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Did Aragorn make the right choice?

Quercus

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In TTT, The Departure of Boromir, Aragorn must decide whether they (he, Legolas and Gimli) should take the remaining boat and follow Frodo and Sam, or chase after the Orcs on foot and try to save Merry and Pippin. He finally concludes that the fate of the Ring Bearer is no longer in his hands, and they set out after Merry and Pippin.

Did Aragorn make the right choice?

At first you may say "yes" because everything turned out okay in the end, but think about it! Did they save Merry and Pippin? No, the fate of Merry and Pippin would not have changed a great deal if Aragorn had decided not to go after them.

However, what about Frodo and Sam? What difference do you think it may have made if Aragorn had decided to follow the Ring Bearer instead?
 
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Harad

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http://www.thetolkienforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=2291&pagenumber=4

One of the places this has been discussed.

The answer is, and people dont want to hear this, is that JRRT wanted a better story.

Logically speaking a King-to-Be needs to make a decision that is for the good of all, not just to save M&P from torment, but to ensure the success of the most important quest in ME: destruction of the Ring.

And dont fall for the story that he knew what Saruman was going to do. He didnt (unless he had a copy of TTT). At worst he should have sent L&G after them and followed F&S. Gandalf said he would have. Since Gandalf had fallen, Aragorn should have taken his place.

OF COURSE, it was a much better story, the way JRRT did it.
 

Aldanil

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Harad, you might wish in your condescension to Tolkien's mere storytelling (by implication inferior to your more penetrating insight) to consider 1) what Aragorn's heart called him to do, 2) what responsibility a leader ought to feel for all of those he had sworn to protect, especially the most helpless, on the basis of moral principles which supersede more "objective" and bloodless considerations of cost/benefit analysis, and 3) I forget now, I'm sure there was something else -- oh, yeah, that's it -- winning the battle of the Pelennor Fields and saving Minas Tirith from destruction! No minor matter that last one, to my turn of mind...

For you to deprecate the wisdom (or should instead that be "logic"?) of Aragorn's difficult choice, and the arguments of those who might seek to support it, on the basis of what he couldn't possibly have known "unless he had a copy of TTT" is an egregious example of the proverbial pot calling the candlestick black.
 
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Harad

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Aldanil:

WIth "mere" storytelling as a description, you are likely to get drummed out of the "check your brain at the door club."inappropriate comment

1. what Aragorn heart called for him to do is what he presumably passed on when Galadriel tempted him--that is do what was best for him instead of best for THE QUEST.

2."what responsibility a leader ought to feel for all" is precisely the point. A "real" leader does not abandon his commitment to ALL his people=THE QUEST, to save 2 of his people that he has a fondness toward.

3. "winning the battle at Pelennor Fields" --Youre right about this--before leaving Frodo and Sam on their own, Aragorn checked his ouija board, and saw the the Battle of Pelennor Fields was scheduled for a few weeks ahead, and he darn better be there!
 
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Aldanil

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I should perhaps more precisely have said "what Aragorn's heart called him to do at that moment of decision at Parth Galen"; the choice that Galadriel may "presumably" have offered him in Lorien is the one which he had renounced of his own will already, to turn aside from the Quest and wander with his beloved Arwen in the North in the peace of Rivendell.

The best answer that can be made to your comment about what a "real" leader's responsibility ought to be comes from Aragorn himself: "I would have guided Frodo to Mordor and gone with him to the end; but if I seek him now in the wilderness, I must abandon the captives to torment and death." Your argument that "2 of his people he has a fondness toward" should have been deliberately discarded and consigned to the clutches of Saruman in service to some notion of the Greater Good is more than mildly reminiscent of the cold-hearted calculations of Curunir.

Of course you're right in asserting that Aragorn could not have known "a few weeks" in advance the knife-edge crisis of the Pelennor Fields; the Fellowship packed light for its journey, and I'm sure he left his ouija board at home with Undomiel. Neither could he have known with certainty that he would immediately find Frodo and Sam in the wilds of the Emyn Muil, nor that once having found them the Quest of the Ringbearer would be guaranteed by his guidance; even the great strength and courage of Isildur's Heir wielding the Sword Reforged would hardly have been enough to force open a path to Orodruin through the dreadful Mountains of Ash or Shadow. The best tracker of the Third Age might well have once captured Gollum near the Dead Marshes and brought him squirming but safe to the keeping of Thranduil, yet his travels never took him east into the Black Land itself that we know of. The fire of Anduril might do much to win the war in the west, however, in Rohan and Gondor.

The point I am trying in typically long-winded fashion to make is that all such fearless judgements (which "people don't want to hear") on the questionable "logic" of the characters' actions, whether Aragorn's to follow the orc-track after Pippin and Merry or Gandalf's to lead the Company into the Mines of Moria, are the felicitous products of 20/20 hindsight, possessing a clarity of wisdom and vision in retrospect which is otherwise unavailable even to one seated upon Amon Hen.

As for membership in the "check your brains at the door" club, mine has long since elapsed for non-payment of dues.
 
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Goro Shimura

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I might add that THE QWEST (I like shouting that part!) would have been completely foiled if Saruman had managed to get P & M into his tower.

They would have cracked under the interrogation of Sauron (or somebody) and news of Frodo'a location/goals would have certainly been divulged.

Not only were F & S not in any immediate danger... but P & M were!!

I agree with Aldanil that it would have been very "Sarumanic" for Aragorn to cut his losses and gone on after Sam.

Besides, all his tracking skills were needed on the hunt, so he couldn't just send Legolas and Gimli after them!
 

HLGStrider

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Harad, you are Vulcan... The needs of many over the needs of a few...

Personally I abhor that philosophy and (a quote from a book I am planning to write someday where the heros are faced with a turning point...)

"If the needs of the many conflict with the rights of a few, let me be found fighting, and dying for, the few."

Perhaps this was Aragorn's philosophy as well...

I sincerely doubt Gala. tempted him with Minas Tirith. I always believed she offered him the ring, to set himself up as the ruler of all, with the ring, over elves and men. She offered him Isulder's choice, in other words.

There is a sense of right and wrong about letting the two helpless ones die. Besides that, and why does everyone ignore this point everytime I make it, HE PROMISED BOROMIR BEFORE HE KNEW THAT FRODO HAD RUN FOR SURE THAT HE WOULD GO TO MINAS TIRITH AND SAVE THE CITY SINCE BOROMIR COULD NOT!!!

Geez... That clinches the argument for me. It may not have been a smart move, but he was morally obligated to follow through with his promise.
 

Goldberry

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Aragorn knows that Boromir tried to take the ring from Frodo (and Legolas and Gimli do not).

IMO:
Aragorn's decision to follow Merry & Pippin could have been based on this knowledge. He might have thought that he, too, could possibly be affected by the ring. He also might have wanted to respect Frodo's wishes, which was clearly to continue to Mordor without the rest of the company.
 

HLGStrider

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I think it was kind of obvious that something like the battle of Pelinor fields was coming. After all, Mordor was going for world domination, Sauron had already captured a lot of territory from Gondor, and he was going to try for the city someday. He expected a ruler with the ring to come to Gondor and attempt to destroy him like they did the first time. He was focussing his attention on it. Anyone with sense could figure this out.
 
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Harad

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I am sorry but had the book gone in the other direction, you all would be defending that instead.

People in all walks of life, not just Kings-in-waiting make life and death decisions. Doctors call it triage. They leave helplessly wounded victims to care for those that have a chance. Heartless, Vulcanesque, Saruman-like--roll out your negative terms, but is a fact of life and it is correct. "Needs of many vs. rights of few" is hardly the choice. How about saving a kitten crossing the street vs. letting a Nuclear War kill billions of people. There's a closer comparison. I am sure you would chose the kitten

The same litany of poor excuses has been rolled out again:

0. If Aragorn could make the difference between the Ring Quest succeeding and failing, all the reasons listed below are like grains of sand washing out with the tide.

1. Aragorn had to save M&P from torture at the hands of Saruman. Once again you have placed a copy of TTT in his hands. Same with his knowing about the timing of the upcoming battle.

2.Aragorn could not trust himself. An easy excuse but not borne out in the book (or the movie)

3. Aragorn's self-serving statement put into his mouth by JRRT to justify his plot line is an absurd argument to justify his course of action on objective grounds. Your membership has certainly not lapsed.

4. Similarly his promise to Boromir falls in the category of what Aragorn "wanted" to do--go to Minas Tirith--not what he should do.

5. Finally the idea that Aragorn could not help Frodo and Sam is absurd on the face of it. He is the pre-eminent tracker and non-magical fighter in ME. Knowing how the story ends, its easy to say he wouldnt have helped. But youre not allowed to use that sort of "reasoning." Why not take Sam away from Frodo and give Frodo a limp and a headache to make it a REALLY sporting Quest?
 

HLGStrider

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Kitten: not human (meaning thinking type being that has a soul as far as I know...).
Hobbits: Apparently human in the sense listed above....

Nuclear war: certain death

going the other way: even Aragorn couldn't storm the gates of Baradur.

Maybe I would defend it because Tolkien would've put a lot of things forward to justify his decision. He was the writer and could do this.

I still think that Pelinor was the obvious conclusion.

I still think the promise to Boromir would hold a lot of weight with any man of honor.

I still think that Aragorn felt helpless, confused, trapped in a corner. Perhaps he chose the greater of two evils; I don't think either decision was right, but I think the poor guy did his best.

Aragorn obviously couldn't make the difference between it succeeding or failing. I think he did more good going where he did, not because of what happened in the book so much as that he drew all of Sauron's attention away from Mordor.

I think the guy had a certain amount of foresight. Not an "oija board" (Thanks whoever brought that into the conversation. They had me laugh really hard, and I'm not being sarcastic... Really made my day when I wasn't feeling too good.), but a certain amount of gut feeling... call it instinct.

Maybe it didn't make much logical sense, but I think that morally, the decision was right. What were your other points... Sometimes I am really scatter brained... Can't blame me.I'm seventeen and reserve all rights to irrationality...
quote
1. Aragorn had to save M&P from torture at the hands of Saruman. Once again you have placed a copy of TTT in his hands. Same with his knowing about the timing of the upcoming battle

I've never used this logic that I know of, but I might have, so I will defend it to a small degree...

They knew orcs had white hands... Sarumen... Boromir had said that the Hobbits were alive (Unusual behavior for orcs to take prisoners like that... I believe. I think they have before, but not little rat guys when they kill off the apparently more valuable princelike guy.). I think that it made a little sense to suppose that they were wanted alive.

2.Aragorn could not trust himself. An easy excuse but not borne out in the book (or the movie)

No... but who can tell... I think Aragorn did trust himself to a certain point... but did Frodo trust him. I think Frodo did, but did Aragorn know he knew... Did Frodo know Aragorn knew he knew that he knew that he knew.... I'm not going to waste my time with this really bad joke...

3. Aragorn's self-serving statement put into his mouth by JRRT to justify his plot line is an absurd argument to justify his course of action on objective grounds. Your membership has certainly not lapsed.

I read all the posts but somehow I missed this one...

4. Similarly his promise to Boromir falls in the category of what Aragorn "wanted" to do--go to Minas Tirith--not what he should do.

HONOR! A MAN'S WORD IS LAW!!! Minas Tirith needed him, he knew that. Minas Tirith is the strong hold of the free peoples. If it falls... I shudder to think and Aragorn did too. Perhaps he wanted to do it, but wouldn't you???

5. Finally the idea that Aragorn could not help Frodo and Sam is absurd on the face of it. He is the pre-eminent tracker and non-magical fighter in ME. Knowing how the story ends, its easy to say he wouldnt have helped. But youre not allowed to use that sort of "reasoning." Why not take Sam away from Frodo and give Frodo a limp and a headache to make it a REALLY sporting Quest?

Of course he could help... But he could help Minas Tirith too.

Perhaps he gave over to what he wanted to do, but it was a choice between two evils, and with faced with such a choice, following your heart may not be such a bad idea....

I'm not critisizing your opinion, but I'm disaggreeing.
 
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Harad

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You are using selective memory:

HONOR HONOR HONOR:

. 'I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.'
Said to Frodo Baggins.

'It would indeed be a betrayal, if we all left him,' said Aragorn. 'But if he goes east, then all need not go with him; nor do I think that all should. That venture is desperate: as much so for eight as for three or two, or one alone. If you would let me choose, then I should appoint three companions: Sam, who could not bear it otherwise; and Gimli; and myself. Boromir will return to his own city, where his father and his people need him; and with him the others should go, or at least Meriadoc and Peregrin, if Legolas is not willing to leave us.'
Says Aragorn to the Fellowship right before the Breaking. Later he chooses this "betrayal."
 

Bucky

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Aragorn pretty much goes through what HE wants Frodo to do before Frodo & Boromir have their confrontation in 'The Breaking of the Fellowship'.

And, he covers the 'new' options with Legolas & Gimli as they're preparing Boromir's funeral boat in 'The Departure of Boromir.
 

Aldanil

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that Harad-harsh desert wind blowing sand once again

I realize full well (or surely I ought to, given past experience on other threads) that there's really no satisfying your superior wisdom, Harad, once its greater insight has been brought to bear upon some lamentable flaw in the "logic" of The Lord of the Rings, and thus this feeble effort of mine is foredoomed to failure; even so my heart, or perhaps merely my indignation, bids me make the attempt.

Your sneering dismissal of "Aragorn's self-serving statement put into his mouth by JRRT to justify his plot line" as "an absurd argument" displays a combination of condescending arrogance toward our author and willful misunderstanding of his ideas which is truly breathtaking, even coming from you. One might well imagine that you had created any number of widely-read and world-renowned mythopoetic wonder-tales yourself to hear you thus opine. (And yes, I do know an ad hominem attack when I'm making one, but the indignation noted above has me somewhat carried away.) You offer, as proof that he is dishonorable or disloyal, it seems, Aragorn's words to Frodo in the inn at Bree: "if by life or death I can save you, I will." Merry and Pippin, however, who were in that same room of the Prancing Pony and heard Strider so swear, are apparently @%#$ outa luck, as we say in Virginia: "Sorry, little Companions, you're really not important enough to be bothered with rescuing, or even attempting to; I know that sounds harsh, but I'm just practicing triage! Say hello to Saruman for us all when you see him!"

If all of the accumulated story-based reasoning of others already presented on this thread (that Aragorn's promise to Boromir binds him; that saving Minas Tirith is an absolutely essential part of any effort to defeat Sauron, not least by keeping the Lidless Eye turned westward and away from the borders of Mordor; that he has an obligation not to abandon his most helpless friends held captive, an obligation based upon moral principles very highly prized by Tolkien, however little they apparently matter to you; that allowing Saruman to interrogate by torture two Halflings in Orthanc would soon destroy any hope for the Ringbearer to travel in secret without the knowledge of Barad-dur; that, perhaps most important of all, Frodo has made his own very difficult choice in the matter) should fail to persuade you, Harad -- and I'm fairly certain it will, as I started by saying -- let me put to you another line of inquiry, which depends not upon the "inner" mechanics of the narrative or its author's purportedly self-justifying motivation, but rather upon "external" consideration of your own response as a reader. (I really don't much care for the currently fashionable academic notions of deconstructionism, but they do come in handy every once in a while.) You have repeatedly jeered at the "absurd" or dishonorable or "self-serving" nature of Aragorn's decision, a decision that you claim can only be respected in retrospect, if he had "a copy of TTT in his hands"; on that basis, let me ask my question. When you first held a copy of The Two Towers in your hands, and read that debate of the Three Hunters as to their best course of action after the Departure of Boromir, were you forcibly struck by its feckless illogic? Did you at that moment exclaim in insightful exasperation, "What does that damn Dunadan think that he's doing? Has he no better sense? Doesn't he realize he's betraying the Quest?" Or is your present penetrating wisdom on the subject rather the product of superior hindsight?

I await, if not with bated breath, your answer, although I'll presume to surmise it.
 
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Harad

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Aldanil: Geez a new record for longwinded regurgitation. Maybe an even longer post next time will stumble upon a new idea. Something along the lines of simians, word processors, and the Bard of Avon.personal attack Unlikely.

Bucky: as far as options, the overall situation with regards to the Quest has not changed. That action is destined to take place on the East bank of Anduin over the following 4 weeks. As it was Gandalf's expressed commitment to help Frodo throughout the Quest:

He went to the window and drew aside the curtains and the shutters. Sunlight streamed back again into the room. Sam passed along the path outside whistling. 'And now,' said the wizard, turning back to Frodo, 'the decision lies with you. But I will always help you.' He laid his hand on Frodo's shoulder. 'I will help you bear this burden, as long as It is yours to bear. But we must do something, soon. The Enemy is moving.'
Then Aragorn as the de facto successor to Gandalf had as his duty, his honor, his obligation to help Frodo in his place. If he chose, he could send Gimli & Legolas after M&P. In fact (for those peeking ahead in their TTT), they would have helped M&P just as much with Aragorn, as without him. For all those who want Aragorn to do the other things in the future, that's not the way reality, even book reality, works. One has to attempt the tasks at hand--

To wit:
'So do I,' said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given, us. And already, Frodo, our time is beginning to look black. The Enemy is fast becoming very strong. His plans are far from ripe, I think, but they are ripening. We shall be hard put to it. We should be very hard put to it, even if it were not for this dreadful chance.
If the Quest succeeds then the military campaign will be won. If the Quest fails, then the military campaign is irrelevant and lost. The same can be said for the fate of M&P. If the Quest fails not only M&P but all of Hobbiton will be destroyed. would the future King really chose to not support the Quest?
 
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Elanor2

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This is a difficult subject, I must say...

Well, here is my opinion. Aragorn's choice is not an easy one. Both options have good points and bad points. Perhaps, and following cold logic, Aragorn should have followed Frodo&Sam, or at leats splitted the group to ensure that both options were covered. Yet he doesn't do it.

Logic is not going to help much here, I fear...

There is another non-logic option: Aragorn had a hunch.
Why not? He had inherited that power from his mother's father and he had hunches before that proved right (the warning to Gandalf before Moria, for example, perhaps many more before).
So, Aragorn had the hunch that Frodo should go alone (except for Sam) to Mordor. His heart tells him so. Clearly, not a logic thought at all. And he obeys, not willingly perhaps, but if you are a "profet" you should follw what the "profecy" tells, so to speak.

As for the argument that this way it makes a better story, sorry to disagree. I am fully confident in Tolkien's genius to be able to write a fantastically good story anyway, whatever decision Aragorn takes.

I do not know if you have had the chance to do some creative writting. I had, and I can tell that, many times, I have no idea where I am going until I get there. I have tons of stories in my head and the problem is not to make them fit together, the problem is to decide which ones I will use and what to discard. Sometimes all pieces do not fit tightly like a puzzle, but they always fit enough not to contradict each other, if you pay a bit of attention. That's at least my experience.

Regards, Elanor2.
 

HLGStrider

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Okay, don't blame me for typo's... my contacts are going burrzzz burrrzzz today....

Harad, you seemed to take offense when I called you a Vulcan, but I was just affirming your statement on an earlier thread as a joke... If you'll remember, I said something about Vulcans being annoying, and you jumped right in with a claim of being one, which I thought was kind of funny...

Anyway, I think there was an argument about Aragorn being self serving by chosing to go after his two dear friends rather than Frodo and Sam... Why were Pippen and Merry any dearer to him than Frodo and Sam would be? If anything, Pippen's behavior would put off the sensible Aragorn. I think he would naturally have been more inclined to be fond of Frodo... Towards the end where he had actually had more time with the two mischief makers, yes, but that hadn't happened yet. So far Pippen had only distinguished himself by being a general pest, so we can throw that argument out. Aragorn was not going after Pippen and Merry because they were his friends. Neither was he abandoning Frodo and Sam for someone he liked better... I've been stewing over this all night...

I also want to bring up a point? How did Aragorn get to be the leader? That was one thing I didn't prefer in the story, the way Aragorn just presents himself as the self appointed ruler as soon as Gandalf falls of the bridge... It wasn't too bad, I mean the guy certainly had a claim to the position... Maybe I've just been in democracy too long and would've prefered an election with several recounts...

Anyway, lets get into this physcologically... another word I can't spell...

Aragorn is now the leader due to the death of his mentor (Do you think I can call Gandalf that? They've known each other for quite a while now, and Gandalf is older...). Slightly confused, his plans are haywire. He'd meant to go to Minas Tirith which is obviously in danger. He wants to do this and honor his duty to what he considers his city (I think I can go that far. I believe he had a love for Gondor implanted in him.). He also wants to do what Gandalf would've done and I believe he is loathe to break up the Fellowship, which at this point seems the obvious conclusion. Plus he can't decide where he should go if he does, follow his own heart and one duty, or follow Gandalf's way and another duty. So he stops them at the cross roads and calls a council, telling Frodo that it's up to him as Ring Bearer. Frodo walks off to think while they continue the conversation...

I've always like the hesitancy and self-doubt Aragorn exhibits from Lothlorien on. It shows a certain amount of nobility in my mind. It also makes him a bit more heroic, having to make a hard choice... back to the story line...

Meanwhile, Boromir does what Boromir does. Trying to decide by looking around Aragorn goes to the Hill and sees trouble massing on all sides, hear's the commotion, rushes down, meets Boro. Boro tells him that the hobbits (I believe he didn't specify) have been kidnapped and begs him to save Minas Tirith. Aragorn, stricken by yet another tradegy, agrees. They go look around...

Hummm... what do we have here... Boat missing... Sam's pack missing... Logic says Sam has left, and where Frodo goes, Sam follows. They take the time out to send Boro. down stream (sorry, if I am being irreverent, but I didn't like Boro from the moment he entered the council room.), and have a debate. They know that some of the hobbits are captured alive. I think Aragorn weighs all decisions and decides that Frodo has made his choice for him. While he is still not sure, this is the last straw, he needs to do what he needs to do.

Another interesting point, when Gandalf comes back, it would make sense, by your logic, for him to go to Mordor after S&F. He doesn't. He apparently thought there was some priority in the Gondor Rohan situation... Who are we to debate the ways of Wizards?
 

baraka

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I think that Aragorn should have followed Frodo & Sam, regardless of anything.:) It was the quest the most important thing in the world.
 

HLGStrider

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Even saving the white city???

Well, maybe it is more important, but Minas Tirith would fall without Aragorn and if it fell, I don't think Frodo could've suceeded. Sauron would've been to strong. Nothing would be in his way. He could've devoted all his time to ring searching, and he would've found it soon enough...
 

baraka

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but Minas Tirith would fall without Aragorn and if it fell, I don't think Frodo could've suceeded.
I don´t think it´s fair to use a future event to support this decision.
Aragorn had no knowledge of it!:)
Really 2 hobbits in exchange for the entire quest. Ridiculous!
It´s like choosing Pippin instead of Glorfindel.:)
 

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