~ 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.
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!