~ 2 August 2022 ~
After a super long walk yesterday where we walked for miles and miles, which was finished off with a beautiful picnic and the most delicious strawberry milkshakes, today was definitely a day of rest, and peace, and putting my aching feet up while I read The Fellowship of the Ring and drunk lots of tea!
And, I think everyone already knows this, but I am really behind with comments at the moment (yet surprisingly up-to-date with reading Weekend Writing Prompt responses…) so I just want to thank everyone for their patience with me. You all are so wonderful 😀
The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts
This week we concluded Book 2, Chapter 3: The Ring Goes South.
The company have left Rivendell and begin their journey heading south. Their aim is to stay west of the Mountains, hoping the more inhospitable terrain will afford them greater cover. To this end, they are travelling by night and resting during the day.
It is hard going, and not much happens for two weeks bar they slowly get closer and closer to the mountains. Then the weather changes and they get their first glimpse of three great peaks. They have reached Hollin, once known as Eregion, and it is here they first encounter trouble.
Flocks of birds are flying over the land, searching for something, and the implication to the company is clear: they will have to go carefully if they are to pass through this country unnoticed. This means no fires and no loud talking.
Gandalf and Aragorn have been having quiet conversations trying to pick their best route for crossing the mountains, one of which Frodo overhears. They can travel down the mountain range to the Gap of Rohan, which would take them and the ring too close to Saruman, so is discredited at once. There is the pass known as the Redhorn Gate in the shadow of Caradhras, which will be difficult given the time of year and thus the weather, (Gimli had earlier explained this mountain peak was known to the dwarves as “cruel Caradhras”). The last option is a dark and secret way, which Aragorn does not wish to consider unless there is no other way. And so they try the mountain pass…
However, the mountain seems to bear them ill-will and does not to wish to let them pass. A strange and deadly snowstorm cuts off their progress partway up. They survive the night, just, by drinking a cordial given to Gandalf by Elrond, and by Gandlaf using his powers to light a fire to keep the worst of the cold at bay. However, those watching the mountain will now know he is there.
Come morning, it is clear they cannot go on. Caradhras has beaten them. With difficulty, they retreat back down the mountain. Aragorn and Boromir have to fight their way through the snow that fell overnight, in order for the others to safely follow behind. As they are descending, the birds fly over again.
Although a lot of ground is covered in this chapter, it feels quite slow moving. The tension builds steadily, as does the undercurrent of animosity coming from the area – both from the mountain itself and just the general feeling of being watched – culminating in what appears to be an attack by Caradhras. Here, again, we have the natural world choosing to behave in a certain away as if sentient, reiterating some of the same themes we saw in the Old Forest.
Next week we begin Book 2, Chapter 4: A Journey In The Dark.
Middle Earth Musings and Meditations
One of the most fascinating aspects of this half of a chapter, I found, was how Tolkien used sound.
We are told by Legolas that much of landscape – the trees and the grass – no longer remember the race of Elves that once lived in the area. It is only the stones he hears recall them and lament their passing over the sea.
The silence of Hollin, as pointed out by Aragorn, is interesting in that it is the absence of something which heightens the tension in this passage, and helps forge the atmosphere they are experiencing. This silence is only broken by the voices of the company, which “seem to make the ground echo”, until the flocks of birds arrive and “one harsh croak” is heard.
Then, when the company are climbing up the mountain: “They heard eerie noises in the darkness round them…the sounds were those of shrill cries, and wild howls of laughter.” Indeed, Boromir goes on to say, “there are fell voices on the air”.
Nothing to report here this week…
The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:
Out of the three options discussed by Gandalf and Aragorn with regard to how they would cross the mountains, which one would you pick?
Hmm…first I’ll answer as if I know nothing that happens after this chapter. Well I probably wouldn’t pick something described as “dark and secret” without knowing a little more about it first. And, if it concerns Aragorn, it should make me wary to choose it. Also, I’m not sure I would try to climb and cross a mountain at night, in winter, even if the mountain in question wasn’t known to be of an evil temperament. Which leaves the Gap of Rohan and the dangerous proximity to Saruman…it really is a choice of nothing, isn’t it?
Now, as I do know what is coming, would my reasoning change? Yes…sort of. I love the next couple of chapters. I love a lot of the imagery, and just the scale of things. So, against my better judgement I guess, I would throw all caution to the wind and pick the “dark and secret” way, because it’s worth the danger to see what is there. Gosh, it’s hard to try and answer this without accidentally dropping spoilers 😉