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***Favorite Chapters - A Journey in the Dark (LOTR)
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Roverandom
The Shire


Jan 27, 9:57pm

Post #1 of 31 (606 views)
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***Favorite Chapters - A Journey in the Dark (LOTR) Can't Post

Speak, "friend", and enter. Leave your faithful ponies behind, and mind those ripples forming out there on the water. Come on in, and watch your step! You never know when a crack might open right before your feet. Delve not to deeply. Welcome to Moria!

Yes, today our fellowship begins a journey in the dark. Why is this one of my favorite chapters?
1. The End of the Beginning!
2. Drawings!
3. Dwarves and High Elves (not necessarily in that order)!
4. Questions and Answers (definitely not in that order)!

PART the FIRST: in one of the author's greatest spoilers, we know from the Foreward to the Second Edition that he wrote right up to the end of this chapter, stood by Balin's tomb, and then stopped. We've been speaking quite a bit about the many versions of the story and how it "grew in the telling" from a Hobbit sequel to the epic fantasy/romance we have today. I look at this chapter as the turning point in that transformation. Prior chapters have a very comfortable feel for those of us who read The Hobbit first. The landscape and stopping points feel familiar, as do many of the characters, though they may bear names that are strange to us. From here on, however, we enter uncharted territory. The challenges are, quite literally, life and death. The scope trends toward the epic. I often wish that the author had given us both versions, what we have now and the sequel, too. What about the rest of you? Feel free to discuss your impressions of this change, as well as the Balin Spoiler and any other spoiler that comes to mind.

PART the SECOND: we get to see the author's mind revealed in picture form. The drawings of the doors of Moria and the runes of Balin's tomb make me miss all the beautiful paintings that graced my edition of The Hobbit. Do you feel the same? If so, what else in the LOTR would you like to have seen rendered by the author?

PART the THIRD: I love the history hinted by Hollin, though none of it but those aforementioned doors and two doomed trees are left to show of it. And then there's Moria! We first heard of it in The Hobbit, and now we finally get to see it in all it's gloomy, faded glory. Was it everything you hoped it would be?

PART the FOURTH: we are given a primer on mithril; Gimli reveals some Dwarvish nomenclature; we are treated to some real magic from Gandalf, as he beats off an attack by wolves. There is a lot happening in the pages of this chapter, but I'm fascinated by the raised questions as much or more than the answers provided. Why did Aragorn fear specifically for Gandalf in Moria? How did the Watcher come to be in the Water (parenthetically, which came first, the Watcher or the damming of the gate stream)? Why is there a guardroom at the three-way divide in the passage, so far from either end of the mines? Why do we see no signs of Balin's five-year reign until the Chamber of Mazarbul? Again, feel free to discuss these and any other questions that interest you.

And thanks, for listening!

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the threshold of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 28, 6:19pm

Post #2 of 31 (469 views)
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One of the things I love about the Reading Room... [In reply to] Can't Post

One of the things I love about the Reading Room is that I don't think I would ever have thought of this chapter as being the transformation between a Hobbit-style story and the more epic 'LOTR-style'. But now you say it, Roverandom, I see what you mean!

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 28, 6:31pm

Post #3 of 31 (468 views)
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'Whose wolves are these?' And 'Great time to get lost!' [In reply to] Can't Post

I was thinking that Tolkien does a couple of things in this chapter (which I really like too) that you would think shouldn't work. He carries on like the last chapter - the Fellowship seem to be under attack (and this time it's an actual fight rather than crows and snow), but we're not going to get many answers about whose wolves (if indeed they are wolves - we certainly get hints that they are not regular wolves). Maybe it's really annoying for folks who like to sort out an explanation for everything (what explanations have people found, I wonder?) Somehow though, I find it creepy and suspenseful rather than irritating.
I also notice that, as soon as he takes command of the party Gandalf.... gets lost. Of course it's understandable - who could have expected the stream to have been dammed? The wandering and scrambling works pretty well for me as a suspense builder - Middle-earth is a big place and sometimes it's good to show us that, I suppose, rather than 'montage' us to the next set-piece. Oh and, having found the doors, Gandalf struggles (again realistically I think) to find the password because his attempts are too sophisticated. Things just don't work out smoothly for our heroes, even now Frodo's amateur 'hobbit walking party' has been taken in hand by the professionals. Is there something going on about making mistakes here?

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 28, 6:32pm

Post #4 of 31 (467 views)
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A Balin spoiler [In reply to] Can't Post

Again, something I'd never have thought of (having skipped the foreword etc. until I had read the book!)

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 28, 6:50pm

Post #5 of 31 (466 views)
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That guard room [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Why is there a guardroom at the three-way divide in the passage, so far from either end of the mines?

Yes, I wonder that too (now you've mentioned it Smile). I suppose it's not going to hold enough guards to do much to stop the advance of an invading army - unless the guards control some system of doors, portcullises etc that we don't see because they have been left open? Possibly they could produce a pretty tough obstacle. Equipping it with a well suggests that either the guards were regularly there, or that they might be expected to be there for a long stint. In event of an invasion were they supposed to lock themselves in and hold the enemy off for as long as possible, or have any surviving guards come out and do...something harassing... to the enemy's rear?) Is it more like a police or customs checkpoint, intended to control the flow of workers or visitors? Tolkien does seem to like to think carefully about fortifications, so I doubt he's placed a guardroom in a totally silly way when it could just have been 'a room'.

As a total hunch - does anyone know what World War I trench systems were like? (This is the Reading Room - surely someone will know all about 'it', whatever 'it' is!) Did trench systems have similar guard-posts? What were they for?

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 28, 7:17pm

Post #6 of 31 (464 views)
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Sentinel trees [In reply to] Can't Post

(One more, then I gotta run!)

As possible real-life models for the huge holly trees at the Moria doors, St Edmund's Church at Stow On The Wold (not too far from Oxford) has two beautiful old yew trees against the North door



A photo by Martyn Gorman on Wikimedia

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


squire
Half-elven


Jan 28, 7:34pm

Post #7 of 31 (464 views)
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Internal security [In reply to] Can't Post

I've never thought the 'guard room' had to do with defense against invasion from outside. Rather, I assumed it had to do with the internal ordering of the city. There would be districts, main roads, working areas, transit points, parts closed-off to visitors, etc. To ensure proper order and everyone sticking to their knitting, there would be guard posts at certain points, representing the King's authority and reminding everyone, both locals and visitors, that Moria is serious business, not an Elven walking-party.



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'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jan 29, 3:49am

Post #8 of 31 (433 views)
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I think you make a good case [In reply to] Can't Post

for this chapter as the point at which the narrative "gets serious" in a way. Or gets more epic—I suppose it's been serious since Weathertop at least. Moria is gorgeous idea and here we get to explore the expanse of a dwarven city much more than in the Hobbit, athough it's interesting that both are lost, ruined cities, overcome by monsters; we never see one in its heyday. Moria indeed is a haunted house not just a broken one; there's a lot of effective tension here, the reader is uncomfortably aware of how sneaky we have to be in here, and by implication how bad it's likely to get if we get caught.

I had the same thought Squire did about the "guardroom." It's a city, not just a fortified keep; it used to have a complex and merry life down here. But this is one place, too, where I might have wished the author did a little more legwork (cheeky to ask it of this author, who did so much already of just this sort of world-building) in working out what an entirely subterranean city might have been like when still populous and thriving. Surely a city can't boil down to just hall, room, hall, right? And we do see levels and grand galleries and broad stairs (and an endless one, end to end) so there's much more than nothing to work from. But I myself am a bit stymied by how anybody would organize an entirely underground city, and I crave guidance. I suppose I should look to Capodocia.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jan 29, 3:52am

Post #9 of 31 (431 views)
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a note on mithril [In reply to] Can't Post

For a commodity that everybody wanted, there sure is precious little of it left around. Bilbo got a coat but it isn't clear that any of the dwarves ever did. The tower guard in Minas Tirith seems to have a bit in use. But if all got swept up and stolen by Sauron, why don't we see evil forces using it?


sador
Half-elven


Jan 29, 1:22pm

Post #10 of 31 (399 views)
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A small nitpick, and some more serious answers [In reply to] Can't Post

In one of the author's greatest spoilers, we know from the Foreward to the Second Edition that he wrote right up to the end of this chapter, stood by Balin's tomb, and then stopped.
Well, I would consider the revelation that the hobbits will survive a larger spoiler...
I truly wonder how many people (if they have read the Foreword before their first reading, which I did not) will remember that quote.

By the way, it is "Foreword" - a term I have do not recall encountering in non-Tolkien-related books. I normally wouldn't be so nitpicky, but it is an interesting term, and might not even be a mistake - I suppose you can blame the spellchecker for this.
Years ago, I wrote of people "neglecting their daily choirs" - which I could not shift the blame for to any automatic device...


I look at this chapter as the turning point in that transformation. Prior chapters have a very comfortable feel for those of us who read The Hobbit first.
Well, Tolkien did not just stop - he actually went back and rewrote the whole book. The most important thing was getting rid of Trotter the Hobbit, and putting Aragorn (still nicknamed Trotter) in his stead - making him the secret heir of Gondor, and thus vastly expanding the book's scope; in fact, this is what might have most changed the book from a Hobbit-sequel to the vast epic we know.

But yes, Book I still has much of the Hobbit-sequel feel to it - sometimes a bit darher, but the mood is lightened by plenty of hobbit-banter (as we discussed last week). However, the changing of the book comes at the Council of Elrond, when the stakes are raised and things become deadly serious. The hobbit-banter after that does not die away completely, but it becomes brief and sparse.


The drawings of the doors of Moria and the runes of Balin's tomb make me miss all the beautiful paintings that graced my edition of The Hobbit. Do you feel the same? If so, what else in the LOTR would you like to have seen rendered by the author?
Bad fan that I am, I do not have Hammond and Scull's J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator. So I do not even know if Tolkien ever drew watercolours for LotR, similar to those he dis for The Hobbit.
I guess such paintings would be fun to have, but personally I don't feel the need for them that much.


I love the history hinted by Hollin, though none of it but those aforementioned doors and two doomed trees are left to show of it.
So do I - and we did get some more in the previous chapter.


And then there's Moria! We first heard of it in The Hobbit, and now we finally get to see it in all it's gloomy, faded glory. Was it everything you hoped it would be?
As I've mentioned last week, I am a Bakshi-firster, so much was spoiled for me. I'm also no good at visualizing - so until Jackson's films came out I had "seen" little even after reading. But I did feel it - and it is far more magnificent than The Lonely Mountain ever felt; even Gimli was stunned!


we are given a primer on mithril
Especially for those who have read the first edition of The Hobbit (which I didn't), this was a fascinating novelty. But I still think "greater than the worth of all the Shire" is hyperbolic, and in fact, meaningless.
Maybe it does mean something in Thorin's worldview - but even he seems to have recanted it on his deathbed, and it is somewhat dismaying to find Gandalf of all people, saying that.


Gimli reveals some Dwarvish nomenclature
Yes. It would be fascinating to find out whether the English names given are indeed the equivalent of the Dwarvish, or just of the Elvish names.
Again, this is out beyond the limits of my knowledge.


we are treated to some real magic from Gandalf, as he beats off an attack by wolves.
I actually enjoyed more the first occasion of all the Fellowship fighting together.
But the magic Gandalf shows off here does seem a nice counterpoint to the despair he felt during Out of the Frying-pan Into the Fire, when he contemplated leaped down from the burning pine-tree in a suicidal attack.



Why did Aragorn fear specifically for Gandalf in Moria?
Foresight.
I do not think he knew of the Balrog, or any similar specific danger. However, that leaves open the question what was "very evil" about the memory?
Was it just the dark and vast loneliness? Does the place feel haunted? I can't imagine sleeping their alone in the dark.
Or was this just a "fossil" (as nowizardme calls them) from the earlier drafts, in which Trotter was captured in Moria?



How did the Watcher come to be in the Water?
I have always assumed that when the Balrog woke up, it had driven the Watcher to the West-gate.
But that must mean that the Balrog was awake sometime after Gandalf came around searching for Thrain, and before the year of Balin's death.



parenthetically, which came first, the Watcher or the damming of the gate stream?
I would expect the Watcher could not have dwelt in the shallow and swift waters oif the Sirannon. So that had to come first.
But once the Watcher found its place - it probably would have done its best to have furthered the damming (and damning) of the gate stream.



Why is there a guardroom at the three-way divide in the passage, so far from either end of the mines?
This might have been a key point - perhaps guarding the way from the habitable places to the mines?

By the way, this reminds me of a story a friend of mine told about his visit to the Soviet Union just before it collapsed (He was among the first Israelis allowed to go). In the middle of nowhere, he found a tent with four Red Army soldiers guarding an intersection of telegraph and electicity lines.



Why do we see no signs of Balin's five-year reign until the Chamber of Mazarbul?
Well, I suppose if they searched all nooks and crannies, they would have found some; but they did not.

And it does serve to highlight (well, you know what I mean) the vast emptiness of Moria.



Again, feel free to discuss these and any other questions that interest you.
The footsteps!
When did you first realize it was Gollum?
Personally, I do not remember my first reading; but despite having seen Bakshi's film, and knowing Gollum will presently appear - I do not think I guessed, until the first night in Lothlorien.



Thank you, Roverandom, for this discussion!





Thinking about things I don't understand


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 29, 3:39pm

Post #11 of 31 (385 views)
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The funny thing about mithril [In reply to] Can't Post

is that after the War of the Ring, Gimli & Co make new gates for Minas Tirith that include mithril. So, it's around for special occasions and special people, but otherwise scarce.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 29, 3:41pm

Post #12 of 31 (380 views)
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So, these were the doors BEFORE the Loch Ness Monster tore them up and blocked the door? // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 29, 4:09pm

Post #13 of 31 (383 views)
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RIP, Balin [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll second Wiz's point that I'd never thought of this as a dividing point in the story (except what ultimately happens to Gandalf at the Bridge), but because of your observations, I do now. I think as Uncle said, things got serious at Weathertop, and then Frodo's life and very spirit was in peril for the long ride to Rivendell. But even with all their adventures, no one has died yet. Getting to Balin's tomb changes that. While we don't know a lot about him, I like him as the one Dwarf who befriended Bilbo when he was lonely in a sort of "first day at a new school, and I have no friends" setting, and then he made followup visits to Bag Eng so he could stay in touch. So, there's a sense of loss here not just that someone died, but someone who was a good friend to Bilbo and a good person overall. Aren't good people supposed to live happily ever after?

The other profound change--thank you for pointing it out!--is that empty lands west of the Misty Mountains are for the most part safe, while empty lands east of Moria are dangerous, and even "friendly" realms like Fangorn and Lorien include a sense of peril.

The Warg attack delivered on a display of magic from the Wizard that I found very satisfying. I think it builds confidence in me as a reader that whatever they face next, they've got a powerful figure who will sort it out.

Moria: even as an archeological ruin, I love the scope of it and the memory of past grandeur. It takes several days to cross it, it has endless passages, and it has grand halls for Gandalf to illuminate with his staff. I still have trouble figuring out where people lived and what they lived in, since like Erebor, we never see a house or bedroom or anything residential. If I had a thousand wishes, one of them would be to visit Khazad-dum in all its glory and play tourist, exploring every nook and cranny.


No One in Particular
Lorien


Jan 30, 2:45am

Post #14 of 31 (340 views)
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Where for art thou, oh Balin? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
]Why do we see no signs of Balin's five-year reign until the Chamber of Mazarbul?
Well, I suppose if they searched all nooks and crannies, they would have found some; but they did not.

And it does serve to highlight (well, you know what I mean) the vast emptiness of Moria.


Possibly because they entered through the West Gate? I have always assumed that Balin & Co. entered through the East Gate coming from Erebor. And he set up the seat of power in a room far closer to the East Gate than the West.

If the Fellowship had explored the east side more thoroughly they might have found more signs of Balin's habitation. Or they might not; the Orcs had 30 years to plunder and eradicate all traces of the dwarvish colony.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph


sador
Half-elven


Jan 30, 3:54am

Post #15 of 31 (338 views)
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That also, of course [In reply to] Can't Post

But Balin's colony did go to the West Gate, as well - according to the Book of Mazarbul, Oin was taken by the Watcher.
However, you are correct - I am certain they would have needed to search far less on the east side.

One wonders about Celeborn and Galadriel - were they at all interested in what was going on just next door to them? But that is a question for a different chapter.

Thinking about things I don't understand


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jan 30, 3:01pm

Post #16 of 31 (295 views)
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an old marital issue [In reply to] Can't Post

Celeborn has serious dwarf trauma and is awfully touchy about it to this day. Carrying the nightmare memory of first-age elf/dwarf war is his principal function in the story, really. Maybe Galadriel has learned not to bring up dwarf questions around him if she can possibly avoid it.

Also, though, the dwarves are at least equally suspicious of elves and would hardly have stopped by Lothlorien to announce their arrival. They were a fairly small contingent and they weren't around that long, in elf terms; their extermination probably hardly raised an echo on the other end of the woods. In all seriousness Galadriel probably never knew they were there until the fellowship mentioned it.


Archestratie
Rivendell


Jan 30, 3:05pm

Post #17 of 31 (293 views)
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Yeah [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
One of the things I love about the Reading Room is that I don't think I would ever have thought of this chapter as being the transformation between a Hobbit-style story and the more epic 'LOTR-style'. But now you say it, Roverandom, I see what you mean!


It is the crossing of a threshold. There's even a threshold guardian in the pool just outside of it.

My Low-Magic Fantasy Novel on eBook/hardback: The Huntsman and the She-Wolf

The Huntsman and the She-Wolf on audio Book.


Solicitr
Rohan


Jan 31, 2:55pm

Post #18 of 31 (245 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post

In my headcanon, going back to my first reading when I was ten or eleven, the soundtrack for this chapter has always been an orchestrated version* of Rachmaninoff's Prelude in Gm Op. 23 No. 5:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VXwwkwephI


*By Frederic Fennel and the Eastman-Rochester Pops. Also on the album the little-known gem, the Fugue from Weinberger's Schwanda the Bagpiper.

( I CANNOT get into Basic Editor in order to use HTML! I'm stuck in Advanced with no way to get out)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 31, 5:47pm

Post #19 of 31 (236 views)
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Delved too deep [In reply to] Can't Post

 

In Reply To
“The Dwarves tell no tale; but even as mithril was the foundation of their wealth, so also it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep, and disturbed that from which they fled, Durin’s Bane.”


Over at TV Tropes (a wiki that classifies the ideas - tropes - that are the basic tools of storytelling) they have an entry called Dug too Deep. Moria is the 'trope namer' (i.e. the story that provides a handy name for the idea). It's probably also the best known and (As far as I can see) first example of this combination of 'hubris in a mine' and 'Pandora's box'. The examples TV Tropes have collected in their article include a lot of stories about indebted-to-Tolkien fantasy dwarves (as fantasy dwarves very often are). But there are many other examples of someone digging up the sealed-in evil. A compelling idea that makes for good stories maybe?

I'm also thinking that the fate of the Moria dwarves is a variant on what you might call the Dwarf Cycle. I'm imagining this to be a bit like the rock cycle or the water cycle and to go:
  1. Dwarves found mine-city
  2. Dwaves are successful, and become rich
  3. Wealth or the getting of it brings down some trouble on the dwarves (Dragons! Balrogs! Orc attack!)
  4. Dwarves flee, to go to some other mine-city (or found a new one, before Middle-earth pretty much ran out of sites)
Poor old dwarves. Hubris stories again, I suppose. Or other themes? I also have a vague feeling that gold in Middle-earth is supposed to be contaminated with some kind of influence of Morgoth (Is this right? Can anyone tell me where this idea came from?)
Another compelling thing for me here is the ruined civilization. Tolkien loves those, I think. Aside from Moria and Erebor we get the various ruins of old Arnor and Gondor, and the mysterious history of the wain road up to Dunharrow. And I've probably missed some examples.

And besides all that, who can resist the excitement of the sneak-or-fight-your-way-through dungeon? Seemingly that's another very compelling idea - I'm supposing that it's Moria much more that Erebor that launched a thousand RPG games in which You make your way through the underground complex full of evil. To be sure one can argue that these also have roots in older myths of underworld visits and labyrinths (or, of course psychological stuff). But it seems pretty likely to me that Tolkien was a major influence of Gary Gygax (co-inventor of Dungeons & Dragons) and the other tabletop and video games of the kind.
Is this a bit of classic Tolkien, then - pulling together several compelling ideas and weaving (forging? munging? - pick your verb) them into something new, memorable, and soon to be imitated everywhere?

Last thought - in the Gandalf quote with which I started, what does 'too greedily' mean to you? Expressing a stereotype about dwarves? If not that then 'too greedily' suggests to me that the dwarves should have known better. Were there warnings, which were ignored in favour of more profits?

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 31, 5:58pm

Post #20 of 31 (232 views)
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Too little time and light; too much space [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll agree with earlier posters - the Fellowship are trying to sneak through Moria as swiftly as possible, and that makes it seem reasonable that they don't tour the sights or try to look for evidence of Balin's recolonization attempt. Because it's so dark they could quite possibly walk past evidence without seeing it. (If anything, perhaps the Fellowship see too much from what is only supposed to be a faint glimmer from Gandalf's staff, but I enjoy the chapter too much to pursue that spoil-sporty idea!)
I read that Karen Fonstead (Atlas of Middle-earth) reckons the trip through Moria at 40 miles. Unless the Fellowship's path twists, turns and backtracks a lot, that makes Moria vast. As real-world example, forty miles is about three lengths of Manhattan Island, New York, or across the M25 outer London orbital motorway (which circles London also taking in some of the surrounding counties). I don't think we know how many colonists Balin had, but even if it were thousands I think they would still just fit into an area the size of Greenwich Village (either the new York one or the London one, as you wish). That strikes me as another reason it would be easier to miss them!

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jan 31, 6:12pm

Post #21 of 31 (234 views)
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Sauron and mithril [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes - I wonder what Sauron does with it. He can hardly wear it and sleep on a pile of it, because he has no body. Maybe he just likes keeping it from everyone else, dog in a manger style?

There's probably also some military logic to Sauron rounding it all up too. If it makes super armour and super weapons, Sauron doesn't particularly need those. Sauron has orc hordes in his orc chasms. Indeed he has multiple orc hordes in his...oh never mind. But anyway it's the outnumbered heroes who need the super metal. If it's kept off the battlefield then Sauron wins easily anyway. Maybe there's some sort of elite force that Sauron has equipped with this loot as the ultimate reserve. If so, I imagine this never makes it onto the battlefield (much more fun to crush the upstart enemy without offering them worthy opponents). But its mithril could be recovered from the ruins of Mordor for re-use for city gates etc. Of course all that is utterly untestable, and another idea might be just as good, or more entertaining.....

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


uncle Iorlas
Lorien


Jan 31, 7:10pm

Post #22 of 31 (228 views)
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we are, for now, still far from that fabled and mysterious country [In reply to] Can't Post

And soon another generation of delicate little orc kids, I guess, or so it would seem to follow. But for now we are in quite another spot and Sauron's personal life seems in danger of drifting off topic if not off color. (Did you think I meant country matters?) Still though—no body? I guess I've often thought of his Third Age manifestation as maybe less built for physical force than in the Second, but still, Gollum brings back report that he has nine fingers, and that's about the only witness we have.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 31, 7:51pm

Post #23 of 31 (226 views)
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Dungeon runs, and blaming the victim [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
And besides all that, who can resist the excitement of the sneak-or-fight-your-way-through dungeon?


I do wonder if Tolkien single-handedly inspired Dungeons & Dragons, which inspired World of Warcraft and other online games. It would just feel good as a fan to say he gets all the credit. I was thinking that "going underground" stories go way back in history, and the Greek myths about various people such as Orpheus visiting the Underworld come to mind. But they didn't involve running and fighting on your way out, or making heroic last stands at bridges against winged demons. (tee-hee, couldn't resist the "winged")

And thanks for the comparisons of Moria to Manhattan and London: Manhattan works as a reference point for me. It really makes Moria into a sort of supercity, doesn't it? I guess I won't quibble over the details. It seems that Dwarves mainly had their residences near the east gate, so all the stuff on the west side near Hollin might be dismissed as "connector roads in the countryside" rather than "roads within a city," but still, the Dwarves did all this work by hand and without modern machinery, so it remains impressive.

Blaming the victim: I wonder who decides the Dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. It does put the blame for the Balrog and their own downfall on them. Were there warning signs that they should stop at some point? Did warning dreams or prophecies from Aule come to them and get ignored, the way Ulmo warned Gondolin and Nargothrond to evacuate before it was too late, and of course he was ignored? It actually sounds rather Old Testament to me, such as humans building the Tower of Babel, which was too grandiose and obviously a sign of hubris, so of course it had to be stopped in divine punishment. If humans hadn't pushed *too far,* it wouldn't have happened. It seems like going too far/too deep is judged in hindsight.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 31, 8:14pm

Post #24 of 31 (224 views)
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One of my questions for this chapter is [In reply to] Can't Post

does Tolkien say anywhere in HOME, Letters, etc why Aragorn and Gandalf visited Moria in the past? Or is it just to smooth out the plot that they happen to have a guide along who sorta knows where to go, otherwise they probably would have gotten lost and starved to death?

I suppose what I can't connect in my mind is that a disguised Gandalf entered Dol Guldur to see if it was indeed Sauron running the startup, and while there, he met with an imprisoned Thrain and took his map from him, so he was at liberty to do quite a bit and learn quite a bit in enemy territory. But he's visited Moria before and apparently had no problem with Orcs or the Balrog, and he didn't lead a little band of hobbits there expecting a fight. His whole rationale for going through Moria was to disappear from Sauron's spies, not fight them.

So, he thinks it's deserted like it was on past visits (even though Balin & Co had to fight to clear out the Orcs), or he's trusting to luck that Balin survived somehow, even though Dwarves travel a lot in Middle-earth but for some reason don't keep visiting the colony at Moria, their greatest city ever. See? The logic doesn't quite add up. But the story is thrilling! These 2 chapters are some of my favorite re-reads. I'm jumping ahead, but I always love the reading of the journal they kept--so many hints at a great story to tell!


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Feb 1, 1:44am

Post #25 of 31 (201 views)
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Tolkien and D&D [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I do wonder if Tolkien single-handedly inspired Dungeons & Dragons, which inspired World of Warcraft and other online games. It would just feel good as a fan to say he gets all the credit. I was thinking that "going underground" stories go way back in history, and the Greek myths about various people such as Orpheus visiting the Underworld come to mind. But they didn't involve running and fighting on your way out, or making heroic last stands at bridges against winged demons. (tee-hee, couldn't resist the "winged")


Tolkien's Middle-earth was indeed one important influence on the development of Dungeons & Dragons; we only have to look at the game's dwarves, halflings and the Ranger class to know that. Other major inspirations include classical mythology, tabletop war games, Roger Zelazny's Amber series, and such swords & sorcery fare as Robert E. Howard's Conan and King Kull. That said, it all started with adapting a tabletop war game to play out the battles of The Lord of the Rings.

#FidelityToTolkien

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