~ 21 February 2023 ~
With the first signs of spring making themselves known in this little corner of the world, a particularly apt quote from this week’s half chapter not only seems very fitting, but the perfect way of opening this week’s discussion:
“They seem to have left winter clinging to the hills behind. Here the air was softer and warmer, and faintly scented, as if spring was already stirring and the sap was flowing again in herb and leaf.”
The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts
This week we begin Book 3, Chapter 2: The Riders of Rohan.
Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli begin their pursuit of the Orcs in the hope of rescuing Merry and Pippin. The ground they are covering is difficult to navigate, especially in the dark, as the band are loathe to stop and rest unless they need to for fear of the gap between hunters and prey ever increasing.
At times they must guess as to the path the Orcs have taken, but clues present themselves. The first, slain Northern Orcs littering the ground, but none of the strange, new type they found amongst the foes Boromir had killed.
They leave the rocky land of the Emyn Muil and enter Rohan, where vast green plains filled the landscape. The second clue is found not long after: hobbit footprints and the brooch from an Elven cloak. They continue on.
When night descends, they have a hard choice before them: to go on in the dark and hope they don’t lose the trail, or stop and rest and wait for the light. Yet pausing will offer the Orcs a greater lead. Legolas wishes to press on. Gimli thinks they should rest. Aragorn must cast the deciding vote, and he decides not to chance it in the dark.
They start early the next morning, but not before Legolas reveals the Orcs have passed beyond his sight. Aragorn puts his ear to the ground to see what the earth might tell him but the message appears confused. Nothing is close by, though the faint sound of horses moving away northwards could be heard.
And still they press on without sight of their quarry, though they fear the silence in the landscape and the feeling of an unnatural weariness could be work the of some enchantment. They rest that night, but Aragorn and Gimli are awoken with a cry of alarm from Legolas. Something has occurred by the forest’s edge and he cannot tell what. They set off again at once.
That night they sleep fitfully atop a hill, and awake awaiting the dawn and the news it might bring. Yet it isn’t Orcs they see, but a vast number of horsemen, and behind them, smoke rising. They are riding towards them so decide to wait to see what they can learn. As they wait, Aragorn tells the other two what he knows of the people of Rohan.
When the riders reach them, they ride past, not appearing to see them, thanks to the camouflage qualities of their Elven cloaks. Only when Aragorn calls out to them, do the these three gain their attention.
Next week we will finish Book 3, Chapter 2: The Riders of Rohan.
Middle Earth Musings and Meditations
This week’s musing was on word choices…
To emphasise the tricky pursuit of their foe, as well as the mood of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, an interesting selection of words jumped out at me…A reminder (as if we needed it) that we are reading the words of a master of language.
These were the words which stood out to project dismay, despondency and disquiet: bony land, scrambled, vanished, frowned *, “bruised and blackened”, “driven like cattle”, nightshade, blind night, peril, ill chooser, shrouded, “troubled my dreams”, empty, “a silence that did not seem to be the quiet of peace.”, distrust, “hope failed in his heart.
*My favourite: “A cliff frowned upon their right…”
And these were the ones which suggested optimism and hope: “Day leaped into the sky.”, “…the shadows of night melted”, glimmering snows, “…flushed with the rose of morning.”, “as if spring was already stirring”, eager, true-hearted, generous.
Nothing to report here this week…
The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week
In this chapter we see Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli begin their chase of the Orcs who have taken Merry and Pippin. But do you think they made the right choice? Or should they have tried to catch up with Frodo and Sam? What would you have done?
Part of me has always thought that their duty is to the quest to destroy the Ring and in giving help to the Ringbearer, and I suspect that in most stories that is what would happen, (adventures and mishaps on their way to catch up to the “real” quest, not withstanding). Instead here we find characters deliberately choosing to go in another direction and formally accepting their part in the quest is done. And yet, I’ve never disagreed with their choice. It has always felt like the right one. Doing the right thing isn’t always doing what’s expected. After all, if the quest was put before the lives of their friends, I suspect I would have liked these three less.