~ 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.
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.
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.