Tolkien Tuesday #40

~ 1 November 2022 ~

I hope everyone had a Blessed Samhain!

Rather fittingly, today has been a day of endings and new beginnings. I shared the last chapter of my new Damon the Demon story, Cemetery Blues, which I had so much fun writing. And, being the first of November, that can only mean that NaNoWriMo has started. So, once I have posted this, I had better declare my project (more on that in tomorrow’s NaNo post) and get writing, which means responding to comments will be a task for tomorrow…

For now, though, let us begin the penultimate chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we begin Book 2, Chapter 9: The Great River

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The company begin to make their way down The Great River in the three boats given them by Celeborn and Galadriel. The mood of the group is not good. Although there is a sense of relief that the decision as to their route has been delayed until they reach Rauros, it is still weighing heavily on their minds. They are not in a hurry to get there, allowing the river to carry them at its own pace.

The landscape does little to cheer them, and on occasion, makes them feel worse. Tree cover makes them wonder what is being concealed, but when the land is open and bare, they feel exposed and vulnerable.

The company tends to keep to themselves and withdraws inwards. Boromir is clearly suffering and is not himself, making Pippin and Merry uncomfortable with this change in him.

Sam spots a log with eyes in the river moving faster than the current. At first, he thinks it nothing more than a strange dream, but afterwards, he ponders on it and decides he know what he saw and more importantly, what it could be. He informs Frodo, who agrees it could be Gollum, and together they decide to set a watch. Sam’s watch is quiet, but Gollum is seen around the boats on Frodo’s stint. Aragorn wakes and tells Frodo that Gollum has been following them since Moria.

The decision is made to try and travel quicker and out distance Gollum. The landscape changes again, indicating they are coming to the last part of their boat journey. An eagle is spotted flying high above them, but they do not know what this means.

Aragorn, the only one of the company who has travelled down the river, is now past the point of his own experience and is having to guess from here on out. He thinks there is enough distance between them and the rapids to travel for one more night under the cover of darkness, but Sam is designated watchman in case he is wrong. And he is. In the dark they are forced to row upstream, against the current, in the hope of not dashing their boats, and possibly themselves, upon the rocks.

As the landscape is being described, it becomes even more apparent how much their stay in Lothlorien was a respite, and a time for readying themselves for what was to come. Yet it must also be harder for them mentally, I think, knowing that only recently they’ve experienced the very best in Middle Earth, even if that best is wrought with elven magic.

Next week we will finish Book 2, Chapter 9: The Great River.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

The presence and threat of Gollum is handled quite strangely by the company, I thought on reflection this week. And it is another point in the story that I hadn’t noticed before.

First Frodo and Haldir spot him the first night the company spend in Lothlorien, yet no one else seems to be explicitly informed, though it is suggested that Aragorn may have been.

Sam draws attention to Gollum following them. Frodo and Sam set their own watch to keep an eye out for Gollum, deciding not to let anyone else know what they are doing.

Then only after Frodo’s watch does Aragorn reveal he knew Gollum was about and has spent a couple of nights hoping to catch him. It seems strange to me that the policy here was not to make everyone aware, given everyone knows how dangerous the creature is.

Yet even as I muse on that, I wonder, does Boromir? I can only recollect that he has heard the sharing of the ring’s story at Rivendell and Gollum’s part in it. (He says of him at The Council of Elrond, “He is a small thing, you say, this Gollum? Small, but great in mischief.”)

The hobbits have grown up with Bilbo’s stories, as Sam explains in this chapter, and Gimli also may be familiar with these stories, given his father was on the same journey as Bilbo. We also know Aragorn and Legolas are acquainted with him. It was Aragorn who helped hunt Gollum down and eventually captured him, so knows how wily and deadly he can be. And it was to the Elves of Mirkwood that Gollum was sent and imprisoned before his escape.

I wonder why there is so much hush and secrecy around so big a threat. Is it to stop fear and panic from spreading throughout the company? I suspect so, yet it seems a strange course of action to take.

Do you have any thoughts on this? I do wonder if I may have inadvertently missed something here, so please feel free to enlighten me in the comments πŸ™‚

Elsewhere

I’ve been reading some of Tolkien’s other writing this week. My favourite has to be a poem I stumbled across by accident on Halloween, in search of spooky stories to read…

The poem, Goblin Feet, might just be one of my favourite poems. I love the rhythm of it and the way it sounds when it’s read aloud, but mostly I love the imagery it conjures. If you’ve not read it before, I can highly recommend it. You can find it here:

https://americanliterature.com/author/jrr-tolkien/poem/goblin-feet

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

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The landscape gets a lot of coverage in this first half of the chapter. Were there any locations or descriptions which stood out to you, either in a good way or a negative way?

The one which always sticks out in my mind in a negative way is The Brown Lands, the name of which really says it all. With a name like it, it is of course going to sound inhospitable, uninviting and uninspiring, as it paints a picture of desolation.

‘You are looking now south-west across the north plains of the Riddermark, Rohan the land of the Horselords.’ I love Rohan, and so this sentence, spoken by Aragorn as he is explaining the lie of the land to Frodo, really speaks to me. I am so looking forward to starting The Two Towers, which I must confess, is my favourite of book of the trilogy…

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11 thoughts on “Tolkien Tuesday #40

  1. Hi, I have to say it is Rohan for me, the land lying south along the great river, the far side the peaks of the Misty Mountains, its countryside is described as full of pastures and lush tall grassland. It is also steeped in tradition and poetry and they loved their horses – what’s not to like….well there are a few things – but the landscape seems lush πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a, let’s say, disconcerting half chapter. There was much unease and no sense of being able to let their guard down at all. And it is very curious why they are not openly speaking of the threat of Gollum. While I can understand not wanting people to panic, I think at this point, everyone has proven themselves capable. I think they should all be in the know.
    As for the scenery described… that brown land is very dismal. I feel their worry about all the trees and being exposed when there are none. Not a fun predicament to be in!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rohan has my vote, but I am very biased. The name of Rohan hit me like a slug to the stomach, quite a shock, for I have long known of another Rohan, in Brittany, and it has historical links with the village where I grew up.
    As to the silence regards Gollum, I do wonder if it’s due to issues of trust?

    Liked by 2 people

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