Monday, October 25, 2010

Of Rohan and Gondor

Hopeless Hope, Dauntless Despair
Eomer, Denethor and "The Battle of Pelennor Fields 

"These staves he spoke, yet he laughed as he said them. For once more the lust
of battle was on him: and he was still unscathed, and he was young, and he was king:
the lord of a fell people. And lo! even as he laughed at despair, he looked out again
on the black ships, and he lifted up his sword to defy them" (RK, V, vi, 829). 
            “The Battle of Pelennor Fields” is undoubtedly my favorite chapter in the trilogy, and I believe it is because of the way Tolkien wrote about the Rohirrim. There are exactly two places in The Lord of the Rings that give me the chills, and they are both in this chapter. (The one above and the one right after Eomer sees Eowyn.) Up to this point, we have not seen the Rohirrim at their very best, at least battle wise. For, by Theoden’s admission, the Rohirrim do not do well behind walls, and this is where we have seen them. They need the open plain to fight most effectively. On the Pelennor they have it, and are they ever impressive! There are very few other places in the trilogy that have more raw power than the descriptions of the Rohirrim in battle. (And it’s not just because they’re finally fighting in the open.)
Tolkien’s language, which I feel is spectacular in The Return of the King in general, is particularly good in this chapter. In it we see the Rohirrim in their element, as it were, and not only is the language powerful and perfectly suited, but the character of the Rohirrim is more fully realized. Before this they have been admirable, but we have not quite seen how they merit Faramir’s speach of them in The Two Towers. We have seen the tall men and the fair women for sure, but all their battles have been fought by necessity, and in them we have not seen much to set them apart from the battles fought by the Gondorians, at least not to the extent where they might merit being described as “loving war and valour as things good in themselves” (TT, IV, v 663). However, in “The Pelennor Fields”, yes they fight for necessity, but they unabashedly demonstrate their love of battle for battles sake. Their skill is unmatched, and their fury “burned the hotter, and more skilled was their knighthood with long spears and bitter” (RK, V, vi, 281), and they “sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City” (820). Eomer laughs at despair and defies death, “for once more the lust of battle was on him; and he was still unscathed, and he was young, and he was king: the lord of a fell people” (829). Eowyn is “fair yet terrible” (823) (here is the “valiant both alike” part proved in full). The Rohirrim are the mortal definition of “perilously fair”.
There is also an interesting parallel between the despair of the Rohirrim and the despair of Denethor. Of course the parallels between Theoden and Denethor have been discussed a good deal in class, but I would like to focus on the differences in dealing with despair between Denethor and the Rohirrim, especially Eomer and Eowyn. Denethor loses all hope, and for very good reason, but rather than doing his duty and seeing the situation through to the end, he chooses “to have naught” and tries to kill himself and Faramir. He pays the price for seeing so much, and his despair makes a really bad situation even worse. After all, “it ain’t over till it’s over.” The values and culture of the Rohirrim keep them from taking this same road, which doesn’t make them superior to Denethor, but does have a very different effect on the situation. Eowyn has given up hope, like Denethor, and like Denethor, she decides her only option is to die. However, she decides to achieve this by riding to war. (So like Denethor she is also abandoning her post, though as we’ve seen, this is an incredibly Rohirrim thing to do.)  But she is choosing to die in a way that might make a difference (though I rather doubt she was thinking of that when she decided to go). Eomer chooses to do exactly the same thing when he finds Eowyn, presumably dead on the battle field, and not only does he go storming recklessly into battle, chanting “death, death, death take us all,” but the “great wrath of his onset had utterly overthrown the front of his enemies, and great wedges of his Riders had passed clear through the ranks of the Southrons, discomfiting their horsemen and riding their footmen to ruin” (826, 828).
While Denethor’s despair leads him to kill himself, and counsel death to all who would not be slaves (835), Eomer’s and Eowyn’s despair lead them to take as many of their enemies down with them and to “do deeds of song…though no man should be left in the West” to remember them (829). 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

To Defend a Land Worth Saving: For the Love of Gondor

         Given the number of times I have read The Lord of the Rings, it is amazing how reading it critically has brought so many new things to my attention. In this week’s reading, what struck me the most is the amount of time Tolkien takes to make you care about Gondor before war comes. Prior to chapter one of The Return of the King, we know little about the city of men. Aragorn laments that he cannot go there when they are pursuing the orcs in The Two Towers, and mentions of it are scattered throughout The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. But after Gandalf and Pippin arrive at Minas Tirith, Tolkien makes sure you care.  
            He makes you care about individuals such as Ingold, Imrahil, Beregund and Bergil, and by making you care about Beregund and Bergil, he makes you care about the people leaving to go south to safety. You share his the fear that, “Few, maybe, of those now sundered will meet again” (RK, V, i, 747). And not only do you care about the people, but in what are perhaps some of the most beautiful place descriptions in the trilogy, Tolkien makes you care about Gondor. Pippin’s first glimpse of Minas Tirith is also the reader’s first glance, and the imagery is stunning.

“And there… he saw… the dark mass of Mount Mindolluin, the deep purple shadows of its high glens, and its tall face whitening in the rising day. And upon its out-thrust knee was the Guarded City, with its seven walls of stone, so strong and old that it seemed to have been not builded but carven by giants out of the bones of the earth…. Suddenly the sun climbed over the eastern shadow and sent forth a shaft that smote the face of the city. Then Pippin cried aloud, for the Tower of Ecthelion … shone out against the sky, glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver … and its pinnacle glittered as if it were wrought of crystals…and high and far he heard a clear ringing as of silver trumpets” (732-35).

And the descriptions do not end there. Tolkien goes on to describe the levels of the city and the layout several times, emphasizing the light and beauty, but also the emptiness and the melancholy. In fact, on the next page, the description becomes almost elegiac. As Minas Tirith is revealed as a city “vast”, “splendid”, “greater and stronger than Isengard, and more beautiful” and yet, “it was in truth falling year by year into decay” (736). We learn that it could house many more men than it does, and the houses “now were silent, and no footsteps rang on their wide pavements, nor voice was heard in their halls, nor any face looked out from door or empty window” (ibid). Tolkien also describes the hall of Denethor in great detail, and in sharp contrast to the Golden Hall at Edoras. It is somber and solemn. The windows are “deep” there is a great quantity of gold and black marble and there are “no hangings, nor storied webs, nor any things of woven stuff or of wood” (737). Instead there are statues, “graven in cold stone” (738). Yet outside the sun still shines, and is both “warm and bright” and the air is clear and blue. (743). And as we saw sunrise, so also do wee see sunset, and “in the West the dying sun [sets] all the fume on fire, and [then] Mindolluin [stands] black against a burning smoulder flecked with embers” (754).
            We also learn about past history through Beregund’s discussion of Osgiliath, and the brief exchange about the lineage of Boromir’s horn, and also about the lands beyond, so that not only do we care about Minas Tirith and the green fields of the Pelennor, but we also care about “the vales of Tumladen and Lossarnach, and the mountain-villages” (747) and of Dol Amroth and the “Outlands” (753).
            To return to the people, perhaps Denethor is colder than Theoden, but this suits him and does not, at first, make him an unlikeable character, and having already met Faramir and Boromir, it is easy to see why the Gondorians are admirable. Tolkien also gives us the view of the regular soldier by giving Beregund and Pippin so much speech together, and you learn a great deal more in the space of one chapter about Boromir than you ever did in the entire Fellowship of the Ring, and more about Faramir than even The Two Towers revealed, for now we see how their own men speak of them in private conversations. Then there is Bergil, and by the end of Pippin’s day with him, you really want things to go well for Minas Tirith, because if they don’t, people like Beregund, Bergil, Faramir and even Denethor will fall, and the piercing beauty of Minas Tirith will be destroyed.
            So when Gandalf says, “The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn” (755), there is more at stake than a mere city. We care about the fall of Osgiliath, we care about the loss of the passage of the Anduin, we care about the loss of the Causeway Forts and that “the Ramas [is] broken and all the Pelennor abandoned to the Enemy” (803). And the chapter only grows more desperate as we see Faramir desperately wounded, Denethor descending into madness and the defense of the city crumbling before the malice of Mordor. Tolkien has made us care.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Frodo Lives!"...Or Does He?

As many of you know, long-time Mythopoeic and Tolkien Society member Alexei Kondratiev passed away this past May. We honored him with: Remembering Alexei Kondratiev

Since his passing we have met dozens of his friends, each and every one from various disciplines and communities, each wonderfully enlightened in their own way from Alexei.

However, in the short 5 months since Alexei's passing there been one person that we wished we had more time to learn from, and that was Alexei's partner Len Rosenberg.

This past Friday, October 14th 2010, Len passed away from complications of pneumonia probably related his battle with colon cancer. Shortly after Alexei passed away we had various occasions to chat about Tolkien with Len. These chats, fewer than we had hoped, consisted of a range of topics that influenced Tolkien. In particular, Norse literature, which Len was extremely fond, having been well versed Runelore and the culture of the Norse people.

In his early college days Len Rosenberg was a part of the original New York Tolkien Society, founded by Richard "Dick" Plotz, for which our society today has been based. Even before having met Alexei, Len was one of the first members of the New York Tolkien Society, as well as one of the early members of both The Tolkien Society of America and The Mythopoeic Society.

Len's love of Tolkien and his work is not only evidenced by his particularly large archive of Tolkien journals from 1968-1973 and his participation in local New York Tolkien communities, but his command and knowledge of Tolkien's works and the surrounding criticism.

In 1973 Len wrote a paper for his college English course entitled:


(Click the title for a .pdf Google Doc version of the paper)

Since acquiring this paper from Len, only a few short weeks ago, it was our intent to publish it for him within his lifetime.  We deeply regret him not seeing this come to pass.
The paper, complete with his A-/B+ mark and professor notations, states: "Although the reception of Tolkien's works by the critics has been varied, they have gained their popularity because they appeal to the sentiments of American youth." The paper itself may be seen as a time capsule of criticism and discussion, localized to the available criticism and debate of 1973, but is a brilliant contrast of various criticism of Tolkien's epic The Lord of the Rings (LOTR). Len speaks of Louis Halle, who cites LotR as "a true history." In speaking of one of Tolkien's greatest detractors, Edmund Wilson, Len states the "ever acidic... Wilson... known by many four letter words to various Tolkienans."

In the short 5 months we knew Len we also found he had quite the witty whip of criticism, on numerous topics, which was demonstrated throughout his paper. I particularly found Len's keen humor a self-aware stab at  his own criticism of Tolkien when he cited that Tolkien's appendix to the LotR "could take over for an intestine...."

Like Alexei, in Len we have lost a great storehouse of knowledge. Len could recite from memory many songs, poems, pieces of literature and bits of scholarship. Similar to Alexei, Len was very learned in numerous disciplines, his love for Tolkien was but one of dozens.

In his honor, we post this paper. It is our hope that the original which we currently possess, might, along with the bulk of Len's archive of Tolkien journals, be dontated to Wheaton College.  A few of Len's journals will be donated to Marquette University's Tolkien collection.  It is our hope from these donations, arranged a few weeks prior to his passing, that future generations of Tolkien scholars will learn from this material.

Aiya Len Rosenberg! Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo!

To Read more of the Life of Len Rosenberg, Click here to read an article by The Wild Hunt

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rohan, Home of the Horse Lords, Northern Courage and Blatant Disobedience

           To the Rohirrim, like the Danes and Geats of Beowulf, the idea of “Northern Courage” is essential. They believe in fighting to the last man, in absolute loyalty to their leader, and in honour above all. Yet despite this, to a man, they seem incapable of following orders – one would even say it is a chronic problem. However, many things would have gone horribly wrong if the Rohirrim had simply followed orders. In the span of two pages, we come across not one, but three acts of disobedience. Eomer, we learn has been imprisoned for insubordination, “It is true” says Theoden, “ He had rebelled against my commands, and threatened Grima with death in my hall” (TT, III, vi, 505). And Eomer knew he was breaking the law when he did this. He tells Aragorn, “In this riding north I went without the king’s leave, for in my absence his house is left with little guard” (TT, III, ii, 426).  Then on the following page, he again breaks the law. He says, “Yet I am not free to do all as I would. It is against our law to let strangers wander at will in our land, until the king himself shall give them leave, and more strict is the command in these days of peril” (TT, III, ii, 428), and then he lets them go and not only that, but he lends them horses. For such a serious level of insubordination, Theoden has little choice but to throw him in prison. After all, Eomer is the Third Marshal of the Mark, and his éored constitutes the chief defence of Edoras.            Eomer directly defied Theoden’s orders to not pursue the orcs, and then broke an important law by letting the three hunters go. But if he had not then Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli would not have made it to Fangorn in time to see Gandalf. Even more importantly, if Eomer had not ridden out, then the orcs would have reached Isengard, and it does not bear thinking of what Saruman would have done to Merry and Pippin.
            Then, of course, there is Hama. As with Eomer, Rohan might stand or fall based on his decisions, and rather than obeying the law, which again, he can, and does, recite, he lets Gandalf through with his staff, saying, “The staff in the hand of a wizard may be more than a prop for age… yet in doubt a man of worth will trust to his own wisdom. I believe you are friends and folk worthy of honour, who have no evil purpose. You may go in” (TT, III, vi, 500). When Gandalf reveals himself, Grima hisses, “Did I not counsel you, lord, to forbid his staff? That fool, Hama has betrayed us!” (TT, III, vi, 501).  It is well for Rohan though that Hama does disobey, otherwise the liberation of Theoden may have come too late, and without Rohan, the West would have fallen.
            But it does not end there. Gandalf tells Theoden to set Eomer free, and Theoden agrees, saying “Call Hama to me. Since he proved untrusty as a doorward, let him become an errand- runner. The guilty shall bring the guilty to judgment” (TT, III, vi, 505). But Hama is no better an errand runner than he is a doorwarden.  “How comes this?”  Theoden demands when Eomer offers him his sword, “It is my doing, lord,” says Hama, “I understood that Eomer was to be set free. Such joy was in my heart that maybe I have erred. Yet since he was free again, and he a Marshal of the Mark, I brought him his sword as he bade me,” And Eomer adds, “To lay at your feet, my lord” (TT, III, vi, 506).  It is well that Eomer’s devotion to his lord is of the truest kind. He is willing to risk death to do what he judges is right, as does Hama.
            I won’t even go into Eowyn’s disobedience, which again puts all of Rohan at risk, when she abandons her post as de facto leader of the Eorlingas in The Return of the King. But then, of course, if she had not gone, the Witch King would not have been slain, and who knows how the Battle of Pelennor Fields would have gone if the Witch King had been left alive. It is highly unlikely that Eomer would have survived long enough to see the coming of Aragorn, or that Aragorn, once there, would be able to fight off the hordes of Mordor and the King of the Nazgul.
            In Rohan “I was just following orders” would be unacceptable. If in doubt, you follow your own judgement and what you believe is right. Fortunately for Rohan, those who do so have a very good feel of the truth and the right. The disobedience of the Rohirrim saves Theoden and Rohan, and by extension, Gondor and the entire free West.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

Celtic Rocks by Fathom

All too often, whenever I’ve come across an album reputed to be “Celtic Rock”—I’m turned off by a sea of synthesizers & quasi-Enya like tones. So, to be honest, despite the charm of lead singer John DiBartolo—and the fact that I really enjoyed his work with The Lonely Mountain Band—Beyond the Western Seas (see our forthcoming review)—I had my doubts. Until I listened to this album. And listened…and listened...and listened again.

I’m happy to report, the nightmarish scenario of synthesized beats of “Danny Boy” sung in GlamRock fashion have been wiped from my mind.

I have only one caveat. This album is highly addictive. Once you listen, you’ll find yourself humming the tunes all flipping day.

Celtic Rocks isn’t merely a few Celtic tunes played at high speeds on guitar either. While there are great renditions of “Whiskey in the Jar” and “Wild Rover”—two of my favorites, Fathom is taking a unique approach to the music. If I had anything to compare them to—it would have to be Black Sabbath—and specifically Sabbath from “Sign of the Southern Cross” (Dio on vocals for Mob Rules)and a bit of Tyr). Of all the bands that I’ve listened to over the years, Sabbath has a distinctive balance which allowed each element of the music to have equal importance. The drums and bass weren’t of lesser importance than the vocals and lead guitar. In my experience, this is a rare ability—and I find it here in this album. There’s a brilliant powerful symmetry here—and anything that so masterfully blends bass guitar with a mandolin and Uilleann Pipes is amazing.

Fathom’s work is exceptional and highly recommended. Check out this album & Fathom's other work at

-- Jessica Burke

Howard Shore's Musical Score at Radio City

Howard Shore’s Complete Score of
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Performed Live at Radio City Music Hall
Friday, October 8th 2010
Review by Jessica Burke

I’m one of those people who feel that music is vital to life—but in the world most of us live in, live music isn’t readily accessible & when we get the chance to hear a cherished piece of music performed live, the experience should be sublime. And, it usually is.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for Howard Shore’s complete score to The Two Towers performed live at Radio City this past weekend. While the music itself is beautiful, both Anthony and I found the experience was significantly dulled by having the film played at the same time. Yes. We are aware that this is a score to a film. However, it is also a symphony—and when going to hear Beethoven or Mozart performed, we’d be there for the performance. Folks attending this event were there first and foremost for the film—as evidenced by the continual hoots & applause every time a testosterone-laden actor graced the screen. At times, for the sake of balance, we tried our own applause for Treebeard, Éowyn, the kidnapping orcs, the Eye of Sauron (NOT an evil Lighthouse)—but without much success (except for Treebeard, those applause caught on). And I was actually shushed by a twit infront of me for applauding the Eye. Really?

The audience seemed oblivious to the fact that there were live performers on stage—except when the conductor, Luwdig Wicki, came on stage. Everyone around us was glued to the screen, even down to that same woman infront of me mouthing the dialogue to herself. The Dessoff Symphonic Choir and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus were dwarfed by the screen—and were pretty much non-existent to much of the audience. There were applause, I have to admit, at the entrance of Kaitlyn Lusk, the exquisite soprano, but I have to wonder if the applause were for Ms. Lusk—or for Arwen who made a screen appearance at just about the same moment.

I’m sure several readers will pipe up to say that Anthony & Jessica will find fault in anything film related because we’re not big Peter Jackson fans. Not so. In 2005, we attended Robert Bass’ “The Rings: Myth and Music” performance at Carnegie Hall. While that performance consisted of Shore’s score with selections from Wagner for comparison, and even though selections of the Jackson films were played—the music was the focal point of the evening. The musicians were the stars—not Orlando and Elijah.

We had assumed—wrongly it seems—that the same would be true for the Radio City performance. We weren’t lucky enough to get tickets for last years’ Fellowship of the Rings performance, otherwise we might have known better.

For me, Howard Shore’s music is one of the highlights of the Jackson films—and one of the saving graces. These musical achievements of Shore, for Anthony and I, stand as a testimony to the sheer effort that went into the making of these films—and highlight our regret that Jackson didn’t treat his script with equal respect. We have our own copies of the score, and have listened to them with delight. The music is exceptional and we were very much looking forward to seeing it performed live—again.

The performance was seamless and breathtaking, but unfortunately the blasted film took away from the fact that there were live human beings onstage actually performing something. The 21st Century Orchestra was brilliant. The strings were my personal favorite, and I would have been contented to just sit and listen—and watch the performers. Heidi Doppmann on harp and Roland Küng on dulcimer were some of the only performers not lost in the melee because they were physically set aside. I found myself hunting the stage for the oboe and percussion. And our seats were good ones too, so please don’t tell me we were too far away from the stage to notice the performers.

We were just so damned distracted by the film.

And just an aside since I know I’ve already made several enemies with this review—and since the film fans out there will already say I’m a book snob, an elitist, and I have a vendetta out against poor defenseless PJ. Say what you will, I’m a Howard Shore fan—but I have to note, Anthony & I, having attended NYC’s ComicCon earlier in the day, decided to wear some recent acquires: our shirts from the The Fellows Hip: Rise of the Gamers. The front of these shirts blaze with FRODO FAILED.

Yes. I know we were instigating. But, it’s the truth—according to the books, to Tolkien in his Letters, but not according to PJ. Can I just say that despite the 2 or 3 smirks, the vast majority of folks were deeply offended, one even shouting “NOT SO!” To which I replied, “Read the book. He did.” But, the icing on the cake was the woman who looked quizzically at me and asked her companion, “Who’s Frodo?”

I guess that sums up the experience for me. Give me the music any day of the week. Ditch the films.

Our advice to the folks at Radio City—give us a symphony, not a rehashing of the ENTIRE film—clocking at over 3 hours. Lower your prices for soda & Twizzlers. We left there dazed and rather confused. I scouted around at the other reviews & all of them were raves. I have to wonder if the reviewers were just being gracious because of the free tickets. We’re grateful to the wonderful press coordinators for this opportunity, but our policy is and always has been to give an honest review.

If there’s to be a Return of the King show next year, it’s our hope that the musical performance becomes the focus of this event—not the films. I mean, we can all crank up the volume at home & get the same effect. Or, for the truly geeksome, we can play the score on our surround sound stereo WHILE watching the films. I wonder if you can try playing Dark Side of the Moon and get the same effect that you do with The Wizard of Oz….worth a shot.

I’d say we’re giving 4 rings (out of 4) for the musical performance.
1 ring for the Radio City setup.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Fellows Hip Movie: Rise of the Gamers

While on our New York Comic Con Quest, we happened upon booth 454 where to producers, cast and crew were speaking to folks about their film.

An homage to The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien the tag line of this films is:"There is a little bit of Geek and Hero in all of us!"

The cast and crew on hand know there Tolkien well, are great admirers of all the adaptations, films, games, audio and have a huge love for the works of the Professor.

We wanted to post today to get the initial word out to our community and readers. We wholeheartedly suggest you check out their website, facebook page, and youtube channel to get a feel for the film and show your love for fellow geeks, gamers, heroes and ultimately Tolkien fans.

The Northeast Tolkien Society is very happy to endorse and support this film and look forward to hopefully bringing it to the NYC area.

Click here for more information and visit the official film website

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Lady and the Golden Wood

Perilously Fair
Galadriel: Lady of Light or Elf Witch of Terrible Power?

“They say that a sorceress lives in these woods, an elf witch of terrible power. All who look on her fall under her spell.” At least, so says Gimli in Peter Jackson’s adaptation. Though the whole “elf witch” business is a Jacksonion departure from the book, there is no denying that there is something dangerous, and even dark, about the Lady of Light. “Then there is a Lady in the Golden Wood, as the old tales tell…. But if you have her favour, then you are also net-weavers and sorcerers, maybe” (III, ii, 422).  So says Eomer, and so say all men who live in the south. Wormtongue expresses a similar sentiment, “Then it is true… that you are in league with the Sorceress of the Golden Wood? … It is not to be wondered at: webs of deceit were ever woven in Dwimordene” (III, vi, 502). This statement should not be discredited because Wormtongue is the speaker. This is the opinion of all in the southern lands who have heard of Galadriel and Lothlorien. 

Boromir, who as a Gondorian ought to know better, at first does not want to enter Lorien. “[O]f that perilous land we have heard in Gondor, and it is said that few come out who once go in; and of that few none have escaped unscathed” (II, vi, 329). “Say not unscathed, but if you say unchanged, then maybe you will speak the truth…but lore wanes in Gondor, Boromir if in the city of those who once were wise they now speak evil of Lothorien” replies Aragorn (ibid). His distinction between “unscathed” and “unchanged” are hardly comforting, especially given that what happens to Boromir can arguably be traced directly back to Galadriel. 

Later, Faramir does know better, and still he says, “If men have dealings with the Mistress of Magic who dwells in the Golden Wood, then they may look for strange things to follow. For it is perilous for mortal man to walk out of the world of this Sun, and few of old came thence unchanged, ’tis said” (IV, v, 652). He is aware of the distinction between “unscathed” and “unchanged” and still he cries, “What did she say to you, the Lady that dies not? What did she see? What woke in your heart then?” (ibid). 

Sam, as often is the case, hits the nail on the head when he says, “[p]erhaps you could call her perilous, because she’s so strong in herself. You could dash yourself to pieces on her, like a ship, on a rock; or drownd yourself, like a hobbit in a river” (IV, v, 665). However, he then continues by saying, “But neither rock nor river would be to blame” (ibid). Similarly Aragorn says, “only evil need fear it [Lorien], or those who bring some evil with them” (II, vi, 329). Aragorn rebukes Eomer and Gandalf rebukes Wormtongue for their lack of wisdom concerning Lorien and Galadriel, and the wise characters insist that one must bring evil into Lorien to find it there. 

Added to all this, the Rohirrim call Lorien “Dwimordene” which literally means “wood of phantoms”, and not just dreams or illusions either. This is the same ‘dwimor’ in “Dwimmerlaik”, the name Eowyn calls the Witch King, and “Dwimorberg” the Haunted Mountain where lie the Paths of the Dead. If that is not creepy, I don’t know what is. Yet every character, from Gandalf to Sam will rebuke you or challenge you to a duel if you make the wrong assumptions about Galadriel and Lorien. In this, I think, there is as much truth as in the other. Lorien is a place of breathtaking and unstained beauty. It is “[m]ore fair than thoughts of Mortal Men” (III, vi, 503). It is a place where flowers bloom even in the winter, where grass never fades, and where “in the autumn the leaves of the trees fall not, but turn to gold” and do not fall “not till the spring comes… and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof, and its pillars are silver” (II, vi, 326). The waters in the land “bring… sleep and forgetfulness” (II, vi, 330) and not the sleep of the Forest River of The Hobbit, but the kind that washes all weariness away (ibid). 

The message could not be plainer. Lorien, and more specifically Galadriel, is perilous to mortals. However, and I cannot stress this enough, Galadriel is beautiful. Lorien is beautiful. They are fair beyond the ken of mortal men. Gandalf must speak in poetry to speak of her; Sam says that he cannot even hope to describe her, that his gift of verse cannot convey her beauty. The Lady and the Wood are heartbreakingly beautiful, and more than a little creepy. Indeed, as so many say, they are perilously fair.