Saturday, March 24, 2018
Another LOTR Read-Along: Minas Tirith (ROTK 5, 1)
Here we are at Minas Tirith at last. This chapter makes me a little melancholy. First, because Boromir isn't here, returning to aid the city he loves. And second, because Minas Tirith is a very sad place. It's half empty, even before the women and children leave, a withering place filled with long grief.
Anyway, we get to learn about about one of my favorite minor characters: Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth. Tolkien says that his folk are "tall men and proud with sea-grey eyes" (p. 734). How sea-grey eyes are different from just grey eyes is beyond me, but maybe they're got a bit of blue to them? Cowboy and our youngest child have grey-blue eyes, so maybe they're descendants of the people of Belfalas :-D Later on in the chapter, Prince Imrahil arrives, and we also learn he's a kinsman of Denethor. In fact, if I recall correctly, he had a claim to the stewardship of Gondor if Denethor's line failed. Denethor married his sister? Or aunt? Phooey, I don't remember.
But getting back to Boromir. Gandalf says that Denethor "loved him greatly: too much perhaps; and the more so because they were unlike" (p. 737). That's such a relief to me! Denethor is this dreadful, lurking spider sort of person and I really can't stand him, so I'm very relieved that we get an explicit report here that Boromir was unlike him.
We get some cool insight into Gandalf and his purpose in Middle Earth here too. He tells Denethor that "the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward" (p. 742). I love that idea of Gandalf as the steward and caretaker of all Middle Earth.
Also, I think my favorite moment in this book is when Gandalf laughs suddenly, and Pippin looks up at him and sees that "under all there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth" (p. 742). I think that might be the moment where Gandalf first became one of my favorites. I love happy people, being overall quite cheerful myself, and that joy lurking under his solemnity is so delightful.
And here we learn a bit more about Faramir's seeming ability to "read" Gollum's mind back in the last book! Gandalf says that "the blood of Westernesse runs nearly true" in both Denethor and Faramir, and that Denethor "has long sight. He can perceive, if he bends his will thither, much of what is passing in the minds of men" (p. 742-43). I assume since Faramir has an equal amount of Westernesse-ness with Denethor, he can do the same.
Goodness, this is getting long! And I haven't even mentioned Beregond and his splendid son Bergil. Such a meaty chapter! (And a long one.) I really like Bergil -- he's just about the only youngster in this book, isn't he? And he's such a cheerful kid. I'd like to hang out with him myself. I chuckle repeatedly over all the stuff about him threatening to stand Pippin on his head.
"Courage will now be your best defense against the storm that is at hand -- that and such hope as I bring" (p. 733).
"If you have walked all these days with closed ears and mind asleep, wake up now!" (p. 737).
"The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn" (p. 755).
What do you think of Pippin impulsively offering his fealty to Denethor? Good idea, or bad?