Tolkien Tuesday #20

~ 31 May 2022 ~

Tuesdays are fast becoming my favourite day of the week…a few hours spent lazing with a book, a cuppa, a notepad and pen, and a nicely scented candle, where I can indulge in letting my mind runaway to another world. Bliss!

And just a quick note: I’m a little behind – by which I mean very behind – with comments, but please bear with me, I will get round to them all. 🙂

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we begin Chapter 11: A Knife in the Dark.

Black Riders attack the cottage at Crickhollow, but a wary Fatty Bolger escapes and raises the alarm. The Black Riders are now certain Frodo has fled the Shire and the ring has gone with him.

When the hobbits wake in Bree, it is to find the room they were supposed to be sleeping in had been broken into in the night and had been trashed. Also, the stables had been opened and all the horses and ponies had gone.

With delay forced upon them, it is late when they leave Bree, and under the watchful eye of a large crowd. Once into open country, Strider guides them off the main road and into the wild, hopefully leading them on such a convoluted trail that they can’t be followed.

They travel through woodland (The Chetwood) which turns into a lonely, miserable, marshy landscape, making the going difficult, and the night’s unbearable. Unexplained lights in the night sky are spotted in the distance on the fourth night.

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

On the fifth day, the terrain improves and they begin to head for a line of hills, of which Weathertop is the tallest. Here they hope to find Gandalf. Strider shares some history of the area, and Sam surprises them all when he recites three verses of The Fall of Gil-Galad.

I enjoyed this part of the chapter as it mostly deals with landscape and history. I liked that Fatty Bolger isn’t forgotten, but my favourite part is when Sam recites the poem, surprising everyone. That is wonderful, and a reminder that he should never be underestimated.

Next week we conclude Chapter 11.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

Something that has become apparent to me on this re-reading is just how rich and multi-faced each of the chapters of the book are. There are so many layers of storytelling to be found at each stage of this journey. Tolkien never allowed himself to be solely concerned with the present as he told his story. The past, in the form of songs and poems, or in explanations of places and the histories of peoples, is to be found constantly through the narrative. There there is also the foreshadowing of things to come, or a switch to explain things that happen elsewhere, or off the page, as it were, such as the return to the cottage in Crickhollow to learn of Fatty Bolger’s fate.

A sort of random photo – I love how that tree in the middle is almost bending over the river. It makes me think of the Withywindle, the Old Forest and Old Man Willow…Photo by Nashwan Guherzi on Pexels.com

This concept of a multi-dimensional chapter shows the reader how interconnected parts of the story are, that life, even in fiction, doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and that while we might be focused on what is happening to one cast of characters in a story, more stories are unfolding around them, and sometimes these stories meet and influence the other, and sometimes they don’t. But just like real life, there is always something happening somewhere, and it has always been this way, and will continue to be this way.

Elsewhere

In the UK, we will be marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at the end of the week, with a four day weekend. To celebrate, I will be baking lots of goodies, drinking lots of tea, and having a The Lord of the Rings movie marathon – the extended editions, of course. Or at least, that’s the plan. Him Indoors might have other ideas, and they usually come in the form of Star Wars and Star Trek…Yes, we are a house of nerds.

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

It appears that Frodo almost has a sense of what occurs in Crickhollow whilst he is asleep at Bree. And, we have already seen how he is able to learn of things happening far away in his dreams, though he seems barely conscious of the fact or is unable to retain the information. (Think back to Tom Bombadil’s house when he dreams of Gandalf).

Where do you think this ability comes from? Is it important to the storyline or is its importance only as a literary device, allowing Tolkien to share what is happening elsewhere?

I think it comes from the ring, though I don’t recall it being mentioned that Bilbo was effected by it in the same way. That being said, Frodo has had the ring for longer in The Lord of The Rings, that Bilbo had in The Hobbit, and so perhaps time is a factor?

As for its importance, I’m unsure at present. I can’t recall how often it happens over the course of the entire story, so I will come back to that as we read on…

23 thoughts on “Tolkien Tuesday #20

  1. Hi made me smile your description of the coming weekend sounds like our household 😆 re Frodo yes the ring must play a part but I also had the feeling he may have a gift which sets him apart from others maybe the ring has released that gift? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t personally think it’s the ring causing Frodo’s dreams. I think it’s his own nature; he’s a dreamer. I think he also shows he has an element of precognition, such as knowing to get off the road before the first Ringwraith appears as he seems to have a sense of foreboding about it. Interestingly Gandalf points out his dream of when he escaped from Isengard came rather later then when it actually occurred, in fact nine days later.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m with Joanne. I don’t think it’s the ring – Frodo might just have the gift. I love the sharing of times through songs and such, too. Interesting now that you have pointed it out.

    I have to say I am really enjoying reading this way and sharing with the participants. It has widened my appreciation.
    As for you weekend thing… is it acceptable to be both Star Wars AND Star Trek? I’m not convinced 😉 I am pro Star Trek, FYI! And I have to find some time to re-watch the movies, too!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I’m with Joanne & Dale on this. Frodo has an innate ability which I’d say is half-way responsible for success in this mission. It’s like he attracts help and well-wishers, whereas perhaps another character wouldn’t have. Perhaps Tolkien saw him as the personification of the *age*

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I continue to be fascinated by how you (and others here) pick out different aspects of each chapter to bring to my attention than what I noticed. So interesting! Now I see what you mean, about the descriptions of the landscape in this scene, but I barely noticed that before. I also hadn’t noticed (or didn’t remember, at least) that Frodo was seeing these events taking place elsewhere in his dreams. I thought that was just the omniscient narrator telling us. Which of course it could have been, so why would Tolkien include it as Frodo’s dream? Especially if Frodo doesn’t remember it and thus doesn’t act on it? Hmm. Good question. Doesn’t make much sense to me, really.

    I also appreciated the reminder about Fatty Bolger and him being so brave – and this increasing the tension / threat of the Black Riders.

    The other thing that popped out at me about the first half of this chapter is more about Sam’s character, and foreshadowing for the role he’ll play later. In particular, when they find that the ponies are gone and he says defiantly, “I can carry enough for two”, and when he mouths off at Bill Ferny and chucks an apple at him. Ha, take that!

    I also really liked the rich description of the ruins at Weathertop, not just because it added to the spooky feeling later, but because of how it called back to the history of the area and reminded us of how this is an old, old place, and this story is written over many older stories carved into these stones with time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s my favourite thing about reading this almost as a group…everyone notices different things in the story, and because of it I’m beginning to see Frodo in a new light. I’ve always been a bit ambivalent towards him before.

      “this story is written over many older stories carved into these stones with time.” – I love this, Joy! It perfectly captures everything I love about Middle Earth!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I thought I had replied to this… sheesh, I’m lacking behind more than I thought. Anyway, great insights from everyone. This type of foreshadowing I always noticed, in every reread, just as the one with Gandalf. Maybe because I was expecting them to be in danger and it was easy to make the connection. Looking at your question from this chapter I’d have ansered: it must be the ring because Frodo is neither elf nor wizard. But maybe it was the influence/blessing/goodwill of the elves that gave him this knowledge? But now, after the first half of chapter 12, I think differently. I’m going to reply to this there, not to spoil anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s interesting that you’ve always noticed the foreshadowing, Gabi. I’m the complete opposite and it’s only recently that I have started to consciously spot it. I think I’ve said this before, but I get so caught up in the story that I don’t necessarily spot things, which is why this slow re-read is such a good thing 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • I find that reading slowly like this, and stopping to muse about each chapter, helps me to see foreshadowing better. The first time (or two?) that I read the books, I probably zipped through a lot of the description trying to figure out “what happens next?!?” There is SO much stuff going on in these books, lots of details and characters and history to keep track of, it’s not surprising to miss a lot of it. Then I read all the books aloud to my partner, which was great fun but I think the result was to focus us more on the lyricism of the descriptions (and poems) and the characters’ different voices, and not so much on the writing or plot details. Then on later reads, I wonder if I knew too much about what was going to happen and didn’t stop to think – -“wait, we don’t know that yet, this is foreshadowing.” Also, now that I’ve been writing and learning more about writing craft, I notice things like foreshadowing more than I ever did before.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Most of what Joy said below applies to me as well (except for the reading out loud part). The last few ‘reads’ for me were audiobooks, and with that there is little time to stop, reread and ponder. Like Joy, I know a lot more about writing than I did in the past and I’m not sure I could do the forshadowing when I write something. That’s why I admire it so much here. And I look out for dreams and magical events with Frodo. Also, I’m lagging behind, my spelling is lacking…

        Liked by 1 person

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