GOOD AND EVIL – Marilyn Armstrong

I can’t read “Lord of the Rings” these days without thinking about Stephen Colbert and his obsessive passion for these books. They are great books and eventually became rather amazing movies, but still and all … he knows things about these books I’m sure J.R.R. Tolkien forgot.

Nonetheless, in this time of stress and strife, I’m rereading the series for the umpteenth time. I’ve gotten all the way to the third and final volume of  “The Lord of the Rings.”

The book is entirely about good and evil. The great evil that is Sauron. The somewhat lesser evil of his cohorts. The striving evil of Saruman, and the fear of everyone in the battle that they can find the right way and stay woven in the fabric of good.

When evil is everywhere, goodness can get a little complicated.

I bumped into this quote last night. I was tucked in for the night and I hoped I would remember it in the morning. I didn’t exactly recall it, but luckily for me “Lord of the Rings” is such a well-quoted book, I found it quickly on ye olde Internet.


Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’ As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.


In the great fabric of life of which we are merely threads, good and evil are also a part of us. We are born with a genetic understanding of both. It is in our DNA. When we see evil and allow ourselves to become part of it — when we live in evil times, excuse and forgive evil — we become part of it.

A bad man and his bad adherents don’t have “a good side.” Lying about it changes nothing except maybe us.


When you read this book, you will sooner or later end up talking like this. You can’t help it. If you are really into it, you might just do it in Elvish or worse, Orcish.

And in the darkness bind them …

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

15 thoughts on “GOOD AND EVIL – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. I’ve tried reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy many time but never could get into it. I made it through The Hobbit once but that’s about it. I couldn’t even get through the movies. Weird, really because I like might and magic kind of stuff, but I never could read Tolkien.

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    1. I love LOTR, reread it every two or three years, but like you, the movies disappoint. I refuse to watch teenaged boys with cool hair pretending to be 50 year old hobbits with furry feet. No.

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  2. Thank you Marilyn for reminding me of these books. I tried reading Lord of the Rings as a teenager and again as a young adult. I never got past the second chapter. Then I saw the films when they were published – I was an adult then!
    As an older adult I read The Hobbit when both my children raved about it. It is such an inter generational book, we can all enjoy the fantasy. Then I saw the film and loved it. I watched each episode of LOTR as it came out in the cinema. Although, I have to admit to falling asleep during one film in the Lord of the Ring series – I cannot remember which one. I even listened to one of the audio books, but then I might be miss-remembering this!
    So sorry I have been MIA for a while – busy lives!

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  3. This brings up so many diverse memories for me. First of all, a South African friend whom I got to know at work in Zurich and who became a firm and warm personal friend later on, gave me The Hobbit and told me that it was the ONE book to read in my whole life…. Well I couldn’t get into it, not at all…. THEN I heard and read all about the Lord of the Rings but – shame on me – never watched it (don’t have TV, only watch films I’m very interested in) and never read it. Started out and gave it away. Not my line of ‘business’.
    And THEN I got hooked on Stephen Colbert. He has become my single and unfailingly ‘followed’ ‘talkmaster’ of the US. He led me astray…. and this only on the snippets one can watch on YT 😉 I like his approach, but also his subtle and not so subtle humour (of course I know fully well that he has a fantastic and devoted team of researchers and writers behind him), his fondamental goodness and now, that he has cut off his horrible beard, I enjoy once more looking at the guy behind the presenter/comedian/star! Guess what; as he is SO obsessed by the LotR I even contemplated for about 2′ to try reading the books again – and then I said: NO, I have some 300 unread books right now I WANT to read and I don’t need that.
    So, I guess you gathered that I CAN relate to your post, even though it is on a different level. Hope you sleep well, it’s 7.45am here and I had a terrible night with hardly any sleep. Be well, don’t hurt (hands & the rest of the body) and thank you for your writing.

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  4. I used to read it at least once a year, every year. Sometimes two or three times. It’s been many years. i should reread it again.

    And then, on to your post… There are times when you are talking about evil and times of evil that I get the impression you are not talking about the Third Age of Middle Earth, but the present age of this Earth….

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  5. We are in unique times. And a troubled period. The karma has been amped up.
    But we don’t come here to live on ‘Easy Street’. Sadly.
    We come here to become greater. And it’s this fight – the struggle – that refines us.
    We don’t like it. We don’t want it. And on the human level we didn’t ask for it. We want to sit by the pool.
    But that’s not the plan.
    You. Soul. Are the Ring Bearer. You pulled the Sword from the Stone. You will be KIng.
    So we fight. In a battle that never ends here …
    Eventually Victory will be ours. We Triumph. Battered, bloodied, we crawl out of the sewage – like Andy did in Shawshank – to the Light.
    GLORY!!!
    But before that we finally get it that it’s always ever been about LOVE.
    But it ain’t easy.

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  6. I read it, years ago, and the The Silmarillion, published by Tolkien’s son, after his death. “Chewy” books all, but worth the read. The films (IMHO) did not do them justice and I’ve never seen all the films, but bits and pieces now and then when I’m bored. Stephen R. Donaldson did another series, ‘chewy’ but worth the read if you’ve not ever read them. I’m enjoying “The Red Tent” btw…I’m not generally a history buff, but that book is engrossing, if simply for the look at how women have been viewed and treated down the ages. Not that much has changed has it?

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    1. Melanie, Yes, the Red Tent – I am neither (a history buff) but this book still resonates with me although I’ve forgotten the details. It was a gripping and worth-my-time read.
      And talking of ‘history’ books: I read the Handmaid’s tale when I lived in Canada for a short while – or tried to – many times. First I thought it was my lack of English, or Atwood’s style, or ….. I bought the book again many years later and after another two ‘tries’ I gave up. Then came out the film…. I think I only then fully realised why I couldn’t read that book: It was too gruesome to contemplate. Watching the trailers I was sick, emotionally and physically – I was NOT not attached as I thought before, I was too attached….

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  7. I read the Donaldson books years ago but it was a strange read: love/hate, all the way, with a very angry hero, and I finally found myself avoiding the books entirely. Too much tension, I guess.
    I do know that every time I reread LOTR or Pratchett, I’m reading a new book with new insights. There is just so much meat buried in these books, you simply cannot take it all in in one go. Admittedly, I skip Tom Bombadill, and have two and 1/2 books of Discworld that annoy me no end, but the others, well…come winter I may have to start them up again.

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