Mar 3 2009 6:48pm

LotR re-read: missing scene?

I’m not able to do a chapter post this week, but rather than leave you all LotR re-read-less, I thought I’d open up the floor for discussion. Here’s what I’d like to know:

What missing scene would you like to read in the text of The Lord of the Rings?

In my conception, either this could be something Tolkien alluded to happening, such as in the Appendices, but didn’t write out in a full narrative form; or it could be something that isn’t in the text, but that you infer happened from it. (We’ll skip counterfactuals for now, if you don’t mind.)

My answer’s behind the cut.

I’d like to read this bit from Appendix B as a full scene:

 . . . when the Shadow passed, Celeborn came forth and led the host of Lórien over Anduin in many boats. They took Dol Guldur, and Galadriel threw down its walls and laid bare its pits, and the forest was cleansed.

Something about the image captivates me, and always has; but Tolkien’s rendering of it would be a lot better than my hazy imaginings.

What about you all?

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Kage Baker
1. kagebaker
I wanna know what happened to the Entwives! Some sort of closure. Maybe some appendix mention of a late sighting of them was found in a Gondor chronicle during the post-Sauron cleanup and the Ents went off looking for them. Anything.
2. Erunyauve
I've always been curious about that last conversation between Elrond and Arwen.
I know it's probably heartbreaking, but I've always been curious about it.
Also, the appendix of RotK mentions the existence of daughters (plural) of Arwen and Aragorn. I've always been curious about them. How many are there? What are their names?
Soon Lee
3. SoonLee
kagebaker @1:
There was a hint that they were hanging out near the Shire - in one of the Shire tavern conversations (IIRC in "Fellowship of the Ring"), a hobbit mentioned seeing walking trees.

P.S. I love the Company books.
4. Graydon
The advance of the Grey Company from the viewpoint of Angbor the Fearless, Lord of Lamedon.
Kage Baker
5. kagebaker

Why, thank you.

God knows the Shire would be the likeliest place for the Entwives. For a man who had a long and happy marriage, an awful lot of Tolkien's characters have unsuccessful relationships. All those Ents, Galadriel goes off and leaves Celeborn, Aragorn checks out early and leaves Arwen to die alone... now there's a final conversation I wouldn't have wanted to hear.
Soon Lee
6. SoonLee

I would like to have read more of the other Rangers, like Halbarad whose only role was to bring Aragorn the standard Arwen made, then die at the Battle of Pelennor Fields.

There were several sections of the story told as recaps: Gandalf's battle with the balrog, the Ents taking Isengard, Aragorn's party defeating the Corsairs at Pelargir and taking their ships. I wonder if they would have been better told 'real-time'.

I have also wondered about the backstory of the Black Riders, the rest of the Five Wizards, why Imrahil was 'Prince' of Dol Amroth & how that relates to the rulership of Gondor.
7. DG Lewis
I would love to read the story of Celebrimbor, particularly what happened when Sauron put on the One Ring and the elves realized that it would dominate the the three that Celebrimbor had made. Imagine Celebrimbor, the greatest elven craftsman since Feanor, confronted with the knowledge that the three rings that were the culmination of his skill had become tools of the Enemy, and having to make the decision to hide them and not use them. The parallels to Feanor and the Silmarils - both refusing to destroy what they had made, but in the case of Celebrimbor, realizing that he had to forsake their use - would have made great reading.
8. SonomaLass
Entwives, absolutely! It always seemed to me that once the Ents woke up to fight, they would stay awake and hunt down the woman.

But all these other ideas are good too. I guess this is why some people read the various lost and unfinished stuff.
9. Nicholas Waller
SoonLee @6 - I imagine the main reason several elements like Gandalf and the Balrog were told in recaps (or omitted entirely) was that LotR is a story wherein rough strangers - ie both us and the hobbits - come from some provincial lower life level to wander in an exalted atmosphere among the noble, highborn, elven etc for a bit before going home again.

So much of the story is either experienced by the hobbits or told to them, the hobbits being our guides and window. That's not exclusively true, of course - for instance, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli on the chase after the Merry and Pippin, and Helm's Deep and most of the stuff in Rohan.

But I imagine Tolkien wanted to keep as much as he could to the hobbit POV... I guess that's why he sent Merry and Pippin along in the first place. More and more time spent following events in detail away from the hobbits and their experiences (not to mention their rustic concerns for food, talk, drink and smoking) would have changed the balance of the story.
David Lev
10. davidlev
A story involving Harad or another country of the East that doesn't feature in the main story of Lord of the Rings. Who are these people and why do they serve the Dark Lord?

Also interesting would be the story of the two wizards who were "The Blue" (I don't remember their names) who I believe went into the Eastern Realms and never came back.
11. Graydon
kagebaker @1 --

The generally accepted reading is that the entwives are extinct, but that the ents didn't see it, so they maintain hope. (Remember the mention of the elf-songs about the search? They did look, extensively.)

The gardens of the ent-wives are on the map as the Brown Lands; Sauron obliterated them as he moved to conquer Eriador in the War of the Last Alliance.
12. lavendertook
Galadriel storming Dol Guldur really does need illustrating. Great pick, Kate.

Well, first off, I adore the second epilogue in the HoME with it's focus on a way cool adventurous hobbit lass in the figure of Elanor and Sam's love for Frodo and his sailing, and would have loved it to have been included in the LotR--it was exactly what I wanted after having first read the LotR almost 20 years before I found the HoME--though I enjoy thinking of it as Tolkien's own fanfic.

More on entwives would be great--I also always suspected what Halfast saw was an entwife!

But I'm hopelessly hobbitcentric, and Frodocentric in particular, so I want to know how Primula and Drogo really "drownded" and how Frodo's relationship with Bilbo blossomed, who were the Elves whom Frodo met in the woods of the Shire before the quest, and more of how he and Bilbo spent their time and conducted their Quenya studies, more about how the Fellowship spent their time in Lothlorien, more on the leisurely return to the Shire, more on the time Frodo lived with Sam and Rosie before he set sail, his life in the Blessed Realm and Sam's sailing. More, more more. But that's what reading and writing and illustrating fanfic are for, so yay for my circle of hobbitcentric fans! (-:

I'd also like to know about Faramir's student relationship with Gandalf.

I'd want to know more about the Easterlings and more about what kind of relations Aragorn established with them if Tolkien had gotten to work more on his racism, but fear what more he would have given us, given his limitations there, so yeah.

And eeee Kage Baker! I've read the first 2 Company novels thus far--they are wonderful!
13. Calimac
Erunyauve #2: The scene you'd like to see was imagined by Marion Zimmer Bradley as "The Parting of Arwen" and published as a small pamphlet some thirty years ago; but it was put out of print for copyright reasons and is now hard to find.

Entwives: Treebeard tells Merry and Pippin that their description of the Shire sounds like a place the Entwives would like, and makes them promise, "if you hear any news of the Entwives in your land, you will send word to me." But as far as we know, Merry and Pippin know nothing of the "walking tree" story that Sam's cousin told; nor does it seem to have occurred to them that the mysterious moving-around property of the Old Forest could be the result of Huorns.

So there's a tragically missed story for you.

I'd also like to see more scenes between characters who know each other but whose relationships are carried on mostly outside LOTR's pages. Peter Jackson's extended-edition scene between Boromir and Faramir ought to have been just what I wanted, but it had all the believability and sincerity of a beer commercial.
Andrew Foss
14. alfoss1540
1) Aragorn's travels in detail (with story and dialog rather than narrative - vis a vis The Silmarillion) in Gondor and the Southern lands. Maybe it would help our understanding of Aragorn discussed a week or so ago.

2) War against Sauron at the end of the second age - I want to know Elendil, Isuldur, Gil Galad, Younger Elrond - Who were these great heros - again in dialog and Story rather than narrative. Especially Isuldur - other than Sauron and Gollum, he alone possessed the ring - and it destroyed him utterly - Hobbits don't count because they resisted the Magic (except Frodo for a few minutes)- Who was this man and what drove him to fall to the power of the ring? At one point in his life he was a great man. History in LotR paints him as a fool.

3) The dwarves in Khazad Dum - who they were, how they came there, what they conquered and what they created - Travelling through Moria was fascinating. I want to know those people. - AGAIN in story form.
Kelly McCullough
15. KellyMcCullough
Tough call. I like yours, Kate. I'd also like to see the white council driving the Necromancer out of Dol Guldur, mostly to the white council and get a look at Saruman before his fall became apparent. That or the wars of the Witch King of Angmar against the remnants of the North Kingdom.
16. legionseagle
Well, since there have been some really good choices already bagged:

I'd like to see a Nazgul pov response to the extremely disconcerting response of the Shire-folk (specifically Gaffer Gamgee and Farmer Maggot) to their arrival - after all, if you've spent a few millenia being "the Dark Lords most feared servants" arriving somewhere where not only has no-one ever heard of you but their general response is to shoo you off as undesirables and set the dogs on you must demand quite a lot of attitude adjustment.

I'd also quite like to see the response of the Elves to Legolas' arrival in Valinor with a Dwarf in tow, too.
Soon Lee
17. SoonLee
Kelly McCullough @15:

That or the wars of the Witch King of Angmar against the remnants of the North Kingdom.

The passage after Merry stabbed the Witch-King with the blade Westernesse, about the smith who forged it makes me want to know more.
18. goshawk
Since the storming of Dol Guldur has already been mentioned...

Elrond and Arwen in Rivendell as the War began. You cannot tell me the heir of Luthien spent the War making a pretty banner for Aragorn, or that the standard-bearer of Gil-Galad sat back, dusted off his hands and said "good luck, everyone".

The part of the War that took place at the Lonely Mountain, in Erebor. Dain, King Under the Mountain, fighting at the entrance to his halls over the body of Brand King of Dale, and the long brutal campaign of Dwarves and Men that kept the armies of Sauron from sweeping down into Eriador and laying it waste. (The very reason, in fact, that Gandalf went and sent a silly hobbit off with a bunch of suicidal dwarves to deal with a worrisome dragon, all those years ago...)

That latter one, especially the image of Dain in his very old age wielding his axe over the body of his fallen friend at the last, really stuck with me once I heard it.
Brian Eisley
19. brianeisley
I got three.

1. Aragorn's battle with the Corsairs.

2. The White Council at Dol Guldur.

and, last but definitely not least:

3. The Black Riders' hunt for the Shire, Bilbo, and the Ring.

The last was told somewhat in "The Hunt for the Ring" in Unfinished Tales. But I'd still like to read it at full length.

Agnes Kormendi
20. tapsi
"The part of the War that took place at the Lonely Mountain, in Erebor. Dain, King Under the Mountain, fighting at the entrance to his halls over the body of Brand King of Dale, and the long brutal campaign of Dwarves and Men that kept the armies of Sauron from sweeping down into Eriador and laying it waste. (The very reason, in fact, that Gandalf went and sent a silly hobbit off with a bunch of suicidal dwarves to deal with a worrisome dragon, all those years ago...)

That latter one, especially the image of Dain in his very old age wielding his axe over the body of his fallen friend at the last, really stuck with me once I heard it."

Exactly the same here!

(And though I know it's been featured here at Tor.com but for those of you who missed it: Justin Gerard is making a series of the most amazing Hobbit illustrations and you can see them at http://quickhidehere.blogspot.com/ )
Jo Walton
21. bluejo
The fall of Arnor. ("The men of Carn Dum came upon us by night. Ah, the knife in my heart!")

I have a whole list in a notebook from 1978 of things I was hoping would be in The Silmarillion. Lots of them were. (It starts: Gondolin. Nargothrond. Luthien. Numenor.) The fall of the North Kingdom is one of those.

I haven't read HOME because I have an uncomfortable relationship with the uncanonical.
Jason Ramboz
22. jramboz
I think I'm one of the lucky ones. The story I most wanted to see developed at length actually was: the story of Beren and Lúthien. Then again, I'm also one of those freaks who likes The Silmarillion more than The Lord of the Rings. :)

@21 bluejo

Perhaps it would help to think of HoME not as "non-canonical," but rather "proto-canonical?" It's been a while since I read them, but some of the writings and essays in the last few books especially are fantastic, as Tolkien meditates on some of the philosophical and metaphysical aspects of his world. If I recall correctly, there are also some bits in there that Christopher Tolkien later admitted he should have included in The Silmarillion ("The Wanderings of Húrin," I believe?).
23. culfinriel
Almost everything everyone's already mentioned - I definitely wanted to know more about the Smiths of Eregion and the other wizards, but there are all those unexplained relationships and histories, too.
24. clovis
Definately Dain et al and maybe more detail about the aftermath of the war. The only appendix I really enjoy is the Chronicle of Years one, or at least the bit about the post-war period. I believe that some years ago the British retailers WH Smith commissioned a booklet of short stories called 'After The War' which included the Terry Pratchett short story 'Troll Bridge'.
25. MatthewCC
Radagast. Was he just wandering around petting birds and talking to himself?
Evan Leatherwood
26. ELeatherwood
MatthewCC -- Yes, Radaghast. What on earth would he have been like in a conversation?

But the scene I'd REALLY like to see is the celestial, angel version of Gandalf standing up in a huge meeting of all the other angels, and volunteering to be incarnated in Middle Earth to save the creatures that lived there. What sort of a weird, playful little minor deity must Gandalf have been like in heaven?

I think it's alluded to in a footnote of the Silmarillion, maybe, or a footnote to the appendices of LoTR? Gandalf's "heavenly" name is Olorin, which is a pun on the word for "fantasy" in one of Tolkien's languages. It's implied that Olorin was the lowest of the lowest ranking sort of God. Was Tolkien saying something about the unassuming power of fantasy to save the world?
27. Ken D.
Definitely when the Witch King has to meet with Sauron in his office and let him know that not only did he let "Baggins" get away, but that he also lost a bunch of horses. Presumably, there would have been some paperwork, expense reports, etc. Sauron was probably pissed.

Interesting sub-plot could be that the Witch King throws his second-in-command (Gothmog) under the bus ("I kept telling him to hurry up with the winged mounts, Dark Lord, but he spent all his time with the Mumakel..."), and then complains that the other Nazgul never really took the whole halfling thing seriously. Then, when he's slain at the Battle of Pelennor Fields, the pieces click into place for Sauron and he realizes that the Witch King had been the wrong guy for the position all along.
Soon Lee
28. SoonLee
Eleatherwood @26:

IIRC, 'Olorin' could also be translated as 'dream' which is equally interesting: "the unassuming power of" dream?
29. Erunyauve
Eleatherwood @ 26:
There are references, in the Silmarillion (the Valaquenta, I think) of a Maia named Olorin who hangs out with Irmo.
Probably this is Gandalf.
30. lavendertook
bluejo, I'm wondering what makes TS more canonical than the HoME to you.
Jo Walton
31. bluejo
Lavendertook: Yes.

I read The Silmarillion three weeks and a day after it came out. (My birthday present. No, really! I was thirteen.) I bought Unfinished Tales the day it came out. I bought The Book of Lost Tales 1 which is pretty much the first of the HoME books, and I realised I had a problem with canon and early drafts -- and that reading these things weren't making me happy so I stopped. I later tried reading one of the LOTR HoME volumes when someone recommended it, and I had even more of a problem with it so I stopped again. So anyway, I'm sure it's equally canonical or uncanonical, but I have a boundary problem with reading it.
32. dulac3
bluejo@31: I also had a severe reaction to the first 2 HoME volumes (_The Book of Lost Tales_ I & II). These were very early drafts of the stories that often, to my mind at least, bore little resemblance to the 'final' versions that became _The Silmarillion_. They even seemed a bit, dare I say it?, twee to me. I have also avoided the volumes that basically give early drafts of LoTR since I'm less interested in Tolkien's early starts at this than I am in what he produced as the finished version, but I did really enjoy the final two volumes of the HoME series (_Morgoth's Ring_ and _War of the Jewels_) since these have some really interesting essays and information about the mythic cycles of the early ages of Middle Earth that represent Tolkien's thoughts on the most recent versions, not the earlier drafts. You may enjoy these volumes.

Also if you enjoy poetry you may want to try volume 3, _The Lays of Beleriand_ since it covers two of the greatest tales of the First Age (the story of Beren & Luthien and the Tale of Turin) in verse form.

As to lost scenes I was also always fascinated by Radagast: he's the only glimpse we get at one of the Istari aside from Gandalf & Saruman and it's a pretty ambiguous one. Who was this dude? I believe it was implied he was one of the 'failed' Istari since he was too concerned with animals and birds and not enough with the people of Middle earth, but I always considered this unfair. The poor guy was a pupil of Yavanna after all...what did they expect?

More tales of the days of Numenor at the height of its power & glory would also be fascinating, esp. when their mariners first started returning to a benighted Middle Earth and met with the remnants of mankind left to fend for themselves in an age of relative darkenss. Also, what was Elrond doing all this time? Why did he never go to visit his brother during his lifetime? What an odd and sad family: first he loses his parents while still a child never to see them again after they sail west, then his brother disappears that way as well and he loses him 'beyond the circles of the world' due to his choice to become human, then his wife leaves Middle Earth to go to the Undying Lands and finally he must look forward to losing his beloved daughter forever...ouch!

And what about Gil-Galad? The last great high king of the Noldor and we have little more than a poem or two and a few glancing references to him. Where was his kingdom? What did he do during the second age? What was he like at all?

Finally I wish Tolkien had finished his tale of Tuor and his coming to Gondolin which only exists as a fragment in _Unfinished Tales_ and is, I think, one of the finest things he ever wrote. In many ways it would have been an uplifting counterpoint to the dark tragedy of the tales of the children of Hurin...at least until the fall of Gondolin occurs. Strange, and a great shame, that the very tale that was the genesis of his mythic cycle (The Fall of Gondolin) was never completed in any substantial form by Tolkien.
Andrew Mason
33. AnotherAndrew
Olorin: this name occurs in The Two Towers, where Faramir (I think) recites Gandalf's list of the names he uses, Olorin being the name he had in his youth in the West. When I first read The Silmarillion (at about the same age Jo did, I think) I was thrilled to see the name of the Maia Olorin, and knew immediately who he was. I must have been something of a geek, mustn't I?

Silmarillion and HoME: I think there is a difference, in that The Silmarillion was edited to make it compatible with canon, while HoME wasn't - it's just a record of how the author saw things at various times - and in some respects clearly isn't canonical. (Most bits aren't so wildly uncanonical as The Book of Lost Tales, but this might make them even harder to read; BoLT is so different that it doesn't interfere with one's perception of canon, whereas other bits that are more like it might.) I don't have any problem reading HoME - my only reason for not reading the whole of it is the fear that this will occupy the rest of my life - but I do get worried when people appeal to it as evidence for what really happened. It's what the author, at one time, thought happened. He might have changed his mind, and frequently did.
34. Lsana
@ 26 ELeatherwood,

There is a paragraph or two about Olorin/Gandalf being recruited to go to Middle Earth in Unfinished Tales. Essentially, his reaction was, "Oh, please. Not me. I'm tired. Find someone else to do it."

The scene I would most like to see, if we are allowed to go all the way back to Silmarillion, is the attack on Angband and the end of the first age. It seems wrong that we got a hundred pages on Turin, and half a page on the ultimate cataclysmic battle against the greatest evil that ever lived.

If we're sticking to the third age events, I would like to have seen more of the Blue Wizards. It seems like they went to Rhun, which I would also like to see. What did they do there, and did they have some specific task from Orome that they had to perform?
Soon Lee
35. SoonLee
Nicholas Waller @9:
Interesting thought that the story focusses on hobbit's-eye-view of the events at the end of the Third Age. It's strange then, that the Ents' attack on Isengard was told by Merry & Pippin as a recap.

A thought that's occurred to me is that 'story' is an important part of LotR, it's a recurring motif, and in essence, the recaps are tales-within-tales. The characters tell stories to each other in the same way that the author is telling the story to the reader.
Kate Nepveu
36. katenepveu
These are all great, and I almost regret asking because now I have such a big list of my own that I'll never get to read except in dreams!

goshawk @ 18, I had a hard time narrowing mine down from "all the bits of the War that we didn't see," including the battle you mention.

And legionseagle @ 16 and Ken D. @ 27 particularly made me laugh.

Thanks, everybody.
37. Will Belegon
The Fall of Dol Guldur and the Defense of Erebor in the Great War also are high on my list... since they have already been mentioned, I would love to see the return of Durin's Folk to Khazad-Dum, now free of the Balrog and with it's orc contingent severely depeleted.
Peter Schmidt
39. PHSchmidt
I'd like a book on the rise of Rohan at the dawn of the Fourth Age. I like to think the vigor of the horsemen helped to awaken Gondor from its narcissistic decline. Aragorn's leadership would be open to greater exchanges between the peoples, especially given Faramir and Eowyn's relationship.

And how about a story of the recolonization of Dunharrow? Must have been a nice mountain and valley before its people started worshipping Sauron. And the Paths of the Dead would make a great Samhain attraction. ;-)
40. A. Willow
I just discovered this post recently,what a great question.I agree that I would have liked more closure on the Entwives issue,though what I would have liked most is the story of Legolas and Gimli's return to 1) the caverns of Helm's Deep and 2) Fangorn. There is too little in the books on this! I want to know what happened.
I am hugely enjoying the re-read,by the way.
Kate Nepveu
41. katenepveu
PHSchmidt, belatedly, I quite like the characters from Rohan, so I'll all for that.

A. Willow, thanks, and I've just got to the Entwives in the upcoming chapter and had forgotten how weird and annoying that story is. But yes, I would love Legolas and Gimli's further adventures too--one of my favorite bits is Gimli rhapsodizing about the caverns.

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