Been a bit quiet on here of late due to life getting in the way. The biggest contributor to this is the fact I’ve started back to school and so a good deal of my time is now taken with studying. But I’ll continue to post here as-and-when time and fortune allow.
Last night, Lucy and I finished up Book Three of The Lord of the Rings (for those keeping track, that’s the first half of The Two Towers). Pippin has long been Lucy’s favourite male character thus far (though she reserves true “top slots” in her lists for the ladies…so naturally, Galadriel is currently Queen). Frequently, Pippin’s commentary elicits giggles from Lu, and so it is that I knew she’d really enjoy the last couple of chapters of Book Three, as they focused heavily on Pippin.
To finish off the book, Pippin is riding with Gandalf towards Minas Tirith after having made a muddle of things with the Orthanc Stone. As Merry rightly points out, this is — viewed through a certain lens — somewhat of a reward for Pippin who arguably should be sitting on the naughty step (perhaps turned to stone as Merry suggests is a step too far).
Pippin uses the opportunity to try to get some answers about what’s going on from the usually tight-lipped Gandalf. Indeed he was delighted and astonished at getting answers to so many questions, and wonder[ed] how long it would last.
Gandalf continues to delight Pippin with a rather detailed (if sometimes speculative) account of the Seven Seeing Stones of Gondor and Arnor … the Palantíri. Gandalf’s account runs for several paragraphs, explaining the link between Saruman and Saruon, how the latter ensnared the former, and what it could have all meant (and may still mean) when Pippin looked into the stone. He describes what the stones were originally used for, where they came from, speculates on who made them, and what is to happen next.
It is at this point that Pippin ventures to ask another question, which resulted in the biggest laugh Lucy has had since the book began. She practically had tears rolling down her cheeks she was laughing so long. It was a pleasure to witness, and good to see that the Professor’s humour is as fresh as ever.
‘But I should like to know –‘ Pippin began.
‘Mercy!’ cried Gandalf. ‘If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?’
‘The names of all the stars, and of all living things, and the whole history of Middle-earth and Over-heaven and the Sundering Seas,’ laughed Pippin. ‘Of course! What less? But I am not in a hurry tonight.’
Pippin and Gandalf have a beautiful relationship which I’m not sure I’d fully appreciated prior to this reading. But Lucy has picked up on it from the outset. “I LOVE Gandalf & Pippin!”, she tells me.
Yes, the “testy”, somewhat spiky old wizard and the young, often immature hobbit certainly do contrast each other wonderfully well. Gandalf has a relationship with Pippin that he has with no-one else in the legendarium. He is quick to correct Pippin’s missteps, yet always has time for a kind word and would protect Pippin from anything. Pippin does not always seem to put thought before action, but he takes his admonishments without (much) complaint and is never dissuaded from approaching Gandalf despite his short temper, and despite the fact that of all people, Pippin is most likely (law of averages) to receive the brunt of Gandalf’s ire. When Merry warns Pippin to leave the matter of the Orthanc Stone alone, Pippin is hardly moved.
‘But our whole life for months has been one long meddling in the affairs of Wizards,’ said Pippin. ‘I should like a bit of information as well as danger. I should like a look at that ball.’
I don’t know whether or not I should be concerned that, of all the company, my daughter is most identifying with Pippin at this stage.
Tolkien, J.R.R., The Lord of the Rings, iii,11, ‘The Palantír’