Friday, January 26, 2018

Another LOTR Read-Along: The Riders of Rohan (TTT 3, 2)

The title of this chapter has a smiley face beside it in my copy. It's another of my favorites, as you'll see by how many fave lines I list below.

I'm always so glad that, immediately after taking away my Boromir, Tolkien introduces another of my favorite characters. I am, of course, referring to Eothain, that paragon of charm and tact and good cheer. Open-hearted, kindly, friendly Eothain.

You're right, I'm totally not referring to Eothain. He's kind of a jerk. I mean Eomer, of course! Wonderful Eomer, "in manner and tone like to the speech of Boromir, Man of Gondor" (p. 421). Hmm, no wonder he's one of my favorites! Also, Eomer seems to have met Boromir, as he talks about seeing him, calls him "a worthy man" (p. 425), and laments his death.

Side note -- I love so much how every time someone learns about Boromir's death, they loudly mourn his loss. Here, Eomer says such lovely things that I can't resist quoting them:
"Your news is all of woe!" cried Eomer in dismay. "Great harm is this death to Minas Tirith, and to us all. That was a worthy man! All spoke his praise. He came seldom to the Mark, for he was ever in the wars on the East-borders; but I have seen him. More like to the swift sons of Eorl than to the grave Men of Gondor he seemed to me, and likely to prove a great captain of his people when his time came" (p. 425).
(And here you thought that once Boromir had died, I would shut up about him. Nope! Not gonna happen.)

Know who else is wonderful in this chapter? Aragorn. Isn't he cool, listening to the ground to hear how far away the orcs are? And when they've been hunting for simply days, he's described the same way here as he was back in Moria. It says here that "Aragorn walked behind [Gimli], grim and silent" (p. 418), and back in "A Journey in the Dark" it says, "In the dark at the rear, grim and silent, walked Aragorn" (p. 302). It seems I really love Aragorn when he's being grim and silent, as I both that chapter and this are some of my favorite sections.

And I love Legolas in this chapter, don't you? Seeing such impossible details of things very far away. I always laugh when Aragorn spots the Riders of Rohan, and we're all impressed that he can see things that are so far away. And then Legolas casually one-ups him with, "there are one hundred and five. Yellow is their hair, and bright are their spears. Their leader is very tall" (p. 420). Cracks me up.

And I love Gimli here too. He's so sweet! First he says, "The thought of those merry young folk driven like cattle burns my heart" (p. 414). And then he's so sad over the fact that Merry and Pippin are probably dead that he says, "My legs must forget the miles. They would be more willing, if my heart were less heavy" (p. 418). This, from the stoic Dwarf, is a lot of emotion.

I think one of the reasons that the Rohirrim are my favorite culture in Middle Earth is pretty well summed up by Eomer here: "we desire only to be free, and to live as we have lived, keeping our own, and serving no foreign lord, good or evil" (p. 423). That's a pretty good description of how I want to live my own life.

And we find out here once and for all that the Rohirrim are not giving or sending horses to Sauron. The Orcs have stolen some, but that is all. Finally we can put that evil rumor to rest. Whew.

Favorite Lines:

"Ah! the green smell!" he said. "It is better than much sleep. Let us run!" (p. 414) (I sometimes say this when I'm hiking in the woods with my kids. And then regret it, because they take off running and I have to run to keep up.)

"Not idly do the leaves of Lorien fall" (p. 414).

...Legolas was standing, gazing northwards into the darkness, thoughtful and silent as a young tree in a windless night (p. 416).

"What news from the North, Riders of Rohan?" (p. 421).

"Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?" (p. 424).

"Return with what speed you may, and let our swords hereafter shine together!" (p. 429).

"There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark" (p. 430).

Discussion Question:

Eomer says that "the Men of the Mark do not lie, and therefore they are not easily deceived" (p. 424). Do you think that makes sense? Or would someone practiced at lying be better at spotting other people's deceit?


  1. This is the chapter where I feel like personality strengths and other characteristics are sorted out, and I can see Aragon's leadership more clearly, which I appreciate.

    1. Ruth, definitely! Aragorn got a bit overlooked previously, but he's coming to the fore now.

  2. I love this chapter. Even though I dearly love Sam and Frodo, my heart really lies with the three hunters and their quest. Getting to see them valiantly in action is always a treat.

    I think in some ways it would be easier to deceive someone who is always honest (they expect you to be honest). On the flipside, it can be easy to ensnare a liar in their own net of deception, making them easier to deceive. A person who is committed to the truth won't let their ears be tickled by what they want to hear, but a liar will twist many facts and thoughts to fit their own version of reality.

    1. RM, I have to admit that even though Sam is my second-favorite character in LOTR, the parts with him and Frodo on their own are my least-favorite parts of the book. The three hunters and the hobbits they seek are so much more interesting to me.

      Maybe the point is that an intimate familiarity with truth makes it easier to spot falsehood?

  3. Another great chapter! And Aragorn just keeps getting better :) I like it when they're talking to √Čomer and it is said that "he [Aragorn] seemed to have grown in stature while √Čomer had shrunk" and that "it seemed to the eyes of Legolas that a white flame flickered on the brows of Aragorn like a shining crown". Such great description! And I cringe every time that Legolas give such detailed reports of what's on the horizon.

    And about liers and lies, it seems to me indeed a contradictory statement. I would think that someone skilled at lying would be better at spotting another lier, much like poker players are good at recognising bluffers in spite of their poker faces.

    1. Irene, oh yes, Aragorn just gets cooler as we go along :-)

      It seems to be logically contradictory, and yet, I feel like maybe if you're used to hearing truth all the time, lies might stand out more? Like if you're used to drinking Coca-Cola all the time, Pepsi automatically tastes "different" to you? Dunno. He doesn't say they're impossible to deceive, just "not easily deceived."


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