Treebeard and the Taming of Sméagol
Shire Reckoning: February 29, 3019 (Solmath 29, 1420)
Pages to read:
– TT.Riders “As before Legolas was first afoot” (~p.8) – “hard black vault above. So the night passed” (~p.9)
– TT.UrukHai “Far over the Great River, and the Brown Lands” (~p.16) – TT.Treebeard “the tinkling of the drops the hobbits fell asleep” (~p.18)
– TT.Taming “Did you see them again, Mr. Frodo” (~p.2) – TT.PassageOfTheMarshes “it broadened and got gradually shallower” (~p.2)
– The Ent and the Entwife, by Adele McAllister. This song has some of my favorite lyrics by Tolkien, so you should absolutely listen as you're reading.
– In the Willow-Meads of Tasarinan, by Adele McAllister. This song is a bit boring if you don't listen along, so definitely take advantage of Adele's great cover while reading.
Riders of Rohan:
– AGL wake up and run through the downs of Rohan all day. Before noon, they find an orc camp, but no sign of recent activity. (This is the camp that Merry and Pippin had been at the night before last)
– When the sun is setting, the three reach a hilltop and see the Misty Mountains in the distance, with the Fangorn Forest at their feet.
– Gimli and Aragorn are tired, and Legolas admits that it would be best to rest until morning. They lament that after three full days of chase, they haven't made any progress rescuing Merry and Pippin.
– Rewind to this morning. Merry and Pippin have just escaped from the orc camp, and are standing in the eaves of Fangorn Forest as the sun rises.
– With the first glimpse of sunlight, The Riders of Rohan charge at the camp. The orcs are quickly overtaken, and begin to flee in every direction. A group approaches the forest where Merry and Pippin are hiding, and the hobbits turn away to go deeper into the forest. They do not see Éomer, leader of the Riders, and his men completely obliterate the orcs and burn their bodies in huge pyre. None escape.
– The hobbits run for a while into the forest, following a stream. As the air gets more stifling and their fear subsides, Merry halts.
– MP sit for a while at the stream, hydrating and resting. Pippin compares the forest to the old Took house in the Shire. Merry notes that it seems different than Mirkwood as Bilbo described it, saying "This is just dim, and frightfully tree-ish."
– The forest brightens a little and MP see a patch of sunlight. They find a small rock-wall and climb to the top. From there, they can see the plains behind them, and see smoke rising (from where Éomer is burning the orcs).
– Suddenly MP find themselves looking at a 14-foot tall figure who appears part tree, part man, and part troll. He reveals himself to be Treebeard, an Ent. (Art by BohemianWeasel)
– Treebeard tries to figure out what species Merry and Pippin are with an old rhyme, but cannot decide. They tell him of Hobbits and make up a line about hobbits to go in the song.
– Treebeard goes on in long-winded sentences with lots of "hooms" to tell MP that he was a friend to Gandalf. Then he invites MP back to his home.
– As Treebeard carries MP along, he tells them how many of the Ents in Fangorn are becoming more tree-like. He sings them a song of what he remembers of older days, when a single forest covered the land all the way out to the sea in the west.
– They finally arrive at Wellinghall, a cave carved out in a rock wall at the base of a mountain. Treebeard gives the hobbits an Ent-draught, which greatly invigorates them.
– He lies down on his bed and asks MP to tell their story. (Art: Fangorn, by ullakko)
– Treebeard takes great interest in all the details of their travels, but especially in the Shire. He asks MP if they have ever seen the Entwives in the Shire. He also tells them that although he does not ally himself with any of the free peoples, he hates the Orcs, especially those commanded by Saruman.
– Treebeard explains how Saruman betrayed the Ents and only uses them for his own designs. Saruman has been breeding a new race of orcs in Isengard (possibly cross-breeding with Men) and desires to become a Power.
– Treebeard reveals plans to overthrow Saruman, but laments that there are too few Ents left to do anything. Upon questioning, he explains how the Entwives (female Ents) settled down in a different land a long time ago. When the Ents went looking, they found that land destroyed the Entwives missing. Every since then, they have been unable to locate the Entwives and thus unable to produce Entings (children).
– Treebeard sings an Elvish song about an Ent and an Entwife, describing their falling out and desire to meet again some day.
– After the song, Merry and Pippin go to bed, while Treebeard goes outside to sleep in the rain.
Taming of Sméagol:
– Meanwhile, on the east side of the Anduin, Frodo and Sam are struggling through the Emyn Muil.
– They find themselves at the edge of a deep ravine, which they have no choice but to climb down into.
– At the end of the gully they find a steep drop (art by Ted Nasmith). Frodo attempts to go down first, but a sudden burst of thunder and lighting surprises him and he loses his grip, sliding down to a lower ledge.
– He manages to find his balance on the little ledge, as it starts to rain. Sam suddenly remembers the rope he got in Lórien. He throws it down and helps Frodo get back up. They try to find shelter in the gully and discover that the rope is quite long. When the rain ends, they go back out and make a plan.
– Sam ties the rope to a stump and Frodo helps lower him down. They both makes it to the bottom without incident as the stars come out. For a second they fear the rope will have to be left behind, but Sam gives it a tug and it falls, seemingly having untied itself.
– FS make it to the lower part of the Emyn Muil when they see Gollum creeping down the rock face behind them like an insect.
– As Gollum approaches, they can hear him babbling about thieves and "the Precious."
– Gollum suddenly loses grip and falls very close to the hobbits. Sam tries to subdue him, but Gollum keeps resisting until Frodo threatens him with Sting.
– Sam is wary of Gollum, wanting to tie him up. Gollum pleads with Frodo, and Frodo has a flashback to Gandalf's words from the Shire about pity. He agrees mentally and commands Sam to let Gollum go.
– Gollum is very pleased by Frodo's mercy and agrees to help them if possible.
– Frodo calls Gollum by Sméagol (his name before the Ring corrupted him), and explains their plan to go to Mordor. Sam is shocked, but Frodo remembers that Gollum has been to Mordor before, and requests that he shows FS the way he made it in.
– After some argument, Gollum agrees to lead them to Mordor, starting tonight. They rest for a bit first, and Gollum tries to bolt. Sam tries again to tie Gollum up with his Elvish rope, but it visibly causes him great pain. Frodo agrees to free him after he swears by the Precious.
– After he swears by the Precious to serve Frodo and take the hobbits to Mordor, Tolkien notes that "a change, which lasted for some time, came over him. He spoke with less hissing and whining, and he spoke to his companions direct, not to his precious self."
– The change of heart pleases Frodo but it makes Sam more distrustful of Gollum/Sméagol than before.
Passage of the Marshes:
– Sméagol leads FS through another gully, promising that it will lead them finally out of the Emyn Muil and into the marshes on the other side. While they walk, he splashes in the stream, singing a song about catching fish.
– Sam worries about the food situation, and fears that Sméagol would try to eat the hobbits if worst came to worst.
– The trio march on all night.
– Tolkien original, of the spooky Fangorn Forest.
Songs by the Tolkien Ensemble:
– Good quote from Treebeard about the Old Entish language. "It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to."
– The location of the Entwives is an unsolved mystery in Middle-Earth lore. Tolkien never even confirmed if they were still alive.
– Gandalf's famous speech about pity ("many that live deserve death…") is slightly different as Frodo remembers it here, compared to its original appearance in Chapter 2.
– Gollum's split personality is introduced quite well in his first conversation with Frodo. It's hard to describe/summarize here, so definitely check it out (appears towards the end of 'The Taming of Sméagol').
From The Tale of Years:
Meriadoc and Pippin escape and meet Treebeard. The Rohirrim attack at sunrise and destroy the Orcs. Frodo descends from the Emyn Muil and meets Gollum. Faramir sees the funeral boat of Boromir.
Notes: Woohoo back in business! I know I keep apologizing, but sorry again for the long wait on this one. Should be easier now that I can get into the rhythm of writing posts again. Very exciting stuff today, primarily introductions to two important characters: Gollum and Treebeard. Gollum is of course one of Tolkien's most memorable characters, and the back-and-forth between Gollum and Sméagol is an important part of his character. I'll try to indicate by name which side of his personality is prominent at any given point. ~Tom