Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 2

In the second chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, an unbelievably long period of time passes before Gandalf returns to Bag End, but when he does, he kind of ruins Frodo’s life? IN A VERY ENTERTAINING, NECESSARY WAY, I SHOULD SAY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


Can I please retract a statement of mine from yesterday? Like…right now?

So many people have told me that The Lord of the Rings is fairly dense for a novel, and I certainly am anticipating it to be. But if this is the way in which he describes things, I’m kind of okay with it.

HAHAHA. HAHAAH. AHAHDFJKASLKJHSFDALKJH OH MY GOD I SHOULD HAVE WAITED JUST ONE CHAPTER BEFORE I SAID ANYTHING. Because while nearly everything in chapter two is deeply fascinating and exciting, THIS IS SO LONG AND DENSE AND DETAILED AND WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST READ. Actually, I want to attempt to determine exactly what I did read when I get to that part, but for now, let’s get through what I understood on the first read-through.

I don’t know if I missed it, but I have no idea what Frodo looks like. I mean, in general, I really don’t know what hobbits are supposed to look like. In my head, he’s some weird cross between Elijah Wood and the Bass/Rankin version of Bilbo, both of which I’ve only seen photos/screenshots of. (We will be liveblogging that version of The Hobbit very soon, just so you know! I’m waiting until it can’t spoil me for this book, which is apparently coming up.) Instead, I have his personality to work from, and I’m honestly okay with that. He’s very much not like Bilbo was when I first met him. Instead, Frodo’s life and personality is very much informed by his uncle, who’s made a mark on his nephew’s behavior. First of all, Frodo is very much content with being the queer hobbit of the Shire; he’s certainly not as weird as his uncle, but he has less of a desire to fall in what with others think of him. I love that he continues to hold birthday parties for his uncle, even if his uncle is nowhere to be found.

Frodo also has friends, and that was uncharacteristic of Bilbo. At the start of The Hobbit, Bilbo seemed to very much enjoy keeping to himself, but Frodo has two close friends in those early years in Pippin and Merry, the latter who we met at the end of the last chapter. But, like Bilbo, Tolkien uses the word “preservation” to describe how he ages, and it’s a curious term to me. I assume that means he doesn’t age as rapidly as the other hobbits, yes? I got the sense that there was something important to this, but, LIKE USUAL, I was utterly clueless. I was then shocked that in the span of a few pages, Tolkien also ages Frodo LIKE TWENTY YEARS. I know that time doesn’t work like it does for us, in terms of expected age. There’s a hobbit mentioned in this book that lives to be 130 and that’s apparently not a big deal. So Frodo ages gracefully, as far as I can tell, and with this age comes a sense of restlessness. It seems Bilbo had a much bigger effect on his nephew than I considered. It’s like he has the same inkling to get out and see more of Middle-earth.

And he does, to an extent! In wandering the countryside around the Shire, he learns that a whole host of strange and unexpected folk are passing through the Shire and leaving Middle-earth. No, what are you doing??? If you leave, you won’t have a place in the plot!!!! THIS IS AN EPIC NOVEL WHERE ARE YOU GOING. Actually, that’s still a good question, silliness aside: why are all these folks leaving Middle-earth?

They were troubled, and some spoke in whispers of the Enemy and the Land of Mordor.

OH NO, YOU CAN’T WALK THERE. So is that why they’re leaving?

It seemed that the evil power in Mirkwood had been driven out by the White Council only to reappear in greater strength in the old strongholds of Mordor.

OH SHIT THAT WAS IN THE HOBBIT. So whatever this “Enemy” is, it was what Gandalf and the White Council drove out of Mirkwood? I WAS ONLY MAKING A JOKE WHEN I SAID THIS WOULD BE ANSWERED LATER. omg I am amazing.

Orcs were multiplying again in the mountains.

You know, as much as I’ve heard this word (I listen to 3 Inches of Blood, so that means I hear it a lot), I don’t actually know what it means. I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT AN ORC IS.

Anyway, there’s a brief section where we see things from the point of view of Sam Gamgee, one of the hobbits who is friends with Frodo. I like him! I like his sense of wonder about the world around him; he seems naturally inclined towards believing the rumors he’s hearing about all the people migrating through his part of Middle-earth. To me, he’s not a cynical character at all, demonstrating an almost childlike wonder in his behavior.

Let’s talk about the polar opposite: Gandalf the Grey, who takes a NINE YEAR BREAK from visiting Frodo. WHAT THE FUCK. Okay, so I get that time is not as big of a thing for the hobbits, but that’s a really, really, really, REALLY long to not visit your friend!

It’s here that….my god. This section is INCREDIBLY long. That’s not really a complaint in the traditional sense, because I completely get why this needs to be just as long as it is. But this is seriously the most lengthy info-dump I think I’ve ever read. Well, perhaps George R.R. Martin has a longer one, but this doesn’t feel shorter at all. Unfortunately for me, this is all gibberish and I was LOST. There, I’ll just admit it. The section is so terribly long that I kept asking myself WAIT WHAT DOES THIS MEAN AGAIN.

So! In an attempt to get this all down, here’s what I think I just learned. I know it should go without saying, but I’m saying it anyway: DO NOT CORRECT ME. Do not spoil me. Allow me to wallow in my wrongness.

oh god why am i doing this


  • Okay, I don’t get why Gandalf had to wait until daylight to tell Frodo all of this, but that’s important? Actually, it’s probably not, but he just wanted to be ~dramatic.~
  • There are many Elven rings, but only the “Great Rings, the Rings of Power,” can basically prevent a person from dying/again in any traditional since. So the ring that Bilbo got from Gollum not only makes a person invisible, but allows some sort of Dark Power to “devour” them in various ways.
  • The reason that Bilbo said he felt “thin and stretched” was because the ring was beginning to hold power on him. It also explains why he was a total douche to Gandalf on the day he left the Shire.
  • Gandalf is REALLY obsessed with hobbits. LOOK HE ADMITS AS MUCH OKAY
  • The ring, when thrown in a fire, is not susceptible to any damage; instead, it reveals Elvish lettering that says, in the language of Mordor: “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to Find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” OH SHIT.
  • Okay, then there’s this lengthy verse of “Elven-lore” about a bunch of rings and then I am instantly lost.
  • But most important out of all of this is that the ring that Bilbo got from Gollum is THE Ring. The One Ring To Rule Them All ring. OH SHIT.
  • Okay, there’s a Dark Lord? And it’s not Voldemort??? J.K. ROWLING IS A THIEF CALL THE PAPERS. Anyway, Sauron the Great is the Dark Lord here. How do dark wizards or lords get such huge, self-important titles if they’re so evil?
  • There’s a Dark Tower in Mordor. You can’t walk there? LOOK I REALLY NEED TO KNOW WHY YOU CAN’T JUST WALK TO MORDOR. omg I was just reminded of ONE CANNOT SIMPLY TANK CAT INTO MORDOR.
  • I don’t get why the Dark Lord needs the One Ring? Why is he evil? What does he want to do?
  • Okay, Gandalf explains (sort of) all the various rings! The Three Rings were hidden from Sauron by the Elf-Lords and he’s never had them. There were seven rings that the Dwarf-kings had; Sauron got back three of them, and the other four were basically EATEN BY DRAGONS. He gave nine of them to humans and those nine humans were taken by the Dark Lord through the power of the Nine Rings. And those rings turned them into Ringwraiths. WHAT THE FUCK ARE THOSE. I will imagine them as larger versions of Iron Maiden’s Eddie. Is that okay? TOO BAD YOU CAN’T STOP ME.
  • So the One Ring, which he made for himself, can control “all the others.” I still don’t understand the logistics of this. Is it like a skeleton key? It’s so powerful that it can control the other rings? (The Three, the Seven, the Nine?)
  • OH I GET IT. Sauron thought the One Ring was gone, but now that he knows it’s still out there, he’s looking for it! OH SHIT FRODO HAS IT.
  • Gandalf traces where the ring started and how it came to Bilbo. Long ago, there was a family of creatures that were ancestrally related to the hobbits, that lived near the River where the Ring had been lost. There, two of these creatures, named Sméagol and Déagol, come upon the ring. Actually, Déagol finds it first, and then Sméagol MURDERS HIM FOR IT. And the ring basically destroys Sméagol’s moral sense and he becomes a horrible thing.
  • Okay, so the One Ring is almost like an entity in and of itself; it protects itself and may leave an owner purely out of preservation, but it’s power over the owner is so strong that one generally can’t give it up. (Which explains why Bilbo was such a dick to Gandalf.)
  • There’s a long section tracing the history of what happened after Bilbo “won” the ring from Gollum, and a lot of it deals with how he was obsessed with the Ring. He determined the identity of Bilbo and hoped to find him in the Shire. At some point, Elves get involved?
  • ARAGORN. That name sounds familiar! He finds Gollum and brings him to Gandalf and they both learn Gollum went to the LAND OF MORDOR.
  • WHICH IS REALLY FUCKED UP, because Gollum probably told the Dark Lord of hobbits and the shire and that means that agents of Sauron are probably on their way now, and HOLY SHIT THIS GOT SO MESSED UP SO QUICKLY.
  • Gandalf defends Gollum’s existence and it is a beautiful thing and I don’t care.
  • Only the Cracks of Doom in the depths of Orodruin, the fire mountain, can destroy the One Ring. Oh my god, this is literally the first nerd fantasy in history. I AM READING HISTORY.

So I think that’s it? Generally, that is. The One Ring that Bilbo got from Gollum is actually the Dark Lord’s most powerful Ring ever. And now the Dark Lord is totally aware that a hobbit in the Shire might have it and WILL RAIN DOWN FURY UPON THAT LOVABLE PLACE. So this is what this book is about! Huh, I always sort of wondered. I mean….yes, this is just a piece of the puzzle, but Tolkien’s framed the entire thing for me. It’s a pretty exciting idea, admittedly, but there’s one last thing that makes it awesome.

‘The enemy has many spies and many ways of hearing.’

Suddenly he stopped as if listening. Frodo became aware that all was very quiet, inside and outside. Gandalf crept to one side of the window. Then with a dart he sprang to the sill, and thrust a long arm out and downwards. There was a squawk, and up came Sam Gamgee’s curly head hauled by one ear.

‘Well, well, bless my beard!’ said Gandalf. ‘Sam Gamgee is it? Now what may you be doing?’

BLESS MY BEARD I LOVE SAM GAMGEE. I liked what little we’d seen of him, but I didn’t think he was anything more than just a small character to provide exposition for the strange caravans making their way out of Middle-earth. But after Frodo has agreed to leave the Shire in order to protect it and Gandalf has suggested that he might want to bring a trusted friend or two, Sam presents himself rather nicely to help out. The idea is terrifying to him, but when Gandalf brings it up, Sam accepts quickly:

‘Me, sir!’ cried Sam, springing up like a dog invited for a walk. ‘Me go and see Elves and all! Hooray!’ he shouted, and then burst into tears.

I adore Sam’s energy, and I’m really happy he’s coming along for the trip. I know that Frodo is excited himself in a way, since he’ll be following in his uncle’s footsteps, but his journey is a whole lot darker than Bilbo Baggins’s was.

I’m excited, y’all. EXCITED.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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346 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 2

  1. Jenny_M says:

    Oh! Oh! This chapter has some of my favorite dialogue in the entire book and I'm glad you picked up on it, Mark. Gandalf's words about Bilbo's pity and how it isn't up to us to decide who lives and who dies is, well, it's wonderful.

    You're right that one cannot walk in Mordor, Mark, but nobody said anything about strutting, skipping, or hopping. How come nobody ever thinks of this stuff?

    • Elethayn says:

      "they both learn Gollum went to the LAND OF MORDOR." – wich you obviously can't. I guess he skipped….oh, my mental images of Gollum skipping into Mordor!!! :'D

      My favourite thing about this chapter is, part from the marvelous history lesson, that when hobbits make maps, they don't show what's beyond their own land's borders! I've never noticed it before, but it's so hobbit-like to be absolutely uninterested and CLUELESS about what's going on in the larger world. Hobbits=<3. I also adore Sam and his love for the elves.

  2. Becky_J_ says:

    As long as this chapter is, I only had three notes for this one:

    1. I think Gandalf tortured Gollum. Jesus.
    2. Something about Sam at the end of this chapter just bursting into tears is adorable and hilarious and I love him forever.
    3. Why can't Gandalf just come visit for the hell of it?! He always shows up muttering about dragons and rings and dangers and death and why can't you just show up for a nice cup of non-committal tea, Gandalf?!


    I love that this is the only thing you really know about Mordor. And I feel like every time you hear the name, you're gonna go, "Oh, hey, I hear you can't walk there!" Like you understand or something. You know, I feel like you might be prepared for this a little bit.

    Hahaha no you aren't that was a joke hahahaha

    • cait0716 says:

      I also got the impression that Gandalf tortured Gollum. But then I wasn't sure because he was talking about pity and how he'd been tortured in Mordor. But "the fear of fire" seems awfully specific.

      • Becky_J_ says:

        Yeah, just the way he skirted around it and got the information out of Gollum made me think, "Hmmm…. that's suspicious." It doesn't seem in his character, but then again, if he did, I like that Tolkien wrote a character that is not "above" that, isn't all good or evil. If that makes sense.

        • flootzavut says:

          I think he probably didn't physically torture Gollum – but I would not put it past Gandalf to scare the crappola out of Gollum, threaten, psychologically bully, et cetera. So while I can't see him, you know, driving nails under Gollum's fingernails, I can see him using other techniques that I personally would definitely think of as SOME kind of torture… iyswIm?

      • BornIn1142 says:

        I felt that line actually indicated that Gandalf "merely" frightened Gollum with the possibility of torture. Doing some kind of bombastic display to make Gollum submit seems more like Gandalf.

      • threerings13 says:

        Actually, on this reading I wondered what Gandalf meant by "fear of fire", too. V jbaqrerq vs ur jnf ersrerapvat gur Evat gung ur unf, juvpu tvirf uvz znfgrel bire sver, be jungrire. Vagrerfgvat gb cbaqre.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      No, I don't believe Gandalf would torture ANYBODY. He simply threatened Gollum with fire and scared him enough so that Gollum would give him the infomation he wanted.

      • ambyrglow says:

        I would argue that threatening someone with a known phobia is torture. Psychological torture: still pretty nasty, actually. And I appreciate that Gandalf is willing to go there: it gives us a sense of how high he thinks the stakes are.

        • flootzavut says:

          Yes – physical torture – not Gandalf's style. Psycological? If he feels it's necessary, absolutely.

    • Katie says:

      I also always thought Gandalf just threatened and it actually shows his moral character that he regrets even that.

    • kaleidoscoptics says:

      For some reason when I read it I got the impression that Gandalf himself didn't do the torturing, but some of his associates did. I don't know why and if anything that makes it worse.

  3. knut_knut says:

    HAHAHA welcome to reading Tolkien! I’ve read these books and seen the movies multiple times but I still usually end up reading this chapter at least twice because it’s just TOO MUCH INFORMATION! I can’t remember real life information AND all of Tolkien’s information! Over time, I forgot some of it and then I read this chapter going “Who is that again?” “OOOO, right, THAT’S how that happened!”.

    They were troubled, and some spoke in whispers of the Enemy and the Land of Mordor.

    This made me laugh SO HARD <3

    • tardis_stowaway says:

      I can’t remember real life information AND all of Tolkien’s information!

      Me too, except that my brain tends to prioritize the Tolkien. 😉 Oops.

  4. cait0716 says:

    Holy exposition, Batman! I forgot how much of this just gets laid out in the second chapter.

    Okay, there’s a Dark Lord? And it’s not Voldemort???

    I was definitely reading this and thinking "Gollum is totally Quirrell!" I was also a little confused and thought Sauron was still hanging out in Mirkwood, but I guess that hasn't been true for 80 years or something. So a lot of time really does pass between The Hobbit and LotR

    V sbetbg gur uvfgbel bs Fzrntby/Tbyyhz jnf fb rneyl va guvf obbx. Naq gur fprar qbrfa'g trg fubja hagvy gur guveq zbivr. Znex vf tbaan syvc jura ur trgf gb gung.

    • monkeybutter says:

      V unq ab vqrn vg jnf guvf rneyl, naq vg'f cneg bs gur ernfba jul V jnf fhecevfrq ol gur nzbhag bs vasbezngvba va guvf puncgre! Vg'yy or sha gb frr jung ryfr unf orra fjvgpurq nebhaq, fb rira gubhtu V'z fcbvyrq, vg'f n arj rkcrevrapr!

  5. Ryan Lohner says:

    With all the other things the nerds complained about regarding the movies’ changes, I’m very surprised that none of them ever seemed to have a problem with Elijah Wood being too young to play Frodo as written. Hobbits may age slower than humans, but the 50 year old Frodo should still look about in his 30s. But he was so good in the role that you can ignore it.

    • cait0716 says:

      But 30 year old hobbits are like 18 year old humans, right? I figured that, even though he was 50, he was supposed to look about 20. Nyfb, gubfr gjragl lrnef ernyyl qvqa'g cnff va gur zbivr. V tbg gur vzcerffvba gung vg jnf bayl n pbhcyr bs zbaguf nsgre Ovyob'f qvfnccrnenapr gung Sebqb gbbx bss jvgu gur evat.

      • shortstuff says:

        V guvax gung gvzr yncfr vf n ovt cneg bs vg. Orpnhfr rira vs Sebqb qbrfa'g ntr orpnhfr bs gur Evat, jung nobhg Fnz naq rirelobql ryfr? V jnf bx jvgu gur gvzryvar orvat pbaqrafrq orpnhfr vg nqqf gung hetrapl gung gur dhrfg vf fgnegvat BZT EVTUG ABJ, abg lrnef va gur shgher. Gur jubyr rynobengr cyna jvgu gur ubhfr ng Pevpxubyybj jbhyq unir fybjrq gur zbivr qbja vzzrafryl.

        • Dreamflower says:

          V nterr gur Pevpxubyybj rcvfbqr jbhyq cebonoyl unir fybjrq guvatf qbja, ohg V ernyyl zvffrq univat vg naq univat gur Pbafcvenpl. Vg jbhyq unir orra njrfbzr.

          Ryvwnu vf gur cresrpg ntr, rira vs lbh tb ol obbx-irefr vafgrnq bs zbivr-irefr. Sebqb unq whfg pbzr bs ntr jura ur tbg gur Evat– Ryvwnu jnf 18, Sebqb jnf gur uboovg-rdhvinyrag bs 21 ng 33, fb irel pybfr va culfvpny znghevgl. Va gur obbx gur Evat serrmrf Sebqb'f ntr, juvyr va gur zbivr, ab zber guna n lrne ng gur zbfg (naq cbffvoyl yrff, nf gurl qbag fcrpvsl) cnffrf orgjrra Cnegl naq Dhrfg. Va gur obbx, friragrra lrnef yngre, Sebqb fgvyy ybbxf gur fnzr!

          Nf sbe Fnz, Zreel naq Cvccva, zbivr-irefr fperjrq hc jvgu gurve ntrf. Fnz jnf 12 lrnef lbhatre guna Sebqb, Zreel jnf 14 lrnef lbhatre naq Cvccva jnf 22 lrnef lbhatre! (Gung'f sebz gur Snzvyl Gerrf, OGJ, lbh whfg unir gb qb gur zngu sebz gur q.b.o. sbe rnpu punenpgre.) Vg rkcynvaf jul gurl jrer fhpu tbbq sevraqf jvgu Sebqb, orpnhfr gurl terj byqre naq zngherq naq ur qvq abg.

      • anghraine says:

        Well, I doubt that fifty-year-old hobbits *usually* look about twenty (they don't live *that* much longer than normal humans), and I don't think people would be side-eyeing his "preservation" if it weren't unusual. That said, it's kind of a point that Frodo isn't aging normally and nf lbh fnl, zbivrirefr!Sebqb vf oneryl bs ntr naljnl. V gubhtug ur jnf bxnl, ohg abg zhpu yvxr gur qrfpevcgvba jr qb trg bs Sebqb yngre ba. Ohg uvf nccrnenapr vfa'g vzcbegnag va gur jnl gung, fnl, gur Ebuveevz'f naq Qúarqnva'f ner, fb vg'f abg gung ovt n qrny. I did hear plenty of people complain about Elijah Wood's wide-eyed youthfulness, though.

        • Dreamflower says:

          Some people have mathematically worked it out: hobbits age at about two-thirds the rate of humans. This isn't a spoiler, since it's just what people have figured out from the information in the story about coming-of-age, plus a little bit of info from Letters.

    • V'z irel fhecevfrq gung abar bs gurz rire frrzrq gb unir n ceboyrz jvgu Ryvwnu Jbbq orvat gbb lbhat gb cynl Sebqb nf jevggra.

      I'm rot13'ing that just because I'm paranoid, but in re that point: Hi there! I was very annoyed by it! Actually a lot more annoyed by that than by some of the other changes they made. Though I blame the script more than the actor in that case.

      • ladililn says:

        I'm all for rot13'ing obsessively just in case, but I cannot in any realm see how that would be considered a spoiler…? Like, even a little. XD

    • echinodermata says:

      Gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq vf jura gurl qrpvqr gb gnxr gur evat gb gur ibypnab fb qryrgrq gung frpgvba.

    • ladililn says:

      I broke out my long-forgotten math skillz and calculated Frodo's equivalent age to be about 27, if 33 is supposed to be around 18. Combine that with the "unnatural preservation", and I think Elijah Wood's age could be handwaved away easily enough. (That said, though, wasn't he literally eighteen when these movies were shot? Holy shit. I'm 18 now and could not imagine that being my life, at all.)

      • flootzavut says:

        I think he was actually *seventeen* when they started filming. And in his early twenties when things finally wrapped. Some way to do your growing up years, huh?

        I seem to recall they were looking for a British actor – they only considered him because he filmed himself and sent his video, and they were blown away.

        I love your logic, because actually I loved him in that role (can't imagine anyone else in it) so it makes me happy that you made it fit *grin*

        • kristinc says:

          I read somewhere (o hai, reliable cite) that Wood had friends film him in the woods, frolicking about and generally being a hobbit, and that got him the audition if not the role.

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Yeah I have to agree with this, he was the perfect fit for the role, and his age isn't that far off, relative to when Frodo first gained possession of the Ring. I couldn't imagine anyone else that would have fit the role better than Elijah Wood.

      • ladysugarquill says:

        He said in a recent vlog that he was 19 XD

    • flootzavut says:

      It's funny, because in a way it just should not work at all. But I can't imagine anyone else in that role, now.

    • Genny_ says:

      Well I figured that if it's his coming of age party, and Hobbits don't age the same way humans do, it's *the equivalent* to his eighteenth or something. Naq gura boivbhfyl va gur zbivr gurer'f ab gvzrfxvc fb ur whfg fgnlf gung lbhat? So it made sense to me as a part of the way the movie differs.

  6. MidnightLurker says:

    MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Mark, did you have even the faintest inkling of an idea that the Ring might be EEEEEEEEEVIL? you have no idea how unprepared you are

  7. PrefectSarah says:

    I'm reading the series for the first time, too. And I will NEVER admit to this again, but I am actually REALLY glad I have seen the movies multiple times or I'd be 100% lost and confused. Actually, I tried reading this before watching the movies and I got so frustrated about not understanding anything that I gave up.

    I'm on the last book now and I cannot put it down!! LOVING IT.

    Jung gur zbivrf urycrq jvgu gur zbfg vf xabjvat juvpu cynprf naq crbcyr V arrq gb cnl nggragvba gb naq zrzbevmr, naq juvpu barf V pna fbeg bs vtaber. Orpnhfr vs lbh gel gb zrzbevmr RIRELGUVAT, vg'f whfg jnl gbb birejuryzvat ng svefg. Rfcrpvnyyl jura gurer ner FB znal anzrf gung ner bayl bar be gjb yrggref bss: Fnheba naq Fnehzna, rgp.

    • cait0716 says:

      Ab xvqqvat. Gur svefg gvzr V ernq guvf obbx, V pbzcyrgryl gubhtug Fnheba naq Fnehzna jrer gur fnzr thl. Gur Gjb Gbjref raqrq hc orvat ernyyl pbashfvat. Nyy gur avpxanzrf naq nyvnfrf qba'g uryc rvgure.

      • Jenny_M says:

        Unun jung pbhyq lbh cbffvoyl or ersreevat gb? Vg'f gbgnyyl abezny gb unir svsgl anzrf. Gnxr Nentbea, fba bs Nengubea sbe rknzcyr. Vg'f gbgnyyl rnfl gb erzrzore gung ur vf nyfb xabja nf Qúanqna, Ybatfunaxf, Fgevqre, Jvatsbbg, Ryrffne Grypbagne, Raivalngne, Rfgry, naq Gubebatvy. GBGNYYL FVZCYR NAQ ABG NG NYY PBASHFVAT LBH THLF.

      • flootzavut says:

        It's like reading Russian books. You have the character's proper name – first name, patronymic, surname. For example, Alexandr Dmitrich Tolstoy (I just made this person up FYI :)). But suppose they also have a title, a count or something. And then some people will call them by their name and patronymic, others will use the title, some will just use their first name, and some will use their diminutive. So this character could go by Alexandr, Count Tolstoy, Sasha… Many diminutives don't (to non-Russian eyes) relate that obviously to the names they start from, and sometimes there is more than one diminutive that goes with a given "proper" name.

        It would be easy to find 6 versions of one character's name, and that's assuming they don't have another alias be frireny, yvxr Nentbea qbrf.

        And THEN you factor in the fact that (when reading in Russian) those names all have to decline according to the function they perform in the sentence – and that names don't decline exactly the same way as normal nouns.

        Fun. Be grateful that Tolkien wasn't Russian, or it would be soooo much worse :oo.0xD

    • echinodermata says:

      Yeah, I tried reading the books before I saw the movies (or at least all the movies – I might have started after the first movie) and couldn't get through them. But having seen the movies, it was great reading them for once and a lot easier for me to get through.

      Agreed with the rot13.

    • You are so lucky! RoK is my favorite of the books 🙂

    • flootzavut says:

      The first time I read book three I flew through it in a few days – I'd seen the first two movies and read the first two books and I HAD TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED NOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!

    • UnstrungZero says:

      I had the same experience, and a year ago when Mark thought he was going to read LotR THEN, I actually emailed him telling him my opinion, that the books are a LOT easier to understand with the movies first as a foundation/framework to build on. But I was very clear that you know, it's HIS CALL and his decision and clearly millions of people had read the books first, so. lol But I'm so completely with you! I actually couldn't read the books until each respective movie came out to help me like that. And I've been reading Stephen King since I was 8, so it's not like I have poor reading comprehension. O__o

  8. Ryan Lohner says:

    What you just found out is the source of the most famous alteration to The Hobbit that I alluded to during that book. Originally Gollum simply handed the ring over to Bilbo, but when Tolkien decided to make it the One Ring he realized that was completely out of character. So he went back and made the edition you read, with the explanation that the first version was Bilbo's original account, which he had written while the Ring was corrupting his mind, causing him to lie about how he got it. Gandalf later got the truth out of him, which was the new version. Quite an awesome use of the conceit that Tolkien was just translating historical documents.

    • Raenef says:

      Whoa, I never new! How cool!

    • shortstuff says:

      Gur Erq Obbx bs Jrfgznepu, lbh zrna 🙂 Fhpu n tbbq guvat gung Gbyxvra unq fhpu n eryvnoyr aneengbe, sbe gur zbfg cneg.

      • flootzavut says:

        Ernqvat gur nccraqvk nobhg ubj ur genafyngrq vg nyy sebz gur Jrfgeba naq ubj Sebqb rg ny jrera'g npghnyyl ernyyl pnyyrq ol gubfr anzrf, ohg ur genafyngrq gur Jrfgeba anzrf gb tvir gur fnzr erfbanapr gur bevtvany anzrf jbhyq unir va gur Jrfgeba… V trg n urnqnpur whfg gelvat gb sbyybj vg, naq V nz n yvathvfg naq ybir jbeqf. Gur zna jnf n travhf va n senaxyl avtu ba fpnel jnl, vg'f snfpvangvat gb zr gb frr ubj uvf zvaq jbexrq ohg vg znxrf zl oenva uheg… 🙂

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      One of the earlier examples of what we now call the retcon. Before that, Arthur Conan Doyle pulled one when he brought Sherlock Holmes back from the dead.

  9. Jenny_M says:

    "V yvxrq jung yvggyr jr’q frra bs uvz, ohg V qvqa’g guvax ur jnf nalguvat zber guna whfg n fznyy punenpgre gb cebivqr rkcbfvgvba sbe gur fgenatr pneninaf znxvat gurve jnl bhg bs Zvqqyr-rnegu."

    Bu zl tbyyl, Znex vf fb hacercnerq. Gur vzcbegnapr naq jbaqreshyarff bs Fnz Tnztrr pnaabg or fgngrq rabhtu. Nf zhpu nf guvf vf Sebqb'f wbhearl, vg'f Fnz'f fgbel, naq V xvaq bs trg grnel-rlrq whfg guvaxvat nobhg jung'f tbvat gb unccra gb uvz.

  10. pennylane27 says:

    I love this chapter and I love your list. I love Sam and Frodo and Gandalf. And that’s all I’ll say because I hate typing long comments on my phone and I didn’t have time to read the chapter and I fear spoilers even though I’ve read it dozens of times.


  11. msw188 says:

    Congrats Mark, I think that was a fine use of "Bless my beard" you had there (even if you have no beard). Other awesomeness in this chapter whose awesomeness mainly comes in more serious forms:
    -there were several meals at which it snowed food and rained drink, as hobbits say (hobbits say things the best)
    -"and there ain't no elm tree on the North Moors." "Then Hal can't have seen one!" (Ted is kind of an jerk, but this was pretty funny)
    -"Wouldn't an orc have suited it better?" (haha I know, right?)
    -"It is no laughing matter" (oops)
    -Sam's greatest fear is for Gandalf to "turn [him] into a spotted toad and fill the garden with grass-snakes." That is amazing.

    And even though I wanted to keep my list silly, I can't leave this chapter without:
    -"Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand." (My eyes honestly water reading that line every time)

    • @ljrTR says:

      I tear up at Gandalf's proufound lines in this chapter too

    • flootzavut says:

      Even out of context some of those lines make me tear up.



      (I think/hope that is the quote I think it is – I'm trying to not use loads of my mum's bandwidth while I'm staying here so I can't check.)

      And hopefully obvious as I ROT13'd it, but SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIES.

  12. monkeybutter says:

    I know it's redundant at this point, but holy shit, I was not expecting this chapter to be so long. It helps that the info isn't really new to me, but there is so much backstory in this chapter. I pity Gollum, and I also liked what Gandalf said about not being eager to "deal out death in judgment."

    V yvxr gung gurer'f n gvzr fxvc va gur obbx fb gung Sebqb pna trg zber frggyrq, Tnaqnys pna tngure vasbezngvba, naq punatrf va Zvqqyr Rnegu ner ortvaavat gb or bofreirq, ohg V nyfb yvxr ubj gur zbivr jrag gb dhvpxyl. Naq gung Tnaqnys naq Sebqb unq gurve pbairefngvba ng avtug, znxvat Fnz'f tneqravat-rnirfqebccvat rira orggre.

    And Sam! I love him so. I know what you mean about his infectious energy; I was grinning as soon as Gandalf hauled him up out of the flower bed, and I wanted to burst into tears with him at the end of the chapter. He's so excited!

    <img src=""&gt;

    • rabbitape says:

      Thanks to that gif, I can't stop thinking about Andy as Sam, which is just plain weird. In a good way, though? Now I'm casting all the other Parks and Rec characters in Fellowship roles.

      • monkeybutter says:

        V pna'g qrpvqr jurgure Eba vf Nentbea be Tnaqnys. Anu, V guvax V'yy tb jvgu Nentbea. Yrfyvr = Sebqb naq Naa = Zreel WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?

        • rabbitape says:

          I know, I'm so sorry! Say goodbye to your productivity while you recast everyone.

          Also, I too thought that Yrfyvr jbhyq or Sebqb! YBIR Eba nf Nentbea. Ohg jub jbhyq Ncevy or? V pna guvax bs ernfbanoyr nethzragf sbe Obebzve be Tvzyv.

    • flootzavut says:

      THIS THIS THIS to all your ROT13 comments 🙂

  13. tethysdust says:

    I read this chapter full of nerdy joy, because the story is so familiar (This is one of the few series I've actually read multiple times and, well, studied the mythology and history of…). But then I was just trying to imagine how you would react to the ridiculous amount of information tossed out here. You seem to be mostly not really lost, anyway!

    Also, Sam is adorable. End of story. It is kind of weird because you sort of see the class distinctions there. I don't think this is spoilery at all but I'll rot13 just in case…. Gur Tnssre naq Fnz ersre gb Sebqb nf n tbbq arvtuobe & sevraq, ohg Sebqb gnyxf nobhg Zreel naq Cvccva jura ur'f qvfphffvat uvf pybfrfg sevraqf. Fher, Sebqb znl or sbaq bs Fnz, ohg Fnz'f uvf tneqrare.

    • catryona says:

      Fnz'f n ovg zber guna uvf tneqrare; vg frrzf yvxr uvf snzvyl unf orra freivat gur Onttvaf snzvyl sbe n juvyr (jr xabj qrsvavgryl gung gurve eryngvbafuvc unf ynfgrq sbe gjb trarengvbaf), naq obgu Fnz naq Sebqb frrz gb srry gung guvf tvirf Fnz n fbeg bs pynvz ba Sebqb.

      Vg vf n xvaq bs sevraqfuvc, vs bar jr qba'g frr irel bsgra nal zber, orpnhfr lbh'yy abgvpr gung juvyr Fnz qrsvavgryl guvaxf bs uvzfrys nf Sebqb'f freinag, ur gnxrf nf znal yvoregvrf jvgu uvz nf Zreel naq Cvccva qb (vs abg zber). Naq Sebqb qrcraqf ba Fnz zber guna ur qbrf ba uvf pybfrfg sevraqf, naq abg, sebz uvf nggvghqr, fvzcyl orpnhfr Fnz vf n freinag naq bar qrcraqf ba freinagf, ohg orpnhfr ur vf n ybirq naq gehfgrq sevraq.

      • tethysdust says:

        Lrnu, pregnvayl, naq bs pbhefr Fnz naq Sebqb ner rira pybfre sevraqf yngre ba. V whfg zrnag gung vg jnf n qvssrerag xvaq bs eryngvbafuvc, orpnhfr bs gurve qvssrerag fbpvny fgnghf, nf lbh qrfpevorq.

        • catryona says:

          Fbeel, V graq gb trg nyy rkpvgrq naq whzc bagb nalguvat nalbar fnlf nobhg gung orpnhfr vg tvirf zr n punapr gb gel gb jenc zl urnq nebhaq gur vqrn bs n eryngvbafuvc gung vaibyirf n frafr bs pynff qvfgvapgvba jvgubhg (arprfnevyl) vaibyivat pynffvfz (ng yrnfg abg gur xvaq gung jr frr gbqnl). Vg'f abg fbzrguvat V'ir rire frra va erny yvsr.

      • flootzavut says:

        OK I should not have bothered to comment myself because THIS SO MUCH THIS.

    • Genny_ says:

      V guvax n ybg bs Fnz vf gvrq hc va gur Tbbq Freinag gebcr, qrsvavgryl? Gurer'f n erny srryvat gung ur'f terng va cneg orpnhfr ur 'npgf evtug' jvgu Sebqb, uvf 'orggre', V thrff? Vg'f gur xvaq bs ybat-fgnaqvat snzvyl sevraqfuvc gung'f grzcrerq ol na haqrefgnaqvat gung bar snzvyl fgnaqf 'haqre' gur bgure juvpu jbhyq qrsvavgryl unir orra n Guvat va Ratynaq jura Gbyxvra jebgr guvf (naq, gb n pregnva rkgrag, unfa'g gbgnyyl tbar njnl va pregnva pvepyrf). Fnz arire sbetrgf uvf cynpr (ohg vg'f bxnl orpnhfr 'ur'f unccl gurer', juvpu… lrnu. Abg ernyyl gur gvzr gb qvfphff guvf, ohg vg'f fbzrguvat gung'f nyjnlf cerfrag sbe zr jura ybbxvat ng uvf punenpgre nf n qrpvfvba Gbyxvra znqr.)

      • ljrTR says:

        Gbyxvra znl unir znqr Fnz n 'tbbq freinag' punenpgre – ohg ur'f abg objvat naq fpencvat. Ur fgnaqf hc sbe Sebqb, naq fbzrgvzrf, uvzfrys. naq Gbyxvra nyybjrq uvz n uhtr ebyr gb cynl, orvat jvgu Sebqb va Zbeqbe, rira pneelvat gur Evat sbe n ovg – naq cbffvoyl yrnivat Zvqqyr Rnegu ng gur irel raq.

        • Genny_ says:

          Bu, lrf. V qba'g zrna gb fnl FNZ VF GREEVOYR be nalguvat! Ohg gur rkvfgrapr bs gur pbaprcg va nal jnl vf, gb zr ng yrnfg, vaureragyl ceboyrzngvp va n jnl gung'f cerggl varfpncnoyr, orpnhfr vg uvatrf ba gur vqrn gung gurer vf n jnl lbh ner 'fhccbfrq' gb orunir cheryl orpnhfr bs lbhe pynff. Vg'f ernyvfgvp naq nf cbfvgvir n qrcvpgvba lbh pbhyq rire ernyyl trg- ohg vg'f fgvyy n qrcvpgvba bs fbzrguvat xvaq bs… anfgl, rfcrpvnyyl gb zr nf fbzrbar jub frrf n ybg bs crbcyr bire urer fgvyy pyvat gb gubfr pbaprcgf.

    • flootzavut says:

      uggc://· V guvax guvf xvaq bs eryngvbafuvc (ng gur fgneg) vf jurer Sebqb naq Fnz ner ng. Fnz vf qribgrq gb Sebqb – V guvax ur gnxrf vg nf n snzvyvny qhgl gb ybbx nsgre Znfgre Sebqb, ohg nf Ovyob naq Sebqb unir orra tbbq, anl fhcreyngvir rzcyblref, gung qhgl vf haqregnxra abg fvzcyl bhg bs qhgl be fvzcyl sbe cnl ohg bhg bs ybir naq erfcrpg. V guvax n ybg bs gubfr xvaq bs eryngvbafuvcf onpx va gur qnl (V'z guvaxvat bs anaavrf, ynqvrf va jnvgvat, ubhfrxrrcref) gur xvaq bs wbof gung vaibyirq n uvtu qrterr bs orvat va ba gur snzvyl'f frpergf naq fb ba, jrer zhpu zber guna n svanapvny neenatrzrag. N tbbq freinag jbhyq xrrc gur frpergf, or qvfperrg, fbzrgvzrf or pybfre naq zber gehfgrq guna crbcyr va gur fnzr pynff… naq va erghea gur jrnyguvre snzvyvrf jbhyq ybbx nsgre gur freinag'f snzvyvrf svanapvnyyl naq jvgu cebqhpr naq ivfvgf sebz gur qbpgbef rgp.

      V'z fher vg jnf abg nyjnlf gur pnfr, bs pbhefr, ohg gung vf ubj V frr/haqrefgnaq gur eryngvbafuvc orgjrra gur Onttvafrf naq gur Tnztrrf urer. Bs pbhefr, nf gur fgbel tbrf ba, Fnz orpbzrf zhpu, zhpu zber guna whfg n freinag bs jubz Sebqb vf sbaq, ohg V guvax gurer'f nyernql n pybfre naq zber graqre eryngvbafuvc gurer guna jr zvtug vzntvar orgjrra rssrpgviryl n znfgre naq uvf freinag.

      • catryona says:

        This is exactly what I was thinking, only with better words and more history.

      • Alia says:

        V guvax gung, sbyybjvat hc ba gung, vg’f abgnoyr gung Fnz raqf hc nf gur znlbe bs gur Fuver naq phfgbqvna bs gur Erq Obbx naq fb rssrpgviryl evfrf va fgnghf gb or rdhny gb gur bgure Sryybjfuvc uboovgf. Gurer’f nyfb gur fgebat vzcyvpngvba va gur nccraqvprf gung, rira gubhtu uvf gvrf gb Zvqqyr Rnegu zrna ur fgnlf ybatre guna gur erfg ur svanyyl sbyybjf gur bgure Evat-orneref bire gur frn gb Inyvabe.

        • flootzavut says:

          I'd never thought of that, but you're right. Va fbzr jnlf gur jubyr dhrfg punatrf Fnz gur zbfg. Abg whfg va grezf bs fbpvny fgnghf, ohg oryvrs va uvzfrys, n xvaq bs pbasvqrapr naq fhergl.

  14. @ljrTR says:

    Where to start – 1st – congrats on making it through one of the 2 densest chapters in the book.
    Secondly – I love this Chapter because it contains some of Tolkien's greatest lines. Some of my favorite quotes from ANY book EVER
    Paraphrasing cause I don't have the book at hand –
    When Frodo says "I wish this hadn't happened in my time." Gandalf replies – So do all, who live through such things. But we can't choose our time. All we can do is choose what to do with the time that is given to us. & Gandalf piointing out that many who live deserve death & many who die who deserve life. It is not for you, or I, to deal out this judgment. Oh dear Professor, you got a little profound there.
    On this rereading this is what I noticed – Gandalf pointing out that evil ALWAYS takes shape and rises again after being beaten. I remembered that as coming later. & Frodo sounds so naive. He says "I'd like to save the shire" with such bravado, like an untried recruit , like it will be easy.

    PS – Does Mark read these comments?

    • echinodermata says:

      Mark tries to read all the comments, I think. Otherwise, we mods wouldn't have to remove spoilers.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Pretty much! I generally wait an hour or so after the review is up, as most of the spoiler reports come in by then.

    • flootzavut says:

      Oh damn, every time someone posts or paraphrases that line I start to well up…

    • Tauriel_ says:

      PS – Does Mark read these comments?

      Yes, he does. He's the Big Brother of these comments. HE IS WATCHING YOU.

      (also, this needs a GIF like, NAO.)

  15. Ryan Lohner says:

    A while ago the MST3k guys did a fantasy spoof, which naturally took Lord of the Rings as its major inspiration. Here's the parts that cover as far as you've gotten:

    [youtube jVANk2suzOc youtube]

    [youtube RZSiCWWvKSo youtube]

  16. Hahaha, oh my. I love your total confusion at this infodump. It is kind of a massive one, isn't it? Like, really really huge and so much information and so much just mentioned about Middle Earth. And it's all told inside Bag End.

    I will add, though, that I've always found this chapter interesting, mostly because I love the way Gandalf tells all these things. He could be one hell of a storyteller when he chose, and I've always wished there was a little more information on some of the events that he outlines here. Which there is, but it's in the Silmarillion and being an idiot, I left my copy at school…

    This part of your review made me laugh hysterically: J.K. ROWLING IS A THIEF CALL THE PAPERS Because believe it or not, when I first read HP at the age of eleven or twelve this was exactly my reaction. I flipped out about that detail, completely ignoring everything else that was original about that series (nygubhtu V qvq trg naablrq ol gur Qrzragbef jvgu, V guvax, n yvggyr zber whfgvsvpngvba, fvapr gubfr orne n ybg bs erfrzoynapr gb gur Anmthy.) Abj, gubhtu, V'z n yvggyr zber rnfltbvat. Zryybjrq jvgu ntr, V thrff 🙂

    And obligatory favorite line:
    "I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?"
    "Such questions cannot be answered," said Gandalf. "You may be sure that it was not for any merits that others do not possess; not power or wisdom at any rate. But you have been chosen, and must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have."

    (And I really hope that quote is actually in this chapter. I'm almost sure it is, and i don't think it's spoilery, but yeah, if it's not, quick mods, hide it. I left my copy of Fellowship at college, so I'm going from memory here)

    • @ljrTR says:

      that is another great line, the one you quoted. This chapter is full of great stuff

    • Sarah says:

      Obgu gur Qrzragbef naq Evatjenvguf ner onfrq bss gur Tevz Erncre gubhtu, gur ybat oynpx pybnxrq svther bs qrngu jvgu n..guvat haqrearngu vg.
      V guvax vg'f whfg…angher gb or FREVBHFYL sernxrq bhg ng gung vzntr gubhtu. V fgvyy pnag jngpu gur Evatjenvgu fprarf va gur zbivr. Whfg..ab.

      • Gur rssrpg gur Qrzragbef unir ba crbcyr vf irel fvzvyne gb gur rssrpg gur Evatjenvguf unq, fb gung jnf jurer zl znva fbhepr bs naablnapr pnzr sebz. Lbh'er evtug gubhtu gung gur Tevz Erncre vf n cerggl havirefny vzntr. Ng gur gvzr V qvqa'g guvax bs gung. V jnf whfg bar uryy bs n cergragvbhf gjryir lrne byq 🙂

  17. Ryan Lohner says:

    Okay, I'm sure I did everything right that time. No more embedding two videos in one post for me. The real episode two:

    [youtube RZSiCWWvKSo youtube]

  18. plaidpants says:

    Since I finally got done with exams yesterday, I can finally participate again! (I have to catch up on all the Buffy episodes I missed too!)

    It's been forever since I've read these books, so I'm being constantly surprised about how slowly things move on the one hand, but so quickly on the other. Its like, all of a sudden its been 20 years and then BAM! Holy Exposition, Batman! It's odd that Tolkien jumps right into the middle of the conversation, and then just starts laying things out there.

    Also, Bless Sam. He's just like Hooray! Elves! Skipping over the whole evil ring thing.

  19. Fuchsia says:

    "Okay, there’s a Dark Lord? And it’s not Voldemort??? J.K. ROWLING IS A THIEF CALL THE PAPERS. "

    JK Rowling took a lot of famous literary characters and themes and wove them together to create something new– which I love. I personally see a lot of similarities regarding characters and elements between this book and Harry Potter, but those books don't even come close to plagiarism. I find it fascinating.

    • Kelsey says:

      On a similar note, I found out the other day that VOL-DE-MORT translates in French to: escape from death. MIND. BLOWN.

      • melmel says:

        No it actually translates more like : "The Fly of Death"

        • Saphling says:

          Voldemort is a combination of French terms: "vol" meaning "flight" (french verb "voler"), "de" meaning "of" and "mort" meaning "death, killing" in French and Latin. He is one that flies from death (in the run/flee/escape meaning of the word "fly"). "Vol de mort" can also mean "Theft by death," implying Voldemort "stole" Harry's family from him by killing his parents.

          • Becky_J_ says:

            Yes! I remember when I realized this…. my mind was blown for DAYS. I always considered it as both meaning "flight from death" as you outlined above, and as "flight of death," more of that wherever he goes, death follows. Either way, I love it so much.

        • Lara says:

          "The Fly of Death" would be something like Mouchedemort. Saphling has it correct.

          • Dru says:

            LOL FOREVER at "Mouchedemort"!

            (who sounds like he should have a little pencil moustache and carry a pocket square)

  20. Oh! I am SO GLAD you are reading this. Mainly because I read all three in about 48 hours, barely sleeping and eating only gummi bears. So naturally, I missed a lot. Now I can "read" it all again through you! You're like a saint or something.

  21. stellaaaaakris says:

    I thought Aragorn sounded familiar too. Then I realized King Henry VIII's first wife was not actually Catherine of Aragorn. (Maybe she was descended from them, but somewhere along the lines, they dropped the extra "r". I have important thoughts.)

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      Aragon is a region in Spain, formerly a kingdom:

      I was in Aragon house in middle school, actually because the school was named after a tree-lined avenue (Alameda Walk) that took it's inspiration from Spain. But, Catherine of Aragon was imprisoned in the town's castle as well (it fell down hundreds of years ago, unfortunately).

      Oh, and the town next door gave its name to Professor Flitwick.

    • Zeynep says:

      Totally unsurprisingly, given who/what Tolkien was, "Aragorn" has a literal meaning as a word, derived from Sindarin Elvish. But the translation would be exceedingly spoilery (so don't go looking for it, Mark.) The same is true for many (though not all) names in Middle Earth.

    • stefb4 says:

      This is off-topic BUT YOUR ID PICTURE IS BOY MEETS WORLD <3 <3

      I had to bring this to your attention, even though you obviously know.

  22. lismk says:

    Oh, I am waiting to go home so I can post real comments with my book and reading along with you but for right now mark you are not prepared

  23. @stephen_g says:

    The passage of time is definitely one of the things that struck me about this chapter. I specifically remember my comment on Goodreads:

    "You know, this book is hardly making the case for Frodo's quest being that urgent so far."

    Because I think by the time Gandalf rolls around he's in his 50s in Chapter 2?

    • msw188 says:

      Haha, that's great. On the other hand, though, you could look at it and say, this means Gandalf and Aragorn spent NINE YEARS doing nothing but searching for Gollum, with basically nothing to go on except that he had been in Mirkwood years ago, and hated Baggins. Oh, and maybe some weird description from Bilbo, who only ever saw him in a dark cave. "Hm, yeah guys, he's got big pale eyes that change to green when he's pissed."

    • MsSméagol says:

      Ha! My thoughts exactly. Urgency schmurgency.

  24. echinodermata says:

    Non-spoilery movie gifs are allowed, yes?

    <img src="; alt="Starts with three hands with rings on them, then cuts to 7 rings on a table that armored hands pick up, then cuts to 9 men holding rings and lowering them in unison, then finally cuts to the One Ring with the Elven script appearing">

    And I love Sam too. He has this exuberance and maybe a sort of naivety that makes me just want to hug him and want to be his friend and basically protect him from any scary shit he's not prepared for.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Third from the right in the Nine Kings is Alan Lee, artist of a much beloved illustrated version of the book, and one of the films' visual designers.

      Any time he appears in the special features, I can't stop staring at those horrible teeth.

    • Saphling says:

      TRIVIA! Artists John Howe and Alan Lee have cameos as two of the nine kings of men. 😀

      (From IMDb)

    • This is absolutely beautiful. I love all the visuals of the rings 🙂

    • PrefectSarah says:

      This MIGHT be spoilery, just because he hasn't seen the movies yet…..

      • echinodermata says:

        Mark said a while back in probably comments for The Hobbit that non-spoilery movie gifs for LotR were fine. I just wanted to re-ask in case he changes his mind.

      • Katie says:

        V nterr, guvf vf fcbvyrel. Sbe rknzcyr, gur fubg bs gur guerr evatf unf fcbvyref.

        • echinodermata says:

          V ubarfgyl qba'g guvax vg'f fcbvyrel, naq lbh jnagvat gb pnyy nggragvba gb vg znxrf vg srry zber fcbvyrel guna gur tvs vgfrys. Fb V ebg13'rq lbhe pbzzrag sbe abj, naq V'ir nfxrq bgure zbqf vs gurl srry vg vf fcbvyrel. Vs nal zbq guvaxf vg'f fcbvyrel V jvyy pbafvqre naq cebonoyl erzbir gur tvs naq punatr lbhe pbzzrag onpx, ohg nf vg fgnaqf, gurl'er whfg 3 unaqf jvgu evatf. Znlor gur juvgr pybguvat znxrf bar unaq ybbx zber srzvavar ohg V pnaabg gryy gur frk bs gur bgure gjb. Cyhf, Znex qbrfa'g xabj jr trg gb svaq bhg jub ornef gur Ryira evatf fb sbe nyy ur xabjf gurl jrer enaqbzyl pnfg rkgenf. Ur nyfb qbrfa'g xabj vs gurer ner guerr naq bayl guerr crbcyr jub unir rire orra va cbffrffvba bs gur 3 evatf.

    • knut_knut says:

      I wish I could upvote this forever <3

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:


      Yes, non-spoilery gifs of the movie are totally fine!

  25. Shay_Guy says:

    He only needs the One; for he made that Ring himself, it is his, and he let a great part of his own former power pass into it, so that he could rule all the others.

    Something odd that struck me as a possible continuity error when I read TLotR: in The Hobbit, Gollum seemed to be talking to himself when he said "my precious": That is how he got his name, though he always called himself 'my precious.' … "What iss he, my preciouss?" whispered Gollum (who always spoke to himself through never having anyone else to speak to). He only calls the Ring his "birthday-present." As you've seen in the first two chapters of this book, though, that seems to have been retconned into "precious" referring to the Ring.

    • Plactus says:

      This is mentioned in the book's prologue, which Mark seems to have skipped (for the better, it's fairly dry material and somewhat spoilery). It was indeed retconned that Gollum addressed the Ring as "precious," and talked to it even when he didn't have it with him. (I don't have my book with me at the moment so I can't look up the exact quote.)

      • msnaddie says:

        it's fairly dry material

        No kidding – I put off reading the series for years before I managed to get past the prologue and into the wonderfulness of the first chapter.

  26. Suzannezibar says:

    "I don’t know if I missed it, but I have no idea what Frodo looks like. I mean, in general, I really don’t know what hobbits are supposed to look like. In my head, he’s some weird cross between Elijah Wood and the Bass/Rankin version of Bilbo, both of which I’ve only seen photos/screenshots of"

    HAHAH okay now I'm picturing what Elijah Wood would look like if Rankin and Bass tried to animate him. And giggling a lot.

    I feel like there's not much more to say other than the old adage…NEVER PREPARED. EVER. *gleeful laugh*

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      And be thankful you don't have to deal with Sam the way Ralph Bakshi animated him. It's a real challenge to describe without dipping into the kind of language I know Mark hates, so I'll leave it at that.

      • Depths_of_Sea says:

        Oh my gosh, Sam was handled so badly in the Bakshi version. How they take a cheerful, enthusiastic, down-to-earth character and make him UNGODLY ANNOYING is beyond me.

  27. Honey, YOU ARE NOT PREPARED for Samwise. He is my favorite character in all of LotR. He's one of my top five characters in LITERATURE.

  28. msw188 says:

    Also consider how he changes the dynamic in his argument with Bilbo in the first chapter; he threatens to flash him (according to Mark), but doesn't actually need to follow through.

  29. Tauriel_ says:

    ‘Ohg jung nobhg gurfr Gerr-zra, gurfr tvnagf, nf lbh zvtug pnyy gurz? Gurl qb fnl
    gung bar ovttre guna n gerr jnf frra hc njnl orlbaq gur Abegu Zbbef abg ybat onpx.’

    Ragf va gur Fuver!!! 😀 😀 <3

    Ahem. Anyway.

    We get a pretty big batch of exposition (or history) in this chapter, as we learn the history of the Rings of Power, and find out that Bilbo's (and now Frodo's) ring is really something more than a magical trinket – it's the One Ring, "One Ring to rule them all". It's a pretty big signal that SHIT HAS JUST GOTTEN REAL.

    We also learn the history of Gollum, and where he came from – we learn that he was once like a hobbit, and his name was Sméagol. And as we learn more about him and how he became what he was in "The Hobbit", we begin to see him as a pitiable figure rather than a one-dimensional creepy villain. Sure, he is not a nice person. He committed murder, and used the Ring for malicious purposes – but the Ring played a considerable part in all that, because it's pure evil and has the power to corrupt lesser minds and those already susceptible to evil.

    There are a few of my absolutely favourite quotes in this chapter, both spoken by Gandalf:

    ‘Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to
    strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be
    sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the
    end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.’


    ‘He deserves death.’
    ‘Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death.
    And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do
    not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very
    wise cannot see all ends.’

    There is a deep moral message in those words, and yet it's not condescending preaching. Love you, Professor Tolkien. <3

    The bit where Sam's discovered eavesdropping and is "punished" by being made to go with Frodo is both funny and endearing. <3

    What is it with these highly likeable characters called Sam? Sam Gamgee, Sam Tarly, Sam Tyler, Sam Vimes… <3

  30. this is part of the fun/trouble of chapter by chapter reviews, especially with a work like this, where there is so much backstory and so many things that eventually will tie in and play a role later on. I know there are a lot of things I'd love to explain and shriek over because there are all kinds of things I pick up on the re-reading. But where's the fun in watching someone read this for the first time if they pick up on everything first time through?

  31. @RadagastWiz says:

    The best part about this kind of 'infodump' is that it still fels like STORY. Gandalf is very evocative when he describes things like Smeagol's ancestral life and what he and Aragorn went through to track him down. For a quiet talk in Bag End, it still keeps you engaged.

  32. roguebelle says:

    The first rule of Mordor is you can't just walk into Mordor.

    The first rule of not walking into Mordor is you don't talk about why you can't walk into Mordor.

    It is known.

  33. I'm really happy you started reading LotR; it's my favourite book and my first introduction into fantasy.

  34. Albion19 says:

    I love this chapter and all the information we find out about Gollum.

  35. MidnightLurker says:


    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Though it makes for a nice tricky trivia question: who was the first Hobbit to hold the Ring? It's not Bilbo, or even Smeagol, but Deagol! Display your nerdiness proudly.

  36. tanbarkie says:

    Zna, V pna'g jnvg hagvy Znex npghnyyl jngpurf gur svyz irefvba bs "Sryybjfuvc." Zl gevttre svatre vf ubirevat bire guvf yvax naq vg'f trggva' vgpul.

  37. chikzdigmohawkz says:

    I found this a little while ago, but we were Looking for Alaska, so I've been waiting impatiently to be able to share it. And then I completely forgot to post it yesterday.

    It's 'Enter Mordor' nail art:

    And here's a video showing how the person did it (also, there's French, but it sounds so dramatic and epic (I have no idea what's being said)):

  38. hpfish13 says:

    I love this chapter and how it takes everything from The Hobbit that was kind of light and magical and turns it on its head and makes it dark and ominous. Also, SAM!!! So much love for Sam!

    And here is this chapter's art

    <img src=""&gt;

  39. Stephen_M says:

    You know… I just got really depressed reading this and the first chapter reviews. Why? Two reasons:

    1) people see, to think that this is a dense book and that this is, somehow a negative thing. Personaly i dont consider this a particularly dense book – first read LOTR when I was ten and while some of the details passed me by the plot was easy enough to follow – but that's down to the individual. The thought of dense and complicated being bad though is a really worrying one to me.

    2) just realised today that there's going to be a whole generation, heck multiple generations, reading works that are derivatives of LOTR and never knowing it. Maybe that explains why I never took to the Potter books as anything more than fun escapism to be knocked off in an evening or two, always seemed like they borrowed too much from other stories.

    Ah well, penalty of being a grumpy old git I suppose 😉

    • @MeagenImage says:

      All stories borrow elements from something older, the interesting part is how they use those elements.

    • ljrTR says:

      some books – most modern fantasy -were inspired by Tolkien (ok); some – Terry Brooks Shanarra series – outright stole from him (not ok). But most stories borrow.
      I don't like it when people say Gandalf is like Dumbledore – no, Gandalf came first!! but as long as LOTR gets read I won't lose any sleep over it.

    • acreativebrew says:

      Well, I actually find 'dense' to be a problem because between being ADD and dyslexic, 'dense' is an issue with my ability to follow sentences. I can follow the concepts very well – this is why I love the movies – but actually reading it? I lose track of the sentences before they finish. I like complicated, it's just the 'dense' that can actually give me a headache.

      • Majc says:

        Dyslexia is the reason I love ebooks now. Giant font helps me get through sentences easier without being distracted or confused by a whole pile of text on one page.

    • Genny_ says:

      I think dense being an issue is something which varies. Personally, I am absolutely OK with it. I'll laugh and whine about how hard I'm finding LotR, but at the end of the day, I find it *fun* to have to work for it and I just boggle at how wonderfully complex and amazing the whole thing is. On the other hand, I can also acknowledge that I'm willing to put a lot more work into reading than a lot of people. Because… IDK, I'm a complete masochist?

      On the other hand, there's nothing really wrong with borrowing from other stories (though I *do* have a great dislike of how *badly* most Tolkien imitators fail because they don't understand you have to do more than a surface sheen of worldbuilding to succeed). After all, a lot of what Tolkien does in LotR is pure archetype, and what's using an archetype if not derivative? But he does it in a way that is unique enough that it still warrants reading. The problem comes when the derivatives get more and more eroded and never bring anything new… which is, er, admittedly a big problem in High Fantasy to say the least.

    • Dreamflower says:

      See, I think the whole idea of complaining about dense comes because people are so used to modern novels. As a kid, long before I read LotR, I was reading things like "The Count of Monte Cristo", "The Three Musketeers", "The Last Days of Pompeii" and Dickens– good heavens! Dickens is dense! The idea of just relaxing into prose and letting it carry the reader along is almost lost; everyone these days wants to jump ahead and get to the action. What's wrong with enjoying the scenery and getting a little historical exposition along the way?

      But that's anathema to most modern publishers. It was beginning to be even in Tolkien's day; thank God for Stanley and Rayner Unwin and their patience with JRRT! Or we'd never have had LotR!

      I don't think you are a grumpy old git.

      • Genny_ says:

        I can't imagine finding dense prose relaxing, to be honest. Not doubting it may be for you, but the idea of 'letting it carry you along' is lost on me. It's hard work!

      • kristinc says:

        It always amuses me when people describe Dickens' density and lengthiness as an indicator of the quality of his writing. He was paid by the word. To write trashy (at the time) fiction stories for tabloids.

        • Dreamflower says:

          A lot of people at the time considered all fiction trashy, LOL! But what I was getting at is that the more streamlined stories of today are a new thing. But if people are in the habit of reading nothing else, then a lot of appreciation for older sorts of stories will be lost.

          So many people have never read anything but abridged versions of the novels I mentioned, or only seen them as movies and have no idea of the original. I don't think modern readers are any less intelligent or capable of understanding– but it's not what most people are used to anymore, and if it's different, it's passed over as "too dense" , "too wordy", etc.

          I just think that's kind of sad.

          • t09yavosaur says:

            My friend didnt even realize she had read the abridged version of the Count of Monte Cristo until I mentioned how it took me a month to read. She didnt believe me at first as well and I had to prove it to her. In addition I once tried to get the regular version out of the library (the same place I got it to read the first time) and all they had anymore was a tiny little abridged version that didnt say anywhere that it was abridged.

  40. chikzdigmohawkz says:

    Well, it's depicting Mordor…which is a spoiler at this point anyways.

  41. threerings13 says:

    This chapter has two of my favorite quotes from the whole series:

    "Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

    "I wish it need not have happened in my time. . .So do I. . . and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

    Anyway, obviously this chapter has a lot of exposition that sets up the whole story, but I don't find it boring. Maybe because I love Gandalf with a blazing passion. As such I feel I need to defend him for not visiting Frodo for 9 years. Ok, that's a long time. But it's not as long when you consider he's been traveling all over the place gathering info and he's traveling at the speed of horse, or even walking. It's not like he can just hop a train and get back to the Shire. It's probably AT BEST a six month journey from wherever he might be, maybe an entire year.

    Gung nyjnlf ohttrq zr va gur zbivr. V haqrefgnaq jul gurl ryvzvangrq gur ybat oernx orgjrra Ovyob'f cnegl naq Tnaqnys ergheavat, ohg gura gurl fubj Tnaqnys va Zvanf Gvevgu evtug orsber pbzvat gb gnyx gb Sebqb, naq vg'f yvxr, jryy, vs vg'f fb qnza rnfl gb trg gb gur bgure fvqr bs Zvqqyr Rnegu, jul qbrf vg gnxr 3 zbivrf gb trg onpx?

    • Va er gur zbivr fghss, gung vf fhpu n tbbq cbvag! Rfcrpvnyyl fvapr Tnaqnys qvqa'g unir Funqbjsnk ng gung cbvag. V xabj fbzr crbcyr fnl vg jbhyq unir orra pbashfvat, ohg ubj uneq pbhyq vg ernyyl unir orra gb qb n "9 lrnef yngre" pncgvba naq fubj Sebqb ntvat? Abg bayl qbrf vg fbyir gur ceboyrz bs Sebqb orvat gbb lbhat (juvpu V npghnyyl qb frr nf n ovg bs n ceboyrz) ohg vg nyfb fubjf gung Zvqqyr Rnegu vf ernyyl rssvat uhtr naq abg rnfl gb geniry.

    • tanbarkie says:

      "I wish it need not have happened in my time. . .So do I. . . and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

      Bu tbq, V pna'g rira ERNQ gubfr yvarf jvgubhg urnevat gurz va ZpXryyna'f ibvpr qhevat Sebqb'f synfuonpx ng gur raq bs svyz!SBGE, nf gung tbetrbhfyl fnq fgevat eraqvgvba bs "Pbapreavat Uboovgf" fjryyf naq Sebqb qrpvqrf gb gnxr gur obng bhg nybar.


    • Depths_of_Sea says:

      Er. gur zbivr'f unaqyvat. Punyx gung bar hc gb Fcrrq bs Cybg naq gur rqvgvat. Vg frrzf yvxr vg gnxrf n fubegre gvzr gb trg gb Zvanf Gvevgu orpnhfr jr fxvc bire gur wbhearl. Gur yratgu bs gvzr vg npghnyyl gnxrf vf onfvpnyyl vtaberq va snibe bs dhvpxre cnpvat. Gurer'f rabhtu yrrjnl va gur rqvgvat gung lbh pna fgvyy nffhzr vg gnxrf n srj zbaguf, jr whfg nera'g fubja vg.

      V'yy nqzvg V qb yvxr gung vg znxrf guvatf frrz zber hetrag, pbaqrafvat gur gvzr fgernz yvxr gung.

    • ljrTR says:

      Yes again! I LOVE those quotes. very moving, very true.

    • Dreamflower says:

      V xabj. Fbzr guvatf ernyyl jrer pyhaxl nf sne nf gvzryvar tbrf. Bar gung ohtf zr gb qrngu vf Tnaqnys uhfgyvat Sebqb naq Fnz bhg bs gur Fuver nsgre gryyvat gurz ur unf gb tb pbafhyg Fnehzna ng Vfratneq– naq gura gryyvat gurz ur'yy zrrg gurz ng Oerr! Ubj gur urpx vf ur tbvat gb trg gb Oerr orsber (be rira naljurer arne gur fnzr gvzr nf gurz, jura gurl ner fb zhpu pybfre. Rira ba sbbg gur jubyr jnl vg fubhyqa'g gnxr gurz nyy gung ybat– naq Vfratneq vf *uhaqerqf* bs zvyrf njnl!

      • threerings13 says:

        Bx, V arire npghnyyl pbafvqrerq gung. QNZA. Abj V unir fbzrguvat ryfr gb naabl zr. (Npghnyyl V ernyyl yvxr gur zbivrf…whfg cybgubyrf!)

  42. rabbitape says:

    These big infodump chapters make me think of my dad (he, my brother, and I all read the books together at various points). My dad is King Dork of the Dorks, which I say proudly, and anytime he came across really dense info that he knew would be important, he whipped out a scratch pad and started notating that shit. (He even drew out a family tree when he read Shogun.) Mark's bulleted list totally reminds me of that, except with less color coding. I love it!

    It's a genetic thing, too. We got the 1990 Fellowship of the Ring computer game, and my brother lived and breathed that game. Jura ur tbg gb gur Zvarf bs Zbevn, ur juvccrq bhg gur tencu cncre naq znqr fpnyr zncf bs gur ragver guvat.

  43. flootzavut says:

    "But most important out of all of this is that the ring that Bilbo got from Gollum is THE Ring. The One Ring To Rule Them All ring. OH SHIT."

    I laughed and I laughed 😀 sooooooooooo been looking forward to this reveal 😀

  44. Smurphy says:

    I love Sam. You are so not prepared. I barely trust myself to breathe at this point without spoiling you so I am going to leave you with this.

    I FINALLY I GET TO SAY (from memory): ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL, ONE RING TO FIND THEM, ONE RING TO BRING THEM ALL AND IN THE DARKNESS BIND THEM. … back in the day I had the entire thing memorized.

    • Saphling says:

      The repeated line in the verse, "In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie" always gave me the chills something fierce.

      • Smurphy says:

        Agreed…. I would so be with the elves leaving middle earth… I don't care if this was history in the making. I WOULD NOT WANT TO BE A PART OF IT.

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Yeah that part makes the whole verse even more ominous than it already is. O_o

  45. empath_eia says:

    This universe is just unbelievably rich. That infodump could easily have been ten times longer without Tolkien breaking a sweat, but hey, that’s why the Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales and whatnot exist, I guess.

    I’m going to have to dig out my massive hardcover copy of the series (with illustrations by Alan Lee, omg they are so pretty) and follow along, I think, even though I’ve read it so many times I have it practically memorized. Just because I never get tired of it and maybe I can look at it like a newcomer again, just a little, with your help.

  46. Katie says:

    JK Rowling (who I love dearly) is a thief in more than one way. Evil objects forged by evil lords that bend the will of their carriers and that can only be destroyed in very limited number of ways, one of them being fire and the other a mythical creature who happens to be extinct by now? Horcruxes, anyone?

    • ljrTR says:

      I''m one of the few people in the world immune to Harry Potter love.

      • I'll join you! Ish. I don't hate the books or anything, but I think they're a wee bit (okay, very) overhyped. I always saw them as kind of a fun and light read, not really much more than that.

    • Dreamflower says:

      I once saw a very funny bit of fanart, Frodo and Harry facing off and comparing their trials and tribulations, and the punchline was Harry yelling at Frodo: "Lbh bayl unq gb qrfgebl BAR ubepehk!"

    • Genny_ says:

      Is that something actually codified by Tolkien? Genuinely curious, I always just took it for granted this has Always Been A Thing.

      • Kiryn says:

        Same here. I don't feel that JKR is a THIEF for using the phrase "Dark Lord". I've always felt that this is sort of a common knowledge type thing that doesn't really belong to anyone. Like dragons or any other myths like that: fair game for anyone who has the mind to use them.

        But then, I also feel like Mark just called JKR a thief jokingly in good fun, and the comments are blowing it slightly out of proportion. *shrugs*

  47. Depths_of_Sea says:

    And this chapter demonstrates one of the many reasons these books were considered so hard to put to film: The Massive Infodumps!

    Exposition scenes can be so hard to do right in a movie, especially when you have so much information to get across in such a short amount of time. (Gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq jnf cnegvphyneyl uneq gb svyz V erpnyy. Fb zhpu gnyxvat naq fb znal erivfvbaf naq rirelbar jnf fb zvfrenoyr qbvat vg. Naq gur svany cebqhpg vf fgvyy jung, frira zvahgrf? Gra? Ab jbaqre gur Onxfuv irefvba jrag gur purnc ebhgr ol fhzznevmvat zbfg bs vg.) Hell, sometimes even in books exposition dumps can be clunky.

  48. arctic_hare says:

    Just one picture for you all today.

    Gandalf Comes to Hobbiton

    Oh, Mark. 😀 So adorable. So unprepared. You're pretty much right about everything, except for the things you got wrong. (I've missed doing that BWAHAHAHA.) This chapter is a pretty big info dump; I have not read the books in many, many years, so I was startled last night when I opened up the book and started my reread. Strangely, though, it's one of the few instances of that in fiction where it doesn't bother me. I think part of that is my interest in this world that Tolkien created, and the other half is how it's presented. Gandalf is telling you a story, and Gandalf is awesome. Also I can now hear his dialogue in the voice of the actor who portrays him in the movies, which is a lovely bonus, as I think that man has one of the most amazing voices I've ever heard. Plus, parts of it feel like a little story within the story, like the recounting of the tale of Smeagol and poor Deagol. OMG GOLLUM IS A HOBBIT. I remember being so stunned by that the first time I read it.

    Gandalf defends Gollum’s existence and it is a beautiful thing and I don’t care.

    Oh my stars and garters YES. Gandalf's dialogue about how you shouldn't be too quick to deal out death in judgment is one of my favorite quotes ever, not just from this series. It is a thing of beauty and I greatly appreciate Tolkien writing this portion and including that sort of philosophy in his novels. I love that the main characters of these books aren't these badass warrior dudes, but small hobbits who don't even want this sort of responsibility. But Bilbo rose quite admirably to it in The Hobbit, and we can see Frodo starting to do the same thing here when he says he'll guard the Ring, and that he'll go alone to get it out of the Shire. Gandalf is impressed, and so am I. Of course, it remains to be seen if he'll become as awesome as Bilbo did, but I think this is a great starting point with much potential. Good on him for taking this upon himself.

    I love Sam dearly. <3

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      I love the contrast between the very grim-looking Gandalf and the beautiful greenery around him in that picture. I find it amusing.

  49. bookworm67 says:

    "No, what are you doing??? If you leave, you won’t have a place in the plot!!!! THIS IS AN EPIC NOVEL WHERE ARE YOU GOING."

    Oh my god I now have this hilarious image in my head of Mark standing in the Shire shaking a finger and ordering them to GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW.

  50. ravenclaw42 says:

    Mark, you're OK to watch the Rankin/Bass Hobbit movie as of now! The info dump in this chapter contains the premise-spoiler I was thinking of. The only spoilery thing in the movie is Gandalf going "BTW Bilbo, that ring is VERY IMPORTANT AND PROBABLY EVIL and it is going to fuck up your life in the future!" Which we've now established. Otherwise, it's all crunchy Hobbit-y goodness!

    Nyfb, NUNUNUNUNUN V pna'g oryvrir Znex guvaxf gung gur irefr nobhg gur Evatf vf "yratgul." Junnng. Whfg jnvg hagvy "Rneraqvy jnf n znevare…" SBHE CNTRF.

    • Jenny_M says:

      Vg jnfa'g hagvy zl svsgu be fvkgu erernq bs gur obbxf gung V jnf yvxr "AB, Frys, lbh ner tbvat gb ernq NYY GUR QNZA FBATF" naq V znqr zlfrys qb vg. Fbzr bs gurz ner vagrerfgvat! Ohg zl rlrf fgvyy tynmr bire jura V frr gubfr vgnyvpf fgneg…

  51. wenuwish says:

    I just stepped out of the shower and my 'one ring' which I havent seen in a long while, was sitting on the floor right outside the bathroom… It's a sign. *Inglip face*

    So my LOTR story goes as follows: I was 10 when the first film came out, I begged my mum to go and see it, but she was worried it would be too scary so she decided to go with my dad, aunt and uncle to check it out first. She fell asleep. I managed to convince her to let dad take me and I'm glad I did because after seeing it I decided then and there that I wanted to work in the film industry. Fast forward 10 years and I'm just about to graduate from animation school.

    I also made the decision read the books before the last film was released. Unfortunately at the time I wanted to read them so I could say I'd read them, which I find is never a good way to read a book. It took me a long time but I did read them. I feel like I didn't read them properly though, it felt more like a task than something I was doing for enjoyment, so I think you have presented me with the perfect opportunity to start again Mark, thanks. Also, I opened my book yesterday and a high school timetable 2005 dropped out. It is time.

    PS: Mark, skip the trip to England and come and frolick on the party field down here in NZ with me. You know you want to.

  52. anghraine says:

    Yay, now we can quote the verse and talk about Gollum the Hobbit and all the things. Url, jura pna jr gryy uvz gung tboyvaf = bepf? V xabj Gbyxvra fnvq gur jbeqf ner vagrepunatrnoyr, ohg V qba'g guvax vg'f va gur obbxf…

    Oh, and your unpreparedness is glorious. Pna'g jnvg hagvy ur qvfpbiref gung Tnaqnys vf gbgnyyl yrnqvat gurz gb n ibypnab.

    "Why is he evil?"

    …Tbbq yhpx svthevat bhg gung bar. Naq uru, vg'f whfg fgehpx zr gung Znex unf ab vqrn gung abg bayl qb jr arire svaq bhg Fnheba'f zbgvingvbaf (V guvax rira gur trarevp 'Nvah fcvevg gelvat gb vzcbfr beqre ba n punbgvp jbeyq ol nal zrnaf arprffnel' vf sebz gur Fvy), jr arire rira FRR uvz, rire.

    "Gandalf defends Gollum’s existence and it is a beautiful thing and I don’t care."

    Oh, awesome — it's one of my favourite passages in, um, anything, and I was really hoping you'd like it! And you're excited, yay! (No pressure, though. We're just a tiny baby fandom and not desperately hoping you come to love our canon as much as we do, or anything.)

    • Erik says:

      Nobhg bepf=tboyvaf: zl obbxf ner ng ubzr naq V'z ng jbex, ohg V erpnyy guvf jnf npghnyyl zragvbarq va gur Uboovg. Gur zbarl dhbgr (cnencuenfrq) vf "Ur qvq abg xabj ubj snfg Tboyvaf geniry. Gur ovt barf, gur terng Bepf bs gur zbhagnvaf, …<something I can't remember>."

      Creuncf gung znxrf vg snve tnzr. Ba gur bgure unaq, Znex unf nfxrq hf abg gb erzvaq uvz bs guvatf, fb V yrnir vg hc gb gur whqtrzrag bs bguref.

  53. tardis_stowaway says:

    I love that one of the few things Mark knows about LotR is that one cannot simply walk into Mordor.

    Whfg jnvg hagvy ur svaqf bhg gung jnyxvat vagb Zbeqbe vf rknpgyl jung Sebqb naq Fnz qb. Jung n cnve bs ONZSf. 😉

  54. Appachu says:

    So I had a dream last night in which it was morning and I went to go check this site because you were scheduled to get to this chapter today and I've been waiting for this since "Riddles in the Dark." And I pulled up the site and I was all excited and instead there was a review of the second half of chapter 1. And I was really disappointed until I woke up and realized that no, you actually did the entire chapter 1 yesterday.

    My brain, ladies and gentlemen.

    Also, V ybir gung Znex xrrcf bofrffvat bire gur snpg gung lbh pna'g jnyx gb Zbeqbe jura gurl'er tbvat gb qb rknpgyl gung. 😀

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      Lrnu, V ybir gung gbb. Lbh PNA jnyx vagb Zbeqbe. Va snpg, gurl QB! Whfg tbrf gb fubj: Qba'g yvfgra gb Obebzve.

  55. Smurphy says:

    Question for the wise ones of Markreads. I noticed something on my second read and thought I'd get y'alls opinion on the matter.

    V'ir bayl ernq guvf bapr va zvqqyr fpubby naq sbe gur zbfg cneg zl ivrjf ba zbfg guvatf zvqqyr rnegu ner ynetryl funcrq ol gur zbivr.

    V nyjnlf oryvrirq gung Sebqb naq Fnz jrer gur orfg bs sevraqf, naq juvyr vg vf pyrne gung Sebqb vaqrrq unf n sbaqarff sbe Fnz… naq Fnz erirerf Sebqb. V jbhyq abg pnyy gurz sevraqf… Fnz vf Sebqb'f tneqrare. Lrf, gur snzvyvrf unir xabja rnpu bgure sbe lrnef naq gurl ner sevraq-yl ohg… abg sevraqf.

    Guvf 'snpg' gb gur orfg bs zl xabjyrqtr vf pbzcyrgryl ybbxrq bire va gur zbivr naq vf dhvpxyl bireybbxrq (naq evtugyl fb…) va gur obbx ohg V oryvrir, abj gung V unir orpbzr njner bs guvf, gung vg nqqf zhpu qrcgu gb Sebqb naq Fnz'f eryngvbafuvc.

    Jung qb lbh thlf guvax.

    • ljrTR says:

      Sebqb vf zhpu byqre guna Fnz. Fnz jbexf sbe Sebqb. Nf gur fgbel tbrf ba, V guvax gurl orpbzr nf rdhnyf. ohg va gur ortvaavat, Fnz vf qrsvavgryl bs n ybjre pynff guna Sebqb naq vf qrsreragvny gb uvz. Ur qbrfa'g npg nf na rdhny sevraq, nf Zreel & Cvccva qb.

      • Smurphy says:

        Vg arire rira bppheerq gb zr gung Sebqb jnf byqre. Gurfr yvggyr qrgnvyf frrz fb vasvavgryl vzcbegnag. JUL UNIR V ABG ERERNQ GUVF FBBARE!

      • shortstuff says:

        Gurl bayl fhogyrl ersrerapr vg va gur zbivrf, naq rira gura vg zvtug or n fgergpu. Fnz vf gur bayl bar bs gur uboovgf gb ersre gb Sebqb nf ZE. Sebqb. Rira ng gur raq jura Fnz pbzrf onpx gb erfphr uvz, ur fgvyy hfrf gung yvggyr ovg bs n gvgyr. Whfg zber sbbq sbe gubhtug.

    • roguebelle says:

      V guvax gurve eryngvbafuvc va gur obbxf vf qrsvavgryl pbybherq n ybg zber urnivyl ol gur pynff fgehpgher gung jnf fgvyy va cynpr va Ratynaq va gur zvq-20gu praghel. Fnz vf, va gung yvtug, n freinag, qrsvavgryl jbexvat-pynff, jurernf Sebqb vf bs gur uboovg irefvba bs gur yrvfher pynff. Gurl qbjacynl gung snveyl fvtavsvpnagyl va gur zbivr naq chg gurz ba zhpu zber rdhny sbbgvat, orpnhfr gung qlanzvp jbhyqa'g unir gur fnzr erfbanapr sbe zbqrea ivrjref. (Guvf vf abg gb fnl gung pynff fgehpgherf unir qvfnccrnerq ragveryl, ohg guvf fbeg bs vqrnyvfrq tragrry guvat vfa'g nf havirefnyyl cerinyrag).

      • Smurphy says:

        V nterr jvgu gung ybtvp ohg V guvax vg vf n uhtr guvat sbe gurz gb gnxr bhg bs gur zbivr. V guvax vg ernyyl erfbangrf jvgu jung gurve eryngvbafuvc vf sbhaqrq ba naq jung vg vf gb orpbzr.

        • Genny_ says:

          V nterr jvgu lbh. Gnxvat vg bhg vf jrveq, naq V xvaq bs guvax vg'f n ovg… jvzcl? Yvxr gurl pbhyqa'g dhvgr snpr hc gb vg. V'q unir ernyyl yvxrq gb frr gurz fubj vg crefbanyyl. Vs abguvat ryfr, vg xvaq bs znxrf gur snpg gung gurl'er fb pybfr ol gur raq bs vg nyy zber vzcnpgshy orpnhfr vg'f *va fcvgr* bs rirelguvat.

      • threerings13 says:

        Lrf, naq V oryvrir Gbyxvra fnvq gung gurve eryngvbafuvc jnf vafcverq ol gur eryngvbafuvcf orgjrra bssvpref naq gurve ongzra (crefbany freinagf) va JJV. (Ybeq Crgre Jvzfrl naq Ohagre, nalbar?)

    • Genny_ says:

      V guvax vg'f n (ng svefg abg nf cebzvarag nf vg orpbzrf yngre) sevraqfuvc gung vf trahvar ohg nyfb irel fgebatyl yvzvgrq ol gur pynff qvivqr gurl unir. Gurer'f n srryvat bs Fnz haqrefgnaqvat uvf 'cynpr' vf gb gerng Sebqb n pregnva jnl, naq irel yvggyr vf qbar gb punyyratr gung. Gurer'f n ovg bs na vzonynapr (jryy, zber guna n ovg), ohg gurer'f nyfb n ybg bs trahvar haqrefgnaqvat bs rnpu bgure, fb V qb srry gurl'er tbbq sevraqf. Vg'f whfg n pbzcyvpngrq sevraqfuvc gb onynapr, V thrff.

      • Dreamflower says:

        V nterr. V guvax gurl jrer sevraqf, ohg vg'f orvat sevraqf jvgu gur obff. Vg pna unccra– ohg vg'f orfg vs vg'f ybj-xrl. Vg'f abg yvxr gurl'q fbpvnyvmr n ybg be nalguvat.

        Naq Zreel naq Cvccva jrer uvf orfg sevraqf. Vg fnvq fb ng gur ortvaavat bs gur puncgre. Ohg Sebqb jnf zhpu byqre guna gurz nf jryy: 12 lrnef byqre guna Fnz, 14 lrnef byqre guna Zreel naq 22 lrnef byqre guna Cvccva. Ohg bs pbhefr, Zreel naq Cvccva jrer snzvyl nf jryy

  56. Aslee says:

    Not much to say, besides a quick question to those who have read the books and seen the movies.

    Fb, gur dhbgr: "Bar qbrf abg fvzcyl jnyx vagb Zbeqbe." Jnf gung bayl fnvq va gur zbivr, be jnf vg va gur obbx nf jryy? Naq jnf vg fnvq ol Obebzve obgu gvzrf? V nfx orpnhfr zl pbcl bs 'Sryybjfuvc' tbg genfurq va gur zbir. Gunaxf!

    • ljrTR says:

      whfg purpxrq 'Gur Pbhpvy bs Ryebaq' – gung dhbgr vf abg gurer. V guvax vg'f whfg sebz gur zbivr, naq tbg rira orggre xabja sebz shaal vagrearg cnebqvrf bs gung fprar.

  57. thesimplyuninspired says:

    SAAAAAAM SamSamSamSamSam (OK, no, we are not doing that, self. There will be plenty of opportunity to squeal over him later, so STOP.)

    AHAHAHA oh Tolkien and his verbosity. Strap yourself in Mark, it's a long ride.

  58. Genny_ says:

    Sam is so endearing, isn't he? I love him to bits here, he's so infectious and enthusiastic and joyful! I don't know, I just really like that he just LOVES ELVES SO MUCH, OKAY, SO MUCH. It's great.

    The passage of time blew me completely away when I read this. I am so used to things just happening consecutively *or* there being maybe a very specficially time-skip-y point partway through the book. For there to be such a big gap in *chapter two* strikes me as… daring, I suppose? I definitely enjoy it, and I think it makes the breadth of the book seem more impressive. Like certain narrative decisions in the Hobbit, it makes it feel like we're reading a history, rather than a story; it makes it seem as though it's a real world, one not tied to convenient narrative structure.

    Naq, bs pbhefr, vg'f jrveq nf uryy sbe zr nf fbzrbar jub jngpurq gur svyzf svefg.

    And… hahaha, yeah. When I read this chapter I just stared at all the words and went, 'WHAT AM I EVEN DOING HERE'. Tolkien loves his words, he does. But they really are very excellent words, at least, so I'm managaing. (Sort of.) (Maybe.) (Not… really.)

  59. MsSméagol says:

    A little off-topic, but is anyone else like SUPER MEGA EXTREMELY EXCITED ABOUT THE HOBBIT-TRAILER BEING RELEASED TONIGHT? It'll be released at 4 am local time, and I am totally setting my alarm 😀

  60. Becky_J_ says:

    Ok, this is probably totally unrelated to most things…. but my newest nephew was born today and his name is Samuel and I will forever call him SAM BECAUSE OF THIS BOOK AND I HOPE HE IS AS AWESOME AS SAM IS.

  61. maisontv says:

    SO MUCH EXPOSITION. I think this is where high school me gave up. Even now I kind of skimmed a little. Okay, a lot. Thankfully, having seen the movies allows me to do this and not miss much.

    – I love that Frodo just rolls with it. Keeps throwing birthday parties for Bilbo even though he has no clue where he is and has no inclination to go looking for him.

    – The book is very good at building up a sense that something is wrong in Middle-Earth. We get whispers and rumors, elves and dwarves suddenly leaving/migrating in large numbers, dark creatures appearing. One of the things that makes staying with Frodo and the hobbits in the Shire instead of following Gandalf so effective is that, knowing how sheltered the hobbits are from the rest of the world, it becomes much more meaningful when they start to hear these rumors, even if they don't pay them much heed. That's how serious it is.


    And now for some thoughts on how the book compares to the films:

    – Fvapr jr jrer ba zbivr gvzr naq gurl arire zragvba ubj zhpu gvzr unf cnffrq, V nffhzrq vg jnf znlor n pbhcyr bs zbaguf orgjrra gur cnegl naq Tnaqnys ergheavat jvgu gur vasbezngvba nobhg gur Evat. ABG FRIRAGRRA LRNEF JUNG GUR SHPX. Naq orpnhfr bs guvf vg nyfb qvq abg frrz ng nyy jrveq gb zr gung Sebqb fgvyy ybbxrq yvxr ur jnf va uvf yngr gjragvrf (UR'F SVSGL LRNEF BYQ?! Jung.) – jr tbg ab vapyvangvba gung gur Evat jnf univat nal fbeg bs rssrpg ba uvz hagvy ur jnf nyzbfg hapbafpvbhfyl grzcgrq gb chg vg ba jura gurl jrer uvqvat sebz gur Evatjenvgu ba gur ebnq.

    – V yvxr Sebqb naq Tnaqnys'f qvnybthr obgu nobhg univat gb qrny jvgu qnex gvzrf naq nobhg Tbyyhz, ohg V qb guvax cynpvat vg jura gurl'er va gur zvarf bs Zbevn va gur zbivr vf orggre cnpvat. Sebqb'f unq fbzr gvzr gb rkcrevrapr uneqfuvcf ba uvf wbhearl naq vg znxrf zber frafr sbe uvz gb pbzcynva nobhg vg gura.

    – Jr nyfb qvqa'g trg Tbyyhz'f onpxfgbel hagvy gur frpbaq zbivr (V guvax. Vg zvtug'ir orra gur guveq). V qba'g xabj vs Gbyxvra rire qbrf synfuonpxf, ohg V guvax vg jnf zber rssrpgvir gb unir n synfuonpx va gur zbivr naq frr vg unccra guna trg na vasb-qhzc sebz Tnaqnys urer va gur obbx.

    • t09yavosaur says:

      "I love that Frodo just rolls with it. Keeps throwing birthday parties for Bilbo even though he has no clue where he is and has no inclination to go looking for him. "

      Weird thing is that Frodo has the same birthday and people are still questioning the celebrations? Why is Frodo not allowed to add his Uncle's name to the banner.

  62. Rain says:

    Tolkien's approach to war, death, killing, etc., was very appealing to the youth of the anti-Vietnam War era. That, and the hobbits with their passion for jrrq naq zhfuebbzf, really made Lord of the Rings THE reading material for the hippie movement of the '60s and '70s. I think we all kinda felt like Frodo and Sam, and wished we had some wise Gandalf to be our mentor.

    I remember helping paint the stage backdrop for our senior-year homecoming program with ominous mountains, odd creatures and mushrooms, based loosely on the paperback covers of TLotR trilogy. Fun times.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I just need you to know I was reading your comment and got to the rot13 part and genuinely thought, "Wow, is that in another language?"

      My brain is tired forgive me

  63. Elexus Calcearius says:

    You know, I personally feel kind of bad that they're taking Sam along…he clearly has no idea what to expect, so it seems deceitful. But I suppose that's what character development will be for. (Hopefully, at least).

    Also, Mark, Orcs are a type of cake. They're made with cinnamon and apple. So, the fact they're multiplying is actually good!

    (Or maybe I'm just hungry. That's a possibility).

  64. tigerpetals says:

    I am here! Inevitable comparisons to the movie are inevitable, so unfortunately I must rot13. But before that.

    I noted that Smeagol's kind seems to be matriarchal. His grandmother makes family decisions, and he shakes his fist at the female sun. Of course that's what Gandalf said so I don't know if that's how Gandalf thinks instead, or hobbits. V qba'g guvax vg'f Tnaqnys'f oryvrs, orpnhfr gur fha vf traqreyrff nf sne nf V erpnyy naq Tnaqnys jbhyq xabj gung.

    Mark, the chapter says Sauron put a part of his power into the Ring. So he'd want it back.

    You not knowing what orcs are is funny because they're such a cliché by now. Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett has a great deconstruction of the concept along with that of football, the criticism of football, and the Romeo and Juliet story, which is awesome. Read it on your own sometime – it doesn't have any chapters to separate things anyway,

    "One cannot simply tank-cat into Mordor." This is PURE BEAUTY and I am sad to have missed the meme when it was popular. I wanted to insert a link just now, but most of the pictures I found are spoilery. So I'll link one image and then link the post that binds them all…with a YouTube video!… The innocent picture… The blog post… The video How do I get to Mordor?

    This reminds me that there is an unfinished project staging every scene of every chapter of LOTR with those candy Easter bunnies. Mark can read them. I can't find it right now though. Editing to say, here it is!
    Sadly, only Fellowship was ever completed. Every scene is staged with marshmellow peeps. You'd think it comical, and it can be, but it's also poetic and beautiful. With a quote from the chapter beneath each picture.

    Here's DM of the Rings, which Mark can't read. It's a comic using screencaps from the movie, with the characters as rpg players.
    So anyway, way to put a damper on the urgency at the end of the last chapter. Though I do like the description of what's being heard during that gap between then and Gandalf's visit of now, and Frodo's wandering the woods and fields in the moonlight. Of course Sam heard everything at the window. Like his father did last chapter for the party preparations.

    Gur zbivr fprar unq gb or zber hetrag bs pbhefr, juvpu erfhygf va vg univat n qnexre gbar ol abj. Ng guvf cbvag va gur obbx, juvyr gur urnivarff vf fgnegvat gb frggyr va, vg'f fgvyy abg ragveryl hetrag naq vzzrqvngryl yrnirarq jvgu Fnz. Bs pbhefr gur zbivr nyfb yrniraf guvatf, jvgu obgu Fnz naq Zreel naq Cvccva. V'ir urneq gurfr punenpgref jrer punatrq gb or zber pbzvp eryvrs sbe gur zbivr. Yrg'f frr.

  65. stefb4 says:

    Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
    Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
    Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die.
    One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
    In the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie.
    One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
    One Ring to bring them all and into the darkness bind them.
    In the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie.

    HELL YEAH STRAIGHT FROM MEMORY. One of my favorite passages….Mark you think this is lengthy? It's such a cool little poem that I don't mind at all. KEATS IS LENGTHY AND I HAD TO READ LOTS OF KEATS AND THOSE ARE POEMS.

    Also, here's a video of Tolkien reading the verse! STOP THE VIDEO AT 00:52, when he stops speaking, and you'll be able to avoid the links to the videos at the end (not very spoilery, but just to be safe).

    [youtube g3_2D_ErL_I youtube]

  66. RJM says:

    Hmmm. I THINK "orcs" might be the proper name for the "goblins" from The Hobbit? But I may be wrong.

  67. Smurphy says:

    I really think Mark needs a FAQ sheet with how his sites work. Intensedebate coding, a link to and the various spoiler sites that people have created. It should also include a dictionary of mark-isms.

  68. Beri says:

    Orcs are the same as goblins, it's just a different term for them. This is explained in the preface of the hobbit.

  69. MARK SAYS: "omg I am amazing."
    this is true

  70. AmandaNekesa says:

    Oh, Mark…I have been waiting so long for you to get to this chapter and this great info dump.

    Can I please retract a statement of mine from yesterday? Like…right now?

    Hahaha…yeah I was wondering how long that was going to last. It is Tolkien after all, and it wouldn't be the same without his talent for verbosity. I have to give Frodo a lot of props for being relatively level-headed, because if Gandalf suddenly came back after essentially disappearing for 9 years, and dropped this bomb on me, I think I would have flipped out a lot more. I mean, after all those years that Frodo has possessed the ring, suddenly Gandalf urges that it's not only corruptive but that every evil being ever will be looking for it, and him. Way to ruin everything, Gandalf, sheesh

    Like a lot of people have already mentioned, I agree that there are so many amazing quotes from this chapter. My favorite quote EVAR is the one with "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">

    Nygubhtu V jngpurq gur zbivrf orsber ernqvat gur obbxf, V YBIRQ gung gur zbivrf hfrq znal bs gurfr terng yvarf sebz gur obbxf. Gur fperrajevgref qvq na nznmvat wbo bs erpbtavmvat naq hfvat gur njrfbzr ovgf bs qvnybt sebz gur obbxf.

    V'z trggvat n ovg areibhf gung fbzr pbzzragf nobhg Znex yvxvat pregnva punenpgref pbhyq yrna gbjneqf orvat fcbvyrel orpnhfr vg vaqvpngrf gur punenpgre fubjf hc zhpu zber yngre va gur fgbel. Nentbea va cnegvphyne jbeevrq zr. Znlor V'z whfg orvat cnenabvq, ohg vg zvtug or fbzrguvat gb or pnershy jvgu.

    They were troubled, and some spoke in whispers of the Enemy and the Land of Mordor.

    OH NO, YOU CAN’T WALK THERE. So is that why they’re leaving?

    Hahaha…any time I see Mordor mentioned, I'm going to think that. Oh, oh no, you can't walk THERE. WAIT WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHERE ARE YOU GOING??? This totally made giggle to myself when I read this earlier on my lunch break. I'm sure I looked like a weirdo smiling and giggling to myself, just staring into my phone.

    But most important out of all of this is that the ring that Bilbo got from Gollum is THE Ring. The One Ring To Rule Them All ring. OH SHIT.

    Oooh Crap…
    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket">
    Mark, I will be saying this for awhile, but YOU ARE SO UNPREPARED, and it greatly amuses me.

  71. Dreamflower says:

    This chapter has several of my favorite quotes in it. Gandalf is so wise!

    I don't think this next part is spoilery unless Mark plans to read Tolkien's Letters:

    As to Father/Son moments with LotR, Tolkien and his son had them, sort of. Christopher was in the RAF by then, fighting as a WWII pilot. His father wrote him loads of letters to cheer him up, and sent him bits of the manuscript. We have dad's side of the letters, but not Christopher's.

    Don't read Letters, though until you've read everything else Tolkien wrote, because they are chuck full of spoilers.

  72. Depths_of_Sea says:


    It goes without saying that there are spoilers, so watch at your own risk.

    If you need me, I’ll be over there. Fangirling into oblivion.

  73. feminerdist says:

    Oh my god, this is literally the first nerd fantasy in history. I AM READING HISTORY.


  74. Barbara says:

    If you think the info dump is bad in LotR, you should read the Silmarilion. So much information!

  75. Parmadil says:

    I've been a reader of yours for quite some time, and only now got an account, just so I could tell you:

    Seriously, I read these books when I was 10, and I've been obsessed ever since.

    I can't wait to journey with you through this amazingly complex, glorious tale!!!

    Favourite quote: "Eavesdropping, sir? I don't follow you, begging your pardon. There ain't no eaves at Bag End, and that's a fact." <3 Samwise Gamgee!!

  76. platoapproved says:

    I had a feeling you might be retracting your statement about the density and amount of detail eventually, but I hadn't anticipated you doing it so *soon*.

    Re: Frodo's appearance, I remember how jarring it was to me–BACK IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS, WHEN I WAS SO YOUNG–seeing the promo photos of Elijah Wood for the first film, because he didn't look anything at all like the Frodo in my head did.

  77. kaleidoscoptics says:

    I managed to pick the audiobook for this from the library! Dunno if I'll be able to follow along or even find the rest of the books, but oh well. When I was in HS I tried to read this book at least twice. BOTH times, this chapter did me in. I got a few pages in and realized I had read the same exact page multiple times and still had no idea what it was talking about.

    The audiobook format is helping with that, but really the only reason I can puzzle most of it out is because I've seen the movie. I'm sorry, but I just cannot stand Tolkein's writing style. It is unbearably boring and the exposition is long-winded and unnecessarily convoluted. On one hand, I can get that it's supposed to leave you wanting so that you read more. But I want the Monty Python crew to come in and shout GET ON WITH IT.

    This isn't Tolkein's fault (at least not directly) but I'm getting bad Wheel of Time flashbacks from his narration, too. Just. Ugh. Get to the point already. I guess it's the Seinfeld Syndrome.

    Also. This is incredibly minor, but what the hell does Frodo do? Sam's his gardener, but does Frodo have a job? Maybe I just missed this part.

    Okay, so things I do like. Sam and Merry are pretty much great. I liked Gandalf's little speech about not wishing harm upon Gollum. It is interesting to go through the book and pick up on themes that are common throughout modern fantasy lit.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Frodo is gentry. He's the Master of Bag End and as Bilbo's heir, the head of the Baggins clan. Bilbo's left him plenty of money (even though he pretends he's run out) and he quite likely had an inheritance from his deceased parents as well. Gentry generally got their money from owning properties and collecting rents.

      Fcbvyre orpnhfr zbfg bs guvf qbrf abg pbzr va gvyy gur nccraqvprf va gur ynfg obbx, ohg uvf pbhfvaf Zreel naq Cvccva ner rira uvture hc ba gur fbpvny fpnyr guna Sebqb. Zreel (jub vf Sebqb'f pbhfva) vf gur fba naq urve bs gur Znfgre bs Ohpxynaq naq urnq bs gur Oenaqlohpx pyna naq Cvccva (jub vf nyfb uvf pbhfva) vf gur fba naq urve bs gur urnq bs gur Gbbx pyna, jub vf nyfb gur Gunva. Gur Gunva vf gur pybfrfg guvat gb n ehyre gung uboovgf unir. Fb Sebqb naq uvf snzvyl ner "oyhr-oybbqf" fb gb fcrnx.

      Zbfg bs guvf vasb vf va gur Snzvyl Gerrf.

  78. monkeybutter says:

    V ungr gb qb guvf, ohg V guvax Znex jngpurq gur genvyre, fb V'z qryrgvat guvf fb ur vfa'g pyhrq va gung gurer NER fcbvyref.

  79. Kiryn says:

    ARAGORN. ~spoilers follow~

    *juvzcref* Bu Ybeq unir zrepl ba zr, ohg juuuuuuuuuul qbrf vg unir gb gnxr lbh fb ybat gb fubj hc cebcreyl va gur obbx???? V JNAG ZL NENTBEA, GBYXVRA, FB CYRNFR TVIR UVZ GB ZR?? *fvtuf* Ng yrnfg bapr ur svanyyl unf gur qrprapl gb fubj hc, ur'yy or urer gb FGNL. *urnqqrfx* Slv: V jvyy or snatveyvat fb uneq jura ur fubjf hc va pu 10. Bu lrnu. 😉

  80. Majc says:

    From the Atlas of Middle-Earth, again, no one travels save for Gandalf going back and forth to Hobbiton from unnamed adventures and Frodo (and sometimes his close friends) going on short trips around the Shire.

  81. UnstrungZero says:

    sdogih;oigh;osidzhgoishzgsd Oh my god, I am catching up on the FotR posts, it has taken me this long because even though I said I wouldn't, I did indeed end up reading every comment on the Hobbit posts. *facepalm* And I'm just about to start reading the comments on this one, but I just have to say (if any other fans are still reading these comments), I'm listening to the LotR trilogy soundtracks as I read Mark's reviews, and as he was fanboying over the infodump and all "I AM READING HISTORY", Gur Yvtugvat Bs Gur Ornpbaf music came on and it was a GLORIOUS MOMENT in my head. <3

  82. catkinquill says:

    Mark Who Reads, I JUST started The Fellowship of the Ring the other day, and the fact that you are doing your Reading of it as well fills me to the brim with joy. This is going to be so exciting! I've got a bit of catching up to do, though. (I'm rereading it because I'm going to be the teacher's assistant for a class on Tolkien and his Influences, so go on, be jealous. :D)

  83. ladysugarquill says:

    Frodo at this point is a middle-aged man that only *looks* like he's 18. Also, he's "taller than some and fairer than most." I love that description, because part of makes awesome sense when compared with someting that's said in the Prologue.

    Also, Bilbo and Frodo are not only nephew and uncle, but more importantly, they're cousins, and best friends.

    How do dark wizards or lords get such huge, self-important titles if they’re so evil?

    They give them to themselves and sharpen their swords on anyone who don't like them XD

  84. Hailey says:

    you don't know who he is yet, but I just have to say, I was IN LOVE with Aragorn when I read these. Still am. he was my first ever crush and… ahhh, this brings back my childhood so much. :3

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