The reason: I love Rohan.

I thought the films did exceptionally well in depicting everything about Rohan, from their clothes to their art, and the soundtrack for these scenes is perfect (Where is the soundtrack not perfect?). Don’t get me wrong, there are parts of the films where, although I won’t go so far as to say I don’t like them, I will say the story told in the book is far superior, and as we approach certain events I’ll explain my opinion in greater detail, because as I write this I do have a particular point in mind.

But yes, going with Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Gandalf, would be my choice, without a doubt.

Tolkien Tuesday #50

~ 4 April 2023 ~

Yay! And I’m back to our usual schedule! Just about. I had better get this posted with as little preamble as possible, in case I lose my internet connection – again… Replying to comments may have to wait until tomorrow, I’m afraid…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we started reading Book 3, Chapter 5: The White Rider.

Returning to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, as the day dawned, they ready themselves to continue their search for Merry and Pippin. Gimli also hopes to find the tracks of the old man who appeared out of nowhere at their camp the previous night, before disappearing into thin air. Gimli is certain the visitor was Saruman, though the behaviour of the horses makes Aragorn less certain, though he cannot explain it.

After searching the area by daylight, Aragorn finally discovers a leaf which had wrapped a lembas biscuit, from Merry and Pippin’s at-the-edge-of-the-battlefield picnic, and some cut cord. Gimli finds the orc blade which cut it. They can deduce what happened that night of the battle, and can conclude with certainly, that at least one of their friends still lives, and has sought shelter in Fangorn Forest. So they must follow.

Photo by Diego Benjamu00edn on

Legolas detects a tenseness in the forest, whilst Gimli notices the air feels stuffy. Legolas says, “It is old and full of memory.”. They are wary that the woods might be hiding the old man, of whom no traces have been found.

Another clue is found, proving both hobbits survived their time with the orcs, and so the three continue on, climbing the same hill Merry and Pippin did two days ago. More tracks are found but Aragorn is at a loss to what they mean. Then Legolas, with his keen eyesight, spots the old man walking through the forest, not far away. He tells the others. They watch this man, dressed as a beggar, using a staff to help him move. He ignores them and they do not call out, as the air fills with expectancy.

Gimli, fearful of Saruman’s power, instructs Legolas to ready his bow, but both Legolas and Aragorn are slow to react. They cannot harm a stranger without knowing his heart and purpose. So they wait. The old man stops at the bottom of the hill and calls up to them, as if they are friends. He wants to talk to them so climbs the hill. A suspicion and a stillness envelopes the three. The old man speaks of their errand, but gives little information away, except that he knows where the hobbits are. Growing fearful, and the stillness in them gone, Gimli, with axe in hand demands answers from the man he names Saruman, and in so doing, the old man’s true identity is finally revealed. He is not Saruman but Gandalf.

There is much joy at this reunion, and they begin to discuss what has happened since they last saw each. Some Gandalf knows, but when they tell him that Frodo did not go to Mordor alone, that Sam went with him, he smiles. (Which I absolutely love!)

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

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

A few random musings from this week’s half a chapter:

  • As I read this half-chapter, I couldn’t help but reflect on how I had felt when I first read it, to know that Gandalf wasn’t dead, that he had come back to them. And not just come back to them because that’s a nice thing, but come back to them at the point where the fight is hardest, and the greatest challenges are still before them.
  • When Legolas referred to Aragorn and Gimli as “…you children” I felt this was a little jarring, which was unexpected given he is thousands of years old and I know that. I think it’s to do with the use of the word “children” because to me, Legolas doesn’t act in the same way as I see Elrond and Galadriel and Celeborn doing, and that is of course, because they are so much older than he is!
  • One of my favourite quotes from these pages: “‘But keep your bow ready to hand, and I will keep my axe loose in my belt. Not for use on trees,’ he added hastily, looking up at the tree under which they stood.”


I found an old box with a few more pieces of Lord of the Rings trilogy movie merchandise inside a few weeks ago. This time, a couple of desk calendars. Here’s some photos (albeit not very good ones! 😉 ) from the 2003 Fellowship of the Ring daily calendar:

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

This week’s question is about reactions, and comes in two parts. The first, what do you think about Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli’s reaction to the old man? Is it justified? Secondly, what do you think of the old man’s reaction to them? Why is his reappearance, and the things he says, so ambiguous?

1: I understand Gimli’s fear that Saruman might be stalking them in the woods. After all, they think Gandalf is dead, so who else would it be but Saruman? And the things they’ve heard about Saruman are not very good at all. Yet, I’ve always been glad of Legolas’s caution and Aragorn’s instructions to “watch and wait”, because the idea of hurting someone when you’re not sure who they are or what they might want, on the off chance they might be bad, is not cricket.

2: After the first time I read it, I felt Gandalf is deliberately misleading them into thinking he’s Saruman, maybe to see how guarded they are? Though it does feel like he’s teasing and toying with them, just a smidge. After all, he speaks to them as if he is their friend, covers his white coloured clothing with grey rags, in either an attempt to see if they will work out he’s Gandalf the Grey, or to appear as if Saruman is pretending to be him, then he doesn’t really answer any direct questions, (he implies they know who he is, which clears up nothing, then says he knows the whereabouts of their missing friends but doesn’t tell them immediately where they are, or say they’re safe, announcing this is such a way as they might be prisoners being held against their will) and he doesn’t address any of them by name. No wonder they were confused and didn’t immediately twig it was Gandalf!

He does say that he has forgotten things he ought to remember, so maybe that’s the case, and it takes a little while for him to get back to normal, as it were. But whatever the reason, it is a great passage to read as a reader, as you know to keep an eye out for all the little clues as they are revealed.

We may return to this point next week, after we finished reading what they all have to say 🙂

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.

Photo by Huu1ef3nh u0110u1ea1t on

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!

Tolkien Tuesday #48…Double Post and An Apology

~ 16 March 2023 ~

So the comment catch-up I promised in the opening of the last Tolkien Tuesday post never happened. Why? The day after that post went live, I got a little under the weather, picking up another cold (my third of the year!) which coincided with a flare up of my anxiety. Sigh. I’ll be honest with you, I’m still not up to much, so I’ll not be making many promises about getting things done at the moment. However, with the magic of scheduled posts I’ve been able to keep things ticking over here, all bar the posts for our read-a-long, which I’ve been missing. And so, to keep to our schedule of half a chapter a week, I’ve decided to do one post for the whole of Book 3, Chapter 3.

Again, thanks so much for your patience with me 🙂

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week, as I play catch-up, we are reading the entirety of Book 3, Chapter 3: The Uruk-Hai.

In this chapter we learn what has befallen Merry and Pippin since their capture by the Orcs on the banks of the River Anduin. At its opening, we learn that they are not certain of Boromir’s fate and that Merry especially, tried to fight off the Orcs.

When captured, they are bound at the wrists and ankles, and carried by the Orcs, who flee west. Though Merry is unconscious for much of the time, Pippin wakes on occasion from dark dreams, but the world on waking is no better.

It quickly becomes apparent to Pippin that all isn’t well amongst the Orcs, and there are three different factions amongst them: the Uruk-Hai from Isengard, the Orcs from Mordor, and the Northern Orcs, and all three have a different agenda. The hobbits also learn that the reason they are not dead yet is that the Orcs think they have the Ring, and the orders for Uruk-Hai, at least, are to get them to Saruman, as quickly as possible.

As they journey west, arguments and disagreements break out amongst the Orcs, leading to a few scuffles in which a handful of Orcs die. After one such incident, a dead Orc falls close to Pippin and he is able to use his weapon to cut the bonds around his wrist, before tying them up once more, but much more loosely, in case any of the Orcs should see, which they don’t. At one point, Pippin acknowledges that even if anyone is comes to save them, the confusing tracks of many Orc feet would not help them, so he runs off, not far, but far enough to create his own little track, and also casts aside the brooch from his elvish cloak.

The Orcs press on. Pippin notices that the Uruk-Hai are better adapted to running in daylight than the other Orcs, who slowly fall behind. The Orcs note that they are being pursued by riders of Rohan, but they do not fear them for they know another band of Orcs is making their way towards them to boost their ranks.

As the riders get closer, it is clear that they will have to fight, so Merry (who is now awake, and has woken a few times on the journey) and Pippin are thrown to the ground. As the horsemen begin to attack, one of the Orcs, using the distraction, decides to search the hobbits for what it is they carry. Pippin, understanding the seriousness of the situation, tries to make a bargain with the Orc. Merry quickly cottons on to Pippin’s plan and joins in. But the Orc is having none of it and tries to carry them off, only to be cut down by one of the horsemen.

The elven cloaks the hobbits are wearing helps to shield them from both the Orcs and the horsemen, the latter also being a concern for the hobbits as they do not know if they realise they are not the enemy. At first they are too scared to move, but realise they cannot stay where they are. If they are to escape, them must go. And so they decide to head towards Fangorn Forest.

One of my favourite parts of this chapter is where Pippin and Merry have gotten free from the Orcs and there is fighting going on all around them and they sit and eat some lembas bread before they make their escape. Great stuff!

Next week we will begin Book 3, Chapter 4: Treebeard.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

In this chapter, we get to see a very clear evolution of Pippin, from just another innocent hobbit out of his depth, one that had to beg and argue to be brought along with the others, to an active, risk-taking hero of a hobbit.

Photo by Jill Wellington on

We are shown this in how he thinks at the beginning of the chapter, to how he acts at the end. At the start of the chapter, he finds himself asking questions like, “What good have I been? Just a nuisance: a passenger, a piece of luggage.” Then, when he finds himself hoping to be rescued, he quickly brings that line of thought into check. For he and Merry to be rescued means for the quest to have come completely off track, or wishing that those strong enough to save them have abandoned Frodo and he can’t have that.

And this, I think, is the turning point. In that moment, he knows that Merry and he are going to have to save themselves, yet Merry is unconscious and suffering more than he, meaning that the responsibility lies solely with him. That’s a lot of pressure to find himself facing, but he doesn’t baulk at it, instead he manages to cut the bonds at his wrist, leaves a trail of hobbit footprints should anyone be searching for them, and discards his brooch as another marker. Then, he has the wits to try and bargain with the Orc who tries to search them. In fact, Pippin has done so well that Merry commends him, and stresses he should have a whole chapter dedicated to him in Bilbo’s book.


As I’ve been under the weather, one of my go to things is to watch The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, which I’ve enjoyed immensely, and yet at the same time, thanks I’m sure to this slow re-read, the differences between book and films have become even more obvious. I still love both though ❤

I’ve also decided to re-watch The Hobbit trilogy too, something I’ve not done very much, because, if I’m being honest, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. There are somethings that I do really love about it – the casting choices were fantastic. And there are some things that I really don’t like – the love triangle being one of them. But this is a whole other post entirely.

What I did take away from this re-watch was two things: I really want to re-read The Hobbit again, having not read it for maybe three or four years. The Lord of the Rings has always been my favourite of the two and that got a yearly re-read whilst The Hobbit didn’t. The second thing is, that no matter whether there are some parts of the film trilogy that I like less than others, the soundtrack, like that for The Lord of the Rings, is a triumph. I absolutely love it, and could quite happily listen to it all day long.

Photo by Pixabay on

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

In our last Question of the Week, we shared our first thoughts of the people of Rohan. This week let’s turn our attention to the enemy. What do you think of the Orcs in this chapter?

I found it interesting that the Orcs had to use the Common Tongue to make themselves known to each other. That their own languages were so different that they couldn’t understand one another when using it, was something I had quite forgotten. This clearly demonstrates that although they are on the same side, they are somewhat separate from each other. They also struggle to get along, as we saw in this chapter. Continually arguing and bickering, and also fighting, in some cases with fatal consequences, they come across as being the complete opposite of the Fellowship. Betrayal and backstabbing seems to be their natural way of dealing with one another. We saw this not only between the different Orc factions, but on a more personal level too. After all, the Orc which tries searching Merry and Pippin for the Ring before being killed, was hoping to take the treasure for himself. He had little thought or care of the success of their mission. On the other hand, there is cohesion and leadership to be found here too, and for some, a respect of authority. Orcs are clearly more complicated and multi-faceted than simply being the evil baddies.