Tag Archives: Gandalf

The Steward and the Wizard

“He will not wake again,” said Denethor.  “Battle is vain.  Why should we wish to live longer?  Why should we not go to death side by side?”

“Authority is not given to you, Steward of Gondor, to order the hour of your death,” answered Gandalf.  “And only the heathen kings, under the domination of the Dark Power, did thus, slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death.”

Denethor and Gandalf in Chapter Seven of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

 

“What then would you have,” said Gandalf, “if your will could have its way?”

“I would have things as they were in all the days of my life,” answered Denethor, “and in the days of my longfathers before me: to be the Lord of this City in peace, and leave my chair to a son after me, who would be his own master and no wizard’s pupil.  But if doom denies this to me, then I will have naught:  neither life diminished, nor love halved, nor honor abated.”

“To me it would not seem that a Steward who faithfully surrenders his charge is diminished in love or in honor,” said Gandalf.  “And at the least you shall not rob your son of his choice while his death is still in doubt.”

Denethor and Gandalf in Chapter Seven of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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Gandalf and Galadriel

Galadriel and Gandalf

Hi, DiNozzo!

Well, with Torture DiNozzo Week over, we can move on to different topics.  Don’t worry about Star Trek Into Darkness, Tony.  I have not forgotten it.  Today I just felt like going back to The Hobbit.

One of the scenes I enjoy most in The Hobbit is the meeting of the White Council in Rivendell.  In the movie, the Council consists of Elrond, Saruman (blech), Gandalf, and that dazzling Elf woman, Galadriel.  Saruman, of course, spends his time trying to dissuade his peers from prying Smaug out of the Lonely Mountain.  He dismisses the Necromancer as a foolish human sorcerer and tries to stamp out the fear his ‘friends’ express at the sight of the Witchking of Angmar’s blade.

The one problem I have with the meeting as it is presented is the divide in the Council.  Galadriel and Gandalf both advocate taking Smaug down.  Saruman pooh-poohs their worries and Elrond follows his lead, minus the pooh-poohing.

I do not believe Elrond would have counseled against getting rid of Smaug.  While Saruman’s true colors are not known at the time of The Hobbit, I do not see Elrond blindly assenting to Saruman’s attempts to lay the matter aside.

That said, I do enjoy the back and forth between Galadriel and Gandalf.  It is especially funny when she realizes Thorin’s company is leaving and tells Gandalf, “You knew!”  The look Gandalf gives her is the look a boy gives his mother when his hand has been found in the cookie jar.

Ooops.  🙂

Did you notice that when Gandalf and Elrond go to meet Galadriel, both men make bows of respect to her?  Why do you think they do this, Tony?

Because she is a very beautiful Elf woman?  Well, duh.  There is that.  After her granddaughter, Arwen Evenstar, Galadriel is the most beautiful Elf-woman in Middle-earth.

Of course you didn’t know Galadriel was Arwen’s grandmother!  You would have to read the book to find that out, and you don’t read!  But since I have started, I will be gracious and fill you in.  Years before the events of The Hobbit and the War of the Ring, Elrond married Galadriel’s daughter, Celebrian.  They had three children: twins Elladan and Elrohir and Arwen Evenstar, or Arwen Undomiel in the Elven tongue.  We never see Celebrian in the movies or the books because she has left Middle-earth by the time of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Why?  Well, you see, Celebrian used to make regular visits to her mother’s home in Lothlorien.  Returning to Rivendell from one such stay, she and her escort were attacked by orcs in the Redhorn Pass of the Misty Mountains (where the Fellowship later got stuck and had to detour into Moria).  Her escort was killed and she was captured and taken into the orc tunnels.  There she was tortured by the orcs.

Was she killed?  No.  All I know for sure is that she was wounded with a poison dart.   But knowing orcs as we do, that may not have been her only injury.

Anyway, Celebrian was rescued.  Her dart wound, however, made her forsake Middle-earth for the Grey Havens a year later.  Elrond’s sons had a special hatred for orcs after this incident, so they often rode with the Rangers to take out goblin packs that hunted in the north.  This must be why they joined their father in hunting down and killing the orc pack which was chasing Thorin’s company.

DiNozzo!  There were three Elves in the hunting party who were not wearing helmets!  One was Elrond.  Two guesses as to who the other two were.

Elladan and Elrohir, yes.  Gee whiz, one would think you had no more skill with a search engine than you do riding horses!

Hey, hey, no head slapping!  I’ve got Gibbs on speed dial, remember?

Good.  Where was I going with this?  Oh, yes.  So Elrond respects Galadriel not only because she is beautiful but because she is his mother-in-law.  There is, however, slightly more to this as well.

Galadriel is one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth.  She has been around since the First Age of the world.  And she was there when the Three Rings were forged and handed out to the wisest of the Elven-kind.  This is the other reason that Gandalf and Elrond show Galadriel such great respect.  She is the oldest and wisest Elf alive and has wielded one of the Three for most of her life.  Even for Elves, that is no small accomplishment.

Don’t you remember?  There were “Three rings for the Elven kings under the sky.”

Yes, Galadriel is a queen, but if Sauron is looking for men and not women he would not suspect where one of the Three has been all this time.  Nenya, the ring made of mithril, has been in Galadriel’s keeping since it was made.  The other two Elven rings, Vilya and Narya, have each changed hands since they were forged.

Vilya, the mightiest of the Elven Three, first belonged to the Elven king Gil-galad.  He died with Isuldur’s father Elendil when Sauron was first defeated.  Before he died, though, he gave Vilya to his standard bearer.  That ‘young’ Elf was Elrond.

Narya, the ring with a fiery red stone, was given to Círdan, the Elven shipwright of the Grey Havens.  He is the only Elf I know of to have a beard and appear old.  He is also one of the few Elves who does not make it into the films.  And if he does, then he is not named in The Return of the King.

Círdan did not keep Narya.  He met a better guardian for that ring: Gandalf.  He gave Narya to Gandalf because he felt that Gandalf would need it to “light a fire in the hearts” of the people who would battle Sauron.  Knowing Gandalf as we do, the third Elven ring was probably better fitted for his fiery temper than for the (apparently) milder mannered Círdan.  It helps that the word Narya means ‘fire.’

If you watch the end of The Return of the King carefully, you will see Gandalf wearing a ring with a red stone on one of his hands.  You have to look fast, Tony!  The film does not allow a long, hard study of Gandalf the White before he sails from Middle-earth forever.

Where was I?  Right, that’s it!  This is the difference between Gandalf and Galadriel’s power but also what makes them such a team.  Galadriel’s power, combined with Nenya (which means ‘water’), appears to be the means she uses to preserve Lothlorien.  What I mean by that is, in the books, Lothlorien seems to have an aura which makes it impervious to the tides of time.  Gandalf describes Galadriel’s forest kingdom as a “land of ageless time,” and Samwise mentions after leaving Lorien that while they were there time just seemed to stop.

This makes me think that Galadriel’s power lets her preserve what was, so much so that time hardly seems to pass under the mallorn trees in Lorien.  Her power is not necessarily proactive, though she can wield it as a weapon, but is useful as a way of seeing what is best for the future through knowledge of the past.

Gandalf’s power is different.  Every time we see our favorite wizard, he is out doing something or pushing for something to be done.  Gandalf is not the type to sit around twiddling his thumbs or crying over spilled milk.  He has to be active.  This is why he is always exhorting important people – whether it is Aragorn, Frodo, Bilbo, or anyone else you can think of – to stand up to evil, a.k.a. Sauron.  He has to be active against Sauron for all his time on Middle-earth.

This is why Galadriel wanted Gandalf to be the head of the White Council.  As we see in The Hobbit, when Gandalf thinks something has to be done to keep Middle-earth safe he will up and do it, to heck with what anyone else thinks.  If he had been worried about Saruman’s opinion of Thorin’s company, he would have asked the head of his order for permission to let the company form in the first place.  He did not do that because: a) the mission required some amount of secrecy; b) it would take too much time to go through ‘proper channels,’ and c) he might be told “No.”

These were things that could not be allowed to happen.  So, in typical Gandalf fashion, he went ahead and did what needed doing without asking if it was okay.  After all, sometimes it really IS better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Yes, Tony, I did just say that.  And it has no relation whatsoever to Torture DiNozzo Week.

Back to The Hobbit.  Because they agree on so much, Galadriel and Gandalf are usually in accord over a course of action.  This is one of the reasons that Galadriel tells Gandalf to call on her if he needs her help in a later scene from The Hobbit.  She has been on Middle-earth much longer than any of the Istari (wizards).  So she has a whole lot of knowledge and power behind her, and she promises to use it to aid Gandalf if and when he needs it.

In this way, she is like a mother figure for Gandalf.  Remember I said he gave her a ‘little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar’ look?  Who would not give their mom that look?  And Galadriel probably made one heck of a mom, not to mention a grandmother, during her time in Middle-earth.

Anyway, that is one of the scenes I really liked from An Unexpected Journey.  I hope there are more in the coming films.  The next two Christmases at the theater are going to be fun!!

Later,

  Mithril

The Hobbit Film Trilogy: Pride and ‘Hobbit Sense’

Thorin

Hey, DiNozzo!

My Klondike bar – thanks.  How’s business?

That bad, huh?  I heard it was going a bit harder than usual.  How are Ziva and McGee doing?

When are you going to quit calling him McGeek?  Yes, it’s cute, to me.  I’m not so sure he likes it. 

As for Ziva, I think you two are giving each other the look.

Don’t give me that flustered innocence, I’ve seen you two for the past couple of years!  The more I watch, the more I’m sure you guys are headed toward –

All right, all right!  Don’t get so ruffled, I was just giving you my opinion!

Okay, okay, fine.  I’ll cut to the meat of the matter.  Gee, they’re making these Klondike bars smaller all the time.  That one didn’t last a light-second.

Now, where did I want to start this?  Oh, yeah.  So the focus of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is, naturally, Bilbo Baggins.  Throughout the film we see his growing affection for the dwarves in the company, and their growing respect and friendship with him.

But there’s one dwarf who just doesn’t seem to soften toward Bilbo in the least, although Bilbo’s admiration for him continues to grow.  Thorin Oakenshield, the dispossessed dwarf king, is stiff with all the company (save perhaps with Balin), but he is especially gruff with Bilbo.  Proud and battle-tried, Thorin is determined to regain his near-crazed grandfather’s kingdom under the mountain, which is guarded by a firedrake (dragon).  But the entire might of Erebor in its greatness couldn’t stop Smaug the terrible.  He’s going to need help.

And for this mission, the only help Thorin’s got are twelve other dwarves.  Oh, sure, Gandalf travels with them fairly often.  But he’s a wizard; he has a lot of other matters on his plate.  He can’t travel with the dwarves all the time, and even if he could, an entire army couldn’t drag Smaug out from Under the Mountain.  What’s Gandalf the Grey (even with all his power) going to be able to do – other than give Smaug a stomach ache? 

These odds are beyond dismal to start with.  There’s worse in that, since Gandalf isn’t a reliable traveling companion, it leaves Thorin with a company of thirteen. 

You know the old saying about thirteen being an unlucky number.  Who wants that worry hanging over his head on an already badly outmatched mission like this?

So Thorin asked Gandalf to find them a fourteenth traveler for the company.  And what does he get?  A well-fed, well-housed hobbit who “looks more like a grocer than a burglar.”

 Bilbo has, of course, never used a sword, axe, or any other weapon.  It’s doubtful that he ever even used a sling shot as has Ori.  In fact, I think it was mentioned in the book that the only thing he knew how to do was throw rocks.  Not an especially helpful talent when you’re facing a huge dragon, huh?

As for burglary – only Gandalf’s quick interruption kept Bilbo from letting slip that he’d never stolen anything more than fruit or vegetables in his whole comfortable life.  How is he supposed to steal anything from a dragon?  It’s shown later that he has trouble stealing from mountain trolls.  Doesn’t inspire confidence about his ability to get past a dragon, does it?

And herein lies part of the rub.  Thorin has led an uncomfortable life for many, many years.  He’s fought orcs, wargs, and lost his home to a dragon.  He has had to work for the clothes on his back and the weapons he carries.  His father has gone mad and vanished; his battier grandfather was slain in a horrible manner right in front of him, and he has led and lost thousands of dwarves in war against the orcs of the Misty Mountains. All of this happened in one day.  He has had years to brood on it and get bitter over it.

And when he finally gets the chance to do something about it, he finds he doesn’t have enough dwarves.  Although as he himself points out, the dwarves he does have are willing to fight.  That can be the tipping point in any battle. 

But when he asks Gandalf to get him a burglar, Gandalf instead finds him an untried hobbit who has never seen battle.  Heck, he hasn’t even lifted a sword at any point in his life!!

For Bilbo’s part, as a young hobbit he probably would have jumped at the chance to go with the dwarves.  But at the hobbit’s middle age of fifty, he has had time to get comfortable with the quiet life of the Shire.  He is “respectable” and doesn’t do anything considered odd by the residents of Hobbiton. 

Suddenly, his quiet, comfortable life is turned upside down in one night.  A passel of dwarves invades his home, sets it into absolute disorder, the lead dwarf insults him, and he is “volunteered” to go on a quest.  The “respectable” part of Bilbo does what any “respectable” resident of Hobbiton would do; he turns it down.

The next morning he finds his house – the one thing he takes real pride in – restored to its former order and cleanliness.  And on the table in the parlor, he finds the contract to join the company. 

Wonder who left it there?  I doubt it was Thorin.  Balin?  Perhaps.

The more likely answer, I think, would be Gandalf.

Now, this is the second half of Thorin’s problem with Bilbo and, frankly, with a great many other people.  Thorin is the dwarf king and has earned glory in his battles.  He has helped his people survive since the fall of Erebor. 

And, in typical dwarf fashion, this has all gone straight to his head.

Dwarves in Middle-earth are known for their bull-headed pride.  Only Gimli ever seemed to have any sense in that regard, keeping his pride under better control than many other dwarves.  Thorin doesn’t seem to even want to keep his pride in check.

Thorin’s pride brings the company to many of the dangers they encounter.  He chooses to camp at the wrecked farm, near a troll den; he bickers with Gandalf regarding most of the wizard’s advice; and at first refuses any help Elrond can give him because Thranduil, king of the Mirkwood Elves, wouldn’t attack Smaug when the dragon was safely inside the Lonely Mountain. 

Yeah, Thranduil may have been a stuck-up snob, but what’s the sense in getting his army killed in a suicide attempt?  Somehow, Thorin never seems to figure out this part of the equation.  At least he doesn’t in this movie.  Only Gandalf’s frustrated tirade gets Thorin to finally – grudgingly – accept Elrond’s help in reading the map his father Thrain left him.

Bilbo’s pride is of another type.  Bilbo takes pride in being “respectable,” in how well his hole is taken care of and, essentially, in being a hobbit.  This pride is really nothing when compared to Thorin’s, and because he can take no pride in these ‘small’ accomplishments on the trail, Bilbo sets it aside (until later).

This is what gives him an edge that Thorin at first doesn’t see and later ignores: Bilbo learns as he goes along on the quest.  He learns to use his wits, his sharpest and best weapon; shown when he successfully distracts the trolls, and engages Gollum in a game of riddles.  He learns how to use a sword and how to fight.  And, most importantly, he learns when to use a sword and when not to use a sword when he spares Gollum (as Gandalf advised was the true sign of bravery).  He learns how to be a good friend to all the dwarves, even Thorin; although the dwarf king refuses to even consider him a friend for most of the film.

Why does Thorin do that?  Because, Tony, Bilbo may be high on the hobbit totem pole, but socially he’s inferior to half the other races in Middle-earth.  Bilbo’s no warrior; he’s not a smith, not an archer, he’s not even a scholar.  He has no credentials outside of the society of the Shire.  He shouldn’t even be loyal to the exiled dwarf king; he’s a hobbit and Thorin’s a dwarf.  Why should either of them care what happens to the other?  Why should Bilbo care about what Thorin and the other dwarves want?  It may be safe to say that Thorin doesn’t care terribly much about what Bilbo wants.

And yet, when Thorin nearly ends up joining his grandfather, it is Bilbo Baggins who rushes to his rescue.  A small hobbit with nearly no skill with a sword puts himself between an injured dwarf king and a huge, murderous orc on a large warg.  Why?  Through his journey with the company and his friendship with the other dwarves Bilbo has become loyal to Thorin.  Like Balin, he has come to see Thorin “as one I would be proud to call King.”

He has come to see that Thorin and the others lack what he has – a home, a home that they can be proud of, as he is proud of his hobbit hole.  In the Shire, everyone has a home that they can be proud of; I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a homeless hobbit in the entire Middle-earth world.  So it stands to reason that he would want to help the dwarves regain that pride.  And finally, Thorin wakes up to the fact that Bilbo really does want to help.

Oh, yes, Bilbo misses the Shire and wants to go back.  He doesn’t enjoy the rigors of the trail, no.  He doesn’t like fighting for his life against orcs and wargs.  But if that’s what it takes to help his friends, then he’ll do it.  He’ll put up with the discomfort and see the journey through to its end.

Come on, Tony, who wants the end of the journey to be the final end?  But the thing is that the future isn’t written in stone.  Bilbo is willing to risk his life, maybe more than he realizes, to help his friends get their home back. 

And that is why he gives Gandalf courage. 

Well, I have to split.  See you around, Tony!

Later,

Mithril

Bilbo

Innocent Thirteenth

Ori

Hey, DiNozzo!

Klondike bar!  Thank you.

You will have to buy me a Klondike for as long as I deem it necessary, Tony.  Next crack about a book and I’ll have to think of a worse punishment.  There’s those cat’ o’ nine tails, and then there’s the rack.  Nasty, nasty torture device; I know plenty of characters stretched out on it right now, too.  Sad, I like most of them, and I’m not the one who put them there.

If you seriously find those torture devices of too little severity after watching Brave, then I suppose I could always sign you up for rock climbing lessons.  Then there’s parachute jumping – but you already did that one.

I got it!  Jogging!

Weeell, when you offer me a month of Klondike bars, I guess I could leave it at that.  All right, it’s a deal.

Right, to business then.  So, this note is about the most innocent dwarf in Thorin’s company.  He’s the youngest, and youth and innocence tend to go hand in hand (at least they do in stories).  His name is Ori.

Yes, he’s the one who asks Bilbo, “What should I do with my plate?”

Now notice – notice! – he is the only dwarf to ask that.  All of the dwarves have tramped into Bilbo’s hole, “pillaged the pantry” as he himself put it, and have set the rest of his house in absolute disorder.  And here comes the youngest dwarf to ask about his dirty plate, like any child at a dinner party that isn’t sure of his manners.

I guess it’s a good thing that Bilbo never got to answer him.  Heaven only knows what he’d have said!

Next, during the song “Blunt the Knives,” Ori is tasked with putting the clean plates on the table.  He has to carry them – stacked so that they’re over his head – to the table without dropping and breaking one.  No one helps him because they’re busy cleaning everything up (and having a little fun with him, too, I think).

As he goes, Ori keeps his eyes on the stack, obviously worried that he may drop a dish.  Luckily he doesn’t.

Another indication of his innocence is Ori’s weapon of choice.  Most of the dwarves carry axes or swords.  I believe Bifur has a halberd, and all Bombur seems to fight with is his ample stomach.  Kili appears to be the only dwarf with a bow and Thorin carries the Elf blade Orcrist, or Goblin Cleaver.  And what does little Ori wield? 

A sling shot. 

Ori’s only weapon is a small sling shot.  He may have a sword, but he doesn’t seem to use it much.  He fires at an orc chief on his Warg just before Gandalf leads the company to Rivendell’s back door.  The stone hits the Warg in the snout and the monster merely shakes its head, the way it would if a fly had just bitten it.

David (of Goliath fame) Ori is not.

On top of this, all the other dwarves seem to be protective of him.  After Bilbo, he is the one they make sure to keep a close eye on.  Thorin sends him into the cave that leads to Rivendell after he fires at the orc with his slingshot, and only when the Great Goblin under the Misty Mountains suggests that they start torturing Ori first does Thorin respond to the orc’s questions.  

Orc is the hobbit word for goblin, Tony.  Oh, brother.  You know you could at least look these guys up on the Internet if you’re that against reading the book.

Oh, very funny.

Anyway, back to Ori.  When the dwarves get cornered in the trees of the forest at the foot of the Misty Mountains, Ori is helpful in tossing burning pine cones against the Wargs.  When the tree that Ori and the rest of the company have been forced to share starts to fall, Ori is nearly their first casualty.  Only Dori’s quick grab saves him from being a greasy spot on the ground.  And later, only Gandalf’s staff is keeping the two of them from becoming dwarf blotches.  This is another sign of how protective the company is of their youthful member.

It’ll be interesting to watch where Ori goes from here.  He didn’t get a lot of screen time in the theater cut of An Unexpected Journey, and that doesn’t appear to be likely to change in The Desolation of Smaug.  But the only way to find out is to watch the next movie.

Of course I’m going to watch it.  You didn’t think that I only went to the theater to see this one movie, did you?

Ugh.  You know something, DiNozzo?  You are incorrigible. 

I have to go.  Next time we talk about Thorin and Bilbo.

What?  I wanted to make sure I had my opinions on their friendship (or lack thereof) thought out properly first!

Oh, get out of here or I will make you take up jogging for a month!

Later,

Mithril