Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Chapter 5

In the fifth chapter of The Two Towers, I think it is physically impossible for me to handle another plot twist. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


I thought I knew where this was headed. I thought I knew how this would end. The remaining members of the company would head into Fangorn, picking up evidence that Merry and Pippin were alive, and then they would reach it in time to meet an Ent, and then they would be taken to meet up with their hobbit friends. It made so much sense. It didn’t mean that they would actually get a reunion, as I’m sure Tolkien would come up with a way to ruin everything, but it seemed to be the way this was going.

I thought I knew. I knew absolutely nothing.

Aragorn looked and beheld a bent figure moving slowly. It was not far away. It looked like an old beggar-man, walking wearily, leaning on a rough staff. His head was bowed, and he did not look towards them. In other lands they would have greeted him with kind words; but now they stood silent, each feeling a strange expectancy: something was approaching that held a hidden power – or menace.

Well, I was wrong. Saruman has found them. Has he brought the Nazgúl with him? Some orcs? Gollum? Would any remaining Ents then defend the three travelers against any attack? Why is he following them? Why does he appear to be pretending to be weary or tired? HE’S WEARING WHITE. IT’S FUCKING SARUMAN. GODDAMN IT!

This scene is just downright terrifying. It’s like Saruman is toying with these three. In fact, as each sentence passes, I feel more certain that this wizard came alone specifically to taunt them.

‘My name!’ said the old man again. ‘Have you not guessed it already? You have heard it before, I think. Yes, you have heard it before. But come now, what of your tale?’

IT’S A TRAP. CALL ADMIRAL AKBAR. THIS IS NO ORDINARY OLD MAN. He just deflected all of your weapons with fucking magic. Now is the time for you to get the fuck out of there.

‘Well met, I say to you again, Legolas!’ said the old man.

They all gazed at him. His hair was white as snow in the sunshine; and gleaming white was his robe; the eyes under his deep brows were bright, piercing as the rays of the sun; power was in his hand. Between wonder, joy, and fear they stood and found no words to say.

At last Aragorn stirred. ‘Gandalf!’ he said.





‘Beyond all hope you return to us in our need! What veil was over my sight? Gandalf!’ Gimli said nothing, but sank to his knees, shading his eyes.


But it’s not. IT’S NOT A TRICK. Somehow, impossibly, inconceivably, unbelievably, Gandalf is standing before them. Gandalf the white, I might add, somehow ascended to a higher level of wizadry. Did he level-up after defeating the Balrog boss? THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED, WASN’T IT?

While I still kept the doubt of his identity in the back of my mind, I voraciously devoured this chapter, eager to find out how this is at all possible, but Gandalf, being the big sassy wizard that he is, is more concerned with finding out how his friends are! He is literally like, “SO WHAT HAVE Y’ALL BEEN DOING LOL.”

oh my god i can’t believe this. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? HOW???

Gandalf doesn’t share this for a long time. With recent news about the Dark Lord, Saruman, and the hobbits, he has much more dire and important things to discuss, such as:

  • the eagle everyone’s been seeing was actually Gwaihir the Windlord. WHEN DO WE GET TO MEET HIM.
  • Gandalf at one point “strove” with the Dark Tower? What the hell does that mean? Whatever it means, it’s important because he was able to prevent the Enemy from discovering that Frodo had put on the Ring.
  • the fact that he knew about the Ents, and that Merry/Pippin already left with them.
  • the Dark Lord has not even considered the chance that the Company is going to attempt to destroy the Ring; he still think they’re trying to unseat him. THIS IS A GOOD THING AND I FEEL GOOD.
  • the fact that the Dark Lord will probably go after Minas Tirith next.
  • Saruman is a DOUBLE traitor, as he both committed treason in Isengard and planned to take the Ring for himself to unseat Sauron. THAT IS GOING TO BE HIS END, I’M CALLING IT.
  • the identity of that dark “cloud” that follows them and attacked them once. It’s the Winged Messenger, one of the Nine.
  • Théoden wanting the Ring, too. THIS IS HORRIBLE WHY
  • the fact that the Company did not see Gandalf the night before; it was probably Saruman.
  • the dire warning that “war is upon” everyone, and that it is not something to take lightly.
  • the need for Aragorn and company to go to Edoras and speak with Théoden, who may need a battle to be brought to the right side.

Yet even when pressed, Gandalf doesn’t avoid a good story. WHAT A SHOWBOAT, AMIRITE. He treats the whole story like it was nothing but a walk in the park. “Oh, no big deal, just fell to the bottom of the earth under seemingly endless body of water, swam through tunnels in the pitch black with unnameable creatures, then climbed the Endless Stair to battle the Balrog in a storm (no really, a literal storm), and threw him down a mountain. No big deal.”

We do find out he went to Caras Galadhon to give and receive counsel, learning just how fucked up everything is, and he was also tasked with giving Legolas and Aragorn extremely disturbing messages about their own death. THAT’S PLEASANT. Actually, Gimli’s message from Galadriel is adorable. Ugh, I really hope we get more of her.

For the time being, though, that endless sensation of hope that permeated the pages of this book is transformed by Gandalf when he calls Shadowfax and the horses the Company had lost the night before. It’s not a talking pony, but I was delighted to read that Gandalf could at least communicate with the horses. (Seriously, there are walking, talking tress, but no talking ponies? Not fair at all.) But Tolkien isn’t satisfied to leave us feeling hopeful. We end chapter five with a view of fire in the distance. Gandalf says it is battle and war, and I’m kind of enamored with this idea that war in Middle-earth is just as destructive as I might imagine. Here, even if it’s a small detail, the use of fire and reds signifies a change in the environment, one that brings doom and gloom with it.

Oh god, Gandalf is back. LIFE FEELS GOOD AGAIN.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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355 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Chapter 5

  1. MidnightLurker says:



  2. Tauriel_ says:

    Now you know why there was so much sniggering and rot13'd flailing yesterday… 😀

  3. Becky_J_ says:

    Mark, today, I really only have one thing to say to you…… MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Now you understand why you can't have nice things. BECAUSE YOU ARE FOREVER UNPREPARED. I think you begin to think you're prepared, and just about that time, Tolkien comes in and FUCKS WITH EVERYTHING. he is trolling you from more than 50 years ago


    MARK. Do you properly understand how much we laughed at this yesterday??? I don't think you do. This brought us ENDLESS JOY. I mean, seriously. YOU ARE A TRUE SEER. Well, on the bright side, one less angry letter you have to write! 😀

    Oh. Mark. We love you. We love your unpreparedness. We love your capslocks and keysmashes and insights and stories and opinions. WE LOVE EVERYTHING. These are the days that I most look forward to here. Thank you for this site! <3

    • flootzavut says:

      The unpreparedness of that review yesterday was THE most joyous thing I have witnessed in AGES. <3

      And Tolkien truly is troll of all trolls…

    • bookworm67 says:

      Seriously, everyone was like: "…is this for real? NO WAY HE WROTE THIS WITHOUT KNOWING. NO WAY THAT LINE COULD BE THAT PERFECT."

  4. Juliana Moreli says:

    Oh Mark, I was really hoping for you to get to this chapter since Gandalf's death…really…and with your comment about him coming back by magic yesterday…my head just exploded, the amount of Rot13 comment about it was massive…GANDALF IS BACK…and he is super clean now!!!

    You cannot even imagine the amount of Rot13 speculation about your reaction (many people, myself included, wanted you to record your reaction to it).

    I'm so happy that hope finally returned to the fellowship…even when they are separated, the pure existance of Gandalf makes every heart warmer and hopefull!!!

    And to think that they were almost trying to kill him lolol

    Also, Aragorn is a true awesome ranger…I would never guess what in hell happened there with some cuted ropes and blades…

    Now for some movie talk:

    V qvfyvxrq gur fprar jura Tnaqnys ergheaf va gur zbivr..gurl znqr n jrveq zvk bs ibvprf jvgu Fnehzna..naq vg jnf fb …jrveq…nyy gur yvtug…ernyyl…naq gur "bu, gurl hfr gb pnyy zr Tnaqnys" guvat obgurerq zr…naq Tnaqnys hfr gb or zber pbby jura ur jnf terl!!!

    • ARITHMANCER says:

      I'm definitely in Tnaqnys gur Juvgr vf nyfb n ovg qvssrerag va gur obbxf.

      Jura ernqvat Znex'f qrfpevcgvba bs ubj ur orpnzr zber naq zber pbaivaprq gur byq zna jnf Fnehzna – vg bppverq gb zr jr unir gur rkcynangvba sbe jul Wnpxfba cerfragrq gung fprar nf ur qvq va gur zbivr. Ur jnagrq gur ivrjre gb sbyybj gur gubhtug cebprff Znex qrfpevorf."Can't remember that far back" group. I was eight, and that was over 30 years ago!

      • Juliana Moreli says:

        Gurl pbhyq unir qbar vg jvgubhg gur jrveq zvkrq ibvpr…gurl pbhyq unir hfrq n qvssrerag rssrpg…be znlor whfg yrg Nentbea gelvat gb gnyx gb uvz naq abg trggvat na nafjre, naq gura gurl gel gb nggnpx uvz naq ur qrsraqf uvzfrys yvxr ur qvq va gur obbx.

        V qba'g xabj…vg whfg tbg jrveq…

    • msw188 says:

      V'yy or gur ibvpr bs qvffrag urer naq fnl gung V yvxrq gur ibvpr guvat. Va snpg, V jnf cerggl nsenvq bs guvf fprar tbvat vagb vg; ubj pbhyq gurl znantr gur qvnybthr, juvpu vf n xvaqn arprffnel ohvyq-hc va zl bcvavba, jvgubhg tvivat njnl gur punenpgre? V guvax gur rssrpg qvq n svar wbo.

      V erzrzore jura zl tbbq sevraq, jub jnf n svyz znwbe naq jub abj jbexf bhg va YN, ghearq gb zr nsgrejneqf naq nfxrq "Ubyl fuvg, ubj gur uryy qvq gurl qb gung?" Ur jnf pbaivaprq vg jnf Fnehzna, yvxr Znex juvyr ernqvat. V gbyq uvz jung vg fbhaqrq yvxr gb zr (whfg univat obgu npgbef ernq gur yvarf), naq jr obgu nterrq gung vg jnf na njrfbzr vqrn.

  5. Becky_J_ says:




    ….and this is Gandalf, laughing at you for thinking he was dead.


    I’m sorry to tell you this, Mark, but since Gandalf “died,” the entirety of Middle Earth AND our Earth has been laughing at you. mwahahahahah

    But on the bright side, now you’re in on the joke! 😀 don’t you feel better now??

    • blossomingpeach says:

      Vf gur bar jvgu Sebqb ng gur raq bs gur zbivr frrvat Tnaqnys nyvir sbe gur svefg gvzr pbafvqrerq n fcbvyre?

    • flootzavut says:


      (And Aragorn… <3)

    • monkeybutter says:

      Bxnl, V ntbavmrq bire guvf sbe jnl gbb ybat. V qba'g guvax lbhe tvs jnf arprffnevyl fcbvyrel, ohg V qvqa'g jnag gb evfx Znex frrvat vg naq fnlvat BZT SEBQB NAQ TNAQNYS ZRRG NTNVA?!?!!? orpnhfr ur sbetbg nobhg Eviraqryy, fb V rqvgrq vg bhg. Vs lbh unir nabgure tvs lbh jnaan hfr va vgf cynpr, V pna rqvg gur svefg cneg onpx va.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:




      • notemily says:

        There used to be a gif here from a part of the movies that you haven't read about yet. It wasn't a blatant spoiler, but it was better edited out I think.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      LOVE THESE GIFS! So much laughter from last chapter, and now for the reveal…Mark we will always love your unpreparedness. <3

  6. Mandy says:

    omg, Mark I was feeling your pain even when I already knew that Gandalf is alive!
    but he's baaaack, and everything is so wonderful, and I remember when I read this chapter for the first time how I was so happy with this!! And now I can kind of feel this again through your unpreparedness!! 😀

  7. Jenny_M says:

    We are so happy that you are happy that Gandalf is back!

    Movie stuff: V yvxr ubj orvat Tnaqnys gur Juvgr zrnaf gung ur tbrf gb n fnyba naq trgf n oybjbhg.

  8. flootzavut says:


    There has been SOOOOOOOOOOOO much excitement about you getting here, and I'm so relieved there's another name which no longer needs to be in ROT13… 😀

  9. stingingpetals says:

    This is beautiful.

  10. Alice says:

    GANDALF LIVES!!!!!!! All is good in the world!

    (alan lee,hildebrandt bros,john howe,2 ted nasmith,hildebrandt again 🙂 )

    Gandalf is such a BAMF!! and still speaking in riddles 😀

    (2 john howe,ted nasmith,john howe,hildebrandt)

    and Shadowfax…(ted nasmith)

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Those pics are way too big… Can a mod please add width="600" to each image tag so that they're rescaled for better viewing? 🙂

      • Alice says:

        Your ideea is great!I wonder if I can add that width="600" thing too,or only a moderator can do that? And if I can do that too,can somebody explain it,please?:$

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Anyone can do that. 🙂 And actually, looking at those pics, I think width="700" would be fine, too. Just post the images like this:

          < img src="URL of the picture" width="700" > (only without the spaces next to the < and > signs, obviously)

    • Saphling says:

      Oh very cool. I love that last one, of Odin on Sleipnir Gandalf on Shadowfax.

      Though the fourth and fifth images, the ones of Gandalf appearing before Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli… my first thought was that Gandalf looks a bit like Jesus appearing before his diciples after his death. >_> Especially that fourth image, where he's glowing a bit.

    • @MeagenImage says:

      Why is Aragorn a Musketeer in the third "Return of Gandalf" image there?

      • Alice says:

        😀 the funny thing is that when I first saw that pic I thought "Aragorn looks like a d'Artagnan look-alike!" and now to read your comment….I laughed so hard!

    • threerings13 says:

      OMG, that second picture. Is that supposed to be…Legolas? Why does he have the same face as Gimli? Seriously, Hildebrandts, this is me judging you.

    • MidnightLurker says:

      I had the '78 calendar that year, when I was eight. Some nice memories there.

  11. stingingpetals says:

    SO looking forward to you getting to this part! I love Gandalf.

  12. Katarina says:

    Yay Gandalf the white! It was great fun to read all the rot13 comments after Moria which essentially said, "Come on, ACT SAD! You have to act sad or Mark will SUSPECT SOMETHING!"

    I love how, even upon a re-read when I know this is Gandalf, he still comes off as eerily powerful in this chapter, although he eventually tones it down for his companions' benefit. (And though Tolkien isdoesn't throw around Christian imagery the way Lewis does, it's really easy to see the Road to Emmaus reflected in this chapter.)

    • cait0716 says:

      What's the Road to Emmaus?

    • flootzavut says:

      Heehee, yes I actually took to putting random :'( and 🙁 smilies in my ROT13 comments so that it would look like I was mourning Gandalf, when actually I was mostly saying, "Haha, Mark is forever unprepared, do you think we should look more sad? 🙁 this is so funny :'(…"

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Yes, I rather enjoyed our conversation that consisted of more lols than *tears forever* but with sad/crying faces spread throughout the comments, to make it appear that we were sad over Gandalf's "death." We were mostly just sniggering at Mark's unpreparedness. What a cruel fandom we are… 😀

    • Katie says:

      Yeah, it was indeed difficult to be properly mournful of Gandalf.

      But to be honest, his return still feels a bit off to me. I've never understood why he would hide who he was from his friends, why he wouldn't just go to them as Gandalf immediately. I know we're meant to think he's Saruman, but it's just such a small payoff and for such a short time, so it doesn't reall y work for me.

      • cait0716 says:

        I kind of thought he'd forgotten his name until Legolas mentioned it. He doesn't quite seem all there mentally, though he improves throughout the conversation. I could be wrong though

        • Dreamflower says:

          Yes, he still is recovering from being dead. Not exactly a walk in the park, even for a wizard.

        • flootzavut says:

          Yes – that's how I thought of it. After all, he fought a Balrog, he died, he wondered through space and time, then he was brought back to life. Nyfb, Tnaqnys vf n anzr gung jnf tvira gb uvz, qvggb Zvguenaqve. Vfa'g uvf Znvne anzr Bybeva? Fb vg'f abg yvxr, ur urneq uvf anzr naq pbhyqa'g erzrzore vg, ur urneq n anzr gung jnf tvira gb uvz naq erzrzorerq gung vg nccyvrq gb uvz, juvpuvf n jubyr qvssrerag guvat. Naq va n jnl, ur VF Fnehzna, va gung ur unf gnxra Fnehzna'f cynpr nf gur Juvgr Jvmneq, rgp.

      • LarrikJ says:

        According to the text, he DID actually die. Then he was sent back to finish his task, naked.

        He was basically reborn as Gandalf the White, he didn't simply survive the battle.

        And THEN he goes to Lothlorien and asks how his friends are doing, which kind of invalidates this whole line of thought. Unless they just called him Mithrandir and reminded him of THAT name. I'll go with that one for now. Tolkien can be so cryptic sometimes!

      • eyelessgame says:

        I think the point is his line – "Indeed I am Saruman, one might say. Saruman as he should have been." The point isn't so much a literary device to try to fool the reader as it is na nggrzcg gb fubj gur zlfgvp angher bs uvf genafsbezngvba: gur jbeyq vgfrys vf gerngvat uvz yvxr ur'f tbbq-Fnehzna abj, naq crbcyr jvyy ernpg gb uvz yvxr gurl jbhyq unir ernpgrq gb Fnehzna vs Fnehzna unq arire snyyra.

        Tnaqnys'f cbjre vfa'g ernyyl gur cbjre gb frg yvggyr guvatf ba sver. Ur vf n jvryqre bs gur Frperg Synzr – gur fcvevg. Ur nyjnlf unq vg – Tnaqnys unf nyjnlf unq gur cbjre gb whfg fgner ng fbzrbar naq or njrfbzr ng gurz naq znxr gurz onpx qbja – ohg gur Inyne tnir uvz n purng pbqr abj, naq gung fubjf (gb zr) va gur jrveq jnl ur qvfpbaarpgf rira uvf sevraqf jura gurl svefg frr uvz.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      oh my god i totally fell for it when y'all acted sad.

      good show.

      • Saphling says:

        I'd say we all deserve an Academy Award for acting sad so well, but they don't have an Oscar category for Best Supporting Ensemble in a Text Medium. :(!

      • flootzavut says:


      • MzyraJ says:

        To be fair, it's not that hard to act sad about that chapter and the parts after from the point of view of the rest of the company who think he's dead and not coming back, especially if you've seen the film of that bit 🙁

        But seriously, the fact that you brought up resurrection-y magic just before he reappeared was sooo much of a coincidence it would be suspicious if we didn't trust you better than that 🙂

      • Noybusiness says:

        Who's acting? Gandalf's death was very sad, even knowing he'd come back. (It helps that the first time I watched it, I didn't know exactly when he'd come back)

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Oh, yeah, you have a good point there with the Road to Emmaus comparison – I'd never thought of that! Any Christian comparisons here are at least more subtle than Lewis' works, ng yrnfg hcba svefg ernq. V guvax bapr gur ernqre trgf gb xabj gur onpxtebhaq bs gur perngvba fgbel bs Neqn, gur Puevfgvna vasyhrapr orpbzrf zber nccnerag hcba er-ernqf.

  13. atheistsisters says:

    This chapter made me an eternal fan of Legolas.
    "A bound prisoner escapes both from the Orcs and from the surrounding horsemen. He then stops, while still in the open, and cuts his bonds with an orc-knife. But how and why? For if his legs were tied, how did he walk? And if his arms were tied, how did he use the knife? And if neither were tied, why did he cut the cords at all? Being pleased with his skill, he then sat down and quietly ate some waybread! That at least is enough to show that he was a hobbit."
    I'm not sure how to express my lulz at that part.

    Oh, hello there Gandalf – are you really here? Not a ghost? Sit down and tell us all about it while we relax substantially now that you are here to save the day.

    It's rather funny how we get a clue in the last chapter when Treebeard says, basically, "Oh Gandalf? Yeah, he's a good guy," in present terms not past terms, but no one ever notices that clue because HOW COULD YOU?

    • flootzavut says:

      Yes, I love Leggy's logic there, and he is so right 😀

    • SecretGirl127 says:

      Yesterday, when Mark used that quote from Treebeard, I just kept my fingers off the keys because I didn't want to write anything spoilery.

      • Cassie5squared says:

        Seconded. I just literally sat there and laughed like a maniac because all I could think was "Oh man, Mark, are YOU in for a surprise next chapter :D" and was extremely happy that all his anguish over Gandalf's not being here any more was coming to an end.

  14. flootzavut says:

    "Did he level-up after defeating the Balrog boss? THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED, WASN’T IT?"

    HAHA I love this because, basically, it's TRUE 😀

    "Fnehzna vf n QBHOYR genvgbe, nf ur obgu pbzzvggrq gernfba va Vfratneq naq cynaarq gb gnxr gur Evat sbe uvzfrys gb hafrng Fnheba. GUNG VF TBVAT GB OR UVF RAQ, V’Z PNYYVAT VG."

    Oyrff. Znexguvaxf ur'f cercnerq sbe ubj guvatf jvyy tb qbja jvgu Fnehzna. Oyrff. Frevbhfyl. YBY. FB HACERCNERQ sbe gur fpbhevat bs gur fuver…

    Treebeard yesterday, Gandalf today – what a way to end a week!

    • Juliana Moreli says:

      BZT, fb gehr…Ybeq bs gur evatf vf gur obbx gung unf yvxr, 10 qvssrerag raqf…whfg jura lbh guvax vg'f bire, gur raq pbzrf onpx gb raq ntnva…

    • threerings13 says:

      AB BAR vf cercnerq sbe gur fpbhevat bs gur Fuver. Gung'f gur jubyr CBVAG. 🙂

      • flootzavut says:

        This is true – ohg vf vg abg n guvat bs ornhgl gung Znex guvaxf urxabjf ubj guvatf jvyy cna bhg jvgu Fnehzna? Uvf hacercnerqarff vf rcvp:D

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          Uvf hacercnerqarff vf irel rcvp, vaqrrq! V qba'g guvax vg'f cbffvoyr sbe uvz gb npuvrir cercnerqarff hagvy ur svavfurf gur obbx. V zrna, rira va gur irel ynfg puncgre va EbgX, Gbyxvra fgvyy pbagvahrf gb oevat gjvfgf (naq grnef) jvgu Sebqb'f qrpvfvba gb yrnir zvqqyr-rnegu. Znex vf gur rgreanyyl hacercnerq, jura vg pbzrf gb YbgE.

          • flootzavut says:

            Yup! V ybir ubj Znex vf NYJNLF hacercnerq, naq ur gevrf fb uneq fbzrgvzr gb OR cercnerq, naq zbfg bs gvzr ur whfg raqf hc YRFF cercnerq. Vg'f yvxr ur unf n fhcreanghny tvsg bs hacercnerqarff gung rafher gung nal rssbeg ur znxrf gbjneqf orvat cercnerq jvyy npghnyyl raq hc tbvat va gur bccbfvgr qverpgvba…

            Naq qba'g jr nyy whfg ybir vg? (Qbrf gung znxr hf onq crbcyr…?)

    • Laurelluin says:

      Funexrl'f raq, yhyym.

    • sixth_queen says:

      One could argue that Fnehzna'f raq unq abguvat ng nyy gb qb jvgu gur Evat.
      Ur qvrq orpnhfr ur PHG QBJA GERRF, L'NYY.

      Svefg va Vfratneq, juvpu vf jul gur Ragf qebir uvz bhg.
      Gura va gur Fuver, juvpu vf jul Fnz tbg znq naq cneg bs jul gurl envfrq gur Fnuver ntnvafg uvz.

    • castlewayjay says:

      Fpbhevat vf fb vzcbegnag gb gur zrnavat bs gur obbx – ab cynpr vf rknzcg sebz rivy naq jne naq jr unir gb qrpvqr ubj jr jvyy snpr gurfr. V xabj jul vg jnf yrsg bhg bs gur svyz ohg fgvyy …

  15. cait0716 says:

    Gandalf's back! You should have known that falling into an endless abyss with a creature made of shadow and flame wasn't enough to kill a wizard. And I love the idea of him leveling up because he defeated the balrog. That scene just became a video game in my mind.

    Speaking of video games, SHADOWFAX IS TOTALLY EPONA. Or they're relatives or something. Seriously, that horse is so awesome.

    A few things finally fell in to place for me reading this chapter (Tnaqnys jnf urycvat Sebqb jura ur chg gur evat ba va gur ynfg puncgre bs Sryybjfuvc naq gung jnf jurer gur gjb jneevat ibvprf pnzr sebz.) but I'm just going to leave you to make these connections on your own. That "eureka" moment was fun.

    • castlewayjay says:

      yep to your rot13 part – but also yes to letting Mark figure it out

    • @MeagenImage says:

      No old grey-haired long-bearded wizard will truly die WHILE THERE IS EXPOSITION TO BE DELIVERED.

    • Katie says:

      Gehr. Naq gung'f jul gur bgure ibvpr fbhaqrq fb zhpu fnffvre guna Sebqb uvzfrys jbhyq unir fbhaqrq va uvf urnq

    • Juliana Moreli says:

      OMG, I never notice that…

    • Zoli says:

      Well, Shadowfax is apparently descended from the 'King of Horses' who knew the tongues of men, and Epona is named after a Celtic/Roman goddess, the protector of horses. So yes, ultimate horse for sure.

      And now I'm picturing Gandalf whistling Epona's Song to call Shadowfax. 😉

      • cait0716 says:

        He whistles three notes, right? It totally fits!

        • Zoli says:

          There's also this. I wiki'd Epona to check my facts, then clicked on 'White Horse (mythology)' at the bottom. I found this:

          White horses (which are rarer than other colours of horse) have a special significance in the mythologies of cultures around the world. They are often associated with the sun chariot,[1] with warrior-heroes, with fertility (in both mare and stallion manifestations), or with an end-of-time saviour, but other interpretations exist as well.

          (bolding mine)

          A white wizard on a white horse who's come to 'turn the tide'? Tolkien, I see what you did there.

    • eyelessgame says:

      This actually turned out to be a problem when I was reading the novel out loud to my younger son two years ago. I have a talent with voice mimicry, and I read the entire novel with a different voice for every character.

      Fb jura V tbg gb gur ibvprf svtugvat va Sebqb'f urnq ba Nzba Ura, gur ibvpr fnlvat "Gnxr vg bss! Gnxr vg bss! Sbby, gnxr bss gur Evat!" jnf, hasbeghangryl, Tnaqnys'f.

      Vg'f bxnl, gubhtu, orpnhfr zl fba jnf pbaivaprq sebz gur ortvaavat gung Tnaqnys jnf pbzvat onpx – "ur qvrq bssfperra! P'zba!"

  16. plaidpants says:

    When I first read the book, I had no idea how in the world Gandalf could come back from that, but I didn't care a bit – it was exciting enough that he was back!! I'm glad you were surprised Mark, I think this is one of those twists that no one expects (like the Spanish Inquisition!)

  17. Tauriel_ says:


    Aragorn does some more Rangery tracking and deducing, and pretty much pieces the story together, more or less how it happened.

    ‘It is old, very old,’ said the Elf. ‘So old that almost I feel young again, as I have not felt since I journeyed with you children.

    I love how Legolas calls them "you children". 😀 V jvfu gurl unq xrcg guvf yvar va gur svyz – vg jbhyq'ir fubja gung rira gubhtu Yrtbynf ybbxf yvxr n serfu gjraglfbzrguvat, ur'f uhaqerqf bs lrnef byq.

    And then an old man returns and we are meant to think that it's Saruman, but then he reveals himself and it's GANDALF!!!

    <3 <3 <3 All is right with the world… 🙂

    ‘Not alone,’ said Legolas. ‘We think that Sam went with him.’
    ‘Did he!’ said Gandalf, and there was a gleam in his eye and a smile on his face. ‘Did he indeed? It is news to me, yet it does not surprise me. Good! Very good! You lighten my heart. You must tell me more. Now sit by me and tell me the tale of your journey.’

    Yes, Gandalf knows a good news when he hears some! 😀 Sam is IMPORTANT.

    The Dark Lord has Nine. But we have One, mightier than they: the White Rider. He has passed through the fire and the abyss, and they shall fear him.

    FUCK YEAH!!! B-) B-) B-)

    Gandalf's description of his fight with the Balrog is EPIC EPICNESS and sends shivers down my spine just when I read it.

    Then darkness took me; and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell.
    ‘Naked I was sent back – for a brief time, until my task is done.

    I really like this part, very poetic, and gives us a brief glimpse as to what's Gandalf's role in Middle-earth – he was sent there for a specific purpose. But why and by whom we don't know. Who are you, Gandalf?

    • flootzavut says:

      Ohhhhh yes, gung yvar jbhyq unir orra n jbaqreshy nqqvgvba <3 🙁

    • elk12429 says:

      V'ir ernq fbzr nanylfrf juvpu fnl gung gur jvmneqf bs zvqqyr rnegu ner "rdhny" gb Puevfgvna natryf – gurl unir n cbjre va gurve angher, naq gurve cbjre vf ragveryl vaangr. Gurl ner fgvyy serr, ubjrire gb pubbfr orgjrra evtug naq jebat.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Lrc, gung'f cerggl zhpu vg. Gbyxvra'f jbeyq vf zbabgurvfgvp – gurer'f bayl bar Tbq, Reh Vyúingne, naq gur Inyne naq gur Znvne ner n fbeg bs natryvp orvatf bs inevbhf nzbhag bs cbjre.

    • castlewayjay says:

      qvqa'g gur inyne fraq Tnaqnys onpx, gb pbzcyrgr uvf zvffvba? uzz. jvyy unir gb purpx vagrejrof

  18. Katie says:

    And thus it happened, that in the previous review, Mark was for once prepared!

    (But then he immediately said that Gandalf's magical return would not be possible and was therefore still as unprepared as ever)

    • flootzavut says:

      I think that (the being prepared and then thinking it could never happen) actually made him even less prepared than ever, which was completely awesome 😀

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Oh yeah, and I love how Tolkien seems to be causing even more unpreparedness in Mark by (apparently) causing him to doubt any if his predictions or attempts at preparedness are possible. I love it! Mark is so unprepared. *evil grin*

  19. Trey says:

    I absolutely ADORE this chapter. Reading through it the first time in the fifth grade, I remember being torn up by Gandalf's death. Because my dad had read The Hobbit to me when I was little, and one of the few things I was sure of was that no harm would come to Gandalf. And then to see poor Frodo and the rest cope with it was just awful.

    And then I got to this chapter. I think I read the section where the white wizard is revealed to be Gandalf about four times before it could sink in, just to make sure. And while Gandalf brings a lot of troubling news of war with him, I think this chapter is the first time I really thought the side of good had a chance. And I got super excited and everything, thinking I maybe knew what was going on.

    Bs pbhefr, V qvqa'g. Orpnhfr URYZ'F QRRC vf pbzvat!

  20. Sinnive says:

    Pna nalobql rkcynva jul znex guvaxf Guébqra jnagf gur evat naq unf gb or sbhtug? V pna'g erernq gur puncgre evtug abj, naq V pna'g vzntvar jurer Tnaqnys fnlf fbzrguvat yvxr gung?

    • Clamarnicale says:

      Gur bayl guvat V pna guvax bs vf Tnaqnys fcrnxvat bs Fnehzna: "Uvf gubhtug vf rire ba gur Evat. Jnf vg cerfrag va gur onggyr? Jnf vg sbhaq? Jung vs Guébqra, Ybeq bs gur Znex, fubhyq pbzr ol vg naq yrnea bs vgf cbjre? Gung vf gur qnatre gung ur frrf, naq ur unf syrq onpx gb Vfratneq gb qbhoyr naq geroyr uvf nffnhyg ba Ebuna." Gur dhbgr'f cynpr va gur puncgre zngpurf vgf cynpr va Znex'f erivrj, fb vg frrzf gb or gur yvxryl fbhepr bs gur zvfhaqrefgnaqvat.

      • Sinnive says:

        Thanks a lot, that's probably it … One of the great things about this blog is to discover just how much room for unpreparedness and misunderstanding there is 🙂

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          V'z jbaqrevat vs guvf vf fbzrguvat gung fubhyq or pbeerpgrq, fvapr ur pyrneyl zvfernq gung.

          • msw188 says:

            Anu, V qba'g guvax guvf vf na npghny "zvfernqvat", fb zhpu nf n zvfvagrecergngvba. Ohg cneg bs gur sha bs ernqvat vf vagrecergvat, naq fb cneg bs gur sha bs orvat hacercnerq zhfg or ernyvmvat ubj jebat lbhe vagrecergngvbaf jrer.

            • Tilly says:

              Orfvqrf, vg fubhyq orpbzr pyrne jung'f ernyyl tbvat ba jvgu Gurbqra arkg puncgre, evtug?

              • AmandaNekesa says:

                Yeah, good point. V jnf whfg guvaxvat bs jung'f fnvq va gur SND nobhg pbeerpgvat uvz, gung vs ur bhgevtug trgf fbzrguvat pbzcyrgryl jebat, gung jr zvtug or bxnl gb pbeerpg uvz. Abj gung V ernq gur SND ntnva gubhtu:

                11) Znex, lbh tbg n qrgnvy jebat nobhg k punenpgre! Pna V pbeerpg lbh?

                Fbzrgvzrf. Guvf vf n gbhtu bar gb whqtr orpnhfr fbzrgvzrf, V qb arrq gb or pbeerpgrq vs V nz syng-bhg jebat. Lbh xabj, vs V’z fcryyvat n anzr jebat, be pnyyvat fbzrbar ol gur jebat anzr. Ohg ng gur fnzr gvzr, unys gur nccrny bs guvf cynpr vf gb jngpu zr sbbyvfuyl fghzoyr guebhtu n svpgvbany jbeyq. Fb hgvyvmr rkgerzr pnhgvba vs lbh ner tbvat gb pbeerpg zr. Ner lbh hfvat vasbezngvba sebz gur shgher be sebz snaqbz zrgn gung V jba’g unir ng gur gvzr? Be vf vg n pbeerpgvba vaibyivat fbzrguvat gung’f n zvfgnxr? Jungrire lbh qb, cyrnfr or pnershy, naq cyrnfr npprcg gung vs zl zbqrengbef qryrgr lbhe pbzzrag, vg’f sbe n tbbq ernfba.

                V guvax jr'er orfg gb yrg vg or, fvapr ur'yy pyrneyl svther vg bhg fbba.

    • Seumas the Red says:

      Cebonoyl gur ovg jurer Tnaqnys zragvbaf gung Fnehzna unf pnhfrq gebhoyr va Rqbenf… Ur znl nyfb unir unir zragvbarq gung Guébqra'f zvaq unf orra pbeehcgrq be fbzrguvat. Ohg V guvax gung vf n snve, vs vapbeerpg nffhzcgvba gb znxr onfrq ba gung fgngrzrag. V jnf chmmyrq ol vg sbe n frpbaq nyfb. 🙂

  21. castlewayjay says:

    so glad you apparently liked the chapter and do not feel cheated about Gandalf coming back after such a great death scene. He's not human, he's a wizard, so regular rules don't apply. How bout that Balrog take-down? pretty cool, huh?
    and don't all the plot twists (along with the world-building, wonderful characters, erc) make this book a great read??

  22. Stephen_M says:

    Going a chapter at a time like this you really start to realise how good Tolkien is at dictating the pace and character of the story. Chapter 1 – death and hope. 2 – Heroic (well, miraculous actually) chase and failure. 3 – Relief and worry. 4 – Joy and fatality. 5 – acceptance and hope. It's such a great ride for the reader and does a brilliant job at carrying us all along.

    Actually to expand somewhat, Gandalf's explanation of his return echoes in some way Treebeard's view of their attack on Isengard. This isn't a miraculous return and get out of jail free card, not really. He has a job to do if he can and there's no guarantee he'll be able to do it. The hope though… oh it's well played. "The turn of the tide" is such a quick and simple little phrase but has so many implications and the White Rider at least hints that the good guys finally have an answer to the Nine. Oh yes, and we get the proper introduction of Shadowfax here too and within a few lines it's established he's about on a par with Aragorn for badass qualities. Seriously, a horse with no real defence of his own other than running like hell managed to make it from north of Rivendell to Rohan all on his own through country he doesn't really know. Put that in your ranger pipe and smoke it!

  23. Katie says:

    "Naked I was sent back. And for a brief time. Until my task is done"

    Gandalf = Kara Thrace

  24. Marie the Bookwyrm says:

    Wow Mark, I was expecting keysmashing over Gandalf’s return. xD Even without that, I thoroughly enjoyed your reaction. And, yes, Gandalf has been upgraded. Saruman didn’t want to be The White anymore, so now Gandalf takes his place!

    Also: GANDALF IS BACK!!! A great way to end the week!

    • monkeybutter says:

      V gbbx bhg cneg bs lbhe pbzzrag. Cyrnfr qba'g pbeerpg Znex'f jebat nffhzcgvbaf; ur yvxrf gb svther gurfr guvatf bhg sbe uvzfrys.

  25. Eefje says:

    I remember being very suspicious during this chapter the first time I read it, I could not believe it wasn't a trick of Saruman. I was all 'Aragon! Why are you so quick to believe him, he's messing with your mind!'
    Glad I was wrong. 🙂

  26. settledforhistory says:

    I was grinning the whole time while reading this chapter and now I'm grinning again.
    I had not expected at all that Gandalf would be back and he is more awesome than before!
    Seriously, this chapter made me really happy. I don't care that war is approaching or that there are flying Nazgul (though that is bad and scary and I don't want this.). There is hope now, more than even the Ents could provide. Thanks Tolkien, for giving my heart a rest from all these stressful and sad moments in the lives of the Fellowship! I'm not greedy, I know the next chapter will be dark again, after all they are at war, but for now I'm happy that the avalanche of puppies hasn't left me yet.

    • rubyjoo says:

      I really enjoy reading your response to a first reading of LotR bcause it's such FUN to re-experience all the excitement and emotions that I felt a long time ago all over again. Thank you for posting. And stay with us!

      • settlingforhistory says:

        Thanks. It's a wonderful experience for me, too. It's like reading Harry Potter for the first time and I belive these books will mean just as much to me when I'm done reading.
        The reason I post so rearly on Mark reads is that I have to do it at work and I don't always get the chance to sneak a peek at the site. I always read the comments though, so I don't miss all the fun.

        • flootzavut says:

          Were you around during Mark Reads Harry Potter? It really was like reading the books again for the first time… and of course Mark's total lack of preparedness was just as much of a joy during HP as it is now 🙂

        • castlewayjay says:

          I love reading your reactions! Please keep posting and don't read the spoilers!

  27. LarrikJ says:

    Didn't we meet Gwaihir the Windlord in The Hobbit? Or was that an earlier eagle?

    • SGC51 says:

      I think you are right. I’m pretty sure that was Gwaihir in The Hobbit.

      • blossomingpeach says:

        Nygubhtu Tnaqnys qbrf fnl gb uvz ng gur raq gung ur unf pneevrq uvz gjvpr orsber. Gubfr gjb gvzrf jbhyq or gur erfphr sebz Vfratneq naq jura ur pneevrq uvz gb Ybguybevra nsgre gur Onyebt Vapvqrag. Fb gung jbhyq xvaq bs ryvzvangr gur cbffvovyvgl ur pneevrq uvz va gur Uboovg, evtug? Fbzrbar ryfr jub xabjf orggre srry serr gb pbeerpg zr. 🙂

        • rubyjoo says:

          I'm wondering, blossomingpeach, if it's just Tolkien who doesn't want to confuse those readers who are only reading LotR and haven't read TH.

          • blossomingpeach says:

            Very possible! 🙂 At any rate, Gwaihir or not, it's safe to say we've met his kind before 🙂

        • LarrikJ says:

          V gubhtug gur gjb gvzrf jrer ersreevat gb ORSBER gur Ybguybevra gevc.

      • TheFormerAstronomer says:

        The lord of the eagles in the Hobbit is never named, but it seems likely that it was Gwaihir, based on his description.

  28. Fiona says:

    I like how it seems like the wizards have a weird Captain Scarlet colour coding system in their ranking. Did Gandalf have to go through the whole spectrum before he got to White or something? 😀 I'd estimate that about 90% of the comments yesterday were rot13 flailing over your unpreparedness regarding Gandalf's return. I did cackle quite a lot at your comments myself.

    Film stuff: V gubhtug Tnaqnys'f erghea jnf qbar va n ernyyl pbby jnl. V cnegvphyneyl yvxr ubj gurl zvatyrq Vna ZpXryyra naq Puevfgbcure Yrr'f ibvprf naq gevrq gb trg gurz gb vzcrefbangr rnpu bgure n ovg. Vg xrrcf lbh thrffvat evtug hagvy gur raq.

    Abj bagb RQBENF, bgurejvfr xabja nf zl snibhevgr cynpr va nyy bs gur obbxf nf jryy nf cbffvoyl gur zbfg ornhgvshy frg. V fgvyy pna'g oryvrir gurl unq gb grne gung cynpr qbja. V jbhyq unir pevrq vs V'q orra gurer.

    • Seumas the Red says:

      Va gur Fvyznevyyvba be gur Nccraqvprf bs YbgE vg vf zragvbarq gung Tnaqnys vf n Znvn yvxr Fnheba naq gur Onyebtf – va guvf vafgnapr gurfr Znvne ner fcvevgf bs sver. Fb gur Onyebtf naq Fnheba va gurve hapybnxrq sbezf jbhyq nccrne nf sverl pbybhef. Ohg jura Tnaqnys jnf nffvtarq gb Zvqqyr Rnegu jvgu gur bgure jvmneqf, uvf cngvrag, jvfr angher zrnag gung ur nccrnerq nf bar fzbhyqrevat fybjyl, pbirerq va nfu(znxvat uvz terl), hagvy uvf gvzr pbzrf. Naq jura uvf gvzr pbzrf, ur oheaf zber oevtugyl guna nyy gur bguref, nccrnevat juvgr.

      • Fiona says:

        Ooh, that's cool. I've never read The Silmarillion so I missed out on that. Thank you for the information :).

        • Seumas the Red says:

          Always happy to inform. 😀 The Silmarillion can be tough, but worth it in the end. 🙂 As are the Appendices of the Lord of the Rings. 😀

      • flootzavut says:

        That's all kinds of awesome!

      • notemily says:

        omg that's awesome.

      • msw188 says:

        Wait, where did you read this? I am 90% certain it is neither in the Silmarillion nor the Appendices. It's an interesting take on gur jubyr pbybe fpurzr.

        • Clamarnicale says:

          I agree, I've never heard of it before, and I've read both The Silmarillion and the Appendices I don't know how many times…

          • Seumas the Red says:

            Well, I have just finished reading the Lord of the Rings plus the Appendices (Every page) to my seven year old sister (She insisted I read her the Appendices too). I have started upon the Silmarillion with her, but we are not far enough in to mention gur Vfgneí, fb V pbapyhqr gung jung V fnvq zhfg or va gur Nccraqvprf. Abg jbeq sbe jbeq, zvaq lbh. V znl or pbashfrq jvgu fbzrguvat V ernq fbzrjurer ryfr, vg vf cbffvoyr, ohg vg vf sebz n fbhepr juvpu hfrq Gbyxvra'f jevgvatf. V qba'g guvax V nz pbashfrq gubhtu. Zl fvfgre bsgra sryy nfyrrc orsber V abgvprq, fb V jbhyq raq hc ernqvat nyzbfg rirel frpgvba gjvpr. Naq orpnhfr V jnf ernqvat nybhq, V znantrq abg gb zvff nalguvat guvf gvzr nebhaq. :Q

            V qvq qb n ovg bs qenzngvp ervagrecergngvba, naq jung V fnvq znl fbhaq zber vzcerffviryl jbeqrq guna gur znggre-bs-snpg cerfragngvba va gur obbxf: Guvf pbhyq or jurer gur ceboyrz yvrf.

            Vs, ubjrire, nalbar xabjf gung V nz va reebe, cyrnfr pbeerpg zr. Vg fgvyy fbhaqf njrfbzr gubhtu.

            Gur ovg nobhg Tnaqnys orvat n fcvevg bs sver vf cresrpgyl npphengr gubhtu, nf vf gur ovg nobhg uvz orvat 'cngvrag', be univat yrnearq cngvrapr sebz bar bs gur Inyne (juvpu jnf tvira fcrpvny zragvba [hfvat uvf anzr bs Byóeva] irel irel rneyl ba va gur Fvyznevyyvba).

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        I love this! <3 Really fascinating!

  29. BetB says:

    ROT13 since Mark didn't mention this and may not have made the connection:
    Bar guvat V guvax vf irel erirnyvat: Tnaqnys fgngrf gung ab bar vf zber qnatrebhf guna uvz va Zvqqyr Rnegu, rkprcg gur Qnex Ybeq (Fnheba). V guvax guvf vf Gbyxvra'f jnl bs fnlvat rknpgyl ubj cbjreshy Tnaqnys ernyyl vf. Ur guebjf Tvzyv'f nkr, ur oheaf Yrtbynf' neebj naq pnhfrf Nentbea, gur urve bs Vfvyqhe, gb fgnaq fgvyy juvyr uvf fjbeq ohefgf vagb synzr (nyy ng bapr). V'q fnl gung vf cerggl vzcerffvir. Nyfb, ur fgebir jvgu Fnheba jura Sebqb chg ba gur evat ba Nzba Ura gb nyybj Sebqb serr jvyy. Tnaqnys unf qrsvavgryl "yriryrq hc"!

    • Fuchsia says:

      Gur bgure guvat gb xrrc va zvaq vf gung ur'f abj, cerfhznoyl, nf cbjreshy nf Fnehzna, pbafvqrevat ur'f gnxra bire Fnehzna'f cbfvgvba naq ur fnlf ur vf "Fnehzna nf ur fubhyq unir orra". Fb vg'f n tbbq guvat gung Fnehzna orgenlrq Fnheba orpnhfr vs gurl unq gehyl wbvarq gbtrgure, rira Tnaqnys jbhyq unir unq n uneq gvzr qrsrngvat gurz.

  30. AmandaNekesa says:


    Much sniggering, lols, and rot-13 resulted from yesterday's review because of this…it was hilarious! You are so unprepared for Tolkien and his plot twists that you quickly denied Gandalf's return as a possibility, making you all the more unprepared when it came true!

  31. ADB says:

    Seriously, how were you not spoiled for this? All the trailers for the film boiled down to "HEY, GUYS! GANDALF'S BACK! (Nyfb: Tbyyhz)" It's a wonderous miracle that you weren't.

    • Fiona says:

      It kind of ruins the mystery somewhat, considering the steps they took to retain it in the film itself.

    • ZeynepD says:

      Yes, I remember the epic facepalms when I first saw the trailer. What what what were you doing New Age Cinema.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Actually, Mark mentioned (I think back in FotR) that he has somehow never seen any of the LotR trailers. I'm shocked that this is even possible, but so glad at the same time, as he could have been spoiled for the Gandalf reveal (and more, for RotK spoilers).

  32. monkeybutter says:

    Welcome back, Gandalf! Okay, so

    'Fnehzna unq orfg abg or pnhtug njnl sebz ubzr jura gur qnz ohefgf!’


    'Ohg abj uvf ybat fybj jengu vf oevzzvat bire, naq nyy gur sberfg vf svyyrq jvgu vg. Gur pbzvat bs gur uboovgf naq gur gvqvatf gung gurl oebhtug unir fcvyyrq vg: vg jvyy fbba or ehaavat yvxr n sybbq; ohg vgf gvqr vf ghearq ntnvafg Fnehzna naq gur nkrf bs Vfratneq.'

    Uvynebhf. Fb tynq gb unir lbh onpx, Tnaqnys.

    I must give some love to Legolas, who makes up a story about flying hobbits, is apparently a horse whisperer, and made me snort when he says that the Fellowship made him feel like an old man. I get that he's talking from more of a mental standpoint but it's so weird to hear him say that when he's been bounding without any effort! Oh, elves.

    • cait0716 says:

      The ages of everyone always throws me for a loop. Frodo's 50 and he's basically a baby by the standards of the rest of the Fellowship. Though I suppose Gimli must be close to him in age, since he wasn't around during The Hobbit. But Legolas and even Aragorn are so much older than I tend to expect.

      • Katie says:

        Never thought about this before, but I presume it's possible Gimli actually _was_ around during The Hobbit, but dwarves just didn't take their families along for the trip? Nor discussed their personal lives very much?

      • Dreamflower says:

        Frodo's 50, but his age was frozen at 33 by the Ring ( and hobbits age at about 2/3 the rate of Men, so he was the equivalent of a perpetual 21 year old).
        Rot.13 for Appendix spoilers:
        Nentbea jnf 87, ohg ur'f n Qhanqna, n qrfpraqrag bs Ahzrabe, jub trarenyyl pbhyq yvir gb nebhaq 200 vs gurl jrera'g xvyyrq fbbare, fb ur'f onfvpnyyl va gur cevzr bs yvsr evtug abj.
        Tvzyv vf 139, nppbeqvat gb Nccraqvk N. Ohg gura Qjneirf nyfb yvirq nebhaq 200 lrnef be n yvggyr zber.
        Gurer vf ab QBO sbe Yrtbynf, ohg ur'f cebonoyl ng gur irel yrnfg n pbhcyr bs gubhfnaq lrnef byq, naq pbhyq rnfvyl or sne zber guna gung.
        Fnz naq Zreel ner 38 naq 36, erfcrpgviryl, juvyr Cvccva, gur onol bs gur Sryybjfuvc, vf bayl 28, nobhg gur fnzr nf n 17 lrne byq Zna, naq unf 5 zber lrnef gb tb hagvy ur'f bs ntr ol Fuver erpxbavat.

        • Katarina says:

          36 sbe Zreel zrnaf gung jura ur npgrq nf Sebqb'f obhapre va gur svefg puncgre, ur jnf 19. Juvpu sbe uboovgf vf cenpgvpnyyl cerchorfprag, vfa'g vg? JGS Gbyxvra, guvf znxrf ab frafr jungfbrire. Jung jnf gur cbvag bs yrggvat fb znal lrnef cnff orgjrra gur gjb puncgref?

          • Dreamflower says:

            Lbh ner evtug. Zreel jnf abg dhvgr lrg n gjrra jura ur nvqrq Sebqb nsgre gur Cnegl. Ubjrire, ur jnf gur urve gb gur Znfgre bs Ohpxynaq, naq unq dhvgr n ovg bs fgnghf rira nf n lbhatfgre. Zbfg bs gubfr ur ghearq njnl jbhyq unir orra jbexvat pynff uboovgf, jub jbhyq npprcg Znfgre Zreel'f nffhenapr gung Sebqb jnf vaqvfcbfrq jvgubhg cebgrfg. Lbh'yy abgr gung jura gur F.-O.f pnzr nybat, Zreel qvq pnyy Sebqb.

            V guvax gung cneg bs WEEG'f yrggvat 17 lrnef cnff jnf va snpg, fb gung Sebqb'f pbzcnavbaf pbhyq tebj hc gb tb jvgu uvz. Vg nyfb nyybjrq Sebqb gb frggyr vagb uvf ebyr nf Znfgre bs Ont Raq naq trg pbzsbegnoyr. Naq zrnag ur'q or yrnivat ng 50, juvpu jnf nyfb n fvtavsvpnag ntr sbe Ovyob.

            Cyhf, Tnaqnys unq gb jnaqre nebhaq ybbxvat sbe Tbyyhz naq gelvat uvf orfg gb svaq cebbs bs gur Evat'f vqragvgl (naq cebonoyl ubcvat gur jubyr gvzr ur jnf jebat nobhg vg).

            • Katarina says:

              Uzz, V fgvyy guvax fbzrbar yvxr Yboryvn jbhyq unir ng yrnfg tbg fbzr favqr pbzzrag va nobhg fabg-abfrq xvqf ybeqvat nebhaq.

              V guvax vg'f frafvoyr gb unir fbzr gvzr cnff nsgre gur cnegl, ohg gur 17 lrnef whfg frrz rkprffvir, rfcrpvnyyl jurer Tnaqnys vf pbaprearq. "Jryy, sebz jung Ovyob fnvq, vg frrzrq gur evat jnf ernyyl qnatre, fb V qrpvqrq gb qb abg n jubyr ybg nobhg vg sbe n pbhcyr bs qrpnqrf." (Sebqb'f pbzcnavbaf tebjvat hc qbrfa'g ernyyl unir nal ornevat ba gur znggre, fvapr Gbyxvra pbhyq znxr hc juvpurire ovegu qngrf ur yvxrq.) Rira orsber gur zbivrf, V graqrq gb sbetrg gubfr lrnef rira rkvfgrq, vg znqr fb yvggyr frafr gb zr.

              • Katarina_H says:

                Nygubhtu V zvtug or nssrpgrq ol ubj V fgvyy urne Zreel'f yvarf fcbxra (va Fjrqvfu) ol Naqref Rxobet, jub rira va 1995 pbhyqa'g cbffvoyl cnff sbe n grra.

        • stefb4 says:

          Npghnyyl, fbzr bs jung Yrtbynf unf fnvq znxrf zr guvax ur'f LBHATRE guna n pbhcyr bs gubhfnaq lrnef. V'ir ernq va n ybg bs cynprf gung uvf rfgvzngrq ntr vf 500-700—500 ng gur irel yrnfg orpnhfr V guvax ur zragvbaf gung'f ubj znal gvzrf ur'f frra gur yrnirf snyy be fbzrguvat va Zvexjbbq. Ohg fgvyy, 500 pbzcnerq gb gur arkg bar va ntr (Tvzyv ng 139 naq abg pbhagvat Tnaqnys) jbhyq cebonoyl znxr uvz srry byq.

          • rabidsamfan says:

            Gur 500 yrnirf snyyvat yvar vf va gur arkg puncgre, naq vg'f nobhg gur Ebuveevz. Yrtbynf cerggl zhpu vaqvpngrf gung vg'f abg nyy gung ybat n gvzr gb na rys.

    • Fuchsia says:

      Legolas is far from my favourite character [not for any reason other than I just love EVERYONE ELSE SO MUCH] but everything he says makes me laugh. [movie talk: Rira zber fb va gur zbivrf jurer ur'f onfvpnyyl whfg Pncgnva Boivbhf.]

      • monkeybutter says:

        Yup, I agree! Ur'f nyjnlf tbbq sbe n ynhtu, jurgure vagragvbany be abg! Ur'f n sha punenpgre. 🙂

  33. Fuchsia says:

    Shadowfax is totally Epona's cousin. Able to call for him anywhere in the world and he just appears? Hmmm….

    Almost all the rot13 yesterday was us laughing at your Gandalf comment. It was quite fun! Aren't you so glad he's back, though?

    I love Legolas' reading of Pippin's escape. "Being pleased with his skill, he then sat down and quietly ate some waybread! That at least is enough to show that he was a hobbit." Oh, hobbits, always eating! Of course, reading the events from Pippin's point of view, it did make sense to stop and eat some lembas, but still. The way Legolas says it, of course they would!

    I really love this one little line from Gimli to Legolas: "Yet you comfort me. Where you go, I will go." Awww, I love how far they've come from their prejudices! The Gimli/Legolas friendship is absolutely wonderful.

  34. well obviously Gandalf's association with hobbits paid off handsomely: he'd been eating their mushrooms so long, he didn't notice one of them gave him an extra life

  35. stellaaaaakris says:

    Gandalf is back! Gandalf is back!
    <img src=""&gt;

    Legolas is sooo happy! High kick!
    <img src=""&gt;

    • Tauriel_ says:

      OMG, what have they done to Legolas??? :'(

      • stellaaaaakris says:

        It's the Ralph Bakshi version of Fellowship and part of Two Towers. It's so bad that it's fantastic. Just google some images from it. Boromir is a viking, Aragorn apparently doesn't wear pants, and up there was Legolas taking over for Gorfindel (sp?) – pretty sure he's just trying to get off his horse.

        Actually, let me help you. Here are some helpful snarky photos I found online a couple days ago when trying to find Treebeard as a carrot.
        <img src=""&gt;
        And the orcs: <img src=""&gt;

        This movie gives me endless giggles when just looking at the images. Watching it was pretty painful though.

        • Zoli says:

          Uuuuugh my friend and I watched the first movie back in high school. It was terrible. Just terrible. Really awkward rotoscoping, even more awkward live action painted over to LOOK like animation (see the orcs above) and horrible character designs.

          The Peter Jackson movies have their flaws, but at least they also had incredible production values.

          • Fuchsia says:

            I've actually never made it through the first movie. I always get to where we see the Nazgul for the first time, end up repeating that to the point of endless giggles [and in the last instance, making gifs of it], and then give up on the rest of the movie. Seriously, I've started the movie so many times, each time saying this is the time I'll get all the way through, and I've never made it past that unfortunate Nazgul. [although I do like the opening sequence about the nine rings, I'll admit that!]

            <img src=""&gt;

            but then this also happened:
            <img src=""&gt;

            • stellaaaaakris says:

              I…kinda love that last gif. If you really want to finish the movie, I would recommend finding a friend and making snarky comments all through out. It's the only way to make it through some of these movies. But who knows? You may be able to get more awesome gifs. And just pause the movie at any point. Chances are you'll find something ridiculous to laugh at. I can't take the movie as a serious interpretation of the books but it's still worth a good chuckle.

              • Fuchsia says:

                Yeah, the first time I attempted to watch the movie was with my best friend, but we were completely unprepared for how BAD it was so we gave up [at the appearance of the Nazgul, like every subsequent time]. One day, we'll finish it. Probably with the aid of some tequila. I mean, I've made it through every single Twilight movie, I should be able to make it through this!

                I didn't realize while making the gif but the frames imported wrong, hence the jumpiness of the first couple frames. But oh well, I wasn't exactly going for ~quality~ so it's okay.

                • arctic_hare says:

                  "But oh well, I wasn't exactly going for ~quality~ so it's okay."

                  neither were the filmmakers, clearly

        • Geolojazz says:

          As terrible as that movie is, I am grateful for it: it confused me so much I went out and actually read the novels. 😀 There are occasional moments where the movie shines. Very, very infrequently. I actually liked how they did Frodo.

          Trivia: Legolas was voiced by C3P0.

    • knut_knut says:

      why is everyone so orange???

    • sixth_queen says:

      Is that Legolas doing the Ministry of Silly Walks?

    • stefb4 says:

      what what what is wrong with legolas what

  36. @redbeardjim says:

    In addition to the epic Return of the White Rider, this chapter also has one of my favorite lines of the entire book:

    "A thing is about to happen which has not happened since the Elder Days: the Ents are going to wake up and find that they are strong."

    Saruman, the depths of the shit you are in cannot be measured.

  37. Dreamflower says:

    But it’s not. IT’S NOT A TRICK. Somehow, impossibly, inconceivably, unbelievably, Gandalf is standing before them. Gandalf the white, I might add, somehow ascended to a higher level of wizadry. Did he level-up after defeating the Balrog boss? THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED, WASN’T IT?

    YES!!!!!! EXACTLY!!!!

    Question, would it be considered a spoiler gb pyhr Znex va abj nobhg gur vqragvgl bs gur Jvmneqf, fvapr abar bs gung pbzrf va qhevat YbgE? Vg jbhyq or n fcbvyre sbe Gur Fvyznevyyvba, ohg gurer ner ab vaqvpngvbaf ur cynaf gb ernq gung. Nyy bs guvf znxrf fb zhpu zber frafr vs lbh ernyvmr jung Znvne ner.

    Gandalf at one point “strove” with the Dark Tower? What the hell does that mean?

    Remember this scene with Frodo at the end of FotR? "He heard himself crying out:Never, never! or was it: Verily I come, I come to you? He could not tell. Then a flash from some other point of power there came to his mind another thought: Take it off! Take it off! Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!"

    Who else would call Frodo a Fool?

    Yep, that and the Eagles were the first clues that Gandalf just might be coming back!

    "the Dark Lord has not even considered the chance that the Company is going to attempt to destroy the Ring; he still think they’re trying to unseat him. THIS IS A GOOD THING AND I FEEL GOOD."

    YES, YES, SO DO I!

    Mark you are WONDERFUL, and I am still having SO MUCH FUN!!!!

    Puppies all around for everyone!!!!

    • CoyoteSister says:

      Then a flash from some other point of power there came to his mind another thought: Take it off! Take it off! Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!"

      I can't believe I never noticed this before! I mean, come on– Gandalf is the only one who would say that. Galadriel would be like: "Remember your quest, and the power of the Eye, Frodo!" Elrond would be like: "Frodo, you must not fail your friends' valiance." Gandalf? "Fool! Take it off!"

      • Dreamflower says:

        I really did notice that the first time I read it, over 40 years ago, and hope leapt up in my heart, and I stomped on it– "No, it's not possible!" But my heart was right, and I couldn't help hoping after that.

    • LarrikJ says:

      To answer your "would this be a spoiler":


  38. Katie says:

    Rot13 just in case, although maybe not necessary, as refers to this chapter: fubhyq jr cbvag bhg gb Znex gung ur zvfhaqrefgbbq fbzrguvat: Gurbqra qbrf abg jnag gur evat. Fnehzna _guvaxf_ Gurbqra jnagf gur evat.

  39. msw188 says:



    Above and beyond all of the other awesome in this chapter, I'll just mention another bit. Gimli is convinced that Saruman has found them, and he is scared. He demands that Legolas shoot at once, but Aragorn says, "We may not shoot an old man so, at unawares and unchallenged, whatever fear or doubt may be on us." We have seen Aragorn's nobility in the form of transforming into a badass while saying certain things, but here for me he suddenly transforms into a wise old man. Kind of in line with some of his talk with Eomer.

    Oh, and let's not forget that Gimli's threat to the White Wizard, once his color is revealed, is to make a DINT IN HIS HAT. This is awesome.

  40. ARITHMANCER says:

    Mark, I am curious about your reading/writing process. Do you finalize a review before moving on to the next chapter? Because you seem recently to have acquired an odd sort of gift of prophecy, in whcih that which you are sure you cannot have, presents itself for your consideration promprlty thereafter! We all been chortling into our mugs of coffee while reading how you wished for a named Orc character immediately before your introduction to Ugluk and Grishnakh, or thought wistfully of the impossibility that Gandalf might be resurrected the chapter before he is reunited with Aragorn & Co. SOOOO Not Prepared!

    • Wheelrider says:

      There's something to be said for reading ONLY one chapter per day. The first time I read it, and on subsequent reads, I quickly devoured it – no doubt many of us did. I'm re-reading along with Mark and discovering more awesome little bits along the way. This helps with getting a clue, for sure!

  41. threerings13 says:

    So, I may have mentioned once or thrice that Gandalf is my favorite character. And he's BAACK! And I have to say that I actually like Gandalf the White MORE than Gandalf the Grey. He's such a BAMF, killing Balrogs and deflecting weapons, fighting Sauron with HIS MIND. Even Aragorn is like, "Dude, you could so totally just pop over to Mordor if you wanted, couldn't you?"

    Also, he has a kick-ass horse.

    • Eefje says:

      I actually miss Gandalf the Grey sometimes for all that I love the White version. I miss thinking of him as the cranky old guy who made fireworks for hobbits and likes trolling trolls.

      • ldwy says:

        Me too. Gandalf the Grey, as a character, could just be your buddy – a very very wise, old buddy whom you respect and whose advise you revere, but a buddy. Gandalf the White is such a figure of awe, we're more removed from him.
        But basically, I love Gandalf period. And having the super duper powerful Gandalf the White back on our side does give us some hope we hadn't had in a long time.

  42. @RadagastWiz says:

    Back before the White Wizard stuff, I love how Aragorn is all Sherlock with tracking Merry and Pippin away from the battle. And that all he needs to know to be sure there's at least one hobbit alive? In the midst of chaos and death, they stopped for a meal.

    Yup, can only be a hobbit. No way around it. 😀

  43. Ryan Lohner says:

    It's fun to imagine that "Fly, you fools" was less "Save yourselves" than "Don't worry, I got this." And that if I read it correctly, he strolled into Lothlorien nude. Maybe this is where Christopher Paolini got the idea for nudist elves?

    Curse New Line forever for actually putting this scene in the goddamn trailer for The Two Towers!

    • MidnightLurker says:

      Well, y'know, the books had been around and part of popular culture for fifty years

    • Cereus says:

      …Or "Get out of here so I can get down to SRS BZNS without worrying about bystanders."

    • Dreamflower says:

      Well, I don't think it was so much strolled into Lothlorien nude as it was that Gwaihir the Flying Ambulance dropped him off there while he was still somewhat incapacitated. (It does, after all, take a little time to get over being dead.) I don't think an Eagle would take much note of clothing, but I am quite sure that Galadriel's first thought would be "Get that wizard some clothes!"

    • stormwreath says:

      When Gandalf says, "Naked I was sent back", I think he doesn't only mean that in the literal sense, of having no clothes, but also that he was resurrected as more of a spirit than a material being. Gwaihir mentions that he feels as light as a swan's feather, and also that he can see the sun shining through his body. I think that was literal, not a metaphor; and when Gandalf was 'clothed' in Lothlórien, that means clothed in a physical body again.

      Nsgre nyy, ur'f n Znvn, naq va gurve angheny sbez gurl ner aba-pbecberny fcvevgf jub jrne obqvrf gur jnl jr jrne pybgurf.

  44. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal, blurred

    Resuming the story of the Three Hunters where we left them at the end of chapter 2, they are now reunited with Gandalf, and the group sets out for Edoras.

  45. rubyjoo says:

    I found the most touching thing in this chapter was Gimli's painful dejection when he thinks there is no message to him from Galadriel. He desperately wants to be remembered in her thoughts, even if these thoughts predict his death…….And then his joy when he discovers that there IS a message from her – and such a lovely one: "Lockbearer, wherever thou goest my thought goes with thee." Oh, Gandalf, how could you keep him waiting so long, LOL!

    • Leah-san says:

      I know, that was sweet and adorable.

    • Mart says:

      And note the grammar: Galadriel is addressing Gimli in the familiar form.

      He definitely made an impression on her.

      • rubyjoo says:

        Yes, it's a shame we no longer have the intimate form of "you" in English any more, unlike the French and except in high fantasy. It sounds so gentle and tender.

        • notemily says:

          Funny how it sounds so much more formal to my ears. Maybe because it's used so much in the Bible?

          • misterbernie says:

            I get the impression that it's that way for most native speakers of English for pretty much that reason (or well, more general, it just pops up in old literature or in lit trying to emulate it (and sometimes getting it wrong)).

            I personally like that in English I don't have to worry about which form to use, and I appreciate any language that drops that formality nonsense.

            • notemily says:

              That's one of those things that makes language fascinating to me. In some languages you MUST choose between formal and informal. There's no "neutral." Just as in some languages you have to choose between masculine and feminine suffixes (or you don't get a choice–some things are masculine and some feminine), and in some languages you have to choose between masculine and feminine pronouns. Language shapes the way we think so much.

              • misterbernie says:

                Welcome to German, btw.
                Formality distinction ('du' singular informal versus 'ihr' plural informal versus 'Sie' sg/pl formal, which is actually 3rd person plural), gender marking on nouns denoting humans ('Bäcker' versus 'Bäckerin' baker / 'bakeress') and general gender (fork is female, spoon is male, knife is neuter), and of course pronouns, pronouns, pronouns (and the question, should a pronoun reference a noun's natural sex/gender or grammatical one, at least as far as humans and animals are concerned).

                This is a fascinating area, that's for certain, though it's sad that Sapir-Whorf-ish stuff in mainstream media/conscious is generally just "omg this people has a word for [specific concept]" instead of going into the nitty-gritty of the categories languages impose via grammatical structures; for example, how evidential marking is obligatory in some languages (so you have to specify if you did something yourself, saw it ,heard it, inferred it), or different spatial concepts, etc.
                One day, I will make it through Lakoff's Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things, which is partly about that but, um, not exactly an easy read (and btw, the title refers to a noun category found in the Australian language Dyirbal).

  46. threerings13 says:

    Oh, oh, also I have more stuffs to say.
    Yesterday I was taking the TTT blu-ray out of my player and suddenly realized the cover of TTT has Gandalf the White front and center. Way to not spoil anybody, guys.

    Last night I was reading this and my husband asked what I was reading. When I told him, his response was, "Those books didn't really do anything for me. I like the movies better." And I totally went all Hagrid, "Do Not Insult Tolkien In Front Of Me!"

    So in this chapter, Gandalf says that Treebeard is "the oldest living thing that still walks under the Sun on this Middle-Earth." So, this confuses me. I'm reading the Silm, but haven't read anything about Ents yet, so will someone explain this to me. Does this mean they were around before the elves? But that's impossible. Ohg gb or byqre guna Tnynqevry naq Tybesvaqry, vg frrzf yvxr gurl'q unir gb unir orra znqr ernyyl rneyl. Does this actually make sense? And then there's Bombadil. He's "oldest" right? So wha? Feel free to give me Silm spoilers.

    • Fuchsia says:

      I don't know spoilers, just speculation, but I always assumed that the Ents were made pretty early on even in elves' times. I mean, the elves created them so they could have someone to talk to– that to me sounds like they were created when there weren't many living beings around at all, and the few elves got pretty lonely while they were out and about because the chances of running into someone else were very slim.

      As for being the oldest living thing, I always took that to mean that those early elves have since died [probably during Sauron's first attempt at power, since they don't die of old age or anything].

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      V guvax gurer'f bar ovg jurer Gerrorneq fnlf gung gur Ragvfu jbeq sbe Gbz Obzonqvy vf gur ybatrfg bar va gur ynathntr, naq frrvat nf Ragvfu jbeqf ner ybatre gur byqre fbzrguvat vf…

    • Dreamflower says:

      V nz fher fbzrbar jub'f zber rkcreg ba gur Fvyz guna V nz pbhyq rkcynva vg orggre, ohg Lninaan znqr Ragf nebhaq gur gvzr Nhyr znqr Qjneirf. Gur Qjneirf jrer chg va pbyq fgbentr, gubhtu, orpnhfr Vyhingne jnagrq Ryirf gb pbzr svefg. Ohg V guvax gur Ragf jrer jnyxvat nebhaq– gurl whfg pbhyq abg gnyx hagvy gur Ryirf "jnxrarq" ynathntr va gurz.

      Nf sbe Gbz Obzonqvy, ur'f n nabznyl. V qba'g oryvrir rira Gbyxvra xarj RKNPGYL jub ur jnf.

      • CoyoteSister says:

        Juvpu vf nyfb jul gurl'er gerr-furcureqf, naq jul gurer'f fhpu na nhgbzngvp jnevarff orgjrra Tvzyv naq gur sberfg bs Snatbea– nsgre Nhyë znqr gur Qjneirf, Lninaan jnf hcfrg orpnhfr fur xarj, ybivat gur pensgf bs gurve bja unaq zber guna gur angheny nebhaq gurz, gurl jbhyq phg qbja gerrf, fb fur nfxrq gb or noyr gb znxr gur Ragf, va beqre gb cebgrpg gur gerrf sebz gur nkrf bs Qjneirf.

        Fbeel vs V'z orvat bireornevatyl rkcbfvgbel. V whfg ybir gung ovg bs gur Fvyz.

    • floppus says:

      Frr "Bs Nhyë naq Lninaan." Lninaan vf jbeevrq nobhg gur shgher bs ure perngvbaf, gerrf rfcrpvnyyl, naq creuncf wrnybhf bs Nhyë orvat nyybjrq gb perngr gur Qjneirf. Fur jnagf gur gerrf gb or noyr gb qrsraq gurzfryirf ntnvafg gur nkrf bs gur Qjneirf (naq bgure perngherf, gbb, V fhccbfr.) Vyúingne, fcrnxvat guebhtu Znajë, nterrf gb ure jvfu naq fnlf gung jura gur Puvyqera bs Vyúingne njnxr, fb jvyy gur "Furcureqf bs gur Gerrf."

    • clodia_risa says:

      The elves are covered in other comments, but maybe Tom Bombadil isn’t exactly living?

      OMG, he’s undead, somebody call Buffy!

    • Aris Katsaris says:

      "Ohg gb or byqre guna Tnynqevry naq Tybesvaqry"

      Naq Tnynqevry vf n lbhatfgre pbzcnerq gb Pveqna jub jnf nyernql gurer jura gur ryirf jrag *gb* Inyvabe…

    • stormwreath says:

      Gurer ner dhvgr n srj ragvgvrf va Zvqqyr Rnegu jub ner byqre guna gur havirefr, orpnhfr gurl jrer gurer ng vgf perngvba – gur Inyne, Fnheba, gur Onyebt; Tnaqnys uvzfrys sbe gung znggre. Ohg V qba'g guvax ur'f pbhagvat gurz nf orvat "yvivat orvatf"; gurl'er natryf (be snyyra natryf).

      Gbz Obzonqvy vf arire rkcynvarq, ohg V unir gb nffhzr ur'f bar bs gur Znvne nf jryy; whfg n irel rppragevp bar. Jung ryfr pbhyq ur or?

      Gur Ragf jrer svefg njnxrarq fubegyl nsgre gur svefg Ryirf. Vs jr nffhzr gung Gerrorneq jnf bar bs gur bevtvany Ragf, gura ur'f nobhg 11,360 lrnef byq. Píeqna gur Fuvcjevtug vf zragvbarq nf orvat gur ehyre bs n tebhc bs Fvaqne va gur Lrne bs gur Gerrf 1150: vg'f dhvgr cbffvoyr ur jnf bar bs gur bevtvany Ryirf gb jnxra ng Phvivéara, juvpu znxrf uvz 11,362.

      Tnynqevry vf n zrer lbhatfgre: fur'f bayl 8372.

      Bs pbhefr, gurer ner cyragl bs gur bevtvany Phvivéara ryirf yvivat va Inyvabe; ohg Tnaqnys qvq fcrpvsvpnyyl fnl "haqre gur Fha va Zvqqyr Rnegu", fb gurl qba'g pbhag.

      • threerings13 says:

        Gunaxf, lbh znxr tbbq cbvagf. V guvax va guvf pnfr, lbhe gurbel nobhg Obzonqvy orvat n Znvne vf nyzbfg gur bayl guvat gung znxrf frafr, va grezf bs guvf pbzzrag bs Tnaqnys'f. Nf V fnvq nobir, V unq sbetbggra nobhg Pveqna, ohg vg frrzf vs jr gnxr guvf nf gehgu, ur pbhyqa'g unir orra bar bs gur bevtvany ryirf gb jnxr: ur zhfg unir orra obea nsgre gur Ragf jbxr hc.

  47. Leah-san says:

    You can probably see why there were so many snickering GIFs and rot13 talk yesterday?

    <img src=""&gt;

    I love the story Legolas made up. He's such a snarker.
    I also like the conversation Gimli and Legolas have about Fangorn, and Gimli's all like "Yeah, I hate this forest, and you are weird for liking it, but you're my bro so I'm staying with you." The "You comfort me" line was also especially sweet.

  48. knut_knut says:

    Hey, Mark, remember this from yesterday's review?



    Gandalf's return makes everything so much more hopeful!

  49. MidnightLurker says:


    "Gonzo," the old whatever repeated, as if recalling from old memory a long disused word. "Ooh, yeah, that was totally it! I was Gonzo!"

  50. Smurphy says:

    I haven't actually read Ch. 5 yet… BUT I SHOULD BE CAUGHT UP BY THE END OF THE WEEKEND! But I had to come on and say…

    IN ONE MONTH I'M MEETING MARK!!!!!!!! *eeeeeeeeeeeek* … … … I'm just a little excited.

    Oh gosh. Just noticed what chapter this is… this book moves so fast. From my memory The Two Towers moved much much slower but it just hasn't been that way. OK talk to y'all Monday.

  51. castlewayjay says:

    Hey everybody – look at how the first paragraph on this webpage starts! :
    " Not to be confused with Reject Report, The White, which is what happens after we do battle with the Balrog. Reject Report, The White is never NEVER wrong."

  52. hick says:

    Now I can say, that I was surprised, that you didn't here before, that Gandalf would basically return from the dead. I thought, it was as big a spoiler as Snape killing Dumbledore, meaning everybody knows it anyway.

  53. Laurelluin says:

    Fun fact from the calendar in the Tale of Years appendix: qnl jura Tnaqnys ergheaf vf Nentbea'f oveguqnl. I don't feel that's spoilery, as it's completely irrelevant to the point, but I rot-13'ed it just in case.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Jryy, fcbvyrel gb gur Nccraqvprf, juvpu V ubcr Znex jvyy ernq.

      Ohg, fgvyy, njrfbzr oveguqnl cerfrag! V jvfu V pbhyq erzrzore jub qvq vg, ohg fbzrbar jebgr n yvggyr qenooyr, jurer Nentbea ernyvmrf jung qnl vg vf, naq guvaxf jung n terng oveguqnl tvsg vg jnf. Vg jnf ernyyl arng.

  54. Atrus says:

    Gandalf, so sassy that he'll come back from the dead just to show off!

    Unfortunately I never got the chance to rejoice at this moment because the guy who wrote the introduction to the Italian edition of LotR, in addition to being completely wrong on several accounts, also tells you "Oh yeah Gandalf will be back", and you don't even know who Gandalf is yet. Darn you Ellemire Zolla, darn you to heck! *shakes fist angrily*

  55. fantasy_fan says:

    Congratulations Mark, I'm so happy for you that Gandalf is back! It has been really touching how much you mourned him while he was dead. Gandalf 2.0, now with extra whiteners. Yay!!

    And now you can claim that another of your predictions for this book has come true. We now have two new creatures: Ents, and flying Nazgul.

    (Actually, it's kind of creepy. Gandalf has had an upgrade, but so has the Nazgul Department of Transportation. Could have done without that.)

  56. PrefectSarah says:

    Gandalf = coolest BAMF of all time

  57. anobium says:

    Brian Sibley, who wrote the famous 1981 radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, likes to tell the story in interviews of how Michael Hordern, the distinguished actor who played Gandalf, hadn't read the books and was puzzled to find himself being killed off in Episode 8, and asked one of the producers if there'd been a mistake with the number of episodes in his contract.

    "The producer told him that he would be resurrected in a few weeks time and – totally un-phased and without further enquiry – Michael said, “Splendid, splendid!” and wandered off. I don’t think he ever understood what was going on, but he sounded as if he did: the secret of great acting, I guess!"

  58. Vivien529 says:

    Oh, Mark… I had to finally create an account and comment because your review brings me so much joy. Lord of the Rings is my favorite story of all time. It is my "read at age eleven and create a Mary Sue insert for the story and thank the heavens Internet did not exist back then" story. I love this book so much, and seeing the story unfold through your eyes makes every day a little more pleasant. (And Buffy is my favorite fandom, so I get two hits of sheer delight.) Thanks so much for writing.

  59. eyelessgame says:

    A line that has become more and more one of my favorites over the years – "I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old; they choose the wisest person present to speak to; the long explanations needed by the young are wearying."

    • Dreamflower says:

      I know! It's one of my favorite quotes too!

    • Lugija says:

      I just used it a while ago, when I was doing math problems in a group and talked to myself: "You can take the common digdigdig, like this, and let out a big laugh: lo! you can divide these variables, ho ho!"*. Others asked me who I was talking, and I quoted Gandalf. Too bad no one knew where the quote was from, but they laughed anyway.

      *I learnt this sort of speak from my math/physics teacher, who is pretty much Gandalf the Gray, beard and all.

  60. notemily says:

    Now that I'm back from the staff meeting at work, I can post a proper comment. (I really just wanted to get that Mean Girls joke on the first page.)

    First of all, Gingerhaze's version of the Mines of Moria scene. As far as I know, this is the only full Broship comic she's ever made, and man is it awesome. Moria is a bar, the Balrog is the Bouncer, and Gandalf… well, you'll see. Click through to embiggen:

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;


    Discworld spoiler time!

    [V ernq Qvfpjbeyq orsber V rire ernq YBGE, fb V qvqa'g trg ng gur gvzr jul guvf jnf fb uvynevbhf (sebz Rdhny Evgrf):

    "Fur ghearq gur irfg bire naq ernq gur anzrgncr pnershyyl frja vafvqr.'Uzz. Tenacbar gur Juvgr. Ur'f tbvat gb or Tenacbar gur Terl vs ur qbrfa'g gnxr orggre pner bs uvf ynhaqel.'"

    Abj nsgre orpbzvat n Gbyxvra sna, vg'f bar bs zl nyy-gvzr snibevgr Cengpurgg wbxrf. V xabj Qvfpjbeyq trgf orggre gur zber vg orpbzrf vgf bja guvat naq yrff n fcbbs bs uvtu snagnfl, ohg fbzr bs gur uvtu snagnfl wbxrf jrer cher tbyq :Q]

    I forgot to post this yesterday:

    <img src=""&gt;

    (Because in Gingerhaze's Broship of the Ring, Hobbits = hipsters. What do you mean, you've never heard of Second Breakfast?)

    ok now I gotta run some more but much like Gandalf, I WILL BE BACK

    • Katarina says:

      That last panel made me giggle for a full minute.

      Discworld: Zl snibhevgr Gbyxvra fcbbs va Qvfpjbeyq vf jura Tbyyhz nccrnef va Jvgpurf Noebnq naq gur jvgpurf vzzrqvngryl uvg uvz jvgu na bne. :-Q

    • arctic_hare says:

      I love the Broship so much, I am so glad you introduced me to it in these reviews. <3 I can never get enough of cute, funny parodies of things I love. 😀

      • notemily says:

        ME NEITHER. Affectionate Parody is one of my very favorite things.

        • arctic_hare says:

          Affectionate parody is the best parody. Cleolinda wrote something about that ages and ages ago that's really stuck with me. I forget exactly how she phrased it, but it can be summed up to it being why it works better than stuff like Scary Movie: because it's done with an appreciation and understanding of the original material, so they're funnier. I totally agree with her assessment.

          • msw188 says:

            Yes, I've tried to explain this to someone else before. The best parodies and spoofs come from poking fun at something you honestly enjoy. And in the same sense, the viewer needs to be on the same wavelength. Someone who doesn't like Star Wars isn't going to get much out of something like Space Balls making fun of it.

          • notemily says:

            As I was reading this, a song from A Very Potter Musical came up on my shuffle. 🙂

    • anobium says:

      That is a thing of beauty. Especially the last panel.

      (The second-last panel reminds me of one of my favourite moments in one of my favourite issues of Planetary. "He's getting away!" "Leave me behind! I'll only slow you down!" "Okay." "I didn't mean it, you evil old geezer.")

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      "What do you know?"

      Gahhhh….love that comic! <3 <3

  61. @aagblog says:

    "In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel. Thus he brought me back at last to the secret ways of Khazad-dûm…"

    I love this. I love that he had to follow his enemy in order to get out.

  62. teaspooncapacity says:


  63. elyce says:

    Oh Mark. I find it absolutely hilarious when you wish for things that are going to happen in the VERY NEXT CHAPTER. Like last chapter you wished that Gandalf would come back, and he did! And a few chapters before, you asked if we were ever going to get an Orc with a name and voila!

    I knew you would be completely bowled over by Gandalf's return. I sure was. :D:D The Two Towers is really an awesome book, I almost want to say my favorite book of the trilogy, but that varies by day.

  64. arctic_hare says:

    So yes, like so many others, I had me a good giggle yesterday at your wondering if Gandalf could come back. xD HOW YOU DO THESE THINGS SOMETIMES IS QUITE BEYOND ME. BUT I LOVE IT. 😀 Your unpreparedness is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. <3

    My favorite parts of this chapter, besides Gandalf's return, are moments with Legolas and Gimli. Legolas' story that he comes up with to explain what they found near the site of the battle is priceless, especially this line: "Being pleased with his skill, he then sat down and quietly ate some waybread! That at least is enough to show that he was a hobbit, without the mallorn leaf." OMG SO TRUE. xD That is hobbit behavior through and through, Legolas learned our ways fast (yes, I said "our", for I so would be a hobbit if I lived in Middle Earth. And really, the fact that none of these awesome things in it are real is indeed an oppression we must fight against, as Mark said yesterday.).

    The Gimli moment is when Gandalf relays those disturbing messages and Gimli's reaction is ":( 🙁 🙁 She didn't send me a message? :'(" and Gandalf basically says "Sorry, I was thinking about the other messages", and relates her message to him, which is not disturbing at all, but totally sweet, and Gimli is cheerful and excited again. AWWWWW. 😀 ILU, Gimli.

    In closing, Gandalf is back YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

  65. jaccairn says:

    Vg'f orra sha jnvgvat sbe Znex'f ernpgvba gb Tnaqnysf' erghez ohg gur ovt dhrfgvbaabj vf jura, qhevat nyy gur rkpvgrzrag arkg jrrx, ur'yy fgneg nfxvat 'ohg jung nobhg Fnz naq Sebqb?'

  66. Hotaru_hime says:

    Gandalf LIVES!!
    When I read FOTR and cried over Gandalf "dying" my older brother scornfully told me that he wasn't dead and comes back in the Two Towers. That is just another reason why I want to gut him.
    As far as the talking ponies, I really don't think it would work in every day life for people of Middle Earth. They need ponies and horses as transportation and labor and if they all became sentient and could talk sensibly well, why would they subject to slavery like that? If I were a pony and chatting with a human and he said, "Oh well, carry these packs for 20 miles" I wouldn't be up for that.

  67. kateydidnt says:

    V'z fgvyy jbaqrevat vs Znex haqrefgnaqf gur gehr angher bs jvmneqf.

    Va gur puncgre jvgu Gerrorneq vg zragvbaf gung gur jvmneqf svefg pnzr znal lrnef ntb nppbeqvat gb gur nppbhagvat bs zbegnyf. Ohg V qba'g guvax Znex haqrefgnaqf lrg gung jvmneqf ner abg uhzna. Ur qbrfa'g frrz gb unir cvpxrq hc ba gur "Anxrq V jnf frag onpx-sbe n oevrs gvzr, hagvy zl gnfx vf qbar." Gurer vf fbzrbar qbvat gur fraqvat naq gur jvmneqf pnzr gb Zvqqyr-Rnegu sbe n fcrpvsvp gnfx. Bs pbhefr jr xabj gung ur vf bar bs gur Znvne. Ohg V'z gelvat gb pbzr hc jvgu n inyvq pbzcnevfba. Vyhingne vf gur perngbe naq Tbq bs Zvqqyr Rnegu, gura gurer ner gur Inyne juvpu ner yrffre Tbqf naq gura gur Znvne jub ner znlor yvxr nepu natryf? V qba'g xabj.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Onfvpnyyl, lrf, Znvne ner natryvp orvatf, whfg n yvggyr ybjre guna gur Inyne, naq gurl freir gur Inyne nf gur Inyne freir gur Bar. Ohg fbzrgvzr Znvne freir gur Bar qverpgyl, nf va Tnaqnys'f pnfr. Vg jnf abg gur Inyne jub frag uvz onpx, ohg gur Bar.

      Fnheba, Onyebtf, Fnehzna– gurl ner nyy *snyyra* Znvne.

      Gur Vfgnev jrer n fcrpvny tebhc bs Znvne pubfra sbe gurve gnfx: Fnehzna, Tnaqnys, Enqntnfg naq gur gjb oyhrf. Gurve wbo jnf gb uryc Ryirf naq Zra bireguebj Fnheba, ohg gurl pbhyq abg qb vg guebhtu qverpg vagreiragvba, naq gurve cbjref jrer terngyl erfgevpgrq jura gurl jrer rzobqvrq.

  68. castlewayjay says:

    Other things I liked – Gandalf's sadness for Boromir; his mentions being of the Ents being roused up of of Saruman's folly and Sauron's blindness to The Plan. I esp like when he says he is glad that the temptation of using the Ring has passed from them. Who knows? Ganadlf the White might have been more tempted to use it than Gandalf the Grey.

  69. @gladdecease says:

    I feel like such a bad person right now – I have tears in my eyes from laughing at Mark's freakout over Gandalf's return.

  70. JustMalyn says:

    So my friends and I decided that Dumbledore in the afterlife/King's Cross scene is A LOT like Gandalf the White, particularly in the movie. "YOU SHALL NOT PASS…unless you board a train to take you onward."

    • katherinemh says:

      The only time anyone talked at my midnight screening for Deathly Hallows Part II was when Dumbledore showed up in the afterlife/King's Cross scene. Someone whispered, "Gandalf the White!"

  71. katherinemh says:

    Since you mentioned the talking ponies, I saw this post on tumblr the other day:… Maybe it's a good thing the ponies don't talk.

  72. tardis_stowaway says:

    GANDALF IS TOO SASSY TO STAY DEAD. Here, we learn more about just how epic he can be. He slayed the Balrog AND discovered bleach!

    I love how pleased he is by the fact that Sam went with Frodo.

  73. Clamarnicale says:

    Gandalf can't be killed, he just keeps coming back!

    [youtube _4-4fyGQ2JM youtube]

    • amyalices says:

      Bit spoilery for Mark still, don't click if you're still reading along!

      Be unir jr frra Fnehzna nyernql? Fbeel, vs fb, pna'g or gbb pnershy!

  74. Eira says:

    Jej. Gandalf! I'm so glad that you know this now, Mark. I found it hard to discuss this book with that elephant in the room. It's not easy to ignore when you already know this.

    Oh well. I am pleased to see that you've accepted that he's back. I must admit that I found it a bit strange and very deus ex machina when I read this the first time. It did not make sense for me according to how my own "logic of supernatural events in literature" works. I was like: "Oh Tolkien killed off Gandalf, but changed his mind and did not bother to re-write earlier chapters". But however, by the first re-read I was totally fine with it. It just makes sense that it's not that easy to kill off a powerful wizard as Gandalf.

    • Dreamflower says:

      Rot-13 for Silmarillion spoilers

      Ohg Tnaqnys JNF xvyyrq.
      Gur Onyebt qvq xvyy Tnaqnys'f obql nf Tnaqnys xvyyrq uvz. Ohg Tnaqnys jnfa'g uhzna. Jvmneqf jrer cneg bs gur Znvn, n enpr zber nxva gb natryf guna gb uhznaf. Fb jura gur obql ur jnf hfvat jnf xvyyrq, ur jnaqrerq "bhg bs gubhtug naq gvzr" hagvy ur jnf "frag onpx" gb svavfu gur wbo ur unq fgnegrq, naq jnf gura er-rzobqvrq, ohg zber cbjreshy nf n erjneq sbe qrsrngvat gur Onyebt. Jura gur svir Jvmneqf (Fnehzna, Tnaqnys, Enqntnfg naq gur gjb Oyhr barf) unq orra frag gb Zvqqyr-rnegu gb uryc bireguebja Fnheba (jub jnf nyfb, OGJ, n Znvn, n snyyra bar) gur Inyne yvzvgrq gurve cbjref naq gurve zrzbevrf fb gung gurl pbhyq bayl vasyhrapr gur serr crbcyrf gb svtug Fnheba va gur beqvanel jnl. Gurl jrer nyfb tvira gur obqvrf bs byq zra, fb gung gurl jbhyq or erfcrpgrq ohg abg jbefuvccrq.

      Onyebtf jrer nyfb Znvn. Gurl unq pubfra gb ybpx gurve obqvrf va gur sbezf bs sver-qrzbaf. Gung'f jul Tnaqnys jnf gur bayl cbffvoyr crefba va gur Sryybjfuvc jub pbhyq qrny jvgu vg.

      So I guess you could still say it was a literal deus ex machina, but it was one JRRT had planned from the beginning.

  75. rabidsamfan says:

    I no longer remember if I was spoiled for Gandalf's return. It's been too many years, and I had so many friends with Hildebrant calenders then… (And I was very impatient with hobbitless chapters, then!) What I do remember is being with some friends one night who were playing Gimli as Daffy Duck and Gandalf as Bugs Bunny:

    "Shoot him now! Shoot him now!"

    "You be quiet, he doesn't have to shoot me now."

    I think it was elf-eared Elmer wondering if Wizards were crunchy and good with ketchup that finally destroyed us.

    Ah, good times!

  76. ldwy says:

    Instead of reading along, I've gotten this on audiobook for my long commute. But I've fallen behind, because read out loud, Tolkien's chapters are hours long 🙂

  77. Shay_Guy says:

    So is The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny now spoiler-free?

  78. Smurphy says:

    Wow. Somebody wasn't prepared. And you still aren't…

    In other news… I'M CAUGHT UP! I read chapter 6 and am all ready for tomorrow!!! YEAH!!!!

    Also I love Gandalf forever and ever and he's never allowed to die ever. Not saying he will or will not just saying he's not allowed.

  79. ladysugarquill says:

    Mark, I am seriously amazed that you weren't spoiled for this plot twist! After all, "to pull a Gandalf" has become fandom slang for returning from the death/not being really dead. Even Jo Rowling used it in an interview. XD

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