‘The Ringwraiths are deadly enemies, but they are only shadows yet of the power and terror they would possess if the Ruling Ring was on their master’s hand again’
The Fellowship of the Ring – Book II, Chapter IV – A Journey in the Dark
This particular illustration has been a bone of contention for me now for quite some time. since its conception and initial stages, until now that it is finally finished and ready to post, a lot of time has passed and a fair few other artworks have been conceived and completed.
However, this is a good time to post the piece, I have finally brought it to the point of ‘abandonment’ as Leonardo da Vinci once put it and it is like a celebratory relief.
Now for the interesting part, let’s dive into the words of Tolkien himself and see what he had to say about the Ringwraiths, through the character of Gandalf of course…
‘The Enemy still lacks one thing to give him strength and knowledge to beat down all resistance, break the last defences, and cover all the lands in a second darkness. He lacks the One Ring.’
‘The Three, fairest of all, the Elf-lords hid from him, and his hand never touched them or sullied them. Seven the Dwarf-kings possessed, but three he has recovered, and the others the dragons have consumed. Nine he gave to Mortal Men, proud and great, and so ensnared them. Long ago they fell under the dominion of the One, and they became Ringwraiths, shadows under his great Shadow, his most terrible servants. Long ago. It is many a year since the Nine walked abroad. Yet who knows? As the Shadow grows once more, they too may walk again.’
The Fellowship of the Ring – Book I, Chapter II – The Shadow of the Past
The whole scene in Weathertop is one that I love and I enjoy it like it’s a new reading every time I read it again. Tolkien was so masterful at setting emotions through his words and building up sheer terror, just as he did with the Barrow-Downs, he strikes again at Weathertop while the iron is still fairly hot.
The movies also done a great job at bringing this scene to life, Jackson’s love for horror films helps him to come into his own with what is possibly one of the finest scenes he directed of them all.
Speaking of the Barrow-Downs, Merry was clearly reminded of them by the architectural style of the ruins of Weathertop and asked Strider about the ‘barrow-wightish’ look of the place.
Strider answers Merry’s concerns with a brief history lesson.
‘No. There is no barrow on Weathertop, nor on any of these hills,’ answered Strider. ‘The Men of the West did not live here; though in their latter days they defended the hills for a while against the evil that came out of Angmar. This path was made to serve the forts along the walls. But long before, in the first days of the North Kingdom, they built a great watch-tower on Weathertop, Amon Sul they called it. It was burned and broken, and nothing remains of it now but a tumbled ring, like a rough crown on the old hill’s head. Yet once it was tall and fair. It is told that Elendil stood there watching for the coming of Gil-galad out of the West, in the days of the Last Alliance.’
Passages of text like this one are what make Tolkien such an impressive writer to me, the way he uses his characters to give the reader some seriously captivating insight in to the history of the world they are immersed in is not only inspiring, but it feeds into that hunger for more information of a reader like myself.
Over the lip of the little dell, on the side away from the hill, they felt, rather than saw, a shadow rise, one shadow or more than one. They strained their eyes, and the shadows seemed to grow. Soon there could be no doubt: three or four tall black figures were standing there on the slope, looking down on them.
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The Farewell Speech!
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