Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 9

In the ninth chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, our party of hobbits arrives at the Prancing Pony, and everything becomes unbearably tense. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


Okay, I feel pretty good about saying that I’m enjoying this book a whole lot at this point, that it’s absolutely nothing like I expected it to be. Honestly, over the years whenever it’s come up that I’ve not read or seen anything to do with The Lord of the Rings, I’m generally recommended the same thing: Watch the movies first. If you like them, give the book a try. A lot of people I know think this book is boring, verbose, lengthy, and too confusing of a read. (Wow, you know…do people really think I have such poor appreciation of literature? It’s not like I normally read Clifford The Big Red Dog on a daily basis. I mean…if I say I love Dostoevsky, Sartre, Bronte, and Faulkner, how the fuck is Tolkien suddenly way too hard for me.)

I’m simply impressed by how not-boring, not-verbose, not-confusing The Lord of the Rings is at all. Even beyond that, I can see how much this book has affected popular culture, fantasy writing, adventure tropes…damn, it’s just so goddamn good and I’m only nine chapters into it! I’ve got so long to go, and I’m already hooked by the narrative the Tolkien is slowly unfolding. The idea that this is one really long novel is intriguing to me because it’s allowing Tolkien the chance to build up so many of these smaller moments, and chapter nine is a fantastic example of that.

But more than anything, I’m really loving how tense this is. Without giving away what he’s planning for these characters, Tolkien is constantly hinting at the horrors and terrors of the future, and The Prancing Pony is a sign that danger is closer than it’s ever been. Before he gets into this, Tolkien opens chapter nine with a bit of a history lesson. It’s fascinating to me how the very concept of history is totally different than what we’re used to, and it’s an example of how Tolkien even world-builds conceptually. I loved the line that the hobbits in Bree-land insisted they were the oldest settlement of hobbits ever, yet no one could prove it. The way that society is organized in Middle-earth isn’t really comparable to our idea of how history works. Sure, there are probably scrolls, books, and other such things that might document things like this, but the creatures that live in Middle-earth rely so heavily on anecdotal evidence, so to speak. They are an oral society who spread stories, tales, and use elaborate songs to communicate the past. (Also, sweet baby Jesus that song is so long in this chapter.) In fact, if this were not the case for Middle-earth, I actually doubt that the events at the Prancing Pony could ever even happen; that’s how well thought this entire book is. This unspoken detail is absolutely crucial to the story as a whole, a piece of the puzzle that would leave an incomplete picture if it were removed.

The slow tension building begins when the hobbits arrive at the gate to Bree-land, and the man guarding the entrance is not exactly the most welcoming person in Middle-earth to our travelers. From what I understand, it’s a combination of seeing any hobbits from the Shire at his gate and the strange events of the last few days that makes him curious about their business in Bree. Oh, right, and then there’s this:

The man stared after the hobbits for a moment, and then he went back to his house. As soon as his back was turned, a dark figure climbed quickly in over the gate and melted into the shadows of the village street.

Oh, you have to be fucking kidding me. Goddamn it, who is that?

This chapter is the first time I actually had to stop and think about the size of the hobbits. Since I’ve never really seen much of anything from the movies or specials made from any Tolkien material, I guess I never pictured a hobbit standing next to a human. I knew they were much smaller than we are, but now I understand that they truly are tiny. So how does the movie pull this off? Perspective? Are they half the size of the humans? (This is rhetorical. Obviously, when I see the first film, I’ll see it.) I noted that Sam was rather terrified by the massive size of the human houses in Bree. Is this something that’ll afflict him later? Will he be scared when he finally does meet a full-sized human? Just a thought.

The group manages to find the inn that Tom Bombadil recommended them, and it’s there that we are introduced to the glorious Barliman Butterbur for the first time. His very named reminded me of the lovely alliterated names from Harry Potter that J.K. chose for her characters; it’s a detail I loved about that universe, and I love it here, too. I mean, names in general interest me, so I was completely into the entire section later in this chapter where Frodo points out how many of the names in Bree are based on nature. Plus, Barliman has one of those names that makes you feel criminal for not using the whole thing whenever you talk about him, as if BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR is a phrase or exclamation of sorts. GOOD BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE! Yes, this pleases me.

Well, and let’s not ignore that he’s just a pleasant person to be around, one of those folks who radiates energy and positivity because of his joy for what he does. It’s the one big thing I picked up for him: he loves running the Prancing Pony, and accommodating people from all over Middle-earth is deeply satisfying to him. Of course, he’s ecstatic to help out a group of hobbits from the Shire since it’s such a rare sight in Bree-land. Though, one thing he says was a bit disconcerting:

‘Hobbits!’ he cried. ‘Now what does that remind me of? Might I ask your names, sirs?’

It’s something that plays into events at the end of the chapter, but we don’t exactly find out what he’s talking about at all in chapter nine. Do I think it’s a good thing? Of course not. There are too many people talking about hobbits ’round Middle-earth, and none of it is good. Except for maybe Gandalf’s senior thesis THAT IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE.

Can I just say that I love that the Prancing Pony has a section of their inn devoted to housing hobbits? Like, what an adorable thing to provide! Knowing what hobbits prefer and how different their living arrangements are is just a beautiful thing and I just want t stay at this inn and hang out with dwarves and hobbits and the people of Bree and make pies with BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR. I’m capitalizing his name from here on out, just so you know. It’s that important to me.

Yet all this pleasantness couldn’t last long, could it? There’s that mysterious figure about, who I am guessing was actually Strider. (I HOPE.) Leaving Merry behind post-supper, Sam, Pippin, and Frodo head to the gathering that BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR is holding in the common-room, and within minutes, it’s unbearably awkward and uncomfortable. I mean, Frodo thought he could tell them he was writing a book? Hobbits don’t write books! Though I admit it was hilarious when all the hobbits of Bree spoke up at once when Frodo explained it was a book about the hobbits all over Middle-earth. See? This society is based so heavily on story-telling and oral traditions that the very suggestion that Frodo wants to hear about other hobbits, he’s drowned out by all those hobbits voices talking simultaneously about whatever they know of the hobbits of Bree-land.

As Pippin (and really, it couldn’t be anyone but Pippin here) takes over the storytelling to relate tales of the shenanigans in the Shire, Frodo’s attention turns to the ~mysterious~ Strider. BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR refers to him as “one of the wandering folk,” someone who never stays long and always has some queer or disturbing tale from his life of…well, wandering, I guess. As if on cue, he even beckons Frodo to come sit to him, and the notoriously silent Strider starts talking to him. I mean, that would be a red flag in and of itself, but ultimately, I don’t mistrust him. Yes, he’s a bit unsettling, and there might be an ulterior motive, but I think he either truly wants to help Frodo, or he just wants to pass on information.

Before that information comes, though, Strider points out that Pippin has gotten a bit too friendly and adventurous with his storytelling, as he foolishly starts telling the crowd about Bilbo Baggins’s disappearance on his birthday. LIKE WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, DUDE? Frodo puts it quite plainly:

It was a harmless enough tale for most of the local hobbits, no doubt: just a funny story about those funny people away beyond the River; but some (old Butterbur, for instance) knew a thing or two, and had probably heard rumours long ago about Bilbo’s vanishing. It would bring the name of Baggins to their minds, especially if there had been inquiries in Bree after that name.

No, that is painfully accurate. So Frodo, in a moment of furious brilliance, jumps on the table to distract them all, and gives a short speech, and then sings THE LONGEST SONG EVER KNOWN TO HUMANITY. Okay, I’m sure there’s a longer one later in the book, but these things are usually a page or two long. Yeah, holy crap, this one has a couple million stanzas. Hey, at least it worked to distract those in the common-room, right?

It was now Frodo’s turn to feel pleased with himself. He capered about on the table; and when he came a second time to the cow jumped over the Moon, he leaped in the air. Much too vigorously; for he came down, bang, into a tray full of mugs, and slipped, and rolled off the table with a crash, clatter, and bump! The audience all opened mouths wide for laughter, and stopped short in gaping silence; for the singer disappeared. He simply vanished, as if he had gone slap through the floor without leaving a hole!

OH MY GOD THIS COULD NOT GET ANY WORSE. Somehow, the Ring slipped onto Frodo’s finger. Well, if Frodo wanted to keep his name out of this and wanted people to think they were plain old hobbits, this is surely the last thing that should have happened. Again, it’s another indication that the Ring has this creepy, possessive power over those who own it; earlier, Frodo had to fight a strong urge do put it on when he was feeling awkward. So how did this happen this time? The Ring most certainly is like an entity in itself, at least in some magical or metaphysical sense.

Basically, everything turns to chaos in a way that is so odd and uncomfortable because it’s not like people leap up and start throwing shit around the room. The chaos that this moment causes is quiet. To me, that is a billion times worse. One man leaves with Strider following him, and for a brief couple minutes, I thought that perhaps he was one of the Black Riders, or maybe a scout for them. However, when he returns, he speaks directly to Frodo:

‘Then, if you please, Mr. Baggins, I should like a quiet word with you.’


‘What about?’ asked Frodo, ignoring the sudden use of his proper name.

‘A matter of some importance–to use both,’ answered Strider, looking Frodo in the eye. ‘You may hear something to your advantage.’

Oh. So…it’ll help both of them? That’s….good, right? How could this help Strider, though? Who exactly is this guy?

The thing that’s most important about this, though, is that like those in the Shire, it seems the citizens of Middle-earth anywhere generally just don’t like weird things. They don’t want to be tricked, they don’t want to be fooled, and they certainly don’t want people disappearing before their eyes. It’s such an offensive thing to all these characters, and I find that to be a fascinating detail out of all of this. BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR is quick to want to defend Frodo, who reappears for the group and half-asses some sort of explanation for his “disappearance.” But it does seem that some customers were basically so offended they decided to leave the Prancing Pony; BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR isn’t too put-off by this, knowing things will be fine in the future, but then he suddenly remembers what it was he recalled when Frodo showed up at the inn earlier that day.

He wondered how many private talks he would have before he got to bed, and what they would reveal. Were these people all in league against him? He began to suspect even old Butterbur’s fat face of concealing dark designs.

Well, this is fucked up, isn’t it?

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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336 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 9

  1. This is what I imagine the sign of the Prancing Pony to look like:

    <img src=""&gt;

    This is what I imagine Strider to look like:

    <img src=""&gt;

    This is what I imagine BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR to look like:

    <img src="–large-msg-12926648226.jpg&quot; height="50%" width="50%">

  2. merrick says:

    Early drafts, instead of a man called Strider, featured a hobbit called Trotter. Apparently humans just inherently have more impressive-sounding locomotion-based names than hobbits do?

  3. xpanasonicyouthx says:


    I just upgraded to the new WordPress, but apparently there's a bug that any posts scheduled BEFORE the upgrade get a MISSED SCHEDULE error. So even though this was supposed to go up at 6am PST, wordpress was like NOPE LOL NOT GONNA HAPPEN


    • Ashley says:

      I was getting upset that it wasn't here! Like, I actually have to WORK instead of effing around on the internets?

    • Jenny_M says:

      WordPress is so deceptively pretty but so SECRETLY EVIL!

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      ps: I usually wake up at the beginning of time, but I didn't wake up until 10am today BECAUSE I stayed up until 2:30am marathoning season six of Dexter with my roommate

      please send help because i need help after that finale

      • echinodermata says:


        My brother was saying how so far it seemed like they were setting up the next season to be really awesome, but he hadn't even watched the finale yet so I was just like…we cannot talk about this until you finish.


      • miranda says:

        asdfgh! ZOMG! We have to wait until September for the next season!!

        On a side note, Deb has the worst therapist ever.

    • arctic_hare says:


    • Tauriel_ says:

      Thank God it was just WordPress – we were quite worried over at the spoiler blog if anything happened to you, Mark… 🙂

      Glad to see you're all right! *hugs* 🙂

    • flootzavut says:

      I was sooooooooooo confused and wondering if today was a holiday in the US or something.


    • Unefeeverte says:

      I’ve literally reached the point where my heart breaks if I don’t see an update at 3pm sharp (gmt+1). I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY.


    • atheistsisters says:

      Phew, I was WORRIED that I would have to go THREE DAYS before a new update. So, major relief to see it up after all, I will live through the weekend now. 🙂

    • Becky_J_ says:

      DAMN YOU WORDPRESS!!!!! I set my alarm to wake up, stayed up an hour reading the Book Thief to see if it came up, and then resigned myself that you had more important things to do 🙁 but it is here now and we all still love you!!!

    • msnaddie says:

      LOL I was getting distressed that I apparently skipped a day without realising it and thought it's Saturday because there was no review up. I is silly.

      *shakes fist at WordPress*

  4. Hotaru_hime says:

    Basically, Shit is Getting Real.
    Anything can happen to the hobbits now, anything.

  5. elusivebreath says:

    I see we are very different in this regard, Mark, lol. For the first time, though I guess it was bound to happen 😛

    I didn't find these books difficult at all, but I DID find them a bit tedious (boring and verbose are good adjectives for my ~feelings~ lol). This will be the first time I'm not reading along with you, despite digging out my copy because I just don't feel like I can read these again -.-

    BUT that all being said, I'm glad YOU are enjoying them and watching your reactions is still just as fun, so that's awesome 🙂

  6. Katarina says:

    I love this chapter! I love the Prancing Pony, and Barliman Butterbur, and Pippin being foolish, and Frodo making things worse, and I love that the story is – worst pun ever, but – hitting its stride.

  7. Jenny_M says:


    I love this chapter because plot.

  8. guest_age says:

    "Uboovgf qba’g jevgr obbxf!"


  9. Iamwinterborn says:

    I knew they were much smaller than we are, but now I understand that they truly are tiny. So how does the movie pull this off? Perspective? Are they half the size of the humans? (This is rhetorical. Obviously, when I see the first film, I’ll see it.)


    Nyy bs gur nobir? =)

    Vg jnf npghnyyl dhvgr vagrerfgvat gb jngpu gur fcrpvny srngherf ba ubj rirelguvat jnf qbar.

    Znex VF tbvat gb jngpu gur fcrpvny rkgraqrq rqvgvbaf evtug? V zrna… Gurer'f whfg AB pbzcnevfba. Bxnl, bxnl. Gurer vf n pbzcnevfba. Vg'f yvxr n fuval cvrpr bs pneoba, be n qvnzbaq. Jnvg. Onq pbzcnevfba. Gur qvnzbaq vf gur pbzcnpg irefvba. SENX. Hzzzzzz. Gurer'f na ncg pbzcnevfba… fbzrbar uryc zr! KQ

  10. tigerpetals says:

    Well I remember a description of a hobbits height, I think in the foreword or prologue of this book if not in The Hobbit. But at any rate, The Hobbit describes elven and human daggers as being like short swords for hobbits, and it doesn't say the same thing for dwarves. Gur zbivr fjvgpurf gurve urvtugf nebhaq, nf sne nf V erzrzore.

    LOTR as told with candy bunnies. Nonspoilery pictures, but don't explore the site unless you've watched the movie.
    A scene from the streets of Bree, not in the book but not a spoiler:
    Here's Strider as a peep:
    Here he is with Frodo:

    Yeah, the book is not as difficult as advertised. Even if, having read the other two books, I decided I liked the movies better – maybe I'll change my mind once I'm done this time.

  11. Shay_Guy says:

    It took me a while before I was really worn down, but I don't think I pay as close attention to individual lines and bits of description when words-per-page counts are unusually high. That seems to slow me down; it took me over two months to finish Crime and Punishment. (Granted, I mostly just read on Saturdays.)

  12. Genny_ says:

    Man, watching you talk about how you don't understand why people think it's so hard to read just has me wincing in self-deprecation. I seriously have to slog my way through this book! Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying it and on some level, I like the challenge. But lord is it a challenge to me. (I have heard that a lot of people get the 'SO VERBOSE' hyperbole from The Silmarillion though, which is apparently very sort of densely mythological? So it's more a 'Middle Earth' thing than a LotR thing, maybe. Hm.)

    However, I do agree it never gets boring. I feel like it's dense not because everything takes soooo long (though it kinda does, in a good way!) but rather because there seriously is just THAT MUCH for this book to talk about. Dense doesn't have to mean bloated.

    Yeah, I don't really have anything specific to say about this chapter which you didn't already cover. It's such a fantastically set atmosphere, and it has a ridiculously long song, and everything is great.

  13. AmandaNekesa says:

    Yay it\’s up! I was getting worried there for a second.

    Vz fb rkpvgrq jr\’ir ernpurq Fgevqre, naq Ghrfqnl jr\’yy trg gb N Xavsr va gur Qnex. FB RKPVGR! Znex vf tbaan sernx jura Sebqb trgf fgnoorq.

    • pennylane27 says:

      A second? More like four hours or so!

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Unfortunately for me, the reviews are posted while I'm at work, so I just read them during my lunch break. Always, without fail, I can pull it right up and start reading, but today I seriously thought my phone was broken or something. Then I got worried something horrible had happened to Mark… Believe me, though, if I didn't work M-F I would be all up on this site, refreshing all the time, waiting for the reviews to post just the same.

        Note: I have no idea why it adds those backslashes in when I'm posting with my phone. *edits*

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          Hmm…that's weird, it won't let me edit. Anyone know why it won't let me edit my post? I've done it before and not had a problem.

          • pennylane27 says:

            You can't edit a post once someone has replied to it, I think 🙂

            And reviews for me come up at midday sharp, so I usually rush through it so I can devour my lunch and come back for commenting properly. The problem will be when I start work again in February! I'm a teacher, so I'm on holidays!

            • AmandaNekesa says:

              Oh, yeah that makes a lot of sense, now that you mention it. Every time I've edited my posts in the past I did it before any replies were made. Thanks, I was all confuzzled for a second there. 🙂

              I start work at 7 and usually the posts are up by 8, so I normally miss out on a lot of commenting, and I don't always have the time to post any comments myself until after work (plus it's not so easy commenting via phone, not to mention it takes longer to type it out). Anyways, I'm super jealous you have a break for the holidays – I actually had to work on Christmas Eve this year…blech. Hope you're having a nice holiday break! 🙂

              • pennylane27 says:

                Oh dear that totally sucks! I'm always grateful for my summer vacations. Two months completely free! I get why people envy me sometimes. 😉

  14. arctic_hare says:


    Whee! Ain't this chapter great? I love your love of BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR, Mark, it is so adorable and endearing. <3 I will spell his name in all caps too! Because that is just a great name, honestly. I also love alliterative names, and alliteration in general, so this is pleasing to me. And yes, that song is ridiculously long! I'm not sure at all if it's the longest song in the book, since I don't remember the later ones (not a spoiler: this is Tolkien, you KNOW there will be more songs!), but I feel I should at least declare this one to be in the running.

    The history of Bree is just as interesting to me as it is to you. That is something I am really really loving on this reread, all the bits of history of Middle Earth Tolkien is dropping in, piece by piece. It gives such flavor to the setting, helps it feel real and whole, not just like some studio backlot that exists only for this particular tale. I'm always left craving more, and that's something he sought: he felt that part of the appeal of [spoilery mention excised] was "the glimpses of a large history in the background: an attraction like that of viewing far off an unvisited island, or seeing the towers of a distant city gleaming in a sunlit mist. To go there is to destroy the magic, unless new unattainable vistas are again revealed." I love that quote, and I agree completely with that sort of thinking. It gives so much mystery and beauty and depth to Middle Earth to have written it with that mindset, I think.

    Strider! Ah, what can I say about him that isn't a MASSIVE SPOILER. xD I'll just settle for another declaration of your continued lack of preparation for what is coming. Next chapter is going to be fantastic! And so are all the rest! HAR HAR. I just love these books. <3 Book. Whatever. Love the Prancing Pony, too, I would totally want to stay there. Good beer, good food, BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR, all kinds of interesting people stopping in… yeah, take me there please.

    • tigerpetals says:

      That's what I tried to explain to my sister and got an argument and a shutdown out of the conversation. Sometimes I think people just don't understand this. They just come up and treat it like homework instead of an experience, so that if they can't figure out the answers then the book is too difficult, an advanced course. Well, and also my sister started with the third book.

      There's so much joy and wonder in the book as is, even if by now I've read more of the background from other books. It's not like I had that background when I read the trilogy at eleven years old.

      • notemily says:

        …why would you start with the third book that doesn't make sense

        • tigerpetals says:

          I can't remember her reading the book, but I assume it was for the same reason I started with the second. Because I just wanted to find out what was going to happen. In her case, she never liked reading much -studying she does diligently, especially if it isn't literature, but reading for pleasure no – and she told me last week that if all she could understand was what she already knew from the movies then there wasn't any point in reading. I told her she found it hard because she started with the third book, and she kept saying that of course you couldn't understand anything unless you had read The Hobbit and every other Middle-Earth-related book, and I told her no, and then she said it was because she started with the third book without admitting that was what I told her. That's when she shut the conversation down by saying, I paraphrase: "Stop arguing, I understand my reasons for not reading" and getting angry. Because I was talking about the whole experience thing and how what she said wasn't true.

          I think part of it is that she's talking about getting information and moving on, whilst the act of reading is not about that. And it's not some inaccessible ivory tower thing like she pretends it is when she doesn't want to hear about it. Good books are made for people who enjoy reading, and want to maximize the benefits they get from the act.

          She did read The Hobbit, however.

          And the conversation was doomed from the start, since like I said she does not read for pleasure, except for Harry Potter and fashion/gossip magazines, and the only other book I remember her showing interest in was one for a movie that's supposed to be coming out. Even then, not much effort was put into getting it. But she started it in the first place.

    • msw188 says:

      I cannot give that Tolkien quote enough thumbs up. I've never seen it before, but it is beautiful. In my opinion, the greatest art feeds the imagination as much as the senses. I quoted this before, but it bears repeating now:

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

      (from one of the walking songs in chapter 3, where the act of FINDING any of these things is barely implied, if at all)

  15. hpfish13 says:

    Today's Alan Lee art just capture that moment when Frodo disappears so well.

    <img src=""&gt;

    I love this chapter, it is simultaneously bright and happy and fun, and incredibly ominous.

    I really like the song in this chapter, it's kind of neat how it is a longer version of Hey Diddle Diddle. My brother and his friends memorized it and made up a tune for it.

  16. Tauriel_ says:

    At last, it's here! 😀

    Oh man, this chapter. The plot FINALLY starts moving forwards again! 😀 (I mean, nothing against Tom Bombadil, but… Ding-a-ling-dillo-WTF indeed. Yeah. 😀 )

    I like the little tidbit on the history of Bree and its place in Middle-earth.

    The Big Folk and the Little Folk (as they called one another) were on friendly terms, minding their own affairs in their own ways, but both rightly regarding themselves as necessary parts of the Bree-folk. Nowhere else in the world was this peculiar (but excellent) arrangement to be found.

    Oh, look, a nice example of peaceful integrated multiracial coexistence. 🙂 I like how Tolkien doesn't make it a huge thing (because it shouldn't be, really), just briefly describes that it's an "excellent arrangement" and leaves it at that, perfectly normal (as it should be). Given the time during which this book was written, it's still pretty forward thinking, I guess.

    But as soon as our hobbits get to the town's gate, there's a sense of unease and suspicion, as the gatekeeper questions them and gives them weird looks.

    And then we come to the Prancing Pony (ponies FTW!) and meet Barliman Butterbur, who has probably the best name ever. 😀 He reminds me a bit of one of my cousins, very talkative, almost hyperactive, and EXTREMELY forgetful. 😀 Also, I find it pretty funny how the hobbits' suspicions can be so easily chased away by good food and beer.

    I love the description of the company in the common-room. Tolkien is highly efficient in capturing the atmosphere of a scene without having to resort to lengthy detailed descriptions of the surroundings and heaps of adjectives. So our hobbits have a drink, get friendly with the locals…

    And then…

    Suddenly Frodo noticed that a strange-looking weather-beaten man, sitting in the shadows near the wall, was also listening intently to the hobbit-talk. He had a tall tankard in front of him, and was smoking a long-stemmed pipe curiously carved. His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud. A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark-green cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heat of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Strider. Oh my God, STRIDER. <3 So far the most mysterious (I mean, suspiciously mysterious) character we've met so far. His very presence is unsettling, and he seems to know too much about Frodo – indeed after Frodo's brief accidental disappearance it turns out that Strider knows Frodo's real name and his words hint heavily that he knows about the Ring, too. WTF?? One can't really blame Frodo for having paranoid thoughts and suspecting even Butterbur.

    The song Frodo sings brings an interesting factoid to mind:

    In Middle-earth, the Sun is referred to as female and the Moon as male (which is opposite of our world, where the Sun has always represented the male principle and the Moon the female principle). This is, of course, because (Silmarillion spoilers) gur Fha, juvpu vf gur ynfg sehvg bs gur tbyqra gerr Ynheryva, vf pneevrq ol Nevra, n srznyr Znvn, n fcvevg bs sver; juvyr gur Zbba, juvpu vf gur ynfg sybjre bs gur fvyire gerr Grycrevba, vf pneevrq ol Gvyvba, n znyr Znvn, bar bs Bebzë'f uhagref.

    But at the end of the chapter, things look pretty much fucked up, Frodo drew too much attention to himself, and everyone seems to be suspicious of him (and he of everyone else). Oh dear, oh dear.

    • pennylane27 says:

      Gur Gerrf… *fbof*


    • tigerpetals says:

      Actually the sun isn't always male in our world and same for the moon. Amaterasu is a sun goddess in Japanese myth and Khonsu is a moon good in Egyptian myth. Thoth is also associated with the moon in the latter. I'm relying on Wikipedia because it's easiest right now, but I know I've seen more.

      I loved Tom Bombadil's part more than I thought I would, but I'm relieved to get to the plot.

      Where is that gif from?

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Ah, my mistake. Thanks for correcting me, I'm happy to learn new things. 🙂

        But my point still stands if we only take into account European mythologies – after all, Tolkien invented Middle-earth as a "surrogate English mythology", because he felt England didn't have its own proper mythology (he didn't really count the Arthurian legend). And there are a lot of elements in his writings that are taken from or inspired by various European mythologies and legends – such as Gandalf's name or many of the Dwarves' names in the Hobbit being taken from Edda, for example.

        • tigerpetals says:

          You're welcome.

          The list in the second link does include some European goddessess. I'm not really well-grounded on them enough to say more, though.

          It's the Greek and Roman myths that have these associations, and they're what's commonly known and studied in popular culture.

        • Gäst says:

          Lurker here just wanted to reply and say that in Scandinavian mythology the sun was female and the moon is male, which is reflected still in the masculine and feminine genders in the German language, as it was also in Anglo-Saxon and old Swedish when those languages still had grammatical genders.

          Personally I think Tolkien presented the sun as female in LOTR because that's what it was for the old Anglo-Saxons, before influences of the Roman languages took over.

    • James says:


      Bar bs gur zbfg cresrpg cntr-gb-fperra zbzragf *uncclfvtu*

    • platoapproved says:



    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Perfect gif usage! 🙂

    • Parmadil says:

      I'm going to jump on the GIF-raving bandwagon here:

      OMG BEST GIF EVER!! (THat is one of my favourite shots EVER!!! *swoons*)

    • notemily says:

      THAT GIF. <3 omg I love the movies so much

  17. monkeybutter says:

    Wait, what's wrong with reading Clifford the Big Red Dog every day? There are some important life lessons in there, okay! I love you for mentioning Tolkien's verbosity at the beginning of this review because he pulls out "The Cat and the Fiddle: The Extended Edition" in this chapter.

    Above the arch there was a lamp, and beneath it swung a large signboard: a fat white pony reared up on its hind legs.

    <img src=""&gt;
    I want to live at this inn forever. This book was written to specifically maximize my enjoyment.

    • pennylane27 says:


      • monkeybutter says:

        Like arctic_hare says, it’s from “What’s Opera Doc,” which is my favorite cartoon EVER.
        [youtube MQlmXU1zqfc youtube]
        (boo, no embedding) “Rabbit of Seville” is also pretty great!

        • arctic_hare says:

          I love Rabbit of Seville too! And What's Opera, Doc is also my favorite Looney Tunes short! Aw man, and this reminds me of how SAD it was when my internet died just as Mark hit Pandorica Opens in Doctor Who and we all had the plan of showing up as Romans. I had this neat avatar of the title card from Roman Legion Hare (another favorite, I have many) all ready. :'( It would have been PERFECT!

        • Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the waaaabbit, Clementine!


        • Tauriel_ says:

          That GIF is totally me and my Dad. 😀 See, my Dad is bald and he loves when I massage his head – he claims it improves his vision! 😀

        • pennylane27 says:

          Aha! I know Rabbit of Seville, but I have like zero recollection of What's Opera Doc, which I'm immediately rectifying! Thanks!

      • arctic_hare says:

        BUGS BUNNY IN ONE OF THE GREATEST CARTOONS EVER, "WHAT'S OPERA, DOC". IT IS TRULY A MASTERPIECE. SERIOUSLY! It was the first cartoon short to be deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the freaking LIBRARY OF CONGRESS and is preserved by the National Film Registry. The man who directed it, the FUCKING AWESOME Chuck Jones, also has two other shorts in the Registry, and in fact he's the ONLY animator with three shorts thus recognized. It's also the only Bugs Bunny cartoon in there. It's just… it's that good.

        /may just be a weird Looney Tunes-obsessive

    • arctic_hare says:


    • Appachu says:

      All the upvotes to you. :D:D:D

    • platoapproved says:

      Great cartoon, OR THE GREATEST?

    • nextboy1 says:

      I had tons of Looney Toons on my harddrive somewhere, but can't seem to find them.

      "Duck Amuck" will always be my favourite!

      • arctic_hare says:

        DUCK AMUCK IS ANOTHER CLASSIC. <3 I love Chuck Jones-era Daffy, where he shifted from the zany persona of the early cartoons into the selfish, self-proclaimed "greedy slob" we know and love so well. That *I* love, anyway. 😀 I love what Jones famously said about Bugs and Daffy: that Bugs is who we want to be, but Daffy is who we really are. Daffy will never not be hilarious, and the torture Bugs puts him through is one of the best showcases of that. PLUS I just love what Chuck Jones was going for in that cartoon – to demonstrate how animation can create characters with their own recognizable personality independent of setting, appearance, voice, etc. It was a great experiment in seeing how people would still recognize Daffy as Daffy if he took various things away from him. It worked perfectly. Utter brilliance.

      • monkeybutter says:

        I adore "Duck Amuck," too! I was always so excited to catch it when I was a kid, because I lived for this thing:

        <img src=""&gt;
        I love Daffy Duck, it's a fantastic display of his character, and I remember being an awestruck little kid, thinking about what amazing things you can do with animation. "Duck Amuck" is a huge part of my lifelong love and admiration for animation and animators. Also, Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc were brilliant. <3

        • arctic_hare says:

          They really, really were. <3 I actually got a bit misty-eyed the other night when one of the clues on Jeopardy showed Mel Blanc's grave. I love how it says (per a stipulation in his will) "That's all, folks". I think it's a beautiful celebration of his life's work. :'( (I can't believe one of his teachers told him he would amount to nothing! BOY HOW WRONG THEY WERE.)

    • ldwy says:

      I love that Bugs episode!!!!

  18. pennylane27 says:


    Okay, let's get some dignity back.

    I'm forever spelling BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR in all caps too. Also in Spanish. CEBADILLA MANTECONA. Not as awesome as in English, but still.

    I absolutely adore Frodo's song, or Bilbo's I should say. It's just so Bilbo and so ridiculous and just awesome.

    Also, I would like to go to the Prancing Pony and hear tales and songs and be served by BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR. In fact, there's a pub called that in my city, but without the hobbits and BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR it's just not the same. 🙁

  19. Tauriel_ says:


    LOL, Mark, so not prepared… 😀

    Gur fbat bs Orera naq Yúguvra naq gur fbat bs Avzebqry, nalbar? 😀

    • pennylane27 says:

      Lrnu, V guvax Avzebqry'f vf gur ybatrfg bar. V npghnyyl xarj gur svefg fgnamn ol urneg ng fbzr cbvag. Na Ryira-znvq gurer jnf bs byq….

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Obgu bs gurz unir orra chg gb snagnfgvp zhfvp ol n Pmrpu nzngrhe gbyxvravgr tebhc bs zhfvpvnaf naq fvatref pnyyrq "Gur Cbrgvp Sryybjfuvc", naq V funyy or cbfgvat gurz jura jr trg gb gurve erfcrpgvir puncgref. 🙂

      • Dreamflower says:

        Abg gb zragvba gur fbat bs Rneraqvy, va juvpu Ovyob unf gur purrx gb znxr hc fbatf nobhg Rneraqvy va gur Ubhfr bs Ryebaq. V npghnyyl yvxr gur aba-YbgE irefvba bs vg, "Reenagel" orggre, gubhtu.

        • shortstuff says:

          Lrn, gur bar nobhg Reraqvy jnf ernyyl ybat. Jura V fnj Znex'f pbzzrag gung jnf gur bar V vzzrqvngryl gubhtug bs.

          Gur fbat nobhg Orera naq Yhguvra V ernyyl yvxr pbagrag jvfr, ohg sbe fbzr ernfba gur eulzr fpurzr naablrq zr gb ab raq. V pna'g ernyyl rkcynva vg, ohg vg whfg qvqa'g frrz gb sybj. V'yy or vagrerfgrq gb frr ubj Znex ernpgf gb fbzr bs gur zber uvfgbevpny fbatf, nf bccbfrq gb whfg ongu gvzr fbatf yby

        • msw188 says:

          Guvf bar vf gur frevbhf bar. Gung fnvq, gur bgure fbatf zragvbarq (Avzebqry, O&Y) ner fcrpvsvpnyyl fnvq gb or bayl cnegf bs gur shyy fbatf. V oryvrir gung Gbyxvra qvq jevgr na ragver Ynl bs Yrvguvna (fcryyvat?), gung gryyf gur shyy fgbel bs Orera naq Yhguvra. V qba'g erzrzore jurer V urneq (be ernq) gung.

          • pennylane27 says:

            V guvax gung'f npghnyyl bar puncgre bs Gur Fvyznevyyvba. Vg'f abg va fbat sbez gubhtu. Ubj njrfbzr jbhyq gung or? V ernyyl ybir gur fbatf, qba'g whqtr zr! 😀

          • Steve Morrison says:

            It’s in The Lays of Beleriand, which is volume three of The History of Middle-earth. Be warned, though, that it’s unfinished; vg bayl ernpurf gur cbvag ng juvpu Orera naq Yhguvra unir rfpncrq sebz Natonaq.

        • flootzavut says:

          Bilbo <3 cheeky little toerag <3

  20. AmandaNekesa says:

    Even though I watched the movies first I genuinely enjoyed the books when I read them the first time. Even on my first re-read since then, I started the first few chapters and couldn\’t stop and put it down for long, and I freaking knew what happens! I was really trying not to plow through it because of Mark\’s delay starting LOTR, but I just COULD NOT STOP READING. That\’s the storytelling power of Tolkien.

    • LjrTR says:

      Me too – can’t stop at just one chapter sometime

    • flootzavut says:

      I watched the first movie first, then read book 1, then if memory serves watched film two, read book two, read book three, then had to wait a WHOLE FREAKING YEAR! for the last movie.

      When i tried to read LOTR as a kid I got stuck in what I now realise was the prologue. Part of me has a sad that I didn't get to read them at the time (why didn't someone tell me to just skip that bit?) but then again it was awesome to have something so massive to experience for the first time as an adult.

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        I had watched FotR and TTT not long before RotK came out in theaters. I decided to tackle the books to see if I could get caught up and finish RotK before it hit the theaters. My pace was not quite as fast as it's been on further re-reads, so I didn't quite finish TTT before RotK was released. I do wish I had waited until I'd finished the book before seeing the RotK movie, but I was so wrapped up in the story I couldn't wait any longer to find out what happens. So I watched RotK…then a friend said she hadn't watched it, so I saw it a 2nd time with her. Then I introduced my sister to the first two movies, and went with her to see it a third time. I think I saw RotK 3 times within about 2 or 3 weeks.

        I had only vaguely known about LotR previously, which I think was partly due to my very very very conservative Christian upbringing. My parents believed anything and everything fantasy-related that involved magic/wizards was bad, so I just wasn't exposed to this genre very much when I was growing up. (And look at me now: LotR and Harry Potter super-nerd!) I realized I needed to check out LotR when I went to a college days visit with some friends. I don't quite remember what it was, but the university was holding some sort of LotR event, and everyone seemed genuinely shocked that I didn't know what LotR was. Out of curiosity, I decided to check out the first movie after I returned home. I completely fell in love with the story and found out there was a second movie out, so I watched that one too. I introduced my family to LotR, and my brother and sister definitely enjoyed the movies, but it took ages to convince my parents to watch them. My dad finally caved about 2 years later, and now they own both the theatrical and the Extended Editions. It's funny how things work out, sometimes. 🙂

  21. Tauriel_ says:

    Also, I totally love how you capitalise the whole name of BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR. Written like this it almost lacks a "TM" sign at the end… 😀

  22. pennylane27 says:

    Oh, and there was something I wanted to comment on yesterday but my gran had made ñoquis for lunch and it's kind of a big deal and then life got in the way son I couldn't.

    V'z ybivat nyy gur ersreraprf gb gur Enatref/Aúzrabernaf/Nentbea jr'ir unq fb sne, cnegvphyneyl orpnhfr gurl jba'g rira znxr frafr hagvy lbh'ir ernq gur Fvyznevyyvba. Be gur Nccraqvprf? V'ir bayl ernq gurz bapr, orpnhfr trg guvf: nyy gur cncreonpx Fcnavfu genafyngvbaf gung bhe penccl pbhagel unf ninvynoyr (naq oryvrir zr, V'ir purpxrq frireny), bayl pbzr jvgu Gur Gnyr bs Nentbea naq Nejra. PBZCYRGRYL EVQVPHYBHF NAQ HANPPRCGNOYR. Naq V'ir bayl unq npprff gb gur cebcre Ratyvfu irefvba bapr, fb V'z qrsvavgryl ybbxvat sbejneq gb ernqvat gurz ntnva. /gnatrag bire.

    Naljnl, ynfg puncgre, Gbz zragvbaf gur Zra bs Jrfgrearffr, gur snyy bs gur ervta bs Neabe, naq gur zra jub qrfpraq sebz gubfr terng xvatf, yvxr Nentbea naq gur Enatref. Ur rira gnyxf nobhg ubj gurl cebgrpg "sbyx gung ner urrqyrff" sebz rivy guvatf. V guvax gung'f nyfb oevrsyl zragvbarq va gur Cebybthr naq ol Tnaqnys ng fbzr cbvag, ubj gur Fuver vf nyybjrq gb xrrc vgf crnpr gunaxf va cneg gb gur Enatref jngpuvat.

    Naq gura gurer'f gur ivfvba gung gur uboovgf unir jura Gbz'f gnyxvat:
    […]yvxr n infg funqbjl cynva bire juvpu gurer fgebqr funcrf bs Zra, gnyy naq tevz jvgu oevtug fjbeqf, naq ynfg pnzr bar jvgu n fgne ba uvf oebj.
    Gung'f boivbhfyl Nentbea, be orggre lrg Ryrffne. Naq lrg jura lbh svefg ernq guvf, lbh graq gb qvfzvff vg nf whfg n ivfvba sebz gur cnfg ribxrq ol Gbz'f jbeqf. Znex cebonoyl qvq gbb, nf ur qvqa'g zragvba vg va uvf erivrj.

    Naq va guvf puncgre jr trg n cebcre vagebqhpgvba bs gur Enatref, naq ba erernqf vg frrzf fb fnq gung gurfr zra, jub ner qrfpraqnagf bs Aúzrabe, ner ivrjrq nf fgenatr jnaqreref, naq Oerr-sbyx qba'g znxr sevraqf jvgu gurz.

    I kind of feel like I could write an essay on this, so I'll just stop. But I am, as always, astonished at the amount of detailed thought this man put into his books. He created a full history of a world. That will never not amaze me.

    Also, I wish we could bring Tolkien back to life, or get a TARDIS trip to visit him, and pick his brains for more. <>Because it's just fascinating.</>

  23. LRG says:

    Not gonna lie, I’ve never read LOTR before. I decided to just read Mark’s reviews and follow along, which made me want to rewatch the movies (which I haven’t seen since I was 10)…which made me actually decide to pick up the book. I thought I would just stick to Mark’s schedule and pick up with today’s chapter but LOL NO ALREADY 3 CHAPTERS AHEAD.

    So thanks Mark, you actually made me dust off the 3 in 1 book that my dad bought for me when Fellowship hit theaters in 2001.

  24. echinodermata says:

    I love this chapter. It's a brand new setting and there's something unsettling throughout it all, and Tolkien does a great job worldbuilding here. And then the ring! And the mysterious man calling himself Strider! This is around the time when I start having trouble putting the book down.

    But mostly, I remember loving this chapter because it was a relief to get to new stuff after Tom Bombadil because nope, not a fan of him.

  25. LjrTR says:

    Oh thank goodness the chapter review is up. Yay! And from now til the end I will be thinking “ooh can’t wait til he gets to the next chapter!” . Cause it just gets better & better.

  26. Appachu says:

    All hail Strider, Bringer of Plot.

  27. flootzavut says:


  28. flootzavut says:

    Film moment of this chapter:

    Bar bs zl snibhevgr "Fgevqre" zbzragf va gur zbivrf vf

    "Ner lbh sevtugrarq?"


    "Abg arneyl rabhtu. V xabj jung sbyybjf lbh."


  29. Appachu says:

    Also, just popping in here to post something awesome from the LotR musical. (Which I have not yet seen, and I am incredibly jealous of anyone who has.) This is the musical's version of the song Frodo sings.

    [youtube 4fCnxyyj4lY youtube]

    I've got a couple of others bookmarked as well, which I will post when we get to the relevant parts.

    • Katarina says:

      This is awesome! I'm looking forward to hearing more when the time comes!

    • alfgifu says:

      I saw the musical twice when it was in London – fantastic! I actually preferred it to the films, although it was so much shorter, because it felt closer to the spirit of the books (and possibly because it was made by ancient language geeks).

      In particular it vapyhqrq gur Fpbhevat bs gur Fuver naq qvq vg jryy. Vg nyfb qbrfa'g unir n terng qrny bs pbzvp eryvrs, naq jbexf gur gnyr bs Nentbea naq Nejra vagb gur znva cybg sne zber fzbbguyl. Bs pbhefr n terng qrny unf gb or phg bhg – ab Rbjla (fnqsnpr) naq Ebuna naq Tbaqbe ner engure inthryl nznytnzngrq vagb 'gur Xvatqbzf bs Zra'. Ohg Tnynqevry vf fubja svtugvat ng gur gvzr bs gur svany onggyr naq vg vf tybevbhf. Nyfb, Furybo punagf va Byq Jryfu naq gur Bepf fvat va Byq Ratyvfu (cebahapvngvba snveyl tbbq). Naq gurer'f n terng qrny bs fvatvat va Ryivfu, juvpu vf ornhgvshy vs vapbzcerurafvoyr.

      • Katarina says:

        Ohg… ab Rbjla! Gurer'f ab znxvat hc sbe gung! (V'z fgvyy n ovg fnqsnprq gung nqncgngvbaf graq gb yrnir bhg Oretvy.)

        • alfgifu says:

          Jryy, vg'f n ovg ehoovfu gung gurl pbhyqa'g svg ure va, ohg gur cybg jnf znffviryl phg qbja. Gur guvat vf, gurl tbg gur uboovgf ernyyl uboovgyvxr (juvpu gur svyzf bayl fbeg bs znantrq) naq gur ryirf ernyyl ryivfu (juvpu gur svyzf pbzcyrgryl syhoorq). V'z jvyyvat gb chg hc jvgu n ybg bs cybg znatyvat (naq rira fbzr njrfbzr punenpgref inavfuvat) sbe gur fnxr bs gung!

          Ohg, bs pbhefr, LZZI. V'z creuncf n ovg bs n fgvpxyre sbe gur yvathvfgvp naq phygheny fvqr bs guvatf (naq gung'f Natyb-Fnkba/Treznavp haqrefgngrzrag).

          • Katarina says:

            I guess we all have different priorities when it comes to what we want kept or not in every adaptation.

            • flootzavut says:

              Definitely. I LOVE the language stuff, but… Ab Rbjla? Pbhyqa'g or qbvat jvgu gung. Bar bs zl snibhevgr punenpgref.

              That said, it wouldn't stop me going to see it if given the opportunity 😀

    • Imo says:

      YBIR VG! Gunaxlbh fb zhpu sbe cbfgvat Png & Gur Zbba – V'ir orra uhzzvat vg fvapr V ernq guvf puncgre n srj qnlf ntb.

  30. flootzavut says:

    "Jub rknpgyl vf guvf thl?"

    FB hacercnerq :Q

  31. Dreamflower says:

    Oh, this chapter's finally up! I was so sad this morning not to find it, and then I had to go run errands! How delightful to find it here when I got home! This is turning into one of the highlights of my day!

    I'm so glad Mark likes BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR! And that he liked Frodo's song-and-dance number. Not a spoiler, as it appears nowhere in LotR, but J.R.R.T. also wrote another poem about the Man in the Moon's adventures, plus va pnfr Znex rire qrpvqrf gb ernq "Ebirenaqbz", gur Z-v-g-Zbba cynlf n engure ynetr ebyr gurer nf jryy.

    V nyfb ybir ubj tbbq Znex'f vafgvapgf ner, va gung ur qbrfa'g guvax Fgevqre'f n onq thl! *teva* V pna'g jnvg gb frr jung ur guvaxf jura ur svaqf bhg Fgevqre'f gur gvgyr punenpgre bs gur guveq cneg bs gur gevybtl, YBY!

    And in case anyone's interested, I wrote a fanfic in which I imagined Bilbo and the Dwarves staying at the Pony on their own journey: "A Merry Old Inn"

    It explains the origin of Frodo's song.

    • Cylena says:

      Ebirenaqbz! I had competely forgotten about that story until now! <3<3<3<3 I may love you forever for mentioning it!

    • msw188 says:

      Va ertneqf gb Znex'f vafgvapgf, gung ovg bs uvf erivrj znqr zr ernyyl ernyvmr ubj jryy Gbyxvra jevgrf uvz va guvf fprar. Orpnhfr jura Sebqb fnlf n freinag bs gur rarzl jbhyq 'ybbx snvere naq srry sbhyre', jr nf gur ernqre fbzrubj pna nterr jvgu gung vqrn. Fgevqre fnlf naq qbrf whfg rabhtu gb fhopbafpvbhfyl pbaivapr hf bs uvf tbbq vagragvbaf.

      • flootzavut says:

        Lrf. V ybir gung qrfpevcgvba, naq vg'f fb gehr – Sebqb'f vafgvapgf ner tbbq gbb :Q – surprisingly genre savvy pbafvqrevat ur'f n uboovg!

        Gubhtu Ivttb Zbegrafra? abg sbhy, Sebqb, qba'g or ehqr YBY :Q

    • flootzavut says:

      LRF. Gerynjarl fgevxrf ntnva. V nyfb ybir ubj havagragvbanyyl uvynevbhf Znex fb bsgra vf jvgu gurfr erivrjf – yvxr jnl onpx jura ur fgnegrq ba nobhg lbh jbhyqa'g jnyx vagb n ibypnab. Vs vg jnfa'g sbe uvf rkgerzr naq boivbhf hacercnerqarff V'q nyzbfg guvax ur xarj gur obbxf jryy naq jnf whfg chyyvat bs n znwbe wbo bs gebyyvat hf nyy :Q vg'f whfg snagnfgvpb!

  32. Ellie says:

    lol has nobody noticed that the song was basically
    hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon. the little dog laughed, to see such a sight, and the dish ran away with the spoon
    im not the only one who listened to that as a kid, am i?

    • Ellie says:

      lol just realized tolkiens version has its own wiki page

    • Katarina says:

      I've never heard the original, but reading this, I went, "Hang on, I KNOW this was mentioned in Mary Poppins, and I KNOW Mary Poppins is older than Lord of the Rings…"

      • Dreamflower says:

        "Hey Diddle Diddle" has been around since the 18th century. JRRT fleshed out the original as a sort of philological joke, and then realized it might be the sort of song hobbits would sing.

        There's another, more original poem/song called "The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon" which is even longer if I recall correctly. But Tolkien had a thing about the Man in the Moon. He showed up in a couple of his other non-Middle-earth stories as well.

        • Katarina says:

          Yeah, English-language nursery rhymes are the sort of things I learned about through references in books, rather than by actually hearing them. I've learned heaps from the original titles of Agatha Christie novels. 🙂

    • Dreamflower says:

      Many generations of kids knew that nursery rhyme. I am stunned to learn that there are now a couple of generations of kids who DON'T know the nursery rhymes…

      • Katarina says:

        Well, in my case, it's different countries rather than different generations. 🙂

        • Dreamflower says:

          That's entirely different– I'm sure you have your own such things! Still, I do come across children and even older teens who know none of these things from their own culture, and I find it very hard to imagine why.

          • rabidsamfan says:

            Well, as a children's librarian I see a lot of families where the parents are pushing past the nursery rhymes to books originally meant for older children. Still, if it's any consolation, I sing Hey Diddle Diddle at my preschoolers quite often. (And they all know the Wheels on the Bus…)

      • flootzavut says:

        It never even occurred to me that anyone (at least those in the same culture) wouldn't recognise the Cat and the Fiddle! 😮

    • baruchan says:

      No, it wasn’t just you 😀 What’s funny was that the day before I read this part for the first time, I was babysitting one of my cousins, who was obsessed with Sesame Street, so we were watching [youtube caRuhprYlOQ youtube] on repeat for a couple of hours. So when I got to the Man in the Moon song, I couldn’t help but laugh at Tolkien’s genius 😀

  33. Dru says:

    Again, it’s another indication that the Ring has this creepy, possessive power over those who own it; earlier, Frodo had to fight a strong urge do put it on when he was feeling awkward.

    Y'know, reading it as an adult, it's REALLY hard for me not to think The One Ring is a metaphor for hard drugs.

    I mean, think about it. Something that makes you feel all-powerful and then slowly pulls you further and further into darkness until there's nothing left of you, causes cravings to use it so you can solve your problems, causes paranoia that makes you think everyone is out to get you, and which you have to take a long and difficult journey with to destroy for good because your initial attempts to get rid of it simply do not work (therapy? rehab?).

    • Dreamflower says:

      Gung'f qrsvavgryl gur jnl CW fnj vg, naq ubj vg jnf hfrq va gur zbivrf, nf gubhtu vg jrer fbzr fbeg bs penpx be urebvar be fbzrguvat. V'z abg fher gung'f jung WEEG zrnag gb pbairl, ohg gur evat fheryl yraqf vgfrys gb fhpu na vagrecergngvba.

    • threerings13 says:

      I think it would be a mistake to say that the Ring is a metaphor for any one thing. The ring is a metaphor for evil, for anything that could do that to a person. It's a weapon, a drug, a belief, an obsession. Tolkien didn't like allegory; any story where things were MEANT to represent something directly. He rejected any attempts by people trying to explain his own work in that way (i.e. the Ring is the A-bomb, which used to be a pretty popular idea, I think.)

      • flootzavut says:

        Yes – definitely a case of YMMV, and Tolkien intended it to be that way.

        That said, V'z pregnva ur jbhyq unir nccebirq bs fbzrbar yvxravat gur Evat'f cbjre gb nqqvpgvba, nf CW qvq. V guvax (*guvax*) gung nybatfvqr gur bsg zragvbarq qvfyvxr bs nyyrtbel, V'ir ernq/urneq gung WEEG jnf nofbyhgryl svar naq qnaql (naq znlor rira dhvgr unccl) nobhg crbcyr frrvat guvatf va gurer gung eryngrq gb erny yvsr – nf ybat nf ab bar gubhtug ur'q arprffnevyl qbar vg "ba checbfr" be unq vagraqrq vg gb or nyyrtbevpny nobhg BAR fcrpvsvp guvat.

      • notemily says:

        Oh, interesting. I can definitely see the "the Ring is the A-bomb" thing in stuff like [gur "tbbq thlf" jnagvat gb hfr vg sbe tbbq, ohg va gur raq vg jbhyq whfg pbeehcg gurz gb qb rivy. OBEBZVE!] But yeah, I like that Tolkien leaves it open to interpretation deliberately, so that it can represent many things–I think the best stories are like that.

  34. Mauve_Avenger says:

    "[The Men of Bree] belonged to nobody but themselves; but they were more friendly and familiar with Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, and other inhabitants of the world about them than was (or is) usual with the Big People."

    Very similar to the introduction to the concept of hobbits in The Hobbit, except that there–"they are (or were) a little people…"–it's implied that hobbits definitely existed long ago but might now be extinct, whereas here the parenthetical is implying that these fictional races of people existed and still exist, and that furthermore some Men might still have contact with them.

    I always thought it was odd that the Shire-hobbits would be weirded out by the botanical surnames of the Bree-landers, considering the seeming popularity of botanical given names in the Shire (there's Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, Primula Brandybuck, Melilot Took, and Angelica Baggins, just in the very first chapter).

    And because Philip Pullman has ruined the word for me forever: there have been four uses of "presently" so far in this book, two of which are in this chapter just a few pages away from each other. I'm giving it a pass because this book is obviously a lot older than HDM, but still…Gung jbeq arrqf gb or pnfg vagb Zbhag Qbbz nybat jvgu gur Evat.

    The fifth verse of Bilbo's song has a little note on it ("On Sunday* there's a special pair"…*see Note 1, p. 1084), which is funny because neither is there a note section with numbers nor is the page number accurate even when you add all the pages numbers of the three books up. (ROT13) Gur pbeerfcbaqvat cntr ahzore vf fbzrjurer va gur puncgre "Zbhag Qbbz." Nz V pbeerpg va nffhzvat gung vg whfg ersref gb gur nccraqvk frpgvba nobhg ubj gur qnlf tvira nera'g npphengr ersyrpgvbaf bs gur Fuver-pnyraqne, be vf gurer fbzrguvat ryfr V'z zvffvat urer?

    • valmarkont says:

      Lrf, vg ersref gb gur sbbgabgr va Nccraqvk Q, "V unir gurersber va Ovyob'f fbat (cc. 155-6) hfrq Fngheqnl naq Fhaqnl vafgrnq bs Guhefqnl naq Sevqnl.", juvpu unccraf npghnyyl gb or ba cntr 1084 va zl irefvba.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      "And because Philip Pullman has ruined the word for me forever: there have been four uses of "presently" so far in this book, two of which are in this chapter just a few pages away from each other. I'm giving it a pass because this book is obviously a lot older than HDM, but still…Gung jbeq arrqf gb or pnfg vagb Zbhag Qbbz nybat jvgu gur Evat. "

      Yeah this is something that I noticed too, naq frrzf gb or hfrq dhvgr serdhragyl guebhtubhg gur erfg bs gur obbxf…

  35. Flowerry Pott says:

    I have only one thing to say:

    "Vg pbzrf va cvagf? V'z trggva' bar."

    That is all.

  36. Becky says:

    I cannot see the name BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR and not read it as Butterbeer. It makes me think he wears wizarding robes and in my mind he kind of looks like a chubby Dumbledore because of it. I’m okay with this.

    I love how much history Middle Earth has and that a lot of it is just there and never explained to us. Like, the Prancing Pony has hobbit-sized rooms and it’s one of the few places were humans and hobbits have close contact but we never get any story about why this is or what caused Bree to be like this, it’s just a historical fact.

  37. James says:

    I once recited that whole thing in a poetry reading. Trufax.

    I'm SO GLAD you love the book so much, Mark. I actually saw the film before I read it (but read TTT and ROTK before their films) and (minor book and adaptation spoilers) V jnf fhecevfrq ubj zhpu ybatre vg gnxrf sbe fuvg gb trg tbvat va rnearfg, juvpu znqr vg srry n ybg fybjre guna vg unf ba er-ernqf. Nygubhtu V qvq arneyl tvir hc gur svefg gvzr V ernq 'Gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq'. V tbg unysjnl guebhtu vg orsber fxvccvat nurnq orpnhfr V svtherq V'q or bxnl gb univat frra gur svyz. Bs pbhefr, V zvffrq fbzr vzcbegnag fuvg qbvat gung! Gunaxshyyl, V qba'g svaq vg nf zhpu bs n fybt nal zber.

  38. You Are Not Alone says:


    I love Tolkien for creating this whole story/song to make sense of that insane nursery rhyme in such a genius way. That was such a joyful surpise when I first read the book. And the fact that Bilbo is the one who made it up! "As a rule only a few parts of it survive today" :DDDDDD. I'm re-reading LOTR now for the first time and I just had to read my Mum the whole song and she was amused too.

    • threerings13 says:

      So I guess that answers the question I considered posting of "Does anyone actually LIKE this song?" I mean, I get the idea, and it's cute, but the actual song just doesn't do much for me and it's WAY too long.

      • Parmadil says:

        Oh, I love the song! It's so funny and clever. And if you imagine it with music, the way it was intended (being a song), it's so much easier to get through. 🙂

    • notemily says:

      Please don't use the word "insane" on this site.

  39. Suzannezibar says:


    Continuing off of the "I completely missed how fabulous this was when I was eleven" train of thought, the world-building and little details in this chapter is just amazing!!! I adore all of the history that's given, and I love all the details we get about the Prancing Pony. And omg I love how much you love BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR, I want so badly to have him in my life, anytime I'm travelling. 😀


    Aaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnddd….OMG STRIDER

  40. tethysdust says:

    Such a neat chapter! It's great to see some new areas and new people. I love how the hobbits, despite knowing intellectually that they're in a very dangerous situation, don't really seem to be taking it seriously yet. "Yeah, yeah, we're in mortal danger… let's go drink with random strangers, tell stories, and sing songs!"

    And here's for the Tolkien Ensemble version of the super long song 🙂 : Embedding still not working for me, but here's a link!

  41. Chris Durston says:

    "Uboovgf qba’g jevgr obbxf!"
    Oh, Mark, if you only knew…

  42. MidnightLurker says:

    So after watching Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island back to back I now want to see MUPPET LORD OF THE RINGS. If only for the following line:

    "Jung ohfvarff qb n cvt, n sebt, naq n orne unir va gur Evqqreznex?"

    (I'll repost this periodically, unspoilering the bits that are no longer spoilers.)

    Yvax Ubtguebo nf Cvtbynf, Sbmmvr nf Qvzyv, Xrezvg nf Nentbea bs gur Enanqnva – gur Sebtf bs gur Jrfg, their wizard is Gonzo the Grey. Hobbits are probably unique Muppets, or maybe Robin is Frodo and the other hobbits are all little frogs. Elves are pigs, bepf ner gur obnef sebz Zhccrg Gernfher Vfynaq. Cvttl cynlf n qhny ebyr nf Nejra naq Cvtnqevry — NYY FUNYY YBIR ZBV NAQ QRFCNVE! Fnz gur Rntyr vf Qrargube. Muppet Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is the Black Rider. Tbyyhz vf Hapyr Qrnqyl.

    • hpfish13 says:

      I fully support this idea!! Let's get someone on it!!!

    • threerings13 says:

      You are a genius, and I would totally contribute to the Kickstarter to make this happen. 😀 (And having just watched Muppet Christmas Carol last week, you're totally right about the Muppet Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.) (And your first quote up there made me splutter.)

    • Parmadil says:

      This is beautiful, and must happen.

      Also, my sister and I have been working on the Sesame Street version (jokingly) for forever.
      Gur Pbbxvr Zbafgre jbhyq or Fnheba:
      "Bar pbbxvr gb ehyr gurz nyy
      Bar pbbxvr gb svaq gurz
      Bar pbbxvr gb oevat gurz nyy
      Naq va gur qnexarff, rng vg!"

      I have the whole cast and ideas list somewhere… I'll have to dig that out sometime.

    • flootzavut says:

      "Jung ohfvarff qb n cvt, n sebt, naq n orne unir va gur Evqqreznex?"

      Seriously, you win ALL THE THINGS. I laughed SOOOOOO HARD when I cyphered that!

      I want to see this <3

  43. Ryan Lohner says:

    Yay, the plot is back! Not that anything before this was really bad, but it's nice to get back to the Ring being something scary that can't be part of a juggling act, and interacting with regular folks.

  44. Aris Katsaris says:

    The books are a ton better than the movies — it's only the surface that's the same, the books having lots more depth to them, and even changing crucially some personalities… so those people who said that you should only read the books if you liked the movies… they were WRONG: that would only apply to the people who are fascinated only by the surface of the world, not the depth thereof.

  45. ravenclaw42 says:

    OK, tomorrow I will hopefully have the full history of the creation, evolution, and eventual ditching of Trotter the Ranger. But here are a couple of tidbits for today.

    This bit from an old draft makes me think of The Matrix:
    Merry: “'Mind your Ps and Qs, and don't forget that you are supposed to be escaping in secret, and are Mr Hill, Mr Green and Mr Brown.'”
    LOL obvious fake names are obvious. Underhill is much better, and it's less suspicious to have a few recognizable family names like Brandybuck and Took with you, anyway. Those two clans are really big, no one would question a queer, river-boating Brandybuck who isn't intimidated by the Old Forest showing up in Bree while traveling. Go around calling yourselves Hill, Green and Brown, three previously unheard-of families, and with an oral culture as gossipy as the hobbits' you're sure to get called on your bullshit the first time someone asks you who you're kin to. (“Green? Haven't heard of 'em. Who're you kin to?” I live in the South and this is such a thing. “Oh, you're a Hightower! I know Hightowers down in Splunge. You kin to them?” Etc etc.)

    In fact, right here I have to disagree a bit with Mark's assessment that the oral, history-focused culture of the hobbits is different from real life – at least where I live, that is basically how my entire town interacts. How many times and from how many people have I heard the story of the local guy whose fanbelt flew out of his car while he was working on it? It cut through most of his neck, but the cut was so clean that he held his head on while he drove to the hospital and they fixed him up just fine. Is it true? Who knows? Probably some part of it is true. You could check hospital records or ask his family, but who does that? It's just a great story. Also, that whole mode of communicating history through songs and anecdotal evidence is very real, from the dawn of humanity through the modern day. 100% factually accurate history? Not at all. But that's what urban legends, superstitions, “local color” and 90% of popular history are, right? A huge game of Telephone, where the end result is totally distorted but way more memorable than the original. But it was also mentioned in The Hobbit, IIRC (or was it the LotR foreword?), how the the hobbits are sticklers for getting their paperwork right when it comes to really having an argument with their neighbors/settling a dispute, so I'm sure there is a lot of both modes of history/record-keeping going around – the subjective oral and the objective written.)

    BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR was at first named Barnabas Butterbur. Not bad, but definitely perfected later.

    And lastly, the tragic villainization of Harry Goatleaf the gatekeeper due to editorial error:
    In previous drafts there were several more sentences about the gatekeeper – he came into the inn; he was seen talking with other suspicious people; Frodo wondered why he was there and not at the gate, and whether he had gone off duty. All of these were edited out when Tolkien left a note to himself: “Cut out Harry – he is unnecessary”. Except that somehow during the publication process one line was accidentally left in, and is there, a total nonsequiter, to this day: “[The] swarthy Bree-lander… slipped out of the door, followed by the squint-eyed southerner: the two had been whispering together a good deal during the evening. Harry the gatekeeper also went out just behind them.”

    Poor Harry Goatleaf, evil by mistake.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Gurer vf fb zhpu pbby fghss va EbgF! V ybir nyy gur fgnegvatf-bire! Bar bs zl snibevgr ovgf vf gur qvfpneqrq qrfpevcgvba bs Sebqb: N jneg ba uvf puva naq n juvgr ybpx ng uvf grzcyr. V nz rire fb tynq gung qrfpevcgvba jrag gur fnzr jnl nf gur hasbeghangr anzr "Ovatb"! Vs gung vf na rknzcyr bs WEEG'f nggrzcgf ng culfvpny qrfpevcgvbaf bs uvf punenpgref, V nz rire fb tynq ur qrpvqrq abg gb qb zhpu bs vg!

    • arctic_hare says:

      LOL that is hilarious. Poor Harry, indeed!

    • msw188 says:

      Wow, I had no clue about that!

    • threerings13 says:

      This makes me picture a Hobbit version of Reservoir Dogs. Sam: "I don't want to be called Mr. Pink."

  46. Danielle says:

    It would have been brilliant if BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR had been played by BRIAN BLESSED in the films.

  47. Becky_J_ says:

    "I shall sit here by the fire for a bit, and perhaps go out later for a sniff of the air."

    MERIADOC BRANDYBUCK. HAVE YOU LOST YOUR TINY LITTLE HEAD. You get chased out of the Shire by terrifying Black Riders that can sniff you out, you almost get eaten by a goddamn tree, and then you get captured by a barrow-wight who wants to play dress up with you before he slits your throat with his freaking severed arm. WHY IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HAPPY IN THE SHIRE WOULD YOU EVER BE ALONE AWAY FROM THE OTHERS. I won't even feel bad if something awful happens, cause you brought it on yourself! (No, no, that's a lie, don't get hurt Merry I LOVE YOU)

    And while I'm on my rant of stupid hobbit moments, don't you think you get to escape, Mr. Frodo Baggins! WHY DID YOU PUT ON THE RING. I don't care if it was an accident, I don't care what it was, YOU ARE A BUMBLING IDIOT, and the entire bar saw you do it! Don't you remember that you are supposed to NOT be drawing attention to yourself?? If you put another TOE out of line, we'll send you straight back…. oh. wait. I'm crossing my series again…. ahem. ANYWAYS. And then Mr. Creep in the Corner Strider notices and YOU ARE IN SUCH BIG TROUBLE.

    this is not going well this is not going well at all GANDALF LEAVES FOR TWO SECONDS AND YOU GUYS CAN'T EVEN HANDLE IT.

    P.S. Sam, you, as always, are perfect. Don't mind me. And Pippin, I'm sure you were fine too. Ahem. rant over now

    • pennylane27 says:

      You yelling at Merry and Frodo and then speaking nice to Sam totally read as Mrs. Weasley's Howler, JSYK.


      • msw188 says:

        Hahaha, "Of course I don't blame you, Harry dear, for encouraging my son to fly the car. Or for getting my son knocked out cold on a giant chess board. Or for getting my son's leg mangled by Sirius Black. Or for causing my daughter to break half of my dishes and waste our butter. Or for starting an ILLEGAL defense group putting my son under threat of expulsion. Or for much of anything, really. Would you like me to send you some sweets?"

    • Kiryn says:

      Sam is indeed always perfect. This is trufax.

      And STRIDER…!!! *silences self* I'm sure I'll get plenty of opportunity to have a talk about Mr. Strider. 😉

  48. bugeye says:

    This is my “skip” chapter, but for Mark I forced myself to slowly and quietly read the whole chapter, even all the words to the song. I can’t get past the asinine decision to go drinking with suspicious strangers. I get it is a plot device and there needs to be action in the Common Room and it’s part of the Hobbit culture, but Tolkien set this up as a free will decision and not one hobbit engaged a brain cell. It screwed all the growth of the last 200 pages and removes any sympathy I have for Hobbits in Trouble.

    It is good to get into all the other parts of this chapter, the history, the culture, characters, silly songs. I just wish we could have it without the massive insult to Hobbits and readers.

    Gur zbivr znqr guvf jbex. Zbivr bire obbx ba guvf bar

  49. atheistsisters says:

    "Gurer ner gbb znal crbcyr gnyxvat nobhg uboovgf ’ebhaq Zvqqyr-rnegu, naq abar bs vg vf tbbq."
    Bu, whfg jnvg 'gvyy 'Sebqb bs gur Avar Svatref… '
    Tbbq sbe lbh Znex, lbh nera'g vzzrqvngryl cerwhqvprq ntnvafg fvavfgre fgenatre Fgevqre.
    "Ubj pbhyq guvf uryc Fgevqre, gubhtu? Jub rknpgyl vf guvf thl?"
    V unir orra FB rkpvgrq sbe guvf puncgre naq rirel gvzr V guvax nobhg Znex svefg "zrrgvat" Fgevqre va gur cntrf V trg gurfr gjb vzntrf synfuvat onpx naq sbegu va zl urnq – gur svefg vf Znex fvggvat gurer tbvat, "Uzz, fbzr fbeg bs qnatrebhf/bqq/erq ureevat crefba. " Gur frpbaq vf jura Znex ernqf nobhg/jngpurf Nentbea'f pbebangvba.
    V whfg ybir gur jnl Gbyxrva hasbyqf gung punenpgre naq vg jvyy or FB SHA gb jngpu Znex qvfpbire vg!

    • Laurelluin says:

      V xabj, evtug? Naq gura jura gur uboovgf tb onpx gb gur Cenapvat Cbal ba gur jnl ubzr gb gur Fuver. Gurl gryy ONEYVZNA OHGGREOHE nyy nobhg gurve nqiragherf naq ur qbrfa'g cvpx hc ba Fgevqre orvat gur Xvat hagvy gurl eho uvf abfr va vg. "Ur fnlf lbhe orre vf nyjnlf tbbq," yhym!!

      • flootzavut says:


        Gnyx nobhg lbhe punenpgre wbhearl naq punenpgre tebjgu :Q :Q :Q

  50. Eva says:

    Wow, here I wasn't reading this blog for a while, and you're reading my favourite book, how nice.

    I think it's good that you didn't watch the movies first. They aren't bad per se, the visuals are amazing, but some of the changes they made to characters and plot I really don't agree with me at all. And the world just does not have the depths of the book – you continually see places and people, but you never really understand what they are. Basically, you get an impression of not very well-planned cliché fantasy, when it's so much more. So, it's great to start the way you did.

    A question: I see people post spoilers in some kind of code. I realise it's a character substitution, and I've already identified several of the characters, but surely people are using a generator? Could someone link me to it? That would be great.

  51. rabidsamfan says:

    Congratulations, you have now officially passed the point where I gave up the first three times I tried to read LotR. (Well, I was in high school at the time.) I honestly don't remember if I had gotten too creeped out by the barrow wights or too embarrassed for Frodo's sake at that song, but three times I picked up the book and three times I put it down again and I didn't finish it until I read it for a fantasy lit course in college. Mind you, I've read it so often now I've lost count.

    I have to agree about his all being one long novel. (Another good reason to wait on the movies until you've finished RotK, btw.) Tolkien was enjoying himself, setting up his world, and he didn't treat what he wrote like a book series where you've got plot arc one then plot arc two etc. for each book. (There's also the problem that to truly avoid spoilers when you watch Fellowship, you're going to have to read more than half of Two Towers first… Tolkien didn't follow a lot of writerly conventions and that's a Good Thing.)

    • Dreamflower says:

      Hi, RSF! It's great to see you here!

      I am having SO MUCH FUN here it is unbelievable! Glad to see a familiar face, er, name!

      • rabidsamfan says:

        I'm enjoying myself too. And rereading, of course, although I keep finding myself chapters ahead of Mark.

        Naq gura V tb erernq zl qenooyrf naq guvatf naq guvax "gung vfa'g unys onq" sbe zbfg bs gurz. V'z grzcgrq gb cbfg fbzr bs gurz urer, ohg gung jbhyq or na rkrepvfr va rtb.

        V ubcr gung Znex raqf hc yvxvat Fgevqre nf zhpu nf ur qrfreirf. V fbeg bs yvxrq uvz va gur arkg puncgre, jura jr sbhaq bhg gung ur'f n sevraq bs Tnaqnys'f, ohg V qvqa'g ernyyl jnez gb uvz hagvy V'q jngpurq gur zbivrf. V erzrzore xvaq bs fxvzzvat guebhtu gur ragver svefg unys bs Gjb Gbjref, jbaqrevat jura jr'q trg onpx gb Fnz.

        • Dreamflower says:

          V qba'g guvax vg jbhyq or na rkrepvfr va rtb, nf V nz fher gurer ner gubfr pbzzragref jub jbhyq rawbl gurz. V'ir orra cbfgvat yvaxf gb fbzr bs zl bja svp jura V guvax vg'f eryrinag naq abg gbb fcbvyrel. Nsgre nyy, urer'f nabgure pbzzhavgl bs yvxr-zvaqrq Gbyxvravgrf, naq fheryl fbzr bs gurz jvyy yvxr frrvat lbhe qenooyrf. V xabj V'q rawbl frrvat fbzr bs gurz ntnva.

          V nyjnlf yvxrq Fgevqre bapr V jnf fher bs uvf orvat n sevraq, ohg V jbhyq fnl V yvxrq uvz ZBER nsgre gur zbivrf.

          Bapr gur Sryybjfuvc oernxf hc, naq jr unir gb sbyybj gur punenpgref frcnengryl, vg trgf uneq– V jbhyq whfg trg "ubbxrq" vagb jung jnf unccravat gb Sebqb naq Fnz, naq gura fhqqrayl V jnf onpx gb Cvccva, naq gura whfg nf V jnf ernql gb svaq bhg jung jnf tbvat ba jvgu uvz, fhqqrayl V'z jerapurq gb Ebuna jvgu Zreel be gur Cnguf bs gur Qrnq. Vg'f n irel pyvss-unatrel fbeg bs obbx va cynprf. *teva*

          • rabidsamfan says:

            Pbafvqrevat gung gur ragver svefg unys bs Gur Gjb Gbjref vf rirelbar OHG Sebqb naq Fnz, naq gura Gbyxvra tbrf onpx gb whfg n srj ubhefr nsgre gur oernxvat bs gur Sryybjfuvc ntnva gb sbyybj gubfr gjb, V gubhtug ur unaqyrq gur aneengvir irel qvssreragyl guna zbfg nhgubef jbhyq. Gurl'q obhapr sebz crefba gb crefba n ybg zber bsgra!

            Vs V erzrzore evtug V'ir tbg n cerggl tbbq qenooyr sbe gur arkg puncgre. Znlor V'yy gel cbfgvat vg. Pna'g uheg, evtug?

            • Dreamflower says:

              Can't hurt a bit!

              And I agree with you re: story structure. Brilliant story-telling even if hard on readers!

            • flootzavut says:

              Yeah – if it was being published these days editors would make so many changes to that. Yay for Gbyxvra oernxvat nyy gur ehyrf naq qbvat vg FB JRYY.


  53. ChronicReader91 says:

    I love the Prancing Pony. I love Bree. I love any place in Middle Earth where more than one species lives together without it being a big deal, and the sort of joint society that the Bree-men and Bree-hobbits have created.

    I LOL'ed every time I saw BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR. That name has to be in all caps from now on, or it will be a severe disapointment.

    I love how Frodo’s plan to make sure Pippin doesn’t give them away backfires in the most spectacular way possible.

    Oh, and I love how Tolkien says about the song that “only a few stanzas are remembered now”, and then throws in a few stanzas of The Cat and the Fiddle. So it’s like we’ve been singing an abridged version and Tolkien unearthed the "original" in his research.

    Oh, hi Strider! You mysterious stranger, you. So mysterious and stranger-y. 😛

  54. dcjensen says:

    Lord Of The Rings
    Lord of the Flies
    Lord of the Dance

    One is disturbing and scary and will give you nightmares.
    The other two are works of fiction.

    • tanbarkie says:

      Reminds of this brilliant quote from the blog Kung Fu Monkey:

      “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

  55. threerings13 says:

    if I say I love Dostoevsky, Sartre, Bronte, and Faulkner, how the fuck is Tolkien suddenly way too hard for me.

    Exactly. I've read such denser, more boring, and difficult books. I read this and enjoyed it when I was ELEVEN. It really can't be that hard. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it through any Dostoevsky at 11. (LOVE Dostoevsky.) I think LOTR is only hard for people who don't like to read, or who only read short novels of the 20 years. I mean, there are parts that are a bit slow, and there is poetry, which no one is taught how to read anymore, and…it's also a really compelling and exciting adventure, which is WAY more than you get in most modern "literary" novels. The only thing that I this IS truly challenging in LOTR is that people, places, and objects get multiple names, which can be quite confusing.

    I can also see how someone who's seen the movies first might find the book boring, because they already know what is going to happen, but it's taking a lot longer to get around to the best parts. Which is why it's so nice to see someone reading the books without having any idea of the plot.

    It's also…it's a book that is so very rewarding of effort. It truly has more to offer on multiple rereadings. One of the greatest experiences for me was reading LOTR for the second time at 18 years old after only having read it at 11-12. SUCH a different experience. So much new meaning and new understanding.

    • Katarina says:

      Yeah – the writing style of LotR can take some getting used to, but considering how very many of us first read it when we were 10-12 years old, it's not really a difficult book. You just have to accept not understanding everything at once. I guess it's like Diana Wynne Jones said, children are smarter readers than adults a lot of the time. (Or like Swedish author Petter Lidbeck said about adults reading: "Boring, boring, boring – ooh, quotation mark! Will read that. Boring, boring – quotation mark! Boring…")

      Although I must admit, I've often skipped the poetry.

      • threerings13 says:

        I love that Petter Lidbeck quote. Too often true. Someone I was talking with online once said that it's allowable to skip the poetry in Tolkien and the 'Tales of the Black Freighter' in Watchmen the first time you read them, but after that you have to read them to get the full impact of the story.

        And yeah, I think when you're a kid you accept that you're not going to understand everything, since so much of reading as a kid is learning new things from context.

  56. msw188 says:

    Fubhyq jr pbeerpg Znex ba fvzcyr znggref? V'z abg fher jurer Znex tbg guvf vqrn: "Bar zna yrnirf jvgu Fgevqre sbyybjvat uvz, …" Vg fhecevfrq zr gung ab bar pbeerpgrq guvf, ohg creuncf jr srry gung fhpu n pbeerpgvba vf n ovg fcbvyrevfu? V xabj gung fbzrgvzrf Znex fcrpvsvpnyyl nfxf gb fgnaq hapbeerpgrq jura ur'f gelvat gb 'qrpbqr' guvatf, ohg guvf frrzf yvxr n fvzcyr zvfernq. Gung fnvq, guvf vf sbe zbqrengbef gb qrpvqr, naq fvapr vg'f fb yngr, V'yy cbfg guvf nf ebg13 svefg va pnfr Ze. Bfuveb unccraf gb ernq guvf orsber nal zbqrengbe qbrf.

  57. msw188 says:

    When I was younger this was maybe my favorite chapter (naq gur arkg), and I still enjoy it. I think the song is awesome. The description of the Bree-land is awesome. Barliman Butterbur is awesome. And come on, where's the love for Nob and Bob???

    An earlier commenter mentioned the venture to the common room as an insult to the hobbits' supposed growth, but I don't see it that way. To me, the growth of the hobbits thus far has more to do with courage than with caution. They haven't really been 'fooled' yet, and it's only towards the end of this chapter that Frodo begins to suspect people like Butterbur and/or Strider of being something like spies, or worse. To me that's totally believable. All of their dangers thus far have been direct, and even expected in the sense that they knew the Old Forest had 'queer' trees, and they also knew (from legends and Bombadil) that Barrow-wights are assholes. Even though they don't know what the Black Riders are, there's nothing deceptive about them. They have no reason to mistrust 'common folk' to this point, and could very well see the common room as a chance to forget their troubles for a bit.

  58. LjrTR says:

    I didn’t get annoyed with the hobbits for going to the common room even though they were in peril. I think I would have felt safer in the crowd, actually.

  59. msnaddie says:

    Honestly once I got past the prologue, the book was pretty much hard to put down. Personally I don't think it's hard reading, but I guess other people's mileage may vary. I do have to say though the prologue was really hard to get through because it's basically an infodump without plot – you really appreciate it after you've read the books once.

  60. Alice Ungureanu says:

    Hi Mark! 🙂 I am a reader of your blog from Romania,and I followed your "Mark reads…" from the time when you did Harry Potter (another favourite series of mine) and I have to say that I am so thrilled that you decided to read "The Lord of the Rings" because this is my all-time favourite book :)).I discovered this wonderful trilogy in 2001,after I watched the first movie,and on Christmas I bought these books as a present for me 😀 and until the end of that year I've read them all. It's so nice to read your reactions and remember how I reacted .Sorry if I am so poor with words but there are not enough words in this world to describe just how great your blog is,and how happy I am that I've discovered you.Okay…enough with the fan-girling… :P.So,it's not a spoiler but I really want to give you an advice…dunno if it was already said,but my advice would be that you first read all 3 books,and only then you should watch the movies.Some things that are written in book 2 are shown in movie 1 or 3,because this is accurate from a chronological point of view,or some character in-depths are only shown in the books appendices.So yeah, first read the books,then watch the movies.And then,in december 2012 you will not be surprised by some things that appear in the movie "The Hobbit".Have a great day! Alice

  61. Hans says:

    Hello Mark! Fascinating to follow you as you read the Tolkien novel, one chapter after the other. It was a pleasant thing to find this blog.
    I read the “Lord of the Ring” – trilogy l-o-o-o-n-g ago, in a swedish translation. It was back in the 60 's. And I re-read it. And when I visited London 1973 I found a Paperback version in english, not strange. But I didn´t read it. I sometimes thought – if my memory is not failing – "What would it be like to see a book like this as a movie!?"

    And so the time came when a movie-version was made, 2001 – 2003. But I didn.t have time to see it, because I had a lot of things to do. Now, when I discovered a DVD – version of the movie in a shop, I bought it for quite a cheap price.

    And I searched for the old, unread paperback version from London. I also found it. Now I had read all the first twelve chapters of the first book, and started on the second book when I found this blog.

    It's all too nice! I can go back a little, or wait a little, to look at each chapter together with you.

  62. emillikan says:

    I strongly dislike that there are no Mark Reads on long weekends (not that I think Mark should actually have to post on weekends, of course). I read all of the Hobbit and LOTR since Mark started Mark-Reading the Hobbit, but I may have to read them all again, just so I have some reading to look forward to on the weekends. 🙂

  63. Caitlin says:

    "A lot of people I know think this book is boring, verbose, lengthy, and too confusing of a read. (Wow, you know…do people really think I have such poor appreciation of literature? It’s not like I normally read Clifford The Big Red Dog on a daily basis. I mean…if I say I love Dostoevsky, Sartre, Bronte, and Faulkner, how the fuck is Tolkien suddenly way too hard for me.)"

    Dude. Can i just high-five you right freaking now, because THIS. I love LotR, & one of the things that hurts & irritates me to no end is when people start whining about the detail & depth & "it's too haaaaard!" Look, if i could read this when i was in 6th grade, you can read it now. So, er, yes, thank you times a million for saying this.

    I can't wait for the resssstttttt. I especially appreciate the captilization of BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR bahaha.

    (although i really wish i could figure out how to decipher all this coded stuff in the comments..)

  64. Kiryn says:

    STRIDER. OMG. STRIDER!!! It is a beautiful thing, not having to rot13 his name anymore. 😀

  65. Sinnive says:

    There is a newer translation that calls him GERSTENMANN BUTTERBLÜM … I suppose "Butterblume" is from Carroux?

  66. Hailey says:

    Strider is my tru wuv~ favorite character evar~

  67. Smurphy says:

    V unir gb fnl bar bs gur guvatf gung lbh whfg zvff va gur erernq vf gur zlfgrel naq gur sha gung Fgevqre oevatf. Ur ernyyl cynlf n qvssrerag ebyr va gur ortvaavat urer. V zrna Nentbea vf rnfvyl bar bs zl snibevgr YBGE punenpgref ohg gurfr svefg srj puncgref jrer ynetryl jul. Ohg abj V xabj nyy naq vgf abg nf sha nalzber… 🙁

    I can't believe you have never read this…

  68. There are too many people talking about hobbits ’round Middle-earth, and none of it is good. Except for maybe Gandalf’s senior thesis THAT IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE.

    TOM BOMBADIL IS GANDALF'S ACADEMIC SUPERVISOR. OMG. It explains his hobbit knowhow.

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