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Symbolism in the two quests

Both authors work with a great deal of symbolism in their respective epics. Set against the three Rings of Elven lore in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings are the three Swords of Power in Osten Ard. Both sets of three magical artefacts are vested with extreme power, and are thought to be able to be used for good. While this is true of the three Elven Rings, the power of the three Swords can only be unlocked by Evil, but Good can hinder this.


It can be speculated that the Three Swords are related in a certain manner to the three Elven Rings of power, signifying the elements of Water, Fire and Air: i.e. Vilya the ring of Water held by Elrond, Nenya, the ring of Air held by Galadriel and Narya the ring of Fire worn openly at the end of the saga by Gandalf. Minneyar, which came across the sea in the form of an iron ship’s keel is associated with the element of water; Jingizu, an inimical blend of iron and witchwood was unnaturally forged by the element of Fire; and lastly, the raw material for Thorn fell out of the Air or rather the sky.


The next symbol which is common to both works is the parallel between Boromir’s silver-bound horn and Camaris’ silver-bound horn, Tí-Tuno. Both are fabled through their respective worlds, and when winded are a sign that great danger is upon their enemies.


The Palantír and the Dream Road are both means of communication with the dark forces on other planes of existence. They are both dangerous when in use at the time of the respective sagas yet both were originally a means of good and valuable acquisition and exchange of knowledge.


Birds are used in both books as a symbol of messengers carrying both Good and Evil. Birds are the ultimate saviour of the two heroes, that is the Eagles lifting Frodo and Sam out of the ruin of Mordor; and Geloë, able to transform into an owl, saving Camaris from certain death at the hands of the Norns. On the other hand, birds particularly Ravens, are seen as harbingers of Evil as they are the preferred messengers of the both Sauron and Ineluki, the Storm King.


‘Home’ is a symbolic theme common to both sagas. In Memory, Sorrow and Thorn it is the search for home that is the driving force for so many of the characters. In The Lord of the Rings, the protection of home and the peaceful way of life is what forces the protagonists ever onwards in their quest.


The Mirror of Galadriel and the Mirror of Jiriki both have similar properties: they can show the past, present and the future to the person who is looking into them. They both go misty before showing what they are going to show. They both aid and hinder decision making processes. Both appear to be difficult to control and there is the added danger of attracting the Dark Ones attention to the gazer in the respective secondary worlds.


There is a symbolism of Dragon-like figures: the Balrog and Igjarjuk, the Ice Dragon. Both appeared suddenly and unexpectedly, bringing a dramatic change to the story-lines in the process. They were pivotal in the development of certain character’s new found abilities, i.e. the Balrog changing Gandalf with a fight causing ultimate advancement and new-found insight and purification. In the same vein, in Memory Sorrow and Thorn, the unexpected fight and the Dragon’s blood spilling on Simon, giving him a new and esoteric insight into the world.


Comparison of the Purposes of the two Quests:

The purpose of the quest in The Lord of the Rings is to avoid the subjugation of Middle-Earth by the Forces of Evil by use of the dark power of the Ring. The mission is to destroy the Ring by throwing it into the Cracks of Doom, and thereby overthrow Sauron.

By the same token, the main purpose or the quest in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn is to recover the three swords to use against the might of the Storm King to prevent the subjugation of the whole of Osten Ard, or at least that is what is commonly thought.

The end of the quests cause the fall of the two associated towers: in Mordor, the dark tower of Barad-Dűr, whilst in Erkynland, the white pinnacle of Green Angel Tower with its evil historical undertones.

Sauron had already achieved two times over the goal toward which Ineluki strove to aspire: the full resurrection of Body and Mind. Ineluki came very close to this end, transforming Elias’ body in the process, in readiness to receive his spirit, but in the end he was defeated by Seoman Snowlock with the power of true indifference, will-power and defiance. Similarly Frodo threw complete defiance in the face of Sauron, by daring to cross his inner stronghold of Mordor, unaided by arms or might, just sheer will-power and determination.

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