A Tolkien Virgin: The Return of the King - Book V - Chapter 6 - The Journey Continues
"But no living man am I! you look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund's daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him."
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
One down. Eight to go. Ringwraiths, that is.
Man, lots of stuff in this chapter. Lots of impressive stuff. Mighty deeds and tragedies alike.
It was so great to watch Theoden, who we met as this worn down old king with Wormtongue whispering in his ear, fully recovered and kicking some serious Orc and Southron butt. The blood of his fathers of old coursing through his veins. But woe is us, the Lord of the Nazgul comes to challenge him and Snowmane crushes him. That sucks.
Merry gets to go down in history as the one who wounded the Nazgul Lord on the Pelennor. I was only a little surprised that he pulled it off, but I was thoroughly impressed at his legendary accomplishment. Eowyn's great deed, far far greater than I would have expected of her, is the killing of the wounded Nazgul Lord. Given the prophecy and the setting, that she pulled it off wasn't terribly surprising either, but it was no less amazing. There is still a kind of punishment for her disobedience it seems as the chapter closes with her on the verge of death. But, I was really expecting something more serious. Or maybe not more serious, since it can't get much worse for her, but given her disobedience, I'm surprised Tolkien blessed her so much that she gets to fulfill the prophecy and kill the dreaded Witch King of Angmar. But even so, her stand before the Nazgul remains one of the most legendary moments in the Trilogy. I feel privileged to have been able to "watch" the legend "as it happened", if that makes any sense.
No sooner is the Lord of the Nazgul killed, things get worse, and finally all hope fades as the Corsairs of Umbar appear on Anduin. Tolkien's gotta bring us way down, before it can get good. And then the banner is unfurled and low and behold those Corsairs are carrying allies. Not just any allies, it's Aragorn! And it doesn't get much better than, "Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur's heir, out of the Paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the kingdom of Gondor..." Awesome. I was also stoked to see that Gimli and Legolas were with him. I'd like to see more of them.
So, the losses were great, but the good guys win this one. That's a relief. But, I have a pretty big question. Where the heck are the living Dead? Were they there on the field fighting, but not mentioned? How powerful are they? How do they fight? Can they even be killed? Have they already been killed during whatever happened prior to Aragorn's arrival in Gondor? I mean, that Tolkien went so far as to utilise the concept of an army of undead oath-breakers surprised me, at first. It's such a huge thing to me, to have an army of living Dead come to fight against Sauron. But, now I'm taken back by the lack of mention. It's too big of a story concept to not mention.
till next time,