HASA Resources

Timeline Event

Invasion of Westfold by Saruman: Overview

Event Type: Military/Strategic

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Dates: February 25, 3019 ~ March 5, 3019

Description:

An event in the War of the Ring; see that entry for an overview.

Table of Contents:
The Summary

The Combatants
— Attacking Forces
— — Sauron and the Nazgûl
— — Saruman
— — — The Hosts of Isengard
— — — — The Dunlendings
— — — — The Half-orcs and Goblin-men
— — — — The Orcs and Wargs
— — — Saruman's Spies and Agents
— — — — Gríma Wormtongue in Rohan
— — — — Bill Ferny and the Squint-eyed Southerner in Bree
— — — — Birds and Beasts
— Defensive Forces
— — The Rohirrim
— — The Fellowship
— — — Gandalf the White and Shadowfax
— — — The Three Hunters: Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli
— — — Merry and Pippin
— — Treebeard
— — — The Ents
— — — The Huorns
— — Gwaihir and the Eagles
— — The Drúedain

The Timeline

The Prelude
— Sauron and the Nazgûl
— Saruman
— The Rohirrim
— The Dunlendings

The Invasion
— Saruman imprisons Gandalf
— Saruman begins his aggression against Rohan
— Saruman's troops target Théodred at the Fords of Isen
— Saruman's Orcs capture Merry and Pippin at Parth Galen
— The Three Hunters pursue Merry and Pippin and encounter Éomer
— Merry and Pippin escape into Fangorn as Éomer destroys their captors
— Gandalf and the Three Hunters reunite and go to aid the Rohirrim
— Saruman's troops launch the invasion with a second attack at the Fords of Isen
— Merry and Pippin inspire Treebeard to attack Saruman in Isengard
— Saruman's forces attack the Rohirrim at the Hornburg
— The Rohirrim and the Huorns defeat Saruman's forces at the Hornburg
— Ents destroy Isengard and imprison Saruman
— Gandalf and the Rohirrim parley with Saruman after his defeat

The Aftermath

Notes



The Summary
Saruman's massive campaign of aggression against Rohan.

The Combatants

The Combatants:  Attacking Forces

Attacking Forces:  Sauron and the Nazgûl
[It] is said that Sauron had at this time, by means of the palantíri, at last begun to daunt Saruman, and could in any case often read his thought even when he withheld information.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Notes, Note 14

Now Sauron learning of the capture of Gollum... was in great haste and fear. Yet all his ordinary spies and emissaries could bring him no tidings. And this was due largely both to the vigilance of the Dúnedain and to the treachery of Saruman, whose own servants either waylaid or misled the servants of Sauron. Of this Sauron became aware, but his arm was not yet long enough to reach Saruman in Isengard. Therefore he hid his knowledge of Saruman's double-dealing and concealed his wrath, biding his time.... At length he resolved that no others would serve him in this case but his mightiest servants, the Ringwraiths....

Now... none could withstand them when gathered together.... Yet... so great was the terror that went with them (even invisible and unclad) that their coming forth might soon be perceived and their mission be guessed by the Wise.

So it was that... the Lord of Morgul was sent forth openly to battle against Gondor... towards the end of June 3018.... [His] chief purpose was that the coming forth of the Nazgûl should appear only as part of his policy of war against Gondor.

Therefore when Osgiliath was taken... Sauron stayed the assault, and the Nazgûl were ordered to begin the search for the Ring... as secretly as they could....

The Lord of Morgul therefore led his companions over Anduin, unclad and unmounted, and invisible to eyes, and yet a terror to all living things that they passed near.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Of the Journey of the Black Riders


Attacking Forces:  Saruman
Saruman fell under the domination of Sauron and desired his victory, or no longer opposed it.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri

'[The valley below]... was now filled with pits and forges. Wolves and orcs were housed in Isengard, for Saruman was mustering a great force on his own account, in rivalry of Sauron and not in his service yet.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

'Even reckoned as a lord and captain Saruman has grown very strong. He threatens the Men of Rohan and draws off their help from Minas Tirith, even as the main blow is approaching from the East. Yet a treacherous weapon is ever a danger to the hand. Saruman also had a mind to capture the Ring, for himself, or at least to snare some hobbits for his evil purposes.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

[After Gandalf's escape,] Saruman... perceived the peril of standing between enemies, a known traitor to both. His dread was great, for his hope of deceiving Sauron, or at the least of receiving his favour in victory, was utterly lost. Now either he himself must gain the Ring or come to ruin and torment.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Of the Journey of the Black Riders

'But at this time our chief concern is with Saruman. He has claimed lordship over all this land, and there has been war between us for many months. He... has closed the Gap against us, so that we are likely to be beset both east and west.

'It is ill dealing with such a foe: he is a wizard both cunning and dwimmer-crafty, 1 having many guises. He walks here and there, they say, as an old man hooded and cloaked, very like to Gandalf, as many now recall.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

'He has taken Orcs into his service, and Wolf-riders, and evil Men....'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan


Attacking Forces:  The Hosts of Isengard
[A] strong force of his best fighters, coming down by the Road from Isengard, attacked the forts on the west of the Fords. This force was... only a small part of those that he had in hand... a troop... began to cross the Fords.... the enemy commander then threw in a battalion that had not been committed....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

'Well, of all sorts together, there must have been ten thousand at the very least,' said Merry. 'They took an hour to pass out of the gates.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

It was the vanguard of the whole remaining forces of Saruman that he was now committing to battle for the conquest of Westfold. They came on at great speed....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

The enemy was in fact in positions prepared for the event, behind trenches manned by pikemen....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

Ropes with grappling hooks were hurled over the parapet.... Hundreds of long ladders were lifted up.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

The trees, swung by strong arms, smote the timbers with a rending boom.... Again and again the great rams swung and crashed.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

'They have a blasting fire, and with it they took the Wall. If they cannot come in the caves, they may seal up those that are inside.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep


Attacking Forces:  The Dunlendings
'Saruman has armed the wild hillmen and herd-folk of Dunland beyond the rivers....'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

Saruman had told them that the men of Rohan were cruel and burned their captives alive.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 8, The Road to Isengard

'[The Dunlendings] are fierce folk when roused. They will not give way now... until Théoden is taken, or they themselves are slain.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

And there were battalions of Men, too.... Most of them were ordinary men, rather tall and dark-haired, and grim but not particularly evil-looking.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

Saruman's eastern force... was much smaller... but more dangerous. In its van were some Dunlending horse­men....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

[Fierce] companies of the Dunlendish hillmen were thrown [against Grimbold's shieldwall]. But for all their hatred the Dunlendings were still afraid of the Rohirrim if they met face to face, and they were also less skilled in warfare and less well armed.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

[The Dunlendings] were without body-armour, having only among them a few hauberks gained by theft or in loot.... [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Notes, Note 11


Attacking Forces:  The Half-orcs and Goblin-men
'But these creatures of Isengard, these half-orcs and goblin-men that the foul craft of Saruman has bred, they will not quail at the sun,' said Gamling.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

'[Saruman] has taken up with foul folk, with the Orcs.... Worse than that: he has been doing something to them; something dangerous. For these Isengarders are more like wicked Men. It is a mark of evil things that came in the Great Darkness that they cannot abide the Sun; but Saruman's Orcs can endure it, even if they hate it. I wonder what he has done? Are they Men he has ruined, or has he blended the races of Orcs and Men? That would be a black evil!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard

Many of them carried torches, and in the flare I could see their faces.... there were some... that were horrible: man-high, but with goblin-faces, sallow, leering, squint-eyed. Do you know, they reminded me at once of that Southerner at Bree: only he was not so obviously orc-like as most of these were.'

'I thought of him too,' said Aragorn. 'We had many of these half-orcs to deal with at Helm's Deep.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

[There] appeared a company of men or Orc-men..., ferocious, mail-clad, and armed with axes.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen


Attacking Forces:  The Orcs and Wargs
The use, and possibly special breeding, of Orcs [in Isengard] was kept secret, and cannot have begun much before 2990 at earliest.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri: Notes, Note 7

'Great Orcs, who also bore the White Hand of Isengard: that kind is stronger and more fell than all others.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

There were four [dead] goblin-soldiers of greater stature, swart, slant-eyed, with thick legs and large hands. They were armed with short broad-bladed swords, not with the curved scimitars usual with Orcs: and they had bows of yew, in length and shape like the bows of Men. Upon their shields they bore a strange device: a small white hand in the centre of a black field; on the front of their iron helms was set an S-rune, wrought of some white metal.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 1, The Departure of Boromir

The hobbits were left with the Isengarders: a grim dark band, four score at least....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 3, The Uruk-Hai

'What of the dawn?' they jeered. 'We are the Uruk-hai: we do not stop the fight for night or day, for fair weather or for storm. We come to kill, by sun or moon. What of the dawn?'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

Behind them came two battalions of the fierce Uruks, heavily armed but trained to move at great speed for many miles.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

[The] Orcs screamed, waving spear and sword, and shooting a cloud of arrows at any that stood revealed upon the battlements....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

In Isengard as yet only the heavy and clumsy mail of the Orcs was made, by them for their own uses. [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Notes, Note 11

'I saw the enemy go: endless lines of marching Orcs; and troops of them mounted on great wolves.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

Saruman's eastern force came down with unexpected speed.... In its van were... a great pack of the dreadful Orcish wolfriders, feared by horses.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

[Orcish wolfriders] were very swift and skilled in avoiding ordered men in close array, being used mostly to destroy isolated groups or to hunt down fugitives; but at need they would pass with reckless ferocity through any gaps in companies of horsemen, slashing at the bellies of the horses. [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Notes, Note 5


Attacking Forces:  Saruman's Spies and Agents

Attacking Forces:  Gríma Wormtongue in Rohan
'[Saruman's] spies slip through every net... his friends do not all dwell in Isengard.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

[The] King's health began to fail... when Théoden was sixty-six; his malady may thus have been due to natural causes, though the Rohirrim commonly lived till... their eightieth year. But it may well have been induced or increased by subtle poisons, administered by Gríma.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

... Théoden's sense of weakness and dependence on Gríma was largely due to the cunning and skill of this evil counsellor's suggestions.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

'In those years Wormtongue's task was easy, and all that you did was swiftly known in Isengard; for your land was open, and strangers came and went. And ever Wormtongue's whispering was in your ears, poisoning your thought, chilling your heart, weakening your limbs, while others watched and could do nothing, for your will was in his keeping.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall


Attacking Forces:  Bill Ferny and the Squint-eyed Southerner in Bree
'And there are some folk in Bree who are not to be trusted,' [Aragorn] went on. 'Bill Ferny, for instance. He has an evil name in the Bree-land, and queer folk call at his house.... He was very close with one of the Southern strangers.... Not all of those Southerners mean well; and as for Ferny, he would sell anything to anybody; or make mischief for amusement.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 10, Strider

Presently [Bill Ferny] slipped out of the door, followed by the squint-eyed southerner: the two had been whispering together a good deal during the evening.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 9, At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

[One] of Saruman's most trusted servants (yet a ruffianly fellow, an outlaw driven from Dunland, where many said that he had Orc-blood) had returned from the borders of the Shire, where he had been negotiating for the purpose of "leaf" and other supplies. Saruman was beginning to store Isengard against war.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Other Versions of the Story

'It seems plain now that that Southerner was a spy of Saruman's; but whether he was working with the Black Riders, or for Saruman alone, I do not know. It is difficult with these evil folk to know when they are in league, and when they are cheating one another.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam


Attacking Forces:  Birds and Beasts
'But Saruman has many ways of learning news. Do you remember the birds?'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 1, The Departure of Boromir

'[Spies] of many sorts, even beasts and birds....'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

'Regiments of black crows are flying over all the land...,' [Aragorn] said.... They are not natives here; they are crebain out of Fangorn and Dunland.... I think they are spying out the land. I have also glimpsed many hawks flying high up in the sky.... Hollin... is being watched.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South

'... [Saruman's] birds of ill omen are abroad in the sky.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan


The Combatants:  Defensive Forces

Defensive Forces:  The Rohirrim
... Théoden... fell into a decline under the spells of Saruman, but was healedn by Gandalf, and in the last year of his life arose and led his men to victory....

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl: The Kings of the Mark

Háma knelt and presented to Théoden a long sword in a scabbard clasped with gold and set with green gems. 'Here, lord, is Herugrim, your ancient blade,' he said.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

[The] king came. His horse was white as snow, golden was his shield, and his spear was long....

On they rode.... Captains and champions fell or fled before them. Neither orc nor man withstood them. Their backs were to the swords and spears of the Riders....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

Marshal of the Mark... was the highest military rank... commanders of the royal forces of fully equipped and trained Riders.... In the beginning of the year 3019... the Second marshal, the King's son Théodred, had command over the West-mark with his base at Helm's Deep; the Third Marshal, the King's nephew Éomer, had as his ward the East-mark....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix

[When] the war with Saruman began Théodred without orders assumed general command. He summoned a muster of Edoras, and drew away a large part of its Riders, under Elfhelm, to strengthen the Muster of Westfold and help it to resist the invasion.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix

[Théodred] therefore manned the approaches... to the Fords with the sturdy men on foot from the levies of Westfold. Leaving three companies of Riders, together with horse-herds and spare mounts, on the east bank, he himself passed over with the main strength of his cavalry: eight companies and a company of archers...

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

'We do not and we never have [paid tribute to Sauron].' said Éomer with a flash of his eyes; 'though it comes to my ears that that lie has been told. Some years ago the Lord of the Black Land wished to purchase horses of us at great price, but we refused him, for he puts beasts to evil use. Then he sent plundering Orcs, and they carry off what they can, choosing always the black horses: few of these are now left. For that reason our feud with the Orcs is bitter.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

[Said] Legolas, 'there are one hundred and five [Riders]. Yellow is their hair, and bright are their spears. Their leader is very tall.'....

After [Éomer] they rode: a long line of mail-clad men, swift, shining, fell and fair to look upon.

Their horses were of great stature, strong and clean-limbed.... The Men that rode them matched them well: tall and long-limbed; their hair, flaxen-pale, flowed under their light helms.... In their hands were tall spears of ash, painted shields were slung at their backs, long swords were at their belts, their burnished skirts of mail hung down upon their knees.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

The éored with which Éomer pursued the Orcs... had 120 Riders: Legolas counted 105 when they were far away, and Éomer said that fifteen men had been lost in battle with the Orcs.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Notes, Note 36

At the gate they found a great host of men, old and young, all ready in the saddle. More than a thousand were there mustered....

The trumpets sounded.... Spear clashed on shield.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

In the end Grimbold manned the western end of the Fords with the greater part of his foot-soldiers; there they were in a strong position in the earth-forts that guarded the approaches. He remained with the rest of his men, including what remained to him of Théodred's cavalry, on the east bank.

... Grimbold had only a handful of archers.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

They now learned to their joy that Erkenbrand had left many men to hold Helm's Gate, and more had since escaped thither.

'Maybe, we have a thousand fit to fight on foot,' said Gamling,... 'But most of them have seen too many winters, as I have, or too few, as my son's son here.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

'The Rohirrim have good bowmen after their fashion, but there are too few here, too few.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

The Rohirrim had the advantage in being supplied [with body-armor] by the metalworkers of Gondor.... [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Notes, Note 11


Defensive Forces: The Fellowship
'I am the Doorward of Théoden,' he said. 'Háma is my name. Here I must bid you lay aside your weapons before you enter.'

Then Legolas gave into his hand his silver-hafted knife, his quiver and his bow. 'Keep these well,' he said, 'for they come from the Golden Wood and the Lady of Lothlórien gave them to me.'....

[Said] Gandalf. 'Here at least is my sword, goodman Háma. Keep it well. Glamdring it is called, for the Elves made it long ago.'....

Slowly Aragorn unbuckled his belt and himself set his sword upright against the wall. 'Here I set it,' he said; 'but I command you not to touch it, nor to permit any other to lay hand on it. In this elvish sheath dwells the Blade that was Broken and has been made again. Telchar first wrought it in the deeps of time. Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil's sword save Elendil's heir.'....

'Well,' said Gimli, 'if it has Andúril to keep it company, my axe may stay here, too, without shame'; and he laid it on the floor.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall


Defensive Forces: Gandalf the White and Shadowfax
[The] Grey Wanderer had the greater strength [compared with Saruman], and the greater influence upon the dwellers in Middle-earth, even though he hid his power and desired neither fear nor reverence.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Concerning Gandalf, Saruman, and the Shire

Gandalf bore his staff, but girt at his side was the elven-sword Glamdring....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 3, The Ring Goes South

'The staff in the hand of a wizard may be more than a prop for age,' said Háma. He looked hard at the ash-staff on which Gandalf leaned. 'Yet in doubt a man of worth will trust to his own wisdom. I believe you are friends and folk worthy of honour, who have no evil purpose. You may go in.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

'The gift seems already to be given,' said Théoden. 'But hearken all! Here now I name my guest, Gandalf Greyhame, wisest of counsellors;... a lord of the Mark,... and I give to him Shadowfax, prince of horses.'

'I thank you, Théoden King,' said Gandalf. Then suddenly he threw back his grey cloak, and cast aside his hat, and leaped to horseback. He wore no helm nor mail. His snowy hair flew free in the wind, his white robes shone dazzling in the sun.

'Behold the White Rider!' cried Aragorn, and all took up the words.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

'[Shadowfax] is running now as fast as the swiftest horse could gallop,' answered Gandalf; 'but that is not fast for him.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 11, The Palantír


Defensive Forces: The Three Hunters: Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli
'Seldom has any lord of Rohan received three such guests. Weapons they have laid at your doors that are worth many a mortal man, even the mightiest. Grey is their raiment, for the Elves clad them, and thus they have passed through the shadow of great perils to your hall.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

[Said Aragorn,] 'The men of Rohan must ride forth today, and we will ride with them, axe, sword, and bow.... I promised Éomer that my sword and his should be drawn together.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

Now men came bearing raiment of war from the king's hoard and they arrayed Aragorn and Legolas in shining mail. Helms too they chose, and round shields... Gimli needed no coat of rings, even if one had been found to match his stature, for there was no hauberk in the hoards of Edoras of better make than his short corslet forged beneath the Mountain.... But he chose a cap of iron and leather that fitted well upon his round head; and a small shield he also took.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall


Defensive Forces:  Merry and Pippin
'[Merry and Pippin] were brought to Fangorn, and their coming was like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains. Even as we talk here, I hear the first rumblings. Saruman had best not be caught away from home when the dam bursts!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

The hobbits began to tell [Treebeard] the story of their adventures ever since they left Hobbiton....

Treebeard was however especially interested in everything that concerned Gandalf; and most interested of all in Saruman's doings. The hobbits regretted very much that they knew so little.... But they were clear at any rate that Uglúk and his troop came from Isengard, and spoke of Saruman as their master.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard


Defensive Forces:  Treebeard
'And all the time there is another danger, close at hand, which [Saruman] does not see.... He has forgotten Treebeard.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

'Some time ago I began to wonder how Orcs dared to pass through my woods so freely,' [Treebeard] went on. 'Only lately did I guess that Saruman was to blame.... He and his foul folk are making havoc now. Down on the borders they are felling trees — good trees. Some of the trees they just cut down and leave to rot — orc-mischief that; but most are hewn up and carried off to feed the fires of Orthanc....

'Curse him, root and branch! Many of those trees were my friends.... And there are wastes of stump and bramble where once there were singing groves.... It must stop!'....

'And you shall come with me. You may be able to help me. You will be helping your own friends that way, too; for if Saruman is not checked Rohan and Gondor will have an enemy behind as well as in front. Our roads go together — to Isengard!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard


Defensive Forces:  The Ents
[The] Ents were swinging along with great strides down the slope towards them. Treebeard was at their head, and some fifty followers were behind him....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard

'An angry Ent is terrifying. Their fingers, and their toes, just freeze on to rock; and they tear it up like bread-crust. It was like watching the work of great tree-roots in a hundred years, all packed into a few moments.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

'But arrows are no use against Ents.... They cannot be poisoned, for one thing; and their skin seems to be very thick, and tougher than bark. It takes a very heavy axe-stroke to wound them seriously. They don't like axes. But there would have to be a great many axe-men to one Ent: a man that hacks once at an Ent never gets a chance of a second blow. A punch from an Ent-fist crumples up iron like thin tin.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam


Defensive Forces:  The Huorns
'... I... had the feeling that the Forest itself was moving behind us.... It was the Huorns... hundreds and hundreds of them....'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

'There is a great power in [Huorns], and they seem able to wrap themselves in shadow: it is difficult to see them moving. But they do. They can move very quickly, if they are angry. You stand still... and then suddenly you find that you are in the middle of a wood with great groping trees all around you. They still have voices, and can speak with the Ents... but they have become queer and wild. Dangerous. I should be terrified of meeting them, if there were no true Ents about to look after them.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard

'I think that hundreds more of the Huorns must have been passing by to help in the battle....

'It must have been about midnight.... The Huorn-dark had passed, and the thunder had rolled away.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam


Defensive Forces:  Gwaihir and the Eagles
'[The] Eagles of the Mountains went far and wide, and they saw many things.... And they sent a messenger to bring these tidings to me.

'So it was that... Gwaihir the Windlord... came unlooked-for to Orthanc; and he found me.... Then... he bore me away, before Saruman was aware....

'He set me down in the land of Rohan... [where] I found evil already at work: the lies of Saruman; and the king of the land would not listen to my warnings.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

'... I did not know of [Merry and Pippin's] captivity, until the eagle told me.'

'The eagle!' said Legolas. 'I have seen an eagle high and far off....'

'Yes,' said Gandalf, 'that was Gwaihir..., who rescued me from Orthanc. I sent him before me to watch the River and gather tidings.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider


Defensive Forces:  The Drúedain
A marginal jotting states that after the Battle of the Fords of Isen it was found that many Drúedain did indeed survive in the Drúwaith Iaur, for they came forth from the caves where they dwelt to attack remnants of Saruman's forces that had been driven away southwards.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 1, The Drúedain: Notes, Note 13


The Timeline
2758
Rohan attacked from west and east and overrun.... 2758-9: The Long Winter follows. Great suffering and loss of life in Eriador and Rohan....

[See: Invasion of Rohan from West and East: Overview]

2759
Death of Helm. Fréaláf drives out Wulf.... Saruman takes up his abode in Isengard.

[See: Fréaláf expels the Dunlendings from Isengard]
[See: Saruman invited to Isengard]

2953
Last meeting of the White Council.... Saruman withdraws to Isengard, which he takes as his own, and fortifies it. Being jealous and afraid of Gandalf he sets spies to watch all his movements...

[See: Saruman seizes and fortifies Isengard]
[See: Saruman sends agents to the Shire and Bree]
[See: Saruman allies with the Dunlendings against Rohan]

circa 2990
[See: Saruman begins breeding Orcs in Isengard]

circa 3000
The shadow of Mordor lengthens. Saruman dares to use the palantír of Orthanc, but becomes ensnared by Sauron, who has the Ithil Stone. He becomes a traitor to the Council....

[See: Saruman ensnared by Sauron via the Palantír]
[See: Orcs of Mordor and Isengard begin to raid Rohan and steal horses]

3001
Bilbo's farewell feast. Gandalf suspects his ring to be the One Ring. The guard on the Shire is doubled. Gandalf seeks for news of Gollum and calls on the help of Aragorn.

[See: Saruman sends more spies to the Shire]
[See: Rangers increase the guard on the Shire]

3014
[See: Théoden's health begins to fail]
[See: Wormtongue, Saruman's agent, becomes Théoden's counsellor]

3017
... Gandalf visits Minas Tirith and reads the scroll of Isildur.

[See: Saruman opens trade with the Shire]

3018
[See: Saruman provisions Isengard for war]

July 3018
10
Gandalf imprisoned in Orthanc.

[See: Gandalf's Imprisonment in Isengard: Overview]
[See: Gandalf imprisoned in Orthanc]

September 3018
18
Gandalf escapes from Orthanc in the early hours. The Black Riders cross the Fords of Isen.

[See: Gwaihir rescues Gandalf from Orthanc]
[See: Saruman closes the Gap of Rohan after Gandalf's escape]

19
Gandalf comes to Edoras as a beggar, and is refused admittance.

[See: Gwaihir bears Gandalf to Edoras]

20
Gandalf gains entrance to Edoras. Théoden commands him to go: 'Take any horse, only be gone ere tomorrow is old!'

[See: Théoden rejects Gandalf's warnings about Saruman]
[See: Théodred takes command of Rohan's defence against Saruman]

21
Gandalf meets Shadowfax, but the horse will not allow him to come near. He follows Shadowfax far over the fields.

22
The Black Riders reach Sarn Ford at evening.... Gandalf overtakes Shadowfax.

[See: Gandalf tames Shadowfax]

23
Four Riders enter the Shire before dawn.... Frodo leaves Bag End. Gandalf having tamed Shadowfax rides from Rohan.

February 3019
25
The Company pass the Argonath and camp at Parth Galen. First Battle of the Fords of Isen; Théodred son of Théoden slain.

[See: Fellowship passes the Argonath and camps at Parth Galen]

[See: 1st Battle of the Fords of Isen: Overview]
[See: Théodred, Théoden's heir, slain]
[See: Saruman's army retreats]

26
Breaking of the Fellowship. Death of Boromir.... Meriadoc and Peregrin captured. Frodo and Samwise enter the eastern Emyn Muil. Aragorn sets out in pursuit of the Orcs at evening. Éomer hears of the descent of the Orc-band from the Emyn Muil.

[See: Breaking of the Fellowship: Overview]
[See: Fellowship scatters to search for Frodo]
[See: Frodo and Sam set off for Mordor]

[See: Orc-raid at Parth Galen: Overview]
[See: Orcs from Isengard raid the Fellowship]
[See: Boromir, Denethor II's heir, slain]

[See: Merry and Pippin captured]
[See: Three Hunters pursue the Orc-raiders from Parth Galen]

[See: Orc-raiders dispute the fate of Merry and Pippin]
[See: Pippin leaves a clue for their pursuers]

[See: Erkenbrand takes command of the West-mark after Théodred dies]
[See: Erkenbrand provisions Helm's Deep for attack]

27
Aragorn reaches the west-cliff at sunrise. Éomer against Théoden's orders sets out from Eastfold about midnight to pursue the Orcs.

[See: Orc reinforcements from Mordor join the Orc-raiders]
[See: Éomer pursues the Orc-raiders]
[See: Gwaihir informs Gandalf of Merry and Pippin's capture]

28
Éomer overtakes the Orcs just outside Fangorn Forest.

[See: Éomer besieges the Orc-raiders at Fangorn]

29
Meriadoc and Pippin escape and meet Treebeard. The Rohirrim attack at sunrise and destroy the Orcs....

[See: Attack on the Orc-raiders at Fangorn: Overview]

[See: Merry and Pippin escape the Orc-raiders and flee into Fangorn]
[See: Merry and Pippin meet Treebeard]
[See: Merry and Pippin rouse Treebeard to action]

30
Entmoot begins. Éomer returning to Edoras meets Aragorn.

[See: Ents gather for an Entmoot]

[See: Éomer meets the Three Hunters in the Eastemnet]

March 3019
1
... Entmoot continues. Aragorn meets Gandalf the White. They set out for Edoras....

[See: Gandalf meets the Three Hunters in Fangorn]

[See: Éomer imprisoned by the counsel of Gríma Wormtongue]

2
... Gandalf comes to Edoras and heals Théoden. The Rohirrim ride west against Saruman. Second Battle of Fords of Isen. Erkenbrand defeated. Entmoot ends in afternoon. The Ents march on Isengard and reach it at night.

[See: Gandalf and the Three Hunters ride to Edoras]
[See: Gandalf heals Théoden in Meduseld]

[See: Gandalf exposes Gríma Wormtongue as Saruman's agent]
[See: Théoden exiles Gríma Wormtongue for treason]

[See: Théoden reinstates Éomer as Marshal of the Mark]
[See: Théoden appoints Éowyn interim leader of the Rohirrim]
[See: Théoden leads reinforcements west against Saruman]

[See: Hosts of Isengard leave for Helm's Deep]

[See: 2nd Battle of the Fords of Isen: Overview]
[See: Elfhelm Driven Back in the 2nd Battle of the Fords of Isen]
[See: Grimbold Retreats in the 2nd Battle of the Fords of Isen]

[See: Ents march on Isengard]

3
Théoden retreats to Helm's Deep. Battle of the Hornburg begins. Ents complete the destruction of Isengard.

[See: Théoden diverts the reinforcements to Helm's Deep]
[See: Théoden's reinforcements arrive at Helm's Deep]

[See: Gandalf rides to Isengard]
[See: Huorns leave Isengard for Helm's Deep]

[See: Battle of the Hornburg: Overview]
[See: Hosts of Isengard overrun Helm's Dike]

[See: Destruction of Isengard by Ents: Overview]
[See: Saruman imprisoned in Orthanc]

4
Théoden and Gandalf set out from Helm's Deep for Isengard....

[See: Ents flood Isengard]

[See: Hosts of Isengard assault the gates of the Hornburg]
[See: Éomer and Aragorn defend the gates]
[See: Gimli rescues Éomer before the gates]

[See: Théoden leads a charge from the gates]
[See: Huorns arrive]
[See: Gandalf and Erkenbrand arrive]

[See: Hosts of Isengard defeated in the Battle of the Hornburg]

[See: Erkenbrand shows mercy to the Dunlending prisoners]
[See: Huorns dispose of the Orcs]
[See: Huorns return to Isengard]

5
Théoden reaches Isengard at noon. Parley with Saruman in Orthanc. Winged Nazgûl passes over the camp at Dol Baran. Gandalf sets out with Peregrin for Minas Tirith....

[See: Gríma Wormtongue imprisoned in Orthanc with Saruman]

[See: Parley with Saruman in Isengard: Overview]
[See: Gandalf expels Saruman from the Istari and the White Council]
[See: Saruman remains imprisoned under Treebeard's guard]

[See: Gríma Wormtongue hurls the Palantír from Orthanc]
[See: Pippin looks into the Palantír of Orthanc]
[See: Aragorn receives the Palantír of Orthanc]

[See: Winged Nazgûl flies over Dol Baran]
[See: Gandalf and Pippin ride for Minas Tirith]

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age


The Prelude

The Prelude:  Sauron and the Nazgûl
[The] wrath and fear of Sauron was mounting. When [the Nine] came back to the Wold September had come; and there they met messengers from Barad-dûr conveying threats from their Master that filled even the Morgul-lord with dismay. For Sauron had now learned of the words of prophecy heard in Gondor, and the going forth of Boromir, of Saruman's deeds, and the capture of Gandalf. From these things he concluded indeed that neither Saruman nor any other of the Wise had possession yet of the Ring, but that Saruman at least knew where it might be hidden. Speed alone would now serve, and secrecy must be abandoned.

The Ringwraiths therefore were ordered to go straight to Isengard. They rode then through Rohan in haste, and the terror of their passing was so great that many folk fled from the land, and went wildly away north and west, believing that war out of the East was coming on the heels of the black horses.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Of the Journey of the Black Riders

'The Enemy, of course, has long known that the Ring is abroad, and that it is borne by a hobbit. He knows now the number of our Company that set out from Rivendell, and the kind of each of us. But he does not yet perceive our purpose clearly. He supposes that we were all going to Minas Tirith; for that is what he would himself have done in our place. And according to his wisdom it would have been a heavy stroke against his power. Indeed he is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider


The Prelude:  Saruman
[After the Watchful Peace] was first made the... White Council, and therein were... lords of the Eldar, and with them were Mithrandir and Curunír. And Curunír (that was Saruman the White) was chosen to be their chief, for he had most studied the devices of Sauron of old. Galadriel indeed had wished that Mithrandir should be the Lead of the Council, and Saruman begrudged them that, for his pride and desire of mastery was grown great.... But Saruman now began to study the lore of the Rings of Power, their making and their history.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

[When] Saruman offered to take command of Isengard and repair it and reorder it as part of the defences of the West he was welcomed both by King Fréaláf and by Beren the Steward....

There can be little doubt that Saruman made his offer in good faith, or at least with good will towards the defence of the West, so long as he himself remained the chief person in that defence, and the head of its council. He... perceived clearly that Isengard with its position and its great strength, natural and by craft, was of utmost importance. The line of the Isen, between the pincers of Isengard and the Hornburg, was a bulwark against invasion from the East (whether incited and guided by Sauron, or otherwise), either aiming at encircling Gondor or at invading Eriador.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix

If Beren the Steward considered the Stone at all when he gave [the keys of Orthanc] to Saruman, he probably thought that it could be in no safer hands than those of the head of the Council opposed to Sauron.

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri

Saruman dares to use the palantír of Orthanc, but becomes ensnared by Sauron, who has the Ithil Stone. He becomes a traitor to the Council.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

... Saruman's integrity "had been undermined by purely personal pride and lust for the domination of his own will. His study of the Rings had caused this, for his pride believed that he could use them, or It, in defiance of any other will. He, having lost any devotion to other persons or causes, was open to the domination of a superior will, to its threats, and to its display of power."

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri: Notes, Note 14

The Council seems to have been unaware, since for many years Isengard had been closely guarded, of what went on within its Ring. The use, and possibly special breeding, of Orcs was kept secret, and cannot have begun much before 2990 at earliest. The Orc-troops seem never to have been used beyond the territory of Isengard before the attack on Rohan. Had the Council known of this they would, of course, at once have realized that Saruman had become evil. [Author's note.]

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri: Notes, Note 7

Saruman soon became jealous of Gandalf, and this rivalry turned at last to a hatred... Saruman... grew to fear him, being ever uncertain how much Gandalf perceived of his inner mind.... So it was that openly he treated Gandalf with less respect than did others of the Wise... while secretly he noted and pondered all that he said, setting a watch, so far as he was able, upon all his movements.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Concerning Gandalf, Saruman, and the Shire

It was soon after Thengel's return that Saruman declared himself Lord of Isengard and began to give trouble to Rohan, encroaching on its borders and supporting its enemies.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl: The Kings of the Mark

'How far back [Saruman's] treachery goes, who can guess?' said Gandalf. 'He was not always evil. Once I do not doubt that he was the friend of Rohan; and even when his heart grew colder, he found you useful still. But for long now he has plotted your ruin, wearing the mask of Friendship, until he was ready.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

Saruman was beginning to store Isengard against war.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Other Versions of the Story

[Pippin:] 'He seems at one time to have got round [the Ents], but never again. And anyway he did not understand them; and he made the great mistake of leaving them out of his calculations. He had no plan for them, and there was no time to make any, once they had set to work.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam


The Prelude:  The Rohirrim
The chief obstacles to an easy conquest of Rohan by Saruman were Théodred and Éomer: they were vigorous men, devoted to the King, and high in his affections, as his only son and his sister-son; and they did all that they could to thwart the influence over him that Gríma gained when the King's health began to fail. This occurred early in the year 3014, when Théoden was sixty-six; his malady may thus have been due to natural causes, though the Rohirrim commonly lived till near or beyond their eightieth year. But it may well have been induced or increased by subtle poisons, administered by Gríma.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

When Théoden became... prematurely old... there was no effective central command: a state of affairs encouraged by his counsellor Gríma. The King, becoming decrepit and seldom leaving his house, fell into the habit of issuing orders to Háma, Captain of his Household, to Elfhelm, and even to the Marshals of the Mark, by the mouth of Gríma Wormtongue. This was resented, but the orders were obeyed, within Edoras.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix

It was [Wormtongue's] policy to bring his chief opponents into discredit with Théoden, and if possible to get rid of them. It proved impossible to set them at odds with one another: Théoden before his "sickness" had been much loved... and the loyalty of Théodred and Éomer remained steadfast, even in his apparent dotage. Éomer also was not an ambitious man, and his love and respect for Théodred... was only second to his love of his foster-father. Gríma therefore tried to play them one against the other in the mind of Théoden, representing Éomer as ever eager to increase his own authority and to act without consulting the King or his Heir. In this he had some success, which bore fruit when Saruman at last succeeded in achieving the death of Théodred.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

[The] Rohirrim, though they had warnings of [Saruman's] growing malice toward them, continued to put their main strength in the west at the Fords, until Saruman in open war showed them that the Fords were small protection without Isengard and still less against it.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix


The Prelude:  The Dunlendings
'Not in half a thousand years have [the Dunlendings] forgotten their grievance that the lords of Gondor gave the Mark to Eorl the Young and made alliance with him.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

But under Brego and Aldor the Dunlendings were rooted out again and driven away beyond the Isen, and the Fords of Isen were guarded. Thus the Rohirrim earned the hatred of the Dunlendings.... Whenever the Rohirrim were weak or in trouble the Dunlendings renewed their attacks.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix

'That old hatred Saruman has inflamed.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

... Saruman had told them that the men of Rohan were cruel and burned their captives alive.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 8, The Road to Isengard


The Invasion

The Invasion:  Saruman imprisons Gandalf
'"The Nine are abroad again."....

'... "Who... sent you?" I asked.

'"Saruman the White," answered Radagast. "And he told me to say that... you must seek his aid at once, or it will be too late."'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

'[Saruman] was cold now and perilous.... "I... gave you the chance of aiding me willingly, and so saving yourself much trouble and pain. The... choice is to stay here, until... you reveal to me where the One may be found."....

'They took me and they set me alone on the pinnacle of Orthanc.... I had no chance of escape, and my days were bitter. I was pierced with cold, and I had but little room in which to pace to and fro, brooding on the coming of the Riders to the North.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

'So it was that when summer waned, there came a night of moon, and Gwaihir the Windlord... came unlooked-for to Orthanc; and he found me.... Then... he bore me away, before Saruman was aware.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

'Indeed since [Gandalf's] last coming in the summer all things have gone amiss. At that time our trouble with Saruman began. Until then we counted Saruman our friend, but Gandalf came then and warned us that sudden war was preparing in Isengard. He said that he himself had been a prisoner in Orthanc and had hardly escaped, and he begged for help. But Théoden would not listen to him, and he went away. Speak not the name of Gandalf loudly in Théoden's ears! He is wroth. For Gandalf took the horse that is called Shadowfax, the most precious of all the king's steeds.... Seven nights ago Shadowfax returned; but the king's anger is not less, for now the horse is wild and will let no man handle him.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan


The Invasion:  Saruman begins his aggression against Rohan
... Saruman sent out wolves and Orcs in vain pursuit of Gandalf; but in this he had other purposes also.... [In] his anger he wished to do some injury to Rohan, and to increase the fear of him which his agent Wormtongue was building up in Théoden's heart.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Other Versions of the Story

'But at this time our chief concern is with Saruman. He has claimed lordship over all this land, and there has been war between us for many months. He... has closed the Gap against us, so that we are likely to be beset both east and west.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

[Gandalf, to Théoden:] '[Ever] Wormtongue's whispering was in your ears, poisoning your thought, chilling your heart, weakening your limbs, while others watched and could do nothing, for your will was in his keeping.

'But when I escaped and warned you, then the mask was torn.... After that Wormtongue played dangerously, always seeking to delay you, to prevent your full strength being gathered.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

As far as fighting was concerned, when the war with Saruman began Théodred without orders assumed general command. He summoned a muster of Edoras, and drew away a large part of its Riders, under Elfhelm, to strengthen the Muster of Westfold and help it to resist the invasion.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix


The Invasion:  Saruman's troops target Théodred at the Fords of Isen
[There was] a mustering of troops before the Gates of Isengard... But when [Théodred] rode on [west of the Isen] to attack the main host the resistance stiffened.... he descried other forces [east of the river] now hasting towards the Fords.... He at once ordered a retreat.

Saruman's eastern force came down with unexpected speed... The garrison of the east bank... was swept away, and the Riders... were driven from the Fords...

Théodred fell, hewn down by a great Orc-man....

The attack... ceased, and the enemy... faded away into the dark. The Rohirrim held the Fords of Isen; but their losses were heavy....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

It was clearly seen... that Saruman had given special orders that Théodred should at all costs be slain.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix

Erkenbrand of Westfold assumed command of the West-mark when news of the fall of Théodred reached him in the Hornburg on the next day. He sent errand-riders to Edoras... [requesting] that Éomer should be sent at once with all help that could be spared.... But Gríma... [furthered] his policy of delay.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix

Erkenbrand... judged rightly that invasion was imminent, but that Saruman would not dare... to attack Edoras while the fortress of the Hornburg was unreduced, if it was manned and well stored. With this business and the gathering of such men of Westfold as he could, he was occupied for three days.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen


The Invasion:  Saruman's Orcs capture Merry and Pippin at Parth Galen
'There is evil afoot in Isengard.... [By] some means the traitor Saruman has had news of our journey....'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 1, The Departure of Boromir

There were cries, and among them... the harsh voices of Orcs. Then suddenly with a deep-throated call a great horn blew...

Aragorn raced... but before he could reach the hill's foot, the sounds died away; and as he... ran towards them they retreated, until at last he could hear them no more....

A mile, maybe, from Parth Galen... he found Boromir.... Aragorn saw that he was pierced with many black-feathered arrows.... Many Orcs lay slain... all about him....

Boromir opened his eyes and strove to speak.... 'They have gone: the Halflings: the Orcs have taken them.'.... [His] eyes closed wearily.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 1, The Departure of Boromir

'[Why]... were the Orcs content with the capture of Merry and Pippin? They... went with all speed towards Isengard. Did they suppose they had captured the Ring-bearer...? I think not. Their masters would not dare to give such plain orders to Orcs...; they would not speak openly to them of the Ring.... But I think the Orcs had been commanded to capture hobbits, alive, at all costs.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

Terrified Pippin lay still....

'But why not kill them quick?'....

'Orders.'.... 'Kill all but NOT the Halfings; they are to be brought back ALIVE as quickly as possible. That's my orders.... I am Uglúk. I command. I return to Isengard by the shortest road.'

'Is Saruman the master or the Great Eye?' said the evil voice. 'We should go back at once to Lugbúrz.'....

'We are the fighting Uruk-hai!.... 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... we shall lead you back by the way we choose. I am Uglúk. I have spoken.'

'You have spoken more than enough, Uglúk,' sneered the evil voice. 'I wonder how they would like it in Lugbúrz.... They might ask where [your] strange ideas came from. Did they come from Saruman, perhaps? Who does he think he is...?.... I Grishnákh say this: Saruman is a... dirty treacherous fool. But the Great Eye is on him.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 3, The Uruk-Hai

'For already [Sauron] knows that the messengers that he sent to waylay the Company have failed again. They have not found the Ring. Neither have they brought away any hobbits as hostages.... [That]... would have been a heavy blow to us.... But... the Enemy has failed — so far. Thanks to Saruman.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider


The Invasion:  The Three Hunters pursue Merry and Pippin and encounter Éomer
[Said] Aragorn,... 'But come! With hope or without hope we will follow the trail of our enemies. And woe to them, if we prove the swifter!.... Forth the Three Hunters!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 1, The Departure of Boromir

Pippin... wondered how long he would be able to go on at this pace.... One of his guards had a whip....

They had gone only a mile or so from the cliff..., where the ground was soft and wet. Mist lay there.... The dark shapes of the Orcs in front... were swallowed up....

A sudden thought leaped into Pippin's mind, and he... swerved aside..., and dived out of the reach of his clutching guard, headfirst into the mist....

Pippin sprang up and ran. But the Orcs... suddenly loomed up right in front of him.

'No hope of escape!' thought Pippin.... He groped with his two tied hands at his throat, and unclasped the brooch of his cloak. Just as... hard claws seized him, he let it fall....

A whip-thong curled round his legs, and he stifled a cry.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 3, The Uruk-Hai

They went in single file, running like hounds on a strong scent.... Presently Aragorn... turned aside.... He... had seen footprints... branching off....

'Yes,' [Aragorn] said, 'they are quite plain: a hobbit's footprints.... And look at this! He held up a thing that glittered in the sunlight....

'The brooch of an elven-cloak!' cried Legolas and Gimli together.

'Not idly do the leaves of Lórien fall,' said Aragorn.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

'We have come at last to a hard choice,' [Aragorn] said. 'Shall we rest by night, or shall we go on while our will and strength hold?'....

'Seldom will Orcs journey in the open under the sun, yet these have done so,' said Legolas. 'Certainly they will not rest by night.'....

[Aragorn:] '[If]... they turned aside... there might be long delay before the trail was found again.'

'And...,' said Gimli: 'only by day can we see if any tracks lead away. If a prisoner should escape..., we might pass the signs....'

'That is true,' said Aragorn. 'But if I read the signs back yonder rightly... the whole company is now bound for Isengard....'

'Yet it would be rash to be sure of their counsels,' said Gimli. 'And what of escape? In the dark we should have passed the signs that led you to the brooch.'....

[Said] Legolas. 'There will be no escape again, if we do not contrive it.... [But] first we must overtake them.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

[Éomer:] '[If] you are fleeing from [Sauron], then you had best leave this land.... We welcomed guests kindly in the better days, but in these times the unbidden stranger finds us swift and hard. Come! Who are you...? At whose command do you hunt Orcs in our land?'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

[Said] Aragorn... 'Gandalf will ride no longer. He fell into darkness in the Mines of Moria and comes not again.'

'That is heavy tidings,' said Éomer. 'At least to me....'

'It is tidings more grievous than any in this land can understand...,' said Aragorn. 'But when the great fall, the less must lead. My part it has been to guide our Company on the long road from Moria. Through Lórien we came... and thence down the leagues of the Great River to the falls of Rauros. There Boromir was slain by the same Orcs whom you destroyed.'

'Your news is all of woe!' cried Éomer in dismay. 'Great harm is this death to Minas Tirith, and to us all.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

[Éomer:] 'I must return in haste to Théoden.... It is true that we are not yet at open war with the Black Land, and there are some, close to the king's ear, that speak craven counsels; but war is coming. We shall not forsake our old alliance with Gondor, and while they fight we shall aid them: so say I and all who hold with me.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

The Invasion:  Merry and Pippin escape into Fangorn as Éomer destroys their captors
'[Scouts] warned me of the orc-host coming down out of the East Wall..., and... reported that some bore the white badges of Saruman. So suspecting what I most fear, a league between Orthanc and the Dark Tower, I led forth my éored...; and we overtook the Orcs at nightfall two days ago, near to the borders of the Entwood. There we surrounded them, and gave battle yesterday at dawn. Fifteen of my men I lost, and twelve horses alas!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

[The] Riders made a great fire and scattered the ashes of their enemies. So ended the raid, and no news of it came ever back either to Mordor or to Isengard....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 3, The Uruk-Hai

'Nor do I know why an Orc was carrying [Merry and Pippin] away. Not to help them to escape, we may be sure.... [Some]... bold Orc may have been trying to escape with the prize alone, for his own ends.... But on this we may count in any case: one at least of our friends escaped. It is our task to find him and help him before we return to Rohan. We must not be daunted by Fangorn, since need drove him into that dark place.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

'[Saruman's] thought is ever on the Ring. Was it present in the battle? Was it found? What if Théoden, Lord of the Mark, should come by it and learn of its power? That is the danger that he sees, and he has fled back to Isengard to double and treble his assault on Rohan.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider


The Invasion:  Gandalf and the Three Hunters reunite and go to aid the Rohirrim
With that the three hunters plunged into the forest of Fangorn. Legolas and Gimli left the tracking to Aragorn....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

'You are tracking the footsteps of two young hobbits, I believe.... Well, they climbed up here the day before yesterday; and they met someone that they did not expect. Does that comfort you? And now you would like to know where they were taken? Well, well, maybe I can give you some news about that. But why are we standing? Your errand, you see, is no longer as urgent as you thought. Let us sit down and be more at ease.'....

The old man... sat himself on a low flat stone. Then his grey cloak drew apart, and they saw, beyond doubt, that he was clothed beneath all in white.

'Saruman!' cried Gimli, springing towards him with axe in hand.... 'Tell us where you have hidden our friends!... Speak, or I will make a dint in your hat that even a wizard will find it hard to deal with!'

The old man... sprang to his feet and leaped to the top of a large rock. There he stood... towering above them.... His white garments shone. He lifted up his staff, and Gimli's axe leaped from his grasp and fell ringing on the ground. The sword of Aragorn, stiff in his motionless hand, blazed with a sudden fire....

'Mithrandir!' [Legolas] cried....

'Gandalf!' [Aragorn] said. 'Beyond all hope you return to us in our need!'....

'Gandalf,' the old man repeated, as if recalling from old memory a long disused word. 'Yes,.. I was Gandalf.'....

'Get up, my good Gimli! No blame to you, and no harm done to me. Indeed my friends, none of you have any weapon that could hurt me.... We meet again. At the turn of the tide. The great storm is coming, but the tide has turned.'....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

'All that has happened since we parted on the bridge would be a long tale. Will you not first give us news of the hobbits? Did you find them, and are they safe?'

'No, I did not find them,' said Gandalf. 'There was a darkness over the valleys of the Emyn Muil, and I did not know of their captivity, until the eagle told me.'.... 'I sent him before me to watch the River and gather tidings. His sight is keen, but he cannot see all that passes under hill and tree. Some things he has seen, and others I have seen myself. The Ring now has passed beyond my help, or the help of any of the Company....'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

'But Isengard cannot fight Mordor, unless Saruman first obtains the Ring. That he will never do now. He does not yet know his peril. There is much that he does not know. He was so eager to lay his hands on his prey that he could not wait at home, and he came forth to meet and to spy on his messengers. But he came too late, for once, and the battle was over and beyond his help before he reached these parts. He did not remain here long. I look into his mind and I see his doubt. He has no woodcraft. He believes that the horsemen slew and burned all upon the field of battle; but he does not know whether the Orcs were bringing any prisoners or not. And he does not know of the quarrel between his servants and the Orcs of Mordor; nor does he know of the Winged Messenger.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

'Come, Aragorn...!' he said.... '[The] quest of your companions is over. Your next journey is marked by your given word. You must go to Edoras and seek out Théoden in his hall. For you are needed. The light of Andúril must now be uncovered in the battle for which it has so long waited. There is war in Rohan, and worse evil: it goes ill with Théoden.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

[Suddenly Gandalf] changed. Casting his tattered cloak aside, he stood up and leaned no longer on his staff; and he spoke in a clear cold voice.... He raised his staff. There was a roll of thunder. The... whole hall became suddenly dark as night.... Only Gandalf could be seen, standing white and tall before the blackened hearth.

In the gloom they heard the hiss of Wormtongue's voice: 'Did I not counsel you, lord, to forbid his staff?....' There was a flash as if lightning had cloven the roof.... Wormtongue sprawled on his face.

'Now Théoden son of Thengel, will you hearken to me?' said Gandalf. 'Do you ask for help?' He lifted his staff and pointed to a high window. There... could be seen... a patch of shining sky. 'Not all is dark. Take courage, Lord of the Mark; for better help you will not find. No counsel have I to give to those that despair. Yet counsel I could give, and words I could speak to you. Will you hear them?... I bid you come out before your doors and look abroad. Too long have you sat in shadows and trusted to twisted tales and crooked promptings.'

Slowly Théoden left his chair.... [With] faltering steps the old man came down from the dais and paced softly through the hall.... They came to the doors and Gandalf knocked.

'Open!' he cried. 'The Lord of the Mark comes forth!'....

'Now, lord,' said Gandalf, 'look out upon your land! Breathe the free air again!'....

'It is not so dark here,' said Théoden.

'No,' said Gandalf. 'Nor does age lie so heavily on your shoulders as some would have you think. Cast aside your prop!'

From the king's hand the black staff fell clattering on the stones. He drew himself up, slowly, as a man that is stiff from long bending over some dull toil. Now tall and straight he stood, and his eyes were blue as he looked into the opening sky.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep


The Invasion:  Saruman's troops launch the invasion with a second attack at the Fords of Isen
"Let the defence of Edoras be made here in the West," [Erkenbrand] said, "and not wait till it is itself besieged." But Gríma used the curtness of this advice to further his policy of delay. It was not until his defeat by Gandalf that any action was taken. The reinforcements with Éomer and the King himself set out in the afternoon of March the 2nd....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix

'Saruman seems to have meant to finish off the king and all his men with one final blow. He emptied Isengard....

'Some went off down the highway to the Fords, and some turned away and went eastward. A bridge has been built down there... I thought things looked very black for Rohan.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

[A] strong force of [Saruman's] best fighters, coming down by the Road from Isengard, attacked the forts on the west of the Fords....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

It was not yet midnight when points of red light were seen... drawing near on the west of the river. It was the vanguard of the whole remaining forces of Saruman that he was now committing to battle for the conquest of Westfold. They came on at great speed....

[Since] the Orcs were of less avail in such fighting because of their stature, fierce companies of the Dunlendish hillmen were thrown [into the battle]. But for all their hatred the Dunlendings were still afraid of the Rohirrim if they met face to face, and they were also less skilled in warfare....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

[A] troop of Uruks... began to cross the Fords.... [The] enemy commander then threw in a battalion that had not been committed....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

More than half of Saruman's force had actually been sent down east of Isen. They came on more slowly than the western division, for the land was rougher and without roads; and they bore no lights. But before them, swift and silent, went several troops of the dreaded wolfriders.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

'We were driven back yesterday over the Isen with great loss; many perished at the crossing. Then at night fresh forces came over the river against our camp. All Isengard must be emptied.... We were overmastered. The shield-wall was broken.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

[The] Second Battle of the Fords was fought and lost, and the invasion of Rohan began.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen: Appendix

'Erkenbrand of Westfold has drawn off those men he could gather towards his fastness in Helm's Deep. The rest are scattered.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

'We have found many of our folk lying slain as they fled thither,' said the scout.... 'What has become of Erkenbrand none seem to know. It is likely that he will be overtaken ere he can reach Helm's Gate, if he has not already perished.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep


The Invasion:  Merry and Pippin inspire Treebeard to attack Saruman in Isengard
'[The young hobbits] were brought to Fangorn, and their coming was like the falling of small stones that starts an avalanche in the mountains. Even as we talk here, I hear the first rumblings. Saruman had best not be caught away from home when the dam bursts!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

Treebeard was... interested in... Gandalf; and most interested of all in Saruman's doings. The hobbits regretted very much that they knew so little about them: only a rather vague report by Sam of what Gandalf had told the Council. But they were clear at any rate that Uglúk and his troop came from Isengard, and spoke of Saruman as their master.

[When] at last their story had wound... down to the battle of the Orcs and the Riders of Rohan. 'Well, well! That is a bundle of news and no mistake.... There is something very big going on, that I can see....'

'But Saruman now! Saruman is a neighbour: I cannot overlook him.'....

'I think that I now understand what he is up to. He is plotting to become a Power. He has a mind of metal and wheels; and he does not care for growing things, except as far as they serve him for the moment. And now it is clear that he... has taken up with foul folk, with the Orcs.'....

'Some time ago I began to wonder how Orcs dared to pass through my woods so freely,' he went on. 'Only lately did I guess that Saruman was to blame, and that long ago he had been spying out all the ways.... He and his foul folk are making havoc now. Down on the borders they are felling trees — good trees. Some of the trees they just cut down and leave to rot...; but most are hewn up and carried off to feed the fires of Orthanc. There is always a smoke rising from Isengard these days.

'Curse him, root and branch!... I have been idle. I have let things slip. It must stop!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 4, Treebeard

'But now [Treebeard's] long slow wrath is brimming over.... [It] will soon be running like a flood; but its tide is turned against Saruman and the axes of Isengard. A thing is about to happen which has not happened since the Elder Days: the Ents are going to wake up and find that they are strong.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider


The Invasion:  Saruman's forces attack the Rohirrim at the Hornburg
[A] scout rode back and reported that... a host of Orcs and wild men were hurrying southward from the Fords of Isen and seemed to be making for Helm's Deep.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

The king and his Riders... passed within the gates of the Hornburg. There they were welcomed... for now there were men enough to man both the burg and the barrier wall.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

The hosts of Isengard were advancing in silence now. Their torches could be seen winding up the coomb....

Suddenly from the Dike... fierce battle-cries... broke out. Flaming brands... clustered thickly at the breach. Then they scattered and vanished. Men came galloping back... to... the Hornburg. The rearguard of the Westfolders had been driven in.

'The enemy is at hand!' they said.... 'Already they are scaling the bank at many points, thick as marching ants.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

It was now past midnight.... Suddenly the clouds were seared by a blinding flash.... For a staring moment the watchers on the walls saw all the space between them and the Dike lit with white light: it was boiling and crawling with black shapes..., with high helms and sable shields. Hundreds and hundreds more were pouring over the Dike and through the breach. The dark tide flowed up to the walls from cliff to cliff....

Arrows thick as the rain came whistling over the battlements, and fell clinking and glancing on the stones. Some found a mark. The assault on Helm's Deep had begun....

The assailing hosts halted, foiled by the silent menace of rock and wall. Ever and again the lightning tore aside the darkness. Then the Orcs screamed, waving spear and sword, and shooting a cloud of arrows at any that stood revealed upon the battlements; and the men of the Mark amazed looked out, as it seemed to them, upon a great field of dark corn, tossed by a tempest of war....

Brazen trumpets sounded. The enemy surged forward, some against the Deeping Wall, other towards the causeway and the ramp that led up to the Hornburg-gates.... They reached the summit of the rock; they drove towards the gates.

Then at last an answer came: a storm of arrows met them, and a hail of stones. They wavered, broke, and fled back; and then charged again, broke and charged again; and each time, like the incoming sea, they halted at a higher point.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep


The Invasion:  The Rohirrim and the Huorns defeat Saruman's forces at the Hornburg
'The end will not be long,' said the king.... 'When dawn comes, I will bid men sound Helm's horn, and I will ride forth.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep

There was a roar and a blast of fire. The archway of the gate... crumbled and crashed in smoke and dust....

But even as the gate fell, and the Orcs about it yelled, preparing to charge, a murmur arose behind them.... The Orcs upon the Rock, hearing the rumour of dismay, wavered and looked back. And then, sudden and terrible, from the tower above, the sound of the great horn of Helm rang out....

And... the king came....

Down from the gates they roared, over the causeway they swept, and they drove through the hosts of Isengard.... Behind them from the Deep came the stern cries of men issuing from the caves, driving forth the enemy....

Neither orc nor man withstood them. Their backs were to the swords and spears of the Riders and their faces to the valley. They cried and wailed, for fear and great wonder had come upon them with the rising of the day.

So King Théoden rode from Helm's Gate and clove his path to the great Dike. There the company halted..., and they gazed down upon the Deeping-coomb.

The land had changed.... Great trees, bare and silent, stood, rank on rank...; their twisted roots were buried in the long green grass. Darkness was under them. Between the Dike and the eaves of that nameless wood only two open furlongs lay. There now cowered the proud hosts of Saruman, in terror of the king and in terror of the trees.... Vainly they... clambered about the walls of the coomb, seeking to escape....

There suddenly upon a ridge appeared a rider, clad in white, shining in the rising sun. Over the low hills the horns were sounding. Behind him, hastening down the long slopes, were a thousand men on foot; their swords were in their hands. Amid them strode a man tall and strong....

'Erkenbrand!' the Riders shouted. 'Erkenbrand!'

'Behold the White Rider!' cried Aragorn. 'Gandalf is come again!'....

The hosts of Isengard roared, swaying..., turning from fear to fear.... Down through the breach of the Dike charged the king's company. Down from the hills leaped Erkenbrand, lord of Westfold. Down leaped Shadowfax.... The White Rider was upon them, and the terror of his coming filled the enemy with madness. The wild men fell on their faces before him. The Orcs reeled and screamed and cast aside both sword and spear.... [They] fled. Wailing they passed under the waiting shadow of the trees; and from that shadow none ever came again.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 7, Helm's Deep


The Invasion:  Ents destroy Isengard and imprison Saruman
'[In] the early night we crept down a long ravine into the upper end of the Wizard's Vale, the Ents with all their rustling Huorns behind.... [Not] long after midnight there was a tall wood all round the north side of Isengard....

'Treebeard... went up to the gates, and began hammering on the doors, and calling for Saruman. There was no answer....

'He let out a great hoom-hom, and a dozen more Ents came striding up....

'They pushed, pulled, tore, shook, and hammered; and... in five minutes they had these huge gates just lying in ruin; and some were already beginning to eat into the walls....'....

[Said] Pippin.... 'I don't think many orc-folk, of any size, escaped. Not from the Huorns....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

'... Saruman fled in a panic.... [Suddenly] Quickbeam gave a cry "The tree-killer, the tree-killer!" Quickbeam is a gentle creature, but... his people suffered cruelly from orc-axes. He leapt down the path from the inner gate.... [Saruman] was within a step or two of being caught and strangled when he slipped in through the door.

'When Saruman was safe..., it was not long before he set some of his precious machinery to work.... Suddenly up came fires and foul fumes.... Several of the Ents got scorched and blistered....

'That sent them mad.... They roared..., until stones began to crack and fall at the mere noise of them.... Round... the rock of Orthanc the Ents went striding and storming like a howling gale, breaking pillars, hurling avalanches of boulders down the shafts.... I saw iron posts and blocks of masonry go rocketing up hundreds of feet, and smash against the windows of Orthanc....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

'In the afternoon we walked round the circle, and went to have a look at what was going on. There was a great shadowy wood of Huorns at the head of the valley.... Ents and Huorns were digging great pits and trenches, and making great pools and dams, gathering all the waters of the Isen and every other spring and stream that they could find....

'It must have been about midnight when the Ents broke the dams and poured all the gathered waters through a gap in the northern wall, down into Isengard....

'Isengard began to fill up with black creeping streams and pools.... Every now and then the waters found their way down into some shaft or spouthole. Great white steams hissed up.... There were explosions and gusts of fire. One great coil of vapour went whirling up, twisting round and round Orthanc.... And still more water poured in, until at last Isengard looked like a huge flat saucepan, all steaming and bubbling.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

'"Well, [Wormtongue] has gone in," [Treebeard] said.... "I saw him crawling up the steps like a draggled rat. There is someone in the tower still: a hand came out and pulled him in. So there he is, and I hope the welcome is to his liking."'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam


The Invasion:  Gandalf and the Rohirrim parley with Saruman after his defeat
[Said Gandalf.... 'I have now a last task to do before I go: I must pay Saruman a farewell visit. Dangerous, and probably useless; but it must be done. Those of you who wish may come with me — but beware!'....

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 10, The Voice of Saruman

Gandalf stood before the door of Orthanc and beat on it with his staff.... 'Saruman, Saruman!' he cried in a loud commanding voice. 'Saruman come forth!'....

'Who is it?' said a voice. 'What do you wish?'

Théoden started. 'I know that voice,' he said, 'and I curse the day when I first listened to it.'

'Go and fetch Saruman, since you have become his footman, Gríma Wormtongue!' said Gandalf....

They waited. Suddenly another voice spoke, low and melodious, its very sound an enchantment. Those who listened unwarily to that voice could seldom report the words that they heard; and if they did, they wondered, for little power remained in them. Mostly they remembered only that it was a delight to hear the voice speaking, all that it said seemed wise and reasonable, and desire awoke in them by swift agreement to seem wise themselves. When others spoke they seemed harsh and uncouth by contrast....

'Well?' it said now with gentle question. 'Why must you disturb my rest? Will you give me no peace at all by night or day?' Its tone was that of a kindly heart aggrieved by injuries undeserved.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 10, The Voice of Saruman

'... Théoden Lord of the Mark of Rohan [you] are declared by your noble devices, and still more by the fair countenance of the House of Eorl. O worthy son of Thengel the Thrice-renowned! Why have you not come before, and as a friend? Much have I desired to see you, mightiest king of western lands, and especially in these latter years, to save you from the unwise and evil counsels that beset you! Is it yet too late? Despite the injuries that have been done to me, in which the men of Rohan, alas! have had some part, still I would save you, and deliver you from the ruin that draws nigh inevitably, if you ride upon this road which you have taken. Indeed I alone can aid you now.'

Théoden... seemed to hesitate. Gandalf made no sign.... The Riders stirred at first, murmuring with approval of the words of Saruman; and then they too were silent, as men spell-bound....

It was Gimli the dwarf who broke in suddenly.... 'In the language of Orthanc help means ruin, and saving means slaying, that is plain.'....

'Peace!' said Saruman, and for a fleeting moment his voice was less suave.... 'I do not speak to you yet....,' he said....

'What have you to say, Théoden King? Will you have peace with me, and all the aid that my knowledge, founded in long years, can bring?'....

Still Théoden did not answer. Whether he strove with anger or doubt none could say....

'Lord, hear me!' [Éomer] said. 'Now we feel the peril that we were warned of. Have we ridden forth to victory, only to stand at last amazed by an old liar with honey on his forked tongue?.... What aid can he give to you, forsooth?.... But will you parley with this dealer in treachery and murder? Remember Théodred at the Fords...!'

'If we speak of poisoned tongues what shall we say of yours, young serpent?' said Saruman, and the flash of his anger was now plain to see. 'But come, Éomer, Éomund's son!' he went on in his soft voice again. 'To every man his part.... Meddle not in policies which you do not understand. But maybe, if you become a king, you will find that he must choose his friends with care. The friendship of Saruman and the power of Orthanc cannot be lightly thrown aside, whatever grievances, real or fancied, may lie behind....

'But my lord of Rohan, am I to be called a murderer, because valiant men have fallen in battle? If you go to war, needlessly, for I did not desire it, then men will be slain. But if I am a murderer on that account, then all the House of Eorl is stained with murder; for they have fought many wars.... Yet with some they have afterwards made peace.... I say, Théoden King: shall we have peace and friendship, you and I? It is ours to command.'

'We will have peace,' said Théoden at last thickly and with an effort. Several of the Riders cried out gladly.... 'Yes...' he said, now in a clear voice, 'we will have peace, when you and all your works have perished — and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us. You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter of men's hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor.... Even if your war on me was just as it was not... even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Háma's body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc.... Turn elsewhither. But I fear your voice has lost its charm.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 10, The Voice of Saruman

'But you, Gandalf!.... Even now will you not listen to my counsel?'....

'I endeavoured to advise you for your own good, but you scarcely listened.... Are we not both members of a high and ancient order, most excellent in Middle-earth? Our friendship would profit us both alike.... Let us understand one another, and dismiss from thought these lesser folk...! For the common good I am willing to redress the past, and to receive you. Will you not consult with me? Will you not come up?'....

'Saruman, Saruman!' said Gandalf... laughing. 'Saruman, you missed your path in life. You should have been the king's jester and earned your bread, and stripes too, by mimicking his counsellors. Ah me!' he paused, getting the better of his mirth. 'Understand one another? I fear I am beyond your comprehension. But you, Saruman, I understand now too well. I keep a clearer memory of your arguments, and deeds, than you suppose. When last I visited you, you were the jailor of Mordor, and there I was to be sent. Nay, the guest who has escaped from the roof, will think twice before he comes back in by the door. Nay, I do not think I will come up. But listen, Saruman, for the last time! Will you not come down? Isengard has proved less strong than your hope and fancy made it. So may other things in which you still have trust. Would it not be well to leave it for a while? To turn to new things, perhaps? Think well, Saruman! Will you not come down?'....

For a second he hesitated, and no one breathed. Then he spoke, and his voice was shrill and cold. Pride and hate were conquering him.

'Will I come down?' he mocked. 'Does an unarmed man come down to speak with robbers out of doors? I can hear you well enough here. I am no fool, and I do not trust you, Gandalf. They do not stand openly on my stairs, but I know where the wild wood-demons are lurking, at your command.'

'The treacherous are ever distrustful,' answered Gandalf wearily. 'But you need not fear for your skin. I do not wish to kill you, or hurt you.... And I have the power to protect you. I am giving you a last chance. You can leave
'That sounds well,' sneered Saruman. 'Very much in the manner of Gandalf the Grey: so condescending, and so very kind. I do not doubt that you would find Orthanc commodious, and my departure convenient. But why should I wish to leave? And what do you mean by 'free'? There are conditions, I presume?'

'Reasons for leaving you can see from your windows.' answered Gandalf.... 'Your servants are destroyed and scattered; your neighbours you have made your enemies; and you have cheated your new master, or tried to do so. When his eye turns hither, it will be the red eye of wrath. But when I say 'free', I mean 'free': free from bond, of chain or command: to go where you will, even, even to Mordor, Saruman, if you desire. But you will first surrender to me the Key of Orthanc, and your staff. They shall be pledges of your conduct, to be returned later, if you merit them.'

Saruman's face grew livid, twisted with rage.... He laughed wildly. 'Later!' he cried, and his voice rose to a scream. 'Later! Yes, when you also have the Keys of Barad-dûr itself, I suppose.... [Come] back when you are sober!'.... He turned and left the balcony.

'Come back, Saruman!' said Gandalf in a commanding voice. To the amazement of the others, Saruman... came slowly back to the iron rail.... His hand clutched his heavy black staff like a claw.

'I did not give you leave to go,' said Gandalf sternly. 'I have not finished. You have become a fool, Saruman, and yet pitiable. You might still... have been of service. But you choose to stay.... Stay then! But I warn you, you will not easily come out again. Not unless the dark hands of the East stretch out to take you. Saruman!' he cried, and his voice grew in power and authority. 'Behold, I am not Gandalf the Grey, whom you betrayed. I am Gandalf the White.... You have no colour now, and I cast you from the order and from the Council.'

He raised his hand, and spoke slowly in a clear cold voice. 'Saruman, your staff is broken.' There was a crack, and the staff split asunder in Saruman's hand, and the head of it fell down at Gandalf's feet. 'Go!' said Gandalf. With a cry Saruman fell back and crawled away.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 10, The Voice of Saruman


The Aftermath
... Curunír the traitor was thrown down and Isengard broken....

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

'[The] Dark Lord knows that two hobbits were taken in the Emyn Muil and borne away towards Isengard against the will of his own servants. He now has Isengard to fear as well as Minas Tirith. If Minas Tirith falls, it will go ill with Saruman.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider

'... Saruman certainly looked in the Stone since the orc-raid, and more of his secret thought, I do not doubt, has been read than he intended. A messenger has been sent to find out what he is doing.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 11, The Palantír

It needed the demonstration on Dol Baran of the effects of the Orthanc-stone on Peregrin to reveal suddenly that the "link" between Isengard and Barad-dûr (seen to exist after it was discovered that forces of Isengard had been joined with others directed by Sauron in the attack on the Fellowship at Parth Galen) was in fact the Orthanc-stone — and one other palantír [from Minas Ithil].

Unfinished Tales, Part 4, Ch 3, The Palantíri

No Orcs remained alive; their bodies were uncounted. But a great many of the hillmen had given themselves up; and they were afraid, and cried for mercy.

The Men of the Mark took their weapons from them, and set them to work.

'Help now to repair the evil in which you have joined,' said Erkenbrand; 'and afterwards you shall take an oath never again to pass the Fords of Isen in arms, nor to march with the enemies of Men; and then you shall go free back to your land.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 8, The Road to Isengard

[In] the middle night men heard a great noise... and the ground trembled.... But in the morning... the slain Orcs were gone, and the [huorns] also.... a mile below the Dike a huge pit had been delved in the earth, and over it stones were piled into a hill. Men believed that the Orcs whom they had slain were buried there; but whether those who had fled into the wood were with them, none could say... But the strange trees were never seen in Deeping-coomb again.... Thus they were revenged upon the Orcs.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 8, The Road to Isengard

'"I have just come round to see how you are faring, my lads,' [Treebeard] said; 'and to give you some news. Huorns have come back. All's well; aye very well indeed!" he laughed, and slapped his thighs. "No more Orcs in Isengard, no more axes!"'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 9, Flotsam and Jetsam

[Said] Gandalf. 'Grievous is the fall of your men; but you shall see that at least the wolves of the mountains do not devour them. It is with their friends, the Orcs, that they hold their feast: such indeed is the friendship of their kind. Come!'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 8, The Road to Isengard

[Said Gandalf,] 'But I cannot tell how it will fall out, well or ill for us. It may be that the counsels of the Enemy will be confused, or hindered by his wrath with Saruman. It may be that he will learn that I was there and stood upon the stairs of Orthanc — with hobbits at my tail. Or that an heir of Elendil lives and stood beside me. If Wormtongue was not deceived by the armour of Rohan, he would remember Aragorn and the title that he claimed. That is what I fear. And so we fly — not from danger but into greater danger. Every stride of Shadowfax bears you nearer to the Land of Shadow, Peregrin Took.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 11, The Palantír

[One] of [King Elessar's] first tasks was the restoration of Orthanc, where he proposed to set up again the palantír recovered from Saruman. Then all the secrets of the tower were searched. Many things of worth were found, jewels and heirlooms of Eorl, filched from Edoras by the agency of Wormtongue during King Théoden's decline, and other such things, more ancient and beautiful, from mounds and tombs far and wide. Saruman in his degradation had become not a dragon but a jackdaw.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields: The Sources of the Legend of Isildur's Death


Notes
1Dwimmer-crafty — Derived from obsolete dweomercræft 'magic art' (OED), itself from Old English (ge)dwimor, er 'illusion, phantom'. Thus [meaning that] Saruman is adept at illusion and deception.

The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull, Book 3, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 18Oct05, 20Oct05, 22Oct05, 21Oct05, 21Nov05, 1Mar10

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