Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Return Of The King Book 5 Chapter 10 Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | The Return of the King (Book 5, Chapter 10) : The Black Gate Opens | Summary



About 6,500 soldiers are mustered to make the march against Sauron. As they march, Aragorn pauses at points and has heralds announce, "[t]he Lords of Gondor have returned and all this land that is theirs they take back," and "[t]he King Elessar is come." Eventually, they reach the Black Gate, which is shut tight. Aragorn's army demands Sauron come out, but instead, the Mouth of Sauron emerges, and shows them "tokens": Frodo's mithril coat, a cloak and brooch from Lothlórien, and the sword Sam had been carrying. The Mouth of Sauron makes some demands, which Gandalf refuses to agree to. Shortly thereafter, Sauron's army begins pouring out of Mordor, and the battle begins. Pippin is wounded, but just before he falls unconscious, he hears someone shouting, "The Eagles are coming! The Eagles are coming!"


The tokens shown by the Mouth of Sauron have a chilling effect on those who know of Frodo and Sam, but readers are aware the two hobbits lost these things along the way; not because they were captured. Sam leaves his own sword behind when he uses Frodo's, and Frodo's clothing was taken from him when he was captured by Orcs. This bit of dramatic irony, in which readers have more information than characters, lends desperation to the mood.

The theme of storymaking surfaces briefly as Pippin imagines he is in a different story—Bilbo's story—as he hears the words, "The Eagles are coming!" This is because in The Hobbit, Bilbo shouts, "The Eagles are coming!" when the Great Eagles come to the Battle of Five Armies. This parallel ties the two stories together in Pippin's mind as well as in the reader's mind.

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