~ 14 June 2022 ~
The sun has been shining, and the temperature steadily rising, so I’ve been sitting outside reading and writing this week’s Tolkien Tuesday post, which you know, is quite a civilised way to spend an afternoon…
The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts
This week we begin Chapter 12: Flight to the Ford
Frodo regains consciousness to find he is still clutching the ring. The fire has been banked high and the other hobbits are close by, concerned. Of Strider there is no sign, but soon he returns to say there is no sign of the Black Riders, who are not at their full compliment. He fears it’s only a matter of time before they attack again in the knowledge they have dealt Frodo a grievous wound. Strider tries his best to help Frodo with the use of the leaves of the Athelas plant, but its healing against such a wound is limited.
They spend the night watching over Frodo and keeping watch against further attacks. With the daylight they know they must continue on. This begins a long and arduous crossing of a wild and pathless land. Frodo has to be carried by the pony for most of it, for he has lost the use of his arm and shoulder.
Of the enemy they see or hear no sign of them, except when they are starting out: a cry answered by another. The terror this, along with the attack at Weathertop, inflicts is enough for them to fear the hours of darkness, over which they must stand watch in pairs.
On the sixth day out from Weathertop, they must return to the Road, and cross the Last Bridge over the River Hoarwell. Strider and Sam go on ahead to see if the bridge is being watched, it isn’t, but Strider finds a beryl elf-stone. This he takes a sign that the bridge is safe to cross, though he is unclear if it was purposefully placed, and if so by who.
On the other side of the bridge they once more leave the Road behind them and enter a wooded, hilly country. Again the going is difficult, but they eventually find a path which leads to the door of a troll-hole, which Strider and Merry investigate and determine it has long been abandoned. They continue along the path, Pippin and Merry going on ahead as the former wants to prove to Strider he’s no longer afraid. However, they return quickly, and in a panic. They have spotted some trolls up ahead.
This was a tense passage to read. The fear the hobbits feel, and the aura of concern coming from Strider, at the possibility that they are being pursued by Black Riders, whom they can’t locate and have no idea where they are, is palpable. All this whilst at the same time worrying about Frodo and trying to make it across uninviting and inhospitable terrain is so suspenseful.
Next week we conclude the last chapter of Book 1, Chapter 12: Flight to the Ford.
Middle Earth Musings and Meditations
I’ve been musing this week on how landscape has been used in the story so far, and interestingly it’s not only present to document the geography of the journey.
In the earlier chapters, we are presented with a familiar landscape, whether that’s familiar because its one we ourselves inhabit, or if not, it’s one we recognise. This helps to ensure the reader connects the Shire with home. The hobbits home and our home. The Shire is special and we feel that as we read the story. We understand why the hobbits long to return home.
But as the story moves on, the landscape is given another use. It is a vehicle for the hobbits, and of course, the reader, to learn about the history of Middle Earth. We’ve see the burial places of the first kings of men in Middle Earth, standing stones, the ruins of a once great watchtower, ruins of settlements long since forgotten to time…
The landscape also helps to introduce less familiar things, more fantastical things into the story. In The Old Forest a bitter tree dwells, and where the house of Tom Bombadil and Goldberry is to be found, and wooded hills and rocky cliffs in which are built doors to troll-holes…The landscapes maybe familiar, but the things hidden in them are not as tangible to us.
This weekend I stumbled across a DVD in a charity shop called “Creating The Lord of the Rings Symphony: A composer’s journey through Middle Earth”. As a fan of the soundtrack this was something I could not pass up and I am eagerly awaiting watching it. And when I do, I shall share my thoughts here 🙂
This is what it says on the back of the DVD:
Creating The Lord of the Rings Symphony includes excerpts of live concert footage from The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra, Chorus and Soloists, documentary commentary by Howard Shore, and the illustrations of Alan Lee and John Howe. The concert footage was recorded live at Salle Wilfred-Pelletier, Place des Arts, Montreal. Canada in February 2004.
The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:
In this first half of the chapter, we cover a lot of ground, from Weathertop to the Trollshaws. If you could tarry (in safety) and explore any of the places seen or visited, which would you choose?
The ancient stone walls and ruined towers seen after they crossed the Last Bridge. There is something quite evocative about buildings left to decay in an abandoned, lonely landscape.