Tolkien Geek

Blogging J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and other aimless pursuits.


TTT: Bk 3, Ch 3

The Uruk-Hai

"We are the fighting Uruk-hai! We slew the great warrior. We took the prisoners. We are the servants of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man's-flesh to eat. We came out of Isengard, and led you here, and we shall lead you back by the way we choose."

Now what about those hobbits? To find out, Tolkien has to go back in time a few days. Pippin wakes to find himself surrounded by hideous Orc faces. He remembers that he and Merry were running through the woods at Parth Galen when they ran smack into a bunch of Orcs. Rather than kill the hobbits, they seized them. He remembers Boromir appearing and fighting the band of Orcs - slashing away at them and killing a good number of them. But he became a lone target of the Orc arrows and the last Pippin remembers of Boromir he was laying back against a tree, plucking an arrow out of himself. He wonders why they are still alive.

As he and Merry lay on the ground, they are guarded by two Orcs of Mordor, who are eager to feast on their flesh but are under orders from the Orcs of Isengard. Merry was still unconscious. There are several tribes of Orcs and because they couldn't understand each other, they had to resort to the Common Speech. Because of this Pippin could understand what they said. One of them reminds the others that his orders were to bring back hobbits - alive and unspoiled. One of them had something that Saruman desperately wanted; something for the war that was about to begin. Of course what they didn't know was that the one hobbit they needed is the one they didn't get. They were also forbidden to search them for Saruman feared what the Orcs would do if they in fact found the Ring. So until they were brought to Isengard, they had no way of knowing if they were successful.

It is also clear that there are also Northern Orcs from the Misty Mountains among them. The larger and stronger Uruk-hai from Isengard are clearly dominant, viewing the others as inferior. This of course breeds resentment among the other Orcs. The Mordor Orcs are led by one called Grishnakh, who desires to lead them to Mordor. For a winged Nazgul awaits them on the eastern side of Anduin. But Ugluk, the Uruk-hai leader, stands his ground insisting that the hobbits are brought to Isengard. A fight erupts. In the confusion, Pippin cuts the rope that binds his hands with a knife from a fallen Orc and he re-wraps them to hide the fact that his hands are really free.

Ugluk then rouses the hobbits and makes them follow on foot. It is here that Pippin removes his Elven brooch and lets it fall to the ground. His hope is that Aragorn will find it, though he is not very optimistic at the prospect. They travel for two more days until they approach the edge of Fangorn forest. Here they rest. Grishnakh, who had sneaked off during the prior skirmish now returned with more Orcs bearing the sign of the Red Eye. Ugluk asks of the Nazgul and Grishnakh tells him they are not yet allowed to cross the River. Sauron is saving them for greater need.

The Orcs passed around flasks of a strange liquor that, while burning to the throat, helped relieve the aches and fatigue in their strained legs. They even forced some of this vile liquid on the hobbits to help keep them conscious. I couldn't help but notice the similarity here to the use of the Elvish cordial called miruvor that the Fellowship shared on their journey to keep their strength up. Both drinks must originate from a similar source. But, just as Orcs are twisted perversions of Elves, this drink is extremely unpleasant to the taste in contrast to the fragrant properties of the miruvor.

The Riders of Rohan became aware of them when a scout observed them descending the slope of the Emyn Muil onto the grassy plains. Now the horseman stalked them and after some time the Orcs become aware of this. Further down on the edge of Fangorn, the Orcs make a camp and find themselves encircled by the Rohirrim, who remain out of sight during the night. Grishnakh comes upon Merry and Pippin and begins to search them. If he can find this powerful thing that they have, perhaps he can bring it to Sauron. Pippin plays with his mind a little, making Gollum-like noises and goading Grishnakh that the Uruk-hai will get the prize he is looking for. Out of anger and frustration, the Orc picks up the two hobbits and quietly carries them away from the camp. The Rohirrim had surrounded the band of Orcs in a circle, preventing their escape.

Now, out of sight of Ugluk and the others, he means to kill them. However, the ring and glint of his sword as it is being unsheathed gives him away to the Men of Rohan and they kill him. The other Orcs are alarmed by Grishnakh's cries and the Rohirrim charge the camp. The hobbits, who are passed over by the men, realize that they had been taken to the outside of the perimeter and were now free to escape. Using his free hands, Pippin cuts the remaining bonds with Grishnakh's sword and they run from the skirmish.

Merry leads Pippin to cover. For having studied many maps of these lands while in Rivendell, he guesses that they are along the banks of the Entwash, and this leads them straight into Fangorn forest. The news of the destruction of the Orcs never reaches either Isengard or Mordor, though the smoke that rises from their burning pile is "seen by many watchful eyes". Eyes of the forest and creatures that the hobbits will soon meet.

[Chronology: February 27th - February 28th 3019 T.A.]

Next: Treebeard

(revised 9/12/06)


At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I almost feel sorry for Ugluk and his personnel management problems.

At 7:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! But you know, as managers go. There's an Ugluk in every organization.

I should engineer an interactive quiz: Which Orc are you?

At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, I found a quiz for What Tolkien Character You Are. The results: 1) Gandalf (no surprise) 2) Frodo and 3) Merry. I won't include the link because in order to get the html, you have to install some stupid toolbar.

Here's the link though, if you want to have a go:

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, I know this chapter is kind of boring in terms of "inside information" but I searched and searched and couldn't find a whole heck of a lot of info on the Orcs.

There is lots of stuff on Treebeard. And I may even make a special post regarding the Istari (wizards).


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