Monday, August 01, 2011

Lessons, Visuals, and Quotes – The Return of the King (Chapters 1 – 4)

This is my July follow-up post for LOTR Read-Along hosted by Lorren at The Story Girl. It includes SPOILERS.

I (re)read the first four chapters of The Return of the King. I am not in a good mood for elaborated writing today, so let me do this a little differently (don’t I do it differently every month?).

Without delay, here are some things we can learn from these four chapters (take them as seriously as you think fit):

a)     Call for help before you need it. The beacons of Gondor are lit early because it is no use calling for help when you are already besieged.

b)     Do not tell a ruler about the person who might replace him. Gandalf warns Pippin not to mention Aragorn to Denethor.

c)     Do not be selfish, and do not think only about here and now. Gandalf reproaches Denethor for only thinking about Gondor and the present. 

d)     Do not believe strangers and do not take people at face value. Pippin instructs Bergil not to judge people by their look or by what they say.

e)     Be kind to the little people. Even if they seem insignificant they may save the day. Théoden treats Merry with respect and kindness, which, as is seen later on, is well repaid.

f)      If you know someone needs help, you better help them yourself. Aragorn cannot send any help to Gondor, therefore, he must go there himself.

g)     “Do not spoil wonder with haste.” Take your time for the beautiful things in life – Legolas refuses to visit Aglarond in a hurry.

h)     Do not let a pretty lady deter you from your path. Ask Aragorn. A heartless man. No tears can move him.

i)      Do not make promises you do not intent to keep – they will hold you beyond death. The Sleepless Dead know. Imagine waiting an age to be able to rest in peace.

j)      Sleep it over. Hard decisions or anything that might trouble you. “In the morning counsels are best, and night changes many thoughts,” says Théoden.

k)     Do not complain about being hungry – your host might be offended. Denethor is not pleased with Pippin’s appetite.

l)      Do not undermine evil - it creeps unnoticed where you least expect it. See Denethor’s demise – he thinks he is smart, watching the Enemy’s moves, whereas the Enemy poisons his mind. 

m)   Do not do the dirty work by yourself – rather use the minions. That is the rulers’ philosophy – at least Sauron’s and Denethor’s.

n)     Animals know better. A cock crows in Minas Tirith, sensing dawn before the people, not giving a hoot about the Lord of the Nazgȗl. 

Additionally, I want to share top five most striking images from these chapters:

  1. Tower of Echtelion – “glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver, tall and fair and shapely” 
  1. The Throne of the Kings of Men – “upon a dais of many steps was set a high throne under a canopy of marble shaped like a crowned helm; behind it was carved upon the wall and set with gems an image of a tree in flower” 
  1. The Pelennor fields – “dotted into the distance with farmsteads and little walls, barns and byres […], many roads and tracks crossed the green fields” and “away down in the valley bottom, five leagues or so […] the Great River […] grey and glittering” 
  1. The Púkel-men – “stones that had been carved in the likeness of men, huge and clumsy-limbed, squatting cross-legged with their stumpy arms folded on fat bellies” 
  1. Grond – “a huge ram, great as a forest tree a hundred feet in length, swinging on mighty chains […,] its hideous head, founded of black steel, was shaped in the likeness of a ravening wolf; on it spells of ruin lay”
 And finally, a few memorable quotes:

v    “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. Did you not know?” – Gandalf revealing a little bit about himself.

v    “Denethor sat in a grey gloom, like an old patient spider, Pippin thought,” - what a comparison!

v    “Here was one of high nobility […] one of the Kings of Men born into a later time but touched with wisdom and sadness of the Elder Race […,] a captain that men would follow” – Pippin about Faramir.

v    “Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.” – Gandalf on Gollum.

v    “King of Angmar long ago, Sorcerer, Ringwraith, Lord of the Nazgȗl, a spear of terror in the hand of Sauron, shadow of despair.” – Gandalf’s scary description of the chief Nazgȗl.

The listings are random and not at all complete, feel free to add anything you would like. 


  1. Really great way to look at those chapters! It's been a while since I last read this book. Maybe a quick re-read is in order soon.

  2. Oh, man, do I ever love LotR! It's gotten to the point where I mostly skim the stories these days when I re-read so it was a treat for me to read these passages and see Tolkien the wordsmith and not just Tolkien the world-builder.

  3. I actually like to read posts this way, they are really to the point, I guess.:) Another great LOTR post. My favourite is point f) - one of the many reasons why I love Aragorn's character. Also, great of you to mention the Pelennor fields, as they are one of my favourite settings in Tolkien's world. I am bit swamped these days, but I need to start re-reading LOTR again, so much beauty, adventure and depth in one place.


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