Making a brief appearance almost halfway into The Return of the King is the character of Ioreth; a woman from Lossarnach and one of the healers in the city of Minas Tirith. No matter the limited number of pages she is present in, she nevertheless maintains a memorable presence in the book.
We all know someone who shares similar characteristics to Ioreth: talkative, audacious, and without seemingly any sense of self-restraint. Always at the forefront of a conversation to demonstrate how smart and well-informed they are. These are qualities which, although not necessarily ideal in a person, provide for a refreshing contrast from the ever-proud, dominating, warrior-like qualities of the men and lords of Gondor we read about in the previous chapters.
To me she seems to represent the every-day woman in Gondor, and securely roots the imaginary qualities of this Middle-earth culture into reality. Her presence is a reminder of the indomitable spirit of the Númenórean ancestry; a people that has spent ages living under the threat of the shadow of Mordor.
Amid the chaos of battle unfolding on the Pelennor Fields, Ioreth’s part in the Houses of Healing brings much relief to the tension unfolding in the chapter, as we fear for the safety of our characters. She serves as a maternal figure who looks after the wounded. Her behaviour provides for some humorous relief to the escalating and overwhelming sense of despair taking place at this point in the story.
In the end, her loquacious qualities are what enable Aragorn to enter Minas Tirith and heal Faramir. Strider and Gandalf may have found her presence irritating, but one can’t deny the amusing effect this character has in these scenes.
So here’s to Ioreth and her sisters! May she continue to annoy wizards and kings, and provide readers with a dose of mirth during some of the more somber moments in The Lord of the Rings.
Till next time.