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March 16–17, S.R. 1419 (T.A. 3019)

With Frodo and Sam hiking the Morgai and the rest of the Company recovering in Minas Tirith after the Battle of the Pelennor, The Lord of the Rings settles down to two main threads of narrative for the first time since the Company’s brief reunion ten days ago at the broken gates of Isengard.

The Tale of Years entries for these two days are in one sense complete opposites: while the entry for March 16th tells us what is happening in the two main threads of narrative, the entry for March 17th gives us two events which are entirely outside of the main story:

16. Debate of the commanders. Frodo from the Morgai looks out over the camp to Mount Doom.

17. Battle of Dale. King Brand and King Dáin Ironfoot fall. Many Dwarves and Men take refuge in Erebor and are besieged. Shagrat brings Frodo’s cloak, mail-shirt, and sword to Barad-dûr.

Were it not for this March 17th entry, we would not have known the date on which the two kings fall, nor the date on which the clothing and sword taken from Frodo reach Sauron.

The Shire-Reckoning · Mar 16 · 7:25 am

Legolas and Gimli climb to the Citadel, where Théoden lies in state, and tell the Prince that Aragorn requests his presence at a council. Then they go find Merry and Pippin. On a high wall, watching the morning light shine bright on the Anduin, they sit and share their stories.

The Shire-Reckoning · Mar 16 · 9:45 am

Gandalf speaks to the captains. ‘Hardly has our strength sufficed to beat off the first great assault. The next will be greater. This war then is without final hope.

‘We cannot achieve victory by arms, but by arms we can give the Ring-bearer his only chance, frail though it be.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Mar 16 · 9:54 am

After a discussion, the captains in council agree to Gandalf’s plan: an attack on Mordor that cannot succeed, to hold the Eye’s full attention—and, hopefully, to empty Mordor for Sam and Frodo. To leave Minas Tirith with some defence, they plan to take only seven thousand men.

The Shire-Reckoning · Mar 16 · 2:15 pm

A few miles past the huts and cave of an orc-hold, Frodo and Sam hide: an Uruk and a tracker are closing in. Their talk suggests that Gollum has not only been seen nearby but briefly captured. After a fatal quarrel between the Orcs, Frodo and Sam decide to hide until night.

The Shire-Reckoning · Mar 16 · 6:50 pm

Sam finishes telling Frodo the full tale of how he rescued Frodo from the tower. Frodo gives him Sting: ‘I have got an orc-blade, but I do not think it will be my part to strike any blow again.’ Now that it is safely dark, Frodo and Sam start moving north again along the valley.

The Shire-Reckoning · Mar 17 · 9:45 am

Three days after fleeing Cirith Ungol, its Orc-captain reaches the Barad-dûr carrying Frodo’s mithril-shirt and elven-cloak, and Sam’s Barrow-sword. He reports the brief capture of only one hobbit; but their friends will recognize the gear of both Frodo and Sam.

The Shire-Reckoning · Mar 17 · 12:10 pm

Three thousand mounted Rohirrim ride back north along the road from the City, and find the Orc-army that tried to stop them from reaching Minas Tirith for the Battle of the Pelennor. They offer battle and drive the Orcs towards Cair Andros.

The Shire-Reckoning · Mar 17 · 4:15 pm

The Battle of Dale: Easterlings defeat King Brand. His people are given refuge in the Dwarf-kingdom of Erebor by Dáin, King under the Mountain. Brand dies fighting at the gates. Dáin, though more than 250 years old, stands over Brand’s body wielding his axe, till he also falls.

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