The One Ring Amps Up Boromir’s Sass

As the Fellowship drifted farther south on the Anduin towards the rapids at Sarn Gebir, Boromir turned cranky. Maybe the sounds of the crashing water kept him up late the night before, or maybe it was something to do with the lust for the Ring. Whichever, he was not even a little amused when Aragorn suggested that they continue down the river, going over the rapids, all the way to Emyn Muil.

Boromir bitched and moaned about this. “If the Emyn Muil lie before us, then we can abandon these cockle-boats, and strike westward and southward, until we come to the Entwash and cross into my own land.”

First, I realize that “cockle-boats” is just another term for “small boats.” It’s a specific classification of water crafts. But really, isn’t this so much better if “cockle” reads more like some Third Age expletive? Yes. Yes it does.

And almost as important, you’ve no doubt noticed Boromir’s incredibly clever mention of just going to Minas Tirith because obviously that’s where they’re all going anyway, because why the hell wouldn’t you want to go to Minas Tirith, right?

Aragorn thought it was a fine idea to head that way, if Minas Tirith was their destination. Which it wasn’t. Besides, they couldn’t exactly get lost on the River. There was the question of the falls, though. And this is where Boromir laid thick the sass.

…what will you do then? Leap down the Falls and land in the marshes?”

Seriously, this guy is hilarious in Gondor. Leap down the Falls and land in the marshes! Get it? Because the marshes are squishy! Boromir’s rapier-wit was second to none.

But when it was clear that Frodo was going to follow Aragorn, Boromir relented, but not without more sass. They would need his strength, he told them, and “it is not the way of the Men of Minas Tirith to desert their friends at need.” He’d go to Amon Hen, the tall rock on the west bank of the falls, but no farther. “There I shall turn to my home, alone if my help has not earned the reward of any companionship.”

He was really becoming a wet blanket about all of this.

None of this seemed to phase Aragorn at all. He and Legolas left Boromir and Gimli with the hobbits on the River while they searched for a path along he western shore. Aragorn actually told them that if he didn’t return, they’d have to pick a new leader. Fortunately, both returned, and though it doesn’t say it, Boromir probably grumbled a little.

He certainly did when he was told that they’d have to portage. “That would not be easy, even if we were all Men.”

Tolkien devoted exactly one sentence to this most difficult task. Maybe it was his way of getting Boromir to shut his stupid face hole.

In Boromir’s defense, he was a pretty big help in carrying the boats, aided only by Aragorn. Together, they carried all three. His redemption was short-lived as he cracked wise at the expense of a sleeping Gimli.

Several of my previous posts support Boromir more than most readers think right. And that’s okay. In a lot of ways, I like this Boromir fellow. He really is an honorable and good man. Sure, he gets cranky, but who doesn’t? I’d be a complete mess in his shoes.

His undoing was his patriotism and lust for the Ring (which played upon that patriotism). The longer he was exposed to the Ring, the more he wanted it to aid in the defense of Gondor.

Tolkien couldn’t resist one last dig at Boromir before closing the chapter. As they were floating past the Argonath, he wrote that “even Boromir bowed his head.”

Camera: Argus C3 Film: Fuji Sensia II 200 (xpro)

Camera: Argus C3
Film: Fuji Sensia II 200 (xpro)

A Few Notes

  • Because I’m feeling a little “meh” on this post, I thought I’d give you a bit of behind-the-scenes info about what some other folks were doing at this time. Gollum, for one, was still making his way to Emyn Muil, avoiding the Orcs. And speaking of the Orcs, Grishnákh and Uglúk were in the western part of Emyn Muil searching for the Fellowship. Gandalf was on Gwaihir flying to Fangorn. And the First Battle of the Fords of Isen was underway. It’s there that Théoden’s son, Théodred was killed – so ordered by Saruman. This is detailed in Unfinished Tales‘ “The Battles of the Fords of Isen”.
  • For some reason, I’m really apprehensive about writing the last few posts for Fellowship. Mostly, I just want to rip into the Silmarillion, but even before I decided to do that, I just didn’t feel I had a very good grasp on “The Breaking of the Fellowship” chapter.

About the Photo
So why the desert pic? Well, when we were driving through Utah, I looked to my right and saw what I first thought were white statues. After driving past them, I turned around and made the stop. Somewhere during that, my mind convinced itself that they looked a bit like the Argonath. When I snapped more than a few photos of the, I was certain. Now looking at it, I can still sort of see it, but mostly, not. Another version is here. And here.


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 1264 (370 miles since leaving Lothlórien)
  • 19 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 489 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 24-25, 3019 TA. (map)

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9 thoughts on “The One Ring Amps Up Boromir’s Sass

  1. I do feel for Boromir. He just doesn’t have any experience that prepared him for the temptation of the ring. His whole world was his kingdom. And the ring’s promise of the defense of Minas Tirith is just too much to bear.

    I didn’t realize this was when the Theodred died. That is so sad to me- and it adds so much to the poignancy of Theoden and Eowyn’s confrontation about going to war coming up. The Unfinished Tales too it mentions that Saruman ordered his captains to kill Theodred at all costs. Saruman was just an ass.

    • After this read through, I really do too. Even up to this point he was a really good helper. Portage, etc.

      I don’t want to read too much into this as a critique of nationalism, but of course I’m going to see it that way.

      • Yeah I think it’s really easy to see it that way. Especially as the Ring is power. And letting go of power, well… patriots don’t do that. They just can’t. I remember reading Tolkien’s rebuttal to accusations of allegory once where he said if it were allegory for nuclear power, Frodo would have used it.
        LeGuin said the best thing about LotR is that it is a rare case of power being critiqued- challenged at its
        very nature.

        • I was thinking about this today (in between listening to Archies podcasts). The “good” side didn’t really have power. Sure, Galadriel had some, as did Gandalf and Elrond, but it wasn’t anything like Sauron’s power. It was a completely different thing. Here, power = power over others, and basically nothing more. LeGuin pretty well nailed it.

  2. And I originally read the title of this post as “The One Ring Amps Up Boromir’s Ass” for some reason. Adds a completely different aspect to it. *facepalm*

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