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10th Anniversary Celebration: A retrospective on the Reading Room
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Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:25am

Post #1 of 65 (21220 views)
10th Anniversary Celebration: A retrospective on the Reading Room Can't Post

In honor of the 10th anniversary of tOR.N I thought I'd share a little about how the Reading Room came to be and post the contents of the 1st LotR Chapter-by-Chapter discussion on the boards. What I have of it anyway. I apologize that what follows isn't complete, but what I have will be up. There are a lot of chapters, so bear with me while I get them on the site. =)

One of the reasons is that when tOR.N was founded there wasn't a Reading Room. We had our initial discussion on Main, and when it was found to compete too much with the rest of the discussion (and posts were dropping off the board before we'd finished discussing them), we petitioned TPTB to make a new board just for that. For those who remember the old boards, Aelric penned the header that was up there for ages.

Gorel, another poster who's gone missing, had written a script that went through the RR and nabbed all the threads for chapter discussions. I'm not sure what happened to the last few, but he did save most of it. He posted it up in the fan.theonering.net section for a long time, but it eventually was retired. He was kind enough to send me copies of the files, so I will share them for this auspicious occasion. (and so that NEB can have them all in one handy link)

One last note: Those who remember the old boards will remember the format. Newest threads were at the top, and newest replies to threads were at the bottom. These posts I'll be making keep the discussion in that format. So the first thread in the discussion is the last thread in the post, and the first reply to that discussion is the very last reply in the post. I apologize if that's confusing, but it was way more work than I had time for to try to rearrange them.

And so, without further ado, I present the original LotR discussion in tOR.N's Reading Room!


PS. A special thank-you to Morthoron who was willing to cut his Hobbit Discussion a little short so that I could get this up without interfering.

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:26am

Post #2 of 65 (20919 views)
Book 1 Chapter 7: In The House of Tom Bombadil. Led by Aelric [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 1, Chapter 7
In the House of Tom Bombadil
A Discussion Led by Aelric

  • Chapter 7 Discussion: Movie Talk and Final Thoughts - Aelric
    This is a very short chapter, but a most descriptive one. The hobbits find their first refuge and it proves to be an adventurous one. And above all, we the readers get to experience and enjoy Tom Bombadil; as the hobbits learn, we also learn. But as movie goers, we understand why Tom is not going to be in the LotR Films. But could it have a place? I don't want to get into what happens in chapter eight, but up until this point, is Tom valuable to the plot? How about character develoment? Could he be made into a stronger character so as to be included in the movies?

Personally, I enjoy Tom and I will miss him and Goldberry when the movies come out. I know that there are some that dislike Tom and are therefore happy with this (to use the purist words) "admissible change". I feel that Tom was a character that Tolkien loved, so much so that he made a place him in LotR, even though he doesn't quite fit. He is a model to us: carefree, lover of the earth, happy and content to handle his own affairs; just a free spirit of the world. Maybe he then serves as the same model for the hobbits, a beacon to show what life is like without the cares of the world resting on their shoulders. What would life be like as a moss-gatherer?
    • Thanks, Aelric for a most enjoyable discussion!!! - Patty
    • Almost forgot to say thank you! - Kimi
      Thank you, Aelric, for a very interesting set of discussions. Who would have guessed we could come up with some new thoughts about Tom and Goldberry?

Well done, and many thanks.
      • Yes! An enjoyable discussion! Hooray for our Steward! - GaladrielTX
    • Why Tom and Goldberry can't be in the films - Kimi
      There, felt like writing a controversial title!

Though I am serious (reasonably, anyway). How does this look: an elderly (the words "old man" are used of him when seen through the hobbits' eyes; his face has a hundred wrinkles), fat (even if you take my mitigating suggestion that "three feet broad" might mean around the waist, he's still not a candidate for the cover of Men's Health) man living with a stunningly beautiful young blonde, whom he lured away from her mother. Not exactly PC, is it?
I agree that Goldberry is a very sexy character, and not in any remote, ethereal sense. Frodo's reaction sums this up:
"'Fair lady Goldberry!' said Frodo at last, feeling his heart moved with a joy that he did not understand. He stood as he had at times stood enchanted by fair elven-voices; but the spell that was now laid on his was different: less keen and lofty was the delight, but deeper and nearer to mortal heart; marvellous and yet not strange. 'Fair lady Goldberry!' he said again. 'Now the joy that was hidden in the songs we heard is made plain to me.'"
This is no virgin goddess, IMHO. Goldberry is a water nymph. There's a clue in her association with white water lilies, which have the botanical name nymphaea alba. Given Tolkien's love of language, this seems, IMHO, unlikely to be a coincidence.
Tom's references to Goldberry in his songs, and the explicit references to how he won her in the long poem that Blue quoted, make it clear that he finds her alluring.
I guess she loves him for his personality...
      • Wait a minute! - Blue Wizard
        I've suddenly had a flash of inspiration.

Tom and Goldberry could be played by
Billy Joel and Christy Brinkley
Rod Stuart and Rachel Hunter
        • An even better idea!!! - Blue Wizard
          I posted that before reading the paper today.

Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie
Go figure.
          • An interesting phenomenon - Kimi
            I had to check out the net to see who BBT is. I see what you mean.

Then there's Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall.
    • Thanks and well done, Aelric! - Eledhwen
      Haven't had time to think about this as much as I would have liked, but the discussion has helped with the enigmas that are Tom and his lady. Ta!
      • Yes. Thanks Aelric and those who participated. - septembrist
        It has helped me accept the mysteries of Tom and Goldberry.
    • Excellent summation, Steward - Blue Wizard
      Chapter 7 does very little to move the plot, but it lends tremendous depth to the story. We have here a great deal of history, in very abridged form, of this part of Middle Earth, related to the Hobbits in Tom's story. We have a great deal of depth in Tom relating the lives of plants and trees, such that the Hobbits realize, for the first time, that they are the strangers in this land, which they think of as their own. We have a true sense of the "other" in so many ways in Tom's house, with the ulti-layered mysteries of Tom and Goldberry, their identity and purpose and powers. Even the elves had a certain familiarity to the hobbits and the Black Riders appear only to be men to them so far; Old Man Willow, Tom and Goldberry are the first real "surprises" to them.

I view the omission of these chapters from a film of the books as a regrettable but probably necessary step. I would not say that Tom is extraneous or even that he "doesn't fit", but rather that he is a bit of a side-track, or even perhaps a distraction. There are just so many themes, major and minor, that one can include in a film without it becoming cluttered; some things that reward a careful reader who has the liberty of rereading, and flipping backward and forward, are either lost on a film viewer, or are simply confusing. The things that Tom and Goldberry contribute to the books may be in that general category.
Now, I will also go on record again that Goldberry is, hands down, the sexiest female character in the book. Arwen and Galadriel are beautiful but remote; Eowyn is beautiful but heavily armed; everybody else is an old lady or has hairy feet (or both). Losing her will be a major loss as far as I'm concerned. As for casting Goldberry, you could go down Robin's list on the Main Board of "babes who look like elves/prospective dates" and pick almost any one of the blondes.
Here's an idea! For those folks who can't stand Bombadil, leave these chapters in, but combine the Bombadil and Goldberry characters, leaving just her! Yeah, that's the ticket!

      • Tom and Goldberry - GaladrielTX
        Tom and Goldberry are, for me, a welcome relief from miles of trudging along the road or through the countryside, intermittently hiding from Black Riders. I think the book would have been a bit too bleak without their colorful presence at that point, so I hope that the pace of the movie will make their omission acceptable. I don't want each of the movies to be just two hours of trudging through the wilds with just one or two stops in elven lands to provide a little beauty and depth.
      • Ok...combine Goldberry and Tom's characters and play them back in a minor key. I like it!!!! - Patty
      • Yeah! - Aelric
        She's got that earthy-crunchy hippy style to her! Sweet!
        • Goldberry has that "earthy-crunchy hippy style to her"? - Nenya
          sigh You make her sound like Joan Baez or Calista Flockhart or something. That isn't how I picture Goldberry at all. I'm not even sure I see her as "major babe" material (although I will grant that I'm working from the opposite side of the fence here). I see her as being above all that.

Major babe material, I should think, comes with the prerequisite that you guys would stand even an infinitesimally small chance of getting her to even notice you. Maybe Eowyn, perhaps Galadriel (snicker) but no chance Goldberry.
Goldberry is goddess stuff. She's as much "babe" material as would be Athena or Hera or Isis. What you need here is a classic Shakespearean actress, like one of the Redgrave clan. Not one of your "babes". [smirk]
          • Whatever.... - Aelric
            IMHO Joan Baez and Calista Flockhart are NO WHERE NEAR what I'm talking about! I'm talking about natural. Let me take you to a Phish show sometime and I'll show you what I mean.

And I have to disagree with you on the "goddess" thing. Goldberry comes across to me as a wonder of nature, completely down to earth. Athena would never have treated the hobbits as Goldberry did, let alone bring them into her house with Zues. Neither would Hera for that matter.
Goldberry may not be "babe" material, as far as that modern word is used, but she is, to me, the most attractive woman in the books.
            • You tell her Aelric - Blue Wizard
              Joan Baez is all wrong.

From that period, more like:
Michelle Phillips (in 1967, not now)
Marianne Faithful (ditto)
Melanie Safka (ditto, but with blonde hair)
Linda Ronstadt ( " , " )

              • [insert rolling eye emoticon here] - Nenya
                Like Aelric said ... whatever.
                • *big raspberry!* : )~ - Aelric
                  • Yeah, really! - Blue Wizard
                    I ask you - Do we give the wimmenfolk here this kind of grief when they start gushing over the male characters and the actors playing them?

· Blue - I offer you this challenge - Nenya
If you can historically find even one post on this board that has me gushing over an actor, then you have the right to publicly humiliate me with it in any way you see fit. (Happy hunting.) Meanwhile, I pick my targets as they avail themselves to me.
In spite of that, I'm in awe of your posts. Very well thought out and well written stuff you offer up.
                  • Whatever.... - Nenya
                    I'm still trying to figure out what "earthy-crunchy" means.

· Earthy-crunchy - Aelric
Basically it means all natural. Limited or no make-up. Free-flowing hair. Summer dresses. Not so "refined" but a little jagged on the edges. Not afraid to get dirty. Kinda hard to describe I guess....
          • This is really pretty simple - Blue Wizard
            We don't know exactly what Goldberry is in Tolkien's cosmology, but we're all pretty certain that she's what the Greeks would call a Naiad.

From the Encyclopedia Mythica: (emphasis added)
The Naiads were nymphs of bodies of fresh water and were one of the three main classes of water nymphs - the others being the Nereids (nymphs of the Mediterranean Sea) and the Oceanids (nymphs of the oceans). The Naiads presided over rivers, streams, brooks, springs, fountains, lakes, ponds, wells, and marshes. They were divided into various subclasses: Crinaeae (fountains), Pegaeae (springs), Eleionomae (marshes), Potameides (rivers), and Limnades or Limnatides (lakes). Roman sources even assigned custody of the rivers of Hades to Naiads classified as Nymphae Infernae Paludis or the Avernales.

The Naiad was intimately connected to her body of water and her very existence seems to have depended on it. If a stream dried up, its Naiad expired. The waters over which Naiads presided were thought to be endowed with inspirational, medicinal, or prophetic powers. Thus the Naiads were frequently worshipped by the ancient Greeks in association with divinities of fertility and growth.

The genealogy of the Naiads varies according to geographic region and literary source. Naiads were either daughters of Zeus, daughters of various river gods, or simply part of the vast family of the Titan Oceanus. Like all the nymphs, the Naiads were in many ways female sex symbols of the ancient world and played the part of both the seduced and the seducer. Zeus in particular seems to have enjoyed the favors of countless Naiads and the other gods do not seem to have lagged far behind. The Naiads fell in love with and actively pursued mortals as well. Classical literature abounds with the stories of their love affairs with gods and men and with the tales of their resulting children.
Stories of the Naiads could take the form of cautionary tales with unhappy endings. The Naiad, Nomia, fell in love with a handsome shepherd named Daphnis and could not do enough for him. He repaid her love with unfaithfulness and she repaid his inconstancy by blinding him. The Naiads of a spring in Bithynia took a liking to Hylas (companion of Heracles) and lured him into their waters. The cautionary element is uncertain here. The fate of Hylas could have been either an abrupt death by drowning or everlasting sexual bliss.
Other stories of the Naiads were explanations of the origins of immortals and mortals. The sun god Helios mated with the Naiad Aegle (renowned as the most beautiful of the Naiads) to produce the Charites. Melite, a Naiad of the Aegaeus River in Corcyra, had a liaison with Heracles and became the mother of Hyllus. Naiads were the lovers of Endymion, Erichthonius, Magnes, Lelex, Oebalus, Otrynteus, Icarius, and Thyestes and were therefore co-founders of important families.
Greek towns and cities were called after the names of Naiads. Lilaea, in Phocis, was named for Lilaea, the Naiad of the Cephissus River.
There is a reference in Homer's Odyssey to a cave, rather than a body of water, that is sacred to the Naiads. It might be assumed, therefore, that this cave in Ithaca may have contained a spring or have been the source of a stream or brook.
Sounds like Goldberry to me.

            • Blue, you're amazing! - Malbeth
              • How about one of Wagner's Rhine Maidens? - Nenya
                Would that be the same thing, or something different, Blue?
                • La meme chose - Blue Wizard
      • LOL!! - Malbeth
        So hairy feet aren't sexy? RosieLass will be so disappointed.
    • Tom is vital to the book, but not, I think to the film. - Nenya
      Even for those well versed in Tolkien lore, Bombadil remains a mystery. His origins and existence are apart from the mythology that explains and supports the story of the quest to destroy the one ring. While the hobbits have adventure and diversion with Bombadil, very little of a vital nature to the plot line occurs there.

I love the character of Tom Bombadil. I really wish Tolkien had given more of his background. But, given the limitations of movie making, I do feel that he can be omitted from the movie without causing any serious damage to the plot.
    • The Bombadil chapters - Aradan
      One of the main things that the Bombadil chapters achieve in the book is to create a sense of distance between the Shire and Bree. By the time the Hobbits reach Bree, we already feel that they have travelled. If, in the film, we see the Hobbits leaving the Shire and then arrive in Bree in the very next scene, the audience might be left with the impression that Bree is just another outlying part of the Shire, rather like Buckland.

In other respects, I don't think that the film will suffer too much by the removal of the Bombadil chapters. They don't actually contribute much to the plot, though they do reveal a little about the hobbits' personalities. On the other hand they do not seemed to have "developed" much by the time they reach Bree.
      • Yes. I hope . . . - Annael
        that while the movies omit Bombadil, the hobbits still go through the Old Forest and encounter the Barrow-wight. That scene can be changed just a titch to have Frodo manage to free the others. Then Merry can find his knife and they will have had a "growing up" experience.
      • Hobbits' development - Malbeth
        I agree about the hobbits' lack of development before Bree. I spite of the dangers they've survived, they are still very careless in the Prancing Pony. They must have driven Strider crazy the first few days!

        • Hmmmm...do you think.... - Aelric
          they would have made a better impression on Aragorn if they hadn't been with Bombadil? If they had stayed on the road and avoided capture, they may have been better prepared, even slightly. Was the visit with Tom somewhat of a hinderance in that respect?
          • Yeah, but ... - Nenya
            The whole point was that the Hobbits and Aragorn didn't start out as a mutual admiration society. Each had to earn the trust and admiration of the other. This gave Tolkien an excuse to help unveil parts of Strider/Aragorn's character, and to show how the band of Hobbits matured and developed as they became more caught up in the Fellowship and the quest.

In that respect, the visit with Tom was just perfect. It in many ways showed the early naivete the Hobbits were saddled with that they each eventually grew beyond.
            • That's an important point - Blue Wizard
              I think we tend, particularly having already read the books many, many times, to lose sight of the fact that, even through the attack at Weathertop, the hobbits, particularly Sam, are distrustful of Strider and suspect that he is in league with the Black Riders, or maybe even one of them.

Frodo decides to trust him in Bree, based on Gandalf's letter and him being a good judge of character; and his trust seems confirmed by Strider saving them from the attack in the night, but I think that we are supposed to have some lingering doubts. Not until Rivendell is everyone, including Sam, completely convinced.
            • Yeah... - Malbeth
              I love the introduction of Strider. The hobbits don't know whether to trust him, and neither does the reader (well, the first time, anyway). In fact, Sam wasn't really convinced until they met Glorfindel.
  • Chapter 7 Discussion: Detail and Description - Aelric
    In re-reading this section a few times, I really began to notice the skill in which Tolkien masters the art of detail and description within a setting. Tolkien's imagery is what draws a lot of his readers (including myself) and it is fantastic throughout the entire story. But here it seemed to take a life of it's own, pulling the reader in until one feels he is actually seated at the table, with white and yellow candles blazing, and Tom and Goldberry dancing about. It is all very dreamlike, unlike any other part of the story except for Lorien.

Compare and contrast the times spent in Tom Bombadil's house to that of the stay in Lorien, not in so much as concerns the Ring, but more to the feelings evoked in both the hobbits and in the reader.

    • I guess all those who, like Tom, are so in tune with the earth... - Patty
      are vegetarians. Couldn't help noticing that at Gildor's "table" and again now at Bombadil's there is NO meat. Honey, cream, bread, cheese...would this satisfy hobbits used to a good coney?
      • "Looking ahead" I see they score some real food at the Pony... - Patty
        it must be that the etereal elves and whoever or whatever Bombadil and Goldberry are can exist on just cheese, bread, apples and cream. Nuts to that.
      • I'd say that the Hobbits - Blue Wizard
        were pretty close to the earth, and were pretty fond of bacon. Come to think of it, the Hobbit diet seems to include of all of the major food groups - bacon, beer and tobacco.

The only glaring omission is chocolate.
And donuts.
Chocolate-covered donuts in particular.
        • DOH!! with sprinkles, can't forget the sprinkles. - wandering
        • Tsk tsk, Blue . . . - Annael
          You left out ice cream.
        • Stewed rabbit, too. - Malbeth
          • I almost forgot - Blue Wizard
            Sam mentions chips (ie french fries) to Gollum, another of the basic food groups.

The fact that Gollum rejects the idea of "nasssty chips" is the key indication that he has, in fact, lost all touch with reality and has become totally and irrevocably insane.
    • Tolkien in general - RosieLass
      This comment isn't specifically related to this chapter (sorry) but one of the things that always blew me away about JRRT is his meticulous attention to detail. Especially things that I don't know squat about, like plants and flowers and stuff. But not in so much minutiae that you felt like you were reading a text book.

I'm reminded of Jules Verne's "2000 Leagues Under the Sea" and Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," both of whom went off on long tangents about fish or the history of whaling or whatever. They are not what I would call "good" examples of how to insert scientific knowledge into your book. :-D
I remember being 20-something and having a body like that.
Wait a minute...no, I don't.
      • I agree, RosieLass! We have a name for that: - Kimi
        The "Flint Chipping" phenomenon. Some years ago we read "The Clan of the Cave Bear". The author had obviously done vast amounts of research into, among other things, how to chip flint, and wanted to share her knowledge. It was interesting, for a while. But page after page... As you say, it begins to sound like a text book.

I wanted to mention the Highland Clearances in a novel, and knew only a little about them. I read three different reference books, and ended up writing about two sentences on the subject. But it was part of the back-story of a major character, and was worth the effort.
        • Advice to writers - Aradan
          I can't remember who originally said this, but I can assure you that it was a highly respected writer.

"Write the first story first, then do the research."
The idea is that then, you only research the things you need to fill the gaps in your story, rather than be tempted to include all that research that you've spent so much time gathering.
In Tolkien's case, I don't think he needed to do much research. I think that on most of these subjects he was already very knowledgeable, so just dropped in facts as he went along.

          • I think you're right about Tolkien - Kimi
            He researched details such as what time sunrise would be on particular dates, and how moonrise relates to phases of the moon, but the "big" things were already well and truly within his knowledge.

That's good advice you quote for anyone who might be tempted to "share" too much of their research!
        • In my own writing I need to be very careful about this. - Annael
          My job is to take medical stuff & turn it into patient education handouts. I'm always asking myself "is this MINK - 'more information than I need to know!'?"
    • The House of Tom Bombadil / Lorien / Rivendell - Blue Wizard
      Tom and Goldberry may not be elves, but their house has elements of the faerie realm common to all three places. The most obvious, as people have already mentioned, is the effect of stopped or slowed time. In each place, the Hobbits lose all track of time; hours, days and even weeks pass swiftly and unnoticed by them. The effect seems to be most prominent in Lorien, where an entire month passes unknown to them. This is a common part of the folklore of mortals who enter the faerie realm, with many variations on a similar story. The mortal enters a fairy ring, or dwelling, and by partaking of food there they become captive. Meals are prominent features of all three places. The mortal believes that a single night has passed, but when they leave, they find that seven years have gone by in the outside world.

Aside from the displaced time elements, there is the matter of song. Song is most obvious in Tom's House - not only does Tom sing as naturally as breathing, but even the Hobbits find themselves doing so, quite unconsciously. Song is prominent in Rivendell as well - the elves sing long into the night and even Bilbo seems to spend most of his times composing verses. But, while they are enchanted by it, the hobbits are less taken up into it. The same is true of Lorien, although elven singing is less promient in the tale here.
But it is interesting, in contrasting these places, what the songs are about. Tom's songs may be distinguished from those of the elves in that they are about the present and the world around him; whereas theirs are principally about the past. This underscores a similarity between Tom's House and Lorien and a contrast between Lorien and Rivendell. Tom lives in the present, while remembering a long past time. Rivendell is largely about preserving memories of the glorious elven past. Lorien, through the power of Galadriel's Ring, preserves, displaced in time, that past itself as a present reality. The elves of Rivendell remember their past; those of Lorien are actually living that past. Lorien in particular is a physical manifestation of the observation about elven dreams - that they are as real to them as the physical world. And in each place, the Hobbits feel, to one extent or another, that they have stepped inside a dream.
      • Fairy characteristics - jehovoid
        i read a poem by john keats, la belle dame sans merci, that on some level has these same characteristics of food and song and losing track of time. it's more dramatized because keats is that kind of person, but it strengthens your arguement, blue.

Final answer?
      • Hmmm, I know this is Hobbit and not LOTR proper ... - Nenya
        Where does Beorn's home (if it had a name it escapes me at the moment) fit in with all this? It was like and yet unlike Bombadil's home, a darker and more ominous place, yet still a haven from the wilds. Beorn, like the elves and Bombadil, has an "timeless" feel about him, and is very much a mysterious unknown to all but Gandalf. There may not have been song and that "timeless" aspect that Blue mentions, but it almost seems like it merited mention in this thread.
        • I agree about Beorn - Blue Wizard
          Beorn, with his ability to change form from a man to a bear, is a character who definitely fits in with discussion of Tom Bombadil. And, he's not just in the Hobbit. Gloin tells Frodo that it is by the Beornings that the East-West Road is kept open, though he complains of their high tolls. And Gilmi remarks that the lembas are better than the honey-cakes of the Beornings. So, Beorn isn't just some character unique to The Hobbit; Tolkien intends to firmly include him as a part of the overall pattern of Middle Earth.

Like Tom, Beorn seems to be an enigma. It would appear that he is indeed a man, or at the very least mortal, whereas Tom is clearly immortal (or at least so incredibly long-lived that his life-span would appear to coincide with that of the earth itself) Yet he has powers not known to be possessed by any human other than his own descendents, as well as the ability to communicate with animals. To say nothing of being an unsurpassed pastry chef (sorry Aelric).
Beorn strikes me as being very like Tom in the sense that, while it is difficult to place him in Tolkien's cosmology, it is relatively easy to place him in our folklore. Ancient folklore in every culture in which bears are found view them as being very human; in particular, given the source materials Tolkien was working form, Beorn particularly suggests the Beserkers, who donned bear skins in battle and were supposedly possessed in a battle frenzy by the spirit of the bear, making them virtually undefeatable by their enemies. This whole legend/tradition ties into the very common notion of werewolves (or werebears in this case). Beorn is obviously the "source" for our legends and folklore, as Tom might be for any number of characters in European folklore.
          • Probably just a minor point, but - GaladrielTX
            at both Tom and Beorn's houses, some of the hobbits have troubled dreams and are told not to worry about noises outside. *Shrugs* Just thought it was an interesting coincidence.
          • As an aside... - Aelric
            You amaze me, Blue. Personally, since I have been here (October), my depth of knowledge of LOTR has increased by leaps and bounds, and you, my friend, have played a HUGE part in that. I would like to thank you for your insights and wonderfully intelligent comments over the past seven months.

Much appreciation and thanks! *bows low*
            • Just don't get too enthusiastic with praise and go confurring honorary titles on him... - Patty
              • No problem, Patty! - Aelric
                I could never top yours anyway except to put the word Royal infront of it! : )~
              • Call me anything - but please don't call me. . . - Blue Wizard
                late for dinner.
                • HaHaaaa...But it's true, Blue... - Patty
                  Your posts are most insightful, learned and thought provoking...that's really what I wanted to say a few weeks ago when, too enthusiastic, I posted that disaster. Thanks for sharing your ideas..they broaden our understanding of Tolkien.
      • Living in the past - Malbeth
        You got me thinking about preserving and/or living in the past at Rivendell and Lorien. Do you think the fading of the elves in Middle-earth is related to always thinking of the past rather thean the future? Is this an inevitable consequence of immortality?
      • Time flows at a different speed for elves... - Aradan
        ...because of their exceptionally long life span. It seems that when mortals enter those places where the elves have the greatest influence (Rivendell, Lorien) their own sense of time slows down to match that of their hosts. The same seems to be true of Bombadil's House, although, as you say, he is not an elf; but he is "eldest". Perhaps this "timelessness" is, in part, a consequence of a very long life span.

Thanks, Blue, for your insights. They are very thought provoking.
      • You rule, Blue. (Sorry, but I had to say it...you continually impress me with your insightful, thoughtful responses.) - EowynII
    • I see these places--Rivendell, Tom's House, Lothlorien--as oases... - EowynII
      ...of light (notice how much light is discussed/described--fire, candlelight, sunlight) and magic in a world that is increasingly possessed by men (for better and for worse), a world that is darkening...for instance, this is clearly shown in the way JRRT describes Tom's house and environs--the river bubbling, the white path, the light and good wholesome food, all surrounded by things threatening and/or evil (Old Forest, Barrowdowns)...Tom's house is a place of respite, somewhere to rest and gather strength, of replenishment and cleansing, and of learning, so that one can go on....
      • The Shire too . . - Annael
        I see the Shire as a sunny, bright, ordered oasis in the wilderness as well. And I also see the Hobbits as a bit out of sync with the world of men, although in their case it's more obliviousness than a choice to turn away and dwell in the past. Still, it explains in part why the Hobbits felt so at home and relaxed in Rivendell and Lorien. Contrast that with Pippin in Minas Tirith.
    • Tolkien's Imagination - Aradan
      I am sure that Tolkien's imagination was primarilly visual. I beleive that he could actually see these places in his mind's eye, just as though they were real places, and then described in words what he was looking at.

There are few better writers of landscape description in the English language.

      • I recall reading that. . . - Blue Wizard
        Tolkien, as he was writing these stories, had already drawn the maps, at least in rough, because he needed to see the maps in order to put together the story. And, in filling in the details about the positions of the stars, that he took celestial maps from 1942 and followed them precisely - so precisely that, for example, it is noted in The Encyclopedia of Arda that the elves in Gildor's company began singing just as Menelgavor (Orion) appeared over the rim of the world, which on September 15 would be at 1:10am GMT (which we can, I suppose, take to be the same as Shire Mean Time).

I think that the descriptions of places are in some cases so precise, that Tolkien was either describing real places with which he was familiar, or he had already sketched them - consistent with his meticulous approach to writing these stories.
    • Out of time - Malbeth
      I agree with Lorgalis about adding Rivendell to the mix. All three are timeless in many ways. The first thing I thought of was the way the hobbits would seem to drift into some kind of dreamlike state while listening to a song or tale, and suddenly realize they had no idea how much time had passed; minutes, hours, days; they had no idea. Sorry about that sentence - two semi-colons??? That can't be good!
    • There is a third similar place... - Lorgalis
      ...which is called Rivendell.
      I have always seen the whole thing in the chronology of light following darkness and so on. There are minor light situations, like at farmer Maggots place, Bree etc.

And there are the places of the immortals, where the time seems of little importance, here singing and dancing are common and no threat seem to exist. It is the ancient view of the world, the meddling of men is unimportant to most of them. Even with Elrond, where only few elves get involved in this whole story. It relates to them as the friendly folk. It represents the elvish nature, I think.
  • Chapter 7 Discussion: History - Aelric
    The bulk of this chapter takes place in Tom B's sitting room. The hoobits are made comfortable and are content. Tom relays much to them of how the world was and is, of nature and its ways, and somewhat of the history that surrounds them. This is great info for the hobbits and ties Tom to the rest of the story for the reader. How does this serve the hobbits later on? Does it effect their minds sets when dealing with future events (ie, Old Man Willow vs Fangorn)?
    • Widening horizons - Aradan
      The shire is very enclosed and inward looking, as are nearly all its inhabitants. Scince the hobbits left the Shire, their horizons have been growing a a little wider with each chapter. Now with Tom's tales, their horizons are not just expanding geographically, but historically, too.
      It is the first indication to the reader (other than hints in the prologue) that the Shire and its environs has a history that does not necessarilly only include hobbits.

    • Tom's tales - Blue Wizard
      In last week's discussion, I said that, in some ways the reaction of Merry and Pippin to Fangorn Forest and Treebeard is inexplicable absent these chapters. Tom's tales are an important part of that. The hobbits understand, after listening to Tom, the lives of the trees in particular. In some very important ways, having that understanding removes much of their fear.

Fangorn Forest is every bit as frightening a place as the Old Forest, and undoubtedly every bit as dangerous to those who walk on two feet. But, Merry and Pippin are not frightened of it, and remark on how "treeish" it is. This is in stark contrast to a real fear of the Old Forest. Forests and trees are frightening and threatening things to hobbits, it would seem. But Tom's stories make them less so.
More immediately, I think that Tom's stories about the history of his little part of the world also make possible their excape from the Barrow Downs. A great deal of their rescue is attributable to the deeply-buried bravery inherent in all hobbits, and Frodo in particular, but, if they are paying attention, they know what the Barrow Downs are and something of the nature of the peril, whereas before the Downs were simply an abstract fear.
      • Part of something larger. - Annael
        Frodo has already gotten a glimpse of the larger story he's fallen into; I think this is where the other hobbits begin to get the same world-expanding ideas. Although it takes Sam until Mordor to get it.
        • But when Sam finally gets it... - Malbeth
          ...I think he "gets it" better than anyone else. His musings about what it was like for the people inside the old tales, and the fact that all these stories are interconnected, is one of my favorite passages.
          • Indeed! - Aelric
            That is one of my favorite passages! I think the others "get it", but they don't look at it the same way Sam does. He is a Romantic. He wants to be in the old stories and then suddenly realises, he IS in one of those stories. At the end Sam does see it more clearly than any of them.
            • I want to hear about Sam, dad! - Eledhwen
              I love that bit too. There are huge numbers of references to the larger history throughout really - especially re Gandalf, and how he dropped out of the story (Merry and Pippin to Treebeard). But Sam really sums it all up.
  • Chapter 7 Discussion: Dreams - Aelric
    After traveling for only a week, the hobbits have endured hardships and have been hunted. And seemingly by chance, they come across Bombadil and they are safe at least for a couple of days. They are given food and rest, and afforded the chance at their last peaceful night's sleep until Rivendell. Yet their dreams are disturbed by visions: Pippin and Merry of one sort, Frodo of quite another and Sam the log.

How do these different "visions" (or in Sam's case, "non-vision") help to futher define the characters, up to this point and also beyond this point?
More specifically, how is the dream of Frodo's explained? Pure premonition here or something else? The Ring?
    • Dreams theory - Pteppic
      I just had a thought(gasp!). The evil creatures around Tom and Goldberry's house (Old Man Willow, barrow wights and such) all seem to have power over sleep. Could it be that some malicious "beast" outside the house was influencing the dreams of the hobbits, drawing on their biggest fears? Merry and Pippin were obviously pretty shaken by their experience with Old Man Willow, and Frodo was very concerned about Gandalf's whereabouts, so that could account for their dreams. Sam was (if we go along with this theory) a tougher nut to crack. This could be because Sam wasn't that afraid of anything specific. As Blue says: "he now knows that he has some part to play, although he does not know what it is. And that is sufficient for Sam." Sure, there probably were aspects of the future that worried him, but those would be vague, due to their being in the future.

I don't know, this might very well be a lot of toothless drivel, after all it's past midnight and I'm rather tired (worn out is more like it), so my brain isn't working properly. Deal with it as you may.
    • Goldberry's warning . . . - Annael
      not to heed noises, and that nothing could pass within the doors or windows, was interesting. Were folks who stayed at Bombadil's prone to scary dreams or visions, and if so, why?
      • The house of Tom Bombadil... - Pteppic
        ...is surrounded by danger. There're the barrow wights, the trees, and probably other things we never learn about. I'm with Blue on this one. I think Goldberry is simply assuring them that whatever lurks outside the walls can't reach them.
      • Scary dreams - Malbeth
        Tom could read the "dark and strange" thoughts of the trees, and probably the other living things, of the Old Forest. Maybe these thoughts affect the dreams of those sleeping nearby. Of course, it would be normal for Merry and Pippin to have nightmares about Old Man Willow, but Goldberry's warning seems to indicate something more.
      • I think she understood... - Aradan
        ...the trepdition that the hobbits must be feeling on what was their first ever trip outside the Shire.
      • Hobbit nature! - Eledhwen
        She knew they'd probably dream, and was merely reassuring that it was only dreams and nothing tangible could come in.
      • I don't think she was referring to dreams necessarily - Blue Wizard
        But rather, she knew that the trees and wights and other beings might approach the house in the night, but could not enter. Also, I think that she was speaking of the mysterious activities and duties which she and Tom must perform. Tom awoke before Goldberry to do something, probably connected with the change of seasons as the gathering of water lillies. And Goldberry herself is connected with the rain and dew - whether she causes it is something of a mystery.
    • Dreams - Blue Wizard
      Interesting contrast between the four hobbits and their dreams.

Merry and Pippin are basically having nightmares about their encounter with Old Man Willow. In some ways it speaks to their immaturity and youth - their dreams are something like a child's nightmares.
Frodo's dream is clearly Gandalf excaping from Orthanc, which actually occurred prior to the time the Hobbits set out from Hobbiton. Of course, we don't know this at the time we read this. To me, Frodo's dreams involve a certain ambiguity as to what is going on. It may be that people like Gandalf, and later Galadriel, who we find out have telepathic powers, are trying to communicate with him. Gandalf may be trying to send Frodo the message that he has escaped and is coming to his assistance. It may be that the power of the Ring is at work. Frodo is desperately anxious that Gandalf has still not appeared, his unexplained absence clearly worries the elves, and he unconsciously is using the power of the Ring to reveal where Gandalf is. The fact that the Ring would give Sauron the power to reveal the Three, one of which Gandalf is holding secretly, has this make some sense to me. And, it may be that some of both is at work here.
Sam sleeping peacefully and uninterrupted by dreams is an interesting contrast. It speaks to me of Sam's relative simplicity and contentment, but also that, contrary to his attitude when he initially set out on this adventure, he has now "lost his dreams". He is no longer dreaming of a great adventure, but rather he now knows that he has some part to play, although he does not know what it is. And that is sufficient for Sam.
      • Not so much simplicity... - MikeyMonty
        but rather Sam's eminent practicality and steadfastness. Sam isn't going to lose sleep over long off ethereal dangers, he's going to take his rest where he can get it, that's the practical thing to do. He'll worry about those dangers when he comes to them; no need being anxious about them now.

It also displays his steadiness that he doesn't let such things bother him, and his honesty in that he allows Goldberry and Bombadil to reassure him to such a degree.
I like the idea that Frodo through his worry is subconciously using the power of the ring to determine Gandalf's whereabouts through the Elven ring. I never thought of that, that's a clever idea.
      • "Almost exactly what I thought myself" (to quote Merry) - EowynII
        I could try to elaborate, but it would probably be redundant.
      • Interesting. - Eledhwen
        I think you're probably right about Frodo trying to find Gandalf, and also about Gandalf and Galadriel attempting to contact Frodo, especially as at the end of ROTK the three Rings communicate telepathically. Frodo's dreams always seem Elvish in some way. I love the poem in 'The Adventures of TB' about the lonely beach - haven't got it on me, but it's the one where there's a note subtitling it 'Frodo's Dreme'.
    • When I first started reading LOTR - Bard
      I thought that Sam was stupid and therefore too stupid too dream. It didn't help that I imagined him like a Sam I knew at school who had ginger curly hair and had a bit of a lisp.

      • Sam is hardly "stupid". - Nenya
        Though I think I know what you are trying to say. Sam is stolid and somewhat unimaginative. Same is practical. Sam would discount his dreams in deference to real life experience. I think Sam didn't dream because Sam didn't need to - he alone was completely following his heart on this quest as friend and servant to Frodo.
        • Yes, - Bard
          I was 8 when I read LOTR so I hope you can forgive me for not understanding some of its subtleties and themes when I was that old. Re reading it has helped clear most of them.

  • Chapter 7 Discussion: Who the $%$^&* is Goldberry?! - Aelric
    The Hobbits looked at her in wonder; and she looked at each of them and smiled. "Fair lady Goldberry!" said Frodo at last, feeling his heart moved with a joy that he did not understand. He stodd as he had at times stood enchanted by fair elven-voices; but the spell that was now laid upon him was different: less keen and lofty was the delight, but deeper and nearer to mortal heart; marvellous and yet not strange. "Fair lady Goldberry!" he said again. "Now the joy that was hidden in the songs we heard is made plain to me.

O slender as a willow-wand! O clearer than clear water!
O reed by living pool! Fair River-daughter!
O spring-time and summer-time, and spring again after!
O wind on the waterfall, and the leaves laughter!
Again, who is this person? There is even less to go on here than with Tom Bombadil. She has a magical air, but she is no elf. So who is she? What the heck does "River-daughter" mean anyhow? A daughter of Ulmo then? Yavanna? A Maiar?
Just as before, I will set up a separate reference thread. Any help is more than welcome!
    • The Mysterious Cameo of the Embodiment of Nature- - Robin Smallburrow
      My speculation lies in three areas, all covered my members of this esteemed board.

That Tom and Goldberry are the physical manifestations of Nature in Middle Earth-Blue notes Puck, et al. Supported by his harmonious life in the Old Forest and Elronds hints at the Council.
The idea of the Cameo as proposed by Annael. Kimi supports this by stating in Tolkiens letters that Tom was ready-made character whom he desired to use in a story.
Malbeths idea of a Mystery, I feel has merit, only because of Tolkiens background in Catholicism. This is not to say that Mysteries are wholly or originally Catholic-but given Tolkiens background I feel this does have some affect on his writing. Tolkien alludes to many things, but ultimately concludes with-Tom and Goldberry are Tom and Goldberry, and that's that.
    • There is a bit more information - Blue Wizard
      about Goldberry in "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil", one of Tolkien's poems:

Old Tom Bombadil was a merry fellow;
bright blue his jacket was and his boots were yellow,
green were his girdle and his breeches all of leather;
he wore in his tall hat a swan-wing feather.
He lived up under Hill, where the Withywindle
ran from a grassy well down into the dingle.
Old Tom in summertime walked about the meadows
gathering the buttercups, running after shadows,
tickling the bumblebees that buzzed among the flowers,
sitting by the waterside for hours upon hours.
There his beard dangled long down into the water:
up came Goldberry, the River-woman's daughter;
pulled Tom's hanging hair. In he went a-wallowing
under the water-lilies, bubbling and a-swallowing.
"Hey, Tom Bombadil! Whither are you going?"
said fair Goldberry. "Bubbles you are blowing,
frightening the finny fish and the brown water-rat,
startling the dabchicks, and drowning your feather-hat!"
"You bring it back again, there's a pretty maiden!"
said Tom Bombadil. "I do not care for wading.
Go down! Sleep again where the pools are shady
far below willow-roots, little water-lady!"
Back to her mother's house in the deepest hollow
swam young Goldberry. But Tom, he would not follow;
on knotted willow-roots he sat in sunny weather
drying his yellow boots and his draggled feather.
Up woke Willow-man, begun upon his singing,
sang Tom fast asleep under branches swinging;
in a crack caught him tight: snick! it closed together,
trapped Tom Bombadil, coat and hat and feather.
"Ha, Tom Bombadil! What be you a-thinking,
peeping inside my tree, watching me a-drinking
deep in my wooden house, tickling me with feather,
dipping wet down my face like a rainy weather?"
"You let me out again, Old Man Willow!
I am stiff lying here; they're not sort of pillow,
your hard crooked roots. Drink your river-water!
Go back sleep again like the River-daughter!"
Willow-man let him loose when he heard him speaking;
locked fast his wooden house, muttering and creaking,
whispering inside the tree. Out from willow-dingle
Tom went walking on up the Withywindle.
Under the forest-caves he sat a while a listening:
on the boughs piping birds were chirruping and whistling.
Butterflies about is head went quivering and winking,
until gray clouds came up, as the sun was sinking.
Then Tom hurried on. Rain began to shiver,
round rings spattering in the running river;
a wind blew, shaken leaves chilly drops were dripping;
into a sheltering hole Old Tom went skipping
Out came Badger-brock with his snowy forehead
and his dark blinking eyes. In the hill he quarried
with his wife and many sons. By the coat they caught him,
pulled him inside their earth, down their tunnels brought him.
Inside their secret house, there they sat a-mumbling:
"Ho, Tom Bombadil! Where have you come tumbling,
bursting in the front-door? Badger-folk have caught you.
You will never find it out, the way that we have brought you!"
"Now, old Badger-brock, do you hear me talking?
You show me out at once! I must be a-walking.
Show me to your backdoor under briar-roses;
then clean grimy paws, wipe your earthy noses!
Go back to sleep again on your straw pillow,
like fair Goldberry and Old Man Willow!"
Then all Badger-folk said: "We beg your pardon!"
They showed Tom out again to their thorny garden,
went back and hid themselves, a-shivering and a-shaking,
blocked up all their doors, earth together raking.
Rain had passed. The sky was clear, and in the summer-gloaming
Old Tom Bombadil laughed as he came homing,
unlocked his door again, and opened up a shutter.
In the kitchen round the lamp moths began to flutter;
Tom through the window saw walking stars come winking,
and the new slender moon early westward sinking.
Dark came under Hill. Tom, he lit a candle;
upstairs creaking went, turned the door-handle.
"Hoo, Tom Bombadil! Look what night has brought you!
I'm here behind the door. Now at last I've caught you!
You'd forgotten Barrow-wight dwelling in old mound
up there on hill-top with the ring of stones around.
He's got loose again. Under earth he'll take you.
Poor Tom Bombadil, pale and cold he'll make you!"
"Go out! Shut the door, and never come back after!
Take away gleaming eyes, take your hollow laughter!
Go back to grassy mound, on your stony pillow
lay down your bony head, like Old Man Willow,
like young Goldberry, and Badger-folk in burrow!
Go back to buried gold and forgotten sorrow!"
Out fled Barrow-wight through the window leaping,
through the yard, over the wall like a shadow sweeping,
up hill wailing went back to leaning stone-rings,
back under lonely mound, rattling his bone-rings.
Old Tom lay upon his pillow
sweeter that Goldberry, quieter that the Willow,
snugger that the Badger-folk or the Barrow-dwellers;
slept like a humming-top, snored like a bellows.
He woke up in morning light, whistled like a starling,
sang, 'Come, derry-dol, merry-dol, my darling!'
He clapped on his battered hat, boots, and coat and feather;
opened the window wide to the sunny weather.
Wise old Bombadil, he was wary fellow;
bright blue his jacket was, and his boots were yellow.
None ever caught old Tom upland or in dingle,
walking the forest-paths, or by the Wythywindle,
or out on the lily-pools in boat upon the water.
But one day Tom, he went and caught the River-daughter,
in green gown, flowing hair, sitting in the rushes,
singing old water-songs to birds upon the bushes.
He caught her, held her fast! Water-rats went scattering,
reeds hissed, herons cried, and her heart was fluttering.
Said Tom Bombadil: "Here's my pretty maiden!
You shall come home with me! The table is all laden:
yellow cream, honeycomb, white bread and butter;
roses at the window-sill and peeping round the shutter.
You shall come under Hill! Never mind your mother
in her deep weedy pool: there you'll find no lover!"
Old Tom Bombadil had a merry wedding,
crowned all with buttercups, hat and feather shedding;
his bride with forgetmenots and flag-lilies for garland
was robed all in silver-green. He sang like a starling,
hummed like a honey-bee, lilted to the fiddle,
clasping his river-maid round her slender middle.
lamps gleamed within his house, and white was the bedding;
in the bright honey-moon Badger-folk came treading,
danced down under Hill, and Old Man Willow
tapped, tapped at window-pane, as they slept on the pillow,
on the bank in the reeds River-woman sighing
heard old Barrow-wight in his mound crying.
Old Tom Bombadil heeded not the voices,
taps, knocks, dancing feet, all the nightly noises;
slept till the sun arose, the sung like a starling;
"Hey! Come derry-dol, merry-dol, my darling!"
sitting on the door-step chopping sticks of willow,
while fair Goldberry combed her tresses yellow

      • Does anyone know..? - Aradan
        ...if "The adventures of Tom Bombadil" were written before or after the Lord of the Rings? (Publishing date doesn't count, because the poems could have sat in a box under the professor's bed for years before being sent to the publisher.) My theory is that Bombadil and Goldberry belong to an earlier, more flippant, phase of the professor's writings and he simply didn't know how to incorporate them into his overall vision.

      • Well, who the $%$^&* is the River-woman? - Idril Celebrindal
        If you're going to discuss Goldberry's origins, you also need to discuss her mother's. Goldberry is clearly identified in LOTR and the Adventures of Tom Bombadil as the River-woman's daughter.

So who is the River-woman? She sounds like a water spirit that has taken on physical form. My guess is that she's one of the less powerful followers of Ulmo who, for reasons known only to herself, embodied herself as a woman and dwelt by the River Withywindle. Goldberry is her child by an unknown father. (Perhaps one of the Dunedain?)
Of course, this is pure speculation that's backed up by the flimsiest of textevd. Tolkien may have intended all three -- Tom Bombadil, the River-woman, and Goldberry -- to be mysteries.
        • Mysteries - Malbeth
          Idril, I've had the same thought today - that they are SUPPOSED to be mysteries; maybe even to Tolkien himself. One of the beauties of LOTR, especially pre-Silmarillion, were the many references to past events and people that the reader didn't really know much about. The fact that was such a deep history that the characters knew but we the readers didn't, somehow added something, at least for me.

But to Tolkien, all this history was very real and intimately known. Perhaps he didn't want to explain Tom and Goldberry even to himself. I assume there's nothing substantive on the subject in his letters or other sources I haven't read (like HoME series), or one of our esteemed TORNadoes would have posted it already.
          • There isn't. - Eledhwen
            I don't think Tolkien knew himself what Tom and Goldberry were.
      • But what does it tell us? - Lorgalis
        In the end we see, they should not be Aule and Yvanna, because they have been living near the river and Old Man Willow far too long to be in Valinor all the time as well.
        What strikes me is the other part in this chapter, when it comes to Tom telling stories about old times. He was already there when the elves went westwards!

I always thought of the two as being maia. But What then with the putting on of the ring? And Tom could also see Frodo though he put on the ring and turned invisible. That is something I do not remeber even Gandalf being able to.
Still the question remains: Who are they?
        • I'm of the "Maia" idea.... - Jester_rm
          or another spirit similar to the Maia. Maiar were of different strengths, as were the Valar...One may be more powerful than another. If Tom was a Maia, his power may exceed that of the rings to corrupt him. Although I believe that Gandalf says that he would put it aside and forget it....could that be the extent of the rings ability to influence him? Not strong enough to corrupt, but strong enough to misdirect?

As to hiding from Gandalf, I don't believe the situation was ever addressed. For the majority of the story, Frodo and Gandalf are apart. The only time spent together before the destruction of the Ring is from Rivendel to Moria, and Frodo does not use the ring during that period. Also, I don't believe there is a case of Bilbo using the ring to "hide" from Gandalf, except after getting out of the goblin caves and sneaking past Balin into the camp, which could be just that he was not expected or noticed, not that he was invisible. Hobbits were clever and able to hide themselves rather well, and walk quietly when necessary, invisible or not.
          • Maia, I'm with you, Jester, and a lesser one at that.. - Patty
            see my post below about his being "forgotten" by Elrond to be bid to the council.
            TB and wife have always been my least favorite of all Tolkien. I don't mind enigmas, but if they are going to be so light-weight as to sing tra la lillie all day then they need to be fleshed out.
    • Discussion Thread - Aelric
      Go for it!
      • I love Malbeth's comments below. - Kimi
        I think Goldberry is a water nymph. Descriptions of her frequently use water imagery:

"The sound of her footsteps was like a stream falling gently away..."
"She held a candle, shielding its flame from the draught with her hand; and the light flowed through it, like sunlight through a white shell."
"Her shoes were like fishes' mail."
As I said for Tom, though, she doesn't fit all that neatly into Tolkien's cosmology. I see from the poem that Blue Wizard posted that Goldberry, like Tom, pre-dates LOTR.

      • Above all, they're natural. - Malbeth
        Reading this chapter more analytically than before, I noticed something for the first time. Virtually every description of colors or sounds concerning Goldberry or Tom use comparisons with nature. For example:

"...her gown was green, green as young reeds, shot with silver like beads of dew..."
"...and as she ran her gown rustled softly, like the wind in the flowering borders of a river."
There are many examples for Tom also. They are more natural than anyone or anything else in LOTR. I think that is the reason for Tom's 'power' over the ring; it's not a matter of power, but the fact that the ring is unnatural and therefore not even in the same realm as Tom.

        • Definitely. - Eledhwen
          If anyone's had the time or patience to read the 'Faerie Realm of ME' that Rue and I wrote, then you'll see that we decided that Goldberry was effectively a 'faery'. Not of the same kind as our hero Isheen (he's a Brownie), but nevertheless of the faerie world and not of ours. Here's what Rue wrote when we were discussing this originally:

"Goldberry, the River's Daughter...she is the Daughter of a Nym! Granted this would be a somewhat of a shinto/kami slant on Tolkien, yet he wrote of kami when he made Ents...so there. ;)"

So there. By Nym Rue means a powerful spirit, of each element I believe, therefore 'Riverdaughter' = daughter of the Nym of the water, attracted therefore to water but not dependent on it. Naturally this theory is tangled up in what you believe Tolkien thought about 'faeries' or 'fairies', but I reckon he believed in them, there are enough poems and things relating to the subject, many relating also to Bombadil.
Link to story below.
    • Reference Thread - Aelric
      Post any references here so that everyone can get a look at them. Please state where the reference comes from! Thanks!
  • Chapter 7 Discussion: Who the %&*$(% is Tom Bombadil?! - Aelric
    "Fair lady!" said Frodo again after awhile. "Tell me, if my asking does not seem foolish, Who is Tom Bombadil?"

"He is," said Goldberry, staying her swift movements and smiling.
Frodo looked at her questioningly. "He is, as you have seen him," she said in answer to his look. "He is Master of wood, water and hill."
"Then all this strange land belongs to him?"
"No indeed!" she answered, and her smile faded. "That would indeed be a burden," she added in a low voice, as if to herself. "The trees and the grasses and all things growing or living in the land belong each to themselves. Tom Bombadil is the Master. No one has ever caught old Tom walking in the forest, wading in the water, leaping on the hill-tops under light and shadow. He has no fear. Tom Bombadil is master."
OK! Here we go! I know, I know, the age-old question that we have all discussed before. Fortunately, we have some new folks around that may not have been afforded the same chance as some of us "older" folks. So let's hear it! Who the heck IS this guy? Is he Eru? One of the Valar? A Maiar? Is he an anomolous character of Tolkien's? Gandalf, Elrond and others at the Council speak of him with high honor, Aragorn knows of him, and it would seem that even Farmer Maggot speaks to him on accassion. So who is this guy that acts so silly but is all powerful, at least within his own land?

Any help with references is welcome, so I'm going to start a reference thread and a discussion thread. I don't currently own a copy of Tolkien's Letter's and my Book of Lost Tales is packed away somewhere, so all I have is the LotR text. So post any and all supporting references and let's try to hammer this out...
    • What does Tom look like? - Blue Wizard
      We have a pretty good description of his clothing, and his brown beard, and his blue eyes, and ruddy complexion, but also of his approximate size, ie. bigger than a Hobbit - taller, not necessarily stouter, but not as large as one of the big people. Somewhere, and I can't remember where, I read that Tom is supposed to be something like 4 feet tall and 3 feet broad. Which is quite a stout fellow, and quite a sight to be dancing and capering about in his boots! (Of course, the implication here is that the typical Hobbit, who is quite a bit shorter, and NO STOUTER - is more or less round (just like Carcaroth's Bounce a Baggins Game, I guess).

Somehow, I always pictured Tom as being thinner. Maybe that's because I always associated Tom with the Jethro Tull tune "Songs from the Wood" and figured he looked (and acted) like Ian Andersen. For those of you too young to have any idea what I'm talking about, Ian Andersen was a true anomoly in rock music - a front man/vocalist who played the flute. He would frequently play the flute while standing on one foot, hopping about like a madman. Reminded me of Tom in so many ways.
      • Tom's vital statistics - Kimi
        Here's a thought: if we take "broad" to mean his circumference instead of his diameter, we get someone who's plump rather than of cartoon dimensions. 36" round the waist would put him just within the safe guidelines for heart disease. All that unhealthy food, eh?
      • Whoa! I'm thinking Cartman! - GaladrielTX
        Respect mah authoritah!

My image of Bombadil has always matched a (Hildebrant?) illustration from one of the old calendars. Stocky, but not excessively fat, carrying a water lily on a lily pad over his head, waiter-style.
        • I am not fat! I'm big boned! - Blue Wizard
          Whoa Dude, the bone in your a** must be HUGE!
      • Doesn't sound plausible. - Eledhwen
        He'd be practically a cube. Perhaps someone measured wrong?
      • "Somewhere, and I can't remember where" - Kimi
        In my message below?

"Among other stories begun but soon abandoned was the tale of Tom Bombadil, which is set in 'the days of King Bonhedig' and describes a character who is clearly to be the hero of the tale: 'Tom Bombadil was the name of one of the oldest inhabitants of the kingdom; but he was a hale and hearty fellow. Four foot high in his boots he was, and three feet broad. He wore a tall hat with a blue feather, his jacket was blue, and his boots were yellow.' "
We also know that "his face was red as a ripe apple, but creased into a hundred wrinkles of laughter." (The Old Forest), and he has "deep brows" (In the House of Tom Bombadil)
        • Dohhhh! - Blue Wizard
          • Tee hee! - Kimi
            Blue, a new piece of foolishness for your collection: the Leader of the Opposition, having lost the last election, wants to re-brand her party. The description she's come up with:

Radical Conservatives.
I am not making this up. She is not joking.
    • Quick random thought..I think that Tom is to LOTR what Bilbo's song in the Hall of Fire is to Rivendell--"seems to fit somehow" (to paraphrase Frodo) - EowynII
    • Bombadil thoughts - Kimi
      Your "Reference" and "Discussion" threads have been abandoned, Aelric! This is a mixture of both, anyway.

Bombadil is not Eru. A correspondent asked that, and Tolkien said quite firmly that that was not the case. I haven't got "Letters" with me today, so can't quote exactly, but he left no doubt on that point.
Other than that, I agree with those who have described him as an anomalous character, left over from Tolkien's earlier writing. He's fun, but he doesn't fit into the Middle-earth cosmology very well. Tolkien had the character pre-written, and used him here (“I put him in because I had already ‘invented’ him […] and wanted an ‘adventure’ on the way.”, as I quoted below).

    • 2 ways of looking at this - Hengist
      one is what is he in the story what did tolkien mean him to be - lets look at all the forgotten scripts that jrrt wrote

or what does he mean to the reader - what image does he conjure up
So im now going to ramble on my thoughts which seem to tally with some others here, at least in part.
Tom to me is nature, he is the world (already pointed out) His concerns are with the world and the inhabitants of the world, which is why the ring has no power of him and he has no power of it.
He deals with the world and things/ people of the world. By the world i mean middle earth of course. I sense that there are 2 types of beings in ME those of ME and those not. In this case the elves are not of ME, theyre tied to other realms and are otherwordly. The hobbits are in contrast tied to ME and are very close to the earth and nature. This is why they feel such awe for tom and goldberry. In a similar way the ents are also "deep rooted" in ME and again i believe this is why the hobbits seem to be able to get on so well with ents.
there is a hypothesis called the gaia principle which i believe reasons that our earth is like a living organsim with everything on it part of the "body" of the organism and that if one bit goes wrong it all goes wrong. I like to think of tom as the embodiment of that principle in ME.
What i like about tom is that as far as i know jrrt never said what he was so no one can ever say this is the true tom. That way im free to chose how i see tom knowing im just as right as anyone.
Isnt that the test of great literature - that no matter how it is analysed or revised or copied the original can still inspire the magic of ones imagination.
personaly i dont want to know who or what tom is - that ould spoil the fun!
    • Who is Tom Bombadil? - Blue Wizard
      Tom is the Green Man, Jack in the Wood, Puck, Robin Goodfellow, and known in many cultures, and by many names.

Goldberry is a Naiad, perhaps Nomia or Aegle, Melite or Lilaea (I vote for Lilaea, only because of the repeated references to water lilies)
Now, if you want to know how they fit into Tolkien's cosmology...your guess is as good as mine. But, the real key is the passage in The Council of Elrond, in which it is said that Tom is know by many names and by many peoples.
      • About Puck - GaladrielTX
        I can't quite reconcile Puck with the character of Bombadil. Perhaps I am not as familiar with the figure of Puck et al. as you are, having only read of him in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Yet, as Shakespeare presents him, at least, he's a "knavish sprite" who plays pranks and is always meddling in people's affairs. He is also subject to Oberon and Titania, whereas Bombadil is Master. Do other legends portray Puck differently?
    • Tom is a square peg in a round hole. - Annael
      I believe that Tom is a "cameo appearance" by a character Tolkien created apart from his "Middle-earth" work, but liked so much he wanted to plop him into the story. He probably did this in the early stages when the story was still just a sequel to "The Hobbit," before the "tale grew in the telling" and became the much darker tale rooted in the history and languages Tolkien had been developing for so long. When he rewrote the story backwards to make it all consistent, he couldn't take Tom out because it would mean redoing several chapters, and he couldn't come up with any explanation that fit into his invented world, so - he copped out. I don't think Tom can be made to fit; maybe that's what Goldberry was trying to tell us.
      • Agreed! - Pteppic
        Some additional info on Tolkien's motivation for keeping Tom in, though: In the first 1954-letter Kimi quoted (which btw was dated 25. april - my birthday, hehe! - and written for Mrs. Naomi Mitchison) He says:

"I mean, I do not really write like that: he is just an invention[..], and he represents something that I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyze the feeling precisely."
And, from Kimi's other 1954-letter(this letter was dated September for Peter Hastings):
"But I kept him [TB] in, and as he was, because he represents certain things otherwise left out."
My point is that Tolkien thought TB was important enough to keep. As he says in the letter for Naomi Mitchison:
"I would not, however, have left him in, if he did not have some kind of function."
Tom B is a character created outside of LotR. But I think he was a little more important than an initial mistake which was too much trouble to correct.
It may seem like I'm coming on a little strong about this, I mean three quotations, just to prove my tiiiny point(!), but I don't really feel that strongly about it. I simply had to justify my spending 40 minutes on the subway reading through "Letters" looking for references.
        • Ah, the writing process . . . - Annael
          How's this: Tolkien may have stuck Tom in on a whim, but once Tom got in there, he took on additional importance and couldn't be deleted without leaving something essential out of the story.

This is one of the mysteries of writing. Characters and other aspects show up and become far more than the writer intended. I don't know where these inspirations come from; I don't think any writer does. Tolkien was wise enough to allow this "guidance" full rein; I think this is one of the reasons why the book is as good as it is.
      • This what I believe as well... - Aelric
        Tom is an anomaly within ME. Tolkien liked the character and placed him in LOTR for personal affection.
      • Re: Cameo - Malbeth
        If that's the case, JRRT would probably have gotten a kick out of reading this thread with all of our speculations ;)
    • I lready expected you discussing alone... - Lorgalis
      The question of "Who is Tom Bombadil?" is a really nice one. I can not remember having read anything about him in the Simarillion or the Unfinished Tales.

Some people argue he could be Aule and Goldberry Yvanna. This argument could be supported by the following:
Aule of all the Vala most dearly loved all the Children of Iluvatar, that's why he made the Dwarves...
The reason he was not affected by the ring was he was more powerful than Sauron but could not challenge him because his part in the affairs of Middle Earth were dictated by the Ainulindale. Much as Ulmo could only help Turgon and Tuor but could not actively oppose Morgoth because he had not sung that part in the Beginning...
      • Re: Aule and Yavanna - Malbeth
        I'm of two (or more) minds regarding whether T&G might be Valar (see post below), but Aule in particular doesn't seem to me to match up with Tom's personality. Aule was a smith, a maker of artificial things, where Tom is utterly natural. Also, Aule is proactive; he couldn't standa waiting for the Children of Iluvatar and thus created the dwarves, while Tom is more patient. Finally, I would think that Aule as Tom would be fascinated by the ring. Rings of power trace back to Celebrimbor, pupil of Feanor, pupil of Aule.

Just my opinion, any thoughts?
        • True, - GaladrielTX
          and Goldberry doesn't seem much like Yavanna. Yavanna is deeply troubled by the hurts that Morgoth and his servants inflicted on the living things of Arda. Goldberry seems much too carefree to be the same entity. (Although I did notice on this read that both she and Yavanna wear green dresses. Coincidence? Hmm.)
          • Posting on the wrong thread again! - GaladrielTX
            I should have posted this above with all the *@@&()%%@# Goldberry stuff.
    • Discussion Thread - Aelric
      Ok, debate away!
      • One rather quirky idea that struck me: - Kimi
        Tom says:

"Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees [...] He was here before the Kings and the graves and the barrow-wights."
Apart from its relatively-obvious obvious meaning, is it just possible that there's a little joke here? Tom as a character was written before LOTR was begun. He could be called "Eldest" in that sense, too.
I know that some of "The Silmarillion" was written earlier than "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil", but still...
I have no idea if this is true or not, it's just a bit of fun.
        • hehe neat idea - wandering
      • My jumbled thoughts on Tom (and Lady Goldberry) - EowynII
        I've never been sure what to think. I've read in numerous places that Tolkien disliked allegory of any kind, so this leads me to think that Tom does not necessarily represent Eru, or even one of the Valar. That being said, however, I will state that Goldberry's description of Tom does lead one to believe that he is an entity of the highest order...and if you think about it, isn't God really at one mysterious and familiar? (This can apply to Goldberry too, per Frodo's reaction to her.) Besides, Tolkien was a staunch Catholic, and I can't help but think that his faith may have somewhat pervaded his writing, even if he didn't want to admit it. Still...after reading the Silmarillion, it seems odd that Eru would come to Middle Earth...and also that he would have a "spouse", being at once surrounded by Ainur but also lofty and solitary...so....still, Tom mentions "his making and his doing"...and...Elrond speaks of Tom reverently, but no as if he was Eru, or God, if you will....ACK. What am I saying?

Okay...say if Tom is not Eru, but a Valar? Which one, then? His character doesn't fit or match with any of the Valar, at least how they are described in the Sil., and neither does Goldberry, really. I'm not satisfied with saying Tom is Aule and Goldberry is Yavanna...but I cannot suggest alternatives.
Are they Maiar? Hmmmmm. Not sure on this...remember that Gandalf was Maiar, and was worried about the effect the Ring might have on him if he possessed it...the Ring has no power over Tom. Goldberry could possibly be, though...she has a "Melian-esque" vibe about her...
What does it mean when it's said that Tom is "Eldest" and "First"? He came before all things (except maybe the Ents) If he was not God/Eru, then we must assume that he was created by Eru at some point...but the Sil. is silent on this. Where did Tom come from, then?
Maybe we're just not meant to really know.
I'm totally confused, darn it.
      • What I think about Tom. - Eledhwen
        I don't subscribe to the Maia view and I'm not at all sure about the Valar one. I'll have to think about that. When I brought this up in Barliman's, Gandalf there suggested that Tom is, quite simply, the Earth. He is of it, is it, what you like, but he is a separate being, with no relation except in shape to anyone else. This would explain why the Ring has no power over him - he is too great. If he were Maia or Valar, I think it would - remember Sauron is a Maia and the Ring has power over him, because he made it; and Morgoth was ensnared by love of power. The Ring affects everything but Tom. Therefore he must be greater, more primeval, and after all, the Earth, Arda itself, was there first.
        • But later on, in the council of Elrond... - Patty
          when he is mentioned I believe Elrond actually says something to the extent of..oh yeah, I forgot about him...I don't think, if he were all that powerful he would have been forgotten to be bidden to the council..at least Galadriel wasn't there because she was "forgotten".
          • True. - Eledhwen
            But Elrond is thinking about people - Sauron, the Elves, the Dúnedain, and so on. In times of crisis not many people remember the lands we live in, and certainly never separate from the peoples who live there. Tom worries about, and in my theory, IS nature, and he cares little for people. So it's natural that each party would forget the other.
          • Yes, but Galadriel and the others of the White Council - GaladrielTX
            took a more active interest in the affairs of ME, compared with Tom. It doesn't seem likely that Tom would leave the Old Forest for the Council of Elrond. That doesn't mean he wasn't more powerful than the greatest elves.
            • No, but my point is that Elrond had actually forgotten him. It doesn't... - Patty
              seem likely that he could be a power and that Elrond would have forgotten him.
              • Yes, but - GaladrielTX
                I suspect that, although powerful, Bombadil might have slipped Elrond's mind as an invitee simply because he'd never really been involved in the affairs of the wider world. He's not one of the "usual suspects" that Elrond would naturally think of to call upon.

Oh, who knows? *shrugging* It's all so vague!
                • Usual suspects? I like it ! :o) !! If only... - Patty
                  the author of Casablanca had known when he wrote that how often it would be sooooo appropriate !!!!!
      • "He is" and I am. - septembrist
        I have always been struck by Goldberry's response to Frodo's question of Bombadil's identity. It is exactly the same response that God gives to Moses' question - "I Am". It is a statement of existence with no beginning or end, a statement of timelessness. Thus, I am led to believe that Tom is Valar if not Eru himself who is master but does not possess.
        I am afraid I cannot offer any supporting proof or references. I only have my LOTR and my Sil is packed in a box somewhere.
        I eagerly await everyone's comments.
      • How they "feel" to the hobbits... - Malbeth
        Are they Valar, Maiar, or some other such 'holy' being? How would a Vala or a Maia seem to a hobbit? Here's how Frodo felt about Goldberry, and it probably would apply to Tom as well.

"He stood as he had at times stood enchanted by fair elven-voices; but the spell that was now laid upon him was different: less keen and lofty was the delight, but deeper and nearer to mortal heart; marvelous and yet not strange."
Wouldn't a Vala or a Maia seem more distant than an Elf, because he or she is a higher-level being? Maybe that's not true; Valar and Maiar are presumably similar in some way to Ilúvatar, and both Elves and Men (and hobbits?) are equally the Children of Ilúvatar. Certainly Gandalf, especially Gandalf the Grey, didn't feel too "keen and lofty" to the hobbits. Help, I'm confusing myself! Anyone???

    • Reference Thread - Aelric
      This is just so folks can go over some references that they may not have. Save your is discussion for above. : ) Please tell us where your reference comes from!
      • My ideas, with a reference this time.... - Jester_rm
        Don't usually use references, and this one is not "canon", but it coincides with my impressions.

The Tolkien Bestiary (by David Day) under the listing for Maiar..
"Many other good and stron spirits came to inhabit Middle-Earth. These were perhaps Maiar, like Melian, yet from the histories this cannot be learned. Chief of these, in the tales of Middle Earth, is he whom the Grey-elves named Iarwain Ben-adar, which means both "old" and "without father". By Dwarves he was named Forn, by Men Orald, and by Hobbits he was called Tom Bombadil. He was a very strange and merry spirit. He was a short stout Man, with blue eyes, red face and brown beard. He wore a blue coat, a tall battered hat with a blue feather, and great yellow boots. Always singing or speaking in rhymes, he seemed a nonsensical and eccentric being, yet he was absolute master of the Old Forest of Eriador where he lived, and o evil within the World was strong enough to touch him within his realm.
Other spirits, who may have been servants of the Vala Ulmo, also lived within the Old Forest. One of these was the River-Woman of teh Withywindle, and another was her daughter Goldberry, who was Bombadil's spouse."
This ties in with my impression that there were other spirits at the time of the Song of the Ainur other than the Valar and Maiar, which would have included both Tom Bombadil and Ungoliant (a creature of the "outer darkness") I think Tom was a spirit from "outside" the limits of Ea, who was called or came upon Middle Earth and decided to stay. Since his origin was actually from beyond the specific creation that was Middle Earth, nothing created therin would have a hold or pull over him.
      • Thanks for the info, Kimi - Malbeth
        The "cameo appearance" theory is looking stronger and stronger.
      • From "J.R.R. Tolkien: A biography": - Kimi
        "Among other stories begun but soon abandoned was the tale of Tom Bombadil, which is set in 'the days of King Bonhedig' and describes a character who is clearly to be the hero of the tale: 'Tom Bombadil was the name of one of the oldest inhabitants of the kingdom; but he was a hale and hearty fellow. Four foot high in his boots he was, and three feet broad. He wore a tall hat with a blue feather, his jacket was blue, and his boots were yellow.'

"Tom Bombadil was a well-known figure in the Tolkien family, for the character was based on a Dutch doll that belonged to Michael. The doll looked very splendid with the feather in its hat, but John did not like it and one day stuffed it down the lavatory. Tom was rescued, and survived to become the hero of a poem by the children's father, 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil', which was published in the Oxford Magazine in 1934. [summary of poem follows: see Blue Wizard's post] By itself, the poem seems like a sketch for something longer, and when possible successors to The Hobbit were being discussed in 1937 Tolkien suggested to his publishers that he might expand it into a more substantial tale, explaining that Tom Bombadil was intended to represent 'the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside'. This idea was not taken up by the publishers, but Tom and his adventures subsequently found their way into The Lord of the Rings."
      • A few references from "Letters": - Kimi
        (1937) “Tom Bombadil, the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside”

(1954) “Tom Bombadil is one [enigma] intentionally.” “Tom Bombadil is not an important person – to the narrative.” My paraphrase of the next section here: both sides, good and evil, want a measure of “control”. Tom has no desire whatever to control. He represents a pacifist view.
(1954 – another letter) “I put him in because I had already ‘invented’ him […] and wanted an ‘adventure’ on the way.” [Annael’s “cameo”!] “[he is] a particular embodying of pure (real) natural science: the spirit that desires knowledge of other things, their history and nature, because they are ‘other’ and wholly independent of the enquiring mind[….]”
And last but not least (from the same letter):
“I don’t think Tom needs philosophizing about, and is not improved by it.”
Not that that should stop our discussing him!
  • Chapter 7 Discussion: Postponed until tomorrow : ( - Aelric
    Sorry guys, today is shaping up to be a horrendously busy one. I have the questions written out, I just don't think I'm going to be able to post them today. So to eliminate confusion, I will begin the discussion tomorrow (Tuesday May 2nd).

My humble apologies to you all! We can blame it on the two guys that called in sick and stuck me with their duties as well as my own....grrrrrrrrrr!!
    • We will await your convenience, oh steward! Be well! - Patty
    • Think we have to accept this. - Lorgalis

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

(This post was edited by Inferno on Apr 26 2009, 3:28am)

Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:28am

Post #3 of 65 (20796 views)
Book 1 Chapter 8: Fog on the Barrow-Downs. Led by Aradan [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 1, Chapter 8
Fog on the Barrow-downs
A Discussion Led by Aradan

  • Chapter VIII: Final Conclusions - Aradan
    The Hobbits continue on their journey, and the landscape continues its gradual transformation from the familiar (the Shire) to the unfamiliar. Now that they’ve reached the Barrow Downs, even the birds are different.

The Hobbits, lulled into a false sense of security by Tom’s optimism and Goldberry’s hospitality, set off on a beautiful sunny morning directly north towards the Great East Road. They can even see the line of trees that marks the line of the road (or at least they think that they can) so they settle down for a
midday meal of unsurpassed excellence, thinking that it will be only a short step before they reach the road and are looking for a camping place for the evening.
The hobbits fall asleep, and while they are asleep the fog falls. They do not panic but make a gallant effort to find their way off the downs; unfortunately their navigation lets them down and they fall victim to the barrow wight.
Frodo, the last to be captured, awakens inside the barrow. For some reason (maybe the Ring, maybe Frodo’s personality, maybe the wight hadn’t got round to “dealing” with him properly yet) the wight’s spells don’t have quite as strong a hold over him as they do over the others. It looks as though some kind of “ceremony” is about to take place, in which Merry, Pippin and Sam are going to be sacrificed. Frodo briefly flirts with the idea of saving himself and abandoning his friends; but when the crunch comes he takes the initiative, picking up a sword and severing the wight’s hand at the wrist. This is in contrast to when the hobbits fell into the clutches of Old Man Willow, just two days earlier. The best that Frodo could manage then was to run around calling “help”. Already he has “grown” sufficiently to take charge and save his friends’ lives.
Frodo, not entirely sure what to do next, calls upon the only person that he knows can help: Tom Bombadil. Tom Bombadil (who may have been lurking outside the barrow, listening specifically for Frodo to “call”) arrives to reveal the exit from the barrow. Tom empties the barrow of its treasure, thereby “exorcising” the wight. The unconscious hobbits are revived, and Tom helps them on their way to Bree. From now on, however, they are on their own.
It is almost as though the events of this chapter were a training session for the hobbits, a test to see if Frodo is worthy to be the Ringbearer, and Tom Bombadil was his tutor. The “training” is now over, they have passed the test, and the hobbits can start the real adventure.

    • Thanks to all of you! - Aradan
      I’ve really enjoyed it, and I’d like to do another chapter some time… but not just yet!

The discussion, though, would not have been anywhere near as interesting if it wasn’t for all the people who made a contribution. So I’d like to give a big thankyou to everyone who posted a response or asked a question.
Also, I hope that every one who just came to read but didn’t want to contribute also gained something. Thanks for passing by!
And I’d also like to thank the Academy… (oops! Sorry, wrong speech!)
    • Most enjoyable , Aradan, and thanks to everyone for the additional insights! - Patty
    • Wow! These chap[ter reviews are bringing up a lot of great points! - Robin Smallburrow
      It makes rereading the books a totally different experience!

"Gave me a chance of walking round the country and seeing folk, and hearing the news, and knowing where the good beer was."
    • Very well done, Aradan! Thanks to you and - Kimi
      all contributors. It's been enlightening, and fun.
    • Excellent job Aradan - Blue Wizard
      Thank you for leading this week's discussion, and thanks to everyone who participated this week. It's really amazing how much "meat" is really in chapters like this one which, at first blush, seem not to have that much to do with the larger story.
    • Well done this week, Aradan! *applause!* - Aelric
      I will miss Tom not being in the movies, but I think PJ can omit him easily without causing any major damage to the plot. The swords will come from Aragorn in Bree (that's my guess anyway) or else somewhere along the line. Alas for Tom Bombadil whom I love!

Thanks Aradan!
    • Yes, a big thank you to everyone for the past two weeks' discussion! - Malbeth
      This section from the Old Forest to Bree has never been one of my favorites, but these last couple of weeks discussing Tom, Goldberry, barrows and their wights, etc. have been absolutely fascinating. I've gained many new insights thanks to all of you folks, and am really looking forward to future chapters.
    • Thanks to Aradan and all for the enlightening discussion! - septembrist
    • Nice summing up, Aradan! - Eledhwen
      Good week's discussion, too. I especially enjoyed wondering about the nature of the wights. Thank you!
      • Yes, indeed! - GaladrielTX
        Thanks for all the info about the real barrows. I vaguely remember hearing that some still existed, but I probably would never have seen one or learned any more about them if it hadn't been for you. Fascinating stuff.
  • Chapter VIII Discussion: "Tom’s country ends here: he’ll not pass the borders." - Aradan
    Could Tom have continued with the Hobbits to Bree (or even further) if he had wanted to, or was there some something that tied Tom to that particular piece of countryside and prevented him from ever leaving? (A desire to return to Goldberry accepted, of course.)
    • One more thought about Goldberry - Blue Wizard
      Tolkien writes, both in LOTR and in the earlier poetry, that Tom found Goldberry in the river and took her from her mother to his house. But Goldberry, as some kind of naiad (or at least whatever it is in Tolkien's world inspired the Greek notion of naiads) is, in the ambiguity of her species, we may well imagine to be as much the seducer as the seduced. In some of the Greek myths of naiads and other kinds of nymphs, a mortal who becomes the consort of a nymph may become bound to her world. Part of the whole mythology of nymphs is that they inhabit a particular lake, or river, or tree, etc... So, perhaps by taking Goldberry has his wife, Tom has become confined to the Withywindle Valley.
    • I though that... - Bard
      He was probably known in Bree. He knew the Prancing Pony and who owned it, that means he either went there or someone from Bree knew him and visited him. The Breelanders would probably think of him as some eccentric who lived in the hills.
    • Who is the real "Eldest"? - Ugly Troll
      I seem to remember both Bombadil and Treebeard referred to as the eldest. I lean towards Bombadil because he said something like he was there before the forests, but my memory might be off. I do know that later in the trilogy, Treebeard is always referred to as "Eldest".
      • I think we need to indulge in a little sophistry - Kimi
        The logic goes something like:

Treebeard is the Oldest living creature created in Middle-earth. Bombadil, whatever he is, was either created outside Middle-earth (e.g. a Maia), or is not alive in the ordinary, physical sense.
Well, I said it was sophistry!

        • If Bombadil is a Maia, why can Gandalf - Ugly Troll
          be overthrown by Sauron's power with the ring, but Tom could resist if the 'power is in the earth itself.'

My confusion is the use of the term to describe two different characters in the trilogy.

          • I don't actually think Tom B. is a Maia - Kimi
            That was just an example of what he might be. I think he's an enema... sorry, enigma.

But I agree whole-heartedly with GaladrielTX's comments about the differences in the natures and powers of different Maiar.
          • I believe the Maiar all had different levels and types of power. - GaladrielTX
            For example, Saruman was a Maia but he pretty much pales in comparison to Sauron's strength. So who's to say that Tom isn't just a Maia over whom the Ring just has no power?

Alternatively, you could look at the motivation of the Maiar who were tempted by the Ring: Saruman's chief motivation is the swaying of the minds of others and power over them. So the Ring has a great allure to him. The way of the Ring to Gandalf's heart is through pity: He is tempted to use it to better the lives of the miserable. But Tom is a very self-sufficient creature. The world doesn't mean much to him so there's little to tempt him.
      • Well, Yvanna made the Ents - Blue Wizard
        after she found out about Aule making the Dwarves.
        I tend to think that Bombadil, whatever he is, is older than Treebeard.
    • I always got the feeling . . . - Annael
      . . . that Tom is also saying "grow up!" to the hobbits. In a kindly way, he's warning them that they have to learn to rely on themselves much more, be more careful. And indeed, Frodo gets the message & tells the other hobbits that they have to be careful at Bree, to call him "Mr. Underhill," etc.

Of course WE know that Strider is hiding nearby & hearing all of this - and that he will be the one "at hand" to help them through their next trials. But the hobbits don't know that. They are beginning to see that they can't act like they usually do on a trip.
      • Yes, I've always had a similar feeling. - Gaffer
        (let me apologize in advance, though I'm actually writing this sentence after the fact. Bombadil is actually one of my favorite speculative subjects, and I tend to ramble, as I have done here.)

That Tom is telling them that they can't expect to rely on help to come running in every situation. Like a parent finally kicking his 34 year old son out of the house.
But discussion of Bombadil is always so interesting. I truly believe that at the core, Bombadil was just an invention of Tolkien's that was included before the scope and tone of the books expanded beyond a children's story, and that Tolkien liked the character so much that he couldn't bear to part with him.
This aspect of Tolkien is one of the things that makes this book so unique and rich. A modern author would look at the Bombadil chapters, and perhaps say "hmmm, that needs to be tightened up. Bombadil will have to go."
But Tolkien thought it made a good story, so he left it in.
So in this light, it comes down to sheer speculation on the part of the reader when discussing who or what Bombadil is, and in the end, he can be whatever an individual reader wants him to be. More than practically any other aspect of the books, Bombadil is probably the most open for interpretation precisely because of the fact that he doesn't seem to fit in anywhere.
I don't think that anybody in the book, including Gandalf, truly knows who Bombadil is either.
But of the tidbits we do get, we can derive some interesting things. The very fact that the Ring does not affect him is stunning if you stop to think about it. Clearly the Maia fear the Ring, and are fully subject to it's effects.
As far as I'm concerned, this makes Bombadil more powerful than either Gandalf, or even Sauron, who are of the Maia.
That being the case, one could almost argue that Bombadil's self imposed borders are as symbol of his incorruptibility. Clearly he is very powerful, yet he has no desire to exert that power over the lives of others. And so he keeps himself inside those borders to separate himself from the world he could affect.
I've often wondered if his apparent lack of concern for the outside world was derived not from apathy, but rather from foreknowledge. It wasn't that he didn't care, it was simply that he already knew how things would turn out.
Even to Gandalf and Elrond, this outlook might be mistaken for unconcern.
Of course, if this is the case, that makes Bombadil Eru. Of course there are many in-story arguments against this, but again I say, I truly don't think Tolkien ever had the desire to fit him into his mythology, which means that we are free to do so in whatever way we like (so THERE).
In my book, Bombadil is Eru. His borders are self imposed because he is an observer of the world, not a participant in it. He stays there because he knows that the song is playing itself out, and he is just in the balcony listening. Were he to leave the balcony, and enter the orchestra pit, he would be affecting the music.
        • My previous remark aside, I do love your - Kimi
          point about Tolkien's not being a "typical" author, and that being one of the reasons we love his work so much. Thank God (and Rayner Unwin) that LOTR was permitted to be published in the form it was.
        • Well, you're free to interpret however you want to, - Kimi
          of course, but Tolkien did state categorically that in his opinion Bombadil was not Eru.

Beyond that you can speculate in any direction you like, but if you try to make Bombadil into Eru you really are arguing against the author. I suspect (and this part is only my opinion) that Tolkien would have seen his portrayal of Tom as bordering on blasphemous if Tom was really Eru.
Speculation is always fun, of course!
    • Elrond says - Blue Wizard
      that he knew of Iarwain Ben-adar(if Tom is indeed the same person) walking abroad in the forests of Beleriand an age ago, so it is clear that Tom can leave the borders which he has set for himself. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he can change his mind about what his borders are. As Septembrist points out, Gandalf said that, if invited to the Council, he would not have come - not that he could not have come. He is simply not interested in what is going on in the rest of the world - in the end Gandalf says that Tom would not me much interested in anything that transpired in the whole adventure - except for the Ents.

But, it may be that his power is intimitely tied to the land which he has chosen. Within it, he is master according to Goldberry. But Tom himself says that he is not master of Black Riders from the East. Does this mean no more than that Sauron is their master, or is he implying that he has no power over them? Given that Tom appears to have powers over the wights, it cannot be simply that Tom has no power over spirits, as opposed to things of nature, or indeed that he has no power over things associated with evil in general or Sauron in particular. So is it that he has no power because they come from outside his realm? Of course Frodo thought that, if anyone knew how to deal with the Black Riders, Bombadil would.
The idea that Bombadil's power is intimately connected with his land is underscored by the debate over whether sending the ring to Bombadil would be a good idea. It is said that the power to resist Sauron, when all else has failed, is not in him, unless that power is in the earth itself.
    • Not bothered. - Eledhwen
      He just didn't care much about the world outside - I don't think there was anything stopping him going elsewhere, but he had no desire to leave.
    • Gandalf said... - septembrist
      that Tom "is withdrawn into a little land, within bounds that he has set, though none can see them, waiting perhaps for a change of days, and he will not step beyond them".
      Gandalf does not say cannot but will not. It seems that Tom can leave his land if he so wishes but has willfully chosen not to leave for any reason but his own.
    • Hmmmm.... - Aelric
      I don't think it has anything to do with being a "prisoner" so to speak. The elves are described as being "beyong the point of affective concern", I think Tom is always at that point, unless it has to do with the land he has set as a boundary for himself. He is content and not bothered or concerned with what happens on the "outside", nor has he ever been. So yes, he could have travelled on to Bree, and as far as he wished (even Elrond thought to summon him to the Council). Tom tied himself to his home and that is where he will stay.
    • Just a guess on my part... - Malbeth
      I have no evidence to back this up, but it doesn't seem right for him to be a prisoner in his territory. I do suppose he hadn't been outside for a very long time, and that whatever his 'powers' were, they were limited to within the borders of his country.

I'll bet somebody has some evidence to back this up or set me straight.
      • I know people like that - Binky
        not supernatural beings of course...:) but people who are not interested in the outside world..they don't read the news...the don't read much of anything now that I think of it... only care about what is happening in their little kingdom...
        hmm..now that I think about I read somewhere that C.S. Lewis' housekeeper was like that...wasn't interested in anything beyond what went on in her household...wouldn't talk about anything else. Lewis was always kind to her of course but she apparently rubbed his more intellectual friends the wrong way...hmmmm

  • Chapter VIII Discussion: "Free to all finders, birds, beasts, Elves and Men, and all kindly creatures" - Aradan
    Tom Bombadil removes all the treasure from the barrow and lays it out in the sunshine. Is the power of the wight somehow connected to the treasure, and by taking it from the barrow, does this in some way destroy (or reduce) the wight’s power? What does this tell us about Tolkien’s attitude towards material wealth?
    • The wights have something in common - Blue Wizard
      with dragons, who plunder the dwarf hoardes and sleep in mounds of treasure, but never enjoy a penny of it.

I don't know that there is so much an anti-materialism message here as there is ascribing simple avarice to dragons and to wights. It is rather like everyone wanting the Silmarils, or Sauron hoarding all of the mithril he can find. Tolkien doesn't seem to be saying that simple wealth is a bad thing, but that hoarding treasure for no purpose other than to possess it is. Bilbo is probably the best example of this - he gives away the treasure he got from his adventure, because he viewed Smaug's hoard as ill-gotten. Frodo has the price of the Shire and everything in it on his back - but at least the mithril coat is useful to him.
    • Barrow treasure - Eledhwen
      Does Tom feel no qualms about taking the treasure from a burial mound because it's inhabited by evil spirits? Otherwise this could easily be interpreted as similar to robbing a pyramid, surely - taking from the dead? Anyone?
      • I think the treasure has become tainted - Kimi
        by the barrow-wight's possession of the mound.

Tom puts the treasure out in the open "for so the spell of the mound should be broken and scattered and no Wight ever come back to it."
He does take one piece for Goldberry, but as Patty says, that's for sentimental reasons.
    • Combination. - septembrist
      I think the power of the wight is connected to the treasure. That is why they "reside" in the barrows rather than in the forest or other remote areas.
      Tom disperses the treasure because the wight no longer has need of it and I think does does not believe in hoarding or waste of material wealth or anything else.
      Tom reminds me of Native American beliefs that the land is not ours to own or control, but to accept its gifts and help to preserve it. Also, wealth is not to be hoarded but shared with the tribe, especially those with less fortunate or in need.
    • I would say that he recognizes the value... - Patty
      of material wealth, hence his mention of leaving it out for all takers, but it, like the ring, has no power over him, or else he would have taken more than the brooch which he seemed to just take for "sentimental value" as it were.
  • Chapter VIII Discussion: "There was Tom’s head (hat, feather and all) Chapter VIII Discussion: There was Tom’s head (hat, feather and all)" - Aradan
    This is the second time in three chapters that Tom has rescued the hobbits from danger. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “Once may be regarded as misfortune, twice sounds like carelessness.” In both cases, Frodo amongst all the hobbits behaves the most sensibly, but, also in both cases, he is not quite resourceful enough to save them on his own. What does Tolkien do to prevent this “re-cycling” of plot lines from become repetitious? What have the hobbits learned (if anything) from their earlier encounter with Old Willow Man?

    • Sorry about the echo... - Aradan
      ...in the subject line. Must have happened when I cut and pasted the title from my notes (not sure how, though.)
    • My take on both questions - Blue Wizard
      I agree with Patty about the encounter with Old Man Willow. Sam acts the most sensibly there, although his efforts do more harm than good. Frodo simply runs about in a panic calling for help. And, without Tom, they never would have escaped from Old Man Willow.

In the Barrow Downs, it is Frodo who acts. And, I would venture to say that it is he who saves the others, not Tom. Frodo then remembers the song that Tom taught him, not simply crying for help randomly. Tom simply opens the door after Frodo has already defeated the wight. I suppose that, without Tom, it would simply have been a matter of finding the door. Once outside in the sunlight, I expect that the others would recover.
I think that this shows that Frodo, in particular, has grown in this small part of their trip.
As for Tom being nearby, I think that he was looking for them before Frodo called. But, I don't think that he was following them. The Ponies had run away in fear, and word of that had probably come to him. After all, the Hobbits spent the entire night in the Barrow. So, he was undoubtedly looking for them - he had Fatty Lumpkin with him nearby, and undoubtedly realized that they must have been captured on the Barrow Downs.
      • I forgot about the ponies - Good point! - Aradan
    • I think the first time with old man willow... - Patty
      actually Sam acted the most sensibly. But these are all new experiences for all the hobbits...as Annael said, "a hardening process"...
    • Also... - Aradan
      (Almost forgot!)

Tom arrives amazingly promptly. Has he been lurking outside the barrow, waiting for Frodo to call him? Or does he have supernatural powers that enable him to be in the right place at the right time?
      • I would say lurking. - Malbeth
        I think Tom probably has some extaordinary powers within his realm, but in this case I believe that Tom was keeping an eye on the hobbits to be sure they made safely out of his realm. As for the first time, with Old Man Willow, maybe it was just fate; it was 'meant' for Tom to be there, just as Bilbo was 'meant' to find the ring in the dark.
  • Chapter VIII Discussion:" An icy touch froze his bones, and he remembered no more. " - Aradan
    Why is it that Frodo awoke in the barrow although the other hobbits remained unconscious? (It certainly seems that the wight was not expecting that any of the hobbits would have re-awoken.) Is it because Frodo has a particular strength that the other Hobbits did not have? Or was it the influence of the Ring, trying to get back to its master? (Trapped inside a barrow in the pocket of a dead hobbit would somewhat reduce its chances of ever getting back to Mordor.)
    • I don't think we need look any farther than... - Gaffer
      the fact that he was taken separately from the rest. The others were all captured together apparently (Frodo heard them crying for help.) Perhaps the Wight captured them, and was in the process of setting up the ritual or whatever with just the three, and came across Frodo as an added bonus, and set him on a shelf until he was done with the first three, which he had already begun.

I suppose it could have something to do with the Ring, but I never really felt that way on reading that passage.
      • That's okay, but... - Aradan
        ...even if Frodo was put into a "holding" spell to keep him out of the way whilst the wight finished dealing with the other three, it seems to me that Frodo woke earlier than the wight was expecting. Either the wight was incompetant and didn't put a strong enough spell on Frodo to begin with, or there was a particular quality that Frodo had that helped him to resist the spell.
        • Or - Gaffer
          The Wight just wasn't really afraid of anything that Frodo might do. Little tiny Hobbit dude vs. Big bad Wight. A spot of overconfidence maybe?

Frodo was trapped inside it's lair. As far as the Wight knew, he had no way out. He was unarmed, and a Hobbit.
          • Yes. I think we can agree... - Aradan
            ...that the wight was no Einstein. In fact, it probably didn't have much of a conciousness at all. It just acted instinctively, "collecting" people that happened to wander into its territory and taking them back to its lair. The idea that one should fight back probably never crossed its mind (if it had a mind.)
            • Exactly. - Gaffer
              The wight was acting according to its nature. I have the feeling that at this point in the story, Tolkien was still in transition from children's story to epic literature.

He pulled the idea of the Barrow Wights out of his (hat) and made them sort of undead creatures who lived in tombs and captured unsuspecting travellors and put spells on them. Just another of the many denizens of Middle Earth.
It's certainly possible that Tolkien intended it to be understood that the Ring somehow protected Frodo from the spells of the Wight. I'm just saying that in all the times I've read it, I've never gotten that impression.
I'd always sort of just assumed that Frodo waking up in the lair was akin to him waking up in jail. He was stuck. To the Wight, it wouldn't matter if he was awake or asleep. Whatever spell or inate magic the Wight used to subdue him was different from the magic used to enchant the other three Hobbits for whatever ritual it was that the Wight was enacting.
      • This is the explanation that most struck me as I read it too, Gaffer. - Patty
    • What Bombadil said - Blue Wizard
      He warns the hobbits to avoid the downs, unless they are stern folk whose hearts never falter. And that is why Frodo awoke. Also, it doesn't appear that whatever "spell" it was that the wight was using on the other three was being used on Frodo. They are laid out, side by side, in white robes, bejeweled, and with a sword lain across their necks. Why not Frodo? Maybe it's not so much that Frodo awakes by virtue of the power of the ring, as that the wight perhaps could not weave such a spell over a holder of the ring.
    • Your mention of Frodo's "pocket" reminded me: - GaladrielTX
      Tolkien mentions that Merry, Pippin, and Sam had been dressed in white clothing; and I assume Frodo was, too. When Tom comes to rescue them, he tells them they'll never find their old clothes again. So what happened to the Ring that Frodo always kept in his pocket?
      • Frodo's clothes weren't taken. - Kimi
        Another sign that the wight had not been able to cast the same sort of spell over him.
        • or . . . - Annael
          he got caught considerably later than the others.
          • Good point. It may well be - Kimi
            no more than that.
      • It had been hanging on his nck around a light chain since Rivendell... - EowynII
        ..they'd taken it from his pocket after the Fords, and placed it 'round his neck on a chain...so even if Frodo's clothes were changed like the other hobbits', the Ring would still have remained with him...

'I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun', she said; 'And behold! The Shadow has departed!'....
        • But they hadn't been to Rivendell! - Eledhwen
          However the chain thing still goes, as Bilbo seemed to have had it on a chain, as Frodo reports it changing size in 'Shadows of the Past'. I agree that probably the wight had no power over the bearer of the Ring.
          • Duh! What crack was I smokin'? - EowynII
    • It may also have been... - Aelric
      ...the feeling that the Ring would be taken from him that awakened him and made him stronger. Certainly it (the Ring) did play some part in it. Also, Frodo "different". He is not the plain shire hobbits that Sam, Merry and Pippin are. He was "meant" to have the Ring. Perhaps this instance at the Barrow shows this. Is there a hand guiding them all through this?
    • The Ring seems the likely culprit. - Kimi
      I hadn't thought of the Ring itself causing Frodo to wake, but now that you've suggested it, it seems reasonably likely.

I'd had a vague idea that the influence that the Ring already has over Frodo gave him a partial immunity to the spells of the wight, but I think I prefer your suggestion.
  • Chapter VIII Discussion: Cold be hand and heart and bone. - Aradan
    We’ve already touched on the question “What is a wight?” but who exactly are the barrow-wights of the Barrow-downs? Originally, I thought that they were simply the ghosts of the original occupants of the barrows “turned bad”, but now I’m not so sure.

Are they malignant spirits (man or elf) who happen to have taken up residence in the barrows, in the hope of trapping passing travellers? (If they are, then, considering that the road detours the downs altogether, and the reputation that the Barrow Downs have gained in the folklore of Middle-earth, they must have very few victims.)
What was this particular barrow wight’s motive in capturing the hobbits in the first place? What does it want from the Hobbits? (Or any other unwary travellers, for that matter.)
Does the wight know about the ring? (If the wights were originally sent to the barrows by the witch king, as the Encyclopaedia of Arda suggests, then perhaps they are working with him to try to capture Frodo.)

    • Ive always thought they were sent there by the witch king - Hengist
      Bit im not sure wether he corrupted the spirits of the dead or got them from else where. I dont think they were under active control and wernt out to get the hobbits, just get anyone they can as that is their nature. So why would the witch king want them there. that i think is obvious - the treasures buried with the dead! Many of the great and good of arnor were buried in the barrows in full arms and armour - weapons that can hurt the witch king after thats where merry got his sword to kill the witch king.
      ive always thought that the WK just put them there to stop people getting those weapons - even if they were into grave robbing.
    • The incantation leads me to think... - EowynII
      ...that somehow the wights do indeed have a direct connection to Sauron...remember the closing lines of the incantation, which mention the dark lord raising his hand over withered land, etc., etc. Are the wights in league with Sauron, and trying to waylay Frodo for that reason? Hard to say...they could have had purposes of their own, like the Balrog did.

'I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun', she said; 'And behold! The Shadow has departed!'....
      • The (sort of) Zen answer... - Gaffer
        Why are there Wights in the Barrows? Because Barrows are where Wights live/exist.

Okay, so as an answer I guess it leaves a lot to be desired, but I guess I never gave it much more thought than that.
I never pictured them as being in actual league with Sauron or the Witch King, other than the fact that they are both part of the evil team.
I'd just sort of made the assumption that you find rabbits in rabbitholes. Cows in Cowpastures, monkeys in trees, and Wights in Barrows. If I were a creepy, mysterious, undead, magical, evil being, where else would I hang my hat? Some dead person's tomb.
I think once you accept the fact that such a creature exists, it's only a short step to expect them to take up residence in the nearest tomb, whether they are allied with Sauron or not.
As to why he would capture passers by? Because that's what Barrow Wights do...*
*I say this in the sense that Tolkien largely made up the creatures he calls Barrow Wights, and so giving them Barrows as homes, and making them capture people who wander into their lairs is simply to describe their nature.
    • Who/what are the barrow wights - Blue Wizard
      I'm like you. I originally thought that the barrow wights were basically the ghosts of the people who were buried in the barrows, but now I think that is incorrect. Based on what Tom tells the hobbits, and on their own experience/dreams while captured, the barrow wights were some kind of spirit that were sent from outside, by the Witch King, or perhaps by Sauron himself , to occupy the barrows.

I don't think that they are trying to capture the ring exactly; just anyone foolish enough to wander onto the Barrow Downs. In the Adventures of Tom Bombadil, the wight actually comes to Tom's house and tries to capture him there. So, I'm thinking that Tolkien imagines that it is the nature of the Barrow Wights to try to capture folk.
    • Supernatural beings. - Eledhwen
      There aren't many of these in LOTR. No vampires, precious few ghosts (aside from the Dead Marshes and the Dead which follow Aragorn), nothing which gets inside your head ... The wights seem to be the only supernatural manifestation. Maybe they're sort of mummies - they're buried in barrows, after all - whose spirits live on; or as someone suggested yesterday, bodies inhabited by spirits. They're certainly malignant, and I think would be classed as allies of Morgoth and Sauron, but they seem to be under their own control.
    • I don't think it's as organised as that. - Kimi
      The following is complete speculation on my part; merely my thoughts, backed up by nothing that I've found in Tolkien's writings.

The wights are evil spirits of some sort (spirits of what, I wonder?), and were in ancient times under the control of the Witch-King of Angmar. But I don't think there's any actual communication between the wraiths and the wights.
The wights do seem to have some sort of allegiance to Morgoth (the wight's song implies this). Their purpose in… ah… unlife seems to be trapping unwary creatures and imprisoning them in their barrows until the end of the world. They might be in some sense under Sauron's influence, and if so there might be an extra imperative for them to capture Frodo. Not all evil creatures are under Sauron's control (e.g. Old Man Willow and Shelob), but the wights, if they were indeed once under the control of the Witch King, may well be.
Which leads to what I suspect may be your next question: why doesn't Frodo fall under the wight's spell in the same way as his friends? But I'll leave you to pose this one! :-)

      • You're right. That's the very question I was going to post later today! - Aradan
        Great minds think alike, eh?

I agree with you. I don't think that there is any collusion between the witch king and the wights, but it's worth considering as a possibility.
I think that the wights are just throwbacks to an earlier age. They simply behave the way they do because they were "programmed" by Morgoth, and have little conscious will or ability to do otherwise.

  • Chapter VIII Discussion: Some info on the REAL Barrow Downs - Aradan
    Salisbury Plain is a sparsely populated, treeless plateau in Southern England, an easy day trip (by car) from Tolkien’s home in Oxford. Being of only marginal agricultural use, the plain has been virtually untouched for thousands of years, and still contains many prehistoric earthworks, stone circles (such as Stonehenge), and barrows.

Most of the barrows on Salisbury Plain are simple burial mounds, that is, a mound of soil raised over the grave of a king or chieftain, as a marker. Some of the barrows, however, are chamber tombs, and contain a stone lined chamber (in which the bodies of the original occupants would have been laid) connected to the outside world by a long, low tunnel.
In an area called the Marlborough Downs (on the northern side of Salisbury plain, and about 30miles / 50 km from Oxford) there is one particularly well preserved chamber barrow, the West Kennett long barrow, which is open to public access. I’ve been inside this barrow myself , and I can promise you that the barrow and the landscape around it matches Tolkien’s description exactly.

    • Very true. - Eledhwen
      I've been there too, a while ago, and those stone circles and barrows are quite incredible - such a power of history, a sense of age, like you can't get anywhere else (including Roman ruins, really, as these circles are less ruined.)
      • Thanks for adding this info, Aradan... - Patty
        I think that, mist shrouded this area would be enough to really frighten ME, and I'm sure the hobbits would become very frighened and out of their reckoning, being not very worldly.
    • Nice link! - Blue Wizard
      I suspect that you are right. Some of Tolkien's descriptions of places are so vivid that they must be based on real locations - and this sure looks like the Barrow Downs.
  • Chapter VIII Discussion: "North with the wind in the left eye and a blessing on your footsteps." - Aradan
    How did the hobbits come to get lost? Was it the malign influence of the barrow wights or did they just have a poor sense of direction? (A midday meal with a tendency to fall asleep after good food did not help.) Is the standing stone in the hollow circle having a malign influence?
    • The hardening process has just begun. - Annael
      They're three days out from the Shire, two of which they've spent with Tom. Really it's only their second day of travel. They haven't yet learned to be suspicious and cautious all the time. I can't quite blame them, nor do I see them as "idiots." They went into the Old Forest as a calculated choice to evade another, definite danger, and it was the right choice even though they got out of their depth and needed rescuing.

And although they'll need rescuing again - and again - the point is that it will NOT be the great hardy warriors who fulfill the quest. The very qualities that make the hobbits seem like the worst choice possible are what will enable Frodo - and Sam - to resist the lure of the ring.
    • No need for spells - Phwghre
      I don't believe that it is necessary to invoke evil forces eminating from the barrows to explain the Hobbits' actions. They were experienced with the safety of the Shire. It was a beautiful day. Goldberry had packed one mean pic-a-nic basket. And suddenly, the weather changed, it got dark, and they got lost. Their foolish decisions were made way before they entered the region where I would expect the barrows' power to reign. It is only natural that the lay of the land funneled them into the barrows--this feature would have influenced the original builders' decision on where to construct the sight.

I especially appreciate Malbeth's notion that seeing the cavelier behaviour of Tom put them off their natural fear of the region.
      • Eerie... - Malbeth
        I was thinking that maybe the hobbits were careless because Tom's house seemed such a safe haven, and he seemed so unconcerned about any danger, but I didn't post anything about that. Yikes, Phwghre, are you reading my mind? But then I looked at Blue's post, and I see that's what you were referring to...whew.
        • sorry - Phwghre
          Apologies to both Malbeth and Blue for assigning that idea to the wrong authour. My thesis advisor always complains, to no avail, about my throughness in checking references.
    • Deceivingly familiar - Blue Wizard
      The hobbits leave Tom's house nearly as light-hearted as he seems to be, and it appears to them that the main road is really quite near. It turns out that, even if it weren't for being captured by the barrow wight, they could not have made the road in less than a full day of traveling. This mistaken perspective is something that frequently happens to someone unfamiliar with relatively featureless terrain, like the downs seem to be - things are much farther away than they seem. I think that simple disorientation, and a bit of carelessness, is a big part of how they get lost. But I wouldn't discount the barrow wights as actively luring unwary travelers to their doom.
    • Careless - Malbeth
      I'm sure there was some influence from the wight, but it was most carelessness. They're trying to get past this very dangerous place to continue their all-inportant mission, and they stop for a long, relaxing lunch. Apparently they didn't learn much in the Old Forest.

A related question: Why didn't Tom and/or Goldberry escort them to the road, like Tom did after rescuing them? The Downs were certainly part of his territory.
      • That is just what struck me, Malbeth...Why didn't Tom... - Patty
        take them to the road from the beginning? He knew the lure and power of the wights? But then, perhaps, as Annael said...this is part of the hardening process, and in fact, Tom knew that they needed to go through this to better prepare them for the even worse things to happen later. Since we don't know exactly who Tom is, we don't know the limits of his foreseeing powers.
        • Maybe it was a test... - Malbeth
          ...or an exercise to prepare them for hardships to come. But if that were the case, wouldn't Tom have kept a close eye on them, and intervened as soon as they got caught? On the other hand, maybe he did, and was waiting until the last minute to see if any of them was strong enough to take action, which Frodo did. Or maybe JRRT just wanted another dangerous adventure before they got to Bree.
          • Very interesting possibility - Blue Wizard
            Tom will not pass his "borders", and yet teaches the Hobbits a song to sing in case they are in trouble again. It is as if he expects that they will need his assistance even so close to home . And, both he and Goldberry warn the hobbits to stay clear of the barrow downs themselves. Tom makes an interesting observation that they should avoid the barrows unless they they are made of stern stuff indeed and have "hearts that do no falter". It is significant that it is indeed Frodo, the ringbearer, whose heart does not falter here. Perhaps it is a test indeed, to see if Frodo really is up to the task ahead of him.
    • Bumblers - Phwghre
      JRRT went out of his way to make the hobbits appear to be real eejits in the Book One of the Fellowship. Rescued by elves, farmers, woodland spirits, and rangers, it's amazing they made it out of Hobbiton.
  • Chapter VIII Discussion: "With a wave of her arm she bade them look round…" - Aradan
    After leaving Tom Bombadil’s house, the Hobbits appear to have reached another boundary, with the forest on one side and the barrow downs on the other. The forest was dangerous, but it was, to a certain extent familiar (at least to Merry). The barrow downs mark the start of completely unknown territory. The hobbits, however, still seem to be behaving as though they’re out for a Sunday afternoon trot on their ponies.

The sixth paragraph of this chapter contains some superb landscape description. Is Tolkien reminding us again, in this passage, of the sort of countryside (and, by implication, the way of life) that may be lost if they fail on their quest?

    • That paragraph - Eledhwen
      I've just reread it carefully twice - wow. Fabulously descriptive. It's really poetic. It strikes me that all the lands - North, South, and East - are depicted as being hazy, somewhere unknown. Most notably, East (the direction they're heading, towards Rivendell) is the direction that 'spoke to them, out of memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains'. Everywhere else fades into the distance, 'featureless and shadowy'. East is most attractive. Also, the West is hidden behind trees - the true unknown; you can't even guess what may lie that way, and indeed we never find out until the very end of the entire book.
      • That is my favorite paragraph in the whole book! - Annael
        The bit about "vanished into a guess . . . it reminded them, out of memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains" always speaks to me. But then, mountains are magic places to me.
        • Thought re the movie version - Annael
          This is the kind of passage that will be hard to do in the movie (not just because Goldberry won't be in it). You can't film a description of something! At least they're using locations that match what Tolkien envisioned. But more than that, I hope that PJ will include a scene somewhere, before or after Bree, where the hobbits stand on a hill and see the mountains in the distance for the first time in their lives, and somehow convey the wonder of that moment to us. Through voice over perhaps, if the film is narrated?
          • I would hope... - Aradan
            ...that the quality of the writing in the book is translated into quality cinematography in the film.
      • yes and no - Phwghre
        True, to the west lies The West, a haven hidden from knowledge. But also to the West and hidden by the forest is the familiar haven of the Shire. This is a chance to return west along a well traveled road to the known or to continue east into the unknown.
    • Ths songs of strange birds - Blue Wizard

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:30am

Post #4 of 65 (20823 views)
Book 1 Chapter 9: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony. Led by Kimi. [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 1, Chapter 9
At the Sign of the Prancing Pony
A Discussion Led by Kimi

  • Chapter 9: Summing up - Kimi
    The Hobbits (and the readers) have learned that the world is a bigger place than they suspected. We've had glimpses of some of the other Peoples of Middle-earth: Men, dwarves, and even a part-orc.

Frodo has learned a little more of the peril of the Ring.
And, possibly most significant of all, we have met Strider!
This chapter marks a significant point in LOTR, IMHO. The introduction of Strider, who appeared out of nowhere and took the author by surprise, to some extent symbolises the shift in LOTR from a simple story, the sequel to The Hobbit that everyone, including the author, thought Tolkien was writing, into the epic that eventually appeared.
Now, let the story continue!
Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful insights.

    • Thanks, Kimi! - Aradan
    • Kimi you did a perfect job, and especially thanks since you were asked at the last minute.. Thanks for your additional info from Letters,etc. Really enjoyed it! - Patty
    • Yet another week of great discussion! - GaladrielTX
      Thanks, Kimi! I didn't post this time (everyone beat me to the things I wanted to say), but I enjoyed reading and learned a lot.
    • Well done, Kimi! - Aelric
      And this asn't even your week! Excellent job! Nice summation as well: this is where the story really begins, the rest was a hobbit "adventure" like Bilbo's. Yes, they had Black Riders chasing them, but they found refuge in a place they they (for the most part) were familiar with. Now they venture where none of them have ever been...and Strider will be your guide!

Thanks Kimi!
    • Yet another 'Thank you, Kimi' - Malbeth
      And you're right...the tone of LOTR really changes right here in Bree.
    • Thanks Kimi! - Annael
      This is so much fun!
    • Thanks, Kimi! - Eledhwen
      Nice discussion this week ... just realised it's my turn next - help!!! How can I follow such a great group of people?
    • Nice summation. Thanks for your leading another great discussion. - septembrist
  • Chapter 9, Part Eleven: Bits and Pieces - Kimi
    Here're a few small items to chew over:

1. Is there any special significance in the name of the inn? Ponies become very important not long after this chapter; is Tolkien making a small joke here? It could be coincidence, but words are so important in Tolkien's world that I think the name is no accident.
2. Rumour tells us that Bree will be the scene of PJ's cameo. Our very own Leo told us that PJ will be a disreputable-looking character lounging against the inn wall chewing on a carrot.
3. So where are all the women?
How odd: a town with no women. I know that women are scarce in LOTR, but Bree seems to have a particularly striking shortage of them. I can't help thinking that this reflects the fact that women seem to have played virtually no part in Tolkien's own professional and social life.
Does anyone know if it would have been socially acceptable for respectable women to go to pubs in England in the 1930s? It certainly wasn't in this country before the 1970s, but we're burdened with the attitudes to alcohol that often go with a frontier society, and linger long after that society has passed its frontier days.

    • At the Sign of the Prancing Pony - Blue Wizard
      1. I agree with the comment below, that there does not appear to be any particular significance to the name "Prancing Pony", other than it is an appropriate name for a country inn at the crossroads of two ancient highways, with extensive stables.

2. But, what is the significance of the carrot? Is this an homage to Bugs Bunny? Maybe PJ will ask Frodo "What's up, Doc?"
3. As for women in Bree, I'm not surprised that we don't see any in this chapter. The Hobbits arrive at evening, on a wet and stormy night, when most people would be in their homes. The Prancing Pony appears to have a handful of regulars who regard it as their "local", and a large number of travelers in the Common Room, many of which appear to be more than a little disreputable. Not a place for a woman to be at all.
The comments below about the distinction between the "bar" and "lounge" in pubs are a good point. Women would certainly have been scarce in the bar of a local pub or inn in Tolkien's time; even 25 years ago, to say nothing of 50+ years ago, once you got outside the confines of the college-oriented pubs in Central Oxford, women would rarely be seen in the bar of a local pub in Oxford.
4. As for the women-folk of the Rangers, I believe that most of them are in Rivendell, under Elrond's protection. In one sense, there is no other place for them to be. I think of Rivendell as being quite a large complex - in effect a small city. Apart from the power of Elrond's ring, and its physical location, it is a sufficiently formidable fortress to withstand sustained attack from Sauron in the Second Age.
      • I agree with your assesement of Rivendell as being... - Patty
        a small city in fact. A while ago I posed the question of how people thought of Rivendell as one house or what, because the words Elven REALM have been used, which signifies to me more than just one house. Also we already know it housed many folks. But always it is drawn as just one house, from gingerbread (i.e. the bros. Hildebrant) to something more substantial, bt always just one house.
        • Well, it could be like Brandy Hall . . . - Annael
          which housed a "couple hundred" people at any time.
          • here's a picture . . . - Annael
            • I have wanted to go to Banff for years, tho' I can't ski a stroke. But you're right, Rivendell it is!!! - Patty
            • Wonderful. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before - Blue Wizard
              but the Banff Springs Hotel is a perfect model for Rivendell. The look, the setting, everything. It's absolutely perfect.

Hey! There's an idea for a TORN convention - have it in "Rivendell"; fly into Calgary or take the train from Victoria/Vancouver.
              • I would go there in a second! - Annael
                Always wanted to visit Calgary & Banff. It would be a great place to go in August.

Blue, you're probably old enough to remember "F Troop" and "the Burglar of Banff-ff-ff"?
                • You've never been there? - Blue Wizard
                  For an avid skiier in the Pacific Northwest,you're missing a treat. You owe it to yourself to go. Stay at the Banff Springs (the one in your pic) or Chateau Lake Louise. (The Canadian Pacific hotel chain is my favorite - the Palliser in Calgary is also very, very nice, but not as picturesque, being in the center or town.) Ski Lake Louise, Sunshine, Mt Norquay, Nakiska.

I'm told that Banff in the summertime is really, really crowded - like Yellowstone and Yosemite combined. And Calgary for the Stampede - look out! But, if you visit in August, there is probably still skiing at Sunshine, way, way above treeline.
                  • I know, I know . . . - Annael
                    There are so many great ski areas close to Seattle that we don't go farther afield very often. We go up to Whistler in BC from time to time, and over to Idaho to McCall or Sun Valley, but mostly we stick with Crystal Mountain for downhill or the Methow Valley for Nordic skiing. We had a place down near Bachelor for years & that was our usual vacation choice - there's just something about being able to ski from the TOP of a 9,000-foot mountain! But Banff - yes, someday!
        • The Last Homely House - Idril Celebrindal
          I always thought of Rivendell as being a small village with one prominent dwelling -- Elrond's home, the Last Homely House (which should really be called the Last Homely Mansion since it's apparently pretty large). There are probably other dwellings in Rivendell, if for no other reason than to give Elrond's folk a chance to escape the communal life of the Last Homely House for a while. (Frodo's house at Crickhollow, although it's not Elvish, was built for a similar reason.) Plus, there would be various outbuildings, workshops, smithies, barns, storage sheds, granaries, etc. that would be separate from the main house.

The population of Rivendell would have been much larger at the end of the Second Age, when it served as a staging area for the armies of the Last Alliance and a refuge for people of all sorts who were fleeing the armies of Sauron. The soldiers and refugees were probably housed in tents and other sorts of temporary dwellings. (Perhaps some of Elrond's folk gave up their housing to ill and frail refuges.) But by the end of the Third Age, Rivendell's population was probably fairly small, especially since many Elves had passed over the sea by then.
I do not think that the Dunedain/Rangers dwelled in Rivendell. There's a tradition that the heirs of Isildur be fostered in Rivendell, and that's why Aragorn lived there as a youngster. But his mother, Gilraen, did not. IIRC, the Rangers and their families dwell in several small villages (probably fortified), and it was there that she lived. I don't know exactly where the Ranger settlements are located, but they don't seem to be in the Rivendell area. I suspect that their location was kept secret for protection against enemy attack.
      • I think you may be right about Rivendell - Aradan
        • Also there are no female ruffians. - Steve D
          • There is mention of two types of people - Blue Wizard
            traveling through Bree - true refugees, trying to escape from the troubles in the South and East, and bandits/ruffians/highwaymen. I expect that the visitors to the Prancing Pony frequently included a number of families, including women and children, in the former category.
    • I don't know about "significance"... - Malbeth
      but "The Prancing Pony" would indicate an inn primarily for travelers, with a large stable for their horses. The Shire inns presumably catered mostly to the locals.
    • Lack of Women (and a supplementary question) - Aradan
      Many pubs in England tend to have two separate rooms in which customers are served: a "Bar" where the furnishings were fairly basic, and a "Lounge" where the furnishings were more comfortable (and the drinks usually a little more expensive).

In the past, it would have been totally unacceptable for respectable women to go into the Bar, instead they would go into the Lounge. The common room at the Prancing Pony I would assume is the equivalant of the Bar and the private sitting room where the hobbits are served their supper is the equivalent of the Lounge. If the Prancing Pony had any female customers, then I would suspect that they would be served in a private sitting room, as the hobbits were before they moved through t the common room.
My supplementary question is: Where are the Ranger women and children? The Rangers, although diminished in numbers, have survived for many generations since the fall of the Northern Kingdoms. All we are told about are the adult men who patrol the borders of the shire. So where are their wives and mothers?
      • More lack of women (and a supplementary answer) - Eledhwen
        I think Aradan's got it re lack of women in the Pony, and I'd add that even today in Britain it's common for men to go out 't'pub' and leave their wives behind to put the kids to bed or something. As for the Dúnedain women and children, well, I think they must have a small secret settlement somewhere in the North, not too far from the Shire's borders. Hidden in the woods like Robin Hood or something. A base for the men to come home to.
        • Michael M. wrote about this - Binky
          several months ago...I believe he also thought the Rangers had encampments in the North...I was led to believe they lived some kind of a gypsy lifestyle but living at Rivendell would be feasible as well.

  • Chapter 9, Part Ten: The Ring - Kimi
    Just why does Frodo put on the Ring? Sheer chance ("If chance you call it")? A prompting from someone in the room? Or a prompting from the Ring itself?

    • This scene in the Pony, along with what happened to... - Patty
      Isildur and the scene at Weathertop, where Frodo feels compelled to put the ring on in the presence of these enemies who, he knows will still be able to see him all combine to give me more of a sense of the ring being sentient than I had before this reread. I think it is exherting influence to get back to the maker, Sauron, as was said below. The thought that ultimately this was happening according to the design of Eru , as in Frodo and the other hobbits being meant to meet up with Aragorn is a little more like pre-ordained destiny than I imagine the story line to be.
      • About "pre-ordained" - - Annael
        Several posts below from our Tolkien scholars have made it clear that Tolkien was as surprised as the hobbits by Aragorn's appearance, and had no more idea than they who he was, at first. I wonder if when Tolkien wrote about "it was meant . . . more than that I cannot say" he was expressing his own belief in and wonder at the creative power working through him to make this story.
        • That's an interesting thought, Annael... - Patty
    • The Ring can change its size, in my opinion. - Steve D
      I can't think of any other way it could have slipped off Isuldur's finger.

A pretty dance, but rather vigorous.
      • One ring, fits all sizes - Aradan
        It can fit comfortably on human sized fingers (Sauron, Isildur) and hobbit sized fingers (Gollum, Bilbo, Frodo, Sam) so it must change size at will.
        • Of course! Great point! - Steve D
        • Magical items... - Aelric
          ...IMHO, are made so that anyone can wear them. They shirk or swell to fit comfortabley -- just part of the magic...
          • Ah, but at whose " will"? - Patty
            • Who ever is wearing it... - Aelric
              ...this is pretty general thinking here, Patty, sorry. When I play AD&D for instance, and I describe a pair of magic gauntlets, when the person (player) puts them on, I say that the glove shrink or swell to fit perfectly -- inherant in the magic poured into it by the caster who made the item.

Now, what I wonder is, if Sauron made the for himself alone, why would it be made to fit everyone else?
              • But I mean, the wearer or the ring itself?... - Patty
                you don't think it's the ring's will (bound up with Sauron's of course) that decides things,not, for example, Frodo?
                • Now hold on... - Aelric
                  ...do you mean in regards to the "one-size-fits-all" theory or the Ring as a whole? I'm talking specifically about fitting. The Ring fits by itself, without will of it's own (in a personified way) or that of Sauron, just because it is a magic ring and that how I think it works. The Ring just sizes automatically.

Now WHEN it loosens and tightens (or gets hot or cold) is something completely different. That is an attempt by the Ring to reveal itself (if we're staying with the incident in Bree : ). But how is only a guess. Perhaps it is something that Sauron added to the forging spells? Something to the effect of if the Ring should ever be lost into someone else's posession, that it would inherently become loose as to fall off a finger, etc. All this in an attempt to get back to it's Master. I mean, it's not like the thing can grow legs and jump a caravan here! : )~
    • The ring seems to go on a finger in 3 instances: - Ugly Troll
      When the ringbearer is trying to hide from someone.
      When it seems to slip on the finger of its own will.
      When a servant of Sauron is nearby and a compulsion comes over the ringbearer.

The incident at the inn seems to be, in my opinion, one of those instances where the ring slips onto a finger for its own inscrutable purposes. There is plenty of room to argue for the third option, but there does not seem to be any powerful compulsion in his mind that he can fight like you find in other instances.
    • A silly thought of mine. - RosieLass
      What was the Ring trying to get back to? Its master Sauron, or to the Cracks of Doom where it was created?

If it was trying to get back to Orodruin, would that mean it had a death wish?
I dunno, just something stupid that occurred to me...
    • A bit of all three... - Aelric
      ...the Ring does loosen and tight at will, it would seem. But I think it was by chance that the timing was right (in regards to the fall); with the Nazgul close by, the Ring grew stronger and wished to reveal itself. Luckily the Ring didn't just fall out of his pocket and roll ovewr to Ferny's table!
    • The will of the ring. - Lorgalis
      Sice the first time the ring appeared in the hobbit, it could always be seen, that the ring made its own decisions.
      It served only the way it wanted it to be.

It took Smeagol as a host, because he was stronger. The ring influenced the poor boy to take it by force. Then it used this creature to wait until the next rise of Sauron.
When it could feel that Sauron would rise again, it searched out a new host to get back to light, Bilbo.
The ring did not mind whether Frodo or Bilbo wore it.
In Bree, the presence of the Nazgul and therefore also the presence of their master could be felt. This is in my opinion the reason for the ring to react. It was necessary to make its presence known.
It slipped on the finger of Frodo, just when all attention lay on him!
The ring is a part of Saurons power, therefore, it is possible for it to do some things willingly.
    • You were meant to have it, and not by its maker - Blue Wizard
      My first instinct is that the ring is simply trying to reveal itself, in order to get back to it's maker. Bill Ferny and Harry the Gatekeeper have had some dealings with the Black Riders directly - although it cannot be imagined that the Nazgul would entrust them with the knowledge of what it is they are looking for, beyond "Baggins". And, Saruman has his spies. And, it may be that the ring is simply trying to find a more appropriate and powerful person to hold hit than Frodo - Aragorn himself perhaps.

But, it also occurs to me that, but for Frodo's "accident", the Hobbits would not have been impressed with the same sense of urgency. Strider is trying to get in to see them even before the accident, as he knows that Frodo is traveling under the name "Underhill", and has overheard them outside of Bree. But, would the Hobbits have trusted him otherwise? Perhaps the ring was meant - and not by its maker - to reveal itself precisely so that the Hobbits would ally themselves with Strider immediately - thereby avoiding death or capture by Saruman's spies that very night, or eventual capture by the Black Riders on the road to Rivendell.
    • The Ring itself. - Eledhwen
      It probably 'wants' to get him into trouble. In the end, it brings him up with Aragorn, which is a good thing.
      • I agree, it's the ring itself - Malbeth
        It feels to Frodo like an influence from someone in the room, but who? Ferny and the Southerner are just spies; they don't know specifics about the ring. It must have been the ring itself, taking advantage of an opportunity to make itself known. Although, I just thought of this, it's possible there was a Black Rider nearby, outside the inn, influencing Frodo. Hmmm.
        • I think so too. - Steve D
  • Chapter 9, Part Nine: The Author's Touch - Kimi
    There are some frightening things in this chapter, and in fact there is no real feeling of safety for the hobbits from now until they reach Rivendell.

But Tolkien always manages to weave some light among the darkness, and in amongst the more sinister happenings we get several doses of humour.
What are some of the humorous elements in this chapter, and what (if anything) do they achieve?

    • I agree with what everyone else has said; I also like - Kimi
      the interaction between Frodo and the locals when he's talking about writing a book. One would almost think JRRT was talking from experience here!

      • Barliman is my favorite secondary character, and as I posted on the main board... - Patty
        his casting is of real concern to me. I think it's the fact that his casting hasn't been announced that concerns me. I don't see how he could be written out of the script, do you?
        • I'm sure he'll be there. After all, we know - Kimi
          Bree is in, complete with The Prancing Pony, so there surely must be an inn-keeper.

It's probably not a "name" actor, though. I know you wanted one, Patty! But I think we would have heard by now. Hmm, I wonder if Leo knows who it is...
I suppose it's possible that they haven't yet filmed the Barliman scenes, just the "crowd" bar scenes.
I agree, btw: BB is a great character.

          • But ya know Kimi, the actors that I'm thinking of are used to... - Patty
            playing bit parts...it's what a lot of them do...so perhaps they won't cost too much? **wish , wish, hope, hope**...
    • Barliman Butterbur - Idril Celebrindal
      (I almost wrote "Barliman Butterbutt" :-)

Old Barliman is one of the chief comedic elements in this chapter. His dialogue, his bumbling, his speech patterns -- all provide a leavening of humor that makes this chapter far less dark.
Tolkien comes very close to parody with Butterbur, but manages to interweave more serious elements into his character. Butterbur's willingness to help the Hobbits despite his fear of Mordor is his most endearing feature; his bad opinion of Strider and prejudice against the Rangers, the least.
Butterbur is also smarter than he first appears. His comic dialect and apparent inefficiency conceal his status as one of the Breeland's more influential people. Although Nob, Bob, and Butterbur's other employees/family members probably do most of the actual work, managing an establishment like the Prancing Pony is not a simple task.
      • Ha ha - me too - Malbeth
        I caught "Barliman Butterbut" just before posting this morning, and reluctantly decides to correct it.
    • I rather like Nob and Bob - Blue Wizard
      Barliman's interaction with them is one of the more amusing things in this chapter. The three of them strike me as Dickensian characters - something of a mixture of Old Fezziwig, young Ebeneezer Scrooge and young Dick Wilkins and half-a-dozen others. Nob and Bob are "on" to him - he is blustery and busy, but with a heart of gold. But, they are the ones who really keep the Prancing Pony going. If LOTR was a massive success on screen, and someone wanted to do a "spin-off" situation comedy based on minor characters for television - the Prancing Pony would be the first choice in my book.
      • taking that idea and running with it . . . - Annael
        How about this: Every week someone in the Common Room tells a different story from Tolkien. We cut between that story and the "crisis of the week" at the Inn (Barley has lost ANOTHER letter, the Inn hosts the Mayor of the Shire and everyone is acting snobby but it turns out to be Sam who prefers to pal with Nob & Bob, etc.)
        • Sure - you could have - Blue Wizard
          Hobbits visiting from the Shire

Elves traveling between Rivendell and the Havens
Dwarves traveling along the East-West Road
The King's messengers, envoys, ambassadors, etc, and King Elessar and Queen Arwen themselves once in a while, traveling up the Greenway
The odd villian - orc, troll, wight, warg etc. wandering in from the wilds
Tom and Goldberry even.
I like it more the more I think about it.
          • The critics will say... - Aradan
            ...that it's just a rip-off of "Cheers".
    • Ho ho ho! - Eledhwen
      Well, Barliman Butterbur is constantly funny; the Breelanders are quite comic too in their country naivety. Then there's Frodo's song, and him falling off the table is at once comic and unnerving for the reader, as we know about the Ring.
  • Chapter 9, Part Eight: Who's that Southerner? - Kimi
    Who is the "squint-eyed Southerner" who looks so sinister to the Hobbits? What can be learned about him beyond what we read in this chapter?

    • Could he be 3/4 Man and 1/4 Orc? - Steve D
      It seems like half-orcs are clearly orcish, but he looks like a man.

A pretty dance, but rather vigorous.
      • You may well be right, Steve. In - Kimi
        "Unfinished Tales", he is described as "an outlaw driven from Dunland, where many said that he had Orc-blood."

    • Here's the scoop from "Unfinished Tales" - Idril Celebrindal
      The squint-eyed southerner was originally a spy of Saruman's. However, he is now a spy for the Nazgul. The Ringwraiths encountered him on the Greenway while he was on a spy mission of Saruman's (IIRC, either to the Shire or Bree). Through their evil magic, they dominated his will and turned him to the service of Sauron. (Something similar apparently happened to Harry the gate guard at Bree, who let the Nazgul into town.) The Nazgul then sent him to Bree to spy for them since they knew that the hobbits would be coming that way sooner or later.

The southerner found a kindred spirit in Bill Ferny, who previously may have been one of Saruman's agents. Ferny and the southerner were the ones who told the Nazgul about Frodo's mysterious disappearance in the Prancing Pony.
I don't remember what happened to the southerner after the hobbits left Bree. Perhaps he became one of Sharkey's ruffians in the Shire, as Ferny did.
      • Very well remembered, Idril! - Kimi
        He was sent by Saruman to the Shire to buy pipe-weed "and other supplies", as well as to spy - specifically, "to learn if there had been any departures of persons well-known recently."

I don't think we hear what eventually happened to him, but I think he's probably either one of the robbers living near Bree that Barliman refers to, or perhaps a ruffian in the Shire, as you suggested.

    • One of Saruman's experiments - Blue Wizard
      Not only, as has been pointed out by Malbeth and Eledhewn, is the squint-eyed Southerner with the sallow complexion, one of Saruman's spies - sent to watch the Shire from Bree and the Southfarthing - but, he would also appear to be one of the results of his human-orc cross-breeding experiments.

I don't recall now if it is Merry or Pippin, but one of them remarks that there were many of these kinds of men/orcs as Isengard, and that they reminded him of the Southerner in Bree - only he was not obviously so orc-like as those in Isengard. So it seems to me that he is one of the more human of Saruman's vile experiments.
      • Maybe I'm seeing overtones that arn't there - Aradan
        ...but I thought of "squint-eyed, sallow complexion" as being of vaguely oriental or asian appearance, and thus this individual was a half breed between a "Western" type human and an Easterling or Haradrim. (Of course, this raises the spectre of whether Tolkien was perpetuating racist stereotypes...)

I would have thought that a halfbreed with an orc would be much more ugly!
        • In Letter 210, Tolkien wrote - Blue Wizard
          that Orcs "are definitely stated to be corruptions of the 'human' forms seen in Elves and Men. They are (or were) squat, broad, flat nosed, sallow-skinned, with wide mouths and slant eyes: in fact degraded and repulsive versions of the (to Europeans) least lovely Mongol-types."

So, the description of the Southerner at Bree is definitely consistent with this physical description of orcs.
    • He's almost certainly from Isengard... - Malbeth
      by his appearance, as Eledhwen said, as spy for Saruman. But either he or Ferny (or both) may have been offered gold in return for information by a Black Rider, too. After Frodo's accident, Ferny leaves with the Southerner with "a knowing and half-mocking expression" on his face. Suppose a Black Rider had made promises in return for information about a hobbit from the Shire named Baggins. The Black Rider certainly wouldn't have told Ferny anything about the ring, but he might have said this Baggins was some kind of magician who might be able to disappear.
    • Later on ... - Eledhwen
      In Isengard bits, we find out that he's obviously one of Saruman's men, probably one of those sent to spy on Gandalf's doings and friends. Saruman would know at least that Aragorn was friends with Gandalf, even if he was unaware of his real identity, and therefore it would make sense to have someone following him.
  • Chapter 9, Part Seven: The World is a Big Place - Kimi
    Bree shares some of the Shire's insularity: notice that the inhabitants of both places refer to the others as "Outsiders". But Bree-folk are more aware of goings-on in the wide world than are the Shire-folk.

What are some of the things that illustrate this awareness? How willing do the Bree-folk appear to be to see themselves as part of this larger world?
Why are there fewer comings-and-goings between the Shire and Bree than there used to be?

    • Troubles in the Southfarthing - Blue Wizard
      The Shire is seeing a bit of the same kind of troubles as Bree, with a mixture of refugees and troublemakers from the South, Dwarves traveling in greater numbers along the East-West Road, and Elves leaving across the Sea. But, we don't get to see, until the Scouring, the faces of those people in the Shire itself; while we do get to see it, for the first time, in Bree.

Both Bree and the Shire are very isolated geograpically. Although both are on the East-West Road and see some travelers, no-one lives within hundreds of miles of either place, so it can be expected that they see few "outsiders". In the case of the Shire, for the past 17 years, the Rangers, at Gandalf's direction, have kept a particularly close watch on the Shire - I think that they have turned back many travelers who might otherwise have wandered in. Saruman, of course, has been planting spies in and around the Shire and Bree for something like 60 years at this point - since the time of the breaking of the White Council and Sauron's open return to Barad Dur. Despite the scattering of the Orcs of Mt. Gundabad after the Battle of Five Armies, I suspect that the road from the Shire to Bree has become a good deal less safe, all accounting for the increasing insularity and isolation of the Shire in particular.
    • It was interesting to note that the hobbits in Bree... - Patty
      were sympathetic to the plight of those wanting to flee to more peaceful areas, but they knew that, as these were big folk, they could hardly move them out of their own holes and houses cause they wouldn't fit. No threat.
    • Part of the larger world - Malbeth
      While the Shire folk have heard rumors of "queer folk" on the roads and have a vague idea that something upsetting is going on outside their borders, the Breelanders actually meet these travellers and here the stories first hand. Bree is happy to have the larger world touch them slightly; travellers stay at the inn and make life more interesting. However, they don't want to get TOO involved; they don't want a bunch of strangers settling there.

As far a comings-and-goings between Bree and the Shire, we don't really know how long travel has been declining, but the road certainly isn't as safe as it used to be. Maybe as folks started here more about the troubles to the south, they were just less inclined to venture outside the gates.
  • Chapter 9, Part Six: The Man in the Moon - Kimi
    So that's where the nursery rhyme comes from! Is this meant to reinforce the idea that Middle-earth is our own world?

Nursery rhymes often do contain historical references, though more often than not the small children taught the rhymes (and often those teaching them) are blissfully unaware of these historical references. A well-known example is "Ring a Ring of Roses", which recalls the Plague. Another is "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary", which is about Mary, Queen of Scots. Those who have read "The Bridge of Birds" (I know that several TORNadoes have) will remember its theme of ancient secrets that survive in children's rhymes that are passed on from older children to younger ones, with no adult intervention.
The rhyme as we know it is thought by some to be connected with the Egyptian sky goddess, Hathor, who was often depicted as a cow, and in some pictures is carrying a rattle with images of a cat. If the rhyme really is about Hathor, it has a long history even for a nursery rhyme.
Within LOTR, is Frodo's song meant to have any "historical" echoes? How does it relate to the story in "The Silmarillion" of the creation of the moon?

    • Old Wives Tales Again - Blue Wizard
      Here is the most obvious example of Tolkien playing with the conceit that Middle Earth is a real place in our own past, remembered only dimly in our own old wives tales and nursery rhymes. Just like the "all that glitters is not gold" line of Bilbo that "survives" to Chaucer and Shakespeare.
    • Twisting - Eledhwen
      Tolkien seems to twist our own legends and myths to suit his history, which works extremely well. Of course the Man in the Moon here is Tilion in his boat, and the Sun Arien in her vessel. (are those names right?) But they're adapted and 'lowered' from the high Maiar of the Sil to hobbit-level, giving both a more friendly aspect. The characters in the Sil are scary, especially Arien, but here, they're just comic.
  • Chapter 9, Part Five: The Rangers - Kimi
    What do the people of Bree think of the Rangers?

The Rangers have been mentioned before we reached Bree. What clues have we been given about the history and nature of the Rangers?

    • Gildor also mentions the Rangers, - Kimi
      though he calls them "The Wandering Companies". He says he will tell them of Frodo's journey.

      • I think that Gildor was referring - Blue Wizard
        to wandering companies of elves, like his own, as well as to the Rangers.
        • Yes, that makes sense. Both types of - Kimi
          "company" would have some sort of contact with Rivendell, I expect.

    • The heedless - Blue Wizard
      The quote from Bombadil sums up perfectly the attitude of the Breelanders, and even more so the Hobbits, toward the Rangers. The Breelanders are at least aware of them. But, the Rangers keep themselves effectively secret from the Hobbits - they keep watch on the Shire without the Hobbits even being aware that they are there. They are, if visible to the Breelanders, effectively a complete mystery.
    • Tom Bombadil described them to the hobbits... - Malbeth
      but not by the name 'Rangers'. After the barrow rescue, he gave them the daggers made by Men of Westernesse, and said: "Few now remember them, yet still some go wandering, sons of forgotten kings, walking in loneliness, guarding from evil things folk that are heedless." Of course, the hobbits didn't associate this description with the name 'Rangers'.
      • Have you noticed, if you read that - Kimi
        wonderful quote aloud, what a lovely piece of poetry it is? Tom seems to speak in verse most/all of the time.

      • Wonderful quote! - Aelric
        It's one of my favorites! So much foreshadowing!

    • Very little. - Eledhwen
      Does Gandalf mention them at all in the Shadow of the Past? The hobbits don't seem to realise that the Rangers have been keeping them safe for years and years.
      • Gandalf mentions Aragorn by name - Binky
        in 'the Shadow of the Past'. My son has my book so I can't look up the exact quote but I think he praised him and called him one of the 'greatest huntsman in this age of the world or something or other :) ..someone got a book handy? I don't remember if Gandalf actually used the word 'rangers' though.

However Gandalf's description does not seem to match up with the rascally dark character sitting in the corner of the Prancing pony) I wouldn't have made the connection.
        • Found it. - septembrist
          Gandalf calls Aragorn, "the greatest traveller and huntsman of this age of the world" as he tells Frodo of their search for Gollum.
          However, he does not describe Aragorn in any detail.
        • That's right, it was when he told Frodo about hunting for Gollum. - Malbeth
  • Chapter 9, Part Four: Enter Strider - Kimi
    The character of Strider had a convoluted history during the writing of LOTR; Tolkien himself said that "Strider sitting in the corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo." In an early version, Strider was a hobbit called "Trotter"!

How does Tolkien introduce Strider? How does he manage to make Strider's intentions and nature appear ambiguous?

    • The real Strider? - Kimi
      This is an extract from a letter to Christopher Tolkien written in 1944. It happened after the introduction to Trotter/Strider had been written, but I can’t help feeling that this intriguing man had some influence on the final picture of Aragorn.

“I noticed a strange tall gaunt man half in khaki half in mufti with a large wide-awake hat, bright eyes and a hooked nose sitting in the corner. The others had their backs to him, but I could see in his eye that he was taking an interest in the conversation quite unlike the ordinary pained astonishment of the British (and American) public at the presence of the Lewises (and myself) in a pub. It was rather like Trotter at the Prancing Pony, in fact very like. All of a sudden he butted in, in a strange unplaceable accent, taking up some point about Wordsworth. In a few seconds he was revealed as Roy Campbell [….] It was (perhaps) gratifying to find that this powerful poet and soldier desired in Oxford chiefly to see Lewis (and myself). [….] A window on a wild world, yet the man is in himself gentle, modest and compassionate. Mostly it interested me to learn that this old-looking war-scarred Trotter, limping from recent wounds, is 9 years younger than I am […] I wish I could remember half his picaresque stories […] However it is not possible to convey an impression of such a rare character, both a soldier and a poet, and a Christian convert.”

    • I find it interesting that Frodo, after his - Kimi
      fright with the Ring, goes and sits beside Aragorn, and doesn't seem particularly frightened of him. Wary, but not frightened.

It's a long time since I first read LOTR, but I think I recall being puzzled about Strider, unsure whether he was good or bad, but inclining towards "good". But this may be 25 years worth of hindsight talking.

    • The first time - Blue Wizard
      I read LOTR, so long ago, I'm afraid that I didn't share Sam's suspicions about Strider.

The physical description is supposed to make us think that he may in fact be one of the Black Riders, but there are enough hints to let us know that he is not. The clue for me was his boots. His boots are worn from long travel walking, not riding. On the other hand, I don't recall thinking that Strider must be Aragorn, of whom Gandalf spoke in Bag End either. And, I didn't immediately associate Bombadil's description of the Dunadain as being the Rangers either. But somehow, like Frodo, I "knew" that Strider was one of the good guys.
I'm afraid that this is one of those cases where Tolkien is trying to create suspense and ambiguity, but falls a little bit short.
    • I've always loved Strider's introduction. - Malbeth
      Truthfully, I can't remember if I was fooled the first time I read it, but Tolkien certainly drops some clues that this mysterious Strider might be a scoundrel or worse.

1. Butterbur, whom we immediately like, says Strider has stayed at the inn many times, but Butterbur doesn't even know his real name and clearly doesn't trust him.
2. The first descriptions of him: "a strange-looking weather-beaten man sitting in the shadows". "A travel-stained cloak...was drawn close over him, and in spite of the heat of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face".
This sounds like it could be someone who could be in league with Black Riders.
3. "but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits." This mysterious stranger seems far too interested in the hobbits - what does he want?
4. Butterbur tells Frodo: "Funny you should ask about him.", and then gets called away; it's getting even more ominous.
5. Strider to Frodo: "A matter of some importance - to us both. You may hear something to your advantage." He could be some mercenary trying to sell information, or silence, or who knows what.
I'll be really disappointed if PJ doesn't pull this off in the movie; the newbies in the audience should be telling Frodo (under their breath, I hope), "Be careful, I don't know if you can trust this guy." Sorry, a movie comment in the Reading Room :-)

      • All true. - Eledhwen
        You want to know more about this man - who he is, where he's been, what he's doing in Bree ... He obviously has a history, and what's more, he's obviously Different from the Breelanders. It's like there's a warning sign (helped by Butterbur's description) saying 'Warning! This Man is dangerous!' And he is, if you're on the wrong side.
      • Movie comments are definitely allowed! - Kimi
        If they relate to the book, that is. And yours definitely did.

    • The fact that the most excellent secondary character Barliman Butterbur... - Patty
      doesn't know much about him, other than the fact that he's a "Ranger" makes you at first a little suspicious of him. His face is hidden, a usual sign of evil intent, and he's off in the corner by himself. I didn't know that about the early concept of Strider--thanks, Kimi! I sure hope that Butterbur is in the movie to the extent that he is in the books. Even the wooley-footed slow couch line is important!
      • I didn't put much weight on Barley's opinion. - Annael
        He struck me as provincial & so busy with his own concerns that he didn't have time to really think about who Strider might really be. It's hard to remember back all those years to my first time of reading, but I think that I was simply interested in this new person & wondered who he would turn out to be. I never felt he was a Black Rider.
      • I am sorry to admit - Binky
        that I first thought the shadowy figure jumping over the hedge and following the hobbits into Bree was a black rider...however it didn't quite jel because there was no 'evil feeling' in the air' and no desire to put on the ring. Sorry Strider.
        I knew from the first mention that Stider was going to be a friend. Don't ask me how I knew...I just knew. I felt tt was about time for them to have another companion on the road...

  • Chapter 9, Part Three: Hobbits' Progress - Kimi
    The hobbits have already been through some terrifying experiences. What does their behaviour in Bree tell us about how much they have learned from their experiences? What does it tell us about their individual personalities?
    • Treachery and trust - Idril Celebrindal
      The Hobbits learn several lessons about trust and treachery during their stay in Bree:

- The Ring betrays Frodo by slipping onto his finger while he's singing in the Prancing Pony. Although warned by Bilbo that the Ring changed size unexpectedly, I don't think Frodo truly realized its evil will until then.
- The hobbits first face treacherous people in the form of Harry the gatekeeper and Bill Ferny. All their enemies and friends up until then had been straightforward.
- They learn to recognize people who they can trust. The hobbits must make a decision whether to entrust Strider (and to a lesser extent, Butterbur) with their story.
      • A very good point! - Blue Wizard
        Up to this point in the story, the motivations of the peripheral characters seem to be relatively straightforward. Even if those motivations are complex (as we find out later) the other characters are either straightforwardly "good" - i.e. just about everybody; "bad" - really just the Black Riders and Old Man Willow; or "annoying" - Ted Sandyman, Lobelia and Lotho are unfriendly, but not really evil (at this point). Lobelia is something of a kleptomaniac it seems, and Frodo's home is invaded by treasure-seekers, but it seems more a matter of bad manners than being bad.

But, here we have people whose are, if not so obviously evil as the Black Riders, are genuinely "bad" people who are really quite threatening, and whose motivations are unclear and perhaps more complex than anything we have seen so far. For once, things are not always what they seem on the surface - and Strider is just one example of many beginning with this chapter.
    • Take the good with the bad - Aelric
      Light slowly dawns on the hobbits in Bree. But the only one that isn't directly foolish is Sam. Frodo and Pippen do their thing in the common room (though Pippen doesn't quite get it) and Merry goes out by himself. This whole chapter is a learning experisnce for them. Frodo, learns that the Ring can play tricks on him, slipping on his finger without warning. He also learns that more than just the Nazgul are looking for him through the words of Strider.

I think one of the most interesting things is that the hobbits realise that they can trust people even through times when they must be cautious.

    • The spirit of Tom's hut still influences them. - Lorgalis
      In the Pony, they relax again and feel comfortable. It is even better atmosphere for the four with people of their kin around them.
      This leads them to feel comfortable. The singing of Frodo may also to some degree result from the singing at Tom Bombadils house. It seemd natural there, it may also be natural in the inn, especially to draw attention from Pippin.

The idea of drawing attention from one hobbit to the other may be result of too much beer, because that is not the normal acting of Frodo, but stupid. I agree that the influence may also take its part.
Ride the Winds of Wisdom
    • The four amigos - Blue Wizard
      I'm not sure that we see much "growth" in this chapter, except as it sets up the next. In one sense, the interlude with Bombadil has made them forget about the danger that they are in from the Black Riders - and it made them lose the caution with which they started their plan. Frodo would not even tell Gildor of their plans, even in the relative safety of the Shire; he tells Bombadil virtually everything; with the first approach of "real" strangers - Frodo reverts to the plan of anonymity that Gandalf had mapped out for him in the beginning. Sam is still the sheltered, simple Shire-hobbit - quite afraid of men and their houses, and of the Prancing Pony itself. Merry is, in many ways, the most self-assured of the group, being comfortable enough to leave the Pony for a bit of a walk in the evening by himself. And Merry is the most immature - forgetting that they must travel in secrecy, drawing attention to himself when he shoudn't, and prompting Frodo's own performance.
    • The Hobbits are very childlike at this point of the story. - Nenya
      Frodo comes closest to understanding what the mission is about, but even he fails to appreciate the gravity of the situation. The group is comparable to a bunch of kids sent to the market to buy a loaf of bread. They check out the five and dime store first, they forget to look both ways when crossing the street, and they talk to strangers.

The misadventure in the common room is perhaps the most uncharacteristic episode of Frodo's in the trilogy. Frodo's attempt to draw attention away from Pippen backfires in part because he enjoys being the center of attention - something that doesn't come out at any other time that I remember in the books. Usually Frodo is self-effacing and only too happy to avoid the limelight. I'd have been happier if Tolkien had used Pippen as the foil by which the Hobbits drew attention to themselves, thereby forcing the meeting with Strider, since that sort of stunt would have been far more in Pippen's character.
      • Re: Frodo and Pippin - Malbeth
        I'm not so sure Tolkien made the wrong choice here, Nenya. Most of what we see of Frodo's personality is when he is burdened with the hard choices and responsibility thrust upon him the The Shadow of the Past, and especially during and after being "wounded by knife, sting, and tooth". Frodo's character is in danger of being too self-sacrificing and serious; too 'perfect' to seem real. I think this foolishness helps temper that. And after all, it was Pippin who started this whole mess, anyway. Fool of a Took!

      • Frodo's jig. - septembrist
        I think Frodo was surprised by the favorable reception he song gets. I think he was doubly surprised that he enjoyed the attention. After all, it had nothing to do with being Bilbo's heir or the Ring, just a song a dance in a friendly inn.
      • Frodo being the "Centre of Attention" - Aradan
        True, this is totally out of character. I think that this is the influence of the ring, trying to draw attention to itself. After this episode Frodo is aware that the ring might be having an efect on him and so imposes more self control on himself from this point on, maybe over-compensating as a result.
        • However... - Aradan
          ...a few pints of good Bree ale was probably a bigger contributary factor!
    • They relax. - Eledhwen
      They've been on edge, and now they find a warm welcome, ale, food, friendly folk, comfortable rooms - so they relax and forget most of the caution they're supposed to be travelling with (apart from Merry who Patty has already mentioned, and Frodo's insistence on using Underhill as his name.) Pippin and Sam relax most. Frodo's on edge, which is natural with the Riders on his heels.
    • Even though at first the hobbits are wary... - Patty
      as they draw near to and enter Bree and the Pony, they loose much of their wariness and forget what caution they've learned as they get full bellies and are warmed by the fire. Perhaps Merry is the only one who still shows some caution as he says "mind your Ps and Qs and don't forget that you're supposed to be escaping in secret...etc." as the others opt to go into the common room. But then, he never should have gone out for that breath of air, himself. Again, their innocent unwary actions would have ended in disaster if Strider (YEAH!) hadn't been there to ward off the enemies ready to pounce once their identities were lain bare.
  • Chapter 9, Part Two: Bree continued - Kimi
    Bree is the first settlement we visit beyond the Shire, and it is the first time we encounter "ordinary" Men (neither Gandalf nor Tom Bombadil qualifies as ordinary).

The Men of Bree are remarkably ordinary within the context of LOTR. They are neither startlingly handsome nor disgustingly ugly. "Brown-haired, broad and rather short"; they would blend into the crowd in most of the towns I've ever been to.
Are there any other things that emphasise the "ordinariness" of the Men of Bree? What do we learn, from LOTR and from Tolkien's other writings, about the origins of the Men of Bree?

    • There's a little about the Men of Bree in - Kimi
      Appendix F of LOTR, "Of Men". It reads as though the Men of Bree are not descended from the Edain, but are related to the Dunlendings and the Dead Men of Dunharrow.

I haven't found anything else about their origins in "Letters", "Silmarillion", UT or Lost Tales I & II.
I find it interesting that the Breelanders have surnames, as do the hobbits of the Shire. I think it adds to their "ordinariness".

    • If I remember correctly ... - Idril Celebrindal
      ... the Men of Bree are the descendents of Men who originally migrated into that area of Eriador during the First Age. (I can't recall if they were associated with a particular house of the Edain.) They weren't involved in the wars in Beleriand and were allied with neither Morgoth nor the Noldor (nor later, Sauron). They seemed to have been overlooked by just about everyone, which was extremely fortunate for them.

Breeland seems to have been a relatively independent and self-sufficient part of the North Kingdom. Its location at the intersection of the old North-South and East-West routes let it fare very well during that kingdom's existence, and enabled it to survive after that kingdom's end. Breeland was populous enough during the existence of the North Kingdom to support a mass migration of Hobbits to the Shire (led by Marcho and Blanco). And Breeland endured long after the kingdom of Arnor had crumbled, although I am sure that it did not entirely escape suffering during the subsequent wars.
    • The Men of Bree - Blue Wizard
      emphasize the common, though remote, ancestry of Men and Hobbits. The Men of Bree are very much like Hobbits in their appearance, habits and behavior - just a bit bigger. The Bree-Men, just like the Hobbits of the Shire, live in an isolated sanctuary from the wider world, in a land which was once part of a great kingdom, now long-forgotten, and protected from grave dangers of which they are quite unaware, by the constant vigilance of the Rangers, the remnants of that kingdom. Other than Rangers and outlaws, no other men live within hundreds of miles in any direction.
  • Chapter 9, "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony". Part One: Bree - Kimi
    The hobbits are back on the Road, having survived their eventful detour thanks mainly to Tom Bombadil, but also to their own native and developing courage.

After the terrors of the Old Forest and the Barrow Downs, Bree appears as an island of civilisation in an unexpectedly large and dangerous world. But Bree is a disconcerting mixture of familiar and alien to the travellers.
What aspects of Bree feel familiar to our friends, and what things are new or strange to them?

    • In "The Hobbit", the Dwarves meet Bilbo - Kimi
      at the "Green Dragon", but I have a feeling that by the time of LOTR Dwarves don't tend to socialise in the Shire. So seeing Dwarves in pub might be strange to the Hobbits, too.

    • The language is the same, but the Hobbits seem - Kimi
      to be instantly recognisable as from the Shire as soon as they open their mouths, so there seems to be at least a distinctive accent, and possibly a different dialect.

    • An additional point - Blue Wizard
      Bree, contrary to the very nice sets of half-timbered buildings that we saw in one of the first spy reports of the film, is a city of stone. And, it is, for all practical purposes, a walled and fortified town - though Harry the Gatekeeper hardly seems a formidible guard. It is a remnant of the long-past ages in which it was an important outpost on the Greenway. Very subtly (like the great stone bridge over the Brandywine), Bree - an island of domesticity in the midst of the wilderness - hints of the long-lost Kingdom of Arnor.
      • Bree in its isolation seems a bit like a frontier settlement. - Kimi
        But instead of the ruggedness of such a settlement, it has something of faded glory about it, with the elements you mention.

The town I grew up in was just a little like that: it had some surprisingly wide streets, large buildings and a substantial wharf, but a small (and shrinking population. The wharf, by the time I remember, was used once a week or so by a fishing boat. 30 years earlier it had been an important stop on the coastal shipping line.

    • The Men of Bree - Malbeth
      Even the men of Bree seem rather hobbit-like compared to other men. They have a long history living side-by-side with hobbits. They have the same tastes in inns, good beer and ale, comic songs, and good plain food. Even their botanical names, while seeming odd to the hobbits, speak of simple, close-to-nature lives that hobbits would find very familiar.
      • Yes, they do seem "hobbitsh". - Kimi
        This perhaps explains how Men and Hobbits manage to dwell together so successfully in Bree.

This successful arrangement also, IMHO, helps emphasise that Men and Hobbits are simply two branches of Humanity.

    • Familiarities and introductions - Aelric
      Being a mixed city, the Hobbits do find reassurance in that there are hobbits that live in Bree; this is their (and the readers') first glimpse at the world of Men: large two-story houses, gated enterances. etc. Suspisions are high though, and even Sam dislikes the idea of staying at the inn (surprise surprise for one so loving of a good ale!) and suggests they stay with some local hobbits. But once inside they are greeted with hobbit names that they recognise, and a general welcoming attitude such as they would find in the Shire. I particularly love the part when they get introduced and Tolkien lists the names. Interesting that the human names are described as being botanical, seeing as how men do a lot of the damage to nature, especially in the Shire later on...

    • Has Merry been to Bree before? - Aradan
      In an earlier chapter Merry says that "some of his people" have ridden out to Bree in the past and stayed at the Prancing Pony. I don't remember reading any mention of Merry himself having visited Bree (I might have missed it), but considering how much he knows about the village I would surmise that he's been there several times in the past. Although the other three have never been to Bree before, I am sure that they felt more comfortable because Merry is with them than they would have done if they'd been on their own.
      • I would guess not. - Kimi
        Though it certainly sounds as though he has spoken to older relations who have. As Malbeth says, this would recommend the "Pony" to him.

      • Even if he hasn't - Malbeth
        he would certainly know some other Bucklanders who had, so he could assure the others (especially Sam) that this was a perfectly good inn, and they would be welcomed and trated well.
    • A pub is a pub! - Eledhwen
      The Pony's quite similar to the Green Dragon or the Ivy Bush - regulars gossiping away, lots of ale, and so on - and hobbits always seem receptive to friendliness and hospitality.
      • One important difference. - Nenya
        Our hobbits from the Shire aren't used to being around anyone besides other hobbits. Gandalf's irregular appearances are noteworthy in part simply because of that. In fact, it surprised me that the Hobbits were as easy as they were in the Prancing Pony because Hobbits were reputed to be shy of the Big People.

At Bree, Men and Hobbits easily co-mingle. This makes Bree is as close to the Big City as the Hobbits are likely to experience before leaving their area and encountering the world of Elves and Men. I only wish we'd gotten a better look at the common life in the cities of Men so that more of a contrast and comparison could be drawn between the two.
        • Exactly: a mixture of the familiar surroundings of a pub - Kimi
          with the unfamiliar company of Big People.

Sometimes being in a situation that's familiar in many ways but different in some significant way is more disconcerting than being in a more completely unfamiliar setting: it "feels wrong".

    • Morning, Kimi!...Well, of course The Pony is a mixture... - Patty

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:31am

Post #5 of 65 (20801 views)
Book 1 Chapter 11: A Knife in the Dark. Led by Annael [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 1, Chapter 11
A Knife in the Dark
A Discussion Led by Annael

  • Chapter XI, Part 10. A question I forgot to ask! - Annael
    Did Frodo actually stab the Witch King? If he did, how come it didn't affect the Witch King? Wasn't Frodo's knife similar to Merry's? Did Frodo's knife not have the spell on it? What if MERRY had been the one to stab the Witch King instead?
    • In addition... - Ron Austin
      I Know that we havn't covered this yet but since you mention Merry's blade.

This is just my oppinion of course, In Tolkien's version of magic the strength of most spells depends on the *will* of the user. The Witch King would have survived Merry's sword blow if his whole attention had not been centered on Eowyn. After Merry's blow disrupts the spell Eowyn had the opportunity to strike the final blow even though her weapon was not magic.
    • Frodo did not stab the Witch King. - septembrist
      Frodo did rend his cloak but that was all he did. Frodo's blade did not dissolve but the Witch King's blade did when Aragorn held it up to the light.
      Aragorn stated that had Frodo wounded the Witch King, his (Frodo's) sword would indeed have "perished".
    • Now I can't remember correctly - Blue Wizard
      Does Frodo's blade dissolve? I don't think that it did - isn't his blade is found broken beneath him after he collapsed at the Ford? If Frodo had actually stabbed the Witch King, I think the blade would have dissolved, just like Merry's did. So I think that all Frodo did was cut his cloak, which Aragorn found on the ground at dawn, along with the morgul knife.

As for the "who really killed the Witch King?" debate, I'm of the opinion that Tolkien accurately described the process: Merry, by stabbing him behind the knee, broke the spell by which his unseen flesh was knit to his spirit, and Eowyn dealt the death-blow. Had Frodo, with a blade of similar provenance, actually stabbed him, perhaps it would have also broken that spell, making his susceptible to mortal injury - maybe the rising of the river at the ford would then have killed him.
Of course, if I'm remembering wrongly about Frodo's blade disappearing, I take everything back.
  • Chapter XI, Part 9: Summary question. - Annael
    In what ways does this chapter move the story forward or develop the characters for us?
    • The story has followed a leisurely pace - Blue Wizard
      until this chapter. Now, suddenly in a single chapter we have: (1) An attack on Crickhollow (2) an attack on Bree (3) the ponies lost and Bill acquired (4) setting off through town, with an apple for Ferny (5) a trek across with wilderness, witnessing a battle from afar (6) hints about Gandalf (7) the Lay of Beren and Luthien in abridged form (8) a great deal of background and history (9) an attack on Frodo and (10) a good look at the Black Riders.

I don't know about character development, but an awful lot happens in this chapter!
      • One thing I noticed . . . - Annael
        Up to the Barrow Downs, Tolkien tells us about practically every step the hobbits take and every word they speak. Now suddenly we're getting a whole day and a night taken care of in one sentence. This is necessary or the book would be 10,000 pages long instead of 1,000! What I like about Tolkien is that he can "cover a lot of ground" in very few words as needed, but he knows when to slow down and let us catch our breath and take a good look at our companions and the world around us.
      • I think it works, though. - Eledhwen
        All of a sudden, proper adventure, as the hobbits hit unknown territory with a strange Man. It's almost as if Aragorn's the catalyst for things to happen.
        • It works I think because.... - Nenlote
          This chapter is often desdcribed in Tolkien criticism as the birth of the angst of teenage years. The hobbits have left known territory, and the big wide world is not as nice, or as friendly as they supposed. Strider at this point is rather like a father-figure and it is his guidance that the hobbits lean on - especially when Frodo is wounded and they first see the Black Riders. It is also the realisation that even with the best laid plans, they sometimes go wrong and then you have to pick yourself up and go on.

  • Chapter XI, Part 8: Frodo puts on the Ring. - Annael
    Compare and contrast Frodo's putting on the Ring in this chapter with the other times he uses it (accidentally or not).
    • Up until now - Blue Wizard
      Both in LOTR and in the Hobbit, we tend to see the use of the ring essentially from a third-party standpoint: You put it on, and become invisible to the third party. We have also seen the ring as a force, both in having a hold on Bilbo, in particular, and to a lesser extent on Frodo already, and in trying to reveal itself, creating the urge in Frodo to put in on.

On only two occasions do we see the other aspect of the ring. This is one. Sam wearing it at Cirith Ungol is the other. In these two instances we see the flip side of the ring: not what it conceals, but rather what it reveals. It reveals to Frodo a hidden world, where the world of light becomes dim, but where the world of shadows becomes clear. It is "the other side" that Shagrat and Gorbag talk about; that Glorfindel is revealed in at the Fords. The ring permits a mortal who wears it to see that world.

    • He was unable to resist this time - Malbeth
      Earlier, Frodo had felt the mental influence of a Black Rider trying to force him to put on the ring, but had been able to overcome the suggestion. This time, Frodo's will was just not strong enough, either because their were five of them there, or more likely because the Witch-king himself was there.

Regarding the 'accident' in The Prancing Pony, Frodo felt some kind of influence to put on the ring, but resisted it. Whatever caused him to accidently put on the ring was at a sub-conscious level only.
The other times I can think of are at Parth Galen and Mt. Doom. At Parth Galen, he chose to put on the ring to escape from Boromir; no mental influence at that time, until later when Gandalf influenced him to take it off. And at Mt. Doom, Frodo finally just gave in to the lure of the ring, making the decision to claim the ring for himself.
      • Another occasion was at - Kimi
        the House of Tom Bombadil. Again, there seemed no compulsion on Frodo.
      • I agree, Malbeth. - Eledhwen
  • Chapter XI, Part 7: The Nazgul threat fulfilled. - Annael
    "Over the lip of the dell . . . they felt, rather than saw, a shadow rise, one shadow or more than one."

Discuss how Tolkien builds the threat of the Nazgul from Chapter Three to this point and how he handles the actual confrontation. How do you rate Tolkien as a horror story-teller?
    • There's a hint of vampirism - Kimi
      about the Nazgul.

I don't mean actual blodd-sucking, just something reminiscent of that particular horror, in Aragorn's statement (from memory, sorry) that "they sense living blood, desiring it and hating it". It's the ancient fear we have of the undead, and the hatred the undead have for the living.
    • Aaaargh! - Eledhwen
      The Nazgul are pretty scary all along, but I think they're scariest when Frodo puts on the Ring and we see their true faces. That's nasty. It's the sort of thing you don't want to read before bed. I agree with Binky and Blue that the build up, with little details, certainly adds to the horror of it.
    • I confess that... - septembrist
      that I never really have a sense of fear regarding the Nazgul except when they are flying. Then they can see me without me seeing them or they can direct foul orcs or beasts to my location.
      For me, Tolkien's horror story-telling is at it height in the depths of Moria and in Shelob's lair.
    • The Black Riders - Blue Wizard
      Over the course of these chapters, we see first a series of narrow escapes - the Hobbits never really are discovered, despite some close calls. The nature of the threat is both ambiguous and ominous. Gaffer and Maggot have confrontations with them - they are threatened (Maggot anyway) but not really harmed in any way. Yet, on the other hand - Gildor is truly alarmed, but will tell them nothing other than that they are servants of Sauron. Strider's reaction is similar, and he fills in some, but not many details. Animals are afraid of them - which is certain confirmation that they are evil (but we don't really doubt that) So the nature of the threat is established as truly dire, but left entirely to our imagination.

Then, Merry is overcome by something - "The Black Breath" according to Strider. And the attack on Crickhollow occurs. All of this builds to Weathertop, where, by the device of Frodo putting on the ring, they are finally "revealed" for the first time. Then, we have the attack on Frodo - the slow advance and then sudden rush. I believe that this is what is referred to as a "jump" scene - a classic horror movie set piece.
Pretty good horror writing. Dread, anticipation, uncertainty.
    • I think part of the 'horror' ... - Binky
      are the little bits and pieces Tolkien strings along the way. First they are a muffled voice in the dark, then a snuffling creature that runs away from elves, then a horrible cry in the wind...we see them crawling in the fog..invading dreams...the build-up was one of the things that kept me reading as a kid...you don't show everything about your bad guys right away..! :)

      • I agree. - Steve D
        We are never really shown Sauron or the torture chambers of Mordor, and this makes them much worse than if they were shown.
  • Chapter XI, Part 6: Another glimpse of Aragorn. - Annael
    On Weathertop, Strider chants part of the tale of Beren and Luthien. Why does Tolkien put this story in at this point?
    • There are a couple of reasons to put this here - Blue Wizard
      There are two aspects to this question. First, why put this in at all? Second, why at this particular point.

As for the first aspect, there are a number of purposes here:
Tolkien is trying to create Middle Earth as a real place, with a real history, and one more ancient than even Gandalf's tale of the forging of the rings and the Last Alliance. The tale of Beren and Luthien is a part of that history.
There are the obvious parallels between Aragorn/Arwen and Beren/Luthien, their common ancestry and the ultimate rejoining of the lines of the half-elven.
Legends walking the earth, waking dreams, stories being lived. . .these are recurring themes. The tale of Beren & Luthien, when put into the context of Strider's summary of the story, and that they are real people with real ancestors, and not just characters in a story, is an important element of establishing that theme.
As for the second aspect, why now?
Aragorn only tells the "lighter" part of the tale. This corresponds to the hobbits' situation. While they think of their plight as being quite dire, they are by no means at the darkest part of the journey. So it is appropriate that this bit of the tale be told now, and not at some later date. We see the "darker" part of the tale when Sam recalls it in Mordor - again showing a correspondence.
Tolkien is revealing more and more about Aragorn in bits. He knows this tale and its significance; he knows the original, and that the translation is difficult. There is much more about him than we have seen.
We need this bit of the tale here, rather than at Rivendell, so as to fit Bilbo's song about Earendil into the chronology.
We also need this bit of the tale here, rather than at Rivendell, to set up the appearance of Arwen.
    • My take on this ... - Eledhwen
      They have been talking of Rivendell, and probably whenever Imladris comes up, Aragorn thinks of Arwen, who is associated in his mind both with the Kings (who have just been referred to by Frodo) and of happiness; and he wants a tale that will lighten the mood. Which is why they only get the first, dreamy part of the tale in verse, and not the tragic bits. I suspect he's thinking of Arwen too in the last verse:

Long was the way that fate them bore,
O'er stony mountains cold and grey,
Through halls of iron and darkling door,
And woods of nightshade morrowless.
The Sundering Seas between them lay,
And yet at last they met once more,
And long ago they passed away
In the forest singing sorrowless.

Essentially, it's the Sundering Seas (or the possibility of Arwen crossing them) that's dividing the two at this point; and Aragorn has to make the long journeys to win the crown and her. Aragorn's closeness to the tale is made clear as Tolkien describes his 'strange eager face' and his 'rich and deep' voice. The moon rising over Weathertop could be taken to be a crown rising over his head. Aragorn's telling a tale of his ancestors, though the hobbits don't know it, and he obviously has a great affinity with it.
      • I think it was Tolkien's way of... - Patty
        lending even more credence to Strider being "one of the good guys", as we associate elves and elven lore with the good. Sam, as I recall, was still not totally convinced until much later.
  • Chapter XI, Part 5: Where's Gandalf? - Annael
    The first time you read this, what did you make of the news that Gandalf had apparently been at Weathertop but had been attacked and now was nowhere to be seen?
    • It's hard to remember - Blue Wizard
      but, at this point in the story, we don't know that Gandalf was attacked at Weathertop. We know that Strider and the hobbits see flashes of lightning at Weathertop, and there is evidence of burning there, as well as the stone with the runes G-3, which might mean Gandalf on October 3 - the same date as the flashes. We don't really know anything else, for certain.

I guess I thought, so many years ago, that there had been some kind of battle at Weathertop, probably involving Gandalf and the Black Riders, and that it was something of a stalemate. The Black Riders obviously weren't destroyed (we don't know exactly how many of them there are at this point) and it is inconceiveable that Gandalf was destroyed. But beyond that, I just don't recall thinking anything else .
      • Although we don't know for certain, Aragorn - Kimi
        does say "I guess that he was attacked on this hill-top." This is the slightly old-fashioned, fairly formal English use of "I guess", not the modern American one; Aragorn is reasonably sure that Gandalf was attacked there.

I think I probably believed him, but 25 years on it's hard to remember.
    • It just strikes me now . . . - Annael
      that the Hobbits' reaction to the news that Gandalf might have been there was rather low-key. After all, they had no idea what had happened to him, and they'd been worried. Now they get proof that he's alive, and they don't seem glad. Also, whatever has happened, it's clear that he was driven off. Wouldn't that be a scary thought?

Maybe they're just too tired and on edge to care?
      • Maybe - Draupne
        they still haven't realized what they are facing and how powerfull Gandalf actually is. If they still think about him as the wizard from the Hobbit, they wouldn't understand how dangerous the ones who driven him away were.

I think that, in addition to being tired and scared as you said, could explain Pippin, Merry and Sam at least. Frodo probably knows more about Gandalfs powers than the others, but he also has the Ring as an extra burden.
    • I seem to recall thinking that he had defeated... - Patty
      those of the Nazgul who attacked him and swiftly went off to Rivendell where he had told the hobbits he hoped he'd see them.
    • I wish I could remember! - Kimi
      I think I was mystified, but thought he couldn't be too far away. I didn't think he'd been captured (I'd remember that).
    • For me I had no worries... - Aelric
      ...because he was able to leave at least a hastily scratched message for Aragorn. But that scene has always been a powerful one for me. I can picture the skies lighting up, the light flashing off of Frodo's face as he watches even from that distance. It gives a nice foreshadow to how much power Gandalf has.
    • It's hard to remember... - Malbeth
      that's a long time ago, I just don't remember. I'm sure I didn't think he had been killed or captured; that just didn't seem possible. Then there was that pesky Balrog in Moria to prove me wrong!
    • Worrying, I suppose. - Eledhwen
      Although I don't think I ever entertained the notion that he'd been captured on Weathertop. I guess I thought he'd gone to Rivendell (as he did). At this stage Gandalf's true power, like Strider / Aragorn's, is still hidden. For me, reading LOTR first as a child, I was still emeshed by the Hobbit Gandalf - a travelling wizard, not a powerful force of good from beyond the borders of the world.
      • I thought Gandalf - Binky
        was running around the country side looking for the hobbits.. I did however believe it was because of Gandalf that the riders left the party alone for a while....it didn't dawn on me that he would make for Rivendell...

  • Chapter XI, Part 4: A Glimpse of Aragorn. - Annael
    When Strider explains some of the history of the Weathertop hills, the hobbits begin to see that there is more to him than they know. Do you think that Tolkien offers enough hints before the Council of Elrond about who Strider really is?
    • A striking thing about Aragorn - Kimi
      is how well he can manage without sleep. There are many mentions of his being awake all night, with no visible ill-effects. Do you think this might be his distant Elvish ancestry? Or just sheer toughness?

He'll be a great father; those broken nights won't bother him at all.
    • There aren't many hints - Blue Wizard
      1. Gandalf tells Frodo about the hunt for Gollum, and briefly describes Aragorn as the world's greatest huntsman.

2. Bombadil describes the Rangers as the descendents of Kings, but does not mention them or Aragorn by name
3. There is what little Butterbur says about Strider and the Rangers, and what little Aragorn tells us about himself and the Rangers.
4. Aragorn received word from the elves. Gildor says that word will go out to the "traveling companies" which may refer to the Rangers as well as the elves. I guess that it a hint too.
Not much to go on. Are there "enough" hints? I'm not sure what that means. I guess that there are enough that further exposition of Aragorn's background is consistent with what has been revealed rather than being entirely a surprise. On the other hand, there are not enough hints that one could fully guess his background. So I guess, on balance, there are the perfect number of hints.
    • To the first time reader... - Aelric
      ...Aragorn and his story remain a mystery full of clues up until Gandalf speaks quickly to Pippin before they enter the Chambers of Denethor.
    • Yes. - Eledhwen
      There are enough hints so that a reader who's really 'on the ball', AND who has paid enough attention earlier (for example in the 'Shadows of the Past') to work it out, I think. Bilbo's poem in Chapter X helps, and now Strider's earnestness, and his knowledge of the history of the Kings, adds bits. I think it would spoil the parts coming later, where Aragorn reveals his ancestry, if we knew more now.
  • Chapter XI, Part 3: Into the wild. - Annael
    Up until now the hobbits have never been one or two days away from a bed & four walls. The "hobbit walking party" is now over! How do you think they would have fared on this part of the journey without Strider along, whether or not the Nazgul were trailing them?
    • The great irony is. . . - Blue Wizard
      that, if they just wait another day in Bree, Gandalf will show up.

But, without Gandalf or Aragorn, the Hobbits would have no choice but the follow the East-West Road. I suspect that they might have made it as far as Weathertop, which would be a natural place to make for along the road. But, beyond Weathertop, I doubt that they would have made it far. Certainly they could not have even found Rivendell without assistance.
    • It would not have lasted long... - Aelric
      ...without Strider. If the Nazgul were chasing them, it would have been over within 2-3 nights out from Bree. Without the Nazgul, they may have made it to the Forsaken Inn, and possible a good deal further, but eventually I think they would have succummed to fear and hunger, and probably turned back. I love the hobbits, but at this point in the story, they were not in any condition to be walking in the Wild alone.
    • Without the Nazgul pursuit - Kimi
      I think they would have made it to Rivendell, though they might have had problems with supplies. I don't know if anyone at Bree could have told them how many days' journey it would be to Rivendell (maybe some of the travelling Dwarves? Or perhaps Bilbo had told Frodo long ago?), and they could only take what they plus a pack pony could carry on their own backs. I don't think they had the skills to live off the land, i.e. hunting small animals or gathering enough wild food to keep them going (the latter could take a long time, and they are meant to be getting somewhere!) So it might have been a bunch of hungry hobbits that finally arrived!

That, of course, assumes they could have found Rivendell; one gets the impression that, even from the road, it's not easy to find.
With Nazgul pursuit, not a chance. It was a close thing even with Strider.
I agree with Malbeth that there's a fair chance they might have waited a while at the inn.
    • Follow-on question. - Annael
      What do you think the hobbits learned from Strider about surviving in the wilderness?
      • They learned that they were capable of - Kimi
        surviving on shorter rations, and travelling longer and harder, than they probably thought possible.
    • I think they would have done o.k. - Steve D
      They did later when they became seperated from the group/
    • I think they would have waited at the inn - Malbeth
      until they could get ponies to ride and carry plenty of supplies. Plus, they would have been desperately hoping for Gandalf to show up and help. They would have just followed the road; Frodo must have known that was the road to Rivendell. Of course, without Strider they would have been killed by Black Riders the night before, so maybe it doesn't matter. BTW, I just checked, if they had waited for ponies, Gandalf got to Bree the night of September 30, the same day they left with Strider. So if they had survived the previous night, they would have had help from Gandalf.
    • well, considering they are Hobbits... - leo
      they would probably have a hard time without all their Hobbitish convienient things like five meals a day, and sleeping in a normal bed. Something that they have been complaining about before, but because they never were more then two days away from a normal bed, has never really been this 'bad'.

Either this or they would get lost in the marshes ( if they would take this route without Aragorn )....
    • They'd have got lost, or ... - Eledhwen
      They'd have set out straight along the Road and got captured. And they'd have either carried too much or too little. I also suspect that if they'd have had their ponies, they'd have dawdled a bit, in spite of ostensibly making haste. Although they've grown up already since leaving Bag End, none of the hobbits are really ready for the wild yet. It's hard to imagine that in a few months, Frodo and Sam will be crossing the barren wastelands of Mordor, and Merry and Pippin will be alone in Fangorn. Amazing.
      • Wouldn't they have eventually... - Binky
        met up with Gandalf? that is if they weren't found by the black riders first while bumbling around...
        but I think even if they did meet up with him, Gandalf would have spent most of the time fending the black riders off until he was spent (as in Moria) and the Riders would think they had them at the ford..

        • Binky could be right... - Nenlote
          I think that Binky is probably right and that they might have met up with Gandalf - but without Strider they wouldn't have got very far at all.

          • I can't remember, Did Gandalf send Aragorn . . . - Johndo
            . . . to Bree to meet the Hobbits, or did Aragorn decide to head there himself?

I know Aragorn wasn't sure where Gandalf was, or what he was doing, but got word to look for the Hobbits in Bree.
I was thinking that Gandalf was leading the Nazgul astray and sent Aragorn to meet the boys because he couldn't do it himself.
This is one of our first glimpses of the partnership of Gandalf and Aragorn that Tolkien never fully details, but we sense that they've been working together a lot and for a long time!
            • Well, yes and no - Malbeth
              Aragorn had last talked to Gandalf in May, and Gandalf told him they (Gandalf and the hobbits, he assumed at that time) would be leaving for Rivendell at the end of September. When Aragorn returned in time to guard and/or watch the road, he found out from Gildor and company that Gandalf was missing, Black Riders were abroad, and later that Frodo had left. So Aragorn was in the area according to plan, but not specifically because Gandalf was missing.
            • In the letter to Frodo that Barley never delivered... - Patty
              Gandalf says ..." you MAY meet a friend of mine on the ROAD..." (my capitals)...
  • Chapter XI, Part 2: Attack at Bree and aftermath. - Annael
    What were the Nazgul attempting to accomplish in the attack at Bree? Were the Nazgul the ones who let all the horses and ponies out? Did Bill Ferny plan that part of the attack, or did he just take advantage of the situation?
    • The horses and ponies - Blue Wizard
      As I said below, I don't think that it was the Nazgul who attacked at Bree, but the Southerners. After the attack, they disappeared.

I think that, after the attack on the Hobbits failed, they decided to leave town, or at least hide at Ferny's house. Some may have left on horseback, and have driven the other horses and ponies out of the stables for the purpose of either (i) preventing the Hobbits from leaving Bree, giving the opportunity for another attack at a later time in Bree or (ii) making their journey slow and difficult, making an attack on the Road or in the wild easier once they left Bree.
      • All the horses being driven far off would explain - Draupne
        why they couldn't be found, since they would probably have tried to get home if left on their own.

But how explain that nobody wake up? Even assuming that ME horses don't have shoes and that they only walk on the grass, a bunch of horses leaving in the middle of the night should at least have wakened Strider.
It can't have been less than, say, 15 horses and ponies, and a horse isn't very silent for an animal, at least not when you, a stranger, are trying to get it out in the middle of the night. They don't necesseraly have to whinny, but they make lots of other noises to eachother and because they are scared, as I suppose some would be.
    • The horses bolted. - Kimi
      I, like the other posters, thought it was probably Ferny who let out the horses, until I noticed just now that the book says "The others had been driven off, or had bolted in terror". Horses and ponies would surely not bolt in terror from Bill Ferny, even if he is pretty ugly. That passage makes me think that the Nazgul were at least near the stables.

      • That depends on what he did - Draupne
        The normal defence for a horse is to run when it can, so if he opened the doors they would probably bolt of if scared. But since they ran so far that they couldn't be found, I agree it would probably take more than Bill Ferny. A horse set free will normally not stray to far, they stop pretty fast to eat if they're not very scared.

I always imagined it were the Nazgul who scared them of, since animals mostly withdrew when they came, re. Maggots dogs and geese.
On the other hand, if it was my brothers horse, you would only have to open the door and he (the horse) would be on his way out in the world, looking for mares.
Another thing, why didn't they hear that the horses ran away? Running horses make quite much sound, one should imagine somebody would have heard it, but it seemed to me that Butterbur didn't realize before checking the stables in the morning.
        • Yes, I agree with all that. - Kimi
          I, too, thought for the horses to run off so far they must have been really frightened, and wouldn't they have done horsey screams? Not to mention hooves clattering noisily. They must have slept pretty soundly at that inn.
    • I agree with Eledhwen - get the ring - Malbeth
      They had what seemed like an easy opportunity. As far as they knew, they just had four hobbits to deal with, and they knew what rooms they were supposed to be in. As for the horses, Ferny certainly profited from it, but it was also good strategy; the hobbits would either be delayed (as they were), or would be forced to leave on foot with few supplies if they couldn't get more ponies. So it would make sense for the Nazgűl too.
    • Letting the horses and ponies out sounds like... - Patty
      the work of someone who had something to gain from doing just that...Bill Ferny. Of course the hobbits' and / or Butterbur's ponies would have been recognized so he couldn't keep them and try to sell them their own ponies--had to be one of his that was the only thing left. So I vote for Ferny. If it were the Nazgul I think if they had been willing to go that far they would have also terrorized the entire inn, not stopping when they found the hobbits' rooms empty.
    • Catch the Ringbearer! - Eledhwen
      The Ring called them, but they weren't prepared to hunt through the house for it. I suspect the ponies being let out was probably Bill Ferny's work - too petty for the Riders!
      • More the work of Men then Nazgul - Johndo
        I think much that went on in Bree was done by Bill Ferny, hoping to be rewarded by the Nazgul. I think Tolkien intentionally talked a lot about "Black men" in Bree showing the Hobbits confusion about who/what was following them, and hiding, for just a while longer, who/what the Black Riders really are.
        The Nazgul were clearly in the area, but I think Ferny and his Boys were working pretty hard to detain the hobbits and hold them for the Ring Wraiths.
  • Chapter XI, Part 1: First Nazgul attack - Annael
    So far the Nazgul have only been a threat. They make an outright attack at last, at Crickhollow and Bree on the same night. Why did they wait so long (four days) after Frodo crossed the Brandywine to attack the house at Crickhollow? Is it coincidence that they attacked both places on the same night? The Nazgul that are in the Shire then head straight for Bree. Why? Are the Nazgul in communication with each other somehow?
    • It wasn't the Nazgul at Bree - Blue Wizard
      The attack there was from the Southerners. The idea that it was the Nazgul at Bree as well as at Crickhollow is a common misconception. Strider tells the Hobbits that the Nazgul would not attack at Bree, being well populated, but that there is reason to fear the Southerners. The slashed bolsters would indicate that the attackers were trying to kill the Hobbits - which is not something the Nazgul were going to do; and, after the attack, the Southerners disappear.

It was the Southerners who attacked at Bree, not the Nazgul.
      • And do you agree with Aelric that the Southerners and Bill Ferny were working only for Saruman? - Annael
        Hence, not in league with the Nazgul at all?

This is a new idea to me! It definitely has its merits.
        • The Southerner was one of Saruman's agents - Kimi
          in the Shire. He was captured by Nazgul, told them all he knew, and was sent by the Nazgul to Bree. Hence, while in Bree he was working for the Nazgul.

(This is from UT).
        • Someone noted a couple of weeks ago - Blue Wizard
          that in Unfinished Tales or maybe HOME that there is a short bit on the Southerner at Bree, and that he was one of Saruman's spies, said to have some Orkish blood in him, sent to keep and eye on the Shire and Bree, but along the way he met up with one of the Nazgul, and was "persuaded" to switch "sides". Of course, there's nothing in LOTR itself which explains that. They are unambigiously agents of Saruman in LOTR.

It would seem that there was a Nazgul in or around Bree. Strider says that Harry the Gatekeeper met with one, and it does seem that Merry met one. But, it also would seem that Bill Ferny and the Southerner were the ones who were bending over his body as Nob showed up. This explains why they ran away - before Nob could recognize them.
The Nazgul clearly seem to have thought that the ring was in Crickhollow. Freddy's delerious moaning "I dont have it" tells me that they were "questioning" him telepathically as he ran away. I think that the Southerners were acting more or less independently of the Nazgul, as agents for Saruman.
          • oops... reading from the bottom up :) - inkgirl
            re my note to septembrist below.

I think they started out as Saruman's men, possibly for many years previous to this, but were dominated by the Nazgul when the Nazgul arrived. They probably still reported to Saruman, but leaving out details like "and then we told the Nazgul all this too."
          • Telepathic? - Aelric
            I don't know about that one, Blue. I would rather say that Fatty knows why the Nazgul are there, having been privy to the information of the "conspiracy". He stayed in Crickhollow as to make it seem Frodo (and therefore the Ring) was still there. He is so delirious with fear and exhaustion, that he is just blabbering at the point he says "I don't have it!".
            • Yeah, I thought that was just fear speaking. - Annael
              But I like the idea that it was mostly the work of Saruman's agents in Bree, not the Nazgul. It makes sense. I wonder if the Nazgul, after they finally made it back to Mordor, reported this to Sauron, and whether he had any suspicions of Saruman before that. Of course, being evil, he wouldn't tend to be very trusting in general, would he?
              • I think, as sept suggested... - Aelric
                ...that Saruman had already been in contact with Sauron through the folly of using the Palantir. This happenned long before Gandalf was imprisoned. However, Saruman was no weakling, the strongest in mind of the Istari. He may have been ensnared by Sauron, but I think he was able to hide the fact that he was also wanting the Ring for himself. He feigned loyalty so as to create more room for himself to move freely, but at the same time knowing that if he (Saruman) were to gain the Ring, he would throw down Sauron and become a Dark Lord in Sauron's place.
        • Well... - Aelric
          ...to be honest, I think Bill ferny would have worked for both, if the money was right. However, I think in this case, he and the southerner were in league with Saruman alone.
      • Good point. - septembrist
        I had always assumed it was the Nazgul, but the way it was done suggests otherwise. As you say, killing the hobbits was not what the Nazgul would do. Also, the presence of Nazgul would have been felt, at least by Aragorn or perhaps Frodo.

I think Sauron may have a way of communication with his Nazgul. If you recall, when Frodo is at the Crack of Doom, Sauron summons the Nazgul to Mt. Doom. It is debatable how far his range would be or if the Ringwraiths could likewise communicate with Sauron.
        • I think there is no limit on distance... - Aelric
          ...as the Nazgul are powered by Sauron's will alone. As long as Sauron's will remained, he could communicate and direct them from any distance.
      • But the Nazgul WERE in Bree. - Annael
        Who attacked Merry, then? Does Bill Ferny, in addition to being ugly, have REALLY bad breath?
        • I think you are both right! - Aelric
          The hobbits were in double danger in Bree, both having agents of Sauron and Saruman there. Funny that considering all the publicity, that the Nazgul would not have guesses that there was some other "power" trying to get at the hobbits. A quick round of questioning by the Nazgul would have broken Bill Ferny into telling everything he knew. Perhaps things would have gone differently had Sauron learned that Saruman was searching for Frodo as well?

Any thoughts?
          • Sauron already knew. - septembrist
            When Pippin steals the Palantir and looks into it, Sauron demands to know why Saruman has not reported to him. He then shows no sign of surprise when Pippin reveals himself to be a hobbit. "Tell Saruman that this dainty is not for him. I will send for it at once."

            • Yes, but... - Aelric
              ...that was well after the events at Bree. At that time, I don't think that sauron realizes that Saruman is actively seeking the Ring for himself.
              • I don't know. - septembrist
                Sauron had to know that something rotten was in the state of Isengard. However, it is possible that Saruman was able to keep his intentions from Sauron.
                • somewhere (unfinished tales?), - inkgirl
                  it is said that the Nazgul came upon the Southerner north of Isengard on their way to Bree, turned him into a double agent, and learned what Saruman was up to (or at least as much as he knew).

has anyone read this recently and remembers it better?
    • They may not have known ... - Binky
      where exactly at Crickhollow. The house was pretty out of the way...they may have spent a few days poking around trying to get info out of Brandywine Hall with little sucess until they finally found it...

as far as being in communication with each other...didn't their rings allow them to know each other's thoughts????...I think I read that somewhere but am not sure...but in that case the people at Crickhollow must have known the ring was in Bree...but with Fatty impersonating Frodo they weren't about to take chances...
also how did they know Fatty didn't take the ring with him when he ran out of the house????
    • Telepathy? - Eledhwen
      They're all linked together by their Rings, and their dominion by Sauron, and they don't speak much yet can produce coordinated attacks - I would guess, therefore, that they can communicate via a sort of telepathy. As for the attacks happening on the same night, I'd guess that the Riders in the Shire attacked Crickhollow first, in case the Ringbearer was still there - after all, Bree wasn't that far from the Shire, and they weren't to know that the hobbits in the inn were the ones they were following (I wouldn't imagine that they expected Frodo to have so many companions). But then, finding Crickhollow empty, the Riders in the Shire sent a mind-message to the ones in Bree, telling them what they had found, and so the Riders in Bree attacked the Pony as well. There's little point attacking somewhere you don't expect to be fruitful if the place you expect to find your prey hasn't been checked out first!
      • They didn't have communicationwith Sauron - Ron Austin
        Otherwise the Fact that Sauron would know that the attack at the Ford had failed and send more watchers to Erigion without having to wait for the unhorsed riders to make their way back to Morder to report.
      • ahh..we must have posted at the same time... - Binky
        we made some of the same points!! :)
        • No we didnt'..oh well...its too early in the mornig..:) - Binky

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:32am

Post #6 of 65 (20806 views)
Book 1 Chapter 12: Flight to the Ford. Led by Annael [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 1, Chapter 12
Flight to the Ford
A Discussion Led by Annael

  • Chapter XII: Summing Up - Annael
    The Nazgul threat has been fulfilled: Frodo has been stabbed with a Morgul-knife. The Nazgul have withdrawn for the moment. Strife theorizes that they can't actually TAKE the Ring from Frodo and deliver it themselves; they have to get Frodo to hand-deliver it, as it were, by making him subject to their will. We don't know whether this is because Sauron wants to torment Frodo in revenge or because the Nazgul can't or are forbidden to handle the Ring.

Another facet of Strider is revealed when he finds athelas and tends Frodo's wound. The athelas helps a little for a while, but the wound is beyond Strider's skill at this point to heal.
The hobbits and their guide flee Weathertop and head towards Rivendell once more. They stay off the Road as much as possible, avoiding contact with the Nazgul, who are sticking to the Road in anticipation that they must eventually return to it and that when they do, Frodo will succumb to their will.
We have a moment of comic relief when Pippin and Merry see three trolls standing in their path - the same three trolls that Bilbo and the dwarves encountered 50 years ago. We get a new look at Sam here when he recites a poem he made up on the spot. Sun and laughter have a healing effect on Frodo who feels better for a while.
After nearly getting the company lost, Strider manages to find the road again, just in time to meet up with Glorfindel who has been sent out by Elrond to look for them. With his help and goading, they march double-time to the Ford. But the enemy is there before them. Frodo, who is fading fast now, is powerless to resist them, but he is now under the protection of the Elves. The Elf-horse Asfaloth outruns the Nazgul horses to the Ford, and Elrond raises the river just in time. Frodo swoons as the waves rise higher and higher. Tolkien leaves us wondering: What next?
    • Thanks, Annael! Another excellent week... I am gaining.. - Patty
      so many new insights on this journey with my fellow tornadoes!
    • Thanks, Annael. Great job. - GaladrielTX
    • Excellent job again, Annael. Thank you. - Kimi
    • Well done, Annael - - Eledhwen
      And thank you! Great double job there.
    • Nicely done, Annael! - Idril Celebrindal
      You did a good job of leading the discussion of the last two chapters.
    • Thank you. Two weeks in a row is a heavy burden to bear. - Blue Wizard
      A masterful job once again.

I guess I'll be leading discussion next week, so I'd better re-read "Many Meetings" this weekend!
  • Chapter XII, Part 9: The end of Book One. - Annael
    Comments on the story thus far?
    • Great story. - septembrist
      Book one has a great build up of action and suspense and ends with a cliff hanger. Only the most unaffected person would not want to see what happens next.

Like Leo said it is apparent that Tolkien started off writing another hobbit story as sequel to "The Hobbit" what with the party and Tom. However, as noted above, the whole character of the story is changed drastically at Bree and with the appearance of Strider.
    • Tolkien has built up to - Kimi
      a breathless climax, with all nine Black Riders attacking at once, and Frodo obviously dangerously ill.

I think we're all ready for a nice rest in a safe haven.
    • My thoughts at this point. - Inferno
      My comments are going to be rather general, as I'm not actually re-reading with y'all. But here are some things I've noticed about the story to this point.

We as readers actually know very little about what is going on in the wider world at this point. The perspective of the book is given to us through Frodo. Even readers of the Hobbit, would know little more than what is presented. We'd know the events surrounding Bilbo's finding of the Ring and some about Rivendell and Elrond. This is, presumably, information that Frodo would know as well as the reader anyway. The true nature of the Black Riders is still hidden (yes, we all know they're the Nazgul, but that's because we've read it so much) from Frodo and the readers. We know that the Ring is the Master Ring, and that it is evil. We don't know what will happen to it. Frodo's sole objective was to take the Ring to Rivendell to keep the Shire out of danger. We know very little about the greater history of the Ring. We know little more about Strider, the Ranger of the Wild. We have no clue where Gandalf is, only that he was possibly at Weathertop 3 nights before the attack where Frodo was wounded. Given the nature of myths and legends (even ones like Star Wars), we could expect that Frodo, who isn't a typical hero, would be more peripheral to the rest of the story. Some great hero like Strider or Boromir (who we soon meet) is much more likely to take the Ring, and either use it or destroy it. This concept fits in much better to standard mythical archetypes. We're not presented with Frodo as the unexpected hero yet.
Tolkien does an excellent job of keeping the readers at the same knowledge level as Frodo. This helps the reader to identify with Frodo, and relate more to his feelings. It also makes the scene where Frodo offers to take the Ring all the more poignant. Only after the council presents all the information in full, can we as readers understand the great task Frodo takes upon himself. And we gain the information at the same time he does. This is the best way to present that information. All that has happened before, while essential to the plot, is prologue. The true Quest starts when Frodo agrees to take the Ring to the Fire. In this first book, we are given glimpses of the wider world, we are shown the powers of the Enemy, and we see the beginnings of the great hero, Aragorn. Tolkien has set us up marvellously for the remainder of his tale: The Quest of Frodo, and the Heroic Tale of Aragorn-- as seen from the perspective of the hobbits. The unlikely hero is about to step forward to take his place among the great of his time.

      • Nice summary, Inferno! - Idril Celebrindal
        This is the sort of thing that the 57% of us who have read LOTR so many times that we've lost count tend to miss. It's great that you've retained the perspective of a new reader.
      • Inferno...I didn't know you weren't reading... - Patty
        with us right now, as you've bought up many interesting points in this chapter, and so, I was going to ask if you might be interested in prompting one of the remaining chapters on Gorel's list....???? If you can't, it's ok, hope you'll still get the chance to post your insights...
        • Well... (Gorel, I guess you need to see this too) - Inferno
          I've been doing research for my own writing over the past few months. Since I'm on my last book for research purposes, I can take one of the later chapters. If y'all don't mind, I'll take Book II Chapter 4: A Journey in the Dark. I like the section dealing with Moria, and I know I'll actually be around that week.
          I finished rereading LotR and the Silmarillion around January, so I've still got it fairly recently in mind. The years of English classes for my degree help a lot with the analysis stuff too. =) Thanks for thinking my opinion matters.


          • I signed up for that on already... - Aelric
            But you can take it if you like, Inferno. I would rather give everyone a chance before I do my thrid chapter. : ) I can wait.
            • Really? - Inferno
              It's not on the listing on Gorel's site. If you don't mind, that would be preferable for me, simply because I'm supposed to be on several road trips during July and August, but I know I'll be around the week of the 3rd of July, and can actually get online. =) I haven't really wanted to get involved in heading a discussion, since I'm not reading the books right now, but since Patty asked, I figured why not? =) I appreciate your willingness to surrender the chapter as well.


              • No prob, Inferno! - Aelric
                Although Moria is one of my favorite parts of the story -- just the sheer scope and magnitude of that city blows my mind. THREE DAYS IN DARKNESS, GOING IN ONE DIRECTION ONLY!!! Holy smokes!

But I digress, I'll just be active in your discussion. Hehehe!
                • Herm - Gorel
                  I've listed Inferno for that chapter now, and it's true no one was listed before. Sorry, Aerlic, if I missed something. I guess it worked out in the end.

                  • No sweat, Gorel... - Aelric
                    ...I get to do another one soon enough, I'm sure. : )~
          • Will e-mail this to Gorel. Thanks a lot! - Patty
      • *moment of stunned silence* - Wow! - Annael
        What a marvelous analysis, Inferno.
    • very good story so far... - leo
      I think it is still kinda obvious that Tolkien planned on writing a sequel to the Hobbit, ie. a childrensbook, first. You could see this best in the chapters with Tom Bombadil I think.

A lot of chapters in the first book are very good, I personally liked 'A shadow from the past' best, it gives good background information for the rest of the book, and kinda gives reason to keep reading.
    • Tolkien has done a very good job thus far... - Patty
      of laying out the basic story line ending with a cliff hanger,introducing the main characters whose weaknesses or faults will be overcome to make them stronger beings at the end (with the exception of the elves, who basically will be leaving) creating in the reader a desire not only to know what happens to the end of the story but also what took place before the story begins, and lining us up on the side of the heros (good vs. evil). The mark of a great storyteller!
  • Chapter XII, Part 8: Frodo - Annael
    Frodo has now borne the shard of the Morgul knife for 14 days. He has been in pain and unable to walk but it is not until they near the Ford that he begins to have trouble seeing and seems to be truly "fading." Is that just the passage of time, because the shard is nearing his heart, or because of the proximity of the Nazgul?
    • Frodo's burden at the Ford. - Maggot
      Besides the excellent reasons already covered, does anyone think the ring itself may be playing a role here as well in its attempts to return to its master? Perhaps making the Nazgul more bold and potent. For although Strider has hinted he has had dealings with them before and they seem justly leary of engaging him unnecessarily, they are now willing to confront both him and an elf lord in wrath in apparent confidence they can attain their ends. The previous point about the Nazgul not being able to personally handle the ring seems borne out by their words to Frodo at the Ford. They say "...to Mordor we will take you" NOT 'give us the ring.'. The malice they serve wants not only the ring but its "theif" as well.
      It says a lot about the spirit and strength of Frodo, that he is able to resist them even so-called hollowly at such a point and just doesn't just attempt to throw them the ring and be rid of them and the terror of them.
      But it also says in the text that Frodo did have trouble seeing his friends clearly during the race to the Ford and he actually liked the coming of night when things would seem less dim. So the shard's effect was working strongly from the begining. More points?
      Thanks Annael for keeping us on track and focused.
    • I think it's mainly - Kimi
      the passage of time while enduring that dreadful pain wearing him down. The progress of the shard and the proximimity of the Nazgul are probably also factors.
    • all of those... - leo
      but, like Gandalf said, the shard was probably the worst. All along the journey they knew the Nazgul were following them (closely), also the passing of time and the closing in of the shard are linked to each other.
    • I think that it is mostly the shard - Blue Wizard
      Gandalf says later that it had worked very deeply and had nearly pierced his heart, and that he was brought to Rivendell to be cured by Elrond only in the nick of time. But, having all Nine of the Nazgul present at once, after him, would certainly weaken him further at this critical moment.
    • Proximity of Nazgul - Eledhwen
      That's my guess, anyhow. Added to the time factor. Also, at the Ford, he makes an effort to resist which probably draws on more strength than he actually has.
  • Chapter XII, Part 7: At the Ford - Annael
    The elf-horse passes right before the nose of the Nazgul trying to cut Frodo off from the Ford. Everyone is at full gallop. Yet the elf-horse appears to cross the Ford well ahead of the Nazgul. Is there a power in the river that delays the Nazgul? Is that why the elf-horse stops on the far bank instead of going on?
    • Asfaloth obeyed Glorfindel - Kimi
      by outriding the Nazgul steeds; he might be waiting for further instructions.

I think you're right about the power in the Bruinen, and Asfaloth sensing that the immediate peril has passed.
    • The River and the Whole Valley of Rivendil ... - Ron Austin
      Is under the protection of Elrond. Much the same as Lorien ( influence of Elrond's ring ?) it takes an effort for the Nazgul to even try to enter Rivendil. The Nazgul attempt to influence Frodo to come out of Rivendil and only try to enter when Frodo collapses and can't return.
      • Also when they saw Arwen in armor ... - Ron Austin
        They fell down laughing ,oops I meant they held back in terror.
        • Was she wearing samurai armor? - Idril Celebrindal
          Because that makes all the difference, you know. :-)
    • Apart from any power in the river ... - Idril Celebrindal
      The Nazgul don't like water. Asfaloth's speed and the Nazgul's reluctance to pursue Frodo into the Ford of Bruinen bought him a modest lead. If Frodo had not been influenced to rein in Asfaloth and stop on the far side of the ford, he would have been able to get pretty far up the trail to Rivendell before he collapsed.

The Nazgul's dislike of running water may be taken from old tales in which evil spirits are forbidden to cross free-flowing water. And it provides a reason for outfitting them with flying steeds. However, it's a bit difficult to imagine how the Ringwraiths could have traveled on horseback from Mordor to the Shire without having to ford any rivers. They crossed the Anduin at the great bridge of Osgiliath before it was destroyed, but they also had to cross several unbridged rivers along their way to the Shire (most notably, the Greyflood).
Tolkien himself did state that the Nazgul's fear of water was a difficult idea to sustain. :-)
    • Noro lim, noro lim Asfaloth!..... - Patty
      I agree with Blue and Eledhwen; Asfaloth was just a steed of surpassing excellent and knew he had outrun the others and could pause to see what needed to be done next. Sorry to be a whiner, but I really wish I could have seen Glorfindel standing there yelling noro lim, to his horse. Arwen doing it wouldn't have the same effect (smiles). oh the suspense about how this all will be done is killing me! Unlike Gorel's post on the other board I find myself getting more pumped about the movies every day!!!
    • I agree with Eledhwen - Blue Wizard
      Asfaloth is faster than the swiftest steeds of the Nazgul. I suspect that Shadowfax is the only horse on earth that could outrun him.

But, Frodo reins in his horse after he crosses the Ford, succumbing to the commands of the Nazgul. The horse merely obeys him. Perhaps Asfaloth knows that it is safe to stop, because Elrond will not permit servants of Sauron to cross the Bruinen.
    • Neigh! - Eledhwen
      Tolkien does say that 'even their [the Nazgul's] great steeds were no match for the white elf-horse of Glorfindel'. So presumably it simply outpaced the Riders. As for pausing, well, maybe it was neighing to Glorfindel ('Come along! Hurry up!'). Or maybe it guessed what might happen in the Ford, and wanted to watch?! Seriously, I don't know why the horse paused, it makes very little sense.
  • Chapter XII, Part 6: Glorfindel - Annael
    This question comes to us from the College of Revisionist History (note their bonus question in the "Geography" section below):

Is this the same Glorfindel as in the Silmarillion, and if so, how'd he get out of the Halls of Mandos? If he's an Elf-lord, what's he lord of? How come he has to use a saddle and bridle when all the other Elves ride horses without them?
    • The Name could be an homage to a great Elf Hero - Ron Austin
      This Glorfindel could be a relative or heir of the deceased Glorfindel.
    • Re the bridle - Kimi
      In the first edition it was worse: Glorfindel was described as riding with bridle and bit.

In a letter of 1958 to an attentive reader, Tolkien said:
"I could, I suppose, answer: 'a trick-cyclist can ride a bicycle with handle-bars!' But actually bridle was causally and carelessly used for what I suppose should have been called a headstall. Or rather, since bit was added long ago (Chapter XII was written very early) I had not considered the natural ways of elves with animals. Glorfindel's horse would have an ornamental headstall, carrying a plume, and with the straps studded with jewels and small bells; but Glor. would certainly not us a bit. I will change bridle and bit to headstall." It was changed thus in later printings.
No explanation is given for the saddle; I recall someone suggesting some time ago that perhaps Glorfindel was planning ahead, in case he might need to lend his horse to a hobbit.
I find Tolkien's attitude interesting in the letter quoted above; he's somewhat defensive about having been caught out. Understandable, of course, when he'd spent so long writing LOTR then editing it, and thought he had found all the discrepancies. But it does make me wonder how often he explained away discrepancies by inventing something new to include them in the mythology; I read somewhere that he invented the notion of Elvish reincarnation when the re-use of Glorfindel's name was pointed out to him.
    • I think Tolkien wrote somewhere in his letters - Draupne
      that the saddle and bridle was a mistake, he should have written something else.

Dar ni mac denne mak andremo
helfan vora demo muspille.

    • There is a definitive answer to this question - Blue Wizard
      In the Encyclopedia of Arda entry for Glorfindel. Apparently, Tolkien stated in his notes that the Glorfindel of the Silmarillion was not the Glorfindel of LOTR, but that he had used the same names inadvertently, and didn't pick up the error in editing.
      Later, however, he decided to reconcile the error by positing that Glorfindel was re-embodied by the Valar sometime during the Second Age and returned from Middle Earth.

The article also suggests an answer to the "Lord of What" issue - that his golden hair color implies a tie to the royal house of Fingolfin and Finarfin.
As for the third question, I would suggest like many unemployed scions of royal blood approaching, if not well into, middle age with no immediate prospect of assuming a throne, he devoted an immoderate measure of attention to the favorite game of the idle rich - polo, and thus began riding with bridle, bit, saddle and stirrups, quite contrary to normal elf practice.
      • Name duplication in ME. - septembrist
        Don't suppose he could have used the Glorfindel the Younger approach and thus have avoided the re-embodiment argument.
        Are there any names that are duplicated in ME? I think dwarves used same names for different generations but did anybody else?
        • Lots of name duplication. - Inferno
          Most of the Stewards of Gondor (and I believe several of the kings) had names like Turin, Turgon, Beren, etc-- they were named after heroes of the First Age. Boromir, had he lived to take the Rod, would have been Boromir II. Denethor was also a II. His father was Ecthelion, named after the elf of Gondolin who slew Gothmog. Come to think of it, Gothmog is also a repeated name, as it was that of the Lord of the Balrogs, and one of the leaders of Mordor's forces during the War of the Ring.


          • Denethor - GaladrielTX
            There were two Stewards of Gondor named Denethor, but there was also a lord of the Nandorin elves in the First Age named Denethor (in The Silmarillion).
          • But not among Elves I think? - Annael
            They don't seem to have the habit of naming their children after deceased ancestors or heroes. Probably because to them the person still exists - their spirit is just temporarily without a body in the Halls of Mandos.
            • True. - Inferno
              Glorfindel is the only example I could cite of duplicate Elven names. But there are many examples of Men and hobbits (and to some degree, Dwarves) where names are duplicated for one reason or another. Perhaps another reason for this lack among elves is their smaller population and lower reproduction rate. Perhaps they simply haven't run out of names yet, and don't have a need to start repeating them.


              • Legolas...... - Dubhdarra
                In Lost Tales part 2, Legolas is the name of the elf who led the escape party at Gondolin (see Greenbooks Q&A for April) where Glorfindel fell. But this may not count as a duplication since Tolkien didn't include it in the Sil and therefor caught his "mistake"(?) before publication. It's up for grabs as a question but I think it wouldn't count for the above mentioned reasons.
  • Chapter XII, Part 5: The Troll Interlude - Annael
    Why do you suppose Tolkien included the part about the trolls? Holdover from the early "sequel to The Hobbit" phase of writing? Comic relief? Sam's poem speaks of a "Tom with his big boots on" - is that a reference to Tom Bombadil?
    • I think it's there as a link - Kimi
      with the events "The Hobbit"; also as a little comic relief. It also, as Eledhwen said, shows us something more of Sam's capabilities.

I don't think the "Tom" is Tom B., because Sam probably made the song up some time ago, back in the Shire. Tom is just a friendly, one-syllable name, useful for comic verse.
      • Yes I agree Kimi. And as someone mentioned below... - Patty
        even though this Tom's boots are mentioned, and hobbits don't normally wear boots, and Sam was really not familiar with anything else BUT hobbits, Tom B. was supposed to be first, so how could he have an uncle? I think it was just a bit o' rhyme Sam made up with a character generically named Tom.
      • No, it's definitely Tom - Blue Wizard
        1. Sam had never been outside the Shire; Woody End was as far East as he'd ever traveled, so it is unlikely that he had even seen any of the Stoors who occasionally wore boots. So, he had probably never seen anyone wearing boots before he met Tom (other than the Black Riders). Which actually means that he composed the poem sometime in the three weeks or so between the time he met Tom and the time he recited it.

2. Sam's poem, under the title "The Stone Troll" is in cluded in "The Adventures of Tom Bombdil", admittedly along with other poems from LOTR. But, its inclusion could suggest that it was intended to be the third of Tom's adventures related in this volume.
        • Hmm. Something to think about. - Kimi
          But Tom B. doesn't walk with a limp.

And Sam's seen Dwarves, who do wear boots.
And there's the problem you mentioned: who's Uncle Tim? A pet name for one of the Valar?
And is this song the origin of the story of Tom Thumb? In which case, Uncle Tim would be Tiny Tim. Or "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son, Kicked a Troll and away he... limped"?
Okay, I've exceeded my silliness quota for the day. Thank you for your forbearance.
    • Definately - Strife
      Used as a connection between books for a "reality" of the sequel. And I also agree with the statement made about it being as a proof of Bilbo's tales, not just a filler for his old stories.
    • I think he added this part.. - leo
      when he still planned on writing a sequel to the Hobbit, this scene follows the Tom Bombadil thing good, and maybe Tolkien added it as a comic relief wich made Frodo smile through his misery.
    • I almost forgot - About Tom - Blue Wizard
      I don't think that there is any question but that the "Tom" of Sam's song is Tom Bombadil, with his big boots on.

But, here's a mystery: If Tom is eldest, who is his uncle Tim on whose shin-bone the troll is gnawing?
    • Tom, William and Bert - Blue Wizard
      Are not simply, in my mind, a holdover from the "Hobbit sequel" approach to LOTR's early drafts. For the story to work as a continuation of the history, of which the events of the Hobbit are but a part, it needs to have many links other than those immediately connected with the Ring itself - Bilbo, Gandalf, the Dwarves, oblique references to Dale and Bard and Beorn. It is perfectly natural to expect that, since the Hobbits each traveled to Rivendell by more or less the same road, they would encounter some of the same things. And yet, other than the encounter with the stone trolls, there is virtually none of this in LOTR. Having this encounter take place in LOTR makes the story more "real". It also suggests that some of the more fantastic elements of Bilbo's tale really happened, and are not just the exaggurations of a great story-teller.
      • In addition ... - Eledhwen
        This episode helps to further Sam's characterisation. Frodo's comment that 'He'll end up by becoming a wizard - or a warrior!' comes true in the end, as Sam achieves a miracle in helping Frodo to the end, and is called a warrior by the Orcs in the Tower of Cirith Ungol, and also by the hobbits when he comes home. Already we're learning not to see Sam as just a simple gardener, and this is important because his later feats would seem ridiculous without earlier development.
  • Chapter XII, Part 4: The Nazguls' Plan? - Annael
    After Frodo is stabbed, the Nazgul withdraw and seem to disappear. Strider is sure they are just waiting for the knife to do its work. Was that their entire plan, do you think? Why not just overpower the mortals and take the Ring? What do you think the Nazgul would have done if the Witch King had not managed to stab Frodo that night? Do the hobbits and Strider actually elude the Nazgul for a while, or are they being tracked all the time?
    • HERE'S AN IDEA - Strife
      I hope I'm not to late to through an idea in here, but I think that with the sliver of the Morgol knife and the ring so close than either Sauron and/or the Nazgul had some sort of connection with Frodo. I mean, the Nazgul knew to wait for them near the Ford and the Witch-King also could control Frodo's will.
      I think that they were just underestimating the Grey Company and thought that they could just wait and easily take Frodo while unconscious or dead. They couldn't hold the ring themselves because it is said that any man who holds the ring will claim it as their own, and They served Sauron with there wraith souls and didn't want to gain power over him.

This is just an idea.
      • That IS an idea! - Annael
        So you're saying the Ringwraiths couldn't take the Ring to Sauron themselves, they had to somehow get Frodo to deliver it in person? That makes sense.

Makes me shiver.
        • I definitely like this idea! - Blue Wizard
          It's also consistent with the comment in the discussion between Shagrat and Gorbag about how its no picnic working in Minas Morgul, as the Nazgul would just as soon freeze the flesh off of you and leave you on the "other side", as well as the Witch King's threat to Eowyn that she would be left naked to the lidless eye. Sounds like they got a lot of practice at doing exactly what they had in store for Frodo - and that they enjoyed their work to boot.
    • I think the Ringwraiths wanted Frodo - leo
      to fall under their power, if they wanted to overtake the 'mortals' and take the ring for themselves they could have done that easily. Maybe they couldnt take the ring for their own, or maybe they scared off after seeing Strider with the fire....
    • The Nazgul have limited options - Blue Wizard
      The Basksi characterization of them as twisted, hobbled cripples may be going a bit far, but they are traveling on horseback, and without the horses, Gandalf said they would be "crippled". As Aragorn pointed out, he wasn't overly concerned about losing the ponies in Bree, because the paths he was planning to take would be easier traveled on foot than on horseback. So, they Nazgul are pretty much limited to traveling along the East-West Road, and would not be able to track Aragorn and the Hobbits in the wild. Hence, the attack on Weathertop, which is along the road; the confrontation with Glorfindel at the bridge, when he drove them off; and the final attack at the Fords.

The plan was obviously exactly as Aragorn described - once the morgul knife had pierced Frodo's heart, he would be a wraith under their command. All they had to do is wait - at spots along the road to Rivendell where the hobbits would have no choice but to cross. Had the attack at Weathertop not succeeded, I assume that they would have simply tried again at those particular spots.
    • An element of fear? - Eledhwen
      The fear of fire seems to have driven them off after stabbing Frodo, and I expect that Aragorn, even at this stage, was probably pretty scary angry. They probably stayed behind, gathering their strength and the other four Riders who had not been at Weathertop, ready to swoop in and collect Frodo when he became a wraith, when his companions would be stricken with grief. Perhaps they were also hoping that the walkers would lead them to Rivendell, and thus disclose the place where Imladris hid, so that Sauron's armies could eventually attack.
      • Oops, Eledhwen, I posted before I read your response... - Patty
        as you can see from my post I agree about the fire!
    • Remember that hobbits/Frodo are an unknown quantity to the Ringwraiths. - Nenya
      The Nazgul were facing an enemy in possession of the One Ring. The Nazgul had no good idea of how powerful Frodo was with the Ring, how much command he had over it, how much he understood. It rather makes sense in that context that they'd make a hit and run attack, and then wait to see what happened next. The subsequent actions of the Company would reveal strengths and weaknesses.

Simply overpowering the mortals and wresting control of the Ring would have been a great idea - if they could have been guaranteed success. The Nazgul didn't really know how powerful the Company was with the Ring in its possession though, and I suspect they were content at that early juncture to study their enemy's next move.
I suspect that, had the Witch King not managed to stab Frodo, they would have continued to heckle and make tentative strikes, looking for signs of weakness, until they got a good reading on the abilities of the Company. I further suspect that the Company was being closely followed, and though the Nazgul didn't have the Company in their sights the entire time, they certainly knew to within close proximity where the Company would be.
      • don't forget ... - Ron Austin
        That they didn't know when Arwen would jump out and kick their sorry buts all the way back to Mordor!

(Sorry I just couldn't resist a hook like that) :-)
      • Excellent points, Nenya. - Kimi
        I think they would have just kept on trying to way-lay the Company and wound Frodo; as Blue says, at points where they could get at them from the road.
      • Good points well taken. - septembrist
        Forgot about the little fact that Frodo had the Ring and the Wraiths would not know how much command he had of it. Also, Frodo's lunge at the Witch King and Aragorn's wrath probably terrified them into thinking that the Ring was working against them. They were also probably surprised and concerned that Frodo was not easily succumbing the the Morgul knife shard and enforcing the idea that the Ring was empowering him.
        Hence, they decided to attack all together at the Ford.

    • Those mysterious Nazguls. - septembrist
      I've always wondered why they did not attack again after Weathertop. It should not have been difficult to overpower three hobbits and a man.
      As Nenlote suggests, I guess they were waiting for the knife shard to do its work and their job would be done. Another case of underestimating the strength of hobbits.
    • I think that the plan was.... - Nenlote
      My reading of this incident was that if the tip of the knife worked its way to Frodo's heart it would kill him and because it was a Morgul knife the enchantment would still be on him and he would become a wraith forever in the service of Sauron.

The Riders seem to back off, but I think that they're tracking Aragorn and the hobbits all the time and that had it not been for Glorfindel and Asfaloth getting Frodo over the Fords of Bruinen then the outcome might have been very different.
Utilien'aure aiya eldalie ar atanatari, utilien'aure!
      • Yes, I agree, Nenlote. I think if Strider hadn't been there, though,.. - Patty
        wielding all that fire, things would have turned out differently.
  • Chapter XII, Part 3: Another glimpse of Aragorn - Annael
    Pippin asks Strider how come he knows so much about the history of the empty lands they are traveling through, and he replies "The heirs of Elendil do not forget all things past." The hobbits do not react to this very large hint about who Strider really is, even though Frodo at least has heard of Elendil. Why not? How much do you think the hobbits know about, or care about, the history and kings of Men?
    • Indeed.... - Strife
      I highly doubt any of the hobbits would have thought (or even cared much) that "Strider" a dirty ranger held some noble blood. At this point they all had thought that Rivendell was there final destination and beyond going back to their comfy little hobbit holes, nothing mattered. On several occations hobbits were quick to ignore the surrounding world. 1)only the Tooks and Bilbo were known to travel, and the others saw them as "queer folk" 2)The hobbits in the Shire were quick to say that the four had died, not thinking they went to save the Middle-Earth.
    • Different reactions from each hobbit. - Eledhwen
      Merry and Pippin are more interested in finding somewhere warm and dry to rest and a food supply, which they see Rivendell providing; Sam, had he not been so worried about Frodo, would have reacted with interest, I guess, wanting more history; and Frodo might have guessed what Strider meant had he not been wounded. The comment seems more aimed at the reader than the hobbits.
    • I think that they do react - Blue Wizard
      But, the hobbits do not realize that Strider is speaking of himself. They want to know how it is that he knows so much of the history of a place long since abandoned - and he replies that the heirs of Elendil have not forgetten. Almost immediately afterward, they ask him if he has been to Rivendell.

I think that the hobbits assume that the heirs of Elendil have a connection with Rivendell. They know from Bilbo, presumably, that it is a great repository of history and lore, and that folks other than elves live there. I suspect that they think that when Aragorn says that the Heirs of Elendil have not forgotten, that he has learned this history from them, in Rivendell perhaps. They do not imagine that he is himself Elendil's heir.
Of course (as we find out next chapter) Frodo is reasonably familiar with the history of the North-Kingdom, but he thought (as does almost everyone) that the old kings are all long dead, and does not associate the Rangers or Strider with them. He clearly did not "get" what Strider was saying, although he may perhaps be forgiven, in light of his wound.
    • Not much. - septembrist
      I think the hobbits are pretty much ignorant of the history of men or of any other race until they arrive at Rivendell. Even then, Frodo and Sam are the only ones at the Council and I do not know how much information they told Merry and Pippin the history of the Ring and those who had it.
      Frodo may have heard of Elendil, but he was no condition to analyze historical information, considering he has a Nazgul blade eating away at him.
      Another consideration is that Strider is their friend, not some high king on a throne. The Fellowhip is repeatedly surprised when Aragorn shows any kingly attributes.

    • The Hobbits have led a very insular life. - Nenya
      Bilbo was an exceptional hobbit regarding his travel experiences and knowledge of lore not hobbit based. Frodo, through association with Bilbo and with Gandalf, would have known of Elendil, but that does not necessarily mean that the phrase "heir of Elendil" would have necessarily meant anything special, other than the fact that Strider/Aragorn could trace his ancestry back at least indirectly to Elendil.

As for the other hobbits in the company, I'm willing to believe that the significance of Elendil was completely lost on them.
      • The Hobbits completely overlooked ... - Idril Celebrindal
        ... the hint Tom Bombadil dropped to them about Aragorn, so I'm not surprised that this one also went over their heads.

I agree with everyone who has noted that Frodo would have probably picked up on it except for his wound. Frodo has learned enough of the history of the North Kingdom through Bilbo that, if he'd been well, he'd have jumped to the right conclusion.
        • About Frodo jumping to the right conclusion... - Nenya
          Even with all the hints dropped, Frodo may not have made the intuitive leap required to recognize Aragon's "true identity". Let's face it - the true King of the land had been gone for quite some time (26 generations). While the rulers of Gondor may have still kept in the forefront of their minds that they were Stewards only, and not the rightful kings, even they despaired of the eventual return of the King. Why then should the hobbits have realized who they had "stumbled across" at a common Inn? Forgive the comparison, but it would be very much like the return of Christ - many believe Christ will return, but how many would actually recognize him if they met him at an out of town restaurant?
  • Chapter XII, Part 2: Geography - Annael
    Just for fun, draw a map of the hobbits' trail between Bree and Rivendell. How many times do they cross the Road, and what is the farthest point away they get from it?

Bonus question: write an essay proving that Strider is actually trying to delay their arrival at Rivendell until the Morgul-knife fragment overcomes Frodo's will.
    • I double checked this last night - Blue Wizard
      After leaving Bree by the main road, Aragorn leads them north by a narrow path, toward Archet, but passing to its East. They then head East, through the Chetwood and the Midgewater Marshes. This is a slower, but more direct route, as the road curves to the South to avoid the marshes.

Near to the Weather Hills and Weathertop itself, they pick up a more established, but hidden. trail again, leading South toward Weathertop itself. After the attack on Weathertop, they cross the Road, and now head to the Southeast. Again, they avoid a loop in the road, which is now toward the north.
They then have to return to the Road to cross the River Hoarwell at the Bridge. After crossing the bridge, they cross the road for the second time, now heading north again. Here they apparently get the furthest from the Road, as Aragorn decides that they have gone too far North and must head back again, because he is in an area with which he is unfamiliar.
They then head back southward to the Road, where they meet Glorfindel. The rest of the journey is along the road itself to the Ford.
  • Chapter XII, Part 1: The hands of the king - Annael
    After Frodo is wounded, Strider finds some athelas. He also sings a song over the hilt of the Morgul-knife. It is Glorfindel's touch, however, that makes Frodo's arm feel better. Is this consistent with the power of healing Aragorn later shows in Minas Tirith?
    • The Athelas... - Strife
      I beleive that it was more the Athelas than Aragorn at this point that helped to keep Frodo alive. Although Aragorn has the emense power of the King, he wasn't in his own.
      When the Athelas is used in the House of healing, it made those who were in the room feel reborn. It gave them an energy which they couldn't explain. So I think that the Athelas was what kept Frodo alive until Glorfindel and Elrond finally cured him.
    • I think it is... - leo
      we just don't know the link between the hands of the healer are the hands of the King, because this link isn't made yet, that happens in Minas Tirith.
    • I like the idea that Aragorn's - Kimi
      healing powers become stronger as he "comes into his own".

But I wonder if part of it is that Frodo's wound is so very dangerous; either more dangerous than the later wounds of the Pelennor Fields or dangerous in a different way. He has, after all, got a fragment of a deadly blade within him, working its way towards his heart. Only the removal of this fragment can save him.
I don't want to jump ahead too much, but Aragorn's healing of the Pelennor Fields survivors seemed more spiritual (I don't mean that in a "religious" sense) than physical, particularly with Eowyn and Faramir. The healers could treat her broken arm, but they couldn't do anything for her despair and longing for death.
    • Also, Glorfindel ... - Idril Celebrindal
      Glorfindel demonstrates some of the power of Elvish healing in reducing Frodo's pain. Elves are more in touch with the transcendent, spiritual world than humans are, and Glorfindel's healing touch works on Frodo's spirit as well as his body.

Morgoth's Ring contains an interesting essay on Elvish customs. One point of discussion is the Elvish ability to heal. Apparently, killing other beings (whether while hunting or in battle) lessen an Elf's ability to heal others. We see this in contrasting Glorfindel with Elrond. Elrond's days of combat are thousands of years past, when he served as Gil-Galad's standard bearer during the battles of the Last Alliance. He's since been able to purge himself of the taint of killing and bring his powers of healing to a higher level. Although we admittedly see him healing Frodo under awful conditions, the warrior Glorfindel (for all his innate power as an Elf lord) can't match Elrond's ability. It is Elrond, not Glorfindel, who finally cures Frodo of the wound of the Morgul knife.
    • The hands of a healer - Blue Wizard
      The efforts of Aragorn to heal Frodo prepare us for the later scene at the Houses of Healing, and contrast with it as well. Aragorns's efforts in the wilderness are pallative if ineffectual, much as the Rangers themselves - kings in exile in their own land, able to keep watch on and protect in some measure the innocent and simple, like those of Bree and the Shire, but unable to establish their own kingdom. In the morgul knife, he faces an opponent beyond his own measure. Only with the assistance of Glorfindel, and then ultimately from Elrond himself, is Frodo saved. But, Aragorn has not yet come into his own, as he will have by the episode of the Houses of Healing. The sword is still broken; he is in the wild; he has not yet declared himself. The efficacy of his healing efforts in the Return of the King, especially as constrasted with his less successful treatments here, are symbolic of the fulfillment of his destiny.

I think that, beyond this, there is another interesting element to the healing efforts here. Aragorn chants over the hilt of the knife before adminstering the "medicine". Prayer? Incantation? Also, we get a feeling for the depth of not only Strider's woodcraft here, but also history: knowing how to find medicinal herbs in the wild, and how to use them is one thing one might expect of a character that so far reminds us more of Natty Bumpo than a King - but these herbs are special. They are not wild.
      • Agreed. - Eledhwen
        Who's Natty Bumpo??

I think you have it there, Blue - Aragorn hasn't come into his own therefore his healing has slightly less power.
        • He is the hero - Blue Wizard

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

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Apr 26 2009, 3:33am

Post #7 of 65 (20843 views)
Book 2 Chapter 1: Many Meetings. Led by Blue Wizard. [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 2, Chapter 1
Many Meetings
A Discussion Led by Blue Wizard

  • Book II, Chapter 1 - "Many Meetings"-#8: Arwen - Blue Wizard
    In this chapter we get a physical description of Elrond, Glorfindel and Arwen, and we see her for the first time. How old in "human" years do they look?

But, beyond this old debate, what do you make of the passage, at the Hall of Fire, where Arwen gazes on Frodo from across the room, and the light of her eyes falls upon him and pierces his heart?
    • The sentence in which Arwen turns towards "him" - GaladrielTX
      is interesting because of the vagueness of the pronouns "he" and "him". Just who is Arwen looking at, Frodo or Aragorn, in the passage below?

"To his surprise Frodo saw that Aragorn stood beside her....They spoke together, and then suddenly it seemed to Frodo that Arwen turned towards him, and the light of her eyes fell on him from afar and pierced his heart."
Did she turn toward Aragorn or Frodo? I enjoy alternately imagining both.
Later, in the chapter "Lothlorien", the same thing happens. "At the hill's foot Frodo found Aragorn, standing still and silent as a tree; but in his hand was a small golden bloom of elanor, and a light was in his eyes. He was wrapped in some fair memory: and as Frodo looked at him he knew that he beheld things as they once had been in this same place."
Who was the "he" beholding things as they once had been? Frodo, seeing Aragorn with the flower with a light in his eyes? Is it Frodo who is beholding something that once happened? Or is Aragorn beholding something which once happened, daydreaming about a meeting that he once had with Arwen?
      • For the first part... - septembrist
        the "him" refers to Frodo. It would be hard for Frodo to know that Arwen pierced Aragorn's heart.
        For the second part, the second "he" refers to Aragorn as it is Frodo who is doing the "knowing". Thus, "he (Frodo)knew that he (Aragorn) beheld things as they once had been in this same place"
      • hmmm..maybe for a fleeting moment... - Binky
        she wonders as Galandriel did what would she do if offered the ring??? It seems like that must have at least crossed everyone else's mind at least once. Some rejected the idea at once..(Like Faramir and Gandalf and Aragorn) some mulled over it for a period of time like Boromir...

Its been discussed that the ring seemed to have been sentient at least to some to degree...did it reach out and tempt people even in passing????
Or maybe she was just curious..having not seen a hobbit in a long time, if ever.:)

    • Yep, that debate's old, all right. - Kimi
      The problem is that people often (not always) interpret the term "in his prime" relative to their own ages. A teenager who used to post on Casting Rumours thought Elrond should look about 25. I think between 35 and 45 (I've read that men typically don't reach their full endurance [no, I don't mean just sexually] until the age of 35). A seventy-year-old might think Elrond should look 65. I'm right, of course :-)

Arwen should look like an intelligent woman in her early 20s. We know that Aragorn, who first saw her when he was that age, took her to be around the same age as him. She has grown more serious since then, and may look a little older.
Glorfindel, probably 25-35.
Regarding Arwen's glance piercing Frodo's heart: I particularly like Annael's point re the significance of Frodo's burden to Arwen's fate. As well as that, Frodo is susceptible to beauty, and Arwen is achingly beautiful. Remember how Frodo responded to Goldberry? His response to Arwen is probably more "spiritual", as her elvish blood makes her seem more ethereal. But it's still an upwelling of emotion.
      • No debate from me - Malbeth
        Those are pretty much exactly the ages I imagined for all three. Probably evidence for your relative age theory. I'm guessing, of course, but based on your 'first read LOTR' date of 1974, I suppose we're pretty close in age.
        • *Quickly checks Malbeth's bio* - Kimi
          Yes, born the same year! Interesting.

I'd be interested in knowing what ages Eledhwen, for example, imagines them as.
          • Well ... - Eledhwen
            I also imagine Arwen as seeming early 20s - somewhere around my own age, in fact. Elrond, about 40, of the sort of 40 that ages late. Glorfindel - yes, I agree with you, about 25, an old 25.
            • Thanks, Eledhwen. - Kimi
              Nice to see that we envisage them the same sort of apparent age, whatever our own chronological ages.

I agree, Elrond would not be an old-looking 40. I don't expect to see any balding or flabby elves.
    • Arwen's glance at Frodo. - Maggot
      Seemed Arwen was as interested in seeing Frodo the ring bringer, as Frodo was to see her. He is a little spellbound by her qualities and their depth. And she in turn having her first chance to see him does something similar to what Galadriel does later on at their first meeting, and approvingly checks out his internal qualities as well. Could she have been as struck by his regard and therefore had her attention drawn to him, as he was to her? I don't mean in any romantic sort of sense, but as in the meeting of two unfully manifested but important personalities who can appreciate each other perhaps more thouroughly than others?
      • She takes after her grandma. - Eledhwen
        I think Arwen has a measure of Galadriel's deep sight, handed down on both sides; maternal from Galadriel, kin of Feanor, and paternal from Melian the Maia. She probably knows all about the Ring. I bet she's also interested because she knows Frodo has become a friend of Aragorn. All of which is a lot from a person who looks like a girl of twenty!
        • More than that . . . - Annael
          No doubt she knows that the reappearance of the Ring means that Aragorn's fate, and hers, will soon be decided.
          • Let me suggest a slightly different take on this passage - Blue Wizard
            It strikes me that this is one of those instances where Tolkien is using religious imagery. I think that the argument that Gandalf, or Aragorn, or Frodo, or the three of them together, is intended to be a Christ-figure in LOTR; or that Elbereth, or Galadriel, or Arwen, or the three of them collectively, is intended to be a Marian image is over simplistic, and confuses, in the professor's own words "applicability" with "allegory".

Nevertheless, the phrase "pierced his heart" is a particularly powerful religious image, and in the context of this scene, to my mind, recalls the prophesy of Simeon:
"Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."
Thus, I tend to see Arwen's gaze on Frodo as one of compassion. She knows, in her great wisdom belied by her youthful appearance, the great trials that Frodo must face and that the fate of the world depends upon him. She also knows, that her destiny and fate are bound to his. And, though she will indeed not fully appreciate it until the very end, she too will bear immeasurable sorrow.
            • A nice reading, Blue. - Kimi
              It's difficult to avoid sophistry (and hence being boring) when talking of Christ-like figures and Marian images, but when I referred to Aragorn as a "type" of Christ, I didn't mean in any allegorical sense, but in the sense commonly used in scriptural commentary. As for Marian images, I believe they're there in LOTR, but usually (perhaps always) unintentional. When you get a devout Catholic like JRRT, raised in the tradition of veneration of Mary, and with that whole concept mingled with his vision of his own mother as a martyr for her faith, he can’t help but be influenced by his vision of the Virgin whenever he writes of near-celestial beauty and goodness in female characters. He says as much in the “Letters”.

Only my opinion, of course, and in no way attempting to be apologia (which would be nonsensical, since I’m not a Catholic); just the way I see some of the influences on Tolkien’s writings.
Your post reminded me of the image of the Sacred Heart in religious paintings.

            • very insightful Blue Wizard - Maggot
  • Book II, Chapter 1 - "Many Meetings" - #7: The Fading of Dwarves? - Blue Wizard
    Gloin gives Frodo a long account of the doings of dwarves, which eventually confuses him. He does note, with interest, the happenings affecting people noted in the Hobbit: Bilbo's companions, the Kingdom of Dale, the Beornings. Gloin relates that, while they make good armor and swords, they have lost many of the secrets of their forefathers in metalwork, and only in mining and building do they surpass the skill of the old days.

What significance, if any, should we place in these remarks in light of the broader themes of LOTR? Why has metalwork declined, but building and mining flourished?
    • fading in general - Maggot
      Weren't all the older races fading toward the end of the Second Age, as the time for the prominence of humans approaches? Wouldn't the dwarves' lessening be a part of that general tendency? Perhaps more acute since they are the offspring of Aule first sanctioned by Illuvatar, but with perhaps less connection to Middle Earth itself than any of the other races since they were made in secret and without any input from Yavana?
      It seems that Tolkien sort of equated real industrialzation with Mordor and it's minions; particularly Saruman. What happened in the Shire, Orthanc, and in the lands around Barad-Dur were a direct outgrowth of malicious ambition in action. Yet in the big picture it helps to bring about the original intents of the plan of time already in place. While the change of emphasis in skills among the dwarves does not seem so immediately related to malicious intent, but appears as a sort of natural aging that they are not fighting, but making the best of; becoming even better at it than their forebears.
    • Fading of the Dwarves - Idril Celebrindal
      I read Gloin's thoughts on the loss of Dwarvish metalworking skills as a comment on what the Dwarves had lost in the disasters they encountered during the Third Age. Besides the sack of Erebor by Smaug, there was the Dwarf and Orc War, the loss of the Dwarvish settlements in the Grey Mountains, and most significantly, the loss of Khazad-Dum.

I think these disasters mark the beginning of the fading of the Dwarves. Many Dwarves were killed before they could pass on their skills. Also, Dwarves do not multiply as quickly as other races because there are comparatively few Dwarvish women. Although I don't think that the Dwarvish population dropped below the point of no return, it's clear that they no longer posess the skill base to duplicate their works of old.
In any case, the Dwarves do experience a period of prosperity during the Fourth Age. They reclaim Khazad-Dum after Durin is reborn and the Dwarf kingdoms of the Iron Hills and Erebor remain strong for a while. However, they eventually fade away to make way for the dominion of Men. How this happens Tolkien doesn't say.
      • Durin is reborn? Idril, I don't recognize ... - Patty
        this, is it in the appendices or another source? I didn't remember it.
        • He's mentioned in the LOTR Appendices - Idril Celebrindal
          The Dwarf genealogies in the LOTR Appendices list Durin IV (and last) as being born during the Fourth Age. I also read somewhere (either in the Appendices or in the Histories of Middle-earth; neither is with me so I can't look it up) that the Dwarves reclaim Khazad-Dum after the final rebirth of Durin.

    • Fading in general - Malbeth
      The creation of superbly crafted items like jewelry, weapons, armor, etc. is an individual act. Mining and building are group activities, requiring cooperation more than individual brilliance. This illustrates the idea of fading of all peoples, not just elves.

It seems to me that, compared to the first age, individuals are less gifted and less powerful as time passes. We're very familiar with this concept regarding elves, and it is amplified by their immortality; after thousands of years, it's easy to imagine losing interest in Middle-earth and sailing west. But it's true of men, too. Individually, the great ones of the first age like Beren or Hurin accomplished deeds far mightier than men of later ages. Likewise, Telchar of Nogrod was a superior smith to any of the dwarves of later years. IMHO, the Dominion of Men was a result of population, not the fact that men didn't 'fade' like the elves.
But while individuals at the time of LOTR were less powerful than in the first age, it seems to me they were wiser. I'm in the middle of re-reading The Silmarillion, and it really strikes me how many rash, foolish things those mighty individuals did. Perhaps the heat of their emotions has cooled over the ages, too.
      • Adding to malbeths thoughts - Hengist
        Yes metal working etc are individual crafts and mining /building are group tasks.
        Given the secretive nature of the dwarves it is likely that the metal smiths would not share theyre secrets, and being so intense and because of the "lack" of female dwarves? they may not have had any sons to pass on the secrets to. Then when they died the secrets would be lost for all time. However as mining/building are group activities more dwarves would know about the methods, therefore the info would be passed on and advances would occur based on the original knowledge. In time skill at mining/ building would be far more advanced than metal working.
      • In the same vein - Nenya
        To create jewelry, armor, weapons requires an intimate knowledge of the medium you are using. If the final product is of superior quality, it is because the artisan was "in touch" with the metal and gems being used. For lack of a better word, this can takes on almost a "magical" feel (magic being mis-used much in the way that Sam misused it when he said he wished to see some Elven magic and was corrected in Lothlorien). To make a work of art on that level, you need to have the work bend to the medium.

Building great structures demands that you make the medium bend you your will. There is less "magic" involved, and more brute strength. Rather than coaxing something from the material, you bully it into becoming something other than what it was. Perhaps this difference can be seen as a "fading" in the Dwarves, for they no longer hear the earth, but merely order it around.
If that makes any sense.
        • Hadn't looked at it that way, but a very interesting idea, I like it =) - Jester_rm
          I had viewed it as a lack of inspiration, since it seemed that the dwarves "fed" off of the commerce with elves, thereby increasing the quality/beauty of items from both, but I like your idea as well =)
    • Reflects changes in the Shire - Eledhwen
      Like much of the rest of Middle-earth, the dwarvish kingdoms are becoming more industrialised and built up (as much as ME ever would be built up!) This reflects what has happened in the Shire by the time the hobbits return home.
    • Perhaps one of the inspirations for their skill - Kimi
      in metalwork was their greater dealings with elves in days gone by. I get the feeling that the elvish love of beauty might have inspired the dwarves to push the limits of their skill in making both beautiful jewellery and armour that was as lovely as it was functional (Frodo's mithril coat, supposed to have been made for a young elf long ago, springs to mind here).

More prosaically, Durin's Folk have been quite poor (by their own historical standards) since they lost Moria. They've had little opportunity to work with precious metals. It would take them many years to regain their old skill. "Of iron were most of the things that they forged in those days," is said of Thráin's family in Appendix A.
      • IIRC, in the Sil - Jester_rm
        the dwarves first worked in iron and copper I think, and only moved to precious metals after meeting the elves...I always got the impression that the elves were gifted in the areas of astheticly? beautiful items, and the dwarves were more talented in the areas of practicality and strength more than looks. The interaction between them benefitted both, the elves weapons grew stronger (ref: halls of Nargothrond, arms and armor of Doriath, etc.), and the dwarven items gained more inherent beauty (ref: Nauglimir, etc.)
        • Dwarves and Elves - Idril Celebrindal
          One of the reasons why the Dwarves of the First Age were so productive and skilled is that they often worked closely with the Elves, to the benefit of both races. The Elves taught the Dwarves much about aesthetics, and the Dwarves taught the Elves much about engineering. It is sad that the two races later became estranged ... who knows what they could have achieved if they had continued to work together? (Then again, the Elves of Hollin under Celebrimbor had a good relationship with the Dwarves of Khazad-Dum, and look what trouble eventually arose out of that partnership!)
  • Book II, Chapter 1 - "Many Meetings" - #6: The Hobbits - Blue Wizard
    We see this chapter through Frodo's eyes, as we do most chapters, but we see a bit of the other's as well.

Sam attends Frodo, and wishes to be permitted to serve him at the banquet. He is suprised to find that he is one of the guests of honor as well.
Pippin after being corrected for calling Frodo "the Lord of the Ring", remarks that Gandalf thinks he needs "keeping in order"
Merry notes that there will be a feast, and that preparations began as soon as Gandalf announced that Frodo had recovered.
Do these little glimpses tell us anything worth noting about these other characters?
    • Speaking of seeing through different characters' eyes, - GaladrielTX
      I like that we get a glimpse of Gandalf's thoughts in this chapter, when he examines Frodo. I don't recall that happening very often. Sometimes we observe his physical reactions and sometimes he says what he's thinking, but we don't often go inside his head.
    • They emphasise what we've already seen - Kimi
      Sam is still very humble, and still thinks of himself as a servant. We're getting a strong hint here that he's going to be seen as the equal of the other hobbits from this point. His reaction also shows that his first thought is for Frodo, and his first desire to care for Frodo.

Pippin is as irrepressible as ever. He still hasn't a clue about the seriousness of the position they're in.
Merry... well, I suppose he's showing the hobbit love of food and drink. We sometimes get glimpses of Merry that show him as quite a deep thinker; here's a reminder that he's still a real hobbit.
      • As to Merry. . . - Blue Wizard
        what struck me is that he is naturally excited about a feast (who wouldn't be, especially if you're a Hobbit whose been on short rations for a couple of weeks in the wild) but that he's interested in the preparations for them - he, who seems to be the principal logistical organizer in the group.
        • Yes, I'm sure . . . - Annael
          that Merry is a Capricorn like me, and oy, am I an organizer! Always concerned with the details and the "how"; I'm always the one who brings the napkins on the picnic.

And of course he's the only one besides Frodo who looks at the maps while at Rivendell, he's a map nerd too, likes to know where he is. Whereas Pippin is always going to trust that "someone else" will know.
          • Can't you just tell - Kimi
            that Pippin has older sisters?

Three of them, and he's the only boy as well as being the baby of the family.
            • I'm sure you're right! - Annael
              Yup, spoiled and petted and the family clown to boot, after all those years of being put on the table after dinner and encouraged to caper about and sing.
        • As for merry - Hengist
          I agree with Kimi about sams first thoughts are for frodo and that pippin is still as flippant as ever. Also agreee with the comments about merry and the feast.
          But i think that its of importance that the preparations begin only when frodo awakens, why gandalf and elrond can get the ifo they require from the other hobbits or from aragorn- all of the other discussion really precludes the hobbits so why wait for frodo to awaken. Perhaps gandalf and elrond sense that frodo still has a part to play
  • Book II, Chapter 1 - "Many Meetings": #5 - Three Scenes - Blue Wizard
    There are three principal "scenes" in Many Meetings.

First, Frodo's conversation with Gandalf.
Second, Frodo's conversation with Gloin at the banquet.
Third, Frodo's conversation with Bilbo at the Hall of Fire.
How do these three scenes serve to summarize, explain and advance the plot?
    • Frodo and Bilbo - Maggot
      Wasn't the last time Frodo spoke with Gandalf he was lamenting Bilbo's not stabbing that vile creature--Golum? Seeing the transformation in his beloved guardian in the presence of the ring, both he and Bilbo are taken by a ghastly surprise. And i tend to think this is a further resolution of that initial regret Frodo had. Both he and Bilbo get a much more brought home lesson in the nature, intent and effect of the ring, and a greater compassion for any creature that has or is it's bearer. And are now bound more closely together than ever. i think this scene begins the preparation of Frodo and foreshadows his forced collaboration with Gollum. Just as Frodo's conversation with Gloin is meant to be both past and present to the story.
    • Annael has said it well - Kimi
      I only have a few small things to add.

The scene with Gandalf has something unusual within LOTR: a point of view other than that of one of the hobbits. I think it's because the author really wants us to be aware of the changes taking place already within Frodo, and none of his friends would have the right vocabulary at this point to express what they might see happening in him.
The scene with Glóin, as well as providing a link with "The Hobbit", helps set up for the Gimli sub-plot (a dwarf as part of the Company; the Elf-Dwarf tension that resolves into friendship; Gimli's veneration of Galadriel).
The scene with Bilbo is one of those occasions when we need to try hard to remember what it was like reading the book for the first time. It's a real "ahh, isn't that nice!" scene. After all his recent sufferings, Frodo is given the thing he desires most in the world at that point: a reunion with Bilbo. There is a dark side, however, with the enduring power of the Ring being demonstrated. Frodo's vision of Bilbo is an unpleasant foreshadowing of Gollum.
      • POV - Blue Wizard
        As Inferno so aptly pointed out in the summary of Book I, the POV in Book I is almost exclusively Frodo's (there's a bit of Bilbo's POV and a little of Sam's). That Tolkien has chosen to write this Chapter as revolving around three conversations: with Gandalf, with Gloin, and with Bilbo, continues to maintain this POV. We, the readers, just like Frodo, know only so much as we are told by these three people
      • I agree with both of you. - Eledhwen
        • Gloin - Iolath
          The conversation with Gloin serves as both a link to the past and a hint of the larger troubles in the world beyond the Quest area. I always wondered why more Peoples didn't participate in the battles on Gondor's side, but the Appendices discuss all the other fighting going on in the realms of Mirkwood, Lorien, Dale, Iron Mountain, etc, and explains why our Fellowship and its allies were on their own.
    • Tying up loose ends. - Annael
      Frodo's talk with Gandalf tells us what happened after Frodo crossed the Ford. We also get some more explanation about who the Black Riders are and what their powers consist of, as well as more information about Elves - and about Aragorn. And we get a teaser about why Gandalf was missing, although Saruman is still "under cover" for another chapter. (Aside: Tolkien seems bent on keeping us from suspecting Saruman's full treachery until the Orcs take Merry and Pippin. Only in retrospect can we look back and say things like "The attack at Bree was primarily the work of Saruman's agents.")

The conversation with Gloin strikes me as another holdover from the "sequel to the Hobbit" thinking. It's kind of like having "Scotty" appear on "Star Trek: The Next Generation." We get a sense of connection to the other story and he serves as a link to an important character AND a plot line that we'll be introduced to in the next chapter.
Bilbo is another relic, poor old dear. We see what effect the Ring is having on Frodo through him, but otherwise he's just there to link us back to the other story once again.
Tolkien is giving us a breather before the intensity of the next chapter, a chance to regroup and figure out, with Frodo, what's been going on so far. We get to sit in the Hall of Fire and look around and listen to some pretty songs for an evening. It reinforces for us the notion that Rivendell - as with all the Elven homes - is a refuge, a place apart from the hurrying life of the world, a place where a song is as important as the affairs of state elsewhere would be.
  • Book II, Chapter 1 - "Many Meetings" - #3: On the Other Side - Blue Wizard
    Gandalf explains to Frodo the effect of the ring on him, entering the wraith world, but also comments on the Elves and Glorfindel in particular:

"They do not fear the Ringwraiths, for those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power.
I thought that I saw a white figure that shown and did not grow dim like the others. Was that Glorfindel then?
Yes, you saw him for a moment as he is upon the other side: one of the mighty of the First-born. He is an Elf-lord of a house of princes..."
Why is it that the elves live at once in both worlds?
What powers do they have over the Seen and Unseen?
Has anything in the book so far (or in the Hobbit) prepared us for the concept that some elves in Middle Earth once dwelt in "the Blessed Realm", or what it is? Compare the song of the elves in Gildor's company and his discussion with Frodo, in particular.
In saying that Glorfindel is one of the mighty among the First-born, is Gandalf simply saying that he is an elf (ie the elder children) or that he is indeed one of the first-born elves of the awakening?
To which house of princes does Glorfindel belong?
    • Elves from Valinor. - Inferno
      Firstly, Glorfindel has to be one of the Noldor. None of the Vanyar returned from the Blessed Realm except during the War of Wrath-- and all those returned again to Valinor. Of the Teleri, the only one to set foot again in Middle-Earth after having seen the Trees was Thingol-- and he's long dead. Therefore, Glorfindel is of Noldorin descent. As has already been suggested, his golden hair ties him into the line of Finarfin-- where exactly, we don't know, as he's not specifically mentioned.

If we assume that this Glorfindel is another elf with the same name as the one from Gondolin, and not this elf reincarnated, a couple conclusions can be drawn. Glorfindel had dwelt in the Blessed Realm. So he had seen the light of the Trees. Light and shadow provide sources of power in the Middle-Earth mythos. Melkor seeks for the Everlasting Fire, for the power that it would provide him. Ungoliant's power came from the Void (and from the power that Melkor gave of himself to her.) The Balrogs, spirits of fire, akin to Arien, who drives the vessel of the Sun, draw upon the powers of shadow as well as their own fire. The Silmarils have the greatest inherent power of any objects in Middle-Earth, due to to the light they posess. There is something about the Light of the Two Trees that increases the power of the Elves. (And presumably would have of Men, had they seen it) The Noldor returning from Valinor had greater power, glory, and wisdom than the Moriquendi-- of all groups. The wisdom was probably drawn from their exposure to the Valar, but their power is tied to the Trees. Thingol is ranked among the great of the Elves, not because he met the Valar, but because he saw the Light of the Trees. That light he also saw in Melian's eyes, and their realm was greatest of the Sindar, because of the Light that was possessed by its rulers.
Morwen is compared to an elf-maid because of the light in her eyes. Frodo is known as elf-friend because of the light in his eyes. The light of the Two Trees is somehow captured as an source of power for the great of the Elf-Lords. Glorfindel says that there are few in Rivendell who have the power to stand alone against the Nine, but such as there were, Elrond sent. (An aside: This statement is why I dislike the idea of Arwen replacing Glorfindel. She doesn't have the power to stand alone against the Nine. Putting her in that positions detracts from the concept of diminshed strength among the Elves. But that's another dicussion point.) =) Many of the Noldor were slain in the wars of the First Age, during the fall of Hollin, and during the Last Alliance. Many who didn't die, sailed to Valinor, both immediately after the defeat of Morgoth, and also during the years of the Second and Third Ages. Glorfindel is among the few who still have such power. There are two distinct worlds in Middle-Earth, the normal world which everyone inhabits and the 'other' world, which mortals can only reach through the powers of the Rings. The Elves, being tied to Middle-Earth, are tied to both of these worlds. They can function in both with equal ease. This is how Legolas recuperates instead of sleeping, traveling with Aragorn and Gimli in a half-daze: He is drawing strength from his existence in the other world.
The powers that the Elves have over the Unseen vary in respect to the Light they carry, and their natural strengths. Just as some men are stronger or faster than others naturally, some Elves are more powerful against the Unseen. Those who had been exposed to the Light of the Trees carried a large source of power than those who had not. The Silmarils carried that power within themselves. The Rings draw upon the power of the weilder, amplifying the light or shadow within each holder. The One Ring was filled with much of the power of Sauron, and overwhelms the inherent light of the wielder with its own shadowy power. It would appear that Illuvatar put a certain amount of light and shadow within all his children, and also among the Ainu. (Bombadil is still an enigma. If the great of the Maiar can be corrupted by this Thing, drawing upon the inherent darkness within them, or by overwhelming the light they carry, then he must be without shadow, and apart from the Ainu, in order for the Ring to have no power over him.)
This leaves a few questions of my own now. Glorfindel is obviously one who had been in Valinor. Why is his power in healing less than that of Elrond's, who is not of 'pure' Elven blood, and who also never saw the light of the Trees? Could it be due to the Maiar blood he carries? Secondly, to my mind, there is very little previous to this point to show the great power of the Noldorin Elves. The encounter with Gildor is pale in comparison to the events at the Ford. Most of the information I've cited was from the Silmarillion, not LotR. So what prepares the reader for Glorfindel?
      • That's a really good post. Inferno, and I hope - Kimi
        you'll forgive a picky little point in response.

Could you please put blank lines between your paragraphs? And maybe make some paragraphs a bit shorter? Reading on a screen, and having rather weak eyes anyway, I find it difficult to read long messages that are "all in a lump". And I do like to read every word of your messages!
      • A couple of comments - Malbeth
        Regarding Elrond's power to heal being greater than Glorfindel's, I'm sure Elrond's healing power was greatly enhanced by Vilya. And as for who at Rivendell had the power to withstand the Nine, I don't think you can dismiss Elrond and his children; the line of Luthien had great power. I suspect Elrond, Elladan, Elrohir, and Arwen could all withstand at least some of the Black Riders. Just a theory, any other opinions on this?
        • Elrond is a scholor ... and Glorfindal didnt have the time at the ford... - Ron Austin
          to fight off the Riders and attempt a healing on Frodo.
        • Good point. - Inferno
          I had failed to take Vilya into consideration. That alone would make quite a difference. Thanks for pointing that out.

As for the heritage of the children of Luthien, their power dwindles through each generation. I would accept that Arwen, Elladan, and Elrohir would all be capable of withstanding at least some of the Nine. But not all. Arwen is clearly capable of handling herself well against the evils of Middle-Earth-- she travels with a few guards from Rivendell to Lorien and back rather frequently. But she's not capable of standing against all the Nine.
Elrond sends out all who are capable of riding openly against the Nine to search for Frodo. None of his children are in this group. Elrond could probably have done so, with the additional power granted by the Ring, but he would have needed to stay in Rivendell for any emergencies (such as occurred when Frodo arrived. Had he been out searching, Frodo would likely have not survived the knife wound).
Elladan and Elrohir are sent on some sort of scouting mission in the Trollshaws. They weren't sent out against the Nine. This would lead me to the conclusion that they had not the power to withstand the Nine. Remember, they all had Rings of their own.
Standing against one or two of the Nine (or even 5) isn't the same as facing all of them together. Even though Elrond would want to protect his children, as all parents would, getting the Ring safely to Rivendell is so crucial, that I doubt he would spare anyone that could be used in the defense. Yet he doesn't send out his children to defend against that Power that assails Frodo. This leads me to believe that the Nine are more powerful than the children of Elrond alone.
(And Kimi, I hope this is easier on your eyes.) ;)

          • Heredity is a complex issue - Kimi
            both in real life and in LOTR. I'm thinking of one of my Swedish cousins; she and I are uncannily alike, even to some of our mannerisms, and yet we are fourth cousins, and taking simple statistics should have a tiny amount of common genetic material. Neither of us resemble our respective sisters.

It's similar in LOTR, where the concept of blood "running true" comes up repeatedly; compare Faramir and Boromir. Faramir resembles (in more than looks) Aragorn, as does his father; Boromir does not. Arwen looks uncannily like her great-great-grandmother; who is to say how much of Luthien's power each of the children of Elrond has?
As Malbeth says, not even Glorfindel could stand against the entire Nine.
Don't underestimate the potential of Arwen simply because we are shown so little of her in LOTR. She's not just a pretty face.
          • Could Glorfindel handle all nine together? - Malbeth
            I took the "power to withstand the Nine" to mean power to withstand the Nazgul, but not necessarily all of them at once. Remember, Gandalf said, "On foot, even Glorfindel and Aragorn together could not withstand all nine at once".

I'm curious, do we know that Elladan and Elrohir weren't sent out to look for Frodo? I can't remember if we are told where they've been when they came back and Aragorn skipped the feast to talk to them.
          • Very nice, thank you, Inferno :-) - Kimi
        • Good point, Malbeth - Kimi
          Blood (i.e. heredity) is so important in LOTR, and the blood of Melian via Luthien is still strong in Elrond's line.
        • Yes, I agree about Elrond and his children - Blue Wizard
          They certainly had the power to ride against the Nine, even though they hadn't lived in Elvenhome. Come to think of it, Gandalf said that there was power in the Grey Havens to withstand Sauron (at least for a time), presumably referring to Cirdan and his folk. But Cirdan also never liven in Elvenhome either - he was persuaded by Osse to remain in Middle Earth.

Getting ahead of ourselves a bit, I suspect that the two persons from his household who he had intended to accompany the Fellowship instead of Merry and Pippin were Elladan and Elrohir.
      • Impressive, Inferno...this addresses the post - Patty
        I posted above about sending out other powerful beings like Glorfindel and from wence their power comes. Well researched reply.
    • I'll take the easy ones - Kimi
      Oh, there aren't any easy ones!

References to the Blessed Realm: Malbeth has made an excellent job of summarising those.
"Firstborn" I read as referring to the Eldar, not to Glorfindel being one of the first to awaken.
Glorfindel's golden hair is mentioned many times in "The Fall of Gondolin". (His name means "golden-haired.) As Malbeth said, he may be part of the house of Fingolfin, in which case he has inherited the golden hair of Indis of the Vanyar (Galadriel's grandmother). He's not mentioned in the family trees in The Silmarillion, though. He can't be Vanyar, as they're all in Valinor. If he's a Noldo prince, he should be part of the house of Finarfin ("alone among the Noldorin princes he and his descendants had golden hair"), and therefore a cousin of Galadriel, and would surely be mentioned in the family trees. So (after all that) I don't know just where he fits in.
Glorfindel has some power against Nazgul; he frightened off several of them on his own. He also has healing powers, though not as great as Elrond's.
As for the "both worlds" question: I'm looking forward to reading other people's ideas. One small suggestion is that such Elves would not fear death, as it means a return to the beloved West.
    • That's a bunch of questions, Blue. - Malbeth
      I'll take a shot at a couple of them. It's tough to say what house of princes Glorfindel belongs to. If we assume we're talking about the same Glorfindel that lived in Gondolin, he was of the "House of the Golden Flower of Gondolin", whatever that means. I would assume he was one of the people of Fingolfin, since he was in Gondolin.

By "First-born", I supposed Gandalf simply meant one of the Eldar; that's just a guess, though.
As to Gandalf's reference to the Blessed Realm, we know it's "beyond the furthest seas". Back in the Shire, Gildor's folk sang a song to Elbereth, singing of "beyond the Western Seas" and "a far land beyond the Sea". Frodo knows what this means; he says "Not many now remain in Middle-earth, east of the Great Sea". So, if the reader has been paying close attention, he knows that the Blessed Realm is probably to the far west, across the sea, and that most elves live there. He might also guess incorrectly that Aragorn's ancestors lived there too, since Gandalf says he is of "the race of Kings from over the sea", and he is called "man of the west".
      • To perhaps narrow the questions - Blue Wizard
        particularly about the Blessed Realm. Gandalf says that elves who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds. There are a couple of interesting implications to this, if we think about it.

Can we take it that elves who have not dwelt in Eressea do not live at once in both worlds? Somehow I think that this is not quite correct. I should think that all elves possess a spirit, (as, indeed Tolkien believed that all men possess a soul) which exists in the spiritual realm, as well as the body which exists in the physical realm. But perhaps it is the case that elves who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm are actively conscious of their spiritual existance in a way which those who have not made that journey are not.
        • Legolas provides an example - Malbeth
          that even elves who have never been over the sea, and don't even have ancestors among the Eldar, are still much more intouch with the spiritual realm than Men, Hobbits, or Dwarves. He immediately recognized the Balrog, although he certainly had never seen one before. He was also the first to recognize Gandalf the White, even before Aragorn who knew him so well. And he didn't fear the Paths of the Dead, I guess because the spirits of the dead were not foreign to him, and thus not frightening.

Living in the Blessed Realm may may somehow magnify this part of the nature of all elves. Maybe the presence of all those Valar and Maiar has the effect of pulling one more into their realm.

  • Book II, Chapter 1 "Many Meetings": #2 - It May Have Been Better So - Blue Wizard
    Gandalf congratuates Frodo on the others for making it to Rivendell through so many dangers, and Frodo tells him that they could not have done so without Strider. But, he says that they needed Gandalf and did not know what to do without him.

"'I was delayed,' said Gandalf, 'and that nearly proved our ruin. And yet I am not sure: it may have been better so.'"
Consider the alternative scenario: Gandalf is not delayed, but returns in September at the earlier-agreed date, and commences the journey with Frodo. What would have happened differently, and why is Gandalf's delay a better outcome?
    • Also ... - Eledhwen
      I too agree about Saruman. But also, having Gandalf with them would have alerted everyone - Gandalf's presence signalling that somethin great was happening. Aragorn's presence at this stage means little to most.
      • Good point, Eledhwen, "Strider" was "only a ranger" then.... - Patty
    • Good point about Saruman, Kimi. - Malbeth
      Discovering his treachery was vital; otherwise the Fellowship probably would have headed for the Gap of Rohan, which would have been disastrous.
    • I think it might be because - Kimi
      the Hobbits have been forced to become tougher and more self-reliant. Strider saved them, but they had already learned a good deal more caution, and travelling with Strider was no picnic. This has prepared them for the journeys ahead.

I wonder how much detail of these journeys Gandalf foresees at this point.
Another possibility: Gandalf may be thinking (and speaking) of the fact that they have found out earlier than they might otherwise about the treachery of Saruman. Without this knowledge, they might have travelled via Isengard, and ended up delivering the Ring to Saruman.

  • Book II, Chapter 1 - Many Meetings: #1 - The Most Dangerous Moment - Blue Wizard
    Frodo wakes in Rivendell, attended by Gandalf, recalling his adventures so far as if it were a dream. Gandalf tells him how he was starting to fade from the Morgul knife..."But you have some strength in you, my dear hobbit! As you showed in the Barrow. That was touch and go: perhaps the most dangerous moment of all. I wish you could have held out at Weathertop."

Do you agree that the Barrow Downs were the most dangerous moment of all for Frodo in the journey so far? What would have happened had they all been captured by the Wight?
And, what would have been the consequences had Frodo not put on the ring at Weathertop, but instead had "held out" as Gandalf wished? Would it have been impossible for the Witch King to have stabbed Frodo?
    • Could he possibly mean . . . - Annael
      that Frodo managed to resist the Barrow-wight's spell somehow? If Frodo had not done so, as everyone else has pointed out, there was no help nearby, and no one would have known even where to look for them.
      • I like that reading, Annael. - Kimi
        It "scans" nicely like that: the barrow was dangerous; Frodo "held out" there; Gandalf wishes Frodo had "held out" at Weathertop.

Thank you!
    • That's always struck me ... - Eledhwen
      As being an odd thing to say. I suppose that, like Kimi said, it has something to do with the hobbits being alone, and the three who could help Frodo defend the Ring were unconscious. If Bombadil hadn't been on hand in the barrows, there would have been nobody to help Frodo. Whereas on Weathertop, although the foe was greater, so was the help.
    • Frodo's fate was sealed when he was stabbed with the Nazgul knife... - Patty
      and although he was healed, of a sort, by Elrond, perhaps Gandalf knew that he would not ever be entirely cured now, and would not now be able to live in peace and happiness for long in the shire no matter the outcome of the ring. Perhaps it was regret for Frodo's future that he was seeing--although the Undying lands would be a temporary respite, he'd not be able to enjoy his home. ????
    • I understand Gandalf's point... - Malbeth
      but I don't agree. The dangerous part was that they were on their own, with no help available. But I suspect that Bombadil was close, and would have saved at least Frodo. Wait, what am I thinking? Disagreeing with the wisest of the Maiar? Oh well, what do I have to lose? I'd vote for Weathertop as the most dangerous; there was help from Glorfindel at the ford, and Gandalf knew the flood would be very helpful. But Weathertop was isolated, days from any help, with only Aragorn to defend against the Black Riders.
    • Is it the most dangerous? - Kimi
      It surprised me that Gandalf said that, given the attack on Weathertop and at the Ford. Perhaps he means that in the barrow the Hobbits were on their own, with no powerful minders on hand.

Had they been captured by the Wight I think that the Nazgűl would have sniffed them out and taken them (Frodo, anyway) from the Wight. But possibly Bombadil would have got to them first. He certainly seems to have been close enough at hand when Frodo called for him. I wonder how Bombadil would have fared against Nazgűl.
If Frodo hadn't put on the Ring, I think the Nazgűl couldn't have stabbed him while being threatened by Aragorn et al. I also get the feeling that Gandalf is referring to the importance of people's efforts and motivations here. It comes up several times in LOTR how important it is to make an attempt, even when the task attempted seems impossible; even when the task does end in failure, as with Boromir's defence of Merry and Pippin. "You have conquered," says Aragorn. "Few have gained such a victory." He's talking of a victory over temptation; on this occasion (and at the very end) Frodo gives into temptation, imperiling himself and his quest.

      • "I wish you could have held out" - Kimi

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

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Apr 26 2009, 3:35am

Post #8 of 65 (20821 views)
Book 2 Chapter 2: The Council of Elrond. Led by Nenya and Malbeth [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 2, Chapter 2
The Council of Elrond (1st half)
A Discussion Led by Nenya
The Council of Elrond (2nd half)
A Discussion Led by Malbeth

  • Book II, Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond: Summing up the first half - Malbeth
    The Council of Elrond is the longest chapter in The Lord of the Rings, and even just considering the first half of it covers a lot of ground. For one thing, we're introduced for the first time to three characters who will make up a third of the Fellowship: Gimli, Legolas, and Boromir. They have come from different regions, one sent as a bearer of ill tidings of the escape of Gollum, and the other two seeking counsel from Elrond about threats from Mordor and mysterious warnings of doom.

At the Council, we get a clearer picture of the history that has led to this point: how the Rings of Power were created, how Sauron was defeated, and what happened to the One Ring after that. We also learn exactly who Aragorn is, stated clearly rather than with hints. And we finally learn where Gandalf has been all this time, and of the treachery of Saruman.
In several ways, The Council of Elrond, the second chapter of Book II, parallels The Shadow of the Past, the second chapter of Book I. In both chapters, we learn how events of the past have led to the present dangerous situation. Also, we hear of problems in the wider world, portents of approaching war. And in the end, it is determined that Frodo and his companions must take the ring on a desperate journey into danger. As The Shadow of the Past sends us off to Rivendell, The Council of Elrond prepares us for the journey of the rest of the book.
    • well done Malbeth and Nenya! - leo
      a difficult chapter, but nonetheless some great summing up!
    • Thank you, Malbeth and Nenya! - Idril Celebrindal
      Thanks to everyone else, too, for a great discussion of this chapter!
    • Great job both of you on a long jam-packed chapter. - septembrist
    • Great job, Malbeth and Nenya - Kimi
      Again, excellent threads this week. A wonderful joint effort.
    • Book II, Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond: Summing up the second half - Nenya
      "The Council of Elrond" is where the loose threads of the history of the One Ring are pulled together. Not only does the reader finally get to find out what the heart of the trilogy is all about, but he also gets his first good look at some of the players, and greater insight into the significance of other characters. Boromir already shows signs of pride and a little bullheadedness. We see the mildly antagonistic beginnings of the friendship between Glóin and Legolas.

We get further insight into Aragorn's history and Gandalf's workings. In the second half of the chapter, Gandalf's story goes far to tie all the loose threads, especially Saruman's treachery and Gandalf's own role in the unraveling story. We are also learn in the second half of the chapter why the Ring must not be used and cannot be hidden, but instead must be destroyed.
Perhaps most significant is Frodo's voluntary declaration that he will be Ringbearer and carry the One Ring to Mordor and its destruction. While most of the Fellowship of the Ring has been told from the Hobbits' point of view, only now do we learn why this should be. This is Frodo's first big opportunity to make a decision on his own, rather than get carried away by the plans of Gandalf and Aragorn and the machinations of the Nazgűl. Only now is Frodo truly established as a central participant in the grand play of things.

      • Great job, Nenya, with many thought provoking questions! - Patty
      • Thanks to you as well Nenya - Blue Wizard
        The two of you made a great team for a very complex chapter with many, many threads to sort through.
      • Great job and thanks, Nenya - Malbeth
        Thanks for taking half the chapter - I think the whole thing would have been overwhelming. As always, I learned a lot from your insights and those of many others.
        • Good job yourself, Malbeth. - Nenya
          Since you went first, I got a chance to sit back and watch how it's done. I really got a break that way. I look forward to seeing you do more chapters.
    • Oh, good job! - GaladrielTX
      I've really enjoyed this week. I especially enjoyed the point you made below about the symmetry of Gandalf becoming Sauron's jailer. I'd never noticed that!
      • Re: Gandalf and Saruman role reversal - Malbeth
        I hadn't ever thought of it, either - that was Idril :-)
        • Idril?! Doh! - GaladrielTX
          Well, thanks to Idril, then!
      • Good work, Malbeth. You and Nenya carved this chapter...+ - Patty
        in two at logical points and covered all the "meat" in it well. Your summing up was very well done, also. Hope you'll do more of them in TTT.
        • Well, I can't speak for my partner Nenya - Malbeth
          But I'll definitely volunteer again. It won't be as scary the second time!
          • So Nenya speaks for herself... - Nenya
            As always, I remain in awe of the knowledge displayed by many members of this Board. I enjoyed doing this half a chapter, but I had a really hard time coming up with discussion questions; I just don't have the insights that many of you around here display on a constant basis, nor the ready recall of names and events that give these discussions depth.

Be assured I'll be hanging around for further discussions, though. I can't believe how much I get out of these. Once I get a better handle on the books, I might risk stepping out and trying another chapter.
            • Thank you, Nenya - GaladrielTX
              I've really enjoyed this week's discussion. Didn't want it to end, frankly.
    • Excellent summary Malbeth - Blue Wizard
      Many thanks for helping to lead the discussion this week.
  • Book II, Chapter 2, and "The Council of Elrond": From the hands of the weak - Nenya
    "Many are the strange chances of the world and help oft shall come from the hands of the weak when the Wise falter." Gandalf utters these words of foresight in The Silmarillion, and both he and Elrond seem almost too comfortable with sending Frodo and Sam (two naďve and inexperienced Hobbits) out in charge of overseeing the One Ring's destruction. Their complacency would seem almost to fly in the face of all common sense. Weigh Frodo's actions to date, and speculate as the whether this trust is being given on blind faith, or if Frodo has already exhibited the strengths he'll need to follow this course through to the end.
    • It was called a "fool's hope" - Sauron the Maia
      On the surface the whole strategy devised at the Council of Elrond for disposing of the One Ring seems really nutty. It still seems nutty to me. But then, I think Gandalf may have believed that Bilbo was fated to find the One Ring under the Misty Mountains; and he probably believed it was fated that Frodo should carry it to Mount Doom and cast it into the fire. Gandalf must have though much on all the mischances which caused the ring to come into the possession of a Hobbit, and so perhaps he inwardly concluded that it was the will of the Valar that this should be. It was the will of the Valar that Hobbits should be Sauron's undoing. (It hurts to say that.)
    • No one has the strength to destroy - Kimi
      the Ring.

Gandalf and Elrond both believe that Frodo is "meant" to be ringbearer; this belief presumably comes partly from their own powers of "reading" people (very likely helped by their rings). Gandalf, of course, also knows Frodo well personally.
But both of them also must know, I think, that logically the task is likely to fail. So I suppose that at some level they're acting on faith: it's the right thing to attempt the destruction of the Ring, the "right" ringbearer volunteers himself, Elrond and Gandalf give what help they can, and they set off into the unknown, taking a leap of faith.
      • well said, Kimi...gee, one says that a lot when one posts late. - Patty
        • Don't I know it! - Kimi
          I either post at unsociable hours, or I go through saying "I agree" at other people's posts. Such a clever lot around here!
          • Well, while that's true, there are a lot of clever folks here... - Patty
            many of the answers to our Tolkien questions are pretty much how everyone feels, so if you don't get there when a question is first posted someone else gets to say the obvious first. Unless your name is Blue. :o) (smiles)
    • Even if... - leo
      someone else had taken upon him the task of taking the ring to Mordor, I doubt if Frodo would have been able to hand it over, or if he could, if he could have standed being left behind.
      • So you don't feel Frodo was as strong as Bilbo? - Nenya
        Maybe Bilbo would have been the better choice after all.
        • The Ring was stronger than both of them - Idril Celebrindal
          Bilbo couldn't physically have completed the Quest, regardless of whether he was still morally strong enough to resist the Ring. And Frodo, although he was strong enough (and lacking enough in ambition) to fight against the Ring for a long time -- longer than anyone else probably could have -- did finally succumb to it.

Really, there was no way that any of the Fellowship could have succeeded at the Quest under their own moral strength. The more powerful ones, such as Gandalf and Aragorn, would have been tempted (as Boromir was ) to use the Ring for good, and so it would have ensnared them. The less powerful ones, such as the other Hobbits and possibly Legolas and Gimli, would not have had the personal ambition and willpower to use it, but eventually have been worn down by the Ring as Frodo was.
Jumping ahead a bit, Frodo's heroism was in resisting the Ring for as long as he did. The task was in the end beyond his strength. It was only by the grace of Frodo's mercy towards Gollum that the Ring was destroyed at all.
    • Any volunteers? - Blue Wizard
      I agree with what has been written below, but there is a corresponding element in the equation. Neither Gandalf nor Elrond have it within their power to appoint someone to this task. Someone must volunteer to do it, and (notwithstanding Bilbo's offer) Frodo is the one who does it. They can, at best, give him guidance and counsel, supplies and companions, but the task of seeking to destroy the ring is not something that they can ordain another to undertake.

Could they do it themselves? No, the Ring would prove too great a temptation to persons of such power. In the end, that is the real reason that Frodo may be entrusted with this task: The very qualities of power and greatness that he appears on the surface to lack permit him to not be tempted to claim the ring for his own, until the failure at the very end. The "more qualified" a person is for this task, the less likely they are to succeed.
      • I'm curious why Boromir didn't volunteer for the job. - Nenya
        In fact, he didn't utter a peep when Frodo said he'd do it (though he almost laughed out loud at Bilbo volunteering). Surely he must have thought he'd be a better man for the job, since hubris tended to be his trademark.
        • Boromir didn't want the Ring destroyed, so - septembrist
          he would not have volunteered to destroy it. He would quickly have volunteered to take the Ring to Minas Tirith. He continued to lobby his point until the end.
          • hmmm ... but if he volunteered ... - Nenya
            If he'd put himself forward as Ringbearer, he would have been in a position to see that the ring was not destroyed. I'm not saying that he'd have started out that way, but he might have held it in the back of his head that he had clearer vision regarding the usefulness of the Ring than the rest of the Council did. He might have even been able to convince himself that he was the best choice for Ringbearer. After all, the Ring was probably already exerting its influence on him.

Instead, he stayed uncharacteristically silent, to my mind.
            • The Council had decided that... - septembrist
              the Ring was to be destroyed and not to be used. Boromir to have volunteered would have been honor bound to do what was decided. Hence, he did not volunteer and bind himself to the decision.
            • Boromir is not particularly cunning - Idril Celebrindal
              He's far too truthful and straightforward to think up a devious plot like the one you're suggesting. He also may not have thought far enough ahead to come up with an alternative plan if he couldn't persuade the Council to send the Ring to Minas Tirith. (Remember, he had just arrived in Rivendell that day.)

I also think that Boromir sincerely accepted the Council's decision at the time. It was only later, after the Ring had a chance to work on him, that he began to think of taking it himself.
              • It may not have been a fully developed "plot" in his mind yet. - Nenya
                But I think it is undeniable that the first stirrings of the Ring's call to him were occurring during the Council meeting. It would be akin to me telling myself that I'll just drive a couple of blocks out of my way to go past the really good Italian Ice place on my way home. Just because I want the change of scenery. I'm not really going to stop there. I'd ruin my dinner and I don't need the extra empty calories. Just drive by, yeah, that's the ticket. It's a nice alternate route.

Next thing you know, I have a large lemon ice in my hands.
    • A bit of both, I think - Idril Celebrindal
      Frodo isn't entirely untried. He has proved his bravery and endurance on the journey from Hobbiton to Rivendell. I think Gandalf and Elrond, both of whom are very perceptive, sense his inner strength and resilience. (Think of Gandalf's comments about Frodo becoming like a vessel filled with light, which we discussed earlier.) Gandalf in particular is well-acquainted with Hobbits and knows that they have a toughness and resourcefulness that aren't always apparent to casual oabservers.

Yes, it is a leap of faith to believe that Frodo could perform the far more perilous task of carrying the Ring into Mordor based on his surviving the journey to Rivendell. But he is not being sent alone. He has companions to protect and guide him and assist him in completing the Quest.
Elrond also says that bearing the Ring to Orodruin is a task that may be attempted by the weak with as much chance of success as the strong. Power alone won't be enough to fina a way into Mordor, but being stealthy and inconspicuous might ... and Hobbits are good at that.
    • Not exactly "in charge" - Malbeth
      I don't think Elrond ever had any intention of sending Frodo and Sam alone; he knew that Gandalf and Aragorn would be going, at the very least. But I think both Elrond and Gandalf believed strongly that Frodo was meant to be the ringbearer, and to tamper with this fate would be disastrous. And it wasn't entirely blind faith. Twice during the flight to Rivendell, Frodo had shown his strength: in the barrow, and resisting the Morgul-knife for such a long time. And once since then: volunteering to take on this almost hopeless quest took great strength.
      • Did Elrond's ring give him an extra insight about the fate of the One Ring and... - Ron Austin
        Frodo's destiny as a Ringbearer?
        • Perhaps that helps explain it. - Nenya
          Especially since Gandalf was also in possession of one of the Three, and he also seemed to foresee that Frodo was destined to carry the One Ring to its doom. But, if that were the case, why did not Galadriel also foresee the same thing without having to test Frodo? She did not exempt him from the test of heart when the Company was in Lothlorien, after all.
          • I think she also "knew" - Kimi
            he was fated to be the Ringbearer. The test was partly to help the tested see their own weakest point, and therefore where their personal greatest temptation lay. It's not so much Galadriel testing their fitness as if she has authority over them, but her helping them see deeper into themselves.

Just MHO.
      • "Meant to be ringbearer" - Nenya
        That implies that the Higher Powers were taking a hand in the proceedings. Do you think this was the case?
        • Higher powers - Malbeth
          Yes, I think the Valar and/or Iluvatar were involved. Bilbo finding the ring, Legolas, Gloin & Gimli, Boromir all arriving at Rivendell at just the right time, perhaps even Bombadil arriving just in time in the Old Forest. There's some subtle manipulation going on here, helping as much as possible without directly intervening.
          • I agree. All seems to have a subtle hand or hands at work steering... - Patty
            always in the same direction. Even the setbacks (the Barrow, Weathertop) are not allowed to entirely stop events from heading in the direction the story takes--always to Rivendell and eventually to Mordor.
  • Book II, Chapter 2, and "The Council of Elrond": Bilbo's Offer - Nenya
    Was Bilbo's offer to take up the burden of the Ring truly altruistic, or was it due to the "call of the Ring" luring him to retake ownership? Recall that in Book I, Chapter 1 "A Long-Expected Party" Bilbo exhibits some reluctance to part with the ring. He does manage to do so with minimal coercion, though.
    • I agree with Blue - Kimi
      Wow, I say that a lot in this forum!

The offer is made in all sincerity; Bilbo does overrate his own significance in the scheme of things, as well as his capabilities. And no doubt Ring lust is there, but I think that's subconscious.
I wonder if Bilbo, as Frodo's foster father, suffers from that common parental syndrome of failing to notice that their children have grown up? He may honestly believe himself to be more capable of the task than Frodo.
    • Bilbo's POV - Blue Wizard
      At the same time that we have been expanding the point of view of Frodo and the other hobbits to see that they are a part of a wider world, Bilbo in many ways represents here the "old" view of the Shire to the hobbits as the center of the universe. Notwithstanding his years in Rivendell and his extensive study of Elven lore, in his heart,Bilbo genuinely thinks that he is responsible for all this trouble over the ring, whatever else his intellect may tell him. And, so it must fall to him to fix it. He had every intention of going back to the Shire to fetch it, but Elrond would not hear of it. And, now he offers to take it up again, despite his superannuation. Gandalf gently reminds him that it is more than presumption to think that he is responsible, that the ring has passed to another, and that he has no further active part to play in the continuation of this saga.
      • So you don't think the there's any "Ring Lust" left in him? - Nenya
        I certainly don't disagree with anything you said, but I think you are making Bilbo out to be far too untouched by his experience with the One Ring. Granted, he was the only person in the history of the Ring to give it up voluntarily. But I have to believe that, having borne the Ring himself for so many years, he has to be feeling at least a minor fraction of that same call that Gollum feels. It would be hard to believe that at least part of his volunteering to be Ringbearer ties into the fact that it would once again bring him into possession of the One Ring.
        • Most certainly, - Blue Wizard
          but others have already expounded on that in earlier posts, with which I agree.
    • Several things are at work here - Idril Celebrindal
      Bilbo makes the offer to carry the Ring to Mordor for several reasons:

- A sense of duty, since he feels responsible for starting this business by finding the Ring. This is combined with a sense of altruism in volunteering for a noble and heroic task.
- A lingering desire to get his hands on the Ring again, under the guise of being the Council-appointed Ringbearer. The Ring is still at work on Bilbo.
- To prod the Council into making a decision. Bilbo knows that he's physically unable to tackle the journey, and he really doesn't want to go in any case because he's too busy writing. But the Council seems unable to decide who to appoint as the Ringbearer. By proposing himself -- an obviously untenable choice due to his age and the prior influence of the Ring on him -- Bilbo forces the Council (and Frodo in particular) to make the difficult decision of who to send.
      • Excellent points, Idril - Malbeth
        Especially the idea of forcing the Council to reach a decision. I hadn't considered that before, but it sounds reasonable.
        • Especially since the Council was standing between a Hobbit and his lunch! - Nenya
  • Book II, Chapter 2, and "The Council of Elrond": Gandalf the Oblivious? - Nenya
    Gandalf apparently missed many signals that Saruman had turned traitor in his heart. The strongly guarded gate at Isengard; the ring Saruman wore on his finger at their meeting; Gandalf's failure to immediately note that Saruman was not garbed in white, but instead dressed in a robe of many colors; the dark smoke the "hung and wrapped itself about the side of Orthanc." Why was Gandalf apparently blind to these signs that Saruman was himself entrapped by lust for the ring?
    • Two guys looked out from prison bars... - HeavyFurball
      One saw mud and one saw stars..I think that may be a bit of the case here.

Tolkien in his letters talks about the Istari...five chiefs were sent, of which Saruman was the greatest. Radaghast turned to nature. The two blue wizards (no offense to anyone here) went into the east and may have started strange cults, or something like that. Saruman turned to evil, Gandalf stayed true to the quest.
The point being that the brown and blue wizards were middle of the road, Gandalf performed as well or better than could have been hoped, and Saruman failed more miserably than could be imagined. They may, as some have expressed below, been so far apart that Gandalf simply could not envision "the chief of his order" turning so comletely to evil.
Apparently the Istari give one another breathing room. Radaghast is small help in the war against Sauron, yet Gandalf doesn't try to get him back on the right path. So he may not have envisioned Saruman going so far round the bend as to actively try and hinder him in his efforts, and, on the other side of it, he may not be inclined to enquire into what Saruman is doing down at Isengard, letting each fight the war in his own way. Saruman is one of the few people in Middle Earth that Gandalf may not openly question.
Another point I'd like to expand on, that Idril Celebrindal hit upon below, is the power that goes with chief of the order. Saruman has not yet had his powers taken away, and probably doesn't realize Gandalf has been put in charge of things, but Gandalf yanks him back to the railing and breaks his staff with a word. Saruman can't even resist this process once it starts.
Presumably such power went the other way when Saruman was in charge. Perhaps the head of the order has the power to remove the powers of any of the other Istari, should they turn to evil, and it backfires when Saruman who should have been least likely for this to happen to turns to evil.
And while he couldn' remove Gandalf's powers, perhaps his power over Gandalf was too strong to even bother resisting. Or it could be he nursed a secret hope that he could get Gandalf to become his servant. For Olorin was the wisest of the Maia sent over, and I would guess his council would have been useful to Saruman.
In unfinished tales, Tolkien talks about Curomo (Saruman) at greater length, and in all ways it is made out to be unthinkable that Saruman should take such a fall as he did. Gandalf is as shocked and saddened as anyone.
sorry for the ramble, but it's late. So to sum up, I think, as others have said, perhaps Gandalf simply did not wish to see.
    • He had his mind on other things - Kimi
      Oh, that sounds feeble, doesn't it?

It was, as someone said below, quite a leap for Gandalf to imagine Saruman's turning to evil. I wonder, too, if there was some active fogging of Gandalf's thoughts by Saruman himself. Remember much later, during the chase of the Three Hunters, when Aragorn says that he's more weary than he has any right to be after nothing more than running for days with barely any sleep and not much to eat? To me that reads as if Saruman is somehow weakening his enemies; maybe he did something similar to Gandalf.
    • Gandalf was not aware that Saruman had used a palantir and been subverted by Sauron - Ron Austin
      • Was it the Palantir that subverted Saruman? - Nenya
        I always read that as Saruman being subverted by his own studies into the lore of the Rings, and falling prey to the same delusions of Sauron that he could use the ring to control Middle Earth. Granted, he was subsequently further perverted by his discourse with Sauron, but he always intended to betray Sauron and keep the One Ring for himself. Whether or not he was strong enough to withstand Sauron and actually accomplish this is another matter.
    • I think it was because.. - leo
      Gandalf still believed Saruman was loyal to the White Council, the fact that he, head of their order, would turn to evil did not yet occur to him. The question why is difficult, Gandalfs mind has rarely been opened to the readers, perhaps a few times for instance the council of Elrond or when Gandalf meets Aragorn in Fangorn.

One thing that might have blinded Gandalf could be that he could not grasp the idea of Saruman turning into 'evil', as Sauron could not imagine someone wanting to destroy the ring.
    • What are Gandalf's choices? - Blue Wizard
      He receives a message from Radagast to see Saruman at Orthanc, and there is no reason to suspect Radagast of any deceit in this. Gandalf has been harboring doubts about Saruman all along...but he is also desperately in need of information from Saruman as well. That's why he goes.

Clearly, something is amiss at Isengard as he approaches it. Should he simply turn around and not enter? In some ways, he is trapped as soon as he enters the main gate, which shuts ominously behind him. I suppose that, with his powers, he could find a way to escape at that point. But, for someone who has entered the dungeons of Sauron himself in Dol Guldur, I think that Gandalf may believe that there is no place, save Barad Dur itself, that he need fear to enter. Gandalf, for all his virtues, has faults - and a little hubris is among them, at least until this incident taught him some humility.
Saruman clearly has considerable power in Orthanc, a power linked to place - as noted by Annael in an earlier thread. Even after his armies are destroyed, Gandalf does not dare to enter Orthanc again...and speculates - even after Gandalf has broken Saruman's rod and expelled him from the Council, that if Sauron sends Nazgul messengers for him, Saruman may seek to capture one of them. Clearly, Saruman's powers are formidable and Gandalf simply underestimated them in the encounter he relates here.
      • Huh, interesting - I just used the word "hubris" above before reading your post here! - Nenya
        Only I used it in reference to Boromir.

Regardless. Gandalf was not above using stealth to gain access to an area that he felt was suspicious/unsafe. He didn't just waltz into the dungeons of Dol Guldur after Thráin, after all. It was more like he didn't recognize the danger than as if he thought he could handle it. All he really admits to is a fear for which he knew no reason when the gates of Orthanc closed behind him. The smoke about Orthanc and the heavy use of guards should have given him a reason by that point.
    • Gandalf's capture seems to easy to me, too - Malbeth
      I can't believe he wasn't at least suspicious. I guess Gandalf thought he might be able to talk Saruman into abandoning his evil path, but Saruman was much further gone than Gandalf realized. But it seems like Gandalf just let himself be taken without resistance, which seems strange. Apparently he'll put up a fight in the movie; if it's well done, I think it's a good idea.
      • Relative power of Saruman and Gandalf - Idril Celebrindal
        The ease of Gandalf's capture by Saruman is intended to show the relative power of the two wizards at that point. Gandalf also did not suspect that Saruman was in league with Mordor and may not have realized that Saruman wanted the Ring for himself. Basically, he walked into a trap.

Saruman's capture of Gandalf also serves as a contrast to Gandalf's later confrontation with Saruman on the steps of the tower of Orthanc. The roles are then reversed and Gandalf becomes Saruman's jailer!
      • How about "too easy to me" - Malbeth
  • Book II, Chapter 2 "The Council of Elrond": " He that breaks a thing…" - Nenya
    It is in this chapter that one of the more highly quoted of Tolkien's aphorisms is said by Gandalf to Saruman: And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom. He refers to Saruman's prismatic breaking of the color white to it's component parts, and assuming the title "Saruman of many colors" (or "colours", if you prefer) but the saying could be applied to many other points of plot in LOTR. Feel free to volunteer any examples you can think of.
    • We were speaking earlier - Blue Wizard
      about Gandalf musing over Frodo's fate, and saying that he may become like a glass filled with clear light for those that can see it. We had passed over that thread when I recalled this passage. And it seems to me that while it may be difficult, looking at Frodo alone, to express how Gandalf's striking imagery is fulfilled, that it is easier to see it in contrast to Saruman - His statement "white light can be broken" and Gandalf's retort , "in which case it is no longer white" stands in stark and immediate contrast to his assessment of Frodo in just the chapter before.
      • Good observation, BW. - HeavyFurball
  • Book II, Chapter 2 "The Council of Elrond": The Nazgűl Are Abroad - Nenya
    When Radagast the Brown reports his news that the Nazgűl are abroad, he reports that they are asking for a country called "Shire". Yet in The Hobbit, Bilbo only identifies himself to Gollum with "I am Mr. Bilbo Baggins. I have lost the dwarves and I have lost the wizard, and I don't know where I am." Sauron must have gotten "Shire" from Gollum, yet Gollum never got that information directly from Bilbo. Any ideas how/when he might have gotten that information indirectly?
    • That's very interesting, Nenya. In the BBC audio, which I often speak of,... - Patty
      at the beginning Gollum is being tortured by Nazgul and questioned about Bilbo, and he says..."came from the Shire, didn't he precious? But we don't know where that is do we precious?" I guess I thought that we were supposed to think more conversation had taken place under the Misty Mountains between Bilbo and Gollum but not every word had been reported. But now, since everyone is saying Gollum found out in Dale, I guess this torture was supposed to have taken place AFTER he had been to Dale and we heard all of the riddle conversation.
    • After the events of the Hobbit ... - Ron Austin
      And especially after the Battle of Five Armies Bilbo was no longer an obscure hobbit. Bilbo was known as a friend to Dwarfs and Elves which would make him noticable to many.
    • Gollum learned of The Shire in Dale - Malbeth
      According to Gandalf in The Shadow of the Past, Gollum left the Misty Mountains after losing the ring, searching for Baggins. He made his way across Mirkwood all the way to Dale, where he heard talk of Bilbo and that he had gone back to The Shire.
      • yup. In Dale and Erebor.. - leo
        Gollum heard the names Baggins and Shire, he then went on his way to 'Shire', but was drawn to Mordor on his wayv there. Gollum didn't know were the Shire was, so he could not tell Sauron this. The only names Sauron had were Shire and Baggins, the same names the Nazgul asked Saruman at his gates.
    • Nosing around. - Eledhwen
      Saruman and Radagast had also heard of the Shire - Gollum could have spoken to Saruman's servants who had heard of it ...
      • Except .... - Nenya
        That doesn't explain how Gollum managed to put "Bilbo" and "Shire" together. While Radagast may well have heard of the Shire, he probably didn't know Bilbo by name. Saruman only became interested in the Shire *after* he learned of its connection with the Ring. So the question remains how Gollum would have learned that information.
        • Connections.. - Iolath
          Ah, but remember that by this time Saruman was well and truly trapped by Sauron through the Palantir. Saruman was acquainted with the Shire=hobbits; Sauron trapped Gollum who knew Baggins=Shire (from nosing around Dale), thus Sauron knew Baggins=Shire=hobbits.
  • Book II, Chapter 2 "The Council of Elrond": Comic Relief? - Nenya
    I recently read an on-line summary of LOTR. It states that:
    Gandalf and Aragorn agree to go with the four Hobbits, as does Glorfindel, a descendant of the ancient ruler Ar-Pharazon, and Boromir, from the Royal House of Gondor; also joining them are an Elf and a Dwarf who don't really do much in the story but are there for comic relief. Together Gandalf and his nine companions - the "Fellowship of the Ring", as they call themselves - set out for the dark land of Mordor. (URL provided in this post)

Is this really a fair assessment of Gloin's son Gimli and Legolas, son of Thranduil the King of Elves of Northern Mirkwood? Legolas especially is given no strong role here in the chapter than first introduces him to us. Is this a signal of a lower-key role they are to play, or do we see signs in this chapter that he is more than he first appears?

    • Filling in some blanks on my own... - HeavyFurball
      Just as a way to rationalize things, no evidence to support any of it, i.e. the facts and opinions presented herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Professor Tolkien...

I've often wondered if Gimli weren't nudged into going by dear old dad. There were two months of time at Rivendell covered in about a page, from the council until the setting off.
Gloin and Bilbo are old friends, very fond of one another. Bilbo's "son" is going on a journey of unimaginable peril. Gloin would feel a sense of "family responsibility" for lack of a better term toward Frodo, I would think. Gloin might have nudged Gimli into going along, to help look after Frodo.

Legolas was first sent to the council because Thranduil and Co. dropped the ball. Gandalf, Mithrandir, a VIP of VIP's to the elves, personally asked them to do something and they botched it. Legolas has been sent to report, and to show that they aren't blowing off their error. He'd probably be told to lend whatever aid he could to the war effort. Then, Legolas gets there and discovers that losing Gollum was a mistake about 5 times as bad as he thought it was. He'd be even more eager to do what he could. He'd be mortified by Aragorn asking how the Wood Elves came to 'fail in their trust'.

Just a way of showing that while they may seem to have been chosen simply because of expediency and race, they both might in fact have pushed to be in the Fellowship for various reasons (and had two months to push in) and both would have an interest in performing well, aside from the obvious ones.

as to the comic relief issue, I find more humor in, as inferno said, Gimli playing off Merry and Pippin than Gimli and Legolas off each other. They start out as a bit humorous, but by the end I find them both having genuinely moving parts to play.
Gimli in particular, I find, has some very moving lines to say by the end.
"Well, farewell my hobbits!You should come safe to our own homes now, and I will not be kept awake for fear of your peril. We will send word when we may, and some of us may yet meet at times; but I fear that we shall not all be gathered together ever again."
and this is perhaps my favorite of Gimli, his exchange with Eomer regarding Galadriel:
'you shall judge', said Eomer. 'for there are certain rash words concerning the Lady in the Golden Wood that lie still between us. And now I have seen her with my eyes.'
'Well, lord, said Gimli, 'and what say you now?'
'Alas!', said Eomer. 'I will not say that she is the fairest lady that lives.'
'Then I must go for my axe,' said Gimli.
'But first I will plead this excuse,' said Eomer. 'Had I seen her in other company, I would have said all that you could wish. But now I will put Queen Arwen Evenstar fist, and I am ready to do battle on my own part with any who deny me. Shall I call for my sword?'
Then Gimli bowed low. 'Nay, you are excused for my part, lord.'he said. 'You have chosen the Evening;but my love is given to the Morning. And my heart forbodes that soon it will pass away for ever.'
By the end, Gimli waxes very poetic/prophetic with startling regularity.
I do agree, I wish they were better developed, I find I crave more of them when I read the books, but I think calling either of them a comedy team or a character there to round things out is an unfair statement.
So much of LotR's is implied, or alluded to, rather than spelled out, and perhaps that works better with the historical aspect of the story than the personal.

Perhaps the most touching moment of Legolas and Gimli is to be found in the Timeline, S.R. 1541, the final entry in appendix B and the final concerning the Fellowship at all...
"Then Legolas built a grey ship in Ithilien, and sailed down Anduin and so over the Sea; and with him, it is said, went Gimli the Dwarf. And when that ship passed an end was come in Middle-Earth of the Fellowship of the Ring."
As someone said, the gulf is wide, but it may still be bridged, indeed.
    • There seem to be two different issues here. - Inferno
      First, do Gimli and Legolas have low-key or comic roles in the Fellowship? Second, is this setup by their role in the council?

Firstly, I would suggest that the comic relief is provided more by Merry and Pippin than by Legolas and Gimli. While Gimli's and Legolas' banter is humorous to most readers, there is a greater issue underlying it.
Recall from the Silmarillion where Dwarves and Elves were great friends. This friendship was fast, and lasted through the ages of the chaining of Melkor, and into the First Age. Its ending started with the slaying of Thingol by the Dwarves. During the Second Age, while Hollin was around, their still existed friendship among the Noldor and the Dwarves. The friendship was great enough that when the forging of Rings was being done, seven were made for the Dwarves. While Sauron had his hand in this, attempting to subdue the Dwarves to his will, I think that the Rings were given by the Elves in genuine friendship. Gimli and Legolas' early arguing and later friendship show the gulf that has grown between Elf and Dwarf, and that though this gulf is wide, it can still be bridged.
Gimli and Legolas also do accomplish quite a bit during the War, even if their accomplishments are lesser by comparison. Legolas slew many of the wargs after the failed attempt at Caradhras. He slew the flying beast of the Nazgul over Anduin. Both Gimli and Legolas took part in the great trek across Rohan. Both saved Aragorn's life during the battle of Helm's Deep. Gimli outside the gates, and Legolas after the breaking of the seige during the retreat to the tower. Gimli provides knowledge of Moria, while Legolas helps the Fellowship enter Lorien.
Additionally, Gimli is the only other character besides the hobbits who provides the point of view for the story for any length of time. Every element of the story is covered by the hobbits, where they are around. The sections that aren't, are given to us through Gimli's perspective. The crossing of Rohan, and the Paths of the Dead are both given to us through Gimli. This alone should provide evidence of his importance.
Dealing with the second question, their role at the council, I would also suggest that here they do show greater importance than has been indicated so far. Tolkien makes the point, through Frodo and Sam, that their tale is a continuation of the tales of Elder Days, specifically that of Beren and Luthien. It's also a continuation of the Hobbit. Frodo carries on where Bilbo is no longer capable. Gimli, as Gloin's son, takes his place, and that of the other dwarves in the Hobbit. Legolas is the son of Thranduil, the Elf King in Mirkwood in the Hobbit, and the head of the Elven force in the Battle of Five Armies. Family lines are important to Tolkien, and these two follow in the tale of their forefathers.
It was suggested that Gimli and Legolas were picked merely to fill up the Fellowship to nine. If this is the case, then why were they picked early? The last two spots were given to Merry and Pippin, not to Legolas and Gimli. Frodo volunteered to take the Ring. Sam would go because he wouldn't leave Frodo. Gandalf and Aragorn were chosen because this was to be the summation of all they had worked for for all their lives. Since the number was to be small, only one was chosen of each of the Races to accompany. Boromir for Men, Gimli for Dwarves, and Legolas for Elves. This was convenient, since all three lived far east of Rivendell, and it was 'on the way' as it were.
Elrond already had in mind to send some of his own household for the last two, presumably Elven Lords. But Legolas was chosen to represent Elves instead. It seems obvious to me that he was intended to play a greater role in the coming War than we generally give credit for.

    • There's a kernel of truth in the parody - Blue Wizard
      What function do Gimli and Legolas serve in the book. At some times, you wonder if they should be insulted like some of the hobbits at Bilbo's party when informed that their number was chosen to correspond to the sum of Bilbo's and Frodo's ages - Elrond wants nine members to correspond to the nine riders, and he wants a representative from the elves and dwarves. And, in some ways, they seem to be nothing but token members, chosen to fill out a pre-determined number of places. I think that fleshing out Gimli and Legolas as characters is one of the principal shortcomings of LOTR, and that Tolkien leaves too much unsaid for us to understand what character development there is. We do not understand their motivations at all. In the Council of Elrond, they are not much more than wallpaper - characters like some of the elves in this and the preceding chapter who have a line or two, and then disappear for the rest of the narrative.

      • Well, as Tolkien himself said... - Patty
        the book is too short! Possibly one of the things he would have done, if he'd made it more lengthy is to flesh out their characters more.
        But I still don't have an answer as to why Legolas was chosen instead of Glorfindel or some other of Elrond's household. Was it because he was a Prince (in position) even if not one of the Firstborn like Glorfindel, and it was considered an honor to go? A dangereous honor but an honor nonetheless. Legolas's personality does lend itself more to eventually developing a tie to Gimli more than Glorfindel's (the little we see of either of them). And Gloin couldn't eventually become a friend of Legolas because he still had too much of a chip on his shoulder from having been imprisoned by the elves.
        • Comparative youth, I think. - Kimi
          Legolas is a Sindarin Elf, and seems comparatively young as elves go. Elves like Glorfindel (assuming he's the elf of Gondolin of the same name) fought their great battles long ago, and are no longer willing to take such an active role. And Glóin is too old (and possibly too fond of comfort) for such an uncomfortable journey.

At the risk of being accused of heresy, I agree with Blue that it's a valid criticism of LOTR that the characters of Gimli and Legolas appear to have been chosen to make up the representation of the Free Races, and that they have only the sketchiest of character development. I don't think it can be put down solely to Elvish and Dwarvish fading; he simply doesn't write much about these two. But I also agree with you, Patty, that we can let the Professor off on the grounds of limited space to talk about everything he "needed" to. And the hobbits are the most important characters.
    • this must have been written for.. - leo
      students who do not want to read LOTR but need a summary, but maybe PJ read it and thought Glorfindel was Arwen etc. etc.:)

anyway, I think there really wasn't much for Legolas or Gimli to do during the council of Elrond, apart from telling their tales. The fact that they were present was to introduce them to the story. The most important things told during the council were the treason of Saruman and the story of the ring from the moment is wat found untill it reached Rivendell. In none of these stories did Gimli or Legolas had much part.
    • About that chapter summary - Malbeth
      Don't be too hard on the writer - it's from a site called the Tolkien Sarcasm Page, so he's trying to be funny; the factual errors are intentional. As for Legolas in this chapter, he does seem to be nothing more than a messenger in this chapter. As members of the Fellowship, I think their roles in LOTR are primarily as examples of their races.

We don't really get to know any other elves; Elrond, Galadriel, Glorfindel and others we respect, admire, hold in awe, but don't really get to know. And Gimli shows us that Dwarves are much more than a greedy and secretive race. He's a loyal friend, open to new ideas (like having an elf for a best friend), and a tireless foe of evil.
    • It's an awful summary. - Eledhwen
      Factually it's all over the place: Boromir is not of the Royal House of Gondor, but of the Ruling Stewards - although linked by blood distantly it's not the same thing! And Glorfindel isn't descended from Ar-Pharazon because Ar-Pharazon was Man and Glorfindel is Elf! And I disagree with the comic relief statement too. Gimli and Legolas go to represent their kindred, and each has a personal reason; Legolas' people are under attack from Sauron, and also played a part in holding and losing Gollum, and Gimli also has business with Sauron to settle re the Dwarven Rings. During the story they play several important roles - mostly in fighting, but where would all those Rohirric soldiers have been without Gimli in the Caves of Aglarond? Ecetera, ecetera. Whoever wrote that was extremely narrow-minded!
      • i agree - Maggot
        with your analysis of the above. It's not just how much each member of the Fellowship accomplishes that is the gauge of their significance or value. After all, how much really does Pippin accomplish? Yet, he is hardly unnecessary to the story Tolkien is telling. Tolkien did not seem to simply insert space filling characters. Of all the memebers of the party, Gimli most touches Galadriel's heart. And next only to and occaisionally before Aragorn, Legolas keeps up the hope and determination of the members as they make more and more perilous parts of the journey.
      • However - Emre

        Of all the Fellowship, Legolas and Gimli accomplish the least. Even Boromir at least made a grab for the Ring and died. Shades of fading?

Delenda est Arwen-Xena!
  • Book II, Chapter 2 "The Council of Elrond": Gollum's Escape - Nenya
    Gollum was apparently permitted to leave Mordor after spilling his guts to Sauron about the Ring on what Aragorn muses was some "evil errand". Gollum's subsequent liberation from his captivity in Mirkwood by what were probably orcs from Mordor seems to substantiate that musing. What further purpose did Sauron suppose Gollum could have for him? Gollum's mere existence would have been a threat to Sauron, since any information he provided to Sauron could easily be provided to Sauron's enemies. Wouldn't it have been more logical to incarcerate Gollum, or kill him outright once all the information had been extracted from him?
    • From "Unfinished Tales" - Kimi
      "The Hunt for the Ring":

"Gollum was captured in Mordor in the year 3017 and taken to Barad-dur, and there questioned and tormented. When he had learned what he could from him, Sauron released him and sent him forth again. He did not trust Gollum, for he divined something indomitable in him, which could not be overcome, even by the Shadow of Fear, except by destroying him. But Sauron perceived the depth of Gollum's malice towards those that had 'robbed' him, and guessing that he would go in search of them to avenge himself, Sauron hoped that his spies would thus be led to the Ring."
That was the plan, anyway. As well as being a less noticeable creature than a nazgul or an orc, Gollum perhaps would have had a stronger sense of the Ring than any of Sauron's spies, after his long bearing of it.
Aragorn thwarted this plan by capturing Gollum, and after the orcs "rescued" Gollum from the elves, he escaped from the orcs. Orcs aren't very reliable.
Gollum was in no way a reliable tool for Sauron to use, but he was just part of Sauron's hunt for the Ring.
    • In addition - Blue Wizard
      it is clear later that whatever happened to Gollum in Mordor, including being questioned by Sauron, was a horrific experience. The line IIRC "There are only nine fingers on his black hand but they are enough" is a masterful bit of understatement. Sauron is justifiably convinced that, while Gollum may have his own agenda if let free, Gollum will never defy him if set free. Moreover, he knows with certainty that, even if Gollum were to regain possession of the Ring, he is incapable of using in an any manner that would effectively challenge Sauron. This makes him a pretty safe ambassador of mischief.
    • Sauron knew, or suspected.. - leo
      that the ring attracted Gollum, so in the end Gollum would always find it, as he did. By freeing Gollum from Mirkwood Sauron hoped that Gollum would go out and lead him to the ring, so Sauron's men (orcs or perhaps a nazgul) could take it. However Gollum escaped them as well, and hid in Moria.
    • I agree, Eledhwen - Malbeth
      Gollum on his own, searching for the ring as Sauron knows he will, is a more effective spy than any of Sauron's servants. Black Riders aren't very secretive, and Sauron won't trust any of his other servants to bring the ring back to him.
      • Why would Sauron trust Gollum to bring the ring back to him? - Nenya
        He's proved himself a stealthy liar and cheat who manages to successfully to elude The Lidless Eye. Hardly a trustworthy ally. And although hindsight is 20/20, not even a particularly useful tool. Sauron must have realized that Gandalf knew of Gollum's existence; that in and of itself seems like it should have made Gollum a greater liability than an asset.
        • I wasn't very clear - Malbeth
          What I meant to say was that Sauron wouldn't trust any of his servants with the ring other than the Nazgul. I think he intended to keep a close watch on Gollum, hoping to grab him if he managed to find the ring. It's true, though, that might be a tough plan to implement; the little sneak was hard to catch, as Aragorn and Gandalf learned.
        • Gollum would have had no choice. - septembrist
          Sauron was confident, with good reason, that if Gollum obtained the Ring, he would easily become his thrall. Gollum would have the Ring but his will is no match for Sauron's.
          • I agree. Also... - HeavyFurball
            ...where would Gollum hide? With Sauron awakened, the Ring would constantly be trying to give gollum the slip. That's what prompted it to slip out of his hands and into Bilbo's in the first place. And the Nine are still drawn to the Ring. Gollum may be clever, but he is in no way equipped to fend off the Nazgul, should they find him. Gandalf and Aragorn, on the other hand, can give them some problems.

And at worst, Gollum finds the Ring and manages to hide somewhere, deep in the mountains, for maybe fifty years. Sauron would win the war anyway, Ring or no Ring. Better Gollum hide under a mountain with it until Sauron can search for it at his leisure having conquered middle earth than for it to be in the hands of his enemies. Gollum having Saurons Ring is far less threatening to Sauron than Gandalf, Elrond, Saruman, or Galadriel getting their mitts on it.
I think also it was a case of "my enemies enemy is my friend".

    • The Ring. - Eledhwen
      Sauron knew that Gollum would go off to find the Ring, and that he could do so much more subtly and secretly than one of Sauron's more obvious servants. He would also have realised that if Gollum succeeded in finding the Ring, he would put it on and use it, thus making its presence known to its maker - Sauron would then have sent the Nazgul to Gollum to seize the Ring - Gollum would not have been strong enough to resist much, even with the Ring.
      • question - Maggot
        Would the ring be willing to be found by Gollum? It had passed from him two bearers ago. He wants it devouringly, but it long ago "used him up" and seemingly 'knows' it can get no closer to it's Maker through such a carrier.
        • I think of the ring as being sentient but only to a small.. - Patty
          extent can it control things. In ways such as changing its size, or as in the case of Isildur retaining its heat so the owner would be burned and ever after hesitant to use it again. But to say would it be willing to let Gollum find it, I think would be beyond its control, IMHO.
  • Book II, Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond: Saruman and the White Council - Malbeth
    When Saruman insisted to the White Council that the One Ring was lost forever, how much did he already know? Did he know the Ring still existed, or did he just hope?
    • I think that given his study of ring-lore - Kimi
      he was as sure as he could be that the Ring still existed, without knowing it for a fact. The weight of logic (as well as his own hopes) would have led him to believe that it still existed.
      • Something in the Silmarillion on just that, Kimi.. - HeavyFurball
        Right at the very end, it gives us our most in depth look at the meetings of the white council, and it says

"Thus the Wise were troubled, but none as yet perceived that Curunir had turned to dark thoughts and was already a traitor in heart: for he desired that he and no other should find the Great Ring, so that he might wield it himself and order all the world to his will. too long he had studied the ways of Sauron in hope to defeat him, and now he evied him as a rival rather than hated his works. And he deemed that the Ring, which was Sauron's, would seek for it's master as he became manifest once more; but if he were driven out again, then it would lie hid. Therefore he was willing to play with peril and let Sauron be for a time, hoping by his craft to forestall both his friends and the Enemy, when the Ring should appear."
    • I think Saruman knew before anyone. - HeavyFurball
      I believe Saruman knew it existed all along. One may argue that the Istari knew this when they were sent, but even if they did not, even if the fact that Sauron could not be destroyed until the Ring is destroyed were no wholly known, Saruman would have been in a better position to deduce this than any in the council, being it's authority on Rings of Power. And by the time the White council is formed, in TA 2463 (timeline), the Nazgul have been active in Middle Earth for about 1300 years. Saruman should have known the the Nazgul's appearance is just a harbringer of the return of Sauron, which cannot happen if the Ring no longer exists.

If Gandalf knew during WotR that the Ring had to be destroyed to destroy Sauron, then Saruman must have come across this knowledge long before, while he was making his studies of the Rings. It is possible that Gandalf learned the information from him.
Of course, that Sauron had returned was not certain until 2850, when Gandalf enters Dol Guldur. But it is probable Saruman knew the Necromancers identity. We are told that he coucils patience hoping the Ring will reveal itself to it's maker. In fact, that is an interesting note in the timeline, which raises it's own questions.
2851- The White Council meets. Gandalf urges an attack on Dol Guldur. Saruman overrules him. Saruman begins to search near the Gladden Fields.
and the footnote, denoted after the third sentence reads;
It afterwards became clear that Saruman had then begun to desire to possess the One Ring himself, and he hoped that it might reveal itself, seeking it's master, if Sauron were let be for a time.

What I find curious is that Saruman began to search the Gladden fields in 2851. So by then he had read the scroll of Isildur. He was no dummy, and certainly put two and two together as quickly as Gandalf.
The only three who knew Isildur had taken the One were Elrond, Cirdan, and Isildur.
Isildur didn't tell him, being long dead. Perhaps Elrond told him, but there is no mention of it.
So before Gandalf ever read the scroll of Isildur, Saruman had found it. he knew that the maker of the One had set secret marks upon it. He began to search the Gladden Fields before even Sauron did. The Gladden fields there were other sources to learn of, but not the marks. He knew that if Sauron were in the world, the Ring would possibly resurface in trying to find it's Master, therefore he knew the Ring was capable of action on it's own. I think he knew before anyone that the Ring would never rest until it were destroyed.
I think it was more than hope. More than an educated guess.
It is a long way from the Gladden fields to the Sea, and doubtful even and ordinary ring would roll that far, which is what Saruman says happened when he dissuades the council. Knowing the Ring would resist such a move, Saruman would think it is still likely in the fields or the river, if it were not found by someone else.
Also, if Saruman knew for so long, it makes him even craftier than he at first appears. His power is in his voice, lulling even Gandalf when he is unawares. And, he searches the Gladden fields before even Sauron does.
So while I find no actual proof either way, I believe Saruman knew. I believe he had already turned by the time the White Council was formed. I am certain he knew it existed, and I believe he knew it was not lost forever.
      • I would think that Sauron was probably aware that Isuldur cut off the ring with Narsil - Ron Austin
        • That depends... - HeavyFurball
          ...on what state Sauron's "spirit" for lack of a better term was.

Sauron's body was dead when the Ring was cut from his hand, so the speculation would be whether or not Sauron was having an out of body experience, hovering around Middle Earth for a time, or did he get sucked into the void for a while?
He wasn't truly dead, but he might have been diminished enough to be unaware of events in the world. If he was aware of things, then he knew. It raises an interesting line of questioning. Where did Gandalf go when his body died? a physical or a spiritual place?
          • I think that Gandalf exists in both planes , like Glorfindal ... - Ron Austin
            When he died the part of him went into the west to receive special instruction from the valor and the permission to use his power at a higher level than before.
    • What did Saruman know, and when did he know it? - Blue Wizard
      I don't think that there is any question that Saruman knew that the Ring was not destroyed. He must have read the same scroll that Gandalf read in Gondor, and thus knew that Isildur had taken the ring rather than destroying it. And he obviously knew the story of how Isildur was killed and the ring lost in the Anduin. From his study of the Rings of Power, it would have been obvious to him that the Ring could not have been destroyed.

The White Council is formed the same year that Gollum finds the One Ring. Saruman keeps putting off an attack on Dol Guldur until the same year that Bilbo finds the Ring. Now, during this whole time, Saruman has the palantir from Isengard, and Sauron (or at least the Nazgul) have the palantir from Minas Ithil. The White Council thinks, during most of this time, that the Necromancer is one of the Nazgul - but one would think that Saruman, with the palantir, would know better the whole time. And, he only acquiesces in the attack on Dol Guldur whan it becomes apparent that Sauron is searching the area of the Gladden Fields for the One Ring. Saruman then wants to prevent Sauron from continuing his search unhindered - he wants to be able to do so himself. Do either Sauron or Saruman "know" that the Ring was not washed to the sea, but instead has been found? I don't think so - they are just hoping to find it, and find it first.
      • Saruman's hopes - Maggot
        Also thought Saruman with his vast assets in references and ringlore and long-cultivated ambition, knew and hoped a great deal more about the one ring than anyone else in Middle Earth and even for a time more than Sauron himself. At least until Saruon gets brought up to speed by catching Gollum.
        Gollum's story seems to be the missing piece of the puzzle that fills in everything for both Gandalf and Sauron, and leaves Saruman a few steps behind.
        I was wondering how long it took before Saruman became subordinated by Sauron through the palantir and how that would have fit into the time line mentioned above. He certainly knew who was really living in Dol Goldur way before anyone else. Was he then already in cahoots with the Dark Lord? or only serving his own educated guesses?
    • I think he hoped.. - leo
      that it still existed, because there would no way he could have known unless he had it himself.

I think he just wanted to find the ring and keep it for hisself, and by saying that it was lost to the council hoping that they would stop searching for it too.
    • I don't know how he could have *known*. - Nenya
      Unless he "knew" from the surety that the One Ring could not be destroyed except under very exacting situations. My feeling is that he was just making a best guess - it disappeared, Sauron had't lost any real power (as he did upon the destruction of the Ring at the end of LOTR), and the Ring had a way of looking out for itself. Therefore, it was a safe guess that the Ring still existed, and would eventually find a way to get itself out and abroad sooner or later.
  • Book II, Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond: Ancient History - Malbeth
    How did Tolkien indicate to the reader that the events told by Elrond of the making of the rings and the Last Alliance were ancient history, thousands of years ago?
    • We've had earlier hints of this history - Blue Wizard
      Starting with Gandalf in "Shadow of the Past", as well as in the songs which Gildor, and Aragorn and Bilbo have sung. Even Tom Bombadil's talk about a vast sweep of history have given us a sense that this story is rooted in the ancient past. And, both Boromir's description of Minas Tirith, and Aragorn's revelation about the role of the Dunedain of the North give us the sense that many, many generations of men have passed. But, as noted below, Frodo's startled reaction to Elrond's story drives home the vast amount of time that is involved here.
    • One way - Daisy Took
      Frodo's shock that Elrond had been an eyewitness to the Last Alliance.

Witches can be right,
Giants can be good
--Stephen Sondheim
  • Book II, Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond: Nazgűl - Malbeth
    Boromir describes how Gondor was defeated at Osgiliath due to the unexpected appearance of a Nazgűl:
    "A power was there that we have not felt before. Some said that it could be seen, like a great black horseman, a dark shadow under the moon. Wherever he came a madness filled our foes, but fear fell on our boldest, so that horse and man gave way and fled."
    This seems much more powerful than the Black Riders as we have seen them so far. Why?

    • A couple additional comments. - Inferno
      The Nazgul are still, to some extent, human. Just as Bilbo or Frodo could affect the world, and be heard while wearing the Ring, the Nazgul still interact in the world of men.

Additionally, given the information available to them, it would be of more benefit to their goal of reclaiming the Ring to make 'polite' inquiries. Until they have actually found 'Baggins', it wouldn't help to frighten every hobbit they meet.
Remember the menace and fear that Fatty Bolger felt when the Nazgul attacked Crickhollow. He was so terrified that when he did manage to flee to the neighboring family, he couldn't hardly speak and make coherent sense.
At Weathertop, five of the Nine attack Frodo and Co. While their powers may seem weaker here than at Osgiliath, two other points should be noted above those already discussed. Firstly, there were only five at Weathertop. Since all of the Nine had to cross Anduin, they were all in the assault on Osgiliath. They are much more powerful together than separately. Also, Aragorn was there. We don't know it at this point in the narrative, but Aragorn has the strength of will to wrench the palantir away from Sauron's control, and use it as he will. If his will is that strong, he can keep a few hobbits and himself calm under the great fear the Nazgul are projecting. Even Faramir was able to keep the men under his command from complete panic in retreat across the Pelennor, with the Nazgul harrying them the entire way.
At the Ford, again, the Nazgul didn't need to use overwhelming fear or force. Frodo was nearly theirs at that point. They merely needed to keep him from fleeing. Once he was away from his friends, there was no need for them to excercise their powers in that manner.
Oh, and it's really good to see you again, HeavyFuball. =)

    • Crossing the Great River - Idril Celebrindal
      The Nazgul disliked running water, yet they needed to cross the great riven Anduin to search for the Ring in Eriador. The only bridge left was the one at Osgiliath. To cross it, they needed to drive away the forces of Gondor. To accomplish this as swiftly as possible, the Witch King and the other Nazgul (with Sauron's backing) revealed their full power and routed the terrified Gondorians off the bridge. The Nazgul then crossed it and began their search for the Ring.

After the Nazgul crossed the River, Sauron's orders were to seek out the Ring stealthily, so as not to alert any enemies (or the Ringbearer himself) to their search. Hence their more limited displays of power in the Shire, Bree, etc. -- using only what was necessary in a given situation.
    • In addition to the excellent points made below - Blue Wizard
      It would seem that the Nazgul have a range of capabilities that they use as necessary or appropriate to the situation.

The Nazgul visit the Gaffer, Farmer Maggot, the Dwarves. While the dogs and other farm animals are alarmed, there appears to be little effect on them from the visit. They visit Harry the Gatekeeper and the unnamed Southerner in Bree, and scare the bejabbers out of them. But, one little whiff of the Black Breath, and Merry collapses in Bree. At the Battle of Fornost, the Battle of Osgiliath, and the Battle of the Pellennor Fields, on the other hand, their mere presence drives men and beasts to madness. Maybe, as suggested below, this is something peculiar to the Witch King - not even his own thralls can abide his presence at times.
      • Yes, just imagine... - HeavyFurball
        ...how hard it is for the Witch-King to make friends. Anytime any of the dark servants are doing anything fun, they have to have a conspiracy of silence to make sure he doesn't show up and spoil it.

Sure, I'd love to go to a party at Cirith Ungol. But the Lord of the Nazgul won't be there, will he? That guy is such a downer.
    • Interesting point - HeavyFurball
      Personally I can think of several factors that could contribute to this, and I favor a combination of some or all of them being the explanation.

1) Sauron's will. His mind exerts a terrible influence on his army, on all his servants. It is entirely possible that if he viewed the battle of Osgiliath of tremendous importance regarding the overall success of his war, he would have focused a larger portion of his will on it. And if his will is what keeps his entire army focused, then certainly he could exert a bit more of it toward the Nazgul, so near to his borders.
"And far away, as Frodo put on the Ring and claimed it for his own, even in Sammath Naur the very heart of his realm, the Power in Barad-dur was shaken, and the Tower Trembled from its foundations to its proud and bitter crown. The Dark Lord was suddenly aware of him, and his Eye piercing all shadows looked across the plain to the door that he had made; and the magnitude of his own folly was revealed to him in a blinding flash, and all the devices of his enemies were at last laid bare. Then his wrath blazed in consuming flame, but his fear rose like a vast black smoke to choke him. For he knew his deadly peril and the thread upon which his doom now hung.
From all his policies and webs of fear and treachery, from all his stratagems and wars his mind shook free; and throughout his realm a tremor ran, his slaves quailed, and his armies halted, and his captains suddenly steerless, bereft of will, wavered adn despaired. For they were forgotten. The whole mind and purpose of the Power that wielded them was now bent with overwhelming force upon the Mountain. At his summons, wheeling with a rending cry, in a last desperate race there flew, faster than the winds, the Nazgul, the Ringwraiths, and with a storm of wings they hurtled southwards to Mount Doom."
So we know he has the ability to drive servants onward with his will alone, if loss of focus causes them to fall apart so suddenly. Certainly this accord would be stronger with the Nazgul, whom he can apparently command with thought alone.
2)Distance. I think that while his arm may have "grown long indeed", it isn't quite at the distance of the Shire when we first meet the Nazgul. I think they are there, operating more or less on their own, more than on or in the borders of Mordor. Certainly with orders direct from Sauron, having been given the name Baggins to seek out, but in the Shire wielding only their own power which, while considerable, is nothing like the power they wield during the War of the Ring, under Sauron's watchful eye. Osgiliath of course is just outside the borders of Mordor, hence his influence would be stronger there.
3)We don't know which Nazgul it was, so it presumably could have been the Witch King, and we are told elsewhere that the Lord of the Nazgul in particular of all the Nine wields a deadly terror.
So I think most likely a combination of these, and perhaps other factors, combine to that effect. Again, excellent point.
      • Not just closeness to Mordor . . . - Annael
        At Osgiliath, the Witch King is just a few leagues downhill from his own seat of power, Minas Morgul. We know from Frodo's journey through that valley that the whole area was filled with power.
        • Now that I think of it, this is another recurring theme in LOTR. - Annael
          The power of place. People seem more able to call on their powers or abilities when they are on their home ground. We see this most strongly with Elrond, Galadriel, Tom Bombadil, and Saruman. Aragorn's ability to heal seems much greater in Minas Tirith than out in the wild. And the hobbits - except Frodo, but we're always saying "except Frodo" - only come into the fullness of their own abilities once they're back in the Shire.
          • Good point... - HeavyFurball
            Though in a way, Frodo did come into his own back in the Shire, as a leader. As a voice for temperance. Frodo was never a warrior, but he showed his greatness when he forgave Saruman. I think there is even a mention of Saruman looking at him in awe and new found respect.

And as a contrast, Gandalf's power is no weaker or stronger one place or another, which I think fits in nicely with his character. No lasting abode, a couple thousand years without a day off, etc.
          • Interesting thought. - Inferno
            Especially seeing that the one Place more than any other that would seem to have the greatest power-- Valinor-- is continually refuted as having any inherent ability to grant immortality. The Undying Lands don't prevent death. They are called that simply because the Elves and the Ainur live there.

The great lie that Sauron told was that the Numenoreans would gain immortality if they were the lords of Valinor. Perhaps he was playing upon this concept. There are places in Middle-Earth where people do seem to grow in power as you listed, but the power in Valinor seems lacking.
            • I think that Valinor - Kimi
              does grant power; or rather great knowledge and gifts. The Elves who dwelt in Valinor are greater than those who never went there.

What Valinor cannot grant is an overturning of the Gift of Eru. Only the One himself can do that (and only ever has the once: in the case of Tuor).
              • and a further thought on Valinor... - HeavyFurball
                While it doesn't seem to exhibit a lot of overt power, the most important moves in the war against Sauron were all made from there. It is the seat of power, if nothing else.
      • Good point! - Eledhwen
        I think too that distance has a lot to do with it. And in addition there's a different viewpoint here, and Boromir's language is far more descriptive than that of the simpler hobbits.
  • Book II, Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond: The Might of Elrond - Malbeth
    Boromir said: "The might of Elrond is in wisdom not in weapons, it is said."
    But Elrond must have been a mighty warrior an age earlier, when he was with Gil-galad, Elendil, Isildur, and Círdan on the slopes of Orodruin in the final battle against Sauron. Why does he seem so different now?
    • Elrond and the fading of the Elves - Idril Celebrindal
      Elrond's transformation from warrior to healer and loremaster can also be considered as part of the fading of the Elves. No longer does he play an active, martial role as the Elves did in their earliest years in Middle-earth. Instead, his job is preservation -- a more passive and inward-looking role that is shared by the other Elven realms ruled by the Noldor.
    • Vilya - Blue Wizard
      For some 3000 years, Elrond has held and wielded Vilya, the Ring of Air. It's powers are not described with any specificity, but, like each of the Three, its powers are those of preservation against stain or decay, rather than conquest. With it, he maintains Rivendell as a refuge and has become, as Boromir describes him, the greatest loremaster in Middle Earth. Even Gandalf defers to Elrond's superior knowledge of lore, powers of healing, and gift of foresight. I think that we may take these to be, at least in part, a manifestation of the power of the Vilya, and to these ends he has directed all his energy, will and purpose. The arts of war are no longer of great interest to him.

Now it may be objected that Gil-Galad held Vilya prior to Elrond, and he was, throughout his career a great warrior. But, while Gil-Galad held Vilya, he could not use it, because Sauron forged the One Ring soon after the Three were made. Thus, he had no opportunity to focus his powers to those of Vilya. It passed to Elrond from Gil-Galad at precisely the moment it was again safe to use it.
      • I like that idea. Vilya was a catalyst for his change. - Kimi
      • Seems perfectly logical. Good reasoning. - HeavyFurball
      • Agree about Vilya - Malbeth
        That's what I thought, too. I got the idea somewhere that one of Vilya's powers was healing, although I can't find the source anywhere. Does this sound familiar to you, or did I imagine this healing thing? Anyway, if that's true, being a warrior, inflicting wounds and death, would be somewhat incompatible with the influence of the ring.
        • This point has been made before here . . . - Annael
          Some theorized that Elrond could heal Frodo while Glorfindel couldn't because Glorfindel was a warrior, and every time an Elf killed it diminished his ability to heal. Elrond chose to become a healer instead so his power in that arena was not diminished. I don't think that his presence at the Last Alliance meant he was a great warrior. He was Gil-Galad's standard bearer.
    • Sadness? - HeavyFurball
      Elrond has seen many years since then. Perhaps he is tired of war, and death. Perhaps he rejected warfare for the study of lore. His family has suffered for the War against the shadow. His wife was kidnapped and tormented by Orcs, he has sons flying in and out of danger in a constant struggle to avenge said torment, and how many friends has Elrond lost over the years fighting?

Or it may be that his power is fading, with the time of the Elves passing. Perhaps, as he posesses Vilya, the mightiest of the three, concealing it from Sauron takes a great deal of work? Or perhaps the strain of maintaining and safeguarding Rivendell makes him less a warrior.
Although Elrond always struck me as a particularly sad Elf. He knows that however this war ends, he must pass away. Middle Earth must change, forever. Much that he has loved, much beauty, will be lost. He will be forever parted from Arwen, and this is a great grief to him.
"When the feast was over, those who were to go took leave of King Eomer. Aragorn and his knights, and the people of Lorien and Rivendell, made ready to ride; but Faramir and Imrahil remained at Edoras; and Arwen Evenstar remained also, and she said farewell to her brethren. None saw her last meeting with Elrond her father, for they went up into the hills and there spoke long together, and bitter was their parting that should endure beyond the ends of the world."

Just some random thoughts.
      • I agree - Hengist
        I think elrond would be tired with war and battle. Throughout his long life he has seen death and destruction, he has seen empires grow and fall, his friends that he has known for thousands of years suddenly die in battle - he has looked around the gladden fields and seen the destruction. Yes i believe he would have been sick of war and would then have resorted to finding ways of hopefully ending war and destroying the enemy once and for all, hence all his study. After all, the combined might of the last alliance really accomplished very little- yes it stopped sauron and removed his power for a while, but ultimatley the shadow returned - all that death and destruction - apparently for nothing.
      • And age? - Eledhwen
        Everyone passes through stages in their lives. Elrond did his military service on the Gladden Fields, and now he's passed into teaching and learning. Natural progression, but for him, each stage lasts a little longer than normal.
  • Book II, Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond: Faramir and Boromir's Dream - Malbeth
    Were the dreams of Faramir and Boromir foresight, or a message sent by someone?
    • I'm sure they were a message. - Steve D
    • I agree with Eledhwen - Blue Wizard
      It's a message from the West. It is a part of the summons that brought the various parties to the Council, even though Elrond did not send a message.
      • Yes, I'm with you and Eledhwen, Blue. - Kimi
        I hadn't seen it that way before, but I agree, Blue; each of the people at the Council were "summoned" in some way, and the dream was the summons for Boromir. I suppose that, because the people of Gondor barely knew which direction Rivendell was in, they needed a more dramatic summons than Dain or Thranduil.
    • I tend to think... - Eomund's Daughter
      ...that the dreams were messages sent by someone; specifically, the Valar, or one Vala in particular--Ulmo. After all, it was said that he kept those of Middle-Earth most in his thoughts...and weren't the brothers Boromir and Faramir near the River when the dreams came to them? (Or at least, when Faramir's came initially to him?) (If memory serves me correctly, that is....)

'I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun', she said; 'And behold! The Shadow has departed!'....
      • Ulmo does seem a likely candidate - Malbeth
        He was always the most likely of the Valar to intervene on the behalf of elves and men.
    • IMHO ... - Eledhwen
      A message from out West, an incentive for Gondor to get involved in the Ringquest, as was fated. The Valar couldn't get involved directly, but I bet they nudged things along in their own ways.
      • I agree...and have often wondered - Binky
        how different the story would have been if Faramir had made the journey and have travelled with the fellowship? It seems to me as though Faramir was the first choice to go to Rivendell while Boromir was to stay behind to fight for Gonder...but Boromir being strong and full or pride took the journey on himself...and Faramir, who was strong and brave ...but not in the same class as his brother was left behind to fight...did they screw up ...or did things play out as they should have????


        • What if Faramir? - Iolath
          Frodo and Sam HAD to go alone and it was the actions of Boromir that enabled Frodo to finally leave; otherwise the whole Fellowship would have been waylaid by the orcs and killed all but the hobbits who would have all been dragged right to Saruman.
          • My scenario. - septembrist
            If Faramir had replaced Boromir in the Fellowship, there would have been no incident that would have driven Frodo away. Aragorn would have appointed one or two of the Fellowship to go with Frodo and Sam, perhaps Aragorn himself or Faramir. Imagine Aragorn or Faramir meeting up with Boromir in Ithilien! Or Aragorn/Faramir meeting an untimely end at Cirith Ungol!
          • Another what if - Malbeth
            What if Frodo and Sam still went east alone, and were found in Ithilien by Boromir? That's a little scary!
            • Boromir speculations .... - Idril Celebrindal
              Assuming that Faramir had gone on the Quest AND been killed in Boromir's place (two big "what-ifs"), I don't think Frodo and Sam would have met Boromir in Ithilien. Boromir was the leader of the entire force of Minas Tirith and would have remained in close contact with the city. He wouldn't have personally gone scouting in Ithilien; that's what subordinates and younger brothers are for.

Instead, Frodo and Sam would have probably encountered Faramir's second-in-command (either Mablung or Damrod). He would have been brought them back to Minas Tirith instead of allowing them to continue on to Mordor. Gollum would have been killed for fishing in the pool of Henneth Annun.
In Minas Tirith, Frodo and Sam would have been presented to Denethor and Boromir, both of whom wanted to use the Ring to defend Gondor. The Ring would have been taken forcibly from Frodo (either killing him or driving him crazy) and most likely given to Denethor. Sam would have been either killed or imprisoned for defending Frodo.
After that, several things could have happened, all of them bad. The Ring could have driven Denethor crazy faster than the palantir did. Gandalf, showing up with Pippin, would have been dismissed. The army of the Dark Lord would have been defeated with the help of the Ring and the Rohirrim. Aragorn's claim to the kingship would have been disregarded.
Even without the Ring, Sauron would have taken advantage of the inexperience of the new Ringlord and continued to send more and more forces against Minas Tirith (following a policy of bleeding Gondor white) until it fell or the Ring was finally wrenched from his control.
If Gondor managed to win this war of attrition, Denethor would himself have become a new Dark Lord. Under the leadership of the Witch King, the armies of Gondor would have conquered the known world. A parricidal subplot might have had Boromir killing Denethor to get the Ring. (Or Denethor might have had Boromir killed to prevent him from getting the Ring.)
If you've followed my ramblings, I think that Boromir was fated to go on the Quest and follow the cycle of damnation and redemption. Without his death, the way would not have been clear for Frodo to take the Ring into Mordor. Faramir, who was made of far different stuff than his brother, needed to be there to speed the Ringbearer on the Quest.
              • How's this? - Blue Wizard
                Faramir goes to Rivendell instead of Boromir.

At Caradhras, Faramir, who is smaller and slighter than Boromir, is not able to plow through the snow with Aragorn nearly as well. It takes considerably longer for them to forge a path down from the mountain. As a result, one of the hobbits - Pippin, because he's the youngest and smallest, dies of exposure.
Now, they try Moria instead. Because Pippin is not there to throw a stone down the well, alerting the orcs to their presence, they get through Moria just fine, without the Balrog killing Gandalf.
The company heads to Lorien, still mourning Pippin, instead of Gandalf. They get to Amon Hen without further departure from the plot. In the sneak attack, Faramir is killed in the battle. Merry is taken. Gandalf decides to go with Sam, Frodo and Gimli to Mordor, while Aragorn and Legolas pursue the orcs with Merry.
Merry escapes, and Aragorn and Legolas meet Eomer. They return to Edoras, having lost Merry's trail. Without Gandalf, Theoden imprisons them along with Eomer at Wormtongue's advice. Saruman's forces take Helm's Deep, it being largely undefended. In the meantime, the Ents destroy Isengard as well as the returning army from Helm's Deep. Nevertheless, a strong garrison is maintained by Saruman at Helm's Deep, as he ponders how to get out of Isengard, surrounded by Ents.
Hearing of the defeat at the Second Battle of the Fords of the Isen and at Helm's Deep, Theoden abandons Edoras for Dunharrow, and prepares for war. He receives the summons from Minas Tirith. Out of duty, he sends a small force, leaving the bulk of his men to guard Dunharrow. He frees Aragorn and Legolas to go with them. The Grey Company arrives, he decides to go by the Paths of the Dead, when they bid him remember the words of the seer
Gandalf captures Gollum, following the Company. They meet with the Company of Ithilien - on Gandalf's say, Malbung lets him go. They decide to go by Cirith Ungol. Gandalf battles Shelob. He gets killed. Gollum escapes. Frodo, Gimli and Sam go on alone. Various harrowing adventures.
Battle of the Pellenor. Boromir is leading the forces of Minas Tirith. The Roherrim arrive, but with too small a force. Aragorn arrives from the South. Without all the forces needed, and without Gandalf there, they are eventually overwhelmed, although Eowyn manages to kill the Witch King. (Merry is still hanging around with Treebeard outside of Isengard). Aragorn leads a group of refugees to Dol Amroth, fighting a desperate rear-guard action. Denethor kills himself in grief and Boromir too, who is seriously wounded in the battle.
While Aragorn ponders what to do, a reincarnated Gandalf shows up and confronts Sauron directly. As he's being killed, this time for good, Frodo, Sam and Gimli manage to destroy the Ring. Good Guys win. Bad Guys lose. Aragorn is king of a devastated kingdom.
Oh, in the meanwhile, the Balrog, having not been killed by Gandalf, leads and attack on Rivendell. Arwen is killed. Elrond, in grief departs for the Havens.
Aragorn is left to ponder what it is he has won.
                • A creditable scenario! - Idril Celebrindal
                  The beauty of it is that Gollum could still show up at the Sammath Naur to bite Frodo's finger off. (Gimli would probably push him into the Cracks of Doom immediately afterwards.)

Besides, isn't Glorfindel still hanging around Rivendell? He defeated a balrog once before; maybe he could go for two. :-)
  • Book II, Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond: Sauron's Strategy - Malbeth
    Glóin tells that some of the people of Dáin began to desire to return to Khazad-dűm.
    "A shadow of disquiet fell upon our people. Whence it came we did not at first perceive."
    What did Glóin mean? Did these whispers come from agents of Sauron? Why would Sauron or anyone else wish for the dwarves to return to Khazad-dűm?
    • I agree with everyone's wise words - Kimi
      re pride and greed leading to evil for the dwarves. Life at Erebor was pretty good, but they wanted more.

I think that the Shadow that fell upon the dwarves of Erebor also refers to the disagreement between Dain and Balin. Balin went with only grudging permission from Dain. And of course, as others have said, that weakened Erebor.
    • Tangential answer . . . - Annael
      I think this is one of Tolkien's main themes: that greed of any kind brings about evil. Greed for gold or riches is no worse than greed for power. The Ring has the most power over those who want to have power over things or other people. The humble hobbits are the hardest to corrupt. In the end, those who have the most power in Middle-earth are those who did not actively seek it for themselves: Aragorn, Faramir, Eomer.
    • Second thoughts ... - hollowTree
      In the past, I had not considered the possibility of Sauron's influence on Balin. My thoughts were much the same as those expressed by Eledhwen.

However, I've been rereading the Sil. recently and am reminded of how frequently in Tolkein's works we find basically good people undermined by the influence of evil. There was the corruption of Feanor and the Noldor in Valinor, the fall of Numenor, the Elves of Eregion to name several. In each case, Morgoth/Sauron uses the victims' own natures to lead them to their ruin.
While I'm still not convinced that the Dwarves desire to retake Moria was the work of Sauron, it would work to his advantage. It would split the strength of the dwarves in Erebor. And he might rightly assume it woudld be doomed to failure if he knew that the Balrog was awake under the mountain.
      • The Silmarillion - Malbeth
        I think that's what brought this question to my mind. I've just been re-reading the Silmarillion myself, and this reminded me of what Morgoth did so many times; just sowing some seeds of dissatisfaction, and waiting to harvest the crop.
      • Good point! Yes, I think Tolkien does... - Patty
        use the theme of people's own natures being undermined by evil influences often in the Sil, and it would not be difficult to imagine that the Dwarves simply wanted more of a good thing and were encouraged in that dissatisfaction, as were the people of Numenor wanting more of a good, long life by some outside influence with agendas of its own--Sauron, or Saruman (who was interested in all the rings, and would not have been above letting someone else find this dwarven ring and then sending force to steal it, for example.)
    • I'm not sure it is Sauron. - Eledhwen
      That return to Moria was probably fated. It came at the peak of Dain's power Under the Mountain, and I think it was natural that a dwarf such as Balin would want power of his own. I imagine Balin as very much like Boromir - proud, steadfast, noble, but quite easily corrupted, and the prospect of winning Moria back to strengthen both Dain's power and his own was probably a great temptation. The fact it happened at the same time as Sauron was looking for the Ring is, do I dare to say it, possibly coincidence, if you believe that coincidence exists.
      • I suppose that we could speculate - Blue Wizard
        that Sauron's influence was at work on Balin he were to have found, among Smaug's treasure-hoard, one of the lesser rings or even, unaccounted for, one of the seven. The seven were all destroyed by dragon-fire or captured, Gandalf says, but maybe one survived under the Mountain. But, I think that Gandalf is right. The seven rings of the dwarves correspond to the seven houses, and Balin is of the house of Durin, as was Thrain, from whom the last of the rings was taken. But, maybe he found one of the lesser rings, and it had the effect on his, as do the rings on dwarves, of inflaming his greed - inspiring him to try to return to Moria, the sole place where mithril can be found.

I don't know whether it is accurate to say that what followed would be a part of a "strategy" on the part of Sauron so much as to say that simply corrupting one of the dwarves and thus working evil consequences would advance his cause, in unforseen ways. But, consider what happens as a result of Balin's folly:
- a large contingent of dwarves of the House of Durin leave Erebor. If you view Erebor as a fortress, this weakens the garrison, especially in view of the slowness with which dwarves reproduce.
- Balin's group reopen the mines in Moria, finding mithril again. Sauron desires mithril perhaps more than anyone else. This reopens the supply. Orcs are probably less skillful miners. Now, relatively untroubled, they can resume mining.
- The dwarves mining reawakens the Balrog. Although he was evidently freed earlier, now he's roaming about.
- Balin's group all slaughtered.
- Gandalf killed.
This is all pretty good stuff, as far as Sauron is concerned. Better than if he had planned it. Of course, who would know that Gandalf would come back, better than ever, and that the Balrog would get killed in the bargain?
        • The influence of the Dwarven ring ... - Ron Austin
          Gandalf states that the ring Thrain had was taken from him by the Necromancer .
          We know that the effect of the rings on Dwarf nature is to exagerate their greed and secretivness. Even though Sauron did not have the one ring to focus the powers of the lesser rings maybe he could still influence the Dwarves if he tried.
  • Book II, Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond: "By chance it may seem" - Malbeth
    Elrond said: "That is the purpose for which you are called hither. Called, I say, though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world."

The theme of fate or pre-destination is woven throughout The Lord of the Rings. What other statements of this theme have we encountered in this and previous chapters?

    • Intriguing thought - Hengist
      goes with the point below

was boromir fated to go with the fellowship and therefroe was his fate to cause the breakup of the fellowship. What did this breakup cause well sam and frodo went into mordor alone, merry and pippin ultimately got the ents involved, aragorn and gandalf saved rohan and araogorn rode the paths of the dead. Would this have happened if boromir hadnt tried to grab the ring?
Yes i know this should be in the latter chapter but i thought id mention it before i forgot it.
    • Gandalf relates - Blue Wizard
      about how it was that he met Thorin in a "chance meeting" and conceived the plan to enlist Bilbo as a burglar, leading not only to the destruction of Smaug, but also the finding of the Ring.

In the context of LOTR, and without engaging is some broader theological dispute, I think that while it is tempting to use terms like "predestination", that perhaps the term "fate" is truer to the theme. Aragorn, for example, is fated or destined to become king, but only if he fulfills that destiny - the outcome may be foretold, but it is not certain. Gailure is absolutely an option. In fact, failure is the most likely outcome.
The other element to this theme, it seems to me is, for lack of a better term, divine intervention. The Valar, it seem, are actively at work behind the scenes contesting the forces of evil and giving aid and comfort to the forces of good. Gandalf's reincarnation appears to be the work not merely of the Valar, but of Illuvitar. Einstein may or may not have been right when he said "God does not play dice with the universe", but in this crap game, it appears that the Valar are trying to play with loaded dice.
      • I agree, Blue - Kimi
        Predestination leads us into some muddy waters, especially when we attempt to reconcile it with free will.

I like your description of Aragorn's needing to fulfil his destiny, against what appear to be near-impossible odds.
Divine intervention in LOTR is subtle, but it's there.
    • Paths of the Dead - Iolath
      1) It was spoken by Malbeth the Seer, and reiterated by Arwen, that Aragorn, as Heir, would take the Paths of the Dead.
      2) The death of the Lord of the Ringwraiths was not by the hand of man.
    • "Bilbo was - Kimi
      meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it."

This has been the strongest statement up till now (I think) of the theme of a Power having some influence on events.
Gildor says to Frodo, "In this meeting there may be more than chance."
Bombadil tells Frodo, "Just chance brought me then, if chance you call it."
  • Book II, Chapter 2, The Council of Elrond: "Proud and stern of glance" - Malbeth
    "And seated a little apart was a tall man with a fair and noble face, dark-haired and grey-eyed, proud and stern of glance."
    This is how Boromir is introduced to us. What evidence of Boromir's pride is presented to us in this chapter?

    • Bio of Boromir. - Inferno
      We know very little about him in this chapter. Again, we are limited by what Frodo knows. Presumably, he's never even heard of Gondor. Since the hobbits are really the only ones who are unlearned about Gondor, little is offered. We know that it is a kingdom to the South that has fought long against Sauron. We don't know that it is a remnant of fallen Numenor.

Boromir is presented as an emissary from Gondor. Aside from his exploits in the wars, we know little about him. His pride is shown in his attitude regarding the Ring. Frodo (and, by inference, the reader) knows by this point that the Ring is greater than he. We can infer from Gandalf's reaction, that it is greater than any of the Wise. We know this because we have seen it at work already. Boromir doesn't have this experience. He simply sees it as a weapon to be used to destroy the enemy.
Boromir is the most accessible tragic figure in the story. His pattern is more recognizable, his flaw more clearly stated, than some of the other tragic figures in the story. Saruman has the greatest tragic fall, but he is actually the least accessible of all the tragic figures. We never see the good side of Saruman to compare with the bad.
As the narrative progresses, we are shown much of Boromir's strengths. He is a hero, if not quite the match of Aragorn. In the tragic pattern, Boromir's flaw, his pride, eventually overwhelms him, and he falls. He's also the only tragic character in the tale to be redeemed from his fall. After Frodo flees, he realizes his error, and works to redeem himself. He confesses his wrong to Aragorn, and dies defending Merry and Pippin.
This is all information we gain as the story progresses. Boromir draws attention away from Aragorn, who sits more quietly in the background. In the Council, we learn about Boromir's outspoken nature, his pride, and his belief in the strength of Men and their arms. He is set up at this stage already as a great hero, and a tragic figure.
Later in the story, after we meet Faramir, the two brothers are compared. Faramir is described as being of truer Numenorean blood than that of Boromir; he has the greater wisdom and love of peace. Boromir is compared with the Rohirrim, a lover of battle and glory.
I think that Boromir isn't so much an example of what Men have become during the decline of Numenor, as much as he is an echo of what Men were before their long exposure to the Elves. He reminds me of the Men of the First Age who first entered Beleriand, and began to partake in the wars of the time. Boromir echoes the great battle prowess of many of the Men of that time. In many ways, he is reminiscent of Turin, a great hero in battle, quick in word and deed, proud, and uncomfortable taking the counsel and advice of those wiser than he.

      • Boromir and Faramir - Kimi
        are examples of the theme of blood "running true" that comes up so much in Tolkien's works. I like your suggestion that Boromir is an echo (a pale one, as Eledhwen says) of the heroes of old.

Just as Arwen is uncannily like her great-great-grandmother, Faramir has the ancient line of Elros running true in his veins, after an astonishing number of generations.
      • Excellent summary, Inferno. - Eledhwen
        I like the point about Boromir's similarity to Túrin, and would add that he is but a faded reflection of Túrin - great, but not so great, nor so tragic.
        • Good points, both of you! - Idril Celebrindal
          I like your comparisons of Boromir to Turin. They share much the same outlook, although Turin is by far the more tragic and destructive figure.

My only addition to Inferno's very comprehensive summary is that Boromir shows how the Ring can corrupt people through their good intentions as well as their bad. For all his pride, Boromir wants only to use the Ring to save Gondor -- not for personal aggrandizement.
    • there is a saying - Hengist
      "pride becomes before a fall" and here we see boromirs pride in his city and in himself. In some ways the reader is given an idea that this pride my cause problems, which of course it does but then we also get the set up for boromirs redemption, which i think is a wonderful piece of storytelling.
    • We have a greater measure of this - Blue Wizard
      in two later chapters, when Pippin is questioned by Denethor and in "Window on the West". Knowing Boromir better than we do, both Denethor and Faramir would expect that he would be the one to lead the Fellowship South, and that Isildur's Bane (whatever it might be), if a thing that would give advantage in war, is something that Boromir would greatly desire, even if it bore great risk and peril. Though Boromor acquiesces in the judgment and decision of the Council, it is a measure of his pride that, knowing the nature of the ring and that it would over-master any who sought to wield it, he nevertheless would seek to use it against Sauron, believing perhaps that it could not master him.
    • in additions to the ones named below... - leo
      I can recall a part where Boromir gets 'corrected' by as well Gandalf as Elrond, and allthough at the moment he agrees with them I think there is still something over him that says; let those wise man talk, but I have made up my mind and this won't chage it. I dont really know the word for it in Engish, but I guess you could call it stubborn, or even pride..
    • Boromir's pride - Kimi
      Is both personal and on behalf of Gondor.

Apart from his brief exclamation when Elrond tells the company that Isildur took the Ring, Boromir's first speech is when he stands up unasked to speak of the valour of Gondor, because he seems to think that Elrond didn't say enough on the subject.
He then feels the need to tell us that he was in the company that held the bridge at Osgiliath (although I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt here; perhaps he just wanted to emphasise that his account is first-hand), and he stresses the difficulty and danger of his journey. "Since the way was full of doubt and danger, I took the journey upon myself," he tells them. This isn't empty boasting; Boromir really is strong and brave. But as repeat readers, we smile a little to ourselves at Boromir's description of his journey as something almost unprecedented, given what we know of Aragorn's wanderings.
Aragorn corrects Boromir when Boromir refers to "the doom of Minas Tirith", to remind him that more than Boromir's city is at stake.
I'm not sure whether or not to count the way Boromir looks rather askance at Aragorn as evidence of his pride. Most people do undervalue Aragorn at first meeting, because he looks so down-at-heel.
We see the worst effects of his vicarious pride in his city in his attitude to the Ring. He is sure that his people (and he's probably thinking particularly of his father) are brave and wise enough to wield the Ring successfully, and without falling prey to evil. Despite all he hears at the Council, he continues to think that way.

      • And also ... - Eledhwen
        He belittles 'those who shelter behind us', saying that they give 'much praise but little help'. He doesn't stop to think that maybe they're unable to help. He doesn't need to give all the little details about danger, and indeed he might come across as braver had he not.
    • In the way Boromir speaks of how Gondor, and by extension... - Patty

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

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Apr 26 2009, 3:36am

Post #9 of 65 (20811 views)
Book 2 Chapter 3: The Ring Goes South. Led by Annael [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 2, Chapter 3
The Ring Goes South
A Discussion Led by Annael

  • Book 2, Chapter 3, Part 10: Aragorn and Moria - Annael
    Why does Aragorn fear Moria so much?
    • Maybe . . . - Soothfast
      Maybe Aragorn had an inkling that whatever trouble the Fellowship was likely to meet in the mines of Moria, it would be of a magnitude that only Gandalf would be able to ward off, and only at the cost of his life in order to save the others. Maybe he knew something of Balrogs, and suspected that if a Balrog were to appear in Moria, it would zero in on Gandalf as a rival Maia. I wonder, too, if Aragorn hadn't perhaps gotten a gander at a palantir once before in his life and saw some visions of the future?
    • Good question. - Nenya
      Why would Tolkien have made Aragorn to be the one to have a premonition regarding Gandalf in danger in Moria? Was it supposed to have represented an early manifestation of the "kingly" role that Aragorn gradually assumes throughout the trilogy, as he comes into his power as King?

It seems to me the Elrond or one of the other High Elves would have been a more appropriate source of this premonition. As an Istari, I'm surprised Gandalf himself didn't have some private premonition regarding what was to occur in Moria.
      • Maybe he did - Malbeth
        Perhaps Gandalf did foresee the possibility of his death in Moria; even if he didn't, he would take Aragorn's warning seriously. However, his own survival was not his paramount concern. The success of the ring-bearer's quest was, and if Moria was the best path, he would take his chances.
    • Foresight - Kimi
      In the next chapter Aragorn warns Gandalf to beware Moria, and says that this is a personal warning for Gandalf. He seems to have a premonition on Gandalf's behalf, though without any details of what the danger in Moria is.

Aragorn has been through Moria before, and he says the memory is evil, though he gives no details. Perhaps he dimly sensed the presence of the Balrog.
      • Yes, fear for Gandalf. - septembrist
        Aragorn was leaning heavily on Gandalf's leadership and wisdom. Gandalf's loss would be a great blow to the Fellowship and the "cause".
        Aragorn is in a fog after Gandalf's loss and only snaps out of it after the Fellowship is broken.
        • I agree - Blue Wizard
    • didn't he already.. - leo
      went throught there before once?

I think Gandalf said both he and Aragorn did, but I think if I was Aragorn I would too fear Moria, wich was a dark name these days, and rather try the high road over the Caradhras.
The road through Moria is dark, and filled with orcs and such, it would not be the most logical way for the Fellowship to take, since they do carry the ring. And maybe it is a feeling or foresight Aragorn has about the fall of Gandalf, wich he even tells Gandalf.
      • intuition - Ophelia
        I think Aragorn was afraid for Gandalf, but not because of foresight, perhaps because of his previous trip through Moria. Gandalf, on the other hand, seems to be perfectly aware of what might happen, indeed, it seems he almost wants to go into Moria.
  • Book 2, Chapter 3, Part 9: Legolas - Annael
    Legolas is not troubled by the storm, even though he's lightly clad, and he can run on snow. What is it about Elves that makes this possible?
    • Elves just know how to walk lightly - Soothfast
      You can stomp or you can float. It's all in the technique. Legolas, being an Elf, is lithe and agile, and moves lightly and swiftly over the snow such that no one place in the snow has a chance to collapse much under his weight before he's on to another place. I'm sure there's a bit of magic to it, too, but in Tolkien's world technique (or skill) seems to blend seamlessly into magic. When you've been around for a few thousand years to tend to pick up some tricks.
    • It could be that elves have ... - hollowTree
      ... really large feet (the size of snowshoes). But, that is never mentioned anywhere that I can remember.

Seriously, I can’t remember ever reading a good explanation for these traits. My thought has always been that the elves are much more closely bound to the world than the other races. Evidence of this that their spirits don’t leave the circles of the earth when they die as men’s spirits do. In my mind, I’ve always extended this close bond to suggest that the natural forces of the world - including weather, the aging process, ghosts (as on the Paths of the Dead) – have little affect on elves. They understand these things at an atomic level, and are therefore immune to their effects. This would explain why the storm’s bitter wind and cold didn’t bother Legolas.
This still doesn’t explain why Legolas can run on top of the snow. Clearly elves don’t walk on water (Amroth, I think it was, drowned while swimming after his lover’s ship). So why can they walk on snow? I guess I’m back to speculating about the size of their feet…
      • maybe - Jester_rm
        the pointed areas of the ears give a deal of aerodynamic lift at speed? or maybe they have wings? =) Hey, it doesn't anywhere specifically state that they DON'T have wings, does it?


        • Actually, Tolkien does say specifically - Blue Wizard
          that they don't. In the preface, he says that the notion of elves being like fairies with a butterfly's wings is entirely inappropriate - if elves had wings the more appropriate imagery would be the wings of a falcon. But, he hastens to add that they don't have wings of any kind.

I think that Legolas being able to run on snow is a bit of elven magic of the kind that permits Luthien to will her hair to grow, or Arwen to make the White Tree grow and flower before her eyes - a combination of innate skill, millenia of practice, and an ability to essentially comminicate with the things of nature. Legolas wants/needs to run over the top of snow, so he can - his desire is actualized apparently effortlessly. Perhaps he "asks" the snow if it will permit him to run over the top of it, and bear his weight - and it simply complies.
      • Willpower? - Idril Celebrindal
        To add to what hollowTree said, I remember reading that the Elves have more control over their bodies than other races. They can will themselves not to be sensitive to the temperature, for instance, although extremes of heat and cold will still affect them.
  • Book 2, Chapter 3: Generic question. - Annael
    What's your favorite moment in this chapter?

Mine is when Gimli says "I need no map" and then rolls out all the names of the mountains and Moria and Mirrormere.
    • Also - - Annael
      When Elrond, Gimli, and Boromir trade homilies as the Fellowship leaves Rivendell. "But sworn word may strengthen quaking heart." "Or break it."
    • "Bill swished his tail and said nothing." - GaladrielTX
      But seriously, my brand new favorite moment of this chapter comes in the same scene: "Aragorn sat with his head bowed to his knees; only Elrond knew fully what this hour meant to him." I'd never noticed this sentence much before, but this time it really brought home to me the crushing weight of what Aragorn must accomplish in order to win his kingdom and his queen.
    • "A fair jaw-cracker dwarf language must be!" :) - Binky
    • I like that one too - Blue Wizard
      For some reason, I like Gandalf's and Legolas being sarcastic to one-another in the midst of really quite dire peril after the storm on the Redhorn Pass:

"If elves could fly over mountains, they might fetch the Sun and save us."
      • I think that Legolas-Gandalf - Kimi
        interaction is my favourite, too.

"I go to fetch the Sun!"
I also like Boromir's remark, which I quoted yesterday:
"And doughty Men, too, if I may say it; though lesser men with spades might have served you better."
  • Book 2, Chapter 3: Part 8: Caradhras the Cruel - Annael
    Old Man Willow, the Barrow-wight, Caradhras, the Balrog, Shelob . . . none are minions of Sauron, and yet sometimes they seem to do his work. To what extent do the forces of evil consciously cooperate in Middle-earth, do you think?
    • Sauron and the One Ring - Idril Celebrindal
      Sauron delighted in the activity of evil things. Although he usually didn't control them, his growing influence in Middle-earth encouraged them to act. Any evil that they did generally (but not always) helped his cause.

It also seems likely that the One Ring has an influence on evil entities. For instance, the Ring's presence may have caused Caradhras to attack the Fellowship. (Elladan and Elrohir apparently had no trouble crossing the Redhorn Pass a month or two before the Fellowship did.) Ditto with the barrow wights attacking the Hobbits. And the wights have a much closer connection with Sauron than Caradhras, being evil spirits sent out of Angmar by the Witch King to infest the barrows and discourage resettlement of the area. The Ring's presence might also have encouraged the Balrog to attack the Fellowship.
      • Interesting thought! - Annael
        Meaning, new to me. I can see it though. The Ring just sort of riles up all the evil in the area, you think?
        • That's what I had in mind - Idril Celebrindal
          I think the Ring enables evil and may act as a conscious or unconscious influence on any evil beings in its general area. They may not even realize why they are attracted to the Ring.

        • A couple other spots where this may have affect. - Inferno
          I'll rehash this again in part next week, but in the next chapter, there is the moment where Gandalf thinks to himself that of all the members of the company, the Watcher in the Water reached for Frodo first.

I'm trying to recall what the exact situation is with Shelob. I know that she stings Frodo first instead of Sam, but if I recall, it was due more to the fact that Sam was holding the phial of Galadriel, not because Frodo had the Ring. I wonder also if the presence of the Ring is what caused the Watchers at the gate of Cirith Ungol to react so strongly when Sam tried to enter and when Frodo and Sam tried to leave.
Are there any other spots in the text that support this theory as well?
          • Help me here... - HammerHead
            Shelob... wasn't Shelob a bit in league with Stinker? I recall Gollum bidding her do his dirty work with Frodo. If I'm correct (I may not be), I'd think Gollum would specifically ask the spider to attack Frodo in hopes that the Ring could be found by Gollum later.

I could be way off base, though.
          • A few more ... - Idril Celebrindal
            - The orc chieftain in the Chamber of Mazarbul who specifically targets Frodo for an attack even though others were closer.

- The orc party that slays Boromir and captures Merry and Pippin under Amon Hen -- was their presence there a coincidence, or were they subtly influenced by the Ring to search for the hobbits at Parth Galen?
- Gollum, who is very well attuned to the Ring and has a suspiciously easy time finding Frodo in the wild.
- The Nazgul at the bridge over Morgulduin (although IIRC Frodo repels him by clutching the phial of Galadriel).
- Going back a bit, the orcs that killed Isildur at the Gladden Fields, who were attracted by the power of the Ring (fresh from its master's hand and still full of Sauron's baleful influence).
          • Minas Morgul. - Annael
            The Witch King senses something is different in his valley. But maybe he's lulled a bit by the fact that it doesn't feel strange or unfamiliar. His valley is so filled with evil already, maybe all he senses is that the evil seems more intense. Which wouldn't worry him very much!

Other'n that - Frodo seems far more affected by the Dead Marshes than Sam or Gollum. And remember when the Nazgul stoops on them outside the Morannon? Why did it sweep low just there?
    • Old Man Willow and Barrow-wights - Malbeth
      While I don't think they were directly controlled by Sauron, they could be influenced by him. In Unfinished Tales (I think) it says that they close proximity of the Nazgűl searching for Frodo awakened the evil things in the area, Old Man Willow and the wights, making them especially aware and malevolent. As for Caradhras, as Patty pointed out below, Gandalf at least suspected the Sauron controlled the storm.
    • There seems to be a will at work... - Ugly Troll
      Perhaps Sauron plots a course of action the way a good general will study the lay of the land before committing his troops.
      The various evil elements are not actually under the direct control of a particular will, as far as what's explained in the story, but Sauronthe Nazgul or Gollum would 'use'them if they could.
      • Yes. And Gandalf evidently thought so too, when he said..."his arm has grown long." - Patty
    • I don't feel that Caradhras was in league with Sauron. - Daisy Took
      Up to this point, it seems that Sauron's servants were drawn to Frodo by the Ring and Frodo was either singled out to be attacked or felt an extra chill or something. Caradhras attacked the entire Fellowship. And Gimli seemed to think, if anything, the attack was revenge for the dwarves work in the mountains. I don't have the books here for the quotes, so I can't give you his words exactly, but that was the sense I got from reading it.
    • Remember that the Misty Mountains - Blue Wizard
      were originally raised by Melkor as a defense against the Valar. One might consider that the malice in these mountains is the residue of his evil. They may not be consciously cooperating with Sauron, but at base they were created to serve evil and oppose good, and so they do.
      • Ah, you get at what I'm wondering . . . - Annael
        How much of the present evil in ME is a legacy of Melkor/Morgoth? Sauron is, after all.

Shelob I think is not. Ungoliant was in the world at the same time as Melkor and was not made by him (unless she arose from his part in the Song of the Ainur?), and Shelob is descended from her.
As Kimi has pointed out, the Balrogs and the Barrow-wights are former servants of Morgoth.
But Old Man Willow and Caradhras?
        • I have some further thoughts - Blue Wizard
          In the case of Caradhras, I think that the link to Melkor is important, but there is also a similarity to what Kimi mentioned about the Huorns, as well - that it, perhaps an agenda of its own fueled by a hatred of beings that walk on two feet and despoil it.

I think that it may be harder to make a link to Melkor with characters like Old Man Willow. The Silmarillion is somewhat ambiguous about the details, but basically Yvanna complained, after she heard about the dwarves having been created, that there were no beings to protect the most beloved of her creations, especially trees. And, so after a bit of nagging and negotiating, it was agreed that certain spirits would inhabit the the trees for their protection. Aule, of course, noted that the Children of Illuvitar would still need wood. It may be quite difficult indeed to distinguish between what it is that Old Man Willow is, and a huorn and a true ent. The story of Yvanna's intervention would seem to support a common source for all three. But, these spirits, over the years, given the quite benign purpose of looking over the forests, have come to resent those - hobbits, men, elves and dwarves, as well as orcs and trolls - who have cut down trees, even at need.
    • perhaps it is all a coincidence.. - leo
      but it seems to happen two ways; Frodo meeting Gildor and TB when they are in trouble, all the right ppl in the right place at the right time during the council of Elrond, the Fellowship running into Haldir at the borders of Lorien.

I think that the bad things happening to the Fellwoship are not 'directed' by Sauron, but are just the results of their decisions; if Frodo wouldn't have gone throught the Old Forest, he never would have been in trouble with Old Man Willow, and if they wouldn't have taken the road through Moria, they would have never run into the Balrog.
Of course they had no other choices then to take these roads.
I think the only time Sauron might have been at work was when the Fellowship tried to pass the Caradhas, becuase as I recall this is the only time when even Gandalf suspects Saurons involvement ("Sauron's arm indeed has grown long")...
      • Oops, sorry...I just posted essentially the same thing. I should read everyone's comments first. Let me just say... - Patty
        I agree.
        • yeah, I have that problem too - leo
          but I dont have enough time to read all that you are writing:)
    • It's hard to be sure - Kimi
      Aragorn's remark seems significant: "There are many evil and unfriendly things in the world that have little love for those that go on two legs, and yet are not in league with Sauron, but have purposes of their own. Some have been in this world longer than he."

In one of the "Letters" (which I don't have here), Tolkien specifically says that Old Man Willow is not a servant of Sauron. And in ROTK, he makes an editorial comment about Shelob that is very similar to Aragorn's speech above.
So I think that there are definitely evil creatures in Middle-earth that do not consciously cooperate. They may act simply from general malice towards other creatures (Old Man Willow, Caradhras), whether deserved or not (Gimli implies that Caradhras resents having been delved by Dwarves; Old Man Willow may resent the destruction of most of the ancient Forest); or from greed (Shelob). The barrow-wights seem to have been servants of Morgoth, as were the Balrogs, and Sauron may have inherited their allegiance (there's a quote in UT that implies this).

  • Book 2, Chapter 3: Part 7: Boromir - Annael
    This chapter is a bit short on character development, with one exception. We learn more about Boromir than at any other time. What do we learn?
    • In this chapter, we see him - Blue Wizard
      for what he has justly gained renown in Minas Tirith - a great and valient leader of men. As noted below, he certainly defers to Gandalf's leadership; though Gandalf consults with Aragorn more often about their plans, as he is more familiar with the lands through which they travel. But, he is brave, thoughtful, resourceful, considerate of the least of his company, and strong to the point of amazing the others. In some ways, he is presented as a "bigger and better, new and improved" version of Aragorn - they are very, very similar and their kinship is evident.

The episode with blowing his horn at setting out from Rivendell - contrast it with Aragorn's original plan (before the break-in and scattering of the ponies foiled it) to sneak out of Bree. In some aspects, it seems to strike a contrast between the boastful Boromir, and the modest Aragorn, but in others it seems to me that Boromir rather foreshadows what Aragorn will become as King Elessar, as, for example, in the decision to send heralds before the army on the road to Mordor proclaiming his name and title. Aragorn has been hiding his true identity, whereas Boromir openly proclaims his lineage and nobility. The time will soon come when Aragorn must do the same.
    • I think that the author - Kimi
      tried to give Boromir a fair deal. He's neither a cardboard-cutout hero, nor a two-dimensional villain. Boromir is one of the more morally complex characters in LOTR.

We saw his pride in his own prowess and in the valour of Gondor at Rivendell; now we get to see more of his character facets. He is not attempting to lord it over Aragorn and Gandalf; he offers sensible suggestions rather than giving orders. He has learned respect for his companions.
As Annael says, he shows concern for the hobbits; I think this concern is genuine, not just Ring lust (trust you, Patty :-)); a clue is that it's Pippin whom Boromir carries first. I would have thought that if Ring lust was a major motivation, he would have gone for Frodo first, even if not consciously aware of why he was doing so.
We see that he is, in fact, very strong physically.
And I do love his moment of self-deprecating humour: "And doughty Men, too, if I may say it; though lesser men with spades might have served you better." He comes down from his self-erected pedestal to make the last remark, and I picture a wry grin on his face as he says it.

    • That he has forethought-- when even Gandalf.. - Patty
      didn't come up with bringing along the faggots of wood, and suggesting their use when it was between life or death. He was a leader, too--it was he that implimented burrowing a snow passage by brute force.
      • I agree - he showed leadership - Malbeth
        on the mountain. He was assertive when he needed to be, but still deferred to Gandalf's position as leader of the group. I'm sure Boromir was quite used to leadership, and it had to be hard not to be in authority, but he handled it well, at this point anyway. You really get a very positive impression of him in this chapter.
      • Another thing: - Annael
        He seems to be the one most concerned with the hobbits' welfare. He argues for stopping on Caradhras because to go on "will be the death of the Halflings." Later on Pippin will recall his "lordly but kindly manner."
        • So, you don't think this is part of his beginning fascination with the ring? - Patty
          • If so, than only subconsciously I think - VLT
            For only after an encounter with Galadriel "he realized what he wanted all along - the enemy´s Ring". (Pardon my poor English an inaccurate quote I don´t have the book with me.)
            • I agree. - Annael
              I think, as a good captain and the heir to the Stewardship, he was used to thinking about logistics and the needs of his people. I think he just naturally assessed the situation and saw the problem before anyone else. <
  • Book 2, Chapter 3: Part 6: A shadow against the stars - Annael
    Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn all see or feel something high in the sky. A Nazgul? If so, is this an error on Tolkien's part, since later he has Grishnakh say that Sauron won't let the Nazgul cross Anduin yet?
    • I think in a rough draft... - Bard
      Tolkien explained a bit more about it and said that it was a Nazgul.
    • What could it be? - Blue Wizard
      I'm certainly of the opinion that it's a Nazgul, but that doesn't square with the statement that the Winged Nazgul aren't being allowed to cross the river yet - they're being saved for the war. So, I'm inclined to think that it's a mistake - either it really is a Nazgul and the statement is wrong; or the statement is supposed to be correct, and Tolkien just forgot to take out the passage in this chapter in editing.

I'm sure he could come up with an explanation - and maybe he did at some point. Maybe it's a Nazgul steed, sans Nazgul, sent to try to spy on them. Maybe it's an Eagle. Or maybe, just maybe . . .
[I can hardly believe that I'm going to write this]
Balrogs really can fly!
Nah. Impossible.

      • Ha! - Annael
        I had not considered that last possibility!
    • Depends on whether you're a Watsonian or a Doylist - Idril Celebrindal
      For those who are unfamiliar with these terms, "Watsonian" and "Doylist" are derived from discussions of the Sherlock Holmes canon. Watsonians analyze the stories as if they were actually written by Dr. Watson -- that is, they look at the stories as representing a universe that actually exists. Doylists analyze the stories as products of the imagination of Arthur Conan Doyle -- that is, they look at the stories as purely creations of their author. Watsonians try to come up with explanations (often quite elaborate and convoluted) for inconsistencies in stories. Doylists generally just say that the author Had A Better Idea.

The Watsonian interpretation of this inicident is that Grishnakh is not as well-informed about the movements of the Nazgul as he would like the other orcs, Merry and Pippin to think. The Doylist interpretation is that either Grishnakh's statement about the Nazgul or the sighting of the Nazgul by the Fellowship is an inconsistency on Tolkien's part.
I generally find the Watsonian point of view to be more fun, but the Doylist is quite useful as well. A good discussion will usually combine both.
    • Yes. - Eomund's Daughter
      ...it's a Nazgul. They (especiallly Frodo, who senses the coldness and experiences a sensation of chilled pain in his knife-wound) feel its presence, and it blocks off the light of the stars, etc. I think that, in fact, it doesn't cross the River...it falls on the other (Eastern) side, where the orcs are, not where the Fellowship is. Legolas, with the help of the Lorien-bow, did indeed make a mighty shot.
      • Are you thinking of later, travelling down Anduin? - Malbeth
        At this point, the Fellowship is still on the west side of the Misty Mountains, way too far to see something on the east side of Anduin.
        • Am I on crack or something? - Eomund's Daughter
  • Book 2, Chapter 3, Part 5: Strange elves. - Annael
    In Hollin, Legolas says "But the Elves of this land were of a race strange to us of the silvan folk."

Who were they?
    • A late entry. - Inferno
      A couple of additional comments.

The people of Hollin were part of the remnants of the Noldor and Sindar. Since Celebrimbor and Galadriel were two of the cheifs of this realm, I would speculate that specifically, these would be leftovers of the kingdoms of the sons of Feanor and of Doriath. (Some serious peacemaking would have to have occurred for these two groups to really get along with each other.)
It is also possible that instead of being remnants of the realms of the Sons of Feanor, that the Noldor of Hollin are the remants of Gondolin and Nargothrond, as they had banded together at the Bay under the leadership of Earendil with the refugees of Doriath. Celebrimbor had turned from the folly of his father when Celgorm and Curufin betrayed Finrod and Luthien in Nargothrond.
Still, I think it more likely that the Noldor in Hollin came from the realms of the Sons of Feanor. The Noldor of Gondolin, Dor-Lomin, Nargothrond, and the other realms of the sons of Fingolfin and Finarfin would be more likely to unite in Lindon under Erenion Gil-Galad, the son of Fingon and High King of the Noldor.
The Silvan Elves, of which Legolas was a part, were those who had never crossed the Misty Mountains. Some of this tribe under Denethor eventually crossed both the Misty and the Blue mountains into Beleriand, becoming the Green Elves of Ossiriand. To the others, who never did cross the Misty Mountains, the wars of Beleriand and the kingdoms there were a distant rumor.
Thus the Noldor and Sindar who populated Hollin were a people 'strange' to the Silvan Elves, though some of them are akin. (The Sindar and the Silvan Elves both are of the Teleri kindred.) Their language and customs would have drifted apart over the long years of the chaining of Melkor and the years of the First Age. The friendship of the Dwarves in Moria with the Elves in Hollin is also unusual since the battles fought over the death of Thingol. The deaths of the sons of Feanor, who also were close in friendship with the dwarves further diminished the friendship between Elf and Dwarf. In this regard, the Elves of Hollin are also 'strange' to the Elves of Mirkwood.
    • well, I assume.. - leo
      since this is the land were Celebrimbor made the rings of power, that the ppl living there would be the remains of the Noldor. Legolas called them estranged from his own ppl, because his ppl would have moved out of Belriand years before the Noldor arrived in Middle Earth, or shortly after,either way, they did not have much contact among each other..
    • Tolkien is somewhat ambiguous about this - Blue Wizard
      Clearly, this was a realm principally inhabited by the Noldor, and headed by Celembrimbor, who forged the Rings. As Malbeth said, they are of a different branch of the elven race than those of Mirkwood, and their interest in metalwork and mining - to say nothing of their friendship with the dwarves of Moria, would certainly seem strange.

Tolkien says in the Timeline Appendix to LOTR that Eregion was founded by the Noldor - this is strangely ambiguous. One would expect, given everything else that he wrote about Celembrimbor and the line of this grandfather, Feanor, that Tolkien would say more specific about this. In Unfinished Tales, however, he indicates that Galadriel and Celeborn founded Eregion before they moved to Lorien (after Amroth left there) - Galadriel is Noldor, but Celeborn isn't - which makes for some possible inconsistency.
    • Noldor - Celebrimbor's people - Malbeth
      They were 'strange' to Legolas because they into mining, building, creation of rings and gems, etc. That seems very strange to a wood-elf.
  • Book 2, Chapter 3: Part 4: On the trail. - Annael
    This one's just for fun. What do you think life was like for the Fellowship on this part of the journey? Did Sam do all the cooking? Did they hunt for food along the way or just eat what they were carrying? Did they stand watches during the day? What did they talk about?
    • having hiked the Appalachin trail... - Binky
      Not the whole thing!! But I live very close to some pretty rough parts of it.

I don't know if they were able to 'dry' food but we took a lot of that...wonder if they had the equivelent of 'trail mix'????:) Dried fruits and the like????
If you know what you are doing you can hunt for game without going to far off the trail...but you have to be familar with the trail and all the feeding spots of the animals etc. You can make a decent venision stew on the trail if you know what roots and herbs to cook with it (a la 'herbs and stewed rabbit') but since this is winter I don't know what they would find growing about...
As far as what they talked about:
'damn its cold' 'My feet hurt' 'My back hurts' Look at that view' 'What is that?' "look out!' 'Don't pull the branches so far up...when you let go it hits me in the face!" "damn its cold'... "can we stop for a minute..I can't feel my feet'...."I wish I was back in Rivendell'

Is the kingsfoil eatable??? Could they make a tea out of it???:)
    • On the road again. - septembrist
      I doubt there was much hunting or cooking. Hunting takes time and they did not wish to risk "the lighting of a fire".
      It is described as pretty cheerless fortnight so there was not much talking or merriment. The hobbits were no doubt talkative amongst themselves and with Aragorn.
      The Fellowship doesn't really bond until the failed ascent of Caradhras.
    • Important question . . . - Sauron the Maia
      How did they go to the bathroom in those days? What sort of foliage was the preferred toilet paper? Did they all go anywhere they felt like around their encampments, or pick a particular spot? And if a particular spot, who chose it? Gandalf? Aragorn?
      • I am of the purist camp on this issue - Blue Wizard
        If Tolkien didn't write it, it didn't happen. There is never any mention, anywhere in the Silmarillion, the Hobbit or LOTR of er, um,...elimination. Never. Hobbits eat six meals a day, not counting snacks. But, no mention of bathrooms, privies, or chamber pots in the Shire. Sam is late setting off from Bag End after saying goodbye to the beer kegs in the cellar, but never once needs to make a quick stop along the road. Six thousand mounted cavalry leave from Rohan and not one road apple.

Apparently there was a major evolutionary change in human and other mammalian physiology sometime after the end of the Third Age.
      • I think it's safe to assume that - Kimi
        holly was not the preferred foliage.

I don't think they'd carry any spades, so the rule was probably go a fair distance from the camp site.
A good thing they weren't staying in the same place for long.
    • I'm sure they shared the work - Kimi
      Though they may well have decided that, since Sam's the best cook, he'll do most of the cooking. Pippin and Merry, who seem to have still been living under their parents' roof, may have fairly basic cooking skills (I know that "all hobbits can cook", but it doesn't mean that all hobbits will cook). Gandalf would light the fires.

They may snare the odd rabbit en route, Legolas might shoot some game, too. It would make a change from dried food.
      • Well Kimers, I still question how much food... - Patty
        they expected to find in the wild in the winter, but I shall let that pass, so glad am I to see you back!
        • Thanks, Patty. - Kimi
          Tomorrow's my father-in-law's operation day, btw.

I suppose there might have been some edible berries, hips and nuts, even that late in the year. One of my roses has hips at the moment, and it's the middle of winter for us. That would probably only make a change from the monotony, though, rather than making any great contribution to their diet.
I think there would have been rabbits and birds around to shoot and snare. But I'm probably thinking of a milder climate than that of Eregion.
They obviously don't have lembas in Rivendell.
    • When I read that Bill was the only beast of burden.. - Patty
      that 9 beings took while back in Bree they were concerned at getting only 1 for 5 beings I thought..that's kinda wierd. It's winter, and how much food are they going to be able to "find"? This seems disproportionate to me.
      • They're better prepared - Kimi
        than the hobbits were for their journey. They probably have a lot of dried meats and fruits. They'll all be carrying heavy packs, though, and rations are probably fairly tight.
  • Book 2, Chapter 3: Part 3: Narsil re-forged. - Annael
    I've always wondered this: why didn't the Dunadain have Narsil reforged a long time ago, instead of having the heir wander around with a broken sword, if they could have had the Elves remake it any time?
    • it was predicted by someone.. - leo
      thatwhen the heir of Elendil would set out to reclaim his trone, that Narsil should be reforged, at least it was something like that, I dont have the books with me to look it up.
    • He almost certainly had another weapon - Ugly Troll
      all that wandering alone across ME.
      And I guess since Anduril was the sword of the king, he would not need it reforged until he was ready to declare himself.

"King, eh? King of what!"
Our motto is "We promise not to sell your credit card number to any sleazy Balrogs for profit."
    • Narsil / Anduril - Blue Wizard
      The really odd thing is Aragorn lugging Narsil around with him in the wild, instead of just leaving it in Rivendell. It occurs to me that maybe he did so only in the events related here. It is rather like a piece of ID; his passport photo. It is how he can identify himself to Frodo, who has never met him, and who is likely, based on appearances, to distrust him. And he shows it to Boromir at the Council, essentially to the same purpose. But, it is unimaginable, for example, to thing that, as Thorongil, he could carry a broken sword without it eliciting comment. So, I think that, most of the time, he left it in Rivendell for safe-keeping.

It is also inconceivable that Aragorn would carry a broken sword as his sole weapon. While Tolkien never mentions a second sword in the events from Bree to Rivendell - Aragorn never draws his sword other than to show it to Frodo - Tolkien says here that, after it is reforged, he carries Anduril and no other weapon. Perhaps we may infer from this that earlier he was carrying more than one sword.
To get to the question, I think that there is a combination of reasons why Narsil is not reforged earlier. In the beginning, it would have been brought to the North kingdom where the technology may not have been available to reforge this sword. Then, after the division of the North Kingdom and the fall of its constituent parts, and the exile of the heirs of Isildur under the protection of Elrond in Rivendell, it is unlikely that anyone had the inclination to do so. Eventually, Aragorn has it reforged in the fullness of time because it is the appropriate time to do so - going to war again against Sauron; paralleling the circumstances under which it was broken - and fulfilling the unfinished business which led to Isildur's death and the breaking of the sword.
      • You have to be quick around here. - hollowTree
        I was drafting some thoughts on this topic (regarding why Aragorn would carry Narsil with him) when you posted. You've hit my points right on the head, and have done a better job of it than I could have. So, let me just say that I agree with you and leave it at that.

      • I've often wondered... - HammerHead
        ... why a ranger would roam relatively "helpless" with a damaged weapon. I've often thought Tolkien was trying to develop Aragorn as a master of arms, but never fully did so.
    • Just a guess, but... - Eomund's Daughter
      ...they seem to place importance on whether the right time and person had come or not. The king's return had been spoken of/predicted, in verse or otherwise, (think Malbeth, etc.), and I expect that certain signs were anticipated in advance of his coming. In the same vein, the time had not yet come for Aragorn to renew his claim to the kingship...he was being tested, so to speak...and therefore he had not yet earned the use of the Reforged Sword, though the heir of it.

Or something! Drat! I'm having an annoying problem whereby my thoughts are brilliant, but I can't express them articulately to save my life.
    • I believe it was foretold... - Malbeth
      that Narsil would be re-forged when the One Ring resurfaced. I don't recall the source, but perhaps somebody can help with this. The Dunedain were smart enough to know it's best not to mess with fate in Middle-earth, so they waited.
      • I believe it was Elrond who had foretold this. But I ... - Patty
        always have a problem with things being done just to fulfull a prophecy.
  • Book 2, Chapter 3: Part 2: A strange land. - Annael
    Elladan and Elrohir travel the farthest of all the scouts, "passing down the Silverlode in a strange country," and will speak of their journey to no one but Elrond. This must be Lothlorien. What do you suppose Elrond needed to tell or ask Galadriel? What does this tell us about how well the bearers of the Three can communicate at a distance?
    • I think that Elrond would send out other parties to confuse any lurkers around Rivendil - Ron Austin
      Also He alerts the people with the power to help the Ringbearer and Lorien would certainly be alerted. The Scouts sent to Lorien would be able to travel in a more forthright manner than the Ringbearer.
    • for one I think.. - leo
      the sons of Elrond told Galadriel that a fellowship with nine persons would probably come her wau, and asked her to help them on their way, because their queste was important. The thing about the nine persons I get from the fact that when the fellowship meets Galadriel and Celeborn, Galadriel seems toknow that nine ppl set out from Rivendell, and that Gandalf hasn't passed the border of Lorien.
      • But Elrond hadn't decided that when he sent out the scouts. - Annael
        He decided it after they came back. At least, that's when he announces who is going and has the argument with Gandalf about Merry and Pippin going along.
        • He may have decided on the number earlier - Malbeth
          But anyway, doesn't it say he sent more messengers after the first ones came back?
          • Yes, it does. - Kimi
            On the day that the members of the Fellowship are chosen, Elrond says "I will send out messages, such as I can contrive, to those whom I know in the wide world." This is after all the scouts have returned. It does seem reasonable that he sends fresh messages to Lorien.
          • Or, Galadriel may have... - Blue Wizard
            sent Elladan and Elrohir back from Lorien with the message that there should be Nine members to the Fellowship. Maybe that's the one brilliant idea the Celeborn had - you know, that elusive thing we keep searching for in vain to justify in our own minds her characterization of him as being so wise.

But, seriously, we have focused on what message Elrond may have sent, while ignoring what message Galadriel may have sent back. Elrond spent quite a bit of time closeted with them after they returned, and only then did he announce the decision of how to proceed.
            • That's a very good point, Blue - Kimi
              I wonder just what message Galadriel did send back with her grand-sons. Perhaps some of Elrond's ideas, such as including representatives of all the Free Peoples, came from her. And Galadriel has always taken an interest in Aragorn; perhaps she reminded Elrond that it was time for Narsil to be re-forged, and said that Aragorn should be part of the Company.
            • Of course he was wise. He married Her, didn't he?...she can always say something to make him look good! - Patty
    • I'd guess Elrond sent them to tell that... - Patty
      the Ring was, in fact, in Rivendell and with Frodo the hobbit. I always got the impression that the rings could communicate with each other by opening up the hearts of the wearers to the others but not by exact words, unlike the palantir stones, so that if a specific thing needed to be told by words direct communication was still necessary. I don't remember seeing any where that the elves of Lothlorien had, for many thousands of years interacted with other peoples than the dwarves--possibly they didn't even know what hobbits where themselves for sure and Elrond was making all of this know to them also, and wanting her judgement of the wisdom of sending one into morder with the ring, because of course, it was already known that he would be ringbearer.
    • Galadriel - Blue Wizard
      is clearly one of the members of the White Council. It was she who urged that Gandalf, not Saruman, be made the head of it. On reflection, it seems odd that neither she, nor an ambassador such as Cirdan sent, was present at the Council of Elrond. Was a summoning message, such as that which everyone else seemed to have received, not also sent to her? Or did she receive a message and disregard it? If we accept that the messages came from the Valar (Elrond insists that he did not send a message), is her estrangement from the Valar so deep that she is excluded? Or perhaps it is that her counsel in this matter is so well known to Elrond and Gandalf that her presence is not required.

Clearly, Elladan and Elrohir are delivering the decision of the Council to Galadriel. But, it would appear that she has other ways of gathering information from afar, through the Mirror or otherwise - she knows much of the Fellowship when they finally arrive that Ellandan and Elrohir could not have told her, because some decisions were not yet made at the time they left: how many would be in the Fellowship, and who would comprise it, for example.
      • Regarding details of the Fellowship - Malbeth
        If I recall correctly, Elrond sent messengers out to various places just before the Fellowship left, and Lorien would certainly be one of those places. This is presumably how G & C knew how many were in the Fellowship, and that Gandalf was one of them.
    • Communication - Iolath
      Perhaps the Bearers did not want Sauron to "overhear" their thought - just how much of the workings of the Three is Sauron privy to? The sons of ELrond were also in the neighborhood scouting, so they also filled in G and C aobut the company - remember the Fellowship was well known tho G and C when the Fellowship got to Lothlorien.

    • The Council Meeting - Malbeth
      I suppose they were sent with a report of the council meeting, to fill her in on what was discussed and decided, and to get her opinions on how to proceed. Later, he sent more messengers reporting the exact makeup of the Fellowship. I guess this shows the Three Rings didn't give communication power to their bearers, but we already knew that. Gandalf couldn't 'call' Elrond for help when he was imprisoned in Orthanc or evading Black Riders north of Rivendell.
  • Book 2, Chapter 3, The Ring Goes South: Part 1: Scouting - Annael
    Elrond sends out scouts in every direction to look for signs of the Black Riders or other spies. They find nothing. Why? What is Sauron doing or thinking during this time?

    • What were his options? - HeavyFurball
      I think by the time the Ring set out, Sauron, whether the Nazgul had made it back to him or not must have known they were "unhorsed and unmasked". His other spies and eyes throughout the land would have told him. But what other options would he have had?

He does not have an army on scene to surround Rivendell. He can't even, most likely, keep that tight a watch on it, since elves go out on foray's to search for spies regularly, I'd imagine they keep the area cleared out.
Since Sauron doesn't think the Ring will come to Mordor, he sees one of two possibilities..it will stay in Rivendell, or it will go to Gondor to be used against him. The only one he is afraid of is the latter. I think that after the Nazgul are taken down, and possibly before, he, as some have said, accelerated the attack on Gondor, and moved to cut off the route between Rivendell and Minas Tirith.
The only way they got through was to take the plunge into Moria, something which Sauron probably doubts they will survive.
And as someone said, he was anything but Idle. EVerything is unaturally quiet, and this is a large area of land under this disquiet. They are attacked by Orcs outside of Moria, they are attacked by Orcs after Moria. The land is crawling with them.
He had, at the time, no choice but to trust the Riders, I think. He can't assail Rivendell, and whether the Riders failed or not, he continued with what was probably his original war strategy. Send his main force to Minas Tirith, while sending smaller forces into the wilds to harry any aid that might be en route to Gondor, be it Dwarves, Elves, other men, the Ring, what have you.
Just some idle speculation.
    • Do we know how long... - Bard
      It would take the wraiths to get back to Mordor, I would say not long but quite a time, they are sprits afeter all not mortals. Once back in Mordor Sauron could have maybe felt uneasy that the ring was in Elven hands. he may have delayed sending them back out until he had thought about it. Other servants were slower and I've always assumed that Sauron had few if any servants in Eradior.
    • like, I think, Gandalf said... - leo
      Saurons most important weapons (the Nazgul) were destroyed for a while, it would have taken them at least a few weeks to get back to Rivendell, by then the fellowship would have left. I think he didnt trust hisother armys enough to let them take the ring, because I think only the Nazgul were 'enslaved' enough to bring the ring to him instead of using it for themselves.

I think Sauron prepared his armies for a battle with Gondor in these times, andhe probably thought a lot about what his enemys were up to with his ring...
    • I don't remember which person says this but... - Patty
      it goes something like...the might of Sauron always being less than what terror fears it is...
      Perhaps he really wasn't ready yet in terms of the arms he was planning to use against Gondor. And, as someone on this board says he probably was waiting to see what, if any power, arose out of Rivendell to challange him,if he knew the Ring was there.
    • Sauron shifts his focus. - hollowTree
      Sauron surely knows that the Nazgul have failed and that the Ring has been delivered to Rivendell. In my opinion, Sauron now expects that the Elves will try to keep the Ring “safe” and out of his possession in Rivendell, or that some powerful individual will claim the Ring and attempt to use it to lead a army against him.

I think that Sauron reacts to the failure to recover the Ring by accelerating his plans to attack Gondor (and other opposing nations). If he thinks the Ring will remain sequestered in Rivendell, then Sauron has the military muscle to accomplish his ends without it. He can recover the Ring from ashes of Rivendell. If the Ring is to be used against Sauron, it will still take a significant force of arms to defeat Mordor. So, Sauron must move quickly to destroy those armies before a new master of the Ring can assert himself.
In any case, the last thing Sauron expects is an attempt to destroy the Ring in the heart of his own lands. He has turned his attention toward his own lands and the ording of his own forces.

"There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees.
For the Maples want more sunlight
And the Oaks ignore their pleas."
- Rush, "The Trees"
    • That's not entirely accurate - Blue Wizard
      Elrond's scouts find quite a few things going on that must be regarded as very disquieting. Darkness extending as far as the Greyflood, under which Elrond cannot see. Wolves hunting in areas where they should not be. And the land is empty...empty in a way which Aragorn later realizes is unnatural. Finding nothing is the remarkable think - like in the Sherlock Holmes story ["Silver Blaze", I think] - where the critical clue is that the dog didn't bark.

At this point, Sauron must think that the Nazgul are fulfilling their charge. In the meantime, he is taking steps to place a watch on every place where someone traveling from Eriador must cross - the mountain passes and the Gap of Rohan (don't forget that he believes that Saruman is serving him, in the end), even the Corsairs should someone attempt a sea voyage. n
    • Probably caught off guard - Malbeth
      I don't think he expected the Black Riders to fail.
      • One Word... - HammerHead
    • It was said that the Riders were "unhorsed and unmasked" in the flood. - Nenya
      The implication was that the ringwraiths had gone to ground until they could essential regroup (in Mordor?), get new mounts, and regain their strength. Unsubstantial and vulnerable at present, they're probably each staying as low key and invisible as possible as they make their slow way back to Sauron.
      • He's a Busy Maia - HammerHead

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:38am

Post #10 of 65 (20795 views)
Book 2 Chapter 4: A Journey in the Dark. Led by Inferno. [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 2, Chapter 4
Journey in the Dark
A Discussion Led by Inferno

  • Book II; Chapter 4: Summing Up (A Writer's Perspective.) - Inferno
    Looking at this chapter from the standpoint of writing it, I want to point out a few things.

First, Moria is the oldest structure/city/habitation that we encounter in LotR. It's been around since the First Age. Tolkien had established a huge backstory before he ever wrote LotR. We see glimpses of it throughout the tale, such as the references to Beren and Luthien, Gondolin, Turin, etc. But with Moria we are provided an extra sense of depth. Not only do we get the some of the verses associated with Khazad-Dum, we are given an eye-witness view of the lost glory of the Elder Days.
As LotR is, as Frodo and Sam later discuss, a continuation of the same heroic tale of the preceding ages, this sense of depth is important to the tale Tolkien tells.
Additionally, we're given the mythological concept of the descent into the Underworld. The failure at Caradhras coupled with the attack by the Wargs forces them into a path they would have prefered to avoid. Yet this path leads them to a stronger Fellowship, fulfilling the purpose of the Underworld theme.
We also are given hints of some future events. Aragorn's warning to Gandalf, Gollum's trailing of the company, the awareness of the orcs to the company's presence are all evident, if subtley, in this chapter. While not entirely foreshadowing events, Tolkien does lead us to notice what is going to occur next.
The chapter ends with two simultaneous discoveries: Dwarves _did_ return to Moria and Balin is dead. We are left at the end of the chapter wondering where the dwarves are, and how exactly did Balin die? The hammer noise that Gimli hears, could have come from dwarven hammers. Tolkien doesn't specify that this comes from orcs at this point. It is only after the reading of the book of Mazarbul in the next chapter that the Fellowship is faced with the forces of evil directly.
All told, this chapter is well written, lending a great air of history, as well as setting up the reader for what is to come next. Tolkien ties past and future together well in the events of the present.

    • Thanks, Inferno. Good job. - Bullroarer
    • Thanks, Inferno. Nice summary. - Kimi
    • Great work, Inferno. - GaladrielTX
      You mention two things here that I had forgotten. The first is that Moria's origins went back to the First Age. (Actually, I'm not sure that I ever knew that. I guess I thought it was founded shortly before the Rings were forged in the Second Age.) Second, the suspense I felt during my first reading of FOTR, wondering what happened to Balin and his followers and getting worried about those hammering sounds and the flapping feet.
    • Well done - Ophelia
      One of the things i notice about this chapter is the detail of Moria's fallen grandeur. Of course, Arnor used to be a great realm, but finding a few artifacts is quite different than being inside an immense, beautiful hall that has been hidden by darkness. Tolkien makes the fall of Numenor, for instance, intangible in LOTR- but he gives us great detail so the reader can feel the height of Moria's fall.
    • Thanks, Inferno. Good job. - Patty
    • Excellent summary - Blue Wizard
      And thank you for a great discussion this week.
    • Nice summary, Inferno - Idril Celebrindal
      Thanks for leading the discussion this week!
  • Book II; Chapter 4: Frodo's Senses. - Inferno
    Frodo notices an increased ability in night-vision and hearing. He also is more aware of the weight of the Ring while in Moria-- 'at whiles'. This implies to me that the weight of the Ring comes and goes. Is this in reaction to the presence of the Balrog, Gollum, or some other 'evil' that lies in Moria?

Frodo's increased senses seem to be related to his wounding with the Morgul-knife. Are there any other side effects we've seen at this point in the story?

    • OPPOSITION HERE - Strife
      I don't think the ring has anything to do with the 'evil' in Moria. I don't think the ring wants 'evil' to bear it, just a powerful being. It just so happens that the 'evil' power seems to be more prominent in most situations. Most of the 'good' powers (ie. Gandalf, Elrond, Aragorn) reject the temptation of the One Ring therefor nullifying its attraction towards them. Also, in my opinion when the ring in this situation (and a few others) senses the weakness of Frodo/bilbo/any other bearer, it tries to escape to be found by another more powerful being.....just think of the Balrog with the ring....think it would work?
    • I would say . . . - Soothfast
      The Ring tends to feel heavier and place a greater burden on its bearer when being carried through any place of great evil such as Moria and Mordor. It could also be psychological. The ring-bearer may simply be more likely to notice the Ring weighing down on his person when surrounded by darkness and bale. The darkness leaves little to see, so other senses are heightened and the mind dwells on more tactile matters.
    • We know... - Pteppic
      ...that the Ring can adjust its size and it also gets heavier the closer to Mordor it gets. I think the Ring senses the evil in its surroundings and is naturally attracted to it. Moria is filled with evil, and so the Ring tries to escape to the evil that exists there. I don't think it is searching for anybody special, just reacting to the evil in the surroundings. I think of the Ring as a sort of homing device, which seeks out evil, by becoming larger and heavier, so that it's current owner will be inclined to lose it (if he's wearing it on his finger) and then transmitting some sort of signal to the preferred owner (the more evil one). I think the Ring senses the good in Frodo (or rather doesn't sense the evil), and is trying to get away. As I said I don't think where to is very important to it other than it should be more evil than Frodo.

I agree about the Morgul knife sharpening his senses, but I also think the Ring is affecting him. The only other side effect I can think of now, is that Gandalf noticed that Frodo became more transparent after the attack on Weathertop.
    • I had interpretted that slightly differently. - Nenya
      I read it to mean that while in Moria, the One Ring was somehow closer to or more attuned to Sauron. The ring's powers were therefore enhanced, and so Frodo, as Ringbearer, experienced more acute senses.

Being somehow closer to it's maker, the Ring was also seeking to find it's way to Sauron. The increase weight of the Ring would have been the ring's way of wearing Frodo down, making it easier for Frodo to get captured or simply become careless and allow the Ring to slip away, as it had slipped from Gollum years before.
      • morgul-knives - Ophelia
        there are indications of frodo's senses becoming more acute before the entrance to moria, though- particularly on the last leg of the journey to rivendell. frodo seems to think that being wounded by the morgul-blade causes this new ability. Moria is just a chance for him to notice it- when else was he in such complete darkness?
        the ring is known to vary in weight and size- i think that the presence of the orcs and the balrog are what caused the ring to weigh more.
  • Book II; Chapter 4: Pippin and the Stone. - Inferno
    When Pippin throws the rock into the well and the drums start, Gandalf says that the two events may not be related. Since the caves have been abandoned and in disrepair for quite some time, I would imagine that rocks occasionally fall, and that Pippin's stone would not have caused the drums to start. What other events could have triggered the drums in the deep?

I would imagine that the events surrounding the Watcher in the Water could have triggered it, as could the voices of the Fellowship carrying down the well. Any other possibilites? Do either of the opitions I suggested seem viable?

    • Interesting suggestions by everyone else here. - Kimi
      Given all those, it would've been a miracle if the orcs hadn't noticed the Fellowship. :-)

Gandalf's snappy reaction to Pippin reflects his own tension, IMHO, as much as genuine fear of what Pippin might have roused.
    • Gandalf could also be the culprit.... - Jester_rm
      Before the episode with the stone, he sits alone on watch for 6 hours, smoking his pipe, deciding which way to go.

The smell of pipe (and cigarette) smoke travels quite a ways, and lasts a long time. I'm pretty sure that smell would not be common at all in the mines, and if orcs have a good sense of smell (as they seem to), then that could also have given them away.
      • good point, Jester. - Patty
    • Minor correction? - Idril Celebrindal
      The Fellowship heard the distinctive sound of a hammer striking stone (identified by Gimli, who presumably is very familiar with that noise) after Pippin dropped the pebble down the well. But the point is the same: that by dropping the stone, Pippin alerted the orcs to the Fellowship's presence.

Still, I suspect that the orcs would have figured out that there were intruders in Moria regardless of whether Pippin dropped the stone. The Watcher in the water was agitated and had buried the west gate -- something the orcs would surely have observed. Although they were not particularly noisy, the Fellowship wasn't trying to be inconspicuous (as Gollum was when he picked up their trail in Moria). It's certainly possible that an orc sentry saw them and slipped away without being spotted by anyone. Orc night vision is very good and a sentry might have been able to spot Gandalf's light from a fair distance away (depending on how the tunnels ran, of course).

    • Also, Gollum was trapped in Moria - Blue Wizard
      having entered throught the Eastern Gate, and being unable to find the way to the Hollin Gate. His padding about made some small measure of noise, which you might expect the Orcs to have investigated from time to time. So, one would expect that the mere dropping of a stone would set the attack in motion. It should have paled in comparison to the noise that the Watcher made.

It seems as likely that the presence of two rings of power - Frodo's and Gandalf's both, might have alerted or roused the Balrog and the Orcs.
    • Yes. I imagine the Watcher 's activities... - Patty
      pulling down all the rocks,uprooting the two trees, etc. started things. It's not too much to say that I bet the orcs were aware of them almost immediately, even if not aware exactly where they were. But I still wanted to thrash Pippin for doing it. "Fool of a Took" was not to strong to call him at that time.
      • Perhaps it was a signal... - Binky
        if there was any communication between the watcher and the orcs...'when they come I'll baricade the gates so they can't get out this way....perhaps the sound of the trees being uprooted etc was what the orcs were waiting for...

        • I think that's a bit too much planning.... - Jester_rm
          That would imply that the orcs in Moria a) knew that they were coming through Moria, b) would be able to open the door, c) could communicate with or had control over the watcher, d) were willing to wait to spring the trap until the party had basically passed through all of the mines.

I think it's more likely that a combination of events (the watcher, Pippens rock, pipe smoke, etc.) alerted the orcs (who likely had regular patrols), and possibly the presence of the Ring alerted the Balrog to the presence of intruders in the caverns, and the search was on.
If the orcs knew before hand, then the party would have been met with overwhelming force at the door and would have been slaughtered between the watcher and the mines.
          • I wonder, too, how much intelligence the - Kimi
            Watcher had, and whether it would've been possible for the orcs to communicate with it. It does just seem like a nasty monster. But the noise it made may well have helped alert the orcs.
  • Book II; Chapter 4: Illustrations? - Inferno
    In this chapter, we are given two 'illustrations'; one of the doors of Moria, and the other of Balin's tombstone. Why include these items? In the Fellowship, these are the only two such illustrations, the only other incident even resembling this is when the elven script on the One Ring is shown in Shadows of the Past. What is gained from having these illustrations in the text? Or, if you'd rather, what would be lost if these illustrations were missing?


    • Putting this question in context - Blue Wizard
      Why are these illustrations (and no others) contained in the LOTR Chapters of The Red Book of Westmarch? There are, of course other illustrations in the Hobbit, particularly Thorin's map.

There are, of course, other things that Frodo or Bilbo might have included as a illustrations in the book. For example, the exact design of Aragorn's standard. That's one of the things that might easily have been included in the book, but was not. And while it is carefully described, there is sufficient room for interpretation that an exact drawing would have been helpful.
But, it occurs to me that for the intended audience of the Red Book, something like Aragorn's standard is something that they could simply go and see. If they weren't up to the task of going to Minas Tirith, the King's messengers would visit the vicinity of the Shire from time-to-time, there would be official documents with the royal seal, etc.... And this would be true for nearly everything that is described in the book. If one were willing to make the trip, one could go to see nearly everything described in the book. Moria, and Mordor are just about the only exceptions. No one would want to visit Mordor. But Moria, especially with the Balrog destroyed, might be something of great beauty if reinhabited, with a connection to the hobbits themselves because of Bilbo's friendship with Balin and other members of the dwarf company who went there with him, that someone might want to visit, but they simply can't. The doors are buried in rubble (and guarded by the Watcher!); Balin's tomb is buried in rubble. The dwarves might return to Moria, and uncover them, but not in the forseeable future. The only way to "see" them is by the drawings included in the Red Book. Same thing with the One Ring - the only way to "see" the inscription is with the illustration.

      • That's brilliant reasoning, Blue. - Kimi
        Not that I'm surprised or anything...
    • Dwarf runes & sundry - Idril Celebrindal
      The runes on Balin's tomb and the Feanorian script on the door fascinated me when I first read LOTR. I spent some time flipping between the appendices and the illustrations trying to figure out what each said.

I do wish that there were more of Tolkien's own drawings in LOTR, though. A few more illustrations like the one of the doors would have been wonderful.
Also, this chapter was originally supposed to contain colored illustrations of two pages from the Book of Mazarbul, but IIRC cost prohibited their publication. The Treason of Isengard (Histories of Middle Earth) has sketches of the missing pages.
  • Book II; Chapter 4: Borrowing from oneself. - Inferno
    Gimli quotes a section of a poem about Khazad-Dum while the Fellowship travels in Moria. Part of it:

"A king he was on carven throne
In many-pillared halls of stone
With golden roof and silver floor,
And runes of power upon the door.
The light of sun and star and moon
In shining lamps of crystal hewn
Undimmed by cloud or shade of night
There shone forever fair and bright.
There hammer on the anvil smote,
There chisel clove and graver wrote;
There forged was blade and bound was hilt;
The delver mined, the mason built."
And then this part specifically:
"There beryl, pearl, and opal pale,
And metal wrought like fishes' mail,
Buckler and corslet, axe and sword,
And shining spears were laid in hoard."
The second segment is a direct lift from the Lay of Leithian, the epic poem version of the tale of Beren and Luthien. The preceding segment could easily describe Menegroth and the realm of Thingol in Doriath.
What ties do you see between Menegroth and Khazad-Dum to allow such comparisons to be made? Also, what do you think of the idea of a writer 'plagiarizing' from himself? I've seen other writers do this, and Arthur C. Clarke once said, "If you can't plagiarize from yourself, who can you plagiarize from?"
I personally have felt that Tolkien loved some of his First Age material so much, that he wanted to leave a tribute to that in the Lord of the Rings, and this is one way he did that. The Beren-Luthien tale is one of his most powerful, and is woven into LotR many times. This is just a more subtle bit.

    • does the "loan" mean something? - Ophelia
      Tolkien borrows from himself mainly to draw connections between characters/situations- one example is the Aragorn/Arwen romance which is obviously meant to recall Beren/ Luthien, i think a large amount of the repetitions are on purpose.
      I'm reminded of the saying that Shakespeare only wrote seven plays. Shakespeare used a lot of stock plots and characters- Tolkien, however, doesn't. The re-use of that stanza could easily have been quite intentional.
    • Well, THAT explains it! - GaladrielTX
      While reading the Khazad-dűm poem, I got to the part about pearls and thought to myself this time, "how Elvish!" How clever of you to catch this. I think he just liked those lines so much he used them twice, and circumstances were similar enough that they work both times.

Funny that you should bring up this topic because I came across something in The Sil last night that's sort of in a similar vein. It was in the story of the Fall of Gondolin, when Tuor and Voronwë are traveling from Vinyamar to Gondolin. At the Pools of Ivrin, they come across "a tall Man, clad in black, and bearing a black sword. But they knew not who he was, nor anything of what had befallen in the south; and he passed them by, and they said no word." This is, of course, Túrin, whose story was told two chapters earlier. I just think it's neat that he throws that in there. So much of the Silmarillion is just one tale after another with few connections to the others, and it's a nice surprise. (I always forget it's coming.) It also helps give the reader a sense of chronology.
    • Menegroth and Khazad-dűm - Kimi
      are each the greatest dwelling of their respective kindreds upon Middle-earth.

From The Silmarillion:
"Greatest of all the mansions of the Dwarves was Khazad-dűm."
"That [Menegroth] was the fairest of any king that has ever been east of the Sea."
Both were also in caves.
Tolkien "borrows" from himself for two main reasons, IMHO:
1. As you said, he loved these words, and wanted to use them. At the time that LOTR was published, he didn't know if he would ever get The Silmarillion published.
2. It's part of the back-story that gives LOTR such depth.
      • More parallels - Idril Celebrindal
        Menegroth and Khazad-dum were built around the same time (early in the First Age). Both were constructed by Dwarves. Thingol's Elves worked in partnership with the Dwarves to build Menegroth, and it's possible that the Dwarves of Khazad-dum were also influenced by Elvish aesthetics. (The early partnership between Elves and Dwarves greatly improved the Dwarves' design sense and the Elves' engineering ability.) Finally, both Menegroth and Khazad-dum were eventually abandoned by their inhabitants under duress -- Khazad-dum after the balrog awoke, and Menegroth after the sons of Feanor attacked it and killed Dior, Nimloth, their sons, and many others.
    • Tom Bombadil is the prime example. - Annael
      He came into being separately from the story of LOTR, but Tolkien liked him so much (and felt he stood for something important - the capacity of detachment, of observing without "owning" - very Zen come to think of it) that he plopped him in to LOTR regardless. Also, I suspect, to please his children.

I think the artist has the right to put whatever they want into their work from other works. Michael Ondaatje does this too - a major character from one story may show up on the periphery in another. It's fun - I feel like I've met an old friend, it gives a certain richness to the tale. You have to KNOW who it is, of course. Otherwise it's like not getting an "in" joke.
  • Book II; Chapter 4: Friendship between Elf and Dwarf - Inferno
    We are told at the gates of Moria that the Friendship between Elf and Dwarf was greater in the days of Hollin. What incidents would have caused that friendship to wane? This is far after the slaying of Thingol by Dwarves, and the War of Wrath where, it is said, Dwarves fought on both sides. What happened during the Second Age or early Third Age to cause the gulf between Dwarf and Elf?


    • Legolas is a Silvan Elf - Idril Celebrindal
      What's remarkable about the friendship between Gimli and Legolas is that Legolas is a Silvan Elf. Thranduil's folk apparently were not involved in the Sindarin conflict with the Dwarves in Doriath, but they are not particularly friendly to Dwarves. There was little friendship between the Dwarves of Erebor and the Elves of Mirkwood. As recently as the events in The Hobbit, Legolas's father Thranduil imprisoned Thorin and company and fought against the Dwarves briefly in the Battle of the Five Armies (before the coming of the orc army forced the Elves, Men and Dwarves to unite against a common foe). Yet Legolas and Gimli managed to overcome this history (particularly difficult since Gimli's father, Gloin, was involved in both these events, and dwarves revere their parents) and form a relationship of mutual respect and trust.

If Legolas had been a Noldor, his friendship with Gimli might not have been such a surprise. Some of the Noldor had working relationships with the Dwarves as far back as the First Age. For instance, Caranthir and his followers had a great deal of contact and trade with the Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost. Now, there was not a great deal of affection between the two groups -- the Dwarves being secretive and Caranthir being arrogant -- but their dealings were mutually profitable. The Dwarves were also allied with the Noldor in their fight against Morgoth. Celebrimbor was the grandson of Feanor, and the friendship between the Noldor of Hollin and the Dwarves of Khazad-dum could be partially based on this earlier arrangement. Many of the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains moved to Khazad-dum after the War of Wrath laid waste to Beleriand. Remembering their earlier relationship with the Noldor of Beleriand, they might have influenced Durin's folk to be more willing to deal with the Noldor of Eregion.

    • Durin's Bane - Malbeth
      I agree with hollowTree that the Hollin/Moria friendship was a special case. In addition to that, in Lorien they blame the Dwarves for releasing the Balrog in the Third Age.
      • yup, that's what I thought too. - leo
    • Hollin was a special case. - hollowTree
      The friendship, as I take it, was specific to Moria and Hollin rather than generally between dwarf and elf.

Since the first age, all of the races seem to drift away from each other. Between elf and dwarf, there were several significant incidents (as mentioned by Inferno) that would further the hard feelings between these races. I don't think relations between elf and dwarf were very good in general even during the days when Hollin existed.
That is, except in Hollin. Hollin was an exception, perhaps, because of its Noldorin founders. The Noldor had good relations with the dwarves of Ered Luin in the first age. They may not have taken Thingol's murder as personally as the sylvan elves (Thingol wasn't their king after all). And, on several cases at least, the Noldor seem willing to accept profitable relationships over ethical considerations (their dealings with Sauron in the making of the rings as a case in point).
With the end of the realm of Hollin, I think, came the end of any special relationship between dwarves and elves.
"There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees.
For the Maples want more sunlight
And the Oaks ignore their pleas."
- Rush, "The Trees"
      • The Dwarves and the Noldor - Blue Wizard
        especially Celebrimbor's people, were especially close because of the reverence with which they held Aule (who, of course, made the Dwarves). Tolkien specifically says that this is the reason for their closeness in the Silmarillion.

There are many, many reasons for emnity to have arisen between the Elves and Dwarves in the First Age, as recounted there. What it is about the Second and Third Ages, other than the repeated references to releasing or awakening the Balrog under Moria, that gave rise to a further estrangement during that period, is something more of a mystery. It is repeatedly said that the estrangement of the various peoples of Middle Earth: Elves, Men and Dwarves, is the result of Sauron's work. Perhaps the core of the estrangement of Elves and Dwarves lies in the Seven Rings which Celebrimbor gave to the heads of the Seven Houses of the Dwarves - he revealed to Sauron who he had given them to.
        • The Seven Rings of the Dwarf Lords - Ron Austin
          Exagerated the Tendency of suspicious and covetness in the Dwarf Lords.
          Also Sauron had a long agenda of working to sunder the various races.
        • I agree that the success of the Dwarf/Elf relationship - GaladrielTX
          in the Second Age was that the Elves concerned were Noldor who had much in common with the dwarves and relatively few grudges. I get the impression that, by the end of the Third Age, there aren't too many Noldor left in Middle-earth. So by then, good relationships between Dwarves and the remaining Elves would be rare, in contrast.

Plus, I don't think there were as many opportunities for improvement of Dwarf/Elf relations in the late Second and Third Ages. Both races seemed to have become isolated and more concerned for their own existence, and meetings seem to be rare.
  • Book II; Chapter 4: The Wargs. - Inferno
    After the warg attack on the Fellowship, there are no bodies the next morning. What happened to them?

Additionally, what were the wolves doing on the west side of the Misty Mountains? Were they specifically searching for the Fellowship, or just keeping an eye out in general for any activity on the part of Rivendell? Did the wargs work for Saruman or for Sauron?

    • Warg Power - Steve D
      What happened to them anyway? In the Hobbit they were one of the Five Armies, equal to Elves, Men, Dwarves, and Orcs. In LOTR they have almost no role.

I think the wargs in this chapter must have been magical beings since their bodies disappeared.
A pretty dance, but rather vigorous.
    • What happened to them? - GaladrielTX
      I always thought that it turned out that the wargs were just an illusion and that's why there was nothing there in the morning (vs. eating their dead or being dragged off).
    • My guess is Saruman - Kimi
      For the reasons given by others. Saruman certainly had Wargs in Isengard. (As well as Frodo seeing them from Amon He, and Gandalf reporting having seen them, Eomer refers to Wolf-Riders issuing from Isengard.)

    • I think they worked for... - leo
      Saruman, we know he must have kept an eye in the direction of Rivendell, possibly assuming that the ring would be there. We know Saruman had wargs in his army, because Gandalf mentions hearing them when he was held captive in Orthanc.

As for the dragging away of the bodies, maybe these wargs had a patrol of Orcs with them, who first wanted to test the strenght of the Fellowship. Seeing that they were strong, they layed back and removed all dead wargs after the battle. I can't guess as to why they would do this however...
      • Maybe, inasmuch as these wargs had no spirits... - Patty
        Saruman or Sauron reincarnated their bodies to fight again. A la Gandalf.
    • I think.... - Eomund's Daughter
      ....that they ate the remains of the dead, killed in battle, as it were (as is mentioned later on in LOTR, after the Battle of Helm's Deep, etc.)...also proving that they weren't just hunting....

IMHO, these particular wargs were probably working for Saruman, like the crebain...
'I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun', she said; 'And behold! The Shadow has departed!'....
    • On Amon Hen - Blue Wizard
      Frodo sees wolves issuing forth from Isengard; there is no other mention of wolves in the movement of the vast armies that he witnesses, so it is entirely possible that the Wargs which attack in this chapter are associated with Sauruman, not Sauron. This would also fit with the repeated sightings of crebain from Dunland and Fangorn, who are obviously in league with Saruman.
      • Aha. - Bullroarer
        Good call, Blue. So the wargs could quite possibly have been Saruman's. I think my argument about Sauron below applies equally well to Saruman -- yes he was looking for the Ring, but the wargs found the Fellowship on their own. They may have been sent to patrol the west side of the Mountains and look for people heading south. If Saruman knew the Fellowship had entered Moria, it could explain how he knew to ambush them at Amon Hen.
    • I don't recall any - Stumpy
      instances of wargs associating with Uruk Hai. I have to beleive they were only used by Sauron. They were probably on the lookout for Frodo.

As for what they do with the bodies? *shudder*
    • In my view, the wargs worked for Sauron... - Patty
      I just base this on that having tortured Gollum later being hot on Frodo's tail into Rivendell thru his spies, Sauron knew where the Ring was and sent his wargs over to the west side to try to stop them. Also, weren't there wargs (wolves) in The Hobbit that had the hobbits up a tree long before Saurman was active? Even though they weren't seeking the ring I wonder if Sauron wasn't already running them.
      • It doesn't make much sense to me... - Inferno
        to have a small force of wargs as your only presence if you're trying to stop someone from getting anywhere with the Ring. Everything Sauron does points towards his belief that one of the Great will try to use the Ring. A small force of Wargs wouldn't be much use against a Ringwielder with an Army out of Rivendell.

The motivations of Sauron don't make sense to me at this point. Of course, from the standpoint of a writer, it makes sense. The Wargs are a device to get the Fellowship into Moria, and to provide trouble along the way.

        • How much control does Sauron really have at this point? - Bullroarer
          Maybe he just sent out a general APB: "Everyone look out for a bunch of losers heading south from Rivendell." and the wargs picked up the scent and gave chase. I never thought of this encounter as a deliberate attempt on Sauron's part to stop the Ring. If he knew where it was he'd spend every bit of energy he had to get at it. I think he was still dealing with the defeat at Rivendell, getting his Nazgul rehabilitated, recruiting down in Harad, eyeing Saruman, Eyeing Denethor, massing his forces and getting ready to drop the boom on Gondor. It probably wasn't for some time that he realised what his little wargies had found.
          • I agree with the Dispatch consept - Nugelfin
            I think Sauron was taken aback after the defeat at Rivendell. His reaction might have been to dispatch quick movers who could cover a lot of ground and follow a sent. Wargs fit that bill nicely. I don't think his intention was to actually capture the ring at this point but to locate it as soon as possible. This would give him an opportunity to re-group and prepare for another capture attempt.
      • Did Saruman's forces include wargs later on? - Bullroarer
        I don't recall any wargs at Helm's Deep and I think that if he'd had them he would have used them.

I always assumed that wargs were grouped together with the Misty Mountain orcs, and most of those were under Sauron, I believe.
  • Book II; Chapter 4: The Watcher in the Water. - Inferno
    While we don't get the 'name' of the creature until the next chapter (in the Book of Mazarbul), we see the watcher in this chapter. What is it exactly?

There is mention of dark things in the deeps of the earth, of which the watcher is one. Is the watcher a servant of Sauron? Melkor/Morgoth raised the Misty Mountains to block the Valar's movements. Is the Watcher a creation of Morgoth? Is it the result of some part of the discord of Melkor in the Song of the Ainur? Is it completely unrelated to Morgoth as Ungoliant was, and came out of the Void to Ea?
Also, who dammed the river, and for what purpose? Sauron wouldn't have expected the Fellowship to travel through Moria, so he wouldn't have set the watcher there to dissuade them. Was it set there in response to the returning of the Dwarves to Moria? The lake had to be a fairly recent addition, as both Aragorn and Gandalf had passed through Moria (and Aragorn, while old by human standards, isn't really THAT old) and neither one expected it to be there.
Also, the valley is described as 'shallow'. If the Fellowship were in a hurry, wouldn't it have made sense to break the dam and cross on the old Road? A shallow valley wouldn't have taken long to drain, and the water could have helped take the wargs off of their trail. They didn't know about the watcher at this point, and it seems like a plausible course of action to take. Resting while the lake drained would have given them energy for the trek ahead as well.
One last comment about the watcher. Boromir throws a stone into the water moments before Gandalf opens the door. Did the watcher come to life due to Gandalf's opening of the door, or because of Boromir's throwing of the stone?

    • A couple of comments . . . - Annael
      It would be a major effort to breach the dam enough to drain the valley; beyond the ability of the Fellowship I think. It was evening already and they were in a hurry to get to the Door; going along the lakeshore wouldn't have seemed like a detour, just the most direct route available.

As for Boromir and Pippin throwing stones: I'm reminded of a statement made by a friend of mine once. "If you want to know the sex of a small child, put it next to a body of water. If it picks up a stone or stick and throws it in the water, it's male."
    • I think the Watcher was... - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
      in front of the doors some time before Balin's folk were finally defeated. As the book tells the fellowship 'The Watcher in the Water took Oin' (using memory here, I don't have the books with me), so I get the impression he turned up in cahoots with the Orcs. This does suggest some sort of organisation, so I am guessing Sauron was involved. Maybe it went something like this:
      1) Dwarves dig up Balrog.
      2)Sauron (or perhaps Saurman, though the Orcs there were not described as carrying any of his tokens) decides it is an excellent opportunity to dislodge the Dwarves with minimal manpower. They already have trouble INSIDE. So he plonks the watcher on the western gate (I am sure there are lots of creatures under the mountains he could discover) and sends Orcs to the Eastern gate. Then it would simply be a matter of time, without a lot of outside help coming to the Dwarves' aid.
      I would also agree that though draining the lake could be a possibility, it is not a practical one. It is actually surprising how long it takes to drain even an inch of water spread over a decent sized area (I am amazed at this every time my balcony floods and I always have to wait a lot longer than I expect for it to drain away), so I think with time pressing, and definitely wanting to be inside before dark (c.f. Wargs etc), draining is probably not an option. And the less you interfere with things, the less trouble you are likely to find.

    • I think the Watcher made the Dam ... - Ron Austin
      The Watcher is strong enough to rip the door trees out and pile rocks to block the door so it was probably a pretty substantial dam.
    • Rocks are heavy - Kimi
      That's my profound statement of the day :-)

Seriously, a dam big enough to hold that amount of water ("shallow" is a relative term) is pretty substantial; water has a way of getting back into a course of its own choosing if it's not thoroughly dammed. So breaking the dam would be quite a big job, and would probably take more time than their small detour.
I think Boromir's stone roused the Watcher, but the combination of Gandalf's "magic" and the proximity of the One Ring would have roused it, too; perhaps more slowly, though.
    • My Humble Thoughts (I'm not humble...) - HammerHead
      I would think that by the name "Watcher in the Water", Tolkien is implying that the creature was put there by some force to guard the gates of Moria. The problem is WHO. Sauron and Saruman are possibilities. It could even be an ancient agent of Melkor/Morgoth. However, we mustn't overlook the possibility of Dwarves or some other "good guy" (for lack of a better term). Do you think it possible some dwarves put it there (however, how to explain Gimli's ignorance of this is a different matter) to guard the gate, not from preventing ENTRY but preventing EXIT? Someone who knew about Durin's Bain and didn't want it loose on the world? Or perhaps someone other thand dwarves. The filth of the water discounts this fact, for by the nature of "good versus evil" in LOTR, a more intelligent force would have been used to this purpose. Therefore...

Taking into consideration Gandalf and Aragorn's ignorance of the creature and Aragorn's 50-60'odd year age, I'd say Sauron put it there by some means or measure (too recent for the other Dark Lord). More than likely to prevent the dwarves from returning. Their works in Khazad Dum presented a serious threat to some of his labors; mithril itself is just cause for preventing an enemy from gaining access to the mines.
As for your other questions...
I think Patty is right about releasing the water. If it's nasty water, I don't think I'd want to turn it loose on the innocent inhabitants of the nearby land.
As for what it is, probably some sorcery of Sauron's (assuming my earlier conclusions are accurate). A freak of nature, stolen from creature born of the Song of the Ainur (like Orcs).
I've never understood the fascination with Boromir (perhaps Jackson will take literary freedom with the character to make him more likable). Patty said, aside from Pippin, Boromir is the most thoughtless of all the Fellowship and I agree. He's sloppy and wreckless. Both he and Pippin have the excuse of "youth" on their side I suppose. But Pippin's cause is furthered by his sheltered past; he doesn't have experience in the real world, much less with "bad things". Boromir on the other hand just keeps causing problems. But, I digress. I'd say throwing the stone probably alerted the creature, but it was likely the activity at the gates that awakened it; again turning to my logic about Tolkien's name for the creature.
This is a lot of conjecture. I've been reading a lot of the information on the Encyclopedia of Arda the last few days, and I feel this is very much a situation they describe frequently. Is the matter to be interpreted by means of what the author as an omniscient being (in terms of writing and creating the story) intended, or is it to be interpreted from the point of view of the characters as they progress through the story unaware of their future? Either presents an interesting analysis.
    • Until I re-read this chapter I had forgotten about.. - Patty
      Boromir casting that stone. That and sounding his horn back at Rivendell put him, IMHO in league with Pippin for doing thoughtless things on this journey.
      I expect they didn't undam (is that a word?) the water, as they all thought it looked "unwholesome" and didn't want to walk in, or I suppose touch it. Was the point at which it was dammed close to them?
  • Book II; Chapter 4: Power of the Ringwraiths. - Inferno
    At the start of this chapter, Gandalf tells Frodo, "The Ringwraiths are deadly enemies, but they are only shadows yet of the power and terror they would posess if the Ruling Ring was on their master's hand again."

The power of the Nazgul seems tied to either the power of Sauron, or the power of the One Ring. Do they gain in power because Sauron's power is now greater? Or is it because the Nine Rings gain strength when a Master is using the One? If this is the case, do the Three and the Seven also gain in power when Sauron has the One?

    • The power of the Ring - Kimi
      is part of the power of Sauron. The Nazgul are subject to Sauron, via the part of his power that he put into the One Ring, and any strength they have comes from him.

If Sauron and the One Ring were reunited, the combined power would be so much greater that the Nazgul would also have more power of terror (which is their main strength).
Whether or not the Nine and the Seven would be more powerful if the One Ring were back on Sauron's hand is hard to say. I'd accept arguments from either side :-) I don't think the power of the Three would be augmented, though.
    • Supposition only here. - Nenya
      Sauron had a hand in creating the nine and the seven, so I would guess that their natures would change when he regained possession of the One Ring. Since so much of Sauron was invested in the One Ring, his own power would be restored/enhanced with its return. He would then be able to reach out and tap into the nine and the seven, and perhaps lend some of his power to those rings.

I'm not so sure what would happen to the three elven rings, though. Sauron never touched them, so it seems like all he could do is interfere with them rather than bend them to his will. My guess is that they would be reduced in power, or perhaps their power wrested from them. I doubt Sauron would have been able to augment them.
    • Some Help Here... - HammerHead
      This is an excellent question! One that I've pondered long and hard. The one problem I always seem to encounter is this:
      Who forged the Nine for Mortal men? Much of the text with which I'm familiar, states that Sauron gave the nine rings to men who were thereby corrupted through the power of the One. First, I've always been curious, who did Sauron give the rings to? Were they living men when they received them? Were they all sorcerors (like the Witch King)? Were they kings? Were they just the Witch King and nine schmoes Sauron picked at random? Were they already evil and corrupted? Were they already spirits when they were given the rings?

If I can clarify some of that, I think I can participate better in this dicussion. Unfortunately, all I can find (so far, after two days) on Encyclopedia of Arda, is the fact that there were nine bearers.
My understanding had been that Sauron learned the forging himself and came to the elves, men and dwarves in a fair form and taught them ring forging. Elves forged all the rings and gave them to the greatest of each people. Sauron then, knowing the secret of each ring, returned to Orodruin and forged the one to take power of each race.
Perhaps someone can help me clarify all this.
      • The Great Rings - Blue Wizard
        The Great Rings were all made by the elves, and originally for the elves, using both their own craft (Celebrimbor was, after all, the Grandson of Feanor) and knowledge from Sauron. He had a hand in making the Seven and the Nine, but never touched the Three. The One he made himself, for the purpose (among others) of controlling the others.

It is my understanding that the Elves gave the Seven to the Kings of each of the Seven Houses of the Dwarves, but that Sauron himself gave the Nine to various men. Sauron took the Nine, and apparently some of the lesser rings as well, but could not find the Three or the Seven. Under torture Celebrimbor revealed where the sever were bestowed, but would not tell Sauron who held the three. We do not know the backgrounds of the men to whom Sauron gave the Nine. Only Kahmul the Easterling is ever named. (The Witch King of Angmar would already have possessed his ring at the point in time that he was fighting with the Northern Kingdoms, and had a reputation as a great sorcerer.)
        • Hmmm... - HammerHead
          Ok, I just checked Arda. Khamul was the Lord of the Nazgul's second, correct? But there's no background on him either.
          • Who was the 'Mouth of Sauron?' - Binky
            Was he one of the nine? Khamul...or another..'schmoe'....?

            • He was not a ringwraith - Blue Wizard
              Tolkien says so explicitly in "The Black Gate Opens".
              He was a man, one of the Black Numenorians who, though not "immortal" like the Nazgul, had through sorcery extended his life to an extraordinary term (maybe using one of the lesser rings that Sauron had also taken from the Elves?), and in the many years had forgotten his own name.
  • Book II; Chapter 4: Options? - Inferno
    After the failure on Caradhras, the Fellowship discusses various options. Return to Rivendell, travel via the Gap of Rohan, take a trip down the seacoast through Lebinin and up into Gondor, or enter Moria.

Are there any other paths the Fellowship could take on their journeys? What are the advantages/disadvantages of their options? Is Moria really the only choice?

    • yes, I think it was... - leo
      they had no chance of crossing the Cradhras, returning back to Rivendell or taking the road through the gap of Rohan , or even the road to Lebinin would cost way too much time, as Gandalf explained. The road through the Gap of Rohan was even more dangerous because of the presence of Saruman and the Rohirrim, of wich the Fellowship at this time did not know for sure if they would aid them.
    • The attack of the camp and the howling of the Wargs did away with any other options - Ron Austin
    • It seems to be the only realistic choice - Kimi
      Other ways are either too slow or have known dangers. Moria is an unknown quantity. I think Blue's right, too: Gandalf wanted to go to Lorien. He may well have like the idea of disappearing for a time; I suspect he also wanted to confer with Galadriel.
    • I suppose you're right, there is no other option. I just question... - Patty
      whether they shouldn't have attempted the Gap of Rohan. They were basing their refusal to attempt that route on a rumor, a possiblity that the Rohirrim were in league with Sauron, it had just as much chance of being untrue (and it was) as of there being real and more serious danger in Moria (and there was). What do you think?
      • I'm with Malbeth on this - Kimi
        It wasn't the rumours of Rohan, it was the grim reality of Saruman's treachery.
      • I don't think it was rumors about Rohan - Malbeth
        I think the main problem with a Gap of Rohan route was proximity to Saruman - Gandalf didn't want the Ring anywhere near Saruman's sphere of influence. I also wonder if Gandalf liked the Moria to Lothlorien route as a way of effectively disappearing for a significant period of time. If they had made it through Moria undetected, and weren't spotted by Sauron's spies on the short journey to Lothlorien, he wouldn't know where to look for them.
    • The Options - Blue Wizard
      I think that that pretty much exhausts the options.

The reason that they didn't take the Old Forest Road in the first place is that there are too many orcs on the Eastern side of the Misty Mountains between there and Lorien, and a much greater likelihood of being discovered. Either that route, waiting for better weather in the spring, or finding a ship to take them from the Havens to Lebinnin would be the point of going back to Rivendell.
They want to avoid the Gap of Rohan because of Saruman in Isengard. I suppose they could try to build canoes and sail down the Greyflood to the sea from where they are, but this would take them through Dunland, which is populated by hostile people, and there is no way to proceed to Gondor from there.
One would think that there are other mountain passes besides the Redhorn, but there is the possibility of orcs inhabiting them. So, I guess that Moria is the only realistic option.

  • Book II; Chapter 4: A Journey in the Dark-- Descent to the Underworld. - Inferno
    It is a standard concept in the majority of mythological backgrounds, that the mythic hero takes a journey into the Underworld as part of his/her heroic quests. Hercules, Theseus, Osiris, and many others from ancient myths enter the Underworld at some point in their journeys. Even Luke Skywalker does this in The Empire Strikes Back, descending into a thematic equivalent of the Underworld, the Dark Side cave on Dagobah.

Moria also represents a thematic Underworld. For which member(s) of the Fellowship does the trip through Moria represent the Descent to the Underworld?
My personal vote goes to Boromir. He has no other chance to take a trip like this. Aragorn has been through Moria before; additionally, he enters the Paths of the Dead. Legolas and Gimli also enter the Paths of the Dead. Frodo and Sam go to Mordor, which is has a much stronger Underworld flavor than Moria. Of course, a hero may make more than one trip into the Underworld, so it can stand for the whole Fellowship.

    • Gandalf - Ophelia
      The Moria passage has to be thought of in context with the rest of the series. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, for example, really do go through the Underworld before they reach Minas Tirith- Frodo and Sam go through the Dead Marches.
      I don't think that Mordor should be counted as an underworld, but as the site of the final heroic confrontation.
      Obviously the Moria passage is significant to Gandalf because of his fall and ressurrection, and Merry and Pippin should also be counted- it is their first real taste of the horrors of the world.
    • The transforming trip through the underworld - Blue Wizard
      As we've discussed before, the Hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin) have already made two trips through a symbolic underworld, even before reaching Rivendell: (1) the passage under the High Hay from Buckland into the Old Forest; and (2) being trapped in the Barrow Down. But, as Nenya points out, the rite of passage associated with this thematic journey involves a passing of a test, or a transformation.

It may be said that the passage through the Buckland Gate is more significant for Sam than any of the others; I imagine that he alone has never ventured outside the Shire. But, that passage for Sam cannot compare to the passage through Shelob's Lair at Cirith Ungol, where we see a true transformation of Sam, in more ways than one.
The Barrow Downs seems a major test for Frodo. He is not overcome by the wight; he saves himself and the others and then summons Bombadil's aid. He basically proves himself up to the task ahead. The hobbits lose their clothes - a symbolic transformation, more symbolic than actualized.
Moria is the next. As Nenya points out, it is Gandalf who truly travels to the depth of the underworld here, and is truly transformed here. Aragorn becomes the leader of the Fellowship by Gandalf's fall, so he is transformed as well. And, as a group, the assault on the Redhorn Pass and the trip through Moria seems to unite them as a group; all determine to go on - even Legolas and Gimli. When Elrond appointed the members of the Fellowship, Legolas and Gimli were committed no further than to crossing the mountains. It was always possible, and even probable, that they would then depart and return to their respective homelands. But, they all determine to go on - the passage is a galvanizing experience for all of them.
    • Hmmm - your list is interesting as to whom is left off. - Nenya
      Before I read your list of characters, my first reaction was that it was a trip to the Underworld for Gandalf much more so than any of the other characters. He literally travels to the depths of the world, and to the depths of his own life (in a way) during the trek through Moria. It is undeniable that he comes through far more profoundly changed than any of the other characters. He'd be my first choice for your list.
      • I agree, Nenya. - Kimi
        My first thought was also Gandalf. His journey through Moria leads to his death and rescurrection; that's quite a potent transformation.
      • I'm with Nenya - HammerHead
        Each of the other characters takes a very "uniqute" trip to the underworld, as you describe it, Inferno. Aragorn's journey through the Paths of the Dead is his individual choice and represents (to him) a more important part of his role in the War of the Ring and his ascent to King. Sam and Frodo's trip to Mordor is more symbolic of their individual purpose and goal, more or less from the beginning of the tale they are destined to face the greatest underworld. The perils they face there are greater than either of them faces in Moria and they come closer to the "Pluto" figure of ME than does any other character. As for Boromir and the other members of the Fellowship, I (personally) wouldn't consider their roles in the War of the Ring to be great enough (heroically) to 'require' a trip to the Underworld. Though, Boromir is great, he is not the greatest hero of this tale; more, he seems to me, a vehicle to illustrate the corruption of the Ring and its nature to control men.

Gandalf alone enters Moria and does not come out (immediately). He alone is, as Nenya said, greatly changed, for the better, after his trial there. Likewise, he is the only member of the Fellowship who does, indeed, face a trial in that particular underworld.
        • what about Moria made Legolas and Gimli determine to stay with the Fellowship??? - Binky
          I have often wondered about this..they were orginally on their way home...

perhaps before when they had thoughts of going home...they perhaps took for granted that even if they left the Fellowship the Hobbits would be in good hands with Gandalf, Aragorn and Boromir...but with Galdalf gone they perhaps decided the hobbits and the quest needed all of them??? They also knew Boromir had openly expressed the opinion that the ring should be used as a weapon against the Dark Lord. Perhaps they didn't quite trust him ..????

Did Legolas perhaps entertain notions of helping them on to Lorien???
Gandalf did mention going through 'the secret woods' before he 'died'...
or maybe they didn't relish a journey of several weeks in with only each other for company...remember this was before they bacame 'fast friends'....:)

          • I wondered about that. - Annael

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

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Apr 26 2009, 3:39am

Post #11 of 65 (20799 views)
Book 2 Chapter 5: The Bridge of Khazad-Dum. Led by Annael. [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 2, Chapter 5
The Bridge of Khazad-dum
A Discussion Led by Annael

  • Book II, Chapter 5, The Bridge of Khazad-Dum: Summing Up - Annael
    In the Chamber of Mazarbul, the Fellowship finds and reads the log of Balin's short, ill-fated reign in Moria. No sooner have they read about the grim end of the colony than they hear "drums in the deep" and realize that their presence has been detected. An army of orcs and trolls attacks. Each of the Fellowship has his share in the battle as orcs sweep into the Chamber. We see how the hobbits have grown in their ability to face down fear, and for the first time we see the fighting abilities of Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli. More than that, we see the Fellowship acting as a unit for the first time. They are beginning to form that bond that only those who have been through a severe trial together know.

The first attack is beaten off, but not before Frodo is once again singled out for attack. The mithril coat saves him, and he is able to run out the back way with the rest. Gandalf stays behind to bar the door with magic - and meets a countering force with powers that seem to match his. In the duel of magic that follows, the chamber is destroyed and the way blocked. This gives our friends a respite and they flee towards the East Gate without pursuit. As they come near the gate, they see why: the orcs, seeking to trap them, have set fires, but the Fellowship went an unexpected way and now the fires are between them and pursuit.
They gain the Bridge of Khazad-Dum. We have another glimpse of the power and majesty of Moria in this amazing feat of engineering. They cross it before the orc horde finds them again. But the orcs are not alone. A being of tremendous power is with them. Legolas and Gimli recognize it at once: a Balrog, one of the debased Maiar that served Morgoth. Gandalf, weary from the duel of sorcery, sags for a moment, but only he can face this danger. He sends the others on and stands on the Bridge, blocking the way. Aragorn and Boromir refuse to go and stand behind him, but all they can do is watch as the two magical beings face off. In a desperate move, Gandalf strikes the bridge with such physical and magical force that it - and his staff - shatter. The Balrog falls but manages to snare Gandalf with its whip and drag him down too.
The horrified Fellowship flees this place of horror, in their sorrow and rage running right over any few orcs in the way. They come out into the light at last, but carrying some of the dark within them. Gandalf - guide, protector, friend - is gone.
    • *Bows* May your staff never fail you. - Stumpy
      Don't tell anyone, but I come to this page first when I visit TORN. Thanks for your efforts, and good job!
    • Thanks, Annael. - Eledhwen
      I'm sorry I missed so much of it, but I certainly enjoyed reading what I did arrive for.
    • Thanks, Annael! - GaladrielTX
      That summation was really good too. I started feeling the same emotions I did while reading the chapter, for crying out loud.
    • Great job for a great chapter! Thanks. - septembrist
    • Great job this week! - Blue Wizard
      Thank you once again.
      • I was pleased to see . . . - Annael
        people are starting to jump in with their own questions. That really added to the discussion.
        • That's a good point. People should always feel free - Blue Wizard
          to post their own questions about the book, rather than simply rely on the weekly discussion leaders for all the questions. And, the fact that they're doing so is a positive development.

And, we also seem to be getting a little broader participation, as well. Sometimes it seems like a little too narrow of a club. But not this week.
  • Book II, Chapter 5. The passage completed. - Annael
    The Fellowship, minus one, has made it through Moria. How has each been affected by the passage? How has the Fellowship as a whole been changed?
    • Aragorn. - septembrist
      As I have said before, Aragorn becomes stunned and dazed by Gandalf's loss. It may have been because Gandalf was a father figure to Aragorn. At any event, Aragorn becomes the great procrastinator re the Fellowship. He is happy to stay in Lothlorien and happy to float down the river, waiting until the last minute to make a decision about the Ring and the Fellowship. I thought it unusual for Aragorn to be so uncertain. Only after the breaking does he become certain and forceful.
      Being a procrastinator myself, I can relate. However, we're talking the fate of the world here and Aragorn is not too so great as leader.
      • Aragorn's leadership - Robin of Buckland
        I don't think it was as much as he wasn't a *good* leader, he just wasn't used to it. It was also a very sudden burden, plus the grief of Gandalf's loss, re your thoughts.
      • I had a thought about that. - Annael
        We'd talked earlier about the Ring "stirring up evil" nearby. I also wonder if the Ring made it harder for those nearby to think clearly. Perhaps on one level, not even conscious, Aragorn was being lured by the Ring. Although he didn't succumb like Boromir, it may have clouded his judgment. It's when the Ring goes across the river and is out of reach that Aragorn snaps out of it and becomes a leader again.

Pippin's another one who acts stupid until the Ring goes away. His behavior after being captured by the Uruk-Hai was nothing like the ditsy Pippin who threw the rock in the well in Moria.
        • That's an interesting suggestion, Annael. - Kimi
          I'm not sure I'd take it as far as a generalised muddling of thought, but it's certainly believable that Aragorn was fighting off, albeit subconsciously, the temptation of the Ring, and that this contributed to his indecision.
        • Very interesting. - septembrist
          One could even argue that Gandalf was affected since his inability to realize that he was up against a balrog until its appearance on the bridge. He also seemed to be in a general fund until they reached the Chamber of Mazarbul.

Of course, one could also argue that Aragorn and Pippin are finally awakened to the fact that they are on their own without Gandalf's aid. Bilbo had the same experience when Gandalf left. He became resourceful and daring, with the Ring.
    • The first read I thought - Stumpy
      that it was unusual for such a major character to die, but I thought it was a way for Aragorn to increase in importance in the story.
    • Again we see the hidden strength of the hobbits. - Inferno
      Frodo and Sam both take moderate-to-serious injuries in the Chamber of Marzabul. Once Frodo gets his wind back, which doesn't take very long, he walks/runs along with Sam and the rest of the Fellowship the entire remaining trek through Moria and to the borders of Lorien. Additionally, Frodo takes time to visit the waters of Kheled-zarem with Gimli before his wound is treated.

Even with the mithril armor, that injury would be very painful. Any lesser armor would probably have not allowed him to survive the attack. Sam's wound is a gash to the forehead from an orc-blade, more often than not poisonous. Head wounds tend to bleed rather profusely, and exerting himself as hard as he would have, I would imagine Sam to have lost a fair amount of blood. Yet neither one of them complains or falters while they flee Moria. Sam also shows more concern for Frodo than for himself, while Frodo isn't concerned for himself at all, but rather for the future of the quest without Gandalf.
As a whole, the Fellowship is more unified as a result of their passage through Moria. This solidification is finalized through their stay in Lothlorien.

    • Rather than cover everyone - Blue Wizard
      I'm going to focus on Gimli. I understand that originally, Tolkien imagined the Gimli character to be Balin's son, not Gloin's. I suppose that the idea was to make it seem all the more critical for him to want to enter Moria, and finding Balin's tomb to have all the more emotional impact. But, in the end Tolkien decided, for whatever reason, to write the character as a part of the same House of the Dwarves, but not an immediate relative. In doing so, I think that the events in Moria, and Gimli's reaction, are even more powerful than the initial conception.

We mostly see the Dwarves as rather stoic characters. They endure hardship, and hard labor, almost tirelessly. They may grumble, and get angry, and bear long grudges for injuries real or imagined, but we rarely see a Dwarf expressing the more tender emotions. Gimli is, however, deeply moved by the mere sight of the three peaks over Moria, and by the opportunity to see, even in its ruin, the ancestral home of his forefathers. And, he is deeply sorrowful, covering his eyes with his hood, at finding Balin's tomb and learning of the fates of his kinsmen as Gandalf reads the book.
I don't know if this is a transforming experience for Gimli or not, but we see a side of him that we are quite unprepared for. If, as Tolkien originally conceived it, this was a son mourning his father, it would not strike us as being at all unusual or out-of-character. But because Balin is not so closely related (a second-cousin, I believe), his emotional response is a little more unexpected, especially given how taciturn Dwarves seem to be normally.
In a way, it prepares us for the close bond which develops between Gimli and Legolas, the concern which he shows for Merry and Pippin, and - most importantly - his devotion to Galadriel. But for his reaction in Moria, I'm not sure that any of the rest of it would feel quite right.
    • Follow-on question. - Annael
      How did you feel the first time you read about Gandalf's fall? Did you think he died?
      • Mourned him like the Fellowship. - septembrist
        I believed he died, especially after the elves in Lorien composed songs mourning his death.
        Without Gandalf, the Fellowship could not have made thru Moria even without the Balrog. He exhibited humor, compassion, and courage. I felt the loss.
      • I had kind of the same feelings, the most of the others have answered... - Chade
        (well.. those who didn't know in advance what was going to happen anyway... ;)

I thought he was dead, but I couldn't quite belive it...
At first I was in denial, but as I read on further and further I started to belive he was really dead.
But ofcourse, all the time I thought - or at least hoped - that he would come back. And behold - he did! :)
      • No, but that's only because... - GaladrielTX
        A couple of years before I read FOTR I was playing with my friend Amy and her older brother and his friend. The boys were big LOTR fans and wanted to pretend they were Saruman and Gandalf and made us play orcs (big brothers can be mean!). So I knew there was this scene in the book where Saruman is defeated by "Gandalf the White", and that obviously hadn't happened yet at the time Gandalf took his plunge down into the abyss. So I figured he'd be back.
      • I saw the movies first, so - Arathorn
        I knew he wasn't. Then, in Bakshi's movie, i thought he wasn't killed. Or if, I thought it was rather dumb, making coming back dead characters. Then his true nature isn't clear in LOTR, and even less in Bakshi's movie.
        It's only years later when i read Unfinished Tales, The istari part, that I truly udnerstood who he was and why he could come back.
      • it hurt! - Ophelia
        Gandalf seemed more real to me than most of the characters I had seen so far- i think at that point i put the book down and paused for awhile. I thought after that the fellowship would either break up completely, or be eliminated one by one.
        I was very glad that he came back.
      • I read it for the first time before - Kimi
        half the people on TORN were born, so I'm struggling to remember (I bet Mr Kimi remembers; we read it together first). But I think I believed he was really dead. This was obviously the sort of book where the good guys sometimes die.
      • I had already been corrupted by... - HammerHead
        ...the movies. I didn't read LOTR until 85 or so and had already seen R/B's ROTK and Bakshi's LOTR. So I pretty much knew Gandalf would be back. I seem to recall reading the interim from the point of view that "to the members of the Fellowship, he IS dead, that's how this is written, from their point of view".
      • I didn't really believe he was dead. - Nenya
        After all, this was a fantasy story, and Gandalf was a wizard after all. Gandalf was a neat character, but I never really identified closely enough with him to be really perturbed; it was just another jog in the story line.

Frodo's "death" affected me far more deeply, when Sam was convinced that Shelob's bite had killed him, and took the ring to complete the Quest to destroy it. The first time I read that I was so upset that my eyes welled up with tears, and I looked ahead to see what happened. That was the first, last and only time I've ever peeked ahead in a book.
      • It's amazing what you can remember - Blue Wizard
        when the right question triggers the correct synapse to fire.

Had you asked me that question a week ago, I would have answered, "I just don't remember- it was too long ago." In fact, there have been other times that similar questions have been asked, and I honestly could not remember reading LOTR for the first time.
But something in my discussion with Gorel about mispronouncing words in LOTR and his experience reading LOTR for the first time made me recall, very vividly, that the first time I read LOTR, I borrowed the books from the library. And my most vivid memory of it was the big fold-out maps in red and black ink. But, it also came back to me that I read TTT first, because FOTR was already checked out. So, I knew what happened to Gandalf already by the time I read FOTR, the following week, when it had been returned.
It's strange how the mind works. I had completely forgotten that. Or, rather, I guess I hadn't completely forgotten it - the memory was just "misfiled".
      • I almost cried! - Khazad-Dűm
        At the time Gandalf was my favorite character. He was an Ultra Bad Ass, whom I thought would end up duking it out with Sauron. It crossed my mind that perhaps he wasn't dead, but only briefly.
      • I can't remember... - Malbeth
        It's too long ago :-( But according to my survey of three relative newcomers (two of them not finished yet), all three were pretty sure that somehow Gandalf wasn't dead, and he would show up again. That expectation reduced the impact of his death.
        • Gandalf'd death - Binky

          Gandalf's 'death' seemed unreal to me when I first read it...He was a wizzard who had been around for centuries..he was so important to the story...I couldn't believe he would be gone that early in the story...I thought he would turn up again somewhere...if only in Frodo's dreams or something...

          • "Frodo! Trust your feelings!" - Annael
            Just kidding. I think that's pretty much how I felt, too. I couldn't believe he was really gone. When they got to Lothlorien and had to tell the Elves, that's when I began to think maybe he really was dead.
  • Book II, Chapter 5. Gandalf on the Bridge. - Annael
    Gandalf's staff breaks when he strikes the bridge. Why?
    • If it has power, than to keep the Balrog or Sauron or whoever from claiming the staff? - MikeyMonty
    • Hmm...Staff has power or is symbol of power? - Stumpy
      This one could rival Balrog wings!

My take is that it is a tool to focus the power of the user, and when Gandalf releases his full power the ordinary wood can't handle it.
If a broken staff meant the end of the MU's abilities, Gandalf couldn't come bask as the white.
      • I like that, Stumpy. A good compromise :-) - Kimi
      • I think THAT is exactly right - Ophelia
        I think the staff-ring comparison still works, though- except the staff is more like Gandalf's own elven-ring- An aid, a focal point. What I'm wondering if where he gets the staff he owns as Gandalf The White- was it fashioned in Lorien, or what?
        • This is how I get mine: - Stumpy
          I find a sapling that is the right width so that it will fit comfotrably in the hand, and not be too heavy.
          I use a saw to cut it level by the root where the wood is dense. I let it age several months until it is tough but still a bit springy. You can put some notches where your hand would rest comfortably while hiking and sand them smooth.

It's good for crossing amller streams with no rocks to stride across on, and is good for taking the strain off the knees when going down steep slopes.
As for the magic? That's up to you.
Please! Don't cut any saplings unless you're a serious hiker and will use it often!!
          • I have one too! - Annael
            It's sassafras, rock hard, and I have wrapped the part where I grip it with suede leather strips. It's been my steady companion on many a backpack, and I don't know how I'd manage without it.
        • I wondered that too. - Annael
          I don't see Elves making a staff for a Maia, somehow. Even Galadriel. Unless he and she did it together? Interesting question. How DO wizards get their staves?
          • Hmm. I imagine that - Kimi
            they brought them with them from Valinor. But where did Gandalf's replacement staff come from? I haven't seen any reference to that. The Valar might have sent a new one back with his new body. Odd that they didn't send any clothes at the same time, though.
            • Maybe they are made of wood from the two trees of Valinor - Ron Austin
    • It's his "ring" Perhaps... - HammerHead
      Gandalf and Sauron are of the same order, are they not? Isn't it possible that for the Istari, much of their power was was carried externally? Put into something else, as Sauron did. This could have been a way to limit the growth of their power while at the same time giving them an extra edge at times.

Perhaps also, it is a symbol of the beginning of the end end of Gandalf the Grey.
      • I think that is exactly right - Khazad-Dűm
        The old Gandalf was out and the New Whiter Gandalf was in. The stick is Gandalf the Grey...Old, worn, bent. The destruction of his cane foreshadowed his eminent doom. What I believe is that Gandalf really did die in the fight with the Balrog. He won the fight but he died. Notice how he was never quite the same again after that? He wasn't the same person anymore(not speaking literally). A huge part of him dies because of the fight and his promotion to White, and I believe that is what the snapping cane symbolizes.
    • The staff itself does seem to have some power - Kimi
      Gandalf was certainly very reluctant to leave it outside at Edoras.

I think he pushed his staff beyond its limits on the Bridge.
      • Yes, I agree. I think it was the burst of power needed.. - Patty
        it broke it asunder.
      • Saruman's staff breaks when he loses his power, too. - GaladrielTX
    • It seems to me that the staff is a symbol of his power. - GaladrielTX
      Perhaps he exhausted all his power in his fight with the Balrog and with that last act of breaking the bridge.

Plus, it makes for really cool drama!
  • Book II, Chapter 5. The Balrog. - Annael
    No question, just your chance to say whatever it is you want to say about the Balrog. Even if it's been said before. Go ahead. Mention the "w" word.
    • THE ONE AND ONLY!!! - Strife
      Sorry that this message comes sooooo late. Considering you all posted replies within 24 hours....I had to work a 11 hour shift at work.
      The firey, whip-lashing winged/not winged monster is one of my favourite characters in the book. I mean come one, a fallen Maiar, doomed to live out life in deep inside a huge mountain....not to mention completely engulfed in flame, HOW COOL!'
      But I just have one question, why do you think JRRT didn't tell more of the battle between Gandalf and Balrog???? I would have loved to hear about the spell or whatever finally defeated the hot tempered beast!

Not all those who wander are lost.
      • Because . . . - Annael
        the whole tale is told from the Hobbits' perspective, so anything that happens to someone else when they're not there is told to them. The only exception is when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are on their own, I guess because it would be too much to tell the hobbits THAT whole tale. So they hear it from Gandalf, who didn't want to think about it or talk about it!

This is the one area where I think the movie will be better than the book, because we're going to see that battle (I hope), Saruman imprisoning Gandalf, the ride through the Paths of the Dead to the Stone of Erech, and Aragorn sailing up Anduin in real-time instead of as a story told to us.
    • One thing that I really didn't like was - Stumpy
      Gimli covering his eyes and cowering in fear. As IF a dwarf would do that! *Hmmf*
      • By this poing... - HammerHead
        ...Gimli had just experienced some pretty terrible things, from his perspective. Perhaps it's not fear so much as a willingness to die. Almost surrender to a death wish.
      • Maybe it was because of the w.....? - Draupne
    • Death of Balrog (forgive my ignorance) - Chade
      How exactly is the death of the Balrog descpibed in the book?
      I don't own the books myself and am far too lazy to borrow them from my friend to check it out by myself... ;)
      (And besides - when thinking of it - I think my friend already borrowed the books to someone else)
      Does it die from landing after the long fall like a big *slasch* on the ground (was there "ground" at the "bottom"?) or is it something Gandalf does to kill it?

(Sorry - I bet you think it's a stupid question and whatever, but I've only read the books once and don't remember all the details...)
      • There's not a lot of detail. - Kimi
        In TTT, "The White Rider", Gandalf says, "I threw down my enemy, and he fell from the high place and broke the mountainside where he smote it in his ruin."

So the Balrog certainly went out with a bang. Probably not a splash, though :-)
        • Well, there's a little bit more detail - Blue Wizard
          Gandalf says that he and the Balrog fall and fall and fall and fall from the Bridge, and at the bottom, finally, they plunge into water flooding the lower levels of Moria. The water quenches the Balrog's flame, and it becomes a creature of slime. Gandalf keeps whacking it with his sword and chasing it through the depths of Moria. Eventually, they come to Durins Stairs, which run from the very bottom of Moria to the very pinnacle. Once outside, the Balrog's flame rekindles, and they battle on top of the mountain - Galdalf says it would have looked like a lightning storm from afar. Then he finally throws down the Balrog.

Sounds like quite a battle.
          • Thanks, Blue; I was being lazy :-) - Kimi
            I was referring to the actual "death" of the Balrog, but presumably it wouldn't have been possible for Gandalf to "cast down" the Balrog if it hadn't been pretty knocked about by the battle you described so well.
    • OK, I have never before posted on - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
      this subject.
      But since everyone else has, I have to have at least ONE post.
      I asked a friend about his impression of Balrog wings (all due to this debate here), in order to get an 'outside' and 'fresh, untainted' view. He has read and enjoyed the books, but thinks getting on this site and such stuff is going a little overboard. But I digress.
      His impression was that the Balrog DID have wings, quite big ones, but they were redundant in as much they couldn't help him to fly much. They just waved around and added to the scare factor. Let's think in terms of physics. The bigger the animal, the more effort they need to get off the ground. Eagles and other birds compensate by having very light bones. Those big birds are really very light to pick up. As opposed to overweight pigeons, whose stomachs outweigh any light bones nature gave them. And we all know how noisy, and how much effort they need to lift off. 'Flitting around' they can not.
      If a Balrog is this great strong whip-wielding whatever, then he would probably need a big runup to get off the ground - can't do that on a narrow bridge, or whilst busy fighting Gandalf on a mountain peak. Without a runup, he wouldn't get off the ground. And if he could, it might be thought of like a chicken. Chickens can fly up to roost, but not much further. Has anyone seen a chicken soaring around in the sky? There is a good reason. Their wing lift/weight ratio (is this sounding convincingly scientific?) is too small. Hovering above enemies cracking whips of fire would certainly be out for a Balrog - this would need way too much effort.
      So in the end, if the Balrog has wings in the movie, as long as we are convinced that he is not an efficient flyer, then everything is fine.
      If he doesn't have wings in the movie, who cares.
      As long as he scares the hell out of us.
      Sorry this was so long, but I had to get it ALL in my ONE post on this subject.
      • I tend to agree... - HammerHead
        ... they would add to the "scare factor" and possibly provide a means for gliding or reducing speed in a fall. But, like CQB said, larger birds don't fly in a manner similar to most smaller birds. In fact, the larger the bird, the less they actually "flap" their wings in flight. Eagles, hawks, condors, they all rely on air currents to maintain much of their flight, using their large, broad wings to cover as much space of that current as possible. Smaller birds do not have the surface area to rely on air currents, thus, they must provide lift of their own and therefore flap their wings quite a bit more often than their larger cousins.

For a Balrog to fly or even glide (as larger birds do) he'd have to have a tremendous wingspan to compensate for his weight. This fact already established, he too would likely have to rely on air currents to fly or glide. The size of his wings would require too much energy to maintain motion enough to keep it airborne, not to mention the additional amount of drag that would be produced by each upward and downward stroke.
Perhaps a Balrog could use his wings for a gliding attack from a mountain-top. But I doubt, strongly, that those same wings could be used to initiate flight on their own.
To some degree I belive Tolkien knew quite a bit of this, because, for the most part he dealt with flightless dragons. Another "flight debate" that will last as long as the fantasy writing genre lasts.
      • What is the average weight of a swallow? - Arathorn
        • *Sees cue* An African or a European swallow? - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
          • Sorry, but, I have to write my favourite line... - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
            "It's not a question of where he grips it - it's a simple question of weight ratio. A five ounce bird can not carry a one pound coconut!"

But you need to listen to it.
            • Yes . . . - Annael
              the way his voice breaks in exasperation on "grips."

My favorite line from that movie is from the French taunting:
". . . with your silly knees-bent advancing behaviors!"
    • I find it interesting that there is only one balrog there.... - Patty
      apparently the same one awakened by the dwarves, then went back to sleep. While they don't seem real social in nature (sleeping all that time and never a thought for a bath before meeting company) I am surprised that there was only one there. I guess his wings took up all the room where he slept, no room for another one.
    • Right at its age it probably had its share of wrinkles - Ron Austin
    • Mighty demon of fire/Died from a fall/Why didn't he fly? - Stumpy
    • Balrog Eyes. - Inferno
      While I've never seen Balrog eyes described, there's a comment about Arien in the Silmarillion (Don't have the book, so I can't do a direct quote) that relates:

She was of the same class of Ainu as the Balrogs, but wasn't corrupted by Morgoth. When she was clothed in a body like that of the Children of Illuvatar, her eyes were so bright and piercing that only the Greatest of the Ainur could meet her gaze.
Would the Balrog's eyes be similar? Do you think that they would be portrayed that way in the film?

      • I bet it has red eyes. - Kimi
        Evil things usually seem to.

I imagine Arien's eyes were the colour of golden fire. I love the description of her in The Silmarillion.
      • If balrogs are fallen Maiar, like Sauron - Arathorn
        They could change their form when they like, no?
        So, this means that they would be able to appear as...

you named it
A huge red and fiery Eyeball!
    • The "w" word"? - Nenya
      I'll wager we were welcoming well-worn words which were widely wielded when wiseacres weekly wrote wrathfully, waging war while wielding wonderful wit with words: whip, web-footed, wattle, wool, walleye.

What? "WINGS"?
      • Such a winsome Elf - Sauron the Maia
        Wetas was the "w" word, I'll bet.
    • I'm sure it had pointed ears. - Blue Wizard
  • Book II, Chapter 5. The Attack. - Annael
    Seems like the inhabitants of Moria were awfully well organized. They waited until the Fellowship was in the Chamber of Mazarbul to attack, and someone had already set fire down below to block their way. Were they lying in wait for the Fellowship do you think? If so, who was behind that - Saruman, Sauron, or the Balrog? Or do you think any traveler through Moria have met the same concerted attack?
    • I'm not sure how organized all this really was - Blue Wizard
      The orcs attack in the chamber, but they only attack from one side, instead of trapping them between two converging sets of orcs, thus permitting the escape. As for the fires, I'm not sure that they were set deliberately. A Balrog is, after all, a being of fire wrapped in shadow- I'm guessing that conflagration follows it whereever it goes, no planning required. And, there could have been even better places to attack, say a narrow, low passageway where the men could not stand and fight.

But, I do think that it was the Balrog leading the attack.
As for the Watcher, someone questioned below where it came from. The lower levels of Moria are all full of water, and Gandalf says much later that deep beneath Moria, after the water quenched the Balrog's fire, he chased it through tunnels made by nameless things far older than even Sauron. So, I'm guessing that the Watcher in the Water was just one of those nameless things that had made its way into the Sirion, and then dammed it up to make the dark lake.
      • or perhaps . . . - Annael
        Orcs dammed the Sirannon to trap the Dwarves, and then the Watcher found its way/was put into the resulting lake.
        • That's what I think - Arathorn
    • A related question - Malbeth
      About that "orc chieftain" that speared Frodo. This was no ordinary orc. He was particularly large (almost man-high) and skilled - skilled enough to get past both Boromir and Aragorn. He seemed to be wearing special armor, at least different from any other orcs that are specifically described (I think). And he seemed to be specifically going after the ring-bearer. Not even just hobbits in general, unless he just guessed right, but Frodo specifically. Any ideas out there?
      • The Orc - Inferno
        My impression is that it went after Frodo because Frodo stabbed the Cave Troll with Sting. Frodo's blade, being of Elven make was capable of such a blow. The orc probably realized that this member of the company was more dangerous than some of the others because he was able to deliver such a blow, and the orc went after him to eliminate what was percieved as a greater threat.

I also think that it wasn't Sauron that awoke the Balrog. Sauron had been active in Dol Guldur for many years before the Hobbit. If Aragorn were to have passed through Moria without encountering the Balrog once before, then it must have been dormant while Sauron was active in Dol Guldur-- which is a lot closer than Mordor is.
The return of the Dwarves to Moria is probably what awoke the Balrog, and precipatated the arrival of the Watcher in the Water. The only other instance in 'recent' history where the Balrog is mentioned is during the Dwarf-Orc wars. Thrain wants to enter Moria after the Dwarves' victory, but Dain prevents him saying he saw Durin's Bane inside the Gates when he slew Azog.
        • Were was the Balrog when Azog ruled Moria??? - Arathorn
          I've asked it before in a previous message. Why the balrog, the most evilc reature after Sauron (probably tougher than Witch-King himself, or at least as potentially powerful), why did he allow a pityful orc to rule Moria, when he was there and chased the dwarves centuries ago??
          DOn't tell me he was lazy and only wanted to sleep without being disturbed - so the fact that orcs ruled Moria was making sure no good people would come and bother him.
          Then, he doesn't do anything in the battle at Moria's doors, when he could celarly have make the orcs win.
        • About Frodo - - Annael
          That's a good point about Sting. As the Elven-blade was aware of Orcs, perhaps Orcs also "felt" the presence of Elves or Elvish work?

Also, I do think that the Ring did "stir up" evil around it. The Orc may not have been consciously aware of it, but on some level he may have been attracted to the vicinity of the Ring. Same with the Watcher. And with the Orc, the Ring may have been actively trying to be "noticed" - being picked up by an Orc in the direct employ of Sauron or Sauron's servant the Balrog would mean a pretty quick trip home for the Ring.
          • Although this brings up a new question. - Annael
            What if the Balrog got the Ring?
            • Yikes! - Malbeth
              Never thought about that possibility, but I think it would have been a rival to Sauron, not his servant. The Balrog would have remembered Sauron as its former superior in Morgoth's forces, but if Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, etc. feared they would succumb to the lure of the ring's power, there's no doubt the Balrog would. It would have tried to take Sauron's place as a new Dark Lord, and it might have succeeded.
              • The barlog wasn't under Sauron's orders - Arathorn
                I even doubt any balrog was under Sauron's command in first age. They directly obeyed GOthmog and Morgoth (or only him). Sauron's role in first age is weird. His main actions are taking care of Angband with the balrogs when Melkor was in Valinor, then taking Minas Tirith (!) in the pass of Sirion - the name himself could explain why he wanted so high to take the city of Gondor. Finally, Luthien and Huan beat him, and he fled. Perhaps was he in disgrace after that. And I think Morgoth has with Glaurung and Gothmog really powerful servants, as Sauron was mainly a leader that doesn't fight himself, a bit like Morgoth. So we could even wonder if he wasn't the leader after first age because all the other were dead, not because he was really so pwoerful. Then, he's clearly one of the (THE) most powerful Maia, which would mean that, balrogs being maia, (and dragons?? which origin?), he was the second-in-command. I figure him rather like a steward to the king, that has some clear and decisive missions appointed to him, but merely he should have seconded Morgoth i ruling the evil troops and scheming against Elves.
    • Balrog led the attack. - septembrist
      Gandalf also states that the some of the orcs were "black Uruks of Mordor", so I think Saruman does not play a part in this.
      Also any traveller, especially a group of travellers, would have been attacked.

    • Any traveller that they perceived - Kimi
      would certainly have been met with an attack (they don't seem to have noticed Gollum, but he's a quiet little proto-hobbit travelling on his own).

The Balrog may well have perceived the Ring and/or the presence of Gandalf, and known that a more concerted attack was needed this time. I think the Balrog is behind the organisation, and is a servant of Sauron. I doubt if there's any direct communication between Sauron and the Balrog, though.
    • The Balrogs were not mindless monsters - Ron Austin
      The balrogs are described as the highest elf-bane short of Sauron himself. I think the rise of Sauron probably stirred the Balrog who set the Watcher and had Orcs keep watch. IMHO We can certainly infer the Trolls and Orcs in Moria took orders from the Balrog.
      • The Watcher - VLT
        You say it was Balrog ho set the Watcher in the Lake. There is one question I have never seen answered (apart from the question of WHAT was the Watcher anyway) and it is where this Watcher came from. I mean it was clearly the water creature who inhabited the lake after the dam was made. But where was it before that? Are there any underground waters in Moria? Did it live in Kheled-Zaram (pardon my spelling)? Any idea?
        • I wouldn't think it lived in the Mirrormere...but... - Patty
          however it got there it was there when Balin's folk arrived. And a watcher is there, postioned to alert SOMEONE, by definition, so someone is running him.
          I know the balrog is a servant of Sauron, but, unlike the Nazgul he has never been controlled by rings, so I don't think he was aroused by the presence of the one.
  • Book II, Chapter 5. Spell and Counter-Spell - Annael
    Was it the Balrog who came into the Chamber of Mazarbul and tried to open the door Gandalf had shut? If so, why wasn't it buried when the roof of the chamber gave way - or was it? And what is "Command"?
    • Clearly the Balrog - Blue Wizard
      cast the counter-spell.

I don't have the text in front of me, but it seems to me that when Gandalf is talking about using a Command, it is simply a very powerful, but perhaps somewhat crude spell. Using it risks destroying the thing (in this case a door) that he's trying to control through the spell. In my mind, it's the same concept as in the scene in Wizard of Oz where the Wicked Witch of the West is pondering how best to dispose of Dorothy and says something like "These things must be done delicately - otherwise you'll spoil the spell."
Anyway, the Balrog obviously wasn't so buried in the collapse of the Chamber that it couldn't get out. It might not have even been in the chamber, but on the other side.
    • Yes, I think it was the Balrog. - Kimi
      Given Gandalf's description of "something that I have not met before" and "I have never felt such a challenge", it must have been - unless there was something even worse than a Balrog in Moria! It's certainly not a mere orc or troll.

It perhaps was buried, but used its power to get free of the debris.
"Command" is not explained, but it's obviously very powerful - more powerful than a "mere" shutting-spell. My guess is that it's something entrusted to Gandalf by the Valar, to be used strictly in emergencies ("pull this cord"), that invokes a power greater than Gandalf the Grey normally has. But that's no more than a guess on my part.
    • I think it was the Balrog... - Dubhdarra
      simply because I don't think the orcs or trolls had any type of "magical" power to confront Gandalf with. That leaves the Balrog. And as for it being buried in the collapse of the Chamber, I don't have an answer as to how it could have survived. If memory serves me correctly (iron chef.. hehe) Gothmog is killed by Glorfindel by a fall from the side of the Echoriath. Ditto for Gandalf and this balrog.. If a Balrog can die from the impact of a fall, couldn't it just as well die from the force of the collapse of what I imagine are tons of rock. I only can assume that this Balrog escaped the chamber before the actual collapse.

"The Black Oak"
      • Interesting point, but... - Groovicles
        was the balrog actually buried. Gandalf thought so, but he said he wasn't sure. You must also remember that Balrogs are quick sturdy, a fall from a mountain would kill a balrog (like the Moria one, Gothmog) but you must understand that the mountain did not fall on the Balrog after the first confrintation at the door.
        • I agree ..... - Dubhdarra
          I may have not been clear in my comments. I was just pointing out that if the Balrog had been in the chamber at its collapse, it would not likely survive. So, It must have left the chamber or not been in it. I don't think it necessary for the Balrog to be directly on the other side of the door from Gandalf. He could very well have been accross the chamber by the other door and still be opposing Gandalf through "magical power"..

"The Black Oak"
          • Very true - Groovicles
            Oh i'm sure he got out, i mean he wouldn't have been killed, but he would have been trapped (are Balrogs he's?). i do think he was right by the door though because Gandalf said everything when quiet then he felt a presents right on the other side of the door
            • Maybe he could tell the roof was going to go and . . . - Annael
              flew out!
              • Well... - Groovicles
                i think that'd be a little hard for something that big to just fly out when he (is it a he?) has a legion of Orcs surrounding him (or her?)

  • Book II, Chapter 5. "You have a good blade, Frodo son of Drogo!" - Annael
    Why does Sting pierce the troll's hide when Boromir's sword does not (and is notched when he tries)?
    • Sting came from the same Troll Horde that Glamdring and Orcrist were in ... - Ron Austin
      and seems to have the same properties ie glowing blue in the presense of Orcs.
      Bilbo learns that Sting was made in Gondolin which would make it part of the pinnicle of the art of weapon making (Barring Rings) of Elvish weapon making.
      The Elves of Gondolin made weapons that were specifically designed to fight the armies of Morgoth , which included Cave Tolls.

    • Sting is an Elvish blade - Kimi
      of the Elder Days. Later, Sting cuts Shelob's web when Sam's Numenorean blade fails.

Is this Elvish magic? Or just the fact that Elvish smithcraft was so superb? I think that, as with so many things Elvish, the distinction is neither possible nor meaningful. The Elves were so good at what they did (think how well you'd play the piano if you practised every day for thousands of years) that it's hard to differentiate between such skill and what we mortals might call magic.
      • 1,000 years of piano lessons! - Beren11:11
        "the horror... the horror..."
      • I think you've hit on something very significant... - Bullroarer
        One of the ways in which Tolkien makes his world so real is by this very device. Objects have properties that are never very clearly defined, and they seem to waver on the edge of being magical or not. There are very few things that are ACTUALLY magic -- the Rings and the Palantir being standouts. But there's tons of stuff that teeters on the edge, Sting (and all the Elven blades), mithril, waybread, elven rope, the Nazgul's steeds, Orthanc -- none of these things have "magic powers" in the Dungeons and Dragons sense, really, but they're all something more than real.

Too many fantasy writers are a little too specific about their magic. It spoils the mood, says I.
        • IMHO The Arthur C. Clarkequote about Technology and Magic seems to apply here - Ron Austin
          It is incitefull here to note that Galadriel states that her skill is not Magic as Sam thinks of it.
          • Oh, please share it! - Annael
            I don't know it.
            • As I remember it.... - Jester_rm
              It goes like this...

any technology sufficiently advanced beyond our own would appear to be magic
i.e. for someone in the middle ages, the thought of picking up a device and speaking to someone across the world would appear to be magic, but to us it's just a telephone, nothing special
              • It is Clarke's Third Law - Blue Wizard
                His three laws are:

Clarke's First Law
When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Clarke's Second Law
The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the

Clarke's Third Law
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
      • Interesting point Kimi - Stumpy
        Their ropes, cloaks, boats and waybread etc. all seem to do more than what an ordinary item would be expected to do.
  • Book II, Chapter 5. The battle in the Chamber of Mazarbul. - Annael
    Do you notice any difference in each person in the Fellowship and as a group as they face Orcs for the first time?
    • Contrast this battle - Blue Wizard
      with the battle with the Wargs. Although the others are actively involved in that battle (Legolas in particular), it seems to be mostly Gandalf's doing. Here, plain old hacking and slashing, with no "magic" to speak of, is used in the battle (other than closing the doors)

Kimi's quote about Sam is one of those singular passages in the book where Tolkien hints of things that he has not told us explicitly. We know that Ted was making fun of Sam at the Green Dragon, but we might take it as the good-natured joking of friends and neighbors at the local watering hole. But, here we have a hint that perhaps Sam and Ted's relationship is not by any means a friendly one. It suggests that Ted is perhaps a bit of a bully, and that Sam rather timidly accepts his jibes rather than standing up to him. But, if Ted could see the look in Sam's eyes *now*, he would step back.
    • "A fire was smouldering in his brown eyes - Kimi
      that would have made Ted Sandyman step backwards, if he had seen it."

A lovely quote that illustrates with beautiful understatement what can happen when a hobbit is pushed too far. It's also a foreshadowing of "The Scouring of the Shire".
Frodo surprises himself when he feels "a hot wrath blaze up in his heart."
We learn that Legolas and Gimli are both deadly soldiers.
Gandalf and Aragorn keep their heads very well. Both are planning ahead, trying to figure out how to get out. Aragorn picks up Frodo and shepherds Merry and Pippin ahead of him.
Gimli's capable of being overcome by emotion (grief for Balin) even in the midst of such peril.

      • Sam - Ophelia
        right. this really is the first time that Sam steps straight out and defends Frodo.
      • Legolas - Binky
        I don't think he changed...but my perception of him changed (I'm speaking about the time I first read the book) He was saying things like 'I go to find the sun'...and was being described with..'"the storm troubled him little. He alone among all the company still remained light of heart"...I'm afraid I was getting the impression of a woodland creature who could endure much but didn't take things all that seriously. However my perception changed with the battle inside Moria. This woodland creature could be quite lighthearted at times...but also could be quite dangerous when he wanted to be :)

        • I think thats a common perception - Jester_rm
          of the elves, but one I believe is VERY incorrect. I can see how most people have that impression though.

The LOTR and the Hobbit both generally treat elves as aloof and distant...even Legolas, though part of the fellowship, is a rather minor character. The only elves that are seen are Gildor, the elves in Rivendell, Mirkwood and in Lorien. None of the descriptions of the elves in these places does more than give a hint of what they are capable of.
After reading the Sil, my impression of them was changed significantly. I've seen numerous postings on several boards about how the elves were peace loving people that wouldn't be capable of much action. In the Sil, the Elves are at constant war for several millenia...it's hard to believe that they WOULDN'T be capable of being the fiercest, hard-bitten, terrible, deadly warriors that Middle Earth had ever seen...they would HAVE to be to survive as long as they had. Even Legolas, though young in elven terms, is still far older and more experienced than the best human warrior alive. The same generally goes for Gimli...though relatively young he would have had a vast amount of combat experience.
          • Elves seem to be detached because - Ron Austin
            Their psychological makeup is geared to immortality this makes them rather hard to interest themselves about things that are rather transient to them.
        • Very True... - HammerHead
          ...Binky. The first time I read LOTR (some 15 years ago), I didn't much care for Legolas. All the elves seemed "too earthy" to me.

Legolas seemed too careless (in my mind) with his counting of kills etc. That impression stayed with me until recently. I re-read LOTR after I downloaded the trailer in April and my impression of the chracter was vastly re-written. I was very impressed by the way he was portrayed in the trailer and I've found a new interest in what he's like. I look forward to seeing a true "soldier of the planet" being shown to us!
  • Book II, Chapter 5, The Bridge of Khazad-Dum. Tolkien halts for a while. - Annael
    In the foreword, Tolkien says of writing this part: ". . . I plodded on, mostly by night, until I stood by Balin's tomb in Moria. There I halted for a long time. It was almost a year later when I went on . . ."

Can you tell? Is there any difference that you notice in the writing up to this chapter, and from now on?
    • I think of Moria as a metaphor - Blue Wizard
      for Tolkien's dilemma as a writer at this point in the story. He, like Gandalf, knows his intended destination, but there are innumerable intricate paths and side-tunnels that one might take to arrive at the Eastern Gate. Many of those paths, like Moria itself, reach far into the past, even into the First Age and beyond. Which do you take, with no-one to guide you in the darkness?

There are a thousand (well, maybe I'm exaggurating a little) paths that Tolkien might have taken with the story at this point. I suspect that, among other things, he spent the better part of a year choosing among them.
    • With the wisdom of hindsight... - Kimi
      I suppose it does move more quickly from this point. There're also a lot more battles.

The biggest difference, I think, is that the world is revealed as a much larger place post-Moria. We've come through (or rather under) the Misty Mountains, crossing from Eriador into strange lands. We see orcs for the first time, and a troll. We've met a few elves, but soon we'll see a remnant of the Noldorin kingdoms of the Elder Days. We'll see the greatest city of Men that survives in the Third Age. We'll meet Ents.
I'm not sure how big Middle-earth was in Tolkien's imagination before that long hiatus, but it certainly grew into a larger place (not just geographically) than the first part of FOTR might lead one to imagine.
      • I don't think that neccessarily is cos of that - AlanPartridge
        I mean, they *had* to go to Minas Tirith, Fangorn and Lorien had been hinted at by the Old Forest and Old Man Willow and Galdor.
        I think it is really impossible to tell, though your point is fair - I mean when you write, rewrite, revise and re-revise things like changing style would be ironed out. The fact remains however that the world does suddenly grow when they step out into the the light of Dimrill Dale.
        • Hi, AlanP! - Kimi
          Glad to see you weren't in that stadium disaster.
        • Hello stranger , Back for a while? - Ron Austin

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:41am

Post #12 of 65 (20808 views)
Book 2 Chapter 6: Lothlorien. Led by Patty [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 2, Chapter 6
A Discussion Led by Patty

  • Book II, Chapter 6 ...Lothlorien...This chapter.. - Patty
    finds the fellowship, minus Gandalf escaping from Moria. Some pause momentarily to view Durin's "crown" in the Mirrormere, and they move swiftly on.
    But Sam and Frodo can't keep up--they were slightly injured in battle. Aragorn heals them, and Frodo's lovely
    mithril coat is revealed and admired.
    The Fellowship journeys on to the eaves of Lorien, where they are intercepted by Haldir. Mistrust of the members of the fellowship is evident in the policies used to "welcome" them. During a difficult night spent sleeping in the trees Frodo is aware of "something" climbing the tree... The following morning the fellowship is told that Gimli must be blindfolded. Aragorn makes a leadership decision to blind everyone's eyes so as not to single out the dwarf. Warily, they procede.
    At last the companty comes to Cerin Amroth. New orders have reached Haldir and the company is allowed to walk blindfoldless.
    And what a sight they see. The beauty of Lothlorien is at last reveled to them, and Frodo,with a new kind of vision sees Aragorn as he was when he last was at Lothlorien with Arwen.

I choose this and the following chapter-The Mirror of Galadriel-because the elven realms are some of my favorite aspects of these books. The description of the light, the grass, sensations of life from touching the trees --all these seem so beautifully detailed that you are transported to this imaginary realm and all seems ancient and fair. It will be a challange to PJ to portray the feeling of this place.
But beautiful or not, most TORNados agree--after a while, we'd rather live in Rivendell--it's more cosmopoliton.
Next week, we'll meet Galadriel and Celeborn.
    • Great discussion, Patty! Sorry I was late for it. - Kimi
    • Nice job, Patty! - Eledhwen
      See you in Caras Galadhon!
    • Great questions, Patty. Lookin' forward to next week. - Beren11:11
    • Thank you, Patty. - GaladrielTX
      The chapters on Lothlorien are among my favorites, as well. Too bad I won't be around next week for your hosting of the next chapter. I'm sure it will be insightful.
  • Book II, Chapter 6...Lothlorien...any final thoughts about this chapter... - Patty
    its purpose or anything else before tomorrow's summary?
    • One thing I loved about this chapter . . . - Annael
      is how the influence of the Elves extended to the travelers. Frodo's response to the river Nimrodel and his delight in the tree are examples. Despite their fear and grief, the Fellowship feel the spell of the Lady at work. It's a nice change after Caradhras and Moria.
      • Exactly. Remember how, in the Farmer Maggot, Bree, and Rivendell chapters... - Patty
        we mentioned that after a major upheaval there was usually a respite time, a time of comfort and healing? Lothlorien is serving as the safe haven after the horrors of Moria.
        • Not JUST a respite . . . - Annael
          I'm talking about experiencing the way the Elves see the world for a moment. In Rivendell, Bilbo says he can't keep track of time there. The Fellowship experiences the same thing in Lothlorien. But also, just being there seems to enhance their awareness of and pleasure in the natural world. "The delight of the living tree itself," etc.
        • Interlude in Lorien ... - Ron Austin
          allows the reader to catch his breath before the next intense passage.
    • This chapter is a great example... - Beren11:11
      ...of what a delicate balance Tolkien strikes between presenting a world that can exist solely within the confines of LOTR's front and back covers, excluding even the appendices, and be completely satisfying in that regard, and yet offer so many trails down which those interested can dig deeper, and expand the context until it includes every facet of his collected works.

Galadriel is one of the figures in ME with the most history, and yet within the context of LOTR, the mystery that surrounds her is part of her appeal. You get a sense of that history and the weight of it all that bears upon her without JRRT needing to go into all of the details -- but the details do exist, and after you've first digested LOTR in it's own context, learning the rest enhances your future experiences with the work.
  • Book II, Chapter 6..Lothlorien...Aragorn, lost in thought... - Patty
    at the end of this chapter Aragorn is perceived by Frodo as he once was standing in this same place with Arwen--another case of Frodo beginning to see that beyond what his eyes senses tell him. Also, it's interesting that, according to the chapter's end sentence, he never came there again. Even though the elves eventually left, he never came there again (as living man). Why do you think Tolkien included this passage?
    • One of my favourite bits. - Eledhwen
      I always find this passage very moving. It fits nicely into the narrative. As Aragorn has just taken on the mantle of leader of the Fellowship, it fits that we should begin to learn a bit more about him from hereon in, and also it's Tolkien gently reminding us of Arwen and her meaning to Aragorn. In addition, it lets us have a very tiny glimpse of the larger history and the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen. If Aragorn didn't think of her on Cerin Amroth, the place where they plighted their troth, something would be strange. It's a bittersweet moment of light in the darkness of Gandalf's fall, the Orcs in Lorien, the argument about the blindfolds, the footsteps and glimpses of Gollum ... and provides one more brick in the growing wall of Aragorn's character.
    • This is one of the most intriguing passages in the book - Blue Wizard
      Frodo is seeing Aragorn some 30 years earlier, when he re-meets Arwen in Lorien after his adventures in disguise in Gondor and Rohan, and they pledge their troth on Cerin Amroth.

It always seemed to me that this is because Frodo, unconsciously tapping into the power of the One Ring, is able to "see" this aspect of Aragorn. But, it may also be that time is so distorted in Lorien by the power of Galadriel's ring, that 30 years is but a blink of an eye and the power to preserve things unchanged effectively strips 30 years from Aragorn. Is Frodo seeing Aragorn, in the present, as he appeared as a "young" man (of 58), or is Frodo actually seeing the events of 30 years past as if they were happening now?
The last passage, about his never returning as living man is yet more intriguing. To me, it suggest not that he did not return; but that he did return after his death. This is underlined to me by the fact that, when Arwen died, she died and was buried in that same place. And yet, if she went to Lorien alone after Aragorn died, and found it deserted, and laid herself on that hill, who buried her?
      • It is a wonderfully mystical passage. - Kimi
        There's certainly something deeper going on than Aragorn's innate nobility showing through; the fact that to Frodo's eyes Aragorn appears to be clothed in white echoes the part of "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" where Galadriel "bade him cast aside his wayworn raiment, and she clothed him in silver and white". He also appears as "a young lord tall and fair"; obviously taking on his youthful 49-year-old appearance.

I think it's a combination of Frodo's heightened sensitivity and the strangeness of time within Lórien. There's also the "Elvishness" that has been spoken of elsewhere in the chapter discussion: dreams and memories perhaps seem more "real" to mortals within Lórien. I wonder how this scene was experienced by Aragorn: did he "see" Arwen, rather than just remembering their troth-plighting? Was he at all aware of how he appeared to Frodo?

      • Interesting. I never thought of it as supernatural, though. - Beren11:11
        ...I always took it as Frodo catching a glimpse of Aragorn "liberated" from his Strider persona and glowing with the majesty that he really bears. And only in Lothlorien is it safe for him to exist "revealed," even for a moment, and is it inspiring, based on his history with Arwen, etc., for him to be so.
      • I always thought of that last sentence... - Malbeth
        as a 'false trail' laid by the author. We have recently been stunned by Gandalf's death, and I always figured JRRT wanted to plant the idea in the reader's mind that perhaps Aragorn might be also be killed. It does sound pretty ominous. But now I'm not so sure, Blue, your interpretation sounds pretty good. Hmmm.
        • Yes! I clearly remember... - Caleniel
          ...when I read this sentence my first time reading the triology. I actually threw the book on the floor and sulked for several hours before reading on (well, I was 14). I was so sure Tolkien was going to kill _another_ of my favorite characters.

Apart from this, I think this scene also accentuates the sense of loss that Aragorn experiences as the third age draws to a close. Although he has a lot to win he knows that much will be lost in the battle. He was raised among elves after all, and he loves Lothlorien, but he knows it is doomed. The fading of the firstborn must affect him very deeply, I imagine.
        • It worked that way with me - VLT
          when I first read LOTR I was convinced that Aragorn is going to die. It was weird since he was one of major characters but Gandalf just died on Moria so it didn´t seem impossible.
        • That's a good point. - Blue Wizard
          It's so hard, after being so familiar with these stories, to "forget" everything that comes after. You're absolutely right - there is a strong implication from the statement that Aragorn will be killed in the story. I think that at least part of what Tolkien is trying to do here is, and with the other real or apparent deaths is to set the reader up for the idea that everybody would die in completing this quest.
  • Book II, Chapter 6....Lothlorien...Compare Lorien to a - Patty
    Rivendell, as to similarities of purpose and living styles. From the Silmarillion we learned of other Elven realms--do any of these resemble the two that are in LOTR? Just for fun, in which would you rather live, if in either?
    • Going with the crowd here - Kimi
      I'd love to visit Lórien; maybe stay for weeks on end. But I would always feel an outsider there. Rivendell seems a place that could become home for a human. And that library!
    • Well... - Pteppic
      As many people have stated, Rivendell is more open towards strangers (more cosmopolitan) than Lorien. Ther're no guards ready to shoot you on sight if you get close to Rivendell (although it's highly unlikely you'll get to Rivendell unseen). The most obvious they have in common is the feeling that time stands still, the mark of having a ring-bearing ruler.

When it comes to the Elven relams of the Sil, I think Rivendell most closely resembles Hithlum and Nevrast who were basically the more "cosmopolitan", while Lorien is more like Doriath, Gondolin and Nargothrond. Like Lorien, these were very protective of their borders. Anyone who went inside without being a known friend of the realm were shot in Nargothrond, and if you were (un)lucky enough to find the entrance to the Echoriath you were executed. Doriath didn't need to protect their borders actively, thanks to Melian.
I'd choose Rivendell to live in, simply because it just wouldn't be right having winter without snow, plus I don't like Celeborn's intolerance. And the library seems very cool!
    • A couple of differences... - Beren11:11
      ...I think are:

1.) Lorien was the fulfillment of Galadriel's life-long drem of having a realm of her own that she could rule as she liked. She's obviously a benevolent dictator, but Elrond's realm seems to be less for his own satisfaction in "ruling" and more as a safe haven/stonghold created out of need for exactly that.
2.) At the same time, though, Rivendell is also more "cosmopolitan," as Blue said, and involves itself to a much greater degree in the goings on of ME than Lothlorien, which is decidedly insular.
Anyway, the upshot is, I definitely have to go with the Rivendell peeps -- I want a crack at those libraries!
    • I'd have to say that Doriath resembles Lorien - Malbeth
      Both are insulated from the outside world, both are ruled by a king and queen who are of a different origin than most of the population, in both cases the queen is a more powerful individual than the king. Comparisons to Rivendell - nothing comes to mind.
    • Comparisons to other realms - Blue Wizard
      Menegroth in Doriath is more like Thranduil's halls in Mirkwood, though vastly larger, than either Rivendell or Lorien, being underground in caves.

Gondolin was like neither - other than having the virtue, as do all elven kingdoms, it seems, of being hidden. It is more like a great walled fortress/city, like Minas Tirith.
What we find out about life in Lorien and Rivendell is by indirection. We see little of the order of daily lives, except by projecting from things like the craftsmanship of elves producing crafts like boats, ropes, cloaks, jewelry, weapons, and lembas. We must imagine the workshops that produce these things from the results. Both places must have these in abundance.
I'm with those who would prefer Rivendell. As Bilbo says, there's a bit of everything that one might enjoy..everything but the sea. And, it is a place where the memory of the past is preserved, rather than a place where the past is lived unaltered as in Lorien. I would like the libraries and archives. And, as other's said, it is more cosmopolitan than Lorien. Elrond seems like a more gracious host. Celeborn and Galadriel greet everyone, and then disappear for a month! It finally occurs to them as everyone is leaving that it would be a nice thing to have a meal with their guests, and they throw together a picnic at the last minute. Elrond seems to be more hands-on; and has the good manners to plan a great feast at the beginning of their visit.
But there's one more reason.
I'm more than a bit afraid of heights.
      • LOL! - Annael
        That last was also a factor with me! Even READING about the climb up the big tree had me hyperventilating!
        • You must get the same question that I do... - Blue Wizard
          If you're afraid of heights, how can you ski?

My answer:
1. Being on the mountain doesn't bother me at all. Which brings up a funny point. Mrs Blue isn't afraid of heights at all...except she gets all weirded out above tree-line. Go figure.
2. On lifts, look ahead, not down
3. Never take a gondola unless no other alternative presents itself. If forced to take a gondola, look at your feet, not outside.
          • I love the new high-speed quad chairs - Annael
            They get you there so much faster and you never have that experience of having the chairlift stop because SOME IDIOT fell down getting off the chair, and having the chair you're in swing wildly from side to side or bob sickeningly up and down.

Gondolas - *shudder*. No, no, no. I've ridden plenty and never liked it. In Europe, I swear they string them from mountaintop to mountaintop with no support in between. What was that movie with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood where they have to fight the bad guys while trying to escape on a gondola? I can hardly watch.
            • Me too! - Blue Wizard
              Movies with gondola scenes. Ooh, I'm getting queasy just thinking about them

Are you thinking of Eastwood in The Eiger Sanction?
Also one of the Bond films with a fight on the gondola in Rio - I'm thinking The Spy Who Loved Me, or maybe it was Moonraker.
              • No - "Where Eagles Dare" - Annael
                they take out a mountaintop lair of Nazis but the only way down is the gondola and of course not all the Nazis are dead yet . . .
    • I would also choose Rivendell - Malbeth
      For the same reason as Patty - there's something for everyone there, it's not just a place for elves. An occasional Dwarf might be visiting, and the Dunedain would be regular visitors. Lorien's just a little too isolated.
    • Definitely Rivendell. - Annael
      It strikes me as a sort of mountain lodge, while Lothlorien sounds like summer camp, sleeping out in tents and tree houses. I love mountain lodges, big fireplaces, cozy nooks where you can curl up and watch the snow falling outside. And I prefer conifers. Give me a Ponderosa pine over a mallorn any day. Plus I agree with Patty on the "cosmopolitan" feel of Rivendell. Lothlorien seems far too insular. Perhaps Galadriel and Celeborn picked up too much of Melian and Thingol's suspicion of strangers. Elrond the Half-Elven would be a much better host.
      • The only thing is, as Rivendell was... - Patty
        established as a "fortress" I'd rather be there at war time than Lorien, for sure. I'd feel more protected.
    • Myself, I'd choose Rivendell....it's more.. - Patty
      cosmopoliton, with different races coming and going. The sameness of Lorien might get old after a few thousand years. Besides, Celeborn is more of a drag than Elrond.
      • It seems that in Rivendell ... - Binky
        people were always coming and going. If you stayed there long enough the world would come to you!! :) You could probably find out what was going on everywhere in Middle Earth without leaving the Hall of Fire...whereas in Lorien everyone was shut out...and you only heard rumours of what was going on in the outside world.
        Having said all that...I would like to visit Lorien...but I don't think I would want to stay there for eons of time...

  • Book II, Chapter 6 ...Lothlorien... Haldir's prophecy... - Patty
    " For the elves, I fear, it will prove at best a truce, in which they may pass to the sea unhindered and leave Middle-earth for ever...."
    This is also Elrond's belief, and Galadriel's based on knowledge of ring-lore. But Haldir doesn't seem so well-placed--is it that all the elves are aware of the 3 rings and where they are and what they do?
    • You have to put this in proper context - Blue Wizard
      Haldir doesn't say anything at all about the ring. He says that some among his people believe that the Shadow will withdraw...but he believes that this would only be a short respite, during which the elves can depart Middle Earth for good in peace. Nothing in his statement indicates any knowledge about Galadriel's ring.
    • Not exactly. - Annael
      I suspect that those Elves who were Quendi and who were in the households of the Three Ringbearers (before Cirdan gave his to Gandalf) were more aware that their time in Middle-earth was running out than the Moriquendi. They all knew that was going to happen, but I think the Moriquendi were less concerned yet about it - perhaps not as subject to the feeling of "fading"? Celeborn does not leave with Galadriel, but stays on for many years. Haldir is some sort of captain in Galadriel's household, perhaps Noldor. So maybe he knows he will feel it more when the Rings fade. Legolas, a Silvan Elf, strikes me as much more light-hearted about it all. It's not until he sees the sea for the first time that he begins to dream of going over sea. But that has nothing to do with the Rings.
      • That pesky Elvish nomenclature - Kimi
        Quendi means all Elves. The "Elves of the Light" are Calaquendi.

I think that Legolas is Sindar rather than Silvan. His father is Sindarin, though the people he rules are Silvan.
Sorry to be picky :-) I find this hard to remember myself.
      • And yet... - Beren11:11
        ...their sense of that doom of "fading" does seem to overshadow (or possibly "underscore" would be a better choice of words) the majesty of so many of their sayings and doings. I don't attribute this to knowledge of the 3 Rings, but perhaps, since the "fading" had really begun some time before the War of the Ring, perhaps it's just something that they can all sense, or all will, each in due time.
  • Book II, Chapter 6...Lothlorien...How important is the role... - Patty
    of Haldir in this chapter? We know that he has been cast for the movie- but do you think that time will be taken up in the movie to do the blindfolding scene, the rope walk across the river etc. that our leader into Lothlorien does?
    • Well, we know he'll have a speaking role - Kimi
      But that's about all we know for sure.

I agree with Eledhwen, he's a self-contained character (though isn't there a rumour that he'll turn up at Helm's Deep? Hey, everyone else will :-)) who could be replaced by any other Elf.
The blindfolding scene is particularly significant, IMHO, for the reasons given by others. I hope it survives, and the rope walk too.
    • Really very minor. - Eledhwen
      In the grand scale of things, I mean. He does introduce the Fellowship to Lorien and its special way of being and thinking, but aside from that, he could be replaced by any other Elf, or written out, without too many major changes. I like Haldir, but he's not THAT vital.
    • If the scene from the trailer - Blue Wizard
      showing the Fellowship running headlong through a forest is supposed to be in Lorien, with the orcs in hot pursuit from Moria, then I'm inclined to think that these scenes are out. It would be a nice cinematic moment to suddenly see Cerin Amroth as the blindfolds come off, but there are other ways to do that as well - emerging from deep forest into a clearing.
      • i doubt it... - Ophelia
        I think that scene is probably from... the Breaking of the Fellowship. The entrance to Lorien should be slower and much more dramatic, even if these two scenes are left out- to have the fellowship rushing into a majestic place such as Lorien would somewhat ruin the majesty.
        • I have to side with Blue on this one..... - Dubhdarra
          I believe that E online reported the filming of these scenes a couple of months ago. From what they report, the orcs are right on the fellowships tail as they reach Lorien and are greeted by a flurry of Elf arrows. I think this is how they are going to introduce Haldir. This however does't preclude the blindfolding and rope crossing scenes, it just changes context a little. Sorry for the Movie Discussion....
          Alas, I agree that the aforementioned scenes, well the blindfolding of the fellowship anyway, are important to the continuing growth of the fellowship ( especially Gimli and Legolas) and Aragorn's leadership settling the dispute. But I have to agree with Eledwens post above... Haldir himself isn't that vital.

"The Black Oak"
    • I don't know that either scene will take much time. - Nenya
      And I think that establishing the lack of trust in the beginning, as well as the unified front that Legolas displays with the rest of the Fellowship are important points in establishing the relationships developing in the Fellowship. As for the rope walk across the river - that can be approached as a five second visual thing without much explanation and will probably be included if the budget allows for it. Spectacular scenery always works well as a set-up in movies.
    • I hope that both scenes are there - Malbeth
      But for different reasons. The 'rope trick' won't take much time; you don't need to show each one crossing the river, maybe just show one struggling across and cut to all of them on the other side, but showing Haldir gracefully running across would reinforce what we saw with Legolas running on top of the snow: elves have some physical abilities that men don't.

The whole blindfold incident is important to show that there is a general animosity between elves and dwarves, not just between Legolas and Gimli personally. And IMHO this incident marks the turning point for Legolas and Gimli; Legolas sees the folly of this prejudice, and that makes him more open to the big turnaround that happens in response to Gimli's interaction with Galadriel (oops, I'm spilling into the next chapter).
      • I agree, Malbeth. ..I think this is the beginning of the turning point - Patty
        in the relationship between Gimli and Legolas, which is strengthened when Gimli so obviously is impressed with Galadriel in the next chapter. I hope a way is found to do the whole scene with minimal changes from the book.
    • Good question... - Groovicles
      but i would say its very important. I mean think about this, all the scenes involving Haldir are significant i developing the characters. Aragorn being as even and equal as ever in the group, and showing how Dwarves are stubborn, but for good causes, and even see now Elves themselfs are stubborn in their own ways. of course those are only very general examples, i don't think i have enough time to tell them all

      • I hope they show in the movies - Binky
        how the animosity between Legolas and Gimli really came to a head at this point..."A plague on dwarves and their stiff necks!" I can see them squaring off in front of Aragorn...and Aragorn attempting to make peace with the compromise...

        • Oh definitally... - Groovicles
          they'll show it. its a very powerful scene in the story, its just that they'll definitally word it differently to be a little more modern. of course if they don't then the movie will just suck ass :(

  • Book II, Chapter 6...Lothlorien..."in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord... - Patty
    more clearly shown than in the pants (er sorry, wrong board!)estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him."

While reading this passage I was reminded how many times we have called the Elves stand-offish, as in the example of Gildor leaving the hobbits alone and basically unaided. Do you think this statement from Haldir excuses the Elves' behavior?
    • I think that perhaps there's a difference between - Kimi
      the "aloofness" of the Elves, especially the remaining High Elves, and the suspicion of other peoples that Haldir is referring to in that remark. Haldir is talking, IMHO, of the perils of war; of spies and treachery and danger. Think of the (false) rumours that have been spread about Rohan, claiming that they pay tribute of horses to Mordor. The "distance" of (e.g.) Gildor reflects the slow estrangement of the Elves from Middle-earth itself.
    • I think the Elves have learned a thing or two. - Inferno
      If you think about it, the Elves in the First Age, basically dominated the show. The leaders of Men were vassals of the Elf Kings. Even in the Second Age, the Elves took an active role in the defence of Middle-Earth.

All this really ever accomplished was to get a lot of Elves killed. I think they learned that the way to defeat Evil wasn't by battle. Beren and Fingolfin did more damage to Morgoth than all the armies of the Elves did-- Fingolfin wounding Morgoth severly in single combat, and Beren stealing the Silmaril.
In this regard, I think they learned from their own experiences, but also from the experience of the Valar. Ulmo argued against bringing the Elves to Valinor, and had the others listened to him, a lot of the harm of later times would have been avoided. The Noldor left because they felt controlled by the Valar, and wanted to have lands of their own.
If the Elves had continued to play a highly active role in the events of the Third Age, Men could have felt about the Elves the way the Noldor felt about the Valar. This would only have helped Sauron. Perhaps it was the wise course to be 'isolationists', only offering help where immediately needed, and then only for the immediate need, as Gildor did, leaving the hobbits to their own devices after the one night.

    • wouldn't travelling about with Gildro... - Binky
      just draw more more attention to the hobbits than needed? The dark riders could sense the elves...and stay far enough away not to confront them.. but still stay close enough to track them after a fashion...???? And the hobbits had need of help from other mortals (Farmer maggot...fatty Bolger)...would they have been so quick to help if the hobbits showed up in the company of elves?????

I have though perhaps one thing Gildor and company could have done was somehow draw the riders away for a time (the same way Gandalf unwittingly drew four riders away from pursuing Frodo.)
They did help in passing the word along about Frodo so Aragorn was prepared when he finally met them...
    • Gildor... - HammerHead
      I think Gildor gets a bad rep. Let's examine this.

Four Hobbitts running through the woods. Gildor runs into them and gives them food, shelter and advice for one night. The Hobbitts tell him about the Black Riders. His response is to basically tell them to avoid them. In the morning he and his troop have moved along. Now, later in the novel, Elrond makes the decision "A smaller group will be more difficult for the enemy to see." Could Gildor have come to the same conclusion? He already knows the Black Riders are close to the path the Hobbitts have been on. Did he think it would be a bad idea for a larger party to move through the forest? I think so. Especially if neither him, nor any member of his troop was equipped or prepared to face down the Nazgul.
It sort of gives me the impression that many elves are more interested in pushing the other inhabitants of Middle Earth to "do for themselves". They probably do this with the mindset that "our days are dwindling, these men, Hobbitts and other inhabitants of ME must survive after our departure on their own, it's best that they learn as much as they can through their own experiences".
      • very good point, HH! - Patty
    • No - Malbeth
      It may be a mitigating factor, it may help explain it, but it doesn't excuse bad behavior. But other races show the same characteristics. Elves may be a bit arrogant (understatement?), but so are the men of Gondor. Elves are isolationists, but so are hobbits.
      • Another good point, Malbeth. The other races... - Patty
        are isolationists, too, I guess it just sticks out more with the elves because these are the beings from whom help is obviously needed and who obviously have an available kind of "magic" and when they don't go all out to help it seems like more of a betrayal.
        • You're right, Patty - Malbeth
          We expect more from elves than from other races, and I think we should. They were given some amazing gifts by Iluvatar, and should be held to a high standard. Of course, it's also easy to look at them as some kind of angelic beings, like Sam does, and therefore be disappointed when they're only 'human'. Of course, reading the Silmarillion is a quick cure for that problem!
          • Too true. The Sil is such a good book...imagine... - Patty
            how good it would have been had Tolkien finished it? No offense to Chris Tolkien, but the styles are different, and it was left mostly in narrative form when, possibly, if he'd had more time it would have been more dramatized as LOTR was. But it's still a great read.
    • Going back to Beleriand... - Beren11:11
      ...we can see just how old this mistrust is. Morgoth and Sauron managed to get their spies sewing dissent everywhere, and by the time of the Third Age, things are damned dangerous around ME! (Middle Earth, not "me," though things are pretty sketchy 'round here, too...)

However, if it's an excuse for inaction, then I think it's a poor one. The challenge is to overcome that distrust and, as corny as this sounds, you know, "work together," a la the Fellowship of the Ring.
But I don't think Galadriel is using it as an excuse. I think she's just lamenting a sad reality.
    • I don't know... - Pteppic
      ...about this stand-offishness with the Elves. I guess you could say they're stand-offish in the fact that they don't volunteer to help, and they go on about how insignificant the matters of Men and other races (or should that be species?) are to them, but they always help the ones who seek them out, as far as I can see. I think, like Groovicles, that Gildor gave Frodo and his friends as much as he could (they got food and drink) and told him as much as he dared. Elrond helped them too, and Galadriel more or less showered the Fellowship with gifts and magical cloaks and rope. Elves are suspicious of strangers however (they know the enemy, and that he comes in many apperances), and especially the Lorien Elves, as they're located between Moria and Dol Guldur. As for the their behaviour towards the Fellowship, anyone would be suspicious of a group emerging from Moria, which by now has a rather astounding Orc population. What I'm saying is that Sauron's estranging of the peoples of ME just increases an already existing attitude with the Lorien Elves (especially). Other Elves also became more suspicious and protective, but the Lorians had a better foundation.
      • True, but then, because of Elrond's sons... - Patty
        all Lorien should have been expecting them..at least they would recognize Legolas and Aragorn and trust that the rest were veted by Elrond and the council. I think it's Celeborn's fault.
        • This raises another point. - Inferno
          I don't know if you're planning to talk about Celeborn later, but this issue of the blindfolding of Gimli shows that Celeborn really is a leader in Lothlorien. If Galadriel ran the show entirely, she would have sent word ahead to allow the Fellowship to pass unhindered. Although Galadriel dwelt in Doriath, and was kin to Thingol, she didn't hold the same grudges that many of the Sindar held in regards to the Dwarves. I presume she had much interaction with them in Hollin during her time there. Durin's folk in particular were always more friendly with Elves than many of the others, and Gimli comes from that line. Moreover, after the battle of Five Armies, the Dwarves of Erebor made peace with the Elves of Mirkwood, and tended to profit from traffic with one another.

I think the reason for the blindfolding lies with Celeborn and his prejudices, and the fact that the law is enforced on the Fellowship shows the power that he does wield in Lorien.

    • Hmmmm - Groovicles
      Well first of all i think that Gildor left more aid to the hobbits then is actually written. I mean look at it, they got food for one thing, but also some very good advise, and the knowledge that their journy is known to friendly ears (also not so friendly but we really can't help that now can we). In terms of the quote being an excuse, i'm not even sure if it is talking about Elves as isolationists, though in a way it is now that i think about it. I don't think refusing to help the weaker people can ever be excused, for no matter what reason. If the Elves weren't isolationists for whatever reasons they had, many more of the people's of middle earth would be safer and certainly happier then they really are.

  • Book II, Chapter 6...Lothlorien..Blindfolding Gimli... - Patty
    Is this a solution to which you would have agreed? If you were Aragorn, how would you have dealt with this problem?
    • I wonder about Boromir's feelings at this point - Kimi
      Remember how reluctant he was to enter Lórien at all? And now he has to submit to being blindfolded, along with his companions! Wouldn't he have feared a knife at his throat at this point?
    • Aragorn was right - Kimi
      As Malbeth says, insisting on arguing and having messages sent on ahead would've meant delays. I think Nenya's suggestion is very smart, though two small comments about it:

1. Gimli really wanted Legolas blindfolded too, as to him the situation had turned into an elf-vs-dwarf confrontation.
2. The rest of the Company know almost nothing about Lórien (even Legolas' knowledge seems shadowy; he speaks of Lórien as the stuff of legends). So Haldir's vague remark that Aragorn "has the favour of the Lady" is not hugely impressive to them at this point. Legolas is the only one who openly claims kinship.
So I think that Aragorn made the best decision possible at the time.
      • One more thing: this incident shows once again - Kimi
        the humility of Aragorn. He has no problem with submitting to being blind-folded.
        • I hadn't thought of that point Kimi, but of course.. - Patty
          you're right, this does bring out the humility of Aragorn. I like that man!
    • I have mixed feelings about the solution. - Nenya
      What were the alternatives, though? Leave Gimli behind? Since the Fellowship was to be a "United Nations" sort of compact, with all the races represented, this was not an option. have Gimli be the only one blindfolded? Again, not an option. It was important that all in the Fellowship be perceived as equals, or there was no point in having all the races represented.

Blindfolding every one was drastic, though. It was on the order of a sulky kid who says "If I can't wear my pink party dress, then I'm not going to go at all." While I realize that wasn't the intent, it was absolutely an exaggerated response to the situation.
Aragon, as leader and future King, should have insisted that if Gimli were to be blindfolded, he too should be blindfolded. That should have been sufficient to make his point, without endangering the entire group by having them all blindfolded. It should have also been sufficient to satisfy Gimli's pride.
      • Yeah, I like that... - Beren11:11
        "Aragon... should have insisted that if Gimli were to be blindfolded, he too should be blindfolded."

I think you're right on the money, there.
    • I like Aragorn's solution... - Beren11:11
      There's obviously no arguing with the rule of the Elves, but having everyone blindfold themselves, including himself and Legolas, makes the law seem downright silly in its "guilty untli proven innocent" attitude and unwillingness to bend according to the situation. I mean -- shouldn't Aragorn's vouching for Gimli count for something?

I think it was well played on his part.
    • If I were Aragorn - Malbeth
      I would have refused to go along with treating Gimli as the enemy. I would have pointed out the I was well known in this land and had the favor of the Lady, and if I say he's OK, then trust me. Big argument, delays, etc. Aragorn, being smarter than me, made a better choice. Blindfolding all of them get them on their way, pointed out the folly of the situation (esepcially to Legolas), and showed that they were all in this together.
  • Book II, Chapter 6..Lothlorien...Do you think it exactly fair... - Patty
    to blame the dwarves for awakening an evil that was already present? What does that make you think of elven "wisdom" ? Also, making Legolas answer for the men and the dwarves as they overnighted just inside Lorien? (don't throw stones at Celeborn just yet, the time will come!)
    • Well lets see - Groovicles
      Elves don't like Dwarves very much in the first place, and they are also emotional, so they can feel happiness (maybe too much) sadness, regret, fear, hate and whatnot. They would blame the Dwarves for something just like one nationality would blame another nationality with no real proof its their fault but say so just because it happened in their land.

    • Not exactly fair (or just, for that matter) - Pteppic
      Personally I think it's ridiculous to point fingers at the Dwarves and shout "They did it!". I mean what were they supposed to do when they found an ore of mithril, say "Oh no, we can't mine that, the unspeakable horrors of the Enemy could be lurking at the roots of the mountains"? I seriously doubt if it was a common fear among the dwarves that they would uncover one of Morgoth's monsters if they dug too deep (correct me if I'm wrong). In other words, there was, as far as I know, no way the Dwarves could have known, and therefore they cannot be blamed. The Elves just want to blame someone. I think it's also important to remember that the Moriquendi weren't as wise as the ones who did see the light of the Two Trees (and they weren't all that wise - can you say Thingol, boys and girls? :). Galadriel, for instance, isn't quite as quick to put the Dwarves to blame. I think this shows that the Elves are "Human" after all, they can make mistakes. Oh, sure, we know they can, but first-time readers may not have seen the Elves' faults.
      • Re:Dwarves - dudalb
        Besides, Tokien says in Unfinshed tales flat out that Celeborn did have a strong prejudice against dwarves....
        • Well...one with a prejudice has left the path of wisdom...if I may paraphrase. - Patty
    • Elven wisdom - Annael
      is like Elven magic, I suspect. They appear wiser because they have a lot more perspective. Talk about "been there, done that"! I don't know that they are any more intelligent or have more foresight than Men. Just a whole lot more years of living under their belts. In Galadriel's case, tens of thousands of years. But as we see with Celeborn, that doesn't necessarily translate to always knowing the right thing to say or do.
    • Pride. - Eledhwen
      The downfall of Feanor was pride, and it shows here. Celeborn (and Elves in general) is rather too proud and will not admit his race's culpability in this affair. Galadriel is less proud and more willing to face reality than most.
    • Blaming the dwarves for following the mithril vein - Stumpy
      is like blaming a cat for chasing a mouse. They can't go against their nature.
      • Can they control their greed though???? - Binky
        They must dig and mine...that's what they do...but is greed an innate part of them...are they at the mercy of their genes...or is it a weakness they can control if they put forth the needed effort? Perhaps the elves thought that part of them could have been controlled...but they let greed get the best of them.

        • The dwarves were created and taught - Stumpy
          by Aule, their love of working with the materials of the earth, and creating beautiful things with them, is in their very nature.
        • going against nature - Beren11:11
          It's true that it's "what they do," but so much of the conflict in the whole saga, from the Music of the Ainur to the end of the War of the Rings is precipitated by people (and I use the term losely) overstepping their bounds. Illuvatar grants everything free will, but he/it won't, ultimately, allow transgression beyond a certain point.

Witness Morgoth's banishment in the Void, stemming ultimately from his desire to be equal to Illuvatar himself, or the men of Numenor's destruction, stemming from their desire to be as the Elves, or even the Valar. I think you can even see this in the curse of Feanor and the exile of the Noldor in Middle Earth -- the lust to control the light of the Trees that he managed to fill the Silmarils with preciptated the near downfall of his entire race. Or Isildur, trying to claim the power of the Ring.
There seems to be a plea for restraint and respect for forces greater than oneself that runs through all of Tolkien's works, and I think the Dwarves got their taste of that in Moria. Also, I think there is a challenge laid upon creation to challenge those tendencies toward greed, laziness, evil, etc. within the various peoples of M.E., and rise above. Those that can are the ones about whom all the songs and stories are written (at least all the happy/triumphant ones...).
Having said all of this though, I should add that I still think the Elves are snobby and annoying in their handling of the Fellowship when they reach Lothlorien's borders, but I guess you can't be too careful in the Third Age. "Can't we all just get along?"
    • not blamed exactly... - Aiya
      I don't think the dwarves should be blamed exactly- they are most at fault- but any one (even elves) would have done the same- they just had the misfortune to be the ones in Moria at the wrong time

Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, 'cuz, you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.
    • Actually, "just" is the word I want, not fair. - Patty
      • TOO deep - Beren11:11
        I think the implication is that the Dwarves delved TOO deep, in the sort of literary/mythological classic "over-reacher" archetype -- Ahab and Moby Dick, Icarus and Dedalus, Prometeus, etc. When those who are less than gods go up against the forces of nature, and in their hubris, or whatever, think they can master it, they're usually checked somehow.

I think about Ahab taking St. Elmo's Fire down on the tip of his sword and snuffing it out, asserting his mastery over even the most elemental forces of nature, which is one of the many things that the Whale represents also; and it makes me think of the Dwarves delving deeper and deeper, thinking that they control the earth that they're really just digging through. The Dwarves' Balrog is Ahab's White Whale! (that was supposed to be funny, by the way...)
  • Book II, Chapter 6...Lothlorien...From any additional sources... - Patty
    From Amroth to Galadriel and Celeborn..do we know what other rulers Lothlorien had, if any, and how was it that G and C became the rulers?
    • According to the Encyclopedia of Arda - Blue Wizard
      There are a number of confusing and inconsistent references to Amroth, the last King of Lorien. One source lists his father as Amdir, who served as King of Lorien through the Second Age, and is killed at the Battle of Dagorland. But, apparently there is one source which post-dates LOTR which lists Celeborn and Galadriel as the parents of Amroth, and the last King prior to Amroth as someone named Malgalad, suffering the same fate. According to CRRT, this idea was considered, but later rejected by JRRT.
    • G & C & Lorien - Beren11:11
      O.k., I'm reaching way back here, but the Unfinished Tales tells the story. I think Galadriel left Eregion when Celebrimbor allowed Sauron in? Does this sound right so far? Stop me if I go astray... She passed through Moria with a few others, and took up residence in what became Lorien. I think Celeborn did not go with her but met them there later, though I can't remember why.
      • UnFinished Tales... - dudalb
        Unfinished does indeed contain the material on Galadrial and Celeborn in a chapter called that....Celeborn might not have gone with Gladdy through Moria because Celeborn did not like dwarves, and, being A Noldi, Galdarial felt a kinship for the dwarves....
  • Book II, Chapter 6...Lothlorien..."the virtue of the elves"... - Patty
    Here is one of the more subtle hints of elven "magic". Aragorn hopes that though the company is not yet into Lothlorien the "virtue of the elves" will keep them safe from the pursuing orcs. There are other instances here and further into the chapter. Often discussed question--what are your thoughts about elven magic?
    • Don't forget that Galadriel was a student of Melian the Maia and dwelt in Doriath for a time... - Ron Austin
      I do not think that Galadriel could ward Lothlorien in quite the same way as the Girdle of Melian warded Doriath. I think that there is some spell to keep out the Orcs as well as Sauron's scrying.
      • I've been reading the Sil concurrently with LOTR this time, - GaladrielTX
        and I, too, wondered if a power surrounded Lorien similar to the Girdle of Melian, but to a lesser degree. I wonder what else Galadriel learned from Melian. One thing that comes to mind is the making of lembas, a skill which was only practiced by queens of the Eldar.
    • Magic. - Eledhwen
      What I think is stopping the Orcs is the same innate fear of Elves which we see in Shagrat and Gorbag and their patrols in Cirith Ungol. The very mention of an Elf warrior scares the life out of most Orcs.

As for Elven magic, well, I think it's supposed to be ambiguous and uncertain what exactly is meant. Sam has an idea of 'magic' that Galadriel does not understand - our view, and the hobbits' view, of magic equates more to Gandalf's spell-casting and fireworks than Galadriel's foresight, mind-reading, and wisdom; essentially, magic is something we do not and cannot understand and therefore encompasses a great range of elements in LOTR.
      • Fear. - Annael
        I agree with Eledhwen. I think it far more likely that the Orcs stayed away from Lothlorien because of what we next see happen - if Orcs invade that area, none return. Not magic, just exceptional archery thanks to thousands of years of practice.

But it could be that he meant that wherever Elves dwell, there is a sense of something that is repellent to Orcs. It could be that the light that they abhor somehow seems stronger in an Elvenhome.
        • power - Ophelia
          I know the elves have foresight and telepathy, or at least some of them, but don't they also have some sort of power to protect things which are theirs, or to defend themselves? After all, the Orcs can't just fear them without reason.
          • Elves can kick butt when necessary.... - dudalb
            In Tolkien's world Elves can be fierce fighters when necessary...although it happens outside of the main frame of the story. Elves were heavily involved in the fighting in the War of the Ring....They defended Lorien and Thranduil sucessfully defended his Kingdom in Mirkwood agains attacks from Dol Guldur.....
    • Perhaps Aragorn is thinking of Galadriel - Malbeth
      and the power of Nenya that she wields. Orcs would presumably hesitate to come even near to the borders of Lorien (although actually they did in this case). I'm assuming that Aragorn knew who the bearers of the Three Rings were, as he knew all of them quite well, and could certainly be trusted with this dangerous knowledge. But he certainly wouldn't speak of this to the other members of the Fellowship, so perhaps he just sopke vaguely of the "virtue of the elves" to explain his thinking to the others.

As to elven magic in general, I agree with what Kimi (I think it was Kimi) said a while ago: it's hard to distinguish between "magic" and craftsmanship with regard to elves.

      • But Aragorn didn't know that she had it.... - Patty
        I thought the wearers of the rings were unknown except to each other.
        • Is that for certain? - Malbeth
          I know the 'owners' of the Three was a closely guarded secret, but I always assumed a few others knew - Elrond's children, Celeborn, maybe Glorfindel and a couple others at Rivendell, maybe Aragorn. Did I miss something, or are we just making different assumptions?
          • Re:Did Aragorn Know? - dudalb
            Aragorn might not have known for sure, but since he was learned in history and lore I think he might have strongly guessed that Galadrial would be the guardian of one of the three...Gladdy was a pretty obvious suspect there...
          • I'm sure I'm making a different assumption... - Patty
            Malbeth...based on the passage from the Mirror of Galadriel when Frodo sees her ring for the first time and she says..."it is not permitted to speak of it and Elrond could not do so. But it cannot be hidden from the Ring-bearer, and one who has seen the eye"... After all, they trust Aragorn and know of his background, but he still has not proven himself. I would think that the knowledge of who has the rings would be kept among elves alone (except Gandalf, himself a ring-bearer) and even then on a strictly need to know basis. But I'm only guessing--no text to back this up!
            • Frodo slips - Blue Wizard
              in a later chapter, when they notice that they have spent a full month in Lorien, instead of just a few days, and mentions Galadriel's ring. Aragorn corrects him sternly, and says that he should not ever speak of the ring outside of Lorien, not even to him.

I have wondered, based on that passage, whether or not Aragorn knew that Galadriel held the ring. I am inclined to think that Galadriel has shared with Aragorn more than just her granddaughter, and that she has, long ago, revealed to him that she holds one of the three. Alternatively, he has been to Lorien several times and must be aware of the unusual effect it has on time. He may, based on however much ring-lore that Gandalf has shared with him, have been able to figure out that this effect can only be wrought by one of the Three.
  • Book II, Chapter 6,...Lothlorien...The mithril coat.... - Patty
    We are all glad that Frodo is wearing Bilbo's mail coat--undoubtedly it did save him from death at the hands of the orcs. This is a question from The Hobbit. Are you surprised that the rather greedy Thorin gave this very valuable coat to Bilbo? Of course, he primarily wanted the Arkenstone, but he wouldn't even share his treasure with the just claims of the men of Dale and yet he gave this to Bilbo? Just curious as to your thoughts.
    • No, I'n not surpised - Blue Wizard
      First of all, Thorin gives this to Bilbo in the flush of excitement of regaining his halls and treasure. While the coat may be more valuable than the Shire and everything in it, Smaug's treasure is vast beyond imagining.

Second, this coat is very likely, as noted earlier, a relic specifically made by the dwarves for the elves - undoubledly a bit of ceremonial armour for an elven princeling, as Aragorn says. And, it is a magnificient piece of workmanship from the description. Thorin complains of dragons that they never enjoy a penny of their treasure, but I think it beyond even Thorin to contemplate taking a true work of art like this coat and either just hoarding it, or taking it apart link-by-link and spending it like money.
And, it probably is a bit too little for a dwarf to wear. Hobbits are not much shorter than dwarves, but it appears that they are somewhat less stoutly built, and the Fallowhides like Bilbo even less so (notwithstanding the proclivity for five meals a day). No one in Thorin's company could wear it, it may not quite suit the tastes of a dwarf (cf Gimli's coat of iron rings)... so why not Bilbo?
      • Agreed. - Eledhwen
    • It may have been too small for Dwarves... - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
      .. if the coat was for an Elven princeling originally, and it actually fit Bilbo, then the Dwarves must have been the wrong shape for it (too big/wide). Thorin was essentially a fair guy, and had promised Bilbo a 1/14th share (which was a fair whack of treasure in itself). Without wars etc or anything else in the way, I am sure Thorin would have given Bilbo as much as promised. Promises are important to dwarves, and Bilbo certainly earned his payment anyway. It was only after Bilbo's 'treachery' to Thorin that Thorin wished to deny Bilbo his share.
      The men of Dale had just claims, but Thorin had made no previous promise to them, and seeing all the gold made his judgement at that time rather poor.
      • I'm pretty sure you're correct - Stumpy
        on the size of the coat. It was too small for an adult dwarf, and it was a gift to Bilbo from Thorin. Even a very angry Thorin wouldn't be so rude as to take back a gift.

As for dwarves getting a little crazy over a treasure hoard, I've been slapped for losing my head over a single elven brooch!
      • also... - Beren11:11
        Yeah, I would have never thought about the size issue, but it makes perfect sense! Also, though, by the time he gave the mail coat to Bilbo, he'd grown to like and respect him quite a bit, whereas the men and elves that came to the mountain did so on pretty unfriendly terms, and I'm sure offended Thorin's notorious pride, you know?
        • So..if, as the little bit of rhyming Aragorn says... - Patty
          to wrap an elven-princeling in was literal and not just said to make it rhyme, who was the coat originally made for...do we know? I just didn't know the dwarves had made such a treasure for anyone else but themselves, which of course would have fit their stature. Besides, he gave it to Bilbo without anyone else, some of the younger dwarves for example, trying it on.
          I agree that at this point he thought highly of Bilbo, I just thought that as greedy as he is he might have tried to claim this particular piece for himself.
          • Uh, are we reading too much into this... - dudalb
            Uhhhhh.I think Tolkien just saw a chance for a nice parody on a well known children's rhyme....I think we are reading more into this then Tolkien intended...something you have to be careful of....
            • Possibly - Beren11:11
              You're definitely right that one has to be careful when going down this route, but the thing is, Tolkien was super meticulous about consistency. He wrote and re-wrote every friggin word 95 million times.

(I've counted them)
But seriously -- while I think you're probably correct about the nursery rhyme, I also think it's probable that JRRT put some thought into the words and how they'd synch up with the info given in The Hobbit.
          • They made treasures of that nature for the elves in the FIrst Age - Malbeth
            The premier example being the Nauglamir, given to Finrod Felagund. They also sold/traded many items to the elves. This mithril coat could have been an heirloom from those days.
          • What elven princeling? Why? - Binky
            ... of what need is there to wrap elven children in mithrel silver? Did they go into battle that early????...or was it a gift ...sort of like the way some people give silver cups and things to their God-Children at Christnings....???

  • Book II, Chapter 6,...Lothlorien...."There lies the crown of Durin till he wakes"... - Patty
    This is a quote from Gimli as he looks into Kheled-zaram, the Mirrormere. It is also part of "In Moria, In Khazad-dum which he recited in "A Journey in the Dark". To what lore is he referring when he speaks of Durin waking again?
    • Dwarfes, additional sources (not straight OT) - Draupne
      Just a bit about dwarfes, taken from old-norse literature. The reason why I have put in the old-norse text too (apart from getting up my word count), is because I couldn't find a English version, the one I found in Norwegian was so New-Norwegian I couldn't read it and my translation are at it's best unsure, so in case it's anybody out there who reads it, you can take the original text. But I have managed to translate the meaning I hope.

Tolkien took the names of the dwarfes from this poem, and Durin is one of the first ones here to.
Voluspa, vers 9 - 16
9. Ţá gengu regin öll / á rökstóla,
ginnheilög gođ, / ok um ţat gćttusk,
hver skyldi dverga / dróttir skepja
ór Brimis blóđi / ok ór Bláins leggjum.
Then all the "regin" (gods?) went to "rökstóla" and the holy ones discussed how they should make the leaders of the dwarfes, of Brimis blood and Bláins legs.
10. Ţar var Móđsognir / mćztr of orđinn
dverga allra, / en Durinn annarr;
ţeir mannlíkun / mörg of gerđu
dvergar í jörđu, / sem Durinn sagđi.
Móđsognir became the best of the dwarfes, but Durin was second. They made many dwarfes of the earth in the shapes of men as Durin said.
11. Nýi, Niđi, / Norđri, Suđri,
Austri, Vestri, / Alţjófr, Dvalinn,
Nár ok Náinn / Nípingr, Dáinn
Bívurr, Bávurr, / Bömburr, Nóri,
Ánn ok Ánarr, / Óinn, Mjöđvitnir.
12. Veggr ok Gandálfr, / Vindálfr, Ţorinn,
Ţrár ok Ţráinn, / Ţekkr, Litr ok Vitr,
Nýr ok Nýráđr, / nú hefi ek dverga,
Reginn ok Ráđsviđr, / rétt of talda.
last 1 and a half line: now I have counted the dwarfes, kings and councelers (big ?), right.
13. Fíli, Kíli, /Fundinn, Náli,
Hefti, Víli, / Hannar, Svíurr,
Billingr, Brúni, / Bíldr ok Buri,
Frár, Hornbori, / Frćgr ok Lóni,
Aurvangr, Jari, / Eikinskjaldi.
14. Mál er dverga / í Dvalins liđi
ljóna kindum / til Lofars telja,
ţeir er sóttu / frá salar steini
Aurvanga sjöt / til Jöruvalla.
The dwarfes in Dvalins "following" were counted as Lofars, they went from halls of stone, between Aurvanga and Jöruvoll.
15. Ţar var Draupnir / ok Dolgţrasir,
Hár, Haugspori, / Hlévangr, Glói,
Dóri, Óri / Dúfr, Andvari
Skirvir, Virfir, / Skáfiđr, Ái.
16. Álfr ok Yngvi, / Eikinskjaldi,
Fjalarr ok Frosti, / Finnr ok Ginnarr;
ţat mun ć uppi / međan öld lifir,
langniđja tal / Lofars hafat.
2 last lines : should be known, while ppl are on earth (?), longfathers all, Lofars ppl.
From the younger Edda:
ţar nćst settust guđin upp í sćti sin, ok réttu dóma sina, ok mintust, hvađan dvergar höfđu kviknat í molduni ok niđri í jörđunni, svá sem mađkar holdi. Dvergarnir höfđu skipazt fyrst, ok tekit kviknan í holdi Ýmis, ok váru Ţá mađkar. Enn af atkvćđi guđanna urđu Ţeir vitandi mannvits, ok höfđu manns líki, enn búa Ţó i jörđu ok í steinum. Mođsognir var dvergr, ok annarr Durinn; svá segir í Völuspá:
Afterwards, the gods sat in their seats and discussed their judgments, and they remembered how the dwarfes had come to life in the earth, like worms in meat. The dwarfes had come to life first in Ymis flesh, and were then worms. But at the word of the Gods they got sense, and looked like men, but lived in earth and stone. Mođsognir was one dwarf, another one was Durin, Voluspa says: (the next is nearly the same as further up)
ţá gengu regin öll / á rökstóla,
ginnheilug gođ / ok of Ţat gćttust,
at skyldi dverga / drótt of skepja
or brimi blóđgu / ok or Bláins leggjum.
ţar mannlíkun / mörg of gerđust,
dvergar i jördu / sem Durinn sagđi.
Ok Ţessi segir hon nöfn Ţeirra dverganna:
According to the poem, their names are:

Nýi, Niđi, / Norđri, Suđri
Austri, Vestri, / AlŢjófr, Dvalinn
Nár, Náinn, / Nípingr, Dáinn,
Bifurr, Bafurr, / Bömbörr, Nori
Ori, Ónarr, / Óinn, Mjödvitnir,
Vigr og Gandálfr, / Vindálfr, Ţróinn
Fili, Kili, / Fundinn, Vali,
Ţrór, Ţróinn, / Ţekkr, Litr, Vitr,
Nýr, Nýráđr, / Rekkr, Ráđsviđr.
Enn Ţessi eru ok dvergar ok búa i steinum, enn hinir fyrri i moldu:
And these are the dwarfes living in stone, the other ones live in earth.
Draupnir, DólgŢvari, / Hörr, Hugstari
Hleđjólfr, Glóinn, / Dori, Ori,
Dufr, Andvari, / Hepti, Fili,
Hárr, Siarr.
Enn Ţessir komu frá Svarins haugi til Aurvanga á Jóruvöllu, ok er Ţađan kominn Lovarr. ţessi eru nöfn Ţeirra:
And this ones came from Svarins hill from Aurvanga on Joruvollene, Lofar came from them. Their names are:
Skirfir, Virfir, / Skafiđr, Ái,
Álfr, Ingi, / Eikinskjaldi
Falr, Frosti, / Fiđr, Ginnar.
The reason why its GandalfR, DurinN, is that the -r, -n etc are declinations endings. (maskulinum nominativ singular for those who care)
I haven't read anything in norse mythology about what happens to the dwarfes when they die/the world ends, I don't think Tolkien borrowed anything there.
Hmm, guess I should've put a "long" warning on this..
    • A couple of things - Blue Wizard
      First, there is the question of what is the Crown of Durin. Clearly, it is a constellation, reflected in the dark blue water, even in daytime. This is entirely possible in a deep dale - Tolkien basically talks about the same phenomenon in the Paths of the Dead. If you block out the ambient light of the sun sufficiently, you can see the stars in the sky even in daytime. But, what constellation?

One possibility is that Durins Crown is the Corona Borealis - the Northern Crown. It's definitely shaped like a crown, has seven stars, is pretty bright and is visible in the Northern Hemisphere. However, it's only visible in the Northern Hemisphere from February to September. Since Frodo and Gimli's visit to the Mirrormere is in mid-January, it would appear that this is an unlikely candidate.
A better possiblility is that it is yet another name for the Big Dipper, already referred to by the hobbits as the Plough and the Wain. The story suggests that the crown can always be seen in the Mirrormere, not just at certain times of day or year. This strongly suggests something that is always in the Northern Sky. Also seven stars, very bright but somewhat less obviously "crown shaped".
As for Durin reawakening, as has been pointed out, Durin is referred to as the deathless not only because of his own long life, but because of the long line of Durins who followed, who were so like him in appearance that they seem to be reincarnations. But, it is a part of the lore of the Dwarves that, at death they are gathered in a hall of Mandos by Aule, where they will sleep until the end of the world and the last battle, when they will be reawakened to assist Aule in rebuilding the world.
      • Constellations - Caleniel
        But isn't the big dipper also the Valacirca, the seven stars put in the north by Varda to remind Morgoth and his minions of the power of the Valar?

Of course the dwarven lore was quite seperate from that of the other peoples of Middle Earth, but still, wouldn't they know about the Valacirca?
Or maybe I just got my constellations wrong...

        • The sickle of the Valar - Arathorn
          so is it named in Silmarillion, when the Valar create the stars after the darkness fell on Valinor. They put it on North, just over Angband, to remind Morgoth of their might and of his future doom, as the Valar will at last put an end to his reign on Arda.
          • Yes, that one! - Caleniel
            I think Valacirca is just the Quenya translation of "Sicle of the Valar". But is it likely that Durin's crown is the same thing? Of course the dwarves might not really have concerned themselves much with other of the Valar besides Aule, But they _were_ around when Varda lit the stars...

Now, IS the Valacirca really the big dipper? I seem to remember that it is, but I'm not sure where I got it from... If it is, then maybe it is more likely that Durin's crown was the corona... eh, what's-it-called. Blue's second option above.

      • Blue, I always learn something from you! Here I thought... - Patty
        Durin's crown was the 3 peaks formed by the 3 mountains of Moria. Thanks for the info!
    • the 7 Dwarf fathers - Beren11:11
      I believe it's held (among the Dwarves) that the seven Dwarf Fathers reincarnate themselves down through the ages, and that Durin, who I think was the first, does this most often. If I remember correctly, somewhere in the Appendices to LOTR it talks about dwarf children being born with looks so similar to these original Fathers that they are given their names. Hope this helps!
    • thank you! - Aiya

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

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Apr 26 2009, 3:42am

Post #13 of 65 (20788 views)
Book 2 Chapter 7: The Mirror of Galadriel. Led by Patty [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 2, Chapter 7
The Mirror of Galadriel
A Discussion Led by Patty

  • Book II, Chapter 7: The Lament for Gandalf - Kimi
    The Company hears the longs of lamentation that the Elves are making for Gandalf. Legolas refuses to interpret the songs for them, saying that he hasn't the skill, and that his grief is still too near. (It's interesting that he doesn't have that problem later, when contributing to the lament for Boromir.)

I wonder why it's not suggested that Aragorn might interpret some of the songs for them, especially given that Legolas isn't spending much time with the Company at that time. He'd conceivably have the same reasons for refusing as Legolas gives, but I'm a little surprised that the possibility isn't mentioned. I assume that Aragorn is fluent in Sindarin.
I know it's a small point, but it struck me on this re-reading. Any thoughts?
    • Private Elvish Business - Trufflehunter
      Perhaps the nature of the poems touches too deeply on matters that Legolas and the Elves might consider beyond the understanding of mortals. Gandalf as Olorin the Maia and his association with Valinor and the Valar could well be considered 'Private Elvish Business'.

Just a thought, but one that could be applied to other situations. Eg when Gandalf describes his 'time in limbo': walking along paths that 'I will not tell' is one that springs to mind.
In excessive haste
'the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get'
    • I would speculate that the problem - Blue Wizard
      is similar to that which Aragorn refers to when he recites a Westron translation of of portion of The Lay of Beren and Luthien when they were traveling between Breen and Rivendell. He says that the story is in a particular "mode" that is very difficult to render in translation. It isn't a matter of simple word substitution or even "translation", but more a matter of rendering the poem in a recognizable and artistic form in another language.

This is a pretty common problem in translating poetry from one language to another. Doing it well takes both considerable skill and thoughtfulness. It is both an artistic and an academic enterprise. It is a very different thing from composing an original poem (for Boromir) in a particular language
      • Thanks, Blue. That makes excellent sense. - Kimi
      • Good explanation, Blue. - Beren11:11
        I thought maybe it was just too sad as well.
  • Book II, Chapter 7..Do you think Frodo adhered to... - Patty
    Elrond's admonishment not to ...let any handle it, save members of the company and the council and only then in gravest need ...when he offered the Ring to Galadriel. I think this was his most grave failure, not at Mount Doom. We know the ring would influence him to want to keep it, so we don't blame him there. But he failed, IMHO when he offered it to Galadriel.
    • There is an ambiguity - Blue Wizard
      as to which "council" he was referring to. If he meant the Council of Elrond, obviously it did not include Galadriel. But, if that is what he meant, what is the purpose of the admonition? What is the liklihood that he will encounter one of them in his travels? If, on the other hand, he was referring to the White Council, Galadriel is a member, and she is one to whom he is permitted to give the ring. I think that it is the latter, because it is far more likely that he would encounter one of them on his travels.

But, then there is that pesky "gravest need" condition.
Yeah, he violated Elrond's instructions by offering to give it to her. Not merely because there was no pressing need, but it is clear that he would give it to her for her to use, rather than to destroy. And, in doing so, he is fundamentally betraying the purpose of their quest.
      • I agree with Blue. But of course, all things... - Patty
        in this story work strangely to purpose. This of course was Galadriel's redemption, made possible only because Frodo strayed from the letter of his promise.
    • Yes, he did. - Kimi
      Galadriel is a member of the White Council, so Frodo was staying within the charge laid on him.

I can't agree that he failed here, though I agree that he shows a certain weakness in wanting to be rid of the Ring. But Galadriel appears to him at this point as possibly the mightiest being he has ever met, and she is already a Ringbearer (and remember that, at this point, she is the only Ringbearer that Frodo is aware of). Elrond laid the charge on him; if Galadriel asks him for the Ring, why should he not give it to her? He has at least as much reason to obey Galadriel as Elrond.
I think that it's Frodo's humility as much as his fear that is speaking here.
And, of course, the most wonderful thing about this scene is that he gives Galadriel the chance of redemption. And she gets to deliver one of my favourtite of all LOTR speeches:
"I pass the test. I will diminish, and go into the West, and remaing Galadriel."
      • ..."and then only at great need"...(per Elrond). So... - Patty
        you think this was at great need, when he offered her the ring?
        • You weren't meant to notice that :-) - Kimi
          Yes, I agree that Frodo went against that "gravest need" admonition, so in that sense he didn't keep strictly to his instructions. But I like what Beren has said about it being almost a plea for help.

And I also feel, as I said earlier, that Frodo has at least as much reason to obey Galadriel as Elrond at this point. What he's doing is offering her the chance to ask him for the Ring; he's giving her the opportunity to override Elrond's instruction with an instruction of her own. This is pedantic, but I think it's important: he doesn't actually offer her the Ring; he tells her that if she asks him for it, he will give it to her. If she were to ask him for the Ring, he would take her instruction as overriding Elrond's. And why not? She certainly appears mightier, and she bears an Elven ring.
This is so nit-picky on my part that it's almost sounding like a theological discussion :-)
          • It's just that I imagine that whatever person or councilmember... - Patty
            Elrond was referring to he put the gravest need qualification in because he knew the great corrupting power of the ring. If Galadriel had taken it, she would herself have been corrupted, as she states at the end of the chapter.
        • No, there was no great need... - Beren11:11
          ...from our perspective, but I think Frodo was so unclear about the path before him, that it seemed like madness that someone like Galadriel shouldn't have been given the Ring in the first place, and hence the strength and emotion of his plea for her to take it.

I mean, in a way, I think you're totally right -- he definitely lapsed in his faith in the mission and the admoition of Elrod, etc. But I feel like it was a last desperate attempt to convince one of the real "power brokers" who were guiding the quest that they picked the wrong guy! Most of all, I just don't think he had faith in himself yet, and it wasn't until the breaking of the company that he really determined that he had it in himself to finish or die trying.
      • I agree with Kimi also. - Beren11:11
        I've also always felt a greater amount of humility than weakness in Frodo's offer of the Ring to G. I don't think he'd still gotten his head fully around the idea that no one but him could do what he had to do. In fact, I don't think he ever accepted that he was the most worthy for the job, even after the job was done!
      • I agree, Kimi. - Eledhwen
      • I'm with Kimi on this. - septembrist
  • Book II, Chapter 7...The love of the elves for their land... - Patty
    and their works is deeper than the deeps of the sea....

This fading and returning to the West or dwindling to a rustic folk of dell and cave...is this the "punishment" for too much pride in their land and works..the punishment for not obeying and staying in the west with the valar?
    • I agree with Beren; I don't think it's a punishment. - Kimi
      It does seem to be in the natural order of things for the Elves of Middle-earth to fade and make way for the time of Men.

The making of the Elven-rings is described as the Second Fall of the Noldor. They wanted to use their power to keep things the same for ever, rather than allow the world to change around them. Their intentions weren't evil, but you know what they say about good intentions! The fading isn't a punishment, it's inevitable.
I'm not sure that the Valar do ever punish the Elves; do they have the right to? They're analogous to Angels in Christian theology, which certainly don't have such authority. But it depends just how analogous they are, I suppose. And we're talking Elves, not humans; the Valar are far more concerned with Elves than with Men.
The nature of forgiveness and redemption in Tolkien's mythology is too big a topic for me to do justice to, I think! It does rather suffuse LOTR.
    • I don't think so... - Beren11:11
      While I do think that many punishments were visited on the Elves for the Noldor and Feanor's various betrayals, the Valar never decreed that they should have to stay in the West. They just invited them to come, and in fact, as we know, many never made the journey at all. The punishment was really the ban on them returning.

I think that the fading, etc., is just an inevitability of history. It's their "doom" to either return to the West or dwindle and disappear. Eru created Elves and Humans with different destinies in mind. In death, the Elves got to the Halls of Waiting, while Humans go "whither no one knows." I think that as the Fourth Age dawns, it becomes apparent that it's simply "time" for the Elves to go. The world that exists into the future is a world in which "magic" of all kinds is rare and the powers of Mankind sort of "take over." The Fourth Age, is I think, "our world," and Elves would, I think we would all agree, be decidedly out of their element -- they simply belong to another time and place.
      • i thought the elves loved the sea about all else. - Ophelia
        • It's the Teleri who particularly loved the sea - Kimi
          From The Silmarillion:

"Thus it came to be that the Teleri, who were from the beginning lovers of water, and the fairest singers of all the Elves, were after enamoured of the seas".
The Vanyar loved the Valar most, and were most loved by Manwë and Varda. The Noldor were "beloved of Aulë", and delighted in knowledge and in building and making.
          • Totally, but also... - Beren11:11
            There's a different sort of power that the sea exerts on Elves, like Legolas, that I've always seen as emblematic of the pull of The West. When the sea got its hooks into Legolas, for example, he didn't become a maritime explorer or anything. The ultimate effect was his sailing from Middle Earth, and there seems to be some knowledge and forboding of the fact that this is what it means in the wariness that he feels toward his eventual meeting with the ocean.

It's as if he knows that the waves herald his eventual leaving of Middle Earth, and yet, he, and all Elves, are drawn to it and their fading or leaving, not so much against their will, but with a definite tragic resignation toward and realization of the consequences.
  • Book II, Chapter 7...Another Movie Tie-In... - Patty
    As Frodo is looking in Galadriel's mirror he sees..."many swift scenes followed that (Frodo) in some way knew to be parts of a great history in which he had become involved..."
    The Last Alliance scenes in the movie, perhaps, or do they need to come earlier?
    • They have to show it - Stumpy
      at the beginning as part of the history of the ring and how it came to Frodo, or a lot of people will be very confused about why this thing is causing such a fuss.
    • I don't the Last Allience... - leo
      will only be shown in the mirror, I don't think that's worth the trouble of shoting them. Especially now we know they casted someone for Gil-Galad I assume they'll show the Last Allience at the beginning of the movie or during the council of Elrond...

They could show smaller things in the mirror though, like the Ring being forged or getting lost.
    • It's a little ambiguous, but I think that - Kimi
      the "many swift scenes" are the ones described later in that paragraph: the tall ship coming out of the West (from Numenor?); the Great River; Minas Tirith; the ship with black sails (Aragorn's ship?); the battle (Pelennor Fields?); and (presumably) the ship on which the Ringbearers will leave.

Whether we'll see any or all of that in the movie I hesitate even to guess at. It would probably happen too quickly for a viewer to take in, though.
    • Earlier. - Eledhwen
      At the very beginning of FOTR, or maybe at the Council - now is too late. I think they'll cut most of the Mirror visions save the Eye.
      • I Agree. - hollowTree
        The Last Alliance could get the film off to a very quick start with action scenes of battle, and exotic looking Elves and Orcs, and other eye-candy. Plus it could give viewers an early introduction to Sauron and the Ring. I could see it all as a real attention-grabbing sequence.

Then, in contrast, the movie might move to a quiet scene in Hobbiton where preparations are underway for a party.
Anyway, I have no idea if this is the way the movie will really open, but I think that Lothlorien is too late to see the Last Alliance.
        • perhaps.. - Ophelia
          There's the chapter where Gandalf tells Frodo what the Ring really is, so the last alliance could be shown in flashback...
          though i like hollowTree's idea a lot. The contrast would be really effective.
          • I think that the Last Alliance will be how the film opens.... - dudalb
            I think it has been stated by sources which have been pretty reliable (see how I hedge) that the Last Alliance will open the film....I am inclined to beleive this simply because it make sense from a cinematic point of view to have a strong, spectacular opening.How much of the background not absolutely necessary to understanding the story I don't know. The problem of giving people enough background tounderstand the story but not too much to bore or overwhelm them might be the biggest problem from a writing point of view that PJ has.
  • Book II, Chapter 7...Galadriel's Mirror... - Patty
    Probably the most identifiable instance of Elven magic to date (non ring related magic). What were Tolkien's purposes for including this sub-story?
    • Sam's temptation - Steve D
      When Sam describes his temptation to the other hobbits do you think what it really was was Rosie?
      • There is no question in my mind. . . - Blue Wizard
        that it absolutely was Rose.

I recall someone quoting one of Tolkien's letters here that the "real" love story in LOTR is not Aragorn and Arwen or Faramir and Eowyn, but Sam and Rose, and that there were plenty of hints in the text prior to the Scouring. But they are awfully subtle, as far as I'm concerned.
I can only think of three:
1. Back in either Shadow of the Past or Three's Company, after the scene in which Ted Sandyman is making fun of Sam's interest in elves and talk of a walking tree in Southfarthing, Sam is sitting alone in the inn, staring in his beer, "thinking of something else". I think that the "something else" is Rose, and how it is that he's going to explain to her that he's following Frodo instead of getting married.
2. In Lorien. That's the scene here.
3. On the edge of Mordor. He's remembering his past in the Shire, and swimming (in the Bywater pool, I think) with two of the Cotton boys "and their sister Rose". This is the only point where Rose is mentioned by name, until we return to the Shire.
      • yes...he did after all blush....and turn away.. - Binky
        and spoke of having a place with...then he didn't finish what he was really going to say...:)


    • Excellent points. Also, I think he really wanted to.. - Patty
      give more dimension to the elves- their "magic". I think he loved them and wanted anothr opportunity to show their "specialness".
      • i'm tending to agree with you Patty - Aiya
        The mirror always seemed to me to be a way to begin to show Elvish magic- up to that point we haven't seen a lot- only speculation on our part... And it also sets the elves apart in one more way. I think those differences were important to Tolkien.
        • Me too - Draupne
          It's also nice to get a glimpse of what Galadriel can do, to understand why she is accounted as mighty among the elves and maybe why men fear her.
    • Mixture of things - Eledhwen
      Forgive me if I repeat what the others have said - in a hurry ...

It's a taster of what may happen ahead - readers will always be thinking 'is that going to happen?' It shows the Eye for the first time - the REAL enemy, of which the Nazgul are but a terrible shadow. It shows Sam's love of the Shire matched against his love for Frodo. And it shows Galadriel's power and greatness as she goes on to reject the Ring. To us the Mirro might seem 'magic', but to the Elves it's merely a continuation of things like the Palantirs, Melian the Maia, and so on - seeing from afar goes on a lot in ME.
    • the Eye - Ophelia
      I think the mirror is one of the few ways the Eye of Sauron could have been introduced. Because both Galadriel and Frodo see it, the Eye is made more concrete. Blue mentions dreams- yeah, Tolkien has used those far too many times up until this point. Also, what is seen in the mirror has a bit more credibility to it. If Sam had dreamt of the Shire being torn up, he would have considered it for awhile, and then shrugged it off. But when he sees it in the mirror, he is aware of what the vision means.
    • In some ways it is a welcome break - Blue Wizard
      from a literary convention that Tolkien had used to death already in the book - dreams. Almost every time he wants to foreshadow something, he puts a character to sleep, and they have a dream about it. For once, he comes up with something original here!

Sam and Frodo are singled out here. I think that we may speculate that Galadriel, by virtue of any combination of the use of the Mirror herself, the power of her ring, the testing of the Fellowship's hearts upon their earlier meeting, "knows" (insofar as anyone can "know" the future) that Sam and Frodo will make the journey alone to Mordor. We, of course, do not know this at this point in the story, and so this is our first hint that they are to be singled out among the members of the Fellowship.
And, she "knows" that the quest balances on a razor's edge, and can only succeed insofar as the members hold true to their purpose. She must test them, to give them the choice to proceed or turn back based, not on mere desire (as was the case when she first met them), but a glimpse of the real consequences of their decisions.
    • My Two Cents.... - Strife
      Is that Tolkien included the mirror to add to the reality of the characters. Each of those who looked into it showed an emotional response. Sam became very worried about the Shire, and almost dropped the quest right there, showing his love for his home (it also reminds the reader of other problems in middle-earth).

Also, when Frodo looked into the mirror, he saw the eye of Sauron for the first time, which scared him greatly.....I mean, nobody likes to be watched.
This is just my opinion, I could be totally wrong.
Not all those who wander are lost.
  • Book II, Chapter 7...More What If... - Patty
    Galadriel examines the hearts of each of the members of the fellowship. Does she sense a weakness in Boromir? And what if she had confided her thoughts to Aragorn as leader of the company--how might things have transpired differently?
    • What if Aragorn was also tempted? - Annael
      We don't know what Galadriel "offered" him. It may as well have been the Ring, just as with Boromir, and he too may have been tempted, but withstood it.
    • Elves are cagey about giving advice... - Eomund's Daughter
      "They will say both 'no' and 'yes'." I think that she did see Boromir's weakness/temptation, but may have feared too much, not wanting to somehow influence the outcome of events. There is a strong sense of Fate, or Destiny, in LOTR, and in this instance, (and in others, reflected in comments made by Gandalf, etc.), it (Fate) may have the upper hand. At least Boromir redeems himself; maybe Galadriel wanted him to have the chance of that. She may operate on the philosophy she expresses to Sam and Frodo about her mirror--often things do not come to pass unless one turns aside to try to stop them. (Bad paraphrase, but....)
      • I agree, well said. - septembrist
    • I think she does perceive Boromir's temptation. - Kimi
      She's very perceptive (assisted by Nenya, no doubt).

But had Aragorn not noticed Boromir's attitude to the Ring? I.e. that Boromir thought the Ring should be taken to Minas Tirith and used against Sauron? I suppose he did have a lot else on his mind.
If Galadriel had warned him, what might Aragorn have done differently? The most obvious is never to leave Boromir alone with Frodo. If that had happened, perhaps Frodo wouldn't have slipped away with Sam. In which case perhaps the orcs would've captured Frodo and the Ring. Or perhaps the Company would've made their way to Minas Tirith with the Ring. And what would Denethor have had to say about the Ring coming into his hands?
      • well said - Ophelia
        I doubt that Aragorn would have actually done anything beyond what you suggested.
        From what I can tell, Galadriel knew exactly with what she was testing each memeber of the fellowship. There's also a line, after Sam has finished telling the fellowship why he looked down and blushed, emphasizing the fact that Boromir wouldn't say what he was tempted with.
  • Book II, Chapter 7..."I it was who first summoned... - Patty
    the White Council, and if my designs had not gone amiss, it would have been governed by Gandalf the Grey, and then mayhap things would have gone otherwise."

To what is Galadriel referring? In what ways do you think things might have happened differently?
    • for one... - leo
      it was Saruman who held the council back when they wanted to attack Dol Guldur in an early stage, perhaps Gandalf would have agreed on this right away they could have attacked and destroyed Sauron before he gained enough power (this seems likely because Saurons power came from the ring, so as long as the ring still existed, so would Sauron). I think this is the most important thing Galadriel is referring to.
    • I suppose it's a comfort to us all... - AlanPartridge
      that even the wise have regrets and can make mistakes.
      Saruman's treachery concerning the ring is the main point, je pense.

Saruman's reason for delaying the challenge to Sauron was to keep him in Dol Guldur wasn't it? Therby allowing hiim free reign around the Gladden Fields.
Obviously if they had found out the ring *was* the ring they could have taken it to Sammath Naur pretty easily in comparison to when Frodo did it.
(Maybe using an eagle to fly there :-)
    • In the Sil... - Ophelia
      it states that The White Council was originally made up of Galadriel, Cirdan, Elrond, Gandalf, and Saruman (i don't know if there were others.) Galadriel fought for Gandalf as head of the White Council- she might have been able to sense Saruman's deep inner self and therefore distrusted him. But because Saruman knew the most about the Rings of Power, he was elected as head.
      I know two things which would have gone differently- Sauron would have been driven out of Dol Gulder soon, and Saruman would have know quite a bit less about the location of the Ring.
    • I've always thought - Draupne
      she was referring to Saruman convincing the council that the Ring was no real danger anymore so that they didn't have to look for it. If they had started earlier, Gandalf might have realized that Bilbo had found it and they would have been some step ahead of the enemy. That doesn't have to mean that things would have turned out better or easier though.
  • Book II, Chapter 7...How do you think Gimli really sees Galadriel?... - Patty
    Many jokes have been made about his reaction towards her (some more risque than others). What do you think?
    • Something else that occurred to me about Galadriel: - Kimi
      When she says "fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dűm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone", we're listening to someone who might actually have seen Khazad-dűm in its days of glory. No wonder she speaks straight to Gimli's heart. And she surely can't recite those lines without thinking of the other place of "many-pillared halls in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone": Menegroth in Doriath (which was, of course, largely built by Dwarves). Galadriel dwelt there once, and it's there that she met Celeborn, who's a kinsman of Thingol. She must have feelings of loss when she recalls Menegroth, "the fairest dwelling of any king that has ever been east of the Sea."

All of Durin's Folk seem to think of themselves as exiles since they were driven from Moria. Galadriel is the saddest of Middle-earth exiles: forbidden to return to the West because of her disobedience and pride; the best she can do is preserve a memory of the Elder Days in Lórien as she fights "the long defeat". This shared sense of exile may contribute to the understanding that Gimli finds in her heart.

      • Good one, Kimi! - Beren11:11
        The shared sense of exile -- totally!
    • I think of it as an example of chivalric "courtly love" - Blue Wizard
      There are several elements of this theme in Gimli and Galadriel's relationship.

First, she is utterly unattainable. Not only is she of a different and exhalted race, effectively the Queen of her realm (though she does not claim the title), and she is married. The consummation of courtly love is not necessary, or even desired - the male "lover" shouldn't have any realistic expectation of being united with the object of his offection.
Second, the nature of the love is akin to worship - the female object of courtly love being seen as the embodiment of perfection.
Third, he carries a "token" of her as a talisman - in this case three strands of her hair. Gimli also ponders whether gold is fitting enough a housing for his treasure.
Fourth, the relationship when the two do interact is a highly formal, formulaistic interchange of speech, the focus of which is not romantic at all.
Fifth, the thought of the beloved inspires the male to greater devotion and glory in battle. In one sense, he is on a quest to prove himself worthy of her and to defend any besmirching of her honor (real or imagined). That's a bit of a stretch for Gimli, but we see him threatening Eomer with bodily harm over his failing to show due respect to Galadriel - exactly like a knight defending the honor of his lady-love.

      • I would agree with you at this point Blue, however... - Patty
        later as we read on, and the fellowship is in the boats Gimli says things which would make me question that just a bit.

"Tell me, Legolas, why did I come on this Quest? Little did I know where the chief peril lay! Truly Elrond spoke, saying that we could not forsee what we might meet upon our road. Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back. But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy. Now I have taken my worst wound in this parting, even if I were to go this night straight to the Dark Lord. Alas for Gimli son of Gloin!"
Then later..."Memory is not what the heart desires..."
Sounds like someone carrying the burden of hopeless, never to be returned love, not courtly but man-woman type love to me. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it. But I don't think he's only speaking of leaving the land of Lorien here, but of leaving HER. Men love elves. Elves love men. It's not out of the realm of possibility that he really loves her just cause he's a dwarf.
        • I disagree - Blue Wizard
          The hopeless (male) lover, suffering mental and even physical anquish as a consequence of his unrequited devotion, is exactly what courtly love entails.
          • I guess we'll just disagree on this one...but then, I'm not a male! - Patty
      • Amour courtois... spot on! - Trufflehunter
      • Good analysis, Blue. I, too, think it's courtly love. - Kimi
      • I think you're totally right Blue - Steve D
    • I thought of it as almost a religious adoration - Binky
      Gimli put Galadriel high on a pedestal...I got the impression he would have worshipped her if he thought he could get away with it...

    • If you are in a strange land.. - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
      .. one of the first things that draws you to another person is if they speak your language. The fact that Galadriel speaks to Gimli, showing that she has put some effort into understanding the ways of Dwarves must seem like an oasis in a desert to him. I guess I agree with much that Beren has said below. I don't see him as romantically desiring Galadriel. It is another of these 'pure love' relationships that Tolkien respects so much. But I think that through Galadriel, Gimli has realised that if he makes an effort to understand Elves, then he can do a small something against the evil that estranged the two races in the first place. Maybe not consciously. But he is now willing to try to understand Legolas, as an Elf. And anyone who finds someone who is truly interested in what they are and do, cannot fail to respond in kind. I feel Galadriel is the trigger for Legolas and Gimli to try to understand each other - and hence show that two completely unlike people can form just as strong a bond as people of a common background (e.g. Sam and Frodo)

      • True. Another catalyst in the eventual relationship between Legolas and Gimli. - Patty
    • It's more awe than anything else, I think. Not romantic. - MikeyMonty
    • I blush to imagine... - Beren11:11
      But seriously folks... The War of the Ring and the end of the Third Age sees, in the victory of "good," the fulfilment and correction of so much past history, not the least of which is the unfortunate enmity between the Dwarves and Elves. This is especially poigniant when it comes to the Noldor (of which Galadriel is one), who were protegés of Aule, as the Dwarves were wholly his creations.

I've always felt a tinge of sadness in Galadriel's very conscious usage of the Dwarf language, because it underscores the tragedy of the races' severed relations in such a simple, but elegant (and eloquent) way -- why should the utterance of a few words be so hard for one to utter and so stirring for another to hear? This most simple gesture of respect is almost all that is called for to put thousands of years of animosity to rest, and it becomes bittersweet to realize how little it actually takes.
I think that both Galadriel and Gimli realize the symbolic import in their brief relations, and both feel the weight of the history that has burdened both their races lifted off of each-others shoulders. However, I think it it touches them even deeper for the realization that they two are NOT their entire races, but just two individuals, and that the concordance they have reached is not universal. This makes their personal relationship that much more precious and Gimli that much more appreciative of Galadriel's gesture.
It also touches on the question that patty asked last week about Sauron's most evil work -- the spreading of mistrust among his enemies.
Sorry to go so long, but in this sense, his friendship with Legolas is AT LEAST as important, since Legolas is not Noldor, but Wood Elf, and there is barely a shred of common ground between them and Dwarfs at all. And... and... and... Oh somebody please shut me up!... ;)
      • That was both insightful and lovely, Beren. - Kimi
        • Hey Kimi -- - Beren11:11
          First off, thanks for the props.

But second, I wanted to tell you that I looked at your house photos on the web, and I think it looks amazing! I've been working on m'lady Jodi's house/art space with her and our friend Geoff for over a year now, so I know just how much work it takes, and I'm so impressed with your craftsmanship -- the tiling, etc. Really fantastic!
If you're interested in checking out some of the most recent photos (early April 2000) photos of the building (I would say "Jodi & Geoff's," but she keeps telling me its mine as well, and only time will tell...), the URL is http://www.secretstars.com/grange2k.html
          • Thanks, Beren! - Kimi
            The praise of the praiseworthy, etc...

I've had the briefest of glances at your place, and it, too, looks amazing! I'll take a proper look when things are quieter.
      • Great thoughts, also Tolkien quote - Steve D
        Beautifully put.

Also your quote from Tolkien brings up what I think is one of the most important themes. Evil people always try to control but good people let others be themselves.
        • Word up! - Beren11:11
      • That was really nice, Beren! - Annael
        I actually copied part to share with friends with whom I have been discussing the issue of "communication"!
        • I'm flattered, Annael! - Beren11:11
      • Good points, Beren. I'm so glad you joined us. - Patty
        • Thanks, Patty! (*blushing again*) - Beren11:11
    • in my innocence... - Ophelia
      I'll compare it to Eowyn's reaxtion to Aragorn- a kind of love, yes, but not exactly a romantic love in the truest sense of the phrase.
      I mean, imagine approaching one of the most beautiful and powerful people in the world, expecting them to do you some sort of harm, and instead finding them understanding and kind...
      • kinds of love - Steve D
        Ophelia, great point.

I first read LOTR when I was about 17 then after 20 years or so of not reading it I've come back in the last year.
For all that time I thought Gimli was so stupid to throw his life away loving Galadriel.
But reading it now, I realize that his love is the most pure because there is no selfish desire in it. Aragorn, Faramir, and Sam (with Rosie) all have a desire to have personal happiness, a nice family and so forth. But not Gimli, he loves only for the sake of loving.
Also Sam's love for Frodo is the same way, and I think that is the most important thing in the story.
        • never thought of his love badly before - Aiya
          Gimli's love doesn't seem like it's tainted by anything- it's pure- love for the sake of loving (to borrow a very good line from Steve- thanx!) Galadriel is his heroine, idol, etc... you know that there will never be anything but pure affection and admiration there... and it's beautiful.. something to admire especially now-a-days when love isn't often that pure
  • Book II, Chapter 7..Galadriel and Celeborn.. - Patty
    Now is the time to throw stones at Celeborn, if it's warranted. From other sources and from this passage what do you think of the statement that he is the wisest of the elves among Middle-Earth and does Elrond not qualify as he is "half-elven"?
    • About Galadriel - Groovicles
      It has always occured to me, since i first read the book, that Galadriel is basically a snob. She's very mocking of Celeborn thats for sure, and even when she's talking to the others she seems very self centered. Even when i read about her in the Silmarillion she seemed very self centered, kinda self promoting in a way, very very SNOBBISH!

    • What Galadriel says is - Kimi
      "For the Lord of the Galadhrim is accounted the wisest of the Elves of Middle-earth."

She doesn't say that she thinks it herself!
Seriously, it is a difficult statement to fathom. We seem to have to hedge it around: "He's the wisest. Well, except me, because I'm not an Elf of Middle-earth. That lets out Glorfindel, too. Oh, and Elrond is half-elven, so he doesn't count either. And Círdan sees further and deeper than any other in Middle-earth, but he doesn't count either."
So who does account him wisest?
On a slightly-related note, I don't recall noticing before Galadriel's statement that Celeborn has been around "since the days of dawn." She married an older man (elf)!

      • I love it, Kimi! I just bet she knows who really wears the PANTS! - Patty
    • I'm thinking that he was... - Blue Wizard
      smart enough to marry Galadriel, and that alone makes him the wisest elf in Middle Earth.

At the outset, our impression of him is a person jumping to hasty, and erroneous conclusions, repeatedly corrected by Galadriel. And he is also accounted as a great giver of gifts, and yet all the really "cool" stuff was really a gift from Galadriel, not him - the phial, the elven cloaks, Sam's box, Aragorn's elfstone.
I suppose that Celeborn's gift - the boats - is an example of his wisdom and his reputation as a great gift-giver, in keeping with the discussion of the nature of elven wisdom, and the perils of asking elves for advice, way back in the Shire when the hobbits met Gildor at Woody End. The boats permit the company to travel to the borders of Gondor without having to face the difficult decision of how to proceed next, and both ease and speed their journey. They probably "made up" all the time they lost by spending a month in Lorien, comparing the time it would have taken to walks so far, versus the time it took to paddle there.
    • "The wisest of the elves of Middle-earth" - Malbeth
      It does seem strange, doesn't it - wiser than Elrond and Galadriel? But perhaps the explanation lies in the "of Middle-earth" part. It could be that, in this context, the Eldar and their children were not entirely "of Middle-earth", having seen the light of the two trees in Aman.
      • Celeborn is not the Wisest elf in Middle earth - danskmacabre
        I would not consider Celeborn the Wistest elf in Middle earth..

He wanted to boot the Compnay out of Lorien without helping them...
It's only coz Gladriel intervened that it didn't happen..
He took it back later tho...
Sounds like an implusive type to me....
      • Elrond is half-elven - Stumpy
      • I think you've got it! - Annael
        That just occurred to me.

Sort of a backhanded compliment, isn't it? Well, you know how people get when they've been married a long time - sometimes they just can't resist making a little dig at the other.
        • Right...that's how a woman stays married for thousands of years... - Patty
          give him the credit. Anyone with half a brain can tell the truth of the matter!
          Seriously...I'm limited on sources..is there nowhere else in all the ME tales that discusses Celeborn and ANYTHING he ever did (besides marry Galadriel) that makes him seem wise?

      • My feeling also - Eledhwen
        The words 'of Middle-earth' are the important ones. Galadriel seems to me a lot lot wiser, but being of the Noldor, I don't think she really counts as being 'of ME'. Elrond's wisdom is deep, and maybe influenced by his ring, but Celeborn is older and has more experience of things, having lived through practically the entire history of Middle-earth (if I'm right in thinking he woke by the lake but just never got to the West?). Certainly, as Blue said, he's a great gift-giver and shows wisdom in that way, but equally he's inclined to be proud. It's a statement which doesn't seem to be easily upheld!
    • I think he was wise in another way.. - leo
      Celeborn is old, and has seen many era's of happenings. This is his advantage over Elrond perhaps. You could however argue that Celborn has lived his life in a certain 'soltitude' (I dont know the appropriate English word:)), because he spent many of his days in closed realms like Doriath and LothLorien, and ne never really interfered with the happenings in the rest of Middle earth (Elrond did). I think most of Celeborns wisdom came from Galadriel.
      • foresight - Ophelia
        I agree that "of ME" has to be the key phrase in that sentence. Certainly Celeborn seems to lack the foresight of Galadriel and Elrond. Perhaps he is wiser in the a more human sense than an elvish sense- a wisdom more similar to Aragorn's, and less like Gandalf's.
  • Book II, Chapter 7...The Mirror of Galadriel..Movie tie-in.... - Patty
    The remaining fellowship has entered Lothlorien. What are some of the challanges that you think PJ will face in trying to bring the "feel" and the detail of this realm to life on the screen?
    • Galadriel herself - Kimi
      Like the land of Lórien, is "more fair that thought of mortal men". She should appear as ethereally beautiful. And her hair should be "a wonder unmatched".

I wonder if we'll hear "the sound of singing falling from on high like soft rain upon leaves" as the Company enters Caras Galadhon. As well as the unique light of Lórien, which others have mentioned, it seems to me that sound is also important, from the voice of Nimrodel to this soft music.
    • But also the quality of the light...in Lorien, that's important.... - Patty
      Maybe something like Gladiator's battle scene but different, so a surrealistic effect is achieved but not so "dark" ??
      • Most definitely the quality of the light. - Annael
        But please, not like "Legend." Made me want to get out the bug juice.
    • As long as ... - Eledhwen
      it's not by using soft-focus, I don't care! Seriously, though, I agree that time and the slow/fast passing of it is vital to be shown. I quite like the slow motion idea. Could work. Maybe.
    • I've got an idea!!!! - Blue Wizard
      The fellowship comes to the Silverlode, which they need to cross on the rope bridge to enter the real heart of Lorien. As they come to it from the outside, it is a rapidly rushing, even raging river, that it quite frightening to cross. Wading across it is entirely out of the question; even the strongest of them, Boromir and Aragorn, would clearly be swept away in the torrent. But, once they've crossed, and stepped foot inside the elven realm, they look back, and the Silverlode appears to be a gently flowing stream. And, just so we know that the stream itself hasn't magically slowed down, some of the fellowship are still crossing, or on the far shore - they see a raging river, but the first across see the gentle stream.

Maybe also use Xoanon's and Tehanu's idea of having Merry or Pippin blow the petals from a flower, and having them float so slowly to earth that they can walk around them, using ultra-slo motion.
      • yeah... - Ophelia
        I definitely like the Silverlode idea.. but i think the lighting should have a different quality to it, maybe using a few blue gels in some of the lights to make daytime look a little more like twilight.
    • Like Pteppic, I think PJ needs... - septembrist
      ... to show the timelessness and dream-like aspect of Lothlorien.
      This might be accomplished with dusk or dawn shots which people equate with dream states. Other than that piece of weak advice, I don't how the feel of Lorien can be accomplished.
    • Time - Pteppic

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:44am

Post #14 of 65 (20803 views)
Book 2 Chapter 8: Farewell to Lorien. Led by Kimi. [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 2, Chapter 8
Farewell to Lorien
A Discussion Led by Kimi

  • Book II, Chapter 8: "Sad and sweet was the sound of her voice" - Kimi
    Galadriel and Celeborn come to meet the Company in a ship wrought in the likeness of a great swan. This is surely in memory of the Swan-ships of Alqualondë, the home of Galadriel's mother; the ships that were taken and later burned by Fëanor.

She sings this song:
I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew:
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew.
Beyond the Sun, beyond the Moon, the foam was on the Sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin there grew a golden Tree.
Beneath the stars of Ever-eve in Eldamar it shone,
In Eldamar beside the walls of Elven Tirion.
There long the golden leaves have grown upon the branching years,
While here beyond the Sundering Seas now fall the Elven-tears.
O Lórien! The Winter comes, the bare and leafless Day;
The leaves are falling in the stream, the River flows away.
O Lórien! Too long I have dwelt upon this Hither Shore
And in a fading crown have twined the golden elanor.
But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?

The song seems to express both her sadness for the lost Eldamar of her youth and her sorrow for the inevitable fading of Lórien. Do you think that Galadriel is still unsure at this point (despite her repentance and statement that "I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel" in the previous chapter) whether or not she will be allowed to go back to Valinor?

    • yes I think she was - leo
      The last lines of this song kinda prove this for me. I'm not sure when she knows or gets told that she can return to Valinor, but I think it was after she aided the fellowship and resisted the power of the ring when it was offered to her.

Perhaps it was Gandalf who told her that she could return when he came to Lorien, shortly after the Fellowship left...
      • Galadriel is one of the High Elves - Ron Austin
        Galadriel is one of the mighty of the first-born and like Glorfindal should exist in both realms. Now she might not want to maintain the hold on the other realm due to her exile ( the Nolder had no shortage of stubborn pride).
  • Book II, Chapter 8: "They are fair garments, and the web is good" - Kimi
    This is part of the answer given to Pippin when he asks if the cloaks are magic.

"They are elvish robes, certainly, if that is what you mean. Leaf and branch, water and stone; they have the hue and beauty of all these things under the twilight of Lórien that we love; for we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make."
We've discussed Elvish "magic" before, and I made the comment last time that it's difficult to distinguish magic from craftsmanship. Does this passage give us any further insights into what might give Elvish artifacts their special qualities?

    • What distinguishes Elven "magic" - Blue Wizard
      from what the Elves perceive others to think of as "magic" seems to be not merely an advanced craftsmanship beyond that of other beings (an example of Clarke's Third Law), but the actualization of thought. They put their love of the things of nature into the making of these cloaks, and they "magically" take on a chameleon-like ability to appear to change hue to match their surroundings. Sam's rope, that appears to come when wanted, seems to be of the same kind of magic.

The elves tell them that the cloaks will not turn blade or arrow; they are not "magical" in that way.
Yet, the Elves appear capable of this "other" kind of magic as well. Aragorn is presented with a sheath for Anduril that is "magical" in this other sense. This seems to be a different variety of magic entirely, and yet more mysterious.
    • Surely anything made with love, care and skill has something magical about it? - AlanPartridge
  • Book II, Chapter 8: Boromir and Lórien - Kimi
    Boromir was against the Company's entering Lórien from the time they stood under the eaves. He described it as "perilous", and said that few who entered there came out again.

The next day he found himself and all his companions blind-folded and at the mercy of the Elves of Lórien, which given his feelings about Lórien must have made him apprehensive.
After the testing of the Company, Boromir says "I do not feel too sure of this Elvish Lady and her purposes."
And in this chapter his desire to take the Ring to Minas Tirith is becoming more and more evident; certainly enough to trouble Frodo.
Two questions, then: how far advanced is the idea of trying to persuade (or even force) Frodo to bring the Ring to Minas Tirith in Boromir at this point? And what do you think he now feels about the Golden Wood and its Lady?

    • Agree mostly with what's been said below. - Annael
      I see Boromir as divided. On the one hand there's the Man of Gondor, brave, loyal, and true to his word. He is, in essence, a good man. But there is also the proud heir to the Stewardship who is somewhat rigid and limited in his outlook. Galadriel brings out both sides. I think Boromir distrusted Lothlorien and Galadriel before ever coming there. Then at their very first meeting, Galadriel seems to offer Boromir the Ring (or holds up a mental mirror that shows him his secret desires). His distrust of her now has a basis in fact: right off the bat she's trying to tempt him into betraying his word, and with something she has no right to give. The good man sees all this as very wrong, and "refuses to listen." His pride is also offended. Then they don't see her again until they leave. So why should he start to trust her - or any other Elf?

But by holding up that mirror, Galadriel has made Boromir aware of something he otherwise may have kept so tightly locked down that he'd never have acted on it. The thought of the Ring gives impetus to his desire to come sweeping back into Minas Tirith as a conquering hero. If he could take the Ring and defeat Sauron (which he continues to think is possible, since he doesn't trust the Elves' word on this). Defeating Sauron is, of course, a good thing. In his mind he is still a good man wanting to do the right thing - which is how the Ring captures people like him. And once he's defeated Sauron, who would then say "but you still can't be King of Gondor"? So his pride is also being worked on.
So to answer your question, I think that the idea of getting the Ring to Gondor really takes hold in Boromir while they are in Lothlorien, BECAUSE of Galadriel. Boromir now distrusts her and Elves even more. In his mind, he is a good guy, and she is not . . . and the seeds of his justification to himself for trying to take the Ring away are sown.
    • Not only Boromir - Blue Wizard
      but Eomer is also somewhat afraid of Lorien, and the Roherrim's name for it, Dwimordene - Enchanted or even Haunted Wood (cf Eowyn's name for the Nazgul, "Dwimmerlaik") suggests that it is a place of great peril. I suspect that, as in the case of Fangorn, there are many tales of men who entered but never returned.

Now Boromir, as a descendent of the line of Stewards, should know better, but it is undoubtedly many, many generations since men have had dealings with Lorien - perhaps not since Galadriel assisted Eorl by conjuring up a fog to cover his ride to the assistance of Gondor, so perhaps his lack of knowledge of lore (or his lack of belief in what lore he knows, perhaps) is excusable.
As for Boromir's plans, it was always his plan, and indeed Aragorn's plan as well, to journey to Minas Tirith. Gandalf's death put Aragorn's plans in doubt. But I don't think that Boromir's encounter with Galadriel, or indeed with Elrond or even Gandalf, has changed much his attitudes. His speech to Frodo in the upcoming chapter tells us a great deal about what he thinks about elves and wizards, and his perception of their weakness in the face of the potential lure of the ring and its corrupting influence. And, he thinks little of the Hobbits, a small and weak people outside of even the fringes of "civilization". I think that he believes that he will be able to persuade the Company to come with him the Minas Tirith now that Gandalf is apparently dead.
    • Boromir always wanted the Ring... - AlanPartridge
      from the moment he saw and realised what it could do. The weight of the arguments of Gandalf and Elrond probably convinced him for a while, but after Gandalf's (apparent death and therefore failure) not only was their leader missing, but Boromir must have thought if Gandalf cannot stand, who will?

I think Moria and the loss there must have reawakened his desire. I don't think Galadriel actively offered each member their desire; rather she let them decide what it was to show her what they were like. Boromir brought the evil with him. Galadriel forced him to face it and in the end he was betrayed by it.
The Ring must have tugged at his will throughout the entire journey 9maybe subconsciously) awakening fully in Lorien, when he admitted to himself what he desired.
    • it's hard to say... - leo
      we haven't seen any signs of Boromir trying to take the Ring, or force Frodo to go to Minas Tirith before the Fellowship enters Lorien, so it is easy to say that this idea came to his mind when he was staying there. Perhaps it was Galadriel who awakened this feeling in Boromirs mind when she 'interrogeted' each member of the Fellowship at their first meeting. Everyone had the feeling that Galadriel offered him a choice; returning home or going further. Boromir said that this was needless in his case, because his home was where he was going too, he did not want to say what exactly Galadriel offered him. I'm pretty sure Galadriel offered him the Ring in some way. The question remians why did she? Did she want Boromir to try and take the Ring so Frodo would be persuaded enough to go to Mordor on his own?

As far as Boromir's feelings for Lorien and Galadriel, nothing is mentioned about this, because we hardly see or hear anything of him in the chapters about Lorien. I think he still was a bit suspicious about everything that happened there, but also I think he was careful, remembeering Aragorns words about the only evil in Lorien is the evil being brought there by someone. I think he tried to hide his feeling as much as possible, somehow fearing Galadriel...
  • Book II, Chapter 8: "Aragorn was still divided in his mind" - Kimi
    The passage that follows this sentence is a rare example of the author's using Aragorn's point of view; he describes Aragorn's state of mind in some detail.

It's unusual for Tolkien to depart from a hobbit point of view in LOTR. Why do you think he might have done so here?

    • He has to do this - Blue Wizard
      Otherwise, the rest of the story goes like this....

Frodo and Sam go off to Mordor, and all the chapters with them are intact as-is. After the celebration on the Field of Cormallen, they all go back to Minas Tirith.
Frodo says to Merry & Pippin, "What did the two of you do, while we were off destroying the ring?"
"Well, we were captured by orcs after they killed Boromir, but we managed to excape. Then we met Treebeard, and went with him to Entmoot. They decided to attack Saruman in Isengard, and we went along. After that battle, Gandalf showed up again, and later Aragorn, Gimli & Legolas. They told us that they had followed the orcs, but they lost the trail, went to Edoras, then fought a great battle before they came to Isengard....."
Makes for a lot less interesting story that way.
    • A shift of perspective - Trufflehunter
      Up until this point the world is presented to the reader through the hobbits' eyes. This chapter marks a real change of perspective and tone in the novel. It has been slowly shaking off the shackles of its origin as a 'sequel to The Hobbit' and is drawn from this point on into something much deeper--the world of The Silmarillion.

Middle-earth is no longer the 'Land of the Hobbits'. It is a world steeped in history. The world of 'the Big People'. But a world in which 'the Little People' have an important part to play.
The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get
      • Very true... - AlanPartridge
        it's probably the last major step that began at Rivendell, or perhaps even Bree. Tolkien shows us how our own worlds are contracted versions of reality and that exploring ourselves and the world is the way for self-discovery.
    • It's also a neccessity really... - AlanPartridge
      Because Aragorn will become the focus of half the narrative after the Fellowship breaks up. Tolkien needs to get us empathising with Aragorn BEFORE he is thrust out into a lonely narrative with an unresponsive reader. The same is true of Legolas and Gimli. Legolas' song at the Nimrodel and his kinship with the Galadhrim and Gimli's love of Lorien and Galadriel. We are being introduced to characters that in all honesty have taken a back seat either narrative or character-development wise.
      Tolkien wasn't gonna leave us stranded on the Emyn Muil with three characters we don't know - so he introduces us to them on a more personal level in and as they leave Lorien.

It also (as has been stated) reveals a deeper sense of knowing Aragorn. He has not had a chance to really make decisions - all they've done is fled to Lorien. I think it shows his true leadership skills. He makes choices - hard choices - but he weighs them up carefully and once he has made up his mind does not waver from the path. They could have given up in their chase of the pastures of Rohan but the three kept together - led by the decision Aragorn had made.
The glimpse into Aragorn's mind also allows the reader to begin to decide what *they* think will happen and what *they* think Aragorn should do. Basically, it's allowing the reader to 'take part', albeit passively, in Aragorn's decision making and allows us to feel closer to him as a result.
      • Yes, very good AlanP. It was necessary.. - Patty
        to get us used to being privy to Aragorn's thoughts since he was about to be separated from the hobbits and his part of the story would have to be told separately or else would have to be told in a way that would sound stilted, as Blue points out.
      • Good points, AP! - Annael
    • My opinion. . . - hyakuhei
      Aragorn was a leader. For a while, he was THE leader. He was the Fellowship's 'superman' for a while: the brave fighter that always seemed to have the answers. I believe Tolkien taking the time to show that even 'superman' has problems, something that makes the character more believable and more interesting. I may be straying, but it reminds me of playing video games. If you play the game fairly and struggle to win, there is a greater since of fulfillment than when you cheat with something like invincibility. This was Strider's struggle. He didn't cheat and that's why I think that in the end he is one of my favorite characters. But, quoting Dennis Miller, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong...

Got Punk?
    • I think that Aragorn is probably the only one... - Patty
      who had the real burden of choice. Boromir's duty was pretty clear...to Minas Tirith he was bidden to return. Frodo, Sam and by their own request Pippin and Merry were pretty much bound for Mordor. Gimli and Legolas could have gone either way but were not "answering a summons" as Aragorn felt the message of the dream represented so their choice wasn't a burden. Aragorn's really was; that's why I think was important to Tolkien that we see that.
      • I agree, Patty. - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
        Aragorn really is the only one who must choose. Some people previously have written that he is a poor decision maker because he uses the river option to put off his choice. But I think that for him it was the personal choice that was hard. Tolkien cannot show this better that by using his POV.
        AlanPartridge has also brought out some good points in regard to crafting the story and making people empathise with the charaters.
    • maybe he just got bored with hobbits.... :):) - Aiya
      nah- he probably just felt it was time for us to understand a little bit more about Aragorn. Up til then he's a fairly remote figure... Almost untouchably remote.. the only time we really see him with his guard down is for a moment in elrond's house
  • Book II, Chapter 8: "Maybe the paths that you each shall tread - Kimi
    are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them."

This sounds like predestination, and seems to remove the possibility of free will. What do you think Galadriel might mean by this remark?

    • I believe that she meant - Blue Wizard
      that the Fellowship, individually as well as collectively, was uncertain as to what path or paths it would take to complete the quest. Yet, there is a path that each of them will take, though they do not know what path it will be. The path will be there to take, when they come to it; each of them will "know" which path they must take when the time for decision actually presents itself.

This has nothing to do, in my mind, with any legitimate theological debate over the role of free will vs. predestination. Dubalub is exactly correct - anyone contending that Tolkien imagined a world in which predestination ruled over free will is ignoring his deeply-held religious beliefs and background. He would not, indeed could not, have imagined such a world.
      • I agree. - Annael
        I thought of this as a rather comforting thing to say. In particular, she may have been aware of Aragorn's and Frodo's doubts about where to go when and was speaking to reassure them.

She also has a measure of foresight. Perhaps the Mirror grants her visions of the various members of the Company at different places. Getting ahead of things: I always thought it was odd that Galadriel sent messages with Gandalf to Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas alone. She seemed to know Gandalf would be meeting up with them sooner than with anyone else.
    • I think she meant... - leo
      that for some members of the fellowship there was no doubt about where they were gonna go after Lorien; Boromir and Aragorn should go to Minas Tirith for instance, and Frodo should go to Mordor. These paths they should take, although they are still 'debating' over it, not knowing for sure or not wanting to decide this...
    • Do you mean predestined to free will? No, just because you *know* somethings going to happen... - AlanPartridge
      doesn't mean there's no free will. If Galadriel saw (and even then she had no absolute certainty it *would* happen) that the Fellowship would break up, it doesn't mean it's doomed to.
      I suppose you're saying is the event based on the 'prophecy' or the prophecy based on the event.
      I think, from Galadriel's point that the visions can be prevented that the prophecy is based on what might happen.
      It's not a case of predestination; rather far-sightedness.
      • what about.... - Ophelia
        Iluvatar? In the Sil it often says that something unlooked for was a portion of a melody that had not been understood- I got the impression that he'd created the whole story from beginning to end, and all the Ainur and the Children were simply stuck inside it. That would be predestination, wouldn't it?
        • My view of God and therefore the fictional Illuvatar... - AlanPartridge
          is that he is both outside of time and able to intervene in time. This means that he knows what happens because it is (and so is He "I AM"). It is paradoxical - but I think that's the nature of God. He knows what he's going to do - because he's already done it in the 'out of time' perspective.

I don't understand it, mainly because I'm not God. My thrust of the arguement is based on my knowledge who would not consciously decide, 'x' is going to hell because I predestine it. I believe God wants to save whoever he can (everybody has the opportunity to do what they want) and tries to influence ppl 'inside time.' The fact that he exists outside AS WELL just makes it complicated and a general headache.
I agree, Time is included in creation. But that doesn't mean it is all controlled by God or Illuvatar. God does not control creation; it's His, but he shares it with us. In the same way we exist in time (although we have eternity in our hearts) but are free to choose what we do with the time.
I think creation is a free thing under God's/Illuvatar's dominion - but not his tyrannical control that arbitrarily dooms certain ppl to damnation and certain ppl to paradise. That's not the God I know.
          • je comprends. - Ophelia
            Like the dragon, in "Grendel"... A being that exists only in the spiritual dimensions and can therefore break the rules of the four that we know.

    • I think she meant that the future was laid out there... - Patty
      but it is a future based on what happens due to the individual's choices. Therefore, the individual had choice, put someone, Galadriel, a prophet( in religion) could see the result of that choice and spoke of it. In no way does that actually influence your free will.
    • i don't think it's predestination exactly... - Aiya
      I think it's more like Galadriel forsaw that they would be taking different paths (i.e. frodo & sam to mordor)... and she was letting them know to expect things to change. The closest I saw to predestination in the story was Galadriel's mirror- and that always seemed to be showing only a likely future- one that was fluid and able to be changed...
      • Theology 101 I see.. - dudalb
        I doubt it is predestination in the Calvinistic sense for no other reason then that Tolkien was a devout Catholic and would not have used it....
        • Even God appeared to have changed his mind on occaison... - Binky
          if he had a good enough reason...I'm thinking of Jonah and the people of Ninevah...they repented and were not destroyed as foretold...but then again maybe God knew full well they were going to repent and didn't change his mind at all...gets a bit sticky...doesn't it ?:)

  • Book II, Chapter 8: "They all resolved to go forward," - Kimi
    said Galadriel, looking into their eyes.

Just how clearly do you think Galadriel can read thoughts? Has she done no more than sense the resolve in the heart of each member of the Company, or does she perceive detailed thoughts?
As an adjunct to this question: when Galadriel "tested" the Company in the previous chapter, did she read each person's desire and formulate a temptation for them, or did the tempted one build their own temptation under Galadriel's penetrating gaze (i.e. did she nudge them into thinking about something particularly dear to them)?

    • How clearly? - Blue Wizard
      In a later chapter, we find that Elrond, Galadriel and Gandalf can communicate with one another telepathically, at least while they are in one-another's presence. I guess that we can only speculate as to whether or not they can do so over any kind of a distance. But, back to the point at hand, I think that, given this extraordinary ability, that she can read the thoughts of others very clearly. She may know their thoughts even more clearly than they do themselves.

As for the temptations, I think that she simply asked each of them..."What is it that you desire above all else?" and then suggested that she could supply that which they desired.
      • Yeah, I reckon that too... - AlanPartridge
        she didn't suggest the temptation: rather each member was allowed to let himself reveal them to Galadriel. That way she would be able to tell what each member was *truly* like. I guess Boromir let himself down, as Aragorn warned him (twice I think) about the only evil in Lorien is that which its guest bring with them. Galadriel was trying to find if evil had been brought to Caras Galadhon.
        • hmmm...good point. Never thought of that. - Binky
    • Since Sam said that he felt like... - Patty
      he didn't have anything on and he didn't like it... I assume she didn't formulate that temptation for him! Seriously, though, that sounds like exactly what she did, offering (later in the paragraph) Sam a clear field to go back home to his garden (and presumably, Rosie), and as the others said, similar things and their choice would be kept secret..I do wonder, though, if she really could literally tell that Boromir wanted the ring.
      • I think she did 'offer' Boromir the ring - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
        I think she suggested to Boromir 'What would you do if I made it possible for you to use the ring?' or something like that. Boromir was smart enough to realise that she would never give it to him, and thus, later on he says something about how he does not trust her and the fact that 'She offered things that she had no power to give' or something along those lines (sorry, no books with me).
        However, she saw that Boromir wanted the ring and formulated the temptation for him. Maybe before that he desired the ring, but never admitted to himself that that was what he wanted. After Lothlorien, his behaviour becomes more startling (biting nails, driving his boat near Frodo's), possibly because he now has admitted to himself that he does really want the ring.
        Maybe one of the powers of Galadriel's ring is to 'Divine Desires in Others' (reading Nenya manual pg 458. Hey, these rings are complicated to use!)
        • either that...or the kingship of Gondor... - Binky
          remember he wanted that as well....perhaps he saw the ring as a means to his end...

          • Good point. I never thought of that option. - Cat of Queen Berúthiel

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:45am

Post #15 of 65 (20802 views)
Book 2 Chapter 9: The Great River. Led by Eledhwen. [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 2, Chapter 9
The Great River
A Discussion Led by Eledhwen

  • Chapter 9: The Great River: Summing up - Eledhwen
    First of all, thanks everyone for contributing; I originally thought this chapter would be easy to lead, but then found that it wasn't! Anyway, like Kimi last week, sorry for not joining in more, but I have read every message and made notes.

The Fellowship of the Ring have left Lothlórien on their way south, travelling in the grey elven-boats given by Celeborn. On either bank lies the Brown Lands; an inhospitable region which was once green and healthy, but is now desolate and populated by Sauron's orc armies. Many birds fly overhead, including phalanxes of black swans. The Company is uncomfortable and nervous, particularly Boromir. As he gets closer to his home in Minas Tirith the desperation of his city's situation is preying on him, and the folly, as he sees it, of destroying the Ring is everpresent in his mind. The clues Tolkien has given us about Boromir's increasingly fragile state of mind are being drawn together.
The Fellowship, and particularly Sam, notice that something is following them, and Frodo and Sam share their suspicions with Aragorn. Gollum has been following them since Moria, and again scattered clues are pulled into place for the reader. Gollum has already changed from the slimy creature we saw in The Hobbit, showing the effect of his imprisonment in Mordor in his cunningness and hatred of the hobbits.
The tone of the chapter grows ever darker as the hills build up on either side, threatening and claustrophobic. The Company are going faster now, and the rapids of Sarn Gebir approach quicker than even Aragorn guessed. The River is carrying them away into the unknown.
They are not alone in the region, as the sudden orc attack shows. However orcs are not the worst they have to fear, and a dark shadow overhead casts fear into all their hearts. Frodo's old knife wound aches with the approach of the winged shadow, but even after Legolas has shot it down from the sky, he will not voice his suspicions that it was a Nazgűl of the air.
The Fellowship's unease grows, and Sam ponders time and its passing. Aragorn is showing stress and tension from being forced into leading the Fellowship. However his kingly side is brought out in a dramatic scene as they pass between the Gates of the Argonath, entering the realm of Gondor by one of the main north-south routes through Middle-earth. On the River they are guarded against the enemies of Sauron, running water being an image of purity and power. The River is taking them to their destiny, but none knows where this shall lead. Decisions have to be made, and the next chapter will be the first breaking-point in the story.

An additional thought I had, which doesn't really fit into the summary, is that rivers play an important role in the destinies of all the Fellowship. Boromir will be carried to the Sea on Anduin, his last journey. Aragorn sails to victory at the Pelennor by river too from the ports at Pelargir. Merry and Pippin's development is largely influenced by the waters of the Entwash; Frodo and Sam are given extra hope and life through the stream in Mordor. Gimli and Legolas are least touched by rivers, but water is vital, particularly for Legolas. As GaladrielTX, in her brilliant post on Rivers, said, water is a power for good, the influence of Ulmo being enormous even in the Third Age. In the end, the water-reference is why I, an Aquarian, swimmer and rower, wanted to lead this chapter! Thanks to all again for joining in!
    • thanks Eledhwen! - leo
      as always, a great summing up!

I have to say I really enjoy reading all your thoughts on these subjects we discuss over here...
    • Why, thank you, Eledhwen! - GaladrielTX
      I hadn't even considered the fates of the Fellowship. This is why I enjoy these discussions so much: someone always has something interesting to say that would never have occurred to me. Thank you for being our leader this week.
    • Thank you Eledhwen! - Annael
      Once again my ideas about the book have been expanded. The point about rivers and water was especially interesting to me.
    • Nice summing up! - Beren11:11
      I came in late in the week (again), but as always, was totally enriched! Thanks Eledhwen!
    • Thank you. A great job again this week. - Blue Wizard
    • Very well done - Stumpy
      Thanks for that fine effort! Kimi and GalTex were also very impressive with their thoughts.
      • Thanks, Stumpster. - GaladrielTX
    • And thank you, Eledhwen for... - Patty
      leading this chapter. Great job. The River as metaphor "carrying people on to their destinies certainly sticks out.

      • Thank you.... - Binky
  • Chapter 9: The Great River: Looking behind, looking ahead. - Eledhwen
    Interestingly, in the first drafts of LOTR, ‘The Great River’ is one of the closest to the finished book, save for certain differences in names and geography - Aragorn is still being referred to as ‘Trotter’, and at the Argonath (called the Gates of Sarn-Gebir) some uncertainty about the true identity of ‘Trotter’ can be seen, as Tolkien makes him originally the great-grandson of Isildur. But that is apart from the chapter and is more concerned with the drafting of LOTR as a whole. Otherwise the major events are the same – the sighting of Gollum; Sam’s comments about the passage of Time; the felling of the winged Nazgűl; and Boromir’s growing unease. Chapter 9 is an important transition-chapter between two more static turning points in the story – the sojourn in Lórien, and the Breaking of the Fellowship and the death of Boromir. On a personal level, do you have any hopes or fears for this chapter as it may be portrayed in the movies?

My answer to this would be that I’d like the fact they spend ten days on the river to be shown; I want the Argonath scene to be amazing, both in terms of set and also Aragorn’s portrayal; and, on a silly level as an oarswoman myself, I hope they can paddle well!
[N.B. The original draft of ‘The Great River’ is printed and discussed in Volume 7 of the ‘History of Middle-earth’ series, The Treason of Isengard. ]
    • I'd also like to see the ten days feel like ten days. - Beren11:11
      It's kind of tense in the implied monotony of ten days floating into uncertainty, you know? And I really want to feel that tenseness from this scene in the movie.
    • I remember.. - leo
      a very cool computeranimated pic from the boats of the Fellowhip 'floating' through the Argonnath (probably because it's on my desktop:)), wich I think is so very cool, if they keep this in, and the acting is done good, this part of the movie couldn't possibly get worse for me...
    • I'd like to see - Kimi
      a range of scenery, as described in the book; this would also help emphasise that, as you say, they spend quite some time on the River.

I'd like to see some of our famous rapids!
I hope the Argonath will look amazing.
And in contrast with these big things, I hope we'll see Boromir's descent into madness portrayed subtly but chillingly. I want to see Merry and Pippin's unease; they know that something is wrong, but it doesn't seem big enough for them to trouble Aragorn with it. I want to see the fact that Frodo and Sam are becoming closer, with their quietly sharing the burden of keeping watch for Gollum. I want to see Aragorn's nobility revealed and feel a shiver down my spine, not think "here we go again, the old glimpse-of-Aragorn's-nobility-revealed-for-a-moment-then-as-quickly-cloaked-again."
      • Oh yeah! - Annael
        I want that moment at the Argonauth to be shiver-inspiring too. I must say the original conceptual art for the movie is just what I wanted.

As a former whitewater kayaker, I hope they do Sarn Gebir justice. I've seen too many movies where people are paddling madly for their lives in a class II rapid.
      • Why did everyone (except Aragorn) consider - Binky
        the Argonath a terrible place? Sam even said so out loud...and Boromir bowed his head...I would think if one of us went down a seldom traveled path and suddenly came across the Pyramids or some other great ancient work we might be awestruck...but would we think it a horrible place???

did it send out strange vibrations or something? Did Boromir perhaps associate them with Aragorn's claim and knowing in his heart the claim was genuine... and bowed his head because he didn't like the thought of it... ???
        • Ever been in a deep river canyon? - Annael
          The sun is shut out, it's dark and can be cold, the sound of the river echoes up against the canyon walls, and you're suddenly aware that there's no place to stop, you have to let the river take you. Yes, it can be scary.
          • When I took a boat voyage through the Grand Canyon of the Colorado I thought of the Argonanth - dudalb
          • yes I have...wasn't particularly scared though... :) - Binky
            I'm more frightened in a 'canyon' made by skyscrapers but I think the analogy is still the same... :0

            • LOL! - Annael
              I find that kind of canyon scarier too! But I can believe Sam was scared on the river.
        • I think that is because... - Patty
          the statues were likenesses of giant people. This would be particularly frightening to the small hobbits, as indeed, it would be to me, as I said in my post below. A geometric shape, such as a pyramid probably wouldn't frighten me as much except in that is evidence of a larger ( powerful) being's hand.
          • ok...but what about Boromir's reaction??? - Binky
            • I think that Tolk.'s using the word "terrible" here... - Beren11:11
              ... in a different way. That is, it's frightening, but more in the sense of the awe inspiring sublimity of it. Like, they're obviously not fearing evil from this place -- it's of Gondorian origin -- but they are all dwarfed by the sheer magnitude and power of it, and probably by the connection they feel with the aeons of history that it represents.
              • I agree. Similarly to when Elrond is described as looking "grim and terrible, yet wise" - Caleniel
  • Chapter 9: The Great River: Points of View - Eledhwen
    In previous chapters we have seen how the characters see events from different perspectives. What is strange and wondrous to one is commonplace to another. From whose point of view is this chapter written – from the hobbits’, with their fear of water; from Aragorn’s, a king finally returning to his own lands; from Boromir’s, as he ponders the Ring and longs for the towers of his home; or from the point of view of the unlikely duo of Legolas and Gimli, who perhaps are not so personally involved in the Quest?
    • "And one hobbit!" - Kimi
      Merry from the previous chapter, when he pointed out to Celeborn that not all hobbits are afraid of boats!

We see at least briefly into the minds of all members of the Company except Boromir in this chapter. Boromir is descending into the madness that will cause him to snap in the next chapter, so it's not surprising that the author doesn't take us into his mind.
We have a brief glimpse of Legolas dreaming of home, and of Gimli dreaming of encasing Galadriel's gift in gold. With Merry and Pippin, we see their growing unease in Boromir's company. We see into Aragorn's thoughts enough to know that he is concerned that the Enemy has been on the move, and that he is still torn between which direction he should take when the Company divides.
But the bulk of the chapter is from the points of view of Sam and Frodo. When we get our glimpse of Aragorn the heir of Elendil, it is through Frodo's eyes.
For the most part, Tolkien keeps to his usual hobbit-centric viewpoint in this chapter.
      • What a place. What a horrible place!... - Patty
        Sam's view of the Gates of Argonath is pretty plain...I expect if I were that small and I came up against statues that huge I would probably feel the same way. Yes, Tolkien's view here has returned to hobbit-centric.
  • Chapter 9: The Great River: The River itself - Eledhwen
    How big a part do the River itself, and the other rivers of Arda, play in the history of Middle-earth? Aside from the obvious major event of Isildur losing the Ring in it, how does Tolkien use the River imagery and metaphor, specifically in LOTR but also in The Silmarillion?
    • Lack of water and pollution - Idril Celebrindal
      I agree with what everyone else is saying about Tolkien's symbology of rivers. In general, water is associated with the forces of goodness in Tolkien. Absence of water is almost always the sign of evil. It's no accident that the fortress of Sauron is located in a desert (Mordor), or that Morgoth turns Ard-Galen, the verdant plain before his fortress of Angband, into a dry, ashen wasteland, Anfauglith.

The forces of evil do sometimes destroy or pollute the sources of running water. I can think of four instances where running water is perverted to evil:
- The beautiful falls and pools of the Ivrin river are destroyed and fouled by the dragon Glaurung.
- The damming of the Sirannon, the gate-stream of the western gate of Moria. The dam dries up the river, and the unwholesome lake it creates is the home of the evil Watcher in the Water.
- The Morgulduin, which is turned poisonous from the evil sorcery of Minas Morgul.
- During the Scouring of the Shire, the Water is polluted from Sandyman's new mill. (The Water reverts back to its original state after the new mill is torn down.)
· I was thinking of the passage in Mordor - Blue Wizard
Where Sam and Frodo are desperate for water, and they find a trickle of water flowing down from the mountains, which they can drink. Here Tolkien has this long, lyrical passage about how this stream came to be there, the remnant of a rain that had the misfortune to fall on the slopes of the borders of Mordor and to be doomed to evaporate in ruin of Mordor instead of flowing back to the sea.
Almost all of the rivers of Middle Earth flow back to the sea in the end, to be reunited with Ulmo. And, while the providence of this stream being available to Frodo and Sam cannot be denied, there is a poignancy to this passage in light of Tolkien's broader cosmology.
      • Excellent point Idril! - Annael
    • Rivers tend to be a good thing for Sauron's enemies - Narya
      Frodo is saved by a river when pursued by the Nazgul at the Ford

Anduin is the means by which the fellowship make much progress after their long stay in Lothlorien.
Rivers guard the borders of Lothlorien and Rivendell, and of the Shire.
Although Isildur drowned in Anduin, it was the River that hid the ring for countless years.
There are no rivers near Sauron's abode, and the Nazgul are reported to be afraid of rivers.
Maybe Tolkien was in some way influenced by the tradition that running water is a powerful defence against evil. Maybe it is something to do with Ulmo or Osse. But the impression I get is that rivers, as such, tend towards good alignment, if this is possible.
    • The Rivers of Arda - GaladrielTX
      The rivers are forces of overwhelming power and are associated with fate. Tolkien writes, “…the Elves say that the spirit of Ulmo [Lord of Waters] runs in all the veins of the world.” In the First Age, the rivers carry news to Ulmo, and his power flows from them to assist the Children of Ilúvatar in their struggle against Morgoth. The power of the River Narog long kept Nargothrond secret so that it could be a force to keep Morgoth at bay. Níniel has a foreboding of her fate when she sees Teiglin for the first time, and a waterfall on that river is named the Shuddering Water. Later, Níniel meets her fate in the river when, in grief over what she believes is the loss of Túrin and from the full knowledge of what it is that she has forgotten, she casts herself over a cliff into Teiglin. Upon learning of this, Túrin slays himself at the river’s side.

However, Ulmo withdraws much of his power from the rivers toward the end of the First Age, and it seems that by the Third Age the rivers have become more “wild”. The Forest River that runs through Mirkwood has the power to cast those unwary enough to fall in, into a deep sleep. Strange things seem to happen around the Withywindle, and Celeborn has cautionary words about parts of the Entwash. To sensible hobbits like Sam, rivers are not to be toyed with. Indeed, the Fellowship almost meets with disaster when the powerful current of Anduin takes them farther than expected.
Yet, despite Ulmo’s reluctance to meddle in the affairs of Middle-earth after the War of Wrath, the rivers are still powerful enough and associated enough with Ulmo that evil things, like the Nazgűl, fear to cross them. (It is also said that Ulmo never wholly forsook Middle-earth.) After Nimrodel meets her fate, she returns to the stream that is her namesake, and her voice could afterward be heard there, and bathing in the waters has a wholesome effect. Perhaps the two most significant events of the Third Age occurred in the river Anduin, for it is there that, as Eledhwen mentions, Isildur loses the ring; but it is also there that Gollum finds the ring and events are set in motion that will ultimately conclude with the downfall of Sauron.

      • Excellent work, GalTX - Kimi
      • Nice summary, GTX! - Idril Celebrindal
    • Rivers & Such - Ophelia
      I was about to ask something similar to this. Frequently, a river represents the journey of life, the flow of it (ie Huck Finn, Heart of Darkness, even Disney's Pocahontas). Does Anduin do that?
      Anduin is the center of ME. It passes through Wilderland, between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood, down through time to divide Mordor and Gondor, ending at the sea which can be said to represent eternity.
      "The Road goes ever on and on"...
      In LOTR Anduin is that road, the one which brings all the paths and errands together.
    • hehe - Arathorn
      As all river, it has a valley, and could be used either for sailing the river, or for walking/riding along the valley. So it's obviously a main road for ME.
    • They play a big part, but then Rivers have played a huge role in real history also... - dudalb
  • Chapter 9: The Great River: Aragorn - Eledhwen
    Boromir’s stubbornness is increasing, and for the first time he starts to question Aragorn’s judgement in matters relating to their onward journey. However Aragorn is beginning to show his true leadership qualities, in deciding about the boats and taking the right course in carrying them down Sarn Gebir. This episode is quickly followed by the (wonderful) Gates of the Argonath scene. All too often we forget that Aragorn is heir to the throne, a king in exile, yet here his two sides, and his human qualities, are skillfully drawn together. How has he developed from being the rough Strider of Bree to the leader of Men we see now? And how much more development does he need to become a realistic king-figure?
    • Transformations - Blue Wizard
      We have seen Aragorn transformed a couple of times previously: (1) in Rivendell, after the banquet, Aragorn appears with Arwen dressed in elven armour - and Frodo is surprised by his noble appearance. Soon, however, he changes back into his Ranger attire; (2) In Lorien, when Frodo sees his as he was in the past on Cerin Amroth, again attired, this time in white, as an elven price as he was when he and Arwen pledged their troth; and (3) Now, as he enters his ancient land of Gondor, passing beneath the Pillars of the Kings.

But, as you say, there are steps yet to be taken. The most significant step may well be when he meets Eomer - the great "Choose swiftly" speech. Here, for the first time, he proclaims openly his kingship to a stranger. Although, for strategic purposes, he conceals his identity to Saruman, and refuses to enter the gates of Minas Tirith as a king after the Battle of the Pellenor, I think that this proclamation, more even than the unfurling of his black standard in battle, or before the Stone of Erech...or even challenging Sauron through the Palantir - all of which are important - is what makes him kingly. The other things are more to the point of whether he can prevail in a desparate battle and remain king.
    • Actually he was the commander of the Rangers of the North so he already had some leadership experience, and do not forget he had fought for Gondor under a different name, which is described in the appendix.... - dudalb
    • In the earlier part of the book - Kimi
      Aragorn seemed to some extent to be deliberately cloaking his nobility. His rough appearance was partly due to the rough life he led, but when he washed and changed at Rivendell he was soon revealed as a man of far greater stature than the hobbits had earlier assumed.

We had another glimpse of this nobility in Lorien, when we also saw (through Frodo's eyes) Aragorn as a much younger man. And now, as Aragorn draws closer to the heart of the kingdom that he is heir to, his heritage is making itself more evident.
Aragorn did not expect to lead the Company; only the loss of Gandalf thrust him unwillingly into that position. He's still torn as to what he should do when they have to abandon the boats and decide which direction they should take after that. After Frodo's disappearance and Boromir's death, he continues to doubt and blame himself, lamenting that all his choices go amiss.
To me, Aragorn's essential development comes around the time he decides to take the Paths of the Dead. This is a place that strikes dread into the hearts of the Rohirrim; none but the Dunedain, Legolas and (a rather reluctant) Gimli dare take that path. Two big events happen before Aragorn makes that decision: the Dunedain arrive, and he wrests the Palantir from Sauron's grasp. The arrival of his friends and kinsmen puts great heart into him; even more importantly, IMHO, is the gift they bring from Arwen. Not only is he given a tangible reminder of the woman who is his major motivation; the emblems on the banner she has made him mean that by raising it he will be openly claiming the Kingship. The palantir he claims (rightfully) as an heirloom of his house; I suspect that, had he not already had the boost to his confidence that the arrival of the Dunedain and Arwen's gift, the struggle to wrest the palantir to his own use would have taken an even harder toll on him.
  • Chapter 9: The Great River: Time - Eledhwen
    The issue of time is brought up by Sam of the common sense in the passage about the phases of the Moon, and we are given one of those glimpses into past history. Where else in LOTR is this time issue brought up, and how do you think they will bring it across in the films?
    • Time and Lorien - Kimi
      It just struck me that this losing track of time is a fairly common motif in stories of the Faerie Realm: the man who somehow finds his way into this realm, stays a night or a few nights, and returns to the ordinary world to find that he's been gone for a year and a day, or perhaps for many years.

In this case, it helps emphasise the "otherness" of Lorien. It is a place where the Elder Days live on.
    • Time and past history is evident - Stumpy
      In the burial mounds of Rohan and the tombs of Minas Tirith. In the history of Moria. The mysterious Pukel Men.
      I'm not sure if that's whate you were getting at, but there's a sense of long history in those things. The tombs and Pukel men should be easy enough to portray visually as ancient. The history of Moria can be discussed at Balin's tomb.
    • Besides Rivendell and Lorien - Blue Wizard
      the only place that I can think of so far where the Hobbits lose track of time is in Bombadil's house. As he is telling them his stories, they have no idea whether they have listened for hours or even days. Later, Sam and Frodo have a hard time remembering in Mordor how long it has been since they did various things in Ithilien - but that is more a matter of fatigue. Pippin loses track of how long he and Gandalf ride to Minas Tirith.

I think that it will be very difficult in the films to fully capture the sense of passage of time. It's an easy thing to write - "after a fortnight in the wild, they arrived at....", or "four days later..." - and quite another to put it on film. Even in reading the books, I recall having less than a full appreciation sometimes for how long some things actually took.
    • In Rivendell... - AlanPartridge
      and I think someone said it below before: in Rivendell the elves remember the past; in Lorien they live in the past, albeit one which is rapidly fading.
      I would guess it was something to do the rings and the masses of powerful and wise elves living together...but anyway, the time distortion seems to be a product of living like elves, where the past is like a waking dream, the present is a river that flows into the future, which is looked at with sadness.
      • I think it was... - leo
        Aragorn who said this, either him or Legolas, I think it won't be that hard to bring this over in the films. The only visible diffirence is that in Lorien the fellowship didn't see a moon, and they did in the rest of the story. So by just not showing a moon in the the bits about Lorien, they'll get quite far, of course they can put in some minor hints like ppl looking up to the stars or such...
        • Interesting how in the begining of the book - Binky
          there are careful notes made 'they were three days out from Bree' and things like that..but as the story progresses no one is able to keep track because things move so quickly...or so slowly.
          I remember how amazed Pippin is when he realizes his adventurs with the orcs and the Ents covers only nine days...

  • Chapter 9: The Great River: the winged shape - Eledhwen
    The next Event to befall them is the ambush by the Orcs and the felling of the winged shape in the sky. Frodo’s old wound hurts and all of the Fellowship feel foreboding and fear at its presence. However Legolas keeps cooler and shoots it down so it falls on the eastern bank. It is now five and a half months (October 11 to February 23) since the Nazgűl were swept away at the Ford of Bruinen. Plenty of time, it seems, for them to get back to Mordor and be re-horsed. Is there any doubt that this shadow is a winged Nazgűl-steed, presumably carrying a Ringwraith; and if not, why does Gimli say it reminds him of a Balrog?
    • Gimli has never encountered a Nazgul before. - Annael
      He has no other reference for the dread the Nazgul inspires, except the dread they all felt on beholding the Balrog.
      • Mm-hm - Ophelia
    • I'm with AlanP here. - Kimi
      As he said, we're told later that a winged Nazgul had its steed shot from under it; and of course the Lord of the Nazgul arrives at the Pelennor on a winged beast.

Gimli is sensing evil of a supernatural kind when he makes the remark. It's his first close encounter with a Nazgul, and only his second encounter with truly creepy evil, so it's not too suprising that he'd make the link.
      • me too... - leo
        I couldn't have possible be a Balrog, they don't need no beasts to fly on:)
    • It *is* a Nazgul.... - AlanPartridge
      there can be no debate after Ugluk's (or Grishnakh's perhaps) comment about the 'steed' being shot out from the Rider.
      Grishnakh is very aware of the Nazguls' power and doesn't like Ugluk's comments. However the point is they both know a flying Nazgul is around and that one had its steed killed by an archer. That archer is Legolas.

Gimli says it feels like a Balrog because they both carry an evil presence with them. It can't of been the Balrog because by this time Gandalf had defeated it on Zirakzigal and that was the last Balrog around in those days.
The Balrog is an falen Maia and so would carry and aura of menace from its presence in the spiritual, wraith realm: we know that the Nazgul carry an aura of menace and srike fear into their victims hearts. The fact that Frodo's wound aches is another sign: the wound aches presumably because it is near the evil that caused it - or at least an evil of the same kind.
      • What was the messenger who came - Binky
        to the dwarves to ask about their ring? Wasn't that a Nazgul??? Or some other fallen being??? Didn't Gimli see him???

        • Mouth of Sauron. - septembrist
          I think it was the Mouth of Sauron. His speech is quite refined and cunning. A Nazgul would not or could not have such a conversation as happened in Dain, however short it was.
          • Yes, I agree. And Sauron wouldn't have trusted.. - Patty
            such delicate negotiations to an underling, even though he was a nazgul. This goes back to the question we had about their abilites and organization skills during the Prancing Pony chapter.
          • Agreed ... - Idril Celebrindal
            I think the Mouth of Sauron is the prime suspect here, too. Although it could have been any high-ranking, trusted human servant of Sauron.
          • True, it could be... - AlanPartridge
            I'd never thought of that before.
        • Good Point! I presumed it was a Nazgul... - AlanPartridge
          but who's to say Gimli was there when he arrived?
          The whole Dwarf population of Erebor couldn't have stood on the gates to hear him, whatever he was. So Gimli was not necessarily there by any means, and it probably would not have been made common knowledge, talking about rings and such matters.
          No, I think it's safe to say Gimli associated the evil he felt with the Nazgul, mistakenly (but perceptively) with the evil he felt with the Balrog, and that he had not felt the feeling before.
  • Chapter 9: The Great River: the land grows dark - Eledhwen
    4. More description takes us swiftly down the river, the atmosphere darkening as we travel south with the Fellowship. What techniques does Tolkien use here to add tension and foreboding?
    • Lots of things start to add up - Blue Wizard
      The river, which is at first quite calm, becomes more dangerous, with rapids.

An attack from the orcs. Nazgul overhead.
Gollum appears.
Aragorn frets.
Boromir is going slowly mad.
The open land on either side of the river becomes hilly, eventually closing them in on either side - even the Argonoth is threatening...to all but Aragorn.
      • Good list. I'd add . . . - Annael
        being on the river gives the sense of being carried away, not entirely in control, not knowing what's around the next bend, danger appearing without warning - as happens when they are nearly swept into the rapids of Sarn Gebir. An underlying theme here is not being able to see ahead. The fog on the river echoes the fog in the minds of the Fellowship about what to do next.
        • Nice, both. - Eledhwen
          I hadn't thought about hills or fog.
  • Chapter 9: The Great River: Gollum - Eledhwen
    3. Another ‘did you work this out?’ question. Gollum has been following the Fellowship since Moria, presumably picking up their trail whilst journeying westwards through the Mines, and turning back to follow them. His footsteps were noticed by Frodo in ‘A Journey in the Dark’, and again on the borders of Lórien, coupled with the brief sight of his bulbous eyes. Now Sam, Frodo and Aragorn agree that it is indeed Gollum who is trailing them, but did you as the reader beat them to it? In addition, how has Gollum changed from the slimy but slightly comic creature we last saw in The Hobbit, declaring “We hates it for ever!” as Bilbo escaped from the goblins?
    • Even this many years later - Stumpy
      I can remember thinking how the sound behind Frodo made me think of Gollum and Bilbo under the mountain. I was fairly certain it was Gollum, and was not surprised when he caught up to them at Lorien.
    • I figured it out . . . - Annael
      when they were in the tree on the borders of Lothlorien. When I first read about the footsteps in Moria, I had no clue what they were, only that the Fellowship was being followed. I probably thought they had something to do with why Aragorn was so fearful of Moria. But when Haldir talked about something like a "large squirrel" in the tree, the light dawned.
    • I think that it became obvious in Lorien - Blue Wizard
      When he crept up to the Elves' flet. I don't think that I figured it out when he first showed up in Moria. This, to me, is one of the big "what if" moments in LOTR. The Elves could easily have shot and killed him, they refrained from doing so only because they were afraid of alerting the orcs who were patrolling the area as well. What if they had done so?
      Obviously, Frodo and Sam might not have been able to pick their way through the Dead Marshes. Once to the Black Gate, they had no idea how else to enter Mordor. Would they, as Frodo stated, have simply walked to the Gate and be captured because they knew no other way? This is a critical moment, because the Elves had no reason to spare Gollum at this point - far more perilous to Gollum than even at the secret pool in Ithilien when Faramir spared him.

· I figured it was Gollum in Moria. - septembrist
Gollum's hate and cunningness quotients have increased at least tenfold since The Hobbit. Not only does he lose the Ring to Baggins, he goes out to find it and is imprisoned by Sauron himself. It would certainly give me an axe to grind.
· Gollum hid in Moria to escape the Nazgul - Idril Celebrindal
He made his way through the mines to the west gate (the one through which the Fellowship entered), but was unable to open it from the inside. The entrace of the Fellowship was extremely fortunate for him! Another one of the long chain of coincidences surroinding the Ring? Apart from other ways that he could have discovered the Fellowship (spying on them, following their noise/scent, etc.), perhaps the Ring drew Gollum onward.
· The Ring did draw him, didn't it? - AlanPartridge
Maybe subconsciously, like the power of Sauron drew Gollum to the borders of Mordor where he was captured.
· Yes, I think so - Idril Celebrindal
Gollum's long posession of the Ring had left its mark, and he was very sensitive to its influence. I think it subconsciously drew him westward in Moria to the place where the Fellowship was about to enter ... considering how huge the mines were, it's unlikely that he'd spotted them otherwise.
· it's hard to say... - leo
because I can't remember reading it for the first time, but I guess after Lorien it's obvious that Gollum is following them...
· I guessed in Moria too... - AlanPartridge
I think that was perhaps too obvious. What else had glowing eyes in the LOTR universe that would track Frodo and not attack the Fellowship.
I wanna do some reading to answer the question about Gollum.
· I think I guessed in Moria. - Kimi
I'm sure I knew in Lórien.
Gollum is a good deal more frightening than he was in "The Hobbit". The fact that we've yet to get a good look at him (in LOTR) increases this sense of menace. And we know from Gandalf's account that Gollum has been through some hideous experiences in the years since he lost the Ring.
The fact that he's been described as a sort of ruined hobbit makes it even worse, too; in "The Hobbit" we had no real idea what sort of creature he was. Now we can envisage him as a damaged version of the hobbits that we are already fond of.
      • I had my suspicions in Moria - Binky
        and like Kimi had it confirmed right before the fellowship entered Lorien.
        I remembered wondering as I read the book the first time if Gollum would show up again and how.
        Its a bit sad to think of one of those lovable hobbits as almost beyond redeemption...

  • Chapter 9: The Great River: Boromir - Eledhwen
    2. Boromir is depicted as growing tenser and tenser on the River, making his companions Merry and Pippin restless and ill at ease. Based on the evidence in this chapter, and previous events, is it possible for the reader to guess ahead here, and work out what Boromir will try to do? Or could his tension be attributed to the long journey, jealousy of Aragorn perhaps, and a wish to get back to Minas Tirith? What did you think on first reading these sections of the book?
    • As I recall . . . - Annael
      Even on the first read I thought it all had to do with the Ring. It never occurred to me that Boromir had any issues with Aragorn. At this point we're still getting everything from the hobbits POV and they don't seem to notice much about other people's interactions! I am looking forward to seeing how Aragorn's and Boromir's relationship is handled in the movie.
    • The clues are all there - Blue Wizard
      Boromir's reaction when corrected at the Council of Elrond; the testing of his heart by Galadriel in Rivendell; and now his slow descent into apparent madness.

I think that we can guess at this point that Boromir will do something desperate, as he is consumed by desire for the Ring. The only question is what, and when.
      • Blue, I'm with you - Frodo Hoy
        that the evidence is there for a crisis of faithfulness on Boromir's part. I also concur that we cannot predict (in a FIRST reading) Boromir's future behavior.

I use for evidence the way Tolkien reveals the Boromir/Frodo interaction in the next chapter. Boromir is a complex character who can swing quickly from an almost involuntary succumbing to the voice of temptation, to a fevered attempt at persuasion, to a fell mood, to humble repentance, and finally to an honorable and noble sacrifice and end of his life, all within a few minutes of time.
IMHO, there are too many variables and complexities of human behavior for us to predict the actual path that Boromir would choose. Tolkien wrote characters with depth and complexity. I think it more than possible for Tolkien to have chosen alternatives to the actual end of Boromir that still would have advanced the plot and been consistent with the character development to that point in the narrative.
Or, to put it another way, yes, the hints are all there for what eventually took place, but what took place was not the SOLE outcome necessitated by the foreshadowing of the text.
· Did Frodo notice Boromir's behavior??? - Binky
Pippin and Merry did...and I think Aragorn as well (as was mentioned keeping Sam and Frodo with him) but up til now Frodo seems more concerned with Gollum...and perhaps with Gollums designs on the ring...yet
he knew Boromir wanted him to go to Minas Tirith...but did he realize how deperate Boromir had become????
      • I think that the passage about Frodo noticing.. - Patty
        what he said in Lorien was when I first believed that Boromir would be major trouble, although I "first" read this story far too long ago to remember what my first impression was.
        But clearly from the first this story is told from the little people's perspective, and they are suspious of the big people until it is proven that they can be trusted. Boromir, for all his galantry at Caradhras never gave you reason to believe that the side he showed you in Rivendell, full of pride and later stating that it was folly to throw it away--he never gave you reason to believe that he didn't deserve those suspicions.
    • I think here it is obvious... - leo
      that Boromir is after the Ring, no need to explain why:) All that he is doing seems to be thinking about the Ring, watching Frodo, thinking about the Ring, etc. etc.

it's like a climax you can predict...
    • The groundwork was already laid at The Coucil of Elrond - Nenya
      I believe the readers are intended to guess at Boromir's intentions, or at least guess that the temptation will eventually prove too great for him. This isn't a spoiler, but instead gives the readers a good chance at looking closely at the rest of the company, and getting a feel for their resolve as well, contrasted against Boromir's actions. It also serves as a great example of how powerful the lure of the ring is, and so having the reader slowly drawn along with Boromir's descent into temptation rather than to be completely fooled until the actual confrontation between Boromir and Frodo serves as a great illustration of the Ring's powers.
    • I was never in doubt - Pteppic
      what caused Boromir's tension on the river. I don't know if I expected him to go for the ring, but I knew he would cause trouble eventually. I get very suspicious or maybe even paranoid aobut characters (it took me a long time to trust Strider completely, even after Weathertop), so when Boromir said what he said during the Council of Elrond, I thought it very plain that he didn't take the dangers of the Ring seriously, or was blinded by the power it offered. This was, for me, confirmed with the visit to Lothlorien, and Galadriel's "promises". Again, I don't think I predicted exactly what Boromir would do, but I was sure he'd cause trouble.
      • Nice one, Sherlock. Or should I say, 'Trust No-One' Mulder. :-) - AlanPartridge
        • The Truth Is Out There! *casts a paranoid look over his shoulder* - Pteppic
    • I think we've had enough hints - Kimi
      to know that Boromir wants the Ring to come to Minas Tirith. I can't remember what I thought when I first read it, but Boromir betrayed his feelings in Lorien.

(As an aside: I suspect that it's no coincidence that Aragorn put Frodo and Sam in his boat, to keep them a little further from Boromir.)
The gleam in Boromir's eyes is another clue that he's increasingly likely to do something desperate to prevent the Ring's being taken to Mordor.
    • First reading? What's that? - AlanPartridge
      According to a book I'm reading for my Uni course, there really is no such thing as a first reading. We all interpret 'new' texts in the light of previous ones we've read. Also I can't remember what I thought when I read it the first time.
      However, for the attentive reader (or the one who knows what is happening) there are a number of clues dropped by Tolkien, as you have stated.
      The fact that Tolkien goes as far to tell us that Merry and Pippin are made uncomfortable by his strange mood and mutterings is a big clue that Boromir is not right in himself.
      Your points about jealousy and desire to get to Minas Tirith are perceptive too, for surely they are linked to his desire for the Ring. As he gets nearer to his home he is reminded how desperate its situation is becoming and how much strength will need to save it. His jealousy of Aragorn also fuels the desire that with the ring he could stand against the upstart ruffian who claims to be king od *his* land.
      Asking is it possible for the reader to guess ahead? Hmmm...not even the wise can see all ends - but some people are good guessers. My friend's dad guessed the Tyler Durden thing in Fight CLub and we didn't guess it.
      Likewise some ppl remember somethings and others don't.
      I think Tolkien wanted the attentive reader a chance to guess, but to not give it away too obviously. We know something is wrong with Boromir; but what is it?
      • I believed the ring - Binky
        was working its evil on Boromir. I had my suspicions about him from the begining...back in Rivendell I thought he was going to be some kind of trouble.

interesting how Lorien worked on the others for the better and they seemed to either make more firm their own decision to go forward (Frodo,Sam,Aragorn)...or their own personal conflicts were resolved (Gimli and Legolas)...yet it seemed not to had any kind of positive effect on Boromir. What did he do while there? Sit under the mallorn trees and sharpen his sword and mutter about perilious things...???
It seems he came out with his own jealousy and paranoia even stronger than before.
It seems he not only took his peril with him...it doubled while he was there...
        • Cool..."Sit under the mallorn trees and sharpen his sword and mutter about perilious things... - AlanPartridge
  • Chapter 9: The Great River - Eledhwen
    1. Welcome to the Great River. Anduin, running through the lands of Middle-earth from North to South, passing through barren wastes, verdant grasslands, dank marshes, and rich coastal country. A barrier every bit as enormous as the Misty Mountains, particularly to the water-shy hobbits.

Tolkien leads us into this wild country with another of those pieces of elegant description with which LOTR is strewn, and in particular he says, “There was no sign of living moving things, save birds. Of these there were many …” This desertion of the lands must be a fairly recent occurrence in the long history of Arda, for Gollum grew up alongside Anduin, in the Gladden Fields where Gil-galad and Isildur fought their last battle against Sauron. Once, it seems, this area was populous. In your opinion, was the reason for people leaving the riverbanks simply the threat of Sauron, or is it more complicated?
    • This must have become quite inhospitable - Blue Wizard
      You have Dol Guldur across the River, from which Sauron had been trying to search the Anduin until ousted by the White Council; Sauron repopulating Moria with Orcs; Saruman searching the river himself; and more recently, with the threat of war from both Saruman and from Mordor, the people of Rohan having depopulated the Eastfold.
    • The vale of Anduin - Idril Celebrindal
      Many different peoples lived in the vale of Anduin at one point or another. The Rohirrim originally came from the more northerly areas. The ancestors of the Hobbits originally lived there, too, and had enough contact with the Rohirrim to be remembered in their legends (as well as in commonly derived words like "hobbit" and "holbytla"). Dwarves lived in the northernmost part of the valley, in the Grey Mountains, and had interaction with the Rohirrim as well (e.g., the necklace made from the teeth of of Scatha the Worm). The Entwives had gardens along the more southerly parts of Anduin.

I think many of the people of Anduin left because of Sauron's influence. Certainly this was true of the Hobbits' ancestors, although some communities such as Smeagol's and Deagol's never did migrate across the mountains. The Dwarves abandoned the Grey Mountains due to problems with dragons. The gardens of the Entwives were destroyed in the Second Age and became the Brown Lands.
The Rohirrim had lost population during the plague, were troubled by the rebirth of evil in Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains, and I think may have overgrazed the area in which they lived. Rohan was originally a province of Gondor, Calenardhon, that was virtually depopulated by the plague; the Stewards invited the Rohirrim to live there in order to have a strong ally along their frontier.
Later on, by the time of The Hobbit, men from the south were slowly making their way back into the valley of Anduin. I think they may have been of the same ethnic group as the men of the Long Lake, Dale, etc. The temporary banishment of the Necromancer/Sauron by the White Council probably did much to encourage resettlement of the area. Grimbeorn the Old (either the son or grandson of Beorn) was their leader at the time of LOTR.
    • Sounds like it had become Orc country. - Annael
      No doubt because of Sauron. After the Dwarves were forced to abandon Moria and Sauron's power grew again, all the country between Dol Guldur and Mordor became dangerous.
    • Gil-galad and Elendil - Kimi
      Fought their last battle against Sauron within Mordor itself, near the Barad-dur. Before entering Mordor, they fought a great battle on the Dagorlad before the gates of Mordor. The Gladden Fields, where Isildur died, was quite a long way north.

The Brown Lands that the Company can see across the River were blasted during the wars against Sauron. The Wold must have become undesirable then, too.
Further north, including the Gladden Fields area where Smeagol came from, Tolkien says (in a letter) that Smeagol's folk may have fled from the shadow of Dol Guldur. Human communities close enough to be threatened by Dol Guldur may have done the same.
There were also disasters like the Great Plague of 1636 that devastated Gondor and spread into Eriador.
      • Eek! - Eledhwen

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:46am

Post #16 of 65 (20793 views)
Book 2 Chapter 10: The Breaking of the Fellowship. Led by Blue Wizard. [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 2, Chapter 10
The Breaking of the Fellowship
A Discussion Led by Blue Wizard

  • Book II, Chapter X: The Breaking of the Fellowship - Summing Up - Blue Wizard
    On the verdant lawn of Parth Galen, at the furthest frontier of the ancient kingdom of Gondor, beneath the ruined and abandoned outposts which remind us not only of the faded glory of that kingdom, but also of the more ancient mythology of Numenor, Tol Galen and Ossiriland, Aragorn - who would reclaim the ancient throne and restore that glory - is now faces with the decision long deferred. Shall the Company turn East to the horror and peril of Mordor, or West to his personal destiny and the relative (if only temporary) safety of Minas Tirith?

The ultimate decision is Frodo's alone, and the Company is deeply divided. All, certainly, prefer the easier and safer path, though Sam, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas are prepared to follow Frodo whereever he goes. Boromir, Merry and Pippin are convinced that Frodo must not be permitted to go to Mordor - the young hobbits, despite everything they have gone through, are utterly unprepared to face that horror.
While Frodo struggles with his decision alone, Boromir confronts him. The strategems of the Council are folly, not wisdom. The power of the Ring should be used to defeat Sauron; destiny has put it in their hands for just such a purpose. The foolhardy course of bringing it to the very heart of his realm is doomed to failure, and virtually assures that he will regain it to the doom of all. Give it to Aragorn, or if he will not have it, to me. Angered by Frodo's obstinant refusal to see reason and his insistance on following the advice of Gandalf and Elrond, he tries to sieze the Ring.
A terrified Frodo puts on the Ring and disappears, fleeing to the Seat of Seeing at the pinnacle of Amon Hen. As if a spell is suddenly broken, Boromir realizes his mistake, and begs Frodo's forgiveness, returning in shame to the Company. The Company scatters in a confused and panicked search for Frodo.
High atop Amon Hen, Frodo has a remarkable vision through the mysterious virtues of the ancient seat of the lost Kings of Gondor and the power of the Ring. As if on a tabletop in miniature, he sees a gathering war throughout Middle Earth, the valiant and beautiful citadel of Minas Tirith, and the immeasurable power of Barad Dur. He then is caught between two overwhelming powers. The Lidless Eye of Sauron, searching for the Ring, has become aware of it and is commanding it be revealed to him. And opposing that force is another, desperately urging Frodo to take it off before the Ring is revealed. At the last moment, Frodo summons his own will, and takes off the Ring.
Frodo decides that the evil influence of the Ring is too powerful, and the dangers of Mordor too grave, to risk any of his friends or companions. He determines that the only course of action is to set off alone for Mordor. Sam, who knows his friend and master so well, alone of the Company figures out what Frodo's course must be, and reaches the river just as Frodo is slipping away. In a bit of comic relief to this desperately serious chapter, an invisible Frodo must save Sam from drowning himself, and the two unlikely companions set off alone to attempt to complete the quest.
Thus ends the Fellowship of the Ring. Not exactly a cliffhanger, but we are left desperate to find out what happens next. Consider this: we all are lamenting the fact that three films will be released a year apart, and that after FOTR, we will have to wait a whole year before TTT. But, we all know how the story turns out. Imagine it is 1954. You have just read the first edition of FOTR. It is another year before TTT is published. And yet another year before ROTK. Would you have been able to stand it?
I'd like to thank everyone for their insightful comments and excellent discussion this week. It is both a pleasure and a priviledge to lead a chapter discussion. But, I have to admit that each week it gets a little more difficult, because every week's discussion leader raises the bar a little higher. I'm glad I don't have to do it again next week, and I shudder to think about what it will take in a few weeks to live up to the high standards that everyone here sets.
Post of the week goes to Aiya for this post about how her mother read LOTR to her when she was six and that she insisted that mom keep reading, and that, in her impatience, she finished ROTK on her own. What a lucky girl! Her mother provides an example that all TORNados should take to heart: read Tolkien to a child.
    • Thanks for leading an excellent discussion, Blue. - Kimi
    • Nice summing up, Blue! - Beren11:11
      Having always read your posts with interest, I was psyched to have you lead the discussion! Always insightful...
    • Thanks, Blue, for leading the discussion. - GaladrielTX
      Great summation, too.
    • Nice job, Blue. - Eledhwen
      Thanks! You always say really insightful things I never thought of before.
    • Thanks Blue, as always a great summing up! - leo
      I'm looking forward to the next book, to bad I'll miss most of the first chapter due to school-introduction...
    • Thanks, Blue. Fabulous job this week! - Frodo Hoy
      And your point about reading Tolkien w/the kids is well taken. My 8 year old son and I have been reading The Hobbit. He'll read some on his own while I'm at work and really lights up when it's time for me to read to him before he goes to bed. I think I'll venture into LOTR with him after this.
    • I've really enjoyed this week's discussion - Idril Celebrindal
      You did a very thorough and insightful job at leading the discussion. Thanks!

A comment on your "Post of the week" -- one of the most enjoyable things I've done is introduce my kids to Tolkien, through reading The Hobbit to them, listening to the LOTR radio play with them, and even sitting through n repetitions of the animated Hobbit video. It's great to share this with them. (Among other benefits, they now understand the Tolkien jokes my husband and I are always making. :-)
    • Well done. Another example of excellent TORN leadership and discussion. - septembrist
    • Thank you Blue! A most enjoyable discussion this week. - Annael
    • Book II, Chapter X: The Breaking of the Fellowship - #8 What is your reaction? - Blue Wizard
      At this point in the story, at first reading, we don't know about the orc-attack that is to come in the next chapter. What we have is the Company running about Parth Galen and the woods about Amon Hen, frantically trying to find Frodo. Boromir seems chastened, Aragorn is angry with him for his confrontation with Frodo, and everyone else seems totally disorganized. Frodo slips off, with Sam in pursuit, and we get a rather comic scene of Frodo having to rescue Sam from nearly drowning himself. They set off with purpose, but apparent good humor - even joking about punching holes in the other boats to prevent the others from following.

My question is - if you can remember reading this for the first time, what do you think was going to happen next? As I noted before, the circumstance of my first reading of this was that I had already read TTT, so I knew what was going to happen already. But what about those of you who read this in proper order?
      • I remember. - Hmpf
        Well, throughout the *whole* book, I felt a sense of Great Adventure, an excitement I had never felt before (nor after), and I can't really separate that underlying feeling from the particular feelings caused by the parting of the fellowship. But I remember that I felt sad, because the fellowship was broken, and kind of lonely. I also felt awed in advance, kind of, at the thought of going to Mordor. Frodo and Sam were always the main focus of the book for me, so I was looking forward more to the parts dealing with their journeys than to the parts dealing with the others, although I also liked those parts - there was really nothing about the book I seriously disliked - what the heck, there was nothing in it I didn't love!
        But I remember the strongest feeling that was left after this chapter for me was loneliness. I felt the loneliness they all must have felt when they realized their ways had parted. Frodo's and Sam's quite fundamental loneliness - going to Mordor is *always* a lonely business, no matter how many companions you have. Merry's and Pippin's loneliness when they understood Frodo and Sam must have gone on alone. It still makes shivers run down my spine, every time I read it.
      • first responses - Maggot
        i remember when Boromir first sort of shakes himself after Frodo slips away from him and realizes partly on the top and really way down inside whats happened, how impressed i became with his repentance and need to try to make it right. But i started reading more and more wildly to see what would happen next. There wasn't much of a space between Boromir's 'confession' to Aragorn and the orc attack. They seemed to me to be almost simultaneous. And i was impressed with what relationship must have begun between Merry, Pippin and Boromir rowing together all day for days on end in the same boat from Lorien to Parth Galen.
        Boromir's macho side long tormented by the whole thing and presence of the Ring breaks down, but the true nobility in him in the end has a victory that even Aragorn praises and comforts him with. All through the Fellowship up till then, Boromir was the least "likeable" of the members for me. But after Parth Galen, i cried like a baby when i read his last speech with Aragorn. The only other passing that was more moving for me in all the trilogy was when Gandalf goes into the pit with the Balrog in Moria. Couldn't even read for days after that one--ugh.
      • I remember that I was... - septembrist
        ...as hot as Aragorn was at the death of Boromir and the chaos that ensued. I was as ready as he to chase down the orc band and slay every one of them. So I was not surprised that Frodo and Sam were not followed and I eagerly awaited Aragorn's revenge on those terrible orcs.
      • it would be very cool to read LOTR again as if it was the first time... - leo
        don't ya think?

This is a good question, but I guess like most ppl I can't remember reading LOTR for the first time, I guess I hoped that the Fellowship would together chase Frodo and Sam, but this is just a wild rant...
        • I wish I could.. - Aiya
          I don't remember a rxn- but then I think my mother read the series to me when I was about 6 so I plead extenuating circumstances :) - but knowing me I would have made her keep reading until we found out what happened...
          On a sidenote- I believe I got so impatient that I finished RotK without her :)
        • Wouldn't it? - Annael
          Very few books have given me such pleasure on the first read, such a sense of exploring a whole new world, while providing me with a wealth of detail and characters to get to know. Off the top of my head, the only books that come to mind are "Dune" and "The Jewel in the Crown" by Paul Scott (India being as foreign to me as, if not more so than, Middle-earth).
      • No idea. - Annael
        Probably I just flipped the pages and kept reading as fast as I could, instead of wondering "what now?" I remember that I re-read the entire book immediately upon finishing it, because I'd been in such a hurry to find out what happened that I missed a lot of nuance.
        • I've done that, too! - Idril Celebrindal
          Immediately re-read a book, that is. I tend to gulp them down in a frenzy, then re-read them later to get the subtleties.

It's been a while, but I remember being a bit shocked and very sad at Boromir's death.
          • I was shocked also... - Beren11:11
            I was wee lad of 12 or 13 or whatever, so it's all a little foggy, but I do remember not having any inkling that things were going to go the route that they did in "The Breaking..." So I think I was probably at a bit of a loss to say what might happen next.
      • I'd love to answer that question! - Frodo Hoy
        Sadly, it's been so long ago that I really don't remember (1st man on moon came later that year).

But, hey Blue W., in case I get too busy tomorrow to tell you, you've done a GREAT JOB w/this chapter.
    • Book II, Chapter X: The Breaking of the Fellowship - #7 Frodo's Vision - Blue Wizard
      While Frodo is on Amon Hen, wearing the ring, he sees a remarkable vision of the war. At first I took this to be that he was actually seeing the events that were taking place as he sat there, but consider the timeline in the Appendix:

Frodo is on Amon Hen on Feb 26
The First Battle of the Fords of the Isen was on the day before; the Second Battle of the Fords of the Isen was on March 2.
The First attack on Lorien is March 11
The Battle in Mirkwood is March 15, as is the second assault on Lorien
I could go on, but you get the point. Is Frodo, through the power of the Ring, not merely seeing with extraordinary clarity an extraordinary distance, or is he also seeing the past/present/ and future?
      • Frodo's vision - Maggot
        all the points are very good. Frodo is in an intense state when he sits on the hill with the ring on. So it seems many things have come together at the right moment to enhance his natural qualities; his unique need and post giving everything necessary to make use of the circumstance to seek a way to make his decision. Doesn't he see the inevitable coming war, and THE symbol of all Middle Earth's Enemy seeking him in return? Then he is saved by Gandalf's admonition. But, as far as he (or the reader) knows, Gandalf is not even in Middle Earth anymore. That must have been quite a bit of a mind and heart blower. No wonder he was a bit slow to take off the ring.

      • Frodo has foresight - Idril Celebrindal
        The dreams that he has in Bombadil's house and the Prancing Pony plus the prophecies that he makes at various points during the novel show that he has a sporadic ability to see into the future. I think his visions on Amon Hen are another manifestation of this gift.

I also think that the Ring is enhancing his natural ability to glimpse the future. It struck me how similar Frodo's visions on Amon Hen are to the visions he sees in the Mirror of Galadriel. They also remind me of the visions of the future that Aragorn and Denethor see in the palantiri. The Ring apparently has a similar power to show things that are far off in time and space if its wearer bends his mind in that direction. Frodo only discovers this at Amon Hen because he never tried to do anything with the Ring beforehand. (And Bilbo never discovered this power of the Ring since he only used its secondary effect of making its wearer invisible.)
      • I think the Ring could have made this possible.. - leo
        another example could be the Mirror of Galadriel, my guess is that Ringbearers at times could see things that were gonna happen, or had happened when they had the Ring on. Another thought would be that these are just visions, being sent to him by Sauron to bring him to despair (like what happened to Denethor and Saruman, although they used a Palantir). I can recall also a quote from Gandalf when he says something like: I can see many things that are far of, and things that are close at hand are vague (not sure about how it ends, but I'm pretty sure it was something like this), this could be another indication of the 'powers' of the Ringbearer's as far as 'looking into the future' goes...

Perhaps this is just more of the elvenmagic like we see in Galadriels Mirror and for instance the Palantiri...
(sheesh, reading this back I wish English was my first language:))
        • Not just ringbearers do this - lockdar
          Not just the ringbearers have the ability to look into the future, as the Fellowship is discussing weither they should go thru Moria or not Aragorn says that if Gandalf goes in there he will not get out. Aragorn didn't wear a ring. And througout several books of Tolkien this happens and the people predicting the future aren't ringbearers but 'plain' elves or humans.

oh by the way Leo, je hebt net een hollander gevonden :)
          • lockdar, what the heck are you doin here!?:) - leo
            lol, yeah, I see, although you are already familiar with our MB:)
      • hmmm.. good question - Aiya
        Too which I really have no good answer- but I'd say that he is seeing the future... but not under the influence of the ring- he's sitting on Amon Hen which is the Hill of Seeing isn't it? I'd say that that is the reason for the visions he sees.
        • But is he seeing the future? - dudalb
          • Or just what is happening while he has his vision..... - dudalb
            i have just reread the passage and he does not see any specific battles, he sees armies massing and the two fortresses of Minas Tirith and Barad Dur but he does not see any major battles. He see smoke rising onthe borders of Lorien but not any specific combat..it might just be the opening skirmishes. I think he is just seeing what is happening while he is there but with a huge range of vision.......
            • I have no idea if this could happen.. - Aiya
              but could he be seeing the past? The Last Alliance, etc.. I have no idea why this just popped into my head- but it seemed like an interesting hypothesis...
    • Book II, Chapter X: The Breaking of the Fellowship - #6 Is Boromir all that unreasonable? - Blue Wizard
      We tend to say, as we have in the last chapter, that Boromir is sinking into madness, consumed by a desire for the ring. Indeed, in this chapter, after Frodo disappears in panic, and again in the next chapter, when he makes his deathbed confession to Aragorn, he himself describes it as madness. But, look carefully at his words to Frodo. We know, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that he is "wrong", but is he really being that unreasonable in his argument?

1) The power of the ring could be used for good
2) Those that say otherwise may be speaking only for themselves (the elves, the half-elven, the wizards)

3) They would come to grief, because they would be corrupted by the power of the Ring in seeking the power of Wizard-Lords. Valient men, who sought only to defend themselves, might not be so corrupted.
4) In our hour of need, the Ring has come to us. Is this not an omen of good fortune, that the power to defeat the enemy with his own devices comes to us at this time?
5) A great leader such as Aragorn could do great deeds with the Ring. If he declines, why not me?
6) The great plan, of sending a Hobbit into Mordor to try to destroy the Ring maximizes the chances that Sauron would recover it.
7) Even if it is ultimately decided to pursue Gandalf's plan, would it not be better to rest in Minas Tirith and regain your strength before setting out?
8) If you give me the ring, I will not keep it, just use it to try to defeat Sauron.
I'm not sure that he's being all that irrational here. What he says makes a lot of sense. Comments?
      • Why should Boromir trust the "wise"? - Annael
        Gondor has never been included in the councils of the Big Three. Denethor has long distrusted Gandalf, and no doubt Boromir trusts and reveres his father as someone wise and good. He meets Elrond for the first time at Rivendell, and when Elrond speaks of the history of the Ring, he says almost nothing about Gondor, which to Boromir must look like lack of knowledge. Gandalf's decisions on the way south lead to near-disaster on Caradhras (averted by Boromir's advice to carry wood up the pass) and being nearly trapped in Moria - and Gandalf himself falls there. Boromir has heard nothing good about Lothlorien or Galadriel, and when he comes there, the very first thing Galadriel does is try to tempt him with "something she has no right to give." Then he never sees her again. On the river, Aragorn is clearly uncertain what to do. So why should Boromir trust any of them? He is not, as his brother is, gifted with much insight into people. He goes on what he sees them do. From that perspective, I can see why he dismisses what they have said about the danger of the Ring. As Daisy points out, he's thinking more about its power as a weapon, not of the possible personal consequences of using it. I don't think he's mad at all.

A more interesting question is, what happened when he tripped and fell while trying to catch Frodo? He seems to suddenly see everything clearly and realize his mistake. Is it possible the Ring lost its grip on him that fast, and if so, why? It's hardly the mark of a madman, or even an unreasonably proud one, to act unwisely and then immediately see through and regret your actions. I hope! As Frodo Hoy says, I see myself in Boromir, and am therefore inclined not to judge him too harshly.
        • From a writer's mind... - Frodo Hoy
          Annael has skillfully described some of the thought process that was likely motivating the character Boromir. It shows a line of reasoning (Gondor-centric, presumptive, without insight into people) that is Boromir.

I think she demonstrates very well part of the rationalization that Boromir employed to think and act in a foolish fashion. For no matter how much he may have convinced himself that his was the better course of action, the reality was that it was unsound judgment to think that a man could wield the ring and remain good.
When he falls to the ground shortly after Frodo disappears, I think he has one of those sudden flashes of insight that we all, whether wise or foolish, experience from time to time. He sees his recent actions and train of thought as dirty and corrupt as his face hits the dirt and he is laid low on the earth. He realizes that it was wrong to think he could remain uncorrupted by the ring's influence. The evidence of his own actions in the previous minutes is all he needs. He recognizes that he has been acting under a fell influence and terms it a madness. That influence steered him from the path of wisdom to folly.
Boromir is such a sympathetic character because he did what we so often do. He constructed a reality in his mind that did not match what was true. He mistrusted Elrond and Gandalf, but they actually did have the best interests of Gondor in mind. He mistrusts Galadriel's motives, when it is really his own heart's condition he should have been concerned with. He sees Aragorn struggle with decision, but fails to recognize that the struggle is due in large measure to the loyalties that Aragorn feels to Gondor (and to the Quest of Frodo), not because Aragorn is a weak, indecisive individual. Denethor is a strong and wise steward of Gondor, but Boromir fails to see that his father's pride leads him to be suspicious of Gandalf's motives. Boromir compounds this by entering into the full measure of that pride and, perhaps, exceeding it.
Boromir's reality led to his ill-chosen course. It was not irrational, but foolish just the same. And that meets one of the shades of meaning for madness.
        • mental sloth - Steve D
          Great points Annael. As I've said before, I think Boromir's main problem is a kind of mental sloth. He just takes his father's point of view and doesn't try to understand other people's.
      • Boromir, the most pitiful person - Steve D
        Good questions, Blue.

I've always felt the saddest over Boromir's death because it was his good points that caused his downfall. His love for his father, his patriotism, and his desire to be a good person.
      • Dudalb & others have scored a direct hit... - Frodo Hoy
        Madness does not necessarily have to be defined as a loss of the reasoning faculties. It can also be described as extreme foolishness, a departure from sound judgment.

Boromir's presumptive disregard for the counsel of the wise is the madness described. To his own credit, he recognizes it as such shortly after Frodo disappears.
He is only a fictional character, but in Boromir, I get a quite uncomfortable glimpse into my own very real nature. I have often chosen the path contrary to wise advice because I thought I knew better. I think it is an affliction common to humankind, but you are certainly free to disagree.
      • Boromir's good side is part of his downfall - Idril Celebrindal
        I've always thought that Boromir's fall is due as much to his good qualities as his bad. Boromir is an excellent warrior and a capable captain of the forces of Gondor. He knows his own abilities as a leader -- I don't think his pride is completely unwarranted -- and realizes that, using the power of the Ring, he has an excellent chance to defeat Sauron. He's thinking of the Ring strictly in military terms, and sees it only as a weapon that can be used against its maker. Unlike Faramir, Boromir never studied lore or had much faith in the wisdom of Gandalf. He trusts his own abilities and strength more than a wizard's counsel. This gives an opening for the Ring to turn his natural pride, longing to defeat Sauron, and sense of duty towards Minas Tirith into an overwhelming ambition to be the general who defeats the forces of Mordor with the Ring.

I also think that Boromir is obeying the wishes of Denethor here. Denethor also believes that the Ring should be used against Sauron. And he is learned enough to have guessed what Isildur's bane really is -- his conversations with Gandalf and Pippin in Minas Tirith show that -- although he does not seem to have shared this knowledge with Boromir.
      • Like Galadriel TX says ... - Eledhwen
        Based on what Boromir has seen (or has not seen) of the Ring, then his reasoning is sound. However he has disregarded much of what Gandalf, Elrond and Aragorn have said, preferring instead to rely on his own self-belief and pride, which are fallible.
      • I gree, it makes a lot of sense.. - leo
        however, these things would just be the beginning. My guess is Boromir just can't see the 'long term' effects of the ring, wich he can't be blamed for, because indeed the Ring could have been most helpfull in the war against Sauron, but after that it would cause only problems.
      • What Boromir says makes sense... - Daisy Took
        only if you consider just the Ring's power and not its evil.
        • I actually think that Boromir's Hubris is really taking control...... - dudalb
          To think he could use the ring and not be corrupted when men as wise as Gandalf and Elrond have refused. I also think a "Ends justifies the Means" philosophy is taking over...
          • I'm sure there's some pride at work here, - GaladrielTX
            but I think that, based upon Boromir's experiences, he's come to a reasonable conclusion. He has not, as Elrond and Gandalf have, seen the work of the Ring upon Isildur and Gollum. Nor has he had much of a chance to learn to respect Gandalf's opinions as Frodo has. Given the circumstances, there was never much hope for Boromir.
            • I'm with these two *points up* -- it's not really a question of "reason"... - Beren11:11
              It's definitely reasonable, but the question is beyond reason. It's a question of humility and faith -- acceptance of the fact that there are powers too "terrible" to mess with -- that the wiser course in any ation is to understand your own limits and abilities and use what you've got to the fullest.

It keeps coming back to haunt every major player in Middle Earth -- Feanor and the Silmarils (and by extension, the light of the Trees), the Numenorans and their world conquering desries, Isildur and the Ring itself.
Boromir is valiant to be sure, but from the moment he enters the plot in Rivendell, he also shows a dangerous hubris, and at the last moment for decision, I think a sort of "madness" does take over -- I mean, he does actually get violent with Frodo. At that point, since everything that's happening runs contrary to his reason, it seems like his reason just flies out the window!
              • If I implied... - GaladrielTX
                that Boromir's attack on Frodo was reasonable, I didn't mean to. He was truly at fault there.

I just meant that his choosing the viewpoint he did was understandable, given what he knew of the world. I think he'd led a very practical existence and really had no experience with "greater" beings. Also, when you take into consideration what his upbringing must have been like, with a father like Denethor, it's really not very surprising that he thought the West's only hope lay in bringing the Ring to Minas Tirith. Denethor comes to the same conclusion when Pippin and Gandalf meet him and he finds out the Ring has been sent to Mordor.
I suppose he learns in the end that the Wise were right, the Ring does ultimately corrupt. The proof is in himself.
                • Yeah, that's funny... - Beren11:11
                  I never take into account "ordinary" things like family dynamics when thinking about the issues we talk about here, but Gawd Damn! It must have been tough growing up with Denethor for your dad!
                  • Whoa. - GaladrielTX
                    That would be bad.
    • Book II, Chapter X: The Breaking of the Fellowship - #5 "I have heard of it in tales" - Blue Wizard
      When Boromir returns to the other members of the Company after his confrontation of Frodo, he tells Aragorn of their encounter, although he slants the truth more than a little:

"I grew angry and he left me. He vanished. I have never seen such a thing happen before, though I have heard of it in tales. He must have put the Ring on."
What tales might Boromir have been referring to, where a person can suddenly vanish. He does not appear to be referring to the tales he heard in Rivendell of Bilbo's adventure, or of Frodo's accounts of the journey to Rivendell from the Shire.
      • Another theory - Idril Celebrindal
        As others have mentioned, Isildur and the Nazgul are likely to be the primary sources for Boromir's tales. However, the Elven smiths of Eregion also made a number of minor rings as essays in their craft before forging the great rings of power. (Gandalf briefly mentions them in "The Shadow of the Past" when he's telling Frodo about the One Ring.) Presumably these rings had some powers in common with the great rings (although they'd be much weaker), and giving the wearer invisibility might have been one of them. I would hazard a guess that tales of these rings trickled back into Gondor in later years.

I'm not certain what happened to the minor rings. They could have been destroyed by the Elves. Althernatively, Sauron might have seized them when he destroyed Eregion or gathered them later.
        • I like this and Kimi's ideas also. - inkgirl
          So much history of Gondor that we know nothing of! I also like to think that a few "lesser rings" got loose and never quite made it to Sauron over the years. also that's a good idea about the pre-wraith Nazgul. It always gives me a bit of a twist to ponder the words of Gandalf that they would turn the bearer to evil no matter how strong or good his intentions in the beginning... one might think he knew that from at least one example, that one at least of the Nazgul had the best of intentions but was tricked somehow... how awful.

Gondorian tales can certainly contain interesting information, for those that pay attention, eh.
      • Old wives' tales inspired by... - septembrist
        ...Isildur. Like the tales of Fangorn Forest, tales of vanishing may have been considered only stories but may have been based on some bits of truth about Isildur's history. Or simply childish "ghost" stories.
        • Isildur. I agree. - Frodo Hoy
      • I'd assume Isildur... - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
        Isildur went back to Minas Tirith for a while with the ring before he went north and surprised by orcs. He wrote the scroll about the fire writing etc. The people with him at the Gladden Fields knew already that he would disappear - hence the urging to escape by putting it on. So at some time earlier he must have put on the ring in front of someone else and vanished. Such an amazing act would easily turn into a rumour and hence to a tale as time wore on.
        (Info from Disaster of the Gladden Fields in Unfinished Tales)
      • tales about Isildur perhaps? - Aiya
        I've never heard it mentioned if he tried the ring on or not- but I think it was said that the ring slipped from his finger and betrayed him- so that would be my best guess for Boromir's tales.
      • Perhaps tales of the Nazgul - Kimi
        before they became wraiths and were merely evil men who could suddenly disappear. These tales may have been preserved in Gondor.
        • This idea, and Idril's above - Blue Wizard
          are the most intriguing possibilities to me. All record of who the Nazgul were before they became wraiths seems to have been lost, but it is inconcievable that at least one of them, and possibly more was from among the Numenorians who settled Gondor. And, during the lifetimes of these men, who became powerful kings and generals and sorcerers, in their own right, there must have been someone who saw them put on their rings and disappear. What a story that would have made, and it is not inconceivable that such a tale would, perhaps much changed and the origins long-forgotten, still be preserved for Boromir to remember.

And it may well be the case, as Idril suggests, that some of the lesser rings may have had the same kinds of properties. Although it seems unlikely that the Elves of Eregion would give any of the lesser rings to mortals (because, as Gandalf said, even these are perilous to mortals), it may have been so. Certaily, Sauron, who must have gathered to himself some of these lesser rings as well, may have distributed them among men with the purpose of controlling them. (Maybe that explains the Mouth of Sauron, who though not a wraith, had "forgotten his own name" - which may be argued to be evidence of an extraordinarily long life, perhaps preserved unnaturally by one of the lesser rings?)
Also, don't forget that Gandalf has a rather handy ability in the Hobbit which he inexplicably fails to use in LOTR - He can disappear at will. Maybe Gandalf and Sauron, each of which had dealings with Gondor, may have used this extraordinary ability from time to time.
Also, don't forget that in the Hobbit
          • "that word... i do not think it means what you think it means." - inkgirl
            first paragraph. i know, i know, you meant "isn't", sorry, couldn't resist.

    • Book II, Chapter X: The Breaking of the Fellowship - #4 Does the Ring speak? - Blue Wizard
      We have oft debated the question here of whether the Ring is itself a conscious entity. We can glibly say from time to time that it "has a mind of its own", but here we are presented with an apparently stark and direct example of the Ring as a conscious entity unto itself. There is a similar instance at Sammath Naur, but here, on the Seat of Seeing, Frodo becomes conscious of the Eye:

"He heard himself crying out: Never, never! Or was it: Verily I come, I come to you? He could not tell. Then, as a flash from some other point of power there came to his mind another thought: Take it off! Take it off! Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!
The two powers strove in him. For a moment, perfectly balanced between their piercing points, he withered, tormented. Suddenly he was aware of himself again. Frodo, neither the Voice nor the Eye: free to choose, and with one remaining instatnt in which to do so."
When he finds himself saying "verily I come to you" is it Frodo or the Ring talking? And from where does the other voice come urging him to take it off?
      • No. - Eledhwen
        It's Frodo's inner thoughts, that first bit, I think. He does have his poetic moments, and I never found the language jarring there. It's his conscience battling out - the pure Hobbit side saying Never!, and the side tainted by the Ring agreeing to join with Sauron. But I don't think there's any doubt about the other part - Gandalf. I always thought it was, right from first reading.
      • I always imagined... - leo
        it was a debate between Frodo (verily I come, I come to you), and Gandalf. I don't think the Ring could really speak like this, or was able to get to Sauron on his own.

I think it is Gandalf who urges Frodo to take it off because he implies such a thing when he meets Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in Fangorn saying something like he was in a high place where he fought some kind of mind battle, after wich he walked long etc. etc. (we'll get there later on:))
      • My thoughts - Kimi
        "Fool, take it off!" is Gandalf. He tells us himself that this was his doing, in "The White Rider":

"Very nearly it was revealed to the Enemy, but it escaped. I had some part in that: for I sat in a high place, and I strove with the Dark Tower; and the Shadow passed."
The "Verily, I come" is much harder. My first thought was that it's Frodo speaking under the call of the Ring, but under the guidance of your perceptive question I'm now not so sure. I think that at this crucial moment Frodo and the Ring come very close to being one and the same thing, as Frodo's will is almost dominated by the Ring. It is indeed a close thing, as Gandalf later says: if Gandalf hadn't at the least broken Frodo's concentration at that point, Frodo and the Ring would have been found.
I think I'd say that the mental voice at that point is Frodo's, but the words form in his mind under the influence of the Ring. I don't see the Ring as having a true self-awareness or independent identity of its own; rather it has power to influence its bearers in ways "programmed" into it by Sauron.
A good question, and one without an easy answer, I think.
        • The language may be the most difficult - Blue Wizard
          "Verily, I come, I come to you." sure doesn't sound like anything else that ever comes out of Frodo's mouth at any other point in the story. Except maybe the extraordinary speech at the brink of Sammath Naur in which the voice seems to comes out of the ring of fire. A very interesting, and difficult passage.
          • Actually, - GaladrielTX
            it sounds like something the Nazgul might say. Perhaps Frodo's stabbing with the Morgul knife made him susceptible to some sort of control by them. We know that at least one of them was nearby.
            • I'm for the morgul-knife theory at the moment, TX - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
              (see my post below and tell me what you think if you have the time) :-)
        • right- good post - Ophelia
          Though I'm still not sure that the consciousness speaking was Frodo's. I think the words were his, but the objective is the ring's. I dont know that the ring can think but I say that it has some consciousness. It definitely has a goal- get back to Sauron- and it is doing anything possible to achieve it.
        • I'm with you mostly Kimi - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
          I definitely believe 'Fool, take it off' is Gandalf for the reasons Kimi gave. And even if had not been explicitly stated later that he strove with the dark power, I would still think it was Gandalf. It is pure Gandalf and no one else - 'Fool of a Took' etc.

The second point I believe is Frodo 'saying' either out loud or in his mind both 'Verily, I come' and 'Never, never'. I always thought that it was his knife wound that was the major problem here. He attracted the attention of the eye by looking at Barad-dur with the ring on and since Sauron is now bending his thought towards him, he can be controlled now to some extent unless he really sets his will against it. eg Checking the horse before the Fords, and when they are going up the path to Cirith Ungol and the Lord of the Nazgul stops, feeling the presence of the ring - Frodo's hand moves, even though he had no desire to respond to the command to put on the ring. He had to force his hand to the phial.
So in this case he answers both things - what he himself wants to say, and what Sauron wants him to say.
Wearing the ring makes him visible to Sauron, but the knife wound gives more control. If he had been effectively stabbed, he would be a wraith and have no more control and simply taken the ring to Sauron himself. The evil influence of the ring doesn't make him want to take the ring to Sauron (see Gollum). At Mount Doom, Frodo's will is completely dominated by the ring, but Sauron cannot control him through the ring - he only sees Frodo and pinpoints exactly where he is - and he has to send the Nazgul to get it physically off him.
I suppose I mean putting on the Ring is like flashing a beacon at Sauron - 'Look here for the Ring' - not 'I am coming to you', which is why I believe it is the effect of the Morgul knife wound.
Sorry for the long post.
          • The Magic of the Seat of Seeing ... - Ron Austin
            Lets the User see the visions rather like the Palintir or Galadriel's mirror.
            I have always assumed that the voice telling Frodo to remove the Ring is Galadriel doing her striving with the Dark Lord bit howrver remember Gandalf is also in Lothlorien at this time so he could also be using the Mirror of Galadriel to watch Frodo and the Magic of Amon Hen to speack to him.
            • Interesting theory... - GaladrielTX
              about the power of Amon Hen to let you see more than just a great view.

I can't imagine Galadriel calling Frodo a "fool", though. Maybe a few thousand years before, she might have, before she mellowed out. It sounds more like Gandalf to me.
              • Gandalf reached Lorien after the Fellowship left downriver - Ron Austin
                We know that Galadriel by virtue of the Mirror magic can view other places.
                I am sure that Gandalf could work the mirrors magic as well. IMHO this is how Gandalf knows to meet the three hunters in Fangorn Forest. Amon Hen , the Palantirs, and Galadriels mirror all achieve similar effects of viewing other places and times. Yes the "Fool" comment sounds like vintage Gandalf.
              • Amon Hen - Aiya
                I've always thought that it was the reason Frodo could see so far- it is the Hill of Seeing & Aragorn obviously believed it had powers- he was going to the top to see what he could.
          • "Fool" is a dead give-away - Blue Wizard
            I agree that, even had Gandalf not explained this incident in the White Rider, no-one else but him would say this quite that way!

This raises another issue. Gandalf says he stood in a high place. Where in Lorien or nearby would he have done so? Did he have Gwahir take him back to the mountains and just not mention it? And, what of this extraordinary telepathic ability? How is it that Gandalf knows that the ring was nearly revealed - it is that he, in struggling with Sauron senses that Sauron "knows" that it is out there, and has almost zeroed-in on it? And, how is it that Frodo can "hear" him? Is it only because Frodo has the ring on? Otherwise, couldn't Gandalf have sent lots of messages to the Fellowship telepathically over many, many miles?
            • I assumed Gandalf can communicate with Frodo - Cat of Queen Berúthiel
              because he has the Ring of Fire and Frodo is wearing the One Ring. When Sauron forged the One, the Elves who were wearing the Three 'perceived' him and took off their rings. Gandalf cannot communicate with Frodo if Frodo is not wearing the One, but as soon as he puts it on, then Sauron gets in the way.
              It would generally be a poor way to try to talk to Frodo, except here, in the utmost need :-)
              Which high place Ganadalf sat in, I am not sure - but the Eagles seemed to have no problem carting him around at this time.
              • Very good point! - GaladrielTX
                It makes perfect sense that the wearer of the One would be able to sense the thoughts of someone like Gandalf wearing an Elven Ring, especially when Gandalf wanted very much to communicate with him.
            • Maybe it was extremely difficult - GaladrielTX
              for Gandalf to communicate telepathically, but the urgency of the situation required him to do so.
            • It's an esoteric mystery - Narya
              And it's never really explained.

My interpretation is that it was a "one off." Gandalf had recently passed away, he might even have still been beyond the physical realm at this time. The High Place might, therefore, have been a higher plane, or a high point beside Manwe, or even besides Iluvatar. (Some people contend that it was Iluvatar, not the Valar, that sent him back).
Whatever, Gandalf obviously had an unusual insight and ability at this point.
I presume that, when his re-incarnation was complete and he came back down to earth, he lost said insight and ability.
              • He had definitely come back. - Blue Wizard
                I don't have the books with me here, but I distinctly recall that Gandalf, as he did in Bree, showed up in Lorien on Gwahir's back the very next day after the Fellowship left. A day late and a dollar short once again! The Fellowship travels down the Anduin for 10 days before they stop at Parth Galen, and the events of this chapter occur on the following day. So, Gandalf has been in Lorien for 10 full days and he's not still "out of time" nor on the mountainside.
        • good answer Kimi.. - Aiya
          I'd say that the ring wasn't a conscious entity but had a will of its own that Sauron infused it with. Sauron is its master and everything it 'does' is to get back to him. It does not consciously think that by corrupting Frodo it can come to Sauron faster, but the evilness of it pervades everyone who comes into contact with it. When Frodo hears 'verily I come to you' I think it is him speaking with the will of the ring behind him.
    • Book II, Chapter X: The Breaking of the Fellowship - #3 The Debate - Blue Wizard
      Part of the fun of leading these discussions it the excuse to reread, very carefully, passages that I thought I remembered well, but in retrospect, seem to have forgotten entirely. The dramatic events of this chapter are unforgettable, but there are quieter bits that give us great insight into the characters.

While Frodo and Boromir are off on the slopes of Amon Hen, the rest of the Company debate what course should be taken. It is interesting what the others think:
Aragorn suggests that the Company divide into two groups. He, Gimli and Sam (simply because he knows that Sam would not leave Frodo) will go with Frodo to Mordor if that is the course Frod decides; Boromir, Merry and Pippin should go to Minas Tirith, with Legolas as well, unless he is unwilling to part company with the ringbearer.
Boromir is not there, but we know his intention.
Legolas actually starts the debate, suggesting that the Company vote on the best course, and thus help Frodo come to a decision. He states that he would vote for Minas Tirith, but that if Frodo went to Mordor, it would be faithless to part from him.
Gimli also states that he would vote for Minas Tirith, but that he would follow Frodo to Mordor.
Merry and Pippin have the most interesting reaction. Not only do they want to go to Minas Tirith, but they implore the others to convince Frodo that he must do the same. He should be stopped from going to Mordor.
Sam never gets to the point of saying what he prefers. He knows that Frodo will decide to go to Mordor, but that he is struggling with the decision of whether to go alone and not risk his friends.
What does the reaction of each of the members of the Fellowship, other than Frodo and Boromir, say about their individual characters?
      • Was Moria the deciding factor? - Tintalle
        This may not be very exciting, but I have the impression that even if Legolas and Gimli hadn't spoken, Aragorn's suggestion would have been the same, based on how each of the Company acted before, especially in Moria.

Merry and Pippin, for instance, though terrified of Moria, would often forget all caution, rushing forward, asking silly questions, not to mention Pippin's foolish (disastrous) act of dropping the stone into the well. Imagine such behaviour in Mordor...
Frodo, Sam (always sticking with Frodo) amd Gimli showed the least fear and gave the least trouble.
Legolas and Boromir never wanted to enter Moria in the first place, yet they did. But Boromir, as far as I remember, was always leaning towards Minas Tirith, and never fully understood the need of going to Mordor.
So it seems like Aragorn made the wisest choice. The characters' reactions simply confirmed he was right.
      • Committment and fear. - septembrist
        The entire Fellowship is committed to helping Frodo with his task whatever he decides, including Merry and Pippin. However the young hobbits are terrified of going to Mordor. As suggested by Patty and others, they now have an idea of what terror and danger mean. I believe they would have ended up blabbering idiots if they had to endure the trek to Mordor.
        Having the whole group go would have made the journey too unwieldy and noticeable. Aragorn had the most sensible idea and may have had to order the arrangement to save the honor of those who would not go on to Mordor.
        Forgive me, but I am also struck by the similarity of Frodo's agony and the agony of Christ at Gethsamene. They both go off alone and struggle with their decisions and fears. They both are tempted to turn away. Upon their departure, their "followers" are scattered.

      • We've seen Sam and Frodo grow closer - Kimi
        Most recently in the previous chapter, when Sam and Frodo took on the task of looking out for Gollum. Sam is the only one who truly "gets" it at this point: Frodo must go to Mordor; anything else is only a distraction. Aragorn, I think, knows this too, but he is torn between desire and duty.

Sam is showing us that he knows Frodo better than any of the others do. Merry and Pippin show that, despite the growth they've experienced, they're still frightened young hobbits. They're loving and loyal, but Mordor is too frightening to contemplate, now that they have a better idea of what it really is.
Legolas' reaction rather surprised me. I suppose he's being honest about his fear of Mordor, but I would've expected him to have the wisdom to know that Minas Tirith is irrelevant to Frodo's quest.
Gimli show loyalty and a warmth of heart, as well as empathy with Frodo: he suspects that Frodo will choose to go to Mordor, and he's determined to go with him. Aragorn thinks that Gimli is a more appropriate companion at this point than Legolas; perhaps this is because of Legolas' greater reluctance.
And Aragorn shows us that he is loyal, brave even in the face of an apparently hopeless task, and ready to put aside even the slimmest chance of personal happiness when his duty lies elsewhere.
      • That's interesting about Merry and Pippin. - Annael
        I think they're still very young and haven't yet realized the full enormity of Frodo's task. Now, suddenly, they are beginning to get it, and of course they are terrified. I think there's a little wishful thinking & denial going on here - we know the Ring has to be destroyed, and it can only be destroyed in Mordor, but we don't have to go there NOW do we? We can go to Minas Tirith and talk about it some more first.

Aragorn only volunteers to go with Frodo because he feels obligated to take Gandalf's place. Legolas and Gimli have already gone far beyond their agreed commitment. It speaks well for Gimli that he's willing to go to Mordor.
        • It's not just the safety of Minas Tirith - Ophelia
          Merry and Pippin are afraid- that's pretty obvious. But not only for themselves, for Frodo, really. They don't see the journey to Mordor as a means to save the world as much of a means to kill their friends. I think they're convinced and terrified that if Frodo and Sam go in to Mordor, they won't come out again
          • That's it, I think. - Eledhwen
            They are very fond of Frodo and Sam and don't want to lose them before they have to, preferring to stay close together in the company of stronger folk, who can maybe help their kinsman.
        • I think Moria was the real eye-opener for Merry and Pippin.... - Patty
          even though Galadriel found them resolved to go forward I think that was to keep faith with their friends only. After the terror of Moria they were desperate to go to the "safety" of Minas Tirith rather than Mordor, regardless of being told that unless the ring was destroyed there the quest would be purposeless.
          • In terms of what the quest really means, yes. - Annael
            They've become aware of the real dangers inherent in the quest. They haven't yet found, as Sam and Frodo have, the inner strength to stand up to that fear. So they're clinging to a hope that they won't have to face it JUST yet.

But they're about to!
      • Mordor is too much... - Aiya
        Mordor is too much of an all-consuming nightmare for the others to even begin to imagine going there. No one in the fellowship would be termed a coward- but none of them (bar Aragorn maybe) has any true idea of the horror that would find them but they know that it would be suicide to go there.
        It is one thing to be brave in Rivendell and another matter entirely to be brave when you are faced with the very real possibility of heading to Mordor. All of the Fellowship that vote to go to Minas Tirith are trying to find a way to save Frodo, and themselves, from a suicidal mission.
        Sam is the only one that truely realizes that Frodo is committed to going to Mordor and will not be side-tracked. I think this is where many of us begin to realize how much more there is to Sam- still waters run deep eh?
        Sorry this was so long- :):)
        • wouldn't Legolas attract unwanted attention in Morder? - Binky
          I know he is a Silvan elf and not of the Nolder...but wouldn't any elf have a tendency to 'stand out' in the bleakness of Morder???...Wouldn't the orcs (who apparently can't stand anything 'elvish') have been able to spot him even if he wore a disguise????
          I was just thinking maybe Legolas's relunctance to go to Morder wasn't necessarily cowardess....????

          • I wondered that too. - Annael
            Could he have got past Minas Morgul or the Watchers? Doubtful, I think. He certainly couldn't have hidden within the orc army. Neither could Aragorn. Of the remaining Fellowship I think Gimli would have had the best chance of getting through Mordor undetected while remaining physically healthy. But the whole point was for two hobbits to succeed where the rest of the peoples of Middle-earth would have failed. Perhaps Gimli would have been too combative - for instance, fighting instead of trying to pass himself off as an orc when the circumstances required it.
            • Move 1 pebble on the beach... - Patty
              and the whole tide moves in a different way. Much the same with this story--if Legolas, Aragorn, Gimli had gone on with the ringbearer likely Gollum would have been caught, they would have entered Morder a different way, and if they had all made it to mt. doom no one would have had the strength to throw the ring into the fire. We can't count on someone else being so jubilant that he had the ring that he stumbles and falls taking it with him. As someone said before when we discussed changes it about only could have happened the way it did.
            • Merry and Pippin still do not quite realize - dudalb
              That destroying the ring is the only hope. Minas Tirith would be only a very temporary place of safety; Sauron is powerful enough to have a good chance of a victory without the ring. Frodo,Aragorn, and maybe Sam are the only ones to really understand this at this point.
            • Well, some elves... - Caleniel
              Were quite good at passing unnoticed. Finrod Felagund managed to make himself, all his elvish companions and Beren pass for orcs, even at first before Sauron himself. Of course Legolas didn't have powers of this magnitude, but I think elves might be pretty good at being inconspicous when needed.

Not that we will ever know. =)
    • Book II, Chapter X: The Breaking of the Fellowship - #2 "Some I cannot trust" - Blue Wizard
      When Frodo makes up his mind, after his confrontation with Boromir, that he will go to Mordor alone, he says,

"Some I cannot trust, and those I can trust are too dear to me: poor old Sam, and Merry and Pippin. Strider too: his heart yearns for Minas Tirith, and he will be needed there, now Boromir has fallen into evil. I wil go alone. At once."
It is interesting that he says that "some" he cannot trust - not "one". Are we to take, from this passage, that Frodo believes that he cannot trust Gimli or Legolas? These are the members of the Fellowship which are notable by their absence from his analysis. Has there been any reason to think that they do not merit his trust? Or is this simply a matter of him being more familiar with the Hobbits, and having traveled longer with Aragorn?
      • Who can he trust? - Idril Celebrindal
        He's obviously referring to Boromir, Legolas and Gimli.

Boromir has proved his untrustworthiness by attempting to take the Ring. Remember, Frodo doesn't know at this point that Boromir is about to be ambushed by orcs and killed; he still assumes that Boromir will be part of the company.
Legolas and Gimli are relatively unknown quantities compared to Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Aragorn. I don't think Frodo distrusts them per se, but he doesn't know them well enough to tell whether they'd be able to resist the lure of the Ring.
On the other hand, he knows that Aragorn HAS successfully resisted the Ring's temptation. Despite many opportunities to do so, he never attempted to take the Ring from Frodo. Ditto for the other Hobbits. Frodo knows that they are unlikely to want the Ring for themselves because none of them are ambitious or power-hungry (giving the Ring limited material to work with). He may also be crediting them with enough good, old-fashioned Hobbit sense to resist the Ring's temptation -- which certainly proved true for Sam!
· I agree, Idril. - Eledhwen
· perhaps he was afraid the ring would work by attrition... - Binky
it worked over Boromir...perhaps if given time it would start on Gimli and Legolas as well. It had to have someone to work off of... and perhaps he didn't want to subject them to that.
He trusted Legoals and Gimli personally but he knew the history of the elves and dwarves....and it could be he didn't want friends to turn into enimies...as Boromir had...
      • I agree with Kimi and Frodo Hoy - Malbeth
        It's not just a matter of trusting that he won't be betrayed; Froso is thinging of who he can trust with his life, with the future of all Middle-earth. Legolas and Gimli haven't had the opportunity to earn that level of trust yet. Frodo has known the other hobbits for many years, and has know Aragorn for months now. In addition, he knows that Aragorn has already passed the "ring temptation test", and Frodo has no fear that he would try to sieze it like Boromir did.
        • Malbeth!!! Where ya been, guy? - Patty
          • Hey, Patty! - Malbeth
            I got really swamped at work with a big, not-enough-time-to complete project, and decided I had to sacrifice TORN for a while. Fortunately, things are winding down now. I missed you guys!
        • right - Ophelia
          Its not that he has a reason not to trust Legolas and Gimli, but he doesn't have a reason TO trust them, either. Trust has to be earned very carefully, especially in a situation like Frodo's.
      • Could Frodo be reflecting a certain reserve because of the experience of Bilbo? - Frodo Hoy
        Bilbo saw the dwarves of Erebor and the elves of Thranduil's realm act in a way that went against his hobbit-sense. Even though Gimli and Legolas have not given cause to show that they are untrustworthy individuals, the race and kingdoms they represent have acted strangely in the not so distant past. Frodo is only too familiar with Bilbo's account.

So, when it comes to the question of who he can trust to the utmost, only his fellow hobbits and Aragorn (who has shown his noble character through his actions over many months) get Frodo's approval. There is no accusation of anything impure or improper about Legolas or Gimli, but they haven't had the opportunity to demonstrate their faithfulness to Frodo in a way in which he could place his UNRESERVED trust in them.
        • They also have never vowed to follow him. - Annael
          The other hobbits vowed to follow him "even if it means jumping down a dragon's throat." Aragorn swore that "by life or death" he would serve Frodo. But Legolas and Gimli have never said any such words to Frodo.
          • Very good point. - Frodo Hoy
            • Not to his face that is . . . - Annael
              Re-reading this chapter, I see that both Legolas and Gimli make statements to the effect that NOW they cannot leave Frodo. But this is after Frodo has gone up Amon Hen and he never hears it. I think this is the moment though when both commit fully to the Quest, and explains why they stay with Aragorn all the way to the Black Gate.
      • very good point... - leo
        I think in this sentence he deffinitly meant Boromir as one he couldn't trust, I'm not sure if he also meant Gimli and Legolas, it could be because he might know for sure that one of the Hobbits or Strider would never make an attempt to take the Ring from him, but perhaps he wasn't so sure about Gimli and Legolas not trying it if it was able to corrupt Boromir this easily...
      • I think the last part of that sentence... - Caleniel
        "and those I can trust are too dear to me", is the central part. Boromir's betrayal has already broken the unity of the fellowship to Frodo, and although there are still members of the company that he would trust unconditionally, he does not wish to endanger them.

Although it is a very good point, I'm not so sure we should read too much into the word "some". Frodo is simply contrasting two reasons to leave, in my opinion: Boromir's betrayal and his reluctance to share the great danger with those of the fellowship that he loves the most.
      • Interesting point. I would say that "I cannot trust" - Kimi
        doesn't necessarily mean that Legolas and Gimli are untrustworthy, simply that Frodo cannot allow himself to trust them. He doesn't know them as well as he does his old friends and Aragorn, and he knows that he must take no risks.
      • Yes, an excellent question, Blue. However... - Patty
        just from the evidence he has had of Gimli and Legolas so far he has not been given justification not to trust them. I tend to think, master linguistic that he was, Tolkien simply said some when he should have said "one". A great danger in loving a book or story and trying to get out every bit ov vision we can is that we can read too much into what is essentially a mistake by the writer.
        • A point of linguistics... - Trufflehunter
          Yes, Patty, I think that's it. Tolkien's use of the word 'some' doesn't mean that we should take it literally as meaning that Frodo cannot 'trust' the others in the Fellowship. I see no evidence why Frodo should distrust Gimli and Legolas. I would trust them myself, even though I know the outcome!

      • btw- great question! - Aiya
      • I reread that passage not too long ago.. - Aiya
        btw- great question!

Good night, tOR.Nados. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely delete you in the morning.

Superuser / Moderator

Apr 26 2009, 3:48am

Post #17 of 65 (20810 views)
Book 3 Chapter 1: The Departure of Boromir. Led by Beren11:11 [In reply to] Can't Post

Lord of the Rings : Book 3, Chapter 1
The Departure of Boromir
A Discussion Led by Beren11:11

  • BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- summing up! - Beren11:11
    When I first was asked by Patty to take on "The Departure of Boromir," I didn't remember too much about it other than that not much happened, and I was a little worried about just how many points I could actually squeeze out of an 8 page chapter, in which the most action is in gingerly placing objects in Boromir's funeral boat and watching it slowly float downstream.

Half-way through the first page of my re-read, however, I realized that I was going to have no problem thinking of things to blather on about -- now the question was, "Is it going to bore the hell out of myself and everyone else?" Obviously, I turned out to be not bored at all, and I hope you weren't either -- it certainly didn't seem like it! ; )
Anyway, despite its brevity and lack of "action," this chapter, for me, has become one of the most crucial in both plot development -- as we see Aragorn really finally step into his leadership role and make his half of the two decisions (the other being Frodo's) that spiral most of the ensuing plot happenings off -- and in expounding on Tolkien's more esoteric "issues" -- I mean, the word "heavy" doesn't even do justice to this chapter, in my mind.
As I see Boromir fade to a "black speck on the horizon," I'm drawn into what I believe is a vision of Tolkien's larger "world view" where the largest issues of freedom and redemption and "dharma" and humanity's "place in the cosmos" are brought out and illuminated in a very few, beautifully writen images and events.
The last few chapters have led to some discussion about more general literary theories about the role of the author and the reader -- how much of what the author, specifically Tolkien, brings to the table are we expected to or even interested in folding into our thinking on a novel? I have to go back to what Frodo Hoy -- who wins the "I wish I said that" award -- said way back on Monday or Tuesday, when we were discussing "Fate" and the role of Illuvatar in the lives of his creation (but if you haven't read mine and Eowyn's back and forth thread yet, don't bother -- the "Providence" we were talking about is in Rhode Island...): "I think it magnifies the greatness of the composer rather than diminish the roles of the individual performers. No matter what theme or 'improvised strain' they play... the composer/conductor weaves them into a consistent and wonderful symphony."
I'm an agnostic person -- I'm looking forward to hanging with Boromir, Virgil, et. al. in Limbo with the other "Virtuous Pagans" (thanks Kimi for that image!) -- but what ever connection I have with states of being beyond the immediate -- call it "spiritual" if you like, I certainly won't argue -- generally comes through "art." If I think of the world as a work of art, I can get my head around a cosmology that includes a Provident creator of the sort that Frodo Hoy describes, because it's generaly the same way that I perceive the relationship between author and reader -- we can take into account what Tolkien brings to the table, and we can bring what ever we want to it as well, or not -- the work of art in question has room enough in its "symphony" to accomodate our "improvised strains," and in that, the greatness of the composer can only be increased.
Thanks for a great week you guys -- my head hasn't stopped reeling yet...
Oh yeah, and another special thank you to Kimi for giving me the opportunity to hand myself a "You know you're obsessed when..." award by inspiring me to actually sit around and try to think of how Saruman might have concocted recording equiptment and what it could've consisted of in the third age in Middle Earth, after she planted that little seed in her post about songs... ; )
See ya next week!
    • Thanks, Beren. Great job. - GaladrielTX
    • great work, Beren. - Ophelia
      Your questions brought things I wasn't aware of at all and not only did you fail in boring us to death, you made the chapter exciting and VERY eventful.
    • You're welcome :-) - Kimi
      Thanks for facilitating some great discussions, Beren. I had to disappear mid-week, unfortunately, but I'll look forward to catching up on the posts I missed later this weekend.

Oh, and I'd be interested in hearing your theories on what Saruman-as-record-company-executive might have invented :-)
    • Thanks, Beren! - Daisy Took
      Your questions were illuminating and thoughtful. And the discussions were great!

Witches can be right,
Giants can be good
--Stephen Sondheim
    • Thanks, Beren! - Eledhwen
      Though I missed most of it - nice job.
    • Thank you for leading the discussion this week, Beren. - Malbeth
      Interesting discussions...it's great having a different leader each week - each week has a different approach and different types of questions.
    • Thank you for leading a great discussion. - septembrist
    • You did a good job of leading the discussion! - Idril Celebrindal
    • Thanks, Beren. - Nenya
      I've been poor about posting the the reading room recently, and worse still at thanking the weekly hosts who take it upon themselves to lead the discussions. I do visit the Reading Room every day though, and I am continually amazed that the insights people have in the chapters and by the thought provoking questions that the discussion leaders come up with to pull these thoughts out of people. It's been a good week of reading, Beren, and I appreciate the work you've put into this.
    • Beren, thanks for drawing us into so many fascinating lines of thought. Well done!!! - Frodo Hoy
  • BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- Aragorn's choice (mini-plot-spoiler) - Beren11:11
    Aragorn has his break-through and he decides -- "My heart speaks clearly at last: the fate of the Bearer is in my hands no longer. The Company has played its part. Yet we that remain cannot forsake our companions while we have strength left... We will press on by day and dark!" And the decision is finally made -- they undertake to rescue Merry and Pippin.

BUT -- considering the fact that that tom-fool of a Took and the odd kid from Buckland manage to escape the Orcs without the help of "The Three Hunters" (that's the mini-plot-spoiler for anyone who might actually be following along...), was his choice the best? I mean, we all know how the story ends, and we know of what great effectiveness were Aragorn & co. in Rohan and Gondor in later chapters, so the question is more of just a fun hypothetical -- does anyone care to "spec-out" some "What if..." plot lines based on Aragorn's two alternatives: a.) follow Frodo and Sam, or b.) go straight to Minas Tirith?
I know it's a vain endeavor, but it's been a pretty heavy week, and I thought it might be nice to lighten it up a little... ; )
    • The point has been made.... - Binky
      An elf...a dwarf and a man would have a tough time 'blending in' and 'sneaking' about in the bleaks Morder with two hobbits...and what on earth would they do if they made it all the way to Mt. Doom with Frodo? I'm sure they would have hindered Gollum reaching Frodo if they could. Would they have cut off Frodo's finger...push him in for the greater good.???? If that had happened I'm sure Sam would have jumped in with him!!! Assuming they all made it that far of course...
      No...its best that Frodo and Sam go alone...and Aragorn remain behind with the others ...he must claim his heritage and offer a 'distraction' to pull Sauron's eye away from his own land.

    • If Aragorn had followed Frodo ... - Ron Austin
      He surly would have caught up with him and Sam quickly however his presence would have definitely scared Gollum away.
    • Gandalf, upon being reunited with the Three Hunters... - Eomund's Daughter
      ...reassures Aragorn that he made the right choice, telling him that due to it, they had met in time, who might not have otherwise, much to the detriment of all.....

Gandalf's opinion's good enough for me!
I suppose also that having a strong presence like Aragorn's outside of Mordor, unveiled, (not to mention Gandalf's), as a distraction from Frodo's/the Ring's presence IN Mordor, is also a plus....(that's just my own wee silly thought...)
      • not silly at all... - Beren11:11
        It's a good point. I think that, as I've said below a couple of times, the stealth that it affords Frodo and Sam, in addition to that which they themselves have, as Hobbits, that let them get the job done.
    • If Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas - Stumpy
      try to follow Frodo, they would be spending possibly many days going downriver, with no way of knowing where or if Frodo landed his boat. Plus tracking them through hills on the east side of the river, which would be bound to draw orcs or worse to where Frodo would be trying to sneak around.

So, they would be effectively taking themselves out of any significant role aiding Minis Tirith or Rohan, and drawing attention just where they don't want to.
      • Very true -- - Beren11:11
        Who knows how long it would take the to find Frodo, and really, it's only the stealth that he and Sam have that got them through.
        • That's really the only - Stumpy
          other legitimate choice. Going to Minas Tirith would be senseless, for the reasons given in the thread below.

He COULD have thrown the sword in the river and gone back to try to get some off of XenArwen, but that's the XXX version.
          • So... - Beren11:11
            ...when you say he could've "thrown the sword in the river," should I be interpreting that in a Fruedian way?
            • Only if you want to :o) - Stumpy
    • Aragorn was right. Rather longish (for me) I'm afraid. - septembrist
      As Nenya said, Aragorn made the right decision given what was before him. The lives of Merry and Pippin were in danger and he was or at least felt responsible for them.
      Following Frodo and Sam would have been a mistake. It would have made the Ringbearer's company larger and more conspicuous.
      Let's say Aragorn goes straight to Minas Tirith, what then? Would he have claimed the throne? I doubt it. Denethor was still strong and may very well have disputed Aragorn's claim. Such dissension would have gravely weekened Gondor. Aragorn realized this even after the victory at Pelennor. Aragorn would then have another great captain at Minas Tirith but that would be about it. Like everyone else he would be trapped by Sauron's siege and hoping that Rohan could arrive in time with enough men to turn the tide. I don't think Aragorn would have made a great deal of difference had he appeared at Minas Tirith before the siege.
      Thus, it was fate, fortune, providence that proved Aragorn right in his decision.
      • Additional consequences - Malbeth
        If Aragorn goes straight to Minas Tirith, he doesn't get a chance to use the Palantir, with two devastating possibilities as a result. First, Aragorn doesn't see the threat from the Corsairs of Umbar, and Gondor is overwhelmed in the Pelennor Fields. But more likely, Aragorn doesn't challenge Sauron, who doesn't launch his attack early, but waits until all the forces are completely ready. Thus, Mordor is not emptied out, and the Eye is not obsessed with the Captains of the West when Frodo and Sam are on their way to Mt. Doom. They get caught, Sauron takes the Ring, and it's all over.
        • Use of the Palantir. - septembrist
          That was crucial in forcing Sauron to move early and hence not with full strength. Aragorn and Minas Tirith would be waiting around and not doing much as Sauron bided his time.
          • excellent points! - Beren11:11
    • You're using 20/20 hindsight on this one. - Nenya
      Let's face it. At the time Aragorn made his decision, he had absolutely no reason to believe that that "tom fool of a Took and the odd kid from Buckland" would have the ingenuity to devise their own escape. It was obvious they were in trouble, and it was furthermore obvious that the Ring-bearer had chosen his path, and had elected to go it alone (OK, he was going with Sam, but you know what I mean.)

Based on all the information he was confronted with at that point, Aragorn decided to throw his resources where they were most needed. Pippin and Merry were in immediate peril of their lives; Frodo and Sam were continuing on a path that Aragorn never planned to follow to it's ultimate destination anyhow. So yes, I think that overall, Aragorn made the correct decision.
      • Yes, I know... - Beren11:11
        ...I just thought it might be fun to speculate a little. You are, though, of course, correct -- I think he made the best choice for the situation.
  • BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- "Forth the Three Hunters!" - Beren11:11
    "We will make such a chase as shall be accounted a marvel among the Three Kindreds: Elves, Dwarves, and Men. Forth the Three Hunters!"

Taking off (again...) on the idea of the power of names and the effects of invoking them, we can see how by naming themselves they add a weightiness to their actions -- a well deserved weightiness, because their chase will definitely be legendary -- but in my re-read of this chapter, I was actually struck for the first time in any reading I've ever done of any of Tolkien's stuff that, "This is kind of corny." But then I thought about it (because it bothered me that I could think that!), and I was struck by the necessity of language like this in certain situations. I mean, it's a sort of "pep-talk," isn't it? Like Knute Rokne telling Notre Dame to "Win one for the Gipper!" In regards to Aragorn, it's just the sort of language he probably needs to get very used to using...
Is this an example of "Ara-corn", or is he really coming through the past period of indecision and stepping into his role as King, and are we seeing his first "rallying of the troops?"
Also, on a slightly off-topic note, if anyone's interested, I'd be curious to hear how people feel about "motivational" language in general. Do you respond to it? Do you ever use it?
    • Aragorn is filled with fervor, and kingliness... - Eomund's Daughter
      ...and sometimes he allows these to shine through, whilst in Ranger guise. This is, I guess, an example. I'm reminded of Shakespeare's Henry V giving the St. Crispin's Day speech.

I don't know...I don't think it's corny. Then again, I am accused of corniness myself often, so I may not be able to see it....heh.
      • I don't know about Kingliness in this scene...I think at this point I think he is just trying to be a good Squad Leader....not easy thing to be, either! - dudalb
    • The choice of words fits Middle Earth... - Frodo Hoy
      but would probably seem contrived if we tried to fit it into our present world. Since it was genuine for Aragorn, it works.

I think that is the main criterion for an effective motivational speech. It must be genuine and not mere rhetoric designed to manipulate.
The movie Gettysburg contains an illustration of my point. The Jeff Daniels (playing Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain) speech to the company of Maine "deserters" was heartfelt and genuine. It motivated almost the entire company to change their minds. It wasn't a rousing, "Rah! Rah! Are you with us in this battle, boys?" delivery. One might even say it was subdued. Yet it was effective, because Chamberlain bared his heart to the men.
I use that as an illustration because it is a depiction of an actual historical event.
Aragorn meant his words and I think they reflect the innermost feelings of the other two. That is why they are effective.
    • Aragorn as motivational leader. - septembrist
      Aragorn is mad as hell and he is not going to take it anymore. He feels a keen responsibility for what has happened and will do what is necessary to try to make it right. Hence, he becomes the motivational leader that he was not earlier. From this time on he moves decisively and with unrelenting purpose.
      The language is epic because he knows that he is now the leader of a great struggle against Sauron whether he likes it or not (at least until the White Rider appears later).

      • Interesting interpretation, and I like it. - GaladrielTX
        I had never been able to picture Aragorn's manner as he said it, except as high-falutin' and cheesy. I think angry fits the dialogue better.

Thanks for some new insight into this character.
    • "motivational" language in general - Draupne
      is one of the most annoying things I know. Maybe because I've never been in a situation where it has been needed. I like it in books though. At least sometimes.

The same for those seminars "Learn how to do a thing better/get a better motivation etc". When they tell you to think positive, not to be nervous and bla bla bla. Last time I had to listen to one of those, I sat staring at my fringe and decided that I needed a haircut.
      • The greatest Motivitional speaker I ever knew was my D.I. in basic training...... - dudalb
        NOt quite as bad as the one in "Full Metal Jacket" but VERY demanding....and he got results...
      • I absolutely agree, Draupne - Nenya
        I'm one of those perverse people who, if they feel are being herded in a particular direction through "motivational" babble will willfully choose an entirely different course just to prove I can. I put the "motivational" jargon into the same category as pep rallies, which I also despise as a waste of time and an example of "group think" where it is easier to flow with the mob than be an independent thinker.

The best motivation is reason; if what you propose makes sense, that should be reason enough to do it. If it isn't, you either need to re-evaluate your plan or get smarter help!
        • I agree with both of you for the most part, but Draupne... - Beren11:11
          ...Let's face it -- you needed a hair cut! ; )
          • I've had one - Draupne
            but since that was 6 weeks ago, I need another one now.
    • Ara-corn - Sep22
      I don't think it's "Ara-corn". It's two things: motivational and self-reassurance.
      From his first appearance in Bree, Aragorn's not an inspirational speaker. He's an inspirational figure, but his speech is urgent or cryptic...only sometimes poetic. But he improves as he comes to know the hobbits. After Moria he really has to step up in the leadership department and his language steps up too.
      At the breaking of the Fellowship he makes one of the most important decisions of his life. He needs it to be the right one. He's not only trying to motivate Legolas and Gimli (which he does, despite the fact that they don't need it), he's trying to reassure himself. It's a great little speech.
      • motivating who, though? - Ophelia
        I think that it was Aragorn who really needed to be inspired here. Legolas and Gimli will follow him whatever he chooses- and though they are affected by the breaking, they're not blaming themselves for it as Aragorn was earlier.
        • I think the Forth the Hunters line works here...however, - dudalb
          I fell some of the "Medieval" language later on in the Two Towers in Rohan does go over the line into silliness...and nothing is more silly then a failed attempt at medieval/Renaissaince language ....as a long time participant at Rennaisance festivals I can testify to that....
          • Yeah, it's definitely a dangerous line to walk... - Beren11:11
            ...and very esay to fall on the foul side of.
            • Remember Tony Curtis's infamous "Yondah lies Da Castle of my Faddah" line from "THe Black Shield of Falworth"?:) - dudalb
  • BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- Aragorn keeps Boromir's secret - Beren11:11
    Why? It certainly would've gone a long way toward helping Legolas and Gimli understand all of the events of the day and why they had to follow the path that Aragorn eventually chose for them.

Boromir's lapse galvanized Frodo into making the decision that he did, but considering Frodo's not too private uneasiness up to that point about what direction the quest should take, it must have been hard for Legolas and Gimli to understand why he suddenly chose the path that he did, outside of the context of what went down on Amon Hen.
I think it's evident, and it seems like we all agree, that Aragorn has forgiven Boromir, but L. & G. don't find out that his character was ever even in question. Does Aragorn not want to sully their memory -- the world's memory -- of Boromir? Or maybe in a very practical sense, he just doesn't want to get into it for expediency's sake, or whatever?
    • Aragorn shows discretion and kind sensitivity... - Eomund's Daughter
      ...in not revealing Boromir's last words. Most importantly, I think, he acknowledges with his silence the fact that Boromir has, in essence, redeemed himself. Therefore, there's no reason for Aragorn to sully his image, especially since he's passed on, in peace, "doing some good deed".

I like what folks are saying about the Confessional air about the interaction; I think there may be something to that.
The words and wishes of the dying and dead should be honored, in all ways.
      • Yes. Even if Boromir had survived his wounds.. - Frodo Hoy
        do we agree that Aragorn would not have revealed Boromir's words, but would have allowed Boromir the dignity of choosing how and when to reveal his "disgrace" to the others?
        • Yes, I do agree. - Beren11:11
    • It's a character issue... - Frodo Hoy
      A person of character is reluctant to share a story, even if true, that would serve to damage the reputation of a friend/comrade/associate. I would venture to say that Aragorn first spoke of this only to Frodo, as it would not be breaking a confidence and it may have served to restore esteem for Boromir in Frodo's mind.

Frankly, I don't want the kind of friends who would tell my dark secrets to my other friends. Do any of you?
    • There was no need... - Malbeth
      to ruin Boromir's reputation, in Aragorn's opinion. What purpose would it serve to tell the others? Boromir was a good man, a hero, who failed to resist the lure of the ring, but died a hero's death anyway. Aragorn had passed the test once himself, in Bree, but he knows the temptation is powerful, and failure didn't make Boromir an evil man, just one who wasn't quite strong enough. Also, I agree that he felt some obligation to keep the confession secret.

I hope that later he told both Frodo and Faramir about Boromir's last words.
    • There's a hint of the Confessional about this - Kimi
      I don't think that Aragorn thinks he has the right to tell anyone else what Boromir confessed to. And what good would it do? It wouldn't change any decisions that Legolas and Gimli now make.

They probably suspect the truth, but they don't probe for it. Perhaps they're all in "don't speak ill of the dead" mode. Boromir can't defend himself, after all.
      • Considering that Tolkien was a devout Catholic, it is logical this scene would resemble the rite of confession.... - dudalb
      • I agree, and I also think that it was a king-subject thing. - Annael
        Boromir's confession to Aragorn has always struck me as evidence that Boromir finally accepted Aragorn as his liege, as the person to whom he owed fealty and the complete truth. Aragorn's acceptance of this fealty puts the responsibility on him to reveal the truth about Boromir only as he sees fit. I imagine that he would tell Faramir, as Faramir had the right to know (and already knew about Boromir from Frodo).
        • Re: King-subject thing - Frodo Hoy
          I want to believe that Boromir accepted Aragorn's kingship, but some of his last words leave me feeling uncertain on the issue, "Go to Minas Tirith and save my people!"

I know his use of "my people" doesn't conclusively demonstrate either side of the issue. It just leaves me feeling ambivalent.
I want to believe...help me go beyond my skepticism.
          • Passing the rod of office on . . . - Annael
            I found this statement equal in symbolism to Faramir later resigning the rod of the Stewardship to Aragorn. Both men are saying "this WAS my responsibility, but I now give it to you."
            • I like your perspective on this - thanks. - Frodo Hoy
          • Not sure I can help... - Beren11:11
            ...because I think you've convinced me that it's still sort of a challenge from Boromir for Aragorn to "prove it," so to speak. But knowing that he's about to die, I also feel like he knows Aragorn will rise to the occasion...
        • That's true... - Beren11:11
          Up to the point of his confession, he never really put his faith in Aragorn, but rests all of his hope and faith in him with his last words.
      • Yeah, that's a good point... - Beren11:11
        Aragorn as Confessor to Boromir -- it would be "uncouth" for him to reveal what he has learned, especially after he personally absolved him. There seems to be no need to dredge it all up again.
        • maybe... - lockdar
          Aragorn wouldn't want the rest of the fellowship to know one of them has been tempted to take the Ring. It might be kinda demotivating for them.
          And since they were about to make an important decision he didn't wanted L & G's thoughts turned to something else.
          • I think he would have told Frodo eventually... - Binky
            keeping in mind what Frodo's last memories of Boromir were...Aragorn would probably tell him what happened right after the Fellowship dissovled...I think I would have in similar situations......although if Frodo heard the story of how Boromir fought for Merry and Pippin he may have figured it out on his own...


  • BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- Cosmology: "Rauros roared on unchanging." - Beren11:11
    "He floated by them, and slowly his boat departed, waning to a dark spot against the golden light; and then suddenly, it vanished. Rauros roared on unchanging."

Boromoir has just given his life -- he died in sacrifice -- bravely accepting a tragic fate, that two of his companions (who he really barely knew) might have some slim chance of holding onto their's, but as his boat passes the remaining members of the company, "he" becomes an "it" -- a "dark spot against the golden light," and "Rauros roared on unchanging." How humbling! What is the significance of our actions in the face of unchanging nature? The falls have taken no notice of events that to us are so momentous! How insignificant are we -- "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" and all that - and yet, how long would Rauros go on roaring unchanged if not for the actions of even the smallest members of the company, or of Middle Earth in general?
Again and again, from the earliest moment of Tolkien's world that we are privileged to glimpse, the idea keeps coming back to me: know your place in the symphony -- play your own part, yes, but do not interfere with the other parts of the orchestra -- let them play their own parts as well. Melkor is the first to attempt to upset this balance, and everyone that follows who attempts to do the same -- who attempts to control that which is quite simpy beyond their grasp or which they have no right to control: the light of the trees, immortality, the wills of the peoples of Middle Earth -- meets the same ignoble end.
In this context, when Boromir becomes a "dark spot against the horizon," might it be that it's not that he is shown to have been insignificant, but that he has been shown to have been "part of the whole," and that in giving his life, he did so to aid in the quest to maintain that balance that Sauron seeks to upset - to ensure that Rauros goes on "unchanging?"
We've been talking quite a bit about Illuvatar and the "grand symphony." This chapter, more than others, really leads me to consider the cosmology that underlies all of Tolkien's works, and which mirrors what I believe is the cosmology that he feels underlies this world as well. In his world, there is a God, and that God has set life in motion -- in Arda, Tolkien depicts it as a symphony. That motion maintains its inertia and avoids entropy through the freely willful actions of it parts (animal, vegetable, and mineral), as long as they maintain their harmonious balance.
Is the goal of the quest then, really to deprive Sauron of the power to upset this balance -- to ensure that Rauros goes on? And does Rauros know this? And is that why it carries Boromir over safely?
    • Arda marred - Kimi
      This gets into the question of what Sauron would do if he did win: would he try to turn all Middle-earth into a huge Mordor?

Keeping the balance as you describe might be the motive for the Valar, and perhaps the Great (Elrond, Galadriel, Gandalf, etc). I don't think Frodo sees it in those terms, though. Especially since he doesn't really expect to succeed.
      • makes me think - Binky
        of something Sam said...(jumping ahead a bit) when he gazed up at the stars and realized that no matter what they did here on earth, no matter how great their struggles...the stars would keep on shining untouched by it all.

        • That's a perfect example, Bink-ster... - Beren11:11
          And, as small as he feels, it's his struggle that actually holds the continued shining of those stars in the balance, IMHO...
  • BOOK III, Chapter 1 -- The Funeral Song - Beren11:11
    "His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest;
    And Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast.
    O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze
    To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days."

I might as well tell you all that I'm a songwriter by trade -- but I'll be damned if I could ever come up with stuff like this on the spot! Aragorn and Legolas could've had a great future in the music biz if they chose to...
But all of them -- Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli seem to maybe know this as a specific type of funeral song: asking the four winds for tidings of the departed, and maybe you just plug in the specifics? Legolas picks the second verse right up from Aragorn in the same form, and Gimli knows that he's been left the last verse -- the east wind -- without any prompting. So like the boat arrangement, is there an antecedant to this type of funeral song?
But more importantly, why is song itself so important in Middle Earth? We know that song was more important to the lives of people in pre-literate times, in forming their vision of themselves as a culture or as a part of history, etc. Middle Earth seems to exist in two different worlds -- the world of written history, where things that are to be remembered are specific and often mundane, and the world of oral history, where things are broader and more allegorical. In that world, the songs are more than entertainment -- they're the link to that broad history of allegory that informs the consiousness of an entire world or whatever.
I guess my question is two-fold: why are the allegorical songs still so important in Middle Earth? And do they still play an important role with us?
On a less "broad and allegorical" note, and on a more "specific and mundane" one, do those sorts of songs exist today? Is anyone creating the equivalent? If so, could you tell me? Because I'd like to find them... ; )
    • Literacy is not universal in Middle-earth. - Kimi
      We're told that many hobbits never learn their "letters", and I get the feeling that the Rohirrim don't use the written word much, beyond the royal household.

Writing exists in Middle-earth, of course; there are many references to written historical records. But oral transmission of knowledge and of art still seems very important.
In fact, I wonder if a system of musical notation exists in Middle-earth. I suspect not, which would mean that tunes can only be preserved orally. There certainly doesn't appear to be any recording technology (though I wouldn't put it past Saruman...).
In such a society, skills such as memorising genealogies, annals and songs are valued far more than in our modern societies. We have echoes of this in NZ, where the Maori language had no written form a mere two centuries ago: to recite one's whakapapa (genealogy) is an important feat, and it's a truism among both Maori and non-Maori that all Maori can sing (which is not completely true, but they certainly have more than their share of singers).
      • Wow -- thanks for that info, Kimi... - Beren11:11
        NZ and its relationship with the Maori has always been of interest to me. It seems to be pretty progressive place (comparitively speaking)...

It actually sort of fills my heart up with mixed emotions, if I can be so corny, to hear the statement about all Maori being able to sing. It does seem to be necessary sometimes, doesn't it?
        • Well, we have our share of sins to atone for :-) (Off-topic) - Kimi
          But yes, New Zealand is a society far more tolerant of differences (of all sorts) than it was when I was growing up, in the 60s and early 70s. For instance, we have several openly-gay MPs and one transsexual MP, and the number of Maori in parliament matches their proportion of the population fairly closely. Our record in race relations has many blots on it, but compared to many countries it's quite bright. I hesitate to say that, though; the dangers of complacency are very real.

Getting slightly back on topic :-) (the lapse is my fault, not yours) the karanga, (welcoming song) onto a marae (meeting house) is a spine-tingling experience. It's somewhere between a chant and a song (unaccompanied), and always seems to me to have a yearning sound. If you ever come to NZ, I hope you can visit a marae.
          • I read this wonderful book recently - Annael
            Called "First Light." It was by a New York museum curator who was put in charge of bringing an exhibit of Maori "artifacts" to the US. She had to go to NZ first to help pack the stuff up. Turns out to the Maori, these were not things, they were people, ancestors, gods. Imagine the New Yorker's response at first, but she becomes a believer in time (and eventually moved to NZ I believe). One of the most moving parts of the book is her description of the ceremony they have each time the show opens in a new town, at first light. It sounds similar to the karanga.

BTW, is it "Mah-ri"? I grew up saying "Mah-oh-ri" but I hear that's wrong.
            • Sounds cool... - Beren11:11
              I'll have to check that book out.

I've always said "Mow-ree." Help us Kimi!!
          • back off topic... way off topic, actually... - Beren11:11
            Yeah, I really hope to get there someday. I've actually been influenced pretty heavily by, or at least "into" a lot of NZ musicians -- The Chills, the Finn bros., Feedtime, Bailter Space, and Dead C, to name a few; but I'm sure the "karanga" and the "marae" would probably top them all!

Every time I get so sick of America that I seriously consider whether I want to raise kids here or not, New Zealand always waves its flag in front of my eyes... ; )
But hey -- for better or for worse, the north east of the USA is in my blood, and I don't think I could leave it for ever...
            • I know what you mean about the blood - Kimi
              At a deep level, you start to belong to the land.

I lived in England for two years and had many happy times there; I spent nearly a year in Sydney and enjoyed it; we've travelled quite a bit in Europe, and been to some stunning places. I'm sure there are many "better" places to live than in NZ, but it's hard for me to imagine living anywhere else. The only other place that's ever spoken to my heart in quite the same way is the small island off the west coast of Sweden where some of my ancestors came from. It, too, is "home", in a deep sense. But I haven't tried spending a winter there :-)
Lorien and Rivendell are beautiful; Minas Tirith is grand. But the Shire is still Home :-)