Thursday, May 15, 2014

LOTR Read-Along: The Battle of Pelennor Fields (ROTK Ch. 6)

The battle!  Lots of battle!  And Eowyn being "faithful beyond fear" (p. 822).  She kills the fell beast, she smites the Black Captain -- three cheers for Eowyn!  In the movies, it's kind of implied that the only reason she can take the Ringwraith down is because she's a woman.  But she obviously has serious sword skills, if she can slice off the fell beast's head with one blow.  "A swift stroke she dealt, skilled and deadly" (p. 823).  It may be that her gender somehow thwarted the Nazgul's enchantment or whatever, since he said "No living man may hinder me" (p. 823), but her own skill played an equally important part, I'd say.

And three cheers for Merry too!  Once "the slow-kindled courage of his race awoke" (p. 823), he jumps right into a fearsome fray and attacks a Ringwraith!  Way to go, Merry!

Here's the word "fey" again.  It says that "a fey mood" takes Eomer when he sees his sister's body on the field of battle.  Tolkien describes it thus:  "then his face went deathly white, and a cold fury rose in him, so that all speech failed him for a while" (p. 826).  So once again, "fey" seems to me to mean otherworldly and wild.  In fact, yeah, "wild" might be the best way to describe what I always thought "fey" meant.  Not crazy, but not in control of yourself either, exactly.

And now let's give three cheers for Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth!  He's the one that figures out Eowyn's not dead.  Good job, Prince Imrahil the fair!

Favorite Lines:

But the white fury of the Northman burned the hotter, and more skilled was their knighthood with long spears and bitter (p. 821).

"A grim morn, and a glad day, and a golden sunset!" (p. 824).

"A great rain came out of the Sea, and it seemed that all things wept for Theoden and Eowyn, quenching the fires in the City with grey tears (p. 827).

"...and the mirth of the Rohirrim was a torrent of laughter and a flashing of swords..." (p. 829).

Possible Discussion Questions:

When Eowyn kills the Black Rider, it says that "a cry went up into the shuddering air, and faded to a shrill wailing, passing with the wind, a voice bodiless and thin that died, and was swallowed up, and was never heard again in that age of this world" (p. 824, emphasis added).  Does that mean it was heard again in another, later age of this world?


  1. I noticed that it said that Merry's stab with the barrow wight's blade was what broke the spell. Would Eowyn have been able kill him if the spell hadn't been broken?

    1. Oh yeah! I forgot that already. So you're right -- maybe it was not an enchantment so much as just a foretelling, like MacBeth's thing about not being killed by any man born of a woman.

      So really it's Merry's Westernesse blade that saved the day by making the Nazgul mortal.

  2. That moment when Eowyn laughs and cries out, "But no man am I!" has to be one of the absolutely tingliest parts of the book. And I love all your line choices! Favorites of mine, too. :-)

    1. Yeah, Eowyn gets some great triumph going on there.

      This whole section is full of great stuff. I didn't even mention the part where Eomer is angry and sad, but then he laughs because (paraphrasing here -- my book's in the other room and I'm tired) he's young and unhurt and king of a fell people. I love that bit so much -- it makes me want to be Eomer for a minute there.

  3. I love Eowyn so much in this chapter, although my feelings are a little colored now by how much I dislike her portrayal in the movie version, which bugs me no end, because Eowyn rocks. Her and Merry both, sneaking into war and working together. It's a lovely thing. And I cry every time I read Snowmane's grave marker.

    Hee, I started laughing when I was reading and "fey" came up again. And once again, because Eomer was riding off to his death (as he sees it), I would use the other definition. I don't think Tolkien has used the word (at least not in these last few chapters) without it referring to a character who was heading to his death. However, heading willingly to your own doom might make you seem wild and otherworldly, as a corollary.

    I really love Ghan-buri-Ghan and the Wild Men. They are totally cool, and I love the part they play in the war, guiding Rohan by hidden ways to the battle and then disappearing back into their woods. Very cool.

    1. I always wish there was a statue of the Pukel-men or something in the movies, some acknowledgement of them. I know they have to leave stuff out, even Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth, but Ghan-buri-Ghan and his Wild Men are so unique and cool I wish there'd been a way to include them.


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