A Tolkien Virgin: The Return of the King - Book V - Chapter 8 - The Journey Continues
The Houses of Healing
It amazes me that Merry, the one who made it possible for Eowyn to strike down the dread Nazgul should be left to wander alone into the city! Pippin finds him sleeping on his feet and lost, and with the help of Bergil and then Gandalf, Merry is finally brought to join Eowyn and Faramir in the Houses of Healing. But for all of Gandalf's power, he appears unable to help these three heroes. What's up with that? Unlike pulp fantasy fiction, magic is much more subdued in Middle Earth.
Good old Ioreth flapping away stumbles across an idea that Gandalf jumps on--the king must be a healer. Well, prophesy doesn't just go about fulfilling itself now does it? So, off they go in search of Aragorn.
I'm sure Tolkien must have thought of Ioreth as something of comic relief given the dire situation, but I have to say I find her more annoying than amusing. The herb master too. How can he be so idiotic as to not have any idea what that old rhyme so obviously states??
Given the quick and totally uncomplicated way Aragorn used the athelas to heal Faramir and the others (so much for requiring all of his "power and skill") I have to wonder how much of the healing was in Aragorns hands and how much was in the athelas? If it is always so effective, how could it possibly be thought of as nothing more than a seldom used cure for headaches? But, if it was somehow enhanced by Aragorn, then I have to wonder about "power" and magic.
At any rate our heros are all on the mend, as well as a host of others, and another prophesy is fulfilled as the people come to call him Elfstone on their own--the king has returned.
But something of what Denethor had said must be true. The remaining hosts of Sauron must be vast and overwhelming and on the verge of being sent to war on Gondor. I think, if I understand Tolkien's style and direction at all, that there can be little hope except that Sam and Frodo will finish their task.
Till next time, keep thinking,