Monday, February 16, 2004

I have just finished a long tramp through one of my favorite sections of Middle-earth...from Fangorn to Entmoot (the gathering of the Ents) to Edoras in Rohan, to Helm's Deep. I love the people of Rohan more every time I read about them. I think perhaps they are the group of characters in the books who are most like me. I love the Elves and I would love to be one, but they are almost angelic figures: ancient and yet young, ethereally pure and wise. The Rohirrim and their women (particularly Eowyn) draw me more strongly, because they are human; I see in them the faces of people I know. They are fierce warriors who fight with honor, but they place the greatest value on their families and homes. They would frankly rather be left in peace to raise their horses than fight.

Rohan's part in the story begins with the disenchanting of Theoden, King of Rohan, and continues through the rally of the Riders and the battle of Helm's Deep. A call to nobility and honor is the golden thread that runs through Rohan's chapters. It would have been easy for Theoden to send Gandalf away, or for the banished Rohirrim, captained by Eomer, to turn bitter against their king. The warriors could have hidden in the caves with their women and children, but instead they rally and keep on fighting even when it seems hopeless. The ride of the Rohirrim down the cliff at Helm's Deep (in the book it is actually the foot-soldiers of Westfold under Erkenbrand) sends chills down my spine. They may ride to death, but they ride rather than flee. King Theoden, too, refuses to end the battle "taken like an old badger in a trap," but instead calls Aragorn to ride with him, so that if they meet their end, they can make it "such an end as will be worth a song."


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