Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 7

In the seventh chapter of the second book of The Two Towers, I am getting increasingly nervous about what the hell is going on. If this intrigues you, then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.

CHAPTER SEVEN: JOURNEY TO THE CROSS-ROADS

Seriously, I bow down to you, J.R.R. Tolkien. You are clearly a genius, and I can’t believe I ever thought The Lord of the Rings was going to be a boring, uninteresting experience. This chapter hurts. This is some of the best use of suspense I’ve ever come across, and you did this DECADES before some of the best thrillers were brought into existence. (I can only think of one work of fiction made before the publication date of The Lord of the Rings that still freaks me out to this day in terms of tension. There’s a fantastic black-and-white French thriller called La Salaire de la peur, or The Wages of Fear that is just one of the most brilliant things ever made. It came out in 1953 and I swear to you, it’s one of the most fucked up, terrifying movies I’ve experienced. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.)

It’s with the warning of Faramir hanging over our heads that this chapter begins, and every single moment feels like doom is just around the corner. The hobbits prepare to leave their new friend, and I think I’m okay saying that Faramir is now a friend. He’s proven to care about what happens to these hobbits, and he truly doesn’t try to take hold of the Ring. Instead, he just bids them goodbye with fair tidings and a whole lot of negativity. I mean, he basically tells them they’re walking into the end of their lives. I can’t really blame him, though. I’m sure he thinks Frodo is a fool for allowing Gollum to be his guide.

They marvelled to see with what speed these green-clad men now moved, vanishing almost in the twinkling of an eye. The forest where Faramir had stood seemed empty and drear, as if a dream had passed.

Well, I certainly feel pleasant! Don’t you? This is going to be a righteous field trip. OF DOOM AND GLOOM. Tolkien wastes absolutely no time in making us feel like this whole journey is a huge mistake. The walk from Henneth AnnΓ»n is deadly silent, and it’s one of may ways that Tolkien builds dread in us. There is nothing living in this part of the forest aside from the plant life and these three travelers. And as much as I want Gollum to be doing the hobbits right, I can’t say I felt comfortable with the idea that every time they would rest, he would disappear for hours on end. Could he just be hunting for food? Of course! But he could also be doing stuff like…I don’t even know. I guess that’s slightly irrational. Who is Gollum even going to talk to out there? I don’t think they’re being followed, so he probably is just looking for food.

What Tolkien does after this is, once again, use the weather in dark and upsetting ways to show us that this journey is only getting worse. First, it’s an issue of light and the thickness of the air. It could just be getting darker because of a storm, but it simply doesn’t feel right. With the threat of the Mountains of Gondor in sight, it’s clear that they’re closer than ever before to their ultimate destination, and I think that scares me more than anything. I still don’t know what Mordor looks like, and they haven’t even found Cirith Ungol yet. Oh god, THIS IS ALL A BAD IDEA, ISN’T IT?

When Gollum suggests that they take a new route instead of the one Faramir recommended, I was torn between believing him and worrying that it was a trick. I think Frodo realizes at this point that he doesn’t have the luxury of worrying about this one way or another. It’s a disaster any way he looks at it. While he once expected the walk to Mount Doom to be a little easier, I don’t think he anticipated it to be pleasant. He simply accepts the reality of this, and he’ll just DEAL WITH IT.

It’s upsetting to me that they’re at a point in this journey where Frodo and Sam sometimes skip sleeping because they’re so worried. At least Gollum got to sleep, but they have to keep moving. The fact that everything is so silent and dark doesn’t help either. What if this forest really isn’t as vacant as they think it is? What if there are creatures hiding in the thorn bushes and brambles? That’s the brilliance of this chapter. It’s entirely possible that these three companions are not alone at all, but Tolkien never confirms it. In a way, we have to experience this journey to the Cross-roads with precisely the same knowledge as the characters. It’s beautifully immersive to me, and it’s why it’s also so intense. On top of that, the creepiness of the lack of daylight and the threat of the fiery doom that sits behind the mountains of Ephel DΓΊath is constantly present. During one break while Gollum is off doing whatever it is that he does, Sam and Frodo not that as the day wears on, it never gets lighter outside. Instead, it’s getting darker, even though by their estimation of time, it should be the middle of the day. THEN THE GROUND BASICALLY THUNDERS. Yeah, what the fuck is going on beyond the mountains? Why does the ground rumble? Oh my god, I need to start preparing myself for how fucked up Mordor is going to be, don’t I? Whatever, I know it’s impossible. FOREVER UNPREPARED.

Of course, after a few hours of watching Frodo try to sleep, Sam hears Gollum arriving, and Gollum’s very insistent that they leave IMMEDIATELY. Where the hell has he been for half the day? Why is he so freaked out? Ugh, I don’t like this one bit. Why can’t good things happen? It makes me nervous that we don’t know where Gollum has been. I want to trust him so much, but how can I when he disappears for such long periods of time?

Regardless, as I said before, it’s not like Frodo and Sam have a whole lot of options at this point. What can they do? They choose to keep going and to follow Gollum further. They finally come upon a dark belt of trees, and Gollum tells them they’ve finally reached the Cross-roads. It’s an unsettling place for a couple of reasons. Why are the tops of the trees broken and “gaunt”? THIS PROBABLY WON’T EVER BE EXPLAINED. Oh god, it’s just so creepy to me. Actually, the remnant of one of the stone kings of Argonath is way creepier. It has no head and “in its place was set in mockery a round rough-hewn stone, rudely painted by savage hands in the likeness of a grinning face with one large red eye in the midst of its forehead.” Yeah, no thank you. What a horrifying thing to come upon! In the last moments of light on that day, they see the remnants of a past king, and then darkness falls almost immediately.

This is so fucked up. I feel even worse than I did at the end of yesterday’s chapter.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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155 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 7

  1. rabidsamfan says:

    This may be one of the "walking" chapters, but what a walk! The unnerving dark in the middle of the day makes me think of the way the air and sky get when a tornado is nearby. How Frodo and Sam manage to keep going at all just amazes me.

    • Yarp says:

      Oh gosh, I used to have a terror of tornadoes that came very, very close to being a phobia. I've got over it now but still, your comparison there makes the ominous atmosphere of the chapter feel a whole lot worse!

      That also reminds me of the feel of the storm cloud with the rhino in, from James and the Giant Peach, another thing that used to terrify me as a kid. Tolkien definitely gets some freaky atmosphere in, here.

    • Saphling says:

      The oppressive, dark, sick-making feeling of this chapter really is akin to the feeling of being near a tornado. The low barometric pressure makes one light-headed and sick, and sometimes the darkened sky is greenish-yellow and wrong.

  2. Ryan Lohner says:

    Oh, I remember The Wages of Fear well. I'm surprised my hair didn't completely turn white after the whole "using the turnoff" sequence.

  3. Opal says:

    Well, we have at least one hope: "They cannot conquer for ever!"
    Even if Frodo fails, the Enemy can still be destroyed – in 2000 years maybe…^^

  4. BetB says:

    Yep, more gloom and doom with nothing but toil to show for it. This is not easy reading because the mood is so tense and who knows if or when something terrible will happen. It feels like it's going to happen now, but it just gets more tense! Ramp up the tension, oh master of gloom and impending doom!

    • rabidsamfan says:

      I think one of the worst things about it is that they're still in places that have some beauty. There are flowers and trees and all, but the silence and the lack of animals — even birds — render what might be a pleasant place to visit into a creeping edge of nightmare.

  5. Dreamflower says:

    Truly, the genius of this chapter is that nothing happens except atmosphere and the hobbits getting closer, one step at a time, to Mordor!

    Yet there's so much brilliant description in this chapter– and while, as you said, the image of the old King ends creepily, I love the part where Sam notices the crown of flowers around the brow of the broken-off head. Just a tiny little thing, to give the two of them a brief instant of hope when they need it most.

    Gur qnexarff vf n gvzryvar guvat, cneg bs gur ohvyq-hc sbe gur nffnhyg Zbeqbe jvyy or znxvat ba Zvanf Gvevgu. Juvpu Znex jvyy ernyvmr, V guvax, jura ur trgf gb gung cneg bs gur arkg obbx.

    • ARITHMANCER says:

      V ybirq gur xvat jvgu gur pebja bs sybjref va gur zbivr! Vg'f sbe nyy gur mvyyvbaf bs yvggyr zbzragf yvxr gung gung V ybir gur svyzf….

      • flootzavut says:

        Yes πŸ˜€ it's a beautiful touch. Naq vg'f fbzrguvat bar srryf vf nyzbfg n yvggyr "Url, jr xabj lbh'er jngpuvat sbe guvf!" zbragf sbe gur snaf bs gur obbxf πŸ™‚

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          Oh yeah, definitely! Vg'f bar bs gubfr fprarf gung V nofbyhgryl ybir gung gurl nqqrq gb gur RR. Vg qbrfa'g arprffnevyl qb zhpu cybg-jvfr, ohg vg'f cneg bs gur zbbq frggvat, naq nqqf n avpr gbhpu gb gur zbivr.

    • Icarus says:

      To your ROT13: Yes. I particularly like how Tolkien gvrf gbtrgure guvf zbzrag naq gur zbzrag Cvccva fvgf ba gur jnyy bs Zvanf Gvevgu jvgu Tnaqnys, jngpuvat gur gebbcf pbzr va sbe gur fvrtr.

  6. Kiryn says:

    *whimpers*

    Zbeqbe? ZBEQBE? UNU! Sbetrg Zbeqbe, vg'f ernyyl sernxvat Pvevgu Hatby Znex fubhyq or jbeelvat nobhg. Htu, jr'er trggvat pybfre NAQ V QB ABG QB ABG QB ABG JNAG GB. JR QB ABG JNAGF VG, CERPVBHF.

    Ahem. Yeah. This chapter…ugh, it's so depressing, and there's so much dread being built up for what could happen next. BECAUSE ONE CANNOT SIMPLY WALK INTO MORDOR.

    • flootzavut says:

      I am SO with you.

      V npghnyyl pna'g oryvrir vg'f gnxra zr gvyy guvf ernq guebhtu gb ernyvfr gung Pvevgu HATBY vf guvf uhtr pyhr, vs gur ernqre unf rire urneq bs Hatbyvnag, naq V'z fher gung V unq jura V svefg ernq guvf, ohg V arire gjvttrq. Q'bu! Gbyxvra uvqvat pyhrf va cynva fvtug ntnva…

      Qb jr xabj ubj Znex srryf nobhg fcvqref, ol gur jnl? V pna'g erzrzore. V'yy unir gb ybbx onpx ng Uboovg erivrjf…

  7. JustMalyn says:

    This chapter is all about taking away happiness, isn't it? Oh Gollum. I want to trust him too, but…He's such a little creep! Faramir's men leave, and even at the end of the chapter when Frodo and Sam see that there is a crown of flowers (BEAUTIFUL IMAGE) on the stone king, night takes that away. Tolkien, why can't we have nice things?

    • bookworm67 says:

      Movie stuffs: V erzrzore gung fprar jvgu gur fgbar xvat sebz gur zbivr, gubhtu V pna'g erzrzore juvpu bar naq vs vg jnf gur erthyne/rkgraqrq phg. Ohg vg jbexrq ornhgvshyyl, jvgu gur fha fuvavat ba vg whfg sbe n zbzrag, sbe n frpbaq bs ubcr.

      • Ryan Lohner says:

        Vg'f va gur rkgraqrq phg bs EBGX.

        • bookworm67 says:

          Ah, thanks, I can never remember juvpu cneg bs Sebqb naq Fnz'f fgbel vf va Gjb Gbjref/ EBGX…

          • flootzavut says:

            V nyjnlf trg pbashfrq gbb πŸ™‚

            • sirintegra42 says:

              Me too. Vg znxrf frafr sbe gur svyzf gb chg gur guvatf juvpu ner unccravat ng gur fnzr gvzr gbtrgure nf vg vfa'g ernyyl pyrne jung gur yvaxf ner orgjrra gurz va gur obbxf hagvy lbh tb onpx naq ernq gurz ntnva. Rira gura V pna arire jbex bhg dhvgr ubj gurl svg gbtrgure, rira ybbxvat ng gur gvzryvar va gur nccraqvprf. Znlor gung'f whfg zr orvat fybj gubhtu. Nununun.

  8. castlewayjay says:

    "In a way, we have to experience this journey to the Cross-roads with precisely the same knowledge as the characters." – This is the genius of this book, I think. We experience this world as the hobbits do, gaining teensy bits of info along the way, but basically just stumbling along, trying to do the best we can. (And such a good metaphor for any new experience.)

    But Mark – (this is from memory, I'm at work) – doesn't the chapter end with a great hopeful line? That the dark forces won't prevail forever? Cling to that!

  9. Jenny_M says:

    The passage about the king having a crown again never fails to make me sob when I read it. Made for an interesting moment at work yesterday when I was reading it on my Kindle, let me tell you.

  10. msw188 says:

    DEAL WITH IT AND KEEP WALKING

  11. knut_knut says:

    I love how quickly everything goes back to being terrible. As soon as the hobbits leave Faramir’s group, it’s as if they never ran into them.

    Suddenly, caught by the level beams, Frodo saw the old king's head: it was lying rolled away by the roadside. "Look, Sam!" he cried, startled into speech. "Look! The king has got a crown again!"
    The eyes were hollow and the carven beard was broken, but about the high stern forehead there was a coronal of silver and gold. A trailing plant with flowers like small white stars had bound itself across the brows as if in reverence for the fallen king, and in the crevices of his stony hair yellow stonecrop gleamed.
    "They cannot conquer forever!" said Frodo. And then suddenly the brief glimpse was gone. The Sun dipped and vanished, and as if at the shuttering of a lamp, black night fell.

    I’m just going to leave this here. I LOVE this passage, and it really showcases Tolkien’s ability to ruin everything I love but in a beautiful way. Tolkien, you are fantastic.

    • Wheelrider says:

      Everyone keeps hitting on this point for this chapter, and it's pretty much true of this whole book — here's something nice, enjoy it for a little while, then it's gone. Or: here used to be something nice, it was so wonderful, too bad you weren't here earlier, 'cause now it's gone and it's never coming back. "Ruin everything in a beautiful way" could be the best summation of Tolkien's genius yet.

      EDIT: I just remembered the briefest and best review of this book — paraphrasing because I don't have time to research: "Here are beauties that will break your heart."
      Who wrote that?

      • Appachu says:

        C.S. Lewis – "Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart."

        Yes, that is probably the best summing up I've ever seen. So true.

    • sirintegra42 says:

      V frr jung lbh qvq gurer Gbyxvra. Sberfunqbjvat nyy bire gur cynpr. 'Gur pebjayrff ntnva funyy or xvat' vaqrrq. πŸ™‚

  12. AnnaEstel says:

    The passage about the stone kings floral crown has been one of my favorites since I first read it. One of those bits where I slow down and take in every word, every time, and every time it gives me chills. Sometimes those tiny bits of hope are all we get, and this one is simply beautiful.

  13. Katherine says:

    This is a chapter I typically find tedious. It really has no events – it's just to get the hobbits from one place to another, and, as Mark noted, to build up suspense. But the passage near the end, with the decapitated head of the statue crowned with flowers, is a beautifully crafted one.

    By the way, Mark, how are you planning on scheduling things between this and RoTK? You'll finish The Two Towers on a Monday, so are you going to jump right into RotK, or make a predictions post or something in between?

    • Diddle-de-dum says:

      Wow Ted Nasmith's picture is fantastic! The colours are just how I picture them in my head! (Though I always picture the mountains as much closer than in that, but otherwise it's very close to how I imagine it and he makes those mountains so creepy.) All such amazing artwork, thanks for posting.

    • Jenny_M says:

      Ugh Alan Lee HOW DO YOU KNOW MY NIGHTMARES? Seriously that thing is so creepy in the last picture.

    • Kiryn says:

      Jeez, but those pictures of that king's head, with the eye, really, really, really creep me out. Thank you, evil creatures. Thank you so much for all of this lovely nightmare fuel. Like I didn't have enough of that in my life. :/

    • flootzavut says:

      Alan Lee <3 amazing!

      In fairness, Ted Nasmith's characters are extraordinary too, just not in a good way :p but yes that landscape is beautiful!

    • Rheinman says:

      The Darrell Sweet image is on my cover of The Two Towers. I alway's get drawn to the head of the statue crowned in flowers. Fcbvyrel sberfunqbjvat, ohg jung'f gur anzr bs gur arkg obbx ntnva? Bu, Lrnu ERGHEA BS GUR XVAT.

    • sirintegra42 says:

      V ybir ubj gubfr Nyna Yrr qenjvatf ner rknpgyl ubj vg ybbxf va gur svyz. Crgre Wnpxfba'f ybir bs uvf naq Wbua'f jbex znxrf zr rkgerzryl unccl. Vg zhfg or sha vs lbh unir bar bs gur vyyhfgengrq irefvbaf gung Nyna qvq gb pbzcner guvatf jvgu gur svyz irefvbaf.

  14. Diddle-de-dum says:

    Oh the tension in this chapter, so unbearable! After a couple of chapters of making no progress (in terms of taking ground) now there's this horrible urgency. The silence followed by the oncoming darkness and – far, far, worse for me! – the new thrumming and rumbling and quivering of the ground. When I read it feels like this fast beat that they have to keep walking to, and I want to tell them to run! Even Gollum is saying there is no time to lose. But of course they're actually running TOWARDS the general direction of the sound!

    Oh, and just as they're about to take the dangerous main road again (when we've already had this lovely description from Frodo of it earlier – 'It appeared lonely and forsaken, running down to empty ruins in the mist. But there was an evil feeling in the air, as if things might indeed be passing up and down that eyes could not see.'), the place looks like it's been blasted or something, and fouled and they have to flit from shadow to shadow and make a dash for it. But no, let's stop to look at a statue! OK, that's a beautiful moment and I love that it happened, but your guide did say to be quiet and make haste! Oh dear, just let's go back to the nice Shire with beautiful birthday parties and things.

  15. Oh god, THIS IS ALL A BAD IDEA, ISN’T IT?
    Yes indeed it is. And they knew that right from the beginning. Gandalf said way back in the Fellowship "Let folly be our cloak." They all knew that going right into Sauron's stronghold to destroy this thing was a bad idea that went against every logical and strategic thought process. Yet there they are.

    Gollum's absences are so horribly unnerving. I'm afraid Faramir's analysis might be right here: "Malice eats it like a canker, and the evil is growing." Because much as I want him to be helping Frodo and Sam, it's so hard to just accept that. Why is he suddenly so urgent about the fact that they have to move? Why is it only after he vanishes for long periods of time? It doesn't bode well for his credibility, but it's not like Frodo and Sam have much choice at this point. I will say, though, that Gollum did get was what is one of my favorite lines in the entire series:
    Sam: "It can't be tea-time even, leastways not in decent places where there is tea-time."
    Gollum: "Silly! We're not in decent places!"

    Yeah, and that's about the only spot of humor I can find. I just want to hug Frodo so badly at this point it's not even funny. He just keeps toiling onwards, not complaining, not talking about the pain: "Frodo gave no sign of what was passing in his mind." The eye- the will that he felt in the Dead Marshes- must be so many times stronger now than it was then, and I can't imagine getting up and continuing to walk towards it. But he does. And he does it without talking about his suffering, and I think it's rather apparent at this point that he is going through a hell of a lot. Yet he can still take hope from a last ray of light that falls on a broken statue. Who knows why? He could be grasping at straws, of course, but I like to think it was because he felt that he was going to place where he likely wouldn't see any signs of hope for a while, if ever again, and didn't want to waste that last sign that things weren't always this way, that the evil he's facing now wasn't always there, and that that evil, no matter how powerful it was, can't be permanent.

  16. PrefectSarah says:

    "Well, I certainly feel pleasant! Don’t you? This is going to be a righteous field trip. OF DOOM AND GLOOM."

    My thoughts exactly!!! Unending doom and gloom. Nothing is cheerful. Everything is fucked.

  17. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Eh, this chapter. Apart from the lovely moment with the King's 'crown', not a lot happens, does it?

    Frankly, V'z whfg pbhagvat qbja gur qnlf hagvy jr trg gb Furybo, orpnhfr UBYL SHPX Znex vf tbaan syvc uvf fuvg!

    *fuhqqre*

  18. Kiryn says:

    Oh, by the way Mark, forget about you not being prepared. I am also unprepared forever and ever. Ugh. I wish they could have taken that one road to the Sea. The beach is lovely, and probably much lovelier than Cirith Ungol and Mordor, don't you think?

    I'm just grateful that no one in their right mind would choose me to accompany them on an Epic Fantasy Adventure. If I was in Middle-earth, I would have refused to leave Rivendell (UGH THAT SEEMS LIKE FOREVER AGO).

    • flootzavut says:

      Rivendell? I'd still be in Hobbiton!! πŸ™‚

      • Kiryn says:

        True. But Rivendell's got Elrond. I'd have been on his heels like white on rice. Because I adore Elrond. πŸ˜‰

        Then again, honestly, if I was truly in Middle-earth, I'd have been one of those people Mark was yelling at in the beginning for leaving Middle-earth. πŸ˜‰

    • sirintegra42 says:

      If I'd got far enough I would have just stopped in Edoras and hung around hagvy gur znffvir qevaxvat cnegl naq fvatvat srfg gurl unir va Erghea bs gur Xvat. πŸ™‚

  19. flootzavut says:

    "Oh my god, I need to start preparing myself for how fucked up Mordor is going to be, don’t I? Whatever, I know it’s impossible. FOREVER UNPREPARED."

    Mark, you speak truth.

    Book spoilers: Guvf vf n yvggyr nfvqr: Vg'f whfg bppheerq gb zr gung, vs jr npprcg gur Erq Obbx bs Jrfgznepu pbaprvg, gura guvf vf nyy jevggra ol Sebqb, lrf? Fb nyy gur guvatf gung znxr hf tb, njjjj, Fnz vf fb njrfbzr, ner rssrpgviryl n gevohgr gb Fnz sebz Sebqb. Just something that occurred to me and gave me the warm fuzzies, which is much needed round about now. Apologies to Mark and others who are reading for the first time, as these warm fuzzies would also be spoilers. Sorry :$

  20. Juliana Moreli says:

    Jub vf Tbyyhz rira tbvat gb gnyx gb bhg gurer?

    Fb abg cercnerq….fbbbbbbbb abg cercnerq…

    Va gjb puncgre uvf urnq vf tbvat gb rkcybqr…V xabj zl bar qvq!!!

    Yhpxl sbe gurz, vg jnfa'g Hatbyvnag…whfg ure qnhtugre…

  21. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    Frodo, Sam, and Gollum continue southward from Henneth Annûn to the Cross-roads near Minas Morgul. (This is also, I think, meant to be a metaphorical cross-roads; at this point, they might still be able to turn back and try to find another route.)

  22. gonzoron says:

    "And as much as I want Gollum to be doing the hobbits right"

    OK, can I relieve the doom and gloom a smidge by injecting a bit of levity in the form of "Excuse me while I kiss this guy"-style misreading? For a second, I seriously thought Mark wrote: "And as much as I want Gollum to be doing the hobbits right now" And I thought… what?!? why!?? There's a slashfic I never thought anyone would be asking for. Then I was relieved when I re-read it and saw that's not what he meant at all. Then I remembered Rule 34 and got all squicked out again.

    • blis says:

      HAHAHHAHA.
      I had to go back to the review to find that line. Your misread made me laugh so hard and spill some tea down my sweater. Thanks for bringing some silliness and joy to all this gloom and doom!

    • flootzavut says:

      I wish you could hear my laughter, I'm still laughing as I type. THAT'S SO WRONG!

    • Icarus says:

      I'm sure, however, that this slashfic has been written. After all, there is Snape/Nazgul, taking place in a menswear shop for evil villains. (Clothing color choice: black, sable, midnight….)

  23. MrsGillianO says:

    The crown of flowers is, oddly, my abiding memory of this chapter – even at the darkest, there is still hope. It's metonymy, of course – Pathetic Fallacy – that the natural world is on their side, the side of light and goodness, but it works. They are in the dark now, and know they will go into even greater darkness, but the Dark cannot conquer forever.

  24. blis says:

    I just wanted to share that I use to think that The Smiths song "This Charming Man" was about the LOTR.

    I ignored ignored some lyrics and latched on to others. Frodo is a jumped up pantry boy since he inherited everything from Bilbo. Gandalf is totally the charming man who wants Frodo to return the ring. Of course he knows so much about these things, He's Gandalf

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      um this is the greatest comment in mark reads history

      why are there not 40000000 upvotes.

      • blis says:

        haha! thanks Mark! I was happy someone commented, but it turns out you commented and liked!!! sweetness!

        my friends always told me i was way off in thinking that, but i don't know. it kind of makes sense when you think about it.

    • JustMalyn says:

      Ahaha it does make sense! πŸ™‚ Glad to know I'm not the only one who makes songs fit books πŸ™‚ Because Rihanna's "We Found Love" is definitely about the Hunger Games if you make it be πŸ˜€

  25. blossomingpeach says:

    It must be telling that we're kind of quiet today. We're all silently going toward Mordor with Frodo & Sam. But something tells me we won't be able to simply walk in….

    Nyfb, nyy gur uvagvat ng gur jne Fnheba vf hayrnfuvat ntnvafg Zvanf Gvevgu evtug abj unf zr srry fvpx sbe gur erfg bs bhe sevraqf, nyy jub ner urnqvat fgenvtug sbe ubeevoyr qnatre. Vg qbrfa'g rira uryc xabjvat jung unccraf.

    Tolkien, you master of dread and doom.

  26. Wheelrider says:

    I'm glad Mark has decided that Faramir is a friend!

    Nsgre er-ernqvat lrfgreqnl'f cbfg, V ernyvmrq gung Znex qvqa'g frrz gb unir fhpu n tbbq vzcerffvba bs guvf snatvey snibevgr, naq V ortna pbafgehpgvat n cbvag-ol-cbvag ershgngvba va zl urnq. Snenzve jba'g uryc Sebqb trg bhg bs gur cbby vs ur fubhyq snyy va? Ab, gung jnf Naobea. Snenzve jbhyq fynl Tbyyhz jvgubhg n frpbaq gubhtug? Ab, rira Sebqb xabjf ur jbhyqa'g, ur fnvq nf zhpu. Snenzve vf FB VEEVGNGRQ JVGU GURFR PUNENPGREF? Ab, gung'f zbfgyl Naobea ntnva, ernyyl, Snenzve vfa'g veevgngrq, whfg gelvat gb fbeg bhg jung gb qb jvgu guvf tnatery perngher. ZNEX, PNA'G LBH FRR UBJ NJRFBZR UR VF?!?

    Ohg gura V pnyzrq qbja naq erzrzorerq gung nyy hf er-ernqref zvtug unir bhe bcvavbaf pbyberq ol yngre puncgref. V pna'g erzrzore univat gur fnzr vzcerffvba nf Znex ba svefg ernq, ohg gura ntnva ng guvf cbvag V jnf fcraqvat n tbbq ovg bs rirel qnl sylvat guebhtu nf zhpu bs guvf obbx nf cbffvoyr. BX, oerngur, puvyy bhg, yrg uvz xrrc ernqvat naq svther vg bhg sbe uvzfrys.

    Naq ur qvq! Lnl!

    • LadyViridis says:

      V jnf n ovg chmmyrq ol gur trarenyyl artngvir ernpgvba gb Snenzve gbb, orpnhfr zl fgebatrfg zrzbel jnf nyjnlf gung Fnz oyhegf bhg gung Sebqb unf gur Evat, naq Snenzve'f yvxr "Thlf thlf, vg'f gbgnyyl pbby. V unir mreb vagrerfg va guvf Vaperqvoyl Rivy Guvat lbh ner pneelvat nebhaq. Frevbhfyl. Guvf guvat nccneragyl qebir zl oebgure znq naq znlor pnhfrq uvf qrngu naq vf znqr bs Cher Rivy. V qba'g jnag vg. Ab, qba'g fubj vg gb zr. Lbh fnl lbh'er tbvat gb qrfgebl vg? Tbbq. Gung'f cebonoyl n fhvpvqr zvffvba, ohg V nccynhq lbh sbe gelvat. Unir fbzr sbbq naq jngre, naq tbqfcrrq, yvggyr uboovgf."

      Gung ernpgvba jnf cerggl jryy pbasvezrq ba zl erprag erernq, ohg V qb erzrzore orvat irel pbashfrq ol nyy gur qrgnvy zl svefg gvzr guebhtu, fb V pna frr abg dhvgr pngpuvat vg.

    • blossomingpeach says:

      Lbh pna'g oynzr Znex sbe orvat fhfcvpvbhf naq ulcre-ivtvynag ng guvf cbvag. Ur'f orra genvarq ol K-Svyrf: Gehfg ab bar!

      Vg'f ernyyl ba gur er-ernqvatf gung lbh cvpx hc whfg ubj jvfr, tragyr, creprcgvir, pnhgvbhf naq nyy-nebhaq jbaqreshy Snenzve vf. *fjbba* Fbzr bs gur orfg rknzcyrf bs gubfr guvatf ner lrg gb pbzr! Pna'g jnvg! V ybir ubj gur svefg guvat ur fnlf gb Nentbea jura ur jnxrf hc vf rffragvnyyl, "Ubj pna V freir lbh, zl xvat?" Naq bs pbhefr, gur Ubhfrf bs Urnyvat…ybir ubj ur ernqf Rbjla'f urneg orsber fur rira xabjf jung fur'f srryvat. -Frireny- gvzrf.

      πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • Tul says:

      Znex gjrrgrq "BZT SNENZVE. jung n snfpvangvat punenpgre" sbe puncgre 5, fb V pna sbetvir uvz abg tbvat snatvey nobhg uvz! Ohg lrf, vg'f tbbq gb frr ur guvaxf bs uvz nf n sevraq abj πŸ™‚

      V'z ernyyl sehfgengrq V pna'g erzrzore jung V gubhtug bs uvz ba zl svefg ernq bs guvf puncgref. V guvax V engure yvxrq uvz, ohg gung'f nyy. Va snpg V QRIBHERQ gur obbx gung gvzr, fb V qba'g erzrzore zhpu ng nyy. V jvfu V unq qbar yvxr Znex!
      V xabj V jnf rntre gb frr uvz onpx va EbgX gubhtu, naq V xabj V ortna gb snyy sbe uvz qhevat uvf cnegf jvgu Qrargube, naq yngre jvgu Rbjla. Ng gung gvzr nyfb, nyy zl ivrjf naq gubhtugf jrer terngyl pbyberq ol gur zbivrf.
      Ohg, lrc, vg jnf ernyyl ba er-ernq gung V jnf ybfg naq orpnzr fybjyl bofrffrq.

      • Wheelrider says:

        Same here… I do remember being tremendously relieved the first time after the OH SHIT in chapter 6. But then OH DAMN, there's Gollum creeping around again. But that's about it.

  27. unefeeverte says:

    Movie stuffz:
    V whfg tbg gb guvaxvat…
    V xabj n ybg bs crbcyr ernyyl qvfyvxr gur punatrf va gur zbivr jura vg pbzrf gb Snenzve. Jvgu nyy guvf er-ernqvat, vg qbrf orpbzr pyrne gung Snenzve vfa'g (frevbhfyl) grzcgrq ol gur evat. Fb V ernyvfrq V nyjnlf tbg zhpu zber bs n "arrq gb cyrnfr zl sngure" guna n "arrq gb gnxr gur evat" ivor sebz gur zbivr punatrf… jung nobhg lbh?
    (V'z abg fnlvat V yvxrq gur punatrf va gur zbivr – ohg vg qbrf tvir Snenzve zber fperra gvzr. Juvpu vf nyjnlf n tbbq guvat va zl obbx :Q)

    • Zetal says:

      Gur zber V jngpu gur zbivrf, gur zber V yvxr jung gurl qvq jvgu Snenzve.

      Vg vf irel zhpu n "Vs V pna qryvire gur Evat gb Tbaqbe, Qnqql jvyy ybir zr svanyyl" ivor. Frrvat EbgX urycrq n ybg gbb, orpnhfr gung'f jura lbh trg nyy gur onpxfgbel nobhg Obebzve naq Snenzve naq gurve eryngvbafuvc jvgu Qrargube. Jvgubhg gung pbagrkg, gubhtu, vg'f irel JGS naq bhg bs cynpr vs lbh'ir ernq gur obbxf. V guvax vg jbhyq unir orra orggre gb chg n ovg zber bs gung onpxfgbel va Gjb Gbjref gb fubj JUL Snenzve jnf grzcgrq.

      • Vs lbh jngpu gur rkgraqrq irefvba bs Gjb Gbjref, gurer'f n frdhrapr jurer Obebzve naq Snenzve unir ergnxra Bftvyvngu, naq gurve sngure pbzrf gb pbatenghyngr…. Obebzve. Rira jura Obebzve gevrf gb gryy Qrargube gung gur ivpgbel vf nf zhpu Snenzve'f qbvat nf uvf, Qrargube oehfurf uvz bss. Snenzve gura gevrf gb ibyhagrre gb tb gb Eviraqryy va Obebzve'f cynpr, naq Qrargube fpbssf ng uvz.

        Vg jnfa'g va gur gurngevpny phg ohg V guvax gung cnegvphyne fprar va gur rkgraqrq phg qrsvavgryl tvirf gur ivrjref zber bs na vafvtug vagb jul Snenzve vf orunivat gur jnl ur vf. Gura pbhcyrq jvgu gur riragf ng Zvanf Gvevgu va EBGX, Snenzve orpbzrf bar bs gur zbfg flzcngurgvp punenpgref va gur zbivr gevybtl. Gurl rkcnaqrq ba uvf punenpgre dhvgr n ovg orpnhfr zbivat Furybo gb gur guveq zbivr yrsg gurz jvgubhg n pyvznpgvp pbasyvpg sbe gur evatornere ng gur raq bs GG.

        So, it's there, but you have to watch the extended cut.

      • Opal says:

        V pna frr jung lbh zrna ohg jung V nqzver Snenzve sbe (nzbat bgure guvatf) vf gur snpg gung nygubhtu ur xabjf gung uvf sngure jbhyq abg nccebir bs uvf pbaqhpg, ur yrg'f Sebqb tb, fvzcyl orpnhfr vg'f gur EVTUG guvat gb qb. Ur jbhyq arire tvir hc jung ur ubyqf gb or gur evtug orunivbhe bayl gb tnva uvf sngure'f nccebiny. Gb gur pbagenel, Qrargube pbhyq jryy pubbfr gb chavfu uvz orpnhfr Snenzve fheryl qvq oraq gur ehyrf va yrggvat Sebqb, Fnz naq Tbyyhz pbagvahr gurve wbhearl jvgubhg uvaqenapr, ohg ur fgnaqf sbe jung ur oryvrirf va, rira vs vg zrnaf uvf bja qrtenqngvba (va uvf sngure'f rlrf, ng gur irel yrnfg.)
        Ng gung'f jul V fvzcyl pnaabg npprcg gur zbivr'f punatrf orpnhfr vg'f fb qvnzrgevpnyyl bccbfrq gb jung Snenzve fgnaqf sbe va gur obbx.

  28. Mark! Sometimes I wish you were prepared!

    When you watch the movies, you are going to watch the extended version of each movie, right? There's so much missing if you just watch the theatrical cut, the extended versions are absolutely worth it.

  29. arctic_hare says:

    The gloom is really quite palpable in this chapter; what an awful landscape to be trudging through, especially with such a weight on them and an awful task ahead. I think it's obvious that the worst part of their journey is still yet to come – everything up to now has just been a prelude to the full horror of Mordor. Faramir's kindness is, I think, the last such brief reprieve they can expect. I doubt there'll be any such thing once they get inside Mordor. IF they do. It seems to be a very treacherous road, and who the hell knows what Gollum is up to when he disappears? Very dark and suspenseful chapter, it feels like an uneasy calm before a storm.

    I do love, though, that moment at the end when they find that statue. It's sad and terrible that the head's been broken off and replaced with a mockery, but the crown of flowers that briefly has some sunlight on it is a beautiful image. V'z fb tynq Crgre Wnpxfba vapyhqrq gung zbzrag, vg ybbxf tbetrbhf ivfhnyyl. Of course, Tolkien immediately has to take it away, but such is life. :p It's a lovely little reminder that even Sauron's evil can't endure forever.

  30. Ryan Lohner says:

    I just remembered that I made a sizable post on Television Without Pity's "scariest movies" thread after seeing The Wages of Fear. Here you go:

    I just watched The Wages of Fear. Now, it's pretty hard for a movie to actually get me to feel suspense in its purest form. I'll try to guess where a story is going, but usually it's just fun for me, and I'm able to keep some kind of distance from the story.

    Which is what makes this move so amazing. From the moment those nitroglycerin-filled trucks take off, I was in genuine, almost unbearable suspense. None of the four people transporting the nitro were particularly likable, but I was invested in them and hoped they could come through it okay despite the odds. And this being a film from a director known for having some big personal demons, you really do have no guarantees on whether that will happen.

    cont'd.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      The film's most harrowing sequence occurs when the trucks have to make a hairpin turn on a mountain road, for which they first have to back onto a rickety platform full of rotten wood hanging over the abyss. Dear god, I wouldn't have been surprised if my hair had actually turned white by the time it was over. And it helps tremendously that, this being the '50s, except for the trucks not really being filled with nitro, what we're seeing is exactly what happened during filming. Every shot of the platform shuddering and creaking is perfectly placed, and it might even be able to stand on its own as a short film, though of course the investment you have in the characters makes it all the more terrifying.

      This movie deserves to be far better known than it is, and at least more than William Friedkin's terrible remake Sorcerer, which misses the point of the original horribly and turns it into a cheap little action movie. Definitely check it out if you haven't.

  31. drekfletch says:

    Naq nf zhpu nf V jnag Tbyyhz gb or qbvat gur uboovgf evtug, V pna’g fnl V sryg pbzsbegnoyr jvgu gur vqrn gung rirel gvzr gurl jbhyq erfg, ur jbhyq qvfnccrne sbe ubhef ba raq. Pbhyq ur whfg or uhagvat sbe sbbq? Bs pbhefr! Ohg ur pbhyq nyfb or qbvat fghss yvxr…V qba’g rira xabj. V thrff gung’f fyvtugyl veengvbany. Jub vf Tbyyhz rira tbvat gb gnyx gb bhg gurer?

    Wnpxfba hfrf gurfr njnl zbzragf gb uvf nqinagntr. Gurl tnir uvz n cresrpg jnl gb vapyhqr gur nethzrag.

    One of the things about reading at this slower pace, is realizing all the nods Peter Jackson put into the films. Tolkien has so many asides and tangents that build the world. While not directly addressing them, there are a lot of small details included. Inside references, as opposed to inside jokes. (though there are some of those too.)

  32. Meltha says:

    Hmm. I'm rather a fan of suspense, so now I'm curious if Mark has seen some of the older classics of tension, like Nosferatu or M or the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Or Wait until Dark, which is more recent but has the most brilliant use of a lightbulb outside of Rear Window.

  33. ZeynepD says:

    This chapter would be required reading in a class about mood-setting. Even as they walk in the direction of Mordor, impossibly dark, thick clouds come out of Mordor to meet them and cover them and overtake them and stretch out above their heads all the way to the sunset behind them. It's unnaturally quiet, except once in a while they hear the very earth grumbling ahead of them. They have a guide that seems to have fallen back into his dark, dark mood, muttering and grumbling and disappearing and being scarier than usual in general. And the one moment of unfettered hope that shows up is very literally covered with darkness the next moment.

    And yet…

    "They cannot conquer forever." Let's hold on to that for the time being.

  34. Icarus says:

    That image of that fallen king with the crown of flowers is haunting.

  35. GamgeeFest says:

    V jvfu V unq gur gvzr gb erernq gurfr puncgref nybat jvgu Znex, ohg V fvzcyl qba'g. Nz V erzrzorevat gur beqre pbeerpgyl: Gbzbeebj, Fgnvef bs Pvevgu Hatby. Sevqnl: Furybo'f Ynve. Gura jr unir gb jnvg hagvy Zbaqnl sbe Gur Pubvprf bs Znfgre Fnzjvfr?!?! Htu! Jung n greevoyr cynpr gb chg n jrrxraq! Znex whfg unf gb cbfg ba Fngheqnl be V jvyy abg fheivir! Zl svatreanvyf jvyy or aba-rkvfgnag. Frevbhfyl, l'nyy.

  36. Tul says:

    Gur svefg gvzr V ernq gur Fvy, V jnf onssyrq ol ubj zhpu gur fpbcr bs rirelguvat jnf sne, sne terngre guna va YbgE!

    Hatbyvnag jbhyq unir xvyyrq gurz nyy!

  37. Tul says:

    "Snenzve oebxr uvf snfg jvgu gurz. Ur unq abg fyrcg fvapr gur onggyr ba gur qnl orsber, lrg ur qvq abg ybbx jrnel."
    N cbvag sbe Ahzrabevna raqhenapr. Guvf fbeg bs znxrf zr fnq gubhtu, xabjvat gung ur jba'g unir zhpu gvzr sbe erfg yngre rvgure orsber ur'f frag gb onggyr ntnva.

    "'Zbfg tenpvbhf ubfg,' fnvq Sebqb, 'vg jnf fnvq gb zr ol Ryebaq Unysryira gung V funyy svaq sevraqfuvc hcba gur jnl, frperg naq haybbxrq sbe. Pregnvayl V ybbxrq sbe ab fhpu sevraqfuvc nf lbh unir fubja. Gb unir sbhaq vg gheaf rivy gb terng tbbq.'"
    Gung'f onfvpnyyl Snenzve'f checbfr urer. Vguvyvra jnf gur ynfg erfg Sebqb unq orsber Zbeqbe, naq Snenzve gur ynfg sevraq ur zrg ba gur ebnq. Abg bayl n sevraq, ohg bar bs gur "jvfr" creuncf, fbzrbar jub pbhyq tvir uvz vasbezngvba naq pbhafry. Nsgre uvz, gur uboovgf ner ba gurve bja. Vg jnf n qernz gung cnffrq, nf ur fnlf. Naq ur qrfcrengryl arrqrq vg, nyy bs vg: gur sbbq, gur jvar, gur erfg naq gur sevraqfuvc naq erfcrpg nobir nyy.
    N cbvag sbe znyr obaqvat. πŸ™‚
    (V yvxr gung Sebqb qrsraqf uvz jura Tbyyhz fcrnxf onqyl bs uvz! Url, Snenzve qvq fubj Tbyyhz zrepl!)

    Faramir also bows to Frodo again in this chapter, and this time his men too. "Go with the will of all good men!" I feel strangely moved.

    Otherwise, I don't have much to add on what Mark already said on the tension building. Except that I really think this chapter is, as represented by the King's crown at the end (beautiful writing there!), also very much about the last glimpse of hope before the dark, a land still not wholly conquered by the Enemy before Mordor.

    Oh and, a point for Shire stories and sayings πŸ™‚ : "Where there's life there's hope, as my gaffer used to say; and need of vittles, as he mostways used to add."

  38. Impish says:

    Yes, the chapter ends in dark foreboding, but even so, Tolkien never lets us entirely give up hope – because Frodo and Sam (especially Sam) don't do so.

    Just before "black night fell", we read:

    [startquote] "Look, Sam!" he cride, startled into speech. "Look! the king has got a crown again!"

    The eyes were hollow and the carven beard was broken, but about the high stern forehead there was a coronal of silver and gold. A trailing plant with flowers like small white stars had bound itself across the brows as if in reverence for the fallen king, and in the crevices of his stony hair yellow stonecrop gleamed.

    "They cannot conquer for ever!" said Frodo. [endquote]

    This is so important! It is one of the great themes of the book: there is always hope. Sam demonstrates this all the way through – when he makes rabbit stew; when he is willing to drop over the dark edge on the Emyn Muil; when he stands up to Faramir…always, there is hope. We just have to look for it.

    (In fact, if you go look in the dictionary for the word 'hope', one of the entries should read 'Sam Gamgee')

  39. fantasy_fan says:

    So, Mark, it's getting gloomier and scarier and the tension is ratcheting up.

    And the payoff will knock you out of your socks. Because you are not prepared.
    And then, and then, just when you're looking around bewildered for your socks, not expecting more, it will throw you down the stairs, set you on fire and leave you in a blazing puddle on the floor, without socks. That's how good this book is.

    Can't wait to see you on the 20th in Detroit, when you have just finished The Two Towers. We'll see if your eyebrows are singed.

  40. kateydidnt says:

    Qbrf nalbar ryfr pbhag gur qnlf naq frr jurer Znex'f jrrxraq vf tbvat gb uvg? Yvxr, sbe rknzcyr, ur trgf gb jnvg gb svaq bhg jung vf unccravat jvgu Furybo naq Sebqb naq trgf gb jnvg n jubyr jrrxraq ba gur pyvssunatre bs "Ur jnf gbb yngr. Fb sne Tbyyhz'f cybg unq fhpprrqrq" (raq bs puncgre 9).

    Naq V unir gb fnl gur ebg13 bs Furybo vf gur terngrfg guvat rire!

    *rivy teva* Fbbbb Abg cercnerq!

    • emillikan says:

      I think of this but it's more myself I'm thinking of. πŸ™‚ I know Mark is a few (I don't know how many) chapters ahead of the postings (right? I think so), so it's not Mark who has to wait over the weekend – it's ME who has to wait over the weekend for Mark's reaction! To quote a certain famous movie, "I hate waiting."

    • fantasy_fan says:

      V ernyyl yvxr ebg13'vat Furybo nf Furrybo – znxrf vg rira shaavre!

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