A Tolkien Virgin: The Return of the King - Book V - Chapter 9 - The Journey Continues

"They need more gardens," said Legolas. "the houses are dead, and there is too little here that grows and is glad."
Book V
Chapter 9
The Last Debate

Chronologically I can feel that the story is coming to an end. Something is going on, has been going on, up at Cirith Ungol (and hopefully beyond) with Sam and Frodo and I want to know what! I'm itching for that satisfactory ending that must be coming, but I have a chapter plus a whole book left to go, so that's a bummer. I want Sauron to get his comeuppance but I'm going to have to be patient for a bit longer. I see the strengths of telling the story as it is, keeping the Frodo/Sam/ring story line separate, but it's a little taxing during the first read. Once I know how it all works out in the end, I'm sure I won't mind having to wait to see what's happening with Frodo and Sam, but for now... I'm a tad impatient.

The chapter opens with Legolas and Gimli, and I'm always happy to see them again. Legolas says,"...the deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli." I wonder if perhaps Tolkien's own sentiment can be seen in Gimli's reply, "And come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess."

Well, Aragorn insists the meeting take place outside the city, seeing that he hasn't openly declared himself the rightful king, yet. And I was pleased to see that Gandalf hasn't given up hope. Back when he learned that Sam and Frodo were heading for Cirith Ungol I had been surprised by how negative Gandalf had been. He had been surprised and seriously doubtful, but even given that I know how perilous Minas Morgul and Cirith Ungol are it doesn't fit with my image of Gandalf that he should be so pessimistic. But, here in the Last Debate (which isn't really a debate at all), despite how grim their predicament is, how grave their plan, at least hope hasn't been abandoned utterly--like Denethor had. I wonder how many of them will die in this great distraction. And if Frodo has any clue how much the world is depending on him.

Right now, they need as much help as they can get, and I wish Aragorn hadn't released the Living Dead from their oath! They were such a boon to them that it seems foolish to have sent them away after a single battle when doubtlessly they would be needed again before the end. Do you think Tolkien had second thoughts about them? Did he decide that the undead didn't fit too well in Middle Earth, after all, but he liked the concept of the Paths of the Dead, so he reduced their significance in lieu of getting rid of them altogether? It's just that I had to adjust my idea of Middle-earth to include them, given how out of place they were, and next thing I know there's a second hand account of how they scared away such and such an army and were released from their oath, never to be heard of again. Disappointing.

Till next time, keep thinking

Kanazawa, Japan

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