A destroyed forest

The Last March of the Ents

Professor Tolkien gave the Ents explicit voices, thoughts and a language of their own. It is an exaggerated representation of what occurs in nature. The trees may not walk and talk, as they do in Tolkien`s writings, but they communicate in their own way nevertheless. Just because we can`t see it, does not mean it doesn`t exist.

A day in the life of an Ent

I never thought about what trees experience in their daily lives. Which is why I quite like this little description of Treebeard`s day to day life. The fact that most trees, apart from the Ents, cannot but allow the other animals to climb upon them, must aggravate them sometimes. On the other hand, being a part of a community, but still standing alone, also means that any kind of company is welcome.

By nature trees are alone. Birds, squirrels, field mice, insects are their friends and companions. With all of them, they form a symbiotic relationship. There is an energy that flows through all living things, which, in this instance, gives both the animals and the trees a way of communicating with each other. 

A devastating sight

And those little family of field mice that climb up sometimes, and they tickle me awfully. They`re always trying to get somewhere where they… Many of these trees were my friends. Creatures I had known from nut and acorn.

Treebeard

As Treebeard`s story reaches its most humorous part, they come to a clearing, not one that existed there before. Treebeard gasps in shock of the desolation in front of him. His eyes widen expressing a guttural sadness that would make any heart weep. 

The clearing resembles a battlefield, only instead of bodies, the remains of the trees are scattered on the ground. A horrible consequence of Saruman`s power. 

To experience a sight like that, having known the trees beforehand, is heartbreaking. His friends were annihilated because of a wizard`s want for power. Treebeard had walked through these woods, he had watched them grow, and now on a whim, they were destroyed. 

A change of attitude

Treebeard was perfectly aware of Saruman`s change of attitude, for he himself sad said:

There was a time, when Saruman would walk in my woods, but now he has a mind of metal and wheels. He no longer cares for growing things.

Treebeard

Saruman`s unity with Sauron took him away from nature to which he used to connect. There is a special feeling that arises when you walk in the woods, a sense of being at one with nature, a sense of comradeship. If you just want to celebrate it, it looks majestic. If you are feeling alone, it gives you a sense of community.

Whatever your reason for enjoying a walk in the woods might me, you always come out feeling different than when you entered. Unless, of course, you don`t care for the woods in any way and walk blindly through it. This means that you are much too focused on your own self and your problems to acknowledge your surroundings.

This also happened to Saruman. He not only started to ignore the woods, but he developed a hate for its mere existence. With his mind focused on only one single point of interest, everything he used to be, everything that used to matter to him, simply vanished.

A call to action

Pippin: “I`m sorry, Treebeard.” 

Treebeard: “They had voices of their own. Saruman. A wizard should know better! There is no curse in Elvish, Entish or the tongues of Men for this treachery.”

It was one thing to not have Saruman walk in his woods anymore, but to use the same trees he once walked by as building materials for his industry of destruction is quite another. Treebeard could have let it go, as he did when the fires of Isengard started to burn. He didn`t want to get involved in the war that was plainly released on the world of Men.

They all saw the army of the Uruk-hai leaving Isengard, but that battle wasn`t meant for them. And they would have stayed behind now as well, had Saruman’s betrayal not hit home with Treebeard. With a loud roar, he calls his Ent friends to action, simultaneously expressing his disgust and anger.

Now, there seems to be only one option left, to stand and fight against the one who was once their ally. 

Pippin: “Look! The trees! They`re moving!”

Merry: “Where are they going?”

Treebeard: “They have business with the Orcs. My business is with Isengard tonight with rock and stone.” 

Merry: “Yes.”Treebeard: “Bru-ra-hroom. Come, my friends. The Ents are going to war. It is likely that we go to our doom. Last March of the Ents.”

There is no more deliberation needed to decide whether to go to war. As quickly as he roars, so do many trees come out of the woods to join Treebeard in a fight against Saruman. Although they are well aware the fight may be in vain, they cannot sit by and let this evil destroy them all.

Nature`s reclamation

The battle between the Ents and the Orcs is a most curious one. There isn`t a sense of an army going against another army. It is nature reclaiming its territory and standing against its oppressors. The battle is different than any other because it is not fought in a traditional manner.

The Orcs, of course, use Middle-Earth weaponry, but the trees` fighting style is face-to-face combat, almost. They kill the Orcs with their own hands and feet, without using any form of weaponry. Given their size they are more than capable of defeating any Orc and Uruk-hai left behind in Isengard.

Although they might not move quickly, thereby giving the Orcs the opportunity to strike them, there isn`t much the Orcs can do to damage them. A single shot cannot bring an Ent down. 

Break the dam! Release the river!

Treebeard

As they release the river, they conquer the Orcs in one fell swoop and extinguish the fires that kept their industry alive, letting nature take its course and flow freely as it once did. Merry and Pippin threw their best shots and managed to kill a couple of Orcs themselves. 

The aftermath

Merry: “He doesn`t look too happy, does he?”

Pippin: “Not too happy at all, Merry.”

Merry: “Still, I suppose the view would be quite nice from up there.”

Pippin: “Oh, yes. It`s a quality establishment. I hear the staff are very good.”

The two Hobbits look particularly smug as they see Saruman panicking from his tower. He hadn`t expected the trees to go against him, and certainly not to overthrow his whole establishment. On his small balcony, Saruman paces back and forth, disbelieving the magnitude of destruction that the trees have brought upon him.

His only option now is to barricade the doors of Orthanc and remain imprisoned while Treebeard takes over management. Saruman`s power is gone. He cannot fight the trees alone, with his army fighting at Helm`s Deep and being subsequently annihilated by Treebeard`s friends, he can only wait to see what happens next. 

I enjoy the way Merry and Pippin make jokes about the place, now that it has lost all its malice. It has remained only a tower, nothing more. A tower surrounded by water. 

Smoking pipe
Photo by Joshua Bartell on Unsplash

Saruman`s storeroom

Pippin: “I don`t believe it.”

Merry: “It can`t be.” 

Pippin: “It is!”

Merry: “Longbottom Leaf. The finest pipe-weed in South Farthing.” 

Pippin: “It`s perfect. One barrel each. Wait. Do you think we should share it with Treebeard?”

Merry: “Share it? No. No. Dead plant and all that. Don`t think he`d understand. Could be a distant relative.” 

Pippin: “Oh, I get it. Don`t be hasty.”

Merry: “Exactly. Ra-hroom.”

Merry and Pippin strike it rich by discovering Saruman`s storeroom. Food, drink, and smoke is the ultimate gratification after their ordeal. They don`t really need much to be happy. They are satisfied with the simple pleasures of life. 

Finding South Farthing pipe-weed is their dream come true, literally. Now, they can let loose and enjoy their freedom. Pippin, being a good sport, rightly asks if they should share it with Treebeard. However, Merry, somewhat possessively, looks at his barrel with a slight panic in his eyes. Therefore, to keep it for himself, he comes up with a distant relative reason. Reason enough for Pippin to abandon his first instinct.

Now, let us turn to Gollum, Frodo, and Sam part of the story. Follow me to my next post.

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