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  1. #1
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    Isengard and Treebeard: Musing on Trees and Towers

    Click here for a write-up by Ben Schneider, or read below:

    Written by Ben Schneider

    There are a number of conspicuous escapes that take place during the saga of the Ring. Gollum escapes the Elves; Gandalf escapes Orthanc; and the four Hobbits have their own set of daring getaways—sometimes even from fiery mountain slopes on the backs of eagles. On only a few notable occasions, however, is a character simply set free: Gollum by Sauron, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum (again) by Faramir, and Saruman by the Ents. For Gollum's first release, it is hinted, he is being sent out as a spy and agent of the Red Eye. When Faramir releases Frodo and Sam, they deemed allies–and Gollum is reluctantly let go to, with some stern warnings, seemingly against what Faramir feels is his better judgment. And then, when we at last return to Orthanc on our way Shireward, we discover that Saruman (with Gríma at his heel) has simply been let free.

    But why?

    Treebeard admits some of the reasons himself. He hates to see things caged. He seems also to believe that he has taught Saruman something of a lesson, saying that Saruman was "not so weary of his tower as he was weary of my voice. Hoom!" The old Ent has been moralizing, it seems, and thinks the old Wizard reformed; or at least defanged.

    Gandalf is not wholly convinced, however. He suspects Saruman's power of voice has swayed even Treebeard. That fact that Treebeard avoided the question, knew it was coming, and answered it slyly more or less cinches the suspicion as true.

    The two explanations can both be true of course, and to some extent or other certainly are. Saruman of the Broken Staff has the power of persuasion, but it is diminished. The decision lay mostly in Treebeard's nature, but he was swayed. So there it would appear we have our answer: Saruman freed himself, even if it was the gentlest of escapes. A simple push on an unlocked door.

    But was he, as Treebeard believed, actually reformed? Or at least broken? On the surface, the answers seem a pretty easy no, and not much. But the question is one that is given to us more uncomfortably than most. We are not simply told, as we often are, that his nature is evil--nor do we get an eloquent pearl of wisdom from Gandalf, reassuring us that it's just complicated and beyond our judgment. And although Gandalf is down on Saruman's reform in this scene, he was not nearly as pessimistic back after the destruction of Isengard, when he asked Saruman again and again to relent.

    Among the throng of figures who are mostly either truly good of heart or wicked to the core, Saruman, much like Boromir and Denethor, waver on the line, and there is no mistaking the fact that the wavering of the Wizard Formerly Known As the White is of great interest. It is one of those very human moments where we are reminded just how hard a thing it is to let go of one pride and power, and how easily we can become ensconced in the towers of our own bitterness. It is also more generally a herald of the Fourth Age, where the rise of the reign of Men, with their wavery, fickle hearts, will surely lead to more of this—more moral ambiguity, more inextricable mingling of wickedness and good. With that mingling, more times that the truly good must give the wicked a second or even third chance at reform, even if there is only the faintest glimmer of hope for it.

    Finally, Saruman and Gríma's liberation serve one additional role: to give us a sense of contrast in the time of homegoing. When the returning Hobbits uncover them in the Shire, they find themselves far, far greater and their enemies far pettier than just one year ago when they set off on their adventure. Perhaps even more important, we see the two diminished clingers-to-evil denied any homegoing or shelter of their own, cast out of Rohan, out of Orthanc, out of the Shire, and barred forever from Valinor beyond the Sundering Seas.
    Last edited by Cordovan; Oct 30 2017 at 01:22 PM. Reason: proper attribution
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  2. #2

    Nice

    Nice example of a character who is not all good or all evil in LOTR.
    I can't wait to play the Shire parts at the end of the story.


    (You might want to give the diary another pass with copy editing in mind.)
    Claims made in forums are larger than they appear in real life.

  3. #3
    Looks like we're going to get to play the Battle of Bywater/Scouring of the Shire?? Awesome!

  4. #4
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    If so I hope it's something like an instance. I would hate to see a ruined "after-Sharkey" Shire for any time longer than it takes to whip the brigands and show them to the borders. Either that or get us to "Post-Sam the Gardener" Shire ASAP.
    "You can't fight the Enemy with his own Ring without turning into an Enemy" - J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter # 81



  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by tuor66 View Post
    If so I hope it's something like an instance. I would hate to see a ruined "after-Sharkey" Shire for any time longer than it takes to whip the brigands and show them to the borders. Either that or get us to "Post-Sam the Gardener" Shire ASAP.
    Professor Corey Olsen who does the "Exploring the Lord of the Rings" readings (among other LOTR/LOTRO related stuff in game and a Signum University) said something similar.
    After ten plus years of visiting the Shire, it's going to be really sad to see Mill at Hobbiton turned into a big brick building and the houses in Bagshot Row torn up.
    Claims made in forums are larger than they appear in real life.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by CheeseFan View Post
    Professor Corey Olsen who does the "Exploring the Lord of the Rings" readings (among other LOTR/LOTRO related stuff in game and a Signum University) said something similar.
    After ten plus years of visiting the Shire, it's going to be really sad to see Mill at Hobbiton turned into a big brick building and the houses in Bagshot Row torn up.
    Exactly, chopped down trees everywhere, rows of ugly brick houses and so on. It will be worse than when the outside of Thorin's Hall was redesigned into an industrial nightmare. That was bad enough but with the sentimental attachment many of us have for the Shire, it will feel much worse.
    "You can't fight the Enemy with his own Ring without turning into an Enemy" - J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter # 81



  7. #7
    I always envisaged the scouring of the Shire to just be another region entirely.
    A little like Isengard before and after.

    I would like to see the Battles to regain the shire in an instance form but there has to be an
    open world Shire after as well.
    I see the Shire for low levels and festivals being unaffected.

    I want to be a part of that rousing of the Hobbits and the battle.
    I will be also very much interested in the teams viewpoint on why Gandalf left the group to
    seek out Tom Bombadil saying:
    "I am not coming to the Shire. You must settle its affairs yourselves; that is what you have been trained for."

    Also, what would be nice is to have the rebuilding of the Shire, a bit like Hytbold but much fun
    because.... well it's the Shire!
    WHY DO PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE LEAST, KNOW IT THE LOUDEST?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TearMaker View Post
    I will be also very much interested in the teams viewpoint on why Gandalf left the group to
    seek out Tom Bombadil saying:
    "I am not coming to the Shire. You must settle its affairs yourselves; that is what you have been trained for."

    Also, what would be nice is to have the rebuilding of the Shire, a bit like Hytbold but much fun
    because.... well it's the Shire!
    That's an interesting idea. We could be running errands (wouldn't be the first time for that, LOL) for Sam, Merry, Pippin and Frodo (in his temporary position as Deputy Mayor) in various parts of the Shire to fix it back up. It would also be an opportune time to finally open Brandy Hall! And by errands I don't mean just a long series of collection quests. It should include stuff like rooting out Brigand dens, protecting the borders while regular Hobbits work, etc. Perhaps a few longer journeys back to our allies in Gondor and Rohan.

    As for Gandalf, his mission was over. In addition, I think Gandalf knew enough about Hobbits to know that he wouldn't be needed. All the Shire residents needed was a spark to get fired up. The four returning Hobbits had experienced enough to know how to light that spark and organize a resistance. Besides, if Gandalf has to solve their problems, then he has to keep returning to do so and that wasn't in the cards.
    "You can't fight the Enemy with his own Ring without turning into an Enemy" - J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter # 81



  9. #9
    That reminds me of something... when did Aragorn/King Elessar issue the decree that no human (including himself!) was allowed to cross the border into their land? This would make running errands quite difficult for some other races.

    Maybe Buckland is a place that is regarded as 'outside' (after all, the Rangers of the North still have to pass it by with their ships, while they are traveling up and down the Baranduin/Brandywine) so that you can help them getting some wood from the reluctant Old Forest.


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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polymachos View Post
    That reminds me of something... when did Aragorn/King Elessar issue the decree that no human (including himself!) was allowed to cross the border into their land? This would make running errands quite difficult for some other races.

    Maybe Buckland is a place that is regarded as 'outside' (after all, the Rangers of the North still have to pass it by with their ships, while they are traveling up and down the Baranduin/Brandywine) so that you can help them getting some wood from the reluctant Old Forest.


    Greetings, Polymachos
    Fortunately for us, the Tale of Years says the edict was issued in S.R. 1427. At the moment it is S.R. 1419 so we have time aplenty.
    The Shire consisted of the four Farthings. Buckland was outside of this. Later, in S.R. 1462 the West-march was added to the Shire.
    "You can't fight the Enemy with his own Ring without turning into an Enemy" - J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter # 81



 

 

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