A Tolkien Virgin: The Return of the King - Book VI - Chapter 4 - The Journey Continues

Book VI
Chapter 4
The Field of Cormallen

But even while [Sam] spoke, to keep fear away until the very last, his eyes strayed north, north into the eye of the wind, to where the sky far off was clear, as the cold blast, rising to a gale, drove back the darkness and the ruin of the clouds..."But even while [Sam] spoke, to keep fear away until the very last, his eyes strayed north, north into the eye of the wind, to where the sky far off was clear, as the cold blast, rising to a gale, drove back the darkness and the ruin of the clouds..."So, they've all survived.  All but Boromir, of the 9 Walkers that set out from Rivendell way back in Book II.

Pippin rescued by Gimli and Frodo and Sam rescued by the Eagles at the last.

Frodo wasn't right that he and Sam were at the end of all things, but certainly they were at the end of something.  Then end of all things under Sauron and even the end of Sauron himself.

The sense of unreality that Frodo and Sam experience before the praise of all comes across well--it almost feels out of place.  Then, I remember that they bore the ring to the Crack of Doom, that because they carried it so far through such peril and misery it was at last destroyed--thus saving the world from the designs of Sauron and bringing about his undoing.

But my praise of Frodo is tempered by the fact that he failed.  He was unable to resist the lust of the Ring--he bore it to the end only to give in and claim it for his own.  Without the intervention of Gollum the Ring probably wouldn't have been destroyed.  The only thing Frodo did was carry the ring.  He wouldn't have even gone the whole way to the very Crack of Doom without Sam.  Sam is the great hero of the dark road to Mordor, not Frodo.

Sam defeated Shelob, kept the Ring from capture, rescued Frodo from Cirith Ungol, sacrificed water, food, and rest for Frodo and drove him on when he wouldn't have gone on on his own.  Finally, Sam it was that carried Frodo up Mount Doom.  Sam is a true hero.  Frodo was gloomy, pessimistic, and gave up hope altogether.  Sure, he did bear the Ring, a nightmarishly miserable task, I'm sure.  But he failed.  Utterly.  The rings destruction is far less thanks to Frodo than it is to Sam and especially Gollum, without whom they wouldn't have gotten into Mordor at all and the Ring would not have been destroyed.  So I acknowledge Frodo's hellish burden and tip my hat to him--but only slightly.

The physical effects of the destruction of the Ring were pretty awesome.  "The Black Gate was hurled in ruin,"; the shadow shape of Sauron rising, impotent, then blown away by the wind; "the torment of Orodruin."  Nice.

Sam's pondering about the story they were in as they were sure they were about to die, was affecting.  Later, I was happy to see that Galadriel's gifts for Frodo and Sam had been recovered... that was fitting.

One problem I have is with the lay of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom--besides the fact that Sam's name should appear somewhere in the title of the lay, maybe in the place of Frodo's.  What exactly did it tell? Did the minstrel just make it up?  Did he know all the facts?  If so, he must've had a long conversation with Frodo in the morning while Sam slept.  So, now we've got 5 chapters of "after the fact"--what could possibly fill 5 chapters (6 if you include this one) after the rings destruction?

till next time, keep thinking,

Mark-Edmond Howell
Kanazawa, Japan
far(out)

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