Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 3

In the third chapter of the second book of The Two Towers, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum reach the gates of Mordor, and learn that one cannot simply walk into Mordor. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


God, that fucking chapter title. Damn it! It’s so odd because most of them aren’t this direct. Like, Tolkien outright spoils his own chapter, and then still messes with your brain in the process. We finally get to see the titular towers, the “Teeth of Mordor” that overlook the Haunted Pass. It’s called the Haunted Pass. I love that so many of the names of places in Middle-earth were invented specifically by Tolkien, but then he calls this the Haunted Pass. It doesn’t need a special name. That’s how fucked up it is. (PS: I listen to a progressive metal band called Ephel Dúath and I had no idea that it was from The Lord of the Rings. Neat!)

Even though I knew the Gate was closed before I read a word of this chapter, it doesn’t change how much I enjoy what Tolkien does here. The Gate isn’t even the point, and I find it extremely clever that the chapter title and the events of chapter three are one giant misdirect: this is really about how much Frodo trusts Gollum, and how that is related to Sam’s feeling for Frodo as well. It’s about the horrors of standing before Mordor and feeling utterly hopeless. At least Sam can make a joke about it:

‘We can’t go no further – unless we want to ask the Orcs for a lift.’

Bless your heart, little hobbit.

I thought that this chapter would involve Frodo making the decision not to sneak into Mordor. Tolkien leads us to believe that Frodo, sick of this endless journey, would simply go through the Gates into Mordor. He tells Sam and Gollum as much. “What comes after must come,” he says to them. It’s such a huge moment because Sam definitively decides that he’s going to stick with Frodo to the end, even if it means doing something as foolish as walking into Mordor. And right in the midst of this powerful, transformative moment for Frodo and Sam, Gollum tells Frodo he knows another way in.

HOW VERY CONVENIENT, GOLLUM. Now you’ve realized that there’s another way in. That’s not suspicious at all! I’m right there with Sam, side-eyeing the hell out of Gollum. Why should Frodo trust him at all? It’s here that my thoughts regarding Gollum’s identities are pretty much confirmed, since Sam realizes that there’s a different part of Gollum called Sméagol inside of him, buried deep within. I get that this might have been the most painfully obvious thing in the world, but I’m still new to all of this, and I certainly didn’t understand why Gollum had two names. I’M SLOW SOMETIMES. Thankfully, Frodo is not quick to an answer, and it’s during this time that we get to see why Mordor should be feared.

I suppose it was more of an abstract place to me than anything else. As much as Mordor was talked about, it wasn’t until the last chapter that I truly understood what it looked like. I didn’t get how barren, lifeless, vacant, and dead it was. I didn’t understand that it was this hub of dark activity, that even things such as the weather were different around the place. It’s not that Tolkien’s done a poor job explaining any of that. This is all on my end. He’s used geography before to represent his ideas, and I think contrasting Mordor with the Shire and Lórien is a good example of that. But I never comprehended properly that Sauron was preparing for war, sending armies and battalions out into the wild, or gathering allies like the army that Frodo sees in this chapter. I think witnessing this jolts something in Frodo, who now knows that more than ever, he has a task in front of him that he’s got to complete. So he agrees to allow Gollum to help him find this other way, but he does so in a way that acknowledges how much he doesn’t trust him:

‘You swore a promise by what you call the Precious. Remember that! It will hold you to it; but it will seek a way to twist it to your own undoing. Already you are being twisted. You revealed yourself to me just now, foolishly. Give it back to Sméagol you said. Do not say that again! Do not let that thought grow in you! You will never get it back. But the desire of it may betray you to a bitter end. You will never get it back. In the last need, Sméagol, I should put on the Precious; and the Precious mastered you long ago. If I, wearing it, were to command you, you would obey, even if it were to leap from a precipice or to cast yourself into the fire. And such would be my command. So have a care, Sméagol!’

Frodo. Just hold me. I just can’t. HOLY SHIT. This little speech of his just levels Gollum, so much so that it takes quite some time to calm the little guy down enough to tell him about the other two ways into Mordor:

#2: The Road west of Ephel Dúath, through a circle of dark trees, down to Osgiliath, and south to the Great Water, which I imagine is the Sea that other characters have spoken of. I am actually entirely unsure why Gollum even tells Frodo about this road. It doesn’t seem to go anywhere they want.

#3: They can head to the left up a long road that goes to the Tower of the Moon that is less likely to be “seen” by the Eye and Sauron’s guards. When Sam rightfully calls out how ridiculous this is, Gollum admits that there is another tiny path from this that heads up a narrow staircase, and it’s this way that he used to escape many years ago.

Again, how can we trust that what Gollum is saying is true? Sam is quick to doubt the creature, but Frodo thinks Gollum’s use of the first-person is a sign that he’s not referring to the deceptive form of Sméagol. So he might actually be telling the truth! Still, Frodo still refuses to rush into the decision, and Tolkien gives us a chance to see these characters in a quiet, somber, and hopeless moment. Frodo doesn’t know what to choose, and the day passes on, the threat of the decision looms ever closer. When more of those dark bird/bat creatures show up, possibly sensing the Ring, and a new group of Men that no one’s ever seen before start marching into Mordor, Frodo decides that sitting around is not going to get anything done. He’ll trust Gollum to take them up the secret path he used to escape a few years prior.

Well, before he decides this, Gollum and Sam discuss oliphaunts, and it’s kind of adorable. But that’s not quite as important! Frodo has made his decision, and the group is going to try to find another way inside Mordor.

I’m scared.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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235 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 3

  1. Jenny_M says:

    One thing I love in this chapter is how, well, impressed Sam is by Frodo's speech. He's been fretting so much about keeping Frodo safe, and worrying that Frodo wasn't seeing the same troubles with Gollum that he was. It's reassuring to him that Frodo does, in fact, see Gollum for what he could be, and isn't afraid to tell him so. The line that's something about…just because someone is nice and good doesn't mean they're oblivious…that's one of my favorite messages in the book. Because I think it's easy to think that nice people, or kind people, are somehow oblivious to your taking advantage of them or hurting them.

    I don't know if that made any sense!

    • flootzavut says:

      Made sense to me 🙂

    • Deimos says:

      Just because someone is nice and good doesn't mean they're oblivious…that's one of my favorite messages in the book

      It's two of my favorite tropes: Good is Not Nice, and Good is Not Dumb 🙂

    • Katarina_H says:

      Yeah, I love that too. It always annoys me when people assume good characters are just cluless and naive and don't know anything about life, or else they'd be evil. Making a moral choice to be good even when that's not the easiest option is both very difficult and very interesting to read about/watch.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      THIS! I run into this nice=ignorant idea all the time, and I love it how Tolkien expresses that niceness in a person does not equate to ignorance or lack of discernment to know what's going on in a given situation.

    • @RebelKels says:

      Yes this! Movie spoilers: Guvf vf bar bs gur guvatf gung ohtf zr zbfg nobhg gur zbivrf. Sebqb vf znqr boyvivbhf gb gur cbvag gung ur FRAQF FNZ NJNL ba Tbyyhz'f jbeq naq NTU. V trg gung CW jnagrq gb znxr vg zber ~qenzngvp~ naq rirelguvat, ohg vg whfg oernxf zl urneg gb frr fhpu na njrfbzr naq jryy qenja punenpgre thggrq sbe qenzngvp grafvba. V nyjnlf ernq gur Sebqb naq Fnz ovgf va gur obbx, ohg raq hc fxvccvat gurz va gur zbivr (fbeel Naql Frexvf!).

    • GamgeeFest says:

      It made perfect sense, and I agree completely. I too was a little concerned until Frodo made this speech. It's also important to keep in mind that Frodo is seeing in Gollum what he could become if he allows the Ring to corrupt him, which is something that I don't think Sam even considers, which is rather ironic. Sam is worrit for all the wrong reasons.

  2. rabidsamfan says:

    "I’m scared."

    You should be!

  3. blossomingpeach says:

    I'm scared.

    You should be, Mark, you should be. Because you are not prepared.

  4. Saphling says:

    OLIPHAUNTS! <3<3<3<3

    …This about sums up my feelings on this chapter. ^_^

  5. atheistsisters says:

    jrer gb pbzznaq lbh, lbh jbhyq borl rira vs vg jrer gb yrnc sebz n cerpvcvpr be gb pnfg lbhefrys vagb gur sver.

    (punatrq dhbgr n ovg gb bofpher)

    Bu zna. V frevbhfyl qb abg xabj ubj V sbetbg guvf cneg. V ernq gung naq jrag JUNG? Tbbq tevrs, Gbyxvra vf FB TBBQ ng sberfunqbjvat naq lrg abg fcbvyvat. Tnu.

  6. Ryan Lohner says:

    In fact, it's a complete mystery which two of the many towers in Middle Earth the title refers to, as Tolkien never put anything about why he chose the title in writing. The Haunted Pass is the most obvious instance of there being two towers, but it seems pretty odd to name the book after this rather minor area of the story, so a bunch of people have their own theories. My own is that they're Orthanc and Cirith Ungol, each being an important tower of the villains in each of the two halves.

    • El Famous Burrito says:

      I always thought the same thing. If you're going to call a book "The Two Towers", please keep the number of towers in it to two.

      The Two Towers, Plus a Few Other Towers, Citadesl, Minarets, Monoliths, Obelisk, Spires, Strongholds and Battlements.

    • BetB says:

      I believe the two towers refer to the two enemies' towers (Orthanc and Barad-dur) and I'm sticking to that!

      I invite you to continue to believe what you think is correct. 🙂

      Sorry, but I couldn't resist stirring the pot here.

    • Kiryn says:

      Huh. I always thought that the "Two Towers" referred to Orthanc and Barad-dur. Ohg gur Zbivr vf cebonoyl gb oynzr sbe gung…sbe gurer'f n fprar jura Fnehzna qverpgyl fgngrf naq vf gnyxvat nobhg "gur havba bs gur gjb gbjref", juvyr ur uvzfrys vf va Begunap, naq gura vg phgf njnl gb n fubg bs Onenq-qhe. *fuehtf*

      • Ryan Lohner says:

        Lrnu, gurer'f n jubyr ovg va gur RR fcrpvny srngherf jurer n ohapu bs crbcyr gnyx nobhg ubj znal cnvef bs gbjref gur gvgyr pbhyq ersre gb, naq ubj Wnpxfba naq uvf grnz hygvzngryl znqr gur qrpvfvba gb unir vg or Begunap naq Onenq-Qhe va gur zbivr.

        • BetB says:

          I agree that there are many towers in the books and the title is open to interpretation. I have chosen the version that makes the most sense to me but I'm sure there are plenty of valid interpretations.

    • ambyrglow says:

      Tolkien never put anything about why he chose the title in writing

      I would say rather that he put why he chose the title in writing several times–and said something different each time. Wikipedia covers it well.

      • Nerdfoxy says:

        How interesting!! I just assumed that it was about Sarumans and Sauron's towers. Cause that's were the trouble's coming from…

        • manybellsdown says:

          I didn't even really realize that Sauron had a "tower" the first time I read it. I figured Orthanc was one tower and … um … hey, where's the other tower!?

      • notemily says:

        In letters to Rayner Unwin Tolkien considered naming the two as Orthanc and Barad-dûr, Minas Tirith and Barad-dûr, or Orthanc and the Tower of Cirith Ungol. However, a month later he wrote a note published at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring and later drew a cover illustration which both identified the pair as Minas Morgul and Orthanc.

        LOL I love this. He was just like "Fuck it, I'll name it the Two Towers and figure out which towers I'm talking about later."

    • gonzoron says:

      This might be an unusual interpretation, but last time I re-read, I thought the title could be applied to Frodo and Aragorn, the two leaders of the fractured fellowship.

    • stormwreath says:

      From Tolkien's Letter 140, from August 1953, to his publisher:

      "The Two Towers gets as near as possible to finding a title to cover the widely divergent Books 3 and 4, and can be left ambiguous – it might refer to Isengard and Barad-dûr, or to Minas Tirith and B; or Isengard and Cirith Ungol."

      But a few months later, he was having second thoughts – but presumably it was too late to change it by then. Letter 143, from January 1954, also to his publisher:

      "I am not at all happy about the title 'The Two Towers'. It must if there is any real reference in it to Vol II refer to Orthanc and the Tower of Cirith Ungol. But since there is so much made of the basic opposition of the Dark Tower and Minas Tirith, that seem very misleading. There is, of course, actually no real connecting link between Books III and IV, when cut off and presented separately as a volume."

      • Wheelrider says:

        Very interesting discussion!

        I always thought it was the two "Minas"-es: Minas Ithil, now Morgul, and Minas Anor, now Tirith. Sun and moon, dark and light, yin and yang, etc. etc. But of course jr qba'g trg gb Zvanf Gvevgu hagvy EbgX.

        There's this original cover illustration, drawn by Tolkien, that is apparently Minas Morgul and Orthanc:

        (How do you embed images here?)

    • floppus says:

      Vf gung n fcbvyre? Tbyyhz unf gnyxrq nobhg gur Gbjre bs gur Zbba (Zvanf Vguvy), ohg V qba'g guvax ur unf zragvbarq gur gbjre bs Pvevgu Hatby.

    • Katie says:

      I always thought it was Minas Tirith and Minas Anor, the twin cities, one still good, one corrupted, symbolizing two sides of the fight (naq gjb qrfgvangvbaf sbe gur sryybjfuvc, rira gubhtu gung bayl orpbzrf pyrne va gur Erghea bs gur Xvat).

  7. BetB says:

    "HOW VERY CONVENIENT, GOLLUM. Now you’ve realized that there’s another way in. That’s not suspicious at all! I’m right there with Sam, side-eyeing the hell out of Gollum."

    Insert Eomer GIF here…. chuckle…

    "Frodo. Just hold me. I just can’t. HOLY SHIT. This little speech of his just levels Gollum, so much so that it takes quite some time to calm the little guy down enough to tell him about the other two ways into Mordor:"

    This little speech is impressive. It shows how much Frodo has grown. Is this wisdom due to bearing his burden? Isn't this where Sam gets an eye opener too? He felt Frodo was kind and oblivious but now sees that is not the case! Frodo is definitely strong and wise, but not stern unless the situation demands it.

    "I’m scared."
    Yes, Mark. Be very very afraid for you are forever unprepared. (evil grin … I need that Grinch GIF here!)

  8. PrefectSarah says:

    It's fantastic the way Tolkien can bring a sense of doom to a reader when essential nothing physical happens to the characters to make you feel that way. I just remember this chapter brought on feelings like nothing was ever going to be bright and shiny again, and everything is fucked.

    • Nerdfoxy says:

      YES! The last few chapters and this one are the hardest for me to suffer through, when really, are they just walking around? I mean, so little really happens, if you don't count, you know, enormous character growth and potentially life altering decisions.

  9. Tauriel_ says:

    Tauriel's Linguistic Corner

    Hey guys, long time no see. 🙂 Sorry, I've been terribly busy with work, school and refurbishing of my new flat (MAJOR reconstruction in progress!). Anyway – the first chapter of Book Four didn't have any new Elvish words or names, so here's just making up for what I missed yesterday…


    Dagorlad – "Battle Plain". Sindarin origin: dagor – "battle"; lâd – "plain", "valley", "lowland".


    Ephel Dúath – "Mountains of Shadow". Sindarin origin: ephel – "encircling fence", "outer fence"; dúath – "night shade", "dark shadow".
    Ered Lithui – "Ash Mountains". Sindarin origin: ered – mountains (singular form is orod = mountain); lithui – "ashen", "ashy" (from lith = ash).
    Lithlad – "Ashen Valley". Sindarin origin: lith – "ash"; lâd – "plain", "valley", "lowland".
    Gorgoroth – "Deadly Fear". Sindarin origin, longer form of gorgor – "horror", "deadly fear".
    Cirith Gorgor – "Haunted Pass", literally "Pass of Horror". Sindarin origin: cirith – "pass", "cleft", "cutting"; gorgor – "horror", "deadly fear".
    Morannon – "Black Gate". Sindarin origin: môr – "dark", "black"; annon – "great gate", "door".
    Cirith Ungol – the meaning of this mountain pass is a bit spoilery, so I will not translate it now… 🙂

    • ZeynepD says:

      Yay, your feature is back!

      The name of Cirith Ungol: Vfa'g gung onfvpnyyl gur fnzr guvat gung Gbyxvra gebyyf gur ernqre jvgu yngre, jura gur anzr pbzrf hc va pbairefngvba jvgu Snenzve? "Vs Tnaqnys jnf gurer ur pbhyq unir gbyq gurz…" Lrnu gunax lbh irel zhpu NNNNNHTU.

    • stormwreath says:

      Frodo speaks Elvish, of course; but presumably ur arire yrnearq gur Fvaqneva jbeq sbe 'fcvqre'.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Yeah, we don't really know. But I left it out, just to be on the safe side. 🙂

        • msw188 says:

          Don't forget that the hobbits haven't been told this name, so Frodo's knowledge of Sindarin, or lack thereof, doesn't really matter at this point in terms of considering this a spoiler or not.

      • Lyra says:

        Or he did – pbafvqrevat gurer ner cyragl bs fcvqref va Gur Uboovg – ohg ur whfg svtherq vg ersreerq gb abezny ubhfrubyq fcvqref.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Lrnu, ohg V qvqa'g zrna fcbvyrel gb Sebqb, V zrnag fcbvyrel gb Znex – ur'f nyernql jbaqrevat jub "fur" gung Tbyyhz zragvbarq vf; naq abj ur'q yrnea gung Tbyyhz vf yrnqvat gurz gb fbzrguvat pnyyrq "Gur Fcvqre'f Cnff", fb ur zvtug chg gjb naq gjb gbtrgure orsber vg'f gvzr… 🙂

  10. threerings13 says:

    Just the idea that Frodo was essentially prepared to walk up to the Black Gate of Morder and walk inside, knowing it was horribly stupid, because he had promised to go to Mordor and didn't know any other way. Just…….HOBBITS!

  11. fantasy_fan says:

    I’m still new to all of this, and I certainly didn’t understand why Gollum had two names. I’M SLOW SOMETIMES.
    Everything in Tolkien has at least two names. Usually one in Elvish, and one in "Common Speech," which is often a direct translation of the Elvish. Tauriel will come along in a moment to give those. Even characters have many names – Aragorn (Strider/Elessar/Wingfoot/etc.) being the great illustration of this. Smeagol and Gollum are a bit different, as they are two different sides of a characterization, so you can be forgiven. Especially as you were not prepared.

    I’m scared.
    Muuhahahahahah. It's Mordor, dude, you should be scared. No one is prepared for Mordor.

  12. grinmankey says:

    Mark, you may want to re-read the part again about the "roads". There's only one other way into Mordor mentioned in this chapter. Gollum is describing the road that turns south and goes west of the Ephel Duath. A ways down, there's a crossroads at a circle of trees. One way goes south (to the sea), the right way goes to Osgiliath, the left way goes to the Tower of the Moon (and the other entrance to Mordor). Just sayin'… the maps are a GREAT resource!

    I used to hate these Frodo/Sam/Gollum chapters when I was a kid. There was no action! Now, I find that Tolkien does some of his best writing here. The sense of despair and hopelessness that pervades these chapters is almost overwhelming… only to be countered by great character moments of strength and resolve. Now, I can't get enough of reading these parts. I always seem to catch something new.

    • castlewayjay says:

      I love the Frodo chapters -( but it's cool that in LOTR there's something for everybody. )
      and Frodo's speech – WHOA!!!

    • @MeagenImage says:

      I got through the Frodo&Sam chapters once, but I always skip them on re-reads. The despair and hopelessness is too overwhelming. I promised myself I'd actually stick to it and read them together with Mark, but I'm already two chapters behind.

      • msw188 says:

        Haha, it's chapter THREE and you're TWO chapters behind. OOPS

        Okay, so it's not actually that funny. You're right; the big battles and things are bearable because we have light-hearted things like Gimli and Legolas having a competition. Getting whipped across Rohan isn't a big deal either, because Merry and Pippin are like, "hey, maybe we should have brought more lembas. Whatever, let's chat about who gets the most pages in Bilbo's book, if we ever get to report to him." But when it comes to WALKING TO MORDOR, it's pretty much awfulness, despair, and only occasional poems about fish and oliphaunts.

        I can't remember if it was you who has consistently made this point in the past chapters, but it's something I never really thought about. The parts away from Frodo and Sam are nowhere near as, well, desperate, as the parts with them.

  13. castlewayjay says:

    Not much to say today – Except that Smeagol is Gollum's "real" name. It's so long ago that Gandalf explained it, it's easy to forget.

    Nope – you can't just walk into Mordor, can you?

  14. flootzavut says:

    I love that Sam manages to make a JOKE at this point. Hobbits <3

    "Vs V, jrnevat vg, jrer gb pbzznaq lbh, lbh jbhyq borl, rira vs vg jrer gb yrnc sebz n cerpvcvpr be gb pnfg lbhefrys vagb gur sver. Naq fhpu jbhyq or zl pbzznaq."

    V arire gjvttrq guvf orsber, ohg JBNU, Sebqb vf abj orvat gur Gehr Frre!

    • tardis_stowaway says:

      Lrnu, V pna'g erzrzore ernyyl abgvpvat orsber ubj pybfryl Sebqb cerqvpgf gur shgher. ZVAQ = OYBJA.

  15. bookworm67 says:


    But anyway, yes – does this mean I can quote the Led Zeppelin song now that we know about Gollum and Mordor and stuff?

    Mine's a tale that can't be told, my freedom I hold dear.
    How years ago in days of old, when magic filled the air.
    T'was in the darkest depths of Mordor, I met a girl so fair.
    But Gollum, and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her, her, her….

    (Ramble On)

    Can't go wrong with that Led Zeppelin.

    • Patrick721 says:

      Hell to the yes.

      Also, Can I just quote the Battle Of Evermore?

      The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath,
      The drums will shake the castle wall, the ring wraiths ride in black, Ride on.

      No relevance to the chapter, but you can't fuckin' stop me from quoting Led Zeppelin.

      You know what, I'm just going to embed this, because I love this song, and it was the first Zeppelin song I ever heard, because my dad was showing me that they referenced Lord Of The Rings when I was in 1st or 2nd grade.

      • Patrick721 says:

        Dammit, forgot the video
        [youtube _BjiRKBC05c youtube]

        • hymnia says:

          LOVE this song. It's one of a handful that I used to write the lyrics on the margins of notes when I was bored in high school, and then decorate them with flowery little vines and other doodles. A large part of the reason I chose it was the LOTR allusions, but I also liked it just 'cause it's beautiful poetry.

        • Fiona says:

          I love this song so much, especially the mandolin part <3. My mum's a massive classic rock fan so I grew up listening to this kind of stuff, plus lots of Queen and the occasional bit of Metallica :D.

      • bookworm67 says:

        Oh my god, my mom did the same thing every time that song and Ramble On came on (which was a lot). Though it was usually me quoting LoTR trivia and random quotes at her 😛

      • Dreamflower says:

        I'm actually more familiar with an acoustic version done by a group called The Fellowship on their CD "In Elven Lands" which is wonderfully done with guitar, harp, krumhorn, bass drum and djarbuka.

        But my favorite song on it is the last one, a wonderful tribute to Earendil and Elwing called "The Evening Star". I am mostly a hobbit-centric person, but that song makes me 'ship Earendil/Elwing SO much.

    • Fuchsia says:

      It's always okay to quote Led Zeppelin. Although I tend to laugh, now, because I once told someone I was in a wizard rock band [you know, Harry Potter music] and he went on and on, "Like Zeppelin, yeah? Yeah, I know all about that." And when I finally got to say no, wizard rock is kind of something different and is based on Harry Potter, he just looked so disappointed. And had nothing more to say.

    • Wheelrider says:

      Ahahahaha, this sums up 9th grade for me pretty well.

  16. Dreamflower says:

    Well, Mark, now you know why one cannot simply walk into Mordor. There is nothing simple about it.

    The image of the three small travellers in this blasted, grim and lonely landscape is heartbreaking. I either had not before noticed, or had forgotten, for how long they sat and waited for Frodo to make his decision. Hours and hours, practically an entire day. In some ways it reminds me of his need for time at Parth Galen– perhaps it was not so much deciding as gathering up his thoughts enough to actually *voice* the decision. At Parth Galen, it took Boromir to push him into action, but I love that it is Sam's little poem about the Oliphaunts that cheers Frodo and helps him to voice his decision in this case.

    This day is also the same day that the Three Hunters are reunited with Merry and Pippin at Isengard.

    V jnf fgehpx ol fbzrguvat guvf gvzr nebhaq, nobhg gur fgehpgher bs guvf cneg bs gur obbx naq ubj vg cnenyyryf bgure rneyvre cnegf bs gur obbx.

    Ng gur ortvaavat bs gur jubyr nqiragher, jr unir n frrzvatyl cbvagyrff fvqr-gevc vagb gur Byq Sberfg. Naq lrg gurer gheaf bhg gb or n cbvag nsgre nyy, naq abg fvzcyl gur tenagvat bs jrncbaf. Jr trg gb frr gur qlanzvp bs Sebqb naq gur bgure guerr uboovgf gnxr funcr.

    Naq ng gur ortvaavat bs gur Sryybjfuvc'f Dhrfg, gurer vf guvf frrzvatyl cbvagyrff fvqr gevc hc Pnenquenf naq onpx, juvpu gheaf bhg gb frg hc gur qlanzvp bs gur Pbzcnal naq gurve eryngvbafuvcf naq freirf gb sberfunqbj Zbevn.

    Naq abj jr unir guvf yvggyr wbhearl gb gur Oynpx Tngr juvpu nyfb frrzf gb abg nqinapr gur cybg– lrg vg vf irel vzcbegnag gb gur fgbel, orpnhfr vg frgf hc gur qlanzvp orgjrra Sebqb, Fnz naq Tbyyhz. Jr frr va guvf cneg bs gur gevc ubj gur guerr jvyy eryngr gb bar nabgure, naq yrnea n yvggyr zber nobhg Fzrntby/Tbyyhz nf n punenpgre. Rira gubhtu gurfr ynfg gjb puncgref trg gurz ab pybfre gb gurve tbny (naq, nf va gur Pnenquenf puncgre) gurl unir gb tb nabgure jnl ragveryl, guvf frrzvatyl cbvagyrff fvqr gevc vf rffragvny gb haqrefgnaqvat jung pbzrf nsgre.

    • Wheelrider says:

      Good point.
      Gubfr guvatf nyfb znxr gur fgbel zber oryvrinoyr va zl rlrf, orpnhfr gurer vf ab pyrne cngu, gurer pbhyqa'g or… naq bs pbhefr yvsr vf abg yvxr gung, rvgure.

      • Dreamflower says:

        Gehr; erny yvsr nqiragherf ner bsgra abg fb fgenvtugsbejneq; lrg zbfg zbqrea abiryvfgf ner gbyq "qba'g vapyhqr nalguvat gung qbrf abg zbir gur cybg sbejneq". V jnf fhecevfrq (cyrnfrq, ohg fhecevfrq) gung CW jvgu uvf vafvfgrapr ba sbphffvat ba gur Evat'f wbhearl, arireguryrff qvq vapyhqr Pnenquenf naq gur Qrnq Znefurf. Gurfr jrer vpbavp fprarf va gur obbx, naq gb zl zvaq irel vzcbegnag. Ohg V unq srnerq gung gur arrq gb fgernzyvar gur fgbel jbhyq unir yrq gb gubfr fprarf orvat phg.

        • ARITHMANCER says:

          Wnpxfba pbhyqa'g erfvfg gur perrcl pbecfrf va gur jngre jvgu gurve tubfgyl yvtugf!

        • GamgeeFest says:

          CW whfg fnpevsvprq Sebqb'f zneirybhf fcrrpu urer vafgrnq.

          Tbbq cbvag nobhg gubfr fvqr gevcf naq ubj gurl freir gb frg hc gur punenpgref' eryngvbafuvcf. V arire pnhtug gung orsber rvgure. Naq vg qbrf znxr zber frafr gung gurl jbhyq trg ybfg be genccrq be fghpx naq unir gb tb onpx naq gel ntnva nabgure jnl. Vs rirelbar xarj rknpgyl jung gb qb naq rirelguvat jrag rknpgyl gurve jnl, vg jbhyq or bar obevat obbx.

          • Wheelrider says:

            Ah, now you're validating my refusal to watch the movies!

            • Dreamflower says:

              I know a number of people who feel that way.

              Gur gehgu vf gur fpevcg vf abg gur zbivrf' fgebat cbvagf. Punenpgrevmngvbaf ner bsgra fnpevsvprq (nygubhtu V unir gb fnl n pbhcyr bs punenpgref npghnyyl orarsvgrq, zbfg abgnoyl Obebzve) naq gurer ner fbzr cybg ubyrf ovt rabhtu gb qevir n gehpx guebhtu.

              V guvax gur fgebat cbvagf va gur svyz ner gur zhfvp naq gur vzntrel. Gur ivfhnyf ner fcrpgnphyne. Univat fhssrerq guebhtu n gehyl nolfzny nqncgngvba (Onxfuv nalbar?), V guvax gur zbivrf birenyy jrer jbaqreshy.

              Vg urycf gb guvax bs gurz nf n fyvtugyl NH snasvp, n gevohgr gb gur fgbel naq vgf jbeyq, engure guna n snvgushy ercrgvgvba bs gur obbxf.

              Gung fnvq, juvyr V rawbl gur zbivrf, V YBIR gur obbxf rira zber.

              At any rate, to each his or her own. I even know a few people who like the movies more. I don't quite understand that– but ah, well.

            • GamgeeFest says:

              V guvax gur Sebqb-Fnz fgbelyvar fhssref gur zbfg va gur zbivrf. Naq vg orvat zl snibevgr cneg bs gur obbxf, vg ernyyl qrenvyrq zl raguhfvnfz sbe gur zbivrf. Zbivr!Sebqb vf abjurer arne obbx!Sebqb. Tbyyhz vf onfvpnyyl ghearq vagb Vntb. Bu, obl! V'z trggvat fgnegrq!

              *gnxrf qrrc oerngu*

              Yrg'f whfg fnl, gur zbivrf gnxra ol gurzfryirf ner dhvgr tbbq. Nf QS fnvq, gel gb guvax bs gurz nf NH snasvp vafgrnq bs nqncgngvbaf. 😉

  17. Becky_J_ says:

    Just a few thoughts on this chapter….

    1. This chapter is 14 pages long…. BUT I LITERALLY THOUGHT IT WAS FOUR when I looked at it because I am so used to looooong chapters and it looked SO SHORT.
    2. ALL RIGHT. WHO ASKED IF THIS COULD GET ANY WORSE. Don't you know that's the worst question to ask?? Next thing you know Bill actually IS going to pop up as a non-speaking zombie pony!
    3. SLINKER AND STINKER. Samwise Gamgee, my love for you KNOWS NO BOUNDS. You are a poet.
    4. Sam's all "LOL MORDOR" and Gollum's all "ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY JOKE ABOUT MORDOR." Amateur hour, Sam, amateur hour.
    5. You guys this is just SO JOYFUL AND AWESOME. Not only do we get to go to Mordor, we get to sneak in through a creepy back road in the mountains, past a haunted, ruined tower full of orcs, up a thin (and probably steep and slippery, if I know Tolkien well enough) staircase, through a dark tunnel, into Sauron's lovely home! FUN TIMES GUYS.
    6. There is seriously NOTHING CUTER TO ME RIGHT NOW THAN THE EXCHANGE ABOUT OLIPHAUNTS BETWEEN GOLLUM AND SAM. I love that when Sam asks if there are any, Gollum is sure to say that there aren't before asking what they ever are. "NO, Sam, of COURSE there are no Oliphaunts! Don't be ridiculous. Wait… what are Oliphaunts??" And then Sam breaks out into a cute little Shire chant! THESE ARE THE ONLY MOMENTS OF HAPPINESS AND I WILL CLING TO THEM FOR DEAR LIFE
    7. "Vs V, jrnevat vg, jrer gb pbzznaq lbh, lbh jbhyq borl, rira vs vg jrer gb yrnc sebz n cerpvcvpr be gb pnfg lbhefrys vagb gur sver."Jryy…. uzz. V zrna… Ybbx, gur raq bs guvf obbx vf nyzbfg whfg sernxvat FCRYYRQ BHG EVTUG URER. Tbbq ybeq Gbyxvra…. lbh ner yvgrenyyl LBHE BJA JBEFG GEBYY.

    • flootzavut says:

      V ungr ungr ungr gur vqrn bs gubfr fgnvef. FPNEL!

      V nz abgvpvat guvf gvzr ebhaq WHFG UBJ ZHPU Gbyxvra gebyyf naq fcbvyf, vg'f ulfgrevpny 😀

    • Dreamflower says:

      Re: your point number seven.

      I should make a list of the times JRRT's done that in this book.

      • flootzavut says:

        Oh definitely 😀

        Jr unir nyfb gnyxrq nobhg znxvat n yvfg bs gur gvzrf Znex unf vanqiregnagyl cerqvpgrq jung jvyy unccra, naq nyfb gur gvzrf jura ur'f fnvq, "Jryy gung QRSVAVGRYL QBA'G UNCCRA" naq gura vg unf 😀

    • GamgeeFest says:

      #7: Ur pregnvayl vfa'g nsenvq gb gryy lbh RKNPGYL JUNG JVYY UNCCRA jnl orsber vg npghnyyl unccraf. Naq gura vg unccraf naq lbh'er yvxr, jbnu, qvqa'g frr gung pbzvat. Hagvy lbh erernq vg naq ernyvmr ubj jebat lbh jrer. 😉

  18. Araniapriime says:

    Discussing oliphaunts is always important!

  19. msw188 says:

    Grey as a mouse,
    Big as a house,

    Also, "And so are we to walk up and knock at their gate and ask if we're on the right road to Mordor? Or are they too silent to answer?"


    "Don't make jokes about it. It isn't funny, O no! Not amusing. It's not sense to try to get into Mordor at all."

    Oh, well, that's actually a pretty good retort. In fact, I remember when I was first reading this, it was that answer of Gollum's that made me feel like he was telling the truth. It just feels like such a frank answer. He KNOWS this isn't a joke and, in fact, it's a kind of stupid thing to be debating at all. He KNOWS that ONE SIMPLY DOES NOT WALK INTO MORDOR. Why would you want to go there anyway? But you WOULD want to escape, and this way is the one way he escaped undetected (or believed he did).

    • Wheelrider says:

      This is the best! Sam's gallows humor just… well… kills me.

      Gura bs pbhefr yngre, jr trg, "Jryy jr'ir tbar naq ehat gur sebag qbbe-oryy!"

      And yes, Gollum's retort — also funny! — does make him seem believable here.

  20. monkeybutter says:

    If I, wearing it, were to command you, you would obey, even if it were to leap from a precipice or to cast yourself into the fire. And such would be my command. So have a care, Sméagol!’

    <img src=""&gt;
    It's always the quiet ones. I'm totally okay with this threat, because the many facets of Gollum freak me out, and I'm glad to see Frodo make it clear that he's not going to be manipulated.

    V'z tynq gb frr gung Sebqb vf fgvyy njner bs gur rivyf bs gur evat, naq ubj vg pna gjvfg crbcyr'f urnegf, ohg vg znxrf zr harnfl gung ur frrzf gb *xabj* gung ur pna hfr vg gb n anfgl raq jvgubhg n frpbaq gubhtug. Ur'f hfvat gur evat gb onpx hc uvf bja fgeratgu, juvyr fgvyy ba n zvffvba gb qrfgebl vg. Pbasyvpg nubl!

    • bugeye says:

      Frodo is Bilbo's chosen heir and has a good education, if you will, so he is not easily fooled, but I think the ring is also exerting some influence on Frodo with the Smeagol put down. The tone and words are not quite "hobbit talk". A bit too forceful, too commanding. Frodo has been carrying that thing for a long time now.

      Afraid, I am very afraid.

    • ldwy says:

      Oh lordy, fantastic gif.

  21. plaidpants says:

    Sam is so sassy in this chapter, I love it. Since Gandalf isn't around to sass Pippin, someone's got to bring the humor. Also, qb jr trg Snenzve gbzbeebj?

    • monkeybutter says:


    • T.J. says:

      Yes, ohg bayl oevrsyl fvapr ur tbrf gb svtug gur fbhguebaf. Uvf ovt puncgref ner gur gjb nsgre gung. V pna'g jnvg!

      • divAndRule says:

        Fbzrbar trg n tvs cnegl ernql :). Nf sbe zlfrys.. V guvax V funyy tb qvt bhg NX Rvffznaa'f ybiryl Snenzve vyyhfgengvbaf.

        • Katarina_H says:

          Nobhg gur tvs cnegl – V guvax vg jbhyq or orfg vs jr yrg bss zbivr tvsf hagvy Zbaqnl. Gur eriryngvba gung Snenzve vf Obebzve'f oebgure, nf boivbhf nf vg znl or sebz gur anzr, qbrfa'g grpuavpnyyl pbzr hagvy puncgre svir. Naq xhqbf gb pnfgvat, nalbar jub frrf Qnivq Jraunz vf obhaq gb tb "Jryy, gung'f Frna Orna'f yvggyr oebgure, vfa'g vg?"

          Obbx tvsf, bs pbhefr, ner nabgure znggre.

          • flootzavut says:

            Yes, I was thinking the same.

          • divAndRule says:

            Lbh ner evtug. V nterr. Naljnl Obbxnzve vf jnl zber njrfbzr guna Svyznzve :)LZZI bs pbhefr.

            • Katarina_H says:

              *teva* V yvxr gurz obgu, va fyvtugyl qvssrerag jnlf.

              • Tul says:

                In fact, V guvax jr fubhyq jnvg hagvy Zbaqnl sbe nal tvs cnegl, obbx be zbivr. Vs Znex frrf gur raguhfvnfz ur jvyy creuncf thrff gung ur vfa'g fbzr rivy qhqr jub'f tbvat gb uheg gur uboovgf onqyl naq gel sbe gur Evat – jr ernyyl qba'g xabj zhpu nobhg uvz ol gung cbvag. Well that's my humble opinion anyway 🙂

                • Fiona says:

                  V tbg zl ubcrf hc nobhg svanyyl orvat noyr gb synvy nobhg Snenzve ohg gung jvyy unir gb jnvg V thrff. Vg znxrf frafr gb ubyq onpx hagvy Znex xabjf gung ur'f tbbq naq jub ur'f eryngrq gb gubhtu. Gura jr pna puhpx nf znal tvsf naq cvrprf bs neg nf jr pna ng uvz bapr ur xabjf. Vg'yy or jbegu vg V'z fher :).

                • Katarina_H says:

                  Znxrf frafr, vs crbcyr pna fgnaq gur jnvgvat. 🙂

    • blossomingpeach says:

      Grr urr. V ybir ubj unys bs gur ebg13 pbzzragf gbqnl ner rkpvgrzrag bire Snenzve. <3

      • plaidpants says:

        Vgf orpnhfr ur'f whfg fb nznmvat!! unun ohg lrn, V fbzrgvzrf jbaqre vs Znex pna gryy zl gur nzbhag bs Ebg13 whfg ubj rkpvgvat gur arkg puncgre vf tbvat gb or/ubj rrevyl pybfr ur vf gb fgngvat fbzrguvat va bar bs uvf cerqvpgvbaf/fgngrzragf

  22. Alice says:

    Oh,man…they’ve reached the Black Gates of Mordor…this would not end well!…Omg,you guys…whoa the way Sam addresses Gollum in his mind!!!How come I did not realised this until now?!Well,I guess this is because I read the book in my own language :p but I am so thrilled to finally figure this out:I mean those are the parts from Jonh Howe’s theme song of Gollum,and I initially thought that this was just Howe’s ideea,but the whole time they were under my nose.I am so blind sometimes!!And bless you Sam…this describes Gollum perfectly!!:( This creeps me out…the secret road leads past to Minas Morgul,and the way he sais “tunnel” *shudders*. Oh,cute is Sam reciting that poem about oliphaunts,huh? ^_^

    John Howe – The Black Gates

    Alan Lee – The Black Gates are closed

    John Howe – Fbhguebaf

    John Howe – Fbhguebaf

    …and yeah!What would Gandalf have done? 😀

    John Howe

    • flootzavut says:

      Gung svefg cvpgher bs gur Oynpx Tngrf frrzf yvxr vg zhfg unir orra n znwbe vafcvengvba sbe ubj gurl ybbxrq va gur zbivrf. Ernyyl fvavfgre! Wbua Ubjr vf fb tbbq jvgu gur rivy fghss!

    • castlewayjay says:

      "And Sauron has even some wicked man from the south on his side…how f$%^&ed up is that?!I mean they really think that they will live as free man, in this dark kingdom if Sauron wins?Stupid ppl! >"
      Sauron has many humans on his side (as well as the orc-monsters). So did Hitler. People are easily misled by power, greed, etc., etc. Not all the humans were all bad, I wager. …

      • Dreamflower says:

        Well, remember this is all hearsay from Gollum. Consider the source.

        Erzrzore gung gurfr crbcyr unir cebonoyl orra yvrq naq znavchyngrq vagb svtugvat sbe Fnheba. Gurl znl or svtugvat sbe uvz bhg bs furre greebe.

        • castlewayjay says:

          I think we're on the same page here.

          • Skyweir says:

            Fnheba vf onfvpyl n Tbq gb zbfg bs gurfr crbcyr, erzrzore gung.

            Nyfb, Tbaqbe pnaabg or pbzcyrgryl nofbyirq bs thvyg. Vg'f abg yvxr gurl qvq abg tb nebhaq pbadhrevat ynetr cnegf bs Unenq haqre znal bs gur Frn Xvatf.

            Fb va snpg, nalbar sebz Hzone be Unenq jbhyq or sbetvira sbe abg univat n ybg bs tbbq srryvatf nobhg Tbaqbe be gurve nezvrf, naq Fnheba jbhyq abg arrq gb chfu sne sbe znal gb wbva hc gb svtug gurve sbezre bireybeqf.

            Bs pbhefr, va Hzone gurer vf nyfb gur yvatrevat gnvag bs gur Xvafgevsr naq fbzr erznvavat genprf bs gur Oynpx Ahzrabernaf. V nyjnlf ybirq gur qrfpevcgvba bs Hzone va gur Nccraqvk naq sryg gung gur crbcyr gurve znl unir tbggra n onq enc whfg orpnhfr gurl qvq abg cnegvphyneyl rawbl orvat n pbybal bs Tbaqbe.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          This. Manipulation, lies, terror – that's how Sauron works.

        • Alice says:

          Znlor,ohg gurl nyfb ungr gur tbaqbevnaf.Naq erzrzore Nentbea unq gb svtug gurz rira nsgre ur orpnzr xvat.

          • MasterGhandalf says:

            Zbfgyl, Fnheba gbbx nqinagntr bs n cer-rkvfgvat angvbany pbasyvpg (naq orgjrra Tbaqbe naq Unenq vg'f orra tbvat ba n *ybat* gvzr), cebonoyl guerj va fbzr cebzvfrf bs cbjre gb trg gur yrnqref ba uvf fvqr naq guerng bs sbepr ntnvafg gur pbzzba crbcyr, naq tbg gurz zbovyvmrq nf cneg bs uvf nezl. Guvf vf fgnaqneq bcrengvat cebprqher sbe Zvqqyr-rnegu'f znwbe onqf jura qrnyvat jvgu uhzna cbchyngvbaf, ernyyl- Fnehzna qvq cerggl zhpu gur rknpg fnzr guvat jvgu gur Qhayraqvatf, naq tbg fgnegrq jvgu gur Ebuveevz (gubhtu Tnaqnys'f jneavat gb gurz nsgre ur rfpncrq sebz Vfratneq engure ehvarq gung bar). Gur Qbjasnyy bs Ahzrabe frpgvba bs gur Fvyznevyyvba tvirf n svefg unaq ivrj bs n pvivyvmngvba Fnheba vf va gur cebprff bs oevatvat haqre uvf fjnl.

      • Alice says:

        Agree.And sadly you can find many parallels even today.Humans don't seem to learn too much from past mistakes.But I will never cease to wonder I guess,and consider really fcked up the fact that so many follow blindly one insane ruler.It's mind blowing if we take for example Hitler that so many of his countryman closed their eyes and did not see what an insane man ruled them.To not see what he,and they by not acting against it,did to fellow human beings.Is is that easy to brainwash a human mind?Okay,maybe greed guides you,or fear,or you are mislead but really there comes a time when you realize that this path that you are going is a wrong one,right?And yet…nothing is what they've done.The power to corrupt or to mislead the masses is a terrible one.Sorry if I did not make myself to clear,on what am I trying to say here,it's a little difficult to me to do it in another language since I don't speak it on an everyday basis.

        • arctic_hare says:

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

          • Alice says:

            Ok,sorry about that.I was talking generally.I'll try to find another word that would not be considered offensive.

          • rabidsamfan says:

            Whfg orpnhfr fbba jr'er tbvat gb eha vagb Qrargube naq svaq bhefryirf gelvat gb qvfphff gur qvssreraprf orgjrra gur obbx naq gur zbivr, jung jbeq vf na npprcgnoyr flabalz sbe "vafnar" ba guvf fvgr? Orpnhfr V ernyyl qb guvax gung gur zbivr cbegenlny chfurf Qrargube vagb n cynpr jurer jr'er tbvat gb arrq n jbeq.

            • notemily says:

              Guvf vf jung V unir va n yvggyr grkg svyr V znqr sbe guvf checbfr:

              Vafgrnq bs Penml/Ahgf/Vafnar:
              Bhg gurer
              Bire gur gbc
              N ovg zhpu
              (Qevirf zr) hc gur jnyy
              (Qevirf zr) gb qvfgenpgvba
              Bss gur envyf

              Nf sbe Qrargube fcrpvsvpnyyl, V unira'g er-ernq gubfr puncgref lrg, ohg V guvax lbh pna fnl ur'f orvat veengvbany, gung ur'f ybfg crefcrpgvir, gung ur'f ybfg nyy frafr bs evtug naq jebat. Nalbar ryfr unir fhttrfgvbaf?

              • Alice says:

                Thank you notemily for the examples 🙂

              • Erik says:

                I need to reload the page more often, apparently. 🙂 Thanks much for the examples.

              • flootzavut says:

                Ubarfg dhrfgvba: Fb "vafnar" vf fgvyy hanpprcgnoyr rira vs vg vf yvgrenyyl gehr? (nf vf nethnoyr va Qrargube'f pnfr…)

                Yvxr V fnl, trahvar dhrfgvba, abg orvat qvssvphyg. V pna haqrefgnaq abg jnagvat gb hfr penml/vafnar nf n xvaq bs trarevp vafhyg jbeq, ohg V'z phevbhf orpnhfr V thrff V nffhzrq vg jbhyq or BX gb hfr vg nf n grpuavpny qrfpevcgvba bs "crefba jub unf ybfg gurve zvaq" – nf gur bccbfvgr gb "fnar". V jnf guvaxvat zber bs vafnar nf bccbfrq gb penml, juvpu vf abg ernyyl n grpuavpny jbeq va gur fnzr jnl.

                Ubcr V nz znxvat frafr 🙂

                • notemily says:

                  Jryy, gur guvat vf, rira vs n svpgvbany punenpgre vf nethnoyl zragnyyl vyy, jr unir ab jnl bs qvntabfvat gurz sbe fher (hayrff n cnegvphyne zragny vyyarff vf fgngrq va gur grkg).

                  Fb znal gvzrf va svpgvba, "vafnavgl" be "znqarff" vf whfg hfrq nf n trareny grez sbe "abg npgvat engvbanyyl," juvpu urycf cebzbgr gur vqrn gung zragnyyl vyy crbcyr pna'g npg engvbanyyl be frafvoyl naq rirelguvat gurl fnl naq qb pna or qvfpbhagrq nf "penml." Fb V jbhyq gernq pnershyyl nebhaq gur jbeq "vafnar" orpnhfr lbh unir gb ernyvmr gung rira gubhtu jr'er gnyxvat nobhg svpgvbany punenpgref, bhe jbeqf funcr gur nggvghqrf bs crbcyr gbjneqf npghny uhzna orvatf.

                  Fbzrbar ryfr pna cebonoyl rkcynva guvf orggre, ohg gung'f zl fgno ng vg.

                  • flootzavut says:

                    "vs n svpgvbany punenpgre vf nethnoyl zragnyyl vyy, jr unir ab jnl bs qvntabfvat gurz sbe fher"

                    Ahh yeah I see where you're coming from. Thanks 🙂 makes more sense now 🙂

                  • Skyweir says:

                    Gurer vf n ceboyrz urer jvgu Qrargube, gubhtu, orpnhfr ur vf cerggl engvbany, ng yrnfg va gur obbxf. Veengvbany jbhyq vzcyl gung jung ur qbrf vf abg engvbany npgvbaf tvira jung ur xabjf, ohg guvf vf abg gehr.

                    Orpnhfr bs gur Cnynagve, ur xabjf gung gurl pnaabg jva gur jne ntnvafg Fnheba jvgubhg gur Evat. Ur unf frra gur infg nezvrf Fnheba pbzznaqf. Vaqrrq, Tnaqnysf cyna vf onfrq ba ubcr, snvgu naq n pregnva qrterr bs cerfpvrapr, abg engvbanyvgl.

                    Qrfcnve vf sbe gubfr jub frr gur raq orlbaq nyy ubcr Tnaqnys fnlf va Gur Sryybjfuvc bs gur Evat. Jryy, Qrargube qbrf, naq ur qrfcnvef, ohg vg vf abg veengvbany, vg vf n yrtvgvzngr ernpgvbaf gb gur snpgf.

                    Ur pnyyf svtugvat gb gur ovggre raq inavgl, naq ur vf evtug va n jnl. Vs gurer vf ab ubcr bs ivpgbel be fheiviny, svtugvat vf inva naq cevqrshy.

                    V qb abg guvax Qrargube vf veengvbany, abe qb V nterr gung vg vf evtug gb pnyy uvz “vafnar.”

              • rabidsamfan says:

                Gunax lbh sbe gur fhttrfgvbaf, naq rira zber, gunax lbh sbe gnxvat zl dhrfgvba frevbhfyl.

                V jvyy cebonoyl graq gbjneq "veengvbany" be rira "haonynaprq" be "qevira gb qrfcnve". Ohg V qba'g guvax gur ceboyrz vf nf nphgr va gur obbx nf vg vf va gur zbivr. Obbx Qrargube pnyyf va gur Ebuveevz uvzfrys, naq qbrfa'g arrq gb or gevpxrq vagb qbvat vg, sbe bar guvat…

            • Erik says:

              V unir gb nterr. Gur ynathntr arrqf gb nibvq orvat qrebtngbel, ohg gur pbaprcg bs vafnavgl jvyy or eryrinag, fb univat na nterrq-ba ibpnohynel gb ranoyr qvfphffvba jbhyq or n erny uryc.

  23. Melewen says:

    “Va gur ynfg arrq, Fzéntby, V fubhyq chg ba gur Cerpvbhf; naq gur Cerpvbhf znfgrerq lbh ybat ntb. Vs V, jrnevat vg, jrer gb pbzznaq lbh, lbh jbhyq borl, rira vs vg jrer gb yrnc sebz n cerpvcvpr be gb pnfg lbhefrys vagb gur sver. Naq fhpu jbhyq or zl pbzznaq.”

    V ybir ubj Gbyxvra whfg cerggl zhpu gryyf hf ubj vg’f tbvat gb raq naq ubj gur Evat qbrf rknpgyl jung Sebqb fnlf vg jbhyq qb. V nyjnlf jbaqre vs vg raqf guvf jnl fvzcyl orpnhfr bs jung Sebqb cerqvpgrq.

  24. Nerdfoxy says:

    Vf gbzbeebj SNENZVE gvzr!?!??!?!??!? V ybir uvz. Vs V pbhyqa'g or zneevrq gb zl uhfonaq, Snenzve vf gbgnyyl zl frpbaq cvpx. V'z abg zhpu bs n snatveyre, ohg curj! Can't wait!

    • T.J. says:

      Jr zrrg uvz oevrsyl va gur arkg puncgre ohg gura ur tbrf bss gb svtug fb jr frr n ybg zber bs uvz va gur arkg gjb be guerr. Snenzve vf fb njrfbzr vfa’g ur?!?

  25. redheadedgirl says:

    Tolkien leads us to believe that Frodo, sick of this endless journey, would simply go through the Gates into Mordor.


    (Skip? Traipse? Waltz? Rumba? MAYBE. but NO WALKING.)

  26. Meltha says:

    Does anyone else hear the "one cannot simply walk into Mordor" and then immediately picture the Fellowship using pogo sticks to go there instead?

    Just me then. Okay.

    Segways? I think Gimli would have fun with one of those.

    • sixth_queen says:

      Actually, Sebqb qbrfa'g fvzcyl jnyx vagb Zbeqbe, ohg Fnz qbrf. (Sebqb vf pneevrq vagb Zbeqbe ol Bepf.)

  27. JustMalyn says:

    ONE DOES NOT SILLY WALK INTO MORDOR. 🙂 Anyhow, I love Oliphaunts and Sam a lot <3

  28. Tauriel_ says:

    but Frodo thinks Gollum’s use of the first-person is a sign that he’s not referring to the deceptive form of Sméagol.

    Actually, it's the other way round – Sméagol is the "good" personality (well, good-ish), that was his original name before he found the Ring and was corrupted by it; Gollum is the "evil" personality, the one that fully submitted to the Ring's evil influence.

  29. blossomingpeach says:

    Bxnl, V whfg ybbxrq hc n puncgre fhzznel sbe gbzbeebj naq V thrff ur vf anzrq. Znlor vg'f whfg gung jr qba'g xabj jung fbeg bs crefba ur vf nsgre gbzbeebj'f puncgre?

  30. Naava says:

    Vg'f Snenzve arkg! Jbb! (zl snibevgr punenpgre)

    • Devora says:

      Htu, zl fvfgre snatveyvat bire Snenzve ntnva… (Fur'f orra gnyxvat nobhg vg nyy gur gvzr. "Fbba Znex jvyy svavfu nyy gubfr puncgref naq trg gb SNENZVE!")

      C.F.: Vs lbh nera'g zl fvfgre, V ncbybtvmr, ohg vg vf lbh, vfa'g vg, Annin?

  31. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    Frodo, Sam, and Gollum arrive at the Black Gate of Mordor. Also, Tolkien tells us a bit more about Mordor's geography. (It seems odd, though, that all of these place names are Sindarin – Gorgoroth, Lithlad, Núrnen.)

    Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, the Three Hunters, along with Gandalf, Théoden, and Éomer, reach Isengard and are reunited with Merry and Pippin. Parties are held, pipe-weed is smoked, and then the group goes to confront Saruman in his tower.

    • MasterGhandalf says:

      They're probably the names that the Elves gave them (or the Gondorians, who like to use Sindarin for significant occasions, which I always saw as similar to the way Medieval societies used Latin). We know that the Tower everyone else calls Barad-dur is called Lugburz by those in Sauron's service- I would imagine there are other Black Speech names for these places as well.

      • floppus says:

        I suppose. But jura jbhyq gurfr anzrf unir orra tvira? V qba'g guvax gur Ryirf be gur Aúzrabernaf rire qvq zhpu geniryyvat va Zbeqbe nsgre gur jne ortna. V fhccbfr Pryroevzobe be bguref zvtug unir ivfvgrq va gur rneyl qnlf, jura Fnheba jnf fgvyy cergraqvat gb or sevraqyl gb gur Ryirf, ohg va gung pnfr gur anzrf (Ynaq bs Ubeebe, Ynxr bs Fnqarff) qba'g znxr zhpu frafr. Zhpu yvxr "Zbevn" (jul jbhyq Qheva unir jnagrq gb pnyy uvzfrys "Ybeq bs gur Oynpx Punfz"?) Ohg, pbzr gb guvax bs vg, Zbevn vf nabgure anzr gung zvtug unir orra qhr gb Pryroevzobe. Znlor gur thl jnf whfg cebcurgvp gung jnl.

        • flootzavut says:

          V guvax gur cbvag gung gur Tbaqbevna vfrq vg n ybg vf xrl.

        • stormwreath says:

          Moria is what the Elves called it – the Dwarves' own name for their city was Khazad-dûm. But it seems that the Elvish names are the ones most commonly used by outsiders – and even the Dwarves use them, rather than their own language, when talking to other people.

          • floppus says:

            Right, but while it was inhabited, calling it "the Black Chasm" seems to me both inaccurate and somewhat insulting to the Dwarves. I'm thinking of the inscription on the gate, "Ennyn Durin Aran Moria." And this was at a time when Dwarves and Elves were on fairly good terms. Why not Groth-i-Nogothrim or something like that?

            Maybe gur vyyhfgengvba bs gur tngr jnf vanpphengr: znlor vg jnfa'g npghnyyl qenja ol Sebqb be Fnzjvfr, ohg jnf nqqrq gb gur Erq Obbx ol fbzr yngre rqvgbe jub unq arire frra gur bevtvany vafpevcgvba. Be znlor vg jnf qbar ol Sebqb be Fnz, ohg gurl pbhyqa'g erzrzore gur rknpg jbeqvat 🙂

    • sudden_eyes says:

      Can I just say how intensely useful these maps are? Even for me, a longtime reader – and if Mark's not looking at them now, I hope he'll do so later.

      So – thank you!!

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I just want to say that I love these maps you provide so much.

  32. floppus says:

    Movie spoilers:

    Fnz ybbxrq ng uvf znfgre jvgu nccebiny, ohg nyfb jvgu fhecevfr: gurer jnf n ybbx va uvf snpr naq n gbar va uvf ibvpr gung ur unq abg xabja orsber. Vg unq nyjnlf orra n abgvba bs uvf gung gur xvaqarff bs qrne Ze. Sebqb jnf bs fhpu uvtu qrterr gung vg zhfg vzcyl n snve zrnfher bs oyvaqarff. Bs pbhefr, ur nyfb svezyl uryq gur vapbzcngvoyr oryvrs gung Ze. Sebqb jnf gur jvfrfg crefba va gur jbeyq (jvgu gur cbffvoyr rkprcgvba bs Byq Ze. Ovyob naq bs Tnaqnys). Tbyyhz va uvf bja jnl, naq jvgu zhpu zber rkphfr nf uvf npdhnvagnapr jnf zhpu oevrsre, znl unir znqr n fvzvyne zvfgnxr, pbashfvat xvaqarff naq oyvaqarff.

    V srry yvxr gur svyzznxref znqr gur fnzr zvfgnxr.

  33. HieronymusGrbrd says:

    HOW VERY CONVENIENT, GOLLUM. Now you’ve realized that there’s another way in. That’s not suspicious at all!

    Would it have been less suspicious to come up with this other way days ago? Wouldn't Frodo and Sam have believed that Gollum just tried to distract them from the short way to Mt. Doom? They had to see that you can not simply walk into Mordor.

  34. elyce says:

    The Oliphaunt poem is my favorite poem of Sam's! It's so sweet *hugs*

  35. arctic_hare says:

    Of course, he also firmly held the incompatible belief that Mr. Frodo was the wisest person in the world (with the possible exception of Old Mr. Bilbo and of Gandalf).

    HOW ADORABLE AND SWEET IS THIS? <3 I went "AWWWWW, SAM!" when I read that. Sam is the best. <3 I love his jokes and his Oliphaunt poem too. He is the highlight for me of these chapters. Though I love Frodo too – that speech he gives that prompts Sam's admiration and terrifies the shit out of Gollum is very impressive. (And kind of disturbing.)

  36. Also I Am Number Four. (I'm so ashamed that I saw that.) :$

    Incidentally I've always thought he and Karl Urban could play long-lost brothers or something.

  37. Tul says:

    This site is awesome Mark ! It's like rediscovering LotR for the first time all over again ! Sometimes you just forget how many plot twists there are in this book since you can't be surprised anymore, but this way we can all just get excited for you instead ! And you are so marvelously unprepared… ^^

    Arkg Fnz vf tbvat gb znxr fbzr fgrjrq enoovgf naq Snenzve vf pbzvat !!! Pna'g jnvg, V ybir uvz fb zhpu !!! <3
    Qb lbh guvax ur jvyy fpner Znex onqyl be abg fb zhpu ? 😀 (naq V thrff snatveyvat jvyy or fcbvyrel, jba'g vg ?)

  38. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I'm genuinely surprised no one has commented on this yet:

    ""On, on, on," said Gollum. "We never went that way, but they say it goes a hundred leagues, until you can see the Great Water that is never still. There are lots of fishes there, and big birds eat fishes: nice birds: but we never went there, alas no! we never had a chance. And further still there are more lands, they say, but the Yellow Face is very hot there, and there are seldom any clouds, and the men are fierce and have dark faces. We do not want to see that land."

    "'More Men going to Mordor,' he said in a low voice. 'Dark faces. We have not seen Men like these before, no, Sméagol has not. They are fierce. They have black eyes, and long black hair, and gold rings in their ears; yes, lots of beautiful gold. And some have red paint on their cheeks, and red cloaks; and their flags are red, and the tips of their spears; and they have round shields, yellow and black with big spikes. Not nice; very cruel wicked Men they look. Almost as bad as Orcs, and much bigger. Sméagol thinks they have come out of the South beyond the Great River's end: they came up that road. They have passed on to the Black Gate; but more may follow. Always more people coming to Mordor. One day all the peoples will be inside.'"

    ''But I've heard tales of the big folk down away in the Sunlands. Swertings we call 'em in our tales; and they ride on oliphaunts, 'tis said, when they fight. They put houses and towers on the oliphauntses backs and all, and the oliphaunts throw rocks and trees at one another. So when you said "Men out of the South, all in red and gold;" I said "were there any oliphaunts?"'

    So it looks like south of the Bay is an incredibly sunny, hot area, where the people have dark skin ("swerting" seemingly being from the word "swart"). Assuming that Sam's hearsay has some basis in truth, it's a place where elephants roam. This might also be the place referred to in "Helm's Deep" when it was said that the orcs were climbing up the ladders like apes from the South.

    So we get our first close look at humans who're on Sauron's side in the war, and they seem to be orientalist depictions of Africans.

    • rubyjoo says:

      Well, perhaps no-one's commented because so many of us were upset over the rows that went on over the descriptions of orcs. And perhaps I should be keeping my mouth shut too.

      One small comment, though. Twice, Sam says that he's heard "tales" of these men. Medieval man told "tales" about people from the south who grew their heads below their shoulders, among other such nonsense. Sometimes things get distorted in travellers' stories and perhaps Tolkien, by showing Sam's wide-eyed credulity is trying to make some kind of point.

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        I think the reason I think it's weird is that there are quite a few people here who usually bring this stuff up even if they know it's going to cause a furor, and IIRC a few reviews back people were bringing it up in ROT13, as well.

        Re: the idea that the tales could be distorted, I would grant that in the case of the first and last quotes, since they're both hearsay, but the middle quote is just Smeagol recounting the things he's observing with his own eyes at that very moment. I don't think there's any incentive for him to lie about what he's seeing. And it's primarily the middle quote I have a problem with, anyway.

        • MasterGhandalf says:

          For what it’s worth, lines such as “almost as bad as orcs” mean little coming from Gollum, who who is quick to drop words like “bad” and “wicked” to refer to anything he doesn’t like, and who would certainly be scared of a large body of Sauron-aligned soldiers.

          Also, this is probably nitpicky, but these Fbhguebaf may be the first humans we see in-series explicitly working for Sauron, but theyre *not* the first humans we see working for the forces of darkness- those would be the (white) Qhayraqvatf jub ner bs gur fnzr rguavp tebhcvat nf gur Oerr-zra, nppbeqvat V oryvrir gb gur nccraqvprf. Whether this counts as working indirectly for Sauron depends on how one interprets the loyalties of the treacherous and triple-crossing Saruman, who recruited them.

          • Mauve_Avenger says:

            I don’t take issue with Gollum’s “almost as bad as orcs” nearly as much as I take issue with the physical description of the southerners (jub unira’g orra pnyyrq Fbhguebaf lrg, ol gur jnl) as an orientalist stereotype.

            When I said “first close look,” I worded it deliberately carefully. IIRC we haven’t got a good description of the Qhayraqvatf yet (I never got an impression of whether they were white or not, actually). We know that they have dark hair because they call the Rohirrim “straw-heads” as an epithet, but I don’t think we have any description of their racial characteristics so far, do we?

            • MasterGhandalf says:

              Sorry for missing your point- I didn’t comment on the stereotyping largely because I don’t feel qualified to. And you’re right in that we don’t get a detailed physical description of the Qhayraqvatf, but considering gur pbaarpgvba gb gur irel Ratyvfu Oerr-zra naq gur snpg gung anzrq Qhayraqvatf va gur nccraqvprf unir Byq Ratyvfu anzrf, I’d always pictured them as dark-haired white guys.

              • Mauve_Avenger says:

                Nu, V cerggl zhpu erzrzore abguvat nobhg gur Qhayraqvatf rkprcg gur fghss sebz Uryz'f Qrrc, fb V ernyyl arrq gb qb fbzr zber erernqvat. Sbe fbzr ernfba V'ir arire gubhtug bs Oerr-Zra nf arprffnevyl orvat nyy bs bar enpr, cebonoyl orpnhfr bs "fjnegul" Ovyy Sreal.

                • stormwreath says:

                  Orne va zvaq gung va Gbyxvra'f qnl gur jbeq 'fjnegul' jnf trarenyyl hfrq gb ersre gb nal Rhebcrnaf bs n qnexre pbzcyrkvba guna gur genqvgvbanyyl snve-fxvaarq, oybaq Ratyvfu. Gur Serapu, Vgnyvnaf be Terrxf, sbe rknzcyr.

                  Naq vs lbh fhcrevzcbfr Zvqqyr Rnegu bire Rhebcr gb gur fnzr fpnyr, chggvat gur Fuver jurer Ratynaq vf, gura Qhaynaq vf gur Euôar inyyrl.

                • ARITHMANCER says:

                  Gb zr gur Fbhgurea Zra svtugvat sbe Fnheba frrzrq gb or vafcverq ol gur Pneguntvavnaf-orpnhfr bs gur jne ryrcunagf, juvpu Unaavony snzbhfyl gbbx bire gur Nycf vagb Vgnyl va gur Frpbaq Chavp Jne.

            • rabidsamfan says:

              Jbhyq vg unir orra yrff enpvfg be zber enpvfg sbe Gbyxvra gb qrfpevor rirelbar va Zvqqyr Rnegu nf vs gurl jrer juvgr? Yngre ba, ur perqvgf obgu gur Fbhguebaf naq gur Rnfgreyvatf jvgu oenirel naq qrgrezvangvba. Vg'f bayl gur bepf — jub jrer znqr gb freir Fnheba'f checbfrf naq abguvat zber — jub qba'g frrz gb unir nal erqrrzvat dhnyvgvrf, naq rira gung trgf vssl jura lbh guvax nobhg gur pbairefngvba Fnz bireurnef ng Pvevgu Hatby, jurer yrnivat Sebqb oruvaq vf qrfpevorq nf na "ryivfu" guvat gb qb.

              As for the Rohirrim, they appear to be Scandinavian in origin, so they probably are excessively fair compared to the people they displaced when they came down from the north.

          • monkeybutter says:

            I ciphered both Qhayraqvatf naq Fbhguebaf because neither term has been used yet.

            • Mauve_Avenger says:

              Oh, I didn't realize about that first term; I could've sworn it was used earlier, but obviously I was wrong. Thanks for changing mine as well. Sorry!

              • monkeybutter says:

                It's okay. Really, it supports your point that this is the first close look at Sauron's human allies. And I wholeheartedly agree with your comments here.

  39. SporkyRat says:

    Mark, you were wondering what hell Tolkien drew from on the descriptions of Mordor?

    Trench Warfare of World War I.

  40. Harlock says:

    Wow I think that's the first time I heard the theory that the Two Towers are actually the one's at the Black Gate. Actually it seems nobody really knows which towers Tolkien indicated. There's the theory (that was also used for the movie adaption) that the Two Towers are Orthanc and Barad-Dur who formed an alliance. Then there's the theory of the two towers being Minas Ithil/Morgul and Minas Tirith who stare at each other across the river Anduin. I think there are far more combinations and theories (since Middle Earth has quite the overabundance of towers) out there, but I guess nobody will ever know for certain.

    Also: When you're done reading LOTR you'll be surprised just how many Metal Bands are named after something out of the book (mostly Orc-names and places in Mordor of course XD)

  41. GamgeeFest says:

    "Frodo. Just hold me. I just can’t. HOLY SHIT. This little speech of his just levels Gollum, so much so that it takes quite some time to calm the little guy down enough to tell him about the other two ways into Mordor:"

    It's a very un-Frodo-like thing to say, or at least an un-Frodo-like tone in which to say it. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    "#2: The Road west of Ephel Dúath, through a circle of dark trees, down to Osgiliath, and south to the Great Water, which I imagine is the Sea that other characters have spoken of. I am actually entirely unsure why Gollum even tells Frodo about this road. It doesn’t seem to go anywhere they want."

    It's a more roundabout way to get there, is all.

    "Again, how can we trust that what Gollum is saying is true? Sam is quick to doubt the creature, but Frodo thinks Gollum’s use of the first-person is a sign that he’s not referring to the deceptive form of Sméagol."

    Smeagol is his original name from way back before he got the ring, when he was a normal hobbit-like creature. Gollum, so named from the sound he makes in his throat, is his (more) deceptive self.

    Sam and Oliphaunts <3 Sam is so full of awesome.

    "I’m scared."

    As someone else said already, "Not nearly frightened enough."

  42. Icarus says:

    Clarifying: Smeagol is Gollum's real name. We learn it in the Shadow of the Past info-dump chapter, when Gandalf tells Frodo the story of the ring.

    So, using Sam's system:

    Stinker = Gollum (speaks in third person)
    Slinker = Smeagol (uses "I")

  43. Michael says:

    Gahhhhh someone please please please explain the Smeagol thing to Mark because it’s such an important part of his character and if he forgot his name from Fellowship of the Ring I don’t know if they are going to bring it up again. It’s painful to think of him not realizing what Smeagol is 🙁

  44. Hans says:

    "Again, how can we trust that what Gollum is saying is true?"

    That' s a great question. Gollum have a more or less weak tendency for the truth, and it is maybe more obvious in this chapter than any other. For example: How is it that Gollum, who hate the sun, "the yellow face", and the beauty of all things, still have such a developed sense for real beauty, when it comes to describing the splendour of ancient Minas Ithil, fthat became Minas Morgul:" Well master, there it was and there it is: the tall tower and the white houses and the wall; but not nice now, not beautiful ".

    “Not nice now, not beautiful” – Now Sauron held it.

    But they once were beautiful, as also was said in the tales from the South "..when Sméagol was young, long ago. O yes, we used to tell lots of tales in the evening, sitting by the banks of the Great River.."

    Somehow Frodo must put some trust in Gollums tendency for thruth, although it's such a weak tendency.

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