Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 10

In the tenth chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo speaks with the mysterious and coy Strider, and Tolkien manages to take me by surprise yet again. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


Lords and Stuff
A Play

Act 4
Scene 1

 [FRODO, PIPPIN, and SAM arrive inside the parlour of their room at the Prancing Pony. The only source of light is the dim burning of the wood in the fireplace.]

SAM: Let’s throw some faggots on the fire!

PIPPIN: Won’t that word totally scare the crap out of people who momentarily forgot that it used to have another meaning?

SAM: Surely!


[Once the fire roars to life, the three discover that STRIDER is already inside their room.]

PIPPIN: SWEET BABY GANDALF, what are you doing?

STRIDER: Oh, you know. Just waiting in the total darkness for your friend Frodo so I can have a talk with him. I’m totally good and honorable and certainly have no negative intentions, despite that I hid in the fucking dark for you to arrive.

FRODO: Well, this is off to a good start, isn’t it? So what is it you want?

STRIDER: Well, I have a price for my information.

FRODO: You really don’t get this “noble stranger” thing, do you?

STRIDER: I swear upon my life that what I ask is affordable.

FRODO: I mean, hiding in the dark, making ambiguous, vague statements about some mysterious “advantage” that you have to offer me, and now saying that after all this, I have to pay you for it? Is this Hidden Hobbit or something? Will a bunch of people burst out of the other rooms to surprise me with some practical joke?

STRIDER: My price is simple: just take me with you.


STRIDER: See? It doesn’t cost you anything.

FRODO: Well, wait, I need to know what you know before we agree to this. How can you help us?

STRIDER: Well, I’ve been spying on you.

SAM: Wow, you really aren’t good at this “noble stranger” thing.

STRIDER: I was looking for Frodo Baggins! I had to!

FRODO: I’m pretty sure this is the worst pitch of all time.


[At this, all the hobbits fall silent, looking at one another with fear in their eyes. Finally:]

PIPPIN: Well, that does explain a lot.

STRIDER: And Frodo, you’ve made it a hell of a lot harder since your “accident” earlier.

FRODO: I swear it was an accident!

STRIDER: Who accidentally falls onto a ring and makes it go on their finger?

FRODO: Stranger things have happened!

STRIDER: Well, it doesn’t matter, because we need to get you out of here as soon as possible. The townsfolk of Bree are not to be trusted. There’s no one who knows the lands between the Shire and the Misty Mountains as well as I. So, what do you say?

SAM: I’m sorry, why on earth should we trust this dude? This whole thing seems like a disaster.

FRODO: I’m inclined to agree. You’ve given us nothing that we can go on to trust you. And how is it that you know any of this?

[There’s a knock at the door, and both BUTTERBUR and NOB enter the room.]

BUTTERBUR: Right, so I came to say goodnight, but there is one thing I must tell you, Mr. Underhill. I was specifically asked to look for Frodo Baggins and was given a rather detailed description of him. I know it’s you.

FRODO: Damn it, what the hell is going on? Who told you that?

BUTTERBUR: Right, it was Gandalf.

PIPPIN: This is not happening.


BUTTERBUR: Well….[He pauses, looking about with shame.] Well, see, three months ago, Gandalf stopped by.

SAM: And?

BUTTERBUR: See, he told me that he wanted me to do something for him, to send a message to the Shire.


BUTTERBUR: He gave me a letter and told me to send it to the Shire right away.


BUTTERBUR: Well…..well, I still have it, Mr. Baggins.


BUTTERBUR: Yeah. Ooops!

FRODO: You kept it this whole time???

BUTTERBUR: Dude, no one wants to go to the damn Shire! It’s not like I could just hand it to the mail man.

FRODO: You should have given this to me the second I arrived!

BUTTERBUR: Well, excuse me. It’s not like there’s a ton of weird shit going on around here, let alone a DISAPPEARING HOBBIT. Plus, that creep Strider has been sneaking around, and I don’t really trust him.

STRIDER [Revealing himself from the shadows.]: Why does no one trust me?


STRIDER: Well, I assure you all that I am here under good pretenses.

FRODO: Yeah, I don’t trust him either. [To BUTTERBUR] I think we should leave as soon as possible. Those Black Riders are sure to find me.

STRIDER: I should probably reveal right now that the Black Riders are actually from Mordor.

PIPPIN: Mate, you’ve got to understand tact and timing if you want to be trusted. Seriously, you’re awful at this.

BUTTERBUR: At any rate, I’ll do my best to keep y’all safe. Speaking of such, where’s your other friend? Merry?

[THE HOBBITS all look at one another, fright dawning on their faces.]

FRODO: Oh, great. We have no idea where he is. We…we probably should have thought about that earlier.

SAM: I swear we are good friends!

BUTTERBUR: Well, Nob and I are off to go see if we can locate him. Good night!

[With that, BUTTERBUR and NOB disappear. Everyone moves towards FRODO, who is now holding GANDALF’S letter in his hands. He begins to read aloud.]

FRODO: “Hey, y’all! Just silly ol’ Gandalf here. How y’all doing? Hope everything’s fine in the Shire. What am I saying, of course it is! You’re all hobbits, so everything’s just fine. Just wanted to write to say that the Shire is a dangerous warzone of trouble and you should get out as soon as possible! I’m too busy to come tell you myself, so let’s just hope this gets to you quickly, or else…well, let’s just not think about that!”

PIPPIN: Gandalf is fucking weird, man.

FRODO: Shush, Pippin.

PIPPIN: I’m just saying! This all seems like a bad idea.

FRODO: Can I finish? Ahem…”If you make it to Bree, leave a message for me with Butterbur. You can trust that man with your life! So be nice to him and don’t refuse his desserts. They’re to die for! Well, not literally, but you know what I mean. Also, if you meet someone named Strider, you can trust him to. See you in Rivendell, sillies! Love ya! Yours in haste, Gandalf.”

SAM: Is that for real? Is he being serious?

FRODO: Wait, there’s more. “PS: Don’t use that goddamn ring again, Frodo, or you’re going to ruin everything. Toodles! PPS: Oh, right, make sure that you talk to the right Strider. His real name is Aragorn, and here’s a poem that makes no sense at all to anyone but me, and it will allow you to identify him. Hope to see you soon! KIT!”

PIPPIN: I don’t trust any of these people, if I can be honest.

FRODO: Wait, there’s one last bit. “PPPS: Butterbur is trustworthy, but about as dependable as a tissue. Let’s hope he actually sent this letter. If not, lol!”

SAM: Well, this is just great.

STRIDER: You have to admit it sounds exactly like Gandalf.

[The HOBBITS nod in agreement before SAM speaks up.]

SAM: Wait, how do we know you are the actual Strider? How does that letter help at all?

STRIDER: Well, if I’d somehow killed the real Strider, do you think we’d all be standing around right now chatting merrily? [STRIDER stands, towering over the other hobbits.] That being said, I am the real Strider. I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn.

PIPPIN: You sound like the dwarves.

FRODO: Well, that settles it. At least we’re finally getting to Gandalf’s plan.

SAM: What exactly is his plan, by the way? We’re going to Rivendell, and then…what comes after that?

FRODO: I don’t really know.

PIPPIN: Fuck this. I’m going to bed. What a waste of time.

[At this point, NOB and MERRY BRANDYBUCK burst into the room, MERRY frightened and exhausted.]

MERRY: Yeah, we’re screwed.

FRODO: What happened? Where were you?

MERRY: The Black Riders are here. They’re in the village. And two of them attacked me.

SAM: Why are we doing this again? This just keeps getting worse and worse.

FRODO: Go on, Merry. What happened?

[MERRY eyes STRIDER with suspicion.]

FRODO: I can’t even begin to explain who that dude is. Just accept that he’s on our side so we can move along.

MERRY: Fair enough. I followed two of them and tried to spy on them when something overcame me.

NOB: They’re dementors, Frodo.

FRODO: What?

NOB: You know, they’re just like the dementors from Harry Potter.


NOB: Well, it’s true!

STRIDER: Well, these came first, and the Black Breath is a frightening thing. At least Merry is alive.

MERRY: Who is this guy again?

FRODO: He’s with Gandalf.

MERRY: Why does that seemingly explain everything?

PIPPIN: Because Gandalf’s a weirdo.

FRODO: Hush, both of you. Strider, how much danger are we in at this inn?

STRIDER: I think we’ll be fine, but I’ll lead us out of here in the morning along a secret path that only I know about.

SAM: Again, you aren’t good at making yourself sound trustworthy.

STRIDER: Cut me some slack. I’m working with Gandalf. Surely you understand how he works.

SAM: Good point.

PIPPIN: Can I go to bed now? The lack of sleep is the most dangerous thing in my horizon, for your information.

FRODO: I suppose we should all get some rest before we leave in the morning.

[The lights dim slowly over the course of a couple minutes as we watch the HOBBITS pull blankets out of rooms and settle down near the fire. We see (but do not hear) MERRY, FRODO, and STRIDER talking as the lights go out.]

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.

307 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Chapter 10

  1. Becky_J_ says:

    Oh, this chapter. For half of it, I felt like something bad was imminent, and the other half I just felt like I was being trolled. First of all, Merry is just SOMEWHERE without his friends noticing that he is not back….. HELLO. THIS IS NOT A FAIRY TALE. HE IS PROBABLY BEING FEASTED ON BY BLACK RIDERS. Godddddddddddd

    Then there's Strider…. who is always on the VERGE of divulging important information, and then CONVENIENTLY gets interrupted.
    "But why should you believe my story, if you do not trust me already? Still, here it is—" At that moment came a knock at the door.

    And Gandalf's letter…. where to even begin??
    "You better leave Bag End soon, and get out of the Shire by the end of July at the latest."
    ……well….. whoops.
    "Do NOT use It again, not for any reason whatever!"
    …..well……double whoops.
    "I hope Butterbur sends this promptly….. if he forgets, I shall roast him."
    My good Butterbur, consider yourself roasted.

    Seriously, you guys…. you leave these hobbits to their own devices for like THREE CHAPTERS and not only do they not do what Gandalf wants them to, THEY DO THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF WHAT THEY SHOULD BE DOING. Hopeless.

    On the bright side…. STRIDER!!!!!!!! And Merry's back and didn't get feasted on by the Black Riders…. yay 🙂

    P.S. On a totally unrelated note, I just finished the Book Thief (I KNOW I KNOW I'M LIKE EIGHT MONTHS LATE) and be still my broken heart. Sorry, I just know that you read it here, and I love knowing you guys know everything I could possibly say about it. That's all 😀

  2. Jenny_M says:

    All that is gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither,
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
    A light from the shadows shall spring;
    Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
    The crownless again shall be king

    This has to be my 17th or 18th reread, and when those words appear on the page in this chapter, I STILL get teary-eyed. They are such beautiful verses and, sigh. Sigh!

  3. Tauriel_ says:

    Happy 120th birthday to Professor J. R. R. Tolkien! 🙂

    Let's all have a toast, shall we?

    *raises glass*

    "The Professor!"

  4. Tauriel_ says:

    Well, well, chapter 10.

    I must say that Strider really doesn't make a good job "selling" his services to Frodo – he does have some unfortunate word choices in his speech (like pretty much admitting he was stalking and eavesdropping on the hobbits? Not a very wise move if you want them to trust you…), so it's very understandable that the hobbits are highly suspicious of him.

    Thankfully, all is saved by BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR bringing (although belatedly) Gandalf's letter to Frodo. He is both endearing and frustrating in his roundabout way of telling things – sometimes you just want to laugh and shake your head, but sometimes you want to grab his shoulders, shake him and yell, "GET TO THE POINT, MAN!" 😀

    These Black Riders: I am not sure, but I think, I fear they come from–––’
    ‘They come from Mordor,’ said Strider in a low voice. ‘From Mordor, Barliman, if that means anything to you.’

    *shudder* CREEPY.

    Where’s your Mr. Brandybuck?’
    ‘I don’t know,’ said Frodo with sudden anxiety. They had forgotten all about Merry, and it was getting late. ‘I am afraid he is out. He said something about going for a breath of air.’

    Yes, Merry, WTF are you doing walking around outside when there are Black Riders around??!! *worried*

    Also, LOL at Gandalf's threat to roast BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR. 😀

    And when at last things are cleared up and the hobbits know they can trust Strider – or Aragorn, as we should call him from now on – Merry comes in with news of the Black Riders! :O Trying to follow them was very foolish indeed, but thankfully hobbits are made of stern stuff and the influence of the Black Breath wasn't lasting.

    But thanks to this information they were able to prepare themselves – camouflaging the hobbits' room to look like they're still there, but hiding in Aragorn's room.

    The end of this chapter really does evoke the feeling of "shit is going to get real VERY SOON".

  5. ChloeKEvil says:

    Rereading this chapter, I was constantly going 'ahhh this is amazing, why do I always forget how amazing this chapter is?'

    So amazing that I couldn't sleep and had to stalk the site until this posted… I'd be ashamed, but I really do just love this chapter. And Strider (aka Aragorn son of Arathorn). Though I really can't blame Sam for not trusting him at all. He is an awfully suspicious-lookin' character!

  6. Tauriel_ says:

    Is this Hidden Hobbit or something?

    Crouching Strider, Hidden Hobbit. 😀

  7. Sinnive says:

    This is awesome!

  8. Kelsey says:

    NOB: They’re dementors, Frodo.

    This book’s like 1000 years old! Vg fgvyy ersref gb Qrzragbef nf Evat Jenvguf!

  9. pennylane27 says:

    Mark, you keep constantly topping yourself for BEST REVIEW EVER. That was hilarious!

    Moving on. I adore this chapter. A LOT. We get some answers, and a lot more questions.

    Also, I am not ashamed to say that I know that poem by heart. Or that it was taped to the wall behind my desk for years.


  10. Tauriel_ says:

    Mark, I strongly advise you to do the following:

    1. Rewrite the whole LOTR in this style.
    2. Stage it as a theatre play.
    3. PROFIT

    Seriously, this is genius! 😀

  11. cait0716 says:

    Happy New Year, all! It's nice to be back

    I like the play format, Mark! I'm so happy some of these off-beat reviews are returning. This chapter was a lot of fun to read, with the frustrating antics of Strider and Butterbur, who both somehow fail to get to the point.

    "V frr – V ybbx sbhy naq srry snve, vf gung vg?"

    Ab, Fgevqre! Ivttb Zbegrafba jvyy arire ybbx sbhy. Vg'f ntnvafg gur ynjf bs angher be fbzrguvat

  12. Tauriel_ says:

    NOB: You know, they’re just like the dementors from Harry Potter.


    LMAO! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

  13. baruchan says:

    This is the chapter that made me want to read the book to the very end. (Gura V tbg gb Gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq naq jrcg ovggre, vasb-bireybnqrq grnef.) I love the sorta-kinda long-suffering tone of Gandalf's letter re: BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR, but it really highlights how difficult it was to communicate with one another over long distances until very recently. Reminds me of the stories my grandfather tells us about the days when he was courting my grandmother.

  14. Dreamflower says:

    LOL! You have just about NAILED this chapter!

    Thing is, none of these hobbits know a thing about the Wide World outside the Bounds of the Shire. Frodo thinks he does because of Bilbo's stories, but really, stories aren't the same as experience. And Merry probably thought he was being quiet and clever in scouting out the town, having no idea what he's really up against. (Remember, Merry was the only one of the four who did NOT encounter the Black Riders while still in the Shire, so he probably had no idea of how scary they really were.)

    But, Strider, yeah. Very suspicious seeming character…until that letter shows up.

    And Gandalf? Yes, that letter is VERY Gandalf.

    I LOVE that poem. Books Williams did a lovely musical setting of that poem:

  15. flootzavut says:

    This was SO FUNNY I NEARLY DIED. Thanks Mark – crappy day yesterday and today started off as being a bit crappy, but this just cheered me up SO MUCH. Best review evah.

    What I really want is to see this acted out by the people who played these characters in the movies. Seriously, that would be hysterical. Pippin saying "SWEET BABY GANDALF" is comedy genius, but then in my head I imagined Ovyyl Oblq saying it and then I was incoherent with laughter. So then I went through the whole thing "hearing" all the actors and it is just… well Mark, you have surpassed yourself, and this is pure genius.

    Anyway, now I'm going to read again for CONTENT not just hilarity and then I may (*may*…) post some sensible comments. But cheers Mark, this has brightened up my day soo sooooo much!

  16. bearshorty says:

    Wonderful review. I think I was giggling all the way through, especially the descriptions of why Strider is so sketchy when he wants the hobbits to trust him.

    I wish I read the books before I saw the first two movies. I only read them right before the third movie came out. There is a lot of suspense in the books that I was spoiled for. Still, the books were a good ride. I don't have time to reread them now but I'm having a blast reliving them through your reviews.

  17. flootzavut says:

    “PPPS: Butterbur is trustworthy, but about as dependable as a tissue. Let’s hope he actually sent this letter. If not, lol!”

    OK I'm dying of laughter again. But yeah, thanks BB, you have been soooooooooo helpful here…

    I LOVE this chapter (though I think I may like your version of it EVEN MORE…)

    Oh and I love this:

    All that is gold does not glitter,
    Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither,
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
    A light from the shadows shall spring;
    Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
    The crownless again shall be king.

    There's something so beautiful about these simple lines <3

    Qvqa'g Ovyob jevgr gung?

  18. Araniapriime says:

    A “faggot” is also a kind of British meatball, if I recall correctly. So you can throw some faggots on a fire to cook some faggots to feed some faggots who are sitting around the table smoking fags.


  19. calimie says:

    This was my favourite chapter of the book. I used to read it so often and so many times I began to learn it by heart. That was when I stopped, it was unsettling.

    I loved this review!

  20. monkeybutter says:

    This review is a great way to start the new year! But come on, this is Act I stuff. You've seen how much there is left to read! Maybe throw in an EXEUNT, PURSUED BY BEORN for the hell of it, too.

    I think this is the first chapter where I've felt a sense of urgency about their quest, because apparently everyone except the hobbits knows what's going on, they should have left months earlier, and Gandalf's absence is even more worrying. I also love that the whole Strider is Aragorn, son of Arathorn thing wasn't drawn out. Yay for quick reveals!

    Most importantly, I'm glad we can talk about how they're being stalked by dementors. 😀

  21. @ljrTR says:

    "If by life or death I can save you, I will" – great, great line by Strider! (or words to that effect; don't have the book with me right now).

    Random thoughts – The image of Merry almost being carried off by the bad guys is spooky.
    Yeah, the Hobbits are still pretty naive, though I think that's just about come to an end.
    Strider did make a convincing point when he said if he were a bad guy the little hobbits would be dead already.
    Dementors are reminiscent of the Black Riders, not the other way around.

    Once again, can't wait til Mark reads the next chapter. I tried to read only one chapter but have re-read ahead to the end of the book. couldn't put it down. Tolkien is such a good storyteller. (Still can't get into Phillip Pullman because he is so utterly dismissive of Tolkien. makes me angry for the dear professor -Happy Birthday- though I'm sure he wouldn't care.)

  22. Dreamflower says:

    I thought you might like to know a few facts about the writer of this book you have committed to. I know that you know a little bit– your reviews featuring conversations with Christopher and his dad were huge fun, and I thought you (and some readers who don't already know) might want to know a little more about his family life.

    JRRT was known to his family as Ron, and to his friends as "Tollers". He was orphaned early in life– his father died when he was 3 and his mother died when he was 12. He and his younger brother Hilary became the legal wards of a Catholic priest at that time. He met his future wife when he was 16 and she was 19, but his guardian forbid him from having anything to do with her (because she was older and wasn't Catholic). The very day he turned 21, he wrote to her– and she broke off her engagement for him!

    They had four kids: John Francis, Michael, Christopher, and Priscilla. In 1920, JRRT started writing them annual Christmas letters that were supposed to be from "Father Christmas", and he continued them every year right up to when Priscilla grew up! He also made up an adorable story, "Roverandom", for his son Michael. He started making up and writing The Hobbit in the mid '20s, though it did not get published until 1938.

    By the time he was writing LotR, Christopher was a fighter pilot in the RAF in WWII. He sent his youngest son a lot of really lovely letters, and used to include bits of the manuscript to cheer him up.

    I recently came across a cool quote about Christopher from one of JRRT's diaries: he said Christopher "had grown into a nervy, irritable, cross-grained, self-tormenting, cheeky person. Yet there is something intensely lovable about him, to me at any rate, from the very similarity between us."

    Anyhow, thought I would just share these tid-bits, non-spoilery as they are, in case you or anyone else who might not know are interested.

    Also, today is JRRT's birthday: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PROFESSOR!!

  23. turntechGodhead says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    cool play bro

    its a real shame but sometimes not all striders are as chill as they should be

    seriously who creeps out of the shadows like that

    i think someones getting chris hansen called on their ass

  24. Ryan Lohner says:

    The letter is pretty funny in the radio show, with Michael Hordern's utterly straight narration peppered with occasional reactions from the hobbits. Especially good is Frodo's amused grunt when he says how trustworthy Butterbur is.

  25. MidnightLurker says:


    Kermit the Frog = Aragorn, son of Arathorn

  26. drippingmercury says:

    Am I the only one who took an inordinate amount of time to read this review? I would read a few lines, laugh, and then imagine the movie characters delivering them and DIE OF LAUGHTER.

    Conclusion: Mark should have written the screen plays.

  27. VoldieBeth says:

    One of my favorite chapters. And when I read it, it does feel like Tolkien is trolling us! But yeah, Aragorn, you don't really get how to come across as trust worthy. lol Loved the review style and I'm so excited that you are enjoying it so much! It just keeps getting better and better from here on out! I can't wait for more!

  28. guest_age says:

    I love the poem in this. Actually I tend to love most of Tolkien's poems but this one has always been particularly lovely.

  29. settlingforhistory says:

    Well, I can imagine that this is a chapter of no return for many readers, at least for me it will be decidedly hard to read chapter by chapter now.
    There are so many things I love about it:

    – Strider; I have no idea who he is, he doesn't seem to be the most trustworthy person but
    he actually knows what is going on in Middle-earth (finally someone with knowledge, yay!),
    he has an answer for every question coming his way ('if I weren't the real Strider, you would have been dead days ago' wonderful), the idea that his outward appearance is the only thing that makes him untrustworthy
    (and not his creepy, mysterious personality)

    -Sam; after the fist few chapters I was already at the point where I really wanted to meet the little fellow and
    hug him endlessly but now he might be my favourite thing ever, he asks the right questions, is mistrusting
    enough that I don't have to shout in my head (or actually shout. My poor neighbors) to not trust that wird
    guy they met in the shadowy corners of a pub and the fact that Gandalf knows Strider doesn't
    automatically sway him (because we all know old wise men can be wrong, too)

    -diversity in the group: I liked The Hobbit a lot and part of the fun was, that not everyone in the party of 14
    reacted to a situation the same way or was good at the same things (Bilbo was great at stealth, dwarfs where better fighters, gold didn't hold the same importance to all of them), so we have a Man in addition to our little band of hobbits now, Excite!

    -Now we know that the Dark Horses have Dementor Breath, I knew something was missing: they weren't creepy enough before. *shiver*

    Yay for Mark's wonderful review. I so want to see that play in full. Would be a nice new project for StarKid Productions. Best parts: Gandalf's letter and "Yeah, we’re screwed." I can't stop giggling now.

  30. Clamarnicale says:

    Well, if we're doing plays, then I must recommend to all of you The Most Grievous and Lamentable Tragedie of The Death of Lord Voldemort ( A wonderful, if short HP fic, it was written between Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince, so it's full of moody, snarky, teenage Harry. It's written in iambic pentameter, and is utterly hilarious.

  31. threerings13 says:

    Yeah, Strider could have handled this better. You'd think he'd be like, "Hey, Gandalf sent me." Instead of "I've been following you and now I want to come with you for no particular reason. Oh, you have a letter? Yeah, Gandalf sent me, but I didn't think that was relevant." LOL.

  32. Laura says:

    I would like to point out that when the Prisoner of Azkaban movie was released, me and everyone else I know who had seen LOTR was like "dude, those dementors look EXACTLY like Black Riders." Yea, WB and Alfonso Cuaron fail.

    Also, Happy Birthday, Professor! I read all your letters last year. *snerk*

  33. dcjensen says:

    STRIDER: Who accidentally falls onto a ring and makes it go on their finger?

    FRODO: Stranger things have happened!

    WASH: Some people juggle geese!

  34. msw188 says:

    Ok, let's be fair. Strider, if he is telling the truth, seems to think that the Enemy is interested in killing him as well. In fact, he says that the Enemy has "set traps for me before now." This feels like a vague, somewhat half-assed excuse, but at least he admits he was purposely being mysterious at first, which is more than we typically get from Gandalf.

    I'm glad Mark takes the time to point out that, regardless of the handwriting and the 'seal' on the envelope, the letter SOUNDS like Gandalf (although, of course, Mark takes this from a humorous angle). The reader doesn't have to be told this; we know what Gandalf 'sounds' like, and we can believe the letter is authentic simply by reading it, just like Frodo.

  35. bookworm67 says:

    OH MY GOD I saw the words 'A Play' and freaked out.

    Then I laughed more because I knew you would say something about the faggot thing, and didn't stop laughing for until the end. This is definitely my favorite LOTR review so far!

  36. elyce says:

    Not all those who wander are lost.

    That's probably my favorite line from this poem. And from all the poems and songs in this book. I've always felt connected to it, but it's probably because whenever I travel, I just… wander and I'm rarely lost. I'm just… wandering.

    Also, Strider is bamf. End of story. You can all pack up and go home now.

  37. Dreamflower says:

    You are right. The Shire Post was just for the Shire. Anywhere outside the Shire folks had to do it the old way– just find a person who was going in the right direction, and hope they'd get the message to where it was intended, and that it would not get lost, stolen, intercepted or sidetracked along the way..

  38. Genny_ says:

    "PIPPIN: Gandalf is fucking weird, man."

    And that, my good people, is half of what you need to know about this series in one line. Hell, maybe everything you need to know. GANDALF IS WEIRD. HE DOES SHIT. THE END. There, sorted.

  39. roguebelle says:

    V nyjnlf sbetrg gung Fgevqre’f erny vqragvgl vf erirnyrq fb rneyl. Sbe fbzr ernfba vg nyjnlf fgnlf n frperg n ybg ybatre va zl urnq. V zrna, V xabj jr qba’g unir nyy gur qrgnvyf lrg er: Tbaqbe naq qrfgval naq nyy bs gung, ohg rira whfg gur anzr Nentbea V nyjnlf guvax pbzrf yngre.

    Unrelatedly, I have this whole theory about Riders = Dementors = Specters = various other things, all rattling around somewhere in my brain. Someday I shall write a paper and go to a geek conference with it. 😉

  40. arctic_hare says:

    YAY PLAY FORMAT REVIEW 😀 I love it when you do these, Mark, and this is no exception! Oh man, I was just howling with laughter at this one, so many great lines. Utterly fantastic. <3 I applaud you.

    I also applaud Tolkien himself. Happy birthday!

    – Strider/Aragorn doesn't do a great job of making himself seem trustworthy right off the bat, does he? LOL. Being friends with Gandalf really does seem to explain everything, I think. And I'm pretty sure Gandalf is indeed going to roast BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR. DUDE THE HOBBITS DIDN'T LEAVE THE SHIRE TILL LATE SEPTEMBER, THAT IS MONTHS AFTER GANDALF SAID IN THE LETTER THEY SHOULD GTFO. Plus July was what he said was the *latest* they should leave. Shiiiiiiiiiit.

    – I literally did a double-take when I saw THAT WORD – I had to go back and look at it again like "WHAT DID I REALLY READ THAT. WHAT." And then I remembered "Ohhhhhhhh yeah, it didn't mean THAT then, phew." So I pretty much fell all over myself laughing at "THEN MAKE SURE TO USE IT IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH." xD Cause… right??? Throws you for a loop cause the modern usage is so awful and gross.

    – WHERE THE FUCK IS GANDALF. This is really getting worrisome.

    – I love that poem. <3


    – Shit is getting real~

    – You are not prepared~ 😀

  41. Stephen_M says:

    Two things I love about this chapter (that stand above the general LotR love of course):

    1) Strider's introduction to the hobbits is very clever indeed. He doesn't know there'll be a token or anything else to help them trust him so goes for the 'I am the most competent SOB this side of the misty mountains' approach. It seems odd because the letter arrives but think it through and he'd have convinced them in the end anyway AND they'd also have a pretty good idea of his capabilities as well. In other words he's selling them on the idea of what he can bring to the party, not who he is.

    2) The letter is a thing of beauty. It's very clear that this is not the well thought through plot drop you'd be expecting here and it's very typically Gandalf except now it feels, I dunno, almost rushed somehow. Works nicely with the plot and the growing danger of the riders.

    One thing though, one plea… can we please stop talking about how things are also in Harry Potter in a way that even slightly hints that the Rowling books came first? Yes yes, I know everyone reading this realises which is the original but there's going to be people who don't know that and might think that Tolkien copied his ideas. Which, frankly, makes me a sad panda.

  42. hpfish13 says:

    So, no art today, but still, I love this chapter!!! Everything about it is just so intriguing. Strider's mysteriousness, Butterbur's utter fail at doing what he was supposed to, and Gandalf's letter just add more complications into the mix!

    On a side note, in the musical parody of FotR, one of the running jokes is that everyone is always forgetting Merry, so the fact that the hobbits forgot about Merry being gone in this chapter made me crack up laughing.

  43. Mike says:

    Am I the only one who gets dissapointed whenever I see it's one of these reviews? I dunno, I love these reviews so much, and this is a great chapter, so I was really looking forward to seeing all of Mark's thoughts on it, but whenever these reviews are up it's like not even a review at all. I mean there are a couple lines that reveal his real thoughts I guess but I wish he would post this, and then give at least a couple opinion paragraphs afterwards. The normal format is awesome IMO, so it's dissapointing when it's gone 🙁

  44. notemily says:

    Mark, this is a delightful review. I laughed out loud and read quotes from it to my roommate, who is a hardcore Tolkien fan. I love how NOBODY trusts Strider because he SNEAKS AROUND AND FOLLOWS PEOPLE and then JUMPS OUT OF THE SHADOWS to join the conversation. Ahahaha. Also, he has a poem that goes with his name. I want a poem!

    I love how Gandalf is like "btw, if Butterbur flakes out on you, I'm going to ROAST HIM." Yeah Gandalf, maybe you should have given this letter to someone slightly more reliable.

    I also love that Pippin's character trait is once again to fall asleep all the time.

    Anyway, Strider, thanks for bringing the plot with you! Onwards!

  45. Katarina says:

    I love this, especially your apt take on Strider's whining that people don't trust him. And "baby Gandalf" makes me imagine a baby version of LotR. Baby Strider would be even weirder than baby Gandalf.

  46. Right, so when are we going to stage this? I'll be Frodo, you be Strider. Who else is in? notemily, you be Pippin. arctic hare, you're Butterbur. monkeybutter, you're Sam. Who wants to be Nob and Merry? LET'S DO THIS.

  47. nextboy1 says:

    "Who accidentally falls onto a ring and makes it go on their finger?"

    tee hee, my mind couldn't help but wander to the old "I fell off my ladder onto the light bulb" excuses…

  48. tigerpetals says:

    So, Strider is the basic character type of creepy mysterious stranger who is actually good. I'm mostly thinking of this one other character who has a lot of fangirls, but as I'm not sure whether I can get you to read the series he appears in, I'll stop there.

    At least he has a sense of humor that isn't all superior. He wanted friends.

    Non spoilery Peeps Round… Black Riders

    Also happy birthday Tolkien!

  49. BetB says:

    On Strider's strangeness…
    ROT13 just in case…
    Qba'g sbetrg gung Fgevqre jnf znxvat fher Sebqb jnf gur erny guvat gbb. Ur vf abg orvat checbfryl funqbjl be qrafr. Ur qbrfa'g jnag gb trg pnhtug va gur rarzl'f genc. Ur fnlf fb va gur puncgre bapr ur vf zber fher bs Sebqb.

  50. flootzavut says:

    Gung'f n terng nanybtl jvgu gur Nzvfu – gur bgure pbzzhavgl V pna guvax bs, naq npghnyyl V guvax V znl unir ernq nppbhagf bs guvf, vf gung bs gur irel fznyy naq qvfgnag vfynaqf fhpu nf Gevfgna qn Phaun sbe rknzcyr, jurer gurl ner dhvgr yvgrenyyl zvyrf sebz naljurer naq nalbar, naq gurve fbpvrgl ersyrpgf gung gb na rabezbhf qrterr. Guvax bs tebjvat hc fbzrjurer jurer gur creznarag pbzzhavgl vf nobhg 300 fbhyf, rirelbar snezf, naq gur rpbabzl vf cbjrerq ol ybofgre naq fgnzcf, naq gura orvat qebccrq vagb, fnl, Ybaqba be Arj Lbex. Vg jbhyq or yvxr ynaqvat ba na nyvra jbeyq! Naq zbfg bs gur fbpvny zberf naq pbzzba frafr guvatf lbh unq yrnearq tebjvat hc jbhyq or hfryrff be jbefr.

    Naq lrf, cbbe Tnaqnys – ur jbhyqa'g unir yrsg gurz gb sraq sbe gurzfryirf vs ur'q abg orra sbeprq gb.

  51. flootzavut says:

    This will just never stop being funny to me… 😀

    (I also want to hear Vna ZpXryyra doing a voiceover for Mark's version of the letter! 😀

  52. flootzavut says:

    That was just me being lazy :$ but yeah it kind of works…

  53. This is simply the funniest review ever!
    I am laughing under the table.


  54. Oh this was lovely. I was going to post something deep and rambly about the fantastic poem and the wonderfulness that's Sam and BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR and now I can't think of any of it because I'm laughing so hard. And for some reason I could see Gandalf writing a letter or email with very similar wording to what you gave it. Thanks for the laughs!

  55. KaileeA42 says:

    Long-time reader, first time posting! I'm new to the whole "Mark Does Stuff" series but I've been catching up on loads of the old posts lately and finding it more amusing/awesome than would probably be considered normal! XD

    Anyway, I was just wondering what the plan was for you watching the LOTR movies. I would DEFINITELY recommend going for the EXTENDED EDITIONS if possible, as they are even MORE full of amazing. Seriously, those movies are my favorites of ALL TIME. I think there is actually some mixing up of storylines though, so an expert would have to tell you have far to read to be ready for the first film. I think it's a bit into the "Two Towers" book but I read LOTR when I was 10 so I am NOT QUALIFIED TO MAKE THIS ASSESSMENT.

    Anyway, I am loving watching your reactions to LOTR and BTVS( which is my fav. show of all time BTW, and I think I've watched all the shows on Mark Watches except "Doctor Who")

  56. Hotaru_hime says:

    *flails* STRIDER!!!
    It's at this point that I really got into the book and pretty much devoured the series.

  57. AmandaNekesa says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHa…Oh Mark, this review is PERFECT! I'm always reading your reviews while in the cafeteria at work and when we get reviews like this one, I can't help but laugh to myself, very much looking like a weirdo. But I love it! I love EVERYTHING about today's review of Chapter 10, which is pretty damn hilarious in a lot of ways.

    "PIPPIN: Won’t that word totally scare the crap out of people who momentarily forgot that it used to have another meaning? SAM: Surely! PIPPIN: THEN MAKE SURE TO USE IT IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH."
    —Hahaha I love this! I was wondering what sort of commentary you might give this little tidbit.

    "BUTTERBUR: Well….[He pauses, looking about with shame.] Well, see, three months ago, Gandalf stopped by. SAM: And? BUTTERBUR: See, he told me that he wanted me to do something for him, to send a message to the Shire. PIPPIN: And? BUTTERBUR: He gave me a letter and told me to send it to the Shire right away. FRODO: And? BUTTERBUR: Well…..well, I still have it, Mr. Baggins. THE HOBBITS: What???? BUTTERBUR: Yeah. Ooops!"
    —Oh, Barliman Butterbur, you really need to work on your memory. Though I do love the fact that Butterbur, to make up for his terrible blunder, offers to help as much as possible, even at a loss to himself. That shows a lot about his character, even if he is about the least reliable person to pass on vitally important information in Middle Earth.

    "STRIDER [Revealing himself from the shadows.]: Why does no one trust me?"
    —Hmmmm…I wonder why? I know you've been wandering around in the wilderness and are generally pretty reclusive, but man, you've really got to work on your people skills!! Hint: constantly hiding in the shadows, sneaking up on people, and waiting for strangers uninvited in their own rooms are all very poor methods to gain the trust of 4 hobbits that are obviously quite wary of strangers.

    Also: I absolutely LOVE your characterization of Gandalf!! It's so, quirky and weird, and just plain awesome. "Just wanted to write to say that the Shire is a dangerous warzone of trouble and you should get out as soon as possible!" I can just imagine the hobbits thinking, "Oh gee, thanks Gandalf for only putting this rather important bit of information in a letter you've entrusted to the most unreliable person to get us the information right away, when it would have helped. Thanks for that! It's really made all this so much easier, in comparison to the trip we might have had if we didn't have BLACK RIDERS FROM MORDOR PURSUING US!!!"

    I would dearly love to see more of these reviews in the future – this was freaking amazing! I was laughing pretty consistently throughout the whole review! Oh, Mark, you are so unprepared for everything.

  58. flootzavut says:

    "STRIDER [Revealing himself from the shadows.]"

    It's only on this re-read that I am now seeing Strider as a flasher, much as Gandalf was in an earlier chapter. Mark, what are you DOING to me??!?!?!?!!?!??!

  59. rabidsamfan says:

    Wonderful stuff. Thank you. I've been waiting for you to get to the next chapter, if only because this was where I jammed so often when I was a kid. But Strider is quite … well… ominous, really. It's a good thing that letter from Gandalf turned up.

    Sebqb fgbbq jvgu uvf pbzcnavbaf, jngpuvat nf Nentbea jnyxrq gbjneqf gur jnyyf bs Zvanf Gvevgu. Cvccva jnf gvcgbr-qnapvat jvgu rkpvgrzrag, naq Zreel jnf qvivqvat uvf nggragvba orgjrra gur prerzbal naq gelvat gb xrrc n erva ba gur lbhat Gbbx. Fnz unq na bqq rkcerffvba, unys qryvtug naq unys qvfznl.

    “Jung vf vg, Fnz?” Sebqb juvfcrerq. Vg pbhyqa’g or fgntrsevtug. Fnz unq nyernql gnyxrq uvf jnl bhg bs nal cneg bs gur prerzbal.

    “Whfg guvaxvat bs Oerr,” Fnz juvfcrerq onpx. “V bjr n ibgr bs gunaxf gb byq Ohggreohe sbe erzrzorevat Tnaqnys’f yrggre jura ur qvq.”

    “Naq jul’f gung, Fnz?” Sebqb vadhverq.

    “Jryy, Fgevqre zrnag gb pbzr jvgu hf,” Fnz fnvq. “Naq V pbhyqa’g guvax bs ohg bar jnl gb fgbc uvz, uvz orvat fb ovt naq fgebatyvxr. Ohg jbhyqa’g vg unir pnhfrq ab raq bs gebhoyr vs V’q uvg gur Xvat bs nyy gur Jrfgrea Ynaqf va gur snzvyl wbbyf?”

  60. hymnia says:

    Haha! I think I can say in all fairness that that was actually a pretty good adaptation/condensation of what happens in this chapter. Better than Peter Jackson's script, TBH. 😉

    (Note: This comment is NOT a serious assessment of the quality or content of the movie script.)

  61. feminerdist says:

    Late to the game here, because I couldn't comment from my iphone today. But gotta say, this is my favorite review ever!

  62. Malyn says:

    This. is amazing 🙂 I don't know how all of you are so fast at rot13, it hurts my head a bit haha. Anyways, I love all of this and especially the ever-sassy Pippin 😀

  63. ladililn says:

    Your Gandalf-voice is pretty much my new favorite thing in this world, jsyk. XD

  64. Smurphy says:

    "dun dun dun"

    I felt it was necessary and you didn't have it. Ugh… I need to catch up so I'm not behind when you post brilliant things like this.

    I <3 strider.

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