LotRFI Pt. 25–Uruk-Hai

The third chapter of book three was an odd experience for me as a reader. I have to admit that it took me a little while to find my bearings and understand that the narrative had jumped to a different perspective than the previous chapter.

Once I found my legs, though, I was intrigued to walk among the Uruk-Hai in their camp and to watch their march through Rohan. I was not quite sure what to make of these characters because, up to this point, they had been nameless, faceless sources of dread. Now, I had to confront their being in a completely different way.

Image copyright Alan Lee

The chapter was effective in making me understand how the Orcs interacted with one another with malice without making me question whether or not they had a sense of humanity. I understood that these characters were mean, ruthless, and cruel, but did not question their motivations or whether or not they could be redeemed. My claim is not that Tolkien wrote the Uruk-Hai simply, but that I read them simply when I was a child. The kind of in-fighting and bickering portrayed among the disparate bands on the march was something I could relate to. The contrast between the milieu of this terse, selfish group and the rather unselfish, supportive climate of the Fellowship made a solid impression on me.  I think that I somehow unintentionally internalized these groups as exemplars to apply to my life: good groups (that is, groups that function well and where everyone is appreciated, not morally just groups) look like the Fellowship, bad groups look like the Uruk-Hai.

Pippin and Merry evolve a lot over this passage, but I want to side-step that conversation for now and come back to it when I do a character analysis of each of them, probably in book V.

Where Do We Go From Here?

The White Rider, of course!

What Do You Think?

What impression did chapter three make on your reading?
Did it change the way you perceived the Orcs and Uruk-Hai?
Did I miss anything? Let me know!

LotRFI Pt.22–Of Rohan

When I was a child, the character I identified with the most out of the whole book was Pippin. Somehow, though, the passages I loved the most were those in Rohan. I loved the descriptions of the open plains where horses could run for miles at a stretch. This is probably strange because I did not grow up around open plains, spending most of my time in the hill region in America’s southern states. I also only rarely had encounters with horses. I still very much liked the idea of horses, the riding of them, not the care of them. (If I were to confess all, I would have to tell of a certain early birthday party where my present was a horse ride.)

Pursuit in Rohan by Ted Nasmith
Image copyright Ted Nasmith

Nevertheless, I feel that I was drawn to the passages in Rohan because of their otherness. While I identified with the hobbits and saw their journey as something relatable, the expansive medieval world of Rohan was something I had only ever experienced in books and in my imagination. I certainly had no clue that the Rohirrim were inspired by the Anglo-Saxons, but I could feel the ancientry and sense of history that pervades the pages.

To get to more specific responses, I am sure that no consistent reader will be surprised by the fact that I was untrusting of Éomer when he first interacts with the Three Hunters. Perhaps I had a bit more reason to be mistrustful here than previously, as his men actually drew weapons on the protagonists. After his decision to gift them horses, I knew I would like him for the rest of the story, and I was not let down.

I will go into Théoden’s character in much more detail in a later post, but here I wanted to mention that he seemed to me a kind of father figure. Once Gandalf releases him from Wormtongue’s influence, he becomes a kind, generous leader. I must admit that I developed quite a soft spot for him and was grieved by later events.

This will have to suffice for a general introduction to Rohan. Much more to come!

Where Do We Go From Here?

I want to take a look at some of the events which take place in the opening chapters of book three, but I think we will also examine Legolas soon!

What Do You Think?

What was your first impression of Rohan?
When did you discover the tie of the Rohirrim to Tolkien’s day job?
​Have I missed anything? Let me know!