Diana and I are trading up on the Thursday Thirteen this week, so look for hers at Sourcerer in a few minutes. Since I haven’t blogged about Tolkien for awhile, I decided to do a Thursday Thirteen of Tolkien characters. Turns out, there are so many to choose from I had to stick to Lord of the Rings characters for this one and save the Silmarillion characters for another Thursday. These are thirteen LOTR characters that made a real impression on me. They aren’t all good, and some of them have only minor roles, but they all have something that enriches the story as a whole. I’m talking about the book here. Characters in the film version are an entirely different story.
1. Faramir, Captain of Gondor – I could go on and on about him. He’s my favorite character, and in my opinion, he’s the key to understanding how good and evil work in Middle Earth. Among the human and elven characters who are tempted by the ring, Faramir should be one of the most susceptible to seduction, yet he acquits himself better than the rest.
2. Eowyn, daughter of Eomund- She’s told she can’t go to the big battle because she’s a woman. Disguises herself as a knight and goes anyway. She takes Merry along, who is excluded because he’s too small to ride a warhorse. With Merry’s help, she kills the Lord of the Nazgul and they both live to tell about it. Here’s a fantastic post about her from The Leather Library.
3. Samwise Gamgee – About half the time, I read him as the protagonist. He’s often at the center of the story even though he’s a servant from a humble background in a world full of princes and elves. During the short time he has the Ring in his possession, he sees the consequences of taking the Ring more clearly than any other character.
4. Smeagol, aka Gollum – As I spent most of the summer arguing, Gollum makes the story work. He’s also one of my all-time favorite fantasy antagonists. He’s creepy, pathetic, and dangerous all at once.
5. Peregrine “Pippin” Took – I read Pippin as either a well-meaning agent of chance or an unwitting agent of Providence. I wouldn’t put it past him to be both at the same time. He’s always getting into stuff, and when he does it usually lands both himself and whomever happens to be with him in trouble. I also think he’s the most thoroughly good of the four Hobbits at the center of the story, and he embraces the adventure in a very unhobbit-like way. He’s fabulous.
7. Quickbeam the Hasty Ent – Who better to watch after two adventuresome Hobbits than a hasty Ent? I like the parallel, and Quickbeam’s hastiness underscores just how slow and deliberate the Ents are. If I ever get around to looking at Middle Earth from a sociological perspective, I’m writing a speculative post on Entish culture.
8. Grishnakh the Orc – The captain of the Orcs of Barad-dur who were in on the raid that ended with the capture of Merry and Pippin. He’s the one who thought they had the Ring and tried to escape with them when the Rohirrim arrived. I don’t know why he’s so vivid. The name helps, I’m sure. And I love that whole scene where the Orcs are squabbling about Merry and Pippin and attempting to flee Rohan.
9. Wormtongue – He’s nasty and slimy. In the end, he turns on his master because he’s simply had enough. He’s Tolkien’s creepiest character.
10. Saruman the White – This list wouldn’t be complete without a Wizard. I choose Saruman here because his cunning and his fortress are so impressive. And because he is undone by his hubris.
11. Denethor, Steward of Gondor – He’s the most unsympathetic character in the story, but he is a great character. He’s overcome by his lust for the Ring to the point that he makes the wrong decision every step of the way, and he almost drags Faramir with him into the abyss. His death is ignominious, but it is oh so fitting.
12. Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth – He’s the guy who shows up to aid Minas Tirith just as the siege is starting. The one with the swans on his devices who recognizes Aragorn as king after the battle. I think he’s so memorable to me because Tolkien’s descriptions of him are so well-drawn. As descriptive passages in English novels go, the scenes in and around Minas Tirith are some of my all-time favorites.
13. The Mouth of Sauron – Apparently a living man, but he seems pretty undead to me. The Return of the King suggests he’s been around for thousands of years. He’s the lieutenant of the Barad-dur and communicates directly with Sauron. A Tolkienist’s Perspective has raised the possibility that the Mouth of Sauron is in the process of becoming a wraith.
These are the thirteen characters that came easiest to mind when I sat down to outline this post. Which Lord of the Rings characters do you find most memorable?