January 13, 2003
Participants at Helm's Deep (Spoiler)
On 12/24, Kevan posed the question of who fought at Helm's Deep.
The attackers, marshalled by Saruman, consisted primarily of Uruk-Hai and any other orc-breeds in the service of Isengard at that time. Supplementing these soldiers were wild men from Dunland, an area west of the Gap of Rohan. Saruman exploited the resentment of these men toward Rohan, as shown in the movie. There were never any Easterlings or Southrons at Helm's Deep in either the book or the movie.
The defenders consisted of nearly the full remaining strength of the Rohirrim. Contrary to the movie, Eomer was at Helm's Deep from the beginning. An army commanded by Erkenbrand is still fighting elsewhere at the time of Helm's Deep. Erkenbrand rides in at the last minute with Gandalf. In the movie, they omitted Erkenbrand's character and placed Eomer in that scene instead.
Also, the civilians of Edoras did not go to Helm's Deep as was shown in the movies. They were led by a reluctant Eowyn to Dunharrow, far back in the mountains behind Edoras. So, of course, Eowyn was never at Helm's Deep in the book.
The only elf at Helm's Deep was Legolas, son of Thranduil. During the battle of Helm's Deep, Haldir was fighting orc attacks on the northern borders of Lothlorien. Contrary to the movie, Haldir never left Lorien at any time during the War of the Ring.
Also at Helm's Deep, at the very end of the battle, was a huge forest of Huorns (treeish Ents, or Entish trees, depending on your perspective)herded by a number of Ents. The Huorns came in silence during the night, and when the final charge of the Rohirrim was made, the orc armies were driven in madness into the forest, and none were ever seen again. This was not seen in the movie.
And don't forget Gimli, son of Gloin, Gandalf the White, and Aragorn of the Dunedain! I have always loved the scene (only in the book) at Helm's Deep before the battle has begun. Saruman's armies are massed before the walls of the keep. Aragorn steps onto the rampart and tells his enemies sternly to leave or be utterly destroyed (sorry, I don't have the book in front of me, so can't qoute exactly). It's awesome!
I hope that clears everything up. Experts, please let me know if I missed anything!