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The Return of the King
The Return of the King
by J.R.R. Tolkien
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The Return of the King Book 6, Chapter 5 Summary

The Steward and the King

  • Time for some more time travel. Let's go back to Minas Tirith, just after the Battle of Pelennor Fields, when Aragorn has gone off with his armies to fight Mordor. 
  • The City of Minas Tirith is anxious, and with good reason.
  • Their lord Steward is dead and burned, the King of Rohan is lying dead in the Citadel, and Aragorn (the new king) has gone off to battle.
  • Two days after Aragorn and his forces have left the City, Éowyn gets dressed and goes to see the Warden of the Houses of Healing to insist that she's all better. 
  • In fact, she says the only thing that will make her sick is not knowing what is happening with the war. 
  • Reluctantly, the Warden of the Houses of Healing introduces her to Faramir, who is also still recovering.
  • Éowyn insists to Faramir that she be given something to do. But he just wants to know what she expects him to do about it—he's stuck in a hospital, in case you haven't noticed. 
  • Éowyn wants Faramir to order the Warden to let her go. 
  • But they may still find themselves about to die in battle, Faramir says, so they need rest so that they can meet their fates when they come.
  • Faramir asks if Éowyn will walk and talk with him a bit to lighten the hours, but she staunchly refuses: "I am a shieldmaiden and my hand is ungentle" (6.5.29).
  • Later, Faramir asks the Warden of the Houses of Healing to tell him everything he knows about Éowyn.
  • The Warden doesn't know much, but he points Faramir to Merry for more information, so Faramir and Merry walk around the garden that evening, gossiping about Éowyn.
  • The next morning, Faramir sees Éowyn dressed all in white. They begin to talk. 
  • They walk together every morning after that, and grow stronger in each other's company.
  • Five days have passed since Éowyn first met Faramir, and no news has come from Mordor. The weather is cold and dark, and things are not looking good. 
  • Except, that is, when it comes to love: Faramir has given Éowyn a beautiful heavy robe in dark blue. It belonged to his mother. Aw.
  • But Éowyn is a hard woman to win. She looks out towards the Black Gate, wondering where Aragorn is. Poor Faramir.
  • But our boy just won't give up. Faramir tells Éowyn these seven days have been both great and awful: great because he has found someone new (Éowyn) and awful because he does not want the world to end now that he has found her. Swoon.
  • Éowyn can't talk about this now. She has to know what is happening with the war first. Seriously?
  • Suddenly, silence and darkness fall over the world, and Éowyn and Faramir grasp hands. 
  • And then it's like the world starts up again. 
  • Turning to Éowyn, Faramir says that, right now, he cannot believe that darkness will win out.
  • Then he kisses her on the forehead.
  • Finally, the sun comes out, and the men of the City sing for joy.
  • An Eagle comes flying to the City with news that the war against Sauron has been won.
  • The whole City is filled with joy as they prepare for the King's comeback.
  • Faramir stays in the City to help arrange for Aragorn's transition of power, and Éowyn stays, too, even though Éomer has sent for her. 
  • Faramir has two guesses about why Éowyn won't go: (1) she doesn't want to look at Aragorn in his victory, or (2) she doesn't want to leave Faramir behind.
  • But Éowyn rejects Faramir's pity. 
  • Faramir tells Éowyn that she wanted Aragorn because he is a great man and powerful, and when Aragorn rejected her, all she desired was to die in battle. 
  • But Faramir loves her now, whether she is happy or not, whether she is married to Aragorn or not. 
  • Finally, Éowyn looks at Faramir and declares, "I will be a shield-maiden no longer [...] No longer do I desire to be queen" (6.5.60).
  • Then, Faramir asks Éowyn to marry him, and she agrees. Ah, love. 
  • Faramir wants them to move to Ithilien to make a garden. Again, Éowyn agrees. Ah, gardens.
  • The City fills up with women and children who had fled before the war.
  • At last, they see the fields of Pelennor filled with camping soldiers returning from Mordor. 
  • At dawn, the gates are lined with people: Éowyn, Faramir, Húrin the Tall, and Elfhelm are all there to welcome Aragorn.
  • In front of the gates, the Dúnedain march out first, followed by Aragorn, who is with Gandalf, Imrahil, Éomer, and the hobbits (the likes of which the people of Gondor have never seen).
  • Ioreth, watching all of these proceedings, comments to her cousin that these are halflings and "princes of great fame" (6.5.71).
  • From the City gate come Faramir, Húrin (the Warden of the Keys of the City), and four guys carrying a huge box. 
  • Faramir offers Aragorn the white rod that symbolizes his duties as Steward, and Aragorn gives Faramir back the rod of office, saying that Faramir and his future heirs will still carry on as Stewards of the City.
  • Faramir declares to all the Cityfolk: "Behold! one has come to claim the kingship again at last!" (6.5.74). 
  • Faramir asks if the people of Gondor accept Aragorn as their King.
  • They do (of course). 
  • Faramir has brought the crown of Eärnur, the last High King, from its burial place at Rath Dínen. 
  • He gives the crown to Aragorn. 
  • Aragorn turns to the crowd and says, "Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien. Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar tenn 'Ambar-metta" (6.5.80).
  • These were the words Elendil spoke when he came out of the Sea on the wind: "Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world" (6.5.81). 
  • Aragorn hands the crown back to Faramir. He wants Frodo to carry the crown and Gandalf to put it on Aragorn's head.
  • So Frodo takes the crown from Faramir to Gandalf.
  • Aragorn kneels in front of Gandalf, and Gandalf places the crown on his head with a blessing. 
  • Faramir shouts, "Behold the King!" (6.5.86).
  • The trumpets sound and everyone cheers as Aragorn enters the city for the first time as King Elessar. 
  • In the first days of Aragorn's kingship, he takes care of business: he pardons the Easterlings who surrender, he makes peace with Harad, and he gives the slaves of Mordor their own land around Lake Núrnen.
  • He also hears the case of Beregond, who deserted his post to save Faramir's life.
  • Aragorn tells Beregond that, for his crimes, he has to leave his post in Minas Tirith.
  • Instead, he will now be a member of "the White Company, the Guard of Faramir, Prince of Ithilien" (6.5.93).
  • Beregond is thrilled to be joining his lord, Faramir. In fact, we're thinking that's probably what he wanted in the first place. 
  • Éomer and Aragorn part with deep friendship, as Éomer heads back to Rohan to put things back in order on the home front.
  • Éowyn goes with Éomer to await the funeral of her uncle.
  • Once that's done, she plans to come back to Faramir. 
  • On May 8th, the Riders of Rohan leave the city, along with Elladan and Elrohir.
  • Aragorn asks the hobbits, Legolas, and Gimli to wait for a bit to witness the one thing he has been dreaming of all of his adulthood. But he won't say what that is. 
  • So the hobbits, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf all live together happily in Gandalf's house, feeling generally pleased with the world. 
  • One day, Gandalf disappears with Aragorn.
  • They climb Mount Mindolluin behind the City and look out over Aragorn's realm.
  • Gandalf breaks the news that he will be leaving Middle-earth soon, along with the elves. 
  • Aragorn doesn't know how they will continue on. He is mortal. What will happen when he dies? 
  • Gandalf shows Aragorn why he brought Aragorn to this place on Mount Mindolluin.
  • A sapling from the line of Nimloth, the original White Tree of Minas Tirith, has sprouted.
  • It is a sign of the rebirth of the line of kings.
  • Aragorn plants the sapling in the Citadel, where it begins to bloom in June. He takes this as a sign that "the day is not far off" (6.5.115).
  • Indeed, the day before Midsummer, "they have come" (6.5.116).
  • It's the elves. 
  • On Midsummer's Eve, they ride into the City: Elladan and Elrohir, Glorfinel and Erestor, Galadriel and Celeborn, Elrond, and of course, Arwen. 
  • When Frodo sees Arwen, he is again stunned by her beauty. 
  • Aragorn welcomes the elves into Minas Tirith, and accepts the Scepter of Annúminas from Elrond.
  • (This scepter is the mark of the High King of the Númenorean realms in exile, Gondor to the south and Arnor to the north.)
  • Aragorn marries Arwen on Midsummer's Day. Sigh.
Next Page: Book 6, Chapter 6
Previous Page: Book 6, Chapter 4

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