Book 5, Chapter 4 Notes from Return of the King

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Return of the King Book 5, Chapter 4

Pippin is roused by Gandalf to go to see Denethor who says "'Well Master Peregrin, I hope that you used yesterday to your profit, and to your liking? Though I fear that the board is barer in this city than you could wish.'" Book 5, Chapter 4, pg. 86. Pippin feels uncomfortable when he is asked to be Denethor's errand runner and singer, but he does not feel like he can say no to the steward. He is relieved when Denethor turns to speak with Gandalf. Later, he is ordered to go to be dressed in the silver and black of the tower guards. He feels odd in his new garb. The day is sunless with the great black shadow of Mordor spreading over them.

At lunch, Pippin again meets with Beregond and they stroll the walls of Minas Tirith gazing over the plain before them. He feels small in such surroundings. The dark feeling in the air is beginning to weigh on his heart. Beregond is worried about Faramir and Pippin tells him that Gandalf shares his concern. A sudden silence falls over the city. They look over the broad plain to see the Nazgul circling in the distance. They are flying around a small group of riders speeding as quickly as possible to the outer gates of Minas Tirith. Some of the men are thrown from their horses and then a flash comes from the direction of the city and Pippin sees Gandalf riding out to help them. The Nazgul are halted by a shaft of light that extends into the sky. They pause for a moment and the men ride into the gates with Gandalf. Pippin runs with all haste to the tower when he sees that Gandalf is entering the city with Faramir. Pippin is in awe of the man's noble look. Faramir looks down at him and is amazed to see a halfling in Gondor.

They enter Denethor's inner chamber and Faramir eats as he tells of his errand to Ithilien. He tells of his meeting with the other hobbits and Frodo. Gandalf seems to tremble with the telling. He asks how long ago this was and how far they were from Mordor. Faramir sent the rest of his company to reinforce the garrison at Osgillath. Denethor suddenly gets angry and accuses his son of having more loyalty to Gandalf because he let the ring be taken into Mordor instead of claiming it and bringing it back to his father for safekeeping. He laments the loss of his other son and says that Faramir made very poor decisions regarding Frodo. He accuses him of treachery and being a wizard's pupil, alleging that Boromir would have done otherwise. Faramir tells him that the whole outcome is his fault because he sent Boromir on the mission of the Ring. If he hadn't Frodo would still be with the companions. Gandalf says that Boromir would never have been able to bring the ring to the city and Denethor responds that his elder son was not a servant to wizards. He thinks that sending the ring in the hands of a halfling is witless. In his mind, the ring should have been brought to Minas Tirith to be guarded and used in desperate times. Gandalf reminds him that he is only the lord of Gondor and there are many other nations and peoples to be considered in such a decision. Denethor maintains that they would have been stronger if they had the ring but Gandalf says that he could not have trusted him to keep it and his tantrum is proving this. Denethor's eyes glow at Gandalf and Pippin feels the struggle of their wills. The steward suddenly gets calm again and says that all hope is lost. He asks about the garrison at Osgillath and tells his son to rest.

They all leave his chamber and when they are back behind closed doors, Pippin asks Gandalf if there is any hope left. Gandalf says "just a fool's hope" (Book 5, Chapter 4, pg. 96) but then rethinks his comments. He begins to realize that there is more hope because Sauron has rushed to action. He thinks of Aragorn and wonders what has become of him. Pippin asks Gandalf about Gollum and Cirith Ungol but Gandalf wants to sleep, not tell tales.

The next day is dark and Faramir is sent to lead the garrison at Osgillath. Denethor refuses to yield to the better advice of the council that thinks that Faramir would be of more use in the city than at a doomed outpost. Gandalf bids Faramir not to be rash as he leaves. Later, others ask Gandalf if Theoden will arrive soon and he says he doesn't know. A rider comes with news that there is a host coming from Mordor. It exited from the gates at Cirith Ungol. The Captain of the Nazgul leads them. The next day news arrives that Faramir is besieged in the fortress at Osgillath and is outnumbered ten to one. The messenger says that the Captain of the Nazgul spurs his men on with fear. On the following day, the outer walls are attacked and Gandalf returns with a handful of riders and wounded men. He tells Denethor that his son refused to leave until there was no more hope. Pippin asks if Sauron himself is in the field. Denethor laughs and stands to show that he wears armor. He says that wise leaders have others fight for them. Gandalf tells Pippin that the captain of the Nazgul was once a sorcerer himself. Denethor accuses Gandalf of running in fear of the Captain and Gandalf says it is not time for him to make his stand.

A sortie of riders is prepared to make an offensive and slow the onslaught of the Mordor hordes. Gandalf hears news of a second army issuing from the gates of Mordor. From the walls they see the enemy advancing within the outer walls. Any men left in the field are retreating toward Minas Tirith. The horsemen of the enemy leap forward and attack the retreating men. The sortie rides out of the main walls to break their assault. Gandalf rides in the forefront chasing away the Nazgul as the cavalry protects the retreating men. The trumpets sound to call the riders back and they enter the city walls. Faramir comes in wounded. Prince Imrahil takes him to the tower to leave him with his father. Denethor has a bed made for his son where he can watch over him.

The city is besieged completely. Many men believe that the riders of Rohan will never come. All night they watch the armies of men and orcs dig trenches and build campsites outside the reach of their arrows. Engines of bombardment are built but the men of Gondor are sure that the walls will hold against them. When the catapults are drawn they strike not the walls but over the walls into the heart of the city. When the shot lands it bursts into flames. Before long, the outer city, the first level, is burning. They cast the heads of the men of Gondor who died over the walls, too. The men of Minas Tirith curse their adversaries. Everyone begins to lose heart as the Nazgul circle high above. The Captain slowly approaches from the outer walls.

During all of this, Faramir lies on his bed and Pippin watches him carefully. Denethor weeps and tells him that his son will die and the kingdom will end. The steward refuses to see anyone and Gandalf assumes leadership of the defenses. He races from wall to wall encouraging the defenders. All day the army continues to pour around the walls like so many swarming ants. In the darkness they roll siege towers forward. When told, Denethor cares about nothing. He does not want to hear that the first ring of the city is burning. He tells his messengers to go down and burn with it. Denethor speaks to Pippin:

"'Farewell, Peregrin son of Paladin! Your service has been short, and now it is drawing to an end. I release you from the little that remains. Go now, and die in what way seems best to you. And with whom you will, even that friend whose folly brought you to this death. Send for servants and then go. Farewell!'" Book 5, Chapter 4, pg. 108

Pippin will not give up hope and says that he will stand against the enemy until he has no strength remaining. He watches servants bear Faramir out of the chamber into a courtyard. There they go into the highest level of the city to the death house of the stewards. Denethor asks for wood and oil to be brought so that he and his son can be burned before the enemy takes them. Pippin tries to get the servants to stop and listen to sense. He decides that he must go find Gandalf and he asks Beregond to try to do something to keep Denethor from killing his son. Beregond must choose between following his orders and saving the life of his lord. Pippin runs through the city but cannot find Gandalf. When he finally sees him, he cannot approach him. All night the army rushes the gate with its siege engines. They wield a great ram with the head of a wolf. With great effort they ram the gate three times and crack the doors. The Captain of the Nazgul walks forward first. Only Gandalf remains to face him. Pippin watches as the wizard tells the Lord of the Nazgul that he is not allowed to enter Mordor. The wizard stands firm and suddenly the cock crows. The valley rings with the sound of the horns of Rohan.

Topic Tracking: Metamorphoses 4
Topic Tracking: Love and Loyalty 4
Topic Tracking: Sacrifice 1

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