Hmm, this is worth a large quoting. Because if you haven't read this book you MUST.
"The one in the black cloak," he said again. "Do not be too sure of that one too soon."
But the first sentinel leaned out into the orange glare of the tipped-up sea, scraping a few studs loose from his poor armor on the parapet. "It is a woman," he declared, "I would doubt my own sex before hers."
"And well you may," the other observed sardonically, "since you do nothing that becomes a man but ride astraddle. I warn you again: be slow to call that third male or femlae. Wait a little and see what you see."
The first sentinel answered him without turning. "If I had grown up never dreaming that there were two separate secrets to the world, if I had taken every woman I met to be exactly like myself, still I would know that this creature was different from anything I had ever seen before. I have always been sorry that I have never pleased you; but now, when I look at her, I am sorry that I have never pleased myself. Oh, I am sorry."
He bent still further over the wall, straining his eyes toward the three slow figures on the road. A chuckle clattered behind his visor. "The other woman looks sore-footed and bad-tempered," he reported. "The man appears an amiable sort, though plainly of the strolling life. A minstrel, like enough, or a player." He said nothing more for a long while, watching them draw near.
"And the third?" the older man inquired presently, "Your sundown fancy with the interesting hair? Have you outworn her in a quarter of an hour--already seen her closer than love dares?" His voice rustled in his helmet like small, clawed feet.
"I don't think I could ever see her closely," the sentinel replied, "however close she came." His own voice was hushed and regretful, echoing with lost chances. "She has a newness," he said, "Everything is for the first time. See how she moves, how she walks, how she turns her head--all for the first time, the first time anyone has ever done these things. See how she draws her breath and lets it go again, as though no one else in the world knew that air was good. It is all for her. If I learned that she had been born this very morning, I would only be surprised that she was so old."
The second sentinel stared down from his tower at the three wanderers. The tall man saw him first, and next the dour woman. Their eyes reflected nothing but his armor, grim and cankered and empty. But then the girl in the ruined black cloak raised her head, and he stepped back from the parapet, putting out one tin glove against her glance. In a moment she passed into the shadow of the castle with her companions, and he lowered his hand.
"She may be mad," he said calmly. "No grown girl looks like that unless she is mad. That would be annoying, but far preferable to the remaining possibility."
"Which is?" the younger man prompted after a silence.
"Which is that she was indeed born this morning. I would rather that she were mad."
This is one of the most magical books I have ever read. And reading this, I can see how powerfully it has influenced me, even in the desc I wrote shortly before looking for this quote. The animated version of this book, while falling far short of the novel, is still quite good especially Christopher Lee as the voice of King Haggard. Oooo. Oooo.. Drac baby. That dark menacing voice. You are going to be SO good at Saruman.