A Tolkien Virgin: The Return of the King - Book V - Chapter 2 - The Journey Continues


"But the next day there came no dawn, and the Grey Company passed on into the darkness of the Storm of Mordor and were lost to moral sight; but the Dead followed them."
Book V
Chapter 2
The Passing of the Grey Company

Wow, talk about chills! Summoning the Living Dead to fulfill their oath and join in the battle against Sauron. Never would I have imagined such a thing in this story--it feels a little bit out of place.

Eowyn's attitude and conversation with Aragorn also felt out of place. Reviling her place as the leader of those of Rohan in hiding, belittling the status of women in geneal, and desiring the glory of battle just didn't fit with my idea of Middle-earth up to this point. I mean this isn't just a strong woman performing heroically at need like Galadriel at the Helcaraxe, this is a (presumably) honorable woman desiring to break her vow to be the leader of her people in her father's stead, so she can go off to fight in battle.

Then, begging Aragorn to let her come with them as they set out even further calls her character into question. It's not that she shouldn't desire battle glory exactly, it's that she should never have given thought to breaking her oath.

I mean, look at the freaking oath breakers that became the living dead!!

Needlessly I'll point out once again the all too prevalent plot device of "the darkest path taken only at need." At the first mention of the Paths of the Dead, and especially because Aragorn reacted negatively to it, I knew they would end up going that way. As for frightening, Tolkien does a fantastic job. The one horse too freaked out to go on till Legolas calmed it, Gimli's fearful reluctance, the whispering voices, the blast of air, the darkness, Legolas' description of the Dead following, and their voice: all of these things contributed to chills. For some reason, I found the Paths of the Dead and the Dead themselves much scarier than the endless plodding through Moria, which didn't affect me much at all (till the end, of course).

I'm dying to know the story behind the corpse at the door inside the Haunted Mountain. What does that door hide?

This chapter's last phrase alone gave me chills: but the Dead followed them.

So, well done, yes, but odd. My idea of Middle-earth has to be remolded to include zombies, I guess.

Finally, I noticed all the thee's thou's and ye's. Apparently we'll see more of that kind of speech as Aragorn come into his kingship.

till next time,
keep thinking,

mark-edmond
Kanazawa, Japan
far(out)

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