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**A Knife in the Dark** 1. The House at Crickhollow stood silent

squire
Valinor


Jan 14 2008, 11:30pm


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**A Knife in the Dark** 1. The House at Crickhollow stood silent Can't Post

Welcome to this week’s Reading Room discussion of The Lord of the Rings. We are at Chapter 11, the next to last chapter of Book One. I will be tossing odd questions into the air for anyone to catch. Please feel free to comment on other aspects of the story that interest you!

Our tale so far: Strider has won the trust of the hobbits, or at least of Frodo, and they have agreed to let him guide them to Rivendell. For the night, fearing an attack by the Black Riders who are known to be in Bree, they will sleep in another room.

But this chapter opens with a quick transition back to the Shire:

As they prepared for sleep in the inn at Bree, darkness lay on Buckland; a mist strayed in the dells and along the river-bank. The house at Crickhollow stood silent. Fatty Bolger opened the door cautiously and peered out. A feeling of fear had been growing on him all day, and he was unable to rest or go to bed: there was a brooding threat in the breathless night-air. As he stared out into the gloom, a black shadow moved under the trees; the gate seemed to open of its own accord and close again without a sound. Terror seized him. He shrank back, and for a moment he stood trembling in the hall. Then he shut and locked the door.
The night deepened. There came the soft sound of horses led with stealth along the lane. Outside the gate they stopped, and three black figures entered, like shades of night creeping across the ground. One went to the door, one to the corner of the house on either side; and there they stood, as still as the shadows of stones, while night went slowly on. The house and the quiet trees seemed to be waiting breathlessly.
There was a faint stir in the leaves, and a cock crowed far away. The cold hour before dawn was passing. The figure by the door moved. In the dark without moon or stars a drawn blade gleamed, as if a chill light had been unsheathed. There was a blow, soft but heavy, and the door shuddered.
'Open, in the name of Mordor!' said a voice thin and menacing.
At a second blow the door yielded and fell back, with timbers burst and lock broken. The black figures passed swiftly in.

A. Who’s point of view is this passage being told from? What effects are achieved by the writing?

B. What do we learn about the Black Riders, their equipment, and their methods, from this passage?

C. “There they stood, as still as the shadows of stones” – comments?

At that moment, among the trees nearby, a horn rang out. It rent the night like fire on a hill-top.
AWAKE! FEAR! FIRE! FOES! AWAKE!
Fatty Bolger had not been idle. As soon as he saw the dark shapes creep from the garden, he knew that he must run for it, or perish. And run he did, out of the back door, through the garden, and over the fields. When he reached the nearest house, more than a mile away, he collapsed on the doorstep. 'No, no, no!' he was crying. 'No, not me! I haven't got it!' It was some time before anyone could make out what he was babbling about. At last they got the idea that enemies were in Buckland, some strange invasion from the Old Forest. And then they lost no more time.
FEAR! FIRE! FOES!
The Brandybucks were blowing the Horn-call of Buckland, that had not been sounded for a hundred years, not since the white wolves came in the Fell Winter, when the Brandywine was frozen over.
AWAKE! AWAKE!
Far-away answering horns were heard. The alarm was spreading. The black figures fled from the house. One of them let fall a hobbit-cloak on the step, as he ran. In the lane the noise of hoofs broke out, and gathering to a gallop, went hammering away into the darkness. All about Crickhollow there was the sound of horns blowing, and voices crying and feet running. But the Black Riders rode like a gale to the North-gate. Let the little people blow! Sauron would deal with them later. Meanwhile they had another errand: they knew now that the house was empty and the Ring had gone. They rode down the guards at the gate and vanished from the Shire.

D. How does fire on a hill-top rend the night?

E. If the Horn-call of Buckland has not been sounded for more than a hundred years, how likely is it that everyone in the district immediately “gets the idea that enemies are in Buckland”, “loses no time”, “spreads the alarm”, “cries”, “runs” and generally act like the Home Guard when the Luftwaffe is spotted?

F. How does Fatty’s behavior compare with Merry’s (a true Brandybuck) at Bree that same evening?

G. I thought Sauron does not allow his people to use his “right name” – as Aragorn tells us later on.

H. This has been discussed before, but what the heck have the Black Riders been doing between the evening of the 25th of September, when Frodo crossed the Brandywine with a Rider at his heels, and now which is the early morning of the 30th?



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

Subject User Time
**A Knife in the Dark** 1. The House at Crickhollow stood silent squire Send a private message to squire Jan 14 2008, 11:30pm
    I'll try Millican Send a private message to Millican Jan 15 2008, 12:12am
    The Omniscient Narrator steps silently out from the shadows. Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Jan 15 2008, 12:19am
        you guys know too much (said nicely) Millican Send a private message to Millican Jan 15 2008, 12:29am
            Nah, it's all in knowing where to look. Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Jan 15 2008, 12:36am
            The movements of the Nazgul are quite complicated. Curious Send a private message to Curious Jan 16 2008, 6:22pm
                Some of the notes cited there... N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 17 2008, 5:41am
    Some answers SilentLion Send a private message to SilentLion Jan 15 2008, 12:46am
    rendition Finding Frodo Send a private message to Finding Frodo Jan 15 2008, 5:50am
    well elostirion74 Send a private message to elostirion74 Jan 15 2008, 7:13am
    Thoughts. Curious Send a private message to Curious Jan 15 2008, 10:42am
    If a blow falls on a door... FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Jan 15 2008, 11:29am
        And we would have gotten the Ring, too, Curious Send a private message to Curious Jan 16 2008, 11:24pm
            Aren't the Nazgûl less active in the later books? N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 17 2008, 5:47am
                Precisely. Curious Send a private message to Curious Jan 17 2008, 1:44pm
                    Tolkien used your explanation, though Aragorn did not. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 17 2008, 3:42pm
                        Really? Cool! If you can give me a cite, Curious Send a private message to Curious Jan 17 2008, 3:57pm
                            "The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion", pp. 180-181. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 17 2008, 4:08pm
                                I am referring to the 2-volume set. Curious Send a private message to Curious Jan 17 2008, 4:38pm
                                    Yes! visualweasel Send a private message to visualweasel Jan 17 2008, 4:57pm
                                        Maybe for my birthday. Curious Send a private message to Curious Jan 17 2008, 5:01pm
                                    No! N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 27 2008, 9:46pm
    A couple of replies visualweasel Send a private message to visualweasel Jan 15 2008, 5:19pm
    Busted doors, crowing roosters, and wild horns. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 16 2008, 10:39pm
        Very perceptive! Thanks for that link. // visualweasel Send a private message to visualweasel Jan 16 2008, 10:56pm
        As it happens, Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Jan 17 2008, 6:21am
            Is this the proof people talk about so much sador Send a private message to sador Jan 17 2008, 9:40am
                Ferny doesn't know the hobbits have taken up with Strider. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 17 2008, 3:54pm
                    Thanks sador Send a private message to sador Jan 17 2008, 9:20pm
                        Well, N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 17 2008, 10:02pm
        crowing roosters who drive away ghosts a.s. Send a private message to a.s. Jan 17 2008, 11:15am
            For cockcrow limits our holiday - the dead of the night's high-noon! squire Send a private message to squire Jan 17 2008, 12:30pm
    Tolkien says the Riders' map was incomplete. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 17 2008, 5:17am
        The Riders "can sense that the Ring is or *was* there" - was? squire Send a private message to squire Jan 17 2008, 12:23pm
            Magic blew the door down. Curious Send a private message to Curious Jan 17 2008, 1:25pm
            And here I thought you had deliberately... N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 17 2008, 3:46pm
    Catching up, somewhat late sador Send a private message to sador Jan 17 2008, 9:22am
        "Truly the light is sweet..." N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 21 2008, 5:50pm
    Shut and locked. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 22 2008, 2:16am

 
 
 

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