78 comments posted · 34 followers · following 2
1) It's in no way a spoiler. Sorry but it just isn't , it's clearly happened in the book already and is surely a valid point of discussion as it was a) brought up in the review and b) doesn't require any knowledge of what's to come.
2) Znex jevgrf gurfr erivrjf nurnq bs gvzr! Guvax ur gjrrgrq nobhg Tnaqnys qlvat va Zbevn nobhg guerr be sbhe qnlf orsber gur erivrj jnf cbfgrq. Fb vg jba'g fcbvy nalguvat sbe uvz naljnl.
Oh, yes, the chapter. Nice change of pace, some great character moments and the brief battle at the end is a subtle way of bringing that part of the story back into what is mostly quite a personal journey up to now. The oliphaunt leaves a definite impression, primarily because in many ways the reactions we get from Sam are a reflection of those of the reader for the last three and a bit books.
First Theoden when he recovers:
Arise now, arise, Riders of Theoden!
Dire Deeds awake, dark it is eastward.
Let horse be bridled, horn be sounded!
It's just such a wonderful call to arms and you immediately know why every guard in earshot reacts the way they do. Also a lovely little touch, Riders of Theoden, not Riders of Rohan...
Second though is this after Gimli agrees to ride with Eomer:
"It shall be so," said Eomer. "Legolas upon my left and Aragorn upon my right, and none will dare to stand before us!"
I mean, can you just imagine the discussion between a load of genre-savy orcs?
"Uh, boss, there's four guys riding right at us."
"So, in case you haven't noticed Bob there's roughly 5,000 of us and four of them. This is going to be over faster than you can blink".
"Yeah, umm, about that..."
"Well... it's just... they all have names in this story"
"... Okay, you may have a point, a few of our lads may have to just stand in front of us but still, a minute tops until we're eating their flesh."
"Yeah, yeah a minute, sure to be... except, uh..."
"You've got that look again Bob"
"Well it's not just them that have names boss. One of them has a sword with a name"
"... Granted, that's not good, but call it five minutes and maybe a hundred of our guys and.. and you've still got that look on your face."
"Their horses also have names. And they've been in an AWFUL lot of the book thus far..."
"Right... how much is a lot out of curiosity?"
"At least two thirds."
"Hmm, okay. Tell you what Bob, let's wander casually to the back of this formation and, what's that? No no, everything's fine, me and Bob are just going to check out the rear ranks, make sure they're not slacking off. Right now if we just duck behind this rock and... run for it Bob!"
Actually to expand somewhat, Gandalf's explanation of his return echoes in some way Treebeard's view of their attack on Isengard. This isn't a miraculous return and get out of jail free card, not really. He has a job to do if he can and there's no guarantee he'll be able to do it. The hope though... oh it's well played. "The turn of the tide" is such a quick and simple little phrase but has so many implications and the White Rider at least hints that the good guys finally have an answer to the Nine. Oh yes, and we get the proper introduction of Shadowfax here too and within a few lines it's established he's about on a par with Aragorn for badass qualities. Seriously, a horse with no real defence of his own other than running like hell managed to make it from north of Rivendell to Rohan all on his own through country he doesn't really know. Put that in your ranger pipe and smoke it!
"The last march of the Ents"
There's such a sense of finality to it, made all the worse by the fact these are creatures so old they remember the world without wizards. They know what may happen, even that it's likely, yet they go anyway. I suppose, in a way, it's a fantastic summary of what these books have been about thus far - the passing of old yet fair things out of the necessity of building the new.
Fbzrbar purpx zr ba guvf nf V qba'g unir zl pbcl gb unaq (pheeragyl va jbex) ohg gur Uboovg guvat vf irel pyrneyl ynvq bhg vfa'g vg? Nf va jr xabj (naq Nentbea xabjf) gung Sebqb naq Fnz jrag bss ol evire naq gung gur unysyvatf jrer gnxra ol gur bepf juvpu zhfg, ol n cebprff bs ryvzvangvba, or Zreel naq Cvccva.
It's a fantastic way to start the book, a real kick in the gut and a reminder that no-one is safe in Middle Earth. I've always liked that we don't see the battle where Boromir falls, just the aftermath and even that shows he didn't go down easily. The ending is also a great moment, specificaly Aragorn's whole Three Hunters speech:
"With hope or without hope we will follow the trail of our enemies. And woe to them, if we prove the swifter! We will make such a chase as shall be accounted a marvel among the Three Kindreds: Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Forth the Three Hunters!""
Just fantastic and really gets the rest of the book setup with an energy and pace that's extremely hard to achieve with just a short opening chapter.
I've always loved how this chapter is paced, it's both a chance to catch your breath and the start of the next peril (in this case, the Orcs and the airborne... thing). Somehow it works really well at ratcheting up the tension where it's probably the most travel-based section to date and very little happens. Plus the description of the Argonath has always struck me as a superb bit of work, it feels a part of the world yet you can't help but wonder how it was made...
Oh yes, bonus points to Legolas for managing to take out the airborne creature, at night, when it's a dark patch against a dark sky, with ONE SHOT! Yeash, way to show off there elf boy.
One thing that always strikes me with this chapter is the finality of it all. Not just for the Fellowship starting the next stage in their journey but also for the land of Lorien itself. As Galadriel herself said in the last chapter, no matter what happens the elves know this is the twilight of their home and, win or loose, it will inevitably fade.