Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 5

In the fifth chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, the group arrives at Frodo’s new “house” to discuss the creepy thing that’s following them, and in the process, Frodo is shocked to discover just how much his friends know about him. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


Okay, this is fantastic. This book is already so much better than The Hobbit, in execution and in the writing, in the story and the characters, and this chapter is a clear sign that I am completely and utterly unprepared for what this book is going to do to me.

What I can tell at this point is that there’s a pervasive darkness settled over this story, and the joy and loyalty of the hobbits is what allows them to break through it. I always sort of figured there’d be a “good” ending for The Hobbit; to be fair, I was surprised by how creepy some scenes were, and I definitely didn’t expect that much death. But The Fellowship of the Ring has a much more constant sense of dread than the last book, and I think this chapter is a good indication of that. This is not a there-and-back journey, as Frodo says later, and this is not just a simply adventure. This is fucked up.

I get the chance to truly meet Merry Brandybuck in chapter five, and during that process, Tolkien shares the history of Buckland. I haven’t been spoiled for this book on nearly 99% of what’s in it, but I know that many people over the years assured me this was a dense and difficult experience. As a reader, I’m fairly patient, and the same goes for watching films or television. I don’t need things to rush into action, and I generally enjoy when a work of fiction invests time in setting up the plot and the characters. Essentially, I love a well-executed slow burn.

In regards to The Lord of the Rings, I’d heard that’s not what this is. I’d heard it was so dense that it was akin to reading the fifth chapter of Genesis. AND THIS HOBBIT BEGAT THAT HOBBIT AND THEN ORCS BEGAT MORE ORCS AND THEN BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. So, if I can be completely honest, when I read, “Long ago Gorhendad Oldbuck, head of the Oldbuck family,” I braced myself. This is it, I thought. Cue forty pages about the history of Buckland. And then that doesn’t happen. Instead, it’s actually a concise history, it’s entertaining, and it greatly helped me picture the place in my head. I was shocked! I suppose I’m being premature about this, as there might be a seventy-page info dump coming up, but I am really satisfied with the way that Tolkien writes this. To me, it doesn’t seem dated nearly as much as I anticipated.

It helps, of course, that the plot of this book is a lot more thrilling in its execution. I love that once the Ferry reaches the other side of the river, Sam notices that the same black-hooded figure on the bank they came from. What the hell? Tolkien actually uses the appearance to frame the remainder of the chapter with tension: it’s only going to be a matter of time before they hear the hoof beats again, even if there’s a river in his way this time. It makes everything that follows this that much more intense because there’s not much time available to just sit around and do nothing.

Yet there are still so many small, emotional moments for the characters amidst the threat of capture. The first is when Frodo arrives at his new house in Buckland; the experience is surreal for him because it’s all his stuff that Bilbo gave him, so there’s an element of familiarity to it all, but it’s in this strange new environment. It causes him to almost…I don’t know…regret what he’s doing? Here’s this nice home in Buckland, and he’s going to have to abandon it for an unknown period of time; he may very well never return from this journey. (I sort of doubt that, personally.)

But the moment passes and I can’t help but laugh that Frodo’s doubt is alleviated by bath time. Bless my beard, this book is wonderful. There’s triple bath time, there’s a feast of mushrooms, which I very much want to partake in, and then the group, including Fatty Bolger, gets down to the real shit. It’s unavoidable at this point, but the group has a lot of questions for Frodo about what the hell is going on, and why some black rider is following them and constantly asking for BAGGINS.

The genius of this is that I totally fell for it. I saw Frodo dodge the questions he was asked, trying to shift the blame to “Bilbo’s old adventures,” and that’s when Merry is the first to knock me flat out of shock:

‘I can’t keep it dark any longer. I have got something to tell you all. But I don’t know quite how to begin.’

‘I think I could help you,’ said Merry quietly, ‘by telling you some of it myself.’

WHAT. WHAT. Merry???? What does he know???

Turns out he knows everything. No, that’s not correct. Everyone knows everything. Frodo is not exactly the most clever and clandestine hobbit in the world, and he certainly is unable to hide this entire plan of his to leave the Shire from the three hobbits who know him best. I laughed so hard when Pippin was like, “DUDE, WE HEAR YOU MUTTERING ABOUT  LOOKING UPON THE SHIRE FOR THE LAST TIME.” Oh god, this is the very best plot twist in the world.

Wait, nope. That’s not correct. Obviously, Frodo’s fears and concerns about leaving the Shire are magnified by this new revelation, so he insists he must leave soon; he completely resists the idea that anyone should come with him, even regretting the fact that Sam is coming.

‘This is no treasure-hunt, no there-and-back journey. I am flying from deadly peril into deadly peril.’

‘Of course we understand,’ said Merry firmly. ‘That is why we have decided to come. We know the Ring is no laughing-matter; but we are going to do our best to help you against the Enemy.’


In one GENIUS moment of plotting, Tolkien reveals that EVERYONE IN THE GODDAMN ROOM HAS KNOWN ABOUT THE RING THE WHOLE FUCKING TIME. Do you realize how much I love this???? That means no time further in this book will be devoted to the discovery of Frodo’s true “quest.” It means that these characters are all on the same page regarding the future. It means that Merry saw Frodo disappear in front of his eyes.


‘I kept my knowledge to myself, till this spring when things got serious. Then we formed our conspiracy; and as we were serious, too, and meant business, we have not been too scrupulous. You are not a very easy nut to crack, and Gandalf is worse. But if you want to be introduced to our chief investigator, I can produce him.’

‘Where is he?’ said Frodo, looking round, as if he expected a masked and sinister figure to come out of a cupboard.

‘Step forward, Sam!’ said Merry; and Sam stood up with a face scarlet up to the ears.

BLESS MY BEARD, THIS BOOK JUST GETS BETTER AND BETTER. It’s interesting how Tolkien treats this; first of all, he allows Frodo to (rightly) feel a bit betrayed, unsure of how to react to this. His friend has been spying on him? Technically, yes, he has, but his intent in doing so was part curiosity and part fear. The truth is that Sam, Pippin, and Merry fear losing their very best friend, and I really adore the way that Sam expresses this:

‘You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin–to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours–closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the Ring. We are horribly afraid–but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.’

The sound I made at this was disgusting. In just five chapters, I already wanted to reach through the pages and just hug all of these characters. I thought this whole book was simply Frodo’s journey, and that he’d meet new characters along the way. Instead, these four hobbits will head out towards whatever unnamed, unknown peril awaits them, all of them unsure what it is they are going to do. That’s both exciting and kind of terrifying, and they all acknowledge it. It’s part of the risk.

It’s made all the better, of course, that Frodo decides to leave in the morning (and not any later) and to take the way out of Buckland through the Old Forest, leaving behind Fatty as a safeguard of sorts. Apparently he’ll essentially pretend to be Frodo in a way to buy the group more time. For me, though, I just can’t wait to get to the Old Forest because YOU KNOW IT’S GOING TO BE CREEPY AS HELL THERE. Oh, I am so excited.

But chapter five ends with a confusing bit of foreshadowing. I mean that in the sense of my own ignorance of this novel. I don’t know anything about the plot from here on out, so this is genuinely new to me. That night, Frodo has a dream that I can only imagine is prophetic in some way, and I think it’s tied to the fact that the Ring is hanging around his neck. Wherever he is in this dream, he can hear the sea and see a tall white tower. I can’t even guess what the tower is. A lookout point? Do they even have lighthouses in Middle-earth? I don’t even know.

Wow, I am so unprepared for this, y’all.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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287 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 5

  1. Becky_J_ says:

    There are friends, and there are best friends. Friends are sorry to see you go when you say you have to leave the Shire and venture out in the midst of the greatest dangers… best friends conspire to go with you. Friends are sorry about your burden but glad it's not theirs when you have to carry the One Ring…. best friends will help you carry it. Friends say goodbye with the hope that there will be a hello again…. best friends don't, because they never say goodbye.

    " It does not seem that I can trust anyone!' said Frodo. " 'It all depends on what you want,' put in Merry. 'You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin–to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours– closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.' "

    No, Merry, I'm afraid you are a bit mistaken…. You are not his friends. You are his best friends.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      I totally agree with you re: friends and best friends. Well said. <3

    • flootzavut says:

      Amen. And seriously I am gonna start crying in a minute. I love these little guys <3

    • shortstuff says:

      Movie spoilers: V guvax bar bs gur svyzf' orfg zbirf jnf trggvat gur npgbef jub cynl gur uboovgf gbtrgure zbaguf orsber nalguvat ryfr fgnegrq, fb gung gurl jrag guebhtu ynathntr genvavat naq fjbeq unaqyvat gbtrgure, naq gurl ohvyg hc guvf npghny obaq bs sevraqfuvc, juvpu whfg fubjf guebhtu ba fperra. Vg nyfb ervasbeprf ubj guvf vf n Uboovg'f wbhearl, jvgu uvf pybfrfg uboovg sevraqf, naq gung'f jul rirelguvat raqf hc orvat bx va gur raq.

      Jryy, va gur irel raq. Gurve pybfrarff nyfb znxrf gurve frcnengvba gung zhpu jbefr. Nsgre Cvccva cvpxf hc gur cnynagve, naq ernyvmrf ur'f evqvat bss jvgu Tnaqnys naq *yrnivat Zreel oruvaq???* Bu gung jnf fb fnq sbe uvz!

      • plaidpants says:

        V NQBER gung zbzrag jvug Cvccva. Rfcrpvnyyl orpnhfr, cre hfhny, Zreel pngpurf ba n ovg fbbare guna Cvccva naq Cvccva whfg nhgbzngvpnyyl nffhzrf ur'f pbzvat gbb, naq gura vf fb pehfurq jura ur pna'g 🙁 🙁 🙁

        • flootzavut says:

          Naq Ovyyl Oblq GBGNYYL xabpxf vg bhg bs gur cnex, uvf orjvyqrezrag naq frafr bs ybff ner whfg cnycnoyr.

          V nz npghnyyl pelvat ntnva. Guvf vf fb evqvphybhf…

      • kasiopeia says:

        V nterr! Vg jnf fb pyrire gb qb gung, orpnhfr gurfr Uboovgf unir xabja rnpu bgure fvapr gurl jrer xvqf, naq gung arrqrq gb fubj ba gur fperra. Naq vg qvq, gurl ner jbaqreshy!

      • flootzavut says:

        Oh good grief I am CRYING JUST THINKING ABOUT THAT damn you…

        • arctic_hare says:

          Me too. 🙁

          • flootzavut says:

            I'm kind of a tiny touch relieved it's not just me who is ridiculously sentimental about that scene…

            • arctic_hare says:

              You are definitely not alone in that. Gur ybbxf ba gurve snprf whfg xvyy zr, naq gur yvar qryvirevrf… whfg gur jnl Zreel fnlf gung ur qbrfa'g xabj vs gurl'yy frr rnpu bgure ntnva, nhtu. :'(

              • pennylane27 says:

                STOP IT STOP STOP I CAN'T :'( :'(

              • flootzavut says:

                Lrf… vg'f whfg fb cresrpg. Zreel'f xvaq bs qrgrezvarq, hcfrg ohg ernyvfvat guvf vf gur evtug guvat – naq uvf ehaavat hc gb n uvtu cynpr gb jngpu uvf sevraq evqr njnl. Naq Cvccva'f fhqqra ernyvfngvba – bu Ybeq, gung haqbrf zr. “Zreel?”JNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNU V nz pelvat NTNVA…Znlor V whfg arrq gb jngpu gur zbivrf ntnva naq yrg vg nyy bhg…!

                • AmandaNekesa says:

                  This sounds like a good idea to me! Excuse me I'll just… *goes to watch RotK*

                  • flootzavut says:

                    I have watched all three of them (just the theatrical versions) over the last 24 hours. Does the heart good.

                    V jbexrq bhg bar guvat – Ovyyl Oblq vf bar bs gubfr npgbef (Qnivq Graanag vf nabgure, sbe zr) jub jura ur pevrf, vg whfg yrnirf zr va ovgf. V tbg gb gurve ernpgvbaf va Sryybjfuvc gb Tnaqnys snyyvat, naq gurl jrer nyy fnq naq grneshy ohg gura gur pnzren jrag ba Cvccva naq vg jnf yvxr, bu zl, abj V'z qbar sbe! Ur vf whfg pncnoyr bs ybbxvat fb hggreyl oebxraurnegrq. Naq nf rire, V nz nznmrq gb erpnyy gung ur vf gur byqrfg bs gur sbhe, ur ybbxf FB LBHAT.

                    • AmandaNekesa says:

                      Re: Ovyyl Oblq – lrnu, V guvax gur snpg gung ur qbrf ybbx fb lbhat va gur zbivrf bayl nqqf gb gur urneg-pehfuvat cbjre bs frrvat uvz pel. Vg'f nyjnlf fb nznmvat gb zr ubj lbhat ur'f noyr gb cbegenl Cvccva, ur'f fb vaabprag naq pnerserr ng gur fgneg, naq gur jnl ur ernpgf gb gur punbf nebhaq uvz vf irel zbivat. Bu, naq gung cneg evtug nsgre Tnaqnys'f snyy, jura gurl'er yrnivat Zbevn, lbh trg gung ybat, cvrepvat, fbnevat zhfvp gung gbgnyyl pncgherf gur fubpx naq gur tevrs bs vg nyy. Naq gura lbh trg gur uboovgf' ernpgvbaf gb vg, htu vg xvyyf zr!

                    • flootzavut says:

                      Yes, it's KILLING isn't it? Gur svefg gvzr V fnj gur zbivr V qvqa'g xabj gung Tnaqnys ergheaf naq V jnf yvxr :-b :-b :-b ABBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB! Naq rira jngpuvat vg ntnva abj, gurve ernpgvbaf whfg svavfu zr bss. Ohg lrnu, Ovyyl rfcrpvnyyl. Ur vf fbbbbb cresrpg nf Cvccva, naq fb znal bs gur *tyhc gel abg gb pel* zbzragf pbzr sebz uvz.

                      V cerqvpg jura jr trg gurer jr ner tbvat gb trg frevbhf urnqfcybfvbaf naq xrlfznfurf sebz Znex, naq vg nyzbfg – *nyzbfg* – znxrf zr jnag uvz gb frr gubfr zbzragf orsber ur xabjf gung Tnaqnys vfa'g tbar sberire. (Gubhtu zbfgyl V jnag uvz gb yrnir gur svyzf gvyy nsgreur'f svavfurq nyy gur obbxf.) The rather mean part of me that revels in the sheer unpreparedness is really looking forward to that whole bit… :$

                      V xabj V'ir fnvq vg ryfrjurer, ohg V guvax vg fnlf na rabezbhf nzbhag sbe Ovyyl naq Qbz obgu gung, nygubhtu gubfr gjb ebyrf jrer arprffnevyl fvqryvarq fbzrjung va gur zbivrf (rfcrpvnyyl gur gurngevpny rqvgvbaf), gurl ernyyl oebhtug Cvccva naq Zreel gb yvsr fb ornhgvshyyl naq gurl ner fb nssrpgvbangryl gubhtug bs ol frrzvatyl nyzbfg rirelbar jub'f frra gur zbivrf. Gurl oebhtug fhpu sha naq ernyvgl gb gubfr ebyrf, gurl unir orpbzr zl vzntr bs gur obbx!Zreel&Cvccva nf V ernq. Huge kudos to them both.

                      BU! Gnyxvat bs "Cvccva" zbzragf – znl unir nyernql orra zragvbarq, V'z gbbbb gverq cbfg Puevfgznf gb purpx bhg nyy gur EBG13'q ovgf, ohg GUNG FBAT. Gung qnza fbat. Lbh pna nyzbfg frr Cvccva znghevat guebhtu gur pbhefr whfg bs gung pbhcyr bs zvahgrf, naq vg vf fhpu n unhagvat zrybql juvpu ur fnat va n jnl gung jnf ornhgvshy ohg oryvrinoyl fvzcyr sbe n uboovg (vs gung znxrf frafr?). Netu. Rira guvaxvat nobhg gung znxrf zr jryy hc, obgu sbe uvz naq sbe Snenzve.

                    • AmandaNekesa says:

                      THIS. V'z shyyl rkcrpgvat fb znal oenva-zrygvat, xrl-fznfuvat erivrjf bapr jr trg gb gubfr cnegf va gur obbx naq va gur zbivrf. V'z fb nakvbhf gb frr uvf ernpgvba gb riragf yvxr, N Xavsr va gur Qnex, Tnaqnys'f snyy, Obebzve'f qrngu, Zreel & Cvccva'f pncgher. Naq gung'f whfg sebz guvf obbx! Nf V jnf ernqvat EbgX erpragyl V xrcg ernqvat vaperqvoyl qnex, fnq cnffntrf gung znxrf zr fher, bapr Znex trgf gurer, gung uvf urnq vf tbvat gb vzcybqr (cnegvphyneyl jvgu Fnz naq Sebqb'f wbhearl).

                      Fvapr zl svefg rkcrevrapr bs gur fgbel jnf jvgu gur zbivrf, vg znxrf zr jnag gb frr uvf ernpgvba gb rnpu zbivr nsgre rnpu obbx. Ba gur bgure unaq, V guvax vg jbhyq or orggre, sbe fgbel pbagvahvgl naq fcbvyre vffhrf, vs ur whfg jngpurf gurz nyy nsgre svavfurq jvgu EbgX. Rfcrpvnyyl orpnhfr gura ur pbhyq ernq gur fghss sebz gur Nccraqvprf gung vf vapyhqrq va gur zbivrf, cnegvphyneyl zber Nejra/Nentbea fgbelyvar.

                      Nyfb er: Cvccva'f fbat — Bu, zl urneg, vg uhegf! V YBIR gung fbat, naq V nerr jvgu rirelguvat lbh fnvq.

                      Nabgure guvat: V'z jenccvat hc EbgX naq V'z ba gur Fpbhevat bs gur Fuver. Vg znxrf zr ynhtu fb zhpu (jvgu cevqr & wbl) gb frr ubj ONZS gur sbhe uboovgf ner jura gur trg onpx gb gur Fuver naq frr nyy gur penc gung Fnehzna'f orra hc gb. Gurl nyy pbzr fb sne ol gur raq, V xabj Znex'f tbvat gb ybir gung cneg.

              • flootzavut says:

                … I think it's also one of the things that arguably the film can actually do better than the book. Vg'f uneq gb _jevgr_ gur fnqarff va gurve rlrf be gur oernx va Cvccva'f ibvpr… gurl qb n ornhgvshy wbo.

              • OCTBernie says:

                Gung'f gur ovg gung nyjnlf trgf zr! Jura Zreel'f fnlf ur qbrfa'g xabj jung'f tbvat unccra V vafgnagyl grne hc naq gura Cvccva'f "Zreel?" vf whfg BU QNZA GURER VF N JNGRESNYY BA ZL SNPR.

              • Parmadil says:

                Oh my god, I'm sitting here bawling…

                Gur nofbyhgr orjvyqrezrag ba Cvccva'f snpr gur jubyr gvzr, pbagenfgrq jvgu Zreel xabjvat RKNPGYL jung'f tbvat ba… Zreel vf greevsvrq, orpnhfr ur pna frr vg pbzvat naq xabjf ur pna'g fgbc vg!
                Bu zl tbq…

                *tbrf vagb pbeare, pbzzraprf uhttvat frys naq ebpxvat*

              • AmandaNekesa says:

                Oh Zreel & Cvccva, aaagh, it's too much…I can't take it… ::weeps::

            • mreeb says:

              Omigod, so not alone. Tears. Tears every damn time.

    • redheadedgirl says:

      Friends will bail you out. Best friends are in the clink with you going, "THAT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME."

    • Saphling says:

      Friends help you move. Best friends help you move bodies.


    • platoapproved says:

      This, so much. And I think Tolkien makes that distinction, when you see that some of them are willing to go with him, but Fatty Bolger (great name OR THE GREATEST?) isn't.

      • notemily says:

        Yeah, and I love that nobody shames him for it or acts like he should be a better friend. They all know it's dangerous, and if he wants to stay behind, he should.

    • Smurphy says:

      I love my best friend… but I don't think she'd tramp off to Mordor with me.

  2. Katie says:

    favourite chapter ever!

    unpreparedness awaits!

  3. Katie says:

    also, i think these four hobbits are currently about as unprepared as Mark usually is. Isn't it nice to have some company for a change, Mark?

  4. VEZ says:

    Aww yeah, it's the Merry Brandybuck Appreciation Station. He may not be the Best Hobbit (that's a tossup between Bilbo and Sam) but he's still my favourite. He can spy on people who can turn invisible at will! And that person was BILBO BAGGINS, supreme badass. Merry owns.

    • James says:

      Merry is just fantastic. If it weren't for Sam, he'd be my favourite. V ybir rirelguvat jvgu Zreel naq gur Ebuveevz. V pna'g jnvg sbe Znex gb frr Zreel naq Cvccva'f nepf!

      • flootzavut says:

        THIS. SO MUCH THIS. V pbasvqragyl rkcrpg uvz gb nofbyhgryl nqber Zreel naq Cvccva ol gur raq bs EBGX. V ybir gubfr gjb :Q

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        I was thinking that too – ur'f tbvat gb ybir gurve fgbel nepf…ubj gurl tebj naq jurer gurl raq hc, ng gur raq. Gurer'f fb zhpu gb ybbx sbejneq gb!!

  5. cait0716 says:

    So much hobbit love in this chapter. It's just a big old love fest.

    I love how many songs they have. Songs for walking and drinking and bathing. I guess if it's worth doing it's worth singing about. But really it just shows how filled with joy all of their lives are.

    Completely unrelated, but all the talk yesterday had me craving mushrooms in a big way. Then we went out to dinner with my boyfriend's family last night and the special at the restaurant was a three-mushroom risotto and it completely made my day.

  6. flootzavut says:

    For once I have good timing! Yay! Loving the Hobbit love fest. Are they not the best things evah?

  7. James says:

    I’d heard it was so dense that it was akin to reading the fifth chapter of Genesis
    Nah, that'd be The Silmarillion 😉

    I love this chapter so, so much and I'm glad that you do too! These hobbits, man. Amazing friends. They just fill me with this sense of "fuck yeah, strength and honour!" If that makes any sense. IDK, I just woke up.

    Also I'd forgotten how often the hobbits get naked.

    • Fuchsia says:

      I still have yet to make it all the way through the Silmarillion for that very reason. I want to, I keep trying, but it seems like an impossible task. I did make it all the way through the Bible once, but that was probably because I wasn't so interested in specifics like who begat whom. I am with Tolkien books, though!

      • flootzavut says:

        I have read bits and pieces of the Silm, but I struggle. I love the start though 🙂

        • pennylane27 says:

          I have read the Sil at least three times. Or more. I can't really keep track. But I love it! It's really worth the effort, in the end. You just have to marvel at the way the man built this whole world and mythology.

          • flootzavut says:

            I will persevere – I remember gur perngvba ovg very fondly, it's beautiful. And I know I've read other bits though I forget exactly which. I'll probably invest in it on Kindle, as I find books strangely much easier to read on Kindle, and given extreme levels of exhaustion at the moment (depression, chronic illness, bad combo!) I need all the help I can get! Maybe a Christmas gift to myself…

            • pennylane27 says:

              Aw, I hope you feel better! Tolkien is always the best gift ever in my opinion 😀

              • flootzavut says:

                T'anks 😀 I will probably wait till January cos then I won't have to pay for it till the end of February, which, looking at my bank account, will be a Good Thing ™

      • threerings13 says:

        I've started it three times, but I just can't get very far into it. Each time I am determined, and each time I'm like, "If I wanted to read the Bible, I would have DONE THAT."

      • TDM says:

        When I told my dad (who has been a total Tolkien geek since he was a teenager) how much I struggled reading Lord of the Rings and ended up giving up, he said, "You should read The Silmarillion. Every few chapters it goes 'and he shall now be known as'. It's great. :D" …I shuddered, lol.

        • pennylane27 says:

          See, that's the way I talk about the Sil too! "You need an index and family trees to keep track! It's like reading a history book! It's awesome!" People usually don't get it and it makes me feel sad 🙁

    • cait0716 says:

      The hobbits have no shame. In the most beautiful way possible

    • TDM says:

      "I’d heard it was so dense that it was akin to reading the fifth chapter of Genesis
      Nah, that'd be The Silmarillion ;)"

      Ahahaha I came to say -this exact comment-

    • flootzavut says:

      Hobbits are just so wonderful that it makes the reader want to be just as wonderful, I think!

    • Hahaha, oh the Silmarillion. I love parts of it so very dearly but then fall asleep at others. I find if I bounce around and take it bit by bit, like I'm reading interesting parts of a history book, I can get through it. Granted I have no notion of the timelines, but whatever. There are some really awesome characters buried in all the words.

    • clodia_risa says:

      Nah, that’d be The Silmarillion

      So much truth. I’ve studied Latin and Greek (including the original New Testament) and I can say with 100% subjective accuracy that The Silmarillion feels like it was translated from some ancient religious text into English.

      The only way I can get through it is to read it aloud, but I get tired a few chapters in. One day, I’ll make it all the way through.

    • Suzannezibar says:

      BWAHAHA, so true. I finally tackled it a couple of years ago…sooooo dense, and I do believe it took me the better part of four months in starts and stops. But so very worth it.

    • UnstrungZero says:

      Does anyone know if anyone's ever done like, an easy-reading version of the Silmarillion? Even an unofficial underground internet project?

      • flootzavut says:

        Seriously, I have wondered the same thing myself. Sometimes I think an easy-read-Tolkien-for-dummies of the whole thing would help. Even with TH and LOTR which I'd consider I know *reasonably* well there are still times when I realise I'd totally lost a bit somewhere along the line and have only just understood something REALLY IMPORTANT. I even get lost in the Wikipedia entries sometimes…

        • Barbara says:

          There is a Tolkien for Dummies book. It actually does a good job of breaking down the characters so you can keep them straight.

    • bugeye says:

      Yes! Ugh, just snorted my coffee. So True, I love the Silmarillion and probably return to that even more than LoTR. But it is a wade through, and very dense. Very rewarding but very dense.

    • Dreamflower says:

      I have lost track of how many times I've read LotR, but I have managed to slog through the Silm a couple of times, and re-read certain sections of it. It's not only the style, of course. Vg'f tevz naq vg ynpxf uboovgf. V yvxr Hasvavfurq Gnyrf naq fbzr cnegf bs UbZr orggre; oryvrir vg be abg, V rira yvxr Puvyqera bs Uheva orggre nygubhtu vg'f abguvat ohg tevz. Ohg vg'f jbegu ernqvat gur Fvyz rira gubhtu vg'f abg zl snibevgr ernq, sbe gur rkgen qrcgu vg tvirf YbgE. Tbbq tevrs! Ryebaq'f sngure vf n yvgreny FGNE– V unq ab vqrn orsber nf gb jul vg jnf "purrxl" sbe Ovyob gb jevgr n fbat nobhg Rnevaqvy va gur ubhfr bs Ryebaq!

      • flootzavut says:

        UbZr? V srry V fubhyq xabj jung gung fgnaqf sbe ohg V ernyyl pna'g svther vg bhg.

        V yvxr Hasvavfurq Gnyrf, V xabj fbzr crbcyr qba'g orpnhfr fbzr ovgf bs vg ner n yvggyr ebhtu naq ernql, ohg vg'f avpr gb fbegn qvc va naq bhg bs, naq frr yvggyr ovgf bs punenpgre vasb naq fghss lbh qba'g trg ryfrjurer.

        • Barbara says:

          Uvfgbel bs Zvqqyr rnegu?

        • Dreamflower says:

          UbZr; Uvfgbel bs Zvqqyr-rnegu, rfcrpvnyyl gur ibyhzrf qrnyvat jvgu gur jevgvat bs YbgE. V ybir ubj znal gvzrf WEEG whfg fgnegrq bire sebz fpengpu.

          • @silmerin says:

            jksdlfjdkslfdkls I recognize your username! I used to read your LotR fic back in the day. It was wonderful! Hi! Hello! *runs away*

            (unless you're a different Dreamflower, but that would be quite the coincidence)

            • Dreamflower says:

              Hello! Don't run away! I'm glad to meet you!

              There was another Dreamflower. I'm the one who writes about hobbits; she's the one who wrote about Elves. I'm still writing about hobbits, but I don't think she's writing LotR anymore.

              Anyhow, if it was me, I am glad if you liked my stories, LOL!

    • Sakura says:

      I love the Silmarillion, but some parts are so very dense! The parts I really like, though *cough Beren and Luthien* I've read too many times to count.

    • Katherine says:

      I love the Silmarillion. The Ainulindale is positively beautiful and is basically a lovelier and more poetic telling of the first chapter of Genesis.

      There's a couple of chapters in the middle of Silmarillion proper that are just descriptions of the lay of the land and the geneologies, but you can skip the geographical one because most copies come with a map at that point. "The Flight of the Noldor" is an amazing and tragic chapter and probably my favourite. Beren and Luthien is a wonderful epic, and is even better if you get "The Lays of Beleriand" (book 3 in the History of Middle Earth series – the rest of the series are basically just Tolkien's old notes showing how his world and his books evolved, but Lays of Beleriand is really worthwhile) and read it in the poetic-edda form as well.

      I skip the chapter that's just

      • Katherine says:

        Gah, why can't you edit posts here? Forget the last sentence, that's just another place I was saying that I skip the geography chapter.

        • James says:

          Oh, it's beautiful, and gives a lot of extra depth to Middle Earth and LotR, it's just very dense. I have to be in the right mindset to tackle it, or I just give up. Beren and Luthien is beautiful naq tvirf Nejra naq Nentbea'f fgbel gung rkgen yriry.

        • anobium says:

          It's because you're not logged in (I can tell you're not, because if you were your name would be a link to your comment history). When you're logged in, you can edit your own posts.

    • Smurphy says:

      Oh God, Silmarillion. Don't remind me. BUT I DID IT AND I AM IMPRESSED WITH MYSELF FOR THAT.

    • baruchan says:

      I didn't find it hard to read The Silmarillion, even the boring geography parts. But then again, I read the entire Bible (the Roman Catholic version, which means more books in the Old Testament than other Christian versions) and then the Koran in quick succession simply because I was bored and those were the only two books in the house that I haven't read yet that aren't geology textbooks.

      (The only book I skipped was either Numbers or Leviticus, because even I had limits.)

    • feminerdist says:

      Yeah… I own the Simarillion. I keep trying to read it, but… yeah. One day I will just push through it.

  8. flootzavut says:

    "this chapter is a clear sign that I am completely and utterly unprepared for what this book is going to do to me."

    You know not the truth of your words, Mr Oshiro. Trust me on this.

    "it’s only going to be a matter of time before they hear the hoof beats again, even if there’s a river in his way this time"

    Yes. *shivers* <— and I mean that quite literally.

    ROT13 for film spoilers:

    V'q gbgnyyl sbetbggra ubj zhpu gurl nyy xabj – V erterg gurl zvffrq fb zhpu bs guvf va gur obbxf, gubhtu V pna frr *jul*. Guvf vf uvynevbhf.

    "‘You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin–to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours–closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the Ring. We are horribly afraid–but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.’"

    And this is where I start to cry and fall in love with the whole damn bunch of them – but especially Sam <3

    Your unpreparedness is a constant delight 🙂

  9. Fuchsia says:

    Isn't this chapter just the best? For a moment, we're alleviated from the sense of dread that's been following them around and everyone just… shines. And I love that they have a bath song! They have a song for *everything*! As much as I claim that I'm secretly a hobbit, I think I'd get kicked out because of my inability to sing without sounding like I'm murdering a bird…

    Also, I'm glad that you FINALLY know that Merry and Pippin are coming along. I know it's only been five days since you started, but I feel like I've been holding onto this secret for ages. I've been rot13-ing all my comments about them, especially my love for Pippin, because I didn't want you to think that they had a bigger role than just getting Frodo set up in Buckland. But yay, you finally know! And aren't they just the BEST?

    And Sam. Oh my dear, sweet Sam. I love him so much. Spying on Frodo and his master never suspected it! (I admit that I forgot entirely as well, aside from the one time he did get caught while trimming the hedges.) His loyalty is wonderful, and a reason any Hufflepuff should be proud to claim that house.

    • Becky_J_ says:

      I agree, I feel like we've had to keep that quiet for FOREVER. Which is so hard when there is so much Pippin/Merry love! I mean, we obviously couldn't have just fallen that much in love with them in two chapters. Haha. But I'm so excited that our love can now be out in the open!!!

      • flootzavut says:

        Yes! They are sooooo easy to love, and it's such a relief. LOL. It's like we're at some kind of AA meeting for hobbit addicts: "Hi, I'm Floot, and I love hobbits." "Hi Floot!"

        • UnstrungZero says:

          HI FLOOT. Hobbits are the best. Only Nentbea/Ivttb rivals my love for the hobbits. Though I basically adore every single character, okay.

          • flootzavut says:

            I second the Nentbea/Ivttb love <3 but yeah they are ALL GREAT 😀

            • Kiryn says:


              Naq vapvqragnyyl, bayl svir zber puncgref, zl qrnerfg Nentbea, naq gura jr funyy or erhavgrq bapr ntnva!!! 🙂

              But Sam's awesome too. *hearts*

              • flootzavut says:

                YAY!!! PNAABG JNVG!

                Ab znggre ubj znal gvzrf V jngpu gur zbivrf, V'z whfg nznmrq ol ubj Ivttb whfg ORPBZRF Nentbea. Vg'f gehr gb fbzr rkgrag jvgu zbfg, znlor nyy, bs gur pnfgvat, ohg gung cnegvphyne ovg bs pnfgvat? Nofbyhgryl pnaabg vzntvar nalbar ryfr cynlvat gung ebyr… naq Ivttb jnf n ynfg zvahgr ercynprzrag jub qvq vg orpnhfr uvf fba gbyq uvz gung YBGE jnf njrfbzr naq ur fubhyq qb vg. V zrna… jubn. Lbh'q fb rnfvyl guvax ur unq fcrag gur ynfg 6 zbaguf genvavat va fjbeqsvtugvat naq evqvat naq trggvat gb xabj gur bgure npgbef gb vzcebir gurve bafperra purzvfgel, rg prgren. Nznmvat. V guvax (sebz fbzr bs gur pbzzragf uvf sryybj pnfg zrzoref znxr!) va nabgure ntr, ur cebonoyl jbhyq unir orra fbzr xvaq bs xavtug reenag be fbzrguvat, lbh xabj?

                Naljnl, V guvax Ivttb'f cerggl qnza njrfbzr, nf lbh *znl* unir thrffrq…

                And Sam IS awesome. Well, he is a hobbit, I guess we learn to expect awesome from those little guys 😀

                • Parmadil says:

                  Naq abj nyy V pna cvpgher vf Ivttb Zbegrafba va fuvavat nezbhe…
                  *qevsgf njnl qernzvyl*

                • UnstrungZero says:

                  Vg'f vaperqvoyr ubj ur whfg jnf qebccrq va gur zvqqyr bs vg naq pbzcyrgryl SVG. TBQ OYRFF UVF FBA, V jvyy nyjnlf or tengrshy gb Urael sbe gung, xabjvat vg zrnag uvf qnq tbvat njnl sbe n lrne. <3

                  Ohg gura, Ivttb'f whfg nznmvat nyy bire. Uvf cbrgel naq uvf neg, naq uvf UVYNEVBHF FRAFR BS UHZBE, thu. Gung zna.

              • AmandaNekesa says:

                YES! V'z fhcre rkpvgrq gung Znex'f tbvat gb ernq nobhg Fgevqre arkg jrrx. V qba'g guvax gur obbx zragvbaf gung vg'f Nentbea hagvy n yvggyr yngre ba (V guvax va Eviraqryy), fb jr'yy ernyyl unir gb jngpu jung rirelbar vf fnlvat, gb znxr fher jr qba'g yrg fyvc gung Fgevqre=Nentbea.

        • Dreamflower says:

          Hi, Floot!
          Hi, I'm Dreamflower and I am completely and totally addicted to hobbits! Especially Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Sam and Bilbo.

    • Katie says:

      Must say I didn't realize how spoilerish the Merry and Pippin love would be for someone who doesn't yet know that they go with Frodo (luckily didn't really comment much on them). But I guess the excuse is that Mark fell plenty in love with them in the first four chapters already :).

      And on a more serious note: although the reveal is really well executed and you're genuinely surprised at that point by them coming along, when you look back at the first four chapters, you do realize that it was kind of inevitable – no writer would spend that much time developing characters who would just remain sitting around the fire in Buckland for the rest of the book (although I'd read that…)

      • flootzavut says:

        "no writer would spend that much time developing characters who would just remain sitting around the fire in Buckland for the rest of the book (although I'd read that…)"

        True… and yeah, me too…

    • atheistsisters says:

      HAHAHA, I actually just made myself a t-shirt that has a picture of Hufflepuff, a heart, and Sam!

  10. Lugija says:

    Once again, Alfred’s “oh, you have no idea”-line from Dark Knight was stuck in my head while I read this. Does anyone have a gif of that, by the way? That person would get to see a pic of my snow-velociraptor.

  11. settlingforhistory says:

    Only a short comment today and then I will pack up my notebook and visit my family.

    I love, love, love this chapter! Pippin and Merry and Sam are the best friends any hobbit can hope for.
    Never in a million years had I though that they all knew about Frodo's plans.
    Yes, I assumed they would want to accompany him, but that they already knew and didn't try to convince him to change his plans. They knew all along that he would be in mortal peril soon and so they decided to be in mortal peril together. Wonderful friends, just the most awesome people. Again, where can I find my own hobbit? 🙂

    I wont be anywhere near a pc for the weekend so I wish you all a wonderful Christmas now.
    I hope you have a great time with a lot of food and songs and people who love you.
    See you all next week.

  12. Ryan Lohner says:

    Unfortunately, the radio version creates a bit of a plot hole here: the timeline of Frodo learning everything about the Ring is compressed enough that Sam would have had no opportunity to tell the others, yet this scene plays out exactly the same. Well, at least it's nothing really big, Harry Potter movie style.

  13. knut_knut says:

    Awww! So much Hobbit love!! <3 <3 <3 Their friendship makes my heart hurt, it’s so sweet

    I love Pippin’s bath song and his bathing antics! It reminds me of being a kid and trying to do that giant splash from the scene in The Little Mermaid when she’s on the rock and the wave breaks behind her. I made such a mess that I caused the ceiling downstairs to leak. And I would do it ALL THE TIME -_-

  14. Eefje says:

    I love these early chapters and how awesome all the hobbits are in them. I'm really glad I get to read along with Mark and discover all this anew.

  15. shortstuff says:

    70 Cntr vasb qhzc? Thlf, bu abrf, Znex tbg fcbvyrq sbe gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq!

    Whfg xvqqvat, ohg fgvyy. V erernq gung puncgre erpragyl nsgre jngpuvat gur zbivr gb erzvaq zlfrys jung lbh zvff sebz gur zbivr, naq JBJ! Rira sbe zr, jub xabjf jung'f pbzvat naq unf ernq gur Fvy, gung jnf n ybat puncgre gb fybt guebhtu. Gunaxshyyl, vg'f oebxra hc vagb 2 cnegf gunaxf gb Ovyob'f fgbznpu.

  16. Dreamflower says:

    OMG! I have SO been waiting for you to get to this chapter!!! And now I am so HAPPY!

    In just five chapters, I already wanted to reach through the pages and just hug all of these characters. I thought this whole book was simply Frodo’s journey, and that he’d meet new characters along the way. Instead, these four hobbits will head out towards whatever unnamed, unknown peril awaits them, all of them unsure what it is they are going to do. That’s both exciting and kind of terrifying, and they all acknowledge it. It’s part of the risk.

    You have no idea! When I read this as a 15 year old girl, who only had a few friends and none of them best friends (I'd moved around a lot. My dad had been in the Air Force.) and that was the EXACT reaction I had. I fell totally and completely in love with hobbits then and now, 44 years later I am still completely obsessed with how wonderful these four particular hobbits are!

    To see someone else have that same strong reaction to this scene somehow makes me feel very validated. I LOVE you, Mark!!!

    • flootzavut says:

      I wish I'd actually read it when I was 15 – I think I would have been exactly the same way! Though at the age of 20-something I had a pretty similar reaction 🙂

    • bugeye says:

      Are we the same person? 15 years old 44 years ago, totally in Tolkien love? I tell people I have never stopped reading Tolkien. I have to visit several times a year and the parts I visit change with the course of my life. I like this part for the whole friendship and committment to do what has to be done.

      Tolkien, always my deserted island book choice.

      • Dreamflower says:

        Um, well, if you were living in Northwest Florida at the time, a you were a tall and big-boned girl with glasses who carried around a ton of books all day long, and also loved the Monkees, you might be me.

        • bugeye says:

          I am the Pacific Northwest version without the Monkees (Beatles and Stones) I look like a normal 60-year-old woman with a husband and adult children, just do not make a Tolkien reference around me. A complete Tolkien geek transformation occurs that can be shocking to the unaware and uninitiated.

          In a previous chapter Mark made a reference about "Reading History". Yes Mark, you are reading the beginning of all things, the birth of Cannon and the Holy Grail of all Fantasy. Sometimes I just want to pat everyone here on the head, nod sagely, and say: One day Grasshopper you may understand".

  17. Depths_of_Sea says:

    Aahhh, this chapter has one of my favorite funny parts, where Pippin's just all like, "CANONBALL!" with the bathtub and sends the water gushing out.

    And then Frodo's like, "Screw this I'm toweling off in the kitchen where it's dry."

    And then Merry's like, "Holy cow Pippin, I am not cleaning that up!"

    It's like a hobbit sitcom!

    • cait0716 says:

      I want this sitcom

      Maybe when PJ's done with the epic movies, he can turn to fanfiction for TV?

      • Fuchsia says:

        I've always maintained the belief that the four hobbits would make an excellent tv show.

        It would be like the Golden Girls except… hobbits. Eating and singing and causing mischief all the time. So, not exactly like the Golden Girls at all. Still, someone please make this happen.

      • knut_knut says:

        Jnfa’g gurer na FAY fxvg jurer Sebqb naq Tbyyhz jrer ebbzzngrf be fbzrguvat? V guvax vg jnf jura Ryvwnu ubfgrq jnl onpx va gur qnl. Abg gur fnzr nf n Tbyqra-Tveyf-jvgu-Uboovgf fvgpbz qverpgrq ol CW, gubhtu

  18. Tauriel_ says:

    I love this chapter. It's full of hobbity goodness and everything is beautiful and nothing hurts. 🙂

    I like the description of the Brandy Hall as this sort of multi-generational home. I imagine it must've been almost like a huge hotel – three front doors! 😀

    But as they looked it seemed to move and sway this way and that, as if searching the ground. It then crawled, or went crouching, back into the gloom beyond the lamps.

    CREEPY. *shudder*

    Anyway, Frodo and Co. reach his new house in Crickhollow (and props to Merry and Fatty for decorating it in a familiar way with Frodo's and Bilbo's things), and we find out Merry had prepared them a bath. And that hobbits have SPECIAL SONGS FOR BATHS. <3 <3 <3 It's just so loveable and warm and fuzzy.

    "I suppose you three won't want mushrooms again?" said Fredegar without
    much hope.
    "Yes we shall!" cried Pippin.
    "They're mine!" said Frodo. "Given to me by Mrs. Maggot, a queen among farmers' wives. Take your greedy hands away, and I'll serve them."

    Aww, bless. I love the banter between the hobbits. And I love how Frodo calls Mrs. Maggot "a queen among farmers' wives". I can't help but picturing her standing majestically in front of their house, with a crown on her head and holding a golden soup ladle or something like that… 😀

    And then the dinner is over and Merry asks about the Black Riders and Frodo reluctantly starts giving out the information – when it is gloriously revealed that they know about EVERYTHING.

    The others looked at him in silence, and exchanged meaning glances among themselves.
    "It's coming out in a minute," whispered Pippin to Merry. Merry nodded.


    Not only they know that Frodo is meaning to leave the Shire, but they also know about the Ring and poor Frodo is shocked into oblivion. (Although, props to Merry for being observant enough to learn about the Ring. Well spotted!) And then Sam is revealed as their "chief investigator" and it's absolutely gorgeous.

    "Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the Ring. We are horribly afraid – but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds."


    So anyway, Frodo decides to start his journey immediately and go throught the Old Forest, which sounds really ominous. But the good thing is, he has four conspirators instead of just Sam, so it's easier to plan the logistics of the thing. I like that Fatty Bolger is staying behind, acting as if Frodo is staying in Crickhollow – it certainly might cover their tracks and hide the fact that Frodo has left the Shire. Plus he might get a message to Gandalf, should he appear (WHERE IS GANDALF, BY THE WAY???).

    So they clean up, pack, and go to bed. And then Frodo has a strange dream that sounds almost like a premonition:

    Then he knew that it was not leaves, but the sound of the Sea far-off; a sound he had never heard in waking life, though it had often troubled his dreams. Suddenly he found he was out in the open. There were no trees after all. He was on a dark heath, and there was a strange salt smell in the air. Looking up he saw before him a tall white tower, standing alone on a high ridge. A great desire came over him to climb the tower and see the Sea. He started to struggle up the ridge towards the tower: but suddenly a light came in the sky, and there was a noise of thunder.

    Sounds rather ominous. But what does it mean?

    • notemily says:

      That creepy description of the black figure crawling and swaying reminds me so much of Harry catching a glimpse of Voldemort drinking unicorn blood. (I mean, I know which one came first and all, but I read HP first so that's the reference I have.)

      I moved this summer and I totally wish someone would have taken all my stuff to my new apartment and arranged it just the way it used to be, BEFORE I even got there.

  19. monkeybutter says:


    Oh god, me too. I could just imagine Frodo brooding over a personally significant hedgerow, while Pippin and Merry roll their eyes and wait for him to finish. And I just want to hug them all, or at least send them a mushroom gift basket, for saying that they can't and won't leave him because they're his friends. Dammit, I love these hobbits.

    I'm finding both The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring a lot easier to get into than I had expected (or, in the case of The Hobbit, remember from my first attempt.) They're really well-suited to chapter-by-chapter disccusion, and I'm happy to just absorb everything about Middle Earth. It also doesn't hurt that I find the main characters in FOTR really endearing. O blessed Meriadoc!

    • cait0716 says:

      They're really well-suited to chapter-by-chapter disccusion

      This right here is why I've been more excited about this project than just about anything else Mark has read. The chapter-a-day pace is perfect for LotR, because I'm never feeling overwhelmed, but I'm still making progress and enjoying the story. And there's enough density for us to have good discussion, even this early in the book. Even if those discussion occasionally break down to how we feel about mushrooms

    • Parmadil says:

      "I could just imagine Frodo brooding over a personally significant hedgerow, while Pippin and Merry roll their eyes and wait for him to finish."

      BEAUTIFUL! I can totally see this happening in my head…

  20. Jenny_M says:

    What I took away from this chapter is that hobbit bathtime is awesome and I want a song to sing about taking a bath.

    In seriousness, though, when I first read the book I was so upset to think that Frodo and Sam were going to leave these fun hobbits behind and then OMG THEY ARE COMING WITH!

    Vf Gbz Obzonqvy frg sbe Ghrfqnl fvapr Znex vf fxvccvat Zbaqnl? V pna'g erzrzore jung puncgref ur qbzvangrf. VR: jvyy uvf uv ub qreel qby gnxr hc nyy bs sevttva' arkg jrrx? BZT V'z fhpu n Obzonqvy ovtbg, lbh thlf.

    • cait0716 says:

      I want a song to sing about taking a bath.

      Rubber Ducky, you're the one
      You make bathtime lots of fun

      That's as close as I can come

    • Sinnive says:

      V guvax gung Obzonqvy vf znkvzhz gjb puncgref – gur bar jurer ur erfphrf gurz sebz gur perrcl gerr naq gur bar jurer ur erfphrf gurz sebz gur oneebjf. Naq gurer vf fgvyy n puncgre va orgjrra whfg nobhg gur Byq Sberfg. V svtherq vg'f Obzonqvy ba jrqarf- naq guhefqnl naq gur lrne raqf va Oerr. Ohg v zvtug or zvfgnxra?

      • Ryan Lohner says:

        Ur'f va gur arkg gjb puncgref, naq gura ur'f tbar.

        • Mauve_Avenger says:

          Ur'f va gur arkg guerr puncgref. Ng gur raq bs gur arkg puncgre ur erfphrf gurz sebz Byq Zna Jvyybj, gur puncgre nsgre gung vf gurz fgnlvat ng uvf ubhfr, naq gur arkg bar vf uvz fnivat gurz sebz gur Oneebj-jvtugf. Fb jr'yy or Obzonqvy-serr ng gur Cenapvat Cbal ba Sevqnl.

        • BetB says:

          Obzonqvy naq Tbyqoreel.

          V pna'g ernq nobhg gurz jvgubhg erzrzorevat gur Uneineq Ynzcbba cnebql bs YBGE pnyyrq Oberq bs gur Evatf. Va gung obbx, gurl jrer pnyyrq Gvz Oramrqevar naq Unfuoreel.

    • @stephen_g says:

      Obzonqvy vf fcernq npebff 2-3 puncgref, vf ur abg? Va nal pnfr, gurer'f bar puncgre anzrq nsgre uvz, juvpu vf jurer ur trgf gur zbfg gvzr.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Wbyyl Gbz pbzrf va ng gur raq bs gur "Byq Sberfg" puncgre, naq gura ur vf zbfg bs gur arkg puncgre, naq n cneg bs gur oneebj-jvtug puncgre gbb.

      V qvqa'g yvxr Gbz zhpu ba n svefg ernqvat, ohg ur'f tebja ba zr bire sbhe naq n unys qrpnqrf, naq abj ur'f n snibevgr bs zvar. Urycrq jura V tbg n yvggyr zber Z-r onpxtebhaq naq pbhyq znxr fbzr rqhpngrq thrffrf nf gb jung xvaq bs perngher ur vf.

      • Jenny_M says:

        V'ir nyjnlf znvagnvarq gung V qba'g ungr Gbz Obzonqvy, V whfg ungr jurer ur gheaf hc va gur fgbel. V jbhyqa'g unir zvaqrq n jubyr obbx nobhg uvz, ohg V nyjnlf gubhtug gung vs gurer jrer nal gvzr Gbyxvra pbhyq unir hfrq na rqvgbe, vg jnf jvgu Gbz va Sryybjfuvc.

        • Dreamflower says:

          Npghnyyl, V guvax vg jnf cerggl pyrire gb unir fbzrbar yvxr Gbz ng gung cbvag. Guvf vf n genafvgvba sbe gur uboovgf; gurl'ir yrsg gur fnsrgl bs gur Fuver, ohg gurl ner uneqyl cercnerq gb qrny jvgu rira gur rneyvrfg bs qnatref gurl jvyy rapbhagre, abg lrg! Vg jnf vzcbegnag gung gurl dhvpxyl snyy vagb zbegny crevy, gb fubj gung gur Oynpx Evqref jvyy abg or gur bayl qnatre gurl snpr. Gurl ARRQRQ n erfphre. Zlfgrevbhf Gbz vf cresrpg sbe guvf– ur'f cbjreshy, zber cbjreshy cebonoyl guna gur uboovgf unir nal vaxyvat bs– ohg ur'f nyfb pbzvpny naq nccebnpunoyr. Vg jbhyq or uneq sbe gurz gb srne uvf eryragyrff purre naq fvyyl fbatf. Naq lrg, ur'f yvzvgrq ol gur trbtencuvp obhaqnevrf bs uvf nern, fb gurl pna'g eryl ba uvz gb pbagvahnyyl trg gurz bhg bs gebhoyr. Naq ur *qbrf* nqinapr gur cybg, orpnhfr Zreel pbhyqa'g unir urycrq Rbjla fynl gur J-x jvgubhg gung oneebj-oynqr!

          • Jenny_M says:

            LIZI, V guvax! Jr zvtug unir gb nterr gb qvfnterr ba guvf bar!

            • Dreamflower says:

              Jryy, vg gbbx zr n juvyr gb pbzr gb gung pbapyhfvba. V bayl jnezrq hc gb vg (naq gb Gbz) nsgre znal er-ernqvatf, fb V haqrefgnaq jurer lbh ner pbzvat sebz abj. Naq "nterr gb qvfnterr" vf bar bs zl thvqvat cevapvcyrf va vagrearg pbairefngvba. 😉

    • Url, qba'g vafhyg Gbz Obzonqvy! Gubhtu V jvyy serryl nqzvg gung ur'f ovmneer. Ohg gung'f jung znxrf uvz fb zhpu sha, sbe zr naljnl. Ur'f nyy yvxr "Bu, jbeyq va tenir crevy orpnhfr bs guvf guvat? Uhu." Naq gbffrf gur evat va gur nve yvxr vg'f abguvat. V nyfb yvxr uvf fgbelgryyvat… ohg lrnu, ur'f fgvyy jrveq 🙂

  21. BetB says:

    Mark, your comments about the differences between The Hobbit and LOTR is exactly what I would have tried to tell you if you asked me to compare the two. I'm pleased that you like what you've read so far (I have a long attachment to the story).

    I also like your comments about creepiness awaiting and the foreshadowing. I won't tell you anything about the foreshadowing. It took me a long time to make sense of some of the foreshadowing. It does add to the creepiness and sense of impending doom, doesn't it?

    As long as you realize that you are unprepared, all is right with the world. It is cool to read you first impressions and relive the first reading of this story with you.

  22. monkeybutter says:

    Oyrff gubfr uboovg nccrgvgrf.

  23. Love watching you read LOTR for the first time! Debbie Ohi did the same thing back in 2001 (I am old) and I loved it then too. This is a great chapter, isn't it? And yet, you are not prepared. 😉

    • flootzavut says:

      Oooh I hadn't heard of that. Cheers for the heads up! 😀

    • Mirima says:

      Thank you for that link! I remembered reading someone else going through LotR chapter by chapter before the movies were out, but I couldn't remember who it was or find the page again. I've been looking for it ever since Mark finished the Hobbit, but couldn't find it.

  24. mickey6521 says:

    Sam is the BEST!

    Just had to be said

  25. plaidpants says:

    I absolutely adore the fact that Frodo was not as circumspect as he thought he was being. He thinks he's being all sneaky and mysterious, and Merry and Pippin are like nope, totes obvious!

    V xvaqn jvfu gung zber jnf znqr va gur zbivrf nobhg Zreel naq Cvccva'f qrpvfvba gb pbzr nybat. V xabj gurl pna'g qb gur jubyr pbafcvenpl guvat orpnhfr bs gur fubegrarq gvzryvar, ohg fgvyy vg'q or avpr vs gurl jrera'g whfg fhqqragyl eraavat jvgu Sebqb naq Fnz. Znlor fbzr fgngrzrag ol gurz nobhg ubj gurl unir ab vqrn jung'f tbvat ba, ohg gurl'er tbvat jvgu gurz!

    • msw188 says:

      Nterrq. Guvf, naq gur cbegenlny bs gur ryirf, jrer gur bayl guvatf gung V qvqa'g yvxr nobhg gur svefg zbivr.

    • pennylane27 says:

      V nterr. Vg nyjnlf znxrf zr n ovg fnq gurl pbhyqa'g vapyhqr gung, nf vg ernyyl fubjf whfg ubj nznmvat gurl ner. Ohg fgvyy, jr trg gurz fclvat ba Ryebaq'f pbhapvy naq gung yvar nobhg univat gb gvr gurz hc gb fgbc gurz sebz pbzvat. Nygubhtu gung'f va gur obbx gbb? Qnza zbivrf zvkvat hc zl zrzbel bs gur obbxf!

      • Dreamflower says:

        Gung yvar jnf Cvccva'f va gur obbx, naq pnzr ng n qvssrerag cynpr. CW zbirq n ybg bs qvnybthr nebhaq, hfvat rknpg yvarf, ohg tvivat gurz gb qvssrerag punenpgref be univat gurz pbzr va qvssrerag fvghngvbaf.

    • Dreamflower says:

      V qvq n fbeg bs "zvffvat fprar" snasvp sbe gung, fvapr CW thggvat gur jubyr onpxfgbel sbe Zreel naq Cvccva nyjnlf ohttrq zr.

    • flootzavut says:

      Yeah, it's kind of adorable that he thinks he's been all cloak and dagger, only to find out that they all know 😀

      Vg'f n yvggyr yvxr ur hfrf gur "pbqranzr" Haqreuvyy – V zrna, vg'f abg gur fhoyrfg bs cfrhqbalzf, lbh xabj??! Oyrff. Gurl ner fbbbbbbbbbbb hacercnerq…

    • Parmadil says:

      Gubhtu V qvq guvax gung gurl tnir n yvggyr abq gb vg ng gur raq bs Sryybjfuvc, jura Zreel naq Cvccva znxr gur qrpvfvba gb yrg uvz tb nybar naq qvfgenpg gur Hehx Unv. V nccerpvngrq gung zbzrag.

  26. rabbitape says:

    I love that "Bless my beard" has become a regular Mark Reads feature.

  27. msw188 says:

    The first time I read this, I think it somehow escaped me what was going on here? I don't think I really knew the full meaning of the word "conspiracy", and phrases like "dried up and on parole" and "tough nut to crack" totally passed me by. I was, hm, 11ish…?

    I remember because the SECOND time I read these books and read this chapter, I was absolutely floored (and I couldn't figure out what confused me the first time). It will always be one of my favorite chapters in the book. To me, the first chapter is a sort of build-up to the second, and the third and fourth are sort of build-ups to this.

    And just to be sure: Mark, even though Sam is undoubtedly amazing, it is actually Merry who supplies those utterly magical lines about what 'trust' really means in friendship.

    • flootzavut says:

      I think the first time I read it, despite being 20-something, I missed a lot of this because I was reading sooooo fast because I HAD to find out what happened.

  28. msw188 says:

    Oh and I forgot to say, I also LOVE the Buckland history lesson interjected into the beginning of the chapter. I feel like there's something almost cinematic about it; where in a movie the camera would pan to show the whole hill and surrounding village (as they approach on the ferry) from afar, here in a book the narrator 'pans' backwards in time and 'shows' the whole history of the area 'from afar'.

  29. TreasureCat says:

    Lil bit more art for you all that I tried to post yesterday but I dont think it posted properly because it was too large. I resized and hopefully it works this time! This is one of my favourites:

    <img src=""&gt;

  30. I love Frodo in this chapter. He's so completely clueless, and his astonishment that his friends know everything about this never fails to make me smile.
    And can I just say: Merry, Pippin, and Sam are the best and most amazing friends anyone could ever have. I love Tolkien for showing friendship as such a strong and incredible tie, since I feel pure friendship is really overlooked and undervalued in modern stories, with that stupid phrase "just friends" being thrown around all the time. I love this chapter and this whole story for showing the power and beauty of a long-standing friendship and just how much such a relationship means for everyone involved.

  31. Suzannezibar says:

    ‘You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin–to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours–closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.

    GAAAH I CAN'T HANDLE IT. The beginning of this chapter makes me cackle with glee at the knowledge of the hobbits being the best trolls ever, but that particular part of the chapter makes me turn into a blubblering mess Every. Single. Time. Everyone in the world needs friends as loyal as these.

  32. Ryan Lohner says:

    Something that's just occured to me: Gbyxvra uvzfrys qvfyvxrq gur gvgyr Gur Erghea bs gur Xvat, orpnhfr vg jnf gbb zhpu bs n fcbvyre. Abj, jung jbhyq or gur cebcre gvzr gb oebnpu guvf fhowrpg…

    • monkeybutter says:

      Jura Nentbea vf pebjarq. Gurer'f ab ernfba gb pnyy vg gb Znex'f nggragvba, be vs ur svtherf vg bhg, pbasvez vg gb uvz orsberunaq.

      Bu tbq, abj V'z grnevat hc guvaxvat nobhg rirelbar objvat gb gur uboovgf.

      • arctic_hare says:

        V pel rirel gvzr V frr gung fprar. Arire snvyf.

      • plaidpants says:

        V guvax guvf vf nofbyhgryl zl snibevgr fprar va nyy guerr zbivrf. Gur ybbx ba gurve snprf – gurl whfg qba'g frrz gb dhvgr haqrefgnaq ubj fcrpvny gurl ernyyl ner.

        Rirelgvzr V'z jngpuvat EbgX naq trg gb gung fprar V arkg zl fvfgre gung yvar, orpnhfr jr obgu nqber vg. (Bs pbhefr, V nyfb grkg ure gur "V qb abg xabj gur jnl" yvar va gur pbhapvy bs Ryebaq fprar orpnhfr vgf bhe zbfg pevatrjbegul yvar va gur ragver frevrf. Ungr gung yvar)

      • Becky_J_ says:

        BU zna. Frevbhfyl. V srry yvxr jr arrq gb nyy unir n pelvat srfg gbtrgure, orpnhfr boivbhfyl guvf cnegvphyne erivrj vf whfg gbb zhpu sbe hf.


  33. @MeagenImage says:

    For me, though, I just can’t wait to get to the Old Forest because YOU KNOW IT’S GOING TO BE CREEPY AS HELL THERE. Oh, I am so excited.

    Oh, Mark. you are SO UNPREPARED for the horrors that await!

    Url ub, zreel qby…

  34. echinodermata says:

    I think slow burn is a pretty good description of the book so far – I mean, in chapter 5 of the Hobbit, Bilbo meets Gollum and they swap riddles and shit. In Fellowship, we're still in the Shire. And I appreciate that, too – it doesn't feel rushed and I think there's more time to really appreciate these characters and what they're doing and a lot of the levity that was never present in The Hobbit.

    It's interesting because I loved the The Hobbit when I was younger, but even though I really struggled reading Fellowship years ago and abandoned reading the series, now that I've actually read LotR, they really are the better books.

    Anyway, Merry and Pippin and Sam are the greatest. LOVE THEM ALL and how they don't need Frodo to exposit for them.

  35. Dru says:

    there’s a feast of mushrooms, which I very much want to partake in

    All right, so the hobbits have their mushrooms and Gandalf has his (pipe)weed.

    That basically means that the would-be saviours of Middle Earth and their mentor are………a bunch of stoners*.

    *along with whatever you call mushroom eaters

    • flootzavut says:

      Mwahahahaha 😀

      Gurer'f na rkgen fbzrjurer nobhg Cvccva naq Zreel qbvat sybgfnz naq wrgfnz, naq Qbz naq Ovyyl gnyx nobhg ubj gurl qvq gung fprar n ybg bs qvssrerag jnlf – fyvtugyl qehax, irel qehax, fyvtugyl fgbarq, irel fgbarq, rgp. Gurl gbb unq pyrneyl jbaqrerq nobhg jung rknpgyl cvcrjrrq jnf :Q V guvax gurl rira unir n pbhcyr bs pyvcf sebz gur qvssrerag irefvbaf. Cneg bs zr ernyyl jvfurf CW unq hfrq gur "irel fgbarq" irefvba nf V guvax jvgu Ovyyl naq Qbz va gubfr cnegf vg jbhyq unir orra ULFGREVPNY!

  36. threerings13 says:

    I'm just trying to figure out how I'm going to survive the long weekend without reading a chapter of LOTR every night.. It is going to be SO HARD to wait.

    • flootzavut says:

      Me too… I logged on today forgetting it was a Saturday… and then I realised not only is it a Saturday but the weekend's going to go on forever. I has a sad.

      • threerings13 says:

        I bought myself the Blu-Ray set of the movies for Christmas. I think I may have to watch them to make it through. 🙂

        • flootzavut says:

          Nice 😀

          I'm kind of hoping Mark will surprise us with a review tomorrow, but on the other hand not trying to get my hopes up as, at least in the UK, it's still a Bank Holiday… ahhh well. It will be all the sweeter when it arrives!

  37. LjrTR says:

    I think the comment about friendship Mark quoted is from Merry not Sam. Anyway. How wonderful to have friends like these!

  38. Smurphy says:

    This was a really good chapter…. I keep saying that.

    I just love everyone and I am just filled with love right now…

    Also totally forgot how this all went down. QNZA LBH ZBIVR. AND the execution of it was just brilliant.

    Nyfb jnfa'g gung Tbyyhz abg n oynpx evqre ba gur bgure fuber?

    Jub'f ernql sbe gbz obzonqvy??? LRF!

  39. MsSméagol says:

    This chapter is such a great example of how our good friends often know and understand us much better than we think. Even you think you're really good at hiding your troubles and keeping up appearances, your good friends usually have a pretty good hunch about what's really going on.
    Merry and Pippin and Sam really are the greatest 🙂

  40. platoapproved says:

    There are so many other things in this review I want to comment on, but I have to first say that you should definitely keep using "bless my beard" – not just for the rest of your Tolkien reviews, but FOREVER.

  41. tigerpetals says:

    About this site I linked two or three days ago,, don't read it Mark. I said you could, but I keep going through the chapters and it seems like it follows the movie, only with the book chapters. But let me show you this cute picture from chapter one that doesn't spoil.

  42. ravenclaw42 says:

    ~Zl yvggyr uboovg~
    V hfrq gb jbaqre jung sevraqfuvc pbhyq or
    ~Zl yvggyr uboovg~
    Hagvy lbh nyy fnvq vg'f qnatre jvgu zr


    WHEW, I remembered to code that at the last second. Forgot Mark hasn't seen MLP yet.

    And now for something completely different: I have the LotR-relevant middle volumes of Christopher Tolkien's History of the Lord of the Rings, which is basically all of Tolkien's manuscripts at every stage of writing combined with an ongoing commentary by Christopher parsing it all out. I certainly haven't finished reading it all, but if I come across any entertaining and relevant stories about the writing process, I'll share them! But I wanted to ask the mods, is it cool to post some non-spoilery Could Have Been trivia uncoded? Because there are some writing artifacts (mostly names) that are HILARIOUS.

    But first, a bit of trivia about the dream sequence, which is spoilery:
    Gur qernz frdhrapr vf fbzrjung zrnavatyrff naq pbashfvat va gur svavfurq pbagrkg bs gur obbx, ohg vg'f na negvsnpg sebz frireny erjevgrf. Sebqb qernzf nobhg Tnaqnys orvat uryq ba Begunap ntnva va Obzonqvy'f ubhfr – ohg guvf qernz jnf na rneyvre irefvba bs gur fnzr guvat. Orsber WEE qrpvqrq Fnehzna jnf n ivyynva, Tnaqnys unq raqrq hc genccrq ng gur gbc bs bar bs gur Juvgr Gbjref orgjrra gur Fuver naq gur Terl Uniraf, naq gur sbhe Evqref jub unqa'g tbggra gb gur Fuver lrg jrer fgnaqvat nebhaq gur gbjre xrrcvat uvz gurer. Gura gur Evqref ernyvmrq Sebqb unq tbar bss jvgubhg Tnaqnys, naq yrsg, yrnivat T noyr gb trg qbja. N lrg byqre irefvba bs gur qernz pbagnvaf zragvba bs n "oyhr yvtug va gur gbczbfg punzore bs gur gbjre," gur Evqref frrvat Sebqb jngpuvat gurz, gheavat gb evqr gbjneqf uvz, naq Tnaqnys fhqqrayl nccrnevat gb uvf erfphr jvgu gur "synfu bs yvtug naq abvfr yvxr guhaqre" nf ur envfrf uvf fgnss. Lrg *nabgure* irefvba – jura Gbyxvra jnf ortvaavat gb qbhog vgf arprffvgl – cynprq guvf qernz ba gur avtug Sebqb fgnlrq va Oerr, naq hfrq gur "synfu bs yvtug naq abvfr yvxr guhaqre" nf na va-qernz negvsnpg bs Gebggre (cebgb-Nentbea; gung'f nabgure fgbel ragveryl) bcravat gur fuhggref jvgu n onat bagb n oevtug zbeavat.

    I find this process stuff fascinating and almost as entertaining as the finished story. But I may be weird in that.

    • pennylane27 says:

      If you're weird, then I'm weird too because this is just fascinating!

    • arctic_hare says:

      Hey, as long as it's non-spoilery, be my guest, I would LOVE to read that!

      • ravenclaw42 says:

        Yay! I'll have to make some notes this weekend. 😀 I'll just be careful, since the writing/revising stages are full of skipping around & rearranging the plot.

    • flootzavut says:

      Gur Gebggre anzr nyjnlf penpxf zr hc. Vg whfg frrzf fbbbbbbbb jebat.

      FWIW, I find this stuff fascinating too, and would have all of those books if I could afford them!

      • Becky_J_ says:

        Nununun Gebggre vf FB jebat. Vg fbhaqf yvxr… fbzr…. jrveq ohaal be fbzrguvat, V qhaab! Fgevqre vf n zvyyvba gevyyvba gvzrf orggre.

        • ravenclaw42 says:

          Be nf jr pnyy uvz va zl ubhfr, Gebggre gur Unz.

          Gur guvat nobhg Gebggre vf, ur jber jbbqra pybtf. JBBQRA PYBTF. Fb ur… fbhaqf yvxr n gebggvat ubefr? Naq gurer jnf n pbzcyrk onpxfgbel nf gb jul n tehatl, rkvyrq Enatre uboovg jbhyq jrne fubrf, naq V guvax vg unq gb qb jvgu uvf srrg orvat gbegherq? VQX VG JNF FB JRVEQ. Jura jr trg gb Nentbea V jvyy nggrzcg gb fhz vg hc.

        • flootzavut says:

          It always makes me think of rvgure n fznyy cbal – znlor n Furgynaq – be n cvt. Rvgure jnl – ABG Ivttb, bu, hz, V zrna NENTBEA…

    • Dreamflower says:

      I have those volumes as well. Return of the Shadow is my favorite with all the different versions and discarded beginnings! It truly is fascinating!

      • ravenclaw42 says:

        Return of the Shadow is the only volume I've read all the way through! The story is so rough at the beginning. Once Tolkien settled into a plot it goes so much more smoothly, but the revisions of the first 8-9 chapters are both intense and absurd. I love the sheer drama of which Hobbit families should be relevant to the story. GENEALOGY IS SRS BSNS.

    • Katherine says:

      I could never work out what that dream meant before! Thank you.

  43. Dru says:

    Also, this bit: I thought this whole book was simply Frodo’s journey, and that he’d meet new characters along the way. Instead, these four hobbits will head out towards whatever unnamed, unknown peril awaits them, all of them unsure what it is they are going to do.

    Mark, I think you'll find some uncanny parallels between this series and your current MW project, Buffy for exactly this reason.

    Buffy's friends are as much a part of the story as she is, after they get embroiled in her Slayer life and her secret comes out – in much the same way that Frodo's gang found out by accident about the Ring, and now it's their journey too.

  44. hpfish13 says:

    So, no Alan Lee Art again, but I have another landscape. It's called Last Sight of Hobbiton. I think its actually from the last chapter, but I wasn't sure, so I decided to be careful and wait. I love how mournful the landscape is, plus I always images of the night sky with the clouds partially covering the moon.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I love this chapter!! It's so exciting to find out that everyone knows everything. Just reading your review and Sam's quote about how they will stick with him got me all emotional.

  45. kasiopeia says:

    I think a lot of say it's really, really dense info-dump when we're trying to convince people to read LotR. Because sometimes the book is that, and that way they are prepared 😛 At least I do that ^^

    But I think Tolkien does a great job of integrating the history into the story, and using the characters to tell about places and customs.

    MERRY AND PIPPIN AND SAM! I love them to bits. They are so amazing, and they are such great friends to have. I don't think I have three friends who would go to Mordor with me. You can't just walk into it you know? ^^

  46. arctic_hare says:

    I once again need to express my deep appreciation for your one-chapter-a-day reading method, Mark. Rereading this book in this way has, just like with HDM, The Hobbit, and American Gods, increased my enjoyment of it. I think it just works so well for absorbing things. In addition, I haven't actually read these since my first time, as a kid, and the ensuing years + what others have said about the density of these books made me remember them as being, I think, a bit more dense than they actually are. This is so fun to rediscover the journey! <3

    That damn Black Rider is relentless, isn't he? It? YEAH WHAT IS THAT THING. I'm not sure humans have hobbit-sniffing powers. Well, at least, I don't. 🙁 Maybe it's different in Middle Earth? We haven't spent much time around humans, compared to hobbits, dwarves, elves, wizards, etc. Whatever the Rider is, though, is deeply creepy and ominous. I love how the threat of him/them (EEEEEK THERE'S MORE THAN ONE NO THANK YOU) hangs over them constantly. This is a much scarier and darker adventure than Bilbo's, that's for sure.

    But! We also get happy hobbit fun. I love these guys so much. <3 Yay for more Merry, and yay in general for them knowing about Frodo's secret. He is not terribly good at keeping them, is he? And LOL, I love how everything can be blamed on the Sackville-Bagginses, and Merry says as much! Proof once again of how much they suck. Also yes, what they said about not letting him go off alone into danger and going with him: AWWWW. <3 Just want to give them all big hugs.

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    Like so. 😀

  47. tigerpetals says:

    Since last chapter I've been worried about Farmer Maggot, and that line about how Bolger's part in this would prove to be dangerous makes me more worried. Speaking of which, he withdrew from the conversation during that little infodump and I was confused for a while.

    Like you Mark, I expected that I'd get infodumped and sang at all the time. But it's actually just enough to show you some of the culture and history these people have to add to your understanding of their behavior. I really like that. And that you can indeed find out more reading The Silmarillion and the History of Middle Earth series.

  48. PrefectSarah says:

    "I’d heard it was so dense that it was akin to reading the fifth chapter of Genesis."

    For me, it's not so much large amounts of info at one time than just LOTS of little bits of information all over. And names… TONS of names. I actually used the index in the back a lot reading this because a term or name would come up that it seemed I was expected to know, but had no clue about. Yay for indexes!

  49. Majc says:

    Travel in this chapter is minimal. From the Atlas of Middle-Earth: Crickhollow is only three or four miles past the Buckleberry Ferry. So, on September 25th the Hobbits traveled a total of 27 miles.

    • Katherine says:

      Given how much the narrative goes on about Frodo being relatively out of shape…that's impressive. I would consider 10 miles a very, very long day carrying a pack. Hobbits are tougher than people tend to believe.

  50. kartikeya200 says:


    No really, this is the only coherent, non-spoilery thing I can say.

    I LOVE SAM A LOT OKAY. One of my favorite literary characters ever.

  51. hick says:

    I've lost the link to the sides, where you can "translate" the spoilerish Posts. I even have forgotten, how this code is called, so I can't google it. Could someone please give me a link again. Thank you very much in advance.

  52. Starsea28 says:

    I love how Frodo is all "But I was being really subtle!" and the other three are like "LOL no" It gets the whole "will Frodo tell them about the Ring or not?" question out of the way.

    Wherever he is in this dream, he can hear the sea and see a tall white tower. I can’t even guess what the tower is. A lookout point? Do they even have lighthouses in Middle-earth? I don’t even know.

    *giggles madly* Mark, you have entered a whole new realm of lack of preparation.

  53. enigmaticagentscully says:

    I'd just like to add my agreement to your relief at how non-dense the prose is!

    When I first read LotR, I was totally preparing myself for a long haul. There's especially a certain chapter that has a reputation amongst people I know for being very dull, and I was particularly dreading that. But I found the entire book to be remarkably easy and fun to read! Sure, there's the occasional bit of history or backstory, but I found it interesting rather than tedious, and I didn't think the overall story was ever bogged down by it.

    I guess it's a case of different strokes for different folks, but I've never had a problem with Tolkien's writing style, at least in these books.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Ner lbh gnyxvat nobhg gur "Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq"? V qvq abg svaq vg obevat, ohg n ybg bs crbcyr fnl vg'f n fabbmr-srfg orpnhfr, url, whfg gnyxvat urnqf, evtug? Ohg npghnyyl vg pbafvfgf bs frireny engure rkpvgvat "zvav-fgbevrf", fhpu nf Obebzve'f fgbel bs jul ur'f pbzr; Yrtbynf' fgbel bs Tbyyhz'f rfpncr; Tybva'f gnyr bs gur Zbhgu bs Fnheba pbzvat gb gur Ybaryl Zbhagnva; naq zbfg bs nyy, Tnaqnys'f rkcynangvba sbe uvf yngrarff. Lrf, gurer'f n ybg bs uvfgbel, ohg vg'f nyy eryrinag bire gur ybat unhy.

      Ubjrire, V bapr jebgr n fubeg cbrz nobhg vg, va gur uhzbebhf fglyr bs Btqra Anfu:


      Fbzr sbyxf guvax guvf puncgre’f obevat,
      Orpnhfr gurer vf ab svtugvat be zntvp be frk ( bs juvpu gurer vf abar gb or fcbxra bs naljurer ryfr va gur obbx, rvgure, fb gung’f orfvqr gur cbvag) naq fb vg yrnirf gurz fabevat.
      Ohg jura lbh pbafvqre gung vg pbiref sbhe gubhfnaq rvtug uhaqerq naq svsgl avar naq guerr dhnegref lrnef bs uvfgbel,
      Gung vg’f abg rira zber obevat vf n zlfgrel.

  54. AmandaNekesa says:

    This chapter is just a big Hobbit love fest! I love it! <3 Frodo <3 Sam <3 Pippin <3 Merry <3

    guvf puncgre vf n pyrne fvta gung V nz pbzcyrgryl naq hggreyl hacercnerq sbe jung guvf obbx vf tbvat gb qb gb zr.
    Ubj evtug lbh ner, fve!

    V fhccbfr V’z orvat cerzngher nobhg guvf, nf gurer zvtug or n friragl-cntr vasb qhzc pbzvat hc,
    —Ubj ybat vf gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq? Purpxvat…..ybbxf yvxr 32 cntrf bs cher vasb-qhzcvat nurnq. Naq ur gubhtug Tnaqnys'f vasb qhzc jnf ybat.

    Bless my beard, this book is wonderful.
    —Everytime I see Mark write "bless my beard" it makes me smile, especially when it's in response to how great this book is. It makes me excited to share in this experience.

    ‘You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin–to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours–closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo. Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the Ring. We are horribly afraid–but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.’

    The sound I made at this was disgusting. In just five chapters, I already wanted to reach through the pages and just hug all of these characters.
    —Oh, Sam you are awesome and we all love you for this. Frodo's friends are THE BEST! They really know the meaning of love, friendship, support, and loyalty. Also: Bu zna, Znex vf tbvat gb or hggreyl qrfgeblrq nf gur obbxf tb nybat. Ur'f nyernql trggvat fb nggnpurq gb gurfr punenpgref, naq V pna'g uryc ohg guvax bs ubj ur'f tbvat gb ernpg jura pregnva punenpgref ner vawherq be gubhtug gb or qrnq.

    To add to the creepiness of the Black Rider, here's a John Howe sketch:

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

    You clearly already know this Mark, but just a reminder: you are so incredibly, and adorably, unprepared.

  55. Shannon says:

    It is kind of fashionable to hate on Tolkien, usually for the same stock reasons as your Genesis quip, and this is a fact that honestly annoys the crap out of me. I mean, I will admit that at times he could have used a more proactive editor, but Tolkien's style has never bothered me, and in my experience, people who actually actively like books and literature tend to share in this opinion. Anyway, my point is that don't let people's opinions get the better of you 😀

    I am seriously so thrilled that you are reading this. There is so much I want you to experience. I cannot wait for you to eventually read the Silmarillion, if you choose to do so. I mean, this is brilliant anyway, but if you had the WHOLE thing? It would blow your mind.

  56. VoldieBeth says:

    I don't know if anyone's mentioned this yet or watched the film with the actor's commentary but: (film spoilers) Ovyyl naq Qbz znqr hc n tnzr pnyyrq gvt-gnt naq xrcg punatvat gur ehyrf ba Ryvwnu, fb gung ur jbhyq nyjnlf ybfr be fbzrguvat yvxr gung. Zbaguf yngre, Ryvwnu nfxrq gurz nobhg gur tnzr naq gurl gbyq uvz gurl whfg znqr vg hc gb fcvgr uvz naq fhpu. Ohg ernyyl, gur npgbe pbzzragnel sbe gur svefg zbivr vf gur shaavrfg guvat rire orpnhfr bs gur uboovgf!

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Vg'f rfcrpvnyyl shaal orpnhfr vg'f vagrephg jvgu Vna ZpXryyna naq Wbua Eulf-Qnivrf gnyxvat nobhg ubj terng vg jnf gb uryc ahegher gurfr lbhat npgbef.

  57. h00kreads says:

    Long-time reader, first-time poster. Stupid question – is everyone rot13ing offsite or is there a "spoiler" feature on this site that auto-rot13s?

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Go to

      • h00kreads says:

        Thanks, I use or just a simple 'tr' when I am on my *nix box. I was just wondering if there was something in-built here. It seems somewhat cumbersome to go back and forth, comment by comment to "unspoil" numerous comments.

        • threerings13 says:

          I only recently found out about it, but there are extensions for browsers that make decoding and coding easier. I'm using Leetkey for firefox. It took a bit of messing with it, but now I just highlight the text and press Shift-E and it translates it. (I had to set that up myself.) Otherwise you can right click and choose what language you want to translate to. There are other extensions for Chrome, but I don't know what they are.

  58. Andrea Harris says:

    I think people who say that LOTR is "dense" and "like the book of Genesis" are either confusing it with the Silmarillion (which *is* much more detailed and Biblical in tone) or else they're the typical modern reader who is used to the modern type of novel, many of which often seems stylistically empty to me. (I mean seriously, some authors take "don't waste a lot of time with backstory/infodump" too far, and also no one seems to know how to describe setting — you're in New York, you're on an alien planet… I need to know what's different about those two place, mmkay?)

    Anyway, I actually think that for such a huge book, Tolkien was very concise. Most of his scenes have just exactly the right amount of everything in them and no more.

  59. Hotaru_hime says:

    *cackles* AHAHAHA, you are so not prepared for anything.
    Fellowship is probably the densest of the three with a lot of information… I think Return of the King is longer than it, but it feels so much shorter.

  60. ChronicReader91 says:

    Yes! I’m finally caught up on reviews, but I have to comment on this chapter. It’s such a nice respite from the tension and darkness of the previous chapters, and we get to see how close the four hobbits really are.

    Even though I feel for Frodo, since I’ve been in the position of thinking I’m keeping a secret only to find out I’m being incredibly obvious, I always get a kick out of him flailing while the others just nonchalantly reveal how they knew everything all along. That was brilliant on Tolkien’s part, because not only does it save us Frodo explaining a lot of information we already know, but it shows just how brave and loyal Sam, Merry, and Pippin are. <3 Yeah, huge hobbit quartet fan here.

    Also, you’re right, they have a song for absolutely everything.

  61. ladysugarquill says:

    * I’d heard it was so dense that it was akin to reading the fifth chapter of Genesis.
    I tried to read the whole Bible once. I got stuck somewhere around here. (I will do it someday, but I'll need A LOT of time…)

    Randomness aside, I think the only bits of LotR that are really dense are the geographical descriptions. Gurer'f nyfb Gbz Obzonqvy, ohg ur'f abg qrafr, whfg cbvagyrff.

    * Fatty Bolger! I always forget he exists XD

    * It's odd, but I felt so bad for Frodo on this scene. He thought he was being all secretive and stuff, and it turns out everyone knew 🙁

    * I was always confused by Tolkien's foreshadowing. Does he use it? Because I read somewhere that he just started writing and never knew where the story would take him. But guvf naq gung ovg ba Gbz Obzonqvy'f puncgre(f) feels like foreshadowing. Did he added it later?

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