Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 3

In the third chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo is reluctant to leave the only home he’s ever known. When he finally gets the courage to do so, he finds out just how difficult his journey will be. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


It’s a good thing this is so entertaining and fascinating, because holy god this is so long. No, like…this is really awesome! I am enjoying myself! But these three chapters are some of the longest chapters I’ve ever covered for Mark Reads AND I STILL HAVE LIKE SIXTY MORE TO GO. Oh god, WHAT HAVE I GOT MYSELF INTO.

I did laugh when I immediately discovered that Frodo did not leave his home in Bag End at once. In fact, the few weeks that passed in the opening sentences is nothing compared to what he eventually agrees to. Still, it’s something that Tolkien conveys rather well, and I remember feeling a bit sad when Bilbo looked back on the Shire, not knowing if he’d come back. I understand, then, Frodo’s reticence when leaving his home for what might be a permanent vacation of sorts. He settles, though, on the day of his fiftieth birthday to…well, that’s actually a conversation that Frodo has to have. Where exactly is he supposed to go? For once, I don’t think Gandalf is being coy and ambiguous just for the sake of it. I don’t believe he knows what Frodo should do. How could you? It’s not like he can just draw him a map to the Cracks of Doom. (Whatever those are. Are they cracks in time? WATCH OUT YOU’LL BE ERASED.) In the end, he recommends that Frodo and Sam make for Rivendell. Which, by the way, excites Frodo because then he gets to introduce Sam to some Elves, and…well, we’ll get there in a bit.

What took me by surprise–as it did most of the Shire–was the announcement that Frodo would be selling his home in Bag End to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. I don’t know why I find this small bit of family politics to be so entertaining, but it might have to do with the fact that I have family members I dislike a great deal, and I continue to entertain some futile fantasy that I will one day get to scorn them like this. For Frodo, that’s part of the reasoning for moving, but it’s also to create a credible story for why he is suddenly moving away from Bag End. It’s an incredibly practical idea. If Sauron knows a hobbit in the Shire has his Ring or suspects it, creating this “story” allows Frodo and his friends to buy time and perhaps spare the hobbits in the process.

It makes me think about Frodo and Bilbo, and I can’t help but compare the two as they were introduced. Like most hobbits I have met so far, Bilbo was a bit stuffy, very comfortable living in his hobbit hole in Bag End, always content to do just what a hobbit was always supposed to do. Obviously, his character changed drastically over the course of The Hobbit, but what strikes me about Frodo is that his uncle’s affect on him can be seen in these small moments. There’s something noble and respectable about Frodo’s quiet, unspoken suffering. He does all of this to save hobbits. And half of them don’t deserve to be half as liked as they are! But he does it anyway. He sells his house to the worst relatives ever. (Well, just Lobelia, since her husband passed away by this time.) He sells a great deal of his possessions aside from the ones he’ll need on his journey. He agrees to set out into Middle-earth to go to strange and dangerous places, and all of this is done just to prevent someone he’s never met from destroying the Shire. Honestly, if Bilbo Baggins had been given this same task at the beginning of The Hobbit, I’m not sure he would have agreed to do it.

I didn’t realize that Gandalf was here the whole time, by the way. WHAT IS HE DOING. What do wizards do when they’re not doing wizard things? I mean, I know that Gandalf is way into hobbit history and hobbit-lore, but people think he’s a creepy weirdo, so it’s not like he just studies hobbits all day. OR DOES HE. oh god is he like a hobbit academic. Oh god now I really want to write Gandalf’s senior thesis on hobbit culture.

OKAY MOVING ON BECAUSE I COULD DO THIS ALL DAY. Gandalf takes off, promising to return on the night of his going-away party. Apparently, he has some urgent and creepy matter to attend to? The dude is one big mystery. I never feel like I know what he’s doing. But that’s actually a big plot point: Gandalf doesn’t return. And it starts to freak Frodo out. Understandably so, I might add, because when has Gandalf ever really been late? Frodo’s fiftieth birthday arrives and his possessions are carted away, and there’s no Gandalf. The feast happens, wine is drunk, the party ends, and there’s no Gandalf. I’m sure there aren’t other hobbits out there in Middle-earth. Maybe there’s some Dark Lord crap he’s doing? LOOK I DON’T KNOW.

The Sackville-Bagginses show up and are more annoying than ever before because some people are just like that! It happens! Come on, y’all have to know just one member of your family who experiences glee at the suffering of others. I can think of three with almost no effort at all. As far as I’m concerned, that’s who these characters represent.

For Frodo, I think it’s a little more personal. He’s leaving the home he’s known for decades, and he cares more about the feeling of the place than the physicality of it. He doesn’t strike me as a particularly materialistic hobbit, so I’m sure that deep down, he actually doesn’t mind giving all of this up to Lobelia. Instead, he feels sad to be leaving something so familiar:

Bag End seemed sad and gloomy and dishevelled. Frodo wandered round the familiar rooms, and saw the light of the sunset fade on the walls, and shadows creep out of the corners.

I like this image that the “light” and joy of Bag End is coming to a close along with his stay here. Is this clever foreshadowing? Or does it represent the light that Frodo brings to the place? Or am I being a fool and it’s just the sun setting? Which sort of reminds me of being in junior high English classes and having a teacher ask WHAT DOES THE BLUE DOOR REPRESENT. Um IT’S A GODDAMN BLUE DOOR so it clearly represents THE ONLY EXIT FROM THE ROOM. Okay, I’m jesting, since I’m the most pedantic person imaginable on this site, but what I am TRYING to say is that Tolkien does a fantastic job conveying the anxiety and sadness of Frodo leaving his home. Of course, Gandalf’s absence plays a part in that, but it’s a depressing moment for him!

That’s when Tolkien decides to increase the tension for a bit: Frodo overhears Sam’s father speaking with some unseen person, who’s ruthlessly questioning him about the location of Frodo Baggins. Already? Someone’s already come to find him?? SWEET SUMMER CHILD. Frodo doesn’t think to much of it, but knows that it’s time to leave the Shire. I was a bit confused how Pippin got added to the mix, though. I thought only Sam was coming along, but I guess there’s a third party now. Which is awesome! I don’t really know much about Pippin aside from the fact that he’s friends with Sam and Frodo. The more the merrier, I suppose. So the three hobbits begin their long walk out of the Shire:

As they began to climb its first slopes they looked back and saw the lamps in Hobbiton far off twinkling in the gentle valley of the Water. Soon it disappeared in the folds of the darkened land, and was followed by Bywater beside its grey pool. When the light of the last farm was far behind, peeping among the trees, Frodo turned and waved a hand in farewell.

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

Why is this like the saddest thing ever? Oh god, I hope this is in the movie because I’d love to see it onscreen. Actually, I know that Peter Jackson’s interpretation of The Fellowship of the Rings is generally pretty faithful, and I think it’ll help me visualize a lot of what happens here. There’s a lot of walking and hiking and jogging here as the trio continue to make their way east. It’s a few hours before they decide to rest for the night. And can we just talk about how amazing it is that for two paragraphs, Tolkien switches to the point of view of a passing fox? Who else would do that?

But…okay, look, I like this! It’s not changing my view of it, but I seriously could have used a break in the writing. In my head, I thought the first experience with the horse rider in black happened right after the trio wakes up to their first morning of the journey. But it’s pages later. So much is described in this chapter–all of it necessary, I might add–but it’s just….so long? I knew that getting into this novel, but dude needed an editor to cull something or at least split it up a bit better. Though…that doesn’t always necessarily work, and I don’t think books need chapters. But I won’t lie: this is a daunting task ahead of me, and I felt a bit weary. HOWEVER. Then the horse shows up and what the hell is going on. I mean: all-black horse, large man with black cloak and hood. And he can SMELL FRODO. What the holy fuck is this? Who is this? Is it even a man or is it like…a spirit who eats hobbits? Even worse:

A sudden unreasoning fear of discovery laid hold of Frodo, and he thought of his Ring. He hardly dared to breathe, and yet the desire to get it out of his pocket became so strong that he began slowly to move his hand.

NO WHAT ARE YOU DOING. Oh god I DON’T GET WHAT IS HAPPENING. I did laugh, however, when Frodo tells the others what happens and Sam very casually mentions that he totally knows who it is. Well, not the exact identity, but that it was the same person asking his father for Frodo the night before. OKAY. That’s really reassuring. But they don’t really have the time to sit and discuss the intricacies of this strange incident, so they continue pressing on eastward. There’s a lot more walking, and some more singing, more walking, and suddenly a three hour film seems like a minimal commitment.

BUT THEN FRODO HEARS HOOFS AGAIN. Oh shit, the dude is back. WHAT IS HE GOING TO DO THIS TIME. Oh, he’s going to be frightened off by Elves. And then this chapter is beautiful and nothing hurts because I remember Sam’s obsession with Elves. Well, first, the Elves (namely Gildor) recognize Frodo, though he swears he’s never met any of these Elves before. THAT’S COOL. And before Frodo can even get anything out of them about what’s going on, Pippin just blurts out about the Black Riders. LOL. I like Pippin already because he ADVANCES THE PLOT. Upon hearing this DIRE news, the Elves agree to take the three with them, whereupon Sam has the most adorable freakout of all time. It’s adorable because he is shocked into silence. I mean, this is a huge deal to him! Not only does he get to see Elves, he gets to HANG OUT WITH THEM FOR AN EXTENDED LENGTH OF TIME. This is totally what Almost Famous was inspired by, right?

But here Frodo learns that his secret isn’t entirely secret anymore, and Gildor knows that there’s some reason why the Dark Lord might be seeking out this little hobbit from Bag End. Of course, he has no knowledge of the Ring itself, but whatever is brewing in Middle-earth has caught the attention of many of its inhabitants.

I’m confused as to why Gildor refuses to disclose the true nature of the Black Riders, deferring to Gandalf instead. Who, by the way, is ridiculously late at this point, and that is not a good thing. Why are they so horrible that Gildor won’t say anything beyond stating that they are horrifying? At the very least, though, the Elves have accompanied them this far, and though they are parting the next morning, Gildor promises to send word that Frodo may need help if others come upon him.


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

374 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 3

  1. Jenny_M says:

    Can…can we have a thread for talking about the trailer for The Hobbit with all relevant parts rot13-ed? Because, you guys…

    <img src=""&gt;

    • @ChloeKEvil says:

      I sniffled a little, I will admit it. And flailed. And holy god I want it so bad why is it not next December yet???

      Also, major props to the Lonely Mountain Male Chorus.

      • Saphling says:

        The song made me cry. It was exactly as I'd heard it in my head.

      • Jenny_M says:

        Heh, whenever I read the songs in the books I hear a jaunty tune in my head, and then PJ and co turn them into appropriately beautiful interpretations and I am like…why, self? WHY THE JAUNTY TUNES?

        • cait0716 says:

          I always tend towards jaunty tunes, too. I think it's easier to sort of read-chant them that way, which makes it flow, but also go by fast enough that I can get back to the plot

        • @ChloeKEvil says:

          V qb gur fnzr qnza wnhagl guvat. Va guvf puncgre, jura Sebqb jnf fvatvat gung jnyxvat fbat V jnf fvatvat nybat wnhagvyl va zl urnq, naq gura vg tbg gb gur svany fgnamn naq fhqqrayl, V unq CW'f ghar! Juvpu vf zhpu orggre, ohg fb fnq!

          • Jenny_M says:

            V ybir ubj va Cvccva'f fbat va gur zbivr gurl znqr vg guvf ornhgvshy ynzrag sbe Ovyyl Oblq gb fvat naq gbgnyyl yrsg bhg gur ynfg yvar nobhg ubj vzcbegnag vg vf gb unir zrng naq oernq, yby.

        • monkeybutter says:

          I do the same thing! I was so surprised by Thorin's somber singing, but now I love it more than the upbeat song that I had imagined.

        • Depths_of_Sea says:

          Va gur Ybeq bs gur Evatf enqvb qenzn, vg jnf nyzbfg gur pbzcyrgr bccbfvgr sbe Fnz'f fbat va Pvevgu Hatby. V unq vzntvarq vg nyy zbheashy naq cbrgvp naq gurl jrag fbzrguvat qrpvqrqyl wnhagl.

          Fgvyy yvxr zl urnq irefvba orggre.

        • threerings13 says:

          Me too. The song totally made me tear up.

        • ladysugarquill says:

          One thing I didn't like is related to this – the whole thing was just so sombre. The book is a funny mess, specially at the beginning, but the movie looks all dark and solemn… The song, for example, in my head it was an energetic battle tune, but in the trailer it sounds so sad…

      • Dru says:


    • Saphling says:



    • knut_knut says:


    • enigmaticagentscully says:


      Frevbhfyl gubhtu. Jung. V'z abg rira fbeel.

      • Jenny_M says:

        LOL I was like…tvey…ner lbh syvegvat jvgu Tnaqnys? Pna V trg ba guvf fuvc orsber vg fnvyf?

        • enigmaticagentscully says:

          Senaxyl V'z fhecevfrq gung Znex vfa'g yvxr 'Jub vf guvf fvapr jura qvq Tnaqnys unir n tveysevraq??' Orpnhfr gung'f gbgnyyl jung vg ybbxf yvxr gb fbzrbar jub qbrfa'g xabj gur punenpgref.
          Unfa'g ur jngpurq gur genvyre? V'z cerggl fher ur fnvq ur qvq ba Ghzoye…

          • Jenny_M says:

            Bu, obb. V zrna, vg'f tbbq gung ur tbg gb jngpu vg, ohg V jvfu fbzrbar pbhyq unir znqr n Znex-sevraqyl irefvba jvgu gur Oynapurgg cnegf phg bhg. Bu, naq gur funeqf bs Anefvy.

      • Becky_J_ says:

        BXNL. Lbh unq n inyvq ernfba. GUNG JNF FBZR PNERFF. yvxr…. jung???

        • Jenny_M says:

          V ybir ubj gbhpul-srryl Pngr cynlf Tnynqevry. Yvxr jura fur jnf tvivat xvffrf naq uhtf gb nyy gur uboovgf jura gurl jrer yrnivat Ybguybevra va gur RR bs Sryybjfuvc. Vg oevatf fhpu n uhznavgl gb jung pbhyq or n irel qrgnpurq naq rgurerny punenpgre. Juvpu vf shaal orpnhfr fur'f abg n uhzna ohg…jryy. Lrnu.

          • enigmaticagentscully says:

            Vg'f boivbhf ng guvf cbvag gung V nz n uhtr fgna sbe gur svyzf, ohg V unir gb nqq gung cerggl zhpu nyy gur pnfgvat jnf VACFVERQ.
            Ab…npghnyyl whfg nyy bs vg. V ernyyl pna'g guvax bs n fvatyr crefba jub jnf zvfpnfg va gubfr zbivrf. Pngr Oynapurgg vf ab rkprcgvba – yvxr lbh fnvq, fur tnir guvf frafr bs orvat vaperqvoyl jvfr naq cbjreshy, znlor rira qnatrebhf, ohg fgvyy jnez naq pbzcnffvbangr.

            • Jenny_M says:

              V fgvyy frrgur jura V guvax bs nyy gur Vagrearg-ungr gung jnf cvyrq ba cbbe Yvi Glyre sbe qnevat gb or pnfg nf n punenpgre gung jnf orvat tvira n orrsrq hc ebyr va gur svyz fb gur qrnegu bs jbzra jbhyqa'g or fb cebzvarag. V unir n sevraq jub jnf qbvat zbivr erivrjf ng gur gvzr, naq fur jrag gb n ebhaqgnoyr vagreivrj jvgu Yvi naq Beynaqb, naq fbzr wnpxnff npghnyyl gbyq Yvi gung ur jnf bar bs gur pevgvpf ba gur arg jub fgnegrq ungvat ba Nejra jura ure pnfgvat jnf naabhaprq.

              Nccneragyl Yvi jnf irel tenpvbhf nobhg vg naq whfg qvqa'g erfcbaq gb gur thl, ohg JUNG NA NFFSNPR, EVTUG?

              Htu, zl Nejra ybir vf cher, naq V znl be znl abg unir fcrag gvzr nf na ALH fghqrag svaqvat jnlf gb zrrg Yvi Glyre fvapr fur yvirq pybfr ol.

              • shortstuff says:

                Rinatryvar Yvyl vf nyernql trggvat ungr ba gur VZQO obneqf sne qnevat gb or pnfg nf n znqr hc punenpgre. Gur Uboovg unf abg n fvatyr srznyr punenpgre, fb nqqvat na Rys jub'f n tvey juvyr va Zvexjbbq be fbzrguvat frrzf bx. Nf jr'ir frra jvgu Tnynnqevry, lbh pna unir cbjreshy srznyr punenpgref, gurer whfg nera'g n ybg bs gurz. Uru, V guvax Znex jvyy ybir ure. V trg gur srryvat gung rira gubhtu vg'f Pryrobea naq Tnynqevry jura gurl'er vagebqhprq, fur gbgnyyl jrnef gur cnagf va gung eryngvbafuvc. Be ng yrnfg gur evat =c

                Onpx gb gbcvp, cbbe Rinatryvar gubhtu! V guvax fur'yy znxr n tbetrbhf rys!

                • Jenny_M says:

                  Jura V svefg fnj gur zbivrf, rira nf n sna bs gur obbx, V nffhzrq gung Pryrobea jnf whfg bar bs Tnynqevry'f ybjre ryirf fgnaqvat nebhaq jvgu ure. GUNG VF UBJ NJRFBZR TNYNQEVRY VF. Yngre ba V jnf yvxr…yby, bbcf, gung jnf Pryrobea. Zl onq, qhqr.

      • knut_knut says:

        unun V pbhyqa'g svther bhg vs gurl jrer syvegvat be vs fur jnf orvat zbgureyl be vs gurl'er whfg ossf jub ab ybatre unir nal frafr bs crefbany fcnpr

        Is Mark not going to watch the trailer? Is that why we’re rot13-ing trailer spoilers? I don’t know what I’m doing!

        • Jenny_M says:

          Ur qbrfa'g xabj jub Tnynqevry vf, fb jr'er abg gnyxvat nobhg ure fcrpvsvpnyyl. V guvax ur zvtug unir frra gur genvyre, ohg vg qbrfa'g rkcyvpvgyl cbvag bhg jub fur vf.

        • pennylane27 says:

          He said on Tumblr he was going to watch it, but I doubt he'll understand the parts that are spoilery, so that's why we have to rot13 those parts.

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:




          • Jenny_M says:

            When the movies were first coming out, they attached a teaser trailer for The Two Towers to the end of Fellowship. So it was like being served a three course meal and then someone comes out with the world's best pie/cake-type thing and being like "LOL HERE'S A BITE. SEE YOU IN A YEAR, JERKS!"

            • Char says:

              Did you get to see the touring exhibition of the props and costumes before Fellowship came out? The version I saw dressed an entire faux-olde style mansion like a museum of Middle Earth stuff. (And I'd thought the *trailer* was exciting.)

              Gurl'q rira qbar hc gur ubgry ebbz ng gur Cenapvat Cbal jvgu gbea cvyybjf naq srnguref rireljurer… rgp.

          • tanbarkie says:


            *remembers the interminable waits between FOTR, TTT, and ROTK*



          • Dru says:

            I don't know what side of me is doing a bigger gleeful dance: my Middle-Earth-loving side or the Sherlock geek who is just dying at the sight of Martin Freeman. (Bilbo is TOTALLY doing a Watsonface at Gandalf! And Benedict Cumberbatch SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE – ok, I'll save it for later)

      • threerings13 says:

        No shit. What was that? I don't know, but I WANT MORE OF IT. /Gandalf fangirl

    • Pt_0 says:

      I know, everything looks so good!! <3<3<3

      Why can't it be next year already??

      Most coherent thought after watching: Richard Armitage can sing??

    • Smurphy says:

      V'z rkpvgrq. N ovg gbb zhpu YBGE va gurz sbe zl gnfgr ohg… FGVYY cerggl qnza rkpvgrq. Jura Tnaqnys jnf vagebqhpvat nyy gur qjneirf zl rzbgvbaf jrer yvxr gung tvs.

    • Depths_of_Sea says:

      I almost teared up hearing the Shire theme at the beginning there. And seeing Hobbiton and Bag End again. And young Frodo looking so carefree and happy.


      Just… too much nostalgia and too many emotions.

    • hpfish13 says:

      Wow!!! I am weepy and emotional out of shear anticipation! Can it be December 2012 now?

    • Zoli says:

      OMG I KNOW. I watched and was like 'I remember! Middle-Earth, I REMEMBER YOU." I want to be there right now.

      I had forgotten how fucking fantastic everything in relation to those movies was. I'm suddenly disappointed I have a party to go to tonight because I want to go home and watch Fellowship right this very second.

    • MsSméagol says:

      At first I was like, "Hmmmmm", but then (as several people have already pointed out), when the dwarves started singing, I was like "OMG IT FEELS LIKE COMING HOME!!! HOWARD SHORE* HAS DONE IT AGAIN!!!". And Martin Freeman seems perfect as Bilbo! And we got a glimpse of Frodo! AND GOLLUM!!!

      *heh, at first I accidentally wrote Howard Whore. LOL.

      • Jenny_M says:

        Lol well in the sense that I have gladly paid money for him to set my loins afire with his gut-wrenching scores…I guess that fits?

        (Oh, mental images, you are a delight.)

    • shortstuff says:

      I love that they introduced each dwarf by name, even in the trailer. It sets the scene for this being a huge ensemble cast, and I think each dwarf will get a fair amount of screen time. When I first read the book, I kinda skimmed over all the dwarves, blending them all into background characters, so I'm glad they get highlighted in the movie.

    • arctic_hare says:

      SO BEAUTIFUL. SO PERFECT. I swear, I was welling up all over the place, just at the MUSIC and seeing those places and characters again. :'( I need that movie NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW.

    • threerings13 says:

      Is it just me, or have the effects gotten even better since LOTR? I really thought the digital effects couldn't get better, but then this trailer was SO PRETTY.

      • Jenny_M says:

        I am so, so excited to see what they do with Gollum. That part at the end creeped me out in the best possible way. Also, Smaug MUST be badass. Not the least because of the Cumberbatch.

        • shortstuff says:

          OMG Smaug! I didn't even realize he wasn't in the trailer, I was so caught up in everything else that was included. I hope we get to see some of him in the first movie, in an exposition scene or flashback or something. I don't know where exactly they're splitting the book up.

          Related news: Rise of Planet of the Apes is coming to pay per view, and the preview for it showed behind the scenes of how Andy Serkis portrayed Caesar, and mentioned WETA and the special effects, and I had a fangirl attack. I scared my mom by jumping around in my seat explaining how LOTR made it all possible. Siriusly, they either invented, revolutionized, or improved existing technology to the point of it being affordable and mainstream. Any time I see a huge animated battle scene, I go, Yep, WETA probably invented the algorithm for all that action.

        • Dru says:

          Also, Smaug MUST be badass. Not the least because of the Cumberbatch.

          I realise this was probably NOT Peter Jackson's intention at all, but this trailer made me as happy for Sherlock as it did for the thing it actually is.

      • sporkaganza93 says:

        Well, it's been a decade since Fellowship, so… yeah, the effects probably did get better.

        • Genny_ says:

          I'm more surprised at how *little* a gap there seems to be- it says a lot that a decade on, the original films hold up more or less perfectly, and not *that* much had to be improved. (It also means they'll have a consistent look between them all, which is nice.)

          • notemily says:

            It's because they were SO AWESOME at it. They didn't rely just on computer effects–they also used miniatures and bigatures and such, which I think is the way to go these days–a mix of the two. Make real anything you can make real, and computerize the rest.

    • nanceoir says:

      Seriously, I know I watched the trailer at least half a dozen times, and I plan on watching it some more (possibly going through frame by frame). I never watch trailers this many times.


    • Parmadil says:

      Now when I picture the dwarves and co. in Guenaqhvy’s palace, I just see Bilbo going, “Excuse me, Mr. Elf King, sir? I’m not actually with them, I just came to worship you…”
      In a dressing gown.
      With a towel.

    • tardis_stowaway says:

      That gif perfectly encapsulates 99% of my reactions. It's all the people I know and all the people I don't know as well yet and the music and gorgeous Middle Earth scenery and OMG WHY IS A YEAR SO LONG??!!??

      The other 1% of my reaction is hearing Martin Freeman speak and thinking, "John Watson, what are you doing in Middle Earth? Hmmm, maybe that wound isn't from Afghanistan but a trip to the Lonely Mountain."

  2. enigmaticagentscully says:

    YAY! So excited because I pulled the 5:30am shift today which means for once I AM ACTUALLY HERE FOR THE REVIEW AT TWO!!!!

    Oooh having read this chapter at work this morning, I have to say that the black riders are supremely creepy. I love this kind of mounting sense of unease…it all starts to go a little wrong when Gandalf doesn't show up, and then there's mysterious people asking for Frodo, and then they seem to be being followed…


    • flootzavut says:

      I have to wait to get home to see the trailer because my mum is low on bandwidth this month. I may die from suspense!

      The black riders are the creepiest thing ever. VZB rfcrpvnyyl jura lbh svaq bhg zber nobhg gurz… gurl whfg trg perrcvre naq V guvax gurl tvir zr gur perrcf rira zber guna gur Qrzragbef qb. V gubhtug gurl jrer terng va gur zbivr, naq V guvax gurl'er npghnyyl perrcvre ba ubefrf guna ba gur sryy ornfgf.

    • notemily says:

      You need to update your Mark Does Stuff Status because from this comment I have no idea whether you've read LOTR or not!

  3. Becky_J_ says:

    I feel like before this chapter, we were teetering on the edge of a great adventure. Yes, the story had begun, but it had not begun. Now, it starts. Mark, I don't think you truly understand just what you're beginning here. You will never really be the same. Seriously.

    Notes for this chapter:

    1. "And you must go, or at least set out, either North, South, West or East." GEE. THANKS GANDALF. YOU ARE SUPER HELPFUL.
    2. Ok, Tolkien. Here's the thing. We have talking birds, we have talking foxes, but we still don't have any freaking talking ponies. Don't be a talking animal bigot, Mr. Tolkien!
    3. SAM GETS TO MEET HIS ELVES. Awesome. I really really didn't remember there being elves this early in the story. I mean, you guys, we're only on chapter three.
    4. "Has Gandalf told you nothing?" NO. NO HE HASN'T. I mean. Okay, he spent the entire last chapter on an infodump, fair enough, BUT HE FAILS TO MENTION SOME IMPORTANT THINGS. Like what the Black Riders are. IMPORTANT FACT THAT I FEEL LIKE FRODO WOULD LIKE TO KNOW GANDALF.
    5. Yeah, okay, I JUST WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON. . I feel like you'll be saying this a lot. And….well… good luck with that, Mark. Mwahahah

    Also, ohmygod you guys, THE TRAILER FOR THE HOBBIT CAME OUT. If you haven't seen it, you have to watch it…. it gave me chills!!!

    [youtube JTSoD4BBCJc youtube]

  4. pennylane27 says:

    jura unf Tnaqnys rire ernyyl orra yngr?


    Jryy, ur neevirf cerpvfryl jura ur zrnaf gb, rkprcg va guvf pnfr.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:


    • Saphling says:

      I couldn't help but think that every time Mark mentioned it. What do you mean ur'f yngr? N JVMNEQ VF ARIRE YNGR, ZNEX BFUVEB.

      Except in this case.

      • Ryan Lohner says:

        And that line is actually pure Peter Jackson. It just fits in so well that it seems like it's from the book.

        • flootzavut says:

          I am constantly surprised and delighted, when reminded, how well the writers got into the characters, so that even the stuff they made up frequently felt so Tolkienesque that it can be a susprise to realise it's not from the books.

          • notemily says:

            In most cases. (Yrg'f uhag fbzr bep, anybody?)

            • flootzavut says:

              LOL fair point – though must confess I have a strange affection for that line. Please don't ask me why, I don't know, I think it just makes me laugh. V guvax gung yvar vf znlor zber Qvr Uneq guna Gbyxvra… But hey. They did a good job in so many places I can generally forgive the slips ๐Ÿ™‚

    • echinodermata says:


  5. Sinnive says:

    It's great that they left the dishes for Lobelia!

  6. Jenny_M says:

    I had forgotten how long this chapter was. I've forgotten a lot of things because I usually don't read the books in chapters, I just read them until my eyes start to close and I pick them up the next morning. So yeah.

    Vg erzvaqf zr bs gur snpg gung jr unir gb trg guebhtu sevttva' Gbz Obzonqvy orsber jr znxr vg gb nal bs gur sha fghss jvgu Fgevqre naq riraghnyyl trggvat gb Eviraqryy naq gur Pbhapvy naq FVTU. V rawbl gur Obzonqvy fghss ohg V guvax vg pbhyq unir orra vgf bja yvggyr obbx vafgrnq bs orvat cneg bs guvf bar naq V'z abg fbeel gung gurl phg vg bhg bs gur zbivr. Va snpg, V erzrzore jura V jnf yvggyr naq gevrq gb trg guebhtu gur obbxf gur svefg gvzr, Obzonqvy vf jurer V tnir hc orpnhfr V jnf yvxr…GUVF FRRZF VEERYRINAG GB ZL VAGRERFGF.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      V hfhnyyl fxvc gur Obzonqvy fghss gurfr qnlf. Vg'f abg ONQ ohg vg whfg qbrfa'g svg va gb nalguvat ryfr. Vg'f n cbvagyrff yvggyr fhocybg whfg gb tvir Gbyxvra n punapr gb gnyx nobhg uvf vqrnf ba angher be jungrire.
      Phggvat Gbz bhg bs gur zbivrf jnf gur orfg guvat gurl rire qvq, naq bar bs gur ernfbaf V npghnyyl cersre gur svyzf gb gur obbxf. V guvax gurl qvq fhpu n tbbq wbo va gevzzvat gur sng ohg xrrcvat rirelguvat V ernyyl jnagrq gb frr.

    • @ChloeKEvil says:

      Vg'f bqq, V srry yvxr zr naq zl snzvyl unir unq gur bccbfvgr ernpgvba gb Obzonqvy bs, bu, RIRELBAR V'IR RIRE GNYXRQ GB.

      Jr ybir gung thl. N ybg. V rira znqr hc zhfvp gb jnl gbb znal bs uvf fbatf naq gnhtug gurz gb zl naablvat pbhfvaf gb naabl crbcyr.

      Naq gur Oneebj-jvtug jnf fhcre pbby naq FHCRE-PERRCL. Fb, lrnu, V ybir gung cneg bs gur obbx rira gubhtu ab bar ryfr qbrf.

      • Jenny_M says:

        V trg gbea orpnhfr V qb yvxr Obzonqvy naq jung ur ercerfragf, V whfg…znlor jbhyq abg unir chg uvz va guvf cnegvphyne obbx naq tvira uvz n obbx bs uvf bja orpnhfr ur frrzf yvxr n pbby qhqr ohg…abg jura gurer ner Pbhapvyf bs Ryebaq gb trg gb.

      • enigmaticagentscully says:

        V qb npghnyyl yvxr gur Oneebj Qbjaf fghss va bs vgfrys, vg whfg nyjnlf sryg n yvggyr enaqbz gb zr. Gbz Obzonqvy whfg fbeg bs…jryy V qba'g trg uvz. V thrff vg nyjnlf naablrq zr orpnhfr pbzcnerq gb gur bgure punenpgref jr zrrg ur frrzrq n yvggyr gbb…fvyyl? VQX.

        • msw188 says:

          V guvax, sebz gur cbvag bs ivrj bs gur jevgvat, gur Byq Sberfg naq Obzonqvy srry yvxr n ubyq-bire sebz gur Uboovg fglyr, jvgu yvggyr zvav-nqiragherf fcevaxyrq urer naq gurer. Va gur cbvag bs ivrj bs gur birenepuvat aneengvir, gurl nera'g ernyyl arrqrq, nfvqr sebz gur punenpgre tebjgu bs Sebqb ng gur oneebj. Sebz gur cbvag bs ivrj bs Gbyxvra gelvat gb pbairl n zrffntr, ubjrire, Obzonqvy (naq gur qvfphffvba nobhg uvz ng gur Pbhapvy) vf irel vzcbegnag.

          Va zl bcvavba, univat guvf cneg vf svar, ohg 3 puncgref vf n ovg zhpu.

          • Jenny_M says:

            Bu tbq, vg'f guerr puncgref!?! V sbetbg nobhg gung. Gung'f yvxr gur orggre cneg bs n jrrx ba Obzonqvy.

          • shortstuff says:

            Qrsvavgryl jung V jnf tbvat gb nqq, nobhg gur zvav nqiragherf naq fghss. Naq jura V tbg byqre naq erernq gur Oneebj Qbjaf, Gbz fubjvat hc whfg frrzrq n yvggyr qrhk rf znpuvan gb zr. Lrf, vg'f rkcynvarq irel jryy, ohg whfg fvat naq guvf thl jvyy pbzr erfphr lbh, fnir lbhe cbavrf, naq yrg lbh eha nebhaq anxrq va gur fhafuvar?

            Ubjrire, V qb yvxr gung gur zbivr nqncgrq gur Byq Zna Jvyybj fprar vagb n fprar jvgu Gerrorneq va gur Rkgraqrq Rqvgvba. Nabgure rknzcyr bs ubj gur zbivr xrcg gur rffrapr naq fcvevg bs Zvqqyr Rnegu nyvir, rira juvyr gurl jrer rqvgvat guvatf yvxr penml.

      • pennylane27 says:

        Lbh'er abg nybar! V npghnyyl yvxr gubfr cnegf gbb!

      • V yvxr Obzonqvy! Ohg V qba'g zvaq gung ur jnf phg. V'z bar bs gur obbx chevfgf jub npghnyyl qbrfa'g zvaq gung ur jnf phg bhg. Gurer jnf whfg ab jnl lbh pbhyq unir fghpx uvz va gurer jvgubhg pbashfvat gur uryy bhg bs gur pbafvqrenoyr nhqvrapr jub unqa'g ernq gur obbxf. Ohg V fgvyy rawbl uvf ovgf, zbfgyl orpnhfr V arrqrq n oernx sebz gur avtugzner shry gung jnf Byq Zna Jvyybj. Oyru. Ungrq gung thl *fuhqqref*

        • pennylane27 says:


        • ChloeKEvil says:

          Byq Zna Jvyybj jnf perrcl nf shpx. V tbg bire Obzonqvy'f nofrapr sebz gur zbivrf nsgre n juvyr, ohg V jnf ernyyl qvfnccbvagrq ng svefg- ohg ur vf onfvpnyyl rkgenarbhf gb gur fgbel, rira vs ur'f snfpvangvat naq xvaq bs jrveq.

      • threerings13 says:

        Nsgre gur zbivrf, V raqrq hc yvxvat gur cnegf bs gur obbxf gung JRERA'G va gur zbivrf dhvgr n ovg zber. Fb gur Obzonqvy fghss vf pbby gb zr.

        • ChloeKEvil says:

          V jnf fb qvfnccbvagrq gung ur jnfa'g va gur zbivrf! V jnf entvatyl natel nsgre gur svefg gvzr V fnj vg. V pbhyq frevbhfyl enag sbe svsgrra zvahgrf be fb nobhg WHFG GUNG.

          Zl puvyqubbq nf na YbgE fgna…

      • Jason says:

        LNNNNNNL V nz fb tynq fbzrobql ryfr'f snzvyl ybirf uvz! Vg znxrf zr fnq jura crbcyr ungr ba uvz fb zhpu, V jnf oebhtug hc va n angher-ybivat snzvyl. Zl zhz'f snibhevgr guvatf va YBGE jrer gur Ragf, naq vg jnf fur jub tbg zr ernqvat Gbyxvra. Ubbenu sbe bgure crbcyr jub ybir uvz!

        • ChloeKEvil says:

          V guvax zl snzvyl whfg unq n irel fgenatr frafr bs uhzbhe, gubhtu jr jrer yvivat ba n snez ng gur gvzr. Jr nyfb gbgnyyl ybirq gur Ragf! Zna, jub qbrfa'g ybir Ragf? Gurl'er gur orfg.

    • Pt_0 says:

      V npghnyyl qba'g erzrzore nalguvat nobhg Gbz Obzonqvyy rkprcg sbe gur snpg gung gur ragver frpgvba naablrq zr. Abg orpnhfr vg jnf onq, ohg orpnhfr V jnagrq gb trg gb gur cybg, naq guvf sryg yvxr n haarprffnel ebnqoybpx.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Bu Tbq, Znex vf tbvat gb or FB PBASHFRQ nobhg Obzonqvy. Gurer unir orra fb znal qrongrf naq qvfphffvbaf nobhg jub ur npghnyyl vf – V guvax gur gjb zbfg cbchyne gurbevrf ner gung ur'f rvgure n) n Znvn (naq Tbyqoreel, gbb), be o) ur'f npghnyyl Vyúingne uvzfrys va n syrfu obql (guvf fgrzf sebz gur snpg gung ur'f pbzcyrgryl hanssrpgrq ol gur Evat).

      • pennylane27 says:

        Lrnu, V jnf jbaqrevat nobhg gung. Znex'f tbvat gb nfx hf gb gryy uvz vs vg'f abg fcbvyrel, naq jr'yy whfg unir gb tb jvgu "gurer'f ab qrsvavgr nafjre gb gung, fbeel!"

      • shortstuff says:

        V unir n Gbyxvra Orfgvnel gung yvfgf Obzonqvy nf n Znvn, ohg V oryvrir vg'f n guveq cnegl jbex, abg jevggra ol nal bs gur Gbyxvra'f, fb gnxr vg jvgu n tenva bs fnyg, vs lbh jvyy.

    • nanceoir says:

      Orvat n sna bs gur zbivrf, V'ir orra urnevat nobhg Gbz Obzonqvy sbe lrnef, ohg univat abg ernq gur obbxf, V unir ab vqrn nobhg uvz. Fb V'z svaqvat gung V'z vagevthrq gb svanyyl ernq jung uvf qrny vf.

  7. @ChloeKEvil says:

    You are SO NOT PREPARED.

    On a side note, I'm really enjoying reading through this again at such a leisurely pace. Reading one chapter every night has become a really calming thing to do before bed.

    Abg gung V'z tbvat gb ernq N Xavsr Va Gur Qnex orsber orq. Ab jnl, ab ubj. Gung'f whfg abg unccravat.

  8. Saphling says:

    I love that this is where we get the sayings, "Never meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger."

    Frodo's response is just first-class trolling, "Never ask an elf for advice, for they will say both no and yes." I like that Gildor… kind of admits it's true. ^_^


  9. enigmaticagentscully says:

    I love how Lobelia is rude to him so Frodo DOESN'T OFFER HER TEA.

    Like this is the worst ever thing a Hobbit could do. Tolkien, your British is showing.

    • This IS the worst thing to do if you have a visitor in your home. Guests must always be offered tea! Also, Hobnobs, Bourbons, Digestives, Custard Creams, Jammy Dogders and Jaffa Cakes. They must ALL be offered tea.

      • cait0716 says:

        Even Sheldon Cooper knows this

        • flootzavut says:

          That's what it made me think of too ๐Ÿ˜€

          Spoilers for Big Bang series 4:

          Nzl: Furyqba, lbh unir n thrfg jub'f hcfrg.
          Furyqba: Evtug. V'yy znxr grn.
          Craal: Bu, fjrrgvr, vg'f bxnl. V qba'g jnag grn.
          Furyqba: V'z fbeel. Vg'f abg bcgvbany.

      • Dru says:

        EXACTLY. I'm not British, but I did think it was common courtesy to offer visitors a cup of tea and something to nibble on, is this not universal?

    • flootzavut says:

      Bwahahaha! Speaking as a Brit, even in the early 21st century, that is STILL a classic British thing to do. Offer tea as a panacea ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Saphling says:

        As an American southerner, it's very similar. If someone comes to your house, you offer them something to drink. If they show up too close to a mealtime, you ask if they'd like to stay for supper/lunch/etc.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      omg this is so true.

  10. cait0716 says:

    Oh god now I really want to write Gandalf’s senior thesis on hobbit culture.

    The prologue, "Concerning Hobbits", is probably the closest you'll get to this. You should definitely read it. After you finish LotR


    This was my reaction every time Bilbo put the ring on in The Hobbit, but I couldn't share it! I'm glad you're coming around to this view of the ring

    V yvxr Cvccva nyernql orpnhfr ur NQINAPRF GUR CYBG.

    Sbby bs n Gbbx!

    The description of Sam curling up at Frodo's feet and falling asleep reminds me of a dog. And it's a little weird.

    These chapters are really long. And with all the singing and descriptions they start to drag a bit. But I'm loving it, too, and I'm looking forward to more!

    • Saphling says:

      V yvxr Cvccva nyernql orpnhfr ur NQINAPRF GUR CYBG.

      Sbby bs n Gbbx!

      It's true!

    • Waffles says:

      Sam was also described as reacting 'like a dog being invited for a walk' last chapter. I'm starting to think the comparisons might be intentional- Sam seems like a fairly loyal friend/servant, and comparing him to a dog could emphasize that.

    • notemily says:

      Sam reminded me of a dog too. He's so faithful! Which is a little creepy when it's a servant instead of a dog.

  11. Tauriel_ says:

    I think it's very clear by now that songs and music play a BIG part in Tolkien's writings. ๐Ÿ™‚ So let me share with you some of my favourite songs from the book that were put to music by a band of amateur (but nevertheless talented) musicians and Tolkien enthusiasts from Czech Republic called "the Poetic Fellowship". Sadly, they're no longer together (though various members still write and perform Tolkien-inspired music). They put a lot of song texts from Tolkien's books to music, and wrote their own Tolkien-inspired "fan music" as well. I shall be posting the "canon" songs (at least the ones with the best quality) here as we go. Here's the first one:


    • Becky_J_ says:

      That is beautiful, thank you for sharing! I'm excited to have these for all the songs…. I don't know why, but I have such a fascination with the songs. I keep trying to produce my own representations of the songs, but I can never capture their feelings like this. THANK YOU.

    • Parmadil says:

      Also, if you're interested in a similar group, the Tolkien Ensemble, from Denmark, put together 4 FANTASTIC albums- An Evening in Rivendell, At Night in Rivendell, At Dawn in Rivendell, and Leaving Rivendell.

      They collaborated with Christopher Lee as well for these, and they include every song/poem/verse in LotR.

      I strongly recommend them, but good luck finding the first 2 CDs, I haven't been able to, much to my disappointment.

  12. Tauriel_ says:

    Linguistic corner! ๐Ÿ˜€

    In this chapter we have the first line in high-elven speech – or Quenya, as it's also called. It is the language most developed by Tolkien (and he had many, though none of them as detailed and developed as Quenya).

    Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo.

    elen = "a star"
    sil- = "to shine". Síla = third person singular present tense, "shines"
    lúmë = "time", or "hour". Lúmenna = allative case, "upon the hour". Shortened because the next word starts with a vowel
    omentië = "meeting". -lva is possessive pronominal ending for first person plural, inclusive "our". Genitive case ending is -lvo, so omentielvo means "of our meeting"

    • This is super! Thank you!
      Must … memorise …

    • ChloeKEvil says:

      I remember trying to teach myself Quenya with some lessons on the internet a looong time ago. Fun, but hard!

    • cait0716 says:

      I just need to bow down to your Tolkien/Middle Earth knowledge. It is quite impressive!

    • monkeybutter says:

      I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your informative posts. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • settlingforhistory says:

      Thanks so much for this!
      I want to learn Elven speech but it's hard to do that when you don't want to get spoiled.
      Can you do that for every meeting with Elves?

    • Oh my goodness. I now feel obligated to start paying major attention. It's been a long-put-off goal of mine to learn the different languages. Please keep up the linguistic corner!

    • Katie says:

      I am Estonian, and apparently Tolkien was inspired for Elvish languages by Estonian and Finnish – some of the oldest languages on earth. I have a friend who is a big LOTR fan, so every year for his birthday, he just asks me to read random pages from random Estonian books out loud, because it sounds Elvish to him ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Quenya was inspired by Finnish (to be precise, Tolkien was enamoured by it when he heard someone reciting the Kalevala once), and Sindarin (another Elvish language) was inspired by the Celtic languages (namely Welsh and Scottish, if I remember correctly).

    • Parmadil says:

      For anyone interested in trying to learn, or at least get a firmer handle on the languages Tolkien uses, I strongly recommend "The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-Earth" by Ruth S. Noel.

      She's fantastic, and does a really good job of analyzing the origins, etc. As well as giving a really good foundation for both of the Elvish languages.

  13. Tauriel_ says:

    They left the washing up for Lobelia.

    Teehee, I see Frodo learned his trolling well, having such excellent teachers as Bilbo and Gandalf… ๐Ÿ˜€

    I really like the banter between the hobbits and also the description of their journey. Tolkien is really descriptive with his countryside, but in such a way that literally paints the picture in your mind's eye. <3 Some people find it a bit excessive – I don't, personally, but the style does take a while to get used to at the first reading, I suppose…

    The Black Riders are SCARY. DO NOT WANT. *shudder*

    And we meet the first Elves of this book, yay! <3

    ‘I am Gildor,’ answered their leader, the Elf who had first hailed him. ‘Gildor Inglorion of the House of Finrod.

    SHPX LRF SRYNTHAQ!!! B-) <3 <3 <3

    Frodo's conversation with Gildor gives us a bit of a glimpse into what the High Elves are like – slightly distant, almost disconnected with the world. And definitely more serious than the "trallalally"-singing Elves we met in the Hobbit (but then again, the Hobbit was a children's book, and I think it's obvious by now that LOTR is shaping up to be a tad bit darker and more serious book). But Frodo's description of Elves being bad advisors, "for they will say both no and yes", is pretty much spot on. ๐Ÿ˜€

    As is this line (another one of my favourites, and pretty widely paraphrased, referenced and parodied in other works of literature, TV and film):

    Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.

    Yep, Gandalf gave us a glimpse of that, twice now…

    • @ChloeKEvil says:



    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      I love that Frodo isn't intimidated by the elves, and basically gives as good as he gets. Like he flat out says that Gildor is terrible at giving advice.

    • anghraine says:

      V enaqbzyl erzrzorerq guvf bar-bss punenpgre jura V ernq gur Fvyznevyyvba, naq gura vg'f

      bxnl, fb Svaebq unf uvf bja ubhfr? Jbhyqa'g vg pbafvfg bayl bs uvz? V zrna, Nzáevë vf ba Inyvabe gur jubyr gvzr. Jryy, nsgre ur qvrq ur'q unir orra er-rzobqvrq. Fb V thrff gurl (svanyyl) jrer havgrq (lnl!) naq unq puvyqera naq qrfpraqnagf naq *gurl* jrag gb Zvqqyr-rnegu ng fbzr cbvag naq Tvyqbe vf cneg bs gung tebhc? V qba'g xabj! Ohg ur'f fbzr fbeg bs arcurj bs Tnynqevry'f, naljnl, juvpu nhgbzngvpnyyl znxrf uvz pbbyre.

      • stefb4 says:

        V guvax gung Tvyqbe jnf cebonoyl n freinag be bar bs Svaebq'f jneevbef, naq fb vafgrnq bs hfvat uvf bja ubhfr, ur qrsref gb Svaebq'f. V oryvrir gur bayl rys xabja gb erghea gb Zvqqyr-Rnegu nsgre orvat errzobqvrq vf Tybesvaqry (naq Yhguvra, ohg nf n zbegny abg na rys).

        Nyfb, nabgure vagrerfgvat abgr, vg'f ragveryl cbffvoyr Tybesvaqry vf n fba bs bar bs Svajë'f gjb qnhtugref jvgu Vaqvf (jub ner abg zragvbarq va Gur Fvy).

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Gehr, gur "ubhfr bs Svaebq" zvtug ersre gb uvf jubyr "ubhfrubyq", abg whfg snzvyl.

          Naq gunaxf sbe erzvaqvat zr V fubhyq TRG GUR OYBBQL HASVAVFURQ GNYRF NAQ SVANYYL ERNQ GURZ!!

    • notemily says:

      I love how the Elves are at first like "Hobbits are SO BORING, why would we want to hang out with you? We have much awesomer things to do."

  14. misterbernie says:

    Gur zber gur zreevre, V fhccbfr.
    *faeeeeeeeeeex* Nppvqragny sberfunqbjvat cha? V ubcr fb.

  15. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Also: "Never meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger."

    Love that line. Although now it just reminds me of the Dresden Files, when Harry Dresden is like "FUCK SUBTLE!"

    Anyone else read those books?

    • @ChloeKEvil says:

      Yeah, I've read them! They're problematic in a lot of ways but also a heckuva lot of fun.

    • flootzavut says:

      Doesn't Terry Pratchett also use his own version of the wizards quote? wish I could remember…

      • Zetal says:

        Qb abg zrqqyr jvgu gur nssnvef bs jvmneqf, cnegvphyneyl fvzvna barf. Gurl ner abg nyy gung fhogyr.

        • Lugija says:

          "Qb abg zrqqyr va gur nssnvef bs jvmneqf orpnhfr n ershfny bsgra bssraqf, V ernq fbzrjurer." jnf va Zbeg, naq va Ybeq naq Ynqvrf gurer jnf "Qb abg zrqqyr va gur nssnvef bs jvmneqf, rfcrpvnyyl fvzvna barf. Gurl ner abg nyy gung fhogyr."

          These are from Annotated Pratchett file, which is a great source when looking for his references.

          • monkeybutter says:

            Ha! Yet another reason Ybeqf naq Ynqvrf is one of my favorites!

            • Lugija says:

              It is one of my favourites, as well. I tend to read it every midsummer, since it captures very nicely the feeling of it all.
              Night without dark, interesting to think about it today, which is the darkest day of them all. Around here the sunrise was at 10:05 and the sunset at 14:09. Little norther and it doesn't get up at all.

    • I'm reading them! I found Death Masks in a used bookstore and liked it enough that I went and got the first two so I can read and hopefully not spoil myself anymore than I already have been. They're really fun!

      And I loved it when Harry pulled that line in the first book ๐Ÿ™‚

    • shortstuff says:

      Yeessssss! Love them! I haven't read the earliest ones, but I'm on a mission to hunt them down!

      I wish Mark would commit to reading them, but aside from being so long, he already decided not to because of that brew-ha-ha the fans made when Butcher was accused of misrepresenting Chicago or whatever. Haven't critics heard of artistic license? A teeny tiny part of me is sad Mark won't experience those books with Harry and his absurd hijinks.

    • Dreamflower says:

      I've read all of them so far, and am mightily impressed with them. One of the few series in recent years to actually hold my attention past the second or third book.

    • notemily says:

      My roommate read them, but she refuses to join Mark Reads… she says it's a "cult"

  16. Tauriel_ says:


    The TARDIS. Duh. x-D

  17. Why do I enjoy their preparations so much?!
    Also Snggl Obytre (jubz V nyjnlf nqberq sbe fbzr ernfba) jnfa'g zragvbarq, naq fubhyqa'g Zreel or jvgu gurz?
    Not sure if that is spoilery!
    Haha "Snggl" sort of fits even in code!

  18. flootzavut says:

    "Oh god now I really want to write Gandalf’s senior thesis on hobbit culture."


  19. flootzavut says:

    And also I meant to say, when I started re-reading this a few weeks back in preparation for Mark Reads, I was surprised how long the chapters were. They really are mammouth, I'd forgtten.

    • Jenny_M says:

      I think I have some parts so close to memorized that I don't realize how dense the prose really can be for a first-time reader. I can fly through them because I know them so well, but having to read them for the first time and then write about them, too? Damn, Mark! *bows down*

  20. Ryan Lohner says:

    The scene with the Black Rider is one of the few that the Bakshi film did really well, enough that Jackson essentially just recreated its approach.

    Being as careful as possible, I assume that actors from the films that Mark hasn't mentioned (ie, anyone beyond Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, and Orlando Bloom) are also spoilers. So, V unir na bqq fbeg bs ybir sbe gur snpg gung Ovyyl Oblq vf npghnyyl gur byqrfg bs gur sbhe Uboovg npgbef, naq gurl npghnyyl zrg ba uvf 30gu oveguqnl. Ur pregnvayl qbrfa'g ybbx vg va gur svyzf.

    • flootzavut says:

      LRF ZR GBB! Ur znantrf gb znxr Cvccva fb lbhat frrzvat naq jvgu n xvaq bs vaabprapr, naq V whfg nqber uvz nf Cvccva.

    • Parmadil says:

      Vg'f vebavp, vfa'g vg, gung Ovyyl Oblq vf gur byqrfg npgbe cynlvat gur lbhatrfg uboovg, naq Ryvwnu Jbbq vf gur lbhatrfg npgbe cynlvat gur byqrfg uboovg?

  21. @ljrTR says:

    The slow pace requires committment, but as the story speeds up Mark (and all others who stick with it) are well repaid. Tolkien is so stubbornly realistic about how long this walking journey would take. He refuses to take the easy way out – to say 'they walked for 3 days or 7 days' or whatever. You begin to understand what long journeys meant in pre-industrial, medieval times. and it ramps up the tension, ever so slowly, with the Black Riders.
    Love how the elves and Frodo interact.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Of course, there's also the fact that he had little real idea where the story was going at this point, so all the walking is essentially just Tolkien stalling until he could come up with something, like a precursor to NaNoWriMo.

      • @ljrTR says:

        I'm not sure I totally agree with you. Glad we and the Prof stuck it out anywho.

        • Erik says:

          If you read his early drafts, in the books of notes that his son curated, ur npghnyyl jevgrf Sebqb nyy gur jnl gb Eviraqryy, vapyhqvat gur cnegl, gur Oynpx Evqref, Gbz Obzonqvy, Fgevqre, naq nyy, orsber svanyyl qrpvqvat jung gur Evat npghnyyl jnf.

          Ur jrag onpx naq qvq n tbbq wbo bs ergpbaavat, ohg gurer ner fgvyy n srj ebhtu rqtrf.

    • shortstuff says:

      Jung nyfb urycf gur grafvba nybat ng guvf cbvag vf gung arvgure Sebqb naq cnegl abe gur ernqre xabjf UBJ znal bs gurfr Oynpx Evqref gurer ner! Vg pbhyq or gur fnzr bar cbccvat hc nyy bire, geniryvat snfgre guna gurl ner, be gurer pbhyq or n fznyy tebhc fgnyxvat gurz. Jura jr svaq bhg gung gurer'f ernyyl AVAR bs gurz, vg fraqf gur fgbel fgenvtug vagb fpnel onq gvzr. Ohg ol gura jr unir Fgevqre, naq nyy vf orggre =)

  22. PrefectSarah says:

    This. Is. Awesome!!!! A friend just sent me this (knowing that I'm reading the books for the first time). ENJOY!

  23. Smurphy says:

    FIRST OF ALL… YEAH HOBBIT TRAILER! Although i agree Mark should not watch it. Sorry Mark.

    "(Whatever those are. Are they cracks in time? WATCH OUT YOU’LL BE ERASED.)" I love you forever.

    "The dude is one big mystery." Vf ur rire abg?

    "I like Pippin already because he ADVANCES THE PLOT." FBZRGVZRF ZNEX FNLF GUVATF NAQ LBH NER YVXR "Jbj, gung'f FB gehr" UB QBRF UR QB VG?

    … vs V jnf Tvyqbe V jbhyqa'g unir fnvq nalguvat rvgure… n. vg'f qnex. Vs lbh ner tbvat gb fpner zr gb qrngu, ng yrnfg qb vg qhevat gur qnl. o. EVATJENVGUF!

    and from my read:

    I forgot to mention this earlier but the sackville-bagginses might be among my favorite characters to hate ever. ALTHOUGH I CAN'T BELIEVE FRODO GAVE THEM HIS HOBBIT HOLE! "Frodo did not offer her any tea." YOU SHOWED HER!

    The image of a flabby Elijah Wood needing to train…

    He sounded very much like Bilbo when he woke up that first night on the road.


    Sam's reaction to elves. Bless his little heart forever and ever.

    Qvq Sebqb xabj ryivfu va gur zbivr? Qnza gung zbivr sbe pbzcyrgryl renfvat nyy xabjyrqtr bs gur obbx sebz zl zrzbel.

    I don't feel the need to say "You are not prepared" after this chapter but in case you had any notons of being prepared… you are not prepared.

    • shortstuff says:

      V guvax ur qbrf, ohg gur zbivr jnf irel fhogyr nobhg vg. N pbhcyr fprarf va gur rkgraqrq rqvgvbaf unir uvz yvfgravat gb Ryivfu fbatf. Svefg, jura gur Ryirf ner cnffvat bhg bs Zvqqyr Rnegu naq Fnz frrf gurz sbe gur svefg gvzr, Sebqb gnyxf nobhg gurve fbat be ubj gurl'er yrnivat be fbzrguvat. Gura, jura Nentbea trgf onpx sebz qrre uhagvat naq vf fvatvat gur Ynl bs Orera naq Yhguvra, va Ryivfu, Sebqb nfxf nobhg gur jbzna ur'f fvatvat nobhg. Fb V guvax ur qbrf xabj fbzr.

    • HieronymusGrbrd says:

      I forgot to mention this earlier but the sackville-bagginses might be among my favorite characters to hate ever.

      If I learned anything from "Mark reads The Hunger Games" than it is: Don't hate!

      • Smurphy says:

        You are right. I definitely overuse the term. They are my favorite characters to strongly dislike. In all honesty there is only one person on the earth I hate and its my father and I'm doing my very best to work through those emotions…

        • HieronymusGrbrd says:

          This sounds sad. I hope you do well.

          (There are probably better ways to express what I'm feeling. Darned foreign language.)

  24. hpfish13 says:

    And today's art is of the Hobbits and the elves. I love Sam's reaction to this moment.

    <img src=""&gt;

    • pennylane27 says:

      I have the same art! Is your book a gigantic one illustrated by Alan Lee?

      • hpfish13 says:

        Yep! My mom gave them to me in a box set for Christmas one year (coincidentally the same year I got a copy of The Hobbit in a white elephant gift exchange). I have those and a set of paperbacks, because the big ones are difficult to lug around. I would post the cover art, but I couldn't figure out how to scan the large image on my scanner.

        • mreeb says:

          Both my sisters have a copy of that – my younger got it from our parents a few years back, and my older got it from her boyfriend the Christmas before last. WHERE IS MY COPY? I do have a lot of Alan Lee art posters on my wall, though, including the one above, so that's awesome. I love Alan Lee.

        • pennylane27 says:

          My best friend had it in Spanish, in one tome, hardback and everything. And then we went to Cambridge and we found the same huge book in a lovely used-books store, and even though it cost like 120 pounds she bought it. And now I've borrowed it and that's where I'm reading from.

          The cover art is from a scene in RotK, so major spoilers for that. It'll have to wait. ๐Ÿ™

    • arctic_hare says:

      So beautiful. <3

    • Tauriel_ says:

      I love Alan Lee's aquarels. <3 So atmospheric, so ethereal…

    • tigerpetals says:

      And it's like a fairytale. So divine.

  25. knut_knut says:

    Yea…I’m never quite sure how Pippin ends up on their journey either. One minute it’s just Sam and Frodo and then by the end of the chapter it’s “Oh yea! When did Pippin decide to come along?” Not that I mind because PIPPIN IS AWESOME AND HAS THE BEST NAME EVER!

    ELVES!!! <3 On one hand, I think it’s kind of creepy that they just know shit about people and I would have had a heart attack if I was Frodo, but they’re ELVES! I can always use more elves <3 Movie spoiler: V ybbbbir gur Cnffvat bs gur Ryirf fprar sebz gur RR- gur zhfvp jnf fb cresrpg naq rirelguvat jnf ornhgvshy :’) V jvfu vg jnfa’g phg

    ALSO- THE TRAILER FOR THE HOBBIT. IT WAS PERFECT. BOMBUR WAS PERFECT! There’s something about him that looks so…soft….like he’s a plush toy. I would love a giant Bombur plush toy that I could use as a pillow/beanbag-like chair! The only thing missing from the trailer was Lee Pace

    • monkeybutter says:

      <img src=""&gt;

      • pennylane27 says:

        OH. MY. GOD.

      • knut_knut says:

        HE'S THE TRUE HERO OF THE STORY <3 There better be lots of Bombur moments or else…

        • monkeybutter says:

          Why do you think it was split into two films?

          • wahlee says:

            They're adding in the stuff that Gandalf did with the White Council– expelling the Necromancer from Mirkwood.

            • knut_knut says:

              false! They're adding hours and hours of Bombur footage ๐Ÿ˜‰

              (but really I CANNOT WAIT to see the Gandalf stuff! Who was he fighting in the trailer?)

              • Tauriel_ says:

                Vg'f cerggl boivbhf gung'f Guenva, Gubeva'f sngure – jub jnf gbezragrq ol gur Qjneira evat bs cbjre gung ur jnf pneelvat, naq gura pncgherq ol gur Arpebznapre naq vzcevfbarq va Qby Thyqhe, uvf evat gnxra sebz uvz. Vg vf irel yvxryl gung ur jrag znq sebz gur rivy rssrpg bs gur evat naq gur ybat vzcevfbazrag naq/be gbegher, fb jura Tnaqnys jrag gb Qby Thyqhe gb vairfgvtngr gur Arpebznapre naq zrg Guenva gurer, Guenva nggnpxrq uvz (ohg yngre ur tnir Tnaqnys gur znc naq gur xrl naq gbyq uvz gb tvir vg gb uvf fba – be Tnaqnys gbbx vg uvzfrys, qrcraqvat ba ubj gurl nqncg gur fgbel va gur svyz).

                • knut_knut says:

                  BBBBBBB gung znxrf n ybg bs frafr. V whfg fnj n jubyr ybg bs orneq naq tenl pybguvat sylvat nebhaq. Abj gung V'ir jngpurq gur genvyre n srj zber gvzrf vg znxrf n ybg zber frafr, unun

                  GAH THIS MOVIE NEEDS TO COME OUT NOW! Every time I watch the trailer I get so excited I feel like I could throw up or cry or something ridiculous. Why are years so looooooooong

                  ETA:…I don't think I needed to rot13 this. I'm so used to it that I do it automatically :/

  26. msw188 says:

    "OR DOES HE" hahaha, when you say Sirius Black, do you mean Stubby Boardman?

    My own list of awesome from this long chapter about walking:
    -she had been obliged to wait about seventy-seven years longer for Bag End than she once had hoped (hahaha, VICTORY!!!)
    -He had been saying farewell to the beer-barrel in the cellar. (Sam is the best)
    -he had put on his head a tall shapeless felt bag, which he called a hat. (Sam is the best)

    • msw188 says:

      Mark, and the comments, covered most of the rest (like Pippin being the awesome VESSEL OF PLOT), but on a more serious note this chapter has two of my favorite passages about travelling. "there was only one Road; that is was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary." This blew me away as a kid, and still blows me away now. Another is from one of the songs:

      Still round the corner we may meet
      A sudden tree or standing stone
      That none have seen but we alone

      Still round the corner there may wait
      A new road or a secret gate…

      This is part of the allure of Middle Earth to me. It is a place where the wilderness still holds the magical unknown, like the woods behind your house growing up as a kid.

      One other question for Mark: Does your book have a map of Middle Earth, and a separate map of the Shire? The Shire map is somewhat helpful here to put all of this into perspective; Crickhollow is on the eastern border of Buckland, which itself is the eastern-most 'part' of the Shire.

  27. monkeybutter says:

    "Pbapreavat Uboovgf" vf gbgnyyl rkprecgrq sebz Tnaqnys'f qvffregngvba.

    I'm glad that the elves — or Gildor particularly — are kinda jerks when we first meet them, because I that's how I prefer my elves. Clever, enigmatic snots. It makes it all the better when the mention of the Black Riders makes them decide that they probably should entertain the dull hobbits.

    I like that Frodo and Pippin are a little spoiled, but they're also keeping each other in line (the weight of the packs and the water.) It shows that they're out of their comfort zone, but in a playful way. And Sam. He's like a little kid meeting Santa for the first time. He's amazed into silence, and about five seconds from peeing his pants. I also kinda love him for saying farewell to (now) Lobelia's beer. I'm sure she'll notice it's a little low, what with her detailed inventory, see the dirty dishes, and be royally peeved. Good work, guys!

  28. pennylane27 says:

    I love their banter on the way, before all the creepy happens. Frodo complaining about the weight and Sam being all "I can take more" when his pack is already the heaviest, and Pippin just says that Frodo's out of shape. And then in the morning, when asked about the water Frodo says "I don't keep water in my pockets" and these scenes never fail to make me feel all happy and fuzzy inside and then OH SHIT BLACK RIDERS.


  29. redheadedgirl says:


    Ask Google Maps for walking directions from The Shire to Mordor. DO IT.

  30. Ok, so I don't have a whole lot to say for this chapter other than the Black Riders scared the shit out of me when I first read about them, Frodo is awesome on every level and Pippin is most definitely my hobbit self in a parallel world. I do the exact same thing he does- get all enthusiastic about something and then complain the minute things get difficult.
    This chapter also has some of the most oft-quoted lines in all fantasy. "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." "Do not go to the elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes." (incidentally I adore how sassy Frodo is with the Elves. He is one of my favorite fictional characters for so many reasons, only a few of which I can cite now…)

    To conclude, as always, you are not prepared and it makes me so happy to see. Really ๐Ÿ™‚ I love actually seeing someone's first reactions to Tolkien. And since I don't think I've said it before, thanks so much for providing this experience! XD

  31. junglejim says:

    <img src="… alt="some_text"/>

    Is it possible for anyone to be anymore presh than this?

  32. anobium says:

    I have discovered a thing that I think is of interest to my fellow Mark Reads readers (and to Mark). It's not really related to The Lord of the Rings, though (except I could possibly kind of tie it in to Legolas-who-is-not-made-of-LEGOs. If I was less lazy).

    Anyway, this is what it is:
    Lego Harry Potter as Explained by Someone Who Has Never Read Harry Potter

  33. Fuchsia says:

    if you think reading this is a daunting task and you already feel weary, just imagine how frodo, sam and pippin feel!

  34. echinodermata says:

    I really enjoyed this chapter, actually. Tolkien is great at setting the mood, and when you consider how many different emotions there are encompassed in this one chapter – shit, some writers can't do that in an entire book.

    Shit's getting real and I love it. Black riders! Elves! These are big encounters for our characters and it's only chapter 3!

  35. plaidpants says:

    Jnf nalbar ryfr fvatvat Cvccva'f fbat nybat jvgu uvz? Vg unq orra fb ybat fvapr V'q ernq gur obbxf, V'q sbetbggra gung gur fybj, ynzraging fbat sebz EbGX jnf npghnyyl n fbat nobhg tbvat gb orq naq fghss.

    • ChloeKEvil says:

      V jnf! Vg znqr n jrveq whkgncbfvgvba sebz gur puvccre ghar V unq sbe gur svefg irefrf. Fhqqrayl, ynzrag!

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Naq Ovyyl Oblq jebgr gur zrybql uvzfrys, gelvat gb pncgher gur zbbq bs n irel byq fbat gung Cvccva jbhyq unir yrnearq sebz uvf tenaqsngure.

      • plaidpants says:

        Frevbhfyl? Gung'f njrfbzr! V arrq gb erjngpu nyy gur pbzzragnel ba gurfr zbivrf fb V pna erzrzore nyy guvf fghss!

  36. Dreamflower says:

    I adore this chapter! Absolutely adore it.

    I love all the arrangements for the moving. Frodo has had Merry buy him a house in Buckland. How many of us have someone we'd trust to buy a house for us sight unseen?

    It was arranged for Pippin to keep them company as far as Crickhollow while Merry and Fatty Bolger deliver the rest of the furniture, which is how Pippin got involved.

    I suddenly realized I have to rot.13 almost everything else I want to say!

    Zl snibevgr cneg bs guvf puncgre ba er-ernq vf jngpuvat Cvccva. V zrna, gur svefg gvzr guebhtu ur'f sha; lbh pna gryy gung pbzcnerq gb Sebqb, ur'f lbhat. Naq ur'f nyjnlf znxvat jvfrpenpxf. Ohg gura jura lbh ernq vg guebhtu ntnva, lbh ernyvmr ur'f bar ernyyl pbby xvq! Ur XABJF. Ur nyernql XABJF gung guvf vfa'g whfg n gevc gb Ohpxynaq, gung gurl'ir tbg gb trg bhg bs gur Fuver naq ur qbrfa'g yrg fyvc n fvatyr pyhr be uvag gb Sebqb gung ur XABJF! Gurer ner nyy fbegf bs yvggyr fhogyr guvatf lbh pngpu ba n er-ernq– yvxr ubj ur whzcf va gb dhrfgvba gur Ryirf naq ubj lbh arire rira oevrsyl trg uvf CBI.

  37. settlingforhistory says:

    Before I can say anything else I have to mention again how much I love Sam.
    I mean, really, he is the most awesome person, so caring, so enthusiastic and he is so amazed by the Elves that he can't get out a single word in their presence.
    I like Pippin too, but he was teasing my favourite hobbit, so I don't quite know what to think about him.
    It's fun that he is so blunt though, no subtlety at all even with Elves.
    That they met the Elves is nice, especially because they are not the same Elves who liked to joke and tease.
    They remind me a lot of the centaurs in HP, the elves are more helpful but just as cryptic.

    The advice `Never meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.` is that what let to
    `Never meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup`?
    That is all I could think about when I read that part.

    The rider(s) freaked me out. The smelling is really strange and scary.
    It's like dogs. For the longest time I was afraid of dogs and people always told me "don't be afraid, they can smell that." Thanks, how helpful!

    Can hardly wait to go on reading.
    Also, I want a hobbit, where can I find one? ๐Ÿ™‚

  38. Oh god now I really want to write Gandalf’s senior thesis on hobbit culture.

    I see possibilities for future parody chapter reviews.

  39. Dreamflower says:

    V pna'g jnvg sbe Znex gb trg gb Puncgre svir, naq svaq bhg nobhg gur Pbafcvenpl, jura ur jvyy yrnea whfg ubj gbgnyyl njrfbzr Zreel, Cvccva naq Fnz gehyl ner! Gung vf gur puncgre gung znqr zr snyy va ybir jvgu uboovgf sberire!

    Vg gbbx zr nobhg sbhe ernqvatf bs gur obbx gb gjvt gb gur snpg gung Zreel fgnegrq gur Pbafcvenpl gb ybbx nsgre Sebqb ORSBER GURL XARJ NALGUVAT NOBHG GUR EVAT! Orpnhfr vg unq orra Zreel'f vqrn sbe Fnz gb or fclvat ba Sebqb va gur svefg cynpr! Nyfb, Zreel unq orra xrrcvat naq rlr ba Sebqb sbe friragrra LRNEF va pnfr uvf pbhfva rire qrpvqrq gb tb ba na Nqiragher!

    Ohg bs pbhefr nyy gung vf n pbhcyr bs qnlf njnl, naq va gur zrnajuvyr, gbzbeebj jr trg gb frr Znex'f ernpgvba gb Snezre Znttbg naq zhfuebbzf!!!

  40. bugeye says:

    Just an observation from a Hobbit wanabe. Why are you always starting your journeys at night. Bilbo leaves after the party, Gandalf's visits are in the dark and now Frodo leaves at night. It is Fall, the evenings and nights are getting cold and the sun sets earlier. I want to toast my toes by the hearth and then go sleep in the feather bed. What kind of Hobbits are you?

    Really,I have had some great experiences wandering under the uncounted stars of the immeasurable skies, but natural night light can make for some stubbed Hobbit toes. I have still not seen any Elves on these nocturnal wanderings. Where are the Elves? Why can't I have Elves

  41. Cylena says:

    This chapter really gave me flashbacks to when I was a kid. Me, one of my brothers and our cousins used to play hobbits hiding from the black riders. Think we'd seen the films (animated ones, I'm not that young) before since I was like 6 and hadn't even read The Hobbit yet.

    "jura unf Tnaqnys rire ernyyl orra yngr?"
    N jvmneq'f arire yngr, Sebqb!

  42. arctic_hare says:

    Another picture for you fine folk to peruse!

    Gaffer Gamgee and the Black Rider by Stephen Hickman

    I'm pretty sure I'd have to change my underwear if THAT came to the front door.

    Okay so, my thoughts during this chapter:



    – Oh, Sam. <3

    – Pick up the pace, there's a scary dude following you!!! GTFO of there!


    – Bag End. ๐Ÿ™

    – Oh, Frodo. ๐Ÿ™

    – Gandalf, wtf WHERE ARE YOU?

    – Seriously, this rider guy needs to go away, okay. Bye now! Stop being creepy, you… you… creeper!

    xD I want to read that thesis, Mark. Also, I completely understand: I love these books, but this part could use a touch more urgency, it's true.

  43. Thiamalonee says:

    One thing that stuck out at me from this chapter is that they’re still in the Shire! I always assumed the Shire was a small area, which is why Hobbits are relatively unknown, but I checked the map after this chapter, and the Shire covers a huge expanse of Middle Earth. They still haver made it to Buckland, where Frodo was supposedly moving to, right? And they’ve been walking for days! I always just pictured all of the hobbits living around Hobbiton, not spread out across so much land. Maybe that’s because we’re told they dint often travel far from home.

    • Parmadil says:

      The Shire is not huge, but it's a legitimate country, albeit a small one. The thing that we 21st-century people have trouble with is remembering that walking takes a LONG TIME. It takes an hour for the average person to travel 3 miles, whereas the same distance takes a car about 3 minutes, no traffic. So while they've been walking for a full day now, really they haven't travelled that "far' if you're judging by distance-in-a-car.

      That is one thing that Tolkien does to perfection- capture, realistically, the distances of travel on foot!

  44. threerings13 says:

    You know, it's funny that you are struggling with the length of the chapters, Mark, because every night when I read this book, I just want the chapters to be longer so I don't have to stop reading.

    Ner jr nyybjrq gb pbeerpg Znex naq rkcynva gung Sebqb, Fnz, naq Cvccva ner bayl zrnag gb or geniryvat gb Ohpxynaq gb Sebqb'f arj ubhfr?

  45. Stephen_M says:

    On Gandalf: remember back in the Hobbit and the lead up to Battle of the Five Armies? Remember how Gandalf was effectively working behind the scenes to orchestrate the outcome he needed without openly confiding in anyone? Here we see what happens when you go with that chess master approach and something goes amiss. Frodo and friends are clearly out of their depth here and even Elves are wary of interfering at least partially because of the potential to trip over a plan they didn't know about…

    Also thought we'd had some more info on the riders in previous chapter but as I don't have a copy to hand to check I'll leave that there…

  46. shortstuff says:

    LOL that's really not that scary to me. But then again animation is a much different medium that live action film.

  47. copperphoenix77 says:

    Hi Mark, longtime lurker here. I'm so enjoying watching you read LOTR for the first time!

    Just wanted to let you know, if you haven't watched the Hobbit trailer yet, I would hold off until you watch the movies. I think it would be much more enjoyable after you've already become a huge fan, like the rest of us. ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, there are one to two illusions to later happenings in the LOTR within the trailer.

    And I do agree that you should wait a few chapters into Two Towers before you watch Fellowship. Or even wait until you finish the books before watching the movies, but that may be too long a wait. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • ljrTR says:

      I'd wait for all the movies until after all the books. visualize for yourself, Mark & others, then watch Peter Jackson's take.

  48. anghraine says:

    I think this chapter is the point at which I decided that this was less about plot and more about experiencing Middle-earth with occasional alarms from the evil whatsits hanging around. So it's not so much "what next?" as "where next?" It works for me, but it's definitely a bit meandering. (I do wonder about Tolkien's editors, though. As far as I can tell, there was less "this interrupts the pacing" and more "you're spelling elfin wrong!" IDK, but The Hobbit got published as-is because their kid liked it, so I'm guessing standards were a bit less stringent in ye olden days of publishinge.)

    Also, whoa, lots of memes from this chapter. Or just straight-out quotations, if you're Stephen Colbert. Naq vg'f n ovg shaal, Gbyxvra uvzfrys unq ab vqrn jurer Tnaqnys jnf jura ur jebgr guvf naq ur'f whfg chggvat gur punenpgref ba n ebnq gevc hagvy ur svtherf vg bhg. <3

    • ljrTR says:

      I'm still not sure Tolkien was that unsure about the plot at this point. It's been a long time since I read all those History of Middle Earth volumes.
      anyway – "less about the plot and more about experiencing Middle Earth". – I like that.

      • anghraine says:


        It's been a long time since I poked into HOME, too, so I looked it up (yay vacation!). Tolkien was writing this chapter in 1938; in the earlier draft, there's still a rider advancing on them and they're hiding, but:

        "Round a turn came a white horse, and on it sat a bundle — or that is what it looked like: a small man wrapped entirely in a great cloak and hood so that only his eyes peered out, and his boots in the stirrups below.
        "The horse stopped when it came level with Bingo [Frodo]. The figure uncovered its nose and sniffed; and then sat silent as if listening. Suddenly a laugh came from inside the hood.
        " 'Bingo my boy!' said Gandalf, throwing aside his wrappings."

        Then he changed his mind and made Gandalf a super creepy Rider and kept Gandalf himself still missing.

        Nppbeqvat gb "Gur Gernfba bs Vfratneq," gur svefg cbvag ng juvpu Fnehzna nccrnef vf va n 1940 bhgyvar — gur oevrs ersrerapr va "Funqbjf bs gur Cnfg" jnf nqqrq yngre. Va gur bhgyvar, "Fnenzhaq" vf n genvgbe jub rvgure (1) gevpxf Tnaqnys nobhg gur Oynpx Evqref naq yrnqf gb uvz orvat nggnpxrq ba Jrnguregbc, be (2) unaqf uvz bire gb rivy!Gerrorneq, jub vzcevfbaf uvz. Fb Gbyxvra jnf fgvyy svthevat bhg gur qrgnvyf bs jung jnf tbvat ba j/ Tnaqnys n ybat juvyr nsgre "Guerr vf Pbzcnal."

        • pennylane27 says:

          This is fascinating. And also hilarious. Siriusly, Tolkien? BINGO?!

          • Mauve_Avenger says:

            Bingo Bolger-Baggins, more specifically. Sam was Odo Bolger, Pippin was Frodo Took, and Merry was Marmaduke Brandybuck. I didn't find anything on Fredegar and Folco, which I guess probably means they weren't changed.

            V fgnegrq ybbxvat fghss yvxr guvf hc jura V sbhaq bhg gung Fgevqre jnf bevtvanyyl n uboovg pnyyrq Gebggre orpnhfr bs uvf jbbqra fubrf.

    • Genny_ says:

      Tolkien apparently had the attitude that because he was A Scholar, editors didn't have the right to alter his work in that way- he resented the implication he didn't know what he was doing, or something? And that was that. So there really was very little editing beyond minor stuff AFAIK. But I don't think that was especially the norm or anything?

      • anghraine says:

        Heh, yeah. One of his lulzier quotations is, in regard to an editor correcting nasturtian to nasturtium, "I was put to the trouble of proving to him his own ignorance, as well as rebuking his impertinence." I think his attitude was really that he was a scholar of *words* and therefore knew more than pretty much everyone about them. (Which, well … Elven does sound cooler than elfin.) But all of his fits seem to be about word choice; it doesn't seem like anyone tried to pare down descriptions or even the pace or anything.

        • Genny_ says:

          They probably knew better than to try, heh. He seems to have had, well, quite the opinion of himself. A mere editor wouldn't know what was and was not 'necessary'! PAH.

          In all seriousness though, it's all kind of muddled because Tolkien wasn't trying to write a traditional 'story' as much as a 'history', so… how do you even edit that? Look at how much difficulty the production teams on the films had to go to just to try and wrangle a single narrative out of the books.

  49. Meltha says:

    I have nothing particularly impressive to add here, but I just wanted to say this.

    I want to go camping with elves too!

  50. PigRescuer says:

    ''Tolkien switches to the point of view of a passing fox? Who else would do that?''

    Phillip Pullman! ๐Ÿ˜€

    So glad you're reading this, EXCITE

  51. Meghan says:

    I mean, this is a huge deal to him! Not only does he get to see Elves, he gets to HANG OUT WITH THEM FOR AN EXTENDED LENGTH OF TIME. This is totally what Almost Famous was inspired by, right?

    Yes. It was originally called Almost Elvish.

  52. kasiopeia says:

    TOLKIEN'S WRITING STYLE! Let's talk about it.

    His books are dense and filled with information. I admire you a lot for doing this project Mark. Reading one chapter a day of LotR is a feat! His writing is sometimes hard to read, at least if you read it in big chunks, but it's so worth it, because you really get into the heads of the characters, and I really get the feeling that this is a looooong walk, or that Frodo really is leaving it all behind. Because we as readers get to feel it through his writing. And that's magical to me ๐Ÿ™‚

    • tardis_stowaway says:

      As someone who grew up with LotR, I love the wealth of detail in Tolkien's writing because it means that even on the umpteenth reading I still discover new things (or at least rediscover things I'd totally forgotten) every time. Middle Earth feels real in a way that almost no other fantasy worlds manage, IMHO. Walking places takes time for the characters, and the reader doesn't get distanced from the story by skipping over that time. I wouldn't want every book to be written like this, but for this one book I think the style is perfect.

      • kasiopeia says:

        Oh yes, I agree! I love rereading LotR when I haven't read it in a while. I always see new things and experience the book in a different way ๐Ÿ™‚ That's one of the most beautiful things about it ^^

  53. Laura says:

    "And can we just talk about how amazing it is that for two paragraphs, Tolkien switches to the point of view of a passing fox? Who else would do that?"

    Duh. Philip Pullman in "His Dark Materials" Trilogy would, of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

  54. ladililn says:

    MARK. It's ridiculous how excited I am for your new reviews every day, both here AND at Mark Watches. YOU ARE BEGINNING THE TWO MOST AWESOME PROJECTS OF ALL TIME BUT ONLY AT THE RATE OF ONE CHAPTER/EPISODE PER DAY *HOW CAN YOU STAND IT*. Literally it's driving me crazy, but in all the best ways. I keep getting excited for you to get to MOMENT X or SCENE Y or PLOT TWIST A, but then I keep having to remind myself you're only at the very beginning! Argh! So awesome yet so frustrating! ๐Ÿ˜› I haven't been this anxious over your reviews since back in the MRHP days. *nostalgia* ๐Ÿ˜€

    Anywho, this review made me grin all over for three specific reasons:
    * your theory on the cracks of doom/cracks of time LOOK OUT YOU WILL BE ERASED
    * your wonderings about Gandalf's senior thesis on hobbits
    * your blue door comments


  55. tigerpetals says:

    Okay, the description of the autumn made me hungry. Apples, honey, and corn. I don't actually like honey, but it always sounds luscious on a page.

    Unfair! Frodo has to give up his house. To petty jerks. If he comes back, he won't be able to return to it. Adventure time and all that, but I want him to have his house and his stuff to go back to.

    So I don't think this counts as a spoiler because it's no more than real-world mythology being obviously alluded to: elves are kind of intimidating because they're based on the Fair Folk of Northern European mythology. Those guys sparkle and they mean business. I'm not saying how alike they are, but clearly calling them the Fair Folk, making them shiny, them being separate and having preternaturally great food and music connects them. Their apparent separateness and laughing at hobbits makes me not sure I'd want to meet them. Not that separateness is bad, or that I never wanted to be untouchable myself, but it's a ''do not want you" aura they create. At least they are friendly when given a reason to overcome their separateness, and ready to help.
    I've sometimes thought, with the descriptions of preternaturally good-looking magical lovers going around in urban and YA fiction, they should all just be made fairies. I guess it's fine to reinvent other myths, but all this gorgeous-and-isolated-in-their-own-culture business has been reminding me of the Fair Folk.

    Now I know where the meme came from: "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." And this inspirational quote: "Courage is found in unlikely places."

  56. Valerie says:

    Coming out of lurking to say- I am going to attempt to read along because I've only read the books once because they're so so dense and it was right before the movies came out. The movies I've seen approximately a bazillion times though so my knowledge of what actually happens in the books compared to the movies is pretty lacking (I know, I know). Which is why I'm so excited for this!! So…V jnf ernqvat guvf puncgre naq abgvprq gung gur fbat Cvccva fvatf va gur Erghea bs gur Xvat zbivr vf va guvf puncgre! V unq urneq vg jnf npghnyyl sebz gur obbx ohg unq ab vqrn jurer. "Ubzr vf oruvaq, gur jbeyq nurnq…" Gung fprar fgvyy tvirf zr puvyyf va gur zbivr.

    V nyfb unir gb fnl vg'f xvaq bs fghaavat rirelguvat V'ir sbetbggra unccrarq va gur obbxf yvxr Sebqb fryyvat uvf ubhfr gb gur Fnpxivyyr-Onttvafrf sbe rknzcyr, be gur ynpx bs hetrapl nobhg uvz yrnivat bapr Tnaqnys gryyf uvz jung gur evat vf.

    • ladililn says:

      V ybir gung fbat gbb! And I'm definitely more familiar with the movies as well, only having read the whole of the books straight-through once–well, having them read to me would be more accurate, when I was little and my dad read them to me before bedtime. Ohg V qb yvxr gb cvpx bhg zl snibevgr cnegf naq ernq gurz bppnfvbanyyl, naq vg nyjnlf fhecevfrf zr jura V frr dhbgrf gung V erzrzore sebz gur zbivr, ohg bsgra va n pbzcyrgryl qvssrerag cynpr va gur fgbel naq fcbxra ol n qvssrerag punenpgre. XD

  57. Elexus Calcearius says:

    Oh, yes, Literary Analysis Mode. Anyone who went through High School or College English is probably familiar with it. On one level we probably scoff at some of the tenuous symbolism and metaphors we apparently 'discover', but it doesn't stop us from doing the same to everything we read.

    The sudden switch to a fox was…odd. I wonder what the point of it was. Will the fox play some part in the future, maybe lead the Enemy to the hobbits, or vice versa? I certainly hope so, because otherwise the narration there was somewhat awkward and jarring.

    I'm feeling really bad for Sam; also, I wish someone would tell him to stop saying sir. It just seems odd, because when you're on a trip to save the world together, I think you manage to become equals, y'know?

  58. Tim says:

    The Cracks of Doom is a volume of off-color jokes published by a short-lived small press out of Bywater the year after Bilbo returned from the Lonely Mountain. While no authorship was attributed, ethnologists have traced a majority of the jokes within to the Wood Elves of Mirkwood.

  59. WindsName says:

    Great review! Can't wait until you reach the other chapters! Pippin is generally one of my favorite characters of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    If this comment is considered inappropriate in anyway, please remove. However, I think this a cause that you would be interested in.

    SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is a bill going through Congress that would impose censorship on the internet. Anything that is copyrighted and used without permission could be ordered taken down or claimed illegal. That could potentially include a video of a little girl singing along to a Lady Gaga song posted up on Youtube. More information can be found anywhere on the internet or on the petition site.

    Sign the petition if you believe this is a worthy cause and wish to help stop it.

  60. Emily says:

    I love Tolkien's language. I always forget how beautiful it is until I'm re-reading LOTR. All the description makes me slow down, picture things, imagine the world of Middle Earth – rather than just rushing from one high moment to another. Of course, I'm trying to slow down and de-stress in general, cutting down on TV and saying "no" to a lot of things. Reading "dense" work like LOTR seems to fit in well with that plan. There's enough noise and speed in the world already – I'm glad for my novels to be a little slower and quieter.

  61. elyce says:

    Pippin is my favorite!!

    And now it's time for my not-so-dramatic telling of when I first read LotR. I've been waiting for this chapter, you see.

    I first read the Hobbit when I was around 8 or 9. My dad read it to my sister and I one summer and we both thought it was awesome, and I'm pretty sure at some point we watched the animated movie of it. Then my dad was like, "hey, I'll read you LotR next!" because he loves it and he thought we would too. Unfortunately, at age ten, all that description and slogging through the Shire was just too much for us, and we begged him to stop right at this chapter, right as the Black Rider appeared, and for the next four years, I was convinced LotR was a boring story. But then the movies came out. And, well, obviously my dad wanted to see them so we went… and I could not put off reading the stories anymore – nor did I want to. In fact, after seeing the first movie, I read the entire trilogy in a week.

    And now, ten years later, (geez, now everyone knows how old I am. Ugh. haha) I reread them every Christmas. Although I have missed a few years since finishing college… hard to lug around three big books to different countries all the time.

    Anyway, I'm glad you like pippin.

  62. Marie the Bookwyrm says:

    "There’s a lot more walking, and some more singing, more walking, and suddenly a three hour film seems like a minimal commitment."

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA! I had to pause in reading Mark's review because this is such a great line!
    Okay, back to reading.

  63. MidnightLurker says:

    ‘This is indeed wonderful!’ they said. ‘Three hobbits in a wood at night! We have not seen such a thing since Bilbo went away. What is the meaning of it?’

    ‘But we have no need of other company, and hobbits are so dull,’ they laughed.

    ‘We know many things,’ they said.


  64. stefb4 says:

    The chapters are unusually dense, but I'm glad you're still enjoying it and are fascinated by what's going on. If you hated it I WOULD BE INCREDIBLY HEARTBROKEN. I think it can be tiring for a first time reader, especially someone like you who has NO IDEA what the story really is about or has very little prior knowledge, so they have to keep all the information straight while still learning new things. At least though what Tolkien is writing is incredibly interesting and his descriptions are beautiful. HEY SMEYER WHY DON'T YOU READ TOLKIEN AND LEARN HOW TO DESCRIBE AND USE WORDS (or wait don't, that would only ecourage you to write more)

    For me, it was very easy to understand the first book when I read it when I was 13 because I had seen the movie first. I knew what happened. I think the second and third book may have been a little harder because I read them before the next movies came out. But rereads make them infinitely easier to read, and then I learned to appreciate the loving detail Tolkien puts in. The same goes for my rereads of classics or older works, especially now I'm so used to reading the language because of my English major. Also, Shakespeare is SO MUCH EASIER now than it was in high school (did not understand a single thing of Macbeth when I was sixteen and disliked it, but I appreciate it now and I love it).


  65. Openattheclose says:

    And can we just talk about how amazing it is that for two paragraphs, Tolkien switches to the point of view of a passing fox? Who else would do that?
    I will forever believe that the fox in the beginning of the Spinner's End chapter of Half Blood Prince was an homage to this.

  66. Majc says:

    From the Atlas of Middle-Earth: the Hobbits left on Sept. 23 in the evening from Bag end toward the Green Hill country, walking until they were very tired, taking a break to eat, they went 18 miles. Next day, up at 10, walked all day until meeting the Black Rider and after meeting up with Elves who took them farther than they probably would have gone, 28 miles.

    I don't know that I could do this…..walking 46 miles in two days…makes me feel very, very lazy.

  67. Icarus says:

    That's it. You've got me reading The Lord of The Rings … for the 47th tiiiiiiiiime … aaaah, sucked into that world again … bye for the next few days! (Loving every minute of your responses.)

  68. Dru says:

    this is a daunting task ahead of me, and I felt a bit weary.

    EXCELLENT. Reading these books is, in its own way, almost as much of a challenge as Frodo's mission so it is almost spooky you are having these feelings now (truth be told, it is hard going at times – the reading, I mean. BUT SO WORTH IT).

  69. Beri says:

    I love reading your reviews Mark, it gave me the motivation to dive into LotR again.

    The chapters don't seem nearly as long the 3rd time around and I love when I get to parts I just don't remember at all (like their meeting with the elves in this chapter).

    I'm hoping I'll actually complete the series this time. I've read it once all the way through, but the second time I quit halfway through The Two Towers. It's such a huge time commitment…but this I will make it…I hope.

  70. notemily says:

    It’s not like he can just draw him a map to the Cracks of Doom.

    Yeah, plus, it's not like you can just walk into–nevermind.

    Man, I would NEVER sell Bag End to Lobelia. I'd sell it to someone I liked!

    Already? Someone’s already come to find him?? Well, he did WAIT FOR MANY MONTHS before leaving.

    Pippin is there to help Frodo move to his new house. I don't think he knows about the larger mission at all. Does he? Unless I missed something. I love that all Pippin does in this chapter is fall asleep a bunch of times, though.

    As for the movies, this leaving bit is actually one of my favorite bits of the movies. The landscape around Hobbiton is so beautiful. Of course you can't expect EVERY detail from the books to make it into the movies, but I think they picked a lot of really good ones to put in.

    There’s a lot more walking, and some more singing, more walking, and suddenly a three hour film seems like a minimal commitment.

    LOLOLOL Mark. This is always my problem when re-reading the book–they sing and they walk and they sing and they walk and they walk some more while singing and I am like PLOT PLEASE.

    This is totally what Almost Famous was inspired by, right?

    LOL Mark you are in fine form today.

  71. ladysugarquill says:

    And can we just talk about how amazing it is that for two paragraphs, Tolkien switches to the point of view of a passing fox? Who else would do that?

    Rowling did, at the beginning of Half Blood Prince. The fox got killed. XD

    Tolkien can get a bit enthusiastic with his descriptions of nature…

    Also: THE SONG OF THE ROAD ("The Road Goes Ever On" according to Wikipedia). One of the ONLY bits of literature that makes me cry – yep, HP deaths didn't do it, this song did-. I had it as wallpaper on my computer for years.

    (Random anecdote: I read all of these books in Spanish, so I always I have fun with them trying to translate the songs back to English, and see if I can find the original words that rhyme.)

  72. Hailey says:

    I've always imagined the black riders as being dementors – (actually vice versa since I read LotR before Harry Potter) they're basically the same.

  73. very nice put up, i actually love this web site, keep on it 236233

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

Comments are closed.