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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Discussion: The Black Gate Opens -- The Final Battle Before the Black Gate


Nov 8 2008, 4:01am

Views: 766
Discussion: The Black Gate Opens -- The Final Battle Before the Black Gate Can't Post

The men of the West were trapped, and soon, all about the grey mounds where they stood, forces ten times and more than ten times their match would ring them in a sea of enemies. Sauron had taken the proffered bait in jaws of steel.

1. So, if I do the math correctly, there are approximately 60,000 to 70,000 Mordorion troops ringing Aragorn's 6,000 (actually 'less' than 6,000); thus, outnumbered and in a hostile land far removed from any aid, the Lords of Gondor face annihilation. This in fact is where one could say Tolkien deviates into utter fantasy, and that no army could sustain combat against such odds. However, there are many instances in 'real world' history that show a small, disciplined army can outdo a much larger force: at Bannockburn and Agincourt the odds were approximately 4-1; the Spartan '300' (which was, of course, more than 300, but let's not mess with legend) faced similar odds to those Aragorn encountered; and let's not forget the Alamo! Aragorn chose high ground (always sensible for a defensive position), and the orcs were 'hindered by the mires that lay before the hills'. A prime set-up for a eucatastrophe, wouldn't you say?

2. As Tolkien does throughout both The Hobbit and LotR, the battle is basically shown through the eyes of a Halfling, in this case Pippin. He has a wonderful little soliloquouy, regretting that Merry is not with him, and actually sympathizing with Denethor's decision to die with Faramir. An interesting parallel between Pippin in this battle and Bilbo at the Battle of Five Armies is that both are unconscious for most of the battle. Tolkien often abbreviates his battles (or doesn't dwell on them). Would you prefer a more in-depth description of combat?

3. Here we see firsthand the devastating advance of the Hill Trolls: 'Taller and broader than Men they were, and they were clad only in close-fitting mesh of horny scales, or maybe that was their hideous hide; but they bore round bucklers huge and black and wielded heavy hammers in their knotted hands.' We know that Trolls were made in mockery of the Ents, but of what stock were they derived? Or is this yet another enigma Tolkien never wholly explained (in all my research I could never find a thorough explanation)?

4. We find another 'echo' of a previous part of the tale when Pippin lies crushed beneath the Troll, and he hears the cries 'The Eagles are coming!' He mentions Bilbo, but realizes, like Frodo before him, that Bilbo's tale was far different than his own. Regarding the Eagles -- the cavalry in white cowboy hats of Middle-earth -- do you feel Tolkien overdoes the incessant amount of 'saving' the Eagles manage throughout the Silmarillion, The Hobbit and LotR? Do you consider this repeated plot contrivance a deus ex machina of legendary proportions?

Thanks to everyone who participated in this, my first chapter discussion, It was enjoyable.

THE EARL OF SANDWICH: "Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"
JOHN WILKES: That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."
John Wilkes (1727-1797)

Subject User Time
Discussion: The Black Gate Opens -- The Final Battle Before the Black Gate Morthoron Send a private message to Morthoron Nov 8 2008, 4:01am
    Thoughts. Curious Send a private message to Curious Nov 8 2008, 9:33am
    People get angry with me over this Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV Nov 8 2008, 10:42pm
        "For trolls, as you probably know... sador Send a private message to sador Nov 9 2008, 8:35pm
        Magic in Literature Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Nov 10 2008, 6:05pm
    Petrified dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Nov 9 2008, 1:44am
    A few points SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Nov 9 2008, 6:33pm
    I love the Eagles a.s. Send a private message to a.s. Nov 10 2008, 12:36am
        Something just popped into my head about the eagles. Aunt Dora Baggins Send a private message to Aunt Dora Baggins Nov 10 2008, 3:54am
            Aslan is arguably also Curious Send a private message to Curious Nov 10 2008, 10:51am
    Radagast Cyberia Send a private message to Cyberia Nov 11 2008, 4:31am
        Radagast Elros Send a private message to Elros Nov 11 2008, 11:57am
        I don't recall that being in a manuscript... Morthoron Send a private message to Morthoron Nov 11 2008, 5:19pm
            Radagast meant well Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Nov 11 2008, 5:30pm
    Unlike a.s., I havenít yet read N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Mar 22 2009, 4:48am


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