East of the river
East of the river. An Orc ambush has captured Merry and Pippin, and a remorseful Boromir has died trying to protect them. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas (human, dwarf, and elf) commit Boromir’s body to the river and head southwest, following the Orc trail in the hope of rescuing the young Hobbits. Their route crosses into empty grasslands, territory given to the Rohirrhim by Gondor. Meanwhile Merry and Pippin escape during a fight between the Orcs and a band of the Riders of Rohan and slip into Fangorn Forest. There, in an ancient, almost stiflingly dense woods, they meet Treebeard the Ent, a giant “shepherd” of the trees.
The long-lived Ents rarely concern themselves with human power struggles; however, Saruman, an evil wizard who occupies a tower near the forest, has allowed his Orc workers to chop down trees, partly to feed the furnaces of his war ambitions and partly out of utter indifference to nature. Treebeard agrees to help the Hobbits, gathers other Ents, and, with Merry and Pippin on his shoulders, leads a march upon Isengard followed by furious “huorns,” who may be degenerate Ents or angry animate trees, a green army intent upon payback.
Gandalf, who is not dead, finds Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas, and they ride across the plains of Rohan to Edoras, where Theoden reigns in a primitive yet dignified palace which suggests the world of “Beowulf,” a simpler and younger civilization than that of Gondor. Roused to action, Theoden, his Riders, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas gallop from the Golden Hall to Helm’s Deep, a fortress from which the horselords are mounting a defense against Saruman’s troops. Gandalf departs to seek other help, and after a night of graphic battle, he brings aid to...
(The entire section is 721 words.)