Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 2

Int he second chapter of the second book of The Two Towers, Gollum leads Sam and Frodo to Mordor and through the creepiest marsh of all time. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


I was going to start off this review by saying that I was glad to have my suspicions backed up by Sam, but I’m really not glad about that. I want Gollum to be helping Frodo, even if he’s conflicted about the process. It was more that my fears were at least validated by another character, and I didn’t feel so weird about it.

Gollum really is a complicated character, and in this chapter, we get to see both how his own interests and the power of Mordor create this storm of confusion in his mind. It’s difficult to determine what’s going on and what he’s going to do. Tolkien uses this chapter to essentially befuddle us at the same time. If Gollum has some ulterior motive, it’s hard to deny that he definitely is taking the two hobbits to Mordor, and his “debate” later in the chapter gives me the impression that he’s not communicating with the Dark Lord in any way. Perhaps it really is that simple: Gollum is afraid and anxious, and that’s what I’ve picked up on.

Is it acceptable to say that he’s kind of adorable at times, too? I mean, his little song about catching a fish is SO GODDAMN CUTE. It’s weird because it’s not like Gollum is a child, but he’s so tiny and frightened and nervous. I can’t wait to see how the movies deal with him. How am I like the last person on earth not to know what Gollum looks like in the movies?

Anyway, the fact that I’m able to feel sorry for Gollum is really a testament to how well-written this character is. I have no real reason to like him at this point. He’s been following the Company for weeks, and hasn’t really done anything to make him a sympathetic character. Regardless of whether this journey is a trick or not, seeing Gollum so terribly hungry makes me sad. I didn’t expect him to be able to eat lembas, since it was made by the elves, but no one deserves to go hungry. I think that even while Sam isn’t comfortable with Frodo, he feels pity for the creature as well. Is it Gollum’s fault that the Ring made him so bitter? I don’t think it’s really fair to say so.

Still, I don’t blame Sam for expressing doubt. It’s just a smart thing to do at this point. They’re inching closer to Mordor and Gollum’s not given them a real reason to trust him. Sure, it’s unfortunate that they have to take turns to keep guard in case Gollum decides to leave, but it can’t harm things, can it? I think that Sam is forced to re-evaluate his thoughts slightly when he accidentally falls asleep while on watch to discover that Gollum hasn’t deserted them or eaten them alive. He certainly could have, but he just goes off to find food and then returns on his own.

When Gollum advises them to cross through the Marsh to avoid being spotted by Orcs, the Nazgûl, or Sauron’s Eye, it’s sort of hard to ignore the fact that he’s legitimately helping them. There’s absolutely no way they would have made it across the Marsh without his assistance! THIS IS SCIENCE OR SOMETHING. I don’t think Sam feels all that great about Gollum, but even considering the conversation he has with himself later, I think Gollum is honestly trying to help them out.

I don’t know that it counts as “helping,” though, when Gollum decides not to tell the hobbits that he’s taking them through The Dead Marshes:

Hurrying forward again, Sam tripped, catching his foot in some old root or tussock. He fell and came heavily on his hands, which sank deep into stick ooze, so that his face was brought close to the surface of the dark mere. There was a faint hiss, a noisome smell went up, the lights flickered and danced and swirled. For a moment the water below him looked like some window, glazed with grimy glass, through which he was peering. Wrenching his hands out of the bog, he sprang back with a cry. ‘There are dead things, dead faces in the water,’ he said with horror. ‘Dead faces!’

WHAT THE FUCK!!!! Tolkien, how do you come up with this shit? How did you think it would be awesome to put these characters in a marsh where they can glimpse the dead, rotting bodies of soldiers and warriors from a battle long ago? The best part about this, though, is the fact that we only spend a couple pages here before moving on. This isn’t even a big deal to Tolkien. He just casually reveals the most horrifying thing ever and then MOVES THE FUCK ON. Oh my god, I just want to climb inside that man’s imagination. Wait…no, I don’t! I WOULD BE EATEN ALIVE. The dude thought up ringwraiths. Yeah, I change my mind. It’s sort of like that thing where people wish Westeros was real. YEAH, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING? We would all die all of the time. I would last maybe ten minutes in an A Song of Ice and Fire novel. I’d go live in those marshes that don’t show up until later in the series where like twenty people live. ONLY WAY TO STAY ALIVE.

Let’s talk about the fact that as the characters get closer to Mordor, they all feel the pull and the threat of the place. Obviously, Frodo feels it more than anyone else since he’s currently Master of the Ring. Is that why one of the wraiths flies overhead? Can it sense the Ring is close? I think that the feeling of the Eye was what creeped me out the most. I can’t even imagine that sensation, that this disembodied eye that represents the power of a dark lord is just seeking you out.

Sam certainly feels the grim nature of what’s ahead of them, and Gollum probably has that conversation with himself in response to the power of Mordor as well. But there’s nothing that quite lets them know what is ahead as when then come upon the moors of the Noman-lands:

Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about. High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slowly revealed in the reluctant light.

FUCK. What the hell did Tolkien base this off of? Or did he just pluck it out of his brain to terrify me forever??? The image of these three characters standing on the edge of the marsh, looking upon this expanse of desolation, is forever going to haunt me. It’s one of the most compelling images that Tolkien provides in the entirety of The Lord of the Rings, perhaps my favorite bit of writing as well. Just incredible, y’all.

It’s after this that we get to experience Gollum talking to himself. I’m wondering if I’ve been missing a really obvious clue this whole time: Is Gollum also called Sméagol for a reason? Or is it just a dual name? Does it represent the two sides to him that we see here? I suppose that’s not that important, though, because Gollum always spoke in third person. Like Sam, though, there was one specific exchange that caught my attention:

‘She might help. She might, yes.’

‘No, no! Not that way!’ wailed Sméagol.

UM WHAT. WHAT. WHO ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT. WHO IS THIS. WHAT THE FUCK. She? There aren’t many women in this book, but this has to be a character we haven’t met already, right? WHO WOULD HELP GOLLUM GET THE RING?

This chapter ends with me feeling pretty damn awful. Gollum agrees to take them to the Gate of Mordor, and Frodo agrees to let Gollum go at that point. Is he going to break his promise, and if so, will Sam be able to stop him since he overheard the conversation? Jesus, they’re pretty much at the Gates of Mordor now. HOW THE HELL IS THERE MORE BOOK LEFT? Oh god, I feel terrible.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

308 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 2

  1. Becky_J_ says:

    *The things I think are highly suspicious/creepy/questionable in this chapter*
    2. Gollum
    3. The Marshes
    4. "Nice hobbits, they sleep beautifully. Trust Smeagol now? Very, very good." Yeah, fine, okay, I DID, until you said that in THE ABSOLUTE CREEPIEST WAY POSSIBLE!! As if to say "Hey, first of all, I just got done watching you sleep, and second, I HAVE YOU RIGHT WHERE I WANT YOU." Yeah. No. NO THANKS.
    5. "The hobbits were now wholly in the hands of Gollum." HMM. QUESTIONABLE.
    6. Oh, good, they're called "The DEAD Marshes." That lessens the creep level! WAIT. NO IT DOESN'T.
    7. "The candles of the corpses, yes, yes." SHUT THE HELL UP. What are the…. nevermind, I suspect we will find out soon enough.
    8. "There are dead things, dead faces in the water!" GEE I WAS RIGHT, WE DID FIND OUT. The marshes turned the graves of the dead Men, Elves, and Orcs into a freaking water museum, where you can go and look at all the corpses! Fun! Could we go back to everything being NOT SO FUCKING CREEPY?? kthanks
    9. The freaking Nazgul. That now flies. Because a Nazgul on a horse isn't creepy enough…. WE SHOULD UPGRADE TO A FLYING ONE. good. great. awesome.
    10. "….and he went back more and more into his old manner of speaking." Come ON. Gollum behaving like a normal creature was one of the only good things happening. Can't it just stay that way??? I GUESS NOT.
    11. Frodo is playing weighlifting with the Ring and trying to lose the staring contest with the Eye, Gollum is burdened by three really awful things, and Sam has a cloudy heart. THIS IS SO DEPRESSING, YOU GUYS.
    12. Gollum's debate with himself. Wouldn't it be pleasant to wake up with Gollum crouching over you, rocking back and forth, muttering to himself in two different voices? And then, to make it even better, he starts reaching for your neck! BEST WAKE UP CALL EVER, OR BEST WAKE UP CALL EVER??
    13. "So they stumbled on through the weary end of the night, and until the coming of another day of fear they walked in silence with bowed heads, seeing nothing, and hearing nothing but the wind hissing in their ears." Well, at least the chapter ended on a light and cheerful note! GREAT HOBBIT ON EARTH, this is literally some of the most awful stuff I've ever read. Child-me must have blocked this all out, because I seriously don't remember this being SO DAMN DEPRESSING.

    *And now for the single most likely moment to break your heart into a million pieces and then step on them*
    "I don't know how long we shall take to–to finish," said Frodo. "We were miserably delayed in the hills. But Samwise Gamgee, my dear hobbit–indeed, Sam my dearest hobbit, friend of friends–I do not think we need give thought to what comes after that. To 'do the job' as you put it–what hope is there that we ever shall? And if we do, who knows what will come of that? If the One goes into the Fire, and we are at hand? I ask you, Sam, are we ever likely to need bread again? I think not. If we can nurse our limbs to bring us to Mount Doom, that is all we can do. More than I can, I begin to feel."
    Sam nodded silently. He took his master's hand and bent over it. He did not kiss it, though his tears fell on it.

    J.R.R Tolkien: Crushing my hopes and dreams and breaking my heart since 1954.
    <img src=""&gt;

    • castlewayjay says:

      That quote – it broke my heart also

      • Wheelrider says:

        I'm kinda surprised Mark didn't say anything about that bit… one of the most heart-stabbing pieces of writing in this book, and, well, anywhere else.

        But I also love how Sam comically understates things. "Do the job"!

    • LadyViridis says:

      Poor Frodo. D: His despair really is heartbreaking here. I think he knew it was a fairly hopeless mission starting out, but it was also much easier to feel confident when the Fellowship was all embarking on the quest at once. Now he's lost in the wilderness with only Sam and Gollum and no real idea of how he's supposed to accomplish his goal (but the sure knowledge that if he doesn't manage somehow the world will basically end). I don't blame him for despairing, but I do want to hug him.

      I also really wonder wtf Gandalf was planning to do in the end even if the Fellowship had made it all this way together. I mean, he's awesome, but he's also somewhat conspicuous. Was he just going to waltz up to Mordor and be like "WHAT UP SAURON?" while the hobbits snuck round the back? Like seriously, what was his plan?? Did he even have one?

      • Joshua says:

        This is not a spoiler because I'm just speculating freely:

        I don't think Gandalf had a specific plan beyond "Improvise." Gandalf, and I think Tolkien, believes in divine providence. It's not explicitly stated, but that's my reading of his comment that "Bilbo was meant to find the ring" back in Book 1, and elsewhere.

        So I think Gandalf's plan is to start the journey as that is what is both necessary and within their power, and hope that divine providence comes through with a way to complete it.

        • floppus says:

          This is a good point. In book II, while Gandalf is nominally the leader of the Fellowship, he doesn't offer much specific advice; at one point he gives them a vague outline of the journey to come, and doesn't get any farther than the "secret woods," i.e., Lothlórien. The hobbits seem to interpret it as Gandalf being deliberately secretive, but I'm inclined to agree with you – he really doesn't seem to have a plan in mind. He knows that they need to destroy the Ring, that in order to do that they have to get it to Mordor, and he's content to leave the rest up to fate. Worry about the present, not the future. "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us," right?

          I have the impression, from various things I've read, that the same is true of the Tolkien: that when he started writing the story, he didn't have any clear idea of how it was going to end.

    • settledforhistory says:

      I couldn't agree more with your comment.

      The mood, the place and Gollum became creepier every page. I was so on edge, because I was sure either Gollum would try to kill the Hobbits when they turned their backs on him or the Nazgul would find them,
      The Dead Marshes have to be one of the most horrible places imaginable (though I'm sure Tolkien could think of worse). Not only are there bodies of a war hundreds of years ago so it's like a flodded graveyard, but the lights also seem to draw you in, to add to the body count I guess.
      Gollum tried to eat the dead, right? That's what Sam implied, at least. Ew!

      Samwise Gamgee, my dear hobbit–indeed, Sam my dearest hobbit, friend of friends

      This is the only thing that made me smile in this chapter. It's just so sweet. Frodo is agreeing with my Sam-love! Let me hug you, you wonderful Hobbit!

      Sam nodded silently. He took his master's hand and bent over it. He did not kiss it, though his tears fell on it.

      Oh god, I was close to tears while reading that. I can't stand Sam crying, this is so painful.

      So they stumbled on through the weary end of the night, and until the coming of another day of fear they walked in silence with bowed heads, seeing nothing, and hearing nothing but the wind hissing in their ears."
      Well, at least the chapter ended on a light and cheerful note!

      Yes, thanks for the hope you give us for a happy ending, Tolkien! I feel so much better knowing that the Hobbits are having a good time.

    • flootzavut says:

      This comment. Totally.

      Also: V pna'g jnvg sbe Znex gb "zrrg" Tbyyhz. Naq nyfb, gur Qrnq Znefurf, fbbbbb perrcl va gur zbivrf…

    • Alice says:

      Your no 12 WIN!!And that quote…it is one of my favorites from the LOTR books,and is such a sweet and heartbreaking scene…oh,my creyes!!

    • platoapproved says:

      Augh that quote, MY HEART HURTS. D:

    • ldwy says:

      Me too. It makes Frodo's perseverance and courage all the more admirable. To proceed for the cause of goodness when you know or feel that there's no hope for you?

  2. knut_knut says:

    To do the job as you put it – what hope is there that we ever shall? And if we do, who knows what will come of that? If the One goes into the Fire, and we are at hand? I ask you, Sam, are we ever likely to need bread again? I think not. If we can nurse our limbs to bring us to Mount Doom, that is all we can do. More than I can, I begin to feel.
    <img src=""&gt;

    Yea, that light-hearted feeling from last chapter? Gone. This mission is a DISASTER. Even though we’ve known since the beginning that they’re basically making this up as they go, it doesn’t really hit me until this chapter. Having Gandalf around is kind of like having a plan, but now that it’s just Sam and Frodo everything feels hopeless. Oh, and the Ring is getting heavier and Gollum is thinking about murdering Frodo in his sleep? COULD THIS GET ANY WORSE?

  3. Ryan Lohner says:

    So, so creepy. And you can easily imagine Tolkien wandering through the aftermath of battles in the Great War, seeing all the flooded foxholes with bodies floating in them. And quite tearjerking when you remember his sons were fighting Hitler as he was writing this, with Tolkien knowing full well what they were going through.

    • castlewayjay says:

      exactly — and Tolkien lost some of his closest friends in that "Great" War.

    • flootzavut says:

      THIS. Tears forever.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      well now you've made this chapter so much more disturbing.

    • Nathan L says:

      The story I hear was bomb craters full of water with bodies in them, not foxhole (same difference!)

      But the war is definitely where the imagery of the Dead Marshes came from, then Tolkien combined it with legends of will o' wisps and other phantom flames leading people to their death in swamps and marshes. I think his true talent as a writer is that he can paint scenery so well with his words that it just feels /real/, and then seamlessly weave in myths and legends, both 'real' and of his own design.

  4. Trey says:


    Lbh ner fb hacercnerq. Orpnhfr FURYBO.

  5. Noybusiness says:

    Is it just me, or did Gollum get creepier when we learned in TFotR that he was an ex-Hobbit and not a born monster?

    • cait0716 says:

      A little. It also made me pity him even more when he's going on about eating fish three times a day. From what we've seen of hobbits, this would be fairly normal behavior given how often they eat. But Gollum's fallen to a point where fish even once a day would make him feel like a king.

    • drippingmercury says:

      Gollum is my favorite character and I have always been FULL OF HORROR about his back-story. It's one of the few initial reactions to the book I can remember clearly (my mom read the Hobbit & LOTR to me when I was 6/7). Creepy gangling monster thing from The Hobbit used to BE a hobbit?! AAAAAHHHHHHHH yes this is amazing.
      Fb bs pbhefr gur bcravat bs EBGX vf bar bs zl snibevgr fprarf. Vg cresrpgyl pncgherq rirelguvat ubeevoyr naq snfpvangvat nobhg Fzrntby'f pbeehcgvba naq ivivqyl oebhtug gb yvsr Tnaqnys'f qrfpevcgvba gung unq ubeev-snfpvangrq zr sbe lrnef. *fuviref*

  6. rabidsamfan says:

    Letting you know what Gollum looks like in the movies would be such a spoiler, but I am hugging the thought of you finding out with delight until then.

    I reread this chapter last night and all the desolation and the Dead Marshes reminded me forcibly of the descriptions of No Man's Land during World War 2. I sometimes think that Tolkien was trying to write things out of his head.

    • JustMalyn says:

      Thought-hugging 🙂 Also, yes, that was what I thought too. It's awful what he went through, and even worse when you realize he is by far not the only one. The Dead Marshes 🙁 so much sad.

  7. Mariska says:

    Fur zvtug uryc. Fur zvtug, lrf.’

    ‘Ab, ab! Abg gung jnl!’ jnvyrq Fzéntby.

    HZ JUNG. JUNG. JUB NER LBH GNYXVAT NOBHG. JUB VF GUVF. JUNG GUR SHPX. Fur? Gurer nera’g znal jbzra va guvf obbx, ohg guvf unf gb or n punenpgre jr unira’g zrg nyernql, evtug? JUB JBHYQ URYC TBYYHZ TRG GUR EVAT?

    <3 Guvf vf fb perrcl, rfcrpvnyyl jura lbh'ir ernq gur obbx naq xabj jung guvf ersref gb…gur orfg naq lrg zbfg greevoyr puncgre va gur obbx vzb.

  8. LarrikJ says:

    For what it's worth, early in the Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf explain's Gollum's two names:

    His name was Smeagol. until he found the ring and became a wretched shell of who he was. Then he started making the "Gollum! Gollum!" noise and his former neighbors and friends started calling him Gollum.

    • Eregyrn says:

      Yeah; isn't it even sort of explained in The Hobbit that "gollum" is the sound of the weird, croaking cough he makes all the time? And that's how he came to be called that.

  9. Kelsey says:


    Nu lrf, gur snohybhf erirnyvat bs FURYBO

  10. Melewen says:

    “What the hell did Tolkien base this off of?”

    A lot of this is based on Tolkien’s experiences in the trenches of WWI. Sadly, I don’t believe he had to exaggerate much to make it seem horrific.

    • @owlyross says:

      In fact, I'm almost certain he toned it down. I've visited the trenches, been to museums, seen photographs that would make your toes curl. This is like the PG version of WW1

    • Eregyrn says:

      I think this is another instance where it's so clear that the writing of a man who had actually seen war is head and shoulders above the writing of later imitators who had not. The fantasy genre, and especially LOTR imitators, is full of war and horrors, but it's impossible to replace the feeling of the way that LOTR itself is imbued with Tolkien's experiences.

  11. This chapter is unsettling throughout. The marshes themselves are a horrifying place, and I salute the three of them for getting through without completely losing it. Flickering lights and dead faces? Nightmarish. I’ve heard that this sequence was inspired by the aftermath of the battles he was in during World War I (does anyone know that for sure?) where he had to walk over the bodies of people who had been killed.
    Given that this entire place is nightmare fuel, I’m not surprised that there’s some fantastic description of it. But the passage that stood out to me most didn’t feature the Marshes, the one you noted, Mark:

    Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about. High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slowly revealed in the reluctant light.

    When I first read these books, my standard policy was to skip the huge chunks of description and cut right to the action. But even as an idiot kid, I recall reading this passage and it stamping itself forever into my brain. There's something so horrible about this mere telling of the land, I think all the more so because Tolkien has always taken pains with his landscape; you can tell by his loving descriptions that setting means a great deal to him. So when he describes something in such horrible detail, it's all the more terrifying. He knows how to describe a place, and doesn't spare you the details even when it's horrible.

    Characterwise, I still love Frodo. Not that I don't love Sam or not enjoy getting a closer look at Gollum, but Frodo still continues to outshine everyone in this entire book so far. He was able to smile at Gollum. Smile at him and tell him straightforwardly that he could leave and go free after he'd taken them where they both needed to go. We got to see Frodo as a judge and commander of sorts last chapter; now we get to see him enacting the mercy and pity he shows Gollum even more. He treats Gollum with so much respect throughout their interactions, though Heaven knows Gollum's done little to deserve it. Yet if we compare the results of how he treated Gollum compared to when Aragorn and Gandalf dealt with him, it's pretty clear that Frodo gets far more out of him, both in terms of usefulness and in terms of goodness, dare I say it, than either Aragorn or Gandalf did. It's fitting, though, that Frodo have this understanding of Gollum, because of the burden they both share. That said, I always have to concede that Sam has a point in not trusting Gollum to this point- and just have to hope that Frodo is still wary. Not that he gives the impression of being a fool, but it's still nervewracking to see these two beloved hobbits in close company with someone like Gollum.

    • grinmankey says:

      I read that description that you quoted outloud to my wife. It's one of my favorite examples of the power of language. She said to me "Wow, that man could weave words!" I love that!! Weave words… he was truly gifted at (what I feel) is a lost art.

    • castlewayjay says:

      I love Frodo's character in this chapter – and how he shows his character, if you know what I mean

    • Steve Morrison says:

      does anyone know that for sure?

      This is what he said in one of his letters:

      The Lord of the Rings was actually begun, as a separate thing, about 1937, and had reached the inn at Bree, before the shadow of the second war. Personally I do not think that either war (and of course not the atomic bomb) had any influence upon either the plot or the manner of its unfolding. Perhaps in landscape. The Dead Marshes and the approaches to the Morannon owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme. They owe more to William Morris and his Huns and Romans, as in The House of the Wolfings or The Roots of the Mountains.

    • redheadedgirl says:

      Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about. High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slowly revealed in the reluctant light.

      That sounds like an accurate description of No Man's Land to me.

      I've talked about this, oh, I think it might have been in Doctor Who comments, in the Human Nature/Family of Blood posts. But I've had a horrified fascination with WWI for a while. When I was in London for a study abroad program, I was SO EXCITED to go to the Imperial War Museum. The permanent exhibit they have on WWI is incredible. And sickening. And nightmare inducing. I went after classes were done for the day- it was the last two hours they were open, and there weren't many other people in the exhibit. And the light is low, and the manniquens displaying that (many many many) uniforms are blue, and there's so many competing sounds. Videos, sound effects, music…. it's seriously fucking creepy.

      They have a full-size model of a trench, which I was looking forward to seeing. And I got to the entrance, and… couldn't go in. I had torn my ACL the night before I left, so I was on crutches, and all alone, and already creeped out. But I wanted to see it. But could not get beyond the door. So I dithered until a family came by, and their 7 year old son said, "THIS IS SO COOL" (he didn't understand. How could he? he's seven.) and charged through, and I charged after him, because going through at 7 year old speed I could do (mentally-physically it was harder) and it smelled.

      Oh god, did it smell.

      It was dark, and the full size models and the lights and sounds of shell blasts and oh my god, I'm shaky just telling you this. And it was just a diorama. At the end of the trench, there's two men, walking towards you, one supporting the other. The one being supported has part of his face burned off. And that's the last thing you see before you go through a door into a sterile hallway.

      • castlewayjay says:

        wow. just wow. what an effective exhibit that must be

      • Melewen says:

        I've been there as well — I found it just as horrifying and gutting as visiting a concentration camp or the DC Holocaust Museum. It's definitely something that can change you.

    • Mariska says:

      Thanks for posting this; it's good to see the profound truth under Tolkien's fantasy story.

      • ^ Seconded. It's frightening to see that the most horrible place in Middle-Earth had its grounding in reality- and lends a bit of horror to Tolkien's assessment that "They were all orcs" in that battle.

        • Kaylee Arafinwiel says:

          Also, re: my other comment, my grandfather fought in WWII in the RCAF, and likely saw a bunch of horrible things as well 🙁 *shudder* I hate to think about it. But do you see now why it's not safe to try to walk into Mordor, Mark? It's a horrible place.


        • Steve Morrison says:

          I’m skeptical about that quote, however! You see the statement “We were all orcs in the Great War” attributed to Tolkien all over the Internet, but none of them give any citation for it. Worse, it conflicts with what we know Tolkien did say about “orcs” in real-life wars to Christopher Tolkien in Letter #71:

          Yes, I think the orcs as real a creation as anything in ‘realistic’ fiction: your vigorous words well describe the tribe; only in real life they are on both sides, of course. For ‘romance’ has grown out of ‘allegory’, and its wars are still derived from the ‘inner war’ of allegory in which good is on one side and various modes of badness on the other. In real (exterior) life men are on both sides: which means a motley alliance of orcs, beasts, demons, plain naturally honest men, and angels. But it does make some difference who are your captains and whether they are orc-like per se! And what it is all about (or thought to be). It is even in this world possible to be (more or less) in the wrong or in the right.

          Until someone gives a definite source, I’m inclined to believe the alleged quote is spurious.

          • castlewayjay says:

            Gur grkg bs gung yrggre 71 erzvaqf zr bs jung Fnz (naq va gur zbivrf Snenzve) fnlf nobhg gur qrnq fbyqvre jub jnf svtugvat sbe Fnheba

          • Now I feel like such a bad journalism student. I've just heard it thrown around so much I guess I just assumed there was grounding for it somewhere. But now I know for the future!

            • rabidsamfan says:

              Sounds like a challenge to hunt down the source to me. Might e an interview rather than a letter. I don't think that quote contradicts the sentimeny.

      • Kaylee Arafinwiel says:

        ^ Thirded? I think. But though it's good, it's also terrifying and horrible and…Mark, I need to learn not to eat while reading Mark Reads.

        Also, my paternal grandfather was a child during the Great War. According to my father (his late in life only child), Grandfather grew up near a place in Cheshire, England, where they held German prisoners. Apparently not very securely, since not once, but twice, the same guy escaped and played tricks on my grandfather that could have taken his life, had my great-grandfather not shown up right after and chased the man off. (Once, he strung a wire across the road where my grandfather rode his bike, and the second time, he knocked my grandfather into a well)


      • GamgeeFest says:

        Exactly. It just makes this that much creepier that he based all this off his experiences in WWI. What a thing to witness!

    • LadyViridis says:

      Is that the chlorine gas in the first one? D: I recently heard a podcast that talked about the guy who invented it and a description of the first use…. absolutely horrifying. The image of a roiling green cloud that moved over the ground, withering grass and dropping dead birds in its wake while people choked and died… *shudder* D: I'll take Mordor over that anytime, kthx.

      • blossomingpeach says:

        Fbeg bs fbhaqf yvxr Snenzve'f ivfvba bs gur qrfgehpgvba bs Ahzrabe…bs pbhefr, jvgu n tnf jnir vafgrnq bs na bprna jnir. Qnexarff harfpncnoyr. *fuhqqre*

      • Ryan Lohner says:

        My great-grandfather survived a chlorine gas attack, and spent the next few years in horrible pain until he finally died. So this kind of thing always brings that idea up.

    • Summeriris says:

      Once on a visit to London I went to see the monument to the Artillery Corp in Hyde Park. It has always made me weep inside. Mark, welcome to the Battle of the Somme. I don't think Tolkien ever recovered from it. He lost all of his friends that joined up with him. He was the only one left of their Society. They were going to be poets and writers, Tolkien was the one who succeeded.

      • redheadedgirl says:

        London is scattered with monuments and memorials to WWI. It was after seeing the Artillery Corp memorial (one of the first to actually depict a dead soldier) that I found some profound sympathy for Neville Chamberlain- once I figured out that huge number was commemorating the dead, and not all the men who served in that regiment.

        • gecko says:

          There's also some evidence that Chamberlain absolutely knew what was going on, but that the appeasement policy was necessary to ramp-up Britain's economy, it's factories and armament production – to a war level – that without the extra time, Britain would have been completely unable to hold out.

          • redheadedgirl says:

            That does make sense, yes. But I can't help but think that at least part of it was desperately trying to avoid a war if possible when Britain had already lost one generation.

            There's a portion in Eleanor Rooseveldt' memoir, where one of her sons is in Frace on the eve of WWII with the diplomatic corp, and he wrote to his mother saying, "They're all old men." The men who should have been leading France during that time had all died in the trenches.

    • castlewayjay says:

      Why do humans do this to each other – my first thought when seeing those photos. I can't imagine living through that sort of horror – as Tolkien did – and not having it imprint the rest of your life.
      If only that War to End All Wars had somehow ended war. What a waste.

      • JustMalyn says:

        I've asked myself that my entire life. It only makes it worse when you think that the soldiers themselves are not the ones who started/wanted the war. Either side, most of them probably just wanted to be home. But instead, they got…this. Yeah 🙁

        • drekfletch says:

          I'm reminded of the famous story of the Christmas truce.

          • JustMalyn says:

            That story makes me cry EVERY TIME. Because it's so beautiful and shows the humanity of everyone involved. But eventually they had to face the awful reality of war again :'( I've always been attracted to stories of beauty in the midst of horror, like in Elie Wiesel's Night when gung bar zna ortvaf gb cynl gur ivbyva ur unf fzhttyrq naq obear nyy guvf jnl naq gurer ner ornhgvshy flzcubavrf va gur zvqfg bs nyy gur qrngu. Naq gura va gur zbeavat ur'f whfg nabgure bar bs gur qrnq 🙁 It makes you think of all the potential lost…

          • LadyViridis says:

            As a friend recently pointed out to me, the Christmas truce is a lovely story, but… they only ever did it for the first Christmas, because it would honestly have made everything even worse. The war was horrific enough when you were killing faceless enemy soldiers. How much worse would it have been if you spent a whole night making friends with someone, hearing about their lives and families, and then going back and knowing you might kill them the next day? It would have been terrible. D:

    • Becky_J_ says:

      I'll tell you this…. I would much rather have Mordor be more horrifying and entirely fictional than have it be based off real life. The fact that it exists, in maybe a worse form than Mordor, in the real world, makes it so much more horrifying.

      • cait0716 says:

        I definitely agree. I used to get in big arguments with my dad because I loved Buffy, but refused to watch war movies with him. He didn't understand how I could be fine with "horror" but balk at history. But things that really happened have always been far more unsettling to me. I know vampires aren't real. I know war crimes happen every day.

      • Eregyrn says:

        I think what makes it especially horrifying is that in LOTR, Mordor is the product of a supernatural level of evil, emanating from Sauron. In the real world, the same thing is the product of what Men are willing to do to other Men. (To use Tolkien's own term for that race of being, which is us, humans.)

        It is far more comforting to ascribe such horror to an evil source, than to one's fellow human beings.

      • flootzavut says:

        THIS SO MUCH.

    • Saphling says:

      Because knowing a little about Tolkien's experiences in WWI, plus the chapter of the Dead Marshes, plus these pictures, I feel the need:

      Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen, 1893-1918

      • JustMalyn says:

        We read this in my history class. So vivid and heartbreaking…and this is so true: My friend, you would not tell with such high zest/ To children ardent for some desperate glory,/ The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est/ Pro patria mori." It scares the shit out of me to realize that most of these soldiers were younger than I am.

        • LadyViridis says:

          Sandman spoilers:
          Vg'f fhpu n fznyy guvat va grezf bs gur birenyy fgbel, ohg gur fgbel bs gur fbyqvre gurl srngher va 'Fyrrc bs gur Whfg' vf whfg urnegoernxvat. (Crgre Jnffnyzna, V guvax?)

          "Gbavtug Crgre Jnffnyzna tbrf bire gur gbc. Ur yvrq nobhg uvf ntr gb rayvfg.

          Ur'f nyzbfg sbhegrra."


        • flootzavut says:

          I was in Russia in 2000 and I remember during the "Day of Victory" parades noticing how YOUNG all the soldiers looked… it was shocking.

        • ddr says:

          I highly recommend Paul Fussell's book "The Great War And Modern Memory". It's absolutely compelling – it's a study of the British literature of World War I, both the poetry (Owens, Graves, Sassoon, Rosenberg) and the common literature – the letters, diaries, and recollections of the common British soldiers. Very well-written and gripping, especially for a literary study. It is also deeply, deeply interesting if you think about it in relation to Tolkien's work and especially Lord Of The Rings. I think, in many ways, that World War I is one of THE central topics of Lord Of The Rings – it really could be classed as WWI literature in its own right.

          Felt I should provide a link to Isaac Rosenberg's "Break Of Day in Trenches" – Fussell calls it the greatest poem of World War I, and I really like it myself:

      • ZeynepD says:

        That is one of my favourite poems. The old lie, indeed.

        • redbeardjim says:

          "If any question why we died
          Tell them, because our fathers lied."

          — Rudyard Kipling (whose son died in WWI)

        • Fiona says:

          Dulce et Decorum est has to be the mostly beautiful and dark poem from that period. I see it quote a lot on Remembrance Sunday but it always gets to me and makes me shudder at the thought that these things actutally happened:

          Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
          Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
          Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
          And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
          Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
          But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
          Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
          Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

          Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
          Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
          But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
          And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime…
          Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
          As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

          In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
          He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

          If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
          Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
          And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
          His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
          If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
          Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
          Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
          Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
          My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
          To children ardent for some desperate glory,
          The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

          • Fiona says:

            I didn't realise someone had already posted a link but it's always worth a read if you can't get the link to work or whatever. 🙂

      • NeonProdigy says:

        Oh my god I love that poem, it's just so heartwrenching and depressing and makes me think of M*A*S*H.

        Wow, that kinda got off onto a tangent there…

        • flootzavut says:

          Oh man I LOVE M*A*S*H – watched it as a kid and have watched some episodes again recently. They did such an incredible job of being funny, sometimes painfully funny and oftentimes painfully realistic and tragic, and yeah… <3

      • LadyViridis says:

        Reminds me of "The Green Fields of France" another truly heartbreaking song/poem about WWI. My favorite version can't be found on Youtube, but here's a bit of the lyrics:

        The sun's shining down on these green fields of France;
        The warm wind blows gently, and the red poppies dance.
        The trenches have vanished long under the plow;
        No gas and no barbed wire, no guns firing now.
        But here in this graveyard that's still No Man's Land
        The countless white crosses in mute witness stand
        To man's blind indifference to his fellow man.
        And a whole generation who were butchered and damned.

        And I can't help but wonder, no Willie McBride,
        Do all those who lie here know why they died?
        Did you really believe them when they told you "The Cause?"
        Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
        Well the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame
        The killing, the dying, it was all done in vain,
        For Willie McBride, it all happened again,
        And again, and again, and again, and again.

        Rest here:

        • Ryan Lohner says:

          And then there's In Flander's Fields, well known for the shout out to it in the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth.

          • wahlee says:

            "In Flanders Fields" was written towards the beginning of the war, when people were still optimistic and idealistic. Compared to Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon towards the end of the war, it's downright happy. I took a Literature of the Great War class in college– it was an extra class I added at the last minute because I knew the guy who was teaching it– and it was one of the most profound experiences of my life. Reading the poems go from Rupert Brooke (who totally bought into the Ducle et Decorum Est mentality) to Wilfred Owen (who was killed just days before the Armistice) and Siegfried Sassoon was just heartbreaking.

            The Dug-out from Sassoon:

            Why do you lie with your legs ungainly huddled,
            And one arm bent across your sullen, cold,
            Exhausted face? It hurts my heart to watch you,
            Deep-shadowed from the candle's guttering gold;
            And you wonder why I shake you by the shoulder;
            Drowsy, you mumble and sigh and turn your head…
            You are too young to fall asleep for ever;
            And when you sleep you remind me of the dead.

            "Aftermath," also by Sassoon, which was written in 1919:

            Have you forgotten yet?…
            For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
            Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
            And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
            Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
            Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.

            But the past is just the same-and War’s a bloody game…
            Have you forgotten yet?…
            Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

            Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz–
            The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
            Do you remember the rats; and the stench
            Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench-
            And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
            Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again?’

            Do you remember that hour of din before the attack–
            And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
            As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
            Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
            With dying eyes and lolling heads—those ashen-grey
            Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

            Have you forgotten yet?…
            Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.

            "Anthem for Doomed Youth" by Wilfred Owen:

            What passing-bells for those who die like cattle?
            Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
            Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
            Can patter out their hasty orisons.
            No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
            Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
            The shrill demented choirs of wailing shells;
            And bugles calling them from sad shires.

            What candles may be held to speed them all?
            Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
            Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
            The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
            Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
            And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

            "The Parable of the Young Man and the Old" by Wilfred Owen:

            So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
            And took the fire with him, and a knife.
            And as they sojourned, both of them together,
            Isaac the first-born spake, and said, My Father,
            Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
            But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
            Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
            And builded parapets the trenches there,
            And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
            When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
            Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
            Neither do anything to him. Behold,
            A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
            Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
            But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
            And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

            • flootzavut says:

              Rupert Brooke was a Dymock Poet!

              Yeah, it's exciting to me because that is where I grew up and so I get disproportionately excited when my tiny wee little village is even vaguely connected to something 🙂

              "The Soldier" ("… if I should die, think only this of me/That there's some corner of a foreign field/which is forever England…") is probably the first piece of poetry I can consciously remember, and definitely the first one I ever knew well enough to quote.

              • wahlee says:

                I felt that way when David Archuleta, who is from my hometown, made it to the final two on American Idol. 😛

                I really like Rupert Brooke and his poetry, don't get me wrong. He died in 1915, though, and didn't become disillusioned like the other poets. His poetry reminds me of not just the lives that were stolen but also the hope. 🙁

                • flootzavut says:

                  Yes – even in The Soldier, talking about death, there's a kind of innocence there isn't there? And yes, the bleakness in some of the later poets is understandable, but so sad.

            • JustMalyn says:

              "You are too young to fall asleep for ever;
              And when you sleep you remind me of the dead."
              Damn :/ Just…damn.

            • castlewayjay says:

              Those are all incredibly moving, but that last one you posted by Owen just breaks me.

              • wahlee says:

                Both Owen and Sassoon were strongly of the opinion that the Powers That Be were callously throwing the lives of the men on the front away. Sassoon wrote this letter to his commanding officer (it was eventually read in Parliament and published in the Times) and was sent to Craiglockhart hospital (which is where officers were being treated for shell shock– they didn't want to court martial him, as he was a war hero already), where he and Owen met:

                "I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

                I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

                I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerity's for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

                On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practised on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realise."

                Eventually Sassoon felt too guilty about remaining home while his friends fought and died and he returned to the front.

                • castlewayjay says:

                  Well, it's hard for fiction to compare to that (Sassoon's life story, I mean).

                  I'd like to believe horror and monsters only existed in fiction, but the worst are in real life, i"m afraid.

                  • flootzavut says:

                    Sadly true. I know it's a bit of a random comparison, but it's like that episode of Doctor Who, Midnight: the horror of that ep is all about how people are treating in other in an extreme situation, NOT about what might be going on outside.

                • flootzavut says:

                  Did you ever watch "O! What a Beautiful War"? That film made me bawl the first time I saw it, especially right at the end where (spoilers) gurl ner fvtavat gur Nezvfgvpr. V znl abg trg gur qrgnvyf rknpgyl evtug ohg fbzrguvat yvxr guvf: N fbyqvre jnyxf guebhtu gur grag, yvrf qbja va n svryq, gura nf gur pnzren zbirf onpx sebz uvz ur snqrf naq gur svryq orpbzrf n jne przrgel jvgu uhaqerqf bs juvgr pebffrf va yvarf bire guvf uhtr nern. Vg'f ornhgvshy naq gentvp. Gur trarenyf naq Cbjref Gung Or ner cbegenlrq nyzbfg yvxr gurl'er cynlvat fbyqvref onpx ubzr, vs zrzbel freirf gurl zrrg ng n shasnve naq tb qbja n urygre fxrygre, guvatf yvxr gung.

                  It's a powerful, funny, sad movie.

          • flootzavut says:

            OH MAN THAT SCENE.

            I think all the more powerful because, at least the first time you see it, you don't quite ever believe it will happen till it DOES and then those poppies… just an incredible piece of TV…

          • drop_and_roll says:

            A couple of weeks ago I watched the second episode of Birdsong followed by the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth. Yeah, that was a BAD idea.

          • hazelwillow says:

            I haven't seen the end of Blackadder yet, but I have to say, at least here in Canada, In Flander's Fields is practically synonymous with the First World War. It is almost impossible to grow up without memorizing that poem, and it has a kind of sacred place in the national consciousness, at least in my experience. I mean, it's written on our ten-dollar bill….

            So, just to say, I think a reference in Blackadder is probably the least of the reasons why In Flander's Fields is "well known."

            Not that I don't love Blackadder. 🙂

          • Oh man. That last scene in that episode never fails to destroy me.

            • flootzavut says:

              Just thinking about it makes me well up. I can still remember seeing it for the first time – with NO idea how it was going to end – and it was utterly shocking.

        • castlewayjay says:

          one of my favorite songs – so sad, so understated

      • saphling says:

        ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH, by Wilfred Owen

        What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
        Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
        Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
        Can patter out their hasty orisons.
        No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
        Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
        The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
        And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
        What candles may be held to speed them all?
        Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
        Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
        The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
        Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
        And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

        • JustMalyn says:

          :'( "Sad shires" this is beautiful and sad.
          "Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die." -Tennyson. Not a World War I poem, and it definitely gives mythic properties to war/death in war that I don't think it has, but THAT LINE.

        • redheadedgirl says:

          When the men from villages enlisted, they were often put in the same units. They enlisted together, they trained together, they went to France together, they lived in the trenches together, and they went over the top together.

          And they died together.

          Some villages lost every single man- kids, really- that went. There are 52 villages in the whole of England and Wales that didn't lose at least one. There are none in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

          In the whole of France, there is one.

        • MrsGillianO says:

          Owen's "Strange Meeting" – about the sheer, howling waste of it all:

          It seemed that out of battle I escaped
          Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
          Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

          Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
          Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
          Then ,as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
          With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
          Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
          And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall, –
          By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

          With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained;
          Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
          And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
          'Strange friend,' I said, 'here is no cause to mourn.'
          'None,' said that other, 'save the undone years,
          The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
          Was my life also; I went hunting wild
          After the wildest beauty in the world,
          Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
          But mocks the steady running of the hour,
          And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
          For by my glee might many men have laughed,
          And of my weeping something had been left,
          Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
          The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
          Now men will go content with what we spoiled,
          Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
          They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
          None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
          Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
          Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
          To miss the march of this retreating world
          Into vain citadels that are not walled.
          Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
          I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
          Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
          I would have poured my spirit without stint
          But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
          Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

          I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
          I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
          Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
          I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
          Let us sleep now…'

    • ZeynepD says:

      You got here ahead of me. Which is good, because you've found better pictures.

      (Well, I say "better," but you know what I mean. I cringed when I saw Mark's question.)

    • Abarrach says:

      As a kid I remember reading a comic strip called "Charley's War" about an underage boy who enlists to serve in the army. Despite being a comic strip for young boys it didn't shy away from showing the horror of chlorine gas attacks, "shell shock", death, punishments inflicted on troops by their own sides, going "over the top" etc, although it also showed the lighter moments and trivia (like boiling water for a nice cup of tea on the machine gun). I know it really brought home to me what it must have been like for the young men fighting in the trenches.'s_War

  12. Sinnive says:

    Is ist strange that I somehow wished Mark to dislike Gollum whfg orpnhfr V jnagrq uvz gb jvfu gung Tbyyhz jbhyq QVR VA NYY GUR SVERF naq gura ynhtuvat zl nff bss ng n pregnva yngre puncgre?

    • Zetal says:

      Url, gurer'f fgvyy Qrargube. V'z rkcrpgvat Znex gb ernpg dhvgr onqyl gb Qrargube'f gerngzrag bs Snenzve, naq V'z ubcvat QVNS vf oebhtug hc.

      Nf sbe Tbyyhz, gurer'f fgvyy gvzr. Qvr va nyy gur sverf BE tebhaq bcra hc gb fjnyybj uvz, rvgure jbexf sbe onfvpnyyl qlvat va gur zntzn cvg bs n ibypnab.

      • Sinnive says:

        Hehe, you're right, and I had completely forgotten about the other person you mentioned possibly being a similar case in this respect (and I hope this is cryptic enough because I can't rot13 at the moment)

        Anyway, plenty of things to look forward to!

      • flootzavut says:

        Hah so true, I had forgotten him.

      • drippingmercury says:

        V npghnyyl svefg npdhverq zl Qrargube QVNS tvs sebz gur Znex Ernqf pbzzragf ba Ohmmarg (o/p Qenpb arrqf gb qvr va nyy gur sverf boif) jura Znex unq ab cynaarq obbxf gb fcbvy. V'z engure nzhfrq gung guvf zrnaf Znex unf nyzbfg qrsvavgryl nyernql frra zl snibevgr punatr sebz gur obbxf. Fbeel Qrargube, ab bar whfg FGBVPNYYL OHEAF GB QRNGU. Guebj lbhefrys bss n pyvss nyernql.

  13. castlewayjay says:

    Hi Mark – You ask how Tolkien comes up with this horrifying stuff? I'm convinced it's from his experiences in WWI, esp at the Battle of the Somme. All Battles are by definition horrible, but everything I've read about World War ! makes the European battles then seem even worse.

    You know, we never really know what Smeagol was like before his friend found the ring and Smeagol murdered him for it. It is amazing how Tolkien writes the Gollum character. I marvel at his creativity.

    Znex ernyyl vf hacercnerq sbe gung srznyr punenpgre! jbb ubb! naq vs ur jbaqref vs Tbyyhz jvyy uheg gur uboovgf V jbaqre ubj ur jvyy srry nobhg Tbyyhz OVGVAT Sebqb'f svatre bss??? Naq ur qbrfa'g xabj ubj Tbyyhz ybbxf va gur zbivr! Wbl! Yrg hf nyy xrrc uvz hafcbvyrq!

  14. ADB says:

    Yes, yes you are the only person left who hasn't seen Movie!Gollum yet and much of the Rot13 yesterday dealt with the fact that no, no we aren't going to show you.

    It was mentioned wayyy back in Fellowship (and alluded to in The Hobbit) that Sméagol is his real name, and the nickname "Gollum" came from the gurgling noise he makes (this isn;t a spoiler since they mentioned it many times before and I don't think they go into it again). Any further insight is probably spoilery.

  15. LadyViridis says:

    Is it Gollum’s fault that the Ring made him so bitter? I don’t think it’s really fair to say so.

    I don't think I quite agree. I believe Gandalf said this very early on: the Ring gives power according to the stature of its bearer, and it corrupts them through what is already in their hearts. Witness Boromir. The Ring took his desire to protect Gondor and warped it, and Boromir was only around the Ring a couple of months. Gollum had it for much longer. However warped Gollum's emotions and thoughts are now, there had to be at least a root of them in him originally. Remember that Smeagol/Gollum began his possession of the ring with murder, and I believe we learned he used the invisibility to play tricks and steal things from relatives as well. He was clearly not a terribly good person even in the beginning. I'm with Sam– he may be pitiable, and he's certainly useful to the hobbits as a guide, but I wouldn't trust him either.

    WHAT THE FUCK!!!! Tolkien, how do you come up with this shit? How did you think it would be awesome to put these characters in a marsh where they can glimpse the dead, rotting bodies of soldiers and warriors from a battle long ago?

    World War I.

    Pretty sure that, and the horrid desolate fields they find beyond the Marshes, (really, all of Mordor) are all based in WWI and the bleak wasteland of no-man's-land between the trenches. I mean, I haven't seen/read as much of that war as WWII, but everything I have seen pretty much gives an instant impression of unending bleakness and despair. Which is coming through very strongly for me on this reread of LotR, though I hadn't really made the connection the first few times through.

    • Saphling says:

      I don't think I quite agree. I believe Gandalf said this very early on: the Ring gives power according to the stature of its bearer, and it corrupts them through what is already in their hearts….However warped Gollum's emotions and thoughts are now, there had to be at least a root of them in him originally.

      Not speaking of his general creeper/stealer/murderer tendencies that I'm sure the Ring only exacerbated as the many many years went on, I think his bitterness specifically comes from the fact that Gollum, on some level, understands what the Ring has done to him. He loves it, and he hates it, but he doesn't have the strength to leave it. That's one of the things the Ring does – it protects itself, ol znxvat vg fb gur bar cbffrffvat vg jbhyq arire uheg vg be nonaqba vg. Guvf pbzrf vagb cynl jvgu Sebqb yngre, bs pbhefr. Ur vf hygvzngryl hanoyr gb qrfgebl gur Evat – vs riragf unqa'g genafcverq nf gurl qvq, jvgu Tbyyhz ovgvat bss uvf svatre naq snyyvat, jub'f gb fnl Sebqb jbhyqa'g unir raqrq hc whfg nf ovggre nf Tbyyhz?

      • LadyViridis says:

        I agree completely. It's part of the terror of the Ring; I think at some level you are aware of what it's doing to you, even if you can't quite bring yourself to admit it's the Ring's fault (because that would mean trying to get rid of it, which the Ring will not allow). It is a very subtle and very scary magic.

        Juvpu nyfb znxrf Fnz'f hggre ershfny bs gur Evat rira zber rcvp. "V pbhyq ghea gur jubyr jbeyq vagb n tneqra!… Ru, be V pbhyq whfg unir zl bja yvggyr tneqra. Gung'f orggre." V nyjnlf cvpgher gur Evat orvat hggreyl pbasbhaqrq ol Fnz. "TNEQRAVAT? Fefyl? GUNG vf lbhe terng nzovgvba? Htu, uboovgf! Tvir zr n uhzna nal qnl, gurl'er zhpu zber vagb gur svtugvat naq xvyyvat. Fb zhpu rnfvre gb pbeehcg. >:("

        • Saphling says:

          Shegure cebbs gung Fnz?

          Vf whfg gung njrfbzr. (Nf gubhtu gur fprarf jvgu Furybo jrera'g cebbs rabhtu.)

          • LadyViridis says:

            Ur'f nznmvat. Ernyyl nyy bs gur uboovgf ner. Rnpu bs gurz unir gurve bja oheqraf, sne orlbaq nalguvat gurl pbhyq cbffvoyl unir vzntvarq jura gurl yrsg gur Fuver, naq nyy bs gurz cebir gurzfryirf n uhaqerq gvzrf bire. Vg'f njrfbzr. <3

        • flootzavut says:

          "It's part of the terror of the Ring; I think at some level you are aware of what it's doing to you, even if you can't quite bring yourself to admit it's the Ring's fault (because that would mean trying to get rid of it, which the Ring will not allow). It is a very subtle and very scary magic."

          I think it's precisely this facet of it gung znxrf fb znal crbcyr frr vg nf na nanybtl gb qeht nqqvpgvba. Abj, bs pbhefr Gbyxvra ybngurq nanybtl, naq vg'f qrsvavgryl abg vagraqrq gb or nobhg qeht nqqvpgvba, ohg V guvax vg'f qrsvavgryl tbg fbzr frevbhf "nqqvpgvba" unyyznexf gurer.

      • castlewayjay says:

        like your comments re Gollum a lot. insightful

    • msw188 says:

      The book has Gandalf describe this in the Fellowship, yes, However, I think it's spoilery to gryy Znex gung gur zbivrf jvyy fubj guvf va Erghea bs gur Xvat. Gung oyrj zr gur shpx njnl jura V fnj vg gur svefg gvzr. V ernyyl qvqa'g guvax gurl jrer tbaan obgure jvgu gung fprar, nsgre vg jnfa'g va vgf cynpr va gur obbx.

      Naturally, if the mods agree, they'll edit your post.

      • LadyViridis says:

        Ah, no worries– I ended up editing it anyway once I saw it confirmed that we learned that stuff in FotR.

    • JustMalyn says:

      I hadn't thought about it much either before now….but wow. The connections are so strong. Poor Tolkien :/

    • This. The Ring is entirely bad, but Smeagol was never a saint. In the Fellowship that was made quite clear by Gandalf.

  16. Danielle says:

    Oh, the whole finding gollum kinda of cute reminds me of the shirt my husband got me for yule this year:

    It's Mordorable!!! (I don't think it counts a spoilery because all the characters on it have been introduced by this point)

  17. @owlyross says:

    First time poster, but been reading this through. Yes, everything in this chapter is from Tolkien's experiences of the front line of the First World War. The marshes were literally the spots of no mans land where there were actually dead bodies lying in the pools of water.

    The book Tolkien and The Great War by John Garth covers this in some depth.

    And the blasted landscape after the marshes?
    Look familar?

  18. msw188 says:

    "The best part about this, though, is the fact that we only spend a couple pages here before moving on. This isn’t even a big deal to Tolkien. He just casually reveals the most horrifying thing ever and then MOVES THE FUCK ON."

    Hahaha yes this is really what's awesome about Tolkien's mindfuckery. "Yeah, you're surrounded by dead faces and things that we won't bother really explaining. DEAL WITH IT AND KEEP WALKING.

    I love pretty much everything about this chapter, but Mark has already touched on most of it: Sam validating the reader's suspicions, Gollum being pretty much the most interesting character ever, Gollum singing a song about catching a fish, etc. So let's just quote one more gem:

    "Three precious little Gollums in a row we shall be, if this goes on much longer," thought Sam.

    Haha, Samwise really is the best.

  19. Saphling says:

    V pna'g jnvg sbe gur NYYPNCF SYNVYVAT jura Znex ernpurf Furybo. Gubhtu V'z pbaivaprq V fubhyq fcryy vg FURRYBO fb ure EBG13 anzr ybbxf rira zber zvfyrnqvat. >_>

  20. cait0716 says:

    Is that why one of the wraiths flies overhead? Can it sense the Ring is close?

    I was trying to stitch together the timeline with the other story. Is it possible that the nazgul that flies overhead is the same one Pippin saw in the Palantir?

    Te description of Noman-land was amazing. I really like the image of a mountain vomiting. It makes me think of volcanoes, but like sickly volcanoes. The ones that don't erupt with lava but just spew ash occasionally. And the marshes are really creepy, too.

    Movie spoilers: Gurl qrsvavgryl znxr Tbyyhz n ybg zber flzcngurgvp va gur zbivrf, qba'g gurl? V zrna, gurl raq gung yvggyr pbairefngvba ur unf jvgu uvzfrys ol yrggvat Fzrntby jva vafgrnq bs Tbyyhz (hayrff V'z pbashfvat guvf jvgu guvatf gung pbzr yngre). Va gur obbx Fnz frrzf ernfbanoyr naq V'z jvgu uvz nyy gur jnl. Ohg va gur zbivr ur pbzrf bss zber nf cnenabvq naq wrnybhf. Gubhtu vg'f cbffvoyr V'ir sbetbggra fbzr shgher vasbezngvba.

    • msw188 says:

      I always get the idea that the third Nazgul, if that's what these are, is the one going to get Pippin. It's described as "more remote" and "rushing with terrible speed into the West." That makes it sound to me as though it is indeed a Nazgul, and it's making a beeline for Isengard to nab Pip.

    • stormwreath says:

      Is it possible that the nazgul that flies overhead is the same one Pippin saw in the Palantir?

      No, we're five days too early for that. And it's mentioned that the flying Nazgûl are not allowed West of the River until Sauron is ready for the war – until he thinks Saruman has captured the Ring and sends one to collect it.


      26 February – breaking of the Fellowship, death of Boromir.

      27-28 February – Aragorn and co chasing the orcs who have captured Merry and Pippin, Frodo and Sam wandering lost in the mountains.

      29 February (February has 30 days in Middle Earth) – Éomer attacks the orcs, Merry and Pippin escape into Fangorn forest. Frodo and Sam climb down the cliff and capture Gollum.

      30 February – Éomer meets Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. M&P are with Treebeard.

      1 March – Aragorn & co meet Gandalf. Frodo & co cross the Dead Marshes.

      The current chapter ends during the night of 1-2 March for Frodo and Sam.

      2 March – Gandalf heals Théoden, the Rohirrim ride off to war. The Ents decide to attack Saruman. We don't know yet what happens to Frodo and Sam.

      3 March – Battle of Helm's Deep. Ents attack Isengard.

      4 March – Battle of Helm's Deep ends at dawn. Gandalf and Théoden & co head for Isengard.

      5 March – confrontation with Saruman. That night, Pippin looks in the palantír.
      Book Three ended on the night of 5-6 March.

      • cait0716 says:

        I'm not sure I agree with where the chapter ends. We get these lines:

        For two more nights they struggled on through the weary, pathless land


        At last, on the fifth morning since they took the road with Gollum, they halted once more

        Then they have the final night when Sam overhears Gollum talking to himself. So this chapter ends around March 5th, I believe.

        The third Nazgul flies overhead while they're still in the marshes, so it is before Pippin sees it, but wasn't that a vision of something that had already happened? If not, it should have appeared right at the end of the chapter, right?

        • stormwreath says:

          Yes, you're right – I missed the reference to them spending two more nights in the wilderness after leaving the Marshes, and I think I a also cofused by them spleeping in the day and walking at night. So in fact, it's more like this:

          29 February – catch Gollum in the night, after descending the cliff.

          30 February – with Gollum as their guide, still in the mountains. Sleep in the gully, set out again as evening comes.

          1 March – Enter the marshes at daybreak, walk through them all day.

          2 March – Leave the Marshes, "struggle on through the weary pathless land".

          3 March – the second of the "two more nights".

          4 March – At dawn, reach the edge of the blasted land in front of the Black Gate of Mordor. The scene where they are looking at the "gasping pools choked with ash and crawling muds" is at the same time as Aragorn and Théoden are leading their glorious charge out of Helm's Deep to be met by Gandalf and his army – quite ironic.

          So I think this chapter ends on the night of 4/5 March, not 1/2 March as I said before.

          The Nazgûl flying overhead right at the end possibly is the same one that Pippin sees one day later flying over Rohan.

          Appendix B spoiler:

          Sbhegu Znepu – Guébqra naq Tnaqnys frg bhg sebz Uryz'f Qrrc sbe Vfratneq. Sebqb ernpurf gur fynt-zbhaqf ba gur rqtr bs gur Qrfbyngvba bs gur Zbenaaba.

          Svsgu Znepu – Guébqra ernpurf Vfratneq ng abba. Cneyrl jvgu Fnehzna va Begunap. Jvatrq Anmtûy cnffrf bire gur pnzc ng Qby Onena. Tnaqnys frgf bhg jvgu Crerteva sbe Zvanf Gvevgu. Sebqb uvqrf va fvtug bs gur Zbenaaba, naq yrnirf ng qhfx.

          • cait0716 says:

            Okay, cool. And thanks for laying the timeline out. It helps a lot. I like comparing where Frodo/Sam are to what happened in the previous book. And the way Tolkien broke up these books makes more sense not that it feels a bit more like a chronological break – with Frodo and Sam nearly catching up in time by the end of the second chapter.

    • rabidsamfan says:

      Fnz vf zl snibevgr punenpgre, ohg V pna uneqyl fgnaq gb jngpu gur fprarf jurer ur vagrenpgf jvgu Tbyyhz va gur zbivrf. Gurl tbg gung fb irel irel jebat. Va gur obbx Fnz wbvaf jvgu Sebqb naq Ovyob nf orvat n crefba jub cvgvrf Tbyyhz rabhtu gb yrg uvz yvir, rira gubhtu vg jnf whfg ng gur Penpx bs Qbbz jura ur ernpurq gung cbvag bs flzcngul, naq gung nyy trgf ybfg. Gur abg-gbb-gvtug ebcr, gbb. *fvtu*

  21. Katarina_H says:

    V pna’g jnvg gb frr ubj gur zbivrf qrny jvgu uvz.

    Bu, bayl va gur ZBFG NJRFBZR JNL CBFFVOYR. :-Q

    V jvfu V pbhyq svaq gung Qbex Gbjre pbzvp jurer bar bs gur punenpgref vf jngpuvat YbgE naq tbvat (cnencuenfrq) "Unat va gurer yvggyr sryybj! Lbh pna qb vg!" naq bar bs gur bguref pbzzragf, "Lbh xabj, V qba'g guvax jr'er fhccbfrq gb ebbg sbe Tbyyhz…"


    It’s sort of like that thing where people wish Westeros was real.
    It’s a lot nicer IRL. (Yes, I know I've already talked about this once, but I couldn't help myself. *g*)

  22. monkeybutter says:

    While I prefer my current time, what with the medicine and indoor plumbing and not having been pregnant a half dozen times, I would totally like to join you in the marshes of the Neck. There are some questions I’m dying to ask Howland Reed about a certain mopey Commander of the Watch. Also, the whole not-dying-in-the-war thing would be a bonus. I can keep lizard-lions as pets!

    Okay, one other creepy thing about the marsh: it’s expanding. It gradually consumes more and more of the dead.

    Soooo, everything has gone to shit, right? All three of them are falling apart in their own ways. Frodo is wavering between being driven by his mission, giving Sam hope, and having the weight of the ring hold him down, both physically and mentally. Gollum is arguing with himself, terrified of the Dark Lord, and not the least bit trustworthy. And Sam, who is behaving much in the same way as I would, is swamped with feelings of self-doubt and hatred, and rightfully paranoid about Gollum, but letting that distrust make him even more sour. It’s just ugly.

    Movie stuff: V xabj gurer jnf gnyx nobhg ubj Frexvf jnf nznmvat naq eboorq bs nyy gur njneqf lrfgreqnl, ohg V unir gb zragvba ntnva ubj cresrpg gur Tbyyhz naq Fzrntby nethzrag vf. Vg’f bar bs zl snibevgr cnegf bs gur zbivr, naq V pbhyqa’g ernq gur obbx jvgubhg frrvat vg va zl zvaq. V’z bsgra naablrq jura zbivrf xrrc zr sebz vzntvavat obbxf va zl bja jnl, ohg gung vfa’g rira pybfr gb orvat gur pnfr urer. Ur’f cresrpg.

    • castlewayjay says:

      I echo your movie stuff paragraph 100%

    • rabidsamfan says:

      Ur qvqa'g trg eboorq bs NYY gur njneqf!

      Spoilery link is spoilery…

      • monkeybutter says:

        Heeeee. ohg frevbhfyl, n fuvggl yvggyr ghor bs tbyq cbcpbea VF ABG RABHTU. Nu jryy, njneq fubjf unir nyjnlf orra n funz.

        • rabidsamfan says:

          True, true.

          Vg jbhyqa'g rira or tbbq sbe pehapuvatf naq zhapuvatf. Jnvg. Jebat yvggyr punenpgre jvgu bqq jnl bs fcrnxvat…

    • drippingmercury says:

      While I prefer my current time, what with the medicine and indoor plumbing and not having been pregnant a half dozen times, I would totally like to join you in the marshes of the Neck. There are some questions I'm dying to ask Howland Reed about a certain mopey Commander of the Watch.

      hahaha, I was thinking the exact same thing. I was too pleased with the idea of kicking it with Mark and the Reeds to even consider a pet lizard-lion. Can I name it Elvis?

      • monkeybutter says:

        I'm pretty we're required by law to have at least one gator lizard-lion named "Elvis."

        • drippingmercury says:

          So, after spending the last half-hour indulging in gator-related Clarissa Explains It All nostalgia and re-discovering that Clarissa's BFF Sam's catch phrase was "What's the worst that can happen?", I am forced to conclude that characters named Sam are doomed to be the loyal and optimistic sidekick IN EVERYTHING.

          …I think I need a Sam.

    • wahlee says:

      Naql Frexvf pnzr gb zl ubzrgbja gb qb n fvtavat bs gur gur Tbyyhz: Ubj Jr Znqr Zbivr Zntvp obbx, naq ur erperngrq gur Tbyyhz/Fzrntby qvnybthr yvir sbe gur pebjq. Vg. Jnf. NZNMVAT.

    • flootzavut says:

      Re: movie stuff – YES YES YES YES YES.

  23. unefeeverte says:

    IIRC, the Dead Marshes are based on Tolkien’s experiences in the Battle of the Somme. That’s not hard to imagine. :S

  24. Dreamflower says:

    FUCK. What the hell did Tolkien base this off of? Or did he just pluck it out of his brain to terrify me forever???

    Other commenters have already mentioned it, and even shown the images. I'm convinced that this is as close as the soldiers of his generation would get to relating their horrible experiences. By the time the war ended, all but one of his closest friends was dead. He was invalided out with a horrible case of dysentery, which was probably the only reason he survived.

    He plucked it out of his brain, perhaps in the hopes of getting it OUT of his brain. Back then they called it "shell shock"; nowadays it's called PTSD.

    Last night my husband and I were watching the last Harry Potter movie, and as we saw the devastation of Hogwarts afterwards, I was reminded of something that struck me after reading Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth. I remember thinking that Tolkien himself was much like Harry; he was an orphan who went to a school in which the students were divided into houses, where he met and made his closest friends. These friends discovered the magic of language and literature together, and then were early thrust into a horrible war.

    Only Harry was luckier. At least both Ron and Hermione were still alive at the end.

    • Becky_J_ says:

      Only Harry was luckier. At least both Ron and Hermione were still alive at the end.

      ….this is the most depressing thought of my day. Which is saying something, because all the comments today are depressing. Maybe putting things in Harry Potter terms makes them more real for me…. I don't know if that's a good thing…..

      • Dreamflower says:

        V xabj gung gurer ner znal nfcrpgf bs Uneel naq Sebqb gung ner bsgra pbzcnerq– gur Bar Evat jnf rffragvnyyl n fvatyr irel cbjreshy ubepehk jura lbh pbzr evtug qbja gb vg.

        Ohg ernqvat Tnegu'f obbx nobhg WEEG, V ortna gb ernyvmr jung n gehr ureb ur jnf uvzfrys. Yvxr Sebqb ng gur raq, ur pbhyq abg frr uvzfrys gung jnl– n ybg bs vg, V nz fher, fheivibe'f thvyg. Ohg fbzr bs uvf rneyl yvsr jnf vaperqvoyl fvzvyne gb Uneel'f.

    • stormwreath says:

      Tolkien had trench fever, not dysentery – it caused debilitating headaches, fever, muscle pains etc and could recur multiple times. It was spread by lice, although that wasn't known at the time. I do suspect PTSD also lay behind his incapacitation as well, since he kept on relapsing instead of healing – as if his subconscious mind was saying, "No, you're not going back there. Get sick again!"

      On a more positive note, since he spent two years moving from one hospital bed to another, he had plenty of time to write the Silmarillion. :/

      • Dreamflower says:

        I stand corrected. I think I got it in my head that they were sort of the same thing, but I realize now it's two different maladies.

        JRRT was actually fortunate that he did have a physical illness.

        Here's how the British Army "dealt" with shell shock at the time:

        "Some doctors argued that the only cure for shell-shock was a complete rest away from the fighting. If you were an officer you were likely to be sent back home to recuperate. However, the army was less sympathetic to ordinary soldiers with shell-shock. Some senior officers took the view that these men were cowards who were trying to get out of fighting.

        Between 1914 and 1918 the British Army identified 80,000 men (2% of those who saw active service) as suffering from shell-shock. A much larger number of soldiers with these symptoms were classified as 'malingerers' and sent back to the front-line. In some cases men committed suicide. Others broke down under the pressure and refused to obey the orders of their officers. Some responded to the pressures of shell-shock by deserting. Sometimes soldiers who disobeyed orders got shot on the spot. In some cases, soldiers were court-martialled.

        Official figures said that 304 British soldiers were court-martialled and executed. A common punishment for disobeying orders was Field Punishment Number One. This involved the offender being attached to a fixed object for up to two hours a day and for a period up to three months. These men were often put in a place within range of enemy shell-fire."

        I remember looking that up after seeing a particular episode of Torchwood.

        • ZeynepD says:

          " A common punishment for disobeying orders was Field Punishment Number One. This involved the offender being attached to a fixed object for up to two hours a day and for a period up to three months. These men were often put in a place within range of enemy shell-fire."

          ….and here I had thought I had read about the worst man could do to man in WW I already.

          I was so very wrong.

          I can't describe my face right now.

        • rabidsamfan says:

          Ouch. That's really awful. I think on the whole flogging was kinder. At least it was over quick!

        • threerings13 says:

          I can't provide sources, but I believe so many soldiers were executed for cowardice (due to PTSD symptoms) that they stopped informing the families of the cause of death because there would have been too much outcry.

          Yes, the horrors of war are not always what enemies do to each other.

          • JustMalyn says:

            Zef. Cngzber’f arcurj va Qbjagba Noorl 🙁 That’s awful. And it always strikes me how “cowardice” is what not wanting to fight (due to moral reasons or PTSD or whatever) is always labeled.

        • egao-gakari says:

          A really great film that deals with the fallout from the institutional refusal to acknowledge the existence of "shellshock" is A Very Long Engagement:[youtube oViFyQgzk_I youtube]
          It's a long movie but well worth the effort, I think. Great acting, great direction, great story.

          And Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway" is an excellent examination of the aftermath of the war from a civilian's perspective. The writing style drove me up the wall (yes I'm a Philistine), but the story is good.

        • castlewayjay says:

          If you have never seen "Paths of Glory" – it's a fiction, but the closest a motion picture has gotten to showing the horror of WWI. even more so than "All Quiet on The Western Front". Kirk Douglas starred, Stanley Kubrick directed. In the story, random enlisted men are executed when a battle goes wrong. The scenes of the trench warfare, not to mention the injustice are horrifying.
          A must-see

        • flootzavut says:

          This… I just feel RAEG… :'(

        • notemily says:

          *jaw drop*

          I can't even deal with how horrible people are to each other sometimes. AND THESE PEOPLE WERE ON THE SAME SIDE

          • JustMalyn says:

            That's what kills me. I mean, I know that basically everyone commits war crimes :'( but not against their own soldiers 🙁 I suppose cruelty is cruelty, but somehow it seems worse when it's done like this: there are NO boundaries, not any.

    • BetB says:

      One thing I've noticed is that the characters don't speak about the awful things they've been through. That seems to be a theme with Tolkien's generation. In modern times we're told to talk about PTSD experiences to heal from them. Quite a bit different from then to now.
      Pippen and Merry don't talk about their trials with the orcs in Rohan ( …it doesn't bear remembering ), Pippen talking about the Nazgul flying around the tower (..I can't say! ). Gandalf with the Balrog (no details about the things that gnaw the earth beyond light and knowledge ).

      • Dreamflower says:

        Gur vqrn gung gur uboovgf unir CGFQ nsgre gur Jne vf n irel pbzzba gebcr va cbfg-Dhrfg YbgE snasvp, naq V unir gb fnl, gurer frrzf gb or irel tbbq rivqrapr sbe vg. Gurve irel ergvprapr ba gur znggre frrzf gb cbvag gung jnl.

        Bs pbhefr, jr svp jevgref uryc gurz gb gnyx bhg gurve gebhoyrf…

      • castlewayjay says:

        V guvax Sebqb unf gb yrnir Zvqqyr Rnegu cnegyl (zbfgyl) orpnhfr bs uvf CGFQ. ohg gung'f n qvfphffvba sbe yngre

        • flootzavut says:

          Yes, I've always thought it was a contributory factor. My Kindle is playing a funny five minutes so I can't double check how the book puts it, ohg gurfr yvarf va gur zbivr nyjnlf "trg" zr:

          Gurer ner fbzr guvatf gung gvzr pna abg zraq. Fbzr uhegf gung tb gbb qrrc, gung unir gnxra ubyq.

          V jnf nohfrq nf n xvq, naq fbzrgvzrf vg srryf yvxr fbzr bs gubfr jbhaqf, gur fbhy qrrc xvaq bs vawhel, ner orlbaq urnyvat… V'q yvxr gb guvax V pna qb orggre guna "whfg pbcr jvgu vg", ohg lrnu, V srry yvxr gur rzbgvbany jbhaqf ner jung ernyyl znxr uvz arrq gb yrnir, zberfb guna gur culfvpny Zbethy jbhaq.

      • ZeynepD says:

        Now that you mention it… it makes me wonder if the light-hearted resilience of the hobbits was deliberate on Tolkien's part… trying to project, trying to make sense of how one could put such things behind and move on. I don't think that he himself possessed that light-hearted resilience, but he did craft it with such love in his arguably main character-race…

  25. MzyraJ says:

    I can't be the only one who links the visuals of the dead in the marsh in this chapter with that pool in the final Harry Potter book, can I?

    Mind you, JK Rowling seemed to take quite a bit of inspiration, or at least some similar themes, from these books (and, because the HP movies started coming out before the LotR ones, some of the kids at my school were convinced LotR had ripped off HP – I just shook my head and lost all words).
    Lrnu, orpnhfr bar tvnag fcvqre gelvat gb xvyy cebgntbavfgf jnfa'g rabhtu va guvf obbx – WX Ebjyvat unq gb perngr n jubyr sberfg bs gurz. JUL, JEVGREF, JUL.

    Greatly looking forward to Mark's reactions, ofc 😛

    • castlewayjay says:

      I absolutely hate it when people compare LOTR and Potter as if Harry Potter came first! aaaarggh!!!

    • Kiryn says:

      Actually, if you're talking about the lake of Inferi in HP, that was in the sixth book, not the last one.

      • MzyraJ says:

        Argh, you're right. I knew it was part of the missions against the horcruxes and my brain just lumps those together as the last book. Although I suppose, very very very technically, Voldie probably passed the lake again when he went to check on them all when he realised what they were doing? That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it *shifty*

  26. fantasy_fan says:

    Tolkien’s memories of the battle of the Somme and the deaths of his friends certainly informed his horrific descriptions of the Dead Marshes. Sebqb, va jevgvat fvzvyneyl va gur Erq Obbx, fnlf ur unf jevggra vg qbja, “gb xrrc nyvir gur zrzbel bs gur ntr gung vf tbar, fb gung crbcyr jvyy erzrzore gur Terng Qnatre naq fb ybir gurve orybirq ynaq nyy gur zber.” Vf gung jung Gbyxvra vf qbvat?

    Fbzrubj V srry n uvag va gur grkg gung Sebqb vf nyfb jevgvat nf pngunefvf; hasbeghangryl ur pnaabg rkbepvfr uvf qrzbaf gung jnl. Vf gung jung Gbyxvra vf qbvat? Ubj fhpprffshy qb lbh guvax ur pbhyq or? Gb unir gurfr ubeevoyr guvatf va lbhe zrzbel zhfg rng ng lbh fbzrubj, qrfcvgr ybat gvzr sbe ersyrpgvba, ybir naq zneevntr, n fhpprffshy pnerre, naq gur onyz bs znal beqvanel qnlf fvapr. V unir onq guvatf va zl bja cnfg, naq gurl qb vasbez zl cerfrag qnl, fbzrgvzrf qrfcvgr zl orfg vagragvbaf.

    • castlewayjay says:

      great post – not every veteran suffers to the same degree with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but from what I've read more suffer with it to some amount than was was generally acknowledged. Tolkien was able to resume his life, family, and career after losing his friends and experiencing battle, but it still must have had a deep, deep effect, which I agree must have informed his writing (possibly even to an extent unknown to himself). And after viewing modern warfare up close who wouldn't want to escape to ancient myths and languages, to your own created fantasy world?
      CF – V frr Sebqb nf bar bs gubfr irgrenaf jvgu gur irel jbefg pnfr bs CGFQ nf jryy nf fheivibe thvyg.

      • fantasy_fan says:

        Ng bar cbvag gur dhrfgvba bs CGFQ naq Sebqb'f flzcgbzf jnf qvfphffrq snveyl rkgrafviryl ba GBEa. Rivqragyl, ur zrrgf 5 bs gur 6 pevgrevn fcrpvsvrq va gur QFZ-VI.

        N)Gur crefba unf orra rkcbfrq gb n genhzngvp rirag va juvpu obgu bs gur sbyybjvat jrer cerfrag: (n) gur crefba jvgarffrq, rkcrevraprq, be jnf pbasebagrq jvgu na rirag be riragf gung vaibyirq npghny be guerngrarq qrngu be frevbhf vawhel, be n guerng gb gur culfvpny vagrtevgl bs frys be bguref; (o) gur crefba’f erfcbafr vaibyirq vagrafr srne, urycyrffarff, be ubeebe.

        O)Gur genhzngvp rirag vf crefvfgragyl er-rkcrevraprq va bar (be zber) bs gur sbyybjvat jnlf: (n) erpheerag naq vagehfvir qvfgerffvat erpbyyrpgvbaf, (o) erpheerag qvfgerffvat qernzf bs gur rirag, (p) npgvat be srryvat nf vs gur genhzngvp rirag jrer erpheevat, (q) vagrafr cflpubybtvpny qvfgerff ng rkcbfher gb vagreany be rkgreany phrf gung flzobyvmr be erfrzoyr na nfcrpg bs gur genhzngvp rirag, (r) culfvbybtvp ernpgvivgl ba rkcbfher gb vagreany be rkgreany phrf gung flzobyvmr be erfrzoyr na nfcrpg bs gur genhzngvp rirag.
        Purpx ba (q) & (r) (frirer cflpubybtvpny & culfvbybtvp ernpgvbaf ba inevbhf naavirefnevrf).

        P)Crefvfgrag nibvqnapr bs fgvzhyv nffbpvngrq jvgu gur genhzn naq ahzovat bs trareny erfcbafvirarff (abg cerfrag orsber gur genhzn), nf vaqvpngrq ol ng yrnfg guerr bs gur sbyybjvat: (n) rssbegf gb nibvq gubhtugf, srryvatf, be pbairefngvbaf nffbpvngrq jvgu gur genhzn, (o) rssbegf gb nibvq npgvivgvrf, cynprf, be crbcyr gung nebhfr erpbyyrpgvbaf bs gur genhzn, (p) vanovyvgl gb erpnyy na vzcbegnag nfcrpg bs gur genhzn, (q) znexrqyl qvzvavfurq vagrerfg be cnegvpvcngvba va fvtavsvpnag npgvivgvrf, (r) srryvatf bs qrgnpuzrag be rfgenatrzrag sebz bguref, (s) erfgevpgrq enatr bs nssrpg, (t) frafr bs sberfubegrarq shgher.
        Purpx ba (o) (nibvqnapr bs Jrnguregbc), (q) (jvguqenjny sebz fbpvny yvsr va gur fuver), (r) (rfgenatrzrag sebz uvf sryybj uboovgf; frafr gung ur vf gbb jbhaqrq gb pbagvahr yvivat va gur fuver), naq (t) (ab ubcr sbe uvf bja fheiviny naq jryy-orvat va zvqqyr rnegu).
        Bar zvtug nyfb nethr gung uvf arjsbhaq cnpvsvfz vf n sbez bs nibvqnapr nf jryy (gur (n) pevgrevba).

        Q)Crefvfgrag flzcgbzf bs vapernfrq nebhfny (abg cerfrag orsber gur genhzn), nf vaqvpngrq ol ng yrnfg gjb bs gur sbyybjvat: (n) qvssvphygl snyyvat be fgnlvat nfyrrc, (o) veevgnovyvgl be bhgohefgf bs natre, (p) qvssvphygl pbapragengvat, (q) ulcreivtvynapr, (r) rknttrengrq fgnegyr erfcbafr.
        Gurer qbrf abg nccrne gb or nal rivqrapr sbe nal bs gurfr va gur grkg.

        R)Qhengvba bs flzcgbzf zber guna bar zbagu.

        S)Qvfgheonapr pnhfrf fvtavsvpnag qvfgerff be vzcnvef fbpvny, bpphcngvbany, be bgure vzcbegnag nernf bs shapgvbavat.
        Purpx ba fvtavsvpnag qvfgerff.

        Fb nygubhtu Sebqb QBRF unir n ybg bs gur flzcgbzf bs CGFQ, ur ynpxf gur rivqrapr bs nhgbabzvp nebhfny, naq fb qbrfa’g zrrg shyy pevgrevn. Ubjrire, vs ur jrer gb fubj hc va n zbqrea arhebybtl be cflpuvngel pyvavp, ur jbhyq trg na FFEV sbe fher.

  27. How am I like the last person on earth not to know what Gollum looks like in the movies?
    Gollum looks just like this:

    <img src=""&gt;

    (I decided posting the entire clip could be vaguely spoilery.)

  28. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    The scale of the map here doesn't look quite right, given that this chapter takes about five days, and only about one day of that is spent in the marshes themselves (which would, I'm sure, be slower than walking on dry ground.)

    In any case, Gollum leads Sam and Frodo through the Dead Marshes, which are indeed the creepiest of all the creepy places our heroes have seen so far.

    While this is happening,
    • the Entmoot takes place
    • Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli meet Éomer
    • they continue searching for Merry and Pippin, and find Gandalf instead
    • the four ride to Edoras, and persuade Théoden to lead his people to battle against Saruman
    • they ride to Helm's Deep
    • Gimli kills forty-two Orcs
    • the Ents march to Isengard and destroy it
    • Théoden and company begin their ride to Isengard
    …so, about half of Book III takes place during these 5 days.

  29. Moffat has nothing on Tolkien when it comes to mindfuckery, as much as I adore Moffat.

    "By the way there are corpses in an endless wasteland, with these disturbing will-o-th'wisp candle things and all is dreary and terrifying. Now, isn't it tea-time?"

    And Gollum's complexity is a thing of beauty. Giving us a villainous character from a previous book (Asking if Bilbo was tasty and crunchable, if we remember) and showing him in a way that makes him both repulsive and pitiable is true genius.

  30. Hotaru_hime says:

    Smeagol is Gollum. Perhaps you should go reread Gandalf's first info dump in FOTR.
    The No-Mans Land sounds like land that is subject to a bunch of sulfur vents as a result of a volcano. Unfortunately that picture is horrible and made only more terrifying by the quest and what's at the end of it.
    When it comes to Gollum, remember that he is probably the only living thing that has held that Ring for longer than Sauron. He's held it for centuries and it's warped his mind.

    • MasterGhandalf says:

      Actually, Sauron held the Ring for close to two thousand years- Gollum "only" had it for about five hundred. Still, he held it far longer than anyone who *wasn't* Sauron.

  31. VoldieBeth says:

    You are going to love movie Gollum because Andy Serkis should have won an Oscar for his performance!

  32. Alice says:

    Sam,bless your heart,I will <3 you forever.I really liked his interractions with Gollum/Smeagol,who is pittyfull yes,and a tragic character,but I still don't trust him. He's like a drug addict,and the Ring is his special drug. You can't be cured just because you say so. And I also thought that song about catching fishes cute,because he reminded me that this dude was a hobbit a long time ago.I always considered Smeagol to be the child-like side of his personality,while Gollum is something like a bully.At least their conversations always looked that way to me.And that scene when Gollum and Smeagol are talking to each other….creepy as hell!!And it's not enough that we have the terrible Eye of Sauron,the flying Nazguls or that creep of Gollum to fear,now we have a She to fear.What the @#$%%^!?

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – Through the Marshes

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee – The Passage of the Marshes

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – Apparitions

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee sketch

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    John Howe – Dead faces

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    John Howe – The Eye of Sauron

    P.S. Mark…you're gonna LOVE movieGollum!^_^

  33. Wheelrider says:

    This chapter most definitely relates to the destruction and despair of WWI, but it has plenty of modern parallels as well. What comes to my mind with the description of the "Noman-lands" is modern industrial wastelands. I used to work in an environmental services lab, testing samples of "earth fire-blasted and poison-stained," to see if the levels of various poisons were above EPA-mandated levels… ugh.

    Of course latter-day soldiers don't fare any better than those of WWI.

    • tardis_stowaway says:

      Yes. I know Tolkien was most likely thinking of WWI, and the description certainly brings that to mind, but to me it also calls up images of environmental degradation, especially some types of large-scale mining. The phrase as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about pretty well describes mountaintop-removal coal mining as I understand it, except the mountains aren't so much vomiting as being disemboweled with the entrails scattered over the surrounding valleys.

      <img src="; alt="mountaintop removal mining" height="394" width="525">

      • Wheelrider says:

        Oh man. Yep. And where they hide toward the end: "a wide almost circular pit, high-banked upon the west. It was cold and dead, and a foul sump of oily many-coloured ooze lay at its bottom."

      • castlewayjay says:

        mountain top removal is an abomination to nature. it is blasphemous. makes me feel sick.

    • notemily says:

      Ah, I see I wasn't the only one who thought of industrial waste when reading this chapter! It fits, for me, with the environmental themes of the books.

  34. LadyViridis says:

    Okay, so, since we're having so much discussion of WWI and it's all incredibly tragic and upsetting and awful, I vote for a kitten thread full of fluff and rainbows and happiness. I don't have any on me but I know others will. PLEASE POST KITTENS AND CUTENESS and maybe we can offset some of the unbearable despair this chapter brings. D:

  35. castlewayjay says:

    a link to some Tolkien art that you guys might enjoy –….

    • ZeynepD says:

      Great art, but HUGELY SPOILERY PAST THE MIDDLE OF THE PAGE! Don't look Mark.

      (OK, OK, do scroll down until "Bill Ferny gets hit by an apple," because that is just precious…)

  36. dreadpirateevvie says:

    "Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about."

    Literally my favorite sentences of the whole book. That's an amazing piece of writing right there.

  37. arctic_hare says:

    "I don't know how long we shall take to–to finish," said Frodo. "We were miserably delayed in the hills. But Samwise Gamgee, my dear hobbit–indeed, Sam my dearest hobbit, friend of friends–I do not think we need give thought to what comes after that. To 'do the job' as you put it–what hope is there that we ever shall? And if we do, who knows what will come of that? If the One goes into the Fire, and we are at hand? I ask you, Sam, are we ever likely to need bread again? I think not. If we can nurse our limbs to bring us to Mount Doom, that is all we can do. More than I can, I begin to feel."
    Sam nodded silently. He took his master's hand and bent over it. He did not kiss it, though his tears fell on it.

    yeah hi this shattered my poor widdle heart. :'( Oh, Frodo. Oh, Sam. I hate seeing my hobbits so sad.

    The Dead Marshes and the desolation beyond are fantastic nightmare fuel precisely because, as everyone else has already talked about, they're based on reality. The knowledge that there were real places like that, that we humans did that to each other, is far scarier than any fictional monster. I think this is why I can't watch things like war movies and other stuff about what real humans actually do to each other, yet I get a totally harmless thrill from shit like the Weeping Angels, where I can just "turn it off", so to speak; the Angels aren't real, so there's an element of fun to that sort of scariness. Not so much when I know that people really did do these kinds of things.

    I share your feelings on Gollum, Mark: he's fascinating, and pitiable, and that song is cute, but I still wouldn't trust him ever. Creeper.

    To close this out, we have artses for you, precious. This is the Ted Nasmith picture that the banner came from.

    <img src="; width= "600" height= "600">

  38. Kiryn says:

    Ah, the Dead Marshes. ….Yeah. Say hello to #4 on my list of DO NOT WANT Middle-earth experiences! Just…just…it's so very gross. I have the same problem with this that I did with the Inferi lake in HP: they have to touch/drink water that has rotting corpses in it. EW EW EW EW EW DO NOT WANT DO NOT WANT AT AAAAAAALLLLLLLL.

    And for the record, #5 on the list is the spiders from Mirkwood in the Hobbit, #3 is being captured by Uruk-hai and forced to run with them, and #2 is the Mines of Moria.

    #1…vf zragvbarq va guvf puncgre. FUR. Furybo'f Ynve. Naq buuuuuuu, nz V tbvat gb ybfr zl fuvg jura jr pbzr gb gung puncgre.

    Movie Stuff: Naql Frexvf nf Tbyyhz vf n tbq. Gung vf nyy.

    • MsSméagol says:

      Awesome list! My DO NOT WANT Middle-Earth experiences: #5 is hiking at Caradhras, #4 is being captured by Uruk-hai and forced to run with them (they run so much! and so fast!), #3 is the Dead Marshes, #2 is nal xvaq bs vagrenpgvba jvgu Furybo, and #1 is pyvzovat gur fgnvef bs Pvevgu Hatby. (V'z ernyyl fpnerq bs urvtugf).

      • flootzavut says:

        Oh I'm totally with you on #1 – rira whfg jngpuvat gur zbivr irefvbaf bs gung fpnerf gur penccbyn bhg bs zr, gurl'er fb fgrrc naq fb aneebj, naq V zvtug whfg nobhg or noyr gb sbetrg gung jura ernqvat ohg QB ABG JNAG. Naq bs pbhefr, lbh pyvzo nyy gubfr ubeevoyr fgnvef naq FURYBO VF JNVGVAT SBE LBH. Fgrrc fgnvef yrncvat gb qnza terng nenpuavq. Purref sbe gung, Gbyxvra…

      • Kiryn says:

        Thanks! 🙂

        Yby, lrnu, V'z nyfb jvgu lbh nobhg orvat nsenvq bs urvtugf/Pvevgu Hatby. Gur Zvarf bs Zbevn orng vg bhg gubhtu orpnhfr V'z NYFB fpnerq bs gur cvgpu qnex, naq gur vqrn gung V pbhyq fyvc naq SNYY GB GUR PRAGRE BS GUR RNEGU ONFVPNYYL sernxf zr gur uryy bhg, cyhf gur Oevqtr bs Xunmnq-qhz vf fb sernxvat aneebj naq gval naq V JBHYQ GNXR PVEVGU HATBY BIRE GUNG FUVG. Ohg Pvevgu Hatby whfg ebyyf gbtrgure jvgu Furybo va zl zvaq…gubhtu, V guvax V'yy jnvg hagvy Znex npghnyyl trgf gb Furybo orsber V fgneg enagvat nobhg jul vg'f ure YNVE va cnegvphyne gung sernxf zr bhg, rira zber gung Furybo urefrys, naq Pvevgu Hatby…*fuviref*

  39. Beri_adanwen says:

    "Is it acceptable to say that he’s kind of adorable at times, too?"

    It makes me smile every time he says “nice hobbits!” or something equally adorable.

  40. MsSméagol says:

    "We only wish, to catch a fish, so juicy sweeeeeeet!". Confession: I sing this song to myself like ALL THE TIME. It's just so darn catchy.

  41. ravenclaw42 says:

    It's kind of late in the day to be posting here, and this is sort of out of left field, but I just wanted to thank Mark & everyone in this community yet again for existing and being so wonderful. That's all. I don't post often, but reading along and reading the comments is often the highlight of my day. My grandfather just passed away a few hours ago, after an almost unbearably drawn-out week of hospital stay… he was a fighter like I've never known and it took cancer, staph and a stroke all together to knock him down. But the confluence of reading LotR again to follow along with MR, today's discussions about the experience of war (my grandfather was in Korea) and my recent MR-influenced re-read of His Dark Materials have been absolutely invaluable in helping me to think about what's happening, to process it instead of hiding from it, & to reach a state of calm and acceptance. For the moment all I can think about are "Tell them stories" and Bilbo's "I sit beside the fire and think." They are helping enormously, and they wouldn't be on my mind if not for MR. This place is full of such kindness, and I think that reading along here regularly has helped me to become a kinder and more thoughtful person. Thank you, everyone, for the thoughtful analysis and personal stories that you share here. And thank you, Mark, for creating and fostering this space.

    • fantasy_fan says:

      I am very, very sorry about your grandfather. I agree with you that great stories help us process and make sense of life around us. Stories like Tolkien's are so true, so full of the reality of the things of life that really matter, that it doesn't matter that they never really happened. Your grandfather is part of the story of your life, and always will be. I'm glad that the support of the community is helping you.

    • JustMalyn says:

      <3 I'm so sorry as well. My granddad died last year, and it was the hardest thing I've been through to date. I love the community here a lot- One moment we can be having an awesome Hobbit party, and the next we're talking about war and death and poetry. And all with grace and friendship 🙂

    • emillikan says:

      My grandmother passed away over Christmas, too, and I also found this blog/community to be a helpful, healing place, even though I don't post much. Blessings to you and your family.

    • I'm so sorry about your grandfather. And stories are a good way of coping with loss, I think- to quote Doctor Who, "we're all stories in the end." It sounds as though your grandfather had one hell of a story, and just because his part in it has come to an end doesn't mean that his story has. You'll have your memory of him and through that, his part's always going to live on in some way. It's great that reading and dwelling on the stories here can help with that.

    • flootzavut says:

      just… *HUGS*

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      So so sorry to hear about your grandfather… *hugs*

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

    • rabidsamfan says:

      *hugs* I'm sorry for your loss.

      I do know what you mean about stories and good conversation helping to make sense of things. I'm visiting my mom, who is 87 this year and has suddenly become much frailer, and Bilbo's song is often in my thoughts.

    • MrsGillianO says:

      I am very sorry for your loss. You can be truly proud of your grandfather, and it is heartening to think that you found support in the community here in such a hard time.

  42. Juliana Moreli says:

    I don't know if it is just me, but "Lord Smeagol, Gollum the Great" made me laugh so hard!!!

    It's also sad, because, people who are bullied to a certain point, actually kind of ends thinking like that…like: I was so diminished and treated poorly by people that when I get the power to make things happen, I'll just have a normal life, and in the process destroy everyone who bullied me. And the ring kind of "bullied" Smeagol, crushing his soul during years, slaving him, making him feel undesired and little.

    I use to be like that….true story….

    And the thing with the two identities, I believe that is just like when you are in a disfunctional love relationship, your love is so great and so powerfull, that in order to be accepted and loved by your partner, you erase your true self, and forget about your previous self in the process. Gollum loved the ring so much, that he departed from his land, changed his entire way of living, and he knew that the ring was powerfull, and ir order to be powerfull to, Gollum appeared.

    Oh Lord….I should be a psychologist or something of the sort…

    • Seumas the Red says:

      It wasn't that he loved the ring tough, more that his fellow Stoor-like river dwellers ostracised him for his obsessive and suspicious sneaking. Elements of what you say do hold true in away though.

  43. ladysugarquill says:

    Sadly, the answer to most "How do you come up with these things?" icould be that Tolkien fought in WWI 🙁

    Frodo is the Ringbearer, as Gandalf said way earlier the only Master of the Ring is Sauron.

Comments are closed.