A Tolkien Virgin: The Return of the King - Book V - Chapter 7 - The Journey Continues

"Then Denethor leaped upon the table, and standing there wreathed in fire and smoke he took up the staff of his stewardship that lay at his feet and broke it on his knee..."
Book V
Chapter 7
The Pyre of Denethor

A short and bitter chapter.

Looking up at Gandalf upon Shadowfax with Pippin's eyes at the start of this chapter, I didn't see an old man. I saw a warrior, a lord. Ageless. Tolkien writes, "So, Pippin poured out his tale, reaching up and touching Gandalf's knee with trembling hands" and the second half there really jumped out at me. A really great touch. Fortunately, Gandalf decides to try to help Faramir.

The fighting and killing in the Halls provoked in me a mixed reaction. Denethor needed to be stopped, but I couldn't help but feel that violence of any kind in that place was wrong.

Among the vivid images in this chapter, what Denethor had to say also stood out to me. It's like I could see where he was coming from. Not that I was convinced by what he had to say, of course, but it wasn't like everything he had to say was loony. Of course, by seeing the vast armies of Sauron with the palantir he would despair, even if all of what he saw was not true. His mind was corrupted enough, and his pride swallowed him. He would rather deny the rightful King, than give up the tradition he wished would continue. A sentiment he would likely have felt regardless of his corruption by the palantir, but perhaps expanded by it to the point that he could not act against it.

As Denethor burned, I could only feel that at least Faramir was saved.

Do I need to mention the comparison between Denethor and Saruman? Each of them so great, and yet both irreparably twisted by the palantir. It makes me wonder at the strength of Aragorn that he survived his encounter with Sauron with the palantir.

And so it is that the sworn lords of Pippin and Merry are both dead. I had worried that being sworn servants of different lords was going to cause some trouble for them, but I guess not.

At the end of this chapter my thoughts drift. Saruman. What mischief does he brew trapped within Orthanc under the watchful eye of the ents?

"And it was said that ever after, if any man looked in that Stone, unless he had a great strength of will to turn it to other purpose, he saw only two aged hands withering in flame." So, who used it after that? And I can't help but think that after the dome of the house cracked and crumbled in flame it must have been a real pain to get that stone out from there, huh? Probably would've been better to leave it buried.

till next time, keep thinking,

Kanazawa, Japan

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