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

In the second chapter of the second book of The Fellowship of the Ring, the Council of Elrond begins and Gandalf tells a story that rivals John Galt in length. Don’t worry, it’s actually good. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


Lords and Stuff
A Play

Act 14
Scene 1

[FRODO appears on stage, walking slowly next to the Bruinen River, appreciating the nature around him. He comes upon BILBO and GANDALF]

BILBO: So, are you ready for the council?

FRODO: I’ve heard it’s sixty pages long.

GANDALF: Shhhhhh. You’re not supposed to know that.

FRODO: Oh, sorry! Sorry about that! Well, I guess I don’t have a choice in the matter.

BILBO: It’ll be fun! There will surely be lots of poems and songs and storytelling!

FRODO: Can’t I just go for a walk around here? It’s so pretty.


FRODO: All right, all right, I’m coming!

[FRODO follows the others offstage.]

Scene 2

[We open on the Council of ELROND, hobbits, elves, and men seated on the porch of ELROND. GLOIN, GLORFINDEL, ARAGORN, ELROND, SAM, GIMLI, GALDOR, LEGOLAS, BOROMIR, and other counselors of ELROND are seated about for the Council.]

ELROND: Welcome, all. Thank you for coming.

SAM: We’re on page two, right?

GANDALF: Shush, Sam! Just be patient.

ELROND: We are here to discuss matters of great importance, the least of which are the events that brought Frodo to our door.  Glóin, would you like to begin?

GLOIN: Yes, of course. Moria Durin Khazad-dûm Thrór and Dáin Mordor and other words that no one else is going to understand and what am I saying.

FRODO: No, seriously, what are you talking about?

GLOIN: Don’t be rude, Frodo! Anyway, the point I’m trying to make: Things were okay in Dáin until a horseman from Mordor arrived and made us an offer: give us information about hobbits, where they dwelt, and other such things, and he would offer us rings.

[The group gasps in horror.]

ELROND: I assume you did not take such an offer!

GLOIN: No! We refused twice, and the horseman was more perturbed each time. Also, we have no idea why he even offered us a second and third chance? Seriously, he could have just wasted the whole city. Hmmm. Apparently Sauron wants to do things “fairly.”

ELROND: I almost thanked Sauron, but then I remembered why we are here. Actually, on that note, I’ll just assume all of you don’t know shit about this little meeting, so let me tell you the entire story of Sauron and the Rings of Power.

SAM: Um….Elrond?

ELROND: Yes, Sam Gamgee?

SAM: Gandalf has a forty-page speech coming up. Can your storytelling occur through a whimsical passing of time?

ELROND: Fair enough. Now you all magically know the whole story!

[The group looks perturbed by the newfound information.]

ELROND: Also, I should add that through this story, you’ll learn that I am mysteriously a million times older than I should be, and I won’t provide any rational reason as to how that’s possible.

FRODO: Sounds fine to me.

ELROND: I’ll also use the word “weregild” a lot and you won’t understand what it means.

GANDALF: Really, at this point, should we even care? I daresay we shouldn’t!

FRODO: So, what should we do next, then?

GANDALF: Hold on, my young, adventurous hobbit. I’ve got a lot more lecturing to do. Are you all prepared for a history lesson????

SAM: Oh, great. By the way, where are Pippin and Merry? Are they even mentioned at all? Are they off hiding? These are important questions! WHAT IF THE BLACK RIDERS FOUND MERRY AGAIN???

GANDALF: That’s not as important as EVERYTHING REGARDING ISILDUR. I’m going to continue rattling off information that actually is important, but becomes increasingly hard to keep track of because there isn’t a single narrative break in nearly thirty pages. Are you following me?

FRODO: I have a headache.

BOROMIR: Now, you just hold on one minute. I’ve got some information, too. I know that the Enemy has arisen as well, and I’ve seen smoke rise from Mount Doom. Not only that, but Mordor waged war against us! I have come with news of such things.

SAM: No, seriously, where are Merry and Pippin?

BOROMIR: It took me one hundred ten days to arrive here, all by myself, to seek your advice, Elrond, about this war with the Enemy. I have been guided by a poem I learned in a dream, which is totally a reliable piece of information all of the time.

ARAGORN: It just so happens that by coming here, that poem is fulfilled! Well, isn’t that wonderful?

FRODO: There sure are a lot of poems and songs around.

ELROND: Frodo, let us not forget that why we are all here. It’s time you brought the Ring out.

[Silence falls once again amongst those of the council.]

FRODO: You just gotta put me on the spot, don’t you?

[FRODO reaches into his pocket and slowly withdraws. He opens his hand and the Ring is sitting in the middle of it.]

ELROND: Behold Isildur’s Bane!

SAM: That….that is like the coolest exclamation I’ve ever heard. Can I start using that?

ARAGORN: It’s pretty damn good. I won’t deny that.

BOROMIR: I’m still unsure what we’re all talking about. What do I do about the Enemy? I traveled one hundred ten days to get here! Do you expect the guy who has traveled one hundred and ten days to just turn around with only the explanation of a dream riddle? Come on!

ARAGORN: Look, I’ve been to some weird places and seen some weird shit, man. But this is all coming together. I will reforge the Sword and return with you.

BOROMIR: But wait, how do I know that the ring that Frodo has is the Ring?

BILBO: Allow me to tell you all my side of the story in what amounts to a literary montage!

FRODO: And then allow me to do the same!

SAM: I’m beginning to be disturbed that none of you care about our friends.

FRODO: Gandalf, it’s your turn! You’re the one holding back the most information!

GALDOR: I haven’t said a single thing this whole time, but allow me to speak up now to agree with Frodo. Dude, you’re holding out on us. Spill the beans!

GANDALF: Fine, fine. But I want all to remember that it was Galdor and Frodo who begged this of me.

SAM: Oh, damn it. You two fell for it! Now he’s going to tell us a story!

ARAGORN: Get comfortable, everyone. This one’s a doozy.

BOROMIR: I don’t know what y’all are talking about.

GANDALF: Well, let me start off by saying that, if you recall, I helped send the Necromancer out of the Mirkwood while Bilbo was heading to defeat Smaug.

BILBO: Yeah, you never did tell me what you were doing when you could have been helping me out.

GANDALF: Right, well, the Necromancer was Sauron.

ARAGORN: Son of a motherless bumblebee.

SAM: Behold Isildur’s Bane!

ELROND: That’s….that’s not how that works.

SAM: Oh. Sorry.

GANDALF: Right, well, Sauron knows the Ring still exists, but does not know we have it; the advantage is ours.

FRODO: Great! So what do we do next?

GANDALF: Shush, I still have a lot more story to tell. If you recall, there is another great wizard, Saruman the Wise, that is even greater than I. It turns out that I was betrayed by him.

[GANDALF quiets in shame for a moment before continuing.]

GANDALF: Yes, even great Gandalf the Grey makes mistakes, and I misjudged both Saruman and Gollum, and those mistakes cost us dearly.

SAM: Was one of those mistakes forgetting about Pippin and Merry? That seems like a mistake.

ARAGORN: Pay attention. We are discussing the events that led to me capturing Gollum and Gandalf coming to interrogate him.

SAM: Wouldn’t that be the worst interrogation of all time?

FRODO: Sam, be quiet, Gandalf is….wait. Wait, he’s got a point. How do you interrogate someone who talks like Gollum?

GANDALF [glaring at FRODO and SAM]: Well, I might be able to tell you if you’ll allow me to finish my story.

FRODO and SAM: Sorry!!!

GANDALF: Aragorn assisted me with bringing Gollum, who I captured, back to the Elves in Mirkwood. There, we held him in captivity for a really long time because I’m a good person and it’s totally cool to imprison a creature because….well, because he was friends with someone we don’t like. Well, not so much friends, as Sauron didn’t treat him well either.

LEGOLAS: Oh, right. So the whole reason I’m here is to reveal that Gollum escaped from prison.


LEGOLAS: I probably should have said something earlier.


LEGOLAS: We may have been too nice to him.

GANDALF: Well, that’s awkward.

GLOIN: Yeah, y’all were the opposite of nice to me when I was imprisoned by you.

SAM: Now that’s awkward.

GANDALF: WILL EVERYONE BEHAVE? Legolas, what happened?

LEGOLAS: Well, we took Gollum outside, he climbed up into a tree, and he refused to come down. It was at that moment that we were caught off-guard by Orcs.

FRODO: What are Orcs?

GANDALF: Shhh, you’ll find out….sometime. I don’t actually know.

GALDOR: Can we get back to your story? I feel like a whole year has passed and I still have a lot of questions. Like: What is Saruman’s advice? What does he advise we do, since he is a above you?

GANDALF: Well…I think that may be the true definition of awkwardness. Unfortunately, I sought him out for his counsel; along the way, I ran into Radagast the Brown.

SAM: You wizards aren’t really good at the color thing, are you? Brown, white, grey….not very colorful, eh?

[GANDALF ignores this jab and continues.]: Saruman, the greatest of my order, was right where I expected him to be, far south in Isengard. I ascended the stair of Saruman with him to the Orthanc to get his counsel. And….well.

FRODO: Yes???

GANDALF: Well, his robe was not white, but woven of many colours.

FRODO: I don’t get it.

SAM: Is that a metaphor for saying he’s gay?

FRODO: I don’t think the rainbow meant “unholy homosexual” at this time.

SAM: I’m confused.

GANDALF: The point is….he changed. He was not the same wizard I once knew. He then lectured me on the changing times, and I knew that he had fallen the way of the Enemy. He was no longer on my side.

SAM: I mean, that literally sounds like an argument against being gay.


GANDALF: So, if you recall, I was gone for some time. Well, Saruman imprisoned me on the pinnacle of the Orthanc. There was nowhere to go from there, and I despaired for many days, pacing back and forth in the little room I had up there.

FRODO: That’s weird. I had a dream about that.

BOROMIR: And we all know how important those are!

GANDALF: Thankfully, Radagast was not of the Enemy; Saruman had deceived him in order to deceive me, so the Eagles of the Mountains, sent by Radagast, found me and rescued me from that precipice.

SAM: You got to ride a giant eagle? That’s not fair!

FRODO: Sam, he was imprisoned at the top of a mountain. I think that’s worse.

SAM: I’m not going to get anything I want, am I?

FRODO: Aren’t you supposed to be hiding this whole chapter? Why are you talking?

SAM: ……..comic relief?

GANDALF: Ahem. If I may continue….[Pauses, waits for silence from an embarrassed SAM]…Gwaihir the Windlord helped me find a proper steed in Rohan to ride away from that wretched place. I managed to make it to Bree just after dear Frodo left, actually! The very first thing I did was go see BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR to find out if he sent that letter to Frodo as I requested.

FRODO: Oh no.


FRODO: Please tell me you didn’t destroy him.

SAM: Yeah, he was rather nice to us.

FRODO: I mean, to be fair, he didn’t send that letter at all.

SAM: Yeah, and he waited until the last possible moment to share it with us.

FRODO: But I like him! Plus, his name is really fun to say. BARLIMAN. BUTTERBUR.

GANDALF: No, the dude’s fine. In fact I hugged him!


GANDALF: To death.


GANDALF: No, I’m just kidding! He’s fine, seriously. Anyway, I made it here to Rivendell before you since you’re impossible to find in this wilderness. And that concludes my story! What would you rate it, Bilbo?

BILBO [who quickly wakes from a nap]: Oh! Oh, it was splendid. Splendid for sure. I loved the part about the dragon the most!

[Awkward silence.]

ELROND: Well, it seems we all have a decision to make. We have all the information we might need. What do we do with it?

GLORFINDEL: I suppose we only have two options: throw it in the Sea, or destroy it.

ELROND: We can’t destroy it here.

GANDALF: And it would still exist at the bottom of the Sea. It would come back.

GLORFINDEL: In like a thousand years! That seems like a long enough time.

SAM: There’s a sea? Where the hell is there a sea?

ELROND: Well, there’s nothing we can do here. I suppose there’s really only one option.

FRODO: What’s that?

ELROND: We send the Ring to the Fire. The one in Mordor.

[Everyone but SAM and FRODO gasp.]

SAM: I don’t get it.


SAM: …….could we fly into it?


SAM: Sheesh, y’all are a vicious bunch!

BOROMIR: I have an idea. Why can’t we just use the Ring to destroy Saruman and Sauron?

ELROND: It doesn’t work that way.

BOROMIR: Why not???

ELROND: Um, duh. Rules of a fantasy novel.

ARAGORN: Aren’t we inventing those rules?

LEGOLAS: I suppose so.

GANDALF: Regardless, anyone who uses the Ring for any reason brings themselves one step closer to taking Sauron’s place. That path only leads to evil.

GLOIN: Wait, so what happens if we destroy the Ring?

ELROND: Well, I suppose we don’t know.

GLOIN: What if it makes Sauron super powerful?

ELROND: I suppose that’s a risk we should take.

GLOIN: And throwing it into the ocean where there are no creatures with fingers to even wear rings is still a bad idea?

GANDALF: So we shall destroy it, then.

ELROND: Yes, I think so. And the journey will be perilous, full of despair and danger, and one might not survive it. This is not a battle or a fight; whomever takes the Ring must sneak into Mordor and cast it into the Fire.

BILBO: Oh, all right, I’ll do it.

[Everyone gasps.]

BILBO: What? I mean, I took it from Gollum. None of this would have happened without me.

GANDALF: My dear Bilbo, you are but a player in this long game.

SAM: This game of thrones?

FRODO: Seriously, Sam, you’re supposed to be spying. Shut up.

GANDALF: Bilbo, you should not be the one to do this. The Ring has passed on from you. Finish your book. Enjoy your life. Let this chapter end.

BILBO: Don’t tell me how to live my life!

GANDALF: Have I ever been wrong?

BILBO [begrudgingly]: No, you big sassy wizard. No, you haven’t.

GANDALF: Then it’s settled. We will need some other volunteer to do this.

FRODO: I suppose it has to be me, doesn’t it?

ELROND: Why do you say such a thing???

FRODO: Because I’m the main character.

[Everyone nods and mumbles in approval.]

FRODO: I wish I could just stay here, but I suppose I have to do this.

ELROND: Then you shall go forth to Mordor to destroy the Ring.

[SAM jumps out from behind a bush in shock.]

SAM: No! He cannot go alone! I must go with him!

[All feign surprise.]

ARAGORN: You’re not good at this hiding thing, are you?

SAM: Sorry, I had a lot to say.

ELROND: Then you shall go with him, too, Sam Gamgee.

SAM: Good. I mean…bad? Is this good or bad? What did I just sign up for?

ARAGORN: Oh, you are not prepared at all, Sam.

To Be Continued….

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.

443 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Book Two, Chapter 2

  1. Geolojazz says:

    You wondered about a 70 page exposition dump…:D

  2. Kickpuncher says:

    BOROMIR: I’m still unsure what we’re all talking about. What do I do about the Enemy? I traveled one hundred ten days to get here! Do you expect the guy who has traveled one hundred and ten days to just turn around with only the explanation of a dream riddle? Come on!

    Boromir played by Will Arnett

  3. knut_knut says:

    SO MUCH INFORMATION! No matter how many times I read this book, I’m always overwhelmed when I get to this chapter. WHY WOULD YOU WRITE A CHAPTER LIKE THIS? And so much name-dropping; I’m never sure if we’ve been introduced to that character before and I’ve just forgotten or if Tolkien just took info dumping to a whole new level. But somehow it works.

    I like how straightforward the name Mount Doom is. What’s that mountain? It's Mount Doom. What does it do? It does Doom! It does Doom, buddy! Get out of my way!

    "Butterbur they call him," thought I. "If this delay was his fault, I will melt all the butter in him. I will roast the old fool over a slow fire." He expected no less, and when he saw my face he fell down flat and began to melt on the spot."
    Awwwww, Butterbur <3 I shouldn’t have laughed at this, but I did.

    Con’t (this comment is def not significant enough to be split into 2 but oh well)

  4. Arrowgirl says:

    Holy info dump, Batman! I reread this chapter yesterday, and realized that my brain had conveniently forgotten how much everyone talks.

  5. BetB says:

    I've been looking forward to your review of this chapter and you did not disappoint. Thanks for the DELIGHTFUL review!

  6. hpfish13 says:

    YAY!!!! The chapter that gets most people to give up reading the series entirely. Soooooooooooooooooo much information. On my grandma's audio books, this chapter takes up more than one cd. That's more than 70 minutes for one chapter. Yikes!!!

    This is the perfect way to review this chapter!!

    Anyway. This chapter had only one illustration despite that it's so, so long.

    <img src=""&gt;

    Also, when I read "Behold Isildur's Bane" in this review, I read it in Robin's voice from the original Batman movie (with Adam West). So it became "Behold Isildur's Bane, Batman!!"

    One last thing, FNZ: Lbh tbg gb evqr n tvnag rntyr? Gung’f abg snve!

    SEBQB: Fnz, ur jnf vzcevfbarq ng gur gbc bs n zbhagnva. V guvax gung’f jbefr.

    FNZ: V’z abg tbvat gb trg nalguvat V jnag, nz V?


  7. Ryan Lohner says:

    The EE special features includes one of the Tolkien scholars giving an awesome description of this chapter as an example of how Tolkien broke basic storytelling "rules," yet it still somehow worked:

    "It's 15,000 words long, nothing happens in it, you have, I always lose count of the number of people talking, but it's 20-odd, most of them have not been introduced before, and it's like nothing so much as a very badly chaired committee meeting that gets away from Elrond all the time."

    Also pretty fun is the discussion of the difficulties in adapting the council, since it was clear that if they'd taken it straight from the book, it would be 30 to 45 minutes of "people standing around and talking about the plot."

  8. atheistsisters says:

    Wow, I was laughing so hard to took me twice as long as it should have to read this!

    Tybva – "Lrf, bs pbhefr. Zbevn Qheva Xunmnq-qûz Gueóe naq Qáva Zbeqbe naq bgure jbeqf gung ab bar ryfr vf tbvat gb haqrefgnaq naq jung nz V fnlvat."


    Fnz – "Bu, terng. Ol gur jnl, jurer ner Cvccva naq Zreel? Ner gurl rira zragvbarq ng nyy? Ner gurl bss uvqvat? Gurfr ner vzcbegnag dhrfgvbaf! JUNG VS GUR OYNPX EVQREF SBHAQ ZREEL NTNVA???"

    Nu, cerfpvrag Znex vf cerfpvrag ntnva!

    Sebqb – "Jung ner Bepf?"

    Tnaqnys – "Fuuu, lbh’yy svaq bhg….fbzrgvzr. V qba’g npghnyyl xabj."

    Hz, YBYM…

  9. "SAM: Behold Isildur’s Bane!

    ELROND: That’s….that’s not how that works."

    Ahahahahaha!! LOVE IT. Mark, this is one of your best reviews to date.

  10. guest_age says:

    I had somehow forgotten how long this chapter was. I've been listening to the audiobook instead of reading it as text, and each chapter up until now has been between 30-60 minutes. This one? Was an hour and 45 minutes long.

    And yet I love it anyway. <3

  11. cait0716 says:

    OMG names

    This chapter is just one massive info dump and there are so many names. But I think I've finally figured all of it out (the third? fourth? time I'm reading it).

    In addition to Aragorn having four names, we have four titles for the guys who've been following Frodo: Black Riders, Ringwraiths, the Nine, and Nazgul. I suppose it represents all the different languages and cultures in Middle Earth, as well as a bit of ignorance on the part of the hobbits calling them black riders. But damn is this stuff confusing.

    I just realized this weekend that Beorn and Radagast are not the same guy. I was really confused in the Hobbit when we didn't get the Beorn the Brown title, but I figured Tolkien just hadn't worked that far ahead yet. But for all their similarities, they are completely different people.

    I also like that they kept referring to Sauron as "Lord of the Ring" and "The One We Don't Name". It reminded me of Voldemort.

    I really like Tolkien's style of breaking the text into more manageable chunks. In previous chapters it was a little confusing, since the breaks weren't always placed in the most intuitive places. But I loved it here. A chunk of text for each story/speaker and for all of the interruptions went a long way helping me figure out who was saying what, when, and why. It also helped me break this chapter into smaller chunks. I was busy enough this weekend that I ended up splitting it into four sittings and having natural breaks in the story every couple of pages was really helpful.

    Reading this book a chapter at a time (and discussing it here) has done wonders for my reading comprehension. Thank you for tackling this project Mark, and for giving me an excuse to revisit this book and go through it at a slower pace.

  12. tigerpetals says:

    Yes, it's awkward. To be fair, King Thranduil was imprisoning them until he could find out what they wanted, whilst with Gollum Gandalf asked them to keep him indefinitely and hope he might be cured. So that's why they took him out; which doesn't mean it was okay to imprison the dwarves like that, I don't know where I stand on the fairness of that situation.

    weregild – definition of weregild by the Free Online Dictionary …
    (in Anglo-Saxon society) a payment made to the family of a slain man by his killer
    or the killer's family as compensation, atonement, and to avoid reprisals.

    Somebody thought you might review with fake minutes instead of a script, which is fun too.… Elrond peep… Rivendell

  13. Juliana Moreli says:

    Just as I ended reading I could hear the fellowship of the ring theme soundtrack on my head!!!!

    And Mark finally got the meaning off the "one does not simply walks into mordor" line!!!

  14. Darth_Ember says:

    Gosh. The guy with the ageless face and the ancient wisdom blah-dee-blah reputation and the hale-as-a-warrior (translation, he may have a six-pack under that fancy robe) bod, ruling a place full of Elves, turns out to be older than he looks. I wonder what that tells us.
    Poor silly surprised Frodo, he is just as NOT PREPARED as Mark. :p

  15. @ljrTR says:

    I thought we'd be getting a really, really long list today, Mark! Glad you had a weekend to digest this important but confusing-to-newbies chapter.
    I love how repsonsible these folks are. They won't pass on this danger to another generation, they (meaining Frodo) man up and take responsibility. I like that Bombadil is mentioned, if only to say – Nah, he can't be trusted with it. I like that the Rangers and all they do is acknowledged. Oh – and as for capturing Gollum – we're pretty sure he's a murderer, aren't we? not justifying indefinite detention, but just saying. And Elrond is so old because Elves are immortal, unless they die in battle or of a broken heart. I like how it is stated that WAR is coming to lots of places in Middle Earth, and Sauron has tricked many to his side.

  16. enigmaticagentscully says:

    HEE I love the play format!

    People always complain about this chapter but I kind of like it? I mean, it's a HUGE info-dump and I needed to read it a few times on my first read-through just to pick up on everything, but it's not exactly boring. I really like hearing all the individual stories and reasons why all these people are here. It gives you a bit of a bigger picture of what's going on in the world and how Sauron is a threat.

    But yeah…I never got the whole 'Saruman the many coloured!' thing. That's just…weird.
    V'z tynq gurl xrcg vg bhg bs gur zbivrf – V tbg gur vzcerffvba gung ab-bar ernyyl haqrefgbbq jung vg jnf nyy nobhg naq jung gur fvtavsvpnapr jnf.

  17. Cereus says:

    Weregild is an *actual Earth* (not Middle-Earth) word for restitution you have to pay to the family of someone you killed. Basically a way of making justice before there were lots of prisons.

    Comes from "Were" – meaning "Man or Person" (think werewolf – "man-wolf") and "Gild" meaning "Gold or Payment".

    /end linguistics explanation

    (please someone let me know if this counts as spoilers)

  18. Ryan Lohner says:

    "SAM: Is that a metaphor for saying he’s gay?

    FRODO: I don’t think the rainbow meant “unholy homosexual” at this time."

    And he's not the one being played by Ian McKellan.

  19. notemily says:

    – The whole thing about the Nine and the Seven and the Three rings can get a bit confusing, especially the Three which are somehow protected from Sauron's influence unless he has the One with him. I really like this explanation:

    To clarify in modern terms, the Rings of Power are computer programs. The Nine Rings were loaded down with viruses and other malware that corrupted their users. The Seven Rings came packaged with adware of the Nigerian Bank variety, that the dwarves foolishly clicked on. As for the Three Rings, Sauron gave the elves the code for the program, leaving himself a back door to gain access whenever he wanted. Luckily, the elves’ virus protection was up to date.

    That's from TV Tropes (many, many spoilers).
    – "Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy! For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scale of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts."
    – "Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere." SO MANY GREAT QUOTES IN THIS CHAPTER
    – "There lies our hope, if hope it be. To walk into peril–to Mordor." ELROND! Don't you know ANYTHING about walking into Mordor?

    <img src=""&gt;

    – Poor Frodo. He's so brave, and he volunteers even though nobody is telling him to go. And just when he's finally got some rest, too.
    – "It is hardly possible to separate you from him, even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not." LOL SAM. I love how everyone just forgets about him and then he's like OF COURSE I AM GOING WITH YOU.
    – [Raq qvfp bar, cyrnfr vafreg qvfp gjb. Jryy, nyzbfg.]

    <img src=""&gt;

    [V xvaq bs srry yvxr guvf puncgre pbagnvaf nyy gur frrqf bs gur fgbel nf n jubyr. Jr unir gur cyna nyy ynvq bhg–Fnheba jba'g fhfcrpg gung fbzrbar vf gelvat gb qrfgebl gur evat, fb vg'f gvzr sbe uboovgf gb fgrc hc naq znxr uvfgbel. Tbyyhz unf rfpncrq naq jvyy or fubjvat hc yngre. Tnaqnys znxrf n pbzzrag nobhg gernfba orvat gur terngrfg sbr, naq gura Obebzve unf uvf fcrrpu nobhg hfvat gur evat sbe tbbq, obgu bs juvpu sberfunqbj uvf qbjasnyy. Jr yrnea nobhg gur Rntyrf urycvat Tnaqnys bhg bs n fpencr, nobhg Fnehzna orvat n onq thl, nobhg Nentbea'f urevgntr naq gur fjbeq gung jnf oebxra, nobhg Zbevn naq ubj abobql'f urneq nalguvat sebz gurer va n juvyr. Gurer'f n ybg bs fghss nobhg Tbaqbe naq Ebuna orvat nyyvrf, naq qvfphffvba bs jurgure be abg Ebuna unf snyyra haqre Fnheba'f fcryy. Naq gura ng gur raq jr unir Fnz yblny nf rire gb Sebqb, sberfunqbjvat ubj vzcbegnag ur jvyy or gb gur jubyr wbhearl. V ybirf vg.]

  20. Jenny_M says:

    Mark, I am in AWE at how much you picked up from your first read of this chapter. It took me ten or so re-reads to get some of the subtleties you got on round one. WELL DONE TO YOU, SIR!

  21. enigmaticagentscully says:

    I'm gonna echo notemily here and say FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MARK USE THE MAP THAT COMES WITH THE BOOK.
    I would be so utterly lost without the map – I must have read these books a dozen times and I still have to flick to the map every couple of chapters to get my bearings.

    I don't think it's spoilery?

  22. Becky_J_ says:


    Seriously. This chapter could be a book in and of itself. We learn about the origin of the Ring, about Sauron, about Gollum, about where Gandalf was, I mean, EVERYTHING. Also, SUCKS THAT SAURUMAN IS A TRAITOR. Seriously. Like there's ever enough good guys as it is.

    And then, when Frodo volunteers to take the Ring (which, hello bravery!) being the amazing, beautiful, perfect little hobbit that he is, Sam volunteers to go with him, jumping out of the bushes!
    "You at least shall go with him. It is hardly possible to separate you from him, even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not."

    SAM AND FRODO ON A FROLICKING ADVENTURE THROUGH MIDDLE EARTH. I suspect that everything will be great and nothing will hurt! How could this go wrong??? OH WAIT.

    P.S. Ash nazg durbatuluk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatuluk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

    Lets just discuss for a moment my supreme moment of realizing that I spend too much time on this site, and also that I am pretty dumb….. I read this sentence in the book, then WENT TO ROT13 TO TRANSLATE IT. ohmygod you guys, this is a problem. One, Tolkien's language is wayyyy too close to rot13 for comfort…. and two, I TRIED TO TRANSLATE A LINE FROM A PHYSICAL BOOK , NOT TO MENTION IT WAS WRITTEN NEARLY A CENTURY AGO.

    great hobbit on earth what is wrong with me

  23. threerings13 says:

    Right, I need a list here because I have so many various things to say.

    1. I was really sad that this wasn't posted when I came here this morning. This late posting thing needs to stop. How many times can I refresh?

    2. That play is utterly hilarious.

    3. V pna'g oryvrir ur rffragvnyyl tbg gur "Lbh pna'g whfg jnyx vagb Zbeqbe" guvat evtug.

    4. I was so excited about more LOTR (and let's face it, more Elrond) that I read this chapter Friday night and WISHED IT WAS LONGER. So I decided the time had come to attempt The Silmarillion again. When I got my copy out I realized by my old bookmark that I'd actually made it about 1/4 of the way through on my last attempt. Unfortunately I didn't remember a single thing, so I had to start over. I don't know if it was because I'd actually already read it, or because I'm already in Tolkien mode, but I found it much easier going this time. I mean, yeah there still are WAY too many names and place names and it's essentially one huge Info Dump, but I found myself actually following the thread of the plot and interested in it. Also, I think before I was reading a chapter at a time and when I would pick it up I would have forgotten who everyone was. This weekend I did my best to read as much as I could at a sitting and was able to keep track of everything better. I'm 150 pages in now. So, thanks everyone for pushing The Silmarillion and getting me to finally get somewhere with it.

  24. Nomie says:

    And throwing it into the ocean where there are no creatures with fingers to even wear rings is still a bad idea?

    I for one welcome our new tentacled overlords.

  25. arctic_hare says:


    Lots to talk about in this chapter! But first, the Art Corner hath returned!

    <img src="; border="0"/>

    First up is a striking piece illustrating Gandalf's escape from Orthanc, done by the talented artist named Fletcher.

    <img src="; border="0"/>

    Next up is Inger Edelfeldt's depiction of Gollum's captivity in Mirkwood.

    Now then, onto business.

    Lnl Tvzyv! Naq Yrtbynf! Uv, Obebzve! BZT GUR JUBYR SRYYBJFUVC VF URER FB RKPVGR.

    I hope Balin's okay. 🙁 I got attached to him because he was the nicest to Bilbo and seemed so kind.

    Ew creepy. Those Ringwraiths sure get around, don't they? I'm really glad Dain and the other dwarves were not buying Sauron's shit. They know better than to trust that guy after how he's betrayed them in the past. Also the offer of rings, specifically three of the Seven, is pretty alarming, as they know that many have been destroyed or lost. Lastly, since when does the "oh, it's only a thing/person of no importance" EVER fly with ANYONE? Yeah, SURE, I'm SO SURE that Sauron is offering these precious rings in exchange for a minor trifling thing. I mean, if someone stole a Cracker Jack ring from me, I'd be willing to offer something priceless in exchange for the return of it! Except not. Fail, Sauron.

    Deadmen's Dike. Sounds cheery!

    Awwww, Bilbo wrote the poem. <3 Still love you, Bilbo. ALWAYS. BOROMIR GOT TOLD.

    And he gets told again by Aragorn. I love what he has to say about how the Rangers wouldn't have it any other way. It's creepy just hearing that there are evil things lurking about even in the areas we've already passed through, that would scare the shit out of BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR and everyone else in Bree, and that could destroy Bree. Yet, how kind and sweet is it that they don't even want the praise that Boromir is so tetchy about Gondor getting barely any of, just so that the folk they protect can remain simple and happy and ignorant of all the danger that lies so close to them? The Rangers are pretty damn awesome.

    Well, that's nice, Isildur called the ring "precious" too. That alone would've told me everything I needed to know about what this thing is, given that Gollum calls it that, and Bilbo referred to it that way before leaving the Shire.

    V ybir ubj guvf cneg vf qbar va gur zbivr, jvgu rirelbar jvapvat nf Tnaqnys hfrf gur Oynpx Fcrrpu, naq gurl ernyyl tbg qbja gur rssrpgf jvgu uvf ibvpr, naq bs gur funqbj bire gur fha.

    Fuck, Gollum escaped. 🙁

    Oh hey, Radagast.


    rrrrrrrrrrr V pna'g jnvg gb tb gb Ebuna va gur arkg obbx! RBJLA. FB ZHPU YBIR.

    Oh good, Gandalf didn't roast BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR. And he even hoped that his beer would be magically delicious for seven years! SWEET.

    All right, that explains what they found and saw on Weathertop. Thought it had to be something to do with Gandalf. So he was battling it out with Nazgul. EEK. He did an admirable job of holding them off, though. Gandalf is such a badass. <3 Also, I love that phrasing, "only" five when Frodo and the others got attacked. Only. Not that Nine would've been a picnic, but five is still pretty awful. Just one is terrifying.

    Pna'g hafrr gur "Obzonqvy vf rivy" gurbel.


    I love how Bilbo is all "Can we please eat now? :(" I'd be hungry too after all that! And I hope there's been water or something handy for the people telling really long stories. Like Elrond, SHEESH.

    Oh, Sam. <3 <3 <3

  26. @MeagenImage says:

    oh god my *sides* why do you do this

  27. Jenny says:

    5 points to Gryffindor, Mark. This was one funny review.


    It's like the Cleolinda that just keeps Cleolinding.

  29. SAM: Sorry, I had a lot to say.

    Sam should make a list! Like Mark! For all his feelings! 😀

  30. AnnaEstel says:

    Everyone seems to dread this chapter. Of the folks I’ve known who started this book but failed to finnish, every one gave up here. I personally love it, it’s one of my favorites precisely because of the info dump.

  31. roguebelle says:

    NGL, this way made me giggle:

    FNZ: Lbh tbg gb evqr n tvnag rntyr? Gung’f abg snve!
    SEBQB: Fnz, ur jnf vzcevfbarq ng gur gbc bs n zbhagnva. V guvax gung’f jbefr.

    Ururururur. V ubcr Znex erzrzoref guvf jura jr uvg gur raq bs EbgX.

  32. notemily says:

    Vg urycf gung V fnj gur zbivr svefg, fb V unq Zvanf Gvevgu naq Zvanf Zbethy svkrq va zl zvaq jvgu ivfhny ersreraprf. Zvanf Gvevgu vf gur juvgr bar, Zvanf Zbethy vf gur qnex rivy fcbbxl bar jvgu gur terra tybjl yvtug.

  33. Katie says:


    (I'm glad we cleared that one up. It seemed previously that Mark had no idea that one cannot walk into Mordor 🙂 )

  34. @redbeardjim says:

    I loved that one little tidbit that got dropped into Isildur's scroll: "It is precious to me,"

  35. Tauriel_ says:

    Here is a rendering of "All that is gold does not glitter" by the Poetic Fellowship. I would've posted it sooner, because we've already seen these verses before, but the name of the song (and the filename) is spoilery, so here it is now:

    Bilbo to Boromir

  36. Tauriel_ says:

    More art by Katrina Chmiel, a Polish artist and illustrator:

    Boromir – portrait
    <img src=""&gt;

    Son of Gondor
    <img src="; width="600">

    "And I tamed him."
    <img src=""&gt;

  37. Geolojazz says:

    Bakshi movie spoilers.

    Not that Mark should ever watch it.

    So not even bothering with Rot13…


  38. cait0716 says:

    I just tried to re-rot13 that last name after I deciphered it. Tolkien, what are you doing with language?

  39. knut_knut says:

    this is my understanding of the "Minas"es. And the arrows indicate becoming. I should have just used an equals sign

    Zvanf Vguvy –> Zvanf Zbethy (vg'f gur terra bar gur Evatjenvguf evqr bhg bs va SbGE. Vg'f nyfb gur bar Sebqb nyzbfg jnyxf vagb va EbGX)
    Zvanf Nabe –> Zvanf Gvevgu (gur juvgr bar srngherq cebzvaragyl va EbGX)

    V nyjnlf trg Zvanf Zbethy naq Onenq qhe zvkrq hc sbe fbzr ernfba :/

  40. tigerpetals says:

    I really want to know what Bombadil is, though. I don't know if this is ever explained or where. The way he's being talked about, it's as if for him, he's got a sort of Somebody Else's Problem Field around him where the Ring is concerned.

    Jura vf vg abg n fcbvyre gb yvax Ubepehkrf gb gur Evat?

    They keep using the word fat as derogative. I mean, how many times is BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR going to be called fat and have that associated with lack of intelligence or something? With the the hobbits, too, since they're supposed to be fat and timid, with Frodo said early in the book to be least fat and timid.

  41. stellaaaaakris says:

    I'm finally back, work and vacation got in the way and then I had chapters and chapters to catch up on. Still haven't finished this chapter though. I'm listening along and I'm up to Chapter 202V. This goes up to Chapter 202Z6.

    So much information! I admire everybody for being able to sit through one of Gandalf's stories. They are pretty much never ending and filled with countless details. My mom tells stories like this and I can't pay attention for that long. If she has somebody else in her audience as well, I some times walk away for a bit and it's still going when I return.

    I want to have a title with a color attached to it. Gandalf the White, Saruman of Many Colors, Rathauser (I have no idea what his name is but I think it stars with an R?) the Brown. I could be stellaaaaakris the Aquamarine.

    And I'm glad Sam is keeping an eye out for Merry and Pippin. Pippin's my favorite because of reasons.

  42. ravenclaw42 says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    BU TBQ GUVF ZRZR. Naq gurer ner cyragl bhg gurer gung qba'g vaibyir zbivr fcbvyref. :Q V unir n sbyqre shyy, ohg V'yy gel abg gb fcnz. Qba'g jnag gb jrne bhg gur zrzr'f jrypbzr orsber jr pna unir gur barf jvgu FO, orpnhfr gubfr ner gur orfg.

    (A spoilers-by-association one! This one, though. I can't even. I mean. *dies*)

  43. Tauriel_ says:

    Tauriel's Linguistic Corner

    (A huge thanks to Ardalambion, which is my primary source of info. 🙂 )

    In this chapter: no actual Elvish, but a GAZILLION names of people and places. And one sentence in Black Speech:

    Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

    From the structure of this (since we know the translation), the following can be deduced:

    Nazg evidently means "ring", which is also supported by the name of the Ringwraiths, Nazgûl.
    Ash means the number "one".
    Agh is the conjunction "and".
    durbat, gimbat, thrakat and krimpat are either infinitive forms of the verbs "to rule", "to find", "to bring" and "to bind", or they are special "intentive" forms that indicate purpose – "for ruling", "for bringing", "for finding", "for binding".
    – the suffix -ul means "them".
    – the suffix -ûk means "all".
    burzum means "darkness", -ishi is a suffix meaning "in".

    Right, and now let's get to the List of Gazillion Elvish Names. 😀 I'm going to do ALL of them (well, all those I can find meanings of 😉 And I'm leaving out those that might happen later, and I'm not sure whether or not they're translated in the text), and in the order as they appear in the chapter.

    Also, small note on pronunciation: "c" is always pronounced as "k", even when followed by a vowel. So Círdan is pronounced "Kírdan", not "Sírdan". 😉

    Elrond – "Star vault". Sindarinised version of Quenya name Elerondo: él is an archaic word for "star", used mainly in names (elen is the common Quenya word for "star"); rondo means "vault", "dome", "vaulted roof".
    Bruinen – "Loudwater". Sindarin origin: brui = loud, noisy; nên = water.
    Círdan – "Shipwright". It's literally the Sindarin word for "shipbuilder"; derived from cair = ship, in compounds it changes to cír-.
    Legolas – "Greenleaf". Sindarin origin: laeg = "green" (in the Woodlands dialect it's lêg); lass = "leaf". Just for fun, the Quenya version would be "Laiquelasso".
    Boromir – Tolkien described this name as "mixed form". Bôr means "steadfast man" in Sindarin (boron- in compounds); mîr = "jewel". Quenya version would probably be "Voromírë".

    (con'd below)

  44. Tauriel_ says:

    Hello and welcome to

    Info Dump: The Chapter


    Good Lord, where to even begin? I like this chapter – even though it is a bit tiring (I completely sympathise with Bilbo, who's always itching for a break and a meal). It's a HUGE info dump – but it's a very interesting info dump, at least for me. There's quite a lot of history – both ancient and more recent – and a lot of gaps in the story so far are filled (like where the hell was Gandalf all this time).

    And since we established last Friday that LISTS ARE TEH AWESOME (haterz to the left, plz), here's my list:

    – So Balin, Ori and Óin went to Moria 30 years ago, and things went well, but then the news stopped. O noez, what happened? 🙁

    “As a small token only of your friendship Sauron asks this,” he said: “that you should find this thief,” such was his word, “and get from him, willing or no, a little ring, the least of rings, that once he stole. It is but a trifle that Sauron fancies, and an earnest of your good will. Find it, and three rings that the Dwarf sires possessed of old shall be returned to you, and the realm of Moria shall be yours for ever.

    Sauron, you lying, cunning, devious bastard. "But a trifle that Sauron fancies", eh? Thankfully, Dáin is not deceived, and basically tells Sauron's messenger to GTFO. Go Dáin! B-)

    – Bad news, though – war seems to be coming to Dale and the Dwarven Kingdom under the Mountain.

    – Interesting factoids about Elrond: he's 6517 years old, his father is a star, and his great-grandmother was Lúthien Tinúviel. Not bad, eh? 😀

    – History of the Last Alliance

    – More history of Gondor

    – Boromir is being proud and condescending, so Bilbo puts him in his place:

    ‘Not very good perhaps, but to the point – if you need more beyond the word of Elrond. If that was worth a journey of a hundred and ten days to hear, you had best listen to it.’ He sat down with a snort.

    Snarky Bilbo is snarky, and it is BEAUTIFUL. <3 😀

    (con'd below)

  45. Suzannezibar says:



  46. Katie says:

    I love this chapter because it's the first one where we are exposed to the really smart strategizing by the elders: "the enemy will expect us to do X, therefore we will do Y". I played chess when I was younger, but I had never really understood the importance of strategy and understanding your opponent before I read this book.

  47. Tauriel_ says:

    Mark, that was ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS. 😀 😀 😀

    I insist, you definitely must re-write the whole LOTR in this manner and publish it. Instant bestseller, this stuff… 😀

  48. Tauriel_ says:

    Xunmnq-qûz yvgrenyyl zrnaf Qjneebjqrys – "Qjneira Unyyf". "Xuhmq" zrnaf "Qjnes", cyheny vf "xunmnq" = "Qjneirf".

    Zbevn vf gur anzr Ryirf tvir vg naq zrnaf "Gur Oynpx Punfz".

  49. flootzavut says:

    "FNZ: Lbh tbg gb evqr n tvnag rntyr? Gung’f abg snve!

    SEBQB: Fnz, ur jnf vzcevfbarq ng gur gbc bs n zbhagnva. V guvax gung’f jbefr.

    FNZ: V’z abg tbvat gb trg nalguvat V jnag, nz V?"

    BU ZNEX fbzrgvzrf V qb gehyl jbaqre vs ur vf gebyyvat hf… Whfg or cngvrag, Fnz!

  50. flootzavut says:

    "FRODO: Seriously, Sam, you’re supposed to be spying. Shut up."


    This was fantastic, I will read properly and comment asap!

  51. hpfish13 says:

    Dhvpx dhrfgvba: Abj gung Znex xabjf gur raq tbny bs guvf dhrfg vf Zbhag Qbbz, pna jr yrg uvz xabj nobhg uvf oevyyvnapr onpx va uvf erivrj bs gur Uboovg (jvgu Puevfgbcure nfxvat nobhg gur ibypnab)? Vs abg, jura qb lbh guvax jbhyq or n tbbq gvzr?

  52. rubyjoo says:

    Not only do we learn that Aragorn and the Rangers are protecting people by patrolling the North but that Boromir and the men of Gondor have been a bulwark in the South. "Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend!" Aragorn seems to take the lack of gratitude and awareness of what he is doing on the chin but Boromir is upset and angry that so few people realise that Gondor has been guarding their backs for so long, have lost so much and have had no aid. It says something about the characters of the two men – and something about the relaxed attitude of those who are protected by them.

    The first time I read this chapter, I found the info dump hard going. But, the second time, after also reading The Hobbit, it became one of my favourite chapters. Tolkien is gathering all the pieces of the jigsaw together and fitting the pieces together in a very satisfying manner.

  53. This is one of the chapters that earned the book the title of "super dense and detailed forever" because of all the info dumping. Good times.

    I love Sam hiding during this chapter. As if the magical, sassy badass wizard and the ancient elf lord wouldn't notice Sam listening in…
    Sam's bromance with Frodo is adorable.

  54. clodia_risa says:

    Spoiler for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman:

    TYBVA: Jnvg, fb jung unccraf vs jr qrfgebl gur Evat?

    RYEBAQ: Jryy, V fhccbfr jr qba’g xabj.

    TYBVA: Jung vs vg znxrf Fnheba fhcre cbjreshy?

    RYEBAQ: V fhccbfr gung’f n evfx jr fubhyq gnxr.

    Gunax tbbqarff vg qvqa’g jbex sbe Fnheba yvxr vg qvq sbe Zbecurhf.

  55. sudden_eyes says:

    Since Tolkien didn't know from rainbows, I've always assumed that Saruman's move to "many colors" means that he's no longer satisfied with being himself. He wants MORE.

    But it's so hard to read that bit without adding subtext!

  56. Chris says:

    Who is John Galt?


    /actually likes Ayn Rand

  57. Thiamalonee says:

    I just love that out of everyone at this council, including Gandalf, Elrond and other ancient elves, and Boromir, who claims he comes from a people battling the Enemy, and Aragorn, a descendent of Ilsidur, it is the halflings who step up. Bilbo and Frodo both volunteer for this dangerous journey, and Sam steps forward as well. Something about the hobbits shouldering that responsibility is amazing to me, because even the most Tookish of them couldnt possibly want to wander so far and so long from their comfy homes. It is antithetical to their nature, and so brave. This line Is just amazing to me, because it shows Frodo understands that he his way out of his depth, but can feel the gravity of the situation:

    “‘I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.'”

  58. Dreamflower says:

    I'm so glad Mark liked this chapter! Yes, it's an info-dump, but it's also several stories rolled into one. We get Gloin's story of what's happened in Erebor, We get Elrond's potted history of the Second Age– which of course for him was simply a stroll down memory lane. We get the stories of the capture and escape of Gollum, and Gandalf's account of his captivity! Each one is interspersed with interruptions that just make the story more interesting (reminds me of Gandalf telling Beorn his story bit by bit as he is interrupted by the Dwarves coming along).

    And Bilbo was awesome! Sticking up for his friend the Dunadan, and then offering to take the Ring himself. Of course he meant it, and of course he was hoping to let Frodo off the hook.

    But I love Frodo so much here! "I will take the Ring. Though I do not know the way."

    One of my favorite quotes is in this chapter:

    "Now is the hour of the Shire folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the counsels and the towers of the Great."

    *grin* Go Shirefolk!!

  59. Appachu says:

    Rntyr rk znpuvan pbhag: 3.

  60. Bumblebea says:


    Ahem, sorry. After finally catching up with the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of Lord of the Rings (I guess flu is good for something) I have a review that is basically just a love letter to various characters.

    Firstly, OH MY SAMWISE GAMGEE! Why will you not just be my best friend and sneak into secret meetings your not invited to (really badly. I'm pretty sure they said he just followed them in and sat in the corner) and then volunteer to follow me on dangerous journeys. And not even to see Elves. Sam is awesome.

    Boromir's staunch defense of Gondor every time someone mentions its waning defense warms the cockles of my heart. "Gondor stands, and even the end of its strength is very strong. SO THERE!"

    And Gandalf, your beautiful trolling of Saruman does not escape by notice: "For here am I Saruman the blah de blah, rainbow hued, all the shades, red to indigo, Saruman of many colours!" … "Eh, I preferred white." 😛

    I did wonder, when Radagast the Brown turned up, how many other coloured wizards there are. Will they bump into Geoffery the Pink and Thomas the Orange? Have to run from Saruman's evil henchman Frederick the Aquamarine? Or even, in the depths of the wild, bump into the long lost Sebastian the Midnight – Blue?

    I certainly hope so.

    In other news, I love Bilbo's casual "Oh yeah, alright then, I'll pop over to these cracks of fire that you keep going on about, and drop in the ring. No biggie." <3 Luckily Frodo is his Uncle's nephew (or cousin's cousin. What relation are they again?) and offers to take it instead. Even though he "does not know the way." DW Frodo, there's a map at the front of the book.

    This chapter has some beautiful lines in it

  61. Mart says:

    Crowning moment of awesome for me will always be Aragorn finally snapping and losing his patience.

    Yes, he recovers quickly, but it is good to see that he does have a temper below that cool exterior; and I love his sardonic wit when he loses that temper.

  62. Question… what time are these reviews going to be showing up? I was looking for this this morning,then had to run to class and now have no time to rot13 everything since I have another class rapidly approaching. I'll still be back, but yeah- when will they be posted? Just for future reference 🙂

    Anyway- on to the story! This review was magnificence incarnate, because holy lord, this chapter is long. I have to admit, I love it… but so much info all at once. I've always liked hearing Elrond's history in this chapter, and a lot more things in this make sense now that I've been skimming Silmarillion again. I like hearing all the history about Middle-Earth and how everyone has been dealing in some way with Sauron stirring again. It brings it home that, despite all the vastness of Middle-Earth, Sauron is still able to spread his influence and use it almost everywhere, from Hobbiton to the Lonely Mountain and even beyond. Given that he's the original cliched Dark Lord, it's almost surprising to see that he's rather more proactive than most of his more generic clones in Fantasyland.

  63. Marie the Bookwyrm says:

    As many people have pointed out, this chapter is a heck of an info dump. I think it helps that there's not just one person explaining everything–*cough*Dumbledore*cough*–but rather different people providing pieces of information that all get pulled together.

    I love Bilbo forever for jumping up to volunteer to take the Ring. He may be old, but he's still a hero at heart. 🙂 And Frodo! I don't remember how many times I've read LOTR, but I still get a thrill from his 'I will take the Ring. Though I do not know the way."

  64. Hotaru_hime says:

    In an alternate universe where they did toss the ring into the sea, a well-meaning octopus found it and became Cthulu. My own head-canon.
    Gosh I forget how dense the Council of Elrond is. I mean, damn.
    I love how Legolas is there only to say, "Oh hey, we lost Gollum, LOL, jsyk."

  65. Cereus says:

    Some pictures of Gwaihir:

    Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Eagles – by Ted Nasmith

    …Rescuing Gandalf (also by Ted Nasmith)

    Escape from Orthanc – by Stephen Hickman

  66. Gandalf: I'm alright… I was saved by a giant eeeeeeeeeeagle

    Whoever knows what this is from wins the internet and stuff…

  67. @RadagastWiz says:

    Hurray, I actaully appear! And get dialogue and history and stuff! Plus, apologies to the Shirefolk for caling their land 'uncouth'. I knew not what I spoke of. 😉

    But, seriously, I picked this username over a decade ago (often just 'Radagast', adding the 'Wiz' when that's not available) and have since found brown to be the predominant colour in my wardrobe; I have a fondness for nature and the outdoors; and have (something of) a beard.

    Bs pbhefr, V jvfu gurer jnf zber bs zr va guvf ohg ab fhpu yhpx. Fgvyy, n cerggl pbby punenpgre nf ybat nf ur ynfgf, naq V ybbx sbejneq gb frrvat Flyirfgre ZpPbl (n Qbpgbe Jub! Lnl!) gnxr ba gur ebyr va gur Uboovg zbivrf.

  68. @LarrikJ says:


    I don't believe that knowing what they are is spoilery, but just in case:

    In my version of The Hobbit, there is a section in the beginning that defines the term, before the main book. In the actual text of The Hobbit it gets defined again slightly differently (but mostly the same).

    Here is the answer to "what are orcs" in ROT13:

    Bepf ner whfg tboyvaf, cbffvoyl n "ynetre" inevngvba, ohg V nyjnlf haqrefgbbq gurz gb or gur rknpg fnzr tboyvaf nf sebz Gur Uboovg.

    V npghnyyl ernq Gur Uboovg NSGRE YBGE, fb V jnf dhvgr guebja bss sbe n juvyr.

  69. feminerdist says:

    In all honesty, I actually LOVE the Council of Elrond. I've been skimming a lot of these chapters to keep up with Mark, since I've forgotten so many of these little details, but last night I sat and fully re-read this one.

    And I adore the play format, Mark. Seriously.

  70. Kaylee Arafinwiel says:

    I love the Wizards! I'm not sure if this is spoilery, but just in case: Gurer ner npghnyyl svir Jvmneqf, abg guerr. Nyngne naq Cnyynaqb jrer gur Oyhr Jvmneqf, jub jrag vagb gur Rnfg naq jrer arire urneq sebz ntnva.

    Although some people like to debate what happened there, like me. 😀 I wrote a story about that situation, called "Not All Who Wander Are Lost". It's at, under the pen name Kaylee Arafinwiel. It's not exactly spoilery for LotR, as there's no LotR characters in it, but it might confuse you if you haven't read the Silm.

  71. PrefectSarah says:

    <3 LEGOLAS! <3

    God, I LOVE these play reviews…

  72. Katarina says:

    Random thoughts on names:

    Radagast reminds me rather a lot of S:t Francis, but his name sounds like Ratatosk. So I'm imagining S:t Francis crossed with a squirrel, and that's just weird.

    Every time I see the name Eärendil, I have to remind myself that ä in English isn't pronounced the way it is in Swedish. I keep thinking E-air-endil, when of course it should be E-ar-endil.

  73. Randomcheeses says:

    Go to google maps.

    Input :the shire

    Input destination: Mordor

    Choose Method of travel: Pedestrian.

    Google Maps urges you to: Use caution – One does not simply walk into Mordor.

    God, I love the Internet.

  74. Beri says:

    Congratulations on surviving the Council of Elrond!

    Also, I love your play reviews.

  75. Patrick721 says:

    So is Saruman Joe Cabot? Or is he Mr. Orange, since…

  76. msw188 says:

    "Things were okay in Dáin until a horseman from Mordor arrived…"
    Haha awesome, so Dain had no problem with any of his internal organs until a horseman from Mordor arrived, at which point his colon immediately relaxed and he shat his pants.

    "ARAGORN: Look, I’ve been to some weird places and seen some weird shit, man."
    Hahaha, this is the best sum up of Aragorn's lines at this council EVER.

    V ybir gung Znex chyyf n Ovyob ol univat Tnaqnys or fhecevfrq ol Tbyyhz'f rfpncr, jura va gur irel arkg puncgre Ovyob pynvzf gur fnzr guvat naq gur Tnaqnys vf nyy yvxr, "Ab lbh vanggragvir qbyg, V nyernql xarj nobhg vg orpnhfr Tjnvuve gbyq zr."

    I also find it interesting that Mark essentially skipped, among other things, the whole Bombadil discussion.

  77. rabidsamfan says:

    V nz fhfcvpvbhf. Fnz qbrfa'g whzc sebz oruvaq n ohfu va gur obbx, ur qbrf gung va gur zbivr. Va gur obbx ur vf fvggvat dhvrgyl va n pbeare.

    That said, I am hugely amused by how quickly the comments topped 500 on this chapter.

  78. Nick says:

    Mark, you are a treasure.

    There is one misconception that you appear to have (which I'm pretty sure is meant to be clear from context in the chapter): Orthanc is a tower, not a mountain. So it's just "Orthanc", not "the Orthanc".

  79. Noybusiness says:

    I think Saruman's multicolor dreamcoat is supposed to reflect his valuing of worldly things.

  80. AmandaNekesa says:

    Oh, Mark, another great & hilarious review! Love the play format! <3

    "GLOIN: Yes, of course. Moria Durin Khazad-dûm Thrór and Dáin Mordor and other words that no one else is going to understand and what am I saying. FRODO: No, seriously, what are you talking about?"

    Haha, yeah for the first-time reader this chapter is so packed full of names and places never before referenced. It gets a bit confusing sometimes. The only thing I had going for me on my first read through is that I had seen the movies and was familiar with a majority of the references, otherwise I would have been SO CONFUSED!

    "ELROND: Behold Isildur’s Bane!
    SAM: That….that is like the coolest exclamation I’ve ever heard. Can I start using that?
    ARAGORN: It’s pretty damn good. I won’t deny that."

    Soo…I'm having a hard time seeing any lack of Mark's reactions to the chapter in these "alternate" reviews. Just saying.

    "ARAGORN: Son of a motherless bumblebee." —–> this will never not make me laugh…I want to start using this in my daily speech.

    FRODO: I don’t think the rainbow meant “unholy homosexual” at this time. — hahaha too funny! No, I daresay it didn't. 🙂 I always find it so interesting how much culture has changed, and there are so many words or references in this book could have completely different connotations in today's world.

    "ELROND: We send the Ring to the Fire. The one in Mordor.
    [Everyone but SAM and FRODO gasp.]
    SAM: I don’t get it.

    😀 😀 😀 xD xD xD

    Here's a John Howe illustration of Gwaihir rescuing Gandalf:

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

  81. Parmadil says:

    Nyfb, (naq ntnva, vg'f orra njuvyr fvapr V'ir qbar frevbhf erfrnepu, fb V pbhyq or pbzcyrgryl jebat) ohg V oryvrir gung Xunmnq-qûz fcrpvsvpnyyl ersref gb gur pvgl vgfrys, juvyr Zbevn (juvpu vf gur Ryivfu anzr tvira gb vg nsgre Qheva sryy) vf gur jubyr fur-onat: gur pvgl, zvarf, nyy bs vg.

  82. tardis_stowaway says:

    Hilarious play review! I kind of love how even the elves can't make a meeting stay on topic or wrap up quickly.

    FNZ: Gurer’f n frn? Jurer gur uryy vf gurer n frn?

    V ernq guvf naq fdhrnxrq nybhq. Bu, FNZ. Lbh ner fb abg cercnerq. V nz cercnerq ol ybat snzvyvnevgl, ohg gur Terl Uniraf fprar va gur svyz fgvyy znxrf zr pel zber bsgra guna abg.

  83. Icarus says:

    I've been looking forward to this review. This is my second-favorite chapter of the series (the first being The Shadow Of The Past), the sweeping scope of the history, the language spilling off the page into implications of a much, much larger world.

  84. Atrus says:

    Just so you know, it's quite hard to read your reviews AND the comments at work without laughing out loud. Good thing there are not too many people today. 😀

  85. bookworm67 says:

    GANDALF: Well, his robe was not white, but woven of many colours.

    FRODO: I don’t get it.

    SAM: Is that a metaphor for saying he’s gay?

    Oh my god. Nearly died laughing. Actually, just… the whole thing. I LOVE THESE PLAYS.

  86. Andrew says:

    BOROMIR: It took me one hundred ten days to arrive here, all by myself, to seek your advice, Elrond, about this war with the Enemy. I have been guided by a poem I learned in a dream, which is totally a reliable piece of information all of the time.



    You've broken me. I can't.

  87. Lbh tbg gb evqr n tvnag rntyr? Gung’f abg snve!

  88. Smurphy says:


    1. I don't know why you had Sam so worried about Merry and Pippin. Like Sam, neither was Merry nor Pippin were invited to the council. Sam was stupid and hid in the bushes and listened to all this. Merry and Pippin are intelligent little hobbits who are off eating (which these poor hobbits/humans/elves/dwarves haven't had a chance to do yet) and in general enjoying being safe and comfortable in Rivendell.

    2. Weregild bothered me too… actually looked it up.

    3. The other wizards are in blue. So I guess that's a bit more colorful then brown/grey/white… although you do have Saruman the multi-colored or whatever now so… that… doesn't really help. I loved this back and forth:

    "I liked white better,” I said. ‘“White!” he sneered. “It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken.” ‘“In which case it is no longer white,” said I. “And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”

    ALSO lol… I didn't EVER think about that until moments before reading that. Saruman is gay. Explains so much.

    4. Movie spoiler.V ybir juvyr gur zbivr qvq fhpu n tbbq wbo phggvat guvf qbja naq znxvat vg ragregnvavat sbe hf gb fvg naq jngpu gurl qvq xrrc n tbbq ovg bs gur qvnybthr. Fbzr bs gubfr shaal yvarf lbh bsgra guvax jrer chg va gurer ol gur fperracynl nqncgbef ohg gura lbh ernq gurz va gur obbx naq lbh'er whfg vzcerffrq jvgu ubj njrfbzr Gbyxvra jnf.

    5. DID I MISS READING THE "One does not simply walk into Mordor" line? How?? Or is this just a movie line in this scene? Juvpu jbhyq xvaq bs artngr zl ynfg fragvzrag. yby.

    Never prepared.

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