Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 7

In the seventh chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, BLESS MY BEARD WHAT DID I JUST READ? Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.

CHAPTER SEVEN: IN THE HOUSE OF TOM BOMBADIL

Okay, seriously, I did not expect things to get so weird. This is some surrealist, freaky shit, y’all. My concerns about the River-daughter and Tom’s bizarre behavior were only minimally acknowledged in the first few pages of chapter seven. What I ultimately love about all of this and this character specifically is that I still have no goddamn clue who he is.

On top of that, the very first woman in all of Middle-earth is finally introduced. WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG, TOLKIEN. Oh my god, y’all, I understand none of this. Which is perfectly fine, by the way! I get the sense that Tolkien is being mysterious entirely on purpose, that I’m not supposed to now exactly what’s happened here in the house of Tom Bambadil.

Does that mean I’m not going to try? YOU UNDERESTIMATE ME.

MARK’S ATTEMPT AT DECIPHERING TOM BOMBADIL AND THE RIVER-DAUGHTER

  • I just need to say this first: it is going to be the funniest thing in the world if there’s actually no mystery here at all and my reading comprehension skills are completely useless and I didn’t understand what’s already on the page. SO THIS MIGHT BE A DISASTER.
  • Is there some significance to the fact that the River-daughter has vessels filled with water and topped with water-lillies at her feet? Probably. Do I know what that is? Nope.
  • What does Goldberry mean? IS THAT A CLUE.
  • Okay, so if I understand it correctly, Frodo greets this woman with, “Fair lady Goldberry!” and then sings her a lovely song, and all of this is surprising to him because…well, he has no idea why he said this. So…is she like Old Man Willow and can cast some sort of “spell” over others?
  • Who is Tom Bombadil? “He is, as you have seen him. He is the Master of wood, water, and hill.” WHAT THE FUCK DOES THIS MEAN? Master of this part of the wood? Of all woods?
  • “No one has ever caught old Tom walking in the forest, wading in the water, leaping on the hilltops under light and shadow. he has no fear. Tom Bambadil is master.” Yeah, this makes absolutely no sense. I kind of love that fact, honestly, but it’s true. What the hell is going on?
  • I’m sorry, I know that it’s nice and kind and I won’t ignore that, but if I showed up at a stranger’s house, and he had four bathtubs perfectly set up for me and my three friends, I would leave immediately. Okay, granted, he could have set this up in the few minutes they spoke to Goldberry, but given later comments, Tom makes it clear he has been waiting for them to arrive.
  • I understand that eating and hobbits go hand-in-hand. I understand that Tom might also know this and want to treat his hobbit friends politely, respecting their culture in the process. That’s awesome! However, it feels like he’s doing this to trap them in some way, or, at the very least, to distract them from something else.
  • Frodo finally asks Tom a question. Wait, first of all, no one could “muster the courage to ask one of the many questions” they had throughout dinner. Seriously, THIS FEELS WEIRD TO ME.
  • Anyway, Frodo asks if Tom heard him calling for help, or if it was by chance that he came upon Old Man Willow. He replies, “It was no plan of mine, though I was waiting for you.” HOW IS THIS NOT A CLEAR SIGN THAT YOU SHOULD GET THE HELL OUT OF THAT HOUSE. Well, to be fair, they all seem to be enchanted by Goldberry and Tom, so I’m not criticizing the characters. BUT STILL. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.
  • Why does Tom need to go fetch water-lillies for Goldberry? Is it part of some ritual? You know, I’m doing terribly at trying to decipher this all, which makes me laugh and then makes me think that perhaps I’ve made a huge deal out of nothing.
  • THE DREAMS. Okay, perhaps this is the only sign that Tom brought them here specifically to trigger these dreams. Frodo vision of the dark tower with a man on top of it reminds me of the one he had earlier, so I’m going to assume it’s important to the story. Pippin has a dream that the house he’s in is the Old Man Willow itself. Merry dreams of the house filling with water and drowning him. What do these mean? Why would Tolkien spend time describing them? THEY’RE IMPORTANT, OKAY?
  • Sam didn’t dream of anything LOL FOREVER.
  • So after this, I thought that this was all a good thing. But the next morning, it turns out a storm has rolled in, so Tom gleefully exclaims that they all get to stay at his house some more! Which…he is too happy about this. I DON’T GET HIM.
  • However, he does sit down for a question and answer session of sorts with the hobbits, who all have a lot of questions for him about…well, everything. He’s surprisingly open about the Old Forest and its history, talking mostly about the Great Willow that tried to…kill them? I suppose that’s what its ultimate goal was, right? Either way, I actually really liked this bit of info-dumping because it gives me a bigger sense for the enormity and complexity of Middle-earth. What ends up being fascinating about fantasy is that these sort of things can just exist and they don’t have to necessarily be explained in our terms.
  • THERE ARE WIGHTS IN MIDDLE-EARTH? Oh my god I AM SO EXCITED.
  • Okay, this is the weirdest part: Tom starts talking of times long before anyone can remember or is even aware of in Middle-earth history and he basically falls asleep. What’s important is that he stops talking. As soon as he does: “…it seemed as if, under the spell of his words, the wind had gone, and the clouds had dried up, and the day had been withdrawn, and darkness had come from East and West, and all the sky was filled with the light of white stars.” OKAY I’M SORRY HOW THE FUCK IS THIS POSSIBLE AND WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.
  • When Frodo asks Tom, “Who are you, Master?”….I just broke. My brain broke and I threw my hands up in the air and just accepted the weirdness for what it was. All of a sudden, he starts referring to “Tom” in the third person, as if some other entity is living inside that human body, and that other thing assures Frodo that the Master was here SINCE THE VERY BEGINNING. What is this??? Is this Middle-earth’s version of God? I AM SO TERRIBLY LOST AND I AM ENJOYING EVERY SECOND OF IT.
  • This is not an attempt at deciphering this, but I lol’d quite heartily when Goldberry bursts in and is all, “LET’S ALL EAT LOL.” Oh my god.
  • How does Tom know about their lives? How does he know Farmer Maggot????
  • WHY CAN’T TOM DISAPPEAR WHEN HE PUTS THE RING ON???? !!!!!!!!! THIS IS A BIG DEAL !!!!!!!!!!
  • what the hell just happened

So Tom is some sort of god and Goldberry is a daughter of the River and very little of this made any sense and somehow…well, it didn’t really ruin or affect how much I’m enjoying this. That is no small feat, my friends.

No, but seriously, what’s going on? I FEEL SO UNPREPARED IT HURTS.

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.

173 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 7

  1. Jenny_M says:

    Mark, I am impressed that you even made an attempt at figuring out this chapter. I'm on my 20th or so re-read and I still view it with the gaze of Derry-Dol-Ding-Dong-WTF.

    • Katarina says:

      LOL! I think Derry-Dol-Ding-Dong-WTF may need to make its way into my vernacular.

      I also think this chapter, along with the pipeweed, may be the main reason this book was so popular among hippies.

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      This is a totally accurate description of this chapter.

      Like…what was Tolkien smoking when he wrote this??

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Derry-Dol-Ding-Dong-WTF

      That is the best single-sentence description of Tom Bombadil and this entire chapter EVER. Well done, ma'am, I applaud you. 😀 😀 😀

    • atheistsisters says:

      LOL, "derry-dol-ding-dong-WTF" – I am going to remember that, so perfect!

    • Danielle says:

      "Derry-Dol-Ding-Dong-WTF" is much more thematically appropriate than "Big-Lipped Alligator Moment".

    • feminerdist says:

      Derry-Dol-Ding-Dong-WTF

      THIS. So much.

    • Icarus says:

      Bizarrely, I felt I understood this chapter immediately when I read it the first time. This may be because I went to a Steiner school and were basically surrounded by Tom Bombadils all the time….

  2. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    Gur qernzf gung Sebqb unf va Gbz Obzonqvy'f ubhfr frrz gb or cebcurgvp. V guvax gur svefg qernz vf nobhg Vfratneq naq gur frpbaq bar fvtavsvrf Sebqb yrnivat Zvqqyr Rnegu. V jbhyq ybir gb ernq zber nobhg Obzonqvy ohg ur freirf ab shapgvba va gur Evat fgbelyvar. Jura V svefg ernq gur obbx V tbg ernyyl rkpvgrq nobhg gur snpg gung gur Evat unq ab cbjre bire Obzonqvy naq jnf pregnva gung vg jbhyq pbzr hc yngre va gur obbx.
    Fb jung ner lbhe gurbevrf ba Gbz Obzonqvy?
    Nygubhtu Gbyxvra erwrpgrq gur vqrn gung Obzonqvy vf Tbq, Tbyqoreel'f nafjre gung "Ur vf" erzvaqrq zr bs "V Nz gung V Nz". Ba gur bgure unaq vg vf fhttrfgrq ng gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq gung Obzonqvy jbhyq or hanoyr gb jvgufgnaq Fnheba'f frvtr. Fb vf ur n znavsrfgngvba bs Angher be Zvqqyr Rnegu vgfrys?
    Zbfg bs lbh unir cebonoyl ernq guvf orsber ohg Gbyxvra nqqerffrq Gbz'f ebyr va n yrggre gb bar bs uvf ernqref.

    "Gbz Obzonqvy vf abg na vzcbegnag crefba — gb gur aneengvir. V fhccbfr ur unf fbzr vzcbegnapr nf n 'pbzzrag.' V zrna, V qb abg ernyyl jevgr yvxr gung: ur vf whfg na vairagvba naq ur ercerfragf fbzrguvat gung V srry vzcbegnag, gubhtu V jbhyq abg or cercnerq gb nanylfr gur srryvat cerpvfryl. V jbhyq abg, ubjrire, unir yrsg uvz va, vs ur qvq abg unir fbzr xvaq bs shapgvba."

    "V zvtug chg vg guvf jnl. Gur fgbel vf pnfg va grezf bs n tbbq fvqr, naq n onq fvqr, ornhgl ntnvafg ehguyrff htyvarff, glenaal ntnvafg xvatfuvc, zbqrengrq serrqbz jvgu pbafrag ntnvafg pbzchyfvba gung unf ybat ybfg nal bowrpg fnir zrer cbjre, naq fb ba; ohg obgu fvqrf va fbzr qrterr, pbafreingvir be qrfgehpgvir, jnag n zrnfher bs pbageby. Ohg vs lbh unir, nf vg jrer, gnxra 'n ibj bs cbiregl', erabhaprq pbageby, naq gnxr lbhe qryvtug va guvatf sbe gurzfryirf jvgubhg ersrerapr gb lbhefrys, jngpuvat, bofreivat, naq gb fbzr rkgrag xabjvat, gura gur dhrfgvbaf bs gur evtugf naq jebatf bs cbjre naq pbageby zvtug orpbzr hggreyl zrnavatyrff gb lbh, naq gur zrnaf bs cbjre dhvgr inyhryrff…
    "Vg vf n angheny cnpvsvfg ivrj, juvpu nyjnlf nevfrf va gur zvaq jura gurer vf n jne… gur ivrj bs Eviraqryy frrzf gb or gung vg vf na rkpryyrag guvat gb unir ercerfragrq, ohg gung gurer ner va snpg guvatf jvgu juvpu vg pnaabg pbcr; naq hcba juvpu vgf rkvfgrapr abarguryrff qrcraqf. Hygvzngryl bayl gur ivpgbel bs gur Jrfg jvyy nyybj Obzonqvy gb pbagvahr, be rira gb fheivir. Abguvat jbhyq or yrsg sbe uvz va gur jbeyq bs Fnheba."
    "Naq rira va n zlguvpny Ntr gurer zhfg or fbzr ravtznf, nf gurer nyjnlf ner. Gbz Obzonqvy vf bar (vagragvbanyyl)."

    • pennylane27 says:

      V graq gb nterr jvgu gur vqrn gung ur'f n ercerfragngvba bs Zvqqyr-Rnegu, be fbzrguvat yvxr gung. Gurer jnf n gvzr jura V jnf pbaivaprq ur jnf Vyúingne gubhtu. Nyy gung nobhg uvz orvat Znfgre, ohg gung ur qbrfa'g bja nalguvat… V qba'g xabj.

      V qb ybir gung Gbyxvra vapyhqrq fhpu na nzovthbhf naq haqrpvcurenoyr punenpgre, be punenpgref, vs lbh vapyhqr Tbyqoreel, jub vf nyfb na ravtzn. V nterr gung guvf puncgre pna qvfgenpg sebz gur fgbel, ohg V yvxr vg naljnl. V whfg svaq vg gb or terng sha, naq nyfb n ovg qvfgheovat (frevbhfyl, ubj qbrf ur znxr gur Evat qvfnccrne, naq abg qvfnccrne uvzfrys?!).

      Gb pbapyhqr, V shpxvat ybir Gbyxvra.

      Nyfb gung yrggre vf snfpvangvat. Jura pna jr gryy Znex gung jr whfg qba'g unir gur nafjref? Arkg puncgre, evtug?

      • hallowsnothorcruxes says:

        V'ir tebja gb yvxr guvf puncgre zber ba er-ernqf. V'z whfg fhcevfrq ng ubj zhpu Znex unf tyrnarq ba uvf svefg ernq. Znl or jr fubhyq jnvg gvyy gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq gb gryy Znex gung jr unir ab vqrn jub Obzonqvy vf. Va obbx gjb bs SBGE, Nentbea zragvbarq gung gurer jrer orvatf zber napvrag guna Fnheba, fb znl or Gbz vfa'g na rkprcgvba be nabznyl.

        • Ryan Lohner says:

          Naq va bar bs gur bgure Zvqqyr Rnegu obbxf (znlor gur Fvyznevyyvba, V pna'g erpnyy), vg'f erirnyrq gung Gbz'f anzr vf gur ybatrfg jbeq va Ragvfu. Pbafvqrevat guvf vf n ynathntr gung tvirf guvatf ybatre anzrf gur byqre gurl ner…

    • John Small Berries says:

      V fhfcrpg Gbz Obzonqvy svyyf gur ebyr – naq dhvgr cebonoyl vafcverq gur ebyr – bs gur Sberfgnyf va Gur Puebavpyrf bs Gubznf Pbiranag.

    • majere616 says:

      V nyjnlf nffhzrq gung Gbz naq Tbyqoreel jrer fvzcyl nzbat gur svefg bs gur Nvahe (cerfhznoyl Znvne yvxr Tnaqnys be Fnheba)gb pbzr vagb Rn va gur ortvaavat, ohg vafgrnq bs vaibyivat gurzfryirf va gur fgehttyrf bs Inyne, Ryirf, naq Zra gurl pubfr gb frg hc fubc va n dhvrg pbeare bs gur jbeyq. Vg'f gur fnzr rkcynangvba gung V hfr sbe Pnenquenf' frrzvat fragvrapr, nyorvg n sne yrff oraribyrag rknzcyr.

      • Dreamflower says:

        Gung'f nyjnlf orra zl nffhzcgvba nf jryy, gung gurl jrer Znvn be creuncf rira yrffre nzbat gur Inyne. Vg znxrf frafr fgbel-vagreanyyl, nalubj. Naq vs ur naq Tbyqoreel npghnyyl yvirq jvguva gurve snan sbe rbaf, gura gurl jbhyq orpbzr zber pybfryl obhaq gb gur culfvpny jbeyq naq jbhyq unir zber yvzvgf hcba gurve cbjref. (p.s. gur Vfgnev, naq Zryvna).

    • Parmadil says:

      Nf sne nf gur qernzf tb:
      Gur qernz Sebqb unf va Gbz'f ubhfr, V nyjnlf nffhzrq jnf bar bs gur jrveqyl cebcurgvp qernzf, guvf gvzr nobhg Vfratneq. Gung ur frrf Tnaqnys genccrq naq rfpncr, whfg qbrfa'g ernyvfr vg.

      Gur svefg bar, va Pevpxubyybj: Gur svefg cneg vf, V guvax, Tnaqnys. Ur'f qernzvat bs Tnaqnys'f fvghngvba. Gura, jura vg fuvsgf gb gur Frn, V guvax vg fgnegf gb or cebcurgvp bs jung vf gb pbzr.

      Gunax lbh sbe gung yrggre- Gbyxvra ernyyl qbrf fnl vg orfg (jryy, bs pbhefr! unun)

  3. pennylane27 says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA BLESS YOUR BEARD MARK THIS IS BEAUTIFUL AND LOVELY AND I GOT TEARS IN MY EYES FROM LAUGHING SO HARD.

    You've had what I think is the normal reaction to reading this chapter: You don't understand anything. And I don't think you're supposed to.

    I don't remember being so suspicious of Tom though, but it's been a long time since I first read the book. I was just baffled by the whole situation.

  4. blossomingpeach says:

    "GURER NER JVTUGF VA ZVQQYR-RNEGU?"

    Lrf, lrf gurer ner.

    Bwa ha ha ha. Not prepared!

  5. Becky_J_ says:

    First of all, the dreams that Frodo and Merry and Pippin have are FUCKING TERRIFYING. Especially Pippins, with the willow hands clawing at the windows… NO THANK YOU, DO NOT WANT.

    “As far as he could remember, Sam slept through the night in deep content, if logs are contented.”

    Sam, if you are a log, first of all YOU’RE THE LUCKY ONE cause you didn’t have the happiness and joy sucked out of you by nightmares. And second of all, you are the CUTEST AND MOST LOVABLE LOG EVER.

  6. LjrTR says:

    Hi Mark . No one understands this so you are fine. Just glad it didn’t put you off the book completely. I think Tom was looking for Frodo & the others after talking to Farmer Maggot & possibly Gildor.

    • Jenny_M says:

      This was definitely the chapter where I gave up as an eight-year-old attempting this book for the first time.

    • Parmadil says:

      V guvax gur rnfvrfg jnl gb "haqrefgnaq" vf whfg gb npprcg Gbz Obzonqvy nf n Cbjre- ur Xabjf guvatf. Ur bofreirf gur jbeyq naq unf jnlf bs trggvat vasbezngvba gung zbegnyf qba'g.

      Gnyxvat gb crbcyr, abg arprffnevyl. V guvax ur bofreirf Znttbg, ohg ur pbhyqa'g unir gnyxrq gb uvz- Znttbg yvirf bhgfvqr bs Gbz'f pbhagel. Tvyqbe naq uvf ryirf znl unir gnyxrq gb Gbz, ohg vg'f zber yvxryl gung gur ynaq sryg gurve cnffvat, naq Gbz yrnearq sebz gur ynaq, naq sebz bgure fbheprf, bs jung vf cnffvat bhgfvqr uvf yvggyr pbhagel.

  7. Ryan Lohner says:

    Tom is probably Tolkien's most controversial character, particularly when it comes to the bit with the One Ring. Tolkien had earlier taken great pains to demonstrate how dangerous it is, with Frodo being unable to let go of it, and even Gandalf showing fear of being corrupted by it. And suddenly this guy just does a juggling act with it. It's really one of those things where you just have to accept that Tolkien had no creative writing training, and at this point was really just writing down anything that popped into his head.

    • msw188 says:

      I don't think it's fair to say Tolkien was "writing down anything that popped into his head." Be sure to read hallowsnothorcruxes post to get Tolkien's perspective. V nyfb guvax gung vg vf n fgeratgu, engure guna n jrnxarff, gb or noyr gb pbairl n zlfgrel gung vf rffragvnyyl hafbyinoyr, jvgubhg znxvat gur ernqre srry purngrq, be gur jbeyq pbagenqvpgbel. Gbz vf fbzrguvat, yvxr Tbq (qbrfa'g zrna ur VF Tbq), gung lbh pna'g rire ernyyl 'xabj' nobhg be shyyl haqrefgnaq. Sbe guvf ernfba, creuncf, vg vf rffragvny gung ur abg or gbb vafgehzragny gb gur znva cybg.

    • Genny_ says:

      V guvax gur furre ahzore bs cntrf jr fcraq jvgu gur thl qrzbafgengrf gung ynfg cbvag avpryl, nf jryy nf gur snpg ur qvqa'g unir rqvgbef jub jrer nf oehgny nf gurl pbhyq/cebonoyl fubhyq unir orra, gou.

    • maccyAkaMatthew says:

      "Tolkien had no creative writing training" – what sort of analysis is that? There isn't a set of rules for good writing that you can learn by doing a course. If it were that easy, more people would be able to do it. The world of literature is overwhelming made up of authors without creative writing training and there are strong arguments to suggest that creative writing cannot be taught in any meaningful way. At the very least, whatever guidelines can be said to be derived can often be broken by a great writer without it being possible to teach people how to emulate their success in breaking the rules.

      Fundamentally, though, if you, as a reader, don't like something, you don't "have to accept" that the author didn't know what they were doing, through a lack of formal training. You can just not like it – and I'm not sure that offering up excuses on behalf of the author makes any difference to that dislike. Ultimately, the only thing you can be sure of is the text, and attempting to read through that discern something about the author is fraught with problems. You can imagine that the author meant a particular thing or that they were writing in a certain way but you cannot be sure – and it distorts the text to read it terms of your speculations.

      My reading is quite simple, and doesn't require Tolkien to have some sort of newbie writer brainfart. I think that Tom comes across as being a primal force divorced from the ways of the world outside the immediate vicinity of the wood. Thus he is neither affected by the ring nor can he do much to influence it – and so he treats the whole thing lightly.

      Now, you don't have to read it this way. You can see it as moment that doesn't work, that you even need to edit out of your head to make sense of the rest of the story. That's all fine – but please don't make assumptions about what Tolkien was doing when he wrote this chapter.

      Edit at add:

      For anyone who is curious, creative writing of prose was not taught in the UK university system until 1970, when this course was launched:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UEA_Creative_Writing

      There are many more courses now (including undergraduate courses) but that has mainly been a development since the 1990s. For a long time, the UEA course was the only one.

      • shortstuff says:

        Here, here! V guvax vg'f vzcbegnag gb fubj gung gur evat, naq gurersber Fnheba, vf abg pbzcyrgryl nyy cbjreshy. Gurer unf gb or n ubcr bs ivpgbel, be ryfr gur jubyr dhrfg vf sbe abguvat.

        V qba'g guvax ur jebgr "nalguvat gung cbccrq vagb uvf urnq." Gurer ner rkprcgvbaf gb Fnheba'f orvat nyy cbjreshy, naq guvf vf vzcbegnag gb unir. Vg ynlf gur tebhaqjbex sbe Fnheba snyyvat sbe Nentbea'f gevpx gb znepu ba gur Oynpx Tngr, be uvf sbyyl guvaxvat gung ab bar jbhyq gel gb qrfgebl gur Evat, naq gura Nentbea oraqvat gur cnynagve gb uvf bja jvyy.

        So just because it's something that you might not have seen on this read, doens't mean it doens't fit into the rest of the narrative. And RE: Bombadil: Qbrfa'g Tnaqnys fnl va gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq gung gur Evat qbrfa'g unir nal cbjre bire Gbz, abg gung Gbz unf n cbjre bire gur evat. V guvax vg'f gung qvfgvapgvba gung znxrf Gbz noyr gb erfvfg gur Evat. Vg'f nyzbfg nf vs gur evat vf "zna" znqr, abg angheny, fb Gbz vf vzzhar sebz vg orpnhfr ur whfg qbrfa'g pner nobhg vg.

        • Waffles says:

          Nobhg lbhe ynfg cbvag- Gur evat vf vzcyvrq gb unir zber cbjre bire crbcyr jub pner nobhg cbjre, gung'f jul Tnaqnys pna oneryl rira gehfg uvzfrys gb ubyq vg va uvf unaq sbe n srj frpbaqf juvyr fbzrbar yvxr Sebqb pna ubyq vg sbe lrnef naq fgvyy bssre n ybg bs erfvfgnapr. Vs Gbz gehyl qbrfa'g pner nobhg cbjre be zhpu bhgfvqr bs gur byq sberfg, guna vg fgnaqf gb ernfba gung ur jbhyq unir rira zber vzzhavgl guna n uboovg.

  8. knut_knut says:

    Tom Bombadil CREEPED ME THE FUCK OUT when I first read FoTR because 1) evil forest, he must be evil too WHY WOULD YOU TRUST THIS STRANGE MAN and 2) for some reason I thought he had captured Goldberry against her will? Where does it say that in the book? Nowhere. I guess because she’s referred to as River-Daughter I associated her with some kind of river nymph and projected my failed understanding of greek mythology on her. It was weird.

    V’z tynq Gbz jnf phg sebz gur zbivr, ohg V xvaq bs jvfu jr pbhyq unir frra Tbyqoreel. Be urneq ure, V thrff. V’z vagrerfgrq gb frr jung gur fbhaq zvkref jbhyq unir qbar jvgu ure ibvpr gb znxr vg fbhaq yvxr jngre.

    Nyfb, V ernq gubfr yvaxf gung fbzr bs lbh thlf cbfgrq lrfgreqnl, gur barf nobhg Gbz orvat n qnex ybeq, naq gurl OYRJ ZL GVAL HACERCNERQ ZVAQ!! Qvq Gbyxvra rire fnl jub be jung Gbz vf? JUNG VS UR VF ERNYYL RIVY??!!

    (edit: hallowsnothorcruxes totally addressed this, thank you! rira gubhtu Gbyxvra vf n gbgny gebyy naq JBA'G TVIR HF NA NAFJRE! NETU!)

    • msnaddie says:

      Unun gubfr yvaxf jrer vagrerfgvat, jrera'g gurl? V cnegvphyneyl ybirq gur YW bar orpnhfr gur nethzragf cerfragrq onfvpnyyl perrcrq zr gur shpx bhg naq V jnf yrsg guvaxvat "GUVF VF GBGNYYL, GBGNYYL CBFFVOYR". Gurer ner ybbcubyrf va gur nethzrag, ohg V cerggl zhpu ybir vg naq jvfu vg jnf xvaq bs pnaba. Gur vzntr bs Gbz Obzonqvy "evfvat ntnva" nsgre Fnheba sryy fraqf n qryvpvbhf fuvire guebhtu zr, V tbggn nqzvg.

      • knut_knut says:

        V ernyyl yvxrq gur YW bar gbb! Rira gubhtu Gbz ernyyl perrcrq zr bhg ng svefg, gur zber V erernq, gur yrff perrcl ur orpnzr naq V riraghnyyl whfg fnj uvz nf guvf fgenatr, wbyyl zna. Vg arire bppheerq gb zr gung znlor ur VF perrcl naq rivy naq nyy gubfr guvatf B_B Gur gurbevrf nera’g ebpx fbyvq, ohg gurl’er fgvyy sha! V pna whfg vzntvar Gbz fvggvat va uvf pnova pnpxyvat jura Fnheba sryy, ernql gb gnxr bire Q:

        • msnaddie says:

          V nterr, V arire gubhtug bs uvz nf perrcl – V jnf whfg eryvrirq gung ur nyjnlf frrzrq gb fubj hc jura gur uboovgf pbafgnagyl trg genccrq va gur sberfg. Naq gb or ubarfg V arire tnir uvz zhpu gubhtug nsgre gur uboovgf tbg bhg bs gurer. Ohg gur vqrn bs uvz orvat n Qnex Ybeq vf rkpvgvat – V ybir gur vqrn gung rivy jba'g or gbgnyyl renqvpngrq rira jura Fnheba vf qrsrngrq; vg raqherf. (Juvpu vf n ovg creirefr, ohg V guvax V bayl yvxr gur vqrn bs vg jura vg'f svpgvba naq abg ernyyl gehr yvsr, unun.)

    • monkeybutter says:

      Lrnu, V cebonoyl fubhyqa'g unir ernq gubfr orsber ernqvat uvf puncgref, orpnhfr vg whfg nqqrq gb gur zvfgehfg V unir sbe uvz.

      • arctic_hare says:

        Fnzr urer, vg znqr guvf puncgre fb zhpu perrcvre hcba erernq. Jura V svefg ernq gur obbxf, V whfg unq gur trareny ernpgvba Znex qvq bs "jgs vf guvf?" naq abj V pna'g hafrr.

    • Not to self-advertise (okay, lie, this is total self-advertisement) I did a blog post on what I thought Tolkien was trying to do with Tom, because I do think he was trying to do something rather specific with him. I don't know how well he did it, but yeah… these are my thoughts on what he was trying to convey. http://maggieflynn49.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/in-

      There are spoilers for LOTR in general, should say.

    • platoapproved says:

      "sbe fbzr ernfba V gubhtug ur unq pncgherq Tbyqoreel ntnvafg ure jvyy? Jurer qbrf vg fnl gung va gur obbx?"

      V unq rknpgyl gur fnzr vzcerffvba, naq nccneragyl, nppbeqvat gb 'IntrovertedAnalyst', gurer vf rivqrapr sbe gung sebz fbzr cbrz ur jebgr?

    • t09yavosaur says:

      "for some reason I thought he had captured Goldberry against her will? Where does it say that in the book?"

      Well, I noticed during my reread that his song about her ends with how he found the River-daughter long ago. "Sweet was her singing then, and her heart was beating." It sounded kind of omimous to me.

  9. Shay_Guy says:

    Is it a spoiler to call Tom "Ur Jub Ershfrf gb Znxr Frafr"?

    • MaggieCat says:

      Ha! Maybe, but it is pretty damn accurate. BTW that is totally my cat's new nickname. (I love her to bits, but she's is so weird. And possibly part squirrel.)

  10. maccyAkaMatthew says:

    I can't watch this in the UK, but I remember it from when it happened. It's Neil Gaiman on The Colbert Report and Tom Bombadil gets a mention and things get deliciously odd:

    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-v

    Edit: Merry says, in an earlier chapter, that Farmer Maggot went into the Old Forest a lot in his youth, so probably Tom knows him from that. That's the only explanation I'm going to attempt.

  11. Marie the Bookwyrm says:

    I like the bit at the end of the chapter, where Tom teaches them a song to sing if they need his help. They can't just scream 'Help! Tom! Help!". They have to sing a freakin' song! *rolls eyes*

  12. enigmaticagentscully says:

    This is endlessly hilarious to me. I love this chapter to pieces because it is just so goddamn WEIRD.

    Does this count as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment?

  13. Tauriel_ says:

    I still have no goddamn clue who he is.

    Qba'g jbeel, jr qba'g, rvgure… 😛

  14. msw188 says:

    So let's see, Sam gets least affected by the Willow, and Sam doesn't have any weird dreams. Could it be that because he's the gardener, he gets special powers of immunization against nature-spells…? If I were Mark Oshiro, I'd put in one of those Dun dun DUN!!! sound effects here.

  15. Tauriel_ says:

    Jung vf guvf??? Vf guvf Zvqqyr-rnegu’f irefvba bs Tbq?

    Lrnu, bar bs gur cbchyne gurbevrf vf gung Gbz Obzonqvy vf gur vapneangvba bs Vyúingne…

  16. Genny_ says:

    Nf fbzrobql jub jngpurq gur svyzf svefg, V jnf fb shpxvat pbashfrq ol guvf fghss, ATY. Jngpuvat rira n crefba jub fgnegrq JVGU gur obbxf or pbashfrq vf xvaqn n eryvrs.

  17. hallowsnothorcruxes says:

    I’m sorry, I know that it’s nice and kind and I won’t ignore that, but if I showed up at a stranger’s house, and he had four bathtubs perfectly set up for me and my three friends, I would leave immediately. Okay, granted, he could have set this up in the few minutes they spoke to Goldberry, but given later comments, Tom makes it clear he has been waiting for them to arrive.

    Thanks to Roald Dahl's The Landlady, I've always been suspicious of people who are too generous with their lodgings.

  18. @miranda486 says:

    This is making miss Middle Earth so much! You are not prepared at all!

  19. msw188 says:

    "On top of that, the very first woman in all of Middle-earth is finally introduced. WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG, TOLKIEN."

    WHAT DO ALL OF YOU HAVE AGAINST LOBELIA SACKVILLE-BAGGINS, DOESN'T SHE COUNT AS A REAL WOMAN?

    • I LOVE Lobelia! And yes, she totally counts!

      • plaidpants says:

        Plus Farmer Maggots wife! (Although maybe she doesn't count because she doesn't have a distinct name?)

      • Ryan Lohner says:

        And in the movie she's played by the main villain from Jackson's film Braindead, a strong contender for the goriest movie of all time. It's awesome that after achieving more mainstream success, he still has a fondness for that kind of work where a lot of others would try to forget it ever happened.

  20. kasiopeia says:

    To be honest this isn't one of my favourite chapters. I usually skip it while re-reading 😛 It's something about Tom's supposedly nice creepiness that I don't like. But I really like your reaction to it all Mark, and parts of the chapter is great, even if I can't understand most of it ^^

  21. And once you have hit this chapter and keep going, you are officially among the happy few. SO MANY people just totally give up… and re-reading it, I can totally get why. It’s- it’s just bizarre. But that said… I still do like it. It’s strange, yet… it’s still fun. I always liked the totally unbridled joy in this chapter, and that could be part of why it’s a little unnerving. Seriously, when’s the last time any of you met someone who was completely happy? And totally without a care in the world? I think it would be more than a little weird t meet someone like that in the flesh, and this is just Middle Earth’s version of that, at least the way I saw it.

  22. atheistsisters says:

    Tee hee, I had forgotten about Goldberry coming in like that and saying "Food!" I think I always thought Pippin's and Merry's dreams meant the trees in the forest actually were outside their window trying to get in all night, which freaked me out rather bady.

  23. plaidpants says:

    Oh this chapter. Jura V svefg ernq gur obbx, vg jnf nsgre V unq frra gur zbivr, fb V sryg yvxr jr fcrag SBERIRE jvgu Gbz. Vzntvar zl fhecevfr jura bg'f bayl yvxr guerr puncgref. V guvax V jnf whfg fb nakvbhf sbe gurz gb zrrg hc jvgu Fgevqre gung guvf jnf obevat zr.

  24. Zoli says:

    As usual, I think you're way overthinking things. I honestly don't remember this bit well enough to really comment on it, but I think it's probably helpful if you remember that Tolkien was writing with older traditions in mind, where friendly hospitality was expected, rather than the general paranoia we have today regarding strangers. Hospitality was sacred in a lot of societies, and this shows up in fantasy: remember in Westeros? As soon as you ate and drank of a host's food and wine, they were honor-bound to protect and shelter you.

    As for the rest of it… Tom Bombadil clearly has some weird connection going on with the forest, is how I always understood it. He probably heard the hobbits tromping around as soon as they entered the borders of the wood.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      lol what is this comment

      • Jenny_M says:

        A smidge rude, I'd say! We like it when you overthink things, though I'd hardly say that this thoughtful analysis was overthinking.

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:

          well let us put aside the idea that someone thinks I usually overthink things and still reads this blog, considering the whole point of this project is to purposely overthink things

          that aside

          lol at the idea that I can't remember ASOIAF or that my post was at all an invitation for this person to tell me what and who Tom Bombadil is.

          just lol

  25. baruchan says:

    When I first read this, I was utterly convinced that Tom Bombadil was a creepy pedophile, because for some reason, I thought Goldberry was around 15 years old. My mind is a very strange place. ><

  26. MrsGillianO says:

    V'ir nyjnlf frra uvz nf n fbeg bs vapneangvba bs gur Rnegu, naq Tbyqoreel bs Jngre – byqre guna rirelguvat uhzna, be Ryira, be fragvrag – gur rffragvny Svefg Guvat perngrq, naq guhf vzzhar gb rirelguvat perngrq ol gur fragvrag orvatf gung pnzr yngre. Snezre Znttbg vf "bs gur ynaq" naq guhf cneg bs Gbz'f qbznva. Ur bapr ehyrq rirelguvat naq unf abj qjvaqyrq gb uvf napvrag sberfg.

    Bar bs gur guvatf V ybir nobhg Gbyxvra vf gung frafr bs gur vasvavgryl byq, fb gung rira gur Ryirf ner eryngvir arjpbzref.

  27. platoapproved says:

    "On top of that, the very first woman in all of Middle-earth is finally introduced. WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG, TOLKIEN."

    Yeah, so far in the book (as far as I recall) we've had Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and Farmer Maggot's wife and now Goldberry who–if I remember correctly?–doesn't set a foot outside. She sits around indoors and men bring her flowers and sing to her that she is pretty, but she leaves before the conversation gets down to serious business. And I get that she is a ~river daughter~ and maybe not supposed to be a realistic or round character, but still. Besides that, the whole song Tom sings about how he ….acquired her from the rushes by the side of the river? Did he just sort of kidnap her? And now they are married? WHY DOES THIS CREEP OUT NO ONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD BUT ME or am I just completely off base here?

    I don't want to Google it because I don't want to spoil myself for anything else I don't remember. It's been so long since I've read these, but I have such distinct memories of when my dad first read this to me, quizzing him, "AND JUST WHAT ARE GOLDBERRY'S MAGIC POWERS, THEN?" because she was married to Tom Bombadil, and he could sing and make evil willows stop murdering Hobbits, so shouldn't she be able to do, you know, something? OH NO, APPARENTLY, SHE DOESN'T HAVE ANY, HER MAGIC POWER IS TO BE LOVELY AND A WOMAN AND MAKE THE MEN AROUND HER HAPPY. She's just "his pretty lady" and hey, she sets the table doesn't she? I love these books but Tolkien, so far, as far as female characters are concerned, I am not impressed.

    TL;DR, I know.

    • I think there's some kind of poem about her and Tom meeting? I honestly don't remember how it ended up coming about, though. It's been years since I read it, and I'm lousy with remembering anything poetic.

      • platoapproved says:

        Well, I don't know if you're referring to the song he sings in this chapter, but he says:

        By that pool long ago I found the River-daughter,
        fair young Goldberry sitting in the rushes.
        Sweet was her singing then, and her heart was beating!

        WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN.

        • Haha, no, there actually is a whole poem Tolkien wrote- I think it's called "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil" or something that details their meeting. Okay, yeah, it's in the Tolkien Reader (and as a side note how much of a nerd am I that I have this book in arm's reach?) Anyhoo, it's in there. I think I'm going to read now, actually now that I have it in front of me…

        • Naq bu fjrrg ybeq, ur qbrf onfvpnyyl teno ure. Gbyxvra, V nz qvfnccbvag.

          • platoapproved says:

            Ubj ybat vf guvf cbrz? Jbhyq lbh zvaq greevoyl pbclvat qbja naq ebg13vat gur eryrinag xvqanccvat yvarf sbe fbzrbar jub qbrfa'g bja gur Gbyxvra Ernqre? Vs lbh qba'g unir gvzr be qba'g jnag gb gung vf svar!

            • platoapproved says:

              BXNL gung vf npghnyyl dhvgr n eryvrs, vg'f abg dhvgr nf perrcl nf vg frrzf sebz guvf puncgre.

              • Jenny_M says:

                This is in case a mod sees this and wants to know why I deleted my first comment – I reposted the comment down below in the thread I originally meant to reply to.

                Thinking, I does not have it today!

            • No sure, here goes!
              Bxnl, fb gur cbrz vf xvaq bs ybat naq sbe gur zbfg cneg vg'f npghnyyl xvaq bs sha, jr unir Gbz qrnyvat jvgu n Oneebj-jvtug naq Byq Zna Jvyybj. Vg'f gevccl ohg vg'f Gbz, naq vg'f svar hagvy:

              Ohg bar qnl Gbz ur jrag naq pnhtug gur Evire-qnhtugre,
              va terra tbja, sybjvat unve, fvggvat va gur ehfurf, fvatvat byq jngre fbatf gb oveqf hcba gur ohfurf.

              Ur pnhtug ure, uryq ure snfg! Jngre engf jrag fphggrevat
              errqf uvffrq, urebaf pevrq, naq ure urneg jnf syhggrevat
              Fnvq Gbz Obzonqvy: "Urer'f zl cerggl znvqra!
              Lbh funyy pbzr ubzr jvgu zr! Gur gnoyr vf nyy ynqra:
              Lryybj pernz, ubarlpbzo, juvgr oernq naq ohggre;
              ebfrf ng gur jvaqbj-fvyy naq crrcvat ebhaq gur fuhggre.
              Lbh funyy pbzr haqre Uvyy. Arire zvaq lbhe zbgure
              va ure qrrc jrrql cbby: gurer lbh'yy svaq ab ybire!"

              Lrnu, abg tbbq ng nyy. Naq vg'f xvaq bs qrcerffvat orpnhfr gur arkg cbrz'f nobhg uvz jvgu gur Znttbgf naq vg'f onpx gb orvat sha, ohg V pna'g hafrr gur anfgvarff bs gung pncgher. Jnl gbb zhpu yvxr erny zlgubybtl sbe zl gnfgr…

              • platoapproved says:

                Q:

                Fb zhpu qb abg jnag. Nhtu ubj vf gung rira jbefr guna V vzntvarq vg jbhyq or?

                • VXE??? Vg'f njshy. V unq ab vqrn gung cneg rira rkvfgrq- naq abj vg'f whfg fhpu na vpxl vzntr. Gur cneg jurer ur tenof ure naq gur aneengvir rira abgrf gung ure urneg vf syhggrevat- FB ZNAL ENCRL GUVATF NOBHG GUNG.

                  • platoapproved says:

                    NHTU, V xabj. Gur jubyr "fgrnyvat ure njnl haqretebhaq njnl sebz ure zbgure" vf nyy irel Terrx-zlgubybtl-rfdhr (ab frevbhfyl jurer vf gur cbzrtenangr gung zlgu irel arneyl ehvarq gung sehvg sbe zr), ohg gung'f uneqyl na rkphfr. Va nal pnfr, gunax lbh sbe gnxvat gur gvzr gb pbcl gung qbja sbe zr.

              • msnaddie says:

                V'z… fcrrpuyrff.

                Jura ner jr trggvat gb Tnynqevry nyernql?

                (Ohg V pna'g jnvg sbe Znex gb zrrg Rbjla!)

                • V YBIR RBJLA. Yvxr ernyyl. Fur jnf zl Zhyna (V ernq gurfr obbxf orsber V fnj gung zbivr. Lrnu, jrveq puvyqubbq) Naljnl, V pnaabg jnvg gvyy fur fubjf hc. Fur'f fb snagnfgvp… fur naq Fnz ner zl snibevgr punenpgref va guvf frevrf.

                  • msnaddie says:

                    V xabj evtug? V ybir Rbjla gbb! (V ybir Qvfarl'f Zhyna nf jryy! Ohg gur "gehr irefvba" bs ure fgbel xvaq bs oernxf zl urneg.)

                    V ernq nabgure erpnccre'f puncgre-ol-puncgre erivrj bs YBGE (juvpu jnf yvaxrq sebz Znex Ernqf n srj erivrjf onpx – V guvax gur erivrjre jnf Qroovr?) naq vg jnf xvaq bs fngvfslvat sbe ure gb tb sebz "Bu terng, n ynql jub fvzcref nsgre Nentbea" gb "URYY LRNU LBH TB XVYY GUNG JVGPU XVAT, YNQL". BX V'z cnencuenfvat, ohg gur fragvzrag erznvaf :Q

                    • V'ir nyjnlf orra jnl gbb fpnerq gb ybbx hc gur erny irefvba bs Zhyna, ohg abj gung lbh zragvba vg, V'z trggvat xvaq bs phevbhf… V fubhyq qb gung.

                      Naq Rbjla- lrf. Gb rirelguvat lbh fnvq. Naq gur nznmvat guvat vf gung ure snfpvangvba jvgu Nentbea vfa'g rira na neovgenel guvat gung pbzrf bhg bs abjurer jura lbh pbafvqre ure cbfvgvba jngpuvat ure hapyr fybjyl snyy ncneg naq ure jnagvat gb yrnir naq qb fbzrguvat jvgu ubabe… vg xvaq bs znxrf frafr fur'q snyy sbe guvf nznmvat fgenatre. Uryy, V jbhyq unir- V qbhog V jbhyq unir unq gur pbhentr gb evqr bss gb jne gur jnl fur qvq gubhtu. V guvax V jbhyq unir fgnlrq onpx naq ghearq vagb n ovggre byq jbzna, yby.

                    • msnaddie says:

                      V guvax gurer ner bevtvany cbrzf ba ure juvpu qvqa'g frrz gb raq gung onq ohg V erzrzore ernqvat n qvssrerag nppbhag juvpu jnf xvaq bs fnq. Vg'f abg nf onq nf Cbpnubagnf gubhtu, fb V thrff vg'f orggre va gung frafr.

                      Lrnu, naq jvgu Rbzre bss gb onggyr yrnivat ure gb ybbx nsgre ure qrgrevbengvat hapyr… naq Jbezgbathr fyvaxvat nebhaq *fuviref* V jbhyq'ir ubarfgyl yngpurq ba gb nal bgure nhgubevgngvir-frrzvat svther jub pbzrf naq fnir zl snzvyl. (Nygubhtu guvf jbhyq zrna V jbhyq'ir cebonoyl yngpurq ba gb Tnaqnys svefg naq snyy va ybir jvgu Nentbea, yhym.)

              • AmandaNekesa says:

                Jubn, gung'f hzzz…lrnu, abg fher jung lbh jrer qbvat gurer, Gbyxvra. Ernyyl?

                • V unir ab vqrn jung gur uryy ur jnf guvaxvat. V ybir Gbyxvra- n ybg- ohg guvf vf rnfvyl bar bs gur zber qvfgheovat guvatf V ernq sebz uvz. Vg'f jbefr orpnhfr gur erfg bs gur cbrz vf ernyyl yvtugurnegrq naq purreshy naq sha- naq gura gurer'f gung. V whfg- lrnu. Funzr ba lbh, Gbyxvra; abg rirel zlgubybtvpny fgbel arrqf gb or vzvgngrq jura lbh'er pensgvat lbhe bja. Rfcrpvnyyl gung bar. Naq vg fubhyq ABG or cerfragrq va n tbbq yvtug.

                  • AmandaNekesa says:

                    Lrnu, znlor vg'f yvxr lbh fnvq naq ur tbg n yvggyr pneevrq njnl jvgu vzvgngvat be er-perngvat zlgubybtvrf, be…fbzrguvat? Guvf vf qrsvavgryl bar bs gubfr gvzrf jura Gbyxvra pbhyq unir orarsvgrq ol yvfgravat gb gur nqivpr bs rqvgbef, orpnhfr gung vf whfg greevoyl zrffrq hc. V qba'g rira frr znal ybtvpny jnlf gb cerfrag vg va n tbbq yvtug rvgure. Ng gur orfg vg frrzf gb vaqvpngr Tbyqoreel jnf xvqanccrq, naq ng gur jbefg vg ybbxf yvxr ur sbeprq uvzfrys hcba ure nf ure "ybire". Abg bxnl, Gbyxvra… Abg. Bxnl.

                • notemily says:

                  lrnu V'z tbvat jvgu gur "Gbz Obzonqvy vf frpergyl rivy" gurbel.

        • notemily says:

          I was like "IS HER HEART NOT BEATING ANYMORE??"

    • Jenny_M says:

      Tbyqoreel yrnirf gur ubhfr va gur arkg puncgre gb fnl tbbqolr gb gur uboovgf.

      • platoapproved says:

        Nu, V'z abg dhvgr gurer lrg! Qbrf fur whfg xvaq bs… jnyx bhgfvqr gur qbbe gubhtu? Gung'f xvaq bs abg gur fnzr guvat nf univat n yvsr va gur bhgfvqr jbeyq, juvpu Gbz frrzf gb unir. Naljnl, V'yy pebff gung oevqtr jura V trg gb vg!

        • Jenny_M says:

          (Sorry about that, replied in the wrong thread first!)

          Ab, gur uboovgf yrnir naq Sebqb ernyvmrf gung ur unfa'g fnvq tbbqolr gb ure. Gura gurl frr ure ba n uvyy nurnq bs gurz, univat nyernql orra bhg naq nobhg naq qbvat ure bja guvat gung zbeavat. Fur frrf gurz bss sebz gurer.

    • notemily says:

      I am NOT a Goldberry fan. Her entire being is described in terms of her being beautiful and pretty to listen to and pretty to look at and sounding like the river or whatever. Blarg.

  28. echinodermata says:

    "So Tom is some sort of god and Goldberry is a daughter of the River and very little of this made any sense and somehow…well, it didn’t really ruin or affect how much I’m enjoying this. That is no small feat, my friends."

    That's..really fantastic. I mean, this chapter completely lost me the first time I read it and I was incredibly frustrated at what. the. fuck. was happening and how completely different it felt in tone to anything else I'd read in this book or The Hobbit. I'm not at all a fan of this chapter, so sincerely, I'm glad that you're just rolling with it, Mark, because not understanding this chapter on any level is a common reaction, but being able to laugh it off and not let this sour the experience for you is definitely worth it.

  29. lismk says:

    Ok, for ages I thought that, because Goldberry was the River-Daughter, she was Tom's….foster daughter? Maybe? And then I reread this and I was like OMG I WAS SO WRONG THEY ARE SECRET LOVERS BECAUSE THEY DANCE AROUND EACH OTHER IN THE KITCHEN SO THEY ARE *CONNECTED*.

    Yes. That was my realization.

    Anyways.

    "They came a few timid steps further into the room, and began to bow low, feeling strangely surprised and awkward, like folk that, knocking at a cottage door to beg for a drink fo water, have been answered by a fair young elf-queen clad in living flowers."

    Cuz this *totally* happens to me all the time, I don't know about you all.

  30. threerings13 says:

    I think when I first read this book, at eleven, I was just wide-eyed and taking it all in, and couldn't really comprehend everything, so I just experienced it. Then I came later to enjoy Tom Bombadil and all these parts in the forest.

    But now, having been exposed to some other theories and reactions to him, I totally read this chapter with suspicion, and he certainly seems threatening. The baths and beds made up are ominous. The fact that Goldberry specifically warns them about their nightmares suggests that they KNOW people have nightmares in their house. So, yeah, I'm a little wary of them/him now.

    Although about Goldberry, my understanding has always been that she is a River spirit and she left the river out of love for Tom, but it's painful for her not to be in her natural environment, which is why she has bowls of water around her and why Tom gathers water lilies for her to keep by her in the winter.

  31. Zoli says:

    (Rot13'd for movie discussion):

    V jvyy fnl, ernqvat gurfr erivrjf, gung V pna qrsvavgryl haqrefgnaq jul gurl phg nyy guvf sebz gur zbivr. Nf avpr nf vg vf gb trg guvf fbeg bs yrvfheryl cnpr naq n jvqre ivrj bs jung Zvqqyr-Rnegu vf yvxr naq gur guvatf gurl frr ba gurve wbhearl bhg bs gur Fuver… vg'f ernyyl abg ng nyy vzcbegnag gb gur cybg. Juvyr vg pregnvayl qbrf znxr gur svefg unys bs gur Sryybjfuvc zbivr frrz vaperqvoyl ehfurq ol pbzcnevfba, V haqrefgnaq gung gurl jnagrq gb trg gb gur npghny cybg naq abg jbeel nobhg nyy guvf fprarel fghss. Vs zbfg ernqref trg ybfg ol guvf cbvag, V pna bayl vzntvar znal nhqvraprf jbhyq unir jnyxrq bhg vs jr tbg n shyy ubhe bs uboovgf jnaqrevat nebhaq naq rapbhagrevat fgenatr jbbqynaq tbq-svtherf orsber gurl trg gb Nentbea naq gur erfg bs gur cybg.

    • Emma says:

      Nterrq. V unir abguvat ntnvafg Gbz orpnhfr ur vf n cneg bs Gbyxvra'f zlgubybtl naq gur grkgher bs Zvqqyr-rnegu (vapvqragnyyl, zl zbz jnf nzbat gubfr jub tnir hc ng guvf puncgre, sbe jung gung'f jbegu, fb znlor V unir n pybfre frafr bs whfg ubj vaperqvoyl jrveq guvf cneg bs gur obbx pna frrz), ohg ur nofbyhgryl jbhyq abg unir svg vagb gur zbivrf. V gnxr vffhr jvgu n srj bs gur nygrengvbaf znqr gb gur cybg va gur pbhefr bs genafyngvba gb gur fperra; Gbz'f erzbiny vf abg bar bs gurz. V trg gur vqrn gung ur jnf gur erfhyg bs Gbyxvra rzoebvqrevat ba uvf vqrn bs Zvqqyr-rnegu, nyzbfg fgnyyvat orsber gur znva cybg jnf shyyl sbezrq va uvf urnq be ba gur cntr. V zrna, gurer jrer crevbqf bs jevgvat jura Gbyxvra oryvrirq gung gur Uboovgf jrer tbvat gb zrrg n zber onqnff Ovyob ng gur Cenapvat Cbal vafgrnq bs Nentbea; V guvax n ovg bs gung shmmvarff qrsvavgryl rzretrf qhevat gurfr rneyvre "geniry" frpgvbaf bs gur gevybtl.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Ur'f nyfb phg bhg bs gur zhpu-orybirq 1981 enqvb nqncgngvba, gubhtu engure zber njxjneqyl guna va gur zbivrf; gur uboovgf gnyx nobhg ubj gurl unir gb tb guebhtu gur Byq Sberfg, naq fhqqrayl gurl'er ng Oerr. Fb V fhfcrpg ur jnf va gurer ng fbzr cbvag, naq gur fpevcg jnf uheevrqyl pubccrq hc gb fnir gvzr.

  32. Ashley says:

    If you want to know a little more about Tom and Goldberry, please read "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil" in the book The Tolkien Reader. In fact, read the whole book! It's full of things Tolkien wrote. Poems, short stories, even an essay.

  33. bugeye says:

    This chapter seems to either make or break you. First time is hard, but if you do re-reads, it is so beautiful and heartbreaking. I am tearing up again. Gildor, the Elf told the Hobbits they were not the first nor would they be the last to live on this land. Here we get small taste of what was before. Kings, Queens, gold, jewels, and then battles and death. All that remain are broken stones of once great fortresses and burial mounds. A haunted place not even sheep will graze on. And Tom was there, and witnessed everything.

    And the trees, is it any wonder that they hate the two legs?

    All so sad.

    First Elves, then Tom, these hobbits are definitely leaving the Shire

  34. Patrick721 says:

    To quote /tg/…

    Va gur YBGE havirefr gurer ner 5 xvaqf bs crbcyr: Ab cbjref, Ureb Cbjref, Zntvp Cbjref, Birecbjrerq, naq Uvynevbhfyl Tbqyl Birecbjrerq.
    Naq gura gurer'f Gbz Obzonqvy, jub pbhyq unir jnyxrq (qnaprq) vagb Zbeqbe, chapurq Fnheba va gur snpr, xvpxrq Zryxbe va gur ahgf, frg rirelguvat evtug, naq or onpx orsber yhapugvzr, nyy juvyr jrnevat gur evat nf n cvrepvat ba uvf qvpx.
    Vs ur bayl tnir n shpx.

  35. hpfish13 says:

    I don't know if it helps to decipher this chapter at all, but here's a picture of Tom Bombadil's house.

    <img src="http://i51.tinypic.com/24c752v.jpg"&gt;

  36. tigerpetals says:

    I'm sorry Mark, but I'm enchanted too. I'm taking my books and my cat and moving in. Who cares if there's no electricity? I do. So nevermind.

    The impression I'm getting is that Goldberry is like a water nymph. Tom found her at the pool and he has to get her flowers from that pool, and put them in water jugs, for her to survive. Because water nymphs can't leave their habitats in the mythology I know.

    And now that you've read this chapter, you can hear that one of the things I found on willow trees is this: they were believed to have a potent influence on the mind, through the "song" of the wind in their branches. Thus they were thought of as inspirational for poetry. And they're associated with Orpheus.

    If Tom knows so much of Middle-Earth, it makes sense for him to know much of hobbit-history. Especially since not much seems to happen in the Shire. Plus, Gildor. Gildor is brought up again, because remember he said he'd spread the word to all the helpful good people he could?

    Obviously I can't say how much is answered in these books, but I do really hope you'll read the Silmarillion on your own. It's such a beautiful and sad book it hurts, and it's my personal favorite of Tolkien's works even if he never considered it finished before he died.

    This chapter is wonderfully beautiful in its cosmic depth. I knew there would be a Tom Bombadil and expected it to be boring according to what I'd heard, but like so much else I've heard about the trilogy, it was the opposite of true.

  37. tardis_stowaway says:

    It's fascinating to watch the reactions of Mark and others just reading this for the first time as they try to comprehend Tom Bombadil. To me, having known this story my whole life, Gbz Obzonqvy vf Gbz Obzonqvy, naq gurer'f ab hfr gelvat gb rkcynva uvz shegure. Nggrzcgf gb haqrefgnaq uvz unir ab zber cbjre bire uvz guna gur Evat qbrf.

    One thing I adore about Middle Earth is its vastness. Like the real world, some things we can know about in exhaustive detail, and some things we will never quite understand, and you don't know when and to what extent you're getting an explanation until you've read all of LotR, including the appendices, and maybe the Silmarillion too.

    In other news, after reading the discussions of the past two chapters, I now recognize the rot13'ed spelling of Tom Bombadil.

    • Parmadil says:

      "Gbz Obzonqvy vf Gbz Obzonqvy, naq gurer'f ab hfr gelvat gb rkcynva uvz shegure. Nggrzcgf gb haqrefgnaq uvz unir ab zber cbjre bire uvz guna gur Evat qbrf."

      Beautifully said.

  38. Sakura says:

    I always thought Goldberry was the Middle Earth equivalent of a river nymph or something. But yeah, as a whole Tom Bombadil and Goldberry are kind of random. They make the setting seem more complex, but I don't think they really have much plot significance.

    LOL, in the (IMO) awesome (but nonsensical) LotR parody "Bored of the Rings," the Tom Bombadil character is a hippie who gets the main characters high on jelly beans or something. Perhaps that parallel is more astute than one would think . . . 😛

  39. TreasureCat says:

    TODAY I AM EXCITED because I can bring to you my very favourite artwork I found in my mother's book. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tom Bombadil:

    <img src="http://i47.photobucket.com/albums/f162/witchcraft97/MarkReads%20LotR/TomBombadil-1.jpg"&gt;

  40. Parmadil says:

    Can I marry him? Please? We are soul-mates… If only he could see it!

  41. Hecubot says:

    I've never seen it specifically cited by Tolkien but I always associated Tom with Green Man figures. He's basically like a nature spirit – somebody close to the natural world.

  42. PrefectSarah says:

    This chapter freaked me out too! I kept yelling in my head "GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE!" It's all very VERY odd.

    As far as who the characters are, I think of Tom as a Father Time sort. It seems like Tom messes with time a lot and can have an effect on time. Also, I would say Goldberry is sort of like Mother Nature. I know those comparisons are probably too easy or something, but that's how I see them. When I think of them in that way, they don't seem to creepy anymore.

  43. Hotaru_hime says:

    Tom Bombadil was created separately, I believe (there's a book called The Adventures of Tom Bombadil) and as to what he is… I think Tolkien specified that he and Goldberry are set apart from everything. He's like an earth spirit, like Middle-Earth itself.
    Trying to understand it is pointless, but I find it hilarious that you were expecting him to kill the hobbits. There are two more books and Frodo still has the ring- Tom can't eat them. But it's a pretty baffling chapter and I remember just wanting to get to Bree already.
    Also, I always envision Tom and Goldberry being giants. I know they aren't, but somehow I imagine them towering over the hobbits, not like regular Big Folk, but like giants. Lawsy, that made no sense.

  44. SisterCoyote says:

    Hmmm. I think when I read this, my familiarity with characters being lost in the woods came mostly from fairy tales and old myths– where if someone found you in danger in a forest and helped you, they were generally either under a curse, or immensely powerful and decided they liked you, or something. So I kind of just took it in stride that Tom Bombadil helped them out like that. (I had this reaction to Mark Reads American Gods, too, but with that one I wrote a long thing about it.

    (I find it hilarious that you have no comment at all about his poetry, though. In various fandom circles, it's been cited as a torture device, though I tend to disagree.)

  45. SisterCoyote says:

    (…uh, I wrote and posted this and then I saw the comment at the top of this page and I really, really, really didn't mean to imply that you were overthinking it or wrong or anything at all, I am so sorry if this came off as arrogant or something.)

  46. teaspooncapacity says:

    Yeah, this was me throughout the entire chapter:

    <img src="http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ll8rse9qkA1qafrh6.gif"&gt;

  47. elyce says:

    Aw, I love Tom and Goldberry. I know some people don't like Tom and there's a weird theory that he's, like, completely evil, but I'd rather go with the theory that he's Middle-earth's version of God. I mean, he's there before everything, the ring doesn't affect him, he seems to know… a lot of stuff. And he's married to the daughter of the river? Yep. Sounds like a God-like being to me.

  48. Kiryn says:

    *snorts*

    Qvqa'g gur Pbhapvy ng Eviraqryy pbafvqre tvivat gur Evat gb Gbz, naq gura qrpvqrq ntnvafg vg orpnhfr gurl jrer nsenvq ur'q sbetrg ubj qnatrebhf vg jnf naq qebc vg fbzrjurer? Be fbzrguvat yvxr gung?

  49. kristinc says:

    I get the feeling Tolkien enjoyed the hell out of *writing* about Tom Bombadil without particularly considering that not everyone would enjoy *reading* about it. This chapter is one of the main reasons why I always say he needed a ruthless editor. As a stand-alone character or short story it might well be charming; plopped into a completely different plot, it's a frustrating impediment.

  50. Smurphy says:

    I FORGOT TO READ THIS EARLIER TODAY!

    Repeating my comment from yesterday.

    Tom Bombadil 🙂

    Also… not gonna read rot13's in fear of reading too much about Tom's history… THAT IS ON MY TO READ LIST…

  51. Icarus says:

    What I took away from this chapter when I first read it was wonder: that no matter how potent and important the ring is for ordinary mortals, there are things older, wiser, sillier, and more powerful. And I love that silliness is part of the equation.

    The most anyone has about Tom Bombadil is theories. The Silmarillion and all the back story notes give us a clue that Tom is as old as Middle-Earth and later we learn from gnarygh snarg gnyf fndl that wrgltg gldtryrg flffilfrg Tom Bombadil wzzlfifnarg.

    What we do know is that The Lord of the Rings was supposed to be published with The Silmarillion (which Tolkien never finished, though his son Christopher slapped a version together) and Tom Bombadil is a link between the two.

  52. notemily says:

    Yeah, so I've never liked Tom Bombadil. I think he ruins the pacing of the story at this point, and I don't see the point of him. He seems like a holdover from Tolkien's earlier stories, not someone who belongs in this dark tale of Middle-earth.

    I've never liked Goldberry, either. Why? Well, she's one of the only female characters we've met so far, and her entire purpose is to be beautiful. Bombadil talks about her beauty endlessly, and… that's pretty much it. She's pretty and she smells like the river or whatever. Who cares.

    [Npghnyyl, abj gung V'ir ernq gung Yvirwbheany rffnl fbzrbar yvaxrq gb, V nz cerggl zhpu ba gur Gbz Naq Tbyqoreel Ner Rivy genva evtug abj. V zrna, ubj pna Tbyqoreel or gur Evire-qnhtugre, qnhtugre bs na RIVY EVIRE, naq abg or rivy urefrys? Ubj pna Obzonqvy or znfgre bs guvf sberfg jvgubhg univat nal bs vgf punenpgrevfgvpf? Naq ubj QBRF ur xabj gur uboovgf ner pbzvat, naljnl?]

  53. JWBraun says:

    Interesting thoughts. Glad to see you like the books at such an early chapter!

  54. ladysugarquill says:

    The very first time I read this chapter I thought that Tom Bombadil was totally a cameo. It felt like a character from some other story – or maybe a myth – making a special appearance here. I haven't read ALL THE TOLKIEN, but it appears that was the case?

  55. notemily says:

    Tom says he was in Middle-earth before the seas were bent. What does that mean? Is that some kind of Pangaea reference?

    • Ben says:

      Va Gbyxvra'f zlgubybtl, gur jbeyq jnf bevtvanyyl syng. Vg jnf bayl nsgre gur zra bs Aúzrabe eroryyrq naq gevrq gb vainqr Inyvabe gung gur jbeyq jnf "orag" vagb n fcurer, fb gung zbegny fuvcf jbhyq arire ntnva or noyr gb ernpu gur Haqlvat Ynaqf.

  56. Joeldi says:

    Months on, just wanted to point out that Loelia Sackville-Baggins was a woman.

Comments are closed.