Today in Tolkien - March 9th
Gandalf and Pippin reach Minas Tirith at dawn, probably near 6am. Practically all the events of the chapter “Minas Tirith” happen on this day, so this and “The Passing of the Grey Company” are out of chronological order. Since most of the first section of The Return of the King centres on the defence of Minas Tirith, it makes sense that Tolkien wanted to start out the book by introducing us to the city and to its danger, so readers would understand why Aragorn considered matters desperate enough to take the Paths of the Dead.
There’s already an indication, early on, of Denethor’s use of the palantír.
Gandalf: For I have not ridden hither from Isengard, one hundred and fifty leagues [450 miles], with the speed of wind, only to bring you one small warrior, however courteous. Is it naught to ypu that Théoden has fought a great battle,and that Isengard is overthrown, and that I have broken the staff of Saruman?
Denethor: It is much to me. But I already know sufficient of these deeds for my own counsel against the menace of the East.
He turned his dark eyes on Gandalf, and now Pippin saw a likeness between the two, and he felt the strain between them, almost as if he saw a line of smouldering fire, drawn from eye to eye, that might suddenly burst into flame.
... [Pippin’s musing broke off, and he saw that Denethor and Gandalf still looked each other in the eye, as if reading the other’s mind. But it was Denethor who first withdrew his gaze.
“Yea,” he said, “for though the Stones be lost, they say, still the Lords of Gondor have keener sight than lesser men, and many messages come to them.”
There’s no way for anyone to have reached Minas Tirith faster from Isengard with news than Gandalf has on Shadowfax. Denethor asserts that the palantíri are lost to throw Gandalf off, but it’s hard to see what other information source Gandalf could expect. But Gandalf says of Denethor that he has some of the abilities of the old Númenoreans: “He has long sight. He can perceive, if he bends his will thither, much of what is passing in the minds of men, even of those that dwell far off. It is difficult to deceive him, and dangerous to try.”
Gandalf also says that Faramir is similar in this regard, and we can see some of that in Faramir’s earlier interrogation of Gollum: “There are locked door and closed windiws in your mind, and dark rooms behind them. And later, to Frodo: Malice eats it like a canker, and the evil is growing. He will lead you to no good. And: He has done murder before. I read it in him. (And the murder of Déagol is something that even Gandalf had a hard time getting out of Gollum.) There’s something rather Elvish about this limited quasi-telepathy of the descendents of the Númenoreans, reminiscent of Galadriel’s testing of the Company in Lothlórien.
At any rate, Pippin meets Beregond at 9am for orientation. They get some breakfast and eat and talk on the walls. Pippin sees wains going south, evacuating the last of the civilians from the city to South Gondor. He also sees, from Mordor, a darkness rising: the gloom was growing and gathering, very slowly, slowly rising to smother the regions of the sun. This is the darkness that will indeed block out the sun by the next morning. Beregond tells Pippin of the fleet of the Corsairs of Umbar. And Beregond is wiser in his way than the Lord of the City: “This is a great war long-planned, and we are but one piece in it, whatever pride may say. Things move in the far East beyond the Inland Sea, it is reported; and north in Mirkwood and beyond; and south in Harad.”
They talk until noon, then go to lunch and meet the men of Beregond’s company, and then Beregond suggest that Pippin (who has no further duties) go meet Beregond’s son Bergil, who can show him around the city. They watch Gondor’s reinforcements ride in in the late afternoon and evening: 200 from Lossarnach; 300 from Ringló Vale, 500 bowmen from Blackroot Vale, various untrained men from the Anfalas by the sea, a few from Lamedon, 100 from Ethir (the mouths of Anduin), 300 from Pinnath Gelin (north of the Anfalas) and Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth with a company of knights plus 700 infantry. Less than 3000 total, and much less than hoped; many regions are holding back forces to defend against the Umbar fleet. Most of them are from land through which Aragorn and the Dead will ride.
And Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and the Dúnedain are already in those lands of South Gondor. Today at dawn they set out, followed by the Dead, from the Stone of Erech, and reach the crossing of the River Ciril by sunset. They are passing through the aforementioned regions of Morthond Vale and Lamedon, and are almost at the Ringló Vale; Pinnath Gelin and the Anfalas are well to their east, Dol Amroth is south of them (it’s on the seacoast and a clear target for the corsairs, so it says a lot that Imrahil came to Minas Tirith personally).
Théoden, the Rohirrim, and Merry arrive in Dunharrow at sunset. Now we learn that when Gandalf and Pippin were at Edoras three days ago, Gandalf brought word from Théoden ordering the muster of Rohan. This is invaluable - it means that instead of starting to gather their forces now, which would bring them to Minas Tirith far too late, they are already ready to ride out. In the evening Hirgon, errand-rider of Gondor, arrives with the Red Arrow, calling for urgent reinforcements from Rohan. The news of a massive assault from Mordor actually causes Théoden to send less than he otherwise would have - six thousand rather than ten thousand - keeping some back for defence of Rohan’s strongholds. He estimates reaching Minas Tirith a week after the morning of the 10th; he actually make it in five days, by the morning of the 15th.
Frodo, Sam and Gollum walk through the day, and still the land is silent and waiting and free of the scouts of Mordor. The lands are still pleasant ones, open woodland with large trees (holly [I had to look up what ‘ilex’ meant, and it means holly], ash, and oak) and hyacinth and anemone flowers growing among the grass. At sunset they reach the road between Minas Morgul and Osgiliath.
On the same day, Faramir leaves Henneth Annûn, and spends the night at Cair Andros, as the fastest way back to Minas Tirith; most of the rest of his forces he sends back to Osgiliath to reinforce it.
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Dragon: Bernice - Coatl Female [EXALTED]
Purchased For: 20,000 treasure
Sold For: 13,927 on 2020-10-16
Hatched On: 2020-09-06
Primary: Maize Iridescent
Secondary: Black Stripes
Tertiary: Obsidian Okapi
Comments: Purchased Bernice almost a month ago as a potential mate for my Beregond fandragon, to breed his son Bergil, in case I didn’t find a suitable base for him on AH. As of tomorrow she’ll be RTB, and I still haven’t found a good Bergil, so I might as well record her on the blog. Fingers crossed that they have a son out of their first clutch, or I’ll be waiting over a month to try again (a con of her being coatl - the pro being that any hatchlings of theirs are almost guaranteed to be imperial like their father).
Pretty much threw random apparel at her, I went with bright colours to go with her equally colourful accent.
Accent: Neon Tropics
Constantan Steampunk Scarf
Green Renaissance Shirt
Pathfinder’s Hat and Tail Twist
Nested with Beregond on 2020-10-11, 2 eggs [Clutch]