This blog post is a contribution to the 10th Annual Tolkien Blog Party hosted by The Edge of the Precipice.
While Frodo will forever be my favorite Lord of the Rings character (with Boromir not far behind), Éomer has had a special place in my heart for a while now. Éomer doesn’t get a lot of attention within the fandom, from what I’ve seen, but like many of Tolkien’s characters, he’s wonderful. So today, I’ll be taking a closer look at what makes him one of my favorites.
Éomer is loyal to his family…
The chief obstacles to an easy conquest of Rohan by Saruman were Théodred and Éomer: they were vigorous men, devoted to the King, and high in his affections, as his only son and his sister-son; and they did all that they could to thwart the influence over him that Gríma gained when the King’s health began to fail…It was [Gríma’s] policy to bring his chief opponents into discredit with Théoden, and if possible to get rid of them.
It proved impossible to set them at odds with one another: Théoden before his “sickness” had been much loved by all his kind and people, and the loyalty of Théodred and Éomer remained steadfast, even in his apparent dotage, Éomer also was not an ambitious man, and his love and respect for Théodred (thirteen years older than he) was only second to his love of his foster-father.‘The Battle of the Fords of Isen,’ Unfinished Tales
Right from the start, we see that Éomer is a loyal, honest, and true-hearted man. The fact that all of Gríma’s manipulation and machinations couldn’t make Éomer waver from his love/respect for his uncle and cousin…it’s truly admirable.
In the movie, of course, it’s very easy to see that Gríma is a creep. But I think that, at the start at least, his deceptions and lies would have been very difficult to spot. If Éomer had already been harboring resentment, dislike, or disloyalty in his heart toward the more royal members of his family, he could have been easy prey for Gríma’s lying flatteries. That he withstood them all says a lot about his character.
…and to his friends, no matter what.
At length Aragorn spoke. ‘As I have begun, so I will go on. We come now to the very brink, where hope and despair are akin. To waver is to fall. Let none now reject the counsels of Gandalf, whose long labours against Sauron come at last to their test. But for him all would long ago have been lost. Nonetheless I do not yet claim to command any man. Let others choose as they will.’
‘As for myself,’ said Éomer, ‘I have little knowledge of these deep matters; but I need it not. This I know, and it is enough, that as my friend Aragorn succoured me and my people, so I will aid him when he calls. I will go.’‘The Last Debate,’ The Return of the King
Éomer’s friendship with Aragorn had a shaky start, but by the time we reach ‘The Last Debate,’ they are firm friends. I mean, Éomer literally walks into Mordor for Aragorn! It makes my heart happy to think of Aragorn ruling Gondor and Éomer ruling Rohan, with such a great friendship between their two countries.
Éomer is a good brother—if a little unobservant at times
Then [Aragorn] laid [Éowyn’s] hand in Éomer’s and stepped away. ‘Call her!’ he said, and he passed silently from the chamber.
‘Éowyn, Éowyn!’ cried Éomer amid his tears. But she opened her eyes and said: ‘Éomer! What joy is this? For they said that you were slain. Nay, but that was only the dark voices in my dream. How long have I been dreaming?’
‘Not long, my sister,’ said Éomer. ‘But think no more on it!’‘The Houses of Healing,’ The Return of the King
‘I knew not that Éowyn, my sister, was touched by any frost, until she first looked on [Aragorn]. Care and dread she had, and shared with me, in the days of Wormtongue and the king’s bewitchment; and she tended the king in growing fear. But that did not bring her to this pass!’
‘My friend,’ said Gandalf, ‘you had horses, and deeds of arms, and the free fields; but she, born in the body of a maid, had a spirit and courage at least the match of yours. Yet she was doomed to wait upon an old man, whom she loved as a father, and watch him falling into a mean dishonoured dotage; and her part seemed to her more ignoble than that of the staff he leaned on…Who knows what she spoke to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all her life seemed shrinking, and the walls of her bower closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?’
Then Éomer was silent, and looked on his sister, as if pondering anew all the days of their past life together.IBID
Éomer is a wonderfully protective brother to his younger sister. Yes, he should have probably realized just how difficult things were for Éowyn in the days of Théoden’s ‘illness.’ But there was a lot going on, and just because Éomer didn’t see everything that was going on doesn’t mean he didn’t care about Éowyn. Consider this quote that comes right after he discovers she’s still alive after the battle of the Pelennor:
Then hope unlooked-for came so suddenly to Éomer’s heart, and with it the bite of care and fear renewed, that he said no more, but turned and went swiftly from the hall.
Éomer truly cares about Éowyn, worries about her. And he’s very, very happy to see that she and Faramir have fallen in love. In fact, Éomer’s happiness for Éowyn leads to happiness for himself as well—he ends up marrying Faramir’s cousin Lothíriel. ❤
Éomer is capable of great humility.
Théoden rose and put his hand to his side; but no sword hung at his belt. ‘Where has Gríma stowed it?’ he muttered under his breath.
‘Take this, dear lord!’ said a clear voice. ‘It was ever at your service.’ Éomer was there. No helm was on his head, no mail was on his breast, but in his hand he held a drawn sword; and as he knelt he offered the hilt to his master.
‘How comes this?’ said Théoden sternly.
‘It is my doing, lord,’ said Háma, trembling. ‘I understood that Éomer was to be set free. Such joy was in my heart that maybe I have erred. Yet, since he was free again, and he a Marshal of the Mark, I brought him his sword as he bade me.’
‘To lay at your feet, my lord,’ said Éomer.‘The King of the Golden Hall,’ The Two Towers
‘…we could find a use for Gimli’s axe and the bow of Legolas, if they will pardon my rash words concerning the Lady of the Wood. I spoke only as do all men in my land, and I would gladly learn better.’‘The Riders of Rohan,’ The Two Towers
Literally, just…read that second quote. I rest my case. I LOVE HIM.
Éomer is brave in the face of terrible danger and overwhelming odds.
The Rohirrim indeed had no need of news or alarm. All too well they could see for themselves the black sails. For Éomer was now scarcely a mile from the Harlond, and a great press of his first foes was between him and the haven there, while new foes came swirling behind, cutting him off from the Prince. Now he looked to the River, and hope died in his heart…
Stern now was Éomer’s mood, and his mind clear again. He let blow the horns to rally all men to his banner that could come thither; for he thought to make a great shield-wall at the last, and stand, and fight there on foot till all fell, and do deeds of song on the fields of Pelennor, though no man should be left in the West to remember the last King of the Mark. So he rode to a green hillock and there set his banner, and the White Horse ran rippling in the wind.‘The Battle of the Pelennor Fields,’ The Return of the King
When all hope was lost, Éomer continued to fight—both on the Pelennor Fields and in Mordor itself. His courage shines through so clearly on both battlefields. And that’s yet another reason why I love him: like all of Tolkien’s best characters, Éomer doesn’t accept defeat even when everything seems hopeless. The result? The Shadow is destroyed, and Éomer got to be a part of its defeat. He gets a happy ending, and it’s a well-deserved one. ❤
Although I’ve focused on Book Éomer in this post, I have to say that Karl Urban’s portrayal of Éomer is pretty close to perfection. That heartwrenching cry when he finds Éowyn on the battlefield? I rest my case! Or the whole “Théoden king stands alone” “Not alone” exchange. *happy shivers* OR when he takes out two oliphants with one spear throw. o.O And also…he’s just one very, very handsome guy. Which doesn’t hurt matters. At all. 😉
What are your thoughts on Éomer (book and/or movies)? Did this post help you see him in a new light, or have you always known just how awesome he is? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!