Tolkien Tuesday #43

~ 22 November 2022 ~

This is the last post in our The Fellowship of the Ring read along! What an amazing journey it’s been since January. It’s been wonderful to read along with everyone and hear your thoughts and views, as well as offering alternative perspectives on the story.

I’m already looking forward to January 2023 when we will begin The Two Towers. Hope to see you all again in the New Year!

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we finished Book 2, Chapter 10: The Breaking of the Fellowship, and so finished The Fellowship of the Ring 😦

Frodo flees from Boromir, not hearing his apology. He runs to the top of Amon Hen and sits upon the ruined stone seat. At first, he sees little but mist, for his still wearing the Ring, but soon he is offered views over great distances. Both east and west he looks, but wherever he casts his gaze he sees the marks of war. It is inescapable, except for a moment when he looks upon Minas Tirith and sees it gleaming, hope stirs in his heart but it is quickly dashed.

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Then he knows the eye in the Dark Tower is aware of his presence and is looking for him, looking for the Ring. It is almost upon him when he throws himself to the ground and takes it off, and the danger, for the moment, has passed. Not only that but this almost encounter steels his will to go on from here alone. He slips on the Ring and plans for his immediate departure.

Back by the river, the others have been puzzling over Frodo’s decision. The consensus is to go to Minas Tirith, but none wish to abandon Frodo should he choose to go east. It is as they are having this discussion that they realise Boromir is missing. Just as they set out to look for Frodo, noticing he’s been gone longer than he should have been, Boromir reappears, and confesses to some of what passed between them.

In panic the majority of the company run off in search of Frodo. Boromir is tasked with guarding Merry and Pippin. Aragorn goes with Sam, but Sam has a hard time keeping up with him. Sam knows he has to use his head to find Frodo and anticipates he will need a boat to cross the river, as well as collect supplies for his journey.

When he gets to the boats, he can see no-one there, but one of the boats enters the river, and Sam knows Frodo is in it, and goes to follow. However, the water is deep and swift, and Sam is pulled under. Frodo, fearing for his friend, rescues him. They argue about Frodo continuing the last part of the quest on his own, and Sam wins by threatening to put hole in all the boats if he is not allowed to go with him.

Together, Frodo and Sam cross the river and hide their boat, before searching for a path that will lead them to Mordor.

The biggest takeaway from this half chapter, and from The Fellowship of the Ring as a whole, is the message of friendship, I think. Frodo wants to save those he cares about, even if that means going on from here on his own, whilst the others would rather risk the danger, and even their own lives, if it means Frodo does not face the burden of destroying the ring on his own.

And that’s it for this part of the read along. But we will be back in the New Year and so begin our read of The Two Towers. Don’t forget – all are welcome to read along and join in the discussion.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

As this book came to an end, my thoughts, as a reader, are immediately focused on looking ahead. Although practicality has dictated that it is best to wait until the New Year to begin reading The Two Towers, the reader in me is eager to begin. Some of my favourite parts of The Lord of the Rings occur in this book, and I am so excited to read them and discuss them here, with you.

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In the meantime, I have been thinking about how Tolkien inspires me as a writer. Specifically, what lessons I’ve learned as part of this re-reading. Here are four of those lessons:

If you are going to write a fantasy story, you have to know your world inside out. You may not need to know the minutiae of how everything works in your world, but you do need to have an understanding of its people, its geography, its history, its languages and the rules governing magic systems (if there are any).

It’s the little things that add depth to your tale and help to create a well-rounded world with an authentic feel to it. These things could be suggestions of what is happening off-page in another part of the world. They could be references to events that happened in your world’s history. They could be pretty much anything, but what they do is allow the reader to know that there is more to your story than what they are reading.

Descriptions add dimension and richness, so learn how to write them well. This can be simply meant as giving the reader enough description to allow them to “see” the story, but equally the more a reader knows about a character or a place, the more immersed they can become in the storytelling. Add to this the way the descriptions are offered: not overly long, but beautifully evocative, perhaps on occasion more akin to poetry than prose…

Possibly most important of all, enjoy your writing and make time for it.

As a writer of fiction or non-fiction, or of poetry, what lessons have you learned from Tolkien?

Elsewhere

For those only just joining us, you can find all the links to the Tolkien Tuesday posts on the index page. Feel free to catch up over the coming weeks, in preparation for when we start reading The Two Towers in January 2023.

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

What has been your favourite part of, or place in, the story so far, and why?

This is a tough question, and I imagine if I was asked this question every day, I would give a different answer on each of them. Any of the ruins we’ve seen or passed have pulled at me, as has much of the geography. Then there was the awe-inspiring architecture of Moria, the different pubs, Rivendell, the Barrow-Downs…

However, at this moment, I am torn between answering Lothlorien, because on this re-reading I felt the parallels with the land of Faery more keenly than I have before, or The Old Forest, because the magic of the woodland really speaks to me. Yes, I think this is my answer for today…

Tolkien Tuesday #42

~ 15 November 2022 ~

Hello from a dull and wet corner of the Shire (Bedfordshire, for those who are wondering)!

I’ve done my best to try and condense my thoughts for this week’s post into a more manageable length, and I freely admit it’s been hard, mainly because of all things I want to write about Boromir. As a character, I find him fascinating.

And so, we begin the final chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring. Are you ready? Let’s go!

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we started Book 2, Chapter 10: The Breaking of the Fellowship.

Aragorn’s leads them to a grassy bank at the foot of Amon Hen. Nothing is seen or heard of their enemies. Frodo is on watch when Aragorn wakes in the night; Sting suggests orcs are closer than they would like but not near enough to be a problem at present.

Come morning, the decision on who is staying and who is going, and which direction Frodo as the ring-bearer wants to head in, must be made. Aragorn admits he cannot advise Frodo in this matter. Frodo begs an hour alone to make his choice.

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He wanders into the woodland that cover the slopes of Amon Hen and begins to climb. He finds a place to rest and think, recalling all that has happened since Bilbo’s birthday party. He is pulled out of these thoughts by a strange feeling, realising he is not alone. Boromir has sought him out, claiming he was worried about him.

Boromir wants this time to explain to Frodo the merits of heading to Gondor without argument from anyone else. At first, their conversation is pleasant, but quickly it becomes heated as talk turns to the Ring. It then dawns on Frodo the danger he – and the Ring – are in. Boromir gets carried away as he is talking and announces what he would do if he had the Ring, how it’s silly for a mere hobbit to be given custody of it.

Things become perilous when Boromir thinks he has persuaded Frodo to go to Minas Tirith, but Frodo corrects him. Boromir makes to take the Ring from Frodo, and Frodo puts the ring on and flees. Only then does the episode pass and Boromir realises what he has done.

When Frodo and Boromir are having their conversation, I couldn’t help but think Frodo was being a bit careless, given the situation. Some of the things he said, which while true, were not going to make Boromir see things differently or calm the tension down. In fact, on this re-read, I heard myself saying, ‘Oh Frodo, why did you have to say that?!’ Now, this is the first time I have perceived it as such, and I wonder if being aware of what is to come and being fully present in this scene because of this slow re-read, has influenced my perception here. Obviously, Frodo’s mind is on other things and so perhaps he isn’t aware of the danger he’s in until it’s too late.

Next week we will finish the final chapter of Book 2, Chapter 10: The Breaking of the Fellowship, which will conclude our reading of The Fellowship of the Ring.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

My musings this week, unsurprisingly, centred on location, and where landscape meets history.

We again find ourselves in a Middle Earth landscape where the echoes of the past are not only distinctly heard but seen. We have already come across perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring examples of this: the Argonath, which means “King-stones” (ref: The Silmarillion).

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Now, as Frodo walks the wooded slopes of Amon Hen, the Hill of Sight, he comes across a ruined road, steep, stone-hewn stairs that have fallen into disrepair, and a wide flat stone surrounded by grass and rowan trees.

This combined with the geography-rich nature of the area (hills, woodlands, waterfall, the river, the isle) makes for an enchanting, intriguing landscape, one that fires up the imagination. I can easily imagine walking and exploring here, meditating and musing on things…pretty much what Frodo has been doing.

Elsewhere

Nothing to add here this week…

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week

If you were Frodo, what would you have said to Boromir? Would you have engaged with him? Or would you have tried to leave when he turned up because you had asked to be alone? Let me know how you would have handled this situation.

The first point to make is, I don’t personally think anything could have changed Boromir’s part in this. At best, it would have happened at a different time, in a different place, and perhaps with different company. At this point though, the situation is perfect for him to make his move. And, for me, his role in the story is to showcase how Men have fallen, and no matter how honourable, they can be influenced by the power of the Ring.

Personally, I would have tried to get back to the others, I think. If I wanted time alone to think by myself, I would resent someone trying to alter that, especially if they have an ulterior motive, which everyone knows Boromir does. He hasn’t exactly been quiet about what he intends to do, and what he thinks the company should do. Yet I also know that doesn’t really help Frodo get to the decision he eventually makes.

I don’t think in Frodo’s stead, I would have told Boromir outright what I thought of his plans, or that his ideas are wrong, but perhaps tried to appease him without making any firm commitments. Would this have calmed Boromir? Would it have been enough for him? Of course not. The Ring wants to make its way into more easily corruptible hands, and Boromir is unfortunately susceptible to its power.

Tolkien Tuesday #41

~ 8 November 2022 ~

This past weekend I made the conscious decision not to turn my PC on, so if you are wondering why comments have gone unanswered, it is because once again, I’m playing catch-up. Yet, after concluding my latest Damon the Demon story last week and beginning my NaNoWriMo project(s), I decided a break was well-needed.

During this break, I’ve been pondering on how to proceed once we conclude The Fellowship of the Ring in a couple of weeks time. And I think I shall do as last year and wait for the new year to begin The Two Towers. How does that sound? That gives a little break between reading over what is for most people, the busiest time of year. Also, there are parts of The Fellowship of the Ring that I would like to re-read and revisit before we move on. If this is something you might enjoy, please let me know!

For now, here is this week’s Tolkien Tuesday…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

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

With a great effort, the three boats battle the current and move away from the rapids. But their relief is short. There are orcs on the eastern shore, loosing arrows in their direction. There are a couple of near misses, but the cloaks and boats of Lorien seemed to help in concealing them.

They head towards the western bank, and when they reach it, Legolas jumps ashore and checks it is safe. Yet not long after, a dark, menacing shape is seen in the sky above them. Legolas looses an arrow at it. There is a scream, and it disappears somewhere on the eastern shore, but this is met with wailing from the orcs.

Heading back upstream, they search for somewhere safe to spend the night. When they find a small bay, they pull into it, but they do not get out of the boats. That night, the company tries to work out how long they had spent in Lothlorien, with Legolas explaining how time is perceived by the Elves.

In the morning they wake to fog and mist. Boromir and Aragorn argue once again over the road ahead. Aragorn and Legolas go off in search the path that will allow them to skirt the rapids. They find it, and the rest of the day is spent moving the boats and gear downstream. The task is laborious but when complete, they spend what is left of the day resting.

The next day, they return to the boats and the river, and head downstream once more. They enter a ravine, and up ahead see two giant men carved out of stone. It’s the Argonath. Awe and fear are felt by Frodo, Sam and Boromir, but Aragorn, in the presence of the likeness of his forebears, takes on a kingly countenance.

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The sound of the Falls of Rauros can be heard, and not long after, they clear the ravine. A rocky island outcrop, Tol Brandir, can be seen ahead, between two rocky pinnacles on either side of the falls: Amon Lhaw and Amon Hen, the Hills of Hearing and Sight.

They let the current carry them towards the falls, but they know they must soon stop, and pick which shore, and which direction, east or west, to continue their journey.

In this part of the chapter, as well as the first, Boromir’s state of mind, and his intentions, really become apparent, and he isn’t shy in letting his opinions be heard. I found the geography of the area fascinating, and it really captured my imagination, especially where it intersects with Middle Earth history.

Next week we will begin the final chapter of Book 2, Chapter 10: The Breaking of the Fellowship.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

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My mindful musings this week retraced some familiar ground from earlier in the year…

In earlier chapters, we often spoke of the role the weather played in the story. Of how bad weather often accompanied a bad turn of events (such as the Fog On The Barrow-downs, Book 1, Chapter 8) or reflected the low mood of the travellers (such as the weariness felt as the rain falls upon the hobbits and Strider as they are trying to traverse the wildlands on the way to the ford, Book 1, Chapter 12). Yet good weather naturally meant a good day’s travelling and an uplifting of the spirits.

Yet here, I think for the first time, we see bad weather, the fog and the mist over the river and eastern bank, help the company in keeping hidden from the enemy on the eastern shore, yet it lifts enough for Aragorn and Legolas to find the path they seek. The bad weather is seen as a blessing.

Elsewhere

If you’re interested in reading how Tolkien’s work – both his academic work and his fictional writing – influences subjects today, I came across a couple of interesting articles from BBC Future. There were a number of Tolkien-related articles on there, apart from the following ones, but I have yet to read them.

The first is “Eucatastrophe: Tolkien’s word for the anti-doomsday”. This was a thoroughly interesting read.

The second is “The surprising ancient roots of The Lord of the Rings”, which is interesting, but probably not completely surprising, at least in part, if you’ve been reading any of the literature that’s been written around Middle Earth over that past few decades. But definitely worth a read!

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

So, we are at the point where a decision must be made on the direction the company are to take next. East or west? Which would you pick?

Hmm…suffering with anxiety, I have learnt that I cope better with difficult things if I get them over with, as quickly as possible. The longer I leave things, and the more I put them off, the higher the levels of procrastination rise, and my anxiety with it. I’m a terrible over-thinker. So, from this viewpoint, I would be very much in the “voting to go east” camp, because it’s more direct and it’s the direction you need to go in to get the job done.

Yet, I do see why heading west, towards Gondor, would be seen as more favourable, and potentially less dangerous. After all, we already know there are orcs on the eastern shore. And who wouldn’t feel better heading towards a land full of men who are well-used to fighting. Men like Aragorn and Boromir, strong and capable, who can handle themselves and protect those who can’t protect themselves. There is comfort and security in that path, even if we cannot categorically say there is no danger there.

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 🙂

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…

Tolkien Tuesday #39

~ 25 October 2022 ~

Two more chapters to go, and we will have finished our almost year-long journey through The Fellowship of the Ring…And what a journey it’s been so far! So let’s press on, grab a cup of something nice (as always, I’m drinking tea!), and take a look at this week’s half chapter…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we conclude Book 2, Chapter 8: Farewell to Lorien.

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Once the meal with Celeborn and Galadriel is concluded, the topic of conversation turns once more to the route they might take and the geography of the land they are about to travel through. When mention is made of the Forest of Fangorn, Boromir says he has heard much of the forest, but it all sounds like old wives’ tales to him. In reply, Celeborn says:

“But do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know.”

They drink from the cup of parting and then the hosts bestow gifts on their guests. Aragorn is given a sheath for his sword and a brooch which once belonged to Arwen. Boromir receives a belt of gold. Merry and Pippin are given silver belts. Legolas receives a bow of the Galadhrim and a quiver of arrows. Sam is given a small box of earth from Galadriel’s garden, enchanted with her blessing. Gimli is granted three hairs from Galadriel’s golden head. Frodo is given a crystal phial full of starlight.

Then it is time to leave. They climb into the three boats, Aragorn with Sam and Frodo, Boromir with Merry and Pippin, and Legolas and Gimli together. There is naturally a melancholy associated with this parting, for in leaving Lorien they are leaving an enchanted land of beauty and safety and returning to a world full of danger and bleakness.

As I read this half chapter, elven goodbyes came across as being highly ritualised, at least here. Also, I really felt the transition from Lorien to the outside world, more so than I think I have before. I suspect an element of that is with past reads, I have wanted to press on and get to the more high-energy parts of the story, yet having to read slowly this time, I have been forced to experience the sanctuary that is Lothlorien, and I felt a little reluctant to leave.

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

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

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As Celeborn and Galadriel offer their guests gifts, I’m reminded of this scene in the film, and the differences between the two. And for me, the book definitely comes out on top here. Why?

Mainly because in the film Sam is shown as well, almost ungrateful with his gift (in the film his gift is rope), asking instead if he could not have “one of those nice, shiny daggers” that Merry and Pippin are given.

Personally, I don’t think that fits in with his personality. Rather it is out-of-character for him to ask for something “better” than rope. After all, we know how much he loves rope and laments forgetting to pack it when they are leaving Rivendell, and is even saddened to learn that if the elves of Lothlorien knew he was interested in rope, they would have taught him how they make theirs…

Even if his gift had not been rope…even if he hadn’t been given a gift at all…I can’t imagine him ever complaining about it or asking for something else.

And, out of the gifts they are given according to the book, I think Sam’s is perhaps my favourite. Understated, when compared to gold, silver and gemstones, but so very important…

Elsewhere

I don’t have anything to add here this week…

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

We’ve visited, and spent quite a bit of time at, two elven locations, Rivendell and Lothlorien? Which one is your favourite? If you could only visit one, which would it be?

That’s a tough question because I like the sound of both.

Loving trees and rivers, and how it can be considered as a land of fairy, Lothlorien really does appeal to me. But… I think… (can you sense how uncertain I am with this answer?) that Rivendell might just inch ahead, as a place to read, and learn, and listen to stories being told in front of a nice, warm fire. Also, I see Rivendell as a retreat from the world, but Lothlorien is almost separated from it…

Tolkien Tuesday #38

~ 18 October 2022 ~

Once again, I am behind with comments – and other things – sigh. It just goes to show, I can be as prepared as is humanly possible, but if I fall behind with one thing, I fall behind with everything! I will endeavour to catch-up this week, which I expect to manage because I intend to be here on the blog a little more than usual for the 13 days of Samhain posts… This really is my favourite time of year 🙂

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we begin Book 2, Chapter 8: Farewell to Lorien.

The evening of the day Sam and Frodo looked into the Mirror of Galadriel, the company as a whole, is summoned to speak with Celeborn and his wife about the road ahead.

Those who do not wish to go on with the quest are granted leave to remain in Lothlorien, though they will be asked to fight alongside the elves when the battle reaches their land. Galadriel answers for them, knowing their hearts, and proclaims they all wish to continue on for the time being.

When it comes to the route they will take from now on, Aragorn is undecided what it should be. If Gandalf had planned this far ahead, he had yet to share his thoughts with Aragorn. But their choices are simple: take the eastern shore to Mordor or the western shore to Minas Tirith.

Celeborn, in the spirit of elves, does not tell them which course they should choose. However, he does spare them making any immediate decision by giving them boats and encouraging them to use the Great River to their advantage.

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Celeborn and Galadriel bid the company goodnight and say they will send elves to help them get ready for the journey in the morning. They will supply them with as much as they can.

The company do not go straight to sleep but have a small council of their own. Naturally, the majority wish to go to Minas Tirith rather than straight into enemy territory. Aragorn thought his path was to go there but if Frodo is to choose the eastern shore rather than the western one, he knows he cannot abandon him. Frodo notices that Boromir is acting strangely but no-one else seems to register it.

The next morning the Elves help the company ready for the journey. They give them food in the form of elvish waybread, lembas, and cloaks which mirror the colours of the natural world to help camouflage them. Then Haldir returns from the northern borders to guide them to their boats and makes a comment on the disturbances and smoke which have been coming from the Dimrill Dale.

Heading south and east, they leave the woodland city behind them, eventually stopping on the banks of the Silverlode. Here, the boats are loaded, and they have a short practice in watercraft, ensuring they are capable of handling them. Sam is delighted that to find 3 coils of elven rope have been placed in each boat.

Celeborn and Galadriel arrive in an elven boat shaped like a swan and invite the company to share a meal with them before they depart.

I was struck by the many mentions of elven craft and industry in this half chapter, something that although I was aware of before, didn’t make as great an impression on me as it did this time. Woven cloaks, ropemaking, boat building, a boat in the form of perfect swan, if on a larger scale, leaf-like brooches…

Aragorn hits his first challenge as leader of the company, and interestingly I don’t remember him being so withdrawn and lost in his own thoughts…

Next week we will finish Book 2, Chapter 8: Farewell to Lorien.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

I thought it interesting the options Celeborn gives the company. He says they can continue on with the quest, and either head to Mordor or Minas Tirith, or they can remain in Lothlorien with them, though they will be expected to fight should it come to it. But only after can they return home or move on to the next life, should they fall in battle.

He doesn’t say that they can return home now. Boromir says his home is to be found going forward not heading away, which, of course is in contrast with the others. Though neither Celeborn nor Galadriel expand on this further, and though we do come to learn from Haldir of the disturbances in the Dimrill Dale, it makes me think that it is now too late for them to attempt to return home by any road. We have reached a point of no point return…

Elsewhere

One of my favourite quotes is to be found in this chapter, and it’s perfect for every type of creative. So I guess all of us who make, whether it’s paintings, photos, stories, drawings, quilts, knitted jumpers or poetry, we are all a little elvish 🙂

I paired this quote with one of my favourite river views close to where I live…it seems perfectly fitting…

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

Three important items, not including the boats, are given to the company in readiness for their departure (note, I’m not talking about the gifts as that will be covered next week). Waybread, cloaks and rope. If you could only take one for the journey, which would it be?

I’ve always wanted one of those elven cloaks as I’ve always thought they sounded smashing. So, off the cuff, that would be my answer because I really, really want one.

However, thinking about it, I wonder if the waybread would be more useful. After all, you won’t get very far if you don’t eat, quite literally but also hunger can impair judgement. The closer you get to the pointy end of the quest, the sharper you’re going to need to be…

Tolkien Tuesday #37

~ 11 October 2022 ~

A cold but bright autumnal morning here…very reminiscent of those early chapters of The Lord of the Rings, when Frodo, Sam and Pippin are first setting off from Bag End, making their way to the cottage at Crickhollow…I think, when I next read The Fellowship of the Ring, I will begin it in autumn, so I can be more in step with seasons as the story progress…

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we finished Book 2, Chapter 7: The Mirror of Galadriel.

One evening (we don’t know when, or how long has passed), both Frodo and Sam are feeling restless. Frodo realises the time to leave Lothlorien has almost arrived. While the two of them are walking Frodo asks Sam his thoughts on elves, and Sam in his wonderfully plain and rustic way, manages to explain his thoughts on the elves’ place in the world, and their magic.

Lady Galadriel beckons them to follow her, and she leads them to an enclosed garden, and to a silver stream. Situated close by is a silver basin and ewer, the latter she uses to fill the former with water from the stream. It is the Mirror of Galadriel, and she can command what it shows or leave it to work unbidden. She then asks if they would like a look.

Sam, “trembling a little between fear and curiosity”, says he’ll take a look. He sees a number of things, but the vision that stays with him is a glimpse of home, but it is changed. Trees are being cut down, the quaint Old Mill has gone, there’s lots of smoke. But most painful of all is seeing his father being evicted from his home and Bagshot Row being dug over.

Clearly upset, he exclaims his must go home at once. Galadriel reminds him, before looking in the mirror he hadn’t planned on returning home without Frodo, yet it was fair to assume that evil would be at work in the Shire. Sam understands now the power of the mirror and knows his place is helping Frodo.

Next it is Frodo’s turn to look. He is unsure at first but decides to do so. Like Sam he sees a number of things, one of which he thinks might be Gandalf. Yet it is a single Eye, rimmed with fire which proves the most potent vision. The Eye is searching for something, and Frodo knows it is him. The Ring grows heavy, and he must step away from the Mirror.

Frodo guesses Galadriel is a ring-bearer. She has Nenya, one of the elven rings. Frodo then offers her the one Ring, but she refuses. Sam says if she had the ring, she would make people pay for destroying the Shire, and she agrees she would. “That is how it would begin. But it would not stop with that, alas!”

The next day, the company is set to leave Lothlorien and continue on their journey.

In this chapter, we learn just how intricately the fate of the elves is tied to the fate of the ring, and that brings great sadness. To know the elves would rather leave Middle-earth or fade away than have Sauron succeed, is a high price for a whole race to bear. Yet none know more than the elves the dangers of Sauron…

Galadriel warns Frodo and Sam a number of times not to touch the water in the Mirror, yet it is never explained why. What will happen if the water is disturbed?

Next week we will start Book 2, Chapter 8: Farewell to Lorien.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

The title of this chapter I found interesting, as although it is taken from Galadriel’s magical scrying bowl, it also almost plays, pun-like, in mirroring echoes from earlier chapters and projecting glimpses of what might be ahead.

First the echoes from the past:

  • Frodo again asks Sam of his thoughts of elves. The first time is after the meeting with Gildor.
  • Secondly, Galadriel echoes the same sentiment as Gildor did back in Book II Chapter 3:
    • Gildor: “Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift…”
    • Galadriel: “I do not counsel you one way or the other. I am not a counsellor.”
  • Galadriel on being offered the ring by Frodo, explains that she would try to use it for good if it was in her possession, and then it would slowly turn her towards evil. Gandalf says something similar in Book II Chapter 2.

As for glimpses of the future, I don’t know how easy it would be to discuss them at this point without mentioning spoilers, so I think we will wait for now, and raise each one again in turn, if and when we reach them.

Elsewhere

The index of Tolkien Tuesday posts is now complete. Yay! You can find this page here.

Also, don’t forget to check out the comments of last week’s post if you haven’t already, to see some wonderfully inspired and beautifully written responses to last week’s question of the week…

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

If you were given the chance, would you look into the Mirror of Galadriel?

Yes, yes and again yes!

I love anything to do with divination and prophecy…tarot cards, runes, dream, symbol and omen interpretation, scrying, especially in terms of an historical (auguries in ancient Rome, the Pythia in ancient Greece or astrologers at the Elizabethan court) or folklore (peeling an apple for the initial of your boyfriend, looking in a mirror on a particular night to see the face of your future husband) context. I’m fascinated by the rituals and the process and the potential implications depending on whether or not the counsel is deemed worthy of paying attention to, and in turn what parameters guide those judgements.

So, yes, if I was allowed to look in the mirror, I would heed the warnings, but still look. Hopefully I would have the sense to see what I could affect and what I hadn’t the power to change. I also hope I wouldn’t let what I saw in the mirror consume me unnecessarily. After all, even one slight deviation could change the course of the future…And, being concerned with what you think is about to come makes you pay little attention to the present.

Tolkien Tuesday #36

~ 4 October 2022 ~

Can you believe there are only three more chapters after this one until the end of The Fellowship of the Ring? I can’t…

Having spent a few hours today on all things Tolkien Tuesday, I also found time to work out the draft prompts for this year’s 13 Days of Samhain… I think it must be the combination of a generally autumnal feeling here, and reading about a very fae-like place…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we started Book 2, Chapter 7: The Mirror of Galadriel.

As day fades into night, the company are led by Haldir into Caras Galadhon, the city of the Galadhrim, where Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel live. Around the city walls runs a white paved road which leads them to the city gate. Once inside it is as if they have entered an enchanted realm and all they see is wondrous and appears almost magical.

Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel wish to speak with the fellowship, and so they must ascend above into the tree canopy of the greatest tree they have ever seen. The climb isn’t easy but there are many places to rest along the way.

Photo by Mehmet Kaya on Pexels.com

When they reach the uppermost platform, they find Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel sitting beneath a canopy constructed out of a living bough. Each of the company is welcomed warmly and by name. Yet quickly their talk turns to sadness, for their hosts ask what has happened to Gandalf. Aragorn recounts their journey from Caradhras to the bridge. Legolas says it was a Balrog of Morgoth who battled Gandalf for the bridge.

In shock it seems, Celeborn regrets his warm welcome to Gimli and those who travel with him, for it was the dwarves which disturbed the evil beneath Moria. However, Galadriel is quick to point out this is unnecessarily rash. She then goes on to speak to Gimli of the beauty of his ancestral home, and admits that if the role was reversed, she and Celeborn would not be able to keep away from their own no matter the evil that may have dwelt in it. Gimli, charmed by her kindness and wisdom, bows to her. Celeborn ask Gimli to forget his harsh words.

Galadriel then points out that the world is in greater peril than they thought and that it wouldn’t take very much for their quest to fail. “Yet hope remains while all the company is true,” she says. She then proceeds to test them each in turn. Afterwards, she releases them all from her gaze and tells them they are safe here. Celeborn says they can rest and that no more will be spoken of their quest just yet.

For the next few days, they rest and heal in body, but the grief they feel over Gandalf comes to the fore. They speak a little of the test Galadriel put each of them through, but not many of them wishes to share their personal trial. For the most part, they are left alone, and Legolas comes and goes, splitting his time between his companions and the elves. Sometimes he takes Gimli with him. Frodo composes a poem in honour of Gandalf, and Sam adds his own verse on the subject of fireworks.

The descriptions in this section were wonderful, though I thought it interesting that although the company had to wait outside the walls until dusk, it wasn’t until dusk that they started the long walk around the white paved road to the gate.

Next week we will finish Book 2, Chapter 7: The Mirror of Galadriel

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

The enchanting magical mystery of Lothlorien continues in this chapter, and the parallels and influences of the land of the fae become even more apparent.

We have fantastical descriptions of Caras Galadhon: encircled by an overlapping wall, voices heard but the speakers are not seen, magical gates which appear to open themselves, trees of such vast proportions that dwellings can be constructed amongst their branches…

Time is quite an abstract concept seeing as though it doesn’t particularly concern elves. This is clearly shown when Celeborn says to Aragorn it has been 38 years “…of the world outside” since your last visit, which in one sense tells us it’s been a while, but it does little to further the reader’s understanding of that passage of time. It’s as if he’s letting everyone know he understands the concept of time, and that plenty of it has passed, but that it holds little consequence for him. (Do we yet know Aragorn’s exact age? There is a nod here towards his heritage) There is a timelessness in these passages, and one isn’t quite sure just how much time has passed and how many days they have spent there.

The seasons are not clear cut here. Sometimes it is as if summer, others as if spring, and at others still, winter. Sometimes it is the weather and the woodland, which is being described as correlating to a season, at others, it is the feelings which one associates with a particular season which is of note. Autumn was not mentioned though.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Elsewhere

I’ve started the index of posts for this read along, as mentioned in last week’s post. I suspect it might take me a few weeks to get up to speed with it, but for now you can find what (little) I’ve done here.

Also, something interesting I noticed when looking back over the earlier posts is that I didn’t include a summary of that week’s reading, only my thoughts on it. And I’m not sure which format is best…Any thoughts? Which do you prefer?

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

What aspects of Gandalf do you think are worthy of remembrance, if you were to write a poem in his memory?

Superficially, I would say his bushy eyebrows, hat and fireworks. Less superficially…his keen sense of friendship, his sense of humour – one of my favourite passages involving Gandalf is the “Good morning” exchange with Bilbo in The Hobbit, and his practical wisdom along with his vast amount of knowledge.

Tolkien Tuesday #35

~ 27 September 2022 ~

Welcome to another Tolkien Tuesday. The weather is getting cooler and damper here as we move towards the darker half of the year in the northern hemisphere. And I must admit, on the whole, I prefer the colder, darker months. I like being cosy. I like reading underneath a blanket. I like sitting in the dark surrounded by candles. I also like autumn walks. I like to see the changing colours and to kick up leaves…

So grab a cup of something nice – like always, I’m drinking tea – and let’s discuss this week’s reading.

And just a thought, if anyone has any ideas for guest posts, or questions, or areas they want covered in future discussions, suggestions are always welcome. One of my favourite aspects of this group read-along is the community feel of it.

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we finished Book 2, Chapter 6: Lothlorien.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

Legolas offers to climb one of the trees to see if the rest could follow him up so they can sleep more safely off the woodland floor. However, just as he takes hold of the first branch, a voice from overhead causes him to start.

It is a group of three elven watchers. They heard the company earlier and have been tracking them and listening to Legolas singing. Having been made aware of their journey by Elrond, who sent out messengers as far across the land as he could, they befriend the company, even Gimli, if Legolas and Aragorn will guard him.

That night, the hobbits sleep on a flet in one tree with the elven guards, while the rest of the company sleeps in the next one. Sometime in the night, Frodo is woken by the sound of many feet moving through the forest and he is told it is a company of orcs.

Alone and the only one awake, Frodo thinks he can hear movement at the base of the tree. He spots a shadowy figure, but it quickly disappears. This time another sees it, Haldir the elf, but he could not risk shooting whoever or whatever it was.

The next day they walk further into Lothlorien, until they must cross the Silverlode, which the elves call Celebrant. Once on the other side they are in the Naith of Lorien and strangers must go blindfolded. Gimli, being a dwarf, is the only one who is required to do so, but he refuses. He says it is unfair and is as unlikely to betray the elves as Legolas. However, Haldir has no choice in the matter. It is the law. So Aragorn says for them all to go blindfolded.

All that day they walk blindfolded. At midday the next day, they meet a company of elves heading north to strengthen the northern defences. They also bring with them news. The orcs that entered woodland have almost been destroyed, and the rest are being pursued. Lady Galadriel has also sent word that all of the company should walk without blindfolds. Haldir apologises to Gimli.

They have now reached Cerin Amroth and must wait until dusk before going on. Haldir, on noticing they can feel the power of Lady Galadriel on the woodland, offers to take Frodo and Sam up the hill. Frodo “felt he was in a timeless land that did not fade or change or fall into forgetfulness.” At the top of the hill they climb up to the platform and look out over the forest. Where Lady Galadriel’s power reaches all is bright and golden, but beyond the borders of her country, the world seems dark and full of shadow.

When they return to the bottom of the hill, Frodo finds Aragorn lost in a living memory. He looks younger, is wearing other clothes, and is speaking to someone Frodo cannot see. He utters the name “Arwen”. Once the memory is over, Aragorn, smiling, explains, “Here is the heart of Elvendom on earth…and here my heart dwells ever, unless there be a light beyond the dark roads that we still must tread, you and I.”

Next week we will start Book 2, Chapter 7: The Mirror of Galadriel

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

My musings this week were very brief and pretty random:

The first was that we have entered a magical place, with lots of water, which has the power to heal. This is indeed needed after the darkness and grief of Moria.

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The perception of Lothlorien from without is of a dangerous place from where men don’t return, which worries Boromir (this is not the first time Boromir has worried over their choice of road). There is an element here of a magical place, an ancient place, a powerful place which means it must be a dangerous one. I might writer further on this in the next post, but I’ll stop here for fear of spoilers 😉

Stepping in to Lothlorien feels like stepping into a dream. You feel the magic. You can sense the magic. What you see is remarkable and yet you know, without that magic it would not be as you see it.

There are parallels between Lorien and the world of the fae in folklore, not only because elves dwell here – note how different Rivendell feels compared to Lorien – but this is very much a magic world existing in and between another place. Also, there is an aspect of if you cross over the border to this place, it will change you.

Elsewhere

Nothing to add here this week…except that at some point soon, I will be adding an index page for these posts to make it easier to for those who maybe miss a week or two to find previous posts…

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

What are your thoughts on how the elves treated Gimli?

I always feel affronted and insulted on Gimli’s behalf, because he is being treated with age-old prejudice. Another point that doesn’t sit well with me is that no-one has thought to tell Gimli the terms of the agreement which concern him. However, Haldir isn’t particularly happy himself when it comes to the blindfolding, but there is little he can do about it, and he does apologise at the earliest opportunity.

I can understand the anger Gimli feels, and the need he has to stand up for himself and call into question how unfairly he is being treated.

I am also always a little surprised when Legolas complains when it is first suggested that he should where a blindfold. Yet he does drop his argument quickly.

That being said, I also understand the elves wanting to protect their home and their people. After all, the world they live in is an increasingly dangerous one.

Tolkien Tuesday #34

~ 20 September 2022 ~

The weather has turned more autumnal here. The leaves have started to change their leaves and the temperatures are getting cooler. It’s my favourite time of year, and is perfectly paired with a big cup of tea, a lovely scented candle (in this case, bergamot and cedarwood) and of course, a good book…though to be honest, I think I say this about every season…

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we started Book 2, Chapter 6: Lothlorien.

Aragorn leads the company away from the mountains, but not before he expresses his feelings of hopelessness at Gandalf’s passing, and Gimli shakes his fist at the cruelty of Caradhras for forcing them to take the path through the mines.

Gimli spots the Mirrormere but they cannot stop. A little while later he spots Durin’s Stone and begs a brief moment to turn aside and see it. Frodo and Sam accompany him, and each look into the Mirrormere.

Heading south, they go on. Aragorn says he plans follow the way Gandalf had chosen. They will follow the Silverlode, through the forest of Lothlorien, and on to The Great River, the Anduin. Legolas is looking forward to seeing Lothlorien, but he wishes it had been spring.

Sam and Frodo, injured by the battle in the chamber, begin to fall behind. Aragorn and Boromir carry them until they can find somewhere safe to rest. When they stop, Aragorn tends first Sam, then Frodo. While tending to the latter the secret of the mithril coat is revealed, and Merry announces he loves Bilbo even more for giving it to Frodo.

Now rested, they push on once more until night falls, going in silence. Frodo walking with Gimli, thinks he can hear someone or something following, then possibly catches sight of two eyes. But when he mentions it to Gimli, he listens but cannot hear anything.

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They eventually reach the border of Lothlorien. Boromir is a little uneasy about the woods, for there are strange tales said about it in Gondor, but he agrees to enter it with the others. They enter the woods, travelling a mile into the forest, before they turn aside and find a resting place. They cross the Nimrodel and feel rested.

Once they are camped, Legolas sings a song of Nimrodel and her lover Amroth, of whom neither were heard from again. Legolas then tells them of his Elven kin who live in the treetops of the forest, and Gimli recommends that for that night, they do likewise.

In this section, I found I was most drawn to Gimli, and that here he felt a little more like a main character than he has so far. I suppose this goes back further, to just before they entered Moria. He is walking amongst his own people’s history and the joy of that is severely tempered by the events of their journey. He says one of my favourite lines from this half-chapter, “I hear nothing but the night-speech of plant and stone.” I can’t help but wonder, what are they saying?

And as these past few chapters have spoken of Gimli and the history and legacy of the dwarves, you can feel the focus transitioning to Legolas, his people, and the history and legacy of the elves.

Next week we will finish Book 2, Chapter 6: Lothlorien.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

This week my thoughts wandered over the differences in how the events of this half-chapter were portrayed in the film compared with the book, most notably on who the focus lay.

In the film, in the immediate aftermath of their flight from Moria, it is the hobbits who are predominantly shown as overcome with grief and crying. And, I’ve always found it to be one of the most poignant moments in the film. Every time I have watched the film, I have felt their grief and understood their pain.

However, in the book, we are given little insight into what the hobbits are feeling or how they are reacting to the loss of Gandalf. It’s not until they have started once more on their journey that it is said of Frodo, “…drawn by the still blue water in spite of hurt and weariness…”

It’s interesting that as younger reader, I would have felt a stronger reaction to the one portrayed in the film. Yet now it is Gimli’s impotent, grief-stricken angry fist shaking at Caradhras that moves me more today. That, and Aragorn’s despondency.

Elsewhere

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com

Don’t forget that 22nd September is Hobbit Day! Falling on 22nd September, it celebrates both Bilbo’s and Frodo’s birthday.

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

Which of the geographical water features would you chose from those we have read about this half-chapter? The Mirrormere, the Silverlode, or the Nimrodel?

To be honest, I would like to visit all three, but if I had to choose, I think there is something quite magical about the Mirrormere. A meeting of water and stars, and reflections that alter the real world, the lake was said to be a place of prophecy and vision (Tolkien The Illustrated Encyclopedia, David Day, pg 64). Durin was said to have looked into the water and seen a crown of stars above his head, even though it was daylight.

Yet I love woodland rivers and streams, especially at this time of year. I love the intersection between earth and water, and that in itself is really quite magical too.