Monday, May 19, 2014

LOTR Read-Along: The Pyre of Denethor (ROTK Ch. 7)

This is such a creepy and horrible chapter.  I have a great fear of dying in a fire, so yeah... ugh.  Not pleased at all by Denethor here.  That whole image of him lying down in the middle of the fire, and the fact that anyone who ever looked at the palantir after that would see "only two aged hands withering in flame" (p. 836) -- that is one of the creepiest images I've ever encountered.  Blech.

A big theme here all of a sudden is how The Enemy is working even in the midst of The Good Guys.  Beregond has to slay a doorkeeper to keep Denethor and his guards from killing Faramir, Denethor has gone mad because of what Sauron has shown him in the palantir, etc.  It reminds me of how we are never safe from our spiritual enemy -- Satan will enter our very minds and hearts and deceive us with lies and half truths.  He'll get us to disagree with other believers in an effort to turn people away from faith... talk about creepy!

But at least the chapter ends fairly well.  Faramir doesn't get burned up after all!  Whew.

Favorite Lines:

So Pippin poured out his tale, reaching up and touching Gandalf's knee with trembling hands (p. 832).

Then Gandalf revealed the strength that lay hid in him, even as the light of his power was hidden under his grey mantle (p. 834).

"To me it would not seem that a Steward who faithfully surrenders his charge is diminished in love or in honour," said Gandalf (p. 836).

Possible Discussion Question:

Denethor accuses Gandalf of wanting to rule Gondor, "to stand behind every throne, north, south, or west" (p. 835).  What does this tell us about Denethor himself?


  1. This may sound extremely odd :-), but I actually really like this chapter. Something about all the drama, and the wounded hero, and the half-yearning for repentance and the final turning away in pride of Denethor. And the interesting questions it raises about the consequences of blind obedience.

    1. Oh, it's quite a good chapter. I just don't like it, is all :-)

  2. Love this chapter. Beregond is my favorite book-only character, mostly because of this chapter. I love how he leaves his post to defend Faramir -- at rather high cost. But he does it. Conflicting duties and loyalties is a big sweet spot map item with me, and this chapter is full of that for multiple characters. And the palantir image is definitely creepy!

    1. See, look! A chapter I call "creepy and horrible" is one you love. What a masterpiece this book is, that it can contain so many things that appeal to so many different people.


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