Weekly Book Discussions

Introduction, summary and a selection of quotes from each chapter written by Amy Buckles/Primula.
These were posted on the fanclub's Middle Earth board to facilitate discussion of Tolkien's work.
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The Fellowship of the Ring
Book I, Chapter 1: A Long-Expected Party
Book I, Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past
Book I, Chapter 3: Three is Company
Book I, Chapter 4: A Short Cut to Mushrooms
Book I, Chapter 5: A Conspiracy Unmasked
Book I, Chapter 6: The Old Forest
Book I, Chapter 7: In the House of Tom Bombadil
Book I, Chapter 8: Fog on the Barrow Downs
Book I, Chapter 9: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony
Book I, Chapter 10: Strider
Book I, Chapter 11: A Knife in the Dark
Book I, Chapter 12: Flight to the Ford
Book II, Chapter 1: Many Meetings
Book II: Chapter 2: The Council of Elrond
Book II: Chapter 3: The Ring Goes South
Book II: Chapter 4: A Journey in the Dark
Book II: Chapter 5: The Bridge of Khazad-Dum
Book II, Chapter 6: Lothlorien
Book II, Chapter 7: The Mirror of Galadriel
Book II, Chapter 8: Farewell to Lorien
Book II, Chapter 9: The Great River
Book II, Chapter 10: The Breaking of the Fellowship
The Two Towers
Book III, Chapter 1: The Departure of Boromir
Book III, Chapter 2: The Riders of Rohan
Book III, Chapter 3: The Uruk-Hai
Book III, Chapter 4: Treebeard
Book III, Chapter 5: The White Rider
Book III, Chapter 6: The King of the Golden Hall
Book III, Chapter 7: Helm's Deep
Book III, Chapter 8: The Road to Isengard
Book III, Chapter 9: Flotsam and Jetsam
Book III, Chapter 10: The Voice of Saruman
Book III, Chapter 11: The Palantir
Book IV, Chapter 1: The Taming of Smeagol
Book IV, Chapter 2: The Passage of the Marshes
Book IV, Chapter 3: The Black Gate is Closed
Book IV, Chapter 4: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Book IV, Chapter 5: The Window on the West
Book IV, Chapter 6: The Forbidden Pool
Book IV, Chapter 7: Journey to the Cross-Roads
Book IV, Chapter 8: The Stairs of Cirith Ungol
Book IV, Chapter 9: Shelob's Lair
Book IV, Chapter 10: The Choices of Master Samwise
Return of the King Book  V




Book I, Chapter 1: A Long-Expected Party

We are starting off a chapter-by-chapter discussion of the original written LOTR, on a more or less weekly basis. This is, of course, the first chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring.

In summary: 
Here we find Mr. Bilbo Baggins beginning the preparations for his eleventy-first birthday (S.R. 1401), and see all of the hubbub it creates in the idyllic Shire. We have his speech and dramatic exit from his own party and his subsequent discussion with Gandalf regarding the disposal of his Ring. We are introduced to Frodo, and see his coping with the aftermath of all the excitement as well as tending to the doling out of the many ironic gifts that Bilbo had left behind.

There were some that shook their heads and thought this was too much of a good thing; it seemed unfair thata anyone should possess (apparently) perpetual youth as well as (reputedly) inexhaustible wealth. 'It will have to be paid for,' they said. 'It isn't natural, and trouble will come of it!'

My dear People,
began Bilbo, rising in his place. 'Hear! Hear! Hear!' ethey shouted, and kept on repeating it in chorus, seeming reluctant to follow their own advice.

'Well, if you want my ring yourself, say so!' cried Bilbo. 'But you won't get it. I won't give my precious away I tell you.' His hand strayed to the hilt of his small sword.

'The ring!' exclaimed Frodo. 'Has he left me that? I wonder why. Still, it may be useful.'
'It may, and it may not,' said Gandalf. 'I should not make use of it if I were you...'

' If you don't let me in, Frodo, I shall blow your door right down your hole and out through the hill,' he said.

Thoughts, insights, favorite bits? What was the purpose of this chapter, and how does it affect your views of the story?


Book I, Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past

This is our second of the chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the second chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring.

In summary: 
So very much packed into this chapter! Here we find the events following Bilbo's departure, including the genesis of the tales of Mad Baggins. Ted Sandyman is shown to be a less than cheery soul, and there are reports of a tree walking in the Shire. We are introduced to Peregrin and Meriadoc.  Frodo celebrates Bilbo's birthday each year, but ceases to age himself. Gandalf is in and out of the Shire for many years and we pick up the pace as Frodo approaches the momentous age of 50.  Here we find the discussions of the history of the Ring, and of Gollum, are introduced to the concepts of Sauron and Saruman. We have the famous Ring-in-the-fire scene resulting in Frodo concluding he must leave the Shire, but doesn't quite realize what it really means to do so yet. Sam lurks outside a window and thus "gets to go and see the Elves and all - hooray!" and then bursts into tears.

It became a fireside-story for young hobbits; and eventually Mad Baggins, who used to vanish with a bang and a flash and reappear with bags of jewels and gold became a favourite character of legend...

'Perhaps I shall cross the River myself one day.' to which the other half of his mind always replied: 'Not yet.'

'Oh, they're both cracked,' said Ted. 'Leastways old Bilbo was cracked and Frodo's cracking."

To Frodo's astonishment and distress the wizard threw it suddenly into the middle of the glowing corner of the fire. Frodo gave a cry and groped for the tongs; but Gandalf held him back.

'Pity? It was pity that stayed his hand.'

'Mr. Frodo, sir!' cried Sam quaking. 'Don't let him hurt me, sir! Don't let him turn me into anything unnatural! My old dad would take on so.'

Thoughts, insights, favorite bits, foreshadowing? What was the purpose of this chapter, and how does it affect your views of the story?


Book I, Chapter 3: Three is Company

This is our third of the chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR.  This week features the third chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring.

In summary: 
Frodo, by Gandalf's advice, finally leaves Bag-End, stirring up all sorts of gossip with his sale to the Sackville-Baggins and his purchase of a little house in Crickhollow.  We see them saying farewell to the old hole, Merry and Fatty resourcefully helping with the move and Pippin, Sam and Frodo's eventful walk to Buckland, with the Black Riders making their first appearance and Gildor providing some protection and elvish advice.

Thoughts, impressions, favorite bits? What do you think was the reason Tolkien included this portion of the story, and how did it shape your first impressions of Sam, Pippin, Frodo, the Wraiths or the Elves?

'I wonder if I shall ever look down into that valley again,' he said quietly.

"Water," shouted Pippin, "Where's the water?"
"I don't keep water in my pockets," said Frodo.

They smiled at him, laughing. 'Here is a jewel among hobbits!'

Do not go to the Elves for advice as they will say both yes and no…





Book I, Chapter 4: A Short Cut to Mushrooms

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the fourth chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring.

In summary: 
Pippin, Sam and Frodo discuss what they learned from the Elves and choose to stay away from the road by cutting across country towards Buckland, but when this brings them out onto the land of a certain dog-owning mushroom farmer Frodo has to face the fears from his own youth.  We are introduced to the warm and subtle Farmer Maggot, gain some insight on the doings of the surrounding area and see our heroes safely to the Ferry, hidden by the brave farmer.  Mmm, boy, that basket smells good.

Thoughts, insights, favorite bits? What was the purpose of this chapter, and how does it affect your views of the characters?

I know I found Frodo's ability to face down his youthful fear and to openly admit that he had missed out on a good friend because of it to be of note in showing the reader something about his character, and appreciated the way Tolkien built up the suspense about the shadowy figure at the Ferry to bring us into empathy with their fear.

'If you don't come back, sir, that I shan't, that's certain,' said Sam. 'Don't you leave him! they said to me. Leave him! I said. I never mean to.'

'I am terrified of him and his dogs...He caught me serveral times trespassing after mushrooms."

'Perhaps you're thinking it won't be too easy to get to the Ferry without being caught?'



Book I, Chapter 5: A Conspiracy Unmasked

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the fifth chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring.

In summary
We see the lights of Brandy Hall and are given a snippet of its history, but the hobbits also see something dark sniffing on the bank of the Brandywine as they cross. They come to bright and homey Crickhollow to receive warm baths (songs, anyone?) and their last good hobbit meal for some time. Around the fire we hear discussion of their fears, the Black Riders, and Old Maggot - and Frodo finally confesses his errand to his friends only to be astonished that they know of it already and are planning on going with him! The friends show their steadfastness and loyalty, even non-adventurous Fredegar who will stay behind.  And finally we get a bit of Tolkien foreshadowing as  Frodo sleeps and dreams of a white tower and the sea.

'A bath!' cried Pippin. 'O blessed Meriadoc!'

'It's going  to come out in a minute,' whispered Pippin to Merry. Merry nodded.

'You have read his book!' cried Frodo. 'Good heavens above! Is nothing safe?
'
'Oh yes they do!' said Merry. 'The Brandybucks go in - occasionally when the fit takes them. We have a private entrance.'

Thoughts, insights, favorite bits? What was the purpose of this chapter, and how does it affect your views of the characters, or later events?



Book I, Chapter 6: The Old Forest

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the sixth chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring.

In summary: 
Here we find for the first time a taste of how things have "gone wrong" in Middle Earth. The dark history of the Old Forest and its malevolence are placed in control of the travelers path in spite of Merry's best efforts, and they end up at the mercy of a Willow of very black heart in a river valley they never intended to come to. We see them falling under the enchantment of a song, and being saved by another song in turn as a very interesting character comes out of nowhere, seemingly, and offers his aid.
 "Hey! come derry dol! Hop along my hearties!

It shut with a clang and the lock clicked. The sound was ominous. 'There!' said Merry. 'You have left the Shire...'

'Well, now...we have come in almost the opposite direction to which we intended. This is the River Withywindle!'

'It's no good,' he heard Merry saying. 'Can't go another step without rest. Must have nap. It's cool under the willows...'

He heard two noises...one was the splash of something heavy falling  into the water; the other was a noise like the snick of a lock when a door quietly closes fast.

'Old grey Willow-man! I'll freeze his marrow cold, if he don't behave himself. I'll sing his roots off. I'll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away. Old Man Willow!'

Thoughts, insights, favorite bits? What was the purpose of this chapter, and how does it affect your views of the characters, or later events?



Book I, Chapter 7: In the House of Tom Bombadil

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the seventh chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring. All are welcome to participate.

In summary:
Here we meet a character that seems a paradox in Middle Earth as the hobbits are invited to stay in his house, passing the Barrow Downs along the way. They partake of his hospitality and meet charming and lovely Goldberry.  Pippin, Merry and Frodo each have disturbing dreams and are comforted by the safety of his house and Frodo looks out the window at the rain.  They listen to tales, and Frodo has the rather shocking surprise of Tom being unaffected by the Ring the night before they set out to continue their journey.

'Hey! Come derry-dol! Hop along my hearties!'

"Whether the morning and evening of one day or of many days had passed Frodo could not tell. He did not feel either hungry or tired, only filled with wonder. The stars shone through the window and the silence of the heavens seemed to be round him. He spoke at last our of his wonder and a sudden fear of that silence: "Who are you Master?"

'Hey, come Frodo, there! Where be you a-going? Old Tom Bombadil's not as blind as that yet. Take off your golden ring! Your hand's more fair without it.'

Thoughts, insights, favorite bits? What was the purpose of this chapter, or even of Tom? How does it affect your views of the characters, the Ring, or later events?  Who or what is this enigma, and who or what is Goldberry?



Book I, Chapter 8: Fog on the Barrow Downs

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the eighth chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring. All are welcome to participate.

In summary:
Awaking from a sweet dream of silver, singing and a fair green country under a swift sunrise, Frodo gathers his friends about him and departs the house of the enigmatic Tom Bombadil, traveling to an area where there are "standing stones, pointing upward like jagged teeth out of green gums." They choose a hollow to have a hobbitish lunch break, and fall asleep in the shadow of one such stone, waking in the midst of fog.  Frodo soon loses the others in the grey darkness, hearing only the alarming distant cries for "help!" then silence. We see him captured along with his companions, encounter the terrifying barrow wight, and exert incredible courage in defying it.  Tom reenters the picture, showing the strength of authority under the cheerful demeanor by his help, and the hobbits find they must don their winter clothing as theirs is mysteriously gone. Here we see the trove of treasures from the burial mounds, learn hints of the earlier history of the area and have Merry and Pippin armed with the their swords of Westernesse.  Tom brings them Merry's ponies who answer to the new names he gives them, and they finally set off towards Bree, where the name of Baggins is never to be uttered.

Thoughts, insights, favorite bits? What was the purpose of this chapter? How does it affect your views of the characters, the depth of the history of Middle Earth, or later events?  

"They were on their backs and their faces looked deathly pale; and they were clad in white. All about them lay many treasures…that looked cold and unlovely. On their heads were circlets…but across their three necks lay one long naked sword.

"Hey now! Come hoy now! Whither do you wander?
Up, down, near or far, here, there or yonder?
Sharp-ears, Wise-nose, Swish-tail and Bumpkin,
White-socks my little lad, and old Fatty Lumpkin!"

"Few now remember them,"  Tom murmured, "yet still some go wandering, sons of forgotten kings walking in loneliness, guarding from evil things folk that are heedless."



Book I, Chapter 9: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the ninth chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring.

In summary: 
The hobbits approach the town of Bree "the chief village of the Bree-land," so different from their own home and gain lodging at the Inn, as Frodo was instructed by Gandalf.  We are given a brief overview of the history of Bree and its inhabitants, and it is hinted that the gate-keeper did not keep everyone out that he should have.  Butterbur is forgetful, the common room is full and tongues wag far too much.  Merry takes a nighttime stroll. Frodo tries to distract from Pippin's story about Bilbo by singing a song and ends up with it backfiring rather badly when he accidentally disappears.  Strider makes his first acquaintance with Frodo, and the rather rattled hobbits decide to retire back to their room. (We'll learn more about this mysterious Strider in the next chapter).

Thoughts, insights, favorite bits? What was the purpose of this chapter, and how does it affect your views of the characters, or later events?  Why in the world didn't they stay put in their rooms?

"As soon as his back was turned, a dark figure climbed quickly over the gate and melted into the shadows of the village street."

"I am called Strider," he said in a low voice. :I am very pleased to meet you, Master - Underhill, if old Butterbur got your name right."
"He did," said Frodo stiffly. He felt far from comfortable under the stare of those keen eyes.

"For a moment Frodo stood there gaping. Then in desperation he began a ridiculous song that Bilbo had been rather fond of (and indeed rather proud of, for he had made up the words himself.)"

"Now what have you been doing, Mr. Underhill?" he asked. "frightening my customers and breaking up my crocks with your acrobatics?"



Book I, Chapter 10: Strider

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the tenth chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring.

In summary:
After the ill-fated events in the common room of the Prancing Pony, Frodo, Sam and Pippin return to their room to discover Merry has not returned and a mysterious Ranger has followed them in!   After severely chastising them for their carelessness, he says he intends to join them on their journey.  Even as Frodo tries to decide if Strider is genuine or a highwayman,  Butterbur arrives with his forgotten letter from Gandalf with the bit of poetry that Bilbo wrote for Strider enclosed.  Frodo chooses to permit Strider to accompany them in spite of Sam's continued suspicions even as Merry arrives out of breath and very frightened from an encounter with a Black Rider on the streets of Bree.  The hobbits take Strider's advice and move to his room, leaving imitations of themselves in their original beds.

Thoughts, insights, favorite bits? What was the purpose of this chapter, and how does it affect your views of the characters, or later events?  

"No, I don't think any harm of old Butterbur.  Only he does not altogether like mysterious vagabonds of my sort." Frodo gave him a puzzled look. "Well, I have rather a rascally look, have I not?" said Strider with a curl of his lip and a queer gleam in his eye."

"A stout little fellow with red cheeks," said Mr. Butterbur solemnly. Pippin chuckled, but Sam looked indignant. 'That won't help you much; it goes for most hobbits, Barley, he says to me,' continued Mr. Butterbur with a glance at Pippin. 'But this one is taller than some and fairer than most, and he has a cleft in his chin: perky chap with a bright eye. Begging your pardon, but he said it, not me."

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."

PPPS. I hope Butterbur sends this promptly. A worthy man, but his memory is like a lumber-room: thing wanted always buried. If he forgets, I shall roast him. Fare well!

"I have seen them, Frodo, I have seen them! Black Riders!"

"And I made a nice imitation of your head with a brown woolen mat, Mr. Bag - Underhill, sir." (Nob) added with a grin.  Pippin laughed. "Very life-like!" he said.



Book I, Chapter 11: A Knife in the Dark

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the eleventh chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring.

In summary:
Here we approach one of the best-known chapters of this book, and one of the most hair-raising.  We start out with a look back at the Shire, where Fatty has a rather frightening encounter with three of the wraiths, and an alarm is spread through Buckland though it means little to those it has been blown for.   Back in Bree, the hobbits awake to the ruin of their room and the loss of Merry's ponies, delaying their departure.  Bill the Pony enters the Fellowship here, and his former master receives a well-deserved apple core to the nose.  

The hobbits follow their newfound guide into the wild lands, avoiding the Road, traverse the Midgewater Marshes with its neeker-breekers and note the unusual flashes of light in the sky at night on ahead of them.  We see them approach Weathertop, learn something of its history and see their surprise that Sam knows something of the Fall of Gil-Galad. They settle into their grassy sheltered hollow and explore the top a bit, discovering Gandalf's rune and the mystery of the flashing lights at night gains significance.

They see unwelcome and unwholesome visitors approaching, kindle a good fire and watch night fall with great trepidation, passing some of the time with the tale of Tinuviel, and some of the history of Westernesse.  

Shadows arise, Merry and Pippin throw themselves down in fear, Sam shrinks to Frodo's side, but Frodo disappears as he puts on the Ring…and sees the wraiths for the kings they once were.  His courage is great and what was most likely intended for his heart is only able to pierce his shoulder - O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!  as Strider leaps forward with his fire brands.

"With a last effort Frodo, dropping his sword, slipped the Ring from his finger and closed his right hand tight upon it."

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?  Remember to breathe!



Book I, Chapter 12: Flight to the Ford

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the twelfth chapter of the Fellowship of the Ring, completing Book I.

In summary:
Following hard on the heels of the harrowing events of the previous chapter, Frodo awakens, looking for the pale king.  Sam has doubts about Strider again, but is reassured as Strider does all he can for Frodo.  We are introduced to the "accursed knife" and the fact it can only be helped in Rivendell, and to the healing athelas plant.  A long and rapid journey commences, with cold, wind and rain.  A mysterious elf-stone found as a token at the bridge, a cliff is scaled pony and all and some stone trolls make their appearance, much to Pippin's initial alarm.

There is a brief respite as they lunch in the shadow of Bilbo's trolls, with Sam's troll song for entertainment, and we all learn even more about Sam.  Later, they meet up with Glorfindel who gives them the heartening news of Gandalf being in Rivendell, and the disheartening news that if danger arises, Frodo will need to go ahead without the others.

The ambush near the Ford, with Frodo's incredible courage as he stands alone against the Nine is one of the most memorable points in the entire set of books.  

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?

"Your Frodo is made of sterner stuff than I had guessed, though Gandalf hinted it might prove so."

"Frodo threw himself down, and lay on the ground shivering. His left arm was lifeless, and his side and shoulder felt as if icy claws were laid upon them.  The trees and rocks about him seemed shadowy and dim. 'We cannot go any further,' said Merry to Strider. 'I am afraid this has been too much for Frodo. I am dreadfully anxious about him…'"

"Strider walked forward unconcernedly. 'Get up, old stone!!' he said, and broke his stick upon the stooping troll."

"I am learning a lot about Sam Gamgee on this journey. First he was a conspirator, now he's a jester.  He'll end up becoming  a wizard - or a warrior!'  
'I hope not,' said Sam. 'I don't want to be neither!'"

"Fly!' he called. 'Fly! The enemy is upon us!"

"A breath of deadly cold pierced him like a spear, as with a last spurt, like a flash of white fire, the elf-horse speeding as if on wings, passed right before the face of the foremost Rider."

"By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair,' said Frodo with a last effort, lifting up his sword, 'you shall have neither the Ring nor me!"



Book II, Chapter 1: Many Meetings

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the first chapter of the second half of the Fellowship of the Ring.

This is one of the gentle chapters.

In summary: 
Frodo wakes in Rivendell to the fine and welcome surprise of Gandalf's presence. Through Gandalf the reader is given an update of the news, some history and explanations of the various recent events, including the nature of Frodo's wound and it's healing.  Frodo is reunited with Sam and rises to attend a banquet where he sees and/or meets a variety of characters including Arwen, Gloin and Glorfindel.  There are hints of the events that will be discussed at the council. Frodo and Bilbo have an awkward moment when Bilbo wants to hold the Ring again and Frodo cannot abide it, but it passes and Bilbo goes off to finish his poem with The Dunedain's help. The text of Earendil the Mariner is a treat for those who enjoy the tale, and the elves even request a second hearing.  Frodo enjoys the warmth and songs of the Hall of Fire, and a long talk with Bilbo in his room until Sam comes to remind them of the lateness of the hour, and of the need for sleep.

"You don't know much about them if you think Barliman is stupid," said Gandalf, "He is wise enough on his own ground. He thinks less than he talks, and slower; yet he can see through a brick wall in time (as they say in Bree). But there are few left in Middle-earth like Aragorn son of Arathorn."

"I thought I saw a white figure that shone and did not grow dim like the others.  Was that Glorfindel then?"

"Gandalf has been saying many cheerful things like that," said Pippin, "He thinks I need keeping in order."

"Frodo Baggins at your service and your family's," said Frodo correctly, rising in surprise and scattering his cushions.

To his distress and amazement he found he was no longer looking at Bilbo; a shadow seemed to have fallen between them, and through it he found himself eyeing a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands. He felt a desire to strike him.

They spoke no more of the Shire far away, nor of the dark shadows and perils that encompassed them, but of the fair things they had seen in the world together, of the Elves, of the stars, of trees, and the gentle fall of the bright year in the woods.


Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?


Book II: Chapter 2 - The Council of Elrond

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the second chapter of the second half of the Fellowship of the Ring.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary: 
Here we face one of the better known chapters of the series.
Only one day after Frodo has regained consciousness, Elrond opens a great council with representatives of the free peoples called together to discuss various aspects of the Ring's history and what to do with it now.  Boromir has just arrived.  
Gloin speaks of Moria and the mystery of what happened to Balin, as well as why Sauron is seeking after Bilbo. Elrond tells the history of the Ring and its forging up to its loss. Boromir tells of the dream.  Aragorn reveals the broken Narsil and tells of the Rangers. Bilbo feels hungry, but is pressed to tell his tale as well, which he does in full account.
Gandalf picks up his part of the tale, telling of the Necromancer,  his moving to Mordor and being revealed as Sauron, and Gandalf's wrongly placed trust in Saruman.  His research into the Ring at the libraries of Minas Tirith is mentioned here, and he speaks the inscription in the Black Speech.  Legolas reveals that his people lost Gollum, who had been entrusted to their keeping.  Radagast's small part is mentioned by Gandalf as part of his narrative.  We learn of the battle between the two wizards, and the rooftop imprisonment that caused the "delay." Gandalf tells how Gwaihir rescued him and took him to Rohan, where he chose Shadowfax for further transport as he traced his way back.  The final conclusion comes down to destroying the Ring.
Bilbo makes his courageous offer to take the Ring upon himself again, but is gently rebuffed. Frodo then finds himself volunteering for the task, only choosing Sam as a companion.  
Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?

'What shall we do with the Ring, the least of rings, the trifle that Sauron fancies? That is the doom we must deem.'

Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells…

'For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman the Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!'
'I liked white better,' I said.

'Butterbur they call him,' though I. 'If this delay was his fault I will melt all the butter in him. I will roast the old fool over a slow fire.' He expected no less, and when he saw my face he fell down flat and began to melt on the spot.

'Mayhap the Sword-that-was-Broken many still stem the tide - if the hand that wields it has inherited not an heirloom only, but the sinews of the Kings of Men.'
'Who can tell?' said Aragorn. 'But we will put it to the test one day.'
'May the day not be too long delayed,' said Boromir.

At last with an effort he spoke, and wondered to hear his own words, as if some other will was using his small voice. 'I will take the Ring,' he said, 'though I do not know the way.'

'A nice pickle we have landed ourselves in, Mr. Frodo!'




Book II: Chapter 3 - The Ring Goes South

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the third chapter of the second half of the Fellowship of the Ring.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary: 
We start off this chapter with the hobbits having a "meeting of their own in Bilbo's room."  Merry and Pippin state their intent to continue on with Frodo, and Gandalf  sits on their windowsill to fill them in about the Wraiths not being dead, and his own choosing to join up with the group.  October and November pass, and most of December before the awaited scouts return. Eight of the Nine Walkers are chosen, with Gandalf's unexpected championing of Pippin filling the last slot.  Narsil is reforged and renamed Anduril. Bilbo gives Frodo Sting and the mithril coat.  Boromir sounds his horn, Bill is laden and the company prepares to depart.  Elrond speaks of oaths.

They travel, and reach Hollin. We learn a little of Hollin's history and are introduced to the concept of Moria. Hollin is too quiet, and flocks of crebain are sighted. They debate their path and choose the Redhorn Gate, allowing Boromir to gather firewood.  It snows, and snows and snows!  After nearly freezing to death, the Fellowship forces it's way back down the mountain.  Below them, they see the crebain again. "Caradhras had defeated them."

"It's most unfair," said Pippin. "Instead of throwing him out and clapping him in chains, Elrond goes and rewards him for his cheek!"
"Rewards!" said Frodo. "I can't imagine a more severe punishment."

I should look - well, I don't think I should look right in it," said Frodo.
"Just what I said myself," said Bilbo. "But never mind about looks. You can wear it under your outer clothes. Come on! You  must share this secret with me."

"Rope!" he muttered. "No rope! And only last night you said to yourself: 'Sam, what about a bit of rope?'"

"His arm has grown long," said Gandalf.

"Shelter!" muttered Sam. "If this is shelter, then one wall and no roof make a house."

"I must have something to work on. I cannot burn snow."

"Well," cried Legolas as he ran up, "I have not brought the Sun. She is walking in the blue fields to the South, and a little wreath of snow on this Redhorn hillock troubles her not at all, but I have brought back a gleam of hope…There is the greatest wind-drift of all just beyond the turn, and there our Strong Men were almost buried…and on the other side the snow suddenly grows less, while further down it is not more than a white coverlet to cool a hobbit's toes."

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?



Book II: Chapter 4 - A Journey in the Dark

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the fourth chapter of the second half of the Fellowship of the Ring.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
This chapter finds the Fellowship in defeat from Caradhras trying to decide whether or not to approach Moria as their alternate route. A nighttime attack of Wargs helps decide the matter and they approach the mysteriously dried up Sirannon to Moria, where they find the water from the stream has formed into a lake.  They make their way around to the doors, Gandalf speaks a blessing upon Bill, and Boromir throws a rock into the water. Gandalf doesn't know the words to open the gate, but figures it out with the help of Merry.  The Watcher grabs Frodo, Sam has to leave Bill to help him and then they all retreat into the mines.  

They travel into the mines, sleep in the room with the uncovered well that Pippin drops a pebble down, and spend a second night in a cavernous hall where Gimli tells them of the former glory of Moria.  We learn more about mithril, and Frodo learns the value of his shirt. There are hints that Gollum is following them.  The next day they find the chamber of Marzabul, and the chapter ends with the discovery of Balin's tomb.

"Whatever may be in store for old Gandalf, I'll wager it isn't a wolf's belly."

"I am sorry, Sam,' said the wizard. 'But when the Door opens I do not think you will be able to drag your Bill inside, into the long dark of Moria. You will have to choose between Bill and your master."

The widest was more than seven feet across, and it was long before Pippin could summon the courage to leap over that dreadful gap…."Rope!" muttered Sam. "I knew I'd want it, if I hadn't got it!"

Moved by a sudden impulse he groped for a loose stone, and let it drop.

But still the sunken stars appear
In dark and windless Mirrormere;
There lies his crown in water deep,
Till Durin wakes again from sleep.

"He is dead then," said Frodo. "I feared it was so."
Gimli cast his hood over his face.


Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?



Book II: Chapter 5 - The Bridge of Khazad-Dum

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the fifth chapter of the second half of the Fellowship of the Ring.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary: 
Standing beside the tomb of Balin, the Fellowship examines the debris while Gandalf pores over a book recording the grim days of the failed Moria colony. A sound of "drums in the deep" and an invasion of orcs makes they barricade themselves into the chamber where a battle ensues. An orc cheiftan drives a spear at Frodo, pinning him to the wall and causing the others to believe he is dead. They flee the room going down a stair, with Aragorn briefly carrying Frodo until he discovers he is, in fact, alive. Gandalf attempts to bar the door with a spell but encounters something of great strength opposing him.

They descend many flights of steps and are pursued for more than an hour. They realize they have gone too deep, and that the orcs apparently have set a fire - though the orcs end up on the wrong side of it and have to settle for shooting arrows, to Boromir's amusement.  They approach the Bridge as two trolls throw down slabs of stone to create a passage for the Balrog.  The Fellowship crosses the Bridge, with Gandalf taking his stand to prevent it following them, ending with his own fall into the chasm after his foe.  Aragorn takes the lead and gets them the rest of the way out of Moria. The durm-beats fade.

"One for the Shire!' cried Aragorn. 'The hobbit's bite is deep! You have a good blade, Frodo son of Drogo!'

"A fire was smouldering in his brown eyes that would have made Ted Sandyman step backwards, if he had seen it."

'I am all right,' gasped Frodo. 'I can walk. Put me down!'
Aragorn nearly dropped him is his amazement. 'I thought you were dead!' he cried.
'Not yet!' said Gandalf. 'But there is no time to wonder.'

"Arrows fell among them. One struck Frodo and sprang back. Another pierced Gandalf's hat and stuck there like a black feather."

"With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished."

"He staggered, and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. 'Fly, you fools!' he cried, and was gone.

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events? What were your thoughts on this chapter when you first read it?



Book II, Chapter 6 - Lothlorien

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the sixth chapter of the second half of the Fellowship of the Ring.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary: 
We pick up where the Fellowship is yet in shock that they have lost Gandalf, and follow them in their rapid flight for the woods of Lorien, hoping to be there before nightfall. Gimli leads Frodo and Sam on a small detour to see the mysterious Mirrormere.  Frodo and Sam fall behind and end up being carried a ways to their first camp, where Aragorn discovers the mithril shirt and bids Frodo to always wear it. They travel on, and Frodo glimpses two points of light like eyes, yet Sting does not glow.  They rest again when they reach the Nimrodel, and Legolas sings them the song that tells that tale. They encounter the Lorien elves including Haldir, who have been watching them, and are invited to sleep on the flets for safety.  The next two days are the journey into the woods including crossing a river with only two ropes and dealing with the indignity of blindfolds, until they finally arrive at Cerin Amroth.  Aragorn falls into a daydream about Arwen there, but "never came there again as a living man."

"There like jewels sunk in the deep shone glinting stars, though sunlight was in the sky above."

"Here's a pretty hobbit-skin to wrap an elven-princeling in!"

An Elven-maid there was of old,
A shining star by day:
Her mantle white was hemmed with gold,
Her shoes of silver-grey.

Pippin went on talking for a while. "I hope, if I do go to sleep in this bed-loft, that I shan't roll off."
"Once I do get to sleep,' said Sam, 'I shall go on sleeping, whether I roll off or no. And the less said, the sooner I'll drop off, if you take my meaning.'

"Not even my uncle Andy ever did a trick like that!"

"Now let us cry: ' a plague on the stiff neck of Elves!'"

"Here is the heart of Elvendom on earth, and here my heart dwells ever."


Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?



Book II,  Chapter 7 - The Mirror of Galadriel

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the seventh chapter of the second half of the Fellowship of the Ring.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary: 
Haldir and his company lead the Fellowship to Caras Galadhon, where they meet and converse with Galadriel and Celeborn, and exhange news regarding Gandalf's fall in Moria as well as other events.  Gimli is smitten with Galadriel. They tell each other a little of the feeling of their minds being searched and something they greatly desired being made a temptation.  They rest there, and the Elves sing mourning songs for Mithrandir, which Frodo and Sam try to add verses to.  The two of them meet with Galadriel and look into her Mirror with assorted results. Frodo offers her the Ring, which she is tempted by, but gently rejects.  She shows him her own Ring, Nenya, but Sam cannot see it.

'Yet hope remains while all the company is true.' And with that word she held them with her eyes, and in silence looked searchingly at each of them in turn.

A deadly sword, a healing hand,
A back that bent beneath the load,
A trumpet-voice, a burning brand,
A weary pilgrim on the road.

Sam sat on the ground and put his head in his hands. 'I wish I had never come here, and I don't want to see no more magic.'

"You are wise, and fearless and fair, Lady Galadriel,' said Frodo,' I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it. It is too great a matter for me.'

"To tell the truth, I wondered what you were talking about. I saw a star through your finger."


Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?



Book II, Chapter 8 - Farewell to Lorien

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the eighth chapter of the second half of the Fellowship of the Ring.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
The company, expressing doubt as to their future course,  is summoned for a farewell speech from Galadriel and Celeborn and given boats.  The following morning, they pack up their belongings plus a variety of provisions from the Elves including the "not cram" lembas and the cloaks. Walking some ten miles, they reach the Silverlode and Sam admires the hithlain rope they have been given. The swan ship meets them, Galadriel sings a wistful song and they all picnic while Celeborn gives them a run-down on what to expect as they go downriver including a warning about Fangorn.  The company drinks a farewell cup and receives their gifts from the Lady before heading out onto the Anduin.  The chapter closes with Gimli bemoaning his heart being lost to the Lady as the day turns to darkness on the Great River.

'And one Hobbit!'  cried Merry. 'Not all of us look on boats as wild horses. My people live by the banks of the Brandywine.'

In Moria the burden of Gandalf had been laid on him; and he knew that he could not now forsake the Ring, if Frodo refused in the end to go with Boromir. And yet what help could he or any of the Company give to Frodo, save to walk blindly with him into darkness?'

Gimli took up one of the cakes and looked at it with a doubtful eye. 'Cram,' he said under his breath, as he broke off a crisp corner and nibbled at it. His expression quickly changed, and he ate all the rest of the cake with relish.'

Then she lifted from her lap a great stone of a clear green, sret in a silver brooch that was wrought in the likeness of an eagle with outspread wings...'In this hour take the name that was foretod for you, Elessar, the Elfstone of the house of Elendil!'

'Here is set G for Galadriel,'she said, 'but it may also stand for garden in your tongue.'

'I have looked last upon that which is fairest,' he said to Legolas his companion. 'Henceforawrd I will call nothing fair, unless it be her gift.'


Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?



Book II, Chapter 9 - The Great River

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the ninth chapter of the second half of the Fellowship of the Ring.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
On the Anduin after three eventless days, they come to the treeless Brown Lands and their uneasiness gradually grows over two more days though they see nothing but swans.  Sam spies 'a log with eyes' and he and Frodo guess it may be Gollum, only to shortly afterwards confirm it and to find out that Aragorn already knew he was following them. They enter the stony lands near the Emyn Muil, where Legolas sees an eagle and they decide to only travel in the dark.  Eight days out they encounter the rapids in the night and barely make it ashore while also under attack from orc archers.  As they reach the shore an evil dark shadow in the air is successfully driven away by Legolas' arrow.  Sam and Frodo discuss the way Lorien affected their sense of time passage.  There is much fog, and the company carries their boats down the rocks to they take to the River again. They see the Argonath, then Tol Brandir and Amon Hen. Ten days from Lorien, they seek a landing place and end their river journey.

Merry and Pippin in the middle boat were ill at ease, for Boromir sat muttering to himself, sometimes biting his nails, as if some restlessness or doubt consumed him...

'The log's all right,' said Frodo. 'There are many in the River. But leave out the eyes!'

'Back, back!' cried Aragorn. 'Turn! Turn if you can!'

'Elbereth Gilthoniel!' sighed Legolas as he looked up. Even as he did so, a dark shape...came out of the blackness in the South...blotting out all light as it approached.

'I think -- No, I will not say,' answered Frodo. 'Whatever it was, its fall has dismayed our enemies.'

'Behold the Argonath, the Pillars of the Kings!'


Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?



Book II, Chapter 10 - The Breaking of the Fellowship

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the tenth chapter of the second half of the Fellowship of the Ring.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary: 
The company lands upon the green lawn of Parth Galen. The next morning Frodo is given the hard choice of saying whether they turn East or West or break up. He asks an hour's leave and Boromir surreptitiously follows him, confronting him and demanding the Ring. Frodo escapes by use of it leaving the sorrowing Boromir behind and after nearly being found by the Eye on the Seat of Seeing, heads for the boats alone. The others fret, and when Boromir returns they scatter in disarray calling out for Frodo. Aragorn send Boromir to protect Merry and Pippin.  Sam guesses correctly that Frodo is at the boats and leaves Aragorn to meet him there, where he almost drowns before Frodo allows him to accompany him to Mordor.  

He spoke slowly. 'I know that haste is needed, yet I cannot choose. The burden is heavy. Give me an hour longer, and I will speak. Let me be alone!'

'No, I am afraid,' said Frodo. 'Simply afraid. But I am glad to have heard you speak so fully. My mind is clearer now.'
'Then you will come to Minas Tirith?' cried Boromir. His eyes were shining and his face eager.
'You misunderstand me,' said Frodo.

'Take it off! Take if off! Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!'

'Whoa, Sam Gamgee!' he said aloud. 'Your legs are too short, so use your head!'

'Save me, Mr. Frodo!' gasped Sam. 'I'm drownded. I can't see your hand.'

'So my plan is spoilt!' said Frodo. 'It is not good trying to escape you. But I'm glad, Sam. I cannot tell you how glad. Come along! It is plain that we were meant to go together. We will go, and may the others find a safe road! Strider will look after them.  I don't suppose we shall see them again.'
'Yet we may, Mr. Frodo. We may,' said Sam.


Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?

Book III: Chapter 1 – The Departure of Boromir

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the first chapter of the first half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
Aragorn runs up the hill, seeking Frodo and then turns to respond to Boromir's horn-call. He realized Sam is missing.  He finds Boromir, hears his last words. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas work to give Boromir a warrior's send-off and sing of the all the winds but the East.  They return to Parth Galen and solve the riddle of what happened to their missing companions. They hide the last remaining boat and begin pursuit of the orcs who have taken Merry and Pippin.

'Alas! An ill fate is on me this day, and all that I do goes amiss. Where is Sam?'

'I tried to take the Ring from Frodo,' he said. 'I am sorry. I have paid.'

'Ask not of me where he doth dwell - so many bones there lie
On the white shores and the dark shores under the stormy sky.'

'You left the East Wind to me,' said Gimli, 'but I will say naught of it.'

'Forth the Three Hunters!

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?


Book III: Chapter 2 – The Riders of Rohan

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the second chapter of the first half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
A longer chapter than some.  The Three Hunters follow the trail of the orcs, finding various signs that the orcs are quarreling. Legolas sees a distant Eagle. They reach the fields of Rohan where they find the brooch dropped by Pippin and conclude the orcs are headed for Isengard. They begrudge any time they must rest. After three days they encounter Eomer and his men and are nearly passed by because of their cloaks.  Gimli and Eomer exchange remarks about the Lady.  Aragorn declares his identity to Eomer, and Eomer tells him of the orc-band's slaughter and news regarding Saruman.  They are given the gift of the two horses, Hasufel and Arod with promise to return them.  They ride to the edge of Fangorn where they make a small fire and see an old man, cloaked and with a hat who disappears. Their horses run off in the night.

'The thought of those merry young folk driven like cattle burns my heart.'

'And yet even I, Dwarf of many journeys, and not the least hardy of my folk, cannot run all the way to Isengard without any pause,' said Gimli.

'You speak evil of that which is fair beyond the reach of your thought, and only little wit can excuse you.'

'These are indeed strange days,' he muttered. "Dreams and legends spring to life out of the grass.'

'So many strange things have chanced that to learn the praise of a fair lady under the loving strokes of a Dwarf's axe will seem no great wonder.'

'But I  marked also that this old man had a hat, not a hood.'

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter develop the characters, or foreshadow later events? When you first read it, what were your impressions of the Riders, and what is it with that tree that seems to like the fire?  Who do you think that old man was?


 Book III: Chapter 3 – The Uruk-Hai

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the third chapter of the first half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
Pippin remembers the events that brought him and Merry into captivity. He regrets being useless on the Quest, and listens to the orcs squabbling among themselves.  The reader is introduced to the factions of orcs and the Uruk-Hai. They are alternately carried and made to run. Pippin manages his brief escape to drop his brooch.  There is more in-fighting, resulting in the hobbits being kept by Ugluk and the Isengarders. At night, the orcs see watch-fires of Rohan spring up around them.  Their guards leave to help Ugluk fight, resulting in the hobbits being taken by Grishnakh, who is subsequently slain. They cut their bonds, crawl, eat lembas crumbs and finally escape into Fangorn.

Beside him Merry lay, white-faced with a dirty rag bound across his brow.

'There I suppose it will lie until the end of time,' he thought. 'I don't know why I did it. If the others have escaped, they've probably all gone with Frodo.'

He was famished but not yet so famished as to eat flesh flung to him by an Orc, the flesh of he dared not guess what creature.

'Yes, I had a packet in my pocket,' answered Merry, 'but it must be battered to crumbs.  Anyway I can't put my mouth in my pocket!'

'I don't think you will find it that way,' he whispered. 'It isn't easy to find.'

'...the forest seems better to me, all the same, than turning back into the middle of a battle.'

 

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?


Book III: Chapter 4 – Treebeard

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the fourth chapter of the first half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
Merry and Pippin go deep into Fangorn where they encounter the Ent, Treebeard, upon a hastily-named hill. After convincing him that they were not orcs and introducing Hobbits to the lore of living creatures, they are carried to his house and get an earful of the history of Ents and of the fading of Lothlorien. The hobbits are given some Ent-draught to drink and give Treebeard a run-down on recent events. He expresses anger at Saruman's cutting of the trees and regret that there are so few Ents now. The long tale of the lost Entwives explains their few numbers. The next morning the hobbits are carried to a dingle where the other Ents also gather for the Entmoot. Three days of Mooting follow with the Hobbits in the care of Bregalad/Quickbeam, ending with a great roar and crash as the Ents decide to march on Isengard and set off to do so. Behind Treebeard, Pippin sees what appears to be a large number of trees moving - more than there are Ents.

'Almost felt you liked the Forest! That's good! That's uncommonly kind of you,' said a strange voice.

'Nobody else calls us hobbits; we call ourselves that,' said Pippin.

'Hoom hmm! Come now! Not so hasty! You call yourselves hobbits? But you should not go telling just anybody.  You'll be letting out your own right names if you're not careful.'

'But I spoke hastily. We must not be hasty.'

'I'll look for thee, and wait for thee, until we meet again:
Together we will take the road beneath the bitter rain!'

'We are stronger than Trolls. We are made of the bones of the earth. We can split stone like the roots of trees, only quicker, far quicker, if our minds are roused!'

 

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?



Book III: Chapter 5 – The White Rider

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the fifth chapter of the first half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
The Three Hunters wonder about the old man they had seen the night before and spend some time seeking traces of the hobbits. Aragorn finds the mallorn-leaf wrapping from the lembas and the cut ropes and they solve the riddle enough to see that the hobbits must be in Fangorn.  They track them to the hill, where instead of Treebeard they meet Gandalf in his new guise of the White Rider. After they realize it is him and not Saruman, they exchange some news of current events and Gandalf reassures them that Merry and Pippin are now safe. They learn of the new winged form of the wraiths. Gandalf tells them that they are to come with him to Rohan, and relates the tale of his battle with the Balrog, his recovery in Lothlorien and the tidings of the Lady. He summons Shadowfax, and they find thier own horses with him. They ride for Rohan and as the sun is setting see 'a great smoke' from battle and war.

'Well, here is the strangest riddle that we have yet found!' exclaimed Legolas. ' A bound prisoner escapes both from the Orcs and from the surrounding horsemen. He then stops, while still in the open, and cuts his bonds with an orc-knife. But how and why?  For if his legs were tied, how did he walk? And if his arms were tied, how did he use the knife? And if neither were tied, why did he cut the cords at all?  Being pleased with his skill, he then sat down and quickly ate some waybread! That at least is enough to show that he was a hobbit, without the mallorn-leaf. After that, I suppose, he turned his arms into wings and flew away singing into the trees.'

'Your bow, Legolas! Bend it! Get Ready! It is Saruman. Do not let him speak or put a spell on us! Shoot first!'

'What new terror is this?'
'One that you cannot slay with arrows,' said Gandalf. 'You only slew his steed. It was a good deed; but the Rider will soon be horsed again. For he was a Nazgul...'

'Dangerous!' cried Gandalf. 'And so am I, very dangerous: more dangerous than anything you will ever meet...and Aragorn is dangerous, and Legolas is dangerous. You are beset with dangers, Gimli son of Gloin; for you are dangerous yourself, in your own fashion.'

' There is another that strides ahead: a very great horse. I have not seen his like before.'
'Nor will you again,' said Gandalf. 'That is Shadowfax....We are going to battle together.'

 

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?


Book III: Chapter 7 – Helm's Deep

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the seventh chapter of the first half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
 
For two days the host of Rohan ride for Helm's Deep, hoping to hold back the assault of Saruman's forces.  A storm builds and dark clouds build overhead. They meet a messenger who tells them of various defeats and of Erkenbrand rallying what is left of their people. They pass various evidences of desolation caused by the marauders. They reach the fortress and mention the caves. Legolas and Gimli discuss how they wish they had more of their own folk.  After a time, there is a sudden attack in the darkness. There is thunder and rain, trumpets, shouts, lightning and other points of drama in the battle.  Eomer and Aragorn's attack dismays the enemy.  Gimli saves Eomer's life.  Gimli and Legolas begin keeping count of  their kills.

The storm begins to pass. A hole is blown in the Deeping Wall by the 'devilry of Saruman.'  They fall back.  Gimli is separated from them and Legolas worries.  Aragorn surveys the enemy from above the gates.  Aragorn and Theoden ride forth at dawn. Erkenbrand arrives to aid them along with Gandalf, the White Rider. The enemy flies from them into the shadows of the waiting huorns and are not seen again.

'You thought I remained in Meduseld bent like an old tree under winter snow...but a west wind has shaken the boughs.'

'Riding is tiring work. yet my axe is restless in my hand.  Give me a row of orc-necks and room to swing and all weariness will fall from me!'

'Come!' said Aragorn. 'This is the hour when we draw swords together!'
'Guthwine!' cried Eomer. 'Guthwine for the Mark!'
'Anduril!' cried Aragorn. 'Anduril for the Dunedain!'

'Two!' said Gimli, patting his axe....
'Two?' said Legolas. 'I have done better...I make my tale twenty at least. But that is only a few leaves in a forest.'

'Do not judge the counsel of Gandalf, until all is over, lord,' said Aragorn.
'The end will not be long,' said the king. 'But I will not end here, taken like an old badger in a trap.'

'What of the dawn?' they jeered. 'We are the Uruk-hai: we do not stop the fight for night or day...we come to kill by sun or moon. What of the dawn?'

So great a power and royalty was revealed in Aragorn, as he stood there alone above the ruined gates before the host of his enemies, that many of the wild men paused, and looked back over their shoulders to the valley, and some looked doubtfully at the sky.

Like a black smoke driven by a mounting wind they fled. Wailing they passed under the waiting shadow of the trees; and from that shadow none ever came again.

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?


Book III: Chapter 8 – The Road to Isengard

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the eighth chapter of the first half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
Gimli rejoins the others with only a minor head wound, and compares counts with Legolas. The men discuss the huorns and Ents with Gandalf, who tells them the answer to his Ent riddle will be found in Isengard.  After tending to healing and burying at the Hornburg, they travel to Isengard.  On the way they discuss the battle, Ents and the Glittering Caves. Legolas sees "eyes" in the wood, but must wait for another time to investigate them. They see Ents in the distance, and are passed in the night by the huorns.  In the middle of the night they are awoken by the sound of the river Isen running again. The next day they reach Isengard and find it in ruins and flooded. They are greeted by Merry and Pippin.  Gimli and Legolas stay with the hobbits while Theoden and Gandalf go to speak with Treebeard.

'Forty-two, Master Legolas!' he cried, 'Alas! My axe is notched: the forty-second has an iron collar on his neck.'

'There are eyes!' he said. 'Eyes looking out from the shadows of the boughs! I never saw such eyes before.'
'No, no!' cried Gimli. 'Do as you please in your madness, but let me first get down from this horse! I wish to see no eyes!'

'Stay where you are!' said Gandalf. 'Draw no weapons! Wait! and it will pass you by!'
Voices they heard, whisperings and groanings and an endless rustling sigh: the earth shook under them...but at last the darkness and the rumour passed, and vanished between the mountain's arms.

'You wooly-footed and wool-pated truants! A fine hunt you have led us! Two hundred leagues, through fen and forest, battle and death , to rescue you! And here we find you feasting and idling - and smoking! Smoking! Where did you come by the weed, you villains? Hammer and tongs! I am so torn between rage and joy, that if I do not burst it will be a marvel!'

'And is Orthanc then left unguarded?' asked Gandalf.
'There is the water,' said Merry. 'But Quickbeam and some others are watching it. Not all those posts and pillars in the plain are of Saruman's planting.'

'So that is the King of Rohan!' said Pippin in an undertone. 'A fine old fellow. Very polite.'

 

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?


Book III: Chapter 9 - Flotsam and Jetsam


This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the ninth chapter of the first half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
Merry and Pippin lead Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn into the guard-room of flooded Isengard where they all have a good meal. Pippin gets his brooch back, and the hobbits recount the storming of Isengard by the Ents and Treebeard's earlier counsel with Gandalf that resulted in the huorns being sent to Helm's Deep. They speak of Saruman being trapped in his tower and of Wormtongue joining him there. They ruminate on the meaning of finding casks of Shire-grown leaf at Isengard.

'Does that settle the score between us?' he said.
'Settle it!' cried Gimli. ' most noble hobbit, it leaves me deep in your debt.'

'One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters.'

'An angry Ent is terrifying. Their fingers, and their toes, just freeze onto rock; and they tear it up like bread-crust. It was like watching the work of great tree-roots in a hundred years,. all packed into a few moments.'

'Hoom! Gandalf!' said Treebeard. 'I am glad you have come.  Wood and water, stock and stone, I can master; but there is a wizard to manage here.'

'And still more water poured in, until at last Isengard looked like a huge flat saucepan, all steaming and bubbling.'

Thoughts, insights, favorite quotes? How does the background given by the hobbits affect your view of the concurrent events elsewhere?  How are the relationships between the Fellowship members developed by this interlude?




Book III: Chapter 10 - The Voice of Saruman

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the tenth chapter of the first half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary: 
Gandalf, Theoden and the others gather at the foot of the stairs of flooded Orthanc to speak with Saruman, Gandalf warning them to beware of his voice. Grima answers the door then Saruman converses with them.  His voice spins its spell over them somewhat, making what he say appear wise and what they say appear foolish. When the men are not swayed, he grows angry and dismisses them, turning his efforts solely upon Gandalf.  Gandalf laughs at Saruman and invites him to repent of his ways. Saruman refuses, insults and curses them then tries to leave. Gandalf takes authority over him and breaks his staff. Wormtongue throws the palantir at them. 
Legolas speaks with Treebeard and gains his good favor for Gimli. Gandalf assigns the Ents the job of guarding Saruman and keeping him is his tower.

'A wild beast cornered is not safe to approach. And Saruman has powers you do not guess. Beware of his voice!'

'Well?'  (the voice) said now with gentle question. 'Why must you disturb my rest? Will you give me no peace at all by night or day?' Its tone was that of a kindly heart aggrieved by injuries undeserved.

'Saruman, Saruman!' said Gandalf, still laughing. 'Saruman, you missed your path in life. You should have been the king's jester... Nay the guest who has escaped from the roof will think twice before he comes back in by the door.'

'I am not Gandalf the Grey, whom you betrayed. I am Gandalf the White, who has returned from death. You have no colour now, and I cast you from the order and from the Council.'  He raised his hand and spoke slowly in a clear cold voice. 'Saruman, your staff is broken.' There was a crack and the staff split asunder in Saruman's hand, and the head of it fell down at Gandalf's feet.

'The friend I speak of is not an Elf,' said Legolas; 'I mean Gimli, Golin's son here.' Gimli bowed low, and the axe slipped from his belt and clattered to the ground.

Ents the earthborn, old as mountains,
the wide-walkers, water-drinking;
and hungry as hunters, the Hobbit children,
the laughing-folk, the little people.

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?




Book III: Chapter 11 - The Palantir

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the eleventh and final chapter of the first half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
Departing Isengard with the Riders of Rohan, Merry "dangles" behind Gandalf and asks him about where they are going next. Gandalf wonders if there is a connection between Isengard and Mordor. When they camp, Pippin is restless and complains to Merry about not being able to see the Palantir better. Once Merry is asleep, he creeps to Gandalf and swaps it for a stone.  Peering into it he sees things that terrify him. Gandalf brings him back to himself and gives the stone into Aragorn's keeping. A Nazgul flies over, causing Gandalf to summon Shadowfax and head out immediately with Pippin.  Pippin and Gandalf discuss the history of the palantiri and also of the Nazgul as they ride. They ride for Minas Tirith and Pippin falls asleep.

'A most unquenchable hobbit! All wizards should have a hobbit of two in their care - to teach them the meaning of the word, and to correct them.'

'I know I can't have it, with old Gandalf sitting on it, like a hen on an egg.'

'So this is the thief!' said Gandalf. Hastily he cast his cloak over the globe where it lay. "But you, Pippin! This is a grievous turn to things!'

' Recieve it, lord!' he said: 'in earnest of other things that shall be given back. But if I may counsel you in the use of your own, do not use it - yet! Be wary!'

'Mercy!' cried Gandalf, 'If the giving of information is to the the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you.'

As he fell slowly into sleep, Pippin had a strange feeling: he and Gandalf were still as stone, seated upon the statue of a running horse, while the world rolled away beneath his feet with a great noise of wind.

Thoughts, insights, parts that you seek out to read, or remember the best? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?




Book IV: Chapter 1 - The Taming of Smeagol

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the first chapter of the second half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
Starting at the third day after Frodo and Sam have left the Fellowship, we find them lost in the Emyn Muil with no food left but lembas.  They discuss whether or not they have managed to lose Gollum.  Forced by the landscape in the wrong direction, they attempt to climb down a cliff.  As a storm breaks,  Frodo falls and for a time cannot see. Sam remembers the rope and uses it to reach Frodo. They finally leave the cliffs, and Sam despairing at leaving his rope behind tugs on it and finds it comes loose. They hope it will keep Gollum from following, but shortly after see him crawling down the wall head-first. Gollum falls, then attacks Sam. Frodo saves Sam but finds that, like Bilbo, he pities Gollum. They decide they must keep him with them, though he tries to escape and must be tied for a time. The elven rope distresses him so much, Frodo frees him and instead has him swear on the Ring to be obedient, which he does.  Sam threatens to tie him again if he is deceitful, but Smeagol assures Sam that "he promised."


'We must find a more sheltered spot, and camp once more; and perhaps another day will show us a path.'
 'Or another and another and another,' muttered Sam.

But Sam did nor answer: he was staring back up the cliff. 'Ninnyhammers!' he said. 'Noodles! My beautiful rope!'

'Have it your own way, Mr. Frodo,' he said at last, 'but I think the rope came off itself - when I called.'

'Would you commit your promise to that, Smeagol? It will hold you. But it is more treacherous than you are.  It may twist your words. Beware!'

For a moment it appeared to Sam that his master had grown and Gollum had shrunk; a tall stern shadow, a mighty lord who hid his brightness in grey cloud, and at his feet a little whining dog. Yet the two were in some way akin and not alien: they could reach one another's minds.

Thoughts, insights? What parts do you remember the best, or find the most striking? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events? Do you think Gollum's change of heart was a sham or genuine?



Book IV: Chapter 2 - The Passage of the Marshes

This is part of a series of weekly chapter-by-chapter discussions of the original written LOTR. This week features the second chapter of the second half of The Two Towers.  All are welcome to contribute.

In summary:
Gollum leads Sam and Frodo down a gully to the Marshes, delighting in the feel of the water and repeating his fish riddle that he once told Bilbo.  Frodo offers him lembas, but he chokes on it. The hobbits decide they must take turns sleeping, though Sam falls asleep anyway.  They take account of their food and figure they might have enough to get there but not back. Entering the Marshes, they follow Gollum's path, though Frodo is tired and lags behind.  In the darkness they see the 'candles of corpses' then the dead faces in the water and learn that the Marshes were once a part of an ancient battle plain. They continue on for days until they are covered in the stink of the marshes. In the distance they see a Nazgul flying from Mordor, which circles over them before moving on.  Frodo seems exhausted as they continue, and they are more aware of the hostile will of the Eye. They finally come out of the Marshes and see the lifeless desolation that lay before Mordor. They crawl into a pit among the slag heaps to rest. Sam witnesses Smeagol arguing with Gollum and wonders who "She" is.  They continue towards the Black Gate, but suffer the Nazgul flying overhead twice more, with Gollum only continuing because they force him to.


'He looks fair famished. Not too dainty to try what hobbit tastes like, if there ain't no fish, I'll wager - supposing he could catch us napping. Well, he won't: not Sam Gamgee for one.'

'Day is near,' he whispered, as if Day were something that might overhear him and spring on him.

Various reproachful names for himself came to Sam's mind, drawn from the Gaffer's large paternal word-hoard.

'No, no birds,' said Gollum. 'Nice birds!' he licked his teeth. 'No birds here. There are snakeses, wormses, things in the pools. Lots of things, lots of nasty things. No birds,' he ended sadly. Sam looked at him with distaste.

'In the pools when the candles are lit. They lie in all the pools, pale faces, deep deep under the dark water. I was them...many faces proud and fair, and weeds in their silver hair...'

'What's the need to sniff? The stink nearly knocks me down with my nose held. You stink, the master stinks' the whole place stinks.'
'Yes, yes, and Sam stinks!' answered Gollum. 'Poor Smeagol smells it, but good Smeagol bears it.'

'Three times!' he whimpered. 'Three times is a threat. They feel us here, they feel the Precious. The Precious is their master. We cannot go any further this way, no. It's no use, no use!' ...It was not until Frodo commanded him angrily and laid hand on his sword-hilt that Gollum would get up again.


Thoughts, insights, parts that come to mind the most readily? How do the events of this chapter affect your views of the characters, or later events?  What are your thoughts on the relationships between the characters and the nature of the Dead Marshes they must pass through?