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Author Topic: The Red Arrow & The Beacon Hills of Gondor
The Flammifer
Guard of the Citadel
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Some thoughts on the seven Northern Beacon Towers of Gondor and the Red Arrow.
When were the Towers lit? Were ALL seven lit? Was the Red Arrow a “back-up” for the Beacons left over from the Oath of Eorl?
Some textual facts, some supposition, and then hopefully some discussion and new ideas:

Firstly we know that Gandalf and Pippin reach the Rammas Echor at dawn of Mar. 9th. (Tale of Years & III, bk. v, ch. 1) In Minas Tirith just before noon of the 9th during a conversation with Beregond Pippin asks,
quote:
“But why were the beacons lit last night?” (ibid) [This would be the evening of the 8th.]
On the same page Beregond answers:
quote:
’But if you would know what I think set the beacons ablaze, it was the news that came yestereve out of Lebennin. There is a great fleet drawing near to the mouths of Anduin, manned by the corsairs of Umbar in the South. They have long ceased to fear the might of Gondor, and they have allied them with the Enemy, and now make a heavy stroke in his cause.
Thus we know the Beacons were alight the evening of the 8th and the early morning (dark) hours of the 9th.

Earlier Gandalf states to Pippin sometime after leaving Dol Baran:
quote:
’We shall ride now till daybreak, and that is some hours away. Then even shadowfax must rest… at Edoras, I hope… And in two days thence you shall see the purple shadow of Mount Mindolluin and the walls of the tower of Denethor…’ (II, bk. v, ch. 11).
They reach Edoras at dawn for a rest and leave sometime in the late afternoon, maybe dusk, of Mar. 6th. (III, bk. v, ch. 1). This would make for an approximately two and one-half days ride Edoras to Minas Tirith, making Gandalf’s “two days thence” statement reasonably accurate.

Theoden reaches Dunharrow dusk of Mar. 9th and receives the Red Arrow from Hirgon very soon thereafter. (TY & III, bk. v, ch. III). If it took Gandalf and Pippin two and one-half days to make the ride from Edoras to Minas Tirith on the swiftest horse of the Third Age, it would surely take Hirgon a minimum of three or four days to make the same (reverse) journey. Giving only a single day’s difference of three days Hirgon (possibly using a “pony-express” horse-rotating system) would have to leave Minas Tirith at dusk of Mar. 6th to present the Red Arrow to Theoden at dusk of the 9th.

Question: Why was Hirgon sent on the 6th if the beacons were not lit till the evening of the 8th? If Denethor felt aid was needed on the 6th why were the (much faster) Beacons not lit on the 6th? From Amon Din (the 1st Beacon) to the Halifirien (the 7th Beacon) would take less than two hours to light. (Two hours for the Beacons vs three days by horseback.)

Question: Were ALL the beacons lit? as Gandalf states:
quote:
“The beacons of Gondor are alight, calling for aid. War is kindled. See, there is the fire on Amon Dîn, and flame on Eilenach; and there they go speeding west: Nardol, Erelas, Min-Rimmon, Calenhad, and the Halifirien on the borders of Rohan.” (III, bk. v, ch. 1)
Question:Refering to Gandalf’s statement that Amon Din and Eilenach were lit, is it possible that the head was cut off the snake, and the remaining five Beacon’s were never lit as no one at any time or anywhere in Rohan EVER mentions that the Halifirien was alight?
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Mithrennaith
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quote:
’We shall ride now till daybreak, and that is some hours away. Then even shadowfax must rest… at Edoras, I hope… And in two days thence you shall see the purple shadow of Mount Mindolluin and the walls of the tower of Denethor…’ (II, bk. v, ch. 11).
In 2005 this was corrected (in consultation with Christopher Tolkien) to read
quote:
..... three days thence .....


-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
I am in too great doubt to rule. To prepare or to let be? To prepare for war, which is yet only guessed: train craftsmen and tillers in the midst of peace for bloodspilling and battle: put iron in the hands of greedy captains who will love only conquest, and count the slain as their glory? Will they say to Eru: At least your enemies were amongst them? Or to fold hands, while friends die unjustly: let men live in blind peace, until the ravisher is at the gate? What then will they do: match naked hands against iron and die in vain, or flee leaving the cries of women behind them? Will they say to Eru: At least I spilled no blood?
'When either way may lead to evil, of what worth is choice? Let the Valar rule under Eru!
- Tar Meneldur [UT 2 II:173-174]

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The Flammifer
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Thank you Mithrennaith! I was never comfortable with the “two day” statement. I must need a newer revision of LOTR.
And right! I had never figured it at two days but 2 ½ (if they left Edoras at dusk of Mar. 6th?).

But three days seems more reasonable as my 2 ½ day estimate would mean Gandalf and Pippin spent the entire daylight hours (about 11-12 hours?) at Edoras. This just seems way too long a rest!

(I based my 2 ½ days on Pippin’s thoughts of “riding in the dark” (paraphrase) from Edoras, and never mentioning riding in the daylight. (We know they arrived Edoras at dawn and it seems reasonable that they would spend only a very few hours there, leaving at say – 10 am or earlier, making the ride closer to three days.))

Thanks again! [] []

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