In the film when Aragorn rushes in the palace to announce that the beacons of Minas Tirith are lit, we see Theoden take a moment or two before deciding that Rohan would answer their call. I wonder is this scene in the book clearer, if it exists at all that is. Is Theoden hesitant?

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    Why the downvote? Jan 10, 2016 at 18:13
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    One of the usual standards for a good SE question is "research effort": that you made an attempt to find the answer for yourself before asking others to spend their time helping you. Since your question could be answered by getting a copy of the book and just opening it, and you haven't done that, this may account for downvotes. Jan 10, 2016 at 19:47
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    @NateEldredge - I would consider that a fair approach for, say, a small book like original Ender's Game story, which can be easily and quickly scanned using Mark I eyeball. I would NOT seriously expect someone who doesn't have an electronic copy to find a very specific passage in LOTR volume; having never read one before (heck I didn't even remember where to look for Jason's quote, and I read the book multiple times - which is why Jason is a Tolkien expert :). So I don't think this is a case where "research effort" is clear as a problem. Jan 10, 2016 at 20:27
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    I feel like there should be a named law, that the quickest way to get an explanation of what happened in this book is to ask SFF.SE "why did X happen in the movies?" Jan 10, 2016 at 20:55
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    @TravisChristian - "Why did Elves march to defend Helm's Deep?" *hides in the corner* Jan 10, 2016 at 20:57

1 Answer 1


In the text, Théoden offers to help basically immediately

The call for aid comes in a different form in the book, but more relevant to the question is the fact that Théoden almost immediately agrees to send in the troops (emphasis mine):

'Dark tidings,' said Théoden, 'yet not all unguessed. But say to Denethor that even if Rohan itself felt no peril, still we would come to his aid. But we have suffered much loss in our battles with Saruman the traitor, and we must still think of our frontier to the north and east, as his own tidings make clear. So great a power as the Dark Lord seems now to wield might well contain us in battle before the City and yet strike with great force across the River away beyond the Gate of Kings.

'But we will speak no longer counsels of prudence. We will come. The weapontake was set for the morrow. When all is ordered we will set out.

Return of the King Book V Chapter 3: "The Muster of Rohan"

Although he's rightfully concerned for his own borders, he doesn't express any of the hesitation he does in the film; he actually expresses quite a lot of hesitation in the movie, at one point outright refusing to come to Gondor's aid:

Gandalf: If the beacons of Gondor are lit, Rohan must be ready for war!

Théoden: Tell me. Why should we ride to the aid of those who did not come to ours? What do we owe Gondor?

The Return of the King (2003)

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    It is so much different then than in the movie... Very interesting, thank you. In the movie Theoden appears rather arrogant with a cloudy judgement upon different calls. It is Aragorn who really makes the moves, I suppose that difference is evident in the books as well...
    – Alexandra
    Jan 10, 2016 at 18:24
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    @Alexandra Theoden definitely looks better in the book than in the movie. Aside from less waffling about his duties as King, Aragorn turns out about the same; he's the "typical" hero in both cases, so he's going to look good no matter what Jan 10, 2016 at 18:43
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    @Alexandra the movies have more of a Hollywood dynamic where the main heroes (Gandalf in this case) have to be the impetus to rally everyone else and sort of goad them into being good/heroic. In Tolkien's writings, good and evil tend to be more clearly separated, and heroes need less convincing. Theoden is a clearly heroic character so once he's free of the influence of Wormtongue and Saruman he's as honorable and as active a collaborator as you could like.
    – hobbs
    Jan 13, 2016 at 6:10
  • Is that the case with Boromir as well?
    – Alexandra
    Jan 13, 2016 at 14:53
  • @Alexandra no, Boromir is not too different between novel and film. In both, he believes the ring could best be used in the defense of Gondor and that the others are fools for wanting to destroy it. In both, he tries to take the ring from Frodo, and in both he realizes the enormity of what he's done after Frodo escapes, and dies defending Merry and Pippin. I feel he was a little more... flighty... in the film, but the meat is all the same.
    – hobbs
    Mar 9, 2016 at 6:00

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