It was not long before Gandalf himself came in search of them. He stooped over Merry and caressed his brow; then he lifted him carefully. ‘He should have been borne in honour into this city,’ he said. ‘He has well repaid my trust; for if Elrond had not yielded to me, neither of you would have set out; and then far more grievous would the evils of this day have been.’
The Return of the King: Book V, Chapter VIII — The Houses of Healing
Éowyn and Theoden are borne from the battlefield in honour. No-one notices a small, exhausted Hobbit straggling along behind with tears in his eyes. When Pippin finally finds his kinsman, Merry is already heavily under the fell influence of the Black Breath.
Later, in Minas Tirith’s Houses of Healing, though the healers tend Merry, Éowyn and Faramir to the utmost of their skills, none of their art seems able to overcome the dark shadow cast by the Nazgûl. Then a wise woman of Gondor remembers an old proverb: “the hands of the king are the hands of a healer”.
How do you think the Black Breath affects its victims? How are Éowyn, Faramir and Merry affected differently? Does this single chapter reveal more about Aragorn’s character and attitude than any other part of the book? And what do the Houses of Healing tell us about Gondor?
Join us at 6pm ET Saturday in The Hall of Fire for what’s sure to be another fascinating discussion.
May 3: Morgoth and Sauron: similarities and differences
May 10: ROTK: Bk V, Ch IX: The Last Debate
Éowyn in the Houses of Healing by the Brothers Hildebrandt.
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